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Friday, December 31, 2010

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We're home in Manteca spending some low key, quality time with my mom and dad this week - some time with family to relax, unwind and reconnect. More updates & pics to come soon. HAPPY NEW YEAR'S EVE! : )

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmas was bitter-sweet for us this year because we lost my Uncle Kenny on Thursday 12/23 right before the holiday. However, we still got together as a family in order to surround one another with lots of love and hugs, and to remember, and to mourn together. And seeing the joy of Christmas through the kids eyes, especially Zoey & Hayden's for me, definitely helped us all to remain positive and to make the most of our holiday together. Despite the circumstances, we still did our best and managed to have a nice Christmas together with the family.





We were up in Lodi at my Aunt Karen's house on Christmas Eve, spent Christmas morning at my parent's with Leah, Lukasz and Hayden, then headed back to El Cerrito on Christmas Day to have a lovely dinner with Norma & Gary, David's mom & Stepdad. Lots of love, smiles and quality family time was had. And now more than ever, I think we're all feeling blessed and extra grateful to be surrounded by so many amazing, lovely family members, and also remembering how precious and fragile life is...indeed.






Friday, December 24, 2010

Good Dental Hygiene....

Is very important in our household, and we're already starting to teach Zoey how to take great care of her 8 little teeth! Brush Brush Brush! : ) (P.S. That lamb toy she's holding in her mouth is her beloved "Lilly"....her lovie that goes everywhere with her (except in the bath), and she often crawls around with Lilly in her teeth - ha!)



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Yooooo Gabba Gabba! : )

We don't show TV to Zoey very often, but when we do, it's usually either Yo Gabba Gabba or Dora the Explorer. I admit that I love both of these shows just as much, if not more, than Zoey does! haha look at her....so excited! And do you know why??? Because....."Listening and dancing to music is.......AWESOME!"
: )



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Happy Hour!

In years past, David and I had an annual tradition of hosting a Holiday Party - a late night, wild fiesta with our close friends, lots of laughter and craziness, and LOTS of fun memories created every year. Last year we opted not to host a party since Zoey was just a 2 month-old newborn....but this year I really wanted to rekindle the tradition, even if that required some modifications. So instead of a big evening party, we held a late afternoon/early evening happy hour - a small get together with just a few friends to celebrate the holiday season. Zoey, Hayden and Marianna had so much fun running around, screaming, and playing like they crazy little girls that they are, and the adults caught of on some much needed conversation while sipping our festive beverages. It was a great time!



Sunday, December 19, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

If I were to get a dog.....

I would love to get one of these breeds. But in all honestly, what we'd probably do is head down to our local shelter and pick out a doggie who really needed a home that just "spoke to us". But these breeds are ones I've always loved. : ) David and I really do think we'll have a dog someday.....one day in the future when we have a house with a yard, and when Zoey is old enough to help scoop poop. : )



Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tattoos, Piercings, and the Job Search

Unfortunately judgment and unfair stereotyping still occurs all the time for people like myself that are tattooed and/or pierced. Luckily I live in one of the most liberal and diverse regions of the world, and I work on a very liberal university campus. But many people with body modifications are still looked down upon, discriminated against, presumed to be criminals, rebellious characters living on the fringes of the law and society, unintelligent, and/or irresponsible vagabonds. This makes me sad. The way I see it, how I choose to decorate my body is no different than how I choose to decorate the walls in my home - each to his own, right? Some people like very conservative artwork, others are into bright colors and abstract designs, and others are perfectly content with plain white walls. And that has absolutely no reflection on someone's intelligence, their work ethic, or their overall character. It is simply just another level of difference that exists in our diverse world, one other dimension of how we choose to express our uniqueness and our individuality. Luckily tattoos and piercings are becoming more accepted in mainstream society, but wet still have a long way to go....
The blog below is one I peruse regularly, and recently covered the topic of tattoos and piercings in the workplace...
By: Karen L. Hudson
About.com, Tattoos & Piercings Blog
The current economic situation of the world can very well be called a “stormy present.” Unemployment and poverty are at an all-time high, and even those who are fortunate enough to still have a job are feeling the sting of reduced wages. The amount of available jobs versus the amount of people desperately seeking work is a staggering ratio of unbalanced proportion.

But how desperate would you be to get a job, any job? Would you be willing to change how you present yourself, modify your total image, and even hide important, and even self-defining parts of your identity just to become or stay employed?

Pride vs. Practicality
Unfortunately, that often means that people with body art who seek work often find their applications and resumes at the bottom of an employer’s pile. It’s still considered an undesirable trait in most industries and professions, and prejudicial stereotyping abounds. If you have tattoos, piercings, or any other visible modifications, you’ve got an automatic strike against you when it comes to impressing a potential future employer. As much as it pains me to say this, we have reached the point of the proverbial “desperate times” that call for “desperate measures.” This series of articles are designed to help you seek and find a job, but I’ll warn you right now that you’re not going to like some of it.

I applaud anyone who stands up and says, “I don’t care. I’m not covering my body art for anyone.” Well, I applaud them as long as they can pay their bills and take care of their families. However, if pride and stubbornness are preventing you from being able to do those things, then your priorities need to be examined. The fact of the matter is this: you need money to survive, and you need work to have money. If that means going against your natural inclinations and shunning your rebellious side for a few hours a day, so be it. It’s time to “think anew and act anew.”

But there’s more to finding a job than just covering up your body art. In this job seeking series, I’m going to do my best to show you what your options are and how to make the most of them.

Body Art Friendly Employers
The good news is that more and more companies are shedding the old perceptions about body art and are changing their policies to at least allow some visible tattoos and/or piercings as long as they meet a certain criteria. As long as you’re not looking for a corporate position, you may be able to find a part or full-time job at one of these companies. So, the first thing you need to know is what career fields and companies are body art friendly.
Let’s start with the easiest option first, and that would be finding a job with a company that doesn’t have a problem with visible body art. We all know that you can get a job at most fast food joints if you have body art, although most of them will still make you cover any piercings with a band-aid. But for most adults, especially those with families, an entry-level job in fast food isn’t the optimal situation (although you should be willing to at least get a job in fast food temporarily, if that’s what it takes to put food on the table while you search for better work. A little money is better than no money at all.) So, if you’re looking for something a little more substantial than flipping burgers, where do you start?

I’ve started a very preliminary list of places that have been reputed to allow tattooed and/or pierced employees. Obviously, this list will grow over time. *Note!* It’s always possible that the policies are different from one region to the next. This list is just to help you get started; it will still be your responsibility to find out exactly what your local branch allows. If you click the name of a company below, it will take you to a page with information on what the company is, where they're located and how to apply. When possible, I will also include specific details on their current visible body art policies, but so far the companies I've contacted have been less than helpful in that regard.
Body Art Friendly Companies/Employers

And if you're still in school or thinking about a new career, here are some Tattoo and Piercing Friendly Jobs and Career Fields

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thinking About a Career Change? Consider one of these High Paying Jobs!

It's an obvious fact that certain professions are simply more lucrative than others. Now while people choose careers for lots of different personal reasons, if you are looking for a new line of work, it couldn't hurt to consider one of these professions that can pay $100 per hour!
Geez....and I choose my career because I'm an idealistic optimist who just wanted to help people. : )
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Jobs That Pay $100 (or More) Per Hour
by Cindy Perman
Courtesy of CNBC.com/Yahoo.com
Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Jobs that pay $100 an hour or more aren't easy to come by.

There are two basic types of these high-paying jobs: Those where you get that rate full time, bringing your annual salary to more than $200,000 a year, and those where you only work part time — say five to 20 hours a week. So, you make $100 an hour but your annual salary doesn't make you a high roller.

"Being able to get $100 an hour is rare," said Al Lee, the director of quantitative analysis at PayScale.com . The median hourly wage in the U.S. is $16 an hour, he points out, so earning $100 an hour would be more than six times what the average worker makes.

Lee says the three easiest ways to get a $100 an hour job are: 1) Become a doctor, 2) Become a CEO of a large company (500 employees or more) or 3) Manage other people's money (stock broker, portfolio manager, etc.).

So, most of the time, you're going to need higher education like a medical degree, law degree or at least an MBA. Though, as you'll see, there are a few exceptions on the list for those with special talents in the arts. It's also important to note with most of the jobs, you're not going to earn $100 an hour out of the gate — you'll need to stay in the business for a few years.

Can you guess what is on the list? Here is a teaser...



1) Underwater Welder
2) Anesthesiologist
3) Commercial Pilot

Monday, December 13, 2010

More Holiday Fun!

This weekend we did lots of festive holiday things - we went down to see the big Christmas tree at Alameda Towne Center, played lots of Christmas music at home and sang with Zoey, finished up most of our Christmas shopping (we LOVE Toy Safari in Alameda!), bought Zoey a Frosty the Snowman stocking and snow globe, and decorated our beautiful, fragrant Noble Pine wreath on our front door. Christmas is quickly approaching! Although this is technically Zoey's 2nd Christmas, it is the first year that she'll be able to appreciate all the festivities, considering she was just a little 2-month old newborn last year. I can't wait!



Sunday, December 12, 2010

Our Orchid


We received this orchid as a housewarming gift from our friend Greta over 2 years ago, and it has never looked more beautiful! It only blooms about twice per year, but this winter it seems to be faring wonderfully, and now has 2 flowers in full bloom, and 2 more buds about to blossom. Maybe it senses that our household is filled with so much love and happiness, maybe it is the interesting weather we've been having this Fall, or maybe it is just a good year for orchids? Whatever the case, we are sure enjoying the beauty it adds to our home! : )

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Quest to Raise a Healthy Child!

I was a fat kid - there's no hiding the secret. It wasn't that I was "unhealthy" per-say, but I was definitely overweight, and I used food as a way to comfort myself emotionally when life got hard. Heck, food was there for any occasion, whether I was celebrating an accomplishment, pitying myself, or just hanging out on a random Saturday afternoon. My parents actually cooked healthy, well-balanced meals, and I always ate fruits and vegetables, but we also had lots of junk food, snacks, and desserts in our home....which I never learned how to consume in moderation. I was a snacker without self-control, and it eventually caught up to me. I think I hit the 200 lb. mark around my 17th birthday, but I stopped weighing myself after that point...

Luckily however, I learned how to develop balance and healthy eating habits as a young adult once I moved away to college, and I slowly started losing weight between the ages of 18-22. I also discovered exercise and how much I LOVED to walk, jog, dance, swim, play tennis, etc. Throughout my 20's I went up and down in weight, but to this day (even after my pregnancy), I've been able to maintain a healthy weight for the past 8 years, no small feat mind you! But thanks to lots of self-control and restraint (especially around baked goods!), and learning my own personal caloric needs, I've finally gotten to a point where I can still splurge and indulge in my favorite foods here and there throughout the week, but overall I eat healthy, exercise regularly, and I've never felt better in my life.

Now that I'm a mother myself, one of my fears is that Zoey will also grow up as a fat kid. I would never wish that social torture on my daughter - life is hard enough, and kids are mean enough already, even when you're an average weight. Plus I want Zoey to have a foundation of healthy lifestyle behaviors that will give her the tools for maintaining lifelong health as she grows up and moves out on her own (yikes - scary thought!) : )

Reading articles like this give me hope that it doesn't have to be a battle, and implementing a healthy lifestyle will actually be a natural, positive experience for all of us. I look forward to exercising together, cooking healthy meals as a family, and becoming a healthy role model for my baby girl. : )

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Fight Childhood Obesity as a Family
Preventing childhood obesity and diabetes is part of good parenting. Get tips for working as a family to help an overweight child lose weight and keep it off.
By Katherine Lee
Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH


Childhood obesity continues to be a significant problem in the United States. And since being overweight has been associated with health problems ranging from diabetes to heart disease, teaching kids to maintain a healthy weight to prevent problems later on is an important part of raising a healthy child. A very effective way to tackle the problem is to have the entire family take part in the prevention or, if necessary, the treatment of childhood obesity.

Dietitian Elisa Zied, MS, RD, author of Nutrition at Your Fingertips and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, offers the following tips to help your kids stay at a healthy weight or achieve weight loss.


Stock Up on Healthy Foods

Keep healthy foods in the fridge and in the pantry. Stock your pantry with mini applesauce cups, whole-grain cereals, nuts, dried fruit, and low-fat, low-sugar granola bars, says Zied.

At the same time that you make healthy foods accessible and visible, put the unhealthy ones, like cookies, on a high shelf. “Keep enough of these types of treats around so that kids don’t feel deprived, but do keep them on a high shelf or inside a cabinet,” says Zied. Completely banning sweets could prompt kids to go out and binge at friends’ houses.

Eat Together in One Spot
Try to eat a healthy breakfast and dinner with your kids, and make a habit of sitting and eating together. “Prioritize mealtimes,” says Zied. “Parents usually can’t watch what their child eats for lunch, but they do have control over breakfast and dinner.”

There are benefits beyond healthy eating when families eat together. “Studies have shown that kids who eat evening meals more frequently with their parents are less likely to use drugs and don’t smoke as much,” says Zied.

Another good approach: Make it a family rule to only eat in the kitchen or dining room, says Zied: “Eating in front of the TV or computer can lead to mindless eating.”

Set a Healthy Example
“Be positive about eating and body image,” says Zied. “Focus on health and fitness instead of weight.” Tell kids what’s in it for them when they eat healthy foods. Ask them to ask you, “What does the milk do for me?” Then explain that it provides calcium, which can make their bones grow and help them get big and strong. Similarly, explain that apples and whole grains have fiber, which can help them go to the bathroom.

“Kids don’t understand health, but kids care about what’s in it for them,” says Zied. “Make it relatable. With preteens and teens, who are more likely to care about their skin, tell them that water-rich vegetables and fruits will help make them look better.”

Practice Portion Control
Make up plates of food in the kitchen rather than serving family style. “That way, you can put small portions of food on the plates and let your family have seconds if they need more,” says Zied.

With slim kids, be sure not to push food onto them, cautions Zied: “Unless they’re slipping on the growth charts, you want kids to follow their own internal cues for hunger. Kids can have food jags.” It’s also important to respect their tastes and food preferences. “If they end up not wanting something, don’t make an issue out of it,” Zied suggests.

Switch to Healthier Cooking Techniques
Adopt healthier cooking habits such as grilling and baking rather than frying. And be wary of condiments. “Go easy on sauces, dressings, and butter,” says Zied. “Don’t drench your salad in dressing.”

When dining out, share portions. And try to cut back on sodium, fat, and calories the rest of the day to make allowances for what you’ll eat at the restaurant.

Put Fitness Out Front
Exercise is an important part of weight loss and the prevention of childhood obesity. Encourage your kids to participate in physical activity and be sure your kids see you being physically active. Even better, share a family walk or other physical activity together. The key is to pick exercise that’s enjoyable to the entire family. Take bike rides or walks; go bowling, skiing, or ice skating. When you get moving together, you’ll not only have more fun, but you’ll also maintain a healthy weight while doing so.

When you work together as a family to achieve weight loss and prevent childhood obesity, everybody benefits.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bubbles, Kitties & a Crawling, Laughing Zoey!

Hope this makes you smile as much as we did! : ) video

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Friendship.....

The following passage always give me peace, and helps me wrap my head around the sometimes difficult and confusing encounters I've had with amazing friends throughout my life. Friendships of all kinds exist in our world, and although each relationship we have can be very different from the next, it is important to remember that all are special in in their own right. Enjoy. : )

------------------------------------------------------------

Are Your Friends Here for a Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime?

Anonymous
RESOURCES

Cover of Healing Relationships is an Inside Job

Gain new insight into your relationships and become an agent of change.
Learn how


Cover of Ask Yourself Questions and Change Your Life

If you want your life to be more satisfying, so that you can have more satisfying relationships, read this book.

Many of us are fortunate enough to have friends who are a consistent part of our lives throughout all our ups and downs. However, sometimes others we consider friends appear to enter, then depart from our lives for reasons we try to, but don't always, understand. This piece nicely explains the flow of people in and out of our lives.

It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are! They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrongdoing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered. And now it is time to move on.

Then people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn together. They bring you an experience of peace, or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. You share an amazing stage of life because at that point you are walking the same path. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy, clarity, safety, and love. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season, until your paths diverge.

LIFETIME relationships are special friends who teach you lifetime lessons: things you must build upon in order to have and develop a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. These are the gems of friendship, those who may hurt us the most at times, but who are worth every second of struggle and challenge. Lifetime friends are those that know us more deeply than anyone, and love us more because of it.
: )

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I Love Lake Merritt!

3.4 miles of after-work jogging heaven : ) Lake Merritt rocks. : )