Wednesday, September 30, 2009

100 Random Things

I meant to do this for my 100th post...but I never got around to it. And I've been so busy, that I've been composing this blog for several days.

I'm sure that most people who are my buddies already know most of this stuff...but who knows? Maybe you'll find something blackmail worthy...

1. My middle name is Kathleen.

2. My oldest daughter was born in the same hospital that I was born in.

3. I am currently 100 pounds overweight. People laugh when I say this...because they think it is an exaggeration. But it's not...I "kept" 20 pounds of baby weight as a memento of the birth of each one of my 5 children. 5 babies x 20 pounds = ... You do the math.

4. I hate math.

5. I LOVE animation. My favorite show OF ALL TIME is Avatar: The Last Airbender...and I can't wait for the live action movie next summer.

6. My favorite animated movie is Howl's Moving Castle by Hayao Miyazaki...yah...I'm an anime nerd.

7. And while we're on the subject...I also love comic books...with X-Men being my all-time favorite. I have a super-secret crush on Gambit...if he showed up on my door...I'd have to cheat on my husband (even though he's 2-dimensional). Sick and sad, I know...

8. I love to travel, and get antsy if we live any one place too long.

9. I am severely anemic...I take great big Iron pills with OJ every morning.

10. My hair is turning white, and I refuse to do anything about it.

11. My great-great-great-great-and-some-more-greats grandfather on my FATHER'S side was supposedly the bastard son of Lord Lyon of England and a house servant. The servant was sent to America with my grandfather in the late 1700's to avoid scandal. It's a dead end on our family genealogy line...

12. My great-great-great uncle on my MOTHER'S side is Kit Carson, the famous frontiersman and Indian fighter.

13. I am horrible with budgeting...pretty much the sole reason we struggle financially (well...not REALLY...but I don't help...)

14. I spent 3 months of my life when I was 16 living in a rehab facility in Utah with an assortment of seriously demented kids and even more demented "counselors".

15. I am writing it all down in book form for my kids (when they're much older and I'm dead and gone)...but I actually have repressed memory syndrome from some of the trauma I it's taking a long time.

16. Jason and I wanted 10 kids, and had names picked out for all of them (5 girls and 5 boys). We gave up half-way through...

17. Names we didn't use: BOYS (in order) - Zion, Jaxon, and Griffin GIRLS (in order): Jonquil (nickname "Jonni"), and Ginger (with Charlotte as a runner-up)

18. My favorite band OF ALL TIME is Oingo Boingo.

19. Everytime I tell people that, I get the same reaction..."REALLY? That's a weird choice...not the Beatles? Or the Stones? Or Nirvana?"...NO PEOPLE!!! Oingo Boingo!!! All hail Danny Elfman (I'm not worthy!! I'm not worthy!!)

20. I can't make the commitment to homeschool, although I know it would be better for my kids.

21. My favorite chore is laundry. There is something therapeutic about sorting, folding, ironing, and mending. It keeps me in touch with my children and centered in a chaotic house.

22. On the other hand, I hate cleaning bathrooms. I get totally grossed out at other people's funk.

23. My husband still gets me hot...12 years and 5 kids later. It's a good thing we're both incapable of making more babies...

24. If I could have any car...I would trade it in for a Harley. (But until they make 7-seater bikes...I'm stuck with a minivan).

25. My bedspread is a "Jungle Floral" pattern with lots of green, orange, and hot pink.

26. I crave different sweets at very different, but very specific, times of the month.

27. I've seen Celine Dion in concert. It's a low-point on my "cool" meter...but no one can deny that the chick has PIPES.

28. I've also been to two LollaPaloozas ('93 and '96), which allowed me to see Alice in Chains, Fishbone, Dinosaur Jr., White Zombie, Devo, Soundgarden, Metallica, Primus, Front 242, and many, many others...Oingo Boingo's LAST Halloween Bash, Pearl Jam, the Ramones, Blue Man Group, and the TransSiberian Orchestra.

29. I taught my kids how to headbang.

30.I swear like a sailor when I stub my toe or encounter stupid people.

31. I love all kinds of animals...especially cats.

32. I am a Leo.

33. I wear flip-flops 365 days a year...except at the gym.

34. My favorite colors change seasonally...but I have a serious soft-spot for red and turquoise.

35. I used to be the voice of Crate & Barrel...the voice you heard when you called their 1-800 number to order from the catalog.

36. I have serious OCD issues...but only for the strangest making sure hangers match in a closet.

37. I read all my books barely cracked open so I don't break the bindings. I never fold over pages, and I store dust jackets in a ziploc while I'm reading. (See? OCD.)

38. I had a boyfriend off and on my freshman, sophomore, and junior year that abused me physically, emotionally, and verbally.

39. I still think about him.

40. My dad was awarded the California Medal of Honor...the highest award for bravery at the time...for rescuing two pilots from a burning plane that crashed in the middle of a minefield during a military exercise at Edwards Military Base. I was about 7 years old...and remember the ceremony.

41. I used to play the clarinet, and played in the Alta Loma High School Marching Band my freshman year.

42. I get bored easily, and while I'm bored, I record weird messages on my answering machine.

43. I was voted "Most Likely To Write A Book" in high school.

44. I once stole a roll of yellow "Caution/Cuidado" tape from a firetruck right in front of the firefighters. My friend Cristi was with me, and she couldn't stop laughing for , like, 2 days.

45. Cristi and I once spun out her car (a Honda CRX) and crashed into a wall while street racing down Vineyard Avenue.

46. My favorite place to hang out used to be Cafe Luna. It went out of business while I lived in Chicago, and I cried.

47. I love to garden, cross-stitch, scrapbook, and cook. At least, that's what my Relief Society profile says about me.

48. What it DOESN'T say is that I love punk and metal, fantasy books, movies, and shopping.

49. I have a hard time making friends...and I never tell one person everything about me.

50. I majored in Microbiology in college.

51. My favorite place to go camping is San Onofre ("Nofre") in California.

52. I hate mystery's and science fiction.

53. My favorite food is Asian-Island fusion.

54. If I could run away and join the circus, I'd want to be the Lion Tamer.

55. I have two tattoos...a lion on my back and a Leo glyph on my ankle.

56. I wish I could have more.

57. My first car was a red Pontiac Sunbird.

58. I used to be a lunch lady for Valley View School District. I embarrassed my daughter every day.

59. My favorite holiday is Halloween...followed closely by Christmas.

60. As a child, I had terrible, gory, recurring that involved going to the supermarket with my parents, and finding out that a werewolf had turned the market into a giant meat grinder and was grinding up people. In my dream, my dad went to go "Check Things Out", and I begged him not to go because I knew he would die. He went anyway. I could see people being hacked up and mutilated in the grinder. I had the dream over and over again, and it was obviously so scarring that I still remember it in detail today.

61. I suspect that my memory of these violent dreams as a child is the reason that although I am a fairly dark-humored individual who loves Halloween and loves to be scared, I cannot watch gory horror matter how cheesey.

62. The book Lovely Bones made me physically ill to my stomach.

63. I hate chick flicks.

64. My greatest fear is that one of my children will be stolen from me and abused in some way. Sometimes I wake up at night crying from dreaming about it.

65. Sometimes I am driving down the freeway, and I have the sudden urge to drive away and not stop...not look back...just disappear...

66. I love water and could swim everyday.

67. My favorite season is Autumn.

68. I love things that sparkle and glimmer...glitter is GOOD.

69. I was on TV once...when the local News Station busted a ring of Illegal Teenage Street Racing, and the camera man zoomed in on me running from the cops with an open bottle of beer in my hand. My parents saw the "Special Expose" on the 8 o'clock news the following night. So did everyone else's parents, and my already torrid reputation took an additional dive.

70. I used to be the Assistant General Manager for a Fredericks of Hollywood. My name badge said "Ass. Manager" can imagine the jokes...

71. I idolize my sister-in-law Tara, but I've given up trying to emulate her because it's too hard to behave.

72. Right now I'm watching Bones, Vampire Diaries, Dollhouse, and House.

73. I HATE reality shows...the only one I'll watch is So You Think You Can Dance.

74. We once lived in a hotel for 2 months when the sale of our house in one place fell through and affected our purchase of another home in a new place. That poor hotel will never be the same.

75. I once stole a mattress from someones trash and set it on fire in an ex-boyfriends driveway.

76. On really bad days, I still crave a cigarette.

77. My kids mean everything to me...for all my faults and past sins...I try everyday to be better so they'll never know my shortcomings. Unfortunately...I still chuck up.

78. I think I have ADD.

79. My sister once kicked my ass in front of my mom...I was winning until she brought her knee up into my face...then all I saw was stars...

80. I once dated a guy for 2 weeks with purple hair...

81. I was a big, huge nerd in elementary of my supposedly "good friends" used to refer to me as "Red Dog" behind my back...then in high school I bloomed and was fairly hot...and he had to eat his words.

82. I've lived in 6 different states...California, Utah, Illinois, Nevada, Texas, and Florida.

83. The only country I've ever been to besides the USA is Canada.

84. I REALLY need a vacation.

85. I can shot a handgun, rifle, shotgun, and crossbow with good accuracy.

86. Mosquito's never bite me...they eat everyone in my family BUT me. Maybe I taste bad...

87. When I was little, I wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up.

88. I'm afraid of ghosts.

89. I almost always order water to drink at restaurants.

90. I want to hike to the top of Angels Landing in Zion National Park next summer, but I'm scared because I have developed a fear of heights over the last 3 years.

91. I like afternoon naps.

92. When I was preggers with my son Joseph, I craved Starburst jelly beans.

93. My ideal vacation destination is Phuket, Thailand.

94. I LOVE roller coasters.

95. I spend WAY TOO MUCH TIME on the computer.

96. I can't figure out the song "Ana Ng" by They Might Be Giants...but I love it anyway.

97. I love to paint.

98. I cry over really dumb commercials.

99. I have a REALLY high pain threshold.

100. My favorite time of day is twilight (and it has nothing to do with the books).

There's a weird and wacky look into me...see ya!!


Monday, September 21, 2009

International Coastal Clean-Up Day 2009

Part of being a Scout is being a Good Citizen...and part of being a Good Citizen is helping keep your planet clean. On Saturday, we had the opportunity to help in International Coastal Clean-Up Day. It's a day where people all over the world get together to collect trash off the beaches and record what was collected to help educate the public on the dangers of littering. WE were helping at two separate sites on Key Biscayne...Bill Baggs State Park and Crandon Park and Nature Center.

I was able to take not only Girl Scouts, but a couple Boy Scouts as well. In fact, it was a family event, so I took my whole family!! Even little Nicolette was there to help!! And I wasn't the only one...Karen (my co-leader) brought her kids, the Tylers had their whole family, as did the Rosales'! It was GREAT!!

I was really excited to go...not just to help out, but also to try some new tricks with my camera. Kaliayah was ready to go, too.

"C'mon, guys!! Let's GO!!!!"

Savannah was ready to work, too...giggly even early on this stormy morning. There was we had to wait for the storm to stop before we went out on the beach.

Abi and Savannah played games with the kids while waited for the lightening to stop...Red Rover, Tightrope Challenge, and I Spy.

Michelle and Jessica were really just happy to sit and chat.

Once we got started, Girl Scouts really went to town. They were dedicated and committed to "Making the World a Better Place" Here is Oriana hauling a bag of trash off the beach.

Of course...some weren't as helpful...mainly the teenagers that need the service hours to graduate. Karen was supervising...but as you can see...Karen was REALLY in need of some Cafe con while my girls toil away in the background, Kaitlyn, Emily Tyler, and Alex Perez hang out and chat a bit.

While Karen and Heidis' group toiled away at Crandon Park, the rest of us were gettin' crackin' at Bill Baggs.

Girl Scouts ROCK!!!!

While cleaning up at Bill Baggs, I was able to play with the macro feature on my camera. I took this picture of a giant banana spider. This guy was about as big across as the tip of my middle finger to the base of my palm. I wanted to put my hand next to it so you'd have a comparison, but although I'm told these giant spiders are "gentle" and hardly ever bite...I was too chicken to get that close. A couple of my Girl Scouts offered to do it, but I refused. Can you imagine me explaining that to someones mom?!?!?!?

This is no ordinary pile of is a sea turtle nest. And as you can's occupants had just hatched the night before. We saw these nests every few feet up and down the beach...all with shredded leathery turtle eggs and tracks leading out to sea...

Again...I used my macro to take some close-ups of the eggs. The kids were amazed to pick up the shells and feel that they were soft...sort-of like a deflated balloon...

Serving others and your community is really it's own reward...but having another incentive isn't bad, either...and our incentive was free passes to the Miami Seaquarium for all International Coastal Clean-Up volunteers!! It was SO HOT and humid that we headed straight for the Dolphin and Killer Whale show in hopes of getting splashed!!
At the show, I got to try out the Sports feature of my camera...where it takes several shots ion a few I got some great ones of the killer whale and her trainer showing their stuff!!

Here's another one...

After the show (and a good soaking), we wandered around the park and looked at the various aquariums and exhibits. One highlight was the manatees. Abi was VERY happy to see "Manatee" is her camp name (she earned it for being so sweet and gentle).

All in all...yucky weather was a great day helping our community and environment. I'm so proud of my Scouts and my family and the families of those that participated for being so socially conscious and setting a good example of service!! Together, we can "Make the world a Better Place!!"

Friday, September 18, 2009

Husbands' Triumph

I've been so busy these last couple weeks...moving in and painting my new house. It's been a big job...and I'm not quite finished. But somewhere in those last couple weeks, my husband flew to Las Vegas to attend a conference for all the General Managers of The Cheesecake Factory and The Grand Lux Cafe.

They have a lot of classes and lectures, guest speakers and award ceremonies. One of the most impressive is where they announce the Restaurant of the Year. They award one Cheesecake Factory and one Grand Lux Cafe the honor. There are several criteria the restaurants have to meet to even be nominated...and I won't bore you with details...but it is a accumulation of sales, profit, attrition, customer service scores, cleanliness scores, mystery shop scores, etc. etc. Each Regional Manager picks a store from his region that he thinks should be nominated. All the stores are presented to the Board of Directors, and they are fought for and whittled down until about 5 Cheesecakes and 2 Grand Luxs remain. The remaining stores are presented and fought for again, and then everyone leaves except the Board, who make the final decision on the winners. No one except the Board...not even David Overton, the founder and owner of The Cheesecake Factory Inc., know the decision until it is awarded.

So at the Award Dinner, Jason found out that his restaurant had been nominated along with the Las Vegas #1 location. Now keep in mind that just getting nominated is a HUGE honor...especially for Sawgrass Grand Lux. See, Sawgrass was opened during the Katrina aftermath. Business was so bad that they couldn't even open the entire restaurant. It has struggled ever since. A lot of managers have gone there to "turn it around" and burnt out in a few months. Then they called in a rookie hubby. In three years, he's helped the store turn completely around until they actually got nominated for Restaurant of the Year.

Jason knew that he wouldn't win against Las Vegas. Las Vegas is a's the busiest restaurant in the entire United States. It's open 24 hours, and pulls in almost $28 million a year. To give you some perspective...Jasons store makes about $10 million a year. A super busy Cheesecake Factory (the kind with 2-hour waits on a Friday or Saturday night) makes between $16-$18 million a year. So Las Vegas has a real strong pull...sometimes it's been credited with pulling the entire company out of the bowels of the recession.

Besides the competition, Jason was just really excited to be NOMINATED. So imagine his surprise when the announced the Restaurant of the Year for 2009 as Sawgrass Mills...HIS restaurant.

He did it. He actually BEAT Vegas.

EVERYONE was totally shocked. But no one more than him...except maybe the GM of Vegas. I guess he had a hard time picking his jaw up off the floor after he heard that they'd lost to Sawgrass.

So - for winning...the store got a very nice plaque.

And Jason got a cool crystal cheesecake (which is the size of a real piece of Cheesecake).

Personally, I think there should be $$ involved...ya' know...a nice, big bonus check. But what do I know?

One of the perks of being a GM with The Cheesecake Factory Inc. is the company car...a BMW 325i. All the GMs get one...and it's upgraded every 36 months. It just so happens that Jasons 36 month mark was THIS month, September, so he got a new car. He got to pick the color and interior...and he went with jet black and tan leather. It was delivered right after he got home from the Conference...a brand new 2009 BMW 325i with just 21 miles on it...and although he would have gotten it even if he HADN'T was still nice to come home to a new car.

I gotta's pretty sharp. I like it better than the old one...mostly 'cause this one has an iPod dock. So if you see a jet black Beamer streakin' down the freeway...look close to see if I'm driving it...I'll be looking for every excuse possible to leave the minivan behind and take that baby for a ride...

I just can't get enough of that new car smell...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Totally Random

Okay - at risk of being labeled a thirty-something loser with no life who's addicted to teenage romances (which is TOTALLY false), can I say that I'm starting to get kinda excited for this?

It's a couple months away, I know...but it's not just the books or the's the quality time I get with my teenage daughter. There isn't a lot that we do together...but taking her to the 12:01 am showing of Twilight last year, and New Moon this year, is something that we can do together. It tricks her into thinking I'm cool...if only for 90 minutes.

She and I have different opinions about the books...I am Team Edward, and she is staunchly Team Jacob. But I have to opinion changes when it comes to the movies. I don't know why it is...but reading the story and seeing it played out on the big screen changes my perspective of the characters.

Maybe it's purely superficial...if I was a 15-year-old girl, I'd be WAY more into Taylor Lautner than into Robert Pattinson.

Maybe it's the actors portrayals? In the books...I think Jacob is sneaky and sometimes mean. In the movies, he seems tortured and sincere.

I don't know...but I LOVE scenes like this...even though I already know how it ends...

Savannah's Quilt

As you know, my mother (known as Yaya), has been making my kids enormous, beautiful quilts. Kaitlyn and Joseph got there's last Christmas...

Kaitlyns is an incredibly striking and colorful star pattern quilt...

Joseph's in a very creative pieced quilt with a dragon on the front that has lift-the-flap scales that have surprises and secret messages underneath from Yaya and Papa...
Brigham got his quilt for his birthday in March, and it is a very exotic and colorful quilt that represents Brighams love of animals...

Savannah was eagerly anticipating getting HER quilt for her birthday...but since we were moving, Yaya didn't want to risk sending it and it getting sent to the wrong house (it IS irreplaceable). So, she waited until we were officially moved in to our new house, and THEN mailed it.

It arrived last week, and Savannah COULD NOT WAIT to open it.

For her patience, Savannah was rewarded a beautiful fairy quilt with a fan pattern and an adorable appliqued baby fairy in the center with gauzy wings.

Savannah loves is TOTALLY her... Nicolette is waiting for hers...but she'll have to wait until Christmas...


It's been awhile since I've posted, I know. We've been REALLY busy...moving, and painting, and pretty much having our lives turned upside down. In fact, I've been working so hard that I've gone and gotten myself sick. Since my head feels like it's going to explode, I thought now would be a good time to catch up on some blogging.

I've always loved moving...because moving always meant going someplace COMPLETELY new. When we moved from the Valley to the Plains, it was a massive change...there were no beaches, no mountains, and no deserts. But there were seasons, and forests, and lots and lots of farms...not to mention The Windy City.

Moving from the Plains to the Desert brought me back to more familiar territory, but after 5 years in the Plains, moving to the arid, rocky, mountainous terrain was a big the wispy green and brown grasses for the rust and charcoal rocks and sands, and the 4 months of snow for 4 months of blistering heat.

Leaving the Desert for the Ranch was very much like leaving the Valley for the was a return to lush and verdant farmland carved with creeks and speckled with lakes. We loved the small hometown feel and good county folk that we met there. We especially loved a place big enough to hold the promise of raising our kids in a wholesome place.

When we left the Ranch for the Jungle, we knew we were in for our biggest change yet. The Jungle, although technically part of the great United States, feels like a completely different country. The melding of so many different cultures and people is amazing. The tropical weather that fuels the Jungles incredible flora and fauna is paradisaical. You feel almost cut off from the rest of the world...or at least the rest of USA.

I always liked the adventure...the surprises...the discoveries. I always liked exploring a new place, and delving into it's secrets. So for me, moving was always fun.

But this last move WAS NOT FUN. It wasn't fun because it didn't take me to a new locale...just across town. It wasn't fun because we were forced to move, it wasn't a move of choice. And it wasn't fun because I was a bucket of stress and had a hard time finding the rainbow in my storm.

On one particularly bad day, I had just found out that we had to be out of our old house 10 days before I thought we did. I was hurrying to finish packing, and had started on some of my most treasured items...some collectible Disney pieces that my dad had bought me. I was being VERY careful (or at least, I THOUGHT I was), and I set a piece down on the couch to wrap it, but I didn't realize that the cushion was angled slightly, and in terrible slow-motion I watched the piece roll off the cushion and smash on the floor.

That was it. It was a total deal-breaker. I collapsed in tears and sobbed and sobbed. I called my sister, possibly the only person to understand my torment at losing a precious Disney piece (because she has her own collection), and sobbed and sobbed on the phone to her. I called my husband at work at sobbed and sobbed on the phone with him.

I'm not usually a cry-baby...I'm a "suck-it-up" kind of gal...but I think I was just so tired, and so stressed, that I just couldn't control my emotions and the hysterical side of me broke through.

I have a couple really great friends, and they came over and helped me pack. They are "suck-it-up" kind of gals, too, and didn't allow me to wallow in self-pity (thank goodness- although I wasn't very thankful at the time. At the time, I really wanted to wallow.). Thanks to them, I got packed, cleaned, and moved.

Now it's been 2 weeks since we moved to our new house. There is still a lot of organizing and unpacking to do. The highlight of my week this week will be bulk garbage pick-up day so I can get rid of all the trash and boxes that we've emptied. I've been busy painting, and can officially say that I am 1/2 way done with painting the whole house.

I'm REALLY eager to post pictures of our house when it gets finished being painted and set-up...but since I'm not done, you'll have to wait.

Until then, I just want everyone to know that I never want to move again unless we get transferred to another state and the company not only pays for it, but sends a crew to help.