Moments as Souvenirs

The last few years, as the friends closest to me move states away, I realize that the object of my vacations are moments together rather than sightseeing. Since everyone’s so scattered it has been fun to see their new haunts and homes and see what their state is all about.

This past trip was a long time coming. It’s been three years since I’ve seen this best friend and family (I did see her briefly last year when she flew out alone for her grandfather’s memorial.) I pretty much have best friends and then acquaintances, so I don’t mean to have her sound like she’s the only one that matters, but sometimes in life, you are so close to someone you are practically sisters/family. That’s the case here. She pursued a friendship with me during a dark time in my teens where I lost hope in people. From there, I stuck by her side through some heavy stuff in her life. We’ve seen the worst and best of each other, and because of that, we have a bond that is unbreakable. And as her family grew, I was at each birth and am an honorary auntie to her three precious boys.

Her youngest wasn’t even one when they moved, and I was nervous about how long it would take to warm up to me. We skype and my friend mentions me often, but three years is a long time for young kids. When they picked me up, the younger 2 were there and staring/adoring me. I had to stifle a cheesy grin and pretend I didn’t notice it. They wanted to reacquaint with me and that was taking in every detail of what I looked like. The littlest one was talkative and chattered with me right away. The middle smiled but was soft spoken the first day. The eldest was in bed by the time I got to their place, but the next morning, he hugged me and it was like old times.

God has been working great things in this family and it was so neat to just be a part of their week. All of them are doing so well there, and I can’t even selfishly wish they’d move back. I know they are where they should be and they flourish here. I am so proud of the life my best friend and her husband have made for themselves here.

The sweetest parts of the trip were all of us in the car getting eldest brother to school and praying all together before they got to the school. And all of us gathered, mommy, daddy, the kids, and me – holding hands and praying together at bedtime. And of course, hearing three little voices tell me throughout the day, “I love you, Auntie Laura.”

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Making lego gummies and gummy bears with Auntie Laura.

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At the waterfall fifteen minutes from their home. Yeah, it’s crazy. There’s water everywhere here.

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Pedis with the bestie!

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Frozen custard – A local favorite!

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Another spot not even 15 minutes away with gorgeous waterfalls.

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The rock formations and lushness around it just makes it even more breathtaking.

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So much green! So much water!

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Turtle boy! One of the funniest moments! The youngest is such a goofball! He was playing in his carseat, collapsed in it all buckled in, and started walking around like a turtle.

It was hard to say goodbye the last day. I know I’ll be back, but I also know an annual trip isn’t going to happen, so it’s bittersweet. My best friend and I talk nearly everyday though. We stay close mostly through messaging each other and social media and skyping.

I came back feeling really rested, really loved, and full of love. ❤

 

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A Great Workout and an AMT Review

My posts tend to get pretty heavy and pedantic. I don’t really write to delight or keep the attention of my readers (although I appreciate all of you!). But I also don’t like keeping a negative focus. So, I have good news and a much shorter post this time around.

Last night I watched my heart rate climb, felt sweat pouring down my brow, coached myself through two cramps, and ran my heart out on an AMT for 20 minutes. I gave it my all! There was something gratifying about being the heaviest person in the little line of machines and going faster than all of them with my head in the game. I stepped down and the pay off was immediate- my legs felt like they weighed a ton each but I was so pumped.
Have you seen an AMT? They are like ellipticals 2.0. but so much more. It stands for Adaptive Motion Trainer and the beauty of it is a more fluid motion and broad range in strides.

 

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                          The AMT-885 from Precor                             Photo Credit: amtfitness.com

 

Imagine a machine that allows you to bounce so that your movement isn’t rigid and isn’t guided by a track or wheel. You can bounce up and down like skipping on a jumprope or swing your legs far apart and feel like prancing gazelle. You can change your stride length from zero to thirty-six. You get a full range that feels like you’re running on air without the pounding of a treadmill or the stiffness of a crosstrainer or elliptical. You can go up and down like climbing stairs or do big large ovals like treading water.

I like that this is much less impact than running on a treadmill or on concrete but still gives enough bounce to get the benefits of some impact. Impact is a friend and foe to one’s body, especially with obesity. I know that some impact on my bones and joints is a way to keep them healthy and strong but I also know that high impact exercises work against my body since I’m carrying way more weight on my frame than I should. When I first tried this machine at my gym, my knees were not happy. I was dealing with knee problems and so I approached this machine carefully and tried to limit my time on it to 10 minutes initially. I found the impact really helped and feel my knees to my knowledge are benefitting from it!
I typically do 20-25 minutes of cardio followed by weight machines and then wrap it up with another 5-15 minutes of cardio at a more leisurely pace for cool down. I’d like to increase that number to 35 minutes of cardio, some weight machine, some free weights, and a 10 minute cool down.

I have a book coming my way to help me learn more about the machines and exercise moves so I can confidently do them with the right form and knowing what muscle areas they target.

If you have this type of machine available at your gym but have been intimidated to try it, I say give it a go! It’s so much fun!

Spinny Chairs, Soup Cans, and Other Splendors

On Saturday my boyfriend and I took advantage of the free admissions to some major museums. We made a day trip to two art museums: the LACMA and the Hammer Museum. I sometimes forget how fortunate I am to live close enough to a major metropolitan. The work of classic and modern figures like Matisse, Renoir, Monet, Picasso, Braque, Warhol, and more are just a drive away. And featured at the LACMA, works by Elaine Lustig Cohen, which made my designer heart flutter.

The Hammer Museum is always free, so on a day when you can go elsewhere for free which usually costs, it’s lax and devoid of congestion. I’ve been to the LACMA several times, but this was my first time ever at the Hammer Museum. When one usually thinks art museum, one thinks structured, grandiose, and somewhat serious. This place feels entirely different. I walked up to the front desk, got my stickers, and as the person pointed to open exhibits on the map, she added, “Don’t forget to check out our lounge and ping pong area up stairs.” We walked up and in the courtyard were these huge chairs and people laughing as they gripped the sides and spun around. Functional and playful!

Here’s a video of the functional art pieces in action:

Chairs at Hammer Museum

At the risk of admitting puerile pleasures, I will say that the spinny chairs and ping pong break really added to my experience. I also couldn’t believe my luck at their permanent collection. I feasted my eyes on art by French and European greats. Josh’s favorites were Gustave Moreau’s King David (1878) and Salomé Dancing before Herod (1876).
Talk about visual opulence. On a more contemporary note, I loved Catherine Opie’s portraiture. Her dramatic lighting is so painterly and visceral. What is not subtract by shadow is large, detailed, and impacting.

LACMA was PACKED. Like, nearly sweltering as the A/C couldn’t keep up with the droves of art amateurs and enthusiasts alike. We weaved through much of it as quickly but efficiently as possible while taking breathers outside to cool down and get away from crowds. To my dismay, the Rain Room was sold out for the day. The highlight of LACMA for me was their graphic design exhibit on Alvin Lustig and Elaine Lustig Cohen. And revisiting pieces I always anticipate each time. In the contemporary section, we both had to point Warhol’s iconic Campbell soup painting and the Litchenstein’s work.  Josh enjoyed the Egyptian art and lavish religious art/sculpture best. We have very different preferences in art appreciation and that worked out well for such an impressive amount of work in one museum. We both pointed out different things to each other.

I know he would have enjoyed our outing either way, but when I mentioned getting Dim Sum before tackling the sites, I think that sealed the deal. 😉

 

A Little Bit of Everything

Last week was very full!

The apologetics seminar went very well and our first speaker spent his whole time on how to speak to others that are inquisitive outside of our faith. Which is SO important! That without actually caring and having a relational connection, even the greatest orator would not persuade someone to listen. I truly appreciate that. There have been times when people who identify as Christian are so blatantly rude or criticizing I’m embarrassed to be grouped with them. Atheist and agnostic jokes and sarcastic remarks from the pulpit or general fellowship ARE NEVER OKAY. I ran like a chicken with my head cut off, heart beating fast from the moment I jetted out of work, prepped my items to eat out, and then got over there just in time to sign in and sit down! Whew! So glad that worked out well and the message was a great one to start with.

My boyfriend and I celebrated our anniversary this weekend. The day before we were gifted with tickets to a hockey game and so our celebration spanned two days! We’ve dated long enough where we didn’t need bells and whistles. Even though it’s a dating not marriage anniversary, he took time to look up the type of gift to buy and it said wood, so he bought me a limited edition book and designed a card from scratch with a wood texture on it. And treated me to a yummy sushi dinner! My gift for him was rather practical, but thought out too – a nice pair of sneakers to meet a need so he could dress it up or down. And with it, I included a big folded cardboard presentation board and wrote “Take a Walk Down Memory Lane.” For each year I made large shoe prints and dashes that led on for whatever lies ahead for us. And between each year I filled it with memories I could recall and daycations and fun things we did. Concerts, movies, new eateries, life events…

Trying to meal prep for two is not that easy. I’ve been running a couple minutes late trying to get breakfast ready and lunch prepared. My dad doesn’t quite understand my eating plan yet but is slowing reading through the book. He lost 3 pounds last week and believes that it works now. I’m very proud of him!

We had more house guests this weekend and I got to spend a full day with my youngest cousin on Saturday. She gave me the longest hug goodbye on Sunday. Being a state away, these cousin hangouts are a special treat.

Last but not least, I went to my first poetry/spoken word performance yesterday. The venue was small but the energy was powerful. Everyone had a different story to tell. Anecdotal, fanciful, romantic, ironic, or just amusing, the poems made their way through all kinds of emotions. My friend got to share her first published piece and it was a treat to be there. At poetry readings, you snap to let the performer know their piece isn’t just heard, it’s felt. I think that is beautiful.

Here’s to a great week ahead!

Waiting for a Congratulatory Vibration

I like my fitbit. It’s like a metaphoric little red string that tells me “Don’t forget to move around!” I need this visual reminder and instead of viewing it as a manacle for movement I see it as a helper – that red string that gently reminds.

I just synced myfitnesspal with it so now I can be more on top of my food tracking too.

As someone who gets tense easily and nervous around people, I also like that it’s a thing I can fidget with.

I haven’t had a chance to get the gym ball rolling. It’s Christmas this Friday and I have a family of four spending a few days at our house. There is no time for the gym. Excuses? Yes. Valid ones.

On a minimal activity day (aka wake, work, computer, sleep) I get as little as 2500 steps. On days where I spend some time shopping or take a  short walk with the dog, I get about 5,000.

I still have yet to obtain the IDEAL minimum – which is 10,000 steps. I heard that at this number your fitbit vibrates and tells you good job for meeting that requirement. Like a little pat on the back. I want a pat on the back. I’m still working on my congratulatory vibration. 🙂

Fitbits and Notions!

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Can you guess what I got as an early Christmas gift? I’m really enjoying my fitbit even though I was skeptical that it was just an overpriced pedometer. Every other article is about death and heart disease and my spirit animal is a sloth. I have several loves and hobbies – none which require much movement. It doesn’t help that I work a desk job.

Yesterday I clocked in a mere 2600 steps from morning until after work. Pathetic! We’re suppose to aim for 10,000 a day, and even with walking last night to see Christmas lights I only ended up with a grand total of 6500 steps. I like that this gadget will help me stay accountable for movement.

And as far as notions – I mean sewing notions! I am floored once again about things working out at just the right timing. One of my friends has been sharing about her sewing projects and I and a couple others voiced that we would love to learn so she opened her home and taught us a bunch! I thought I’d be going empty handed and just watch but I ended up spying a very basic Singer sewing machine for $26! NEW. AT TARGET. It was meant to be.

I don’t see myself getting super adventurous but I want to get a decent understanding! My friend shared a really cool tidbit:

Pin vertically instead of sideways so the sewing machine can “jump” the needles and you can pull them out later! That way the pinhead doesn’t accidentally get in the way.

Does anyone have any fitbit or sewing tidbits for this newbie?

Nearly Halloween

Halloween is five days away and it’s still mid to high 80’s temperature wise. It does not feel very fall-like outside of the grocery store. There are pumpkins and pumpkin-flavored everything to choose from but the weather makes it hard to believe Autumn is here. On a positive note, the projected weather for the first week of November is all in the 70’s (granted it’s higher 70’s.)

What do you all do for Halloween? I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it as an adult. My parents didn’t want my brother and I to do anything that contributed to the holiday growing up but I find that a lot of the fun is not rooted in wickedness as much as that’s how some people try to push it. Spine tingling origin stories and rumors of ritualistic sacrifice and the like…when most of what happens is kids celebrating an event to dress up and eat lots of candy… Needless to say, I think there was a little resentment based on childhood and I’m moving on and trying to make the most out of it now. I don’t feel the need to go all out or attend any parties, but I’m not turning off all my lights and grumping.

My mission this year is to find a copy of Hocus Pocus and finally watch it. Usually when I bring that up, people gasp quite audibly. Haha!

I had an event yesterday but was hoping to be involved in my church’s trunk or treat event. It turns out that they were low on cars and my brother and his wife signed up last minute but since they are incredibly busy, I put this backdrop together for them.

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My boyfriend plays pool and a local billiards place is hosting a free pool day the night before halloween. There’s a costume contest and lots of goodies included. I told him if we dressed up, it would be funny to be the Woking Dead. A play on words is always fun. Two zombies who own a Chinese restaurant, anyone? Tasty brains, no MSG. 😉

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

Something Borrowed:

A realiable gps with newer maps guides the way
The “dumb phone” lent to me since my cellphone broke

Something Blue:

Not being happy with how big I look in some of the pictures that were taken
The tee from the aquarium that fit me just right even though I was worried
The ocean as we drove around the coast
The unplanned color of most of the family’s dresses for the wedding
The feeling I get as I leave the airport knowing it will be a full year or more until I see my friend again

Something old:

The feeling of my legs after lots of walking
A favorite vacation spot
Em dancing with her son-in-law at the wedding at the ripe but lively age of 99
Remembering and retracing steps around a favorite aquarium
The San Francisco Bridge
The cells of Alcatraz
The photos at the memory table displaying loved ones gone to be with Him
Trying to recall how many years we’ve been friends and no coming up with a solid number
Familiar faces of friends and family gathered to celebrate a union
Relearning T9 text until my new phone arrives
My mom’s friend gifts a beautiful gilded hair barrette for me to wear as sister of the groom

Something New:

Learning that flounder flatten with age and are actually born fully upright
Being in the driver’s seat for a lengthy trip
A sister-in-law (finally!)
The first person in our cousin group gets married
My brother and his wife are now moved into a different city
My parents’ nest is now empty
A glass cup, pencil, pins, and a tee shirt for souvenirs
Having my best friend spend the night in a home of my own
Viewing the only albatross in captivity in the world (she is unable to be released)

Above are the snippets of a very full wedding week and quick vacation. Feeling refreshed.

A Cheerful Heart is Good Medicine

This is the year my friend and I set once upon a time ago to go exploring the streets of Paris, the workshops of Rome, and retrace steps in Germany. I brought it up and we both smiled and agreed Europe would have to wait.

Now that my closest friends are scattered and plane rides instead of car rides away, my tickets and destinations are not to landmarks and yelped haunts, but to familiar faces. Who knows when Paris awaits, but yesterday, I smiled and laughed more in one day than I probably have all year. It is so good to see old friends. It refreshes my heart like nothing else.

Eleven Greeting Cards

The Breakdown:

Mother’s Day card: 1
You’re Just like a Mom to Me card: 1
Graduation cards: 3
Wedding shower card: 1
Wedding card: 1
Birthday Cards: 3
I’m Praying, Keep Being Strong card: 1
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May events with cards : 11
The Feels: Priceless

I’ve got a lot happening very soon. I’m sorry if I fall off the blogging radar for a while! My brother (who is one of the graduates) is getting married this month and that is one of the apexes of the month (who am I kidding, year!) The other really awesome event is what I’ve dubbed “friend christmas”. I have a bestie that most years can make a trip out to our hometown and it’s like Christmas day waiting for our annual get together! She’ll be at the wedding and then we have a girlfriend trip which I’m really looking forward to.

Friends and bloggers that pray, please keep my friend and her family in prayer. They’ve dealt with a lot the last few years including a big move states away. After finding a place of their own last year, they found a horrible mold issue that gave the family respiratory issues. The complex they are at denies their proof and because of their “pestering” they’ve denied them the option to renew their lease. The family of 5 need to be out by the end of their month. They are only able to afford a 2 bedroom apartment but most places will not make an exception of more than 2 to a room, even if they are little children. They need to find a place willing to work with them on pricing for a 3 bedroom or that will allow the boys to bunk all together in one room. She’s beyond stressed by hopeful that God’s got the details. She’s my keep being strong card.

How about you? Any fun things happening this month?