Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year's

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.”Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Here's to the bright New Year, and a fond farewell to the old; here's to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas 2009

What can one say about Christmas 2009-----aside for being grateful it's now over. Cynical, huh? In all honesty, the day was nice but was definitely different. Unlike last year, being the first year without my mom, which seemed rather surreal and numbing to say the least, it seemed emptier. We (dad, brother, and I) muttered through the holidays as if they were just another day----days we wanted to pass as quickly as possible for we didn't want to be reminded that she wasn't with us. Certainly with the passing of time the onslaught of uncontrollable tears has subsided slightly but the loss still remains the same.

On Christmas Eve the entire family went to a church service then over to my dad's for a lovely dinner. He's quite the gourmet. :-) The evening and time spent together was very nice.

Christmas day my dad came over to our house to watch Amira open her presents, have breakfast, as well as taking a nice long walk around the neighborhood. Then later we went to my brother's for dinner.

So, what made this holiday season seem any different?

Normally, the first person awake on Christmas day would call out "Christmas gift" which would then cause everyone else to wake up and gather around the tree. The caller of “Christmas gift” was also entitled to open the first gift. Even over the years when my brother and I had our own homes it would be a race to see who called whom first on the phone and shout "Christmas gift". Also, Christmas was always spent at my parents’ house. My mom loved the holiday so much that her excitement became infectious to all of us. She'd decorate her house with such care and enthusiasm. She’d also bake endless mounds of cookies and fudge to hand out to everyone she knew as well as have available for anyone that happened to stop by.

My dad and I are somewhat perceived as the bah-hum-bugs in the family because we don't get all into the hype of Christmas. However, this does not mean we do not have an appreciation for such excitement. Me and his idea of Christmas is getting together as a family, having a nice day and spending time together without all the commercialism. But, if left to our way of thinking it would feel rather lacking in festivity. Thank goodness my brother and his wife continue the celebratory fashion.

Anyway, unlike last year---feeling numb and surreal----this year felt different. It was as if a light bulb went off in my head and the realization of "nothing will ever feel the same as before" forged through my head.

It was certainly fun to see Amira's jubilation and feel her energetic gusto towards seeing everything and opening everything, but it just didn't feel the same.

I realize I'm still in the throws of processing these emotions. I realize I have the power to make the celebration happen anyway I wish, but for the moment I'm just mourning the loss of what "always had been". I miss my mom so much, and don't talk about it much because I don't wish to put that on Amira, and since she's with me nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week I don't get an opportunity to express these feelings much. I would be fooling myself as well if I thought the loss didn't haunt her at times as well, for as we were going to bed Christmas night she said to me in a saddened low tone, "when can we see Grandma---I miss her". I asked her if that's where she wanted to go in her dreams was to see Grandma, she said that she'd like for both us too. Thank goodness the lights were out because I didn't want her to see my tears.

Thanks for allowing me to process in writing what I can’t at times verbalize.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Catch Up

Wow, the last part of this year seems to be going real quick. Either that or I'm really slacking.

Halloween weekend (see how fast time goes----it's already my dad, Amira and I took a rode trip to Los Angeles to see my grandmother. My grandmother (my mom's mom) turned 87 years old this year and is incredibly young for her age. She had just recently had eye surgery so we were going down to check on her as well as visit with my aunt who was visiting from Kansas.

For us adults it was a great visit because we were able to spend time together talking, laughing and catching up. For Amira, I'm sure, it was boring. However, being the trooper she is she never complained the whole time. Even though she didn't verbally complain, you can tell from her photos she took of herself sitting on Grandma's couch that she was "thrilled". lol

Our family is funny---during road trips part of our voyage is to stop at places we've deemed "famous"----places that have great food and even fonder memories. On this journey we discovered that a restaurant that went out of business years ago recently reopened in our old neighborhood in Los Angeles. It's called Bob's Big Boy. Although Bob's has great burgers what makes it so special is it's a place my mom and dad use to hang out with their friends when they were younger, and a place they introduced my brother and I too. And since then, my brother and I have been able to pass on the tradition to our kids. It was Amira's first visit and although it was just a burger to her, it was a "cool" place to go with mom and grandpa.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Family Visit

In October my aunt, her husband and one of my cousins came for a visit, which is always a wonderful occasion. During their visit we took a boat trip over to San Francisco and spent the day meandering through the streets. The following are some pictures from our venture.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lesson in Economics

Well Amira had her first lesson in economics today. Today I asked her if she wanted to go to the mall and look around as we had been home all weekend long. She thought it would be fun to go look around. I told her there was a Hello Kitty store and her eyes lit up. I told her that she could bring some of her money if she wanted as she may find something she wanted to buy.

So, off to Hello Kitty we went. We spent about 45 minutes to an hour meandering through the entire store which incidentally isn't very large but packed with lots of stuff. She looked, touched and ewwwed over everything she could reach in the store. I just patiently followed her around and watched as she shopped. She finally made a decision on something she wanted. I told her the price of the toy and she said, "ok". Of course, I realize she knows numbers and what currency is because that's what they are learning in school; however, I also knew they hadn't actually learned the lesson that goes along with spending and earning money in reality so thought today was as good as any to learn.

We walked up to the cashier and she placed her item on the counter. The lady rang it up and told her it was $15.23. Amira reached into her Tinker Bell purse and pulled out her Tinker Bell money wallet. I told her it meant she had to give the lady the three $5s in her wallet which she pulled out. I told her then she needed to give her three pennies and two dimes. Her face was starting to droop a little. We gave the lady the money and she quickly handed us the receipt and told us to have a nice day. Obviously, this young girl didn't understand that this was Amira's first real purchase so it wasn't important to make it a big deal----or treat it like any other transaction. Anyway, she handed Amira her bag and Amira took it sadly looking down. As we walked slowly away I asked her what was wrong, and she said "I don't like this Hello Kitty". I asked why she didn't and she said, "because now I don't have my $5s anymore". I told her we could take the toy back and get her money back if she wanted too, and she said, "no".

It broke my heart to see her sad, but with a passing of a couple of hours since that purchase Hello Kitty is snug as a bug in a rug in our home and feeling very loved. :-)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

One Flaw In Women

Women have strengths that amaze men...
They bear hardships and they carry burdens, but they hold happiness, love and joy.
They smile when they want to scream.
They sing when they want to cry.
They cry when they are happy and laugh when they are nervous.
They fight for what they believe in..
They stand up to injustice.
They don't take "no" for an answer when they believe there is a better solution.
They go without so their family can have.
They go to the doctor with a frightened friend.
They love unconditionally.
They cry when their children excel and cheer when their friends get awards.
They are happy when they hear about a birth or a wedding.
Their hearts break when a friend dies.
They grieve at the loss of a family member, yet they are strong when they think there is no strength left.
They know that a hug and a kiss can heal a broken heart.
Women come in all shapes, sizes and colors.
They'll drive, fly, walk, run or e-mail you to show how much they care about you.
The heart of a woman is what makes the world keep turning.
They bring joy, hope and love.
They have compassion and ideas.
They give moral support to their family and friends.
Women have vital things to say and everything to give.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Profound Reminder

I received this from a friend and thought I'd pass it along.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Technical Frustration

To all you lovers of computers and processing applications, I implore your knowledge, wisdom and service.

I've created a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet survey and have emailed it to several people; however, not all have Excel available for opening the said application.

So, my question is this ----does anyone know how to convert an Excel file to a fillable PDF (for free---most sights require fee)? Or to save an Excel file so that anyone can open it as an attachment without actually having Excel as one of their program files, and still be able to fill out the form?

Someone suggested exporting it into a PDF, but when I opened Microsoft Excel I was unable to find anything that would allow me to export it.

I was able to "save as" a webpage, however, from what I can tell it's not a fillable form in this format.

I'm just trying to figure out a way to get this survey to a mass of people without inconvenience them in anyway to fill it out and return it.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciate.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Is Religion the Answer?

We have been so busy this last month and October is looking about the same, but alhamdullilah it's all good.

I read something interesting the other day and thought I'd share. It's rather lengthy just so you have fair warning. ;-)

Is Religion the Answer?

Religion is both the savior and bane of mankind. How many millions have been comforted by organized religion over the ages, and how many millions have been killed, tortured, raped and plundered over these same ages? How many religions have not been persecuted? The answer is none. All religions have been persecuted at some point in their histories, and that continues to this day. In the modern "civilization," we still have not learned to love and tolerate one another. We have all the problems of economy, racism, ethnic purging, discrimination, hunger, poverty, politics, power, greed, terrorism, and on and one....seemingly endless it goes. Isn't this world wonderful? No wonder we're all depressed and tired--we hear about and experience these problems every day. It has got to stop, or the generations that follow us will have nothing.

We must start with organized religion, for it's both part of the problem and the key to the salvation of the world. The major religions of the world have got to band together and not only preach but practice religious tolerance.

Islam, the fastest-growing religion in the world today, has got to go back to its roots of religious tolerance (it is one of the most tolerant of religions) and oust the extremists who practice terrorism in the name of holy Jihad (holy war) on the "infidels" of other religions or countries. Most of the message from Mohammed was Christlike, teaching love and tolerance for others...his teachings have been warped by extremists and conservative clerics who lust for power and greed at any cost of human life. Most Muslims are very devout and loving people who treat others with respect and kindness; but extremists are grabbing the headlines and perpetuating their wars against Israel, India, Europe and the United States by playing on the emotions of the followers of Islam in their self-proclaimed "holy war".

Peace will never be obtained through terrorism, for it is the method of despicable evil. Peace can only be obtained through tolerance and negotiation in which both sides bend and compromise. Gone is the day when military might could conquer and bring a forced peace---the world might not sand for any country conquering and taking over another (the United States included). Yew, we still have places such as Iraq and Afghanistan that were subdued by military might, but he outrage of the world was heard, and these countries are being given back to the people that inhabit them. The world of Islam must go back to its messenger and practice what he brought forth in love and tolerance to climb that mountain of self.

Christianity also has some major problems that it must face. The Catholic Church has many internal problems that hurt others, and it's on the wane because it's slow to change and make compromises. It has lost the respect of many for its many internal scandals and failure to acknowledge its mistakes both in the past and present. It has trapped itself in its own unbendable traditions and become stagnant, and certainly makes less of an impact on the world today. It must make wholesale changes or it will go down, as so many inflexible dynasties have, and not the powerful voice it once was.

The Protestant movement is also becoming more inflexible and conservative, with its right-wing politics creating myriad problems in the forms of bigotry, intolerance, and its propensity to try to gain power in the political arena. What's the old adage--religion and politics don't mix well? Christianity is one of the least tolerant toward other religions, which makes the task of bonding with other worldwide religions, in order to accomplish an overall good for the world, seem near to impossible, but it must be done.

Christianity today has become warped in many areas, namely that of preaching and practicing the worship of an all-loving and merciful God. Many churches concentrate more on the "hellfire and brimstone" approach to the battling evil, invoking the fear of God and His wrath on those who "sin" or constantly using the Bible to rule their congregations by fear. It seems like a complete contradiction to me, as Christ always preached about an all-loving and merciful God. Some of these so-called Christian churches use the Bible so much that they ought to be named "Bible worshipers" instead of "worshipers of Christ."

If Christ was to come down to the world today, I doubt he'd proclaim himself a Christian. Christianity need to practice more religious tolerance, get out of the political arena, and really put forth the concept of an all-loving and merciful God--rather than a wrathful, vengeful God Who has all the imperfect emotions of mankind. In order for Christianity to take its place in saving this world, they have got to leave their hidden agendas of politics and getting wealth behind and put forth the agenda of Christ. They have got to climb that mountain of ego that has been built up with their wealth and power and get down to helping others in the way that Christ would have matter what their ethnic, racial, religious, or sexual background may be.

If you want people to be part of your religion, do it with the truth and love of God, not with your own self-righteous agendas. Concentrate more on the joy, truth, and love of God, not your own human-made truth.....for you should at least be able to recognize that you may be wrong. Christianity has always been ruled by fear and money: the fear of being wrong and the money to build more churches (to get even more money). Its bloody history and its intolerance toward other faiths and beliefs proves this to be true. The Christian motto seems to be: If you're threatened in your faith, for God's sake don't tolerate the right of others to believe otherwise. Instead, just destroy them, whether it be from the pulpit, in the political arena, with propaganda, or the sword.

I know I'm on a soapbox, and I know I'm being tough and harsh in my criticism of some of these major religions, but damn it, someone has got to speak up. The religions of this world have to band together to help the planet, not tear it apart and asunder with their own agendas. I know that there are millions out there who aren't being helped by the faith they're now following, and I know that there are millions out there who have left their faith because it didn't give them the truth and comfort they were seeking. It's such a tragedy that the major religions of this world have messed up the simple act of worshiping God. God created us all in our many different colors and ethnic backgrounds, and He even sent messengers to help us find the way to His all-loving, merciful, and perfect Self. We turn around and disregard or warp all that and make war and commit atrocities on each other. It is the tragedy of tragedies. ---Author Anonymous

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Modeling Show

Last Friday night Amira and I were invited to a Modeling Show for a new Salon/Med Spa that was celebrating their 1 year anniversary in a nearby town. One of our friends, Morgan, was asked to be one of the models due to her modeling experience.

It was an interesting evening of events. They served some nice light foods along with wine. Upon request, we found out they weren't serving any other drinks but wine, so Amira and I were a little stuck just sucking the juice from the fresh fruit we were, until we found water in the back of the facility.

Our friend did a great job and had a lot of fun in the process----attaching pictures of the event.

They wove a black piece of ribbon into her hair to add affect to her mohawk it needed more I was a cool looking hairdo---Morgan wanted to keep it

That's really her mane.

The orange in her hair is really her hair, but the netting on the other side was added for the show. (I don't think I'll ever understand fashion, but it was sure fun being an observer.)
The baby wasn't part of the fashion show---however was dressed up fashionably anyway. :-)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Inner Peace

Inner Peace

If you can start the day without caffeine,

If you can get going without pep pills,

If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,

If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,

If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,

If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,

If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,

If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,

If you can conquer tension without medical help,

If you can relax without liquor,

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs, ...Then You Are Probably

The Family Dog!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day at Sea

Sunday Amira, my dad and I went to the bay area as one of his friends recently purchased a 48 foot boat. They were having a little celebration and we were invited to partake. We had such a great day. Truly, I could get use to that kind of lifestyle-----relaxing and cruising on the water.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Whole Lot Of Nuttin' Honey

For the most part Amira and I have had an awesome summer. We've done tons of swimming which has been fantastic.

About 6 weeks ago or so Amira was diagnosed with a double ear infection, from a viral infection gone bacterial infection, and had to have some antibotics to clear it up. So this put us out of swimming commission for a bit, understandably.

Then just as she cleared up, I got whatever she had and was out for 3 weeks. Lost my hearing, sense of smell and taste. It was the strangest feeling. On one hand you feel fine and yet on the other hand 3 of your 5 major senses aren't working and you feel worn out. Bummer! So, I had to do antibotics as well..........grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

So when last weekend rolled around it was if it were the first day of summer all over again, we spent the weekend swimming. Awwwwwwww, now that's they way life should be. :-)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hair Cut & First Grade

Well summer has officially come to an end as Amira's school started back in session.
She asked me to cut her hair because she didn't like having the tangles combed out every morning and thought the shorter hair would prevent that......for the most part it has. :-)
Today was the first day back to school and Amira was thrilled to be going back to learn new jobs. She told me her goal was to do the harder jobs first so she could finish with the easier ones. Pretty smart thinking!

New backpack
Trying out her new "wink"
Funny Face
As a result of spending too much time with Grandpa gopher
hunting---Amira makes this gopher

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Latest Read

Well have been trying to gather information to begin the preparation of my master's thesis and along the researching trail I came across a book at the library that caught my eye. The title alone is a little

Anyway, at first I wasn't sure I wanted to partake in reading such a book, but there was a part of me that really wanted to see what it was all about, so the reading began.

Admittedly, I laughed at the obvious ridiculousness of the behavior of women and yet sadly saw some similar traits in myself. Grrrrrrrrrrr, hate when that happens! Nonetheless, I thought it was a great confirmed growth I had made as well as reminders of how I should perceive things in any potential relationship. Moreover, I think this is a must read for women. Even though it might be painful or make you mad to read it, it is essential for making better choices for one’s self rather than continuing to live delusionally.

This is not a “man bashing” book but rather a “woman taking accountability” book. We as women do not have the right to continue bashing men and blaming them for the things we knowingly accept as their bad behavior. We cannot love them one minute, then turn around and complain how awful they are because we no longer accept their behavior as such. Quite honestly, I think we as women tend to think more along the lines of “what if” rather than “what is” and therefore wake up one day feeling some how empty. We tend to think “if only this or that happened” we would be fulfilled and complete, which certainly puts a lot of responsibility on someone other than ourselves to make that happen with that type of thinking. Specifically thinking, when it comes to finding a life partner, we as women need to remember we are part of the selection process too. We are responsible for choosing our life partner just as he was selective in his choice. I think often times this gets over looked by the woman, and she believes she can only be selected. If more women put effort into selecting their partner as men did there would probably be more of a balance in partnerships rather than women just waiting to be picked.

Would love to know your thoughts on this……….. Perhaps a nice dialogue between the two genders would make for an interesting discussion

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Honest Scrap About Me!!

This is really cute. I was tagged by Sparkling Motivation, so thought I'd see what I could come up with regarding 'honest scrap about me'. I hope I got it right, so here goes....

1) I'm the oldest child, but #2 in the lineage of cousins.

2) I was a very open, friendly, and even a bit of a wild one when I was younger. I was never afraid of anyone or anything. Was never afraid to speak my mind even if it went against the masses......guess I still do that to some degree. I use to trust everyone. However, with time and bruises earned along the way I've become much more reserved, shy and quiet.

3)I've travelled a bit around the globe and have enjoyed every adventure (hope for more)!

4)I have ears like a dog----very sensitive to sound. I tend to speak in a quiet voice and like quiet sounds. Agree with Sparkling Motivation on the sounds of girls loud voices...ugh!

5)I started riding horses when I was 3 years old.

6)I helped build (construct) two houses in my lifetime. I'd prefer not to do that again.

7)I cry easily......if the moment moves me.

8)I've been parasailing in Hawaii----considering I'm deathly afraid of heights, this was a big achievement. lol

9)I could spend hours by the ocean doing nothing but feeling, somehow, larger than life next to that incredible body of water.

10)Two years ago I leg pressed 600 lbs of weight. lol

I'm sure this is JUST the mindless dribble you were looking for, huh? :D

Your turn!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

More Birthday Pics

Whew! Finally up and running again-----pc had a little down-time. The following are pictures from Amira's birthday party which continued until the next

Amira and Angela
Amira and Grandpa

Everyone should wear their swimming goggles to blow out their

Selflessly giving Ryan a foot massage....:-)