Saturday, March 29, 2014

Micheal's He{art} Piece

Last night the family and I opted to eat out instead of staying in for dinner. WHERE we would eat was a mystery, but we piled in the car anyway and thought we could quickly figure the place out as we drove along.  WRONG!

Three people tossed out what would eventually be EVERY SINGLE EATING JOINT in Stockton, but we couldn't agree on one place. The more we talked, the hungrier we got, the grumpier we became and the next thing we know we were on Pershing. 

Fine. Outback. We will eat at Outback! DONE! It has been YEARS since we have been there and steak sounded good. So out of the car and into the restaurant we went. I was hungry enough that I debated eating the hostesses podium. Thankfully, I made it to our table and the side salad.

We sat quiet at first, all of us a little traumatized by the nearly HOUR LONG meandering through town on the quest for our dining locale. Eventually we came back to life as the calories we consumed started taking affect and dinner out turned into a fun time. I colored, Elijah danced, Sarah discussed, Kim observed and we ALL talked.

We talked until Elijah showed signs of tired, then we packed up all the yumminess we couldn't finish, paid, and headed out the door.

That's when I saw a man siting on the bench outside. He startled me.

It was late, he was alone, and I didn't expect to see him there. 

As I walked near I saw he had items laid out on the bench next to him and earphones on his ears. His head was down and he let us be. 

The thing is, we couldn't let him be.

I slowed my walk so I could look at the papers near him. They were brightly colored artwork of flowers, cherries, lions... and more. They were bold, strong, colorful, and eye catching.

At that point the man looked up and in a quietly strong voice said, "These are my art pieces and I am selling the smaller ones (8x10) for $5 and the larger (12x18) for $10. Tonight I could sell the smaller ones for $4."

I wanted one.

Can't tell you why, I just wanted one of his pieces of art. I wanted one, NOW! I asked Sarah which art piece she liked and she picked the same yellow lotus flower I was drawn to.


I reached in my wallet, gave the man a $20 as Sarah picked up the piece. Before the man could reach for change (not so sure he had any?) we thanked him and I put my wallet away. 

He was GRATEFUL! I could see it in his eyes, I felt it in his handshake, I heard it in his voice. 

My husband shook the man's hand, too, and as he did, Mr. Mom About The Town said, "God Bless."

The man said, "HE HAS and he DOES!!! Thank you!!!"

THERE ARE NO WORDS TO TELL YOU HOW MUCH I KNEW I HAD JUST BEEN BLESSED! I knew it. I knew it from head to toe that this was the right thing to do. 

Sure, it was good for that man, that artist. AND. It was good for me and my family, too.

On the way to our car Sarah talked about loving the painting, but loved more helping that man. I quietly agreed.

All the way home  I kept thinking how impressed I was with the man. He wasn't begging, he was selling his artwork. He wasn't obtrusive. Only if we stopped and engaged him did he engage with us. Excellent salesman! I have encountered some salespeople that could afford a few lessons from this man! 

A part of me wanted to go back with two cups of coffee to go talk to the man. I was that drawn to him.

So, let me share with my fellow Stocktonians... if you are headed out to eat... and if Outback is where you choose to go... maybe you can watch for him. If he is there, I urge you to take a look at his art... I urge you to take a look at his HE{ART} and maybe you will see something that I saw and maybe you would be willing to buy a signed piece of his work.  

My husband has ALWAYS said, when something is right and true it will ring in you like a bell. This man... he set off all my RIGHT and TRUE bells. I hope I get to see him again. If I do, I will tell him that I still enjoy his art in my home and that it makes me smile. That he makes me smile.

His name is Michael. 

P.S. If you find him, if you end up with one of his he{art} pieces, will you share it here or on Facebook? TAG ME! I want to see :)

P.S.S. Wouldn't it be cool if we asked for more of his he{art} and had it put on display at Mile Wine Company or someplace locally? How cool would that be? I can't stop thinking about all the right things we could all do. :) :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lyndsay + Zumba = Real + Funny


A friend of mine, also the owner and extraordinarily amazing cake decorator of Queen of Hearts Cakes, recently attempted ZUMBA, something I have yet to do.

EVERYTHING she describes is EXACTLY what I imagine my first time ZUMBA-ing would be like, except a ka-trillion times worse. Her writing had me laughing uncontrollably on a day I needed it most. My thought with sharing here is that maybe, just maybe someone else could use a laugh today -- and this might make it happen for them.  Enjoy!

A Tale of a First Zumba Class: Skinny Doesn't Mean in Shape
By Lyndsay Scott

My friend Lori Jones not only is the best hairdresser in the whole Valley, but she is a Zumba instructor too! She told me she was teaching at my gym this Saturday (today) and asked me to go. Because I hold her near and dear to my heart, I decided to go.

I arrived 10 minutes late (kids!!! ugh!!) and sneaked in. She immediately saw me mid-routine and gave a big "yay glad you came!" smile. I was ready to go.

I joined in mid-routine and noticed that there were a ton of ladies there. Cool! I didn't have to worry too much about sticking out terribly. I joined in mid-routine and immediately noticed the amount of booty shaking. I chuckled it off and tried to keep up.

Second song in I was really starting to feel it. Phew! I also was truly thanking Jesus for my natural rhythm--rhythm is a huge added bonus to this class. At this point I realized that if you don't go FULL OUT with the moves, you look pretty dumb, so I decided to act like I was in a J-Lo music video.

By the fourth song I was questioning whether Lori would still be my friend if I ended up barfing all over the floor. Holy this is some serious cardio. I'm usually in the free weights lifting, and this is really not comparable at all. I also noticed that the little old lady in the back of the room was kicking my @$$. She was shaking it like it was nobody's business. Just don't barf became the goal. I looked at the had only been 12 minutes...

By the sixth song I was flabbergasted that she was not only up there teaching, but she was SINGING along with the music. Are you F$#&ING kidding me?! I can barely breathe and she's freaking white-Shakira and singing. I was judging myself, and jealousy was palpable. And damn that granny in the back. I checked the clock; it had only been 8 more minutes.

By the tenth song I was questioning whether or not the Oakdale PD would charge Lori with involuntary manslaughter if I ended up dying right there in class. She is a new mom with a 7 month old and I didn't really want that, plus her mom is my BFF. That would be so terrible. At this point I was okay with barfing as long as I didn't die. I looked at the clock and realized that the class wasn't actually 45 minutes--as I had originally thought--but it was probably an hour. I almost cried.

By the twelfth song I was loving the booty shaking--shaking the booty was usually in a standing, not moving or hopping position, so I prayed for more booty shaking. I promised myself that I would shake it like Lori The White Shakira as long as there was more stationary shaking.

Routines started to go into the cool-down phase, and I was so grateful. I also realized:
1) if I had been running or cycling I would have given up long ago, and
2) I actually had a TON of fun, which is why I kept at it, J-Lo backup dancer the whole time, and
3) Lori was a great teacher! She made sure to really lead the class even on the more complicated moves--all non-verbally--and did a great job at it.

Class ended and I went up to tell Lori that I was really glad that I came, it was fun, and I was really glad i didn't barf--she was so sweet and said she would have still been my friend.
So that being said, I will be attending Zumba every 4th Saturday when Lori teaches. What a fun, crazy, exhausting workout that was quite liberating for us ladies!

** Thank you, Lyndsay, cake baker extraordinaire, for the fun read on what it's REALLY LIKE to attend a ZUMBA class.

For the record, I do not have even the slightest bit of rhythm, I am not a Shakira in any way, shape or form, and I couldn't back-up J-Lo's great grandmother's backup -- but despite all that, something about Lyndsay's tenacity and willingness to get out there and give it her all (and she probably looked fabulous doing it!) makes me want to get out there and try, too.

I just learned today that WESTON RANCH BRANCH LIBRARY (1453 W. French Camp Road in French Camp) will be having FREE ZUMBA CLASSES every Friday from April through May from 4-5pm. Maybe I can give it a shot.  Something tells me I am not yet ready for that slammin' Oakdale gig Lyndsay attends :) But if you want to join Lyndsay and her amazing Zumba instructor, Lori, check out Oakdale Fitness Evolution.

Any other Zumba ladies (or men) have a Zumba experience you want to share?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Kids Sometimes Act Like Kids

There I was, minding my own business, surfing the web, and with one innocent click I was suddenly caught up in the most wonderful opportunity! There before me, on the screen, was a bright red, orange and yellow shape representing the country of Uganda, and in a bold font were the words: Children of Uganda 2014 Tour of Light.

I looked away, but within seconds I was drawn back in – CHILDREN! UGANDA! TOUR! And it was all going to be happening in STOCKTON! Sounded like fun to me and without a hint of hesitation I started clicking through to purchase tickets.

The event would be held at the University of the Pacific and was being offered for one night and at one time, Wednesday, 7pm. Even though Wednesday is a school night, even though 7pm is bath time for the kiddos, I still clicked 'PURCHASE' and bought myself three tickets to the event.

There was something about this show that just rang right with me. I wanted my kids to get wrapped up for an evening in the fibers of another culture. I wanted to them to hear the African language being sung, I wanted them to feel the beat of the African drums in their chest, I wanted them to see the youth of Africa celebrate their culture by dancing with bare feet and covered in beads and bells. 

By the time Wednesday rolled around I had my plan in place. I picked up the kids, fed them, packed some snacks, and talked excitedly about going to see the show! Sarah knew more of the details and was looking forward to going. Elijah had no clue and only cared that his mo’cycle made it into his backpack.

Everything was running smooth, I even felt confidant enough to bring my camera!

Sitting in the front row, seats that Sarah selected, I had Elijah next to me and Sarah next to him. I couldn’t help but smile at these beautiful kids that were being so delightful on this lovely evening. It wasn't too long after we were seated that the show began.

And let me say IT WAS SPECTACULAR! I got goosebumps listening to the sweet voices of the Ugandan children and the dancing was incredible. I kept smiling and winking at Sarah and gave Elijah little kisses on his head as he stared at the stage.  Everything was perfect...


You had to know there would be an ‘until’, right? I mean, my son is 3 for goodness sake! Things can change on a dime. And they did.

At one point near the end of the show the host invited the kids to come dance on stage. Of course Elijah wanted in on that, and quite frankly, I encourage it. So up he went, on stage, with about 15 other kids and adults. When the music started, he danced. And he smiled. And he lived out loud. And it was fun...


Until the dance was done and everyone exited the stage. My son did not want to 'exit the stage'. And he let EVERYONE know it.

I eventually got him down, but once in our seats he kept asking, crying whining, pleading "PLEASE, please can I go on stage? I want to dance. Please. Please. Please."

I tried to talk to him, whisper to him, appease him, but it didn't work - and he erupted.

A shoe came off, he fell to the floor like all his bones disappeared in an instant, he yelled at me... HE THREW A THREE YEAR OLD FIT.

I was mortified. And at the same time, I was ok with it. He is THREE! He’s still learning.
I realized there was no diffusing him, he had reached his breaking point. Instead of trying to calm him down and making a decent exit, I had to lift and carry him as he cried and hollered, "I want to dance!"

His calm sister behind us picking up whatever Elijah dropped.

A woman shh'ing me as I was leaving.

And here, here is where I get a little bugged by it all. 

You see, I left the concert hall mad. Mad at my son for misbehaving. Mad at myself for not being a better mom. Mad at the woman that shhh'd my son. Just mad. But, as we all know, mad is a surface emotion for something else... and in this case, I was embarrassed.

I walked/carried/drug everyone to the car, got packed in, and it wasn't until I had us home, unpacked, and the kids in bed that the mad feeling started to wear off and some rational thought started to kick in.

Eventually I was no longer mad at Elijah. After all, he is THREE! And while he can certainly be well-behaved (like he was he first hour of the show) he can also misbehave, it's NORMAL. And he is FINE and WONDERFUL, thank you very much.

I was eventually no longer mad at myself. I am fine, too. I will make mistakes because, guess what, I am winging it with the whole parenting thing. There is NOT A MANUAL FOR ANY OF US! There aren't specific rules for EVERY situation. And I am trying my best. And I am doing pretty darn good a lot of the time, thank you very much.

And to the woman that shhh'd my son. Maybe I am not mad at you anymore either. Maybe. Because it just might be that you weren't shhh'ing us with judgement. Instead, it's possible that you were trying to help me. Maybe you were coming from the "it takes a village" perspective and you thought I needed  little support to teach my son how to behave in a concert hall. Maybe. Because, woman that shhh'd my son, I am sure you understand that kids are kids and parents do their best and that judging would just be a crappy thing to do.  

The bottom line. 

The concert was awesome! I am grateful that the University of the Pacific brought this event to Stockton. I am glad I went. I am sure that it was the right thing to take my kids. And I had a wonderful time. How could I not (rhetorical)? Check out some highlight images below... and next time you see this tour come around - I double dog dare you to take YOUR kids! And if you do, I will be there, too. And you and your kids will be just fine, and me and my kids will be just fine... and we will all be JUST FINE, thank you very much.

See that little boy there in the blue mustache shirt, that's my son.  He is FABULOUS. That was 4 minutes before he showcased his ability to be three!

Also, you can earn more about the Children of Uganda right here!

Sunday, March 2, 2014


If you read Sunday, March 2nd Stockton Record, you might be looking for the printable Caring Coupon .pdf! If so, here ya go! All you have to do is print, cut, and either staple or hole punch and attach with little rings or pretty twine/ribbon/ or string! You can either add in your own coupon ideas!

If you didn't read the Sunday Stockton Record, you still can! You can learn all about my amazing Cancer Fighting Winning Friend, DENISE! And her Incredibly Awesome Nurse, Sally! 

All I can tell you is that I have had an incredible time doing something to help a friend, and the bonus is, what I did to help a friend has the potential to help many many other people as well! I am thrilled to be associated with such kindness and good will.  

Caring Coupons are a way for Cancer Warriors to answer that inevitable question, "What can I do to help?" that is asked over and again by family and friends. The question is well-intended, I know, because I asked the same thing to Denise a few months back. 

I felt foolish asking, but I really wanted to know what I could do that would make a real difference in her life, not just give a gift bag of lotion.  Not that a gift bag or lotion is bad, it's NOT! I just wanted to do something... well... different.

Denise said she would think on it and she didn't just think... she went out and did some research! After interviewing fellow Cancer Warriors and thinking of her own life, she came up with a list of over 40 different ways I can help!

With delight, I turned those 40 lines of text into fun size graphics that could be printed for a coupon book. And now, when I, or anyone, asks Denise and her friends fighting cancer, "What can I do to help?" They can simply hand the coupon book to someone and say, ANYTHING OUT OF THERE WOULD BE  FANTASTIC! 

This is a good thing, because instead of being asked to do something I am not real good at, I can pick from the coupons something that I would be FABULOUS with! Like... taking kids out for a day, playing a game of Rummy in an afternoon, or weeding a garden!   

Caring Coupons are the bomb! Denise is the bomb! And I hope that the idea spreads like wild flowers (not fires) and the .pdf document is downloaded a gazillion times by people all over the world that want to help other Cancer Warriors! 

And you know what, this isn't just for cancer! Do you have a loved one down and out with Cystic Fibrosis, Lupus, Dialysis? Recovering from surgery, going through a depression, experiencing a tragedy of any kind...THIS is for them! These are CARING coupons... when you have someone that needs a little extra care -- these coupons could be a perfect gift.

So please, print a few, cut a few, make a few booklets and give a lift to someone in our life that needs a little (or a lot) of TLC.