Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What makes you happy?

Life feels so hard when you get in a funk, doesn't it? There are a whole lot of reasons why any of us can feel out of sorts; stress, illness, sadness, financial woes, change, etc. 

I think we are able to handle our woes so much better if we remember to take care of ourselves with healthy food, exercise and sleep. 
However, I think the KEY to avoiding a FUNK is to do what makes you happy!! Here is another key component, the happy thing must be  done on your own. If we depend on someone or many folks to make us happy, we are setting ourselves up for more FUNK. Yes, family and friends add to our lives, but I think true happiness lives within us.

So, let's make a HAPPY list! What do you do that makes you happy? I will share my list with you, because I love your guts!

1. Singing in the car
2. Tidying my house
3. Reading a naughty romance novel
4. Exercising
5. Reading something funny
6. Bikram yoga
7. Coffee
8. Smiling at people
9. Going to bed before 10 p.m.
10. Making to-do lists
11. Dancing, yes-- all by myself!
12. Looking at pictures
13. Saying thank you prayers
14. Singing in church
15. Chocolate
16. Reading my favorite blogs
17. Reminding myself what I am grateful for
18. Gardening
19. Taking a hot shower
20. Baking

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I've mentioned before how much I love Zen Habits breathe blog. A recent post about what 9 essential skills children need really resonated with me.

I would take it even further though and say that several adults I know need to hug it out with these skills as well, including me! Just because we don't learn certain skills as children doesn't mean it isn't too late to learn them as adults.

Here are the 9 skills that Leo talked about that he believes children should learn, that will best prepare them for any world of the future. For the entire blog post, click on this link: Complete skills blog

 1. Asking questions. What we want most for our kids, as learners, is to be able to learn on their own. To teach themselves anything. Because if they can, then we don’t need to teach them everything — whatever they need to learn in the future, they can do on their own. The first step in learning to teach yourself anything is learning to ask questions. Luckily, kids do this naturally — our hope is to simply encourage it. A great way to do this is by modeling it. When you and your child encounter something new, ask questions, and explore the possible answers with your child. When he does ask questions, reward the child instead of punishing him (you might be surprised how many adults discourage questioning).

2. Solving problems. If a child can solve problems, she can do any job. A new job might be intimidating to any of us, but really it’s just another problem to be solved. A new skill, a new environment, a new need … they’re all simply problems to be solved. Teach your child to solve problems by modeling simple problem solving, then allowing her to do some very easy ones on her own. Don’t immediately solve all your child’s problems — let her fiddle with them and try various possible solutions, and reward such efforts. Eventually, your child will develop confidence in her problem-solving abilities, and then there is nothing she can’t do.

3. Tackling projects. As an online entrepreneur, I know that my work is a series of projects, sometimes related, sometimes small and sometimes large (which are usually a group of smaller projects). I also know that there isn’t a project I can’t tackle, because I’ve done so many of them. Work on projects with your kid, letting him see how it’s done by working with you, then letting him do more and more by himself. As he gains confidence, let him tackle more on his own. Soon, his learning will just be a series of projects that he’s excited about.

4. Finding passion. What drives me is not goals, not discipline, not external motivation, not reward … but passion. When I’m so excited that I can’t stop thinking about something, I will inevitably dive into it fully committed, and most times I’ll complete the project and love doing it. Help your kid find things she’s passionate about — it’s a matter of trying a bunch of things, finding ones that excite her the most, helping her really enjoy them. Don’t discourage any interest — encourage them. Don’t suck the fun out of them either — make them rewarding.

5. Independence. Kids should be taught to increasingly stand on their own. A little at a time, of course. Slowly encourage them to do things on their own. Teach them how to do it, model it, help them do it, help less, then let them make their own mistakes. Give them confidence in themselves by letting them have a bunch of successes, and letting them solve the failures. Once they learn to be independent, they learn that they don’t need a teacher, a parent, or a boss to tell them what to do. They can manage themselves, and be free, and figure out the direction they need to take on their own.

6. Being happy on their own. Too many of us parents coddle our kids, keeping them on a leash, making them rely on our presence for happiness. When the kid grows up, he doesn’t know how to be happy. He must immediately attach to a girlfriend or friends. Failing that, they find happiness in other external things — shopping, food, video games, the Internet. But if a child learns from an early age that he can be happy by himself, playing and reading and imagining, he has one of the most valuable skills there is. Allow your kids to be alone from an early age. Give them privacy, have times (such as the evening) when parents and kids have alone time.

7. Compassion. One of the most essential skills ever. We need this to work well with others, to care for people other than ourselves, to be happy by making others happy. Modeling compassion is the key. Be compassionate to your child at all times, and to others. Show them empathy by asking how they think others might feel, and thinking aloud about how you think others might feel. Demonstrate at every opportunity how to ease the suffering of others when you’re able, how to make others happier with small kindnesses, how that can make you happier in return.

8. Tolerance. Too often we grow up in an insulated area, where people are mostly alike (at least in appearance), and when we come into contact with people who are different, it can be uncomfortable, shocking, fear-inducing. Expose your kids to people of all kinds, from different races to different sexuality to different mental conditions. Show them that not only is it OK to be different, but that differences should be celebrated, and that variety is what makes life so beautiful.

9. Dealing with change. I believe this will be one of the most essential skills as our kids grow up, as the world is always changing and being able to accept the change, to deal with the change, to navigate the flow of change, will be a competitive advantage. This is a skill I’m still learning myself, but I find that it helps me tremendously, especially compared to those who resist and fear change, who set goals and plans and try to rigidly adhere to them as I adapt to the changing landscape. Rigidity is less helpful in a changing environment than flexibility, fluidity, flow. Again, modeling this skill for your child at every opportunity is important, and showing them that changes are OK, that you can adapt, that you can embrace new opportunities that weren’t there before, should be a priority. Life is an adventure, and things will go wrong, turn out differently than you expected, and break whatever plans you made — and that’s part of the excitement of it all.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Happy Monday

I am feeling grateful and rested today! We had a fabulous weekend. We are all healthy and we are off to a terrific week. Casey starts baseball practice this week, Go Giants!

On Friday we all went to bed early, exhausted from a long week. I woke up early Saturday and attended the 8 a.m. Bikram Yoga class with Dagny, Carina and Margery. I haven't attended a Bikram clas in a long time. It was hard, but I had a great time. I plan on going to a couple early morning classes this week. After class I drove home, expecting the boys to jump all over me and need to rush to get ready, etc. I found an empty quiet house that smelled like bacon and waffles!! How lucky was I??!!! Pedar had made the boys a yummy breakfast and then took them to the Farmers Market and the park to play. I had time to shower, eat the yummy leftovers and start laundry and tidy the house without my munchkins competing for my attention at the same time. It was a beautiful Saturday morning. Thank you, Pedar!!!

Panning for gold in Old Sacramento.

Walking along the tracks

The rest of the day was slow and beautiful. We completed chores and played outside. We decided to head downtown to Old Sacramento and ended up at the Railroad Museum. We played there for a bit and then we rolled around on the grass and got some treats at Sacramento Sweets. We came home and decided the fun shouldn't end, so we took the boys out on a date night! We went to Taro's for sushi and then we all went and saw The Secret World of Arrietty. What a beautiful movie. The boys did great and Erik only got a little restless at the end.

On Sunday we went to Carmichael Presbyterian and the boys both went to their classes during service! It was so great to be able to focus on the service with Pedar. The boys had a great time making art projects. The rest of the day we spent relaxing and playing outside. We visited with neighbors and Margie stopped by for dinner.
His future is so bright he has to wear shades!

Look who can ride the traiker-bike now!!

We're all decorated for St. Patrick's Day!! Are you ready??!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Heat and Underpants

Did I get your attention?

Our heat quit on us on Thursday morning. Pedar met the Heating & Air air guy at the house yesterday afternoon to have it looked at. He had it fixed, something about some insulation blocking something or another, and then the guy accidentally knocked something off the heating unit.

The repairman looked around for over an hour and a half for the part in our backyard and couldn't find it. The part had to be ordered, so thankfully it was warm yesterday. The house got down to about 61 this morning, not too bad, but it is going to be colder tonight, so I am grateful that it will get fixed today. 

Erik has been doing really well with potty training lately! We can see the light at the end of the tunnel! Woo Hoo! This morning when Pedar dropped him off at Montessori, he showed him how he uses the potty and then he took his pull-up off and decided that he would wear underpants all day. Yeah for underpants!!

Our computer has been in the shop for over a week now. I guess the hard drive was about to die, so fortunately it was under warranty! I'm looking forward to having our computer back. Even Erik is asking, "Where is our computer?"

Happy Friday!! Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


The other evening Western Health Advantage participated in the Sacramento Kings Family Fitness Night @ Earl Warren Elementary School. We handed out jump ropes as Kings player Isaiah Thomas taught the students and parents how to dribble. It was a fun night and I got to meet Slamson.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ski day for Casey!

Pedar and I took Casey skiing at Alpine on Sunday. Nana watched Erik for us all day so we could focus on Casey. Thank you, Nana!

Casey loved having our undivided attention. Pedar and I took turns riding the lift with Casey. He went from flopping on the ground in the morning to doing this adorable little dance and jumping on and off the lifts towards the end of the day. To say I am proud of Casey is an understatement. He is one determined little guy.

Pedar and I split up a few times throughout the day so we could ski a few runs on our own. It wasn't that long ago that I never would have taken a lift by myself and skied down the mountain alone. This weekend I was actually able to help Casey too. I have so much more control now that I am able to ski to him and help him get up & get going again. It is huge for me to say that I can help him on and off the lift. It has taken me years to get to this place. Since I had Erik, I have really only been able to ski about twice a year, but even that small amount has helped. I love skiing with Pedar and now with Casey. I love being outside and being on the beautiful mountains.

We left the resort around 3 p.m. and got to Nana's to pick-up Erik by 5 p.m. We had a great day. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Crazy hair day!

Today is crazy hair day at school! Casey was super excited about his hair this morning.

You can't really tell in this picture, but Erik wanted crazy hair too, so his hair is blue and green just like Casey's.

Before Pedar and I turn-in for the night, (doesn't that sound like something you would hear from Little House on the Prairie or The Walton's?) Anyhoo...before we go to bed, we always check on the kids and tuck them in, etc. We started walking down the hallway and noticed that Erik's bedroom light was on. Then we noticed that Erik had brought his sponge-bob-square-pants chair into bed with him! He had gotten up, climbed out of his bed, stood on the chair, turned on his light and then carried the chair into bed with him. What a weirdo- but adorable at the same time. He REALLY likes this silly chair!!

You can see the adorable new headboard that we bought for Erik in this picture! He loves it and it looks so cute in his bedroom!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I like you, Mommy

When I get home from work I am greeted with big hugs and kisses. Erik jumps up and down and yells, "Mommy! Mommy's home!" It is hands-down the best sound and feeling in the world. Casey will quietly approach and hug my legs. Their different responses is so telling of their personalities.

We went to my Aunt's beautiful funeral on Friday and the church provided an on-site daycare for the kids to play in as the adults attended the service. Casey would have nothing to do with it, he didn't know the other kids that well and most of them were four-years-old and under. He wasn't playing with those small people. Erik ran out of the church when the rest of the kids were excused! He had a great time at the daycare.

Erik is doing much better with drop-off at Village Montessori too. Pedar has him "push him" out of the door like Superman. Casey is doing really well with his homework too! We are getting excited about baseball season starting!!

Last night as I was putting Erik to bed, he leaned over me (I was cuddling with him in his bed for a bit) and he had his mi-mi kiss me and then he said, "I like you Mommy!" I told him I liked him too and that I love him very much.

Hope you feel special today! Life is good people.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Our computer is in the shop this week. Remind me to tell you about the time I accidentally deleted all of our documents? Yeah, I was "cleaning"! Thankfully, except for the last six months when our back-up drives stopped working, we have everything saved. We have all of our pictures and to me that is all that matters. Of course I have this little online diary to turn to if I lose everything, right?

I have a ton of great pictures to share of our time spent with family in Tahoe this past weekend, but until we get the big mama computer back, that blog will have to wait. Sigh. We had a great time. We went ice skating at Squaw with all of our cousins, played in the snow and went shopping!! We planned our four family Eppie's teams and as of last night, we are registered. Woot Woot!

Last night was loverly. We made the boys dinner and opened up our take-out Thai and bottle of red. We set the table with flowers and candles to help create a romantic mood. Pedar got me adorable red-wedge TOMS and I bought him new sunglasses and a Homewood baseball hat. We got the boys flashlights and candy. The highlight of Erik's weekend was when Gavin let Erik play with his small flashlight!

Hope you all had a fabulous Valentines Day! I love you!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

I hope you feel loved today!!
The boys discovered Valentine lollipops in the lawn this morning!!

Casey's Valentine "mailbox" at school! Precious!

My valentine with Erik.

My adorable boys. I love them so much!

I asked Casey what he wanted for dinner tonight. He just wants dino-chickens and mac-n-cheese. I think I'll get my super-hunky-hubby some take-out Thai and open a nice bottle of red. Hope you all have a fantastic day!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

You shall be my squishy

"I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my Squishy."-- Dory from Finding Nemo

I just want to squish these adorable boys!

It's been hard to keep Erik's face clean lately. Its always covered in dirt, food, snot, or a combination of all three.
Dorito lips. Not liking his picture being taken.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Let love be your intention

I repeat this phrase in my head a lot. If LOVE is my intention, than the rest should be easy, right?

Turns out Erik has an ear infection too. I am so glad I took him to the doctor yesterday. I'm looking forward to them feeling better and behaving better. I just about shut down last night. I was tired of the talking back, whining and getting out of bed a half a dozen times. Pedar and I are fighting this virus too. It has attacked Pedar's sinuses and it has settled in my chest, I have a nice little cough brewing. My energy level is at 25 and my work level is at 100.
I will manage. I will get it done. I will smile and play nice with others. I will not lose my patience with my kids tonight. I will not snap at Pedar. I will be more loving and laugh more and be present.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Big boy bed

We moved Erik's crib out of his room this weekend. We could have taken down the front rail and used it like a toddler bed, but we wanted to be able to cuddle with him, so he got a twin sized bed!

He loves his bed, but he is still not so sure about sleeping in it. It has taken him awhile for the past two nights to finally fall asleep. We found him sitting next to his bed at 9:15 p.m. Saturday night, not wanting to lay down in it. Last night he left his bed three times and crawled up into Casey's. Argh. We'll get there. Both kids were asleep by 9:30 p.m. last night. We're moving in the right direction.

Sleeping angel. I ordered an upholstered headboard for Erik. We had to put a body pillow against the wall because he kept hitting his head. Last night I got him a comforter and bedskirt. His room is coming together. I need to update Casey's room a bit too.

Casey loves Erik's new bed too!

Both Casey and Erik have been fighting a nasty virus all week and weekend. I took them to the doctor on Friday. Casey had an ear infection and upper respiratory infection. Erik's ears looked good Friday. Throughout the weekend Casey has gotten better and Erik got worse. His cough is worse and now he told me yesterday that his ear hurts! Off we go again to the doc this afternoon!!

I had to give Erik a nebulizer "dragon mask" treatment this morning. He wasn't thrilled.

I pray the boys and Pedar and I can kick this damn virus out very soon! I want a healthy family!!

Hope you all are staying healthy and happy!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Barbara Wallis Ryken

Last night my sweet Aunt Barbara died. The news that the cancer had spread was received just a few weeks ago.
She fought valiantly to live. She loved her family something fierce. She was married for over 40 years to my Uncle Steve, had two children, Bill (Kathleen) and Stephanie (David) and four grandchildren, Cole, Ashley, Dustin and Lukas.

My cousin Stephanie and I are only a few months apart in age, so we had a blast as cousins growing up. Steph and I  in 2009 at Uncle Steve's 60th!

My Aunt Barbara was married to my Mom's brother Stephen. She embraced his huge Ryken family and loved all of her sisters/brothers/nieces and nephews.
 She also leaves behind her father, Ted, sisters Mary, Sue and brother Tom, several nieces, nephews and wonderful friends and family.
Aunt Barbara's beautiful family!

My Aunt Barbara was very soft spoken. She listened intently, hugged long and had a powerful knack at making you feel special and loved. She always had her camera readily available.
When I was 12-years-old my parents separated for a while. My Dad was living in the Bay Area and my Mom and sisters were in Sacramento. We were visiting Aunt Barbara and Uncle Steve. I remember driving somewhere in my Aunt's big station wagon. She was asking me how I was doing and I was relaying some of the negative comments I had been hearing about Dad. My Dad was working on getting sober so my parents were separated. I remember my Aunt Barbara listening to me and in her quiet beautiful voice say something like, "Just remember that your Dad loves you and he loves your Mom. That's all that matters." I remember feeling immediately better about my parents’ situation. I remember feeling hopeful and loved and more positive than I had in a long time.
My Aunt Barbara exemplified love. She loved her man. She was passionate and romantic towards him and was open about her feelings. She was also so proud of her man. I loved seeing how caring and loving they were to each other.


I am going to continue the legacy of my Aunt Barbara by trying to embody those traits that I admired so much. I am going to listen more intently, take a ton of pictures, hug longer, kiss longer, say less, be crazy proud of my man and family and love unconditionally.

Goodbye, Aunt Barbara. I am so glad you are no longer in pain. I am going to picture you as an angel watching over your beautiful family. Until we meet again, I love you.