49. Officially.

It’s official. I am one year into my project of 50 Things to Do Before my 50th Birthday. On my birthday last year I decided to create a kind of bucket list, and I gave myself two years to get it all done. I have one year left to go. That’s right, that makes me 49 years old today.

49. That’s a big number. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, but when my dad sent me an email last night saying he thought he read on my Facebook page that I was turning 50 this year, I kind of panicked. A little. I did the math just to be sure, and I quickly replied to his email that I am definitely not turning 50 this year. This is simple math, and even I can do basic subtraction, 2012-1963 = 49. See? I’m not 50. Not yet. Don’t rush me. I have a lot to do that’s still on my list, and I can’t wrap my head around using a new set of numbers yet. Seriously, I don’t feel like I have aged much past 30. Okay, maybe 40. I told myself I wasn’t going to obsess over a number and here I am writing 49 five times already! I will stop now. How about I just tell you about the two most recent things I did on list?

Number One: Take a Sunrise Hike

With my birthday looming on the horizon I did a quick check on all that I have accomplished and found out that I still have quite a bit to do. I have been wanting to check off “Go on a Sunrise Hike” for a long time, but I kept putting obstacles in my own way. The biggest obstacle was sleep. Every weekend when I faced with the choice of sleeping in or getting up early, I chose sleep.

I have started getting up earlier, but somehow rising before the sun and getting out on the trail just seemed impossible. Last Friday, I checked the internet for the time the sun would rise and I set my alarm 30 minutes earlier. I already knew where I wanted to hike, and luckily for me the trail head is only 5 minutes from my house. I figured all I had to do was roll out of bed and go.

Wrong. I had to roll out of bed, pack a quick breakfast-to-go, fill my water bottle and get the dog. Then, I ended up searching frantically for car keys and when I finally made it to the trail head I realized I forgot my water bottle. I drove home trying to beat the rising sun, got the water and headed back to the trail. I still managed to make the 2.7 mile hike in time to greet the sun as it peaked over the mountain. It was so peaceful as I ate my breakfast among the pine trees. I am so glad this was on my list, and I actually did it! In fact, if I could get my 49 year-old body out bed earlier, I would love to make this a weekly ritual.

I beat the sunrise and ate breakfast among the pine trees.

Number 46: Complete Covenant Two

When I first started attending my Episcopal church I took a series of classes to acquaint myself with the religion, and meet other people from church. Since I was raised Roman Catholic, the Episcopal faith already felt familiar to me and I loved everything about it, especially its inclusiveness. I completed the Covenant One classes and vowed that one day I would participate in the second series of classes, designed for those who wish to be confirmed or be received into the Episcopal church.

That was 12 years ago. Since that time I have introduced Juan and Olivia to the church and they have both been confirmed. I just had not gotten around to doing it myself. It was a big commitment since it involved twice monthly meetings from January to April, and a weekend retreat. Well, I am happy to say that I did it. I finished the classes and two weeks ago I was confirmed into the Episcopal church. For those who don’t know what it’s all about I will just say, it’s kind of like becoming an official member of a club.

Photo op with the Bishop, post Confirmation and still glowing with the Holy Spirit!

For those of you who never attended church or never attended a sacramental church like mine, you might consider Confirmation like a bunch of hocus pocus. The entire process involves kneeling before a bishop and the bishop blessing you. During my actual Confirmation everyone in my Covenant Two small group, my family and some of the church priests laid hands on me during the blessing. It was pretty powerful. Even my priest commented how he could feel the energy of the Holy Spirit during the blessing. Whatever. I’ll take it. Holy spirit. Love. Positive energy. I need it.

So, that’s it. It’s official. I am Episcopalian. And I’m 49.

Subscribe to this blog, follow me on Facebook or Twitter to see my progress over the next year as I make my way through my list.

50/50 Friday – Week 49

I can’t believe in a little over two weeks I will be one year into my project of 50 Things to Do Before My 50th Birthday. One year down, and one to go. I have accomplished quite a bit, but honestly I thought I would be further along by this time. It hasn’t been easy to do much this month, since May is the month with Too Many Occasions. In this month alone, I will have 5 birthdays, 2 graduations, 3 recitals, Mother’s Day, prom, and the usual assortment of baseball games, scout events and church obligations. The impending one year anniversary of my project inspired me to get back on my cooking bandwagon–that and the purchase of the Pioneer Woman’s new cookbook.

The first new recipe I tried was Spicy Lemon Garlic Shrimp. There is one thing everyone in my family agrees on–we all love shrimp! I knew this was going to be a real crowd pleaser, and this recipe did not disappoint. I also loved the fact that it was easy and quick. The recipe said to serve it with bread for dunking into the juices, but I didn’t like the idea of greasy hands and dripping bread all over the table. Besides, there’s one more thing everyone in my family agrees on–we all love pasta! I put the shrimp over angel hair pasta. Yum!

Spicy Lemon Garlic Shriimp

The next recipe up was Peach-Whiskey Chicken. Once upon a time someone brought me a bottle of whiskey. I don’t drink whiskey. I don’t know anyone in my family who drinks whiskey except maybe my dad. The whiskey bottle sat in my pantry until the night I decided to stink up my house and cook with it. Unfortunately, it was also the night when Olivia invited her boyfriend over for dinner. Olivia, who has the nose of a bloodhound, was mortified when she walked into the kitchen. I reassured her that the smell would evaporate and her boyfriend would be able to drive home without risking a DUI. Then, I opened all the windows and tried to fan away the fumes. By the time her boyfriend arrived the odor had faded and the chicken was stewing in the oven. I thought the dish was pretty good, but it was not rave worthy. Fortunately, Olivia’s boyfriend is much too polite to say anything negative. The recipe called for chicken legs and I obliged. The chicken legs cooked until the skin was falling off so it was pretty messy to eat. Diego did not like it at all. He said, “I really don’t like naked chicken.” Well, I guess no more naked, drunken chicken for my family.

Almost naked, drunken chicken on a bed of noodles.

I have also been doing my part to check off two more wines from my list. My sister-in-law brought this one to a family birthday celebration dinner this month and I really enjoyed it. Robust but not spicy or tannic. On the extra positive side, it’s really inexpensive. It’s only $4 at Trader Joes. I picked up a couple of bottles.

Good, drinkable, any occasion wine with a good price point.

I also tried this one. I picked it up at Cost Plus for about $10. I like big buttery chardonnay and this one fits the bill. It’s a little bit of a splurge for me, but I loved the name of the winery and since I had been shopping for everyone else’s birthday presents I thought I would pick me up a little something too.

This one is better than any cupcake I've ever had.

The last thing I did recently was to take on a cause, number 27 on my list. I have been looking around for a cause I could add to my blog. A cause which really interested me. I have seen this organization before, but when I came across this campaign about giving up your birthday for charity water, I knew I found my cause. Clean water is something that most of us have available and something we probably take for granted. I know that when I have to bang on the bathroom door and tell my kids that 20 minutes is WAY too long of a shower, they are taking this resource for granted. I know that when I see several half-filled water bottles around the house and in my car, my kids don’t realize the value of a clean, constant water source. For this birthday and the next big one, I am asking for donations to this cause. I want everyone to have clean water. I want to impart this message to my kids. Besides, if I can pass up gifts for my 50th birthday, while doing some positive modeling for my kids, and contributing to clean water somewhere else, it almost makes turning a half-century bearable.

Two more weeks to go until my 49th birthday….One year and 19 days until the big one.

50/50 Friday – Week 46

Last night I got home from a busy day at work and collapsed onto my unmade bed. I had a headache, and I felt like changing into my pajamas even though it was only 6:00pm and no one had eaten dinner. I did not feel like cooking but the thought of letting my family eat another night of frozen food made me feel like Slacker Mom. As I lay on my bed and thought about the contents of my refrigerator all that came to mind was a lonely leftover cooked chicken breast and some asparagus. Even McGyver can’t make a meal for five people out of that! As I moaned with dramatic flair and complained to Juan of my exhaustion and the pounding in my head, I asked him to please pick up some take-out dinner after he took Molly to the dog park, and on his way home from picking up Nico from baseball practice. I put on my pitiful face and told him that I just wanted to lay in bed. Whew!

Did I mention he had already worked traffic duty at our kids’ school this morning, gone to court, worked in the office this afternoon, taken Erica to the doctor and drove Olivia home from school? Yeesh. I started to feel really bad about asking him to do one more errand tonight. I began to feel a growing pang in my stomach. At first I thought it was guilt, but then I realized I must be getting hungry. As I considered what I was hungry for and nothing came to mind. I remembered that Friday was approaching and admitted to myself that I hadn’t cooked in a while for my 50/50 challenge. So, I rallied and hauled myself out of bed and became McGyver. As I looked through some recipes on line I suddenly had an appetite for, wait for it…crepes! I know, I know, crepes? Who gets an apetite for crepes? I think it had something to do with the lone chicken breast and asparagus, and the recipe that said EASY. That is how it came to pass that I made not just one new recipe this week but two!! Savory Crepes with Asparagus and Chicken and Sweet Crepes with Strawberries, Whipped Cream and Nutella. Surprisingly, it was easy. They came out really good considering I have never made crepes before. I even got Nico to try them, although he ate the sweet ones without the strawberries. After I finished cooking them, I announced to the family in my best fake French accent that, “Ze kitchen is closed and ze chef is going to her room to rest.”

Earlier in the week, before I was too exhausted to do anything else on my list, I managed to check off number 38, See the Desert in Bloom. This is something I have always wanted to do, but despite living in Southern California all my life, I have never done it. On Wednesday this week I had to drive another courthouse about 80 miles from downtown Los Angeles, in the high desert area of Antelope Valley. This area is known for its wild California poppies and other desert flowers. I remembered to grab my camera on the way out the door that morning. After I was done with court I took a slight detour and visited the poppy reserve.

A lone bunch of poppies in the middle of the desert landscape. Too bad there wasn't much rain this year.

It was a picture perfect day, one which makes you wonder why anyone would live anywhere but Southern California. The only thing missing was an abundance of desert flowers, and a charged camera battery. After 5 photos my camera died and I had to make due with my phone camera. Our dry winter did not produce the desert flowers I hoped to see, but still I found a few along the road. Driving through the country side with my windows down, the cool breeze blowing, and the Dixie Chicks playing on my car stereo, I felt like I was a million miles from home. Too bad I had to go home and fix dinner.

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50/50 Friday -Week 41

It’s been several weeks since my last 50/50 Friday update. I haven’t posted lately on this subject because, well, there hasn’t been much to say on the subject. Number 37, Cooking a New Recipe Once a Week, has fallen way off–I have been “cooking” a lot of ready-to-eat-meals. Trader Joes has become my sous chef. I can’t even get myself to make any progress on Number 20, Try a New Wine because I know one glass will knock me out before I am done doing the dishes, folding laundry, and managing the growing pile of mail that is taking over my entry table. With a little over one year before the big Five-OH, I have to jump start my plan. So, this past weekend Juan and I set out to accomplish something together–Number 16, Teach Diego to Ride a Bike.

Diego is 7 years-old. I don’t remember at what age I learned to ride a bike, but I do recall all the bumps, bruises and scratches that I got in the process. I do remember hanging onto a chain link fence while I tried to balance myself on the cool red and white bike that was a hand-me-down from my brother. I finally learned how to ride that bike and when I outgrew the red and white bike, and I passed it along to my sister. I rode my brother’s purple bike for a while until my 9th birthday, when I finally got my own bike. It was the hottest shade of pink, with a sparkly pink banana seat, sissy bar and pink and white basket. I rode that thing until my 13th birthday and it was too embarrassing to be seen on it any longer. I think I passed it along to my sister. But I digress.

Juan and I tried teaching Diego to ride a bike a couple of years ago, but he just wasn’t ready. Rather than force the issue we kept Nico’s outgrown bike in the garage, waiting for the day Diego would want to ride it. Meanwhile, Diego watched as the neighborhood kids, including the 4 year-old next door, rode to the neighborhood ice cream store on their bikes. Diego and I would sometimes ride together on the trail a bike attached to the back of my bike, but he didn’t always pedal and it was hard to enjoy a bike ride, dragging along and extra 80 pounds behind you. Meanwhile, he has become really good at riding his scooter, and I noticed that his balance and coordination was really improved. Last Sunday, it was a beautiful Spring-like day, and a perfect opportunity for a bike ride. We took out Nico’s old bike, removed the training wheels and pumped air into the tires. Diego got on and tried riding the bike on our street. He did okay, but seemed nervous due to the slight incline on our block and the narrow sidewalk. We decided to go to a nearby park with a nice wide, level bike path. That was all the confidence boost he needed. No sooner did we strap on his helmet, and guide him along, that he took off! I couldn’t keep up with him!

Riding his bike like a pro!

 Click Here to see Diego on a Bicycle

I did manage to make a new recipe this week, even though it took all night. I saw this great idea for St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes, and thought I’d like to try it. Our office had a bake sale to raise money for a victim’s fund, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to try using fondant. Let’s just say I won’t be making these again anytime soon. For someone who is too busy to cook her family a fresh meal, I wasted spent an inordinate amount of time making these cupcakes. I am glad they all sold out, priced at $3 each at the fundraising bake sale, but for all the work they took to make, next time I’ll just write a check.

Beer mug cupcakes

One last thing, I have been working on is Number 46 on my list, Complete Covenant 2. Let me explain. About 8 years ago I joined a membership class at my church, All Saints Pasadena. It was a really wonderful experience, writing our spiritual auto-biographies and exploring what spirituality meant to us. The subsequent class, Covenant 2 delves a lot more into the Episcopal religous traditions and each participant considers whether or not they wish to be confirmed at the end of the class. I have been participating in the class since January, and last weekend went on a retreat. I have been enjoying the classes and plan on being confirmed in May. Until then though, number 46 is still a work in progress…

I hope to make more progress on other items on my list. My pantry is so out of control, I hope to be able to check Number 3 from my list really soon.

Happy Friday!

 

 

Friday Funnies: A Play in One Act

This morning I still don’t have a 50/50 Friday post to update my list of 50 Things I Want to Do Before my 50th Birthday because, frankly, I’ve done nothing new. Life is moving too quickly right now for me to make much progress on my list. Instead, I thought I would post something quick today, something that made my morning, and which I will be sure to forget if I don’t write about it on my blog.  So, I give you a one-act play entitled Friday Funnies….

ACT ONE: SCENE ONE

Scene: The kitchen in the morning. Unwashed breakfast dishes sit in the sink. A mother frantically finishes packing a lunch box as her 7 year-old son is playing on the breakfast bar with a toy. Mother grabs her keys and begins to walk out of the kitchen.

Mother: Let’s go. We are going to be late for school.

Diego: (looks nervous) Wait. I think I have to go potty.

Mother: (exasperated) Now? You have been sitting there all morning. (pause) Okay, go then. Number 1 or Number 2?

Diego: Number 2. Or a fart.   Pause. A noise comes from the boy’s direction.

Diego:  Oh. It was a fart. Let’s go.

(Exit stage left).  FADE OUT

ACT ONE: SCENE TWO

Scene: Exterior in front of house. Beautiful Spring morning. Mother and son emerge from front door out of house. Mother carrying a coffee mug and big purse, nearly trips over a scooter that has been left directly on the porch outside the front door. Son trails behind and sheepishly looks on as his mother swears beneath her breath. Both proceed to get into a car parked in the driveway. The car is dirty, and school papers, and baseball equipment crowd the back seat as the son straps himself into a booster seat. Mother puts coffee mug in cup holder, climbs into the front seat and starts to drive away. Mother looks at son in rear-view mirror.

Mother: Wow. You look nice. Daddy did a good job combing your hair. I am glad we remembered it was picture day at school. Remember to button the shirt button before you take your picture. I’m glad you changed your shirt.

Son:  Yes, but I wish I could have changed my pants. These pants are getting short on me. I think I am growing.

Mother: You really are growing. You do need some new pants. I will try to buy you some this weekend. 

Son: These pants are a little tight too. When I grow taller, does my butt get bigger?

Mother: (Chokes on laugh. Spits out her coffee and it sprays on windshield)

CURTAIN

REPRISE

Scene: it is noontime. Mother about to leave the office to enjoy a long awaited lunch with her husband. Cell phone rings. The caller id indicates it’s son’s school. The voice on the line is one mother doesn’t recognize.

Mother: Hello?

Caller:  Hello, this is Jeff from Diego’s school. Diego is here in the office with me. He has had an accident.

Mother: (beginning to panic thinking of all the playground accidents which could have occurred, or, even worse, perhaps Diego’s  fart wasn’t a fart after all?)  What kind of accident?

Caller: It’s his pants…

(Mother looks worried, her fears confirmed. Oh no, the fart?….)

Caller: …He’s ripped them.

Mother: (He’s ripped a fart in his pants?) OH NO!

Caller: Yes, he ripped his pants. In the seat.

Mother: (Relieved. Then, it begins to dawn on her what this means. Trying not to laugh, she is thankful she is not drinking coffee.) I will bring him a change of clothes as soon as I can.

Diego's pants after bending over in a game of kick ball.

What about you? Do your mornings look like comedies or tragedies?