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Challenge #23: Photo Safari

Challenge #23: Take a picture of the most childlike spot in town.

I purposely waited until I was “out” of town to do this one. Yes, Salt Lake City has its childlike spots, but I knew I was on my way to a town that houses one of THE most childlike spots in the world.

Over Labor Day weekend my family and I vacationed to Anaheim, California. It was a trip that we had been planning for almost a year. The reason for going was so that I could run the Happiest Race on Earth – Disneyland Half Marathon – which I did, and beat my time from my last half marathon. And, of course, while we were there we got ourselves 3 day park hopper passes to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. And, let’s face it, Disneyland is definitely childlike! What better way to bring out the kid in you!

All right, all right, so Disneyland is expensive. And many childlike wonders are absolutely free. (In fact, my original thought for this challenge was to take a picture of the Olympic fountain at Gateway.) But I know that for me as an adult, Disneyland brings back childhood memories that no other place can. Even if you’ve never been there before, being there reminds you of your favorite Disney movies, shows, characters, and songs, and before you know it you’re skipping down Main Street USA to the tune of “Flitterin'” or “Let’s Have a Drink On It.” (And if any of you can tell me which Disney movies those songs are from I will crown you the Awesomest of all Awesomeness!) Seriously, I would pay for a full price ticket just to sit on Main Street and listen to the ragtime music and people-watch. It’s THAT amazing!

My sisters’ kids of course had a swell time. But all of us adults made new childlike memories, too:

My mom ventured to try California Screamin’, a roller coaster that even I won’t go on!

6 adults entered a log on Splash Mountain and got the most drenched ever (amazing how much more water comes in the boat when you don’t have a couple of children to round out the weight…)

I ate a corn dog… and thought it was mighty tasty!

I got my picture taken with Boba Fett. How many people can say THAT?!

Many of us found silly ways to pose for the pictures taken on rides such as Space Mountain and Splash Mountain.

I went on Jumpin’ Jellyfish, and got made fun of by my 15 year old nephew.

My mom tricked me into believing that her chocolate covered pomegranates were confiscated at the front gate. I was almost in tears over the whole thing! She’s so tricksy!

My brother in law, who is also a marine, kept playing with the “explosive” TNT outside of Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin.

And many other misadventures! This was probably one of my most favorite family vacations to Disneyland (even though we missed one sister and her family who couldn’t make it). The music, the laughter, the happy screams, the junk food, the “kid” rides, the costumed characters, the bright colors, the families who wear matching outfits, ah yes, all these and more bring a smile to my face just thinking about it! My camera broke, so I really don’t have any more photos right now. And for some reason Facebook won’t let me download pictures, even if I’m tagged in them. So I will have my sisters email me more pictures so I can post them to show more good times! I hope you get a chance to visit the Happiest Place on Earth some time soon!

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Challenge #22: This Little Light of Mine

Challenge #22: Do Something to Make the world a better place.

What?! Are Kim & Jason serious? Well, not always. In fact, they’re often downright silly! But what I mean is, what could I possibly do to make the world a better place? And I thought Challenge #19 was going to be the hardest…

Well, I’ve been thinking about this challenge all week and by last night I still had no ideas. But then a good friend of mine called me. Her name is Karla and I met her a year ago when I was an advisor for the Child Development Associate Credential. I coached her through the process of earning her CDA and we decided we liked each other too much to not develop a friendship as well as a business relationship. Anyway, when she called last night she started out by saying, “I’ve got something to say to you and you better listen.” Whoa. Scary. Then she proceeded to tell me how grateful she was that I was her advisor for her CDA and how grateful she is for my friendship. (I’m paraphrasing – she really went on and on about how wonderful I am, which kind of made me want to hide my face in embarrassment, and totally made me cry.) Well, I’m pretty sure her words of praise and love didn’t exactly make THE world a better place, but by golly they certainly made MY world a better place!

So that’s when I began to think of ways I can make the world’s of those around me a little bit better. Below is a list of things I did today to hopefully do just that. Some of these things (like #3) I do often, some not so much (like #6). But I’m going to try to do these little things as much as possible in the hopes that other people will then pay it forward in their own way. I can’t affect the entire world at once, but I can affect one person’s world at a time.

1. I wrote “Boungiorno Principessa” on Stacey’s bathroom mirror this morning. (If you don’t know what that means, ask an Italian, or just watch “Life is Beautiful.” Or both.)

2. I shared half my blueberry bagel with strawberry shmear (Such a fun word to say, shmear!) with a coworker.

3. Each time I used the restroom at work I made sure the paper towel was dispensed for the next person so they wouldn’t have to turn the disease-riddled wheel.

4. I said “please”, “thank you,” and “you’re welcome” as often as it was appropriate to do so.

5. I let my staff know how awesome I think they all are.

6. I didn’t get mad at anyone in traffic and calmly got out of the way of people who wanted to go faster than me. (This is a big deal for me, peeps!)

7. I allowed the lady at the box office for Centerpointe Legacy Theater to pick my seats for me since I had to change my tickets for “Anything Goes.” She seemed so excited to give me third row seats. I prefer to sit in the balcony so I can look down on the whole stage. But I couldn’t burst that excited little bubble of hers. I just couldn’t.

Anyway, nothing I did was earth-shattering. Not by a long shot. All I know is how much I appreciate the little things others do and say for me. And that’s all I hope I did: little things.

“…by small and simple things are great things brought to pass…” – Alma 37:6 (The Book of Mormon)

Challenge #21: Thanku Haiku

I was going to apologize for taking so long to post this blog… then I realized that I do that quite a lot lately. So instead of saying sorry I’m simply going to say here it is! What you’ve been anxiously awaiting!

Challenge #21: Write a haiku about the things you are thankful for and put it somewhere to serve as a reminder.

God and Christ, music,

Dawn Stockdale, fantasy books,

Family, dark chocolate,

Disneyland, children,

Laughing so hard that I snort,

Movies and t.v.,

Running outside, FOOD,

Sunny days and starry nights,

Hugs, smiles, friends, love.

Of course I couldn’t write just one stanza. I’m a bit of an overachiever like that πŸ˜‰

Anyway, having completed Challenge #21, I am officially halfway through Kim & Jason’s Escape Plan. (There are 40 challenges, but remember how I skipped #16? Yeah, so that makes this the halfway point. I know, I know, I’ll get back to it. It’s a toughy for me, okay? GOSH!)

Though completing these challenges has not given me more time, spared me from struggles, or made me any money, they have given me a different perspective, spared me from boredom, and made me moreΒ  childlike – and childlike is a synonym for happy πŸ™‚

Challenge #20: Instant Karma

Challenge #20: Right an old wrong.

This week for the Kim & Jason Escape Plan Challenge, I’m to right an old wrong. Well, the fact that I’m blogging is almost like righting an old wrong. I used to be so on top of this, but since I made the switch from working part time to working full time… I feel like I’m never home. A few years back I was working full time, going to school part time, and occasionally teaching night and/or weekend classes. I remember being able to balance my life just fine back then. But now I’ve got to get back into the swing of things. Still seeking outΒ  my sea legs. I’ll get there, one day at a time.

So really for this challenge I was a little stumped. Many of my “old” wrongs are so old I don’t remember them anymore. I’m sure there are quite a few. If anyone out there has been a victim to an old wrong of mine, please let me know and I’ll do my best to right it. I’m going to try to right wrongs along the way from now on. But that still doesn’t quite complete this challenge, does it?

"Nothing tastes as good as thin feels."

So instead, I’m taking a leaf out of Kim’s book. She righted an old wrong to herself and her husband that had to do with her health. I’m doing the same thing – minus the husband. Last year I got down to my lowest weight ever. I wasn’t even that thin in high school! I was elated that I finally broke through a weight loss plateau that had plagued me for many many years. I was almost at a size 8, but very happy and comfortable in my size 10. I vowed I would never go back to size 12 or higher.

A few months back I let my emotions take charge of my eating. I still exercised – I LOVE to run – but my food intake was terrible. I’ve stopped overeating, but still only lost about 8lbs of the 20 I had put back on. Now I’m working on getting rid of the rest of it. I can’t really right this wrong today, but I can start righting it. Again, I work out all the time. I’m in training for a half marathon. But now I have to figure out where I’m going wrong food-wise. As of yet, I can’t tell if I’m eating too much or too little. I will be experimenting with this and start weighing myself bi-monthly again. (I can’t do it weekly, it depresses me.) I’m also going to pay attention to how my clothes fit. It’s difficult being a woman. We fluctuate so much. I was feeling mighty slim on Monday, and today I feel bloated and gross. Blah. But oh well. I must move forward and conquer those 12lbs… and perhaps a few more…

Challenge #12: Dear Hero

Challenge #12: Write a letter to a childhood hero (real or fictional).

Heroes save the day right when you need them to. Though I have to say that Christ is my ultimate hero, for purposes of this challenge I chose two other individuals who I feel have saved me on several occasions. I chose these two people because the first has no idea how much he has meant to me throughout the years, and the other may have an inkling, but I think it’s important to remind her. Christ knows how I feel about Him. I tell Him ALL the time πŸ™‚

My first champion of heroics is “Weird” Al Yankovic. I actually was opposed to Al when I was first introduced to him by the strange new girl at church (who ended up becoming my bff of *cough* years). Anyway, I thought he was too ridiculous. But Dawn persisted. She made me listen to his music until it finally reached me. And when it reached me, I couldn’t stop laughing! Many a happy hour has been spent ever since then singing along and laughing to “Weird” Al. I’m willing to bet that man doesn’t have a single drop of Adultitis in him! Here is my letter:

"Weird" Al Yankovic

Dear Al,

May I call you Al?

I’ve been challenged to write a letter to my childhood hero. Immediately I thought of you. For almost a quarter of a century your charm and wit have helped me through many dark times. Each and every one of your songs brings an almost indecently wide smile to my face, and most of them make me laugh so hard that I cry! Your childlike nature is contagious and reminds me to enjoy life.

Ever since I fell in love with your music as a child (and learned that mashed potatoes can be my friend) I’ve been better equipped to deal with life’s challenges. I’m not ashamed to admit that often on a sad day I’d pop “Alapalooza” in my cassette player and act out my own music video of “Jurassic Park.” My stuffed animals were fantastic audiences, and I always felt better after. And though I feel I may have lost a few brain cells while watching “UHF”, it was worth it! To this day, spatulas make me laugh. No joke!

Even now your songs are a great part of my life. A few of them (including “Grapefruit Diet”) are on my iPod’s running mix. “I’ll Be Mellow When I’m Dead” is also on there. As I jog down the road I laugh every time you sing the line “I don’t really like to jog!” Anytime I’m in the check out line at a grocery store, I immediately begin singing “Midnight Star” (usually just in my head). And it never ceases to amaze me how many times someone will bring up a song and ask me if I know it and I say, “Well, I know the ‘Weird’ Al version!” And more often than not, your versions are way better.

Anyway, what this all boils down to is that I just want to thank you for all your years of song and laughter. Though it’s been fun, I’m certain it also means a lot of hard work for you. You are extremely talented, using your gifts to touch the lives of so many people. Thank you so much for your dedication. Your songs are timeless and will be with me always.

Your devoted fan,

Amy Larson (you may call me Al)

I’m going to send this letter this weekend and I’m super excited about it! The last fan letter I wrote was to John Stamos back when “Full House” was brand new.

Best of Friends

My second childhood hero is my bff Dawn. I’ve written a letter that is included in her (really late) birthday package, but I’m not going to include it here. It’s a little too personal, but I will say this: Anyone who is lucky enough to have a friend who is even half the person Dawn is truly has much to be grateful for and has the best reason to smile. Dawn, thanks for introducing me to “Weird” Al’s music, for forgiving me when I knocked you on the head with a giant Cheez Balls can, for “Newsies”, for getting me through high school, for your children, for New York City, for never giving up on me. And for not being mad at me for blogging about you and including a picture without your permission πŸ˜‰ I. Love. You!

Challenge #8: Doodlesmile

Challenge #8: Draw a funny picture and hide it in an unexpected place for someone else to find.

I have a large box of dry-erase markers and I’ve been dying to use them to draw on my sister’s bathroom mirror. I just wanted to leave her a little something to make her giggle. Everyone can use a good giggle every now and then; especially Stacey, especially now. I didn’t know what I was going to draw, but it had to be some kind of potty joke. When we were little we used to call Stacey Anastasia. This was before the Meg Ryan movie, so of course that became her movie when she saw it. And her nickname was then changed to Princess Anastasia. Princess for short. So I drew what was supposed to be a page announcing that the Princess Anastasia is about to sit on her “throne.” HAHAHAHAHA! She saw it when she got home from work and she loves it! She’s not going to clean it off for a while πŸ™‚

I thought that the picture on a mirror thing was clever, yet it was also kind of cheating, since it wasn’t even pretending to be hiding. So while at work today I drew a not-great picture of Nick Carter. My co-worker is completely gaga over Nick Carter (personally… well, he’s no Josh Groban). I stuck it inside one of her program folders. She works a different program than I do, so I have no idea how often she goes into that folder, but I’m pretty sure she has to eventually and when she does… I think she’ll really enjoy it!

8 Challenges down and I must say that I feel the benefits! I’m way less stressed, even though I had all my finals this week. I was able to slow down and do some fun things and some meaningful things, and I still finished my homework and papers and tests. (Speaking of papers, I got an “A” on every single one, thank you very much!) I’ve been able to start getting my new apartment in order, as well. I thought I was too busy to begin doing that. But as Kim and Jason say, “busy” is the new four-letter word. I’m no longer going to be busy. I’m simply going to be. πŸ™‚

Challenge #7: Indulge Thyself

Challenge #7: Spend 15-20 minutes doing something that you love that you don’t often have the chance to do.

Squishing my nephew

Lately I’ve been doing awesome at making sure I do the things I love as often as possible. I read almost every evening (currently reading “Extras” by Scott Westerfeld and “Escape Adulthood” by Jason Kotecki), I sing in my car (as mentioned previously), I run 3x a week, I watch new episodes of “The Biggest Loser” and old episodes of “Criminal Minds“, I talk to and/or spend time with my family and friends, I get enough sleep (I REALLY enjoy sleeping), and of course I squish my baby nephew as much as possible since he’s leaving tomorrow to go back to Virginia 😦

Just one of my new cute tops

So finding something that I love to do that I don’t have time for was a little tricky. But my sister from out of town wanted to go to my favorite clothing store, Maurices. Maurices is located in the mall – and I absolutely HATEΒ  the mall. It’s busy, it’s crowded, it’s loud. BUT, mid-morning on a Wednesday, it’s not so bad, and I was more than happy to take her and my squishy nephew to try on new clothes. I promised myself I wouldn’t buy anything unless it was on sale. So with my own permission, I began trying on cute clothes, which I LOVE to do, especially at Maurices! I bought 4 tops, but after checking my receipt when I got home, I realized that one of the tops I bought was put on the sales rack accidentally and it wasn’t really on sale. So I’ll return that top to make sure I’m honest with myself πŸ™‚ My sister and I had a lot of fun and got really cute clothes that make us feel really cute (well, we are anyway). This challenge turned out to be great for me to realize that with as many things as I enjoy doing, there are more enjoyable things to be done AND that with as much as I do in a day, there is always time for one more fun activity. Indulging myself was AWE-SOME!