Friday, October 22, 2010

Oops...HO, HO, HO!

(For those who got this twice, I'm so sorry.  I accidentally posted yesterday without it being complete:)

 I can't help myself.
I'm one of those people who LOVE the anticipation of the
Holiday season!
(Notice the countdown at the top of my blog)

I know, I week is Halloween and next month, Thanksgiving.
But as my girls get older Halloween isn't a big deal and we happen to live in a BORING neighborhood. 

There, I admitted it!
I think it all started the year my friend convinced me to order a "fresh" turkey from this specialty market in town about 10 years ago.
It was so gamey I thought I would be sick.
NOT a good feeling at the Thanksgiving table!!! :)
I wish I liked it when I hear of others enjoying it year round:)
Maybe if it is a tiny piece of white meat
buried under MOUNDS of mashed potatoes and gravy, I can eat it.
I DO love sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie and stuff like that
which means I could potentially gain 20 lbs in one day.
And since it's always really hot and sunny down here at Thanksgiving,
I'd just as soon give thanks while sitting by the Christmas tree that I put up early...
and in the case of this year, REALLY early.
I mean, we have been in full Nutcracker mode around here for awhile now.
so let's just get on with it. 

Because I'm ready!
Christmas makes me HAPPY and you DO want me to be happy, right? 
So before you throw Halloween candy at me, look at what I found...

Yep, I'm here to help you with your shopping.
Funny, because the other day my sister sent me an email asking how I was doing on my shopping.
Ummm...haven't done ANY! 
I have lots of IDEAS...but that's it.

Awhile back I told you about a site called iMOM...and if you haven't checked it out, you're missing a site with GREAT ideas and inspirational parenting tips for all ages.
Today, they had these lists to download and use for Christmas shopping.
Aren't they AMAZING?

You can click on this link to get your own lists...
And how about being organization?
Oh my gosh, I struggle with this when it ISN'T the Holidays:)
Did you know there is a "Christmas Organization" site,
complete with calendars, weekly planners, daily tips and checklists?
From what I could tell, it was pretty reasonable and doable.
(I actually had to google that word to see if it WAS a word:)
The calendar is broken down by week with titles such as
  • get organized
  • reality check
  • gifts and giving
  • get cooking
  • decorate
  • celebrate
...all while remembering what's REALLY important!
And, they are good enough to include Halloween and Thanksgiving 
in their Holiday checklist:)

Okay, I'm off to start making my lists!
(soon, a few gift ideas from me to you...
so you don't end up like THIS guy...although I HAVE been there...minus the snow:)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Paris...The City of Lights

Ooh la la...

(and yes, we heard a few people say this:)
Come with me on our adventure to "La Ville-Lumière" or
"The City of Light".

We left London on a Saturday morning and took the Eurostar train to Paris, UNDER the English Channel and through a bit of the French countryside.
Oh my gosh...we LOVED the train travel!!!

I could go on and on about this...
the neatness, comfort, service, the feeling of NOT traveling in the air:)

We arrived in Paris and were met by our driver who took us on a scenic tour of the city,
hitting the high spots, before taking us to our hotel.

The architecture and history in this city is incredible, no doubt.

Even the apartment buildings are beautiful, with flowers on every window.

And for some reason, I was in AWE at the beautiful old doors on every building.

Yes...I was the crazy lady taking pictures of DOORS in Paris!:)
And the iron scroll work in all 3 countries was beautiful, too.

We went to the Louvre museum, home to the Mona Lisa:),

 the Eiffel tower...and climbed up a number of levels,
all while oblivious to the increased terror threat, I might add!

Whew...we made the climb... don't you think we deserved some pretty french perfume?:)

After our climb, we relaxed in the grassy park at the base of the Eiffel tower...
 (Jordan thinking about life in Paris)

 ...and just marveled at the fact that we were really there.  How incredible!

We took an evening cruise down the Seine river and while we FROZE
(we ARE from Florida you know:)
 it was gorgeous!

We saw many beautiful cathedrals, including Notre Dame,

visited the Arc de Triomphe

and the Place de Concorde,

a place rich with history, unfortunately not all of it happy during the French Revolution.
This is where they used to do their "beheading".
In fact, King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were killed here.
But it's really pretty now, filled with fountains and statues.

We saw the Flame of Liberty, a life-sized replica of the torch on the Statue of Liberty given at the time of their Centennial.  However, now it is commonly referred to as "Diana's Flame"  since under this sculpture is the tunnel Princess Diana was riding through when she was in the fatal car crash.
 Since then, visitors flock to "Diana's Flame" and leave flowers and notes to the Late Princess.

We  took the Metro

to the Paris Flea Markets
 (we're ready to SHOP!!!)
Two of my favorites...the amazing frames

and the crowns, of course!

and visited the Paris Opera House,

which was one of my favorite spots of all.

 (Taylor dreaming of the Paris Ballet at the Opera House)
It was just magnificent!
(Actually, I thought maybe the Phantom of the Opera would appear any minute:)
We strolled down the Champs de Elysse

 and since one of the main things we wanted to do was to relax at
a sidewalk cafe like a true Parisian, we did just that!

(although like a true American, we chose the one with the BEST dessert...
and they have quite a few!)

While we enjoyed Paris and can't deny the history and beauty of so much of it,
between London/Paris/Italy...
it was lovely but not our favorite.
Maybe if we had ONLY visited Paris but since we didn't...
This SHOCKED me since it was the ONE place I wanted to visit.
It was a big and very crowded...more like NYC.
I'll leave it at that.
Would I go back???
Yes, definitely.
There is way more I would like to see.
But I'm not in a hurry.
Although when I look at photos from our trip like this...
I might just change my mind.
( Taylor) 

As for those so called "rude" French, I didn't get that impression at all.
If you're nice...most of them are nice. Just like here.
But unlike Italy, where they fall over backwards to understand or help you understand,
and London, where they smile and ask if they can help,
it was almost like they had more of a take it or leave it attitude.
Not real warm and fuzzy, you know?
It doesn't make them rude...but I bet that's how some take it.
Our next trip to France will most likely be to the Provence area,
which I'm told I will love...the area and the people:)
But I must say, the churches all had welcoming signs on their doors...
 SO NICE!!!!!

Okay, on to the sites...again.
The street markets were awesome...and so French!
And the croissants and baguettes...AMAZING!!!

I could LIVE on their fresh croissants in the morning.
( dieting on this trip!)
But no dieting needed...because you WALK like crazy!!!
(walking the streets of Paris)

We were warned MANY times about pick pockets, especially near the flea market.
I get it now.  I was prepared though and made sure everyone else was.  Phil kept money in his FRONT pocket and I had a small bag slung across my body and the girls kept their phones and any money in their front pockets also.
But I did catch one pickpocket hit me on the back of my jeans,
saw him hit Jordan...than Phil and then Taylor very quickly,
all while I glared at him and said out loud to "watch out for that guy, he's trying to pick pocket".
DO NOT mess with me buddy!:)
Maybe it was my glistening watch that made him think I had something to steal.
Hahaha...joke's on you!
It was my $8.00 Jacklyn Smith/Kmart special bought just for this reason!!!

Okay, and here I wasn't going to ramble.
Bottom line, if you ever have a chance to visit Paris,
it is worth the trip, at least once.

I wish I could show all of our pics as there are so many amazing ones.

 But you get the idea. (photo by Taylor)

Next stop...Roma!
And those Italians are VERY warm and friendly.
Cute, too...not that I cared.
But my girls MIGHT have noticed:)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Life Skills, Teens and Cool Stuff...

What do they really need to know?

There is such a push on in schools these days...
get ahead, take college classes, boost your GPA...

When are we going to realize that pushing them to do more may not always be the answer?
*** can stop reading now if you hate this idea...which so many of you will.
Or you can trash me on your blog...i can take it:)

It's just that I would really like to know what this is truly doing for our teens?
Are they graduating from college that much sooner?
Or is the college finding a way to still keep them there...and your money...even though they had all of these college courses, because you know there is always more they could learn?
I do think it's great how some can get ahead, don't get me wrong.
But do we have to OVERDO everything?

Last I heard, before this whole push to do more and faster, we were still graduating from college and getting a degree...if that is the path that was RIGHT for us.

Gosh...the poor kid who is not trying to get into a "top tier" school...who wants a solid education AND the time to pursue other interests that may or may not be in their future.

I have one of each...and each deserves the same respect.
However other kids...and even worse...adults...tend to look down their nose if you are not cramming as many AP courses as possible in your schedule. (yes, this is one reason for this blog post.  the other reason...because book smart is NOT common sense
smart...never has been and never will be:)

Well, I agree with one part...there is MORE they could learn.
So how about there being a mandatory LIFE SKILLS course in high school...
basic stuff they will need to know...
and for whatever reason still haven't mastered.
I know some schools have this but the majority do not.
I'm not talking about career planning class. Though if they are really clueless what to take in college they can check this site for some ideas. 

Because I would be willing to bet what trips up most kids going off to college isn't that the class is suddenly too hard...after all, they have taken college classes, right?

No, I think it's because they failed to learn just how important certain things are in real life...
like knowing how to manage bank accounts/debit cards,
when they are sick enough to go to the medical clinic,
when that noise in the car needs to be checked,
proper correspondence skills (Hello...thank you notes???)
How to "edit" the way they use social networking...and to know it is not always their friends lurking there but school officials, teachers, prospective employers...and downright creepy people.
But like it or not (and I fall in to the NOT category here...sorry;)  Sites like FB and MY SPACE are here and a huge part of their lives...and learning about the ways they can be used to their advantage or disadvantage would be great.
(By the way, are they truly thinking about the fact that their ENTIRE lives are basically documented in photos from cell phones? It may have been innocent, but it doesn't always LOOK that way.)

Making money on their own, using their own skills or talents...
my daughter has a small shop on etsy and has had to learn to communicate effectively with a potential buyer, when to say yes and when to say no, selling, saving, marketing, providing a quality product...basic entrepreneurship. 

How about the proper way to dress for different occasions, such as interviews?
What to say...and NOT to say?

And how about personal appearance...
they may be "expressing" themselves but adults...professors, employers and boyfriend/girlfriend's parents CAN...and most likely WILL...judge on first impressions.

Maybe one of the most important...TIME MANAGEMENT...
something I NEVER learned:)

So much to think about.
Maybe instead of making learning so competitve as it clearly is today,
we can teach some very valuable life lessons.
Before you say that is the job of parents, I would like to argue that with the workload these kids have from schools trying to serve their "best interests",  who has time?

In case YOU do, here is the book we are using at our little schoolhouse...
"COOL STUFF" They Should Teach in School.

 Definitely very cool, appealing to teenagers and FULL of real world tips!
(This book comes highly recommended from people such as Jack Canfield of the Chicken Soup series as well asand is actually used in some life skills courses)
Just in case your school doesn't have a life skills course and you're worried there are too many things you didn't get around to covering (this is me) is some of what you can expect from the book...
  • Control your attitude so you can control your life
  • Successfully manage your money (saving, banking, Wall Street, credit cards, etc.)
  • Get the job you desire
  • Communicate effectively
  • Set goals and develop a sense of purpose and direction
  • Build self-esteem and conquer peer pressure
  • Master time management
  • Strengthen your people-skills
  • Increase focus and discipline
  • Embrace feedback to excel faster
  • Take responsibility and create empowering habits
  • Use curiosity to boost academic performance
  • And countless other practical lessons about character
 Okay...the REAL reason I like this book and the whole idea behind teaching life skills as an actual I could've used it myself:)  

Next up, a happy post.
I promise!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Confession Time...Something I Am REALLY Good At...

I've never admitted to this. Well, maybe I've joked around about it but this time I'm seriously coming clean.

There's something I am really good at...
And that something is...


Had you there, didn't I? You thought this was some big confession.
Well yes and no!
I mean, my TO DO list today was never-ending.
I started out okay.

Walked the dogs, made the bed, visited a few blogs, took Jordie to the dentist, put away laundry and did one more load...which now that I think of it might still be in the washer.
Gave advice on a Biology assignment, made lunch...
and then sat down to eat it and play with my iPad at the same time.

BIG mistake. I started messing with the color splash app, which if you haven't tried it you are missing some SERIOUS fun. It takes any photo in your albums, turns them to black and white and allows you to hand color whichever part you like. Or, you can write something and the words turn into the color of the object originally. (did that make sense???)

So here are the masterpieces I wasted the afternoon on.
Before you say anything, I know. Stick to the list next time!;)
But I had fun. I always did think "coloring" was relaxing!

Hope your day was wonderful...and more productive than mine!;)

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