Thursday Thumbs Up

Thursday Thumbs Up

I will be traveling by train from Southern-Central California to the Bay Area today.  I haven’t done that in a while, but I am somewhat looking forward to it.  That will start my Thursday Thumbs Up today!

Traveling by train.  I used to travel by train a lot more in college.  I haven’t done it in a while, but it just worked out to be convenient this time to get back to the Bay Area to help out my mom this weekend without having to make my husband and DD leave his parent’s house early.  I’m looking forward to it.  I love being able to get work done while traveling.  Trains have plenty of space (versus an airplane, where I often feel cramped and restricted).  I can work on my laptop, read, sleep, and enjoy the view at certain points.  If the prices were more reasonable and the schedule more friendly from my hometown, I would choose to travel by train all the time.  But, it is a little too expensive to do all the time (versus my hybrid car, especially for a family of three).  But, it will be a nice change of pace.

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I am literally on the train right now!  And it is extremely pleasant.  And productive.  So, serious thumbs up to traveling by train.  I just wish it were cheaper!  I also got a reply to my tweet from Amtrak:

Not bad!

Organ Donation.  Six years ago today, my DD was officially listed for a heart transplant.  She was one of thousands on the list, with 100s of children.  But, we waited less than one month.  She was listed on June 11 and received a heart on July 7.  It was truly a miracle.  She was not doing well health-wise and I’m not sure how much longer she would have lasted.  There was a Berlin Heart in the hospital for her (which required an FDA compassionate use exemption because they had not been approved for infants).  She had been moved from the PICU to the CVICU because she was doing so poorly.  Here she is six years ago, following a respiratory therapy treatment, right before we got confirmation that she would be listed:

June 11 - Day she was listedNo medical procedure is perfect, but this one saved our daughter’s life.  And because of that, the anonymous donor (who was also a child – we don’t know any information other than that) holds a special place in my heart.  And the organ donation system is definitely personal to me!

Summer storms.  We have had a few doozies in California lately.  But, I certainly didn’t expect one in Bakersfield in early June.  But here it was last night:

Awesome.  Cooling.  And just plain relaxing.  I felt like I could have sat out there listening to it and watching it fall for HOURS!  Unfortunately, some places had some flash flooding, but there were no injuries or serious damage that I heard of, so that is good.  I do love me a good summer storm though.

So, those are my Thursday Thumbs Up for this week.  What about you?  Anything you would give a Thumbs Up to this week?

Thursday Thumbs Up - Canva

Thursday Thumbs Up

Thumbs Up Thursday: Vacation Edition

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Well, I have SO failed on my 31 posts in 31 days mission.  But, maybe I’ll try again in April.  We shall see.

I just got back from a mini-vacation (two days) and we had a great time.  So, I’ll relate today’s Thumbs Ups to items related to my vacation:

1) TAKING VACATION!  We aren’t really the vacationing type of family.  We try to do one major vacation a year with Bean, but we often fail in that effort and end up doing some short trips or visiting family and not really doing anything “special”.  We’ve done two vacations that I would call total successes – one with my in-laws to Lake Almanor and one to Oregon.  Both were really a lot of fun.  But, they are stand outs.  And I love to travel and do family trips.  So, we did a mini-vacation this Spring Break.  We drove just an hour to our destination (which made it easy to do and not waste a lot of time driving) in Redding CA and we stayed in the Oxford Suites and we used my DD’s gift from our in-laws (annual passes) to visit Turtle Bay Exploration Park and Museum three times while there!  We also swam in the hotel pool two times, ate breakfast at the hotel each morning and then meals out the rest of the time (which, unfortunately weren’t great, but hey, I didn’t have to do the dishes).  We played Candy Land as a family a couple of times (we bought the nostalgia version at the Museum gift shop and it is awesome).  Overall, it was great and I am so thankful to have time together and away from home and just to relax.  I didn’t open my laptop while there (which is incredibly unusual for me and I’m proud of myself for that), which means I will need to do some catch up on grading and blogging and email, but that’s okay.  It felt good to just vacation.  I read over half of the book that I’m currently reading (The Girls of August) and it was blissful.

2) TURTLE BAY EXPLORATION PARK.  This isn’t a new place to us, but there is always something new to discover there.  If you’re ever in Northern California and can make it to Redding, CA, consider visiting this place.  It is best for people who love animals or plants and/or who have children between the ages of 2 and 12 (about).  There are a ton of things to do in the area – the Exploration Park includes a museum that has two exhibitions showing.  Sometimes there are fun ones (like the candy one we visited today) and some are more artistic (like the other current exhibition which is a photography show featuring Northern California landmarks), but they are always interesting.  We had a great time all three times that we went this weekend.  Our favorites are the Lorikeets, my DD loves the play area and water feature and the animal show during the summer months is great, learning fun!

Thursday Thumbs Up

Thumbs Up Thursday – Focusing on the Positive

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Or, as some might say, ignorance is bliss.  And sometimes I feel like I have way too much information to maintain optimism.  But, this is Thumbs Up Thursday so I’m going to focus on the positive and give some thumbs up today.  Despite the Great White Shark nipping at my heels…

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Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel  Seriously, if I created a channel, this would probably be it.  I mean, I might choose some slightly different movies and I would probably have some Golden Girls on there, but overall this channel is like my entertainment Mecca.  It has Murder She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder, Hart to Hart and movies that are right up my alley as well.  I feel like it is my entertainment comfort food.  And I’ve been in need of serious comfort food lately.

hallmark movies and mysteries

Google Calendar  I have decided that I have a slight problem with planners/calendars/lists, etc.  I am constantly trying new things.  The amount of money I have spent on planners thinking that they were going to change my life could probably buy us a new car.  But, let’s not think about that.  I have settled on Google Calendar as my go-to online planning source.  I still have a calendar hanging in my kitchen so others know what is happening and I still carry around a planner, but I rarely look at it.  Google Calendar sends me reminders, automatically adds Meet-up events into my calendar, adds Facebook birthdays and events into my calendar.  It is frigging fantastic.  I still miss things, but it is much less likely if I put it in my Google Calendar and actually have the reminders set to happen.  My frustration right now is that I can’t get it to work right on my phone, but I’ll work on that.

GOOGLE CALENDAR

Thursday Thumbs Up

Thursday Thumbs Up!

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This week’s Thursday Thumbs Ups are a potpourri of items  Enjoy!

1.  Frozen Chicken Sandwiches from Costco  These are some tasty, super easy chicken sandwiches that you just throw in the microwave.  The buns don’t get soggy, the chicken tastes like chicken and my finicky 5 yo seems to love them.  So, these are a definite thumbs up.

2.  Max’s Opera Cafe of Palo Alto  This place has been a staple in my life over the last five years.  We have spent a LOT of time at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and this restaurant is in the mall across from the hospital.  There are other restaurants that we’ve enjoyed as well, but none has a menu quite as comprehensive as Max’s and the ambiance is nice without it being too overly expensive (especially for Palo Alto).

3.  The Heart Transplant team at Lucile Packard  It has been five years now since my daughter received her new heart.  We started working with the heart transplant team even before that time, as we were being prepared for the transplant process.  There have been some personnel changes since then, but I can’t speak highly enough for the team there.  They have been wonderful!

4.  Season passes at Discovery Kingdom Six Flags This is the second year we’ve had season passes to Discovery Kingdom and it is well worth the cost!  We are lucky in that we are able to buy tickets with a group of other people which makes the discount on them even deeper.  We get a number of days when we can bring in people for free (so, I was able to take my mom for free on Tuesday), we get to park for free, and there are a bunch of other discounts throughout the year.  I was a bit afraid of it not being appealing for my 5 yo (and 4 yo) last year, but they have a lot of stuff for little ones and with the season passes, I don’t feel bad if she only lasts a few hours before getting too tired because I know we can go back many more times for our money.

So, that’s it.  What are your thumbs up being given to this week?

Thursday Thumbs Up

Thursday Thumbs Up – Food, not foodie, Edition

Today’s Thursdays Thumbs Up will be focused on food items.  Note, these are NOT foodie items, but quick, easy and delicious foods that keep me sane.  I am not a cook, but I like to put together tasty things at home.  I just want them put together in short order.  Fast food without the trip to the fast food place.  So, here are some of my recent faves that fall into this category:

1.  Bake in Tray Foster Farms Seasoned Chicken Breasts.

bake in tray chicken

I will admit that at one point in the process, I was really frustrated with these.  But, in hindsight, I think the problem was probably my oven and not the chicken.  The box said they should take 30 minutes to bake, but they ended up taking close to an hour and I was already hungry when I started, so that frustrated me.  And, I was so paranoid by the lack of cooking that was taking place in the first 30 minutes that I ended up slicing the breasts up and throwing them in a frying pan to make sure they were completely done.  In the end, they tasted great and from all the other reviews online, this was my problem and not something with the product.

Since I had to throw them into a pan anyways, I ended up making a little bit of a burrito bowl with the chicken, item number two below for rice and some cheese melted on top.  So, so good.  Next time, I would toss in some black beans and corn as well, but it was good with just the three items.  The chicken is juicy, the sauce was tasty and not to spicy so my 5 yo ate it without complaint and the combo of the chicken, rice and cheese were perfect flavor-wise.  So, I will definitely be getting these again.  If I was making this for a large group, I would just make my own with a Max Pac of chicken and some verde salsa in the slow cooker, but for just two of us, this was perfect.  There were two well-sized breasts and plenty of sauce for the two of us.

2.  Uncle Ben’s Spanish Style Ready Rice.

My daughter loves this rice and you can’t beat the ease with which you can make it – pop it in the microwave for 90 seconds after venting and serve.  It has great flavor, it is not to “wet” (my husband hates “wet” rice, so its perfect for us) and the 5 yo eats it.  So, its perfect.  When mixed in with the chicken in the frying pan and then sprinkled with Mexican shredded cheese, it was extremely tasty!  I can’t recommend it enough.

3. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood’s Clean Up Time.

This is a late addition.  My daughter just finished spending 30-40 minutes cleaning up the living room of her myriad of toys and art supplies and shoes and clothing and everything else from the last couple of days.  All inspired by this episode of Daniel Tiger.  She did it without being asked.  She recycled what should be recycled.  She threw away what should be thrown away.  It. was. awesome.  So, thanks Daniel Tiger!

4.  Swim lessons.

Bean passed her Level 1 swim lessons today.  We’re taking the next two weeks off because we will be traveling a lot in the next couple of weeks.  Then, I’ll get her in Level 2 and hopefully she will be water safe by the end of the summer.

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5.  Last, but not least, I want to give a thumbs up to Bay Area weather.

I am spending the holiday weekend at my mom’s place (her first fourth of July without my dad being alive).  I am happy to be able to be there with her, but as an extra added benefit I am happy to be spending the weekend in temps that will be approximately 30-40 degrees cooler (yes, that zero does belong there) than here at my house.  So, big thumbs up for that!

What about you?  What are your thumbs up for this week?

Thursday Thumbs Up

Thumbs Up Thursday

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This week’s Thumbs Up Thursday goes out at the end of a busy, busy week for me and my daughter.  I feel like enough has happened this week to fill the whole summer!  But, we have a lot of summer left and we plan to use it well.  But, before I run out of time and energy, let’s jump right in to this week’s Thumbs Ups:

1.  Vacation Bible eXperience at our church.  

I really can’t say enough good things about the church we attend.  I like so much about it.  But, they do VBS like no other.  Their youth program was actually one of the things that really attracted me to the church in the first place.  I want my DD to have a good church experience.  I was lucky enough to grow up in a church with a strong youth program and it really brought me a lot when I was growing up.  When I felt out of touch with my classmates or changed schools or just didn’t “fit in” anywhere, I always was made to feel like I fit in at my church.  We had a fantastic youth leader who was so good at making us feel valued and loved.  And that is what I get from our church here.  The focus at VBX Jr (for the 5 and under set) was God Made Me, God Loves Me and Jesus will always be my friend.  And the days were so positive, for both my daughter and I.  I volunteered on the craft team and met some incredibly nice women, got invited to the Women Experiencing the Bible group and another small group, went to lunch with one of my daughter’s preschool friends and her Grandmother who was also volunteering at VBX and was able to witness Bean experiencing the love and joy of the program.  It was AWEsome.  I’m sad that it is over.

2.  Swim lessons.

I taught swim lessons from the time I was 16 until I was about 24 or 25.  I could easily teach my DD to swim.  But, you know what?   I love having her take swim lessons.  First, she listens to them much better than she listens to me.  Second, I get 30 minutes of time to read each evening while she is in the pool.  I’m already a 1/3 of a way through Gone Girl and I hope to finish it next week.  I could obviously find some time to read while at home probably, but this time is built in time that I have committed to reading and I love it.  In addition, she gets to play fun games with other kids in the pool.  That is difficult to provide when she is an only child and we go to the pool.  I can’t have her do swim lessons the next couple of weeks because we will have to go to my mom’s in the Bay Area for a chunk of days both weeks.  But, I’m hoping to get her in one or two more sessions before the summer is over.  The hope is that she will be a swimmer by the end of the summer (safe in the water swimmer, not competitive swimmer).

3.  Pine Sol.

I know…this one is weird.  But, I have just started using Pine Sol to deep clean my kitchen today.  I ran out of my other cleaner and I had some Pine Sol that I’ve had sitting around for a while and I decided to bust it out.  Pine Sol always seemed like my mom’s cleaner, if you know what I mean.  I need new stuff.  Better stuff.  But, then I started using it and the smell reminds me of my childhood home.  My mom used to use it to mop the floors and clean the sinks.  I love that it kills 99.9% of germs.  And, in our house, something that works on hard water is key.  And, when I went over to their website to check out some info on the cleaner, I was happy to see their support of empowering women.