Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Four Generations

As I mentioned in my Young House Love post, my mom and Gramma came in for a visit this last weekend. Although my Gramma is my Dad's mom, it was still pretty neat to have four generations of family members together. We hauled Micah with us to the mall in Bellevue (land of the Stepford wives as I sometimes like to refer to it!) on Saturday. Lots of the employees of various stores commented about how cute Micah is and of course about how cool it was to have four generations together. Gramma kept telling everyone that she never thought she would live long enough to see it. We all laugh when she says that though, since my Dad has always said she will out live all of us. She's just that kind of lady.

Clinique was doing before & after photos of people they gave makeovers to. We didn't get them, but they offered to take our photo anyway since it's rare to see four generations together.

And we actually all look pretty good! That's a first!

And I snagged a Mommy/Micah photo too!

Micah thinking about how he can remember this moment with his Great Gramma forever

I love and appreciate our families, but we are a bit exhausted after so many visitors. And I only have less than two weeks left of my maternity leave! Let's just say, I'm looking forward to working with Kindergarteners again, but my anxiety level is definitely creeping up quickly.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Golden Birthday

Phil's sister, Cassie, and our brother in law, Andrew, were in town from the Bay Area last week. They were driving to Coeur d'Alene to visit Andrew's family (his sister just got engaged...yeah Olivia! Congrats!) and so Cassie could attend her best friend, Amber's baby shower. They stayed with Phil's mom, so we didn't get a lot of time with them, but we did celebrate Cassie's birthday a bit early with her by having a huge fish taco dinner. No surprise, Susan made the best jicama salsa that pales only to the salsa she made back in Idaho years ago with a variety of fresh tomatoes from her garden. Also in true Susan style, she baked two yummy and beautiful cakes in Cassie's honor.

Cream Cheese frosting on Spice Cake to be topped with Caramel sauce (not pictured)

Blackberry cake with a Blackberry Merlot sauce (not pictured)

I'm glad that Cassie and Andrew got some time with Micah before he went to bed, since they were supposed to get to take care of him all the next day while I went in to work, but I got sick that night! I rarely get sick, so that was a bummer.
Micah loves his Auntie and Uncle!

They brought over this board game called Imaginifff and it was hilarious. It's not a first date game. You really have to know the people you play with well. And I don't recommend playing with people whose egos bruise easily since there will inevitably be some judgements that come forward. It was pretty funny.

Happy belated Golden Birthday Cass! 27 on the 27th! Woo hoo!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Why I'm Not a Stalker (How I Had a Private Meet & Greet with John & Sherry of Young House Love!)

It's not like stalking is beneath me...I mean, watch out Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw! It's just that Young House Lovin' couples just aren't quite my thang! You see, way back in November, I read on my favorite blog, Young House Love, that the slightly geeky, yet super funny and completely inspiring authors, John and Sherry would be touring the U.S. for their book tour and that they would be coming to my neck of the woods! I was stoked! I definitely planned on A) buying their new book as soon as it hit the stands (which in true mom of an infant style turned into buying it the day before they came for their book tour stop!) and B) trying to get access to the private invite only meet and greet set up with them for local bloggers. I now have no idea where I even read about I'm starting to wonder if I made the whole thing up, but here is the story of how my persistence paid off (oh yeah, and also why I'm not a stalker!)

In early November, I sent the following message to the Young House Love facebook page totally not expecting to hear back. Not only did I hear back, but they messaged back that same day!

After receiving that message I decided that I was really going to try to make it happen. You see, ever since being on maternity leave, my world has become consumed by blogs and blogging and thinking about blogging since I've been up feeding the baby at all hours of the night. Thanks to my iPad, I have been able to follow blogs instead of just stare at the paint on the wall or watch the digital minutes flash by or think about how much I'd rather be sleeping. So, I decided to e-mail the publishers of the newly minted Young House Love book and the organizers of the Tacoma Home and Garden Show (site of the YHL book tour stop in our area).

As cool as I thought it would be to meet John and Sherry (um hellooo...they have millions of followers and are pretty much a household name!), I was just as excited to learn more about blogging and to possibly meet other local bloggers in my area. So, I continued to send e-mails until I was connected to the right person (ok, so I think there were a total of five e-mails...again, this is why I'm not really a stalker! Five is reasonable, right?). My dad always taught me that if you don't ask, you'll never receive, so I figured there was no harm in asking for an invite (heck, it's not like I was inviting myself to dinner with them or trying to figure out which hotel they were staying at...that would be stalkerish!). In my e-mail, I stated that it was ok if I was not to be included in the bloggers only session, but that if I wasn't to be included, I would like to know why. Finally, last Monday I heard back from the PR guy with the following e-mail!

Although it was a little vague (and the date was written wrong), I was stoked! Persistence truly pays off! I invited my way into an invite only blogger session! I'm thinking at this point I'm going to be the only one their with a little tiny "hobby" blog and that I'd get to shmooze it up with the big league local bloggers! As I'm sure you are beginning to gather...this is not what occurred.

Friday morning arrived. I wanted to make something funny for John and Sherry to sign so that I might have a chance to get referred to on their blog (they write reviews of each of their book tour stops and show pictures of people that brought unique items or had funny faces at the signings). I wanted to make a t-shirt for Phil that said, "My wife got 4 months maternity leave & a brand new house. All I got was this Young House Love T-shirt." But, I didn't get my act together. Instead, at the last minute, I found my fabric pens and a white onesie and wrote out #1 Fan Young House Love on it for Micah, which was not unique and turned into just #1 Fan Young House, since the Love part hid under his little jeans!

#1 Fan Young House...Where is the Love?

I gave myself plenty of extra time to drive down to Tacoma since I was not only hauling a four month old baby, but I was also dragging along my mom and gramma, who were visiting from California! I figured John and Sherry and the other local bloggers would appreciate someone rolling in with an entourage that if we all couldn't get in (or if I peeked and thought we all wouldn't fit in), I'd go by myself and they could babysit Micah for an hour. Turns out the people manning the door of the giant Tacoma Dome had no idea about the blogger meet and greet, but they were super friendly and said they would find out for me. Not long after, the gentleman from the PR firm came to meet us and welcomed me, entourage and all, into the Show Room. He very casually said that he was glad that I e-mailed him, that he had e-mailed a few others bloggers kind of at the last minute, and that we may just have a private meet and greet. He kind of laughed, so I figured he was just joking. Still, he led us into the room which only had two round tables set up! Holy crap, this guy was serious! This really is an invite only session! Even if the thing filled up, there would only be about 16-20 bloggers (not to mention that three of those seats are now being filled by myself and my barely-know-what-blogs-are family members!)! Mr. PR then offers us coffee and donuts, hands us an information packet about the Home and Garden Show, and hands us each two free Media tickets for the event...Media! That sounds so cool! Excuse me, coming through, important people here...we are Media! Thank you, thank you!

the crowded room at the invite only Meet and Greet

Excuse Me, Coming through! Media, coming through, I said!

As we are waiting, I figure I've got a little time to feed Mr. Micah and wouldn't you know who walks in, but John and Sherry! Seriously!? This really is going to be a private Meet and Greet!? No freakin way! This is crazy! I pondered getting nervous, but then thought that would be silly since although John and Sherry are now pretty famous (at least in the blogging world), they are just normal people who do normal things, who I happen to have a lot in common with! I mean, think about it. They are young, Phil and I are young; they love their house, we love our house; they have one child, we have one child; they have Burger, we have Charlie! See...the list goes on and on.

Totally Adobe Lightroomed that shiznit ;-)

To make a long story short, we really enjoyed our time with the Young House Lovers. My mom asked a zillion questions (since she had flipped through their book the night before and just love love loved a bunch of their ideas!) and I asked a few about blogging. We learned a bit more about their background and their friends and family that I either forgot about or maybe just maybe they haven't written about on their blog (did I mention before that their blog is amazing?). I thought it was funny that Sherry had worked on the Got Milk campaign in her previous life as those ads were randomly what I collected and taped up all around my room during high school. As expected, John and Sherry were totally nice and down to earth. A few things surprised me. #1) I thought they for sure would have someone working for them or leading them around from place to place all day, but it was basically just them. What!? They didn't have an entourage of people waiting on them hand and foot!? #2) While reading their blog, I've occasionally wondered if they really spend that much time with their daughter (I know, I know...I feel so bad since I hate when people are judgey of other people...especially about parenting stuff, but on earth can they do so much blogging, crafting, remodeling, book touring, and still manage to hang out with their little girl!?). Turns out they do most of their projects and blogging while Clara is sleeping. They also said that their sweet little girl has even gotten to be with them for some of their book tour locations, which I thought was pretty cool. You can tell how much they love her and how much they were totally missing her. #3) Their slightly geeky blog writing humor comes off as slightly geeky humor in person! They sure are witty. I'm always impressed by witty people since I'm rarely one of them. Phil is, but that's another story. Now I'm just rambling!

I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet them, chat with them, and learn from them. I hope that I can continue to grow this blog to the point where I might be able to connect with other bloggers and make friends with some of them as they have done with other awesome bloggers like Katie Bowers of BowerPower blog. Add the opportunity to my Once in a Lifetime opportunities list! Actually, don't. Hopefully they'll come crash our house when we're done remodeling and decorating! John & does 2015 sound?

Mom, Gramma, Micah and I took a few photos with them and they took some of Micah. Thanks John and Sherry for not seeing just us and turning back around deeming it not worth it! Thanks also for spending the whole time with us! Let's just say, I learned a few things from you guys, my mom is still bragging and raving to anyone and everyone she knows and sees, my gramma is now following your blog, and Micah is still in a daze from staring at Sherry's shiny earrings sparkling face and glowing personality!

Sherry in photo taking action. I swear I've already lost the baby weight! This is an odd photo of me, ugh!
New fans with the Best Selling (and now signed by the authors) book!

We stuck around the show until they did their main talk for the General Public. They had a really sweet PowerPoint presentation and told the history of themselves and their blog and then did a little Q and A. We even stuck around for the book signing part since I decided to buy another book for my best friend. We were towards the front of the line, so we didn't get to see all the fun creative things that people brought and made for them or fun things for them to sign. The crowd was full of young couples and there were even lots of other kids around. Micah fell asleep under my sweater again as they were speaking to the crowd and he was still like that when it got to our turn in the book signing line. John cracked a joke about how he always seems to see me this way. Oh, breastfeeding humor! How you never get old.

Not scared of their own mugs

Tips and tricks

The super crowded event for, you know, those common folk!

It was a long, yet super satisfying day. As you may have noticed, I've neglected to say much about the actual Tacoma Home and Garden show. Let's just say that my parents (and Bambi) taught me that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. I am trying so hard to not tell you that Tacoma really did nothing to impress me. Trying so hard not to say how much more amazing the Seattle Home Shows and the Seattle Garden Shows are. Trying so hard not to talk all about how terrible the lunch at the Tacoma Dome was. Trying so hard to not shout out to John and Sherry that it stinks that they had to go to Tacoma instead of Seattle and that they missed the best parts of life by the Puget Sound. So, I won't. I'm a good girl after all. A good girl that does not stalk blog celebrities. Now excuse me while I go read their latest blog post and read their most recent tweets, and look at their most recent instagram photo, and see what they just posted on facebook.....

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Baby is Four Months Old!

This month Micah has:
  • Continued studying, playing with, and really focusing on his hands
  • Been drooling like crazy
  • Had a super difficult week of little sleep (up all night for many nights...Mom's hardest week so far!)
  • Watched his parents have their first real parenting decision making conversations and struggles and listened to them finally settle on Attachment Parenting instead of sleep training him just because he's "old enough".
  • Gotten so big! While we haven't been to the doctor for his four month appointment yet, he is already out of 3 month clothes and into 3-6. (If weighing myself and then weighing myself while holding him tactic proves accurate, he is at least 15 pounds!)
  • Interested in toys now. He especially loves the jumperoo we found on Craigslist for him.
  • Begun leaning forward to try to grab things (like his feet or Charlie or any other nearby item) and already wants to put everything in his mouth
  • Shown interest in other people and babies (especially at the parent baby group that we began attending again)
  • Tried to sneak looks at the tv and IPad/IPhone (since Mommy and Daddy try hard to not have this happen!)
  • Been going to sleep around 6 each night after a bath, story, and "Mommy time" breastfeeding
  • 3 major night time feedings. Usually around 11:30pm, 3:30am, and 5:30am
  • Been chewing on his fist or fingers as he hasn't mastered sucking a preffered digit
  • Giggled and laughed and snorted a lot
  • Given the biggest gummiest smiles
  • Had real tears when he cries
  • Continued to hate the car. Just in the last week, if we time it right he can be distracted by the toys dangling from the car seat or even fall asleep with the sleep machine on if it is his nap time
  • Had diaper burns for a week until we realized we had been using the wrong detergent (Note: hard vs. soft water detergents matter!)
  • Babbled with baby talk a lot! Making a lot more "wow" type noises
  • Loved being outside
  • Loved to watch and touch and get kisses by Charlie the dog
  • Enjoyed looking at himself in the mirror
  • Enjoyed facetime with his Nana and Papa regularly and other family members on and off
  • Been getting used to time alone with his Gramma each week so Mommy can transition back to work and so he gets used to being with his GrammaNanny
  • Been slurping down bottles fast when he gets one
This month our little photo shoot proved more difficult as Micah kept leaning forward and almost falling out of the chair. Luckily, it was a three day weekend and so I had Daddy there to help catch him if he fell!

Notice Daddy's hand on close standby!
***Update: We had Micah's Four Month Doctors appointment yesterday (on the 30th) and he weighs 16 pounds, 6 and a half ounces! That is the 90th percentile! He is also in the 98th percentile for length! What a big baby! He was such a trooper and barely cried when he got his immunizations.

Friday, January 18, 2013

How to Stay Sane When Being a Mom Is Hard Work

Although it was sometimes tough, I feel as though I sailed through 0-3 months. Then we got to 15 and a half weeks and we had our toughest hardest most difficult week yet. Sleep regressed. Micah had been sleeping in his own bassinet for around 4-6 hours at the beginning of the night and at least 2 or 3 hours at a time after that. Then last week hit and he was up every hour which meant I too was up every hour and then some since I often can't fall asleep as quickly as he does. Funniest thing was that I didn't even think I was that tired! Wow, those hormones are pretty amazing things making moms function with almost no sleep! I hit my first wall last Wednesday and had a little breakdown. I came home and wrote the following piece, which I was considering saving to try to get published in a magazine, but I am impatient and like keeping you all updated with our lives. I felt like I've been too quiet lately with current life updates as we haven't been traveling or having visitors since Christmas and since this is a lifestyle blog following is what I wrote along with the photos I took when I got home. Thankfully we have been sleeping the last few nights. Like, sleeping a lot more. Micah is sleeping without someone holding him again. Now I'm just trying to figure out how I'm going to stock up on milk for him so that he has enough when I'm back at work (or, you know, out to happy hour...the important things of course!).
The Hardest Job Ever!

I look at the clock. 1:35 ok good. Still time to get out and do something today. Oh darn. It's around his nap time, but he just woke up from a little nap. Maybe I shouldn't. Oh come need a life too. He'll be fine and even if he cries in the car, he is always fine and curious once we get somewhere. So, I throw gently place the baby in his car seat, ignore the longing sad looks from the dog who watches us shut the door without him again, and head out to do something...anything. I still haven't even decided where to go. There is that Sunset Organizing magazine I'd love to glance at at Barnes and Noble and I need foundation from Bare Essentials at the mall. I'd like to get those little metal Martha Stewart organizers tab thingies from Staples so that I can get going on that mess in the office (because not having those organizing thingies is what's been slowing me down in there. It has nothing to do with the fact that the baby hasn't been falling asleep without being on me again and since he goes to bed around six or seven and we've been taking turns making dinner and doing dishes and laundry since dad got home there isn't a lot of me time. Funny how organizing the office has become me time!).

So the baby is buckled in the car, gives a few adorable full on gum showing smiles since he loves seeing me, his mom, each time. He even looks interested in the toys that are dangling in front of his head, in a desperate attempt to hold his attention for just the slightest portion of a car ride. I make my way to the drivers seat, turn on the car, drive not even to the end of the block and he's already crying. Ok, at the end of our block it was just a few little warning whimpers. I try to calm him with the sound of my voice. Micah, Mommy is here. We'll be there so soon sweetie. No need to get upset. I turn on the CD player to see if he might like that Disney cd I excitedly bought while pregnant (you know the days where I could sit in traffic and think, well this sucks and yet I kept a smile on my face,  listened to music and called and caught up with friends until I got home. You know the days before sitting in traffic wondering why in the hell no one can see this child screaming bloody murder and feeling like its been eternity, ok fine, two hours when it's really only been ten minutes.). So I turn on the CD player at another dismal attempt to distract the now full on sobbing child and the damn thing skips. Not just once or twice in the song like it has a scratch, but so much that I have to turn it off and curse the car for breaking its built in player (while secretly admitting that it probably broke due to the playing of the one and only song that actually calms the kid on repeat a bazillion times since we figured out it was magical.).

By now I've probably gone about ten blocks or so and my sons whimpers turned sobs are now full on painful sounding wails with the only moments of silence being those seconds where he has forgotten to breathe and must relearn all in the same giant moment. It is at this point that I begin to lose it. I try to fight it knowing that all moms experience this and I am going back to work soon enough. That this is just one fleeting moment of many, but my lip is quivering and I join in the sentiment and activity of the moment. I cannot equal the volume of his cry, but my river of tears surpasses his. I am wondering if it should be easier now at almost four months. If it would be considered postpartum depression or just depression if I wasn't even depressed during the "fourth trimester". While I love my own parents and tell them almost every day, it is the first time in a long time that I just really need a hug from them. The first time that I realize I wish that I could just call my mom and have her stop by (whether to watch the kid and give me some alone time or just to hug me while I cry, I'm not sure.). Why did I want to move here anyways? Did I really think this is living "not too close, but not too far away"? Not too far from what? I certainly can't just call and order up that hug.

It is at this point that I am thinking about what to do and where to go (I've turned the car around deciding I just don't have it in me today to listen to the screaming all the way to Staples and back. Should I just go to the pharmacy to get out and at least see people? I get in the left turn lane and at the last second move back into the right lane to continue to just drive the hell home and just give up the whole idea. I am not even going to let my mind start thinking about and resenting my husband who is currently at work. With other people. Interacting. Making decisions based on himself. You know, the fact that he gets to just put down his tools and just head to the bathroom if he wants and needs. No, this time I won't go there since he was extra loving last night and attempted to rock the baby to sleep before I offered up my overly used boobs (my new work "tools") to get the job done faster.

We walk in the house and ignore the now surprised and happy looks and tail wags from the dog. The baby has of course already stopped crying since we are no longer in the hellhole that is apparently my car and now the dogs wagging stops as he grows concerned sensing my current mood. I give a few more good hearty sobs then grab some Kleenex, pick up the baby, hug him so close to make sure he knows that mommy is ok and these tears are not his fault. I grab my camera since my boy is in such a good mood and there is actually still some daylight coming through our windows and click away. His cute face, bubbles and all. His little mouth sucking at his little fists since he still just hasn't figured out how to just suck on the thumb or a finger. His little hands grasping mine. Click click click. And suddenly I am in the best mood. I love him so much and I realize that I've found what I was looking for all along. An outlet. A way to stay sane. All that was right here in my camera and in the stories that I write (even if they are written clumsily on my iPad while being milked like a cow giving sustenance to my little darling before he nods off to nap on me, keeping me warm and at peace.)

So to summarize: Ways to stay sane when being a mom is hard work:
  • Breathe!
  • Cry along with the baby
  • Play with your have the best subject ever!
  • Write, write, write. It may feel like that is the last thing you have time for, but it feels so amazing once you do!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Featured With Love- Greg Buie with Visions (an awesome charityproviding education in poverty and conflict torn areas)

Featured with love is a series that I began to just plain share the love. I am constantly amazed by my friends and family, especially the ones that have started their own companies and charities. I get bogged down with just the idea of doing my own thing let alone where and how to start and then how to be successful at it. I couldn't help but think about how awesome these businesses and charities are and how it would be fun to highlight them here on my blog. Not that I have a ton of readers, but I'm sure that when you run your own gig, you take any and all PR that you can get. No one has paid me to write about these people. I know that I like to buy from or donate to companies and charities that have come recommended by people I know and trust. The people that I highlight here are all loyal, trustworthy, caring, and dedicated individuals. I hope you will join me in reading and learning about what they do. I am not asking you to purchase or donate anything from them. I am simply spreading the word. Please read along and leave an encouraging comment since they are their own bosses and thus don't always get feedback and encouragement. An easy way to spread the love (and if nothing else, it will help out your karma).

Without further ado, Featured With Love- first edition. An interview with my friend Greg Buie regards to his charity, Visions. I met Greg while in college, traveling the world together on Semester at Sea.  Greg and I traveled the streets of Salvador, Brazil and Havana, Cuba together. Greg is one of the most driven people I know. His passion for helping others is obvious in all that he does. He has a knack for making charity fun and meaningful for each and every person involved. His charity, Visions, has expanded so much since the days where Greg had just begun thinking up Art events and fashion show benefits on UCSD's campus. Greg leads a group of volunteers to Sri Lanka and even to Africa each summer and each year I ponder and wish that I could find a way to join them. Seriously, one of these days I will find a way.

Where did you come up with the idea for your business?
Visions was started in 2003 by a community of Sri Lankan Americans, who dreamed of going back to the country they left behind, to work with children and youth who had endured so much on account of a brutal civil war, poverty, and other hardships. In its first year, nine international volunteers spent two weeks conducting an English and Leadership Training program for 50 orphaned youth in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. Since then, trainings have been held every year, directly benefiting over 1,400 youth and involving 180 international and local volunteers. I personally became involved after volunteering in Sri Lanka for one month in the summer of 2004 with war orphans in the North and East, after which I became the Visions Co-Director and never looked back!

What steps did you take to make it a reality?
After years of running volunteer service trips and engaging local partners
and schools in various efforts designed to promote access to quality
education, we finally incorporated Visions in the state of California in
2008 and then on the federal level in 2009 as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3)
nonprofit organization. Over the years, Visions has worked with more than
30 partners and diversified our efforts to meet the immediate needs of
students and their communities.

What does your company/organization do?
Visions' mission is to change patterns of inequality by supporting
educational initiatives for youth affected by poverty and conflict. With
the help of our international network of committed volunteers, Visions
nurtures partnerships with local school and non-governmental organizations
(NGOs) throughout South India and Sri Lanka. Since 2003, Visions has
collaborated with our partners to develop a range of programs that create
educational opportunities and respond to community needs. In particular, we
implement a leadership & life skills training program, run after-school
tuition centers in highly under-served communities, offer scholarships to
students pursuing higher education, conduct trainings and offer support to
help empower teachers, coordinate volunteer service learning trips abroad
(including accredited trips in partnership with various universities), and
support development and capacity-building efforts of our partner NGOs and
various educational institutions/schools. In 2010 we unveiled our Kalagam
Visions Learning Centre in Colombo, Sri Lanka, which is a multi-storied
learning complex designed to provide supplementary education and promote
the develop of non-formal opportunities and skills development for 2,200
girls at the host school, the Hindu Ladies College. You can read more about
our efforts at

What is your dream/vision for the future of your company?
As an organization, Visions is committed to expanding its programs in Sri
Lanka and India. As Sri Lanka enters a new era of post-war reconstruction,
Visions seeks to do its part in contributing towards the educational
recovery and development of war-affected communities. Our intent is to
channel resources, both financial and human, towards offering maximum
leverage for education and empowerment of local communities and
organizations. In India, Visions sees tremendous potential for supporting
and developing innovative programs that will foster leadership and agency
among students and teachers. We envision a world where all youth, teachers
and communities are educated, empowered and uplifted.

What makes you passionate about your job?
Realizing that my skills and experiences enable me to contribute towards
the vital work of those who live and work in these communities is what
drives me. We are not the ones who are there on the ground year-round,
designing and implementing projects that bring educational opportunities
and resources to deserving students and teachers. Our local partners play
that role, and we derive our motivation from them. I also find joy and
inspiration in those we take abroad with us. More than 115 international
volunteers have now gone abroad with us (of all ages and backgrounds!) and
given their time in service of these youth and their communities. They
always bring such passion and energy to our volunteer programs, and it is
great to witness the impact their time abroad with us has on their lives
both while we are there and after they return home.

How can readers get involved or hire you?
Anyone interested in learning more about our organization or our various
opportunities to volunteer domestically or internationally should check out
our website for more info: Alternatively,
you can email us directly at We run volunteer
trips abroad every summer, and are also able to coordinate and/or
facilitate service opportunities throughout the year, depending on your
individual interests, skills, and schedule. We are also grateful to anyone
with ideas, connections, leads, etc. that might wish to share such details
with us to help us grow the organization. Those who are moved by our work
might also want to consider donating online at

If you like __________ then you will like this company/organization:
"engaging with communities abroad for the purposes of learning, service,
and cross-cultural exchange" or "giving meaning to your life by supporting
educational development work that benefits youth in need"

What valuable lessons have you learned since the beginning?
So many! Networking is key to succeeding in pretty much anything. In doing
international development work, you also have to learn to develop a thick
skin and get used to frequent disappointments and frustrations. There are
so many variables at play, you can never predict anything, especially with
working in countries where there is political upheaval, violence, or
rampant corruption. And probably above all else, you have to be
self-motivated and always forward-thinking. We are constantly rethinking
our strategies, trying to diversify our efforts, and pursuing potential
opportunities (most of which never pan out). You have to really love this
work and find value in it on your own. If you're doing it for money or for
glory, you are most definitely not in the right industry!

What do you do for fun/relaxation outside of your job?
I'm big on traveling, so I generally try to take advantage of my time
abroad by tacking on mini-trips at the beginning or end of work trips. I am
also a big fan of cooking, though not as much as I am of eating! LA has so
much to offer in terms of culture, nightlife, events, etc. that I have also
really enjoyed exploring all the quirky neighborhoods and attractions since
moving here a year ago.

Social media is:

What is your favorite thing about GrowingSoundRoots?
Keeping up vicariously with Ali & Phil of course, who I rarely get to see :)

 I told you Greg and Visions were amazing! Please don't forget to leave him with some encouraging comments! Don't forget to check out the website for more info on their trips, fundraising events, and how to donate.

Would you like to be featured on Featured With Love? Do you have a charity or business that you are passionate about? E-mail me or let me know in the comments section below.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Live it in a Day- San Diego

I was recently asked by a good friend for recommendations on what to do while she was in San Diego. I have been asked this by quite a few Northwest friends since I did spend five warm and sunny fun filled years there. I thought since I am writing and rewriting tourist recommendations often enough, I should write it down on the blog so I won't need to keep rethinking and rewriting. When recommending places, I often think about trying to give someone a true feel for the place. I am also aware that time is usually a factor. I also know that impressions of an entire city, state, country can stem from just one day with those limited interactions. I was fortunate enough to do a lot of cruising with my family while growing up and thus my impression of entire countries is based on the few interactions and locations of one day. Since I have been fortunate to live in five different cities for long enough to be called a local and have traveled to many more in whirlwind style, I thought it would be fun to bring you the following segment: Live It In a Day.

I will start with San Diego area. To truly see San Diego, I am going to recommend renting a car. If you don't, you will pretty much be stuck in the Gaslamp/Seaport Village part of town which is fun, but not a very accurate or diversified impression of the local life.
If you only have one day in San Diego, I love to do the following (this is usually the order I go, but can of course be rearranged in a different order):

1. Balboa park. Just walking around the whole place and going in the free arboretum and over to the cactus and rose gardens is enough, but if you can try to choose one of the museums. My favorite: the Museum Of Photographic Art. Phil's favorite: Model Train Museum (well worth the price and even interesting to non-train buffs) Do you have more than one day? Definitely do the Zoo! So worth it, but it takes all day. Also, if you are going to do the zoo...wear walking shoes!

2. Mission beach & PB by beach cruiser (unless of course Segway is more your style...ha!)

3.Mexican food for lunch is a must. Want somewhere with a line out the door and popular? Go to Lucha Libre. Want a dive burrito stand? Hit up Las Brasas. Want somewhere touristy but still good? Head to Old Town Mexican Cafe.

4. Drive up to La Jolla. Stop and say hello to the seals in the Cove.

5. Continue to Torrey Pines State Preserve for a short, yet beautiful hike. Stop in at the Lodge at Torrey Pines since that is where (Phil and I met and worked) the US Open golf tournament was and its a fancy five diamond resort to just ooo and ahh over the architecture.

6. Is this your only stop in California? Get some In N Out for a snack.

7. Dinner: In a romantic mood? Try Little Italy. Feel like people watching? Stick around the Gas Lamp district (my favorite restaurant is Raw Sushi) Would you rather head off the tourist track? Try one of the many yummy restaurants in Hillcrest.

8. Haven't had enough yet? Need some night life? If you are in Gas Lamp: Shout House and Jimmy Loves were always my favorites (and I'm pretty sure they are still there...those establishments change faster than you can say Gas Lamp. looking for more of a dive bar? The Lamplighter consistently is voted best one around (and it was in my old neighborhood. And Phil and I ended our first date there. And there is kareoke. See if they still make fire bombs. Need an even divier bar than that? Head to the Aero Club. In the mood to be 21 again? Find your way to any place on Garnet Ave. in PB.

Have fun! Send a postcard! Or just text us a photo since isn't that the modern day postcard?!