Top 10 favoritish Books…

OK, so it is really hard to decide my favorite 10 books… I know I’ve left some off that were great. Maybe I’ll write a follow-up post, my ten almost favorite books. Anyway for now here is my list (and it is just a coincidence that two of the books involve hippie communes… really)

  1. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens- So, there are major issues with this book… First of all why is Pip obsessed with Estella, who seems to be a superficial and cold character? I don’t know but that always bothers me every time I read this. I love Pip so much I think he deserves way more than Estella… but it was written a long time ago when men expected women to be items and not necessarily people. However, it is still my favorite book because Pip is an incredible character.
  2. Witches of Eastwick by John Updike- So, if I complained about the treatment of women characters in my previous selection this one more than makes up for it. Updike’s female characters are some of my favorites… briefly there was a TV show in 2009 that was based on this novel. It was amazing and I LOVED it… so obviously it was canceled.
  3. Drop City by TC Boyle- Hippie commune  book… but a great one. If you like TC Boyle do yourself a favor and don’t Google him, trust me you’re better off not knowing.
  4. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers- Some may dislike Eggers but I don’t care. I love this book. Just recently got my teen daughter to start reading it and I am hopeful she will love it as much as I do.
  5. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – This is the most romantic love story ever told… truly. Heartbreaking to hear of his recent passing. He was wonderful.
  6. The Beach by Alex Garland- Second hippie commune book on my list… That’s 20% hippie commune related books on my top 10. I love to travel so there is that connection but also I love the relationships that Richard finds himself in… I just love it. I’m also a fan of the movie. Robert hates this movie!  It’s definitely on my top ten list of movies I like to watch repeatedly.

    The  Beach by Alex Garland

    The Beach by Alex Garland

  7. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner- I’m a huge nerd. I traveled to Oxford. I’ve seen Faulkner’s house… and his grave. I’ve also traveled to Boston and stood on the bridge, in the spot I picture Quentin jumping from (the plaque has been stolen so there is no marker) I also found out recently that Yale posts a series of lectures to YouTube, amazing stuff. Also, heartbreaking to learn I was taught some very conflicting things about this book in University… I tend to believe Yale.
  8. Where I’m Calling From by Raymond Carver- Short stories are sometimes the best. I like this collection. This is his last collection before his death in 1988.
  9. The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing- Scary stuff… This may be the only horror book on this list, but I do enjoy reading scary books. It has a creepy kid and a farm house far far away… and many innocent children and animals will get harmed during your reading.
  10. The Best Awful by Carrie Fisher- I know she is not the best writer but she is pretty f’ing funny. I like all her books and it is hard for me to pick just one for my top ten list but I chose this one because I laughed out loud the most while reading it.
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Dr. Maya Angelou May Your Soul Rest in Peace

neiko_bird copy



I have been crying and fighting tears all day. Today society has suffered such a loss. To say that Dr. Maya Angelou was merely an influence on my life would be misleading. She held my hand every day I went through rape counseling, though we never met. I can confidently say that I owe my life to her. During counseling we had to pick out a card to give to ourselves (cheesy I know but it was an exercise) and I chose a card with a poem written by Dr. Angelou, I still keep it with me. When I read it I know that I can make it through. I was lucky enough to see her speak at UMKC in 2006, my husband took me. I remember her insistence that we are more alike than unalike… I cannot articulate how much her writings mean to me but I am who I am because I’ve read them.

I’ve heard it said that winter, too, will pass

And spring a sign that summer is due at last.

See, all we have to do is hang on– Maya Angelou 

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20s v 30s

Cotopaxi, Ecuador... Still looking for my travel buddies, Stuart (UK) and Dewy (Wales).

Cotopaxi, Ecuador… Still looking for my travel buddies, Stuart (UK) and Dewy (Wales).

Thinking about my twenties in yesterday’s blog post made me think of all the things I wish my thirty-something self could tell my twenty-something self. So, I decided to compile a SHORT list, because really there are way TOO many things I wish I would have known or thought through more clearly. Well, here we go;

#1. Friends are REALLY important. In my twenties friends came and went. I don’t really have that best friend of 30 years that so many people have. I am stubborn, I fight, and I don’t return phone calls. I pretty much never give second chances… Well, as a thirty-something I wish I had given some second chances once in a while. I had some friendships that I miss. I wish I had treated the friends I had better. I know I made mistakes.

#2. Having a boyfriend isn’t important… Please see my post from yesterday for details. I wish my twenty-something self didn’t want to help these boys that were wounded pigeons and I wish I had accepted that sometimes bad things happen to good people and they self-destruct. Life is about making decisions and not everyone wants to be saved. Some people decide to be miserable for a year or their whole lives… and as a thirty-something I know I can’t change anyone’s mind. They need to make those choices for themselves.

#3. Run. Running has changed my life. Thirty-something self enjoys it immensely. I wish I had run earlier in life.

#4. Don’t take out those college loans! I love my education; it has made it possible for me to have an amazing career… However, my thirty-something self feels like I’ll never be out of debt.

#5. Take time to relax. As a twenty-something I was always busy… working, school, family, and everything else. I never just enjoyed being young.

#6. Twenty-something self… You are skinny and pretty! I never in my life felt pretty. I always wanted to lose more weight and I always worried about food. I was obsessed with restricting… never drank soda, never had salad dressing, never wanted creamer in my coffee… because I read crazy articles in Cosmo that told me creamer added an additional 20 calories to your intake. WTF, Twenty-something self! As a thirty-something I ordered a salad with dressing for the first time recently and I enjoyed it. The extra 50 calories or so it gave to a salad of maybe 75 calories… well worth it. As a twenty something I devoured every weight watching tip, I didn’t eat healthy at all. I used diet pills… and I did many other things to lose weight. I ended up anemic more than once. I pinched nonexistent fat. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror… Now, as a thirty-something I can admit that I have been obsessed most of my life with appearance and it’s not healthy. I wish my twenty-something self just felt like she was good enough. I still restrict but I am not as bad as I was… I had a radical idea this New Year’s to actually just be happy with my body and I think I’ll write a separate post on how that’s coming along.

#7. Twenty- something self don’t trust everyone. Some people are bad. Some bad people look and act like friends… be safe. I can’t go back. My twenty-something self was very naïve.

#8. Follow your heart… or your intuition or your natural instincts… however you want to describe it. My twenty-something self knows what I’m referring to.

Feeding pigeons in Bogota, Colombia.

Feeding pigeons in Bogota, Colombia.

Of course the most amazing things happened in my twenties… and here is a list of all the things I did right!

#1. I traveled and lived in South America for 3 years… I also went to France! (France=obsession of my life)

DisneyLand Paris

DisneyLand Paris

#2. I had my daughter. Best decision of my life.

Baby Ana

Baby Ana

#3. I got divorced! Second best decision of my life, haha… really seriously it was.

#4. I changed schools and completed my BA degree at Rockhurst University, I’m a hawk.

#5. I met Robert, my current husband… and I said, “Yes” when he asked me out!

#6. I mentored a great kid, Alon Smith… as part of an Americorps’  program. I won an award for this accomplishment.

#7. I took a risk and left a career in teaching for a job in biotech… Amazing decision twenty-something self! Way to go!

#8. I didn’t join the Coast Guard; it was a close call… long story. It ended up being a good decision for me, I am very pro-Coast Guard but it just wasn’t my calling.

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My Twenty Year Old Self and Sex in the City…

My Twenty Year Old Self and Sex in the City…

My younger self in Colombia.

My younger self in Colombia.

Something I have been recently indulging in during my lunch breaks are Sex in the City reruns on E. I admit I wasn’t a fan when the show first appeared… First, I never in my life had HBO so there was that but secondly, I just didn’t get it. I wasn’t a girly girl… I never have bought designer shoes or handbags. I own a vintage Louis Vuitton that I refuse to carry because it seems too extravagant… and “girly” stuff is what I thought Sex in the City was about, shoes and designer bags… So I passed (and no I still haven’t seen the movies!)

Now as a thirty-something, married with daughters of my own, I finally get it… It has little to do with materialistic bags and shoes… although that stuff is in there, that’s for sure… It is a show about the craziness of relationships, some sexual and some platonic… but real and relatable. I find it somewhat hilarious that while I was dating a variety of personalities, many of which are represented on the show, I felt no connection. Now in my thirties I can totally relate. Not sure why but I think stepping back from the drama of my twenties (and I know the women are suppose to be in their thirties on the show:P) and the dating hell that happens as a young adult, I can find humor and comfort in knowing I’m not the only one that dated that guy.

I also know now that it was all just noise. The only relationships that ever really mattered were my first love and my current husband… everyone else was just filler. Not that I don’t wish my exes well… I just don’t care anymore and that is a great place to be.  I don’t remember much of the drama (I have selective memory) I just remember enough to know I don’t ever want to go back. I know at the time my heartaches were real and everything seemed so final, and that’s because it was. Those breakups were final and that is a good thing. A very good thing! I dodged a lot of bullets, people. I am one of the lucky ones. I didn’t end up with a cheating husband or an emotional abuser… or someone that gets high everyday 24/7… I dodged well. I see some friends from my past in not so good situations, and I think that could have been me if I had ended up with so-and-so. I’m blessed.

Although I know I am lucky, I still have higher hopes for my daughters. I want to raise them so they never feel they have to make compromises in life… and I’m not referring to team work or where to have dinner… I mean real compromise, compromise that affects your soul. I don’t want them to make decisions to keep someone else happy. I want them to become smart and strong women, strong enough to make their own way in the world without needing to be in relationships, like I always needed. I want my girls to feel free to do as they please and live where wish, and decided whether they want to marry or not… have children or not. I just want them to live their lives to their fullest… as cheesy as it sounds we only get one life. I wasted much of mine in crappy relationships trying to make miserable people happy.

I know my daughters will have their hearts broken, unfortunately that is not escapable but I want them to know that sexual love or relationship status isn’t like it is in a movie or book. It doesn’t encompass everything you are and it doesn’t complete you. No matter how other people try to make relationship status define you, it does not define you. You are defined by your strength of character which includes your treatment of those weaker than you, your love of God, your intelligence, your ability to love yourself enough to create and accomplish goals that better yourself… goals for no one else but yourself.

Raising strong women in a culture that is geared toward the opposite is very scary. I’m terrified of what the future holds for them, but I am also optimistic… I hope I’m not the only one teaching my girls these radical ideas (ideas that boys are naturally taught from their first step)… So, yes… in my thirties I have found a love for Sex in the City and I while I relate too well to Carrie Bradshaw and wearing your heart on your sleeve, I also hope that I’ve learned my lessons and that maybe I can teach my daughters ways to avoid the same mistakes I’ve made. Isn’t that what all parents really want? To help our children live better lives than we did. I hope so.

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All Natural Easter Egg Dye

... this is her stunned face.

… this is her stunned face.

I would like to start out by saying I do not eat eggs. My oldest daughter and husband do… so we do have eggs in the house. I always buy from our local farm, so I believe the chickens are treated better than most. I still do not like the thought of eggs… However, this is an Easter tradition and I wanted to see how the all natural dyes work, especially on naturally colored brown eggs. I think they turned out fairly well…

Natural Egg Dye

Four different colors Orange, Blue, Green, Purple.

Four different colors Orange, Blue, Green, Purple.

Place Hard boiled eggs into the warm colored water for 15-20 minutes.

Place Hard boiled eggs into the warm colored water for 15-20 minutes.

Final eggs after 20 minutes in color.

Final eggs after 20 minutes in color.


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Lental Promises and Products I love this week

My religious views are vast and complex… and I rarely discuss what I consider very private. I do participate in Lent. This year I am giving up two things close to my heart cookies (really just giving up refined sugars) and cursing (I curse like a sailor… for reals). Ok, so my progress… Cursing is nearly impossible to give up… I’ve had a crazy stressful week and the words just pop-up, but I’m aware of it more than ever. One day at a time… and sugars… I’ve already had some headaches from the lack of refined sugar… it’s amazing how addicted I am to this stuff, so sweet and… well, sugary! Those of you who know me well know I survive on cookies, cake, and decaf coffee…  But I have to curb this vice now. I am going through a body cleanse.  I’m making delicious fruit smoothies and I am eating clean foods… Side effects are headaches and lethargy. I’ve been sleeping a lot this week. Positives are that I’ve already lost a few pounds and I feel better. So, here is my recipe for my daily smoothie;

1.5 Cups of Almond milk (plain Jane Almond milk)

1 handful of mixed frozen berries

1 handful of baby spinach leafs

½ a banana

1 Tablespoon of Chia seeds

Blend away… its green, it looks gross but it is yummy and very filling thanks to the miracle of the Chia seed… which leads to my favorite products of the week. I am trying to slowly get rid of all the junk products in our home. No more chemicals… hidden animal byproducts… etc.

So, my most favorite thing this week is of course the chia seed! They don’t really have a taste and they are filling… honestly. If I’m running late in the morning I take one tablespoon and I feel like I had a full breakfast. They are extremely healthy, according to my research here and here

… I’ve purchased this product and I find them very yummy.

Spectrum Chia Seeds

Spectrum Chia Seeds

My second product is for the little one. I was having so many issues with baby cleansers and her delicate skin. Unfortunately she has inherited Momma’s eczema. I finally splurged and bought California Baby and I’m so glad I did. This is a great clean vegan product. She has had absolutely no reaction to this and it smells great!

Gentle Baby Wash

Gentle Baby Wash

I also found a love for this

Vegan Foundation

Vegan Foundation

And this


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Best and Worst Kids’ Shows

photo (11)

Watching Peppa Pig Together

So, first I’d like to start by saying we don’t watch a lot of TV. We are a pretty active family and we generally don’t have time but at night we sometimes watch TV to unwind and sometimes we watch a show in the morning while we are getting ready… When the baby is sick she is allowed to watch TV… if you read my last blog then you know baby has been sick… Oh, almost everyday since entering an infant care center. I know there are a lot of anti-TV parents out there and we are not among them. So, if you hate TV you may want to stop reading now but if you are like us and are occasionally forced to watch kids’ TV for any period of time I’ve come up with a quick list of the best and worst kids’ TV shows…

Let’s start with the worst…

  1. Caillou- All I have to say is WTF. I hated Caillou since my oldest daughter was a baby 13 years ago! and I thought there was no way this show would last… oh, yes it has lasted for whatever reason, it’s a mystery to me. They even play Caillou marathons and have Caillou movies! Its crazy dumb and it is really boring. REALLY boring. Not to mention that the kid whines all the time and he teaches children that nighttime is full of monsters and fear. Caillou always has a major freak out before bed…Thank you but I’d like to not teach that to my child. Caillou is banned in our house.
  2. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse- ok, I love Disney and I love Mickey… but this show is terrible. The plots are nonsensical. It’s just bad writing… and I know it’s a kids’ show but must we talk down to children like they are idiots. It has a cool theme song but that’s about it.
  3. Bob the Builder- This looks cute… but have you really watched it? There is this freaky pumpkin head guy that is always messing stuff up and just being a creeper in general. Reminds me of the Jeepers Creepers movies for some reason.

    Creeper from Bob the Builder

    Creeper from Bob the Builder

  4. PAW Patrol- Again this looks cute but I’m over it. The dogs are adorable, I’ll give it that, but the story is lame. The dogs snowboarding and surfing are lame.
  5. Max and Ruby- The books are ok, but still a little boring. Max and Ruby are always alone, like latch-key-kids at the age of 3 and 4, and they have to pretty much fend for themselves. They have not so exciting adventures, like a wind-up toy chasing Max throughout one entire episode… If you are trying to teach your kids about how to be alone and dull this is great.
  6. Winx Club- I only wanted to list 5 terrible shows, but this list is not complete without mentioning this appalling show. It also has the worst writers but I think it goes one damaging step further… and teaches sexism and inequality. It teaches girls every stereotypical girl thing to do… boyfriends, cell phone, obsessed with clothes and makeup… but maybe tries to empower girls with magic? I don’t know… It’s a mess. I’m not really sure what age range they are even trying to appeal to, younger kids shouldn’t watch that crap because it is extremely sexist and shows poor role models… and middle aged kids would be too old to really get into it… older kids wouldn’t like it at all… the whole show makes no sense. Please stop making crap that degrades girls.

Best Shows!

  1. Bubble Guppies- We love this show. It’s cute, it has a plot, and teaches things… The songs are also pretty catchy. For some reason this show doesn’t play very often or it’s not on when we watch TV, so we have to set the DVR. My baby thinks Oona has her same name… sounds close enough!

    My baby thinks this Guppy has the same name as her but its actually Oona.

    My baby thinks this Guppy has the same name as her but its actually Oona.

  2. Team Umizoomi- This show is cute and I think it is educational. It focuses on math and science, it is well written for a kid’s show.
  3. Peppa Pig- Of course this is my personal favorite. I love pigs and Peppa is hilarious. I think even if I didn’t have kids I would like this cartoon… It can be slow moving at times but there is good humor there and it teaches about relationships and families.



  4. Dora the Explorer- It can get annoying and I personally don’t think the drawings are very cute… but it is educational and I like the layout of the show. I don’t think kids are going to be fluent in Spanish by watching it but at least it introduces children to the idea of other languages existing. It also usually has a plot that makes sense and Dora seems pretty cool. She is good role model, unlike the Winx nonsense, Dora makes good decisions and she is adventurous.
  5. Doc McStuffins- This is cute and not only is the little girl a doctor to her toys but her mother is a doctor! Great role models for girls and again the show has plots that can be followed and has some moral teachings as well.

Ok, well that is my list. Let me know if you agree or if I missed your most hated/most loved kids’ shows…

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