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Movie Review – East Side Sushi

Family By May 15, 2016 Tags: , , 11 Comments

My youngest son just returned from a visit to Japan.  He met a friend from college, who is working there as a teacher.  After a ton of walking and hiking, he lost 10 pounds, in 2 weeks.  According to him, not from lack of eating.  That is a new one – The Japanese Walking Diet!

He came over to the house, bearing gifts from his trip as well as take-out sushi and wanted to watch a movie.  I browsed Redbox real quick and found East Side Sushi. It had a subtitle –not your typical Mexican cuisine. Now we were all intrigued and it seemed appropriate – considering.  We rented it.

The movie is about a single mom who lives with her widowed father, trying to make ends meet and raise her daughter.  When her current work becomes too dangerous for her to continue, she stumbles across a job in the kitchen of a sushi restaurant.   She is drawn to the art of making sushi, as she watches it being prepared.  She studies the sushi chefs and teaches herself how to make it.  As she pursues trying to become a sushi chef, she runs into road blocks in this male dominated world.

We all enjoyed the film.  The movie shows her struggle to provide for her daughter, while wanting to do something more, not just have a job.  She battles with doubt, her dad’s opinions and the limitation put on her at the sushi restaurant. However, she is determined and stronger than she realizes.  Of course it has a satisfying ending – because I am all about that!

Unless you are fluent in Spanish keep the closed caption (or subtitles) on and just ignore the English.  They speak Spanish during a few scenes in the movie but do not translate it.  I know, right?  Maybe they thought it would be more authentic or maybe they forgot to include the translation. But, you will want to know what they are saying during those parts of the movie.  Its a small inconvenience and you get used to it.

If you want to watch a movie about determination and not giving up (without boxing, warriors or blood and guts), then this is a good one.



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Confessions of a Travel Wimp

Family By May 1, 2016 Tags: , , , 25 Comments

I am cringing at the title of this post. I never considered myself a travel wimp but the experience I had over the last weekend has made me reconsider.

I traveled to Las Vegas from New England for a blogger conference (BAM – Bloggers at Midlife).  Las Vegas is on Pacific Time, I am on Eastern Time – which is 3 hours earlier. I didn’t think much of this until I actually had to live it.  Since I am paying for this conference myself, I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on airfare.  The compromise was a reasonable fare with a four hour layover in Denver.  Denver has a beautiful airport, it could have been much worse but still, four hours is a long time.  I chose to take a soft sided carry-on bag (no wheels, I might add) that got heavier and heavier as we explored the airport, looking at the shops and trying to find things to do.  By the time we got on the connecting flight my hand hurt and my palms had red marks from the straps.

We finally landed in Las Vegas, got our rental car and headed to the hotel.  This hotel was beautiful and huge – a resort with golf course and spa facilities.  We managed to park and haul our luggage (I also brought a massive and heavy lap top bag) into the lobby to check in.  That was the easy part. treasure-map2 Once we checked-in the cheery, smiling desk person tells me the room number, hands me the keys and pulls out a map.  I really, honestly thought he was just going to circle the room and point to the elevators behind me but no, this was an actual map of the huge facility.  Then to my horror he started drawing lines to show me the path I had to take, in order to get to the next tower, where my room was located. Lots of long pen marks through multiple building. I looked at him with a blank stare – are you kidding me?  Now, I have to actually travel to my room?! AND, it’s going to take a map to get there!  By this time I was in charge of our entire luggage pile, my daughter-in-law had booked a hair appointment at the spa facility and she was late for it.  So no, he wasn’t kidding as he gleefully handed me the map.  I had been up since 5 am, it was now about 8 pm on the East Coast, I AM TIRED, I am low on coffee and food.  I forced a smile, took the treasure map and drug the luggage the 3 miles to my room.  Geez…now all I want is a nap.

I am an early riser, Las Vegas was made for night owls.  I woke up at 3:00 am PST ready for the day!  Of course, the Starbucks in the hotel won’t open until 6 am and its dark outside.  Oi!  However, I did finally rally and managed the rest of the weekend without any additional drama but then… I had to travel home.

airport-sign2For some reason, that I do not remember,  we decided to take the red-eye home to arrive early on Sunday morning. This overnight flight left at 11:30 pm – there is a reason it is called the ‘red-eye’!  If you do the math, that would be 2:30 in the morning ‘my time’. I am not a good late night person.  I couldn’t sleep very well on the plane, the seats had these monitors in the back of them that glowed all night (nobody was watching them) and then we had to literally run half way across the airport to catch our connecting flight!  We were almost the last ones to get on before they closed the hatch.  We were determined NOT to miss it.   I thought I was going to throw up (probably from sleep deprivation and running a sprint) – luckily I didn’t –that may have delayed us.

Here I am (a few days later) just starting to feel normal again.  However, since my husband and I want to travel more and we also would like to travel with our kids and grandkids, I have to analyze and deal with my issues over the past weekend.

Here are my ideas.  Purchase a reasonable WHEELED carry-on, get a lighter laptop or just don’t bring it and use my smart phone (I will just have to manage the much smaller screen), NEVER, EVER fly a red-eye flight again and always make sure there is a reasonable layover time between flights. Oh…and drink more water.  I got dehydrated because I didn’t want to drink anything on the plane and have to crawl over people to use the bathroom. Sigh…


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The Things We Do For Love

Family By March 18, 2016 Tags: , , , , , 7 Comments

It is March 17th…otherwise known as St. Patrick’s Day.  This is the day the color green is a fashion statement and everyone wants to be Irish or at least Celtic.  When my son was a teen, he pestered my mother until she located an Irish branch of our family tree.  I don’t know how she did it, but she did… you know grandmas. So, the joke around our house is that my son has 16 drops of Irish blood.  In fact, he even gave his oldest daughter a Celtic name. Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

This is also the one day we partake in drinking traditional Irish Stout beer.  My husband is very excited about this and looks forward to it every year. The beer has to be from the tap. Meaning I can’t just pick it up at the store.  That is not an option, I tried.  As you can see, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  So now we have to locate the restaurants that actually have Guinness Stout on tap and try to get in for dinner.  Not an easy undertaking on the seventeenth of

I don’t usually drink beer, mostly because I don’t like it.   I do have enough experience to say, there is beer and then there is Guinness.  It is in a class by itself.   Not to step on any beer connoisseurs toes, but it tastes awful. Last fall we were in a trendy little bar that offered fruity beers, now that’s more my speed. Guinness is not for the faint of heart.

So, once a year, I don my greenest clothing, search out the Irish pubs in the area, make arrangements to meet the family there and order myself a delicious glass of Guinness Irish Stout. Yes, I am a good sport and I actually drink it. Ahhh…the things we do for love!


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If the Phone Book Could Talk

Family By March 13, 2016 Tags: , 12 Comments

If the phone book could talk – 3 things it might say.

I opened up the mailbox today and pulled out a 7 x 8 inch book, about an inch thick, with the words ‘phone book’ printed across it.  I brought it back into the house with me.  My husband glanced over and inquired, “What is that?”  I shrugged and said, “I think it’s a phone book”.  I headed to the recycling bin to toss it, along with some other junk mail and wondered if anyone used phone books anymore.

When I was growing up, many decades ago in Kansas City, the phone book was substantial.  It was big, bulky and weighted a ton.  It was used as a door jam, step stool and always, a makeshift booster seat.  My grandmother crocheted a cover for it.  It was prominently displayed on the side table, along with the rotary dial telephone.

Recently, I watched a movie called The Intern with Robert De Niro.  Interesting enough, his character was a retired VP of a phone book company.  The business he worked for is now gone, the building that once housed it is inhabited by a successful startup, where he is now an intern.  When he mentions to his twenty something coworkers that he used to work for the phone book company, they give him a look of confusion.  Like…”What’s a phone book?”  or maybe, “You are really old!”  Actually, I can understand the youngster’s bewilderment because the majority of us don’t use phone books anymore.  Most information is accessible on your phone, tablet or computer.   Why would you go looking though a book?

That got me to thinking….if the phone book could give some sage advice what would it be?

  1. Keep up! Technology is here to stay.  Choosing not to learn how to use a cell phone, computer or even social media is going to put you further behind and out of touch with your children and grandchildren. We don’t want to be thought of as antiquated.  If you don’t understand technology then ask for their help, take a class or watch a YouTube video. There are many ways to learn.  I found this fun quote on Pinterest by Sue Fitzmaurice, “To my children:  never make fun of having to help me with the computer. I had to teach you how to use a spoon”!  Enough said.
  2. Don’t get stuck in the past.  Billy Joel musically stated, “the good ole days weren’t always good…” .  You may remember the past being a simpler, easier time but that might be because you were a kid and didn’t have the responsibilities of an adult.  With today’s technology you can Skype or Facetime your grandkids from thousands of miles away and watch their face as they tell you a story.  A restaurant phone number can be looked up in a matter of seconds.  Along with the number, you are provided with directions and the menu.  Pictures can be shared in real time. Who doesn’t like that?
  3. Don’t be afraid to move forward. Several years ago we got rid of our house phone. The decision was a little hard. We had the same phone number for  almost two decades.  You almost felt like it was part of your identity.  I think my grandma had the same phone number for almost 40 years.  But the reality was we didn’t use it. The voice mail was filled with solicitors and political surveys, not personal messages.  Anyone who knew us called our cell phones. We were paying for something we simply didn’t use anymore.  So we got rid of it and haven’t even noticed.

The sage phone book would tell us to remember the past but enjoy and participate in the now. The only downside being, we have to actually purchase a booster seat!


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Some Bathroom Advice

Family By February 28, 2016 Tags: , , 10 Comments

Yesterday, I was in a public restroom that had three stalls, two small and one large. A young girl had rushed into the bathroom before me, quickly claiming the largest stall.   I found it curious, but nothing special. It was just the two of us in the bathroom, each behind our chosen stall doors. Then she spoke, “I really love the big bathroom, mommies with little kids also like it, it gives them room”.   I paused a second and then agreed.  She continued, “I wish all the bathrooms in here were large, they should make them all large, that would be great”.  I said, “Maybe when you grow up you could design  bathrooms with only large stalls”.  Then she declared, “Oh no, I couldn’t do that…”   Curious, I asked , “Why?”. She replied, “I’m not very smart. I am in second grade and don’t even known my times tables yet.  I try to remember them, my dad helped me with 8 times 8, but then I forgot it. All I remember is 100 times 100”.  I caught my breath and felt a tug on my heart. Here is a little girl, all of 7 or 8 years old, who already thinks she is not smart enough. I wanted to help. “So what is 100 times 100?” I asked.   She answered.   I gave her some praise for knowing the correct answer. She said, “Well, I tried to learn 8 times 8, I knew if for a few days but then I forgot it”.  By now I had washed my hands and was leaning against the counter talking to the still closed, stall door. I needed to pull out some nugget of wisdom to impart to this young person, in the next 20 seconds. The word that came to my mind was practice. So that is what I told her. You just need to practice. I reminded her of the answer to 8 x 8, suggesting that she repeat it to herself several times every morning and every night. Then I reassured her that if she says it over and over, she will eventually remember it.  I was rewarded with an extended “Oooh…!” My mind visualized a cartoon light bulb going on over her head. The idea of practicing, until you remembered it had given her some hope.  I smiled, told her I had to go and to have a wonderful day.

Who knows…one day restrooms, full of over-sized stalls specifically designed for mommies with little kids, may be a new trend and it will have all started with a little advice on how to memorize 8 times 8!


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Do What Scares You

Family By January 31, 2016 Tags: , 12 Comments

Do something every day that scares you – Eleanor Roosevelt

I recently came across this quote on Pinterest and my first thought was, no way. My mind immediately went to base-jumping, repelling off the side of a cliff, exploring a damp, cramped cave with centipedes crawling up my shirt. I shiver even now at the thought. But, what if this is not what she meant. Maybe she wasn’t talking about extreme fears but everyday fears, the things we don’t usually call fear.

We use words like, I’m not good at that, it makes me uncomfortable or I don’t understand that stuff. These could be code words for plain, old-fashioned fear or in Eleanor’s terms, the stuff that scares you.  Some of the fears that can creep in on us every day are fear of failure, fear of change or fear of the unknown. We just don’t call it that.

When my youngest son left for college I was supposed to go back to school. I had talked about it for years but there I was, unable to make the decision or commitment. I was afraid. I didn’t know if I could get in, if I could handle the studies or make good grades. I didn’t want to waste the money if I couldn’t do it. Not to mention the embarrassment. It took me two years, after my initial deadline, to face that fear and try. Once I did, it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. Isn’t that usually the case? I did get in, I did make good grades and I did graduate with my associate’s degree in business. Fear squashed. But, doesn’t it seem like fears are just stacked up in the wings, the next one just waiting for you. So, maybe we do have enough fears to tackle one every day.

A year ago, I repaired and repainted three pieces of furniture. I had been putting this off for quite some time. The fear was that I wouldn’t be able to make them look nice because  I wasn’t that creative and don’t have enough artistic ability. I rallied my courage (mostly because I was tired of looking at them – dull and dingy) and did it anyway. They turned out fine. resized-furniture


Then, just last week, I was sewing together a patchwork blanket for my granddaughters’ first real bed. I hadn’t sewn in a while and I am not really a seamstress, so I have to familiarize myself with the machine every time. I was having trouble, it looked like the bobbin was stuck. I did some poking around and the entire contraption that holds the bobbin in place fell out into my hand. Yikes! I looked at it in shock and dismay. I really wanted to finish the blanket and now I was going to have to wait until my husband got home (much later) so he could fix it for me. I set the mess on the table and decided to make a cup of coffee. Sipping my coffee, I decide to face my fear and make an attempt to fix it. I dug in the case for the manual, studied the diagram, put it back together and got it working. It was exciting. I did a little dance and fist bumped the air! Actually, I just texted my husband to describe my victory, but I did add three happy face emoji. 🙂 🙂 🙂

I am still not sure about facing a fear every single day. No matter how you dissect it or analyze it, that seems like a daunting task. What I do think we need is a general willingness to work on the things that scare us. Instead of ignoring them or passing them off as something else. We need to conquer them – one fear at a time.

What do you think about Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote?


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I’m Bored

Family By January 25, 2016 8 Comments

I’m bored.   These are small, but powerful words. I didn’t let my children say them. That may sound harsh, but I had spent time with children who were continually rehearsing, “I’m bored”.  Nothing would interest them. Suggestions for activities were met with “no” or a frown, they flopped around listless and…bored.   I decided then, not to allow my kids to say the “B” word and to train them to be self-motived in finding things to do.

My grown children still look for sympathy on this topic. Honestly, I think they just like the shock value of telling people I wouldn’t let them say they were bored. Much to their amusement, this usually results in the person turning to look at me with a questioning or surprised look on their face.   Sometimes I just smile and shrug, other times I roll my eyes at my kids and ask, “And?”. Then they confess they are glad I did it or they mischievously say, “What? I didn’t say it was a bad thing!”

Why did I do it?

First, I think regularly declaring you are bored can become a negative habit. Maybe even a lifelong habit. Never being happy, not being able to find something satisfying, always looking for the bigger, more exciting or shinier thing to fill the void. Then, not too much later, when the shiny wears off, they are back to being bored. Second, I wanted them to be able to entertain themselves. Find things of interest to do, be curious, explore, take time to think and dream. Third, I wanted them to be happy with their own company. The person you spend the most time with is you.

What did I do when they said they were bored?

When they were younger, I made suggestions like coloring, Legos or playing outside. I followed my suggestions with a warning to find something or I would find something for them to do (and it wouldn’t be nearly as fun). As they got older, I clearly made my point by suggesting exciting activities like cleaning out the kitchen cabinets or mopping the floors. The smart boys got the hint.

The Results

I don’t think being bored even crosses their mind. They are interested in a variety of activities and they are creative and curious. Not bored at all!

It took a little more effort on my part to teach them how to handle feeling bored, but it has been well worth it.

How do you handle the “B” word?


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Grandma Tips for Young Parents – Photos

Family By January 17, 2016 Tags: , , 6 Comments

Who is that?

I ran across some photos of my kids when they were little. I knew they were my kids because I recognized them…but there was nothing noted on the back of the picture. Studying them, I could only guess about when each one was taken. My oldest child thinks I should have this information burned into my memory and when I was his age, I thought so too. I remember thinking (decades ago) that I would ALWAYS remember how old they were in the pictures I was taking. Very naïve.

However, I am not the only person who had such disregard for dating pictures or noting who was in them. Last fall I was tackling the humongous task of putting old family photos on a disk to give to my sisters. This is the post if you would like to read it. Many of those old photographs have nothing on the back. No date, no names and a few of them are more than a hundred years old. Who is around today to tell me who these people are? I could figure out some of them because I know what my grandparents looked like in their late twenties and thirties.   But I don’t think my children would be able to do it.resized-photo-mixed2

A couple of hints from someone who has been there:

  1. At the minimum, date your photographs. Adding names would also be good. With a little detective work you can probably decipher the picture if you at least have a date. Remember, it may not be you looking at them down the road, fast forward seventy five years. Help your future generations out…label your pictures!
  2. Print some of your digital photos. They can be tucked into a baby book, displayed on the frig or the filing cabinet. It is nice to look at physical pictures every now and then. It is also fun to randomly running across them in the future. You can’t really do that if they are only stored on the computer.
  3. Instead of dumping all your digital photos into one giant file on your computer, organize them from the start. Make folders by the year, year and month or even by child (month and year). The file name should contain the date (james-05-2015). I save my digital pictures on my laptop by season – folder: Spring 2015, file: zoo-04-2015. I really like this method. It saves time and stress when looking for a particular photograph.

Remember, these are photo memories and there is a reason you are taking pictures of you family. Put a little effort into making them a treasured memento for your children and your children’s children. That way, in a hundred years your great grandchildren are not looking at a picture you took and saying “who is that?” or worse, “I wish Great Gran had dated her pictures!”.

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Happy New Year!

Family By December 30, 2015 Tags: , , , 3 Comments

I want to wish everyone happiness and success as we head into a new year.

This year (2015) was eventful for me.  After much hemming and hawing, I finally started this blog, my second grandchild (a girl) was born and I lost twenty pounds without too much hoopla (yay!).

We always feel just a little more energized and determined when strarting a new year. I enjoy those hopeful feelings of fresh starts and new beginnings.

Kris over at Nana’s Whimsies has a hilarious post on New Year’s resolutions.  Make sure to read it.  I was still laughing about her list, a day or two later.

Enjoy the New Year…it’s a gift.resized-blue gift2

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