Short Update

Leaving California tomorrow at 6am….first destination – Salt Lake City.    Mom had her 2nd eye done today and it went well….she will live. Thank you to my dear lifelong friend Liz, who will take her to her eye check up tomorrow.    As I left lowa a month ago, there was cold and snow…as I return there are thunderstorms, downpours and  tornadoes!   So I have downloaded a TORNADO APP on my phone– its my new paranoid app that I will check multiple times a day.   Interesting fact:  If you are driving and see a tornado and can’t get out of your car….do not park under an overpass as could be flying debris an something about back side of the vortex or blah blah blah, ……… should stop in low area if possible, keep seat belt on and keep car running so air bags can deploy if you take flight or are hit.  I had no clue about keeping car running…fascinating really….hope I dont have to  use this factoid.

Thank you to all my fantastic high school girlfriends for the happy hours and dinner party….so fun to see all of you so many times while I was in town.   Ill post a picture from our dinner when I get back to Iowa.  Great seeing Mary and Linda who both cruised through the bay area and stopped to see me. Many thanks to you all ….friends are a wonderful gift.

Bill arrived on Wednesday last week and if for some reason he doesnt make it back to Iowa with me…please consider me the primary suspect. He arrived here forgetting his cell phone charger and his computer charger and without a drivers license as he just applied for an Iowa license and they took his texas license.  AND they still let him on the plane……..TSA just looked at his credit cards and frisked him.  Cedar Rapids airport does not seem too secure right?!?!?!  Im not sure how he dresses himself in the mornings at times.   He really has been great doing odd jobs for my mom.  

I should be back in Iowa on Thursday night so next post will probably be on Friday…with tales from the road. 



Well today was long….carpet at my mom’s was installed today….from 10 am – 7pm…two guys…long day.   It looks good.  I saw Mary Nyeholt yesterday…we had a sleep over!  She was passing through so great to see her.  Linda Alspaugh is stopping by tomorrow.  So nice to see my Carlsbad friends in Los Altos.  Bill arrived last night – in classic form of course.  He arrived at 10 pm . I texted him to meet me on the departure side as its always less crowded and I don’t have to keep circling. Well I wait…no text.  He doesn’t answer his phone. 20 minutes later I  finally decide to circle around and take a run at the packed arrival side…AND THERE HE IS!   Moron!  Naturally his phone is dead.  AND the kicker is he didn’t bring a charger for his phone or computer! He is the worst child I have ever owned.

I recently read a really good article on Happiness and here is what I learned:

Good news and bad news: unfortunately, approximately 50 percent of your happiness, your “happiness set-point,” is determined by personality traits that are largely hereditary. Half of how happy you feel is basically outside your control.

So the good news or dare I say, bad news for some of us is that hereditary plays a role in 50 % of our happiness level!  Some people are just doomed is how I read this – but the good news is you can do some things to help yourself achieve more happiness, especially if you are in the genetic dismal mood category – I won’t name any names here!.

MAKE GOOD FRIENDS – well gosh this is a no brainer right?!  How many times have you said “thank god for my friends”.  Friends save you through the tough times not to mention the hysterical laughter at times, which is good for your health.  Make friends outside of work. Make friends at work. Make friends everywhere. Make real friends. There are studies that say people with deep friendships and relationships live longer too.

ACTIVELY EXPRESS THANKFULNESS – Let people know you are thankful of what they do for you.  Don’t be afraid to express your gratitude and let them know how you feel.  It makes the recipient and the giver of thanks feel good.

DO WHAT YOU EXCEL AT AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN – hiking,  painting, surfing, gardening just do it if it makes you happy.  My mom has a friend that paints gourds and now shopping bags.  They are horrible, but she gets great satisfaction doing this so I say…go for it as they do make awesome white elephant gifts!

GIVE – whenever you can.  This can be your time or just a hand up to someone.  It feels good to help someone else and makes you appreciate your life  and how fortunate you are.  I am volunteering at the local hospital when I get back to Cedar Rapids. Sometimes people just want someone who will listen and talk to them….Not everyone has the time but help someone whenever you can.

LIVE THE LIFE YOU WANT TO LIVE… Do what you want and live life true to yourself. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.  Do not live your life to someone else’s expectations.  Surround yourself with people who accept you for who you are—the real you.  Tell the truth as the truth really does set you free.  Leave life with no regrets.

I think our young prodigy would benefit from this.  Us old mom’s have learned or know most of this already.  I think it’s best that everyone have balance in their life of work and leisure.  Chasing the dollar is important to most young adults right now but will not ultimately make them happy…finding a balance and having a full life with great relationships will.


Life is Hard, Wear a Helmet

Recently, as I listen to more and more of my friends….oh and I TALK too,  a theme of our children’s happiness comes up.   And when I say “children” I really mean mini adults as they are all late teens and early 20’s, but to us they will always be our babies.   I miss the 4 year old boy who loved me more than anything and thought I was wonderful, and the 6 year old daughter who was always wiser than her years. 

My favorite saying has always been “You are only as happy as your saddest child”.  We carry our children’s emotions and feelings with us.  I swear OUR parents didn’t do this?  They were more of the “GOOD LUCK….hope you make something of yourself”.  Or my mother’s favorite “If you’re not bleeding, I don’t want to hear about it”.  _ ok maybe this was when we were fighting with each other!  Or be home when it gets dark!.   – seriously who can do that now?  We start this pampering at a young age.  My one friend is a preschool teacher and she has parents emailing because all the cheese was eaten at snack time and the parent working wouldn’t get more for little Johnny – he could only have the crackers.  Mind you this is only a 3 hour class that gets out at noon and they go home and have lunch.  This parent is NOT helping her son at all, only trying to give him his every need – wait,  make that every WANT.   I look back now and realize, WOW, high school is going to kill this mother.  If she only knows how easy this “problem” is.!!! 

I guess my point is that sometimes we try and make everything so easy and painless for them that they learn very little self reliance and basic COPING skills.  Coping is such a great skill. The skill of handling whatever is thrown at you and adjusting and dealing with that issue or problem.  It’s easy to cope with something good as you are happy and elated. You can go out and celebrate.   Coping with adversity is a much more difficult skill.   Rolling with the punches rather than making it a Shakespearian tragedy.   And maybe there lies why our parents did a better job at this.   They looked at the breakup of the first boyfriend as  “Oh it will be fine, there will be other boys”. They NEVER fed into or gave fuel to the insignificant “tragedies”.   I ofcoarse was DEVASTATED but FORTUNATELY – she was right….. I did go on to find more….well too many maybe…but that’s another story.   I do my best now not to play into the drama or minimize the issue but inform them that it’s TRULY not the end of the world. Yes you are sad, but this too shall pass in time.  I think HOPE is a beautiful thing.   Here is one good thing I taught my kids –  Mother is always right!!   Took me a long time to learn that about my mom but I finally realized it in my 20’s.   So I have passed that wisdom onto my kids.  I think they know it’s true……. Alas, eventually mother does get old and is driving the crazytown bus- and you shouldn’t listen to ANYTHING she says then,  but hopefully by then your children will have their own kids  to pass on this wisdom.’

 Best advice: Life is hard, wear a helmet!   As soon as you realize life wasn’t intended to be easy always, but a learning and growth experience, you can downgrade your expectations and you should be good to go!

 Thursday will be about HAPPINESS —

ALSO — under food tab — I posted this much requested Artichoke/ goat cheese appetizer – that everyone loves to eat but no one wants to make…..but there are PICTURES for the recipe challenged!

Expiration Date

Expiration Date

So yesterday’s adventure was looking at expiration dates.   Fig Newtons expired in May of 2013 and the Oreo’s were good until 2012 sometime.  And my mom buys Top Ramen like she is in college and poor.  And who has Progresso soup that expires?  Im pitching everything in this photo as it is WAY past its shelf date.  Thankfully the RIce A Roni was safe!!!

Mom’s vision continues to improve, unfortunately that does not help her hoarding problem.    I am reorganizing her pantry and told her if it doesnt fit in the space I give her – SHE MAY NOT BUY IT!   I had to make 3 shelves just for dog food and treats…She has 4 GIANT bags of Pupperoni – or whatever its called. plus about 5 other kinds of treats too.

Went out with the girls from high school last night again…fun as always. We laugh a lot.  I will try and post pictures from last Thursday’s happy hour…..


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This poor 28 year old guy and his 23 year old fiance decided to sit at the end of our table.  Big Mistake!  That is his dessert .  We abused them but they were good sports!  Frightening that we all have children (adult children) their age!

Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder


Mom (AKA – the old bat) had cataract surgery on Monday. Everyone said they could see better right away, naturally this is not what is happening in her case.   Vision is still blurry and feels like something in her eye.  Went back for follow up today…and doctor said her vision will get better but her eye is just swollen but will be better soon.   Until then I will be chauffering her around.  After her appointment today, we bought a new sink , faucet and garbage disposal.   Last week we ordered new carpet to be installed.  She  loves it when I do all of this maintenance stuff…..well, really I just spend her money.   While I slave away here caring for the invalid…..what are my siblings doing?   Well Jason just got back from Hawaii and Justin is in Bali!   Jay (Jennifer my sister) she is in Modesto, which is a lot like Bali only  NOT!  Ill give Jay a pass as she is coming this weekend ……..and ……..she has to live in Modesto.  This will all backfire on them when the old bat kicks and I get the house!!!   I am the apple of mom’s eye……see what I did there???  Look at the picture closer!!  I am just too clever today.


Its good and also weird to be home, and by home I mean the house I grew up in.  Los Altos is a beautiful little town just south of Palo Alto, California.  I went to Stanford on Sunday to watch Paige Soenksen (goalie for Girls lacrosse at Univ of Colorado) play Stanford.  Great to see Kathy, Dirk.  Eric Soenksen drove over from CAL to watch his sister play.   There is so much in the bay area to see and do. Lots of things have remained the same and much has changed.  The good thing is the size of the city remains the same but buildings have changed.   Spring is definately here and all the flowers are out…  In Iowa the bulbs are just starting to come out of the ground….so hopefully I will get two springs.  Not sure what day of the week it is most of the time.  Ive been bad at keeping up with my posts – but will try and stay on schedule.   I will see about 6 of my high school friends tonight for happy hour, as many still live in the area.  Liz and I have been hanging out  —and Michelle and I have walked in the hills a couple of times….she is killing me as it was 82 the last time!!  Its so great to see everyone and have TIME to see everyone.   Ive also seen Sally, my college roommate a few times.  Still trying to catch up with a few more.  Yesterday I drove to the Oakland hills and saw my former sister in law, Isabell and her new baby.   I am so happy for her and it was great to catch up.   Ok so that is the boring update.

Bill is arriving on the 23rd and we will stay awhile longer and then drive back to Iowa.  He has really been great about me being here and hanging in there particularly since we just got a HUGE tax bill……there goes any summer vacation!  Since I was in California all last year we had to pay state taxes plus he sold stock to get downpayment for Iowa house….forgot about those ugly capital gains! We will survive.

On  a bright note, my brother Jason is now the next Sanjay Gupta (CNN) or Nancy Sniderman (ABC) medical coorespondent for a local Seattle station, watch the clip :

He may get more “gigs”(like he is a rock star) in the future.   We need to work on his wrinkled shirt, as I will now be his stylest!

OH and I made this great appetizer that everyone loved (actually many of my Carlsbad friends have had it and its Jeni’s favorite) – its the artichoke goat cheese bite.  I will have to make it again and take pics and post to recipes–   my mother got sick eating so many of them.  Clearly she liked them…..OH my sister is coming next weekend…Ill make them for her.   

Rice a Roni- an open letter to my mother






Dear Mom,

How much Rice a Roni can one person eat!   I have never seen you eat or MAKE Rice a Roni!  Well Clearly you are not eating it, but just collecting it for the pantry.   You actually barely cook, we get take out, which I admire greatly….seriously!  What inspires one to buy this much Rice a Roni?   And given its high sodium content , Im sure its not the best thing for you.  You know I go through your pantry and fridge to check experation dates….mostly for sport now!  I threw out two bags of fridge stuff but then went to start on the pantry and  laughed when I saw this.  WTF?!?!   We already had the talk about Briana’s Poppy Seed Dressing, you had 4 bottles all about to expire, you stated it was on sale.  You do not make that many salads!   You have got to stop buying food like you are feeding 6 people.  I won’t even get started on all the candy and gummy worms in all your cabinets.


xo Josh