Weekend Highlights

The parkThis weekend was the first time we didn’t have our schedules booked back to back. Jeff was still under the weather so he mostly rested but Luke and I were able to get out and enjoy the sunshine together. Here are a few of the highlights. Hope yours was happy!

Birthday

{spent some time at the park with dear old friends to celebrate this cutie’s 5th birthday}

The Park

{made some new friends}

Marmalade

{had lunch at Marmalade Cafe in Calabasas & picked up these at Barnes & Noble}

Haircuts

{Luke got a haircut that was long overdue}

Open Arms Charity Banquet

Jill StanekI had the privilege of meeting [Jill Stanek] last week at the annual [Open Arms] banquet, a local pregnancy clinic that I support which offers free counseling and ultrasounds to women in crisis pregnancy situations.  When I heard Jill’s story, I was amazed at her courage. She risked her job, her friends and her own reputation in order to stand up for the injustice she witnessed in her workplace.  Jill was a registered nurse who discovered that babies were being aborted alive in her hospital and left to die alone in a utility room.  When she reported it to the hospital Chief of Staff she was told that this was an acceptable practice by law and they were not going to stop.  Jill wrote letters to her local officials and met with her pastor who wrote letters to 70 other churches telling them of the atrocities going on and soon after that the New York Times picked up the story.  That sent Jill on a ride that brought her before the House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee to testify.  In 2002, President George W. Bush signed the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which protects live aborted children from infanticide. He invited Jill to the signing and publicly thanked her for her help with the bill.  Amazingly, this bill passed the Senate with a 98-0 vote.  Democrats including Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Barbara Boxer all voted in favor of it.  Barbara Boxer said “All of our people deserve protection, from the very tiniest infant to the most elderly among us”.  I couldn’t agree more.  Jill continues to be a voice for the voiceless in Congress.  In fact, just before this speaking engagement last week she was arrested for a prayer sit-in outside House Speaker John Boehner’s office protesting the House delay of the vote on the 20-week abortion ban.  The reason for the 20 week cutoff is that is the time that babies can feel pain.  Her passion stems from her own experience.  As a registered nurse, she once held a 21-week old baby boy, helpless to do anything but rock him as he fought for each breath for the 45 minutes that he lived.  It’s this real-life experience that fuels her sense of urgency for this vote to protect these little ones.    These atrocities toward babies sound more like a page out of The Giver  than real life happenings, but unfortunately they are real.  The good news is that we can stand up against them and we have a real opportunity to see justice if we make our voice heard.  Jill Stanek is living proof of that.

Nailstream

Nailstream[Nailstream] is a company that brings manicures and pedicures to your office- genius, right?  Last week they paid a visit to AOL and I happened to be in the office that day so was able to experience one of their manicures.  I was impressed by the way they set up the makeshift nail spa, which included a bowl of coffee grounds to cut down on the smell of the nail polish a table cloth and a few towels.  They do dry manicures and pedicures, so there’s not a lot of mess or risk of water spills and they use a new package of clippers, buffers, files and cuticle cutters for each person.  If you’re looking for a fun idea for a client event or an office morale booster, [Nailstream] is the way to go.

Nailstream

Nailstream

 

Frida

FridaFor lunch yesterday we headed to my favorite spot for Mexican food in Beverly Hills, [Frida].  As is my custom, once I find something I like at a restaurant I tend to order that every time I visit and don’t deviate.  The chicken tacos are my go-to at Frida because the chicken is cut up in super tiny bits and marinated in the best sauce ever.  I skip the onions but have them add cilantro and then proceed to devour the rice and beans which are also the best around.  Their menu also offers diverse salad options that you don’t typically find at a Mexican restaurant.  If you’re looking for a great lunch spot in Beverly Hills, add Frida to your list.

Frida

Grandparents Day

Grandparents DayLuke’s school always amazes me the way they honor people. Each year they take a special Chapel service to honor Grandparents. This year was a 50’s Sock Hop theme, which had kids whizzing around the sanctuary on roller skates in poodle skirt and twirling hoola hoops. Luke has a very special Grandma who helps to take care of him everyday and it was so great that she was able to attend.  As the children went up to the mic and shared what was special about their Grandparents, my eyes welled up as I thought of my own Grandma and how special she was to me. She always called me her “little genius” because somehow she was convinced that getting straight A’s in school was equivalent to achieving genius status. She always believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself and she always told me that I would “be something” someday. Growing up on food stamps and welfare, “being something” meant that I would make a lot of money someday. Today I make more than enough and I owe that to God’s grace in my life. He is the one who paved the way for me and because of Him, I now am able to give back to others. My Grandmother was one of those I was able to give back to before she died. She ended up living over 3 years with lung cancer and she kept me laughing until the very end. I miss her very much but I’m thankful that she is in the presence of the Lord Jesus and that I have the ultimate hope of seeing her again one day.

Forward Thinking

Laveta TerraceDo you ever feel like you spend more time planning your future than you spend living your present? This is my constant struggle. Part of it is due to my nature (I plan everything), part of it is due to my job of being a parent (parents need to be forward thinking all the time) and last of it is due to my day-job (advertising requires constant planning sometimes an entire year into the future for media plans). I plan because I believe it will free up my time if I plan things in advance, but it takes a lot of time to plan things, so it’s a vicious cycle. Jesus calls us to live in the present and trust in Him for the future. I find that when I focus on Him, I am able to let go of my forward thinking for a moment and it is then that I am able to truly be at peace. Knowing that “a man plans his way but the Lord directs his steps” gives me peace because it reminds me that I don’t have to be responsible for planning everything. God has a plan, I need only to submit to it and live.

Bio Bay

Bio BayOne of the truly magnificent things to experience in Puerto Rico is what’s known as the Bio Bay.  It is filled with micro-organisms that emit light when agitated at night.  We paddled in on kayaks just before dark and as we waited it began to rain.  Luckily for us the storm passed quickly and we were able to brave the weather for the reward of seeing the bay light up around our paddles and our hands as we moved them through the water.  The water literally glowed as you moved it around.  I wish I could have shown you pictures of it, but balancing my paddle in one hand in the dark and trying not to drop my iPhone in the water with the other hand proved much more challenging than I had anticipated.  Of all the things to do in Puerto Rico, this is the one we were most excited about.  Tours fill up fast, so book early, at least two to three weeks in advance if you can.  Puerto Rico one of the few places in the world to witness this phenomenon.

Bio Bay{We rowed through a canal of Mongroves to get into the bay}

Bio BayMangrovesBio BayBio Bay

El Conquistador Resort

El ConquistadorI would be remiss not to do a post spotlighting the [El Conquistador Resort] where we stayed in Puerto Rico.  The Waldorf Astoria property boasts over 1,200 rooms and sweeping views of the Caribbean Sea.  The resort is so vast that they have shuttles and a funicular to take you from the marina to the rooms.   There is an arcade, a pool hall, and a dance club on location.  There are also multiple shops and a full service Starbucks right off the main lobby.  Probably my favorite feature was the free ferry access to Palomino Island and Luke’s favorite was definitely [Coqui]- the onsite water park which boasts a slide with a 40-ft drop.  The rooms are clean and the service is good also which really makes a huge difference when you’re so far from home.  If you’re planning a vacation to Puerto Rico, you should definitely consider the El Conquistador.

El Conquistador

El ConquistadorEl Conquistador

El Conquistador

El ConquistadorEl Conquistador

El ConquistadorEl Conquistador

Insurgent

My love for the Divergent series is well documented [here] and [here]. So I was really excited to find out that the stars of the movie, [Theo James] and [Shailene Woodley], were going to be promoting their film, [Insurgent],  with a live interview from our [AOL Build] Studio in NY.  Huge bummer that I was not in the NY office to meet and greet them but I am super proud they stopped by AOL.  The livestream aired yesterday so here is a link to the [full interview] for all you fellow fans out there. I’m looking forward to seeing Insurgent which hits theaters this Friday.

Rainforest Zipline

 Zipline One of the most memorable adventures we had together as a family in Puerto Rico was zip lining in the rainforest. We went to [Rainforest Zipline], which offers a kid-friendly course of various zip lines through the canopy of the rainforest. The people were so nice and they really made safety a top priority. We rode eight zip lines total and it didn’t matter that it was pouring rain. We all had the best time. If you’re given a choice to do one fun thing on vacation in Puerto Rico, go zip lining!

Zipline

 Zipline

Zipline Zipline

 

{Climbing the tower to the highest zip line above the trees}

Zipline

 

{View from the top}

Zipline

{Our zipline race.. Luke won}

Zipline

{Great family fun}