Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Are New Year's Resolutions Doomed to Fail?

Make your resolutions. It's almost 2011.

I'm planning on posting mine on this blog once I figure out what they are because once you make a public statement of them, they become harder to break. It's all about the mental game. Make your resolutions and tell people about them so they can either keep you accountable or you can psychologically feel more committed to them.

If you're like me, your first thought was probably that sharing your resolutions with others will just make you feel more guilty when you break them--but at least you'll be able to say you tried if that ends up being the case. Don't let the fear of failure (or the social pressure of the fear of failure) stop you from making necessary and/or desirable change in your life. And maybe if your goals are measurable, specific, and realistic you'll actually be successful! Let's work on coming up with a few good ones and sticking to them.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snow Tubing

Some people spend Christmas indoors in front of the fireplace, cozy and warm. Other people spend Christmas outdoors on the side of a mountain, cold and freezing...because they're snow tubing!

This year, after a yummy dinner and games with extended family we bundled up in scarves, boots, gloves, hats, and big coats; squeezed ourselves into the SUV and headed out to Liberty Mountain Resort in Carroll Valley, PA. Most of us had never gone snow tubing before so I thought it would be a fun Christmas present for my family.

Once at the ski resort, we hopped into a shuttle bus and arrived at the snow tubing location on the side of the mountain. They issue you a pass and snow tube once you sign a waiver you won't sue the place if you break both legs and an arm. Then you ride a conveyor belt-type thingie to the top of the hill, pick a lane, and whooosh, slide down the mountain. At the bottom, the staff insists you "drag your feet" to slow down, but if you can't stop in time there are big red inflatables to cushion your stoppage.

I was surprised at the level of organization of snow tubing. I expected a free-for-all area of tubes bumping into each other, but there were about 15 lanes where you ride down individually and then clear out at the bottom to make room for tubers at the top. I was also surprised there were hills built into the tubing area so you didn't go straight down, but up and down, and at times, getting air if you went fast enough.

The staff at Liberty was really friendly. They would give you a good push down the mountain if you needed one and practically begged you to let them spin you. That style of going down was fun, but you couldn't do to too many of those before your head would be spinning faster than your snow tube. My favorite way down was on my belly with a fast running start to encourage speed.

I really enjoyed snow tubing and will be sure to go again in the future. If we have to have cold weather anyway, why not take advantage of it?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Fully human and fully God, Christ came to reconcile us with the one who created us. Through Him our relationship with God can be restored. The greatest gift we will ever receive is the salvation God provided through Jesus Christ our Lord. May we not forget the true meaning of Christmas in midst of all the other exciting things this holiday has come to mean. God gives good gifts.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Here Comes Santa Claus

Get to bed. Santa's on his way!

Don't forget to leave him some cookies and milk.

And a carrot for Rudolph if you're really nice.

Almost Christmas

Merry Christmas Eve friends!

Heading out my Aunt's house for some delicious holiday fixin's. I can't wait to celebrate the season with my loved ones. Enjoy your time with yours!

And by golly I hope your done with your shopping. The malls are chaos at this time of year with frantic last minute shoppers, grouchy sales clerks, messy shelves, dwindling merchandise, loud music, long lines, and no parking. It's like high-speed Christmas on steroids in those places. Only step foot in them if you absolutely must.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

National Harbor

The National Harbor is a nice place to go to spend an afternoon or evening. If you're like me, you didn't even know we had a national harbor, but surprise, we do! It's not hard to get to at all from VA, MD, or DC, so if you live in the metro area you should try to visit at least once. It seems like it might be a popular convention location. At this time of year there's a christmas tree up in addition to pier year round and a strange body sculpture in the sand.

We ate at a lovely restaurant on the harbor, Rosa Mexicano They have interesting food and very cool, bright modern Mexican atmosphere. The dish I ordered included chihuahua cheese. I still have no idea what that is and it's probably best that way. I just hope it didn't come from a purse dog.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Peep Peep

Due to some confusion in my family (names shall go unmentioned to protect their identity) over the definition of the word "peep" used in modern context, I'd like to clarify for the whole world: It is NOT a derogatory word for women. When you visit your "peeps" you are not visiting a harem of prositutes or even gaggle of attractive ladies. "Peeps" can be used to refer to both men and women equally and is simply short for "people" as the Urban Dictionary so graciously informs us.

Of course Peeps with a capital P are also delicious marshmallow candies in the shape of rabbits and baby chickens usually served around Easter.

At a recent trip to the National Harbor in DC, a life-size Peep was dancing around, posing for photo ops in front Peep Store (yes, an entire store devoted to Peeps) Cute no?

The Peep store also featured Peep artwork which a USA Today commenter aptly pointed out to the artist: "Thank God you found something to do with those things other than eat them," Amen. You'll also note my prior posts. My own Peep bomb, Peeps Research, and Drawing them on eggs. I have a fascination with the things even though I refuse to eat them. I fear human stomachs can't digest such hazardous material. Seriously. I feel the same way about taffy.

The newest fad, however, is apparently Christmas Peeps. No need to wait until Easter for your sugary crystalized neon-colored goo. The Peep Store gave us adorable cupcakes; but unfortunately, like I said, I don't eat them. They'd be cute to serve at a holiday party though. Maybe your "peeps" would enjoy some Christmas Peeps.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Blog

Wow, as of today I've been blogging for 6 years!! Yoohoo. That's a really long time. My blog has officially outlasted any pet I've ever owned (sorry Tutle). Yes, my blog has been good to me. It has seen me through the years, at some times more than others.

Fortunately, one's blog can never disappoint nor forsake (unless you accidently delete it because you didn't know the Spanish word for delete, in which case the magic fairies at will restore your blog after a bunch of frantic emails). So here's to you my faithful friend. Happy 6th Birthday!

Monday, December 13, 2010


I had another amazing semester of teaching some wonderful ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) students! This semester we partook in some exciting conversations, jack-o-lantern carving, a UMD football game, and an American dinner at my house. And I didn't even poison them on the last one...I think. I learned so much about China and Colombia and made some great friends in the process.

This is my second semester as an ESOL conversation volunteer and I have to say, everyone should get involved in some sort of cross-cultural exchange on a regular basis. You will always be learning new things about another culture and about your own as well. I know conversation times were always some of my favorite times of the week; and little flashback to my time holding conversation circles in Uruguay. It doesn't matter where you are in the world, if you want to learn about somebody's culture or language, the chances are they want to learn about yours too. So if both parties take the time to share, everybody wins.

Photo courtesy of our resident photographer, Zhiwei.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

To the Statue of Liberty and Beyond

If you want to visit the statue of liberty I highly recommend buying your tickets online before you go. Fortunately we did, and when we got there we had the privilege of passing all the other suckers in the really really long "flex" pass line. So do yourself a favor, buy your ferry tickets beforehand or you'll be waiting in the cold with the hobos (literally--they play music and beg for money nearby). No matter which ticket you get though, you'll still have to go through airport-like security twice. Yes, once before you board the ferry and once before entering the statue. A little much, no? The ferry continues on from Liberty Island to Ellis Island and if you visit both of the locations, you could make a whole day of it.

Lady Liberty, my does she look nice.

World Trade Center: Still Nothing?

Progress at the World Trade Center looks to be very slow. I mean it's been over 9 years and the area still looks like a big hole in the ground. Instead of worrying about a community center that might be built nearby, why don't we get our game together and get the memorial built?

Same with the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in DC. I almost fainted when I heard it will take 5 years to complete and over $120 million. What is it the statue going to be made of, pure gold? I'd hope so for that kind of price tag.

The vision for the new WTC does seem to be pretty ambitious though, so I think we can give them a little bit of a pass. According to new World Trade Center embodies a bold vision: To remember, to renew, and to rebuild the future.

With five major new office towers built to the highest architectural, environmental, safety and security standards, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, a state-of-the-art Transportation Hub, unparalleled retail opportunities, a performing arts center and more, the new World Trade Center represents the triumph of the human spirit.

The new World Trade Center is destined to become once again the world's premier destination for commerce, culture and community.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Early Show

Had an amazing time in New York City!!! We had few bumps regarding transportation, errr, thanks Greyhound. Great service. We almost missed our bus on the way there and almost missed the metro on the way back. Apparently the times on the ticket are just guidelines. But life wouldn't be very much fun it everything went according to plans.

We went to an early, yes, very early taping of The Early Show on CBS and appeared on TV numerous times although I have no proof of the fact. My mom taped cartoons instead of the show so we'll never know how great we looked waving at the cameras.

We did however, get a picture taken with the weather man, Lonnie Quinn, so yes, we're practically famous now. We also took a tour of the studio which was, in typical TV show fashion, not nearly as big as you would imagine. The set was rather small and all of it was a product of TV magic. The sofa was customized to be firmer or softer depending on where different hosts sit to make them all appear the same height. The floor was concrete but painted to look like wood. The stage where stars perform is really as big as a closet with 3 sheets of plastic behind them that are colored by fancy lights. The fans stand around the CBS gates in the middle of an open air plaza, so even the smallest handful of people can look like hundreds.

Never believe what you see on you see on the telly.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hello New York

Off to the Big Apple for the weekend. It's going to be as fun as a barrel of monkeys there.

With all the express buses from DC to NYC why not go? Several bus lines offer unbelievably low prices including:


Greyhound had the best prices this round, especially if you buy online at least 1-2 weeks in advance. These cheap and easy buses remind me more traveling in Europe than in the States. And traveling in Europe is MUCH easier than here. I just wish we had the equivalent Ryan Air. Sure, you fear whether the pilot actually knows how to fly, and whether you'll make it to your destination; but there's not a whole of complaining for $20 a plane ticket.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Savor the Flavor

In the season of temperatures so cold you can see your breath, runny noses, frost on the windshield, and shivers down your spine, I must ask you: What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Mine is usually chocolate chip cookie dough because of those umptious spoonfuls of cookie dough chunks. Yum.

I used to get in trouble if I stole a bite of cookie dough from my mom and grandma's batter on cookie baking day because of raw eggs in the dough. I suppose it also had something to do with them not wanting me to eat all their cookies before they even made it into the oven. With chocolate cookie cookie dough ice cream though, you can eat the sugary lumps, and it's completely allowed. Ben and Jerry's is good, but so are other various brands--as long as they don't skimp on the cookie dough pieces.

Haagan Dazs' Pineapple Coconut is a flavor I just recently tasted and it was pretty scrumptious too. I also have a fondness for peach ice cream and classic vanilla with real strawberries on the side.

Turkey Hill has a scrumptious Honey Vanilla Granola that tastes just as good as ice cream.

Hershey's strawberry cheesecake is probably on my top flavors list too.

Oh gosh. I love ice cream. I could ice cream every day of the week if I allowed myself; even in the winter. It's just soooo good.