Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Russian

I've mentioned 'my Russian' a few times now- I know, I know... it's starting to appear like I am collecting foreigners, but I wanted to tell you how this friendship came to pass. Our crossing paths did not happen organically as it did with the Brazilians but the connection is as genuine.

Back in early November I took my daughter to church one day while Joel stayed home. That day they talked about an international program that linked my church and the college that I graduated from. They said that there were many students who were new to this country and did not have a place to go for Thanksgiving and asked if anyone would be willing to 'host' one or two students for Thanksgiving dinner. Without hesitation I signed us up. This was perfectly tailored for me- I speak French and have formally studied Russian and Arabic and dabble with a little German, Hebrew, and Portuguese and LOVE learning about all (every) cultures and their languages, so this was kind of a dream scenario for me to be in. I've got a big fact student loan I'll be paying on forever to learn other languages and cultures-from Americans- This was a win, win, win.

Though we had ABSOLUTELY NO PLANS WHAT SO EVER to cook Thanksgiving dinner at our house, we actually had specifically talked about it and decided against because we had just returned from Pennsylvania, and then had a big party for our daughters' second birthday and Christmas was around the corner, also we have never taken on the bold task of cooking an entire dinner for our whole family. No matter...I signed us up anyways! I also wanted to be able to spend Thanksgiving with my Brazilians so I knew we'd figure everything out.

I called my husband and delicately informed him that not only would we be cooking Thanksgiving dinner (for the first time in our lives) but that I wanted to invite the Brazilians too...and then on top of that we would also have 2 other people whom we've never met and perhaps spoke limited English. What a Thanksgiving it would be! I was SO EXCITED to find out what country our students were from so I could start learning some key phrases in the target language.

Then a few days before Thanksgiving, I got an email that said all the students had been matched. I was bummed but I still had my 4 Portuguese speaking friends that would be joining us, one way or another I was having some non native English speakers at my Thanksgiving!

In the middle of January I received another email saying that they had more students to be matched, I responded right away, filled out all the paper work and by the end of the week I had plans to meet with the Russian girl they paired me with.

I was a little nervous. Not about conversation- there are only two things in this world that I'm really good at...talking and breastfeeding. I can have a conversation with anyone about anything, one of my favorite things to do is to meet new people and just get to know them. I like to hear others' stories, learn about their passions, hear what motivates them and just enjoy the time.

So why was I nervous? I was worried she wouldn't like me. Sometimes I feel like I'm a dorky stay at home mom with 6 pairs of black stretchy pants and a fleece in every color-the coolest thing about my appearance is my pumas that I bought 2 years ago...and lest we forget that I'm a 29 year old with braces. I really don't think too much about my more than casual wardrobe...until I'm in public.

Our initial meeting went much better than I could have hoped for! Valeryia and I have so much in common- a passion for learning languages, a desire to travel, and we're both certified translators! She is incredibly impressive, she's 25 and already has earned her Masters' Degree she also speaks English better than I probably ever will. Signing up to be her 'hosts' or really her American family has already been very rewarding, we had dinner with her on Valentine's Day and had lots of laughs and got to know each other better.

I am really enjoying my little gaggle of foreigners I have taken under my wing. I get to learn about their countries, languages and traditions. We laugh hysterically about over our misunderstandings in vocabulary and discover our commonalities. I hope both the Brazilian family and Valeryia feel comfortable with my family and know that they have a friends and a family here in the U.S. to celebrate the Holidays with, to ask for help, and to count on for anything.

If you find yourself crossing paths with someone who is new to your country I strongly encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to reach out and make a new friend. You will undoubtedly serve as comfort to them but I promise it will enrich your life in countless ways as well. I have had the pleasure of making friends from Brazil, Lebanon, Poland, Albania, Mauritius Island, Syria, France, England, New Zealand and now Russia. I think I have discovered one chapter of my life's destiny.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Yesterday I decided to take my daughter to this place I found online, we woke up late, my dad called and by the time we started getting ready we only had 10 minutes to do so, I almost said forget it, we'll go another time...I am so glad we husseled and went. We had a magnificent time, it was a great new experience for both me and my 2 year old little girl.

Place of fun: Pump It Up 

Location: Nationwide- visit the website and type in your zip code to find a bounce site near you.

Hours: Only open at certain times-check the website and click on the 'event calendar'. The jump sessions last one hour and thirty minutes, which is plenty of time.

Cost: $7 per child- adults FREE

Description: An indoor play facility consisting of multiple, large inflatable units. The one we visited had 6 big bounce inflatables that were each provided a different setting/things to do.

Food available: I saw some vending machines- that's about it unless they have food available for purchase  for scheduled parties.

  • There were VERY few people there, for the first 45 minutes we only had to share the place with 4 other kids-it was WONDERFUL, a few more trickled in but there wasn't more than 10 kids.
  • Parents get to bounce too!
  • $7 for an hour and a half...couldn't beat the price!
  • They have specific times for preschoolers (which is obviously what we attended) there are also 'open jump' slots available for older kids.
  • It is a safe place where kids and play, be loud, mingle with other children and get some exercise!
  • Because of the set up and amount of people I did not worry even once about our belongings turning up missing.

  • NONE!
My advice:
  • great place to host a party!
  • I brought water and a little snack, it's a lot of activity so it was definitely beneficial to have water for the both of us. 

* I also started talking with another mother there, our daughters were playing and hitting it off, we hit it off too and ended up exchanging numbers! I invited them to join us for our outing next week!

* Heart warming moment...while I was putting on my daughter's coat she said "I had fun mama" to hear my little 2 year old volunteer that made the entire day priceless.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Jungle Java- a great place for kids to play!

I am trying to put together a concise list of fun places to take your tyke in the freezing cold winter months. I'm going to write a short review of the destination, include some details and wrap it up with a beautiful bullet point list in a week or so. Don't worry even though spring is around the corner it's going to be just as cold as it is today by the time I finish my list! And it will be available for next year too!

Place of fun: Jungle Java

Location: Multiple locations: Clinton Township, Farmington Hills & Canton Michigan

All my pics were blurry-she wouldn't slow down!
Hours: Open Monday through Sunday- hours vary slightly but they are open every day during the hours of
10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Cost: 2 and up $7.50, 1 years old $3, under 12 months FREE, Adults FREE

Description: A large indoor facility that holds a massive jungle gym, slides, a basketball court, a laser tag zone, food court, comfy leather chairs and WiFi.

Food available: There is a wide variety of snacks and meal options and they are very reasonably priced.

We had a blast!


  • it is a GREAT place for kids to run around and be as loud as they want.
  • the food was very inexpensive with lots of options!
  • I paid $7.50 for 3 hours of fun- it is money WELL spent.
  • We only stayed 3 hours, but you could essentially stay the entire day if you wanted!
  • Even though I brought my own, they did have several hand sanitizer stations. 


  • There are no attendants, obviously parents are responsible for their own children....but there are many kids who are essentially unsupervised-these are the children who needed it the most! Also, there were a lot of older, bigger kids running around with all these little kids-it made me very nervous. 
  • I thought the 'sign out' process could have been improved. It's a big place, with hundreds of people, and with your children running around it is very easy to lose track of them...even if you are following them around the entire time...
  • I unfortunately and accidentally went during mid Winter break and it was hectic and chaotic to say the least-I would go again but only during the week, early in the day and while school is in session!
  • the area for the toddlers could use some sprucing up!

My advice:

  • go as early in the day as possible.
  • do not bring a lot of belongings with you/ or expensive things- I actually lost my iPhone but some gracious human being ACTUALLY turned it in to the lost and found! But I would NOT take it again!
  • wear comfy clothes-moms and dads if you're climbing through these jungle gyms with your kids you don't want to worry about your crack showing...I saw enough crack that day to fill my quota for the year.

Monday, February 25, 2013

My book

"If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet…
                   ...then you must write it”
I've mentioned here and there that I came up with an idea for a book and I've spent a lot of time first of all, figuring out what to do about that....and then doing it!

In January I mailed out several letters to literary agents.

In May, one of those lit agents emailed me asking for my book proposal. (The same day we found out we got the house, it was a very hectic week-but very exciting!) She told me to give her some time...

In December I emailed her-she responded quickly including this statement "I am interested." I couldn't believe it! Over the course of that week we communicated via email and she ultimately told me that I am not yet ready for a literary agent.

At first I took that to mean that our 'relationship' was over, but I am hanging onto her saying that she is interested in my tonight I am going to email her again, and begin taking the advice she gave me. It doesn't seem like I've gotten very far but I feel like I have-this time last year all I had was a couple rejection letters.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


“We’re fools whether we dance or not…
                              so we might as well dance!”
This was my step dad's former flamenco group-he's the guitarist on the farthest end of the pic...this was the show they did when they opened for the Detroit Symphony was also the day my surgeon and I lip locked (i'm sorry husband but you know I like to brag about this whenever it happens to 'come up')

When: Valentine's Day 2013

Where: My amazing dance instructor Tish sold me this dress.

Why this is on my list: I have wanted a nice, formal performance dress for years-I guess I started looking them up online about 5 years ago when I started taking my lessons. A few years ago I did buy a nice practice skirt from Spain for $100, but it's very simple-just plain black.

Cost: A steal at $75!

Plans for more? Yes! I have a list of things I'm going to go back and buy from her as soon as I start getting my paychecks! I can't wait to show you the other dress I'm buying from her-it's amazing.

Was it life changing? I thought it would be years and years before I would be able to buy my own nice flamenco dress because they can be VERY expensive! ($600 and up) and I had no pressing reason to buy one now but when my instructor sent me an email last week mentioning that she was selling some of her dresses I wanted to see them but I still thought they would not be affordable. When she started giving me prices I started getting REALLY excited!

This is extra special for me, not only was it a wonderful opportunity for me to start building my flamenco wardrobe at a tenth of what it would cost me to buy these things new...and probably have shipped from Spain but they belonged to my instructor Tish whom I've known since I was 3 years old, I love her and I have the highest respect for her as a dancer so for my first dresses to be ones that she danced her heart out in makes this extra special for me.

This is life changing in that I've been joining my step dad's group for practice and he keeps talking about me doing some performances this year with them and I always just brushed it off because I don't have anything to wear! This pushes me into another level where I may actually start dancing with them sometime this year....

It's pink and kind of looks orange but it's not.

The Ultimate Life List is now on facebook...please dance on over to my page and LIKE IT!

Hobbies can be very expensive...what's your hobby that puts the biggest dent in your wallet?

Monday, February 18, 2013


"What this world needs is a new kind of army…
                                                           an army of the kind"

Life List: buy the person's order in line behind me at a drive through

When: Valentine's Day 2013

Where: Starbucks

Cost: $2.70....the cheapest LIFE LIST item ever and it was priceless!

Why this is on my list: I've always wanted to do this, but have been hindered by a lack of money and intestinal fortitude....but mostly a lack of money.

Plans to do it again? Actually, it was such a good feeling I think I'm going to do it on every holiday! And I think I'm going to try to get as many people as I can to do it with me on St Patricks Day!

Was it life changing? Surely, it's inspired me to do this much more often and try to rally others to do it too! It was funny when we pulled into the Starbucks drive through...of course there was NO BODY in line behind we waited. We looked totally ridiculous. I kept telling Joel to pretend like he was counting his money or something. As soon as we saw a car we pulled up to the ordering box ( I seem to be blanking on a name that describes the magical voice machine where you place your order). I had prepared a Valentine's Day card at home stating why we were doing this and I did include my blog site...Joel thinks I'm trying to buy my readers. I would never do such a thing! Anyhow the next day I got this comment on The Ultimate Life List's facebook page;

"Thank you for the Valentine's coffee. You absolutely made my day :) I, in turn, paid for the coffee of the person in line behind me. You started a wonderful thing on such a wonderful day. Thank you again!" 

...and that made my day :) in fact it makes my day every time I look at it! A lot of smiles came from just $2.70. I hope many of you will join me on St Patricks Day when I do it again!

The Ultimate Life List is now on facebook....please go on your friends facebook page behind their back and LIKE it!

Have you ever bought a strangers meal? Did you get to see their response?

Life Listing on Valentine's Day

I love holidays and I love my life list so I decided to combine the two and today I chose 2 life list items to complete, along with that I saw my foreigners and indulged in all things heart shaped. Our day was packed with all of my favorite things...

Lulu & Lula Photography 
This was a bonus-the blue cross building in Detroit we saw it when we went to Sesame Street Live last week- I'm a sucker for stuff like this!!!

I made this lovey dovey breakfast for my daughter and myself.

Before we headed out for the day my husband surprised me with these beautiful flowers.

The first stop was a LIFE LIST item we went to Starbucks and bought the coffee for the person in line behind us in the drive through.

We had to make a little stop by the mall to get Joel's gift certificate (I romantic am I...I just wanted to get him something he would use and appreciate-me, I appreciate the flowers and frilly stuff-I don't think men really do) while my husband was getting his gift I took Z on the carousel.

Then we got his hair cut, this is somewhat new for us because for years he's been shaving his head.

Afterwards we had a lovely lunch with my Russian (the sweet girl I recently met that just moved here from Russia)

Then we went to my Flamenco dance instructor's house to pick up my very first Flamenco dress!
It's been on my life list for years and thought I wouldn't be able to afford one of my very own for a looonggg time!

From there we went to the Brazilians house, they wanted to stop by our house but I knew be in their area, the girls got to play together for about 2 hours while Joel played soccer with their son and my friend Pricila was cracking me up with her Brazilianisms.

It was a big day and we came home and I made spaghetti with heart shaped meatballs.

I am a big fan of shaping meat!
It was the best Valentine's Day I've ever had, it was filled with lots of things I love, laughter and new experiences!

This was more difficult than I thought it would be.
Related Posts
Great Ideas for Valentine's Day
Sweet Valentine's Day Quotes 
Valentine's Day 2012
Our Valentine's Day gifts

The Ultimate Life List is now on facebook.....please FALL HEAD OVER HEELS IN LOVE WITH IT!

Did you do anything fun on Valentine's Day?

Friday, February 15, 2013

10 more things to do in Chile

For my amiga who moved to Chile just 6 weeks ago- I made her a Chilean Bucket List last week but in case  she accomplishes everything on that list she can move onto this one!

1. Salto de Laja Waterfall

2. Los Andes Waterfalls

3. Torres del Paine

4. Flamingo Preserve

5. Puritama Hot Springs

6. Patagonia Rainforest

7. Easter Island

8. Cathedral de Santiago

9. Hotel la Montana

10. Attend a soccer game

Related posts
The greatest poem of all time
Why I am writing so much about Chile
10 awesome things to do in Chile

The Ultimate Life List is now of facebook....please GUSTA it!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentines' Day

Having a daughter is so much fun, all those adorable stuffed animals, trinkets, jewelry and cards that I used to like to look at but had no reason to buy I do and I love it! I love showering my little girl with holiday gifts, decorations, and activities. It is a true delight for me and I totally indulge in it every chance I get! We have a very fun filled day planned today so we actually decided to give her her gifts last night. I wanted my husband to be able to see her open her gifts and I knew I wouldn't be able to hold off until he got home. This was nice though because she got to enjoy them all separately and was especially surprised. I was surprised as well, my sweet husband got me a gift certificate for another massage which couldn't have made me happier....I love a good rub down! I surprised him too, I was saving money for his birthday gift and decided to give him a little now to save or get whatever he wants.

The treats for our daughter....

Related posts
Quotes for Valentines' Day

Related post to come this week
My first Flamenco dress
Buy a stranger coffee
Life Listing on Valentines' Day

The Ultimate Life List is now on facebook.....please LOVE it!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I got a yob!

"An unfulfilled vocation drains the color from man’s entire existence.” –Honore de Balzac 

 There's a business near my home that I recently picked up an application from, then I thew it in a drawer and didn't touch it for a month. Thursday I went to Craigslist for the first time ever and I saw that this same business was looking to hire a new specialist. They called me the next day and I had my interview on Saturday.

I was hired on the spot! The only problem is that they want me to work A LOT, and hours that do not work for me as being a stay at home mom is obviously my top priority- so I can actually only work on Saturday
 ( which was mostly what I was looking for anyhow) and she'll be home safe with her daddy which is perfect-I don't have to worry about her, and the two of them can have some daddy/daughter time.

Great hours, great pay, great position, great business, unbelievably good location and the owners seem wonderful...I just hope I live up to their expectations! I would really like to hold onto this long term.

The reason I decided to seek employment was twofold. As I've mentioned before we have a trip to Disney planned this year...and I also decided that this is the year that we WILL pay off ALL our debts. To do both of these things without extra income would not be feasible. So with this job, the 3 weddings I booked for the summer, and a new idea that I'm really excited about-there should be no problem getting out of debt and rewarding ourselves with a deluxe vacation to a top resort! (prepaid in full OF COURSE!)                                                  

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