30 Day Challenge – The Results

At the beginning of June, I shared that I was embarking on a challenge to try as many new things as I could over the next 30 days, in order to break out of routine and see what kinds of opportunities popped up. Well, now I’m back to share the results!

I have to admit that I was very gung-ho at the beginning of the month, changing up or trying all kinds of things – big and little. As June wore on, I focused on it less and less. I still think I reaped a lot of benefits, some of them rather suprising.

Here are a few of the highlights:

June 1: I had a training class in the morning but we got out early. Instead of going home or running errands, I decided to use my unexpected free time to get a pedicure. I haven’t had a “real” pedicure in years. I usually prefer to save the money and just paint my nails myself. But, this is about doing new things so, to the salon I went. It was actually really nice and very relaxing. I splurged to have her do the extra spa treatment with the hot stones, and to also paint a design. Turned out really cool and it was a nice respit in the middle of the afternoon.

June 3: Sundays in the summer mean going to the lake and playing volleyball. This particular Sunday there was a lot of traffic along our normal route, so we went a different way. This alternate route ended up taking us through the neighborhood CJ lived in when we started dating. The girls have never been there so as we drove through, we pointed out places and told them stories. We then drove around the lake from the opposite side that we normally do and they saw all the big beautiful lake homes. It was a really nice family drive.

When we got there, we picked out a spot on the beach to set up that was over further than our usual. It was secluded and kind of quiet, which was great. We had it all to ourselves until a church group came in and did a baptism in the lake! Had we sat where we normally do, we never would have seen that. A day full of surprises all around!

June 8: CJ and I had a date night on a river boat! It’s something we did when we were dating but hadn’t been on one in years. This particular cruise featured a Beatles cover band. It was hot but we had a lovely time crusing along the river, with spectacular views of downtown Omaha, while listening to some good music. We even ran in to a couple people we knew!

June 10: The girls came down in the morning and announced they were going to have a “Flavored Water Stand” outside and sell cups of water for $.50 each that people could add their own flavoring to. They got to work making signs and pulling everything together. I figured it was just a game and didn’t think much of it. But then after lunch, they wanted to go out and set it up! They asked me if they could and I thought of a million reasons to say no:

  • There wouldn’t be a good ROI (in other words no one would buy anything and then I’d have 2 sad girls on my hands)
  • There wasn’t enough time ( I would have to sit out with them and I had other things to do)
  • The conditions weren’t right (it was too hot to sit outside in the blazing sun)
  • They wouldn’t see it through and I’d end up doing all the work
  • The quality would be poor (and customers would be upset)

But then I looked at my girls who had put all this energy in to creating their water stand – they had signs to post around the neighborhood, colored cups ready, flavoring lined up, and a stand built to put it on. Even though I had reasons why it might not work, there was also a chance it would – and valuable lessons to learn either way. So I said yes.

The result? They stayed out there for 45 minutes and made $12! I asked my oldest what her goal was and she said $3. So she far exceeded her goal and learned a lot (lesson #1: don’t go in to business with your 5 year old sister who lasted 2 whole minutes before going back inside). In the end it was fun for them (and yes I’ll admit, fun for me), taught them some good lessons in business and they made a few bucks too. Glad I opened my mind to something new!

June 12 – 13: It was easy to find new things to do these 2 days because I was out of town for work. We went to Jersey City. The first night we got there we went in to Manhattan to see a show on Broadway. This in and of itself isn’t new for me as I saw a bunch of them back when I lived there. However, I was with a new group of gals who had never been themselves so experiencing it through their eyes was what made it fun. We ate Junior’s cheesecake then headed over to watch Denzel Washington perform in “The Iceman Cometh”. It was a good show, but a long one. We were all tired and got a little bored actually, but it was fun.

The next night we had drinks on a rooftop bar that looks out over the city, and then went to Grove Street for dinner, followed by karaoke. I won’t get in to all the details (what happens at O’Hara’s stays at O’Hara’s) but let’s just say when you combine lots of alcohol with karaoke, it gets pretty interesting.

We also had an run in with some Jersey cops. We weren’t sure where to go at one point. I saw a group of police officers standing on a corner so I walked over and asked for directions. They were very nice and eager to help. They even took a selfie with us! Another fun first!

June 22: played in a volleyball tournament that went for almost 5 hours. I haven’t done a tournament in years because they’re on the weekends and I don’t like to have that much weekend time away from the girls. But this one was Thursday night, during when we normally play. We played well and made it to the final game. In the end, we lost and took 2nd place but it was a fun night, great workout, and awesome new experience.

June 24: the girls and I went to the beach by ourselves because CJ was sick. We ventured over to a side of the beach we don’t usually go to and had all kinds of fun. Then on the way home, instead of going straight there, we made a detour to stop at a playground. Isabella had to borrow my shirt because she didn’t want to be out in just her swimsuit. Fortunately I had a sleeveless dress that I was using as a cover up so I wore that. She told me I looked naked because my shoulders were bare. After playing, we ran to the drive thru and apparently I did look naked because the high school kid in the drive thru was all stutters and then called a friend over and they were both ogling me. They even forgot to give me my drink! I just laughed about it.

June 30: I spent the last week of the month sick with a bad cold. However, on the last day of the month, we made it over to Council Bluffs for the annual Pride Parade. We have marched in the parade before, 2 years ago. The girls were super excited and they decorated the little car Cora was going to ride in. They also made litte notes to hand out that said, “Happy Pride Parade Day!”

Cora handed out the notes, along with candy, as we marched in the parade and Isabella pushed her. They were so proud and everyone thought the notes were very sweet.

We had a lot of fun and it was a great chance to introduce the girls to something that’s full of love and teaches acceptance. They are already talking about doing it again next year!

And that was the end of the month! Looking back, it was a very full and busy month, with lots of new experiences. Some big, some small, but all valuable in their own way. While you can’t always travel to mix things up, you can find simple things to do every day. The results may surprise you!!

I Am A Warrior!

CJ and I did the Warrior Dash on Saturday.

I am not kidding when I say that I had the Lita Ford song “The Warrior” stuck in my head the whole time.

I had signed us up for this race months ago – like back in March. A few couples that we know were doing it so I thought, hey, why not? CJ and I are active and in pretty good shape. We can totally do that too.

Then as the months approached I started to have worries and doubts.

For one, I am not a runner. I work out a lot but for some reason do not have a body built for running. I’ve tried and tried over the years and it’s just not my thing. I ran a 5k race a couple years ago and hated every minute of it.

Two, I am not a water person. I can’t swim and get terrified if I’m in any body of water that goes up past my waist. In looking at the course map, 2 of the obstacles involved water.


But I was bound and determined to do the dash and complete all the obstacles. We weren’t focused on the race aspect or doing it superfast. We just wanted to finish.

And finish we did!



It turned out to be super fun, albeit tiring. Ironically enough, the obstacles were the easiest part of the whole thing.


What really got me was the walk/run in between because it was so hilly and the hills were steep. As luck would have it, I came down with a sinus infection 2 days before the race. I tried my hardest to rest and get rid of it before Saturday but no luck. So the fact that I couldn’t breathe real well hampered me a bit. I could definitely feel it in my head and lungs as I was climbing up the hills.


We both finished in about an hour.


I think I could have done it faster if I hadn’t been sick. That’s what I tell myself anyway. Next time I’ll shoot for 45 minutes.

Here’s my advice for anyone interested in doing Warrior Dash or something similar in the future:

1. Try to get as early a time as possible when you register. We were in the 2nd heat of the day (8:30 am) which was good because a) it was the coolest part of the day and b) the course wasn’t too badly torn up. Also, we were able to get good parking.

2. Hydrate as much as possible the day before. Again, because it was a hot and humid day, you sweat a lot. It doesn’t do you any good to chug water right before either because then you get water logged. Do your drinking the day before and you should be good.

3. Train for endurance. I made the mistake of concentrating most of my training on building upper body strength. I should have put more time in to running/walking up hills and getting my legs ready for that. The upper body training did help though as I didn’t have any problems there and my arms weren’t sore at all afterwards. Next time I’ll make sure to put more time in to training my legs too.

4. If you do it in a group, make sure at least one other person is willing to go the same pace as you or else you’ll do the whole thing alone, which isn’t a bad thing it’s just good to have clear expectations going in. CJ and I agreed ahead of time to stay together which made it all the more fun.

5. Rinse off immediately after you finish, before the mud has a chance to dry. We waited a bit too long and it was hard to get all the mud off later.



Most of all – have fun!!

That about covers it! The most important thing for me was the experience and the fact that I got to share it with my husband. CJ probably could have gone on ahead of me and finished faster since I was hampered by the sinus infection but he didn’t. We stayed together and made it an experience we’ll never forget!


Isabella even got in on the action!


She calls it her moose hat. CJ says they remind him of the Flintstone’s “Order of the Water Buffalo” hat.

Go Warriors!

I {Heart} Barry

There’s no maybe about it. Those old songs did bring back the old times and MADE ME WANT TO STAY!

If you have no idea what I’m talking about then you’re probably not a Barry Manilow fan. If that’s the case, I feel bad for you because it’s SO MUCH FUN BEING A FANILOW!


Me and 6,000 of my closest friends were on hand Wednesday night to witness the showman himself in action. OK fine, I didn’t know all 6,000 people. I only knew like 35 of them.

Let’s rewind. 

Back in mid-January a co-worker mentioned that Barry was coming to Omaha at the end of February and tickets ranged from $7.99 up in to the $100’s. We all giggled at the thought of a Barry Manilow concert and then thought, hey wouldn’t it be fun to sing and dance the night away to the likes of Copacabana and Mandy? The more we talked about it, the more appealing it became. Particularly if we only spent $8 a ticket! That’s all the more money for food and booze!

Being the social butterfly and “woo” person that I am, I decided to send an email to female co-workers who may be interested, to see if we could get a group to go.

Little did I know 30 people would jump on board! People were not only interested but also signed up to bring their friends, moms, sisters and one even brought her husband!

So I bought us all tickets together and we were off to the races.

However, we had a lot of time on our hands between buying the tickets and the actual show, which got us to thinking.

T-shirts. We need t-shirts.

We didn’t just want to show up to the show. We wanted to make a statement while doing it. So we tossed some ideas around and then decided the best course of action was to keep it simple. We bought some iron-on transfers, 30 white t-shirts and made up a simple design that said “I Red heart Barry”.

barry shirts

We also planned out a dinner so that we could all stuff our faces with pizza eat before the show.

Finally Leap Day rolled around and the time was upon us! I actually wore my t-shirt to work, classed up with a red scarf. I’m loud and I’m proud!

me work

Dinner was fun and really helped us all get amped up for the show! While there, we took a picture of everyone wearing their “I Red heart Barry” shirts.


Notice the photo bomber in the background? Lovely.

Then it was time to head to the arena!

Our seats were actually not too bad for being super cheap. We were in the last row of the first “bowl area” in the arena.

We found our seats and got comfie. Out of nowhere, an usher comes up and says he has 7 tickets on the main floor if any of us are interested in going down.

Wait, that sounds bad. He wasn’t propositioning us. We didn’t have to “go down” to get the tix. He just handed them over.

So to the main floor we went!

We no sooner got to our new seats when the lights dimmed and all of a sudden a spotlight hit the stage. The curtains parted and there he was – Mr. Manilow himself! The crowd was on their feet and going wild. We all assumed there would be an opening act so when it went right in to the main show, we were thrilled!

brocade jacket

And what a show it was!


He sang our favorite songs, told all kinds of stories, showed old footage and even showered us with streamers.

You know those people at concerts who sit right behind you and are loud and obnoxious? The ones who yell things to the artist, dance like crazy and knock in to you, kick over the chairs next to you and sing at the top of their lungs?

Yeah, that was us.


To be honest, I wasn’t really a Fanilow when I decided to get a group together for this concert. I thought it would just be a good excuse to have a girl’s night. But I’m a Fanilow now!


Never mind the crazy ladies you hear in the background proclaiming their love…

Barry was so charming, funny and personable. He told us a story of how his Russian grandfather knew little Barry had music in him and so would take him to Times Square (they lived in Brooklyn) every Saturday. There, they would go to a booth where you could record your voice on a 45 record. He wanted 4-year old Barry to sing “Happy Birthday”. 4-year old Barry thought grandpa was nuts. He played us one of the actual recordings and you could hear his grandfather talking in his Russian accent and encouraging Barry to sing! Little Barry just jibber-jabbered, unsure what to do. It was really neat to hear that scratchy recording.

photo 1

Perhaps my favorite part was when he sang “Mandy.” He left the stage and it went dark. Then on the video screen they showed old footage of Barry making his television debut singing Mandy on “The Midnight Special”.

The audience became mesmerized by this young kid singing a song we all know and love when suddenly the spotlight hit the piano on stage and there was current day Barry, in a white jacket, and he started singing a duet with his younger self! At first he was singing off of what the video was doing (not sure if on purpose or because he couldn’t find the same rhythm) but then all of sudden they synced up and were in perfect unison. Even at age 68 his voice sounds great and together they sounded like one voice. It was so neat and actually gave me goose bumps.

photo 3

He talked too about the hip surgery he had a few months ago and how he was laid up in bed for 2 whole months. Though he walked around the stage a lot and even did a few hip shakes (sort of), you could tell he wasn’t moving as freely as perhaps he used to. He looked particularly stiff as the show drew towards a close. He could hardly bend over for his final bow.

But never-the-less, he gave it his all and his voice sounded fantastic.

I apologize for my off key singing in parts….

We had a lot of fun playing with the streamers too.



On our way out I grabbed some of them and wrapped myself up. I wanted to take Barry home with me!


To add to the excitement, our group was mentioned in the newspaper review of the concert!

“They gathered in groups of three and four [or 30], towed along husbands, wore T-shirts that said “I Red heart Barry” and waved signs that said “Pick me” hoping to get onstage.”

So there you have it – my night with Barry Manilow. In all seriousness, it was one of the best concerts I’ve been to. The singing was great, the songs were fun and he really connected with the audience. Hey, the man’s been doing this for decades….he’s a pro and it showed.

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A Win is a Win…or how I nearly froze my toes off

It’s no secret that I love the Pittsburgh Steelers. So any opportunity to see them play live, I’m going to jump on.

When the 2011-2012 schedule was released, and I saw the Steelers were playing the Chiefs in Kansas City, I made up my mind to get down there to the game. KC is only 3 shorts hours away from Omaha. How could I not go?

The first mission was to convince CJ. That wasn’t hard. He heard the words “football” and “game” in the same sentence and was sold.

Next up – find another couple to go with us. This wasn’t a requirement as we certainly could have gone alone, but it’s way more fun with friends! Turns out I know someone who might love the Steelers just a bit more than me, if that’s possible, and that’s Courtney from Team Trader. She said “yes” without hesitation and we were off to the races!

Now for finding CHEAP tickets. Yes I love the Steelers. No I’m not willing to pay hundreds of dollars for tickets . I was able to find some for $40 each. I knew they would be in the nosebleed section but that was ok. The important thing was to be there, not to be close enough to get flicked with sweat flying off Troy’s hair.

Or was it?

Anyway, Courtney was responsible for getting us hotel rooms. We wanted a hotel close to the stadium but they got booked up fast. She asked me if we wanted something in the $40, $80 or $180 a night range. We both agreed on $80. Well turns out we weren’t able to get those so we ended up in the $180 a night rooms, at the Holiday Inn.

Now I had the go ahead from my hubbie, a couple to go with, tickets and hotel rooms. We were all set!

Let the games begin!

The game was Sunday night at 7:20 (i.e. the NBC Sunday Night Football game of the week). The plan was to leave town around noon and therefore get to KC about 3pm. We’d check in at the hotel, unload our gear and then head over for some tailgating before the game itself.

But first we had to drop Isabella and Samson off at my parent’s house.


Don’t we all look cute in our Steeler gear? Too bad Samson doesn’t have a Steeler collar or something…we’ll have to work on that!

We got to Chris and Courtney’s around 12:30 and hit the road. It was a smooth drive and we got in right at 3:30. Turns out our hotel was literally across the street from the stadium! This was the view from our room on the 14th floor.


That’s Arrowhead football stadium on the left and the KC Royals baseball stadium on the right. All that separated us was the highway!

Here’s a close up of Arrowhead.


Because our hotel was so close, it was packed with other Steeler fans (and a few Chiefs fans too, though most of them already live in town). They were having a tailgating party, face painting and even a shuttle ride over to the game. All cool but we were on a mission to get there fast.

First we had to unload in the rooms.


We had adjoining rooms. That’s my reflection in Chris and Courtney’s mirror, through the connecting door between our rooms. Dork with a capital D.

One thing to note is that it was very cold that day. Like in the 30’s during the day and dropping in to the night. I thought I was prepared for that.

I so was not.

See, I’m not an outdoorsy type of person. I hate camping. I can’t stand bugs. I don’t like any type of outdoor winter activity. Therefore I don’t have any of the gear one might have for those situations. I don’t own snow boots or snow pants. I don’t have a face mask. My hats/scarves are more for fashion than warmth. And I don’t own any long underwear.

I was screwed.

Here’s what I did wear: jeans, a long sleeve t-shirt, short sleeve t-shirt, sweatshirt, jacket, scarf, hat, gloves, socks and regular boots (and of course my Terrible Towel which actually became a good blanket later on). 

CJ had about the same plus long underwear.

Chris and Courtney added to that snow pants and overalls.

We walked over to the stadium because we didn’t want to wait for the shuttle.

DSC01710The plan was to meet up with Chris’ cousins who were tailgating. They told us they were in section A3. We walked and walked around A3 and couldn’t find them anywhere. We did see a lot of Troy look alikes (aka dudes in wigs) and one guy who actually did look like Hines Ward.

And oh the smells. In one step you’d catch a whiff of burgers on the grill and in the next it’d be hot dogs. Further down was the aroma of steak or grilled veggies. There were bonfires, games being played, music blasting and plenty of tents and heaters. Very cool atmosphere.

Yet we couldn’t find OUR tailgate! They finally found us after about 30 min. and we claimed our spot at their truck.


It was about 4:30 by now and we had close to 3 hours to kill before the game. Most of that time was spent drinking and shooting the breeze. Then more drinking and storytelling. Followed by still more drinking and even more crass story telling. For most I think the alcohol kept them warm. I only had 2 beers so it didn’t give me extra heat. At one point I had to go sit in the cab of the truck with the heater on to thaw out.

Because Chris had so many layers on, and is more warm-blooded than me, he actually took off his outer coat and gave it to me! I was very grateful. My middle (shoulders down to butt) was warm but my face/nose and legs/feet were FREEZING! Mostly my feet. At one point I seriously thought that my toes would literally freeze right off!


On a side note – it is quite a challenge to pee in a port-a-potty when you have umpteen layers on AND it’s night so you can’t see what the hell you’re doing.

Finally it was time to head in to the stadium! We climbed up and up and up to our seats that were almost to the very top.


But we could see the whole field and everything going on so I was good.

Funny story: our tickets were for section 305, row 36, seats 7-10. After having been seated for 10 minutes or so in what we thought were those seats, 3 guys came up and said we were in their seats. We checked and sure enough, we had sat in row 35 instead of 36. So we moved up one and all was well. Until 30 minutes later when CJ and Chris went down for more beverages and got lost. When they made it back we found out that we were actually sitting in the wrong section too! We were in 306 – one over from where we were supposed to be! And those 3 guys in front of us? They were also in the wrong section! They were supposed to be in 305 as well. AND they are season ticket holders! We all laughed about it and decided to just stay where we were since no one else was claiming those seats.

Soon the action started. The teams came out on to the field.


Martina McBride sang the National Anthem.


And some Air Force jets did a fly over.


(Bad picture, I know, but I wasn’t prepared for that and had a cheap camera with me)

Then they did the coin toss.


The dude in the #7 jersey is Big Ben and #99 is Brett Keisel (The Beard).

The game itself was stressful because Pitt didn’t play as well as they should have. Let’s face it – everyone was expecting them to roll over the Chiefs. Even the 3 dudes in front of us, who are Chiefs fans, were like, “Wow, you guys must be upset that you’re not winning by more.” Um, yeah we were. I don’t know what it is about KC but whenever the Steelers come there, they choke. When CJ and I saw them there 2 years ago, same thing happened only they actually lost that game.

The Steelers win games and championships but they don’t make it look pretty.

As the night went on it really got cold. The guys even broke out their face masks.

cj mask

Serial killer #1.

chris mask

And his friend Hannibal Lector.

Us girls didn’t need no stinkin’ face masks. We were basking in the glow of Steeler Nation!

courtney sarah

And beer.

By the time all was said and done, it was 11:30 when we got back to the hotel. I jumped into a hot shower and just stood under the steaming water for a good 5 minutes before I started to feel warm again. Stayed in for 15 more minutes to let the heat soak in to my bones. That’s not typical of me. I’m usually and in and out kind of gal when it comes to showering. But not that night. I needed the heat baby!

I got dressed again and we went downstairs for a cocktail celebration. We were dragging though. We took one look at the crowded bar and went back up to our room and crashed in bed. Slept in on Monday until 8:15 which is a BIG luxury for me (especially when I’m used to getting up at 4:30 am for Kosama).

Then it was back home.

The trip was a blast and Chris and Courtney are super fun. Couldn’t have gone with a better couple. Next time, I’ll go more prepared for the cold.

Here we go Steelers, here we go!

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Go Steelers!

Twihard with a Vengeance

Hi. My name is Sarah and I’m a Twihard.

I loved the Twilight books and I love the movies. Some may say the movies are cheesy/poorly done/poorly acted. To those people I say “phooey”. They may not win Academy Awards but they’re fun and a good escape for 2 hours.

Why do I like them so much? They have everything! In the words of grandpa from The Princess Bride (another fav movie), “Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles!” Not to mention vampires, werewolves, and high school angst – oh my!

I know these books were written for teens but let’s face it, there’s still a teenage girl alive and rampant inside every grown woman. That’s the side of us that gossips, feels insecure and gets nervous around cute boys. I read through all 4 books over a 4 week period during my pregnancy with Isabella. Basically my butt didn’t leave the couch for that month except to go to work. And I read them over lunch breaks at work too. They sucked me in big time and I love every minute of it.

Now to another important point. I’m on  Team Jacob. Even before seeing Taylor Lautner I liked Jacob more the Edward (and Taylor only confirms my allegiance – have ya seen him without his shirt? HELLO!!). Jacob is kind and loyal and warm . Edward is bossy and moody and cold. Classic werewolf vs. vampire I suppose. Plus I’m a dog person so when it comes right down to it, I’ll pick the werewolf every time.

Last night CJ and I went to see Breaking Dawn part 1. I was so excited all day for it! Breaking Dawn was my least favorite book of the series but I had heard the movie was the best so far. I was ready to find out!

Movie time was 7:30 and we had no idea what kind of crowds there might be so we grabbed a quick dinner and headed over there around 6:30. I had purchased our tickets online so that we could walk right up to the ticket taker and not wait in line at the front. The guy told me the theatre wasn’t open yet and that we’d have to get in line. He pointed to a roped off area behind me and guess what – we were the first ones there!

breaking dawn line

But it didn’t take long for the line to form behind us. We had to wait about 30 minutes before they opened the doors. We passed the time talking to the people around us. Turns out they are from Tekamah, NE which is where CJ lived for about 7 years as a kid. They knew a lot of the same people and it was fun to catch up on how old friends are doing. Finally they let us in and we ran to get our prime viewing spot – middle of the very back row! Perfect!

breaking dawn movie

(By the way, did you notice that only one side of my glasses has a slight glare on it? That’s because there is no lens on the right side. It fell out weeks ago due to a crack in the frame and I haven’t gone in to get new ones yet. Yes, I’m cheap. And a procrastinator. So I just wear them with only one lens. Is that redneck?)

(Oh and that “beauty mark” next to my right lip is not a mole – it’s my Cindy Crawford zit. *sigh*)

The movie was awesome. The special effects were better in this one than the others. They’ve gotten much improved at the werewolf transformation and fight scenes. There were several parts that gave me goose bumps (CJ too!) and they ended it just the right way. I had heard some people weren’t happy with the ending but I thought it was perfect.

Now I have to wait a year before the next one! Torture!

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