Sunday, December 30, 2012

Yosemite Adventure

I have been to Yosemite National Park a couple of times before, but both times were in the summer and I've always wanted to see the park in the winter time.  I took the last of my vacation time for the week after Christmas and planned a trip with the boyfriend to make that fantasy a reality.

The park was more beautiful than I had anticipated, and it wasn't as cold as I thought it would be either, no heavy jackets were necessary.  I had originally thought that I would just touch on this part of my trip in my monthly blog, but there were so many fun pictures that I thought I'd share most of them in their own post.

Hope you enjoy, I know I did.









 
 





Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy New Years!!!


Hello faithful readers, I hope you all have a safe and sane holiday. If you drink please don't drunk, I want to keep you all around for years to come.

I hope 2013 is the best year yet for you, and that each year after only gets better.

I posted my New Year's Resolutions on an earlier blog, you can read them here and maybe come up with a few of your own.

Merry Christmas Readers



So readers, were you on the nice list or the naughty list this year? A combination of both?

I hope that you have a fabulous holiday celebration with your loved ones, whether they be family, friends or maybe even co-workers, and that Santa is good to you all.

Hug your loved ones a little closer this year, and remember the ones who aren't celebrating with us this year.

Yesterday marked 16 years since my grandpa passed away and the Coca Cola Santa I posted the picture of always reminds me of him. I think about him often and like to think that he's my own personal guardian angel. I know he's out there looking out for me. It's hard to believe that so much time has gone by, but I know he's been there for our family every step of the way, we've lost a few other close family members over the years, Uncle Junior, my brother Everett, and Aunt Josephine and I still find myself watching the door for them to walk in sometimes. Christmas time is a time for celebrating family and it feels different when members are missing, but I think it just makes you cherish the ones who are still here more.

Have a safe and healthy holiday friends. I can't wait to hear about your experiences and maybe even a few shenanigans.  Talk to you soon.

Merry Christmas
Love
Lauren

Friday, December 21, 2012

Monsters at Your Door

I used to be a fan/page member of several pages on Facebook that provided me with a wealth of news articles that weren't always top loaded on my news.google.com feed. Most of these pages were centered around women's rights and promoting equality for minorities. They used to have a lot of really great information.  They were indignant when many politicians were talking about doing whatever they could to take away women's legal rights for particularly controversial medical procedures (abortions), they lobbied hard when the Susan G. Komen foundation decided they wanted to cut ties with Planned Parenthood, these groups celebrated when states granted same sex couples the legal right to marry, and I loved them for this.

So why the "used to be" you might be asking? Where has the love gone?

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings earlier this month, these pages have fallen from their missions of protecting individual rights that were granted by the Constitution, Supreme Court rulings, and the voice of the people, to being raging anti-gun pages. I understand, we lost a lot that day, it wasn't fair, and personally I can't stop crying over it. Every time I see one of those 20 children's faces my eyes fill up and it's all I can do to not let them spill while I'm at work. I feel the trauma of losing my brother who died a few years ago all over again, and while his death was due to a violent crime it wasn't gun related, it doesn't matter, loss is loss no matter how it happens, especially when it's unexpected. Everyone needs someone to blame for the tragedy. They look for monsters in the world.  They blame the NRA, violent video games, Hollywood, Walmart, the media, developmental disorders, and a host of others for the shootings. They have taken the conversation from being about stricter gun control laws and more availability for mental health care access to being about a total firearm ban. They use fear mongering techniques like "would you trust a stranger with a gun?" polls and belittling posters who have different opinions about how to make the country a safer place.

First, let's place the blame where it's due. The 20 year old man who brought the guns to campus and killed those people is where the blame lies. He did it, it's his fault, it was his choice. Callous? Maybe... but it's true. There are millions of people in the country battling illness and don't shoot up kindergarten classrooms. If you want to take a wider scope, let's look at his mom, otherwise known as Victim #1. She knew that her son had problems and still had firearms throughout the house and they were easily accessible to her son, she taught him how to use them, and took him shooting. I haven't heard anything about his father. Where was he? I'm genuinely curious. I'm not one of those people who feel like single parents are the cause of all evil, but just because someones parents are no longer with each other doesn't mean that one parent is allowed to check out on their kid. Did he die? Or just not around?  If the shooter was not getting treatment for his illness, why aren't there more means to get help for adults who don't want to help themselves?

Do you still need something to be afraid of? How about how hard it is to get help when you're mentally ill? How about being afraid of parents who would rather be their kids' best friend instead of an authority figure? How about being afraid of people who would happily take away your rights because they make them feel icky? How about looking to history and seeing what similar bans have done (think Stalin, Castro, Hitler)? How about wondering where it will stop once they start taking rights away?

Personally I think there need to be stricter enforcement of the laws we have, and consider making them federal laws so that they are the same across state lines, review "Stand Your Ground" laws to make sure they really work the way they are intended to and not a blanket excuse for killing people who could potentially be threatening, new policies demanding background checks for firearms sales, a review of what types of firearms are available to the general public, mandatory safety courses for firearms users, a licensing program that needs to be renewed on a regular basis much like a driver's license, and harsher penalties for violating these policies. Granted it won't keep criminals from obtaining weapons illegally, but it might make certain weapons harder to get in general. Law abiding citizens might be more inclined to keep weapons locked and out of sight when not in use. I also don't think that it should stop at gun control, there are many violent crimes that are committed daily that you don't hear about because they're on a smaller scale, but their impact is still felt. There needs to be a way to prohibit violent crimes in general. How do we take control back from the thugs on the streets and the abusers that hide behind their locked doors?

I don't think schools need to be turned into prisons to keep children safe, but having security and a police officer on campus at all times isn't a bad idea. Kids need to be able to enjoy school and look forward to learning and I'm not sure that would happen in an environment where fear rules.

A few of these pages are looking to dismantle the 2nd amendment, calling it archaic and unnecessary, however my feelings are that once you start taking away some rights, the others will be just as easy to remove. Why stop at the second? The first amendment causes a lot of trouble too, and who gave women and minorities the right to vote? We can't base our laws on emotions.

The same people who were against George W. Bush trading our freedoms for security post 9-11 are the trying to do the same now. I'm not saying there doesn't need to be changes, I'm just asking that we make them based on logic and not fear.  Stop looking for monsters under the bed when there are bigger ones knocking at your door.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

It's a little early to start talking about New Years' Resolutions, I mean we're not even a 3rd of the way through December yet, but it's never to soon to start making goals and doing what you can to make positive changes in your life.

Last year I feel like I did pretty well on the resolutions I made, and I liked them so much that I'll probably continue them throughout 2013 and beyond. What's great about them is that they aren't major lifestyle changes, like giving up carbs or caffeine... but just things to grow me as a person. I've compiled a list of 10 items that I'd like to work on over the next 12 months and I'm ready to share them with you.

  1. Take the time to appreciate the small things.
  2. Practice patience and empathy (especially when someone is trying to test my strength).
  3. Find new music
  4. Go on as many adventures as possible
  5. Take lots of pictures of pretty places, both near and far from home
  6. Go to the gym more (this was the one I failed at last year)
  7. Write more (while I didn't really work on any short stories this year, I blogged quite a bit more than ever before).
  8. Engage the Internet trolls a lot less
  9. Make sure my loved ones know how important they are to me on a regular basis.
  10. Make time for my friends that don't see as often as I should, ditto for family.  If you make time for me, I will find a way to make time for you.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy 2013 and that if you make resolutions that you are able to keep them.  If you do not have goals for the coming year, that's okay too, just do your best and make time for the things that make you feel better as a person and make sure you tell the people you care about them how you feel, you never know how much longer you will have them.

Until next time Cheers!
 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Thanks for Reading


Thank you so much for reading about my adventures, my opinions, vents, stories, and listening to my play lists. I definitely couldn't do it without you.  In the last 4 months this blog as received over 1000 hits and it thrills me to get my writing out there for your reading enjoyment (I hope). There are many more adventures to come, so please, stick around for the next installment.

-Lauren

Sunday, December 2, 2012

November in a Nutshell

It's been another busy month, lots of shopping hanging out with friends and the boy, family time and the beginning of the holiday season. So without further ado here is November in a nutshell.




  • The Elections: This was a supercharged election year and there were lots of people who were passionate on both sides of the playing field, and even now still some that are upset/glorifying in the outcome of the race.  The incumbent was re-elected and we shall see how the next four years go in this great country of ours. Whether your side won or lost if you exercised your right to vote you made your voice heard. You may not always get your way, but as long as you do your part to make your opinions heard, our country will continue to be great. 

  • Veteran's Day Weekend: Veteran's Day is a day that we say thank you for all the sacrifices that the men and woman in our United States Armed Forces have made for us to keep us free and safe. It's also a three day weekend (for a lot of people, not so much me) in which I house sat for my aunt; took a day trip to Camarillo for to go shopping with my sister, my father's girlfriend, and he came along as well; and my boyfriend came to visit. I found an awesome pair of sunglasses to replace all the scratched ones I have in my collection and the cutest jacket. I had some great laughs with my sister trying on silly hats and getting to spend time with family that I don't normally spend much time with.  Getting to see the boyfriend was a special treat, he wasn't planning on coming to town that weekend, but he was able to get things finished up at school earlier than planned and was able to share his long weekend with me.
  • Baby Date: This month I got to visit my friends who had twins about a year and a half ago, I haven't seen them in awhile it was great fun to see how much the boys had grown since I saw them last (I think it was sometime in May or June). It is so neat to get to watch them grow into their personalities and become little boys instead of just babies.


    
    Wine Tasting at Rancho Sisquoc
    I made these Turkey Treats for the Big Day
  • Thanksgiving: This year we celebrated Thanksgiving with good friends of our family and their family. We did the same last year, and I'm hoping this becomes our new tradition. We have such a great time together and there is very little drama that often surrounds big family events. My boy also came home for this long weekend. He celebrated the day itself with his family, but the Saturday after the holiday we went to a big breakfast at one of my favorite local restaurants (Kay's Country Kitchen in Old Orcutt, if you get a chance you should check it out), visited with his grandma a bit, then went wine tasting at Rancho Sisquoc and Kenneth Volk Vineyards. It was such a nice and relaxing day, something to be really thankful for.

  • The Wizard of Oz: While this technically happened on Thanksgiving weekend too, I felt that it needed it's own bullet point. Every year since I was about 5 and was old enought to attend plays at PCPA my mom and I have gone to see their Christmas show. This year was no exception and we saw one of my favorites: The Wizard of Oz. The production was a lot different than in years past in that they used puppets for the munchins, flying monkeys, winkies, the great and powerful Oz, and Toto. It was really interesting to see what they could do with the dolls and how they could bring them to life. The actors who played Dorothy and Crew were phenomenal as usual. PCPA never fails to entertain. I'm so glad that I live in a place where I have amazing theatre in my own backyard.
 

 
Thanks for reading, and until we meet again, I hope you have a safe and wonder filled holiday season.