I’m giving away a 1-year membership to Netflix #ad

I’m writing this post as a member of the Netflix Stream Team and have been compensated for it, but as always all opinions are my own.

Can you believe that Christmas is just a week away? The Christmas cards are flowing in, the house is as decorated as it’s gonna get and I’ve bought a whopping two presents.

Oftentimes at Christmas, I find myself imitating an ostrich. Sticking my head in the sand, almost willing it all not to come. I love the Christmas holiday, but some of the prep beforehand has lost its sparkle.

Image from Sarah Ackerman.

Image from Sarah Ackerman.

Call me a Grinch, a Scrooge, the Grand Bahumbug, whatever, I generally don’t get into the Christmas spirit until about Dec. 20. Any time before that my heart is three-times smaller than the average Joe. I think it starts shrinking right after Thanksgiving. The only exceptions is that I consistently go overboard with the Christmas tree, always demanding a real tree every year and this year when we deocorated, I even busted out OnDemand’s Yulelog, with classical Christmas carols.

Anyway, the kind folks at Netflix are always in the Christmas spirit. They’re incredibly kind to their Stream Team members and tis the season, they’ve gifted me the opportunity to give one of my readers a free, year long subscription to Netflix!

There are plenty of ways to enter. You can leave a comment about what you love or hate about the holidays, follow me on Twitter or Instagram, visit my Facebook page or subscribe to my blog. If you already follow me, you can Tweet “I want to win a free Netflix subscription from @sheswrite #StreamTeam,” leave a comment on my Facebook page or one of my Instagram posts.

You can enter as many times as you please and I will announce the winner on Christmas Day.

Happy holidays!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Wordless Wednesday: Decorating the Christmas tree

Hanging Christmas ornaments is serious business.

Hanging Christmas ornaments is serious business.

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With each black man’s death I ask: Are you my Emmett Till?

Do you remember that children’s book, Are You My Mother? It’s where a bird goes around asking a kitten, a cow, a dog and others if they are its mother.

I feel like I’m that little bird when it comes to the spate of black men being killed. With each  Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin or Amadou Diallo, I’m asking: Are you my Emmett Till?

Protests in New York City after the grand jury decided not to issue an indictment in Eric Garner's death. By Otto Yamamoto.

Protests in New York City after the grand jury decided not to issue an indictment in Eric Garner’s death. By Otto Yamamoto.

Which one of you will be the one who opens all of America’s eyes to the ugliness of systemic racism? Till was a 14-year-old Chicago kid who was lynched in Mississippi. The year was 1955 and his mom had an open casket funeral so the world could see his mangled body. An all-white jury did not convict the two men charged with the crime, though one of them admitted to the killing years later. Till’s horrible death was one of the major catalysts of the Civil Rights movement.

Honestly, I thought Trayvon Martin was going to be the catalyst to fight the modern-day effects of institutional racism that was forewarned in the historic 1967 Kerner Commission report. But apparently a wanna-be cop gunning down a 17-year-old with a hoodie and Skittles wasn’t enough to incite nationwide change. I recognize that gains were made and without a doubt Trayvon Martin did not die in vain.

But I wanted more. My country needs more.

When Michael Brown was killed, I watched as the nation divided largely along color lines and saw the truths of their own personal experiences. Communities that have found police officers to be helpful and heroic saw Brown’s death one way, and communities that have found officers to be rude bullies had a different take.

I also watched a militarized police force violate the rights of my fellow Americans. And things shifted. I started to see more white people protesting in Ferguson, Mo. and around the country in support of Ferguson. I started to hope that this time could be different.

Then the Michael Brown grand jury decision came and the difference was apparent. There were no longer mostly black people protesting with die-ins, marches and rallies. The protesters were white, black, Hispanic, Asian, all kinds of ethnicities. My hopes were buoyed.

Next came the grand jury decision on Eric Garner, who died after an officer put him in a chokehold. It was clear, Americans of every hue were outraged. The protests stretched from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. My hope for improving America’s race relations grew.

We can’t have substantial change unless people from all backgrounds demand it. When the world saw Emmett Till’s body after he had been beaten, shot, tied to a cotton gin fan and tossed in the Tallahatchie River, many said, whoa, this isn’t the America I want. This ends now. It was like seeing is believing.

Is listening to Eric Garner’s last words: “I can’t breathe!” enough to make us say, this isn’t the America I want?

Is the disturbing videotape of Garner’s chokehold going to be the equivalent of Till’s open casket for my generation? Will it be another case of seeing is believing? I don’t want to wait to find out. I shouldn’t have to wait for the “perfect victim” to galvanize this country. I just want all of this to end.

I am glad about the Ferguson Commission, the new federal guidelines on racial profiling, and the Dec. 13 march in Washington but it’s not enough. We have whole communities that rightfully distrust the police, neighborhoods where the entire system has failed its citizens. I believe most cops are good cops, but we all know it only takes a few bad apples. And our justice system is fatally flawed.

Our country needs all of us to chip in. Every day in your life you can push for change. I don’t have enough room to list all the examples here, but educate yourself on what subtle, modern day racism looks like because its damage is real. If you can see it, you’re better equipped to fight it. When someone else points out racism, don’t immediately dismiss them as being too sensitive or playing a race card. Let’s listen to each other. Teach your children by showing them the actions of an open mind. Keep marching, keep protesting, keep tweeting #CrimingWhileWhite #AliveWhileBlack, please don’t give up. Keep demanding for a better America.

Do it for the Emmett Tills. The Rumain Brisbons, Prince Joneses and Jonathan Ferrells.

Give truth to Eric Garner’s words: This ends now.

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Wordless Wednesday: Recycling

A shot from my explorations at the local recycling plant.

A shot from my explorations at the local recycling plant.

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Wordless Wednesday: My stolen cell phone is in California

I managed to GPS my phone this morning. It's the blue dot, in California.

I managed to GPS my phone this morning. It’s the blue dot, in California.

As many of you know from my previous post, the people who now have my stolen cell phone have been taking pictures and they are showing up on my cloud. I used Google’s device manager this morning and saw that familiar blue dot, 620 miles away.

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My cell phone thieves are uploading selfies to my cloud

On a recent trip to Seattle, I thought I lost my cell phone at the Space Needle. After GPSing my device, I saw a blue dot pulsating down a street no where near the 605 foot tower.

My Samsung Galaxy S4 was on the move. Without me.

Clearly, someone had stolen it. I bemoaned the loss of all my contacts, writing notes, reminders, pictures and more. Then I remembered that my photos automatically upload to my cloud, so maybe it wasn’t as bad because my pictures are what I valued most.

I checked the cloud and not only were my pictures there, but also images of strangers. There were shots of a young couple taking selfies while out to eat, in front of a Christmas display, at home with their pet bird and even snuggling in bed.

About two dozen pictures of these thieves in their 20s, with my damn phone. Some of the photos are blurry and upside down, we all know how it takes a bit of time to get used to a new phone. Others are roadside views of the beautiful Pacific Northwest. There’s also a few snapshots of a little girl.

The whole thing is frustrating. I know, cell phone theft and much worse happens every day. But still, those punks stole from me and now they’re out cavorting with my phone. Some people have no shame.

Anyway, check out this slideshow of my sticky-finger cellphone bandits and see if you recognize them. If you do, can you call the police and then give me a quick shout?

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Netflix #StreamTeam: Being thankful for friendships

I’m writing this post as a member of the Netflix Stream Team and have been compensated for it, but as always all opinions are my own.

It’s the time of year where people are talking about the things that they are thankful for and in talking to my 7-year-old he said he was thankful for his friends.

We’ve been in Portland for a year and a half and though it’s had it’s ups and downs, I’m glad Logan hasn’t had trouble making friends. Part of it is his personality and the other part is I’ve admittedly become the kind of mom that I swore I wouldn’t: The Overscheduler.

In an effort to meet folks, I dove us head first into football, soccer, swimming, Cub Scouts, day camps, blah blah blah. I’ve since scaled back a lot, which is much better for my sanity, but we have made some good friends in the process.

Netflix has agreed to do a spin-off of this Emmy-nominated series that my kids love.

Netflix has agreed to do a spin-off of this Emmy-nominated series that my kids love.

While talking with Logan about his friends, we went on an interesting tangent, as that often happens. This time it went to the friendships on the TV shows he likes to watch. For example, Logan and his 3-year-old brother have stumbled into Justin Time on Netflix. It’s an Emmy-nominated show about a kid who runs into some sort of trouble like how to work as a team or staying focused. Then Justin and his bud Squidgy solve the problem through time-travel adventures with their friend Olive.

Even though it’s aimed at preschoolers, both of my kids love it. I think the creators are on to something because earlier this month, Netflix announced it’s creating a Justin Time spinoff to start streaming in 2016.

The other shows that are in high rotation in our Kid stream are Wild Kratts and Phineas and Ferb.

I actually like these series and the way they show how friends can help friends solve problems together. If you haven’t seen them yet, check em out. Honestly, a few weeks ago was the first time I’d heard of Justin Time, but whenever the boys watch it, they snuggle up on the couch or bed, take turns holding the Kindle and giggle throughout the episode.

The sound is music to my ears.


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Wordless Wednesday: The Three Loves of My Life

2014-11-08 15.51.21

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Relax, Relate, Release: The Friends in Barbados

Every year a group of women who met in college fly from all over the U.S. to, as Whitley Gilbert said, “Relax, relate, release!”

And I’m so fortunate to be counted among this tribe. Three years ago, we went to Bermuda, then it was Belize, and last year was Turks. I didn’t go to Turks because we had recently moved to Portland and it just wasn’t a good time for my family.

But this year, it was awn! Wild dogs couldn’t keep me away. In the weeks leading up to vacation, the group, which we call “The Friends,” were chomping at the bit to leave. Some girls were already packed a month before the trip. Not me, I finished packing as the taxi pulled into my driveway. (No lie.)

Dinner at The Beach House restaurant.

Dinner at The Beach House restaurant.

That’s the thing about us. We’re all so different, but we compliment each other perfectly. Some of us are hard-charging, uber-organized Type As, while others are more go-with-the-flow and whimsical. Many of us fall somewhere in between. We’ve got business executives, doctors, lawyers, members of the military, stay-at-home moms, single moms, not-yet-moms, married, single-and-fabulous, obviously we run the gamut.

Straight kickin' it at the Oistins fish fry.

Straight kickin’ it at the Oistins fish fry.

One of our core values is friendship. We value our group for its fantasticality and each other for who we are. One of the girl’s signature line is that “My friends are my family.” And I can say that I deeply love these girls and I feel they love me too. They’re the ones who don’t care that you do the ugly cry, will jump on stage with you to shake it even if though they’re the shy type, or they retrieve you from drinking with a group of thugs at a fish fry. (Don’t ask.)

In Turks, The Friends started a tradition where toward the end of each vacation we set two to three goals for ourselves to achieve by the time the next #girlztrip rolls around. To keep each other accountable, a group text messaging thread (is that what you call it?) was created.

What started out as positive, reinforcement and tips for better living, transformed into sharing the ups and downs of our daily lives. That in turn, brought us closer together.

When we met this year, most of us had achieved many of our goals of losing weight, getting promotions at work or advanced certifications and then we set new ones. I’m already excited for next year’s trip so we can see how far each of us has come.

It’s great that The Friends push each other to be better, smarter and happier. For me the best part of the trip was getting back in touch with myself. Connecting with these girls who know me so well brought me closer to me. I know that sounds strange, but it was really needed as I still feel like such an outsider in Portland. It’s getting better, but slowly.

At least I know that on the hard days, my besties are only a text away.

Dinner at Zen, which had the best sushi I've ever eaten. Ever.

Dinner at Zen, which had the best sushi I’ve ever eaten. Ever.

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Wordless Wednesday: A View From Above in Barbados

The Crane resort's private section of the beach in Barbados.

The Crane resort’s private section of the beach in Barbados.

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