Mrs. California International Pageant

This past weekend we drove down to Palm Desert to attend the Mrs. California International Pageant. I was super excited because I hadn’t seen my friend Eddie, the director, since my last trip to the National pageant in 2011. 


We drove and drove and drove. And drove some more. It seems like it took so very long to get down there. We were in constant bumper to bumper traffic. We even pulled off to have dinner in hopes that when we got back on the highway the traffic would have lessened. But it didn’t.  I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the traffic in California!


We were exhausted and fell into bed as soon as we got into the room practically. The following morning when we went out to get breakfast, Eddie and the contestants were all down in the lobby and we got to say a quick hello. 


The pageant was held at the Indian Wells Theater which was right across the street from the fabu Italian restaurant where we had dinner. (Look at us in the reflection. :D )


There were 21 beautiful contestants in the well run pageant. It was fun to listen to all of their platform statements as the community service platform is the basis the International Pageant system. When it was time to for the reigning queen to give up her crown, Eddie sang to her! It was so sweet that I got all choked up. I’m not sure how she was able to hold it together so well. 

Finally the moment arrived when the new Mrs. California, Tiffany Calig, was crowned. I loved watching her husband place the crown on her head, another hallmark of the Mrs. International system. 


Photo Courtesy Mrs. California International Pageant

We then waited for things to calm down a bit so we could thank Eddie and say goodbye. It was really great to see him, see his production and to be part of such a wonderful evening. Thank you, Eddie!


On the way home, we stopped in San Dimas (Yes! San Dimas where Bill & Ted are from!) and had breakfast with Jayna, who was Miss International 2008. I hadn’t seen her since 2009 so it had been way too long. It was wonderful to see her in person and visit and catch up. Breakfast was really great, too!

Then we traveled the rest of the way home. The highlight of the drive was seeing RAIN! I hadn’t seen rain in so long. It seems like it rains here when I’m in Tulsa and it rains in Tulsa when I’m here but we drove in the rain almost the entire drive home. It was great!

A Place We Knew Well

I really loved this book and got sucked into the historical fiction that takes place during the day’s surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

Wes Avery is a former military man who runs a Texaco station in Orlando where he lives with his wife and daughter. He notices unusual activity around an air base close to his home. Having been a part of the bombings at Hiroshima, Wes is immediately concerned about what he’s seeing.

In the middle of all of this, Wes’s wife Sarah, stars having a nervous breakdown. It seems to stem from the fact that after having multiple miscarriages, she was given a hysterectomy without her knowledge and consent depriving her of the large family she wanted. 

Meanwhile, we learn that Charlotte, the Avery’s 17 year old daughter was actually adopted from Sarah’s sister right after she was born. Charlotte was selected to the homecoming court at her school and through much of the book she’s preparing for that along with experiencing her mom’s breakdown and the impending conflict in Cuba.

I enjoyed reading about the event as part of a bigger story. If you like historical fiction, this is an awesome choice to read.

Mrs. Southwest International 2016


If you’ve been following along, you’ve seen that I’ve made a couple of appearances in the past month wearing a new banner. Yes, I’m Mrs. Southwest International 2016 and I’ll be competing at the Mrs. International Pageant in Jacksonville, FL next July. I’m excited!

I’ve loved the International system for a long time. I directed the Oklahoma pageant from 2006 until 2011 when we were told we’d be moving to Saudi Arabia. I reluctantly gave up my directorship. While I was directing, I was the only female director who’d never competed. At my last director’s meeting, the other directors suggested I should compete. I demured.


But the idea remained in the back of my head. The competition age for Mrs. International is from 21-56. As I get closer to 56, I realize that I’m running out of eligibility to compete in this pageant. I discussed it with my husband, who agreed I should compete. I also have the strong encouragement of many friends, so I entered.

What I love about the Mrs. International system is the requirement to have a community service platform that you’ll promote throughout your year. I’ve been promoting walking for health for the past 10 years and that will be my pageant platform as well. I’ll be aligning myself with the Start! Walking Now program with the American Heart Association. I’ve been working with the AHA since 2008, mostly with the Go Red for Women program but, as happened the other day when I joined them at the Capitol for the tobacco rally, whatever they need my support for, they have. I love the message of the AHA. There are so many simple things we can do to ensure our heart remains healthy and knowledge is power! If you can share that message, and let people know what they can do, you help them.


I’m really looking forward to this year as Mrs. Southwest International and the culmination of the year at the pageant next June. If you’re interested in competing for Mrs. International, many states have preliminary pageants you can participate in. You can find them at the Mrs. International website. If you decide to enter, let me know! :-)

Book Review: Baseball Dads

Baseball DadsBaseball Dads by Matthew S. Hiley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Funniest. Book. Ever.

Dwayne’s son is on the 10 year old Little League team in the swanky side of Ft. Worth. Alex is known as one of the best players in the league but his coach insists on playing “daddy baseball”, putting his own son at short stop and the assistant coach’s son at first base even though they lack the skill. The best kids he relegates to the outfield or the bench. Consequently, even with a pretty talented team, they are going to be big losers this season.

Dwayne’s wife has been sleeping around and hanging out with the gossipy, nasty women in the area. She’s also spending so much money he can’t figure out how to keep up with everything.

Dwayne’s had enough. He decides he’s not going to take it anymore and he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He adopts a Jedi Grandmaster Ninja Warrior outlook on life and his three baseball dad “friends” come along for the ride.

This book is over the top, horrifyingly hilarious. You have no idea what Dwayne and the guys will do next. If you’ve ever been involved in Little League baseball, I’m sure you’ll find it as funny as I did. I laughed so much, I think my dog was worried about me. Love it! :-)

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Book Review: The Girl From The Train

The Girl from the TrainThe Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh how I loved this book! If you’re reading my reviews, you probably think, “she always says that”. But I’m so fortunate to read really awesome books and my motto is, “life is too short to read bad books”.

This book was wonderful. A truly wonderful, heartwrenching story of a little girl, Gretl, who is on a train bound for Auschwitz. Her mother and grandmother encourage Gretly and her sister to jump off the train, telling them they would so jump and they’d all be safe. Before her mother and grandmother could jump, the train is blown up. The accidental explosion, mean to blow up a German troop train, was set by Jakob Kowalski.

Jacob finds Gretl and her sister Elza and takes them to a family. Elza dies and the family can’t continue watching Gretl when they have four children of their own. Jakob takes Gretl to live with his family. He never really gets to know her until he is injured in the war and comes home to recover. This is where he learns what a smart, special little girl Gretl.

Eventually, Jakob’s family can look after her no longer and he takes her to an orphanage with the home that she will be one of 50 children selected to go to South Africa and be adopted into new families.

As one of the older children, Gretl relizes she’s not going to be chosen so she uses her smarts to get selected and sent to South Africa where she is adopted by a wonderful family. She’s never known a life like this, one of privilege, and she grows up to be a successful college student when she runs into Jakob again.

Jakob had to leave Poland or be arrested and ended up in South Africa because they were looking for engineers and he knew the country was against communism. He also knew that Gretl was there.

They come back together, eventually falling in love. But his Catholic faith and her Protestant faith don’t make the arrangement look possible in the eyes of her father.

This is a wonderful story. It’s sad and happy and I wish it wasn’t over. Two thumbs up! :-)

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Book Review: Girl Meets Class

Girl Meets ClassGirl Meets Class by Karin Gillespie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just loved this book! I have loved all of Karen Gillespie’s books and was excited to read another.

This one is about Toni Lee, who is a former child tennis superstar who’s life has come off the rails due to a career ending injury. Toni Lee’s dad isn’t good at disciplining her because her mother died when she was 4 so he calls in her Aunt Cornelia.

Aunt Cornelia, Toni Lee’s mother’s sister, is the CEO and founder of a large caned Southern food company. She has basically been funding Toni Lee’s party girl existence and she decides it’s time to stop, to rein Toni Lee in.

She makes a deal with Toni Lee, telling her that if she gets a job that Aunt Corny approves of, keeps it for a year, and keeps to the other dictates of the contract, that she’ll give her a $5 million inheritance at the end of the year.

Toni Lee struggles to find a job. With time running out, she takes a job through Teacher Corps. They are supposed to teach college grads how to become teachers while they are placed in their first teaching jobs. Toni Lee finds out too late that the positions are hard to fill because they are in bad neighborhoods with out of control kids.

The story takes the reader through Toni Lee’s trials and tribulations at the school and she is one tough cookie.

Loved it! Two thumbs up. :-)

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Book Review: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

The Coincidence of Coconut CakeThe Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! I was sucked right into this cute story about Lou, a restaurant owner and chef.

She in engaged to Devlin, a handsome and successful attorney. She is part of his plan for a perfect wife, a perfect life. He doesn’t, however, support her dream of owning her restuarant, Luella’s. His mother worked two jobs when he was growing up to make ends meet and he thinks he can save Lou from that life. But Lou loves her restaurant.

After walking in on Devlin and his intern on his birthday, Lou’s life starts falling apart. The dreaded restaurant reviewer, AW Wodyski chooses that day to visit Luella’s and is treated to terrible service as the staff were so concerned about Lou and horrible food because Lou didn’t know well enough to just get out of the kitchen.

The resultant bad review pretty much ends the promising future of Luella’s. While Lou is drinking it off at a pub, she runs into Al, and makes plans to show him the City. They begin their relationship on a “no work talk” policy and they have fun and eventually start falling for her.

When Al finally realizes that she is the owner of Luella’s, he’s horrified. He tries to get his editor to let him do another review but he won’t let him. They officially kill AW Wodyski and Al supposedly takes his job but Devlin finds out the truth and shares it with Lou who is devastated once again.

This story is about how Lou eventually finds success in both love and business and it was a great read. I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommend! :-)

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Save Lives California Tobacco Rally

On Wednesday morning, bright and early, I carpooled with two other folks from the American Heart Association up to the state capitol in Sacramento. We were joining the many other groups that make up the Save Lives California Coalition for a tobacco rally.


A special session was held to approve a package of six tobacco bills. 

The package included:

  • SBX2-5/ABX2-6, which would add electronic cigarettes to the existing definition of tobacco products;
  • SBX2-6/ABX2-7, which would add hotel lobbies, small businesses, break rooms and tobacco retailers to the list of smoke-free workplaces under state law;
  • SBX2-7/ABX2-8, which would increase the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 years old;
  • SBX2-8/ABX2-9, which would require all schools in the state to be tobacco-free;
  • SBX2-9/ABX2-10, which would allow local jurisdictions across the state to tax tobacco; and
  • SBX2-10/ABX2-11, which would create an annual Board of Equalization tobacco licensing fee program (California Healthline, 7/17).

Cigarette smoke related disease is the most preventable cause of death. The measures above should not only save money to the California health care system, it will also save lives. 

The day started with a press conference in the park. 


Then we were broken up into groups and we visited the lawmakers on our list asking them to consider supporting the bills, giving them the reasons they should support them, and sharing our personal stories. 

My group included Jang, a heart attack, stroke, survivor, heart, kidney transplant wonderman and three medical students from UCSF: Rachel, Iris and David. 


It took us a while to get cleared to go into the building.


But when we did, my group and I visited all of the lawmakers on our list. I thought we did a great job of presenting our case and were received very well. Then Jang and I decided to visit one of our local assemblymen. He hadn’t received a visit from anyone so we were happy we stepped outside the box on that decision. :-)


I read this morning that the bills passed the Senate. I hope they will become laws and more control will be placed on the smoking and second hand smoking here in California. 



Bay Area Wellness Symposium

On Tuesday, I was invited to attend the Bay Area Wellness Symposium put on by the American Heart Association. Although the focus was on workplace wellness, because I’m interested in health and fitness, I was very excited to attend!


The day started with  welcome followed by a panel interview. All of the panelists spoke about the employee wellness programs they are operating at their companies. They are doing some innovative things and they are getting lots of participation which equals healthy employees and healthcare cost savings.


Then we had a little Zumba before the break. It was fun to watch the whole audience participate but it would’ve been hard not to want to follow the lady who was leading it. She was upbeat and fun!

 After that, there were two break out sessions to choose from. I chose the session on Fit-Friendly Worksites. I don’t currently have a job, but if I did, I would want it to fall in line with these guidelines. I think it’s a great opportunity for people to be motivated by their co-workers to optimum health. Excellent idea that I’m also hoping I can figure out how to translate to our apartment complex here. 


The morning ended with a keynote by Jeffrey Pfeffer who spoke to us about Dying for a Paycheck. His preseantion was about his research into the negative effects of workplaces on our health. He was funny and extremely interesting!


I’m glad I learned about and decided to attend the Bay Area Wellness Symposium. Not only did I take away some great information, it also allowed me to start connected with the American Heart Association in the Bay Area. :-)



Book Review: Twillyweed

TwillyweedTwillyweed by Mary Anne Kelly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a very interesting book and there was a lot going on.

Although it initially seemed that the focus was on Jenny Kate trying to connect with her mother, who had given her up for adoption, it became so much more. I loved the characters in this book. I love how they interacted with each other.

As the book went on with more twists and turns, I grew to love it more. Loved this book! :-)

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