The Best Rice Krispie Treat Recipe

The quest for the perfect Rice Krispie Treat Recipe for making a sphere.

I am on a quest.  Part of that quest requires finding the perfect rice krispie recipe.

The quest: Pokémon themed, okay for most allergies, birthday treats

This is the tested, perfect Rice Krispie recipe for making great tasting treats malleable enough for molding into circles.

This is attempt 1 to make red PokéBalls but attempt 10 to make the perfect Rice Krispie treat that tastes delicious and is easily shaped into a ball.

Future iterations will be modified to better resemble Pokéballs.

Continue reading “The Best Rice Krispie Treat Recipe”

The Financial Value of Volunteers

25% of Americans Volunteer – How to increase?

Last night I was sitting in a PTA meeting with at least 25 other adults. We all gave 90 minutes of our life to sit in a meeting to talk about and think about how to improve the school. Even at just $15/hour (and I am sure several of the adults were worth more than that), $562.50 of people time was spent on that meeting.

I have been described as a serial volunteer. My mom worked closely with our school and church so I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t part of volunteer projects. I can remember being 6 and sorting food at Christmas time for food baskets. I remember organizing, painting and doing all kinds of odd jobs as a kid.

My first self-chosen volunteer job was to work at the LandTrust. I have also always been an introvert so I spent many hours walking the local trails so it made sense to volunteer to help clean them up. Which I did, but I spent more time helping in the office with fundraising mailers and calls.

So thinking about last night and then thinking about my experience, I wondered how many people volunteer. I found this article Stats reveal how many Americans volunteer @CNN. Bonus! 25% of survey respondents volunteer which correlates to some serious volunteer hours. Another 2016 article from Huffpost America Does Not Have Enough Volunteers, gives some great statistics on just what this means: 62 million volunteers and $184 billion in service hours.

Sadly, 75% choose not to volunteer. I get it. I have had periods where I volunteered to my heart’s content and others where I could barely give an hour a week. Life happens.

So what do we need to do to attract more volunteers? I believe a key for young professionals is making the tasks relevant to their career path. A key for mid-career is providing opportunities that let them use experience and providing it in bite size portions that can fit into a busy schedule.

Coaching for Odyssey of the Mind

On March 9th, I was very proud to watch as kids from our elementary school participated in the competition Odyssey of the Mind.  It was my first year to attend as a parent and my first year of being a coach.

It is a little bit stressful to coach a team of kids (all under 8 years old) in designing and building a problem answer.  Our problem was to create a museum concept and then build and present three exhibits explaining the theme of the museum.  The problem definition stated it best as the first sentence of the directions was “Children can see the extraordinary in the ordinary.”  This was proved over and over during the course of our work.

Starting in January, we met as a team at least once a week.  Every meeting started with food because hungry kids are distracted kids. Then, we would have our team cheer to build our energy up for the hard work. As part of our cheer, each team member had a chance to do their special move. It was exciting to see what they came up with each week. A simple cartwheel turned into team excitement and cheers.

They worked well together because conflict was ordinary but solution was extraordinary.  The best was when they questioned each other – they did not tiptoe around the subject – they just asked “Why did you make that ugly?” or “Why can’t you keep the theme?” Often the explanation from one kid would get a shrug from the others and an “Okay, if that’s what you think.” After 6 practices we had a 5 minute cheer followed by a race because we changed the theme (after everyone agreed they didn’t want to stay with the original theme) and everyone was super excited by the new theme.

It was difficult to coordinate practice schedules but looking back, it was all worth it. The kids were so proud of themselves after the presentation.  We tried and we did it.


Packing with Kids

First, let me start by saying that I give mad respect to anyone who chooses to go on an international trip with their child without sharing electronics. I am impressed by all the parents who do not give into pressure and choose to keep their kids entertained without an iPad. I am not one of those moms.

With electronics you have to add some things to your packing list. For example, don’t forget to update Netflix downloads! You do not want to be on the plane when your child finds out all of his favorite shows have a yellow exclamation point indicating an expired download. Also, check that updates for relevant applications – like airline entertainment applications – are at the latest version. Whenever possible download offline versions of favorite games.

Great – entertainment is a strong first step.

Other things have to be remembered as well. I need to remember my children’s favorite lovies (the things they need to be safe and snuggly). Without those blankets, we will not have easy nights. Of course, they can survive and they will sleep but it will take longer and the process will not be as happy and relaxing. Happy traveling is so much nicer.

My general philosophy on packing is to do the best you can and don’t stress. In reality, almost anything you forget can be purchased (except appropriately loaded electronics and personal lovies). I always pack for 2 extra days because there are always accidents and spills. An extra pair of shoes are also a necessity because of puddles. Then, I do my best to plan based around itinerary and climate. In reality, I always forget something but we have always been able to work around it.

Oh and passports… do not forget to make an electronic copy available just in case and do not let your kids be in charge of them. One adult should be designated as passport person for the whole family for the whole trip.

Fun stuff. Travel safe!

Pokémon Go: A Skill?

Yesterday, an interviewer asked me “Can you give examples of dedication and follow through?”  My first, very quick, fleeting idea was to talk about my Pokémon Go hobby.  I immediately switched to another idea and instead talked about a work project.

Later in the evening, I wondered if there was a way to take my hobby and turn it into a positive during an interview.  I have other hobbies (i.e writing, reading, coaching) that are easy to spin towards the positive. How could I spin a mobile game where I catch little electronic monsters and spar my monsters against other little monsters?

For those that are not familiar with the game: Pokémon Go as defined by Wikipedia gives a great overview.  Yes, the game is still very much alive. The community is active on all social media platforms. We are very active in the physical world (IRL) and have very little problem finding each other when it is time to take a gym from a raid boss.

Case in point: when I was finishing my degree in Madrid, I did not have any friends in the area that play Pokémon Go but I was able to find people on the streets gathered for raids.  I spent an entire afternoon with one group walking around the city. Pokéstops are often popular tourist attractions, so as we caught Pokémon, they also gave me historical information about the city.

Back to the spin… there are different ways to play and I am not the most hardcore. So, based on my playing style, I can think of the following skills:

  • Dedication – I find a spin and a catch practically every day. It does not take me long, only 20 minutes a day but I am dedicated to making it happen.
  • Research – I was not a Pokémon expert before I started to play. Now, I subscribe to weekly summaries on Reddit, Google News and BlogLovin’. I regularly research the newest release news.
  • Strategy – I use all of my research to determine the strategy that works for me. My goal is to cultivate a strong Pokédex with IVs over 90% in just 20 minutes as a day because I have lots of other stuff to do.
  • Collaboration – I like going after the larger Pokémon that can only be gained with a group of people working together. I have a Discord account just for Pokémon Go.

I need to consider this some more but I think there are ways to spin this. Of course, there is also the issue of the audience perception: another post for deeper thoughts.

I would love to hear your comments!  How would you sell your hobbies?