deb and i are creative people. if there's a project that needs to be done, then it has to be done with creativity and WOW.

when we were in Little Rock this past summer they had some kids of staff members come share their experience in moving to Little Rock and their adjustment to life there. every one of them mentioned that during their family's fundraising process their parents made some kind of chart for the whole family to see how much progress they'd made.

but for the Laras, we didn't want to simply do some "boring" thermometer. we liked the idea a family had of making a large magnet of a map from their home to Little Rock that they stuck on their fridge and had a little car magnet that traveled down the road.
but we wanted something even BIGGER. so we figured, "hey, we're not going to stay in this house forever. why not go crazy and make a HUMONGOUS map on the living room wall."



so that's what we did. we announced to the girls that they were going to write on the walls, through a projection of the US on the wall, handed out pencils, and then let them go at it. after we'd put them to bed, mom and dad stayed up outlining it in Sharpie markers, and then we colored in the highway to Arkansas with them in the morning.

take a look for yourself.


(youtube link)
you know you’re a writer when you’re staring at a blank page with “writer’s block.” people who aren’t writers don’t even put a blank page before them.
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i’ve got several topics that i’ve thought about writing a blog post about such as: “I love you in Russian”, life journaling, my recent fast of twitter/facebook, and conversing with the comments from my recent post about giving-debt-income.

but i don’t feel like writing about any of those right now. sorry if you were expecting more.



i remember being in school or church seminars and being given a certain amount of time - say 15-60 min. - to just write. i was instructed to not think about grammar, or spelling, or sentence structure (no easy thing when you hate typos), but to just write. keep your pencil moving (or fingers typing) and just write.

i was told it doesn’t even matter what you write about. and if you can’t think about any thing, it doesn’t matter. just write about the fact that you can’t think of anything to write about.

“i don’t know what to write, i don’t know what to write, i don’t know what to write. ahh, man it’s only been 1 min. this is going to be a long 15 minutes. i don’t know what to write …”

so even though it’s nice to feel like a writer when you’re staring at a blank page with writer’s block, the fact is - writers write.
Posted
AuthorAbraham Lara

i hereby propose the inception of the "120-club". what is it? i'm glad you asked. :)


to become a member of the 120-club your sole requirement is to write a minimum of 120 posts to your blog a year. that's it. this works out to 10 posts a month, which i don't think is unattainable or unrealistic. for some of you reading this that add to your blog on a daily basis, 10 posts a month seems kinda low. for the rest of us who would like to write more often but have really been slacking off since we joined twitter (or some other excuse like having more kids, etc) then 10 posts a month will be an effort. but it's an effort i think we'll feel good about doing when the year's over.


there's no requirement on how long the posts need to be, or if they include or exclude video or photographic posts. simply that you add content to your blog on a consistent basis.


it's not a contest of who can write the most. it doesn't matter if you write 10 per month to get to 120, or if you just wait till next december and cram all 120 posts during your Christmas vacation. as long as you achieve 120 by the end of the year, you're in the 120-club. of course you can write more if you'd like, but you can start your own "club" for any number higher than 120.


as an added incentive for myself (not a requirement of the 120-club), i'll be setting aside $10 a month for this cause. for every month that i write at least 10 posts, i'll set aside those $10 for a charity of my choice. for every month that i don't write at least 10 posts then those $10 will be equally divided amongst all who accept the challenge of the 120-club in the comments of this post AND who are also successful in receiving membership.*


perhaps, i'll also design a special "120-club" award/button for members to add to their own blogs next january. maybe i'll make this a consistent resolution/challenge every year. then bloggers can show with pride how many years they've been members of the 120-club. (ok, so maybe that's kinda hokey, but perhaps some people like that sort of recognition.)


if you don't currently have a blog but are thinking about starting one (solely because you want to be part of the über-cool 120-club), i'd suggest using wordpress.com as a free-easy-beautiful way to start.


so let me know in the comments if you'd like to accept the challenge of the 120-club this year as well and we can all keep each other accountable.


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// today i'm thankful for:

1. warmer weather, should be in the mid 40s to low 50s today

2. my wife, who plans out our meals for the month.

3. anna, who finally got to make a snowman before the snow melted

4. julia, who makes me laugh because she gets annoyed when her talking is interrupted by her hiccups and then she has to start her sentence over again.

5. my job at an apple reseller, Apple, Inc seems to be trending in the opposite direction of the rest of the economy.


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* so if 10 people state that they want to try for membership in the 120-club, but at the end of the year only 3 of those actually achieve it AND i don't write my 10 posts per month, then i'll divide the $120 i've set aside at the end of the year between those three individuals. if for some reason there are more than 120 people who accept and accomplish the 120-club challenge (and i don't) then instead of giving each person $1 or less i'll have a vote amongst those who are members as to which charity to donate the money to.

Posted
AuthorAbraham Lara
3 CommentsPost a comment
i recently got an email from a friend asking about how to increase traffic to his blog, my response to him is what follows:
How do I get my blog more action i.e. visits?

simple answer: let people know you have one and keep them coming back by having content they want to read about.

what that means is include your blog site address in your email signature as seen below. when you write a new blog post, let people who follow you on twitter or facebook know about it. (and so you may also want to get more people to follow you on twitter and/or facebook, including people you don't know but seem to have similar interests.by posting that on twitter or facebook they know as soon after you've written it and it isn't based on when they "happen to get around to checking" your site again. and then also don't be afraid to re-promote your blog post maybe a day or two later. in case people missed your initial tweet or facebook update.
talk about it with people in person; "yeah, i wrote about that in my blog the other day …" or "that'd be a great topic for me to write about on my blog…" or even mention it either in person, or via a slide when speaking in church or otherwise.
personally, i try to keep my blog posts to under 600 words. on occasion it'll be longer, but i try not to make a habit of it. the reason is if i go to other people's blogs and see a huge long blog post i don't take the time to read it unless i really find that person or topic engaging. so i try to keep mine short.

oh and then finally, post often and choose your voice. posting often will get people who like your writing to keep coming back to check for more. (i'm not very good at the posting often part)  and by choosing your voice means to stick to a topic or theme overall for your blog. there aren't very many blogs that are popular where the author is simply giving family updates, or other random topics. and it's for this reason that i know my blog most likely won't ever become hugely popular. i tend to skip around in my writing topics.

it's the blogs that stay on one topic whether it's tech, ministry, running, fatherhood, or (fill in the blank here) that are able to gain a following of people beyond just the people who personally know the author.

oh, one last thing. encourage dialogue between you and the readers by asking a question in your blog which they can answer in the comments, or by simply writing about interesting or controversial subjects.

i hope you like my ideas. let me know if they've helped you out, or if you have more questions.

cya,
abraham lara




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ps. i think this entire email would be a good post for my blog, so i'm going to post it. :)

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so blog readers, do you have any other suggestions?  oh and if you'd like to follow the person who wrote the question you can follow them on twitter (@streubel) or find them on their blog (http://streubel.wordpress.com)

there you go jason, maybe a few more hits. :)
Posted
AuthorAbraham Lara
so if you follow me on Twitter then you already know Deb and I's big news

we got our iPhones today!!!

so how did these turn of events happen?

we were already planning on getting them this tuesday, but circumstances changed when (through my constant talking about it) our pastor decided it was time for him and his wife to also get new phones.  

to be fair… our pastor is already a big apple fan and was planning on getting an iPhone sometime in the future already.  he just wasn't thinking it had to be on the very day that our sprint contract ended.  but after we talked last wednesday about some details about transferring our phone numbers he said he'd talk to his wife about possibly getting them some iPhones too.

well I was planning on getting our phones on tuesday during my lunch hour.  and then have the at&t guys call pastor to get the information they needed in order to port our numbers over. (for those who didn't know our sprint phones are on the same "family plan" as our pastor's and his name is the main one on the account, so i would need his authorization if i wanted to keep my same # on the iPhones.)  well once pastor decided that they also were going to get phones then it was more convenient for us to do go together on a weekend then during the week sometime.  he had talked with the at&t store and asked them if there was any way to pay/get the iPhones now, but not have the number ported over until tuesday when our contract ends (neither one of us wants to get charged $200/phone line by sprint for canceling early).  the guy at at&t said they would be happy to set up our phones with a temporary number now and then have us call an 800 # on tuesday (or anytime afterwards) to have our old numbers ported over.



and i was none to eager to agree that that would be a great idea.

i'm also excited that deb is so enthusiastic about her iPhone as well.  a few weeks ago when i asked her if she would also like to get one she was indifferent and said she'd be fine with just a "regular" phone.  but now that she's had a chance to play with it for a little bit she loves it.  she was having so much fun browsing the AppStore on the drive home from the tri-cities- playing games, listening to music and surfing online.

yes, this is going to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship

- - - - - - - -

PS.  i think this is going to allow me to start blogging on a more regular basis, since i'll be able to write and publish posts from anywhere, not only when i'm in front of my computer.  plus the fact that i'm joining a "van pool" to get to work starting on monday, i'll have plenty of time to write, read, listen to podcasts, etc.

if you want to know what our temporary numbers are you can see this tweet.  you'll just have to know us well enough to know what our area code is where we live, or be good enough with google to figure it out.
Posted
AuthorAbraham Lara
i've been slacking in my discipline to write on this blog.  i'm sorry and hope to make it up this weekend. which of course may be the time my readers are least able come to the site b/c of 3 day weekend plans.  oh, well you'll have plenty to enjoy when life gets back to normal.

or you can check back all weekend and see if i actually follow through with the promise above.
Posted
AuthorAbraham Lara

4star hotelwe'll it's finally arrived for all of us - summah-time!



the girls had their last day of school today. i drove them to school and then had the great idea of going and getting churros (a mexican pastry - cinnimon stick). then i went back to the school to give the girls one before school started.



i knew that the first thing they do is go to breakfast and then go out to the play field. i figured they would have eaten while i drove to get the churros and would be out on the play field by the time i got back. so since i work at a school i knew the "right" way of doing things would be to go to the front office ask them to send a note for my kids and then they'd come to the office and i could give them their churros.



but i also know since i work at a school that "recess time" is the worst time to try to find a kid since there's so many of them running around. so i thought it would be just as easy for me to try to locate them by sitting in my car looking out onto the field. but honestly, the parking lot doesn't have the best view of the playground so i went to a "back alley" parking spot behind the school playground and just parked, looking for my daughters.



in my mind this whole process would take maybe 3-4 minutes and i'd spot them, call them over, hand them a churro, and look like the best dad in the world on the last day of school. instead i sat there for 15 minutes or so scanning back and forth trying to distinguish them from all the other girls on the playground wearing pink sweaters. i began to wonder if maybe they were just taking their sweet time eating breakfast and wouldn't come out before the first bell. and maybe they were just cold and were standing by the building where there was less wind, and where i couldn't really see them.



finally one of the "duty" teachers sent out a guy (i think he was a janitor- since he was dressed in a grey shirt uniform) to my car to see who this stalker was. i explained what i was doing, he wasn't really sure whether to believe me or not. for all he knew i was some pedophile trying to lure sweet innocent children into his car on the last day of school with mexican cinnamon stick pastries! he let me know that the correct way of doing things would be to go to the office and then they would find them and bring them to me.



i guess i'm thankful for the school looking out for all the kids from potential "strangers". i'm a little concerned that it took almost 15 minutes for me to be confronted. and a little annoyed that some parent isn't able to just scan out on to the playground for their kid and give them a churro on the last day of school!



oh well, that's that and now it's behind us.



our initial summer plans have changed. since monday we've been planning on going to seattle tomorrow (wednesday). we were going to leave around 8am and then meet the guy i'm buying my Macbook Pro from at around 11.30. then on the way home we were planning on going camping at Cooper Lake near Cle Elum. well, that was at least until this afternoon when it was still raining, cloudy, and COLD. we decided that maybe this wasn't the best time to go camping. it wasn't really the cold that was keeping us away (contrary to what my mother might think - we do know how to keep the kids warm in cold weather, even the babies). it was the fact that it was raining so much. we have a tarp to lay down under our tent but our tent is bigger than the tent and we didn't want to chance waking up in a puddle. we've got more plans to go camping later this summer anyways, so we'll just wait.



but now we're leaving at 6am to be to seattle around 9-9.30 to meet one of deb's old drama directors (bruce and debbie woolsey) who now live in seattle. debbie's home alone right now because bruce and their 3 boys went to disneyland. so deb and our girls are going to spend the morning at debbie's house. i'll go meet "the guy" at the south seattle costco around 11. then i'll probably head to the Apple Store to buy a new case for my computer and play with the new iPhone. :)



then i'll go back to the woolsey's house and we're gonna hang out till we can go to our hotel. can i tell you? we scored a great price on a hotel via hotwire.com. if you've never used the site it's AWESOME. you tell it where you want to go, the dates, and then it gives you a list of prices of hotel and their "star" rating. the only thing is they don't tell you the name of the hotel until you've booked. they don't tell you the address, so if you have to be within walking distance of some convention center or something it might not be a good site to book your stay. but otherwise they do tell you what neighborhood the hotel's in so you (with a map) so you can get generally close to where you want to be. anyways we picked a "3 star" hotel in the pike place market neighborhood for $109+ tax ($130 total), put in our info, clicked submit and waited for the name of our hotel.



the Crowne Plaza - Downtown Seattle. i went to their website and tried to book a room for the same dates and type of room. their "discount" price was $237+ tax ($273.97 total!!). we saved over $140 with this site. and by the looks of the pictures on the web, it's a really, really, really nice hotel. we're gonna feel like kings and queens and princesses tomorrow!



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minor emergency just now - we heard a huge crash from the girl's back bedroom and what sounded like glass. turns out they were doing some kind of maneuver that caused their metal frame free-standing closet to come crashing down. thankfully they were all directly underneath the base of it so when it fell over it went in front of them. i don't know if that makes sense or not, but no one was hurt.

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then on thursday night we're gonna join my uncle rey & family in west seattle. should be a pretty fun time.



and then finally home on friday. if the weather's good we might even stop at a camp ground on the way home and build a fire, cook hot dogs, and roast marshmallows just for the fun of it.



we'll sounds like a pretty full summer to me and it's just the first week!



don' t know how much writing time i'll have over the next few days, so it looks like my 30 day writing challenge is shot. but hey, i've written more these past 3 weeks than i have in the previous 2 months!



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// today i'm thankful for:

1. no one was hurt in the accident mentioned above

2. little league games didn’t get cancelled today

3. a VACATION to start out summer vacation

4. a new MBP tomorrow

5. only 5 months left till deb and i can get our iPhone 3G’s

ok, so reading the title, you’ve been warned.

i took the day off of my 30 day writing challenge. (it was my first full day w/o the iPod Touch.)

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the kids are finally all to bed. deb and rhonda just got back from the store. (they paid $7 for a gallon of ice cream - CRAZY!)

we’re gonna watch juno now.

WWDC is now only 10hrs 30min away. can you tell i’m excited.

we’re going to seattle on wednesday. i’m going to pick up my new-to-me Macbook Pro that i found from a guy on craigslist. and then deb had the great idea of going camping in the mountains on the way home. should be great!

well deb and rhonda are waiting for me to start the movie so gotta go.

(note to self: i need to get back on track on my 30 day writing challenge and write more “content”)

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// today i'm thankful for:
1. dvd
2. the blessings of God
3. no school tomorrow!!
4. going to dinner at my sister’s tomorrow
5. the AC in our house that works
Posted
AuthorAbraham Lara