Friday, September 30, 2011

What's Happened to the TV Show, Parenthood?

I used to blog all the time about Parenthood. I haven't had a chance to write about it since it's been back on this season. Maybe it's because there really isn't a ton to write about. One of the funnier things that happened is that Kristina has had the shortest gestation period known to man. On the last episode last season, she just found out she's pregnant. When the first show aired for this season, she was already 7 months pregnant, even though only 3 months had passed since school was just starting (and school was ending for the summer when the season ended). Also, Adam has been out of work for 6 months during this 3-month summer break. I guess the writers have a hard time reconciling the passage of time with the different stories.

But enough of this nitpicking! I'm sure you're all wondering what I think of the show so far this season! The verdict? I still like it, but the writing and stories are lacking a bit. I guess the show is in a sophomore slump. It's not that the show is awful, but it's lacking in logic.

First, Adam and Kristina are mainstreaming Max in a private school without providing him any behavior support to help him out. Yeah, that sounds like a fantastic idea! Great parenting there! In this week's episode, Kristina was relieved to hear that she was pregnant with a girl, so she won't have to worry about the baby having autism. For most of the episode, she seemed to think girls don't get autism. During the final scene, however, she seemed to realize that her daughter could still have autism, just won't have as high a chance since she's a girl. I wonder how many viewers the writers disenfranchised with those scenes? I can understand the emotions behind those feelings, but I think the writers could have handled this very delicate topic better.

Adam and Kristina's oldest daughter, Haddie, is having relationship issues with her boyfriend. I guess things changed a lot after the prom. I'm still confused how Haddie went to the prom since she wasn't a senior. I know, minor details. Am I the only one totally bored by this whole over-dramatic storyline? I didn't think so.

Julia wants a baby. She wants one really badly. So badly, that she approached the pregnant woman who sells coffee at her work and asked her if she could buy her baby from her. I'm not even going to make a snarky comment on this story line. Feel free to add in your own snark!

Probably the creepiest scene this season was this week's scene when Zeke was giving his grandson, Drew, dating advice. He took his grandson to a local diner to give him advice on how to flirt with a woman. Then he proceeded to demonstrate his advice on the twenty-something waitress, including ogling her while drool dripped onto his lap. In front of his grandson. Was I the only person totally creeped out by this scene? It was like watching a really bad car accident.

There are lots of other story lines going on, but I'm actually getting angrier and angrier as I'm writing this. When I started this post, I thought the quality was suffering a little, but it's actually suffering a lot.

C'mon writers! Get your act together!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Xtra Special Coffee

It's that time of the week--time to link up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. The letter this week is "X." So, this is another week where I'm cheating since I don't really want to write about x-rays or xylophones. X is for xtra special coffee!

I usually don't blog much about my job, except to speak about generalities such as how to put mom experience on a resume (see here). However, I have to make an exception this time because I saw something that tickled my funny bone at work.

My work is a wonderful place (and I'm not just saying that because my boss reads my blog every once in awhile). One nice perk is our kitchen; they keep it stocked with all sorts of yummy food that we can help ourselves to. I think I've put on 20 pounds since I started working there! The company is growing at such an incredibly fast rate, that we bought the building next to our main building to accommodate all the extra space we need. I moved to the new building and am further away from the kitchen.

This is a good thing! However, I missed having easy access to the coffee maker. Imagine my delight when I came into the office last week and saw that my work bought a new coffee maker and filtered water dispenser for the building I work in! Yay!

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One thing I noticed was that the coffee maker and filtered water dispenser have a water source that feeds into them. This is nifty, because you had to fill the carafe on the old coffee maker, which could be a pain. I thought this was a great improvement!

That is, until I saw where the water source came from:

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Yup, our coffee water and drinking water come directly from the toilet! Now, I realize that the water is actually coming from a pipe and has never actually gone into the toilet! Nevertheless, the 5-year old in me finds this to be incredibly funny!

Now, you won't find me blogging a lot about work because as the saying goes (paraphrased slightly), I don't like to poo where I eat. But let's face it... that ship has kinda sailed since I poo where I drink!

Our coffee has that something extra special!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Too Young to Be a Teenager

My daughter's been going through a defiant phase lately. When she doesn't get her way, she acts rude, contradicts what I say, and yells out, "It's not fair! You never let me do anything!" It's like I'm living with a teenager instead of a 7-year old girl.

What makes me really nervous is what life will be like when my daughter really is a teenager. I shudder at the thought!

So, my husband and I are banging our heads against the wall, trying to figure out how to stamp these behaviors out before they get even worse. Our daughter has been going through a lot lately, changing schools and having to make new friends. Plus, she's getting over being sick. When you consider these things, her bad behavior is not totally surprising.

Nevertheless, we want to teach her good coping skills that will hopefully carry her through her teen years.

Come to think of it, I need to learn good coping skills too. I think I've already bought out all the Halloween chocolate the stores carry (why do they stock the shelves with Halloween candy 2 months before Halloween anyway?).

What do you do to cope or to teach your kids how to cope?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Major School Lunch Overhaul

My daughter attends Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)--one of the largest school districts in the country. They educate a wide range of kids, many who are poor and rely on the free and reduced lunch program. Last year, Jaime Oliver tried to work with LAUSD to overhaul the lunches they serve. Jaime wanted to make the lunches healthier. LAUSD told him to bugger off. Their position was that the lunches were healthy and didn't need any outside help. Some parents smuggled the lunches out for Jaime to examine. He criticized the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables. Mostly, however, he was critical of the school serving a choice of chocolate milk at breakfast and lunch. He felt that the school should only serve unflavored low-fat milk. The extra sugar in the chocolate milk could lead to childhood obesity.

I wish Jaime Oliver would just mind his own business. Personally, I had no problem with the schools serving chocolate mild. Yes, it is higher in sugar than regular milk, but it's not exactly empty calories. Chocolate milk is loaded with calcium and protein. To me, it's better for the kids to drink the extra sugar and get the benefit of the good things in milk versus not drinking milk at all.

LAUSD did take initiative and eliminate all flavored milks. Meanwhile, however, they stopped serving fresh fruit and served apple juice at lunch to the kids. Does this not make sense? They consider chocolate milk to be bad, but serving apple juice (which has no redeeming quality) is okay? Huh?

In addition to this lack of logic, LAUSD has completely overhauled it's menu and is now serving some very sophisticated cuisine. My daughter does not like the choices offered, most of the time. Many of these dishes sound pretty spicy! While they would appeal to adults, I'm not sure how many of these dishes appeal to six year olds. Here are some of the entrees off of the September lunch menu: Chile Lime Wings, Vegetable Curry, California Sushi Roll, Jamaican Jerk Turkey with Veggies and Brown Rices, Creole Chickpea and Veggie Stew, Caribbean Meatballs, Ancho Chili Chicken with Yakisoba, and Spinach Pinto Beans and Avocado Wrap.

Do these dishes sound tasty to you? I admit, I find many of them appealing. However, LAUSD only charges $1 for the lunch. That scares me. If I'm going to indulge in an exotic lunch such as Ancho Chili Chicken with Yakisoba, I want to be sure the food is made with quality ingredients. I doubt that's happening for the $1 price tag.

Whatever happened to grilled cheese or pizza for school lunch?

I think I'm going to be packing a lot of lunches this year!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Winning!

It's that time of the week--time to link up with Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. This week is the letter "W." W is for winning! Yay!

Anyone who has read my blog recently knows how much we stressed about moving our daughter from her school, which she totally loved to a new school which caters to gifted kids. We were never sure we were doing the right thing.

I had the great fortune of getting help from a fellow blogger--Dani G. Dani lives halfway across the country from me, but she grew up in my 'hood. Her mother-in-law lives 5 minutes from me and used to teach at the school we were considering. Dani hooked us up so she could meet my daughter and help allay our fears. She was great and was very encouraging, so we went for it.

I just returned from the Back to School Night where we were able to hear about the teacher's educational approach. I totally love my daughter's teacher! She is beyond amazing. I love her teaching methods and her demeanor. She teaches the children yoga! She greets them every morning in about 10 different languages! She's gentle and loving and infuses her lessons plans with music, art, and dance.

I also vaguely remember her from almost 20 years when I used to go contra-dancing. She's an avid contra-dancer also, which I totally love!

My daughter has been happy in her class, and I don't see that changing!

Winning? You betcha!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bacteria Is Evil!

We've had a tough weekend in my family due to bacteria. First, my nephew had to be hospitalized on Friday because an infection in his leg, called Cellulitis, was not getting better with oral antibiotics. He needed to have antibiotics administered through an IV. The doctor finally released him from the hospital on Sunday evening, and he's lucky enough to be on hardcore oral antibiotics. I've heard of some people being released with the IV drip.

Cellulitis is very scary! The complications include:
  • Blood infection

  • Bone infection

  • Inflammation of the lymph vessels

  • Inflammation of the heart

  • Meningitis
  • Gangrene.

This is scary stuff! I'm relieved that my nephew has responded to antibiotics and is feeling much better. My husband also had Cellulitis not that long ago and luckily responded to the course of oral antibiotics.

This infection can start from simple little cuts and bug bites. If you have bad pain from an opening in your skin (even a small one), go to the doctor to have it checked out. These infections are nothing to mess with!

Another scary thing happened this weekend: my daughter started to get a cold on Thursday night. She was sniffling and coughing. On Friday morning, I decided she should stay at home from school just to play it safe. Her overall demeanor seemed good, but she did seem really congested.

My husband gave me grief for keeping her at home when she wasn't acting very sick. But she had told me she didn't feel well enough to go, and I listened to her. My husband thought she was playing me.

Later that morning, my daughter complained about how awful it was to be sick. I noticed that her lively demeanor had changed, and she was acting sicker. Later in the day, she started to run a small fever of 100 degrees. I still wasn't that concerned. I gave her some Tylenol to lower the fever and gave her another dose before right before bedtime so she could sleep. She had started to cough up copious amounts of green phlegm, and I decided to take her to the doctor the next morning. She woke me up at 4:30 am with a raging fever, and I knew I needed to call in as soon as the office opened. This cold had turned into something else very quickly and it scared me.

When I took her into the doctor, the doctor told me that she thought something serious was going on and that my daughter was starting to develop a lung infection. Bronchitis? I asked. The doctor told me that she thought it was more serious that that. She thought my daughter was starting to develop pneumonia. She had seen several similar cases this past week. All started as routine colds that quickly turned into pneumonia. She prescribed hardcore antibiotics and breathing treatments. The doctor hoped the antibiotics would help quickly. I was told that if I didn't see improvement, I was to call her for further instruction.

Luckily, the antibiotics seem to be helping. My daughter's fever is gone, her perkiness has returned. She's still wheezing and coughing a lot, but she appears to be doing better.

Is it just me or do infections appear to be getting much more aggressive?

It's really scary!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Who Knew Little House on the Prairie Was So Funny?

At bedtime, we've been reading the Little House on the Prairie series to my daughter. The first book, Little House in the Big Woods, was just awful! Laura Ingalls Wilder spent pages and pages discussing how to make butter or talking about how the girls would get to play ball with the ball being the stomach lining of some animal. Fun times! I couldn't believe how poorly written the book was!

Then we moved on toe Little House on the Prairie. It's no accident that everyone calls the series of books by this name and not by the name of the first book as is usually done. This second book is much better written than the first. I suspect that Laura Ingalls Wilder had a ghost writer help her with her books after the first one. In fact, after doing some research, I found that her daughter happened to work as a book publisher. That explains so much!

Little House on the Prairie, in addition to being better written, explains some U.S. history about the 1800s, including the homestead act. It also shows the prejudiced attitudes toward the Native Americans. It's kind of shocking to read a book to your 7-year old when Ma Ingalls says on at least 3 occasions, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." Yikes! Pa Ingalls is pretty pompous and can act like a jerk a lot of the time too. They're so different from their television counterparts! It would be hilarious if the show were made today with a more faithful adaptation from the book!

We're currently reading the third book, On the Banks of Plum Creek. Pa isn't quite as jerky in this one, although we're currently reading about how he's stiffing his girls from receiving any Christmas presents--for the second year in a row. Actually, the girls did get Christmas presents in the second book from the kind Mr. Edwards who bought them their own tin cup so they wouldn't have to share a cup! Best Christmas ever, according to Laura Ingalls.

While Pa isn't as jerky in this book, he seems to be making one horrendous decision after another. He uprooted his family from their little house in the prairie right after they finally were settled and ready to start farming. He moved them up to the cold of Minnesota where he bought a "house" that's dug into the side of a creek bed. I'm guessing it never occurred to Pa that creeks can flood. Great!

While Ma is not going around disparaging Indians in this book, she's acting more jerky! When she irons, she makes her girls touch the iron with wet fingers to see if the water on their skin sizzles. If so, the iron is ready! The girls love this game! Great! During tonight's passage, Ma asks the girls what they want for Christmas. She then essentially tells them that they're not going to get any presents and that Santa Claus doesn't exist. She points out that it's impossible for one man to deliver presents at the same time throughout the world. Gee, Ma! Thanks for stealing the magic away from our daughter.

Luckily, our daughter immediately disagreed with what Ma Ingalls said. She said that she saw Santa last Christmas Eve on the Norad website. Ma Ingalls obviously doesn't understand what she's talking about.

The books are very different than how I remember them as a kid!

That's for sure!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Very, Very Protective

It's that time of the week! Time to link up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. We're up to the letter "V." I cheated big time this week. I just couldn't come up with any good V words, so I'm using "very" as my V. V is for very, very protective.

I think I've mentioned once or twice on the blog that if I could, I'd wrap my daughter into a big ball of bubble wrap to protect her! Anyone who knows me knows I'm not exaggerating. At. All. Thank goodness my husband is around to counter this impulse of mine.

Oh, wait a sec...my husband is a million times worse than me. And anyone who knows him knows that I'm not exaggerating in the least. So, my daughter is doomed to a life of being very, very protected.

This past Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. You didn't realize that? Yeah, it wasn't heavily covered, was it? Well, we wouldn't know because we were too scared to turn on a television within two weeks of the event. I put a post on Facebook pleading with my teacher friends to let me know what they were going to teach in the classroom.

We never discussed 9/11 with our daughter. She's 7, which still seems too young to me. Believing that the world is a loving and caring place is so short-lived, it just seems too soon to steal away some of her innocence. I was surprised on the number of articles I saw on the internet with titles such as, "How to tell your 2-year old about 9/11." Really? Are they serious? Why would a 2-year old need to know?

Some people might argue that by the time a child is 7, they should start to be aware. My husband and I don't agree. We went through great lengths to protect our daughter from finding out. For example, on a typical Sunday morning, we like to go out for brunch, and we bring the Sunday paper. My husband and I used to read the paper while our daughter played with her silverware, pretending they were a family, or played with the jelly packets. Over the past year, though, she discovered that she liked reading the comics. So on any given Sunday, you'd find the three of us, reading away while waiting for our food.

Except for this past Sunday. We found out on Saturday night, that the Sunday comics would mostly be containing 9/11 memorials. What were we going to do? We couldn't let her read the Sunday comics!

My husband pretended that the paper didn't get delivered, so we went out to brunch without the paper. We actually had to have conversations with each other. Nevertheless, it turned out to be a delightful meal.

That night, after my daughter went to bed, we ran into the dining room to get our Sunday paper fix. We had to make sure we hid the paper really good in the recycling bin--especially those colorful comics.

We're so pathetic.

I mean, we're really concerned, caring parents.

Monday, September 12, 2011

She Blinded Me with Science!

My daughter has always been drawn to science. Always. After she taught herself to read, it wasn't long before she was reading articles on anything science-related. She loves it all!

The other day, she told me about a set of experiments she was conducting in her bath. She would put soap foam in a container, then add just a drop of water to it. She found that the small drop of water made the soap foam totally dissolve. She was confused because the soap seemed to disappear while the drop of water was still in there.

The next day, she didn't add any water at all. She reported that there was nothing in the container. It took the soap foam longer to dissolve, but then nothing was left in the container. She was confused. She had assumed that the soap would change from a foam form to some other form. But that the foam couldn't just disappear.

She asked me if the soap foam could have evaporated into the air. If it had, was it in the air we were breathing in, I assured her that we were not inhaling soap foam.

Other than that, I found myself at a loss at answering her intelligent questions.

She's 7 years old!

What am I going to do when she's 8? 12? 16?

Did I mention that I'm not that knowledgeable about science issues? At all?

After discussing the experiments with my husband, he looked at me like I was an idiot and said, "The soap foam didn't disappear! It's still in there. It's probably some residue in the cup!"

Oh, right!

I guess my husband will be helping my daughter out with her science fair projects!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Help Raise Money for a Cause without Spending a Dime!

Gatorade is calling upon people to pledge their support to young athletes in their quest to BECOME. Gatorade will donate one dollar up to $10,000 to the Women’s Sports Foundation for every pledge received at www.Gatorade.com/moms (just click “take the pledge now” on the main Gatorade Moms page). Simply read the pledge, click to commit and Gatorade will donate a dollar in support of girls’ and women’s sports. The donation will help ensure there are opportunities for all youth who want to get physically active, get involved in competitive athletics and get in the game.

This will not cost you a single penny to do! But by doing the pledge, you are committing Gatorade to donate a dollar!

It would be criminal to let this potential $10,000 to slip through our fingers.

When I was a kid growing up, it was really unusual for girls to be seriously involved in organized sports. I remember having one friend in high school who received a full sports scholarship to college because of her incredible pitching skills. This was the exception rather than the rule.

But things are so different now, thank goodness!

Please join me in spending Gatorade's money to help out a great cause!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tough Decisions

My daughter started second grade (finally) this past Wednesday. I was a nervous wreck because she was starting second grade at a new school--a gifted magnet. Luckily, all the other kids entering second grade were also new to the school. Overall, she had been doing phenomenally well over the last month, so I had high expectations. My daughter was excited too! She couldn't wait to make friends and said that she couldn't wait to see who this year's crush would be. Yes, I'm going to lock her up when she's a teenager. Yikes!

Also, the company I worked for part-time had recently been acquired by a huge firm. My boss, always looking out for my best interests, asked me to increase my hours to 30 hours/week before the take-over occurred. It turned out that the new firm considered 30 hours to be full-time. This meant that in addition to getting holidays and paid vacation time, I'd get stocks and bonuses! How exciting! I thought I could manage things fine. My daughter loves after-school programs, so I thought she'd have plenty of time to do homework, then play with her new friends. I thought this would work well for everyone!

I was wrong.

The first day was a bit of a disaster. My daughter did fine during the school day, but she couldn't concentrate on her homework in the after-school program. She couldn't finish 3 pages of work in an hour. This was a less than half the amount of homework she had in first grade. She should have been able to do it in a half hour, no problem. Also, with my long commute, we didn't get home until really late. So, she was up late, finishing her homework.

I was miserable.

My daughter was miserable too. In fact, she was rude to me on the way home from school. Later, she told me that she liked the after-school program, but agreed that she probably shouldn't stay there so late.

Now, I know this was the very first day and that things can settle down after awhile. But at this moment, I just feel that I'm re-entering into a career a little too soon. I think my daughter still needs the structure that home has to offer. So, I spoke with my boss to see if I could switch my schedule to part-time again. She's not sure they have part-time work for me. Because of the acquisition, it's harder for her to have the flexibility with doling out work that she used to have.

This is a really tough decision for me. I love being in the workforce again. I love having adult interaction that has nothing to do with my daughter. I love earning money again. I'm also afraid that with each passing year, it will be harder and harder to find employment.

But my daughter comes first. I want her to thrive in her new school. I'll do what's necessary to make it so. I just can't be all things to all people. It's not possible! I feel that if I try to make everyone happy, I'll end up making no one happy.

Hopefully, I'll be able to work part-time again! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Unbelievable! Friggin' Unbelievable!

It's that time of the week again--time to link up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday! The letter this week is "U." We're winding down the alphabet and beginning to get to difficult letters (I'm thinking of you, "X"). U is for unbelievable.

Summer is winding down pretty fast! My daughter starts second grade today. To celebrate the end of summer, my daughter met up with a friend to watch the movie Cars 2. We liked the first Cars movie a lot. It wasn't perfect, but it had a lot of heart in it. Pixar made Cars 2 and every movie they make is a masterpiece. I know that the critics were not kind to this movie, but a lot of people I knew who had seen it liked it. I just thought the critics were having a backlash against Pixar.

Well, you can imagine my surprise that I agreed with the critics! This movie was not up to Pixar's usual level of greatness. In fairness, it was still an entertaining parody of James Bond movies, and I was somewhat entertained through the movie.

So, why do I have strong criticism about the movie? I am angry because Pixar made a G-rated movie aimed at very young kids--much younger than even my daughter that was completely filled with violence. First off, how in the hell did this movie get a G-rating? It had torture scenes, violence, discussions of killing off people (okay, cars actually, but still!). Sorry about this spoiler but in a climatic scene, the bad guys actually attach a bomb to Mater.

WTF, Pixar? I mean, really, this was unbelievably ill-suited to a young audience. My daughter's friend was antsy during the movie because the whole alternative fuel plot went WAY above her head. My daughter cowered during all the violence and was horrified that Mater might get blown up to smithereens.

This movie was fine for older kids and adults, but I don't think they're the target audience for this movie.

I hope Pixar finds their way with their next project. Bring the heart back! And write for your audience better. You know, like you usually do!

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Sandwich Generation

I had a mini-vacation last week! My husband, daughter, and I packed up our car and drove out to Las Vegas. But this trip wasn't about having fun. My dad lives in Las Vegas, and we really owed him a visit. My daughter was begging for us to go since she missed her grandpa's bear hugs, as she put it!

I was really dragging my heels about going, to be honest. I haven't been very close to my dad for years now. He's getting older and having some serious health issues. I was dreading having the "Maybe it's time to consider assisted living" talk. During my sister's last visit, they toured some really nice places! Let me tell you, if you have to do assisted living, Las Vegas is the place to do it! The places they toured served alcohol galore for free! One place had a pub in the facility and allowed residents to have 4 drinks a day! We're talking the hard stuff--not Shirley Temples! In addition, they have all sorts of fun activities and will drive you to anyplace you want to go! It sounds awesome! To be honest, I want to move into one!

My dad was very impressed with what he saw, but upon returning home quickly changed his mind declaring he wanted to die in his own house. I understand his desire to stay. Memories of my mom permeate the house. I can totally understand why he doesn't want to leave. But I hate the thought of him living alone at this point. My sister is an attorney and knows ways we can force him into a facility, but we really want him to go on his own initiative.

The one time I tried to bring up the assisted living facility, he promptly through out the only brochure he had kept of the places he toured. I don't know if this was on purpose, but it certainly seemed to be!

It's tough being a part of the sandwich generation--caring for a young daughter while trying to deal with (badly) an aging parent. I know a lot of us are dealing with these issues.

It's funny watching my daughter try to have a conversation with her grandpa because his hearing has gotten pretty bad, and he can't hear anything she says. She says something to him, and he'll answer back with a weird, "da-da-da" sing-song answer. She totally understood that having conversations with him were going nowhere, but she kept her patience and seemed very understanding! She also didn't give up and kept trying. I had to mediate sometimes and speak extra loudly so my dad would understand what my daughter was trying to say to him.

We managed to have some fun during our trip. My husband and I celebrated our nine year anniversary! We took our daughter to a really terrible--and expensive--family show where animals were supposed to perform. Some of the animals did perform, but many were just trying to hightail it off the stage as quickly as they could. Those were the smart ones!

We also hit some outlet stores and hit the casinos a bit. I actually won a few bucks, my husband lost a few more! Nevertheless, it wasn't a money-draining experience. Well, except for the bad show and the outlet stores! We also had a couple of nice meals that I know my dad enjoyed!

My daughter was sad when it was time to go. I know she misses her grandpa. He's the last living grandparent she has. It's the one truly bad part about getting married and having a kid late in life.