Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner

Last week, on Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday link-up, I wrote a post addressing the letter D. Unfortunately, everyone else wrote about the Thanksgiving holiday, since that's what Jenny assigned us. Yeah, I was paying attention. I want to thank all the bloggers involved in Alphabe-Thursday who were polite enough not to call me an idiot! It's much appreciated! So, I'm going to address Thanksgiving in my post this week, but so I won't look totally foolish, I'm including the letter D for Thanksgiving Dinner! Because I'm all kinds of clever. Except when I don't follow directions. Ack!

Usually for Thanksgiving, we travel to Illinois to visit family and enjoy an amazing 35-course meal. Okay, I may be exaggerating on the number of courses, but not by much--it's an amazing spread! This year, we decided to stay at home for Thanksgiving so we missed out on our usual feast!

I was looking forward to making Thanksgiving dinner on my own. I've never done it before, and I thought it would be fun to do. It would only be for my husband and daughter, so I figured I didn't need to go overboard. I'd keep it somewhat easy.

My husband had a different idea. He didn't want me to go through all that trouble for just the three of us. He also wanted to be around friends too! So he finagled an invite from some friends of his. I was a little disappointed at first, but spending time with friends sounded like fun! I decided to make a great side dish!

But our friends had things so well in hand that they only wanted us to bring drinks. I did throw together a dairy-free dessert since my husband is trying to cut dairy out of his diet. While I was disappointed not to try anything new, I did have a great time with friends!

Isn't that what the spirit of Thanksgiving is about? Okay, it's about the food too, which was fabulous!

I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner as well!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Who Would Have Dreamed How Social the Internet Is?

When the power of the internet began to get realized some time around the mid-90s, I remember thinking how scary it could be. I was afraid that I would do everything on the internet and fail to have a life in the real world. I pictured myself huddled in front of the computer day in and day out--never leaving the house to meet up with friends, shop, work, eat, etc.

Now, about 15 years later, I realize that many of these "fears" turned out to come true--but they're not all bad! I have made friends in the real world while making "friends" in the online world. Most of my online "friends" I haven't met in the real world. But the ones that I have met have turned out to be as amazing in person as they are online!

I was surprised yesterday when I found out one of my Twitter "friends" has reportedly passed away recently. I've never met him in person. I didn't even have a Twitter conversation with him in months. He was one of my 2,200 followers whom I also happen to follow. His tweets were generally funny, but there wasn't much more then that to our "relationship."

So why do I feel a sense of loss to someone I hardly knew? Actually, I didn't even know him at all! I think the answer is the sense of community we build online. The ties can be almost as strong as the ones we make in the real world.

I remember when I was pregnant with my daughter. Like other expectant moms, I looked for community on the internet. I found it on the birth boards at Babycenter. All the moms who were expecting to give birth on a particular month bonded on these boards. We shared our fears, philosophies, birth plans, and everything else! Some moms even did a secret Santa program with each other. When the birth month approached, we announced the births of our babies! It was really fun! But then tragedy struck. A mom posted that her secret Santa mom and the baby she was carrying died in childbirth from Toxemia. Her husband emailed her to let her know, and she passed along the sad news to the birth club board. We all mourned the mom that none of us actually knew.

Likewise, when another mother's baby was diagnosed with Leukemia at 4 months, we followed her struggles on the birth board. We all felt her pain when her baby died at 8 months. These tragedies can feel as real to us when they happen to complete strangers online as they do to dear friends.

Social media has taken off. It's easy to understand why. The internet is a very social place--for good as well as for bad. My life is definitely richer for it.

Nevertheless, I really should get outside more often!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Giving Thanks by Giving for a Cause

On Thanksgiving, I know many of us took stock of our lives and thought about all the things we are thankful for. Sadly, some families have a harder time coming up with a list. They could have kids that are battling cancer, for example.

Ruckus Media is proud to partner with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital® for the annual Thanks and Giving campaign, a holiday program that asks shoppers to Give thanks for the healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not,” while shopping this holiday season. When customers purchase any of Ruckus Media's interactive storybooks on the App store (now until November 28th), they will donate 100% of the net proceeds ($1.39) to saving children with cancer and other deadly illnesses. That's every app!

You can read about their campaign here.

This is an easy way to buy some cool apps while helping kids in need.

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving! I know I did.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Decadent Diet

It's time to link up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. The letter this week is the letter "D." D is for decadent diet.

I know I shouldn't be discussing diets the day before Thanksgiving. But aren't we all looking for the magic pill that will make us look great without feeling like we're actually dieting? I read an interesting article in my December Glamour magazine about a diet called The Snob Diet. Supposedly, people who do it are losing sizable amounts of weight.

The concept behind the diet reminds me of how people eat in France. We've heard the stories about how the French eat really rich, decadent food but manage not to gain weight, right? Well, the snob diet seems to follow this. The diet pretty much says to only eat really good food--nothing processed. But if you're going to eat cheese, eat the really good stuff--and not the low-fat version. If you're going to have ice cream, eat the premium stuff!

There are two main caveats to this diet: 1) Really experience the food while you're eating it--do not just shovel it down your craw. This will actually help keep portion size under control because your body will be able to signal you when it's satiated. 2) You can ONLY eat snob food! Nothing processed or junky can pass your lips EVAH!

The article claimed that you can actually lose weight by doing this.

You know what? I think they may be onto something! I think we are sometimes so busy chasing after the low-fat (or non-fat) versions of things that our bodies feel cheated. The cravings will continue and the satiated feeling never happens. We also have issues with portion sizes and with not truly experiencing our food while we eat it. Also, processed food is a mainstay for many of us.

It actually makes complete sense to me that these diet pitfalls may be actually sabotaging our weight loss goals. However, as wonderful as the snob diet sounds, it sounds like it could actually be hard to follow.

I'm tempted to try it, but know that weaning myself from processed food would be really hard to do!

I did a quick Google search on the snob diet, and it seems many write-ups were pretty positive about it! I suppose I should buy a really nice baguette, the most decadent cheese, and a nice bottle of wine and enjoy my meal! Cheers!

Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm a Huge Stephanie Plum Fan!

One of my favorite junk-book authors is Janet Evanovich! I love her Stephanie Plum series One for the Money, Two for the Dough, etc. All the books are pretty much the same, but I love to read them anyway. They're funny, sexy, and thrilling! What more could a person want?

Janet Evanovich issues a new book in the series every June. Each year, when June comes around, I love to pounce on Target or wherever and buy the latest paperback issue (because I'm too cheap to buy the hardcover, I'm a year behind).

Well, you can imagine my surprise when I received Janet's newsletter last week announcing that her next hardcover, Explosive Eighteen is getting released this November 22nd. Her paperback, Smokin' Seventeen, will be released that day too. She also announced that she's not promoting the books by visiting book stores to do signings since she doesn't like to travel in the wintertime. Huh?

I was really confused at first. Why would she break with a tradition so wildly? Especially when it's not at a time that works for her?

Then it occurred to me; the movie based on her first book, One for the Money, is getting release in January. Maybe her publisher thought it would buoy sales to have another book out for new fans to buy. Or maybe the movie producer thought a new book would build more excitement for the movie.

I don't know!

What I do know is that while I'm going to buy the paperback, I'm not as excited to buy it the day it comes out. Because I haven't had to wait a year, I'm perfectly fine with getting it later in December as a treat before I travel for the holidays.

Are you a Stephanie Plum fan? Are you looking forward to the movie? Have any concerns about the movie? I'm sure that will be a future post of mine (why oh why didn't they make the movie 10 years ago when Sandra Bullock would have been the perfect Stephanie Plum?).

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Battle of the Moms

When I was pregnant with my daughter 8 years ago, I had a pretty cool job doing investigations for Congress as a Senior Analyst for the Government Accountability Office (GAO). It was a fun job that required a lot of travel doing work on topical issues. It was also a high-paying career. However, during my pregnancy, I thought it would be great to take a few years off of work and watch my daughter grow and develop and to help guide her.

During the pregnancy and maternity leave, television daytime talk shows were rife with the topic of stay-at-home moms fighting it out with working moms. Both sides called each other names and demeaned the choices of the other moms. Which side was right?

Taking a few years off turned into not working until my daughter was in first grade. For one thing, my daughter had certain issues that she needed some help with. For another, the bad economy made getting work hard. Truthfully, I enjoyed having that time with her, although I missed hanging with other adults. I also missed earning money and using my brain for things other than child-rearing. I consider myself to be very lucky in having that time with my daughter, then being able to find work that doesn't require long hours or travel (although I do miss the occasional business trip--there I said it!).

However, other than on television, the real moms I knew didn't fight about the choices other moms made. We were pretty cool supporting each other in our decisions. The battle only seemed to occur on television.

Recently, a fellow blogger posted on Facebook about a Facebook conversation that came up in her feed. It was two working moms putting down stay-at-home moms. They called the moms frumpy and lazy among other put-downs. I was shocked that this conversation actually happened! Do working moms feel stay-at-home moms are lazy frumps while stay-at-home moms think working moms are selfish and unfeeling? Are these sentiments out there? Really? Have I been living in a sheltered world?

While I started working, I'm still around to parent my daughter after school. The one thing I'm absolutely sure of is that there is no one right answer when it comes to raising your child. You have to do what is right for your family.

Are women generally unsupportive of each other? I'd like to think that's not the case. What's been your experience?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Celebrities--Just another Day in LA

It's time to link up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. This week we're on the letter "C." C is for celebrity.

Living in Los Angeles means you see the occasional celebrity. I live near some big celebs like Brittany Spears and Ozzy Osbourne, although I've never had sightings of them. Also, everyone seems to be tied to The Industry--the entertainment industry. My husband is, and we've sometimes socialized with some pretty big-time celebs.

But LA is not just made up of famous celebs. We have our share of infamous celebs who are famous for nothing in particular, other than being famous. One big name in the news lately is Kim Kardashian. I actually met Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney once five years ago before they were famous (or infamous).

My daughter was about 2, and I was still active in my local Moms' Club. One of the moms in the group was publishing a book about losing baby weight. She wanted moms to share their experiences, so I submitted mine. This was the first time my writing appeared in a published book (you can see a couple of others that happened more recently to the right).

To celebrate the book's release, my friend hosted a book release party and invited the moms that contributed their experiences. My friend was excited that the party was going to be at a baby boutique in nearby Calabasas. She excitedly told me that Bruce Jenner and his family owned the boutique called Smooch.

I barely ever went out at night (who am I kidding, I still barely go out), so the party sounded like a lot of fun! When I was there, I didn't see Bruce Jenner. The only employees were three girls with dark, long hair and striking looks. I asked them about some merchandise they had, and they answered my questions. They seemed pretty aloof, and I remember being a bit put-off by them. It wasn't until about 3 years later that I realized who those women were. Of course back then, they weren't really anybody. Unlike now (excuse me while I laugh).

One of my other mom club friends was at the party. She had recently had her second kid and was already slim and looking fabulous! I haven't really seen her much since that party. She went on to become somewhat of a celebrity herself as a writer and frequent round table comedienne on the Chelsea Lately show. She actually attended Kim Kardashian's wedding.

I wonder if she's going to try to get her wedding present back.

Yup, just another strange day in L.A.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Don't Need Google Anymore

What do you do when you get to the point where you think your child knows more than you do? Oh sure, I have more life experience and still know how to handle life situations better. But what do you do when your child knows more facts about things? What do you do when this child is only in second grade?

I don't know how many times I've waxed philosophically on different life questions, only to have my daughter give me an answer--a very good answer. I remember when my daughter was in kindergarten a couple of years ago. She banged her elbow on something and was crying in pain. "Ouch!" I said, "Why do they call it the funny bone when it's not funny when you hit it?" My daughter stopped crying to say, "Because the bone there is called the humorous. I think that's how the funny bone got its name." Oh. I had never thought of that before. Good answer.

She does stuff like this all the time. It's getting to the point where I just ask her questions when I need answers. I don't need Google anymore!

Wasn't this supposed to happen when she was older?

Sigh.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pole Saw Stuck in Tree--the Movie!

I know, I've already blogged about the pole saw getting stuck in the tree too much already! I think I mentioned that I videotaped the proceedings right? My husband took my lackluster footage and used his creative genius to make it into a pretty funny video! Enjoy, but please ignore how much our kitchen needs to be remodeled! Thanks!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Boyfriends at 7? Yikes!

It's that time of the week--time to link up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. The letter this week is the letter "B." B is for boyfriend. At 7! Great!

My 7 year old has always had friends who were boys. She seems to relate to boys better than she does to girls. She loves a lot of "boy" things: dinosaurs, cars, trains, science just to name a few.

Now that she's getting older, she's learned about crushes! She had a crush on a boy at her old school last year. When she started her new school this year, she wondered who her crush was going to be!

There is a boy who has a crush on her! He went to her old school, then went to the same summer camp, and moved to the same new school that she did. The problem is that he's a year younger. My daughter likes him a lot, but as a friend. She seems pretty clueless that he's totally gaga for her. When he sees her at school, he runs over and yells, "I love you!" She'll maybe talk with him for about a minute, until she sees her friends from second grade. Then she'll unceremoniously ditch him to hang with her class friends (including a boy I suspect she has a crush on).

The other day, I found an envelope in her backpack. She received a letter through school mail from the first grader that loves her. On the outside of the envelope was a post-it note that said, "I Love you all the way aroand (sic) the earth." Inside was a note telling her how much he can't wait to see her at his party. The party happened two weeks earlier. Either inter-school mail is really slow, or he was really slow in sending out his love note.

Anyway, the poor kid doesn't stand a chance. My daughter seems to like the kids in her class. She even is developing a secret language with the boy I suspect she's crushin' on. The two of them hope to sell the language to make money.

I'm really dreading the teenage years.

Help!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pretty Young for Her

My regular readers know that I think my daughter is amazingly smart. She loves to read and learn the world around her. Even though she is 7 years old, she has already surpassed me in terms of amount of knowledge. She's really scary that way.

But even though she's way beyond her years in some ways, she's way behind her years in other ways. For example, the Qubo television series has recently messed up its lineup so we're recording other series instead of The Magic School Bus. One show my daughter watched was called My Friend Rabbit. After watching it once, she wanted me to TIVO it. When I mentioned that it looked kind of young for her, she argued that it's a great show about teamwork. Well, maybe it is, but it still looks pretty young for her.

I just looked up information on My Friend Rabbit and found out it won a couple of awards from different groups for best preschool series. While I'm glad it's a quality series, it bothers me that my daughter finds a show aimed for preschoolers as something she wants to watch.

She's also combing through catalogs putting together a wish list for the upcoming holidays. Her 8th birthday isn't far behind either! One of the toys that she put on her list is a baby doll toy that is aimed at 2 year olds.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with buying her another baby doll, I can't help but wonder why she likes things that are geared for younger kids. How can a child who is so advanced in some ways be entertained by things that are meant for someone so much younger?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Yay! The Saw Is Out of the Tree!

Earlier this week, I blogged about how my husband accidentally lodged a scary looking saw into a tree outside our kitchen window (see here). His project this weekend was going to be getting the saw out.

I was pretty nervous about having such a sharp, scary tool stuck near our window. I didn't think this could possibly have a good ending.

The weather reports for Wednesday were especially scary. Los Angeles was going to get hit by the Santa Ana winds. These hot winds can fan brush fires, dislodge trees, among other things. The winds can get quite intense by my house. I was expecting the tree to slam into our house with the saw attached. Yikes.

Yesterday morning, as I was washing some dishes, the sun finally came up enough to see the tree outside the window. Instead of seeing this:

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I saw this:

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Yay! The wind moved the tree just enough to get the saw unlodged without flinging it through our window.

I cannot believe our luck. It usually doesn't go that well. Maybe I should play the lottery!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ancient Egyptian for Halloween!

It's that time of the week--time to link up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. This week we're starting the alphabet again! A is for Ancient Egyptian!

I know I blogged pretty recently about my daughter's very unique idea to be an ancient Egyptian for Halloween. Well, I had to do a follow-up post to say that her wonderful, quirky idea wasn't that unique. Or quirky. Apparently, a lot of kids had the idea to dress up as ancient Egyptians!

Can it be that my daughter is SO nerdy that she's cool?

We had a great Halloween, full of fun activities. We went to a fun neighborhood to trick or treat. It seemed that even in this neighborhood, a lot of the homes weren't giving out candy. But the ones that did really take their Halloween very seriously! At some homes, you had to go through a lot of scary things, including people jumping out at you, to earn a fun-sized Snickers!

My daughter scored a couple of large candy bars too. She was so excited to get a full-sized Kit Kat bar--her favorite!

She generously put aside about 20 percent of her candy to donate to kids who weren't able to trick or treat. Her teacher encouraged kids to bring in their unwanted candy to help these kids out! I hope the others will follow suit to help brighten another kid's day.

After we arrived home and put daughter to bed, I enjoyed a ghost-hunting show to embrace the scary part of Halloween.

What adorable costume did you or your children wear? What's your favorite thing about Halloween?