Saturday, December 12, 2009

Secret Santa

Thank you and mahalo, Secret Santa from Idaho!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Death and Love

For some reason I've been hearing a lot recently about people who have unexpectedly lost their loved ones.

My youngest, Miss Thang, has a very tender heart. Whenever someone we know dies, be it four-legged, two-legged or finned, she always asks me if I'm ever going to die. And I have to tell her that everyone dies, although I don't plan to die for a very long time.

But I also let her know that none of us can control when we die, and the best thing to do to deal with that is to love each other as much as we can while we're still here. While we can't control the world, we CAN control how we love others, so that's what we do.
Photo by Rena Marou for

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Happy Birthday, Barcode!

Let me beat you to it: I am a geek. Not one of those genius geeks who make their fortunes coding the Next Great Application, but one of those geeks who enjoy spending quality time doing things no normal person would find interesting, such as wishing the barcode a happy birthday.

According to Wikipedia and a few other sites, the first bar code was patented on Oct. 7, 1952. Granted, it looked a bit different from the ones we recognize nowadays and the technology for its modern use didn't come into play until much later. But it was a barcode all the same and I applaud its inventors.

Other than serving as a quick identifier for almost everything we buy nowadays, the barcode also serves to entertain me. I found a really cool Web page that shows you how to read a barcode and have spent at least the last half-hour practicing my new skills on items from my pantry. I think my eyeballs are ready fall out of their sockets now. Good times.

Try it yourself, if you dare, and go to Tell your eyeballs to get over it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Where's Blog Blockwatch When You Need It?

There are so many wicked-awesome blogs out there. (Um, besides this one, of course.)

I'm a glutton for outstanding photos, interesting stories, descriptive writing and humor. When I find these qualities in a blog, I am all over it, like a stalker, but one who lacks the free time to actually stalk. (Oh, wait, that's called a fan.) Sometimes I am inspired to emulate them, but one thing I would never want to do is rip off their postings and present them as my own.

This has happened to an outstanding blog called House of Annie, where foodies Nate and Annie post mouth-watering photos of foods they enjoy as well as share some really interesting cultural stories, as they have recently moved from California to Malaysia, Annie's home turf. The writing is terrific, and to call the photos food porn is an understatement, kind of like saying Deep Throat was just another dirty movie. (Disclaimer: I never actually watched Deep Throat but I HEARD -- that's right, I HEARD -- that it set the benchmark for many porns after that. Don't judge me.)

So you can imagine how incensed I was when I visited their blog tonight and found this entry, in which they detail how another blog re-posted a House of Annie posting (verbiage AND photos) and passed it off as its own, which is kind of hard to do when Nate and Annie's trademark is on each of the photos. The blog-thieves even changed internal links to point to their own site.

Personally, I think that in the time it took to do all that copying, they could have done something more original, like create their own blog entry about blog-thievery with a cute little graphic of a thief stealing something. And maybe reference Deep Throat. I'm just sayin'.

So what have we learned here? Plagiarism is BAD. Nate and Annie put their copywrite on all their blog photos and that is SMART. I'm obviously way out-of-touch when it comes to porn titles. And Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches are surprisingly yummy. (Guess what I had for dessert?)

Oh, yes, I also learned a very cute new haiku, created by Nate and intended for the blog-thief:

I wish you would get
A hundred thousand bug bites
Where the sun don't shine

See? I copied his haiku. But I used attribution. So there.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Under the "Good Intentions" Heading

Aren't they precious? The Lil' Drums are just as yummy as the original-sized Drumsticks, and they are the perfect-sized portion, except for people like me and my if-one-is-good-another-would-be-better congregation.

They really help me in teaching my kids the importance of portion control. Then, after the little darlings have learned this important nutritional lesson, they will go to bed and I can help myself to another crispy sweet cone of dreamy goodness.

Years ago I used to bake tiny little cookies, just smaller-sized versions of the original recipe, for portion control. And guess what? I'd eat twice as many. So now I bake cookies as big as they were meant to be baked and I just eat one or two.

Portion control definitely has its place in our daily nutrition, but leave my ice cream alone.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

So here's how we'll be commemorating our country's independence:

  • nearly 16 pounds of ribs
  • hot dogs, salmon burgers and all the buns that accompany them
  • one giant watermelon
  • assorted soft drinks, juices, bottled water, wine and bottled sangria
  • chips and dips
  • coleslaw fixings
  • veggie platter
  • a variety of poppers and sparklers (none of the heavier stuff because our city doesn't allow them and we're wusses)
  • many, many friends in our tiny back yard

Do you think we're doing enough to help stimulate the economy?

Hope you all have a great Fourth of July weekend. Stay safe and don't lose any fingers!

And to Seattleites who are thinking of hitting Gas Works park for the fireworks show, don't say I didn't warn you: Click here and bring your bathroom supplies.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

R.I.P. Famous and Not-So-Famous

TV Sidekick Extraordinaire

Blond Bombshell Turned Serious Actress

Top-Selling Singer and Pop Icon

Super-Volume Pitchman

I understand that celebrities and public figures are people, too. They are someone's child, sibling, friend, lover and sometimes parent. Many times, they also represent a crucial period of our lives, so not only do we mourn their passing, we mourn the passing of a key part of ourselves or cherished memories we wish we could revive. I totally get that.

I only hope that we don't get so busy mourning famous people that we forget about others who have made a difference but didn't get as much fanfare. People like Neda Soltani, who became well-known only after being shot and killed in the streets of Tehran while marching for democracy. People like Joseph Cannon Houghteling, a political and environmental activist who devoted his life to public service. People like Dr. Jerri Nielsen FitzGerald, the doctor who diagnosed and treated her own breast cancer before a dramatic rescue at the South Pole in 1999, and who went on to spend her last decade of life speaking out about her cancer and working as a roving ER doctor at hospitals all over the Northeast.

They died recently, too. They may not have sang the songs from my formative years and they may not bring back memories of a more innocent time for me, but they left their marks on this world and I mourn them.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Leave the Flying to the Birds

Just got back from a really fun two-day business trip in Tennessee and North Carolina. Met some very interesting people, learned a lot about my client product and ate much catered-event food that was surprisingly delicious for catered-event food. Part of my trip included taking a scenic drive from Knoxville to Asheville and then through the beautiful winding Blue Ridge mountain roads of North Carolina. (I must Google "Pigsah," which was one of the areas we drove through and whose name caused us much mirth.)

The only part I didn't enjoy was the flying. The last time I traveled for business was before all the security precautions resulting from 9/11, that blissfully innocent era when you (and your unticketed companions) could get through security an hour before your scheduled flight with your shoes intact and bringing through as many liquid as you could carry, not just the quart-sized bag of 3 oz.-or-less containers.

Business flying just sucks. It sucks when you're flying on vacation, too, but at least you check your bags for that and you'll be at your destination much longer so you can kind of justify the inconvenience at the airport. Yes, yes, I know it's all for the common good of homeland security and I appreciate not having a terrorist on my flight. But when you're supposed to be on a two-day business trip and it takes you three days (nearly four if I hadn't miraculously been able to snag a last-minute vacant seat in Asheville, and that's a different story altogether) with all the flying and connecting and security precautions and what-not, well ... Let's just say I am very thankful for phone and Web conferences. It's great to go on location and learn things first-hand, but there's a lot to be said for being able to attend meetings while sitting comfortably in your office chair with a cup of coffee and having all the legroom you want.

Post-note: I googled "Pigsah" and apparently it's not Pig-sah but Pis-gah. It's a large national forest featuring many waterfalls and hiking trails and there is a local college institute with the same name that helps provides environmental education for students grades K-12 using the forest as a laboratory. I (and my co-driver) could have sworn the signs said Pig-sah. Now I feel bad that we giggled. Boo to me.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Time to Make the Donuts

I've been away for a while and I'm sure my three blog visitors probably missed me a bit. I would like to say that I've been traveling the world but, truth be told, I have a new part-time job that has taken me away from my Internet recreation world.

I'm not complaining because I really like my new job, working about 20 hours a week as a media coordinator for a small consulting firm. Basically what I do is try to get our clients' activities out to the media and try to convince publications, TV/radio stations and Web sites to post the info. It's interesting work and I totally get to use my degree and past journalism/PR background. I also like the people I work with and they are very flexible about letting me work from home. Considering the economy right now, the fact that I didn't even apply for this job (it was word-of-mouth) is mind-boggling.

There is one complaint I have to make and then I will shut up. Having been a stay-at-home mom and infrequent substitute schools staffer for the past few years, working 20 hours a week is kind of hard. Yeah, I know that people working 40+ hours (which I used to do) want to punch people like me in the mouth when they hear that type of complaint. The challenge is balancing my work hours with my second job, which is being a mom to two active young kids. This week, between PTA and band concert and ballet recital rehearsals, I rarely had an evening free.

Now that I've gotten that little whine out of my system, let me just say that I'm quite pleased to be working again and stimulating different parts of my brain. Oh, yeah, and getting paid is nice, too.

(The photo of the gnome above has nothing to do with my new job. My friend Jennifer spotted it while taking a walk and it made her think of me so she took its picture. That's right, the sight of a squatting gnome with its pants pulled down reminded her of me. Are my friends great or what?)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu This

I am sick of hearing about the swine flu.

There, I've said it. While I certainly don't discount its seriousness and the suffering of those who've contracted it, I have been hearing about it nearly 24/7 for the past few days. And I don't even watch cable news.

A kid from the morning bus stop is home sick this week because of a stomach bug, according to her mom. "Have you heard about the swine flu?" whisper the other grownups. Today, while helping a friend get ready for a garage sale, a child sneezes. "Wash your hands!" someone calls out. I certainly hope all that tree pollen that covered my parked vehicle this afternoon doesn't turn out to contain life-threatening airborne pathogens.

How about if we stay on top of the swine flu updates no more than three times a day and then spend some time discussing something else? I am happy to discuss any other topic: the economy, vasectomies, movies, religion, even other current events (for they do exist). Public hysteria is just so tiring.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mrs. Puff, I Presume

I'm happy to report that my surgery for dental implants went fine and I'm recovering with very little discomfort. The only drawback is that my post-op meds make me tired and lightheaded, which sucks when you have the rare sunny weekend we had. But such is life. (See, I'm being zen!)

Disappointingly, I have experienced no black, hairy tongue from my penicillin. However, a different side effect is that my jaw is still a little swollen, making my regular moon-pie face look even bigger. Every time I look in the mirror, I think of Mrs. Puff, a puffer fish character from SpongeBob SquarePants, one of my kid's favorite TV shows.

Then the theme song begins in my mind: "Ohhhhh ... Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? ...."

I am easily amused, but you knew that.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Black, Hairy Tongue

If you should see someone sporting a black, hairy tongue anytime soon, come up and say hello. It might be me.

The story: I am scheduled to have two dental implants put in this week. Right now I am missing two molars due a very complicated medical condition known as "bad teeth," so my oral surgeon will be placing two metal screws (i.e. dental implants) inside my jaw. Feel free to insert your own "loose-screw" jokes here.

The surrounding bones will form a bond with the implants and, once that process is done in a few months, my family dentist will add a post and crown on top of it. Then -- voila! -- I shall have teeth again, which means I won't have to learn to play the banjo or start producing moonshine in my back yard.

Medical advances continue to amaze me and, as someone with bad teeth AND gums, I appreciate the fact that I live in a country where I have access to these advances, as opposed to some third-world country. Or England.

But back to the black, hairy tongue. This is actually listed as a potential side effect for the penicillin I will need to take after the surgery to ward off infection. I am one of those people who read the side effect warnings on all drugs and usually scan through them automatically, but I do believe this may be the first time the phrase "black, hairy tongue" has come across my radar.

I'm kind of intrigued. Images of Cousin Itt from the Addams Family series come to mind. I'll keep you posted if I start to resemble him. Or her. Or it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

An Open Letter

Dear Military School:

My 12-year-old son would make an excellent candidate for your fine institution. First of all, he is academically advanced and has no police record. His teachers report that he is a joy to teach, full of good ideas and leadership skills.However, at home he is surly, lazy, dirty, sloppy, argumentative and too many other adjectives to list. We are currently in the processing of confiscating his electronic entertainment and he is getting THIS close to being grounded. We almost banned him from going to his good friend's birthday party this afternoon but then realized we would be stuck with him instead, so we are making an exception, especially since the party is five hours long. (Dancing happy jig.)

We know he is going through a typical adolescent phase and will probably grow up to be an upstanding citizen. Until then, I think he (and our mental health) would really benefit from the discipline meted out at your school. He could still come home for summer breaks (maybe) and all major holidays.

In payment for your services, he could help you troubleshoot your computers; help link up all Wi-Fi enabled devices; share his thoughts and opinions on how other people aren't very smart and are doing things the wrong way; instruct you on which things are "lame" and entertain younger students by coordinating bike races, which he does with the neighbors. You don't need to keep him very long. Maybe five years or so.

Thank you in advance for accepting him!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Stupid Things I've Done While Caffeine-Deprived

No one loves caffeine more than I. It is how I managed to graduate from college, stay awake at various jobs and remember my children's names. Usually I only need 2-3 strong cups each day to keep going but heaven help those around me if I have to go without.

Some people have headaches when they're deprived of caffeine. Me, I just do stupid things, and I thought I'd share some of them with you, since I have no pride.

Once I congratulated a woman I hadn't seen in a while on her obvious pregnancy. She informed me that she wasn't pregnant and asked, bewildered, if I thought she looked fat. While honesty is usually the best policy, it wasn't in this case, so I just apologized and mumbled something about my vision not working properly without caffeine.

I have forgotten my husband's very complicated name while introducing him to others. His name is Pete.

I have forgotten my own name.

I have sent my kids to school with festively colored hard-boiled eggs for lunch, only to realize by mid-morning that they weren't hard-boiled, or even cooked properly. (On the bright side, I think I gave the school secretary a good chuckle as she relayed this message to their teachers.)

I have driven 30 minutes in heavy traffic in the pouring rain for an appointment, only to arrive and realize I had the wrong day.

A few times I have poured myself a cup of coffee and couldn't remember if I took cream and sugar.

And the most shameful one just happened recently. I used to work with a fun gal with the first initial "J" who had pixy-ish reddish hair and a great smile. "J" and I have kept in touch via e-mail these past few years. A few days ago, someone requested to be my Facebook friend. Her profile showed that she had the first initial "J" and had pixy-ish reddish hair and a great smile. I sent her a message asking who she was.

At least "J" was amused.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My New Crack: Theo Chocolate

When I die I want my ashes to be scattered at 3400 Phinney Avenue North in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle so I can be close to the Theo Chocolate factory and store.

My first introduction to Theo came from a gift of their Nib Brittle Dark Chocolate bar, which is comprised of heavenly smooth dark chocolate and roasted bits of cocoa nibs. The texture is similar to eating a slightly crunchier Crunch bar, but the flavor is a trillion times better. (And I do mean a trillion, so don't try to debate me on that, math geeks. You know who you are.)

When out-of-town family members visited recently, we decided to take a tour of the factory, which a friend had highly recommended. Alas, the tour was completely booked but the friendly gal on the phone invited us to visit their store to try some of their chocolate samples. Anyone who knows me and my family know that, if you promise us free samples of anything, we will follow you like the lemmings that we are.

We rushed over to their small but well laid-out shop and spent the next hour in chocolate-sample-heaven.

Where to begin? Well, first of all, Theo Chocolates uses only cocoa-related products that are organic and obtained using fair-trade practices, all of which means zilch to me if the end product doesn't deliver.

But it does deliver, happily. We started with samples of Theo Origins Bars, chocolate bars that feature the flavor notes of cocoa beans from different parts of the world. The cacao content ranged from 65 to 91 percent. It was a lot of fun trying each one to find a favorite and the resulting cacao buzz put us in a very good mood indeed.

We moved on the Theo Classic Combination Bars, which combines dark chocolate with the following flavors: mint, orange and cherries with almonds. I thought the chocolate-mint combinatation was fine, although the strong taste of the spearmint and peppermint oils reminded me of minty toothpaste. However, I am also a person who doesn't enjoy peppermint tea for the reason, so if you like peppermint tea, I think you would adore this bar. The chocolate-orange combination was delicious, with a fresh orange taste that I thought complemented and did not overpower the taste of the chocolate.

I absolutely fell in love with the chocolate-cherry-almond combination, which features small bits of chewy dried cherries and crunchy roasted almonds. At first bite, you feel the textures of smooth, chewy and crunchy all at once. Then the dark chocolate hits you like an exclamation point and leaves you wanting more. Right now, the Dark Chocolate with Cherries and Almonds bar, which I shall call "crack" for short, is my favorite. I bought a lot of this, but much of my stash is already gone and I wonder if I'll get the violent shakes when my crack supply runs out.

We then moved on to the most fun of all chocolate bars, the Theo 3400 Phinney bars, which are milk and dark chocolates combined with a ton of unique ingredients such as coffee (double crack!), chai spices, hazelnut brittle, the aforementioned cocoa nibs and the wildest flavor of all ... coconut curry! Who was the genius who said, "Hey, let's combine milk chocolate with coconut and curry spices!"? The Coconut Curry bar tastes AMAZING, like a gentle Thai curry with the spices all mellowed out by the milky flavor of chocolate. I purchased a few bars of this as well and am saving them for a day when I feel like having my brain explode with wonderment.

To be honest, after this point everything else started to blend together. I liken it to the numbness your tongue feels at a wine tasting after you're already tasted and spat out four wines. Or it could have been the effects of cacao hitting my bloodstream and making me hyper-alert to everything, including the sound of my own breathing. This is why I will soon make a return trip to the store, so I can re-taste the chocolates and make further notes. The sacrifice I make for research is mind-boggling.

Theo Chocolate
3400 Phinney Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98103
Phone: 206.632.5100

(The very friendly Theo employees I spoke to recommend calling for tour reservations at least one week in advance.)


Saturday, March 28, 2009

More WTF, Now With Antioxidants!

Has antioxidants kicked flax off the health-food-fad bandwagon? Flax totally deserved it after giving soy milk a major ass-whoopin'. I hear that soy milk is banding together with the Atkins diet for a diabolical scheme to get back on top. But they’ll have to kick and scratch at gingko biloba, which didn’t get to enjoy its 15 minutes and is now seeking vengeance.

Ginseng is watching this folly from the sidelines and laughing at it all. Ginseng is wise. It would never pair with Jell-O, or so I hope.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

This Week's WTF

  • Today I purchased a large plastic storage box from Target. On the underside of the lid is a sticker with a drawing of a small child sitting inside the box and the lid being placed on top, with a big slash mark over the whole image. WTF? For a minute I toyed with the idea that I had misunderstood, that perhaps the sticker was making a statement about world overpopulation or that children should only be placed in lidless boxes. Finally I conceded that, yes, somewhere out there is a person for whom this sticker is necessary. And that person probably breeds.

  • I am in my early-40s and today received my first mail solicitation for funeral planning. WTF? Talk about jumping the gun! At least let me get my AARP card first, then place me on the mailing list for free adult diaper samples, and then hit me up to buy those cool little senior scooters and the special bathtubs that allow me to take a bath while sitting on a raised platform. Then we can talk funeral planning.

  • Finally, I had to give myself a big talk today after I dropped off at Goodwill umpteenth bags of unwanted stuff, useless, unnecessary things that we cleared out this weekend during a purging of our home office. After making the donations, I then proceeded to go into the store to check out more useless, unnecessary things. WTF?

    I was excited to find the same model of my vacuum cleaner being offered for $19.99. (Too bad it was missing the dirt cup, which you kind of need to use unless you enjoy having dirt, dust and dog hair swirled right back into your environment. But I digress.) I finally made myself walk out of there without purchasing any books, toys, CDs or framed paintings of street scenes.
So I pat myself on the back and share that with you. You're welcome!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

For Your Next Underground Bunker

There are people who claim to see signs that the world is ending. I've made my own predictions in the past (Crocs? Asian Fusion cuisine? Techno? Anyone ... Bueller?) but now I have the mother of all Exhibit-A's:

Yes, now you can buy individually packed servings of Spam. I can hear the masses rejoicing, because don't we all know the pain of ripping open a can of Spam (with the easy-top opening tab), plopping out that gelatinous block of meat-like substance and then slicing it with a knife? Why, these Spam Single packs will save you about 60 seconds of labor, which makes the wasted packaging and higher unit price so worth it.

My friend Gordon sent me this photo. Yes, it's his Spam, which I believe he obtained at the grand opening of a Costco near him on Oahu. Hawaii is a Spam-crazy state. I enjoy it in limited amounts, such as in fried rice or with my ramen noodles. I do not enjoy it fried up and slapped between two slices of white bread, which is how I was forced to eat it as a child. Sometimes, for variety, my mother would coat the bread with mayo, which just made it worse.

Gordon notes that the 3 oz. serving of Spam Single contains 990 mg. of sodium, which I think should preserve it nicely and make it a wonderful addition to your underground bunker, in which I hope you'll invite me to join you when the world starts collapsing on itself.

On a brighter note, I leave you with a recipe for Spam Musubi that I found on the Internet. Spam Musubi is kind of like sushi with a cooked slice of Spam on top. Obviously, it is not a traditional Japanese item but an adaptation that was created by someone living in -- where else? -- Hawaii. Click here for the recipe and let me know if you try it. I like Spam musubi but will not make it at home because it if turns out well I'll be making it WAY too often. Heaven knows that I stand on too many other slippery slopes as it is.

One is the Loneliest Prime Number....

To the three people who read my blog, I'm sorry I didn't post any entries in nearly two weeks. I was busy feeling blue.

I was feeling blue because of one or more of the following reasons:
  • My kids are ungrateful little brats who don't appreciate what they have. (Actually, I've been told this isn't true.)
  • My friends don't really care about me. (Or maybe they've been busy recovering from the flu, chauffeuring their kids to activities and trying to balance work and family.)
  • My husband doesn't look or act like a virile 25-year-old. (Neither do I, of course, but who's keeping score?)
  • My toenails are in need of a pedicure. (True.)

However, I'm bored with feeling blue so I'm over it. Angst and melancholy remind me of these two really handsome but vapid guys I went out on dates with in college -- At first, each guy was an exciting novelty, but by the end of the evening, I was so bored I could have fallen asleep standing up. Also, one of the guys spent the evening doing Pee Wee Herman impressions, which are only funny the first 8 times. The other guy turned out to be one of those people who dance to their mirrored reflections on the dance floor, and there's just no excuse for that.

So I'm ready to turn my frown upside down and there are many things to cheer me. We just got digital cable and now I can watch Beastie Boys videos on demand. I'm going out this week with some girlfriends who always make me laugh. And I just remembered I have a brand new bottle of Baileys sitting in my kitchen.

Good times!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Next on Survivor: The Birthday Party

I am officially done hosting kids' birthday parties for the year. Hurray!

While I enjoyed planning my daughter's girly-party and my son's manly pizza-and-skate soiree, and each event went smoothly, I'm always glad to be done with the round of hostings.

I think they should make an episode of Survivor in which the teams of challengers are dropped off at several suburban locations and forced to deal with the following obstacles:

  • Crying child who may or may not be on the verge of throwing up
  • Bored child who decides to make things livelier by trying to hide in the fridge
  • Guest is dropped off shortly before the party ends and is picked up an hour after everyone else has gone home.
  • Spoiled, ungrateful guest who announces, "This is stupid." Extra points for not kicking him. More extra points if you DO kick him.
  • Parent drops off a child and then informs you that the kid is allergic to every food item you are serving.
  • Guests whose parents responded that they would come never appear.
  • Guests whose parents did not RSVP magically appear.
  • Spouse just happens to get sick the day of the party and is forced to spend that time in bed resting and watching TV instead of helping you.
  • Spouse just happens to get sick the day of the party but tries to help anyway and is useless.

The team that survives a party at Chuck E. Cheese without trying to kill that damn singing mouse wins.

Now THAT I would watch.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy V.D.!

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone! Also, my heartiest condolences if you are attempting to make a dinner reservation or purchase reasonably priced roses at this late date.

After 18 years of marriage, the Silent Swede and I don't make a big deal out of Valentine's Day for the following reasons:
  • It falls between our wedding anniversary and our son's birthday, so the birthday festivities tend to take over and we usually combine anniversary and Valentine's Day for convenience.
  • We've been married 18 years.
This is not to say that the Swede and I don't love each other, but after you've been together for a while, Valentine's Day is just another day. Sure, it's a fun excuse to receive chocolates and sexual favors, but you can do that the other 364 days of the year. Also, when your boyfriend buys you overpriced flowers, it means he loves you. When your husband, someone with whom you share bank accounts, buys you overpriced flowers, it's time for a chat about fiscal responsibility.

Our most memorable Valentine's Day would have to be from several years ago, when we were stuck inside a Denny's booth across the street from Disneyland. With every other chain restaurant on the street packed to the gills, Denny's seemed to be the least of all evils. While we were trying not to stare at the, um, diverse assortment of humanity around us (think of characters from a David Lynch movie, but with kids), our very sweet but tired waitress informed us that the kitchen was running behind for the evening and apologized in advance. I think our dinner took about two hours, which is two hours too long to be inside any Denny's.

In the middle of it all, while our hungry and cranky kids tried to tear apart the booth, the Swede and I looked deep into each other's eyes and said together, "Happy Valentine's Day." Then we laughed maniacally and went back to restraining our little heathens.


On a (even) lighter note, Cake Wrecks, one of my favorite sites, offers a wonderful selection of wrecked Valentine's Day cake photos, including the one shown above. I highly recommend that you take a look-see.

Photo via Cake Wrecks

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I Heart the Health Room

I have found my new calling: School health-room assistant.

I can't call myself the school nurse because I'm not a trained nurse. However, I am trained in CPR/First Aid and school district policies regarding all matters of health. In our district, every three or four schools are overseen by an RN and each school's health room is monitored by a health room assistant. This is what I did this past week as a substitute staffer for my kids' school district.

Friends are surprised that I like this job so much because I'm known to be a bit of a germ-a-phobe. There is hand sanitizer in every bag I own, as well as in the glove compartment of the Babemobile. Also, I don't enjoy being around sick people too much.

This is what I have learned: The health room is probably the cleanest place in the school. Sick kids are in there for a short period and don't get the opportunity to wander around and touch the keyboards or pens. You are never more than 10 feet away from a sink and soap. There are boxes and boxes of disposable gloves as well as rubbing alcohol. It's a dreamland for moi.

When a kid wanders into the health room and you offer ice for a bump, bandage for a cut, a cleanly lined tub for vomit, crackers for empty tummies or just a sympathetic ear, you are suddenly that nice lady who is much nicer than that monster who yells at you during recess after you try to throw a rock at a passing car. Sick kids are much more pleasant than sick adults in the sense that they don't whine about all the work they're missing or insist that they have a hereditary condition and will probably die soon.

I feel very responsible in the health room. There are thick folders of all the students' health histories as well as records of which kids get which meds, all of which are neatly stored and labeled in a locked cabinet, for which I get to hold the key. It's very humbling to realize that when there is a medical emergency, I will have to remember everything I've been taught and remember where everything I need is located. It forces me to stay alert. I've had a few scares already at school and I'm glad I knew where everything was.

And the forms! I love clearly defined procedures that are accompanied by neatly printed forms. Bump your nose with a ball? There are two forms to fill out as well as a call home to let parents know that their students will come home with a form. Fall off the bars and hit your head? Ditto.

I am going to try to get as many health room substitute jobs as I can in the hopes that a permanent position will open in the near future. For anal-retentive (or as I prefer to call it, "detail-oriented") person who is not squeamish and enjoys children on a short-term basis, it's an amazing job.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Go Away, Germs

My youngest is home sick with a cold and cough today. My husband has been coughing and blowing his nose for the past week. My oldest has spent the last few days lagging. And now I feel a cough in my throat.

Go away, germs.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Super Bowl XYZ (Pick a Roman Numeral)

I am one of those strange people who, on Super Bowl Sunday, will ask, "Which teams are playing again?" I do not deny this. I am not ashamed of my ignorance of the game, nor do I apologize for the hypocrisy that still allows me to attend Super Bowl parties and partake of Super Bowl snacks. I attribute the fact that I still receive invitations to my sparkling party personality. Let me have my delusions.

My favorite part of Super Bowl is the commercials. I've already blogged about my love for cheesy infomercials, but I am no advertising snob. I enjoy the short commercials, too, especially when companies have spent thousands and millions of dollars to entertain me.

I don't think the commercial above came out during any Super Bowl Sundays, but a friend posted it on her Facebook profile and it's now permanently burned into my brain. Whenever I have a bad day, I am going to view it to cheer myself up, because it's just so dang weird. (Also, I can totally picture my daughter performing it during recess, but I digress.)

Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Going to the Dogs

I am ready to either sell my preteen or ship him off to military school. My husband wanted kids so it's technically his fault. I wanted more dogs.

Just needed to get that off my chest. Feel free to commiserate or ignore.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

There are no words that can adequately describe how I feel today. So I won't even try. It's been done (and way more eloquently) elsewhere, so what I will say is this: I feel hope. I haven't felt hope in many years. It's strange but nice.
One person alone can't make everything better. But when people have faith and hope, they can do amazing things together. Today I might even wave a flag and not feel insincere about it. For me, that's huge, and I bet I'm not alone.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Speaking of Lady-Bits...

The other night, I explained Brazilian waxing to a friend who had managed to reach womanhood AND have a child without ever hearing about it. The look of horror and repulsion on her face pretty much guaranteed that she will think twice about going out for drinks with us gals again.

While I was surprised at her innocence on this topic, I was also relieved to know that I am not the only one who cringes at the thought of having someone apply melted wax near your private parts and then ripping all the hairs out by the roots. Especially when you have to PAY them to do this.

Disclaimer: I have a high pain threshold. I am not a fan of The Bush. Also, I believe that every woman should do what she wants with her body, be it contraception, tattoos or having a total stranger rip out your pubic hairs en masse. Viva la difference, I say.

Now take that wax and get the hell away from me.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Eight Years Young!

My youngest, Miss Thang, turns 8 today.

It's a very strange feeling to be a parent and watch your children get older. It means that you're getting older yourself. It means that, one day, they will no longer need you. They will stretch their wings and go out into the world (as you taught them to do) and fall in love and get hurt and fall in love and hopefully start a family of their own and they will call you to complain about their own children misbehaving.

And I will offer supportive and sage advice to them while fighting to urge to laugh my ass off and shout, "Paybacks are a bitch!" Then I will pour myself a glass of wine, enjoy a chocolate that I can eat ALL BY MYSELF, and enjoy the solitude.

But until then, Happy Birthday, Mommy's little Sweet Pea.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Thank You for (Not) Sharing

It's a universal law, as dictated by moi: You cannot become a compassionate human being until you have peed in your pants at least once.

I myself peed in my pants several times in elementary school and, to my horror, there was one cute boy named "John" (real name!) who always reminded me about it. Then I moved to a different neighborhood and never saw him again. In college, I became friends with a girl who had the same last name as that boy. I didn't think anything of it until one day when she mentioned her brother "John."

Although it had been years since John and the peed-pants occurrences, a bolt of horror smacked me in the head and I observed her carefully to see whether SHE KNEW. Just in case John had compiled a dossier on me and my former lack of bladder control. It ended fine: Although it turned out that she really was his sister, she acted all normal and everything. I'm still convinced that SHE KNEW. But the girl was a discreet saint. Wherever she is now (for we didn't become lifelong friends or anything), I hope she's happy, healthy and enjoying her lottery winnings in a great town where they recycle.

Why do I share this? Because I'm a sharer. Sometimes too much. At a New Year's Eve party we were congratulating a guest on finishing her first marathon when I decided to share the story of a woman who had been running in the same marathon when her cell phone rang and she learned that her sister had just died. Halfway through the story, it occurred to me that perhaps this was not the best tale to be sharing at a festive occasion, but it was too late. I had already given out most of the specifics and several people were staring at me solemnly and muttering, "How sad!" I really should attend more parties.

Anyway, back to peeing in pants. I was reminded of this when I read this posting in one of my favorite blogs, Boobs, Injuries and Dr. Pepper. In it, blog creator Crystal shares her adventures of passing out and peeing in her pants while donating blood. It's hilarious! Well, I think you had to be there. I highly suggest you give it a read but not while you're eating a salad. You'll see why. You're welcome.
Photo by Rena Marou for

Sunday, January 4, 2009

More Coolness

Just a few days ago, another cool surprise package showed up at my door, this a time courtesy my awesome friend Izzy from Georgia. In it was a soft, cozy, wine-colored blanket to keep me warm.

Also to keep me warm was a copy of her own published novel, which I look forward to reading. Izzy's specialized genre is man-on-man erotica from ancient Japan. This will be a welcome change from the glut of chick-lit and funny parenting books everyone assumes (incorrectly) we moms like to read. If you want a link to her site, let me know and I'll send it to you.

Mahalo, Santa Izzy!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Merry New Year!

Whenever I hear "Happy New Year" I can't help but think of Eddie Murphy in the movie Trading Places when he is on a train, pretending to be a visiting African, and shouting "Merry New Year!"

I hope 2009 will be happy and healthy for you. As we continue into the 21st century, I'm still wondering what happened to those flying cars and robotic servants they promised us back in the day, but whatever.

Merry New Year!