Wordless Wednesday: Christmastime

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

(We hid the tickets for an upcoming trip in the box, more later)

I hope you all enjoyed your holiday as much as we did!

My Favorite Christmas Ornaments: A Tradition

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We have a set of ornaments we consider very special. They're my favorite ones to unpack every year. My dad started giving them to Phil and I several years ago and it's became a tradition that we'd get one from him each Christmas. They're the annual ornaments from The White House Historical Association.

My dad used to work for the Secret Service. He's been to Washington, and The White House, so many times it's become a non-event for him (I was young when we went as a family, but I do remember the VIP treatment we got on every tour we took).

Even though anyone can order these ornaments, I love that they've come from my dad. He started in the Secret Service when I was three. He has such a unique connection to our nation's government and its history. Each year's ornament depicts a different scene, is inspired by White House events or re-creates an era of President's past.

The 2002 ornament is inspired by the glass chandeliers in The East Room.

2004's ornament is of a sleigh ride on The North Lawn, something President Hayes liked to do with family and guests.

The 2007 ornament, my favorite so far, is of President Grover Cleveland's wedding in The Blue Room.

My dad has walked the White House halls, been in these rooms and stood on the White House grounds. Something about that really speaks to me. I love that we will have these heirlooms to pass on to Tyler.

Are there any holiday heirlooms in your family? Who gave them to you?

I'm In A Calendar!

Monday, December 21, 2009

No, not a Women of Tiger Woods calendar. Heh. But, Phil's company publishes a calendar every year with employee submitted photos and we won first place in our category!

Phil got to get dressed up (for him, anyway) and go to a luncheon with the big wigs where they gave him
my a $100 Amex card.

The two other pictures I took that day are in a previous Wordless Wednesday. Lots of good things happening lately, hope they continue into 2010.

Prayers Needed Please {It's A Good Thing}

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I'm at my mom's house dropping Tyler off for his vacation with The Grandmas. Last night, the phone rang at about 10:00. Caller ID showed the area code for mom's hometown, where it was almost midnight. Generally, no one calls that late at night with good news so we were prepared to hear something bad.

It was my cousin calling to say, that after several years on the transplant list, he'd just received a call that a kidney was on it's way! If all the testing goes as planned (which is happening as I type) he'll be in surgery in a few hours.

Please send some positive energy to the midwest that the kidney is a match and the surgery goes well. Also, please pray for the people in Kansas who lost a loved one that they can find peace in knowing someone else's life will be changed forever.

I'm Tired of All the Ugliness in Social Media. A Letter to Those Determined to Ruin the Internet for the Rest of Us

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

One of the reasons I started blogging was because the community totally blew me away. When I was only reading blogs and hadn't started my own, I was impressed, awed and inspired by this group of people I didn't even know existed but was so happy to discover.

They were forging friendships, relationships and support networks that spanned the country and even the globe. This group had formed a community that was willing to support, encourage and help one another. They were totally vested in each others lives. And that was something I wanted to be part of.

But times are changing and not really for the better. The community and the sense that "we're all in this together," is being replaced with divisiveness, attitude, holier-than-thou, anger, finger pointing and a general ugliness that is really detracting from what we've worked so hard to build. Some days, blogging is not even fun anymore.

I read several blogs whose authors are so candid and revealing. They get much more personal than I do here. It's refreshing to read other people say the things I often think but feel I can't put here. Some of the bloggers have recently recounted the emails, comments and Tweets they receive that are so incredibly negative and insensitive. Which, really? Don't do a whole lot of good. Sometimes an actual conversation or dialogue takes place, but more often than not there's nothing but defensiveness. I'm all for discussion and debate. Hell, sometimes I wish I could write the type of post that really gets people talking. But the spite and hatefulness are just not necessary, and it's bringing us all down.

We put our hearts and souls online. And to be slammed by the very people who are part of our community, people we should be able to trust, is such an insult. The spaces we create are for our thoughts, hopes, dreams, hesitations, insecurities, fears, triumphs, joys and sorrows. Our spaces are whatever we need them to be, when we need them to be it.

For someone to step into another person's space and be disrespectful is almost unconscionable. So many blogs read as though we're sitting in a kitchen, having a conversation. If someone came into my kitchen with no other purpose than to spew negativity and vitriol? They would be permanently uninvited. Mind you, I'm not talking about disagreeing with me. I'm speaking of the hostility and judgement that I've seen lately. It's mind boggling. And sad. And disheartening.

It seems that for some, the other side of the keyboard creates this magic force field of righteousness. There are ways to have a conversation without name calling. There are ways to create a dialogue without getting on a soapbox. There are ways to express an opinion or disagree without resorting to, "I'm right, you're wrong."

When I first started blogging, a lot of the advice to newbies on what makes a "good" blog was: keep your blog real. Be authentic. Be honest. No one wants to feel we're getting smoke blown up our asses day after day because life just isn't like that. We want the good and the bad. So many bloggers took that advice and do just that, and then they get hammered.

From where I sit, I hear, "I want honesty, candor and realty, but not too much honesty. I want someone to share the nitty gritty, but take note: If I don't agree, I'll absolutely let them know in no uncertain terms just how wrong they are."

There are people who really seem to think their shit doesn't stink and they have every right to judge. Well guess what? Light a match because I can smell it from here.

I fear that many people I read are going to clam up. They'll get so tired of all the negativity they'll start to edit themselves. That's not honesty, that's self censorship. Who wants to read that? I know I don't. Even worse, what if these people putting their hearts and souls into their work get so tired of the abuse they shut their sites down altogether.

What a travesty that would be. For all of us.

I don't know where this change is coming from. When I first appeared online there was this sense that we're all here to support one another as women, men, parents, entrepreneurs and writers. One minute we're all in a circle, holding candles and singing the Coca Cola song and the next we're tearing each other down. Disagreement doesn't have to equal disrespect.

For what it's worth, I do still see a lot positivity. But the negativity cloud keeps getting bigger and bigger and the few rotten apples in the basket are making it harder and harder to keep perspective and focus on the good. It feels that there used to be a lot more 'unity' in our community. I close my reader sometimes and feel like I need a shower.

Remember Dirty Dancing? "This is my dance space, that's your dance space." In this modern age of 'unfollow,' 'unfriend,' 'unsubscribe,' and all the other 'uns'; if you don't like what someone is doing in their dance space, you have a lot of options. If what I'm doing on my space isn't interfering with yours, then we're all good.

So here's a question for the soap box standers: why are you giving up your power? In my mind, the more time someone spends complaining, pointing out another person's flaws (as you perceive them) and operating in a space of negativity; that's counterproductive. You're giving someone else an awful lot of control over you and your emotions. I'm trying not to speak for anyone else, but I've spent much of my adult years trying to keep my power. Take care of your own business before you tell someone how to take care of theirs.

This post has been in my mind for awhile. It's been floating so long I figured it's best to get it out and hope that I can move on. I'm not linking to anyone or any of the instances I've observed because there are many. I'm not trying to point fingers. This is just a 'state of the blog world as I see it.'

I'm hoping next year is different. I'd like to see a return to courtesy and respect. I think there will always be controversy and asshatery (especially from those who need to hide behind the Anonymous curtain). But I hope whatever feelings people are bottling up can be let out without there being so much ugly and bitterness.

We ask other media outlets to take us seriously. We can't expect them to if we don't take ourselves seriously and behave accordingly. We have a whole new year in front of us. Can we start with a clean slate? Can we all remember there are real people on the other side of the screen?

When we put our minds and hearts together we are a powerful force. I hope we can continue to use that power for good. I'm really looking forward to 2010. I want to be proud of our community again, not ashamed to tell people I'm in it. Please don't let me down.

O Magazine for $5 at Amazon!

Monday, December 14, 2009

I've never seen an O Magazine offer this low and I've been a subscriber for 2 years. I just called customer service (O Mag, not Amazon) and asked if I purchased two separate offers would that give me 2 years. The woman told me I'd more than likely get double issues for one of the months but if I call back they could blend the two subscriptions together. Woot!

*The offer ends this Saturday 12/19. Affiliate link.

Wordless Wednesday: I Didn't Even Know Paris Hilton HAD A Shoe Line

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I'm a little embarrassed. But I'll get over it.

$5 Magazine Sale at Amazon

Sunday, December 6, 2009

At last count, my magazine subscription number has risen to 22 (it's a sickness). Many I'm getting, like Shape and Woman's Day, are free but I've taken advantage of so many deals I've found online. I've been earning Amazon gift certificates through a web panel I belong to and these $5 subscriptions* have been great for renewing the freebies.

I'm using them as holiday gifts too since we're on a pretty strict budget this year. I'm going to print out the cover of an issue and tie it with a bow to give to the recipient. Hope this helps you guys too!

*It's an affiliate link

Great Find: How I Used the $5 off Hallmark Gold Crown Coupon

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

CLOSED*If you're in So Cal, don't forget to enter my holiday meal giveaway: a spiral cut ham dinner for 6 people!*CLOSED

I got a pretty sweet deal when I went to the Hallmark store today and wanted to pass it along. Several blogs I read posted about a great coupon for $5 off a $5 purchase a Hallmark Gold Crown stores.

I went intending to pick up a few cards since they have a pretty good selection of .99 ones. When I got to the register, they had a small display of Christmas CD's marked down as their 'deal of the week.' I put four of the cards back and got Barry Manilow and Cheryl Crow CD's instead. Barry was $1 and Cheryl $3. With the coupon I paid .43!

I know most, if not all, Hallmark stores are franchised so this could only be an isolated deal but it's definitely worth checking out. I have 4 more coupons left and I told them I'd be back tomorrow to take advantage of the offer again. The CD's will be good stocking stuffers and teacher gifts.
From what I've read, the $5 coupon is now in 10 different magazines:

* Better Homes and Garden
* Country Living – December/January, after Page 96
* Family Circle – after Page 48
* Martha Stewart Living – December, Page 74
* Oprah – December, Page 119
* Parents – between Pages 84 and 85 ($10 off a story book)
* Real Simple – December
* Southern Living – December, insert after Page 62
* Taste Of Home – December/January, insert after Page 42
* Woman’s Day – December, Page 33

Hope you're able to take advantage of it!

*Thank you Couponing to Disney for compiling the magazine list! Sorry for the bad photo, I wanted to get the deal up before family game night.

Win a Full Holiday Meal from Golden Share Foods {Giveaway}

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

*Winner has been chosen and notified. Congrats Ali!*
*Giveaway is for Southern California residents only. Please read the full contest rules below*

Phil and I were trying to remember how many times we've hosted Thanksgiving. Since we couldn't really remember, I have to assume the meals weren't very memorable. There was the time we had my mom over. I think that might have been our first attempt. The turkey was underdone, the skin wasn't crispy brown and we broke the garbage disposal with potato peelings. My mom hasn't had a holiday meal at our house since.

I think we had friends over right after Tyler was born. I say "think" because, even though I have a picture of our friends with the makings of a meal in the background, as a brand new mom of a 24-day old baby, I can't remember a single thing about it.

Fortunately, we had a really relaxing Thanksgiving this year. I made our holiday dinner, and it turned out great. We tried something new this year. Rather than going to the store (or stores) for all the meal components, we ordered a full holiday "dinner in a box" from Golden Share Foods, a food co-op based here in Southern California. We placed our order online and Phil picked up the meal about a week before Thanksgiving.

Not having to run around buying things before the 3 day was one less thing to worry about. After the walk, since I couldn't move and Tyler was running a fever, knowing I had just about everything I needed made prepping and cooking a lot less stressful. Plus, we had so much leftover turkey and vegetables Phil was able to make his turkey bone gumbo. I may just volunteer to host Turkey Day again next year.

What does this have to do with you? I was getting to that. I want to give you the same stress-free experience I had. Golden Share Foods has given me a FULL holiday meal to give to one of you! The package has enough food to feed six people:

1 Spiral Cut Honey Ham w/ Glaze Packet (7-9 lbs)
1 ea. Fresh Celery Sleeved
1 bag Fresh Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 can Pineapple Chunks in Natural Juice
3 lbs. Fresh Sweet Potatoes
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
3 lbs. Fresh Apples
1 can Apple Sauce
2 lbs. Fresh Onions
1 doz Dinner Rolls
1 lbs. Fresh Green Beans
1 Whole Pumpkin Pie (10 inch/ 40 oz)

See? That's a lot of food! What do you need to do to win?

1. Visit the pickup locations on the Golden Share Foods site. Come back here and leave comment on this post with the location closest to you. This is required since the giveaway is for locals only.

2. The winner is responsible for picking up the meal at their closest location.

2. I MUST have a way to get in touch with you! I will have to delete comments with no contact info.

3. Comments will close on Sunday, December 6th at 11:59pm CA time.

4. I will use random.org to draw the winner and post the results/notify winners via email and in a "Winners" post.

5. For two extra entries: (not required) Tweet, and/or blog about this contest and leave each of your links in a separate comment (three contest entry opportunities total). You will need a free Twitter account.

San Diego: Win a full #holidaymeal for 6. Spiral cut ham with all the trimmings from @GldnSHAREfoods Ends 12/6.

6. You do not have to follow or subscribe to this blog as a method of entry (but you're more than welcome to!). Tweet as often as you like, but only one Tweet will count as an extra entry. Leave one comment for each entry. Here is the URL to this post: http://bit.ly/GldnShr

*Golden Share Foods gave us our Thanksgiving meal for this review.

The San Diego Breast Cancer 3 Day - Amazing!

Monday, November 30, 2009

(Mom and I waiting for opening ceremonies to begin)

Every adjective I've heard to describe the 3 Day is true. It was such an amazing experience! all weekend long there was laughter, tears and a lot of energy. There was also a lot of ice, band aids, ace bandages and limping (and not just on my part). But, as I heard many times, "It's not chemo."

I live in a beautiful city and it was so awesome to see it this way. The 3 Day really brings the community together. I've seen it many times as I've cheered but being on the other side, as a walker, it's so awesome to see how many neighborhoods make such an effort to be supportive throughout the weekend. I've seen so many of the same people year after year and their dedication is impressive and inspirational.

I have hundreds of pictures and a lot of video. I wish I'd had access to WiFi and laptop so I could post updates at the end of the day. There's so much to show and tell! I'll try to spread it out so I'm not overwhelming you (and boring the people who are tired of all the boob talk). There are a lot of things I'm going to do differently next year* that I hope to pass on for anyone thinking of participating for the first time.

Huge thank you's to my mom for all her help with my fund raising and to everyone who made a donation. If I hadn't raised the money I would have either had to back out of the walk or pay the difference (which Phil was prepared to do, bless his heart). Thank you Abby for working on my feet, ankle and knee. It made a huge difference!

And speaking of Phil, thanks honey for coming out every day and bringing Tyler with you. Seeing you guys throughout the weekend was such an energy boost. Thanks for taking all our phone calls, bringing the things we needed and taking away my dirty laundry. Thank you for wrapping my ankle every day since. Love you.

*Yep, even though I'm still not completely healed, I'm thinking ahead to next year. I've been talking to
a few people and it seems I may have a team in the making!

My Thoughts on the Color Pink and the Month of October

Friday, November 20, 2009

A few weeks ago I made a clerk at WalMart cry. I didn't mean to. She was telling me her sister's breast cancer story and she got emotional. Since I've gotten more involved with the 3 Day, I notice bracelets, pins, T-shirts and just about anything with a pink ribbon, a lot more than I used to.

The checker was wearing a pink ribbon bracelet, and I asked her, as I've started to do lately, whether she is a Survivor.
She told me no, but her sister is and asked the same of me. I told her about the walk and answered her questions about the event.

She told me he sister recently received her second breast cancer diagnosis. She was originally diagnosed 17 years ago and had a mastectomy on her right side. In between the last diagnosis and the current, this woman's sister suffered from ovarian cancer, optical cancer AND brain cancer. That's a whole lot of crap for one person (and one family) to deal with.

I was stunned. I said I'd think of her sister while I was walking. She thanked me, and thanked me for walking. I replied, "I have it easy. It's your sister and your family who have a fight ahead of you. I wish you all well." And that's when she started to tear up. She could only nod and wave goodbye because she was so choked up. When I ask people, "are you a survivor?" those are the types of stories I hear. Some are happier, but all are tragic in their own way.

Not too long before this I read
a piece on AOL news that has stuck with me. It was about Breast Cancer Awareness Month and raised the question of commercialism, how much pink is too much pink, and is the ribbon overexposed? I saw that sentiment echoed elsewhere online throughout the month of October.

Parts of the article I agree with. Some companies are slapping a pink ribbon on anything and everything. Sometimes the items make sense, but other times (for example a make up line whose ingredients may be cancer causing) it makes me scratch my head. Plus, just because something is pink doesn't mean the company actually gives money to any type of breast cancer organization. The color pink and the breast cancer ribbon aren't regulated.

On the other hand, how can awareness be bad? If a man or woman sees a pink ribbon and remembers to schedule a mammogram or do a self exam, isn't the ribbon then serving it's purpose? Tyler and I buy yogurt with the pink lids because we know a portion of the proceeds will go to legitimate research. I know, too, that the amount of funds being donated will have a cap and that there is a chance my purchase won't do anything at all. But, I like to think that it will. I was going to buy yogurt anyway, why not buy the brand that is supporting a cause I feel passionate about?

I understand there are people who have lost loved ones who view the ribbon as a reminder of that loss. I can also understand people going through treatment not wanting their diagnosis in their face everywhere they turn. After all, they are not their disease. Breast cancer isn't the only thing women die of and it's certainly not the only cancer out there. But are those reasons enough to start a reverse call to action and change corporate cause marketing practices?

I can't help but think of how far we've come in terms of research and development since the woman at WalMart's sister was first diagnosed 17 years ago, how far we have to go and how much money it will take to get there.

The stories I've heard make me feel so helpless at times. The little bit of this blog I have devoted to posts on breast cancer and the walk have helped. Knowing I'll be participating in the walk and raising funds has helped too.

By the time this post goes up, my mom and I will have made it through opening ceremonies and set off with thousands of men and women to walk 60 miles over three days. We will raise awareness, celebrate survival and strength and remember those who fought so hard. Strangers will thank us on behalf of their loved ones or even on their own behalf. We will hear inspiring stories of courage and heartbreaking ones of loss. We'll be surrounded by pink and the pink ribbon. And I just don't see how that can be a bad thing.


Actually, These Pants DON'T Make My Butt Look Big

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I've been blaming the baby weight I'm carrying on my love of starches, carbs, chocolate and food in general. I haven't tried to diet but lately have tried to be more conscious of what I'm eating, when I eat it and why. I have lost some weight, which I've been attributing to the training for the walk but mostly on these stinking braces. Some of my pants are loose and it seems my cheekbones have decided to come out of hiding.

I haven't stepped on a scale so I couldn't translate my pants not staying up into actual pounds lost. Last week I broke out the Wii Fit for the first time in ages to try the new game I bought. While my Wii Fit age had jumped to 40, my BMI was down and the animated board told me I've lost almost 14 pounds!
I couldn't believe it.

Last Tuesday I decided it was time to try on jeans for a pair that fit better (which is usually a nightmare because there's so much junk in my trunk). I had a coupon from BlogHer for a free pair of Gap jeans that I've been saving. I pulled my usual size off the rack and brought a few different styles into the dressing room. And they were too big!

The salesperson came to check on me and I asked for the next size down, which I haven't had to do since I was in my 20's.
I haven't looked like this in a pair of jeans since college. I can honestly say, for the first time in a long time, that I don't think my butt looks big! I don't care if it is vanity sizing, wearing a size 6 again is making me pretty happy today.
(I apologize for both the crappy photo and the fact that I didn't clean the mirror first)

UPDATE: My mom arrived at our house this afternoon for the 3 Day and the first thing she said when I got out of the car was, "Wow! You did get skinny! I can't remember the last time you were that size!" Umm, thanks?

*None of the companies or brands mentioned asked me to do so, I only included them as a means to tell the story.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Numero Water Boutique in Littlle Italy [Whrrl]

Wordless Wednesday: San Diego Zoo

For more Wordless Wednesday visit: 5 Minutes for Mom, Mom Dot, What's That Smell

Can You Help Mocha Momma? [small purses wanted]

Friday, November 13, 2009

The lovely and inspiring Kelly from Mocha Momma needs help. She is assistant principal at a high school and is collecting small purses for the female students. For security, the girls are no longer allowed to carry purses bigger than a sheet of paper. Kelly will be holding a purse sale at the school where the girls can choose a bag for $5 and the proceeds will go to her school.

Mocha Mommas Purse Drive

Read about how the One Small Purse project began on Kelly's blog. I went through my closet and have 4 small bags boxed and ready to mail. If you're making a Goodwill run, posting on Craigslist or donating to Amvets, please consider sending your unused small purses to Kelly instead. Thanks!

Tastemaker 2010 Challenge- The Second Box Arrives!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The second mystery box for the Tastemaker challenge arrived on Tuesday. I like the idea of waiting to open it on video so you guys can see too.

I'll give you all the details on this new challenge soon!

Happy 2nd Birthday Maddie

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Today Maddie would have turned 2. Her parents, Mike and Heather, have suffered the worst imaginable loss. Help them honor their daughter and consider a donation to the foundation they started in her name, Friends of Maddie. A $25 donation creates one NICU Family Support Pack. Happy birthday Maddie. I'm wearing my favorite purple ring today and thinking of you.

Happy Veteran's Day

Patriotic play last year at Tyler's school

Right now my son is upstairs coloring a photo for his Dad for Veteran's Day. It's the planting of the flag at Iwo Jima. If we ask Tyler what he wants to be when he grows up, he usually gives us several things ranging from football player to policeman. But 'soldier' is usually a constant. I've told Phil before that, as Tyler gets older, we need to talk with him about it and change his mind.

But lately I've been thining about my position and where it comes from. I see his little face now, as a child, and I can't picture the man he's going to be. I have that Mother Bear need to keep him safe and with no future insight into what the political climate will be by the time he's 18, the idea of him putting on a uniform scares me.

But, I'm proud of my husband for his service. Being in the military was good for Phil. Who says it won't be good for Tyler too? It's not up to me whether he joins. It's a decision I hope Tyler will include his parents in but ultimately it's up to him. I can't applaud others for their desire and willingness to serve their country but not apply that to my own son.

Who knows what the future holds? But, for now, I have decided not to try and dissuade Tyler from any military aspirations. It wouldn't be fair to him.

Happy Veterans Day to the men and women who put on their uniforms out of a love for their country, a desire to serve and a sense of patriotism and honor. Your service to our country is appreciated today and all days!

The Flu Bugs Have Infested Our House

Monday, November 9, 2009

I'm still here! I have not abandoned you, I've just been sick. I started feeling bad last weekend but attributed it to the fact that we were out late Friday and Saturday and Tyler's birthday party was Sunday. I took a 6-mile walk Monday. Tuesday, I spent hours editing the Tastemaker video and got a headache. By Wednesday I figured I was run down from all the activity and I stayed in bed for half the day. I had a slight fever of 100.4.

Thursday I made it through a little of the morning and then fell asleep on the couch. I woke up around 12:30 dripping sweat. I changed clothes and crawled into bed. My cell went off around 2:30 and I had to fight not to fall back asleep since it was close to time to get Tyler. I got out of bed and felt a little dizzy. I had to sit down outside my room. I hadn't eaten or drank anything the entire day, and assuming it was low blood sugar, went upstairs to get some OJ.

The dizzyness got worse as I moved up the stairs and I sat down on the couch and knew there was no way I could get in the car and wanted to start making calls to find someone to get Tyler. I don't remember going from the couch to the kitchen but I woke up on my back on the kitchen floor. This is the view I had.
Which, being just a ceiling, is not remarkable in itself. But to have that specific view my head needed to be right next to my stove.

I don't know if I fell and rolled onto my back as I was coming to but I'm really lucky I didn't hit the granite countertops on the way down. I do have a bruise and small scrape on my right arm. My lower back has been really sore and there's a pain in my shoulder that goes up into the left side of my neck. I'm concerned about the walk since any pain you have throws off your natural walking rhythm. I'm going to get a massage and hope it helps.

We went to the ER Thursday but it didn't shed any light. they wouldn't test me for the flu since I'm not in any high risk group and wasn't being admitted to the hospital. It's a little ironic that my plan on Thursday was to stop into CVS after getting Tyler from school and getting flu shots for both of us. I have to wait until I'm feeling better but we definitely want Tyler to get his shot. We haven't decided if we'll do H1N1 as well. I'm feeling better but still get tired pretty easily. I've got a lot to catch up on but hopefully am back in the groove. Stay healthy!

Tastemaker 2010 Challenge Update- The Video is Up!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Editing is not my strong suit. Apparently, my new! laptop is more technology than I know how to use. But, my movie night themed You Tube video is finally up! In it, I give a few appetizer ideas and mention a few products.* I've linked to the recipes below.

After you watch the video, don't forget to rate it using the five star system. I got the two salmon recipes from Taste of Home's website. The mashed potato pizza is a replica of an appetizer I had when I was out with Deb.

I looked online for a recipe to make sure I was on the right track and the site I found had a good one. Nick from Macheesmo used homemade dough, but I went with Trader Joe's. After making the pizza, I wish I had rolled the dough out a lot thinner. The bread is supposed to be secondary to the mashed potatoes and a little crispy. Mine wasn't quite like that.

Taste of Home recipes
-Salmon Tarts
-Salmon Stuffed New Potatoes


-Mashed Potato Pizza

Thanks again to McCormick and Schmicks for the salmon and to Fleishman-Hillard!

*FTC disclaimer: The only items given to me for this video were the salmon, a video camera, a gift card for expenses, red carpet and director's clapboard. The rest I purchased or borrowed. The websites I've linked to didn't ask me to do so, nor do they know I did (until now).

Happy 7th Birthday, Little Man!

Monday, November 2, 2009

I've tried to put together a post several times and nothing sounds right. I've heard that, when you have story to tell and don't know where to start, it's always helpful to go back to the beginning. These are excerpts from my journal during my pregnancy.

January 28, 2002

Last week and this week I've been having Imaginary Pregnancy Symptoms: tired, faint cramps, cravings and really sore boobs. I'm either late or pregnant. I took a HPT and saw a faint line. I'm not sure what to make of it.

March 1, 2002

The waiting was killing me so I broke down and took a HPT right when I got home. The faint line isn't so faint anymore! I can't believe it, I'm pregnant! I called Phil. I was going to wait until Tuesday [after the doctor appointment] but I had to share. On our first try, we made a baby!

March 6, 2002

I got the blood test results and I was right! I couldn't keep the secret, I called Mom. Needless to say she was shocked. She was out with friends from church over the weekend and they were talking to her about their grandkids. When they asked if I was thinking about kids she said, "I'll be 75 before I'm a grandmother!" We showed her.

April 4, 2002

I went to St. Louis with Mom. I had my first OB visit the day after I got back. I got to see the baby. Talk about amazing! To see that little blob and the only moving part is the heart. I wish Phil could have been there.

May 12, 2002
Today is Mother's Day. I haven't yet thought of what that means to me. I'm so ready to be a mom. Part of me feels it's the direction I've been heading.I have no idea what career path I should take. Maybe 'Mom' is it. Phil called to wish me a Happy Mother's Day. I can't wait for him to come home. We'll finally be able to act like expecting parents. Next year at this time we'll have a 7 month old boy/girl.

June 22, 2002

Phil is finally home! I got to pick him up on Saturday the 1st. It was the best day I've had since I found out about the baby. It was so good to see him again. He was surprised by how much I was showing.
Now for the really exciting news: It's a boy! We went for an ultrasound on the 17th. It was so good to have Phil home for that. He's only seen the baby in the ultrasound photos I sent to [Hawaii]. I'm glad the baby was moving around so much. The lab tech had the perfect side view on the monitor. She asked if we wanted to know the sex, but I spotted the evidence before she said anything. It was a little surprising since I'd been "feeling" girl for a long time. But of course, I'm happy. We've started working on our lists of names.

August 6, 2002
Wow, I can't believe I'm this old. I never pictured being where I am in my life at this age. I figured I'd have kids by 23! Shows what I know. But, here I am, wife and soon to be mother.

October 2, 2002

Countdown has begun. I'm at home on semi bedrest. Doctors orders.
I feel like more should be happening internally. I haven't had any Braxton Hicks (at least I don't think so). My mucus plug is still there. The baby is less active but so am I. It's hard to get into a comfortable sleep position and my heartburn is out of control. When the baby does stretch out it's either against my cervix or rib cage. Talk about painful! I've been catching up on all my baby book reading. I still have to read the manual on the breast pump. It looks pretty scary!

November 1, 2002

Well, tonight's the night. I went to my non stress test appointment this morning. When it was my turn for the sonogram, I told the nurse, "please tell me something that means this baby will be coming out!!!" I got my wish. My amniotic fluid dropped from a 9.5 on Monday to a 3 today. The lowest it should be is a 5. The nurses called the doctor's office to get their advice. I'm going to the hospital at midnight for my induction.
It's close to 7pm and I should be sleeping. I tried but I can't stop thinking about what's to come. After months of waiting and wondering he's finally going to be here. Until the doctor tells me he's fine and I hear him cry, I won't be able to breathe. After tonight, my life will never be the same. We will leave this house a couple and come back a family.

Happy Birthday Tyler. We love you so much, and have since the day we found out you were coming. Without a doubt, you are the best thing that's ever happened to me. You carry my heart in your pocket every day. Watching you grow and mature has been so wonderful. You're an amazing little man. I can't wait to see what changes come in your seventh year. You blow me away, every single day.

Tastemaker 2010 Challenge Update- The Stage Has Been Set

Friday, October 30, 2009

I spent all day yesterday prepping for the video shoot. It's taken me longer than I intended to get this first project done. I had a few ideas, but none of them seemed really good. Then Busy Dad threw down the gauntlet and I knew I had to do something I felt really confident about.

Mary, from The Mama Mary Show tagged me in a meme awhile back. She wanted to know where I thought my life would be now if I had chosen another path. If I were to play the "Woulda, Coulda, Shouda" game, what would I be doing instead? I told her I'd be in business as an event planner. The fact that the idea for my first Tastemaker challenge didn't come to me right away, based on my "Woulda, Coulda" career choice has me wondering if I am overestimating my abilities just a little.

For my first Tastemaker 2010 project, I've planned a theme party. In the final video I'll walk you through it giving tips and ideas on everything from invitations, to decor and food suggestions. I'll link the recipes I used in the accompanying post and maybe offer the invitations I created as a template others can use (if I can figure out how!)

After my video goes live on You Tube I'm going to need a favor. After you watch the video please take a second to rank it using the star system underneath the video. Five stars would make me really happy! You will need a You Tube account (you're good if you already have a Gmail or other Google account) and if you don't already have one thank you in advance for signing up! This has been really fun to put together. My anal tendencies may have pushed me to go a little over the top, but who wants a below the top party? My Whrrl story below gives you a little sneak peak.

Thanks for your patience. I'm almost there!

Powered by Whrrl

Breast Cancer Awareness: Video PSA - Touch

Raising Respectful Sons

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My son will turn 7 in a few days. He's still a bit of a Mama's Boy, and that's just fine with me. He will hug and kiss me for no reason. Tell me he loves me and that I'm beautiful. He has pulled out my chair at home and in restaurants. He's held doors open and said, "ladies first." Sometimes he'll open the car door for me and close it when I get in. He's growing up to be quite the little gentleman.

When I found out we were having a boy, I told Phil how important it was to me to teach him to be respectful to women. More than just being a gentleman, I want him to understand the concept of not being dismissive toward women, not objectifying them or demeaning them. As Tyler grows up I want him to know what a healthy male/female relationship looks like. It's our job as his parents to teach him those qualities and to lead by example.

Last weekend, a 15-year old girl was gang raped in Richmond California. Allegedly, as many as 20 people watched it happen. So far, five arrests have been made. In this day and age of pocket video cameras and phones with video cameras, I think it's only a matter of time before a tape surfaces. I'm disgusted and so sad for the young woman and her family. And I'm angry with those boys' parents because they failed so miserably at teaching their sons the same lessons I'm teaching mine.

Breast Cancer 3 Day Training Tip: Pedicure Do's and Dont's

Monday, October 26, 2009

My feet have never looked as bad as they do now. I'm embarrassed to wear open toe shoes, but here in the land of almost year-round flip flops it's too warm for boots during the day. I really want to go in for a pedicure but I'm holding off until after the walk.

Help me reach my goal for the San Diego Breast Cancer 3-Day!

Here are a few quick pedicure tips:

Get a full blown pedicure before the walk. If you have to have cute looking feet, tell the pedicurist not to use any files or pumice stones and to focus only on your toes (see below).

DON'T: Pop any blisters you may get before the walk unless they are really, really bad. Let nature do it's thing. Cover them with moleskin until they pop on their own.

DO: Moisturize! I've been using Aquaphor on my feet at night and it's helping to keep the rough spots from cracking.

DO: Stay on top of your cuticles and the length and shape of your toenails. MANY people lose toenails during the walk. A lot can be attributed to ill fitting shoes, but taking care of any hang nails etc. before the walk can't hurt too.

Any other tips for taking care of your feet that I might have missed?

Prepare To Have Your Heart Melted

Friday, October 23, 2009

I don't usually put things on the front of my fridge. One of the reasons I got a stainless was to keep it clean looking and uncluttered. "Oh, sorry kiddo. We can't put magnets here, they might leave a scratch."

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We shouldn't lie to our kids. Pfft.

Anyway, when Tyler was a toddler, we had those alphabet magnets on the fridge and they drove me crazy. But, when Tyler handed me this last night, how could I say no?

"I love my Mom. She is perFect! She is very prety too. She is doing the breas canser walk. Whit my grandma to. She is nice."
(typos and misspellings left in for cuteness)

What's on your fridge today?

Putting My Foot Down

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I made a decision. There could be repercussions, but I just don't care.

Feelings may be hurt. There might even be tears. But I will stay strong.

I'm bucking tradition, dancing to the beat of my own drum, singing my own tune.

I will no longer cave to the pressure. Give in to societal norms. Follow the crowd.

I, Mel A Dramatic Mommy, am declaring an end to giving out post birthday party treat bags.

Who's with me?

National Mammography Day- Have You Smooshed Your Boobs?

Friday, October 16, 2009

We were nervous about starting Tyler in kindergarten at the age of 4. We were worried he wasn't really ready for a classroom setting. But he had a fabulous teacher. She is the type of teacher every kid should have as their first. Earlier this week, I found out she has breast cancer. She went in for a mammogram over the summer and was diagnosed as stage 2. She had a double mastectomy and is currently in chemo.

Today is National Mammography Day. Do you need to have your boobs smooshed? If you are not sure if it's time for your first mammogram (generally considered a baseline mammogram), or if you don't know how often to get mammograms after your first,
please talk to your doctor. Know your family history, know your risks and get to know your body.

Mammograms aren't as scary as they're made out to be. I was freaked out when I got my first mammogram last year, but it was over quickly and only mildly uncomfortable. Don't let the fear of the unknown prevent you from doing something that could possibly save your life.

I have added Tyler's teacher's name to my list of breast cancer fighters. If you'd like to see a name on the list of survivors, fighters or angels leave it in the comments or follow the links to each individual post. I will be thinking of Mrs. R and her family next month while I'm walking.

Find more information about mammograms on these sites:
Susan G Komen
BreastCancer. org
The National Breast Cancer Foundation

Watch a video on how to do a breast self exam here.

Help me reach my goal for the San Diego Breast Cancer 3-Day!

Tastemaker Challenge #1: The First Box Arrives {Video}

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Good luck to all the Tastemakers!

Jim from Busy Dad Blog
Amy from Resourceful Mommy
Jen from Savor the Thyme
Jo Lynne from Musings of a Housewife
Jodi from Mom's Favorite Stuff
Lindsay from Rock and Roll Mama
Melanie from Modern Mami
Rachel from A Southern Fairytale

Follow along on Twitter at the #tastemaker hashtag, on the Facebook fan page or visit Mom's Dinner Helper. I'll update with my first video and how to the voting process works.

*Note: The red felt is a red carpet! Too cute. Thanks to Jessica and the team at Fleishman-Hillard and McCormick and Schmicks for the fresh salmon!

Works For Me Wednesday: Digital Gift Wish List

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Two years ago, when we asked Tyler what he wanted for his birthday and Christmas, he started rattling off the names of the latest popular toys and characters and I had no idea what he was talking about. I figured my parents and in-laws wouldn't either so I came up with a solution that has worked really well.

A few weeks before his birthday, we take Tyler to the store (usually Target or WalMart but occasionally Toys R Us) and have him choose 10-15 items, then we take pictures of him holding each one. I upload all the pictures to Costco or Snapfish and then send out an email with the toy names and the link to the album. I CC all the grandparents and they reply back when they purchase an item so there are no duplicates or buying a Bionicle he already has (because they all look alike to me!).

Tyler gets exactly what he wants, the grandparents don't have to guess what is "in" that year, I don't have to explain what a Bakugan is and everyone chooses what fits their budget.

For more WFMW visit Kristen at We Are That Family

He Called Me Miss

Saturday night I crashed a party at the La Costa Resort and Spa. On my way there I ran into the grocery store to hit the ATM. When I got out of the car, a boy asked me to buy him a bottle of Captain Morgan.

He looked so young standing next to his practical, fuel efficient economy car that his parents probably bought. He called me 'Miss.' I stopped, and was about to hold out my hand for the money. I remembered being his age. My friends and I used to do the same thing until Phil got a fake ID. I'm sure we bought for some other fresh faced kid back when we were first married and partying ourselves.

But then I flashed forward 10 years and saw MY fresh faced kid standing in a parking lot. My baby, who, last night at dinner, thanked Phil and I for being his Mommy and Daddy. I pictured that boys parents, and shook my head. I told him I have a son of my own, and if it were him standing there... The boy finished my sentence, "you couldn't do it. It's OK, I understand."

I went inside and he was still there when I came out. I hope everyone turned him down. I hope he made it home safely.

Birthday 4 Boobs at Syrah Wine Parlor

Monday, October 12, 2009

If you're one of my San Diego peeps, please come! I'm helping Charity with her birthday party. It's a Monopoly themed party and fundraiser for breast cancer!

When: Tuesday, October 20th

Where: Syrah Wine Parlor

RSVP: On the Facebook page

If you have items we can raffle off please contact me or Charity. See you there!

Maybe You Need to Ask Different Questions

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Overheard: [Tyler to his friend J] "My mom would probably say no. No, no, no, no. That's all parents seem to say sometimes."

Tyler: [to me] "No offense, Mom."

None taken, little guy. None taken.

TMI, But It's Useful

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'm guest posting over here. It's a little personal, but I bet it's something you've never heard of!

Wordless Wednesday: Trick or Treating at Disneyland

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

For more Wordless Wednesday visit: 5 Minutes for Mom, Mom Dot, What's That Smell

Honoring Survivors, Fighters and Angels

Monday, October 5, 2009

For the rest of the month, I'll be honoring men and women who are currently battling breast cancer, those who have won their battle and those we have lost. If you have a name you'd like to add, you can leave it in the comments, email me or send me a Tweet and I'll include it for you. (ETA: Each post is linked in the nav bar at the top of the blog or click the image below)

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