A Moment of Silence

Friday, July 30, 2010

I watched the Today Show this morning and heard a statistic that July 2010 is officially the deadliest month for soldiers in Iraq since the war began 9 years ago. The newscaster read off the information as part of a news roundup. It took about 10 seconds, if that.

I know the war is a loaded topic. I know it's not a "feel good" way for people to start their day. I know it's not part of the growing trend of entertainment passing as hard news. But.

We are losing men and women every day. People who have voluntarily raised their hands and taken an oath to protect our country and our freedoms. Husbands, wives, mothers and fathers are getting the news that someone they love will be coming home in a flag covered coffin.

It's heartbreaking that Chelsea Clinton's wedding and Ellen leaving American Idol got more coverage (several minutes more) than the record setting deaths of our men and women in uniform.

As July comes to an end, please take a moment, offer a prayer or have a moment of silence for the brave men and women we've lost. We can show our military that though the news media doesn't think they're important, their fellow Americans do.

Awe: Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When I Was Your Age

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tyler: "Dad, did Webkinz exist when when you were a kid?"

Phil: "No. The internet didn't exist when I was a kid."

Tyler: [in a sad voice] "Oh. Sorry you lived in a time when technology wasn't so good."

10 Happy Things: A Meme

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mama Mary tagged me in a meme awhile ago. I'm to share with you 10 Things That Make Me Happy. It's hard for me to make lists like this because I change my mind all the time and I don't really have a "favorite" of anything. If you ask me to do this meme a week from now, heck even later today, my answers will probably be different. So, here (in almost no particular order) are 10 things that are making me happy right now.

1. Tyler
I know, I know. Putting my kid on the list is totally cliche. But. We've had a great summer. Last year at this time we were butting heads every day. I was yelling. He was oozing attitude. It was awful and we were both miserable. The first day back to school was arguably the third best day of my life (after my wedding day and his birth). This summer we're having fun. Though I can't say I'll be sad when school starts (routines are good) I'll miss him a little during the day.

2. My book stash
I love the library book store. It's my new addiction. With Tyler reading more and using his own library card, I don't need to justify stopping in. It's rare for me not to leave without at least one book, thus the piles of books I have all over. There are 25 titles in this pile*. Some are authors I've read, some are new to me and some are things I've meant to read (like Watership Down and Pride and Prejudice). I get giddy thinking of all the characters and story lines. So much promise*!

3. Peanut Butter
I went to the pool with Michele and her kids last week. I was telling her about my braces and how I'm usually hungry but eating is too much of a hassle. Peanut butter has been a lifesaver. I can eat a few spoonfuls right from the jar and feel satisfied. My neighbors, the personal trainers, were shaking their heads and lectured me on hydrogenated oils, sugar and whey protein. Whatever. Talk to me when you get braces, buff guy.

4. My new blanket
I love this! I stalked it at Z Gallerie and snapped it up when it went on clearance. It's a blanket that folds up to look like a purse. I wish you could feel it. It's so fuzzy soft like a baby blanket. When the weather cools off I'll be parked with it in front of our fixed after 3 years fireplace.

5. Ciao Bella Gelato
Lemon and lime are two of my favorite flavors. I was in the mood for something last week when Tyler and I were at the grocery store. I thought I'd get sherbert but the neon green packaging of this gelato caught my eye. Key Lime Graham gelato is pure genius. It's like a piece of frozen key lime pie. I can tell I'm going to have a long, healthy love hate relationship with Ciao Bella.
6. This coffee mug
It's from Starbucks. I saw it a few years ago around Christmastime and fell in love with it. But not enough to buy it for $15. I took a chance and waited until after the holiday. I had to go to two different stores but I got it for 75% off.

7. Chai lattes
I know these aren't new but they're new to me. When I'm at the coffee shop I order it as a grande, light water, non fat, 2 pump sugar free vanilla chai latte. I know. I annoy myself. But, I'm trying really hard to stay on a budget and stopping at Starbucks once a day isn't the way to do it. Enter Costco. I got this for about $9. I add a little microwaved milk and a splash of vanilla coffee creamer. Not quite the same but it keeps Phil from yelling at me. 

8. Shoes
I've shown you a little bit of my shoe collection before. Last week, I was trying on things for BlogHer and I had all these shoes spread out around me. All the different colors, textures and styles were so pretty to look at. It made me smile. I love my shoes.

9. My DSLR
I don't think I could have chosen a more expensive hobby to get into. But, I'm having a lot of fun learning the ins and out of my camera. I hope I'll be able to improve the quality of my pictures so they show talent and technical skill not just dumb luck.

10. Chocolate
Ice cream, cookies, with peanut butter (see above), in bar form, in baked goods, in a martini, as hot chocolate, S'Mores! White, milk, dark, melted over strawberries. There's almost no form of chocolate I don't like.

What's making you happy today?

*If you want to know the book titles let me know. See the other meme participants at Mama Mary's site.

I Say Wear the Shoes: BlogHer 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I'm Wearing Cute Shoes
You may have heard there's a pretty big blog conference coming up in a few days. Blogs and Twitter are all aflutter with conference talk, especially with advice from the veterans to the newbies.

The general theme of the advice I've read seems to be: don't stress, bring business cards, be yourself, it's a conference not the red carpet and for the love of Pete wear comfortable shoes! For the most part, I agree with all of that. However, I think I'm going to be the lone voice of dissent on one thing.

I say wear the fun shoes.

Yes, this is a conference. Yes, we're there to learn. But we're also there to have fun! For me, clothes and shoes are fun! And hello? New York! Will anyone remember what I was wearing? No. Will anyone judge me on what I'm wearing or not wearing? Maybe. * Do I care? No. Because it's not about everybody else, it's about me and what's important for my conference experience. And for me, clothes, shoes and looking nice are important.

I wore these to Mom's Nite Out
I don't know about you, but when I think I look good, I feel good. If wearing a spectacular** pair of shoes (or dress, handbag, favorite necklace) will make you feel good, do it!

I see nothing wrong with wanting to put your best face (or foot) forward. In addition to meeting other bloggers for the first time, we have an opportunity to meet ad agency reps, PR reps and celebrities. If, like me, one of your goals for this conference (or any conference) is treating everyone you meet as a potential client or business partner, why wouldn't you want to look nice?

I know it's not a fashion show, but I'm not gonna lie***. I've been shopping and I love the things I've found. Part of the fun of getting ready has been planning my outfits. I don't get to play dress up very often so I'm taking full advantage at BlogHer.

For me it boils down to this: do what makes you happy, what you'll be comfortable with and what will help you make the most of what will be an amazing weekend.

If you're going, please say hi! I'll be the one in cute shoes.

*Anyone who does isn't worth knowing.
**Spectacular is not always synonymous with towering or spike-y. There are so many awesome flats, sandals and wedges for the summer! Style does not have to be a sacrifice to comfort.
***In my opinion, women dress for other women. Not all, but most.

Issues? I Have Plenty

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tyler hurt my feelings Tuesday night. It was inadvertent, but the comment has stayed with me. I was out of sorts and cranky all day yesterday and I think part of it was the residual sting (mostly it was perimenopause). We were watching TV together (I got him into Future Food and Cake Boss) and Jennifer Hudson's Weight Watchers commercial came on.

When the special promotion was announced (lose all the weight you want for $1, I think), Tyler turns to me and says, "you should do that, Mom."

"You think I need to lose weight?"



"So you can look hot."


I know he wasn't being mean. I don't think he really knows what it means to look hot. But it stung, nonetheless. He can't possibly know about all my issues and hangups. At least I hope not.

One of the reasons I tell myself it's probably a good thing I don't have a little girl is because there's almost no way I wouldn't pass on all my body issues to her. My weight is a pretty big one. The Braces Diet is still working but the pants I wore at National Mom's Nite Out are a little snug. And I'm freaking out.

Losing weight has been a strange trip. A few weeks ago my neighbor said to me that I was starting to get a little puffy but now I'm looking really good. Um, thanks? I'm happy with my new size; the single digit in my pants, but I still feel I have a long way to go until I look like the "after" image I have of myself in my head.

I have this sick need to compare myself with other people. Usually it's in a crowded place like an amusement park or the mall. Someone will walk by and I wonder if my butt jiggles the way hers does or if I the shirt I'm wearing gives me back fat too. It's an awful thing to do. I fully admit that. I'm not judging, only comparing. I feel yucky doing it but can't seem to stop.

I wish I had a mirror that lets me see myself the way other people see me. So many people tell me now that I look great. I don't mind hearing it. Part of me likes the compliment. The other parts of me feel guilty for liking the compliments on something superficial and still another part of me feels guilty because I haven't had to work at losing the weight and I don't deserve the praise. Screwed up, much?

When I was leaving one of the media events at the Social Media Moms event at Disney this past February, I ran into Laura. I'd been keeping an eye out for her because I hadn't seen her since my first blogging trip to Disneyworld back in 2008. We were standing right next to each other. I said, "hello, nice to see you, I was wondering when I'd run into you!" and I could tell she had no idea who this person acting so familiar with her was. I had to take off my hat and say, "it's me! Melanie!" She honestly didn't recognize me and said my face was totally different than the last time she saw me.

At Blissdom, I know I totally hurt Casey's feelings. When we ran into each other she told me I look great and I responded with something like, "did I not look good before?" or something equally bitchy and uncalled for. Casey looked appropriately taken aback and I felt like a total shit. I'm so sorry, friend. I really didn't mean for it to come out that way. It wasn't you, it was me. Truly.

I'm a walking contradiction. I have a good self image. I know I'm a good person, a good mom, wife, daughter and friend. I'm loyal. I'm giving, sometimes to a fault. But my self image and self esteem are two different beasts. I like the person I am, I just don't always love the packaging. 

Posting pictures of myself here in my bathing suits (and naked) was so outside my comfort zone. I did it to force the issue with myself. I hoped the photos would give me the real picture. I would be able to look at them and say, "see? it's not so bad!" Yeah. That hasn't happened yet.

So when Tyler said I should join Weight Watchers I wanted to cry. I honestly don't think I look that different or that I've lost that much weight. But, to literally be unrecognizable to someone I know, the changes have to be really profound. I'm terrified I'm going to put the weight I've lost back on. It's shallow and superficial, but it's true. 

I feel horrible making an issue of it because I know some people really struggle with their weight. Someone else will look at me and wonder what I have to complain about. That makes feel awful. Logically, I know I should get over myself. But I'm nothing if not emotional. I told Tyler that people can be hot without losing weight. If only I could internalize that statement and make myself believe it.

Can You Stand It?!: Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

May 2010
(taken with a Canon speedlight and a 28-135mm lens)

Yabba Dabba Doo!

Monday, July 12, 2010

I tell Tyler that he has Fred Flinstone feet because his toes are almost completely straight across. I think it's adorable and I'll be sad when he outgrows it.

Surf lesson at Tamarack, May 2010
This past weekend we went to the jacuzzi. As we were drying off to head home, he reached out one foot and nudged my flip flop until it was horizontal and easier for me to put on. It was such a small gesture, but so thoughtful and sweet. My heart exploded into a million little pieces.

Love those toes.

A Holiday I Totally Support

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Today is Chocolate Day! On July 7, 1550, the joy that is chocolate landed in Europe and women everywhere rejoiced. 

What holiday can you get behind?

*I'm a little embarrassed right now. Especially since that's not my entire stash.

Redundancy: Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

(On Tuesday!)

At Least I Can Laugh About It

Monday, July 5, 2010

World of Color premiere, Disneyland, June 2010

Scene: Mother and son are in the car after a trip to Payless, where, once again, they disagreed on what shoes the son should buy.

Mother: "I'm only trying to help you. I know a little bit about shoes. I'm trying to give you the benefit of my since I'm a little older than you and I've.."

Son: "A little?! I'm only 7. You're way older than me."

Mother: [laughing] "I don't if I would say 'way'. How about 'a little'?"

Son: "No, you're way older."


Smart and Final Extra, Revisited

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I had an opportunity to shop at Smart and Final Extra a few days ago. I haven't been there in ages, mainly because we have a Costco membership and I didn't see a need to visit another 'big box' store. I'm pleasantly surprised with the changes they've made to attract 'regular' grocery shoppers. 

The fact that they own Henry's Marketplace, one of my favorite stores for produce, is a big plus for me. I can definitely see myself going there to take advantage of really good sale items. Their prices are in line with the stores I shop in now and fit with my goal of keeping our grocery budget in check.

More check-ins at Smart & Final Extra
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What I liked about Smart and Final Extra:
1. They accept coupons!
2. You don't need a card for the in-store savings.
3. The prices are competitive.
4. The produce section offered a wide variety.
5. I can shop there 'normally' but also go in for the large sized items I'd typically buy if we're ever having a party (without the long lines!).
What I'd suggest as future changes:
1. Expand the store circular to include more of the Smart Savings items. It will make for more thorough coupon matching.
2. Expand their social media profile and start to work with frugal bloggers on a regular basis.
3. The website could be a lot more user friendly.
4. Printable coupons and a partnership with Cellfire.com.
5. E-coupons and/or mobile coupons that can be scanned straight from a smartphone.
6. Even though I could effectively plan a party and shop there, Costco still has a slight edge in that I can order a custom cake, the baked goods selection is huge and I can bring home a hot meal or heat and eat meal.

I forgot to ask Chris (who was super helpful) about their coupon policies. I'd like to know two things:
1. How they handle a coupon that is more than the cost of the item eg: if I have a $1 off coupon for a .99 item, will they adjust the coupon down to be .99 or will I get the penny overage?
2. Are shoppers allowed to use multiple coupons for the same item in one transaction eg: I buy 8 boxes of granola bars and have 8 coupons, will I have to make separate purchases? (some Target stores do this and it's a HUGE turnoff)
I'm really impressed with the changes I saw and will be following the progress to see what other ways Smart and Final Extra will be improving their stores. 

How about you? Have you shopped there recently? What did you think of the store and do you have any suggestions to add? 

*Thank you to Smart and Final Extra for the gift card used to make my purchases. I'm not being monetarily compensated for this post. The gift card did not influence my opinion of the store.
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