Sunday, February 28, 2010

Happy No Cussing Week

Well, it's almost official here in California (the bill has to pass the state senate), but the first week of March is slated to be No Cussing Week.

You know who is excited by a No Swearing week? My daughter. She says the common penalty is giving a dollar to the person who witnesses your swearing.

We've discussed swearing before. To a degree they're just words, and one can certainly be cruel, insulting, or crass without using swear words. But some words are simply rude to people and swear words are an easy no-brainer for kids. I've told her that swear words coming from a child is very rude-sounding, much more jarring than from an adult. Maybe the lack of life experience to warrant certain words or expressions? For example, to hear an adult say "I'm going to kill this dog if he chews my shoes again", one assumes sarcasm and exaggerated frustration. If a 6 year old says the same thing, alarm bells go off and concern is expressed--"you know that would be awful and wrong, to kill Biscuit?" Anyhoo, the girl gets it.

So of course, I had to ask her if she thought I swore a lot. She thought about it and said, Well, you don't swear all the time. But you don't swear a little. She sighed. You're moderate. You know, in-between. Maybe closer to "a little."

So I asked her when I swear. She rolled her eyes--when you watch those football games and they do something wrong, you swear at them and scream "WHY did you do that?!" Or when the animals knock something down. Or when you do something, like break a dish on accident.

I decided against clarifying that when I swear at football games, it usually also includes the words, come on! People have money on this game! But I did tell her I'm up for the challenge. She adds that this includes when you write swear words too. Like when you write F, asterisk, asterisk, asterisk.

Got it. Here we go.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Oscar Best Picture noms

Every year my goal is to watch all the Best Picture Oscar nominations before the Oscars ceremony. I have yet to make that goal. This year the nominations have doubled. But believe it or not, I think I may be able to do it. The nominations this year are:

- Avatar
- The Blind Side
- District 9
- An Education
- The Hurt Locker
- Inglourious Basterds
- Precious
- A Serious Man
- Up
- Up in the Air

I only have Avatar, District 9, The Hurt Locker, and A Serious Man left to watch. 2010 might just be the year I see all the nominations before the ceremony!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A little help

from my sister:

She recommended this book for my de-cluttering efforts. And believe me, I can use all the help I can get. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How a quad amputee kicks my a$$

In a word, copiously.

I mentioned what my friend accomplished 3 weeks after getting two prosthetic legs? She basically said, screw the wheelchair, screw the double-arm walker, and yes, screw you too cane, this broad is walking. And she walked on those two prosthetic legs. In 3 weeks.

Then I said what can I accomplish in 3 weeks? And I said I was going to hit a resolution a week. And I said I was going to finally faithfully stick to the Weight Watchers log, no joke.

Well, it's been seven weeks. And in those seven weeks I only hit two resolutions (a bag to goodwill and one photo shoot). And I've lost one singular pound (no, I wasn't so resolute with my WW log). Pathetic.

What has my friend done in that time? She is cooking again. Cooking and making meals for her family. And driving. Yes, driving. She drove her son to school and picked him up. She drove on the freeway. While I can't even manage to stick to Weight Watchers, a quad amputee is cooking and driving her kid to school. B!tch.

Okay, I'm going to try again. If there is something I'm learning from Linda is the value of not quitting. Especially after getting my a$$ kicked. Here we go--let's see what I do with these 3 weeks.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Hoppy Birthday

For my husband's birthday, a few of us went to The Flying Saucer, where they have over a hundred beers on tap. But Paul's birthday drink of choice was Mead:

He had been wanting to try it for a while but was deterred by the high price tag ($22!) Apparently it's pretty expensive because they ferment pure honey into an alcoholic beverage. The sweetness was a bit deceiving as it was easy to drink big draughts of it and then the buzz would hit hard a few minutes later.

On top of the Mead, I shared a sampler of wheat beers and belgian ales with Professor X.

I also got Paul a membership into the UFO club. He'll get an honorary plate with his name hung up on the wall when he's tasted 200 different beers.

Happy Birthday Paul!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Greetings from the Middle

Flying off on a mini-vacay to spend some time with my old man. Got the middle seat for the four hour leg of my travel. Best part? Hmm, perhaps it was that there was no room in the overhead bins (with all the baggage fees, I think every single flyer is avoiding checking in bags)—requiring me to check my carry-on as I was boarding and left me stuck with my coat. Yup, totally 'pitted it for four hours. And then got to wait for my carry-on at the baggage carousel.

No wait, perhaps the best part was that both Mr. Aisle and Ms. Window took up both armrests, leaving me with none. As if it doesn't suck enough being in the middle seat. Can I at least get an armrest, you inglourious basterds? Actually I think the topper was that Mr. Aisle was listening to some sort of electronic jazz that couldn't be contained by his lame earbuds. Not to knock that genre, but to listen to the tinny residue that comes from weak earphones is pretty darn miserable. It was enough for me to wish I had the biggest tunafish sandwich to eat.

Oh, to dream when you're in the middle seat.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Justice and Heartache on President's Day

For a little break on the President's holiday, the girl and I got dressed up and hit the movies. We decided on “The Spy Next Door”. For those who know me, I'm a huge fan of Jackie Chan's Hong Kong movies. Less so when he started making movies in the US—I'm looking at you, “Rush Hour” franchise. I enjoyed “Shanghai Noon” immensely. And much, much less so “Shanghai Knights”. And sadly, even less so, “The Spy Next Door.”

Ugh, the “romantic” scenes were absolutely cringe-inducing. Are Jackie Chan and Amber Valleta secretly brother and sister? Yeah, that's how awkward those romance scenes were. The brief fight scenes sparsely rejuvenated my Jackie Chan fandom, which were vaguely reminiscent of the great fight choreography of his Hong Kong movies but the story was banal and the villains incredibly two dimensional. My girl, surprisingly, enjoyed it. Aaaah, the expectations of a 10-year-old.

Afterwards we saw there was a sale at Justice, a tween girls' clothing store, and the girl really wanted to go. Sigh. Gone are the days where she just let me pick up clothes for her at Target. And it wasn't just jeans and t-shirts she eyed. She wanted a fancy dress, dressy tops, and hip bolero-cut hoodie jacket.

Yikes. When did this happen? When did my little girl become this fashion-conscious tween girl? Lordy, she is growing up kinda fast. Eeek—I'm already missing my little girl.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Eye of the Tiger

To celebrate the new year—the Year of the Tiger--Linda's family invited me to a New Year's party, complete with plenty of food, including a lucky roasted pig (maybe not so lucky for the pig):

Looking forward to a great new year with my friend Linda:

And of course, for her and her husband and boy Evan:

And of course, for little Oliver:

Happy New Year everybody!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Family photo shoot

So cross one off the resolution list. This beautiful family let me shoot their pictures:

And I gave them a CD of edited pictures like a high-falutin' photographer:

I love these of mom and daughter (aren't they gorgeous):

Especially when the cutie's nose smooshes like this:

I got some nice candids at the playground like this one:

And I loved this one even though I actually got the adult in the background in focus rather than the sweet girl in motion. With the help of PhotoShop I vignetted and blurred the adult to draw attention back to center:

And I tried it in black and white:

I also got to shoot the Mrs. and her sisters and mom. Yeah, I know--good looks seem to run in their family:

I love candids or the "in-between" shots. This is one of my faves:

Thanks to this family! I had a great time taking these pictures and these guys had a lot of patience with me during the shoot. I also got to play with Photoshop more, especially Actions (man, those are awesome).

Obviously I still need to play with my f-stops more and get a better sense of depth of field, and need to fine tune my photoshopping skills (and not go overboard on the vignetting!), but it was a blast working on this shoot for my friend.

Definitely looking forward to another one.

Swallowing the rant

After having various conversations on the canned commercialism and forced cliches of Valentine's Day (where the efforts read more saccharine than sincere, more panic than from-the-heart, blah, blah, blah) my husband surprised me by sending these to me at work:

Normally I'm of the mindset that cut flowers are wasted on me--I don't usually enjoy them as they die pretty quickly on me--but I have to say that I was definitely NOT expecting them and the surprise of these flowers was pretty darn nice. And, yes, the flowers were pretty darn lovely to look at too. But the flowers were topped by the delivery of these:

Now chocolate-covered strawberries are definitely NOT wasted on me. They're one of my favorite treats and these were wonderfully decadent and huge. I polished these off during the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony with the help of my girl and her friend.

Sigh. Eating my words was, well, pretty sweet.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Olympics 2010!

Did the Winter Olympics sneak up on anyone else? Well, it's here. Let's see, opening ceremony tonight, maybe play a little this

And look forward to more of those Visa ads with Morgan Freeman's honey-soaked narration. Anybody else get choked up with this Dan Jansen commercial that's currently playing?

Any suggestions for Olympic snacking?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine factory

The girl is having a Valentine party in her class and keeping with past tradition, she made her own Valentines. This year she decided to draw an anime version of each of her classmates on their respective cards (and attach a Blow Pop):

Yes, she stayed up much too late to finish these.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

CDs & DVDs--I Need Input Please!

I have a hefty amount of CDs and DVDs and already running out of shelves:

Unfortunately, I don't really have room for more shelves and I have stacks of CDs and DVDs going again. I was considering getting one of those binders that just hold the discs and get rid of all the cases, but what stops me is this--I still want to keep the little booklets that the CD or DVD comes with.

Anybody have any suggestions? I would love to hear any!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Survived

Sure, there's nothing like getting up at 5am, and get about 10 dozen 5th graders on a 2 hour boat ride to Catalina with luggage and sleeping bags.

And there's nothing like riding on a boat with said kids and a healthy percentage learn the hard way that they get seasick.

But yes, I survived. I realize now that I was getting anxious about things that weren't such a big deal and was unprepared for other things.

For some reason, I was really dreading the snorkeling. I was already generally cold and the thought of paddling around in 50-60 degree water (yes, even in wet suits) was making me miserable. But surprisingly, it wasn't so bad. The water was indeed freezing and seeped into the wet suit and no, I didn't have it in me to follow the suggestion of warming my suit up by turning it into a warm pee-koozie. But I was pretty occupied the whole time. I brought a girl to shore after she felt uncomfortable being in deeper water and another boy who felt nauseated clutched a boogie board that I would help push around. I was surprised at how much swimming I did--which was a little hindered in a tight wetsuit--maybe that warmed me up a bit. And I was surprised at how deep the water got and, yes, it was pretty cool seeing the kelp forests and fish.

What I didn't think about was how loud and antsy 10 year olds get. Fortunately the camp totally anticipated chaperones like me:

The camp called it "the Caffeination Station". I made multiple trips to this oasis daily. I'm sure it saved me.

My girl was bummed that I was the "mean mom" who would yell at the kids to pay attention to the instructor. I corrected her and said, no I'm a strict mom. She didn't appreciate the amendment.

The other part I didn't think about was escorting any of the ten girls in my cabin to the bathroom during the quiet hours of 9pm-6am. In the middle of the night, a girl would fiercely whisper that she had to go to the bathroom. I'd stumble out with my shoes half on and walk them to the common bathrooms and stand half-dozing and slack jawed until they were done and stumble back to the cabin. Surprisingly, I fell back asleep pretty quickly.

As we left Catalina, it was raining. Dosed up with Bonine, I was prepared for the rocky ride back. I passed this setup by another school on a lower deck:

Kids watching a DVD, facing backwards, on a boat in choppy, rainy waters. You bet your buns I hightailed it out of there.

I helped pass out saltines with this mom who had this cool contraption for dosing out ginger ale to our kids:

We made it back in one wet and soggy piece. Hooray! Actually, I'm looking forward to reviewing the pictures I took because surprise, surprise--after all that anxiety about going, I'm really glad I went.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Off to Adventure

And by adventure I mean riding a boat for a couple of hours to Catalina Island (did you know I get motion sick easily? Like "throw up in a movie theater because of the shaky handheld shots" easy), helping chaperone the entire 5th grade during Outdoor education, and sleeping in a room with six to twelve 5th grade girls for 3 days.

Also, no cell or internet service, no tv, lights out at 9:00, and no candy. And hey, just checked the weather report: looks like rain!

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Duty calls


Gaaaah! I just did jury duty last year! I must be on some regular rotation list because I don't bail or something.

Like I said last year, I don't mind jury duty in principle--as a jury member you're the voice of justice in someone else's life, not some dictator or junta, so I don't try to ditch it. On the other hand, as a juror, the court system feels in need of efficiency. Even when I have served on a jury, the time I spent actually in court was a few hours a day. We were constantly sent out as the judge and lawyers discussed issues not for the uninitiated.

Sigh. At least jury pool rooms are nice here in SoCal.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Couldn't wait until Valentine's Day

to give these sweets:

to some RPattz, er, I mean "Twilight" fans.

Busy Saturday

Saturday was busy, but perhaps not totally productive. I took the girl to a girls day of sports, a free event here at UCI.

After checking her in, the staff told her to wait on the side for a helper to bring her in a group to the actual activity site. My heart broke a little when she said, so you can go, Mom. I asked her, don't you want me to wait with you until they take you up to the site? And she goes, no, I'm fine, buh-bye. Okay, she didn't channel David Spade and say, buh-bye but that's what it felt like. Sigh. Sometimes I miss my baby girl.

Anyhoo, I left her to go return a huge sack of cans and bottles for deposit. I used to be torn about just putting the cans and bottles in the recycling bin vs. spending my time returning them for the 5 cent deposit but on average I spend 10 minutes, once a month, turning my returns in for about $8-10 which isn't the biggest waste of time. Unless the day comes and I'm standing behind this:

The best part? The mother keeps directing her roughly-13-year-old son to bring out more bags from their van. The boy, wearing a t-shirt that says "FBI: Female Body Inspector", keeps bringing out these monster bags of bottles that I'm guessing are a couple hundred in each. Good fortune shines on me as there are two people working that day and another person takes my collection and I'm out in under 10 minutes.

A highlight was hanging with my friend Linda and grabbing lunch at Native Foods. She got the Soul Bowl and I got the Gandhi Bowl:

I had actually ordered the Hollywood Bowl, but it worked out okay--the Gandhi Bowl was delicious. It's a bit pricier than typical lunch food because it's organic and vegan but it's really tasty. The big surprise--see that drink? It's a Watermelon Agua Fresca and it tasted just like watermelon. Not some fakey, Jolly Rancher version of watermelon, but straight-up watermelon. Sooooo good. They also had an iced tea and lavender lemonade. I have a slight hang-up with food flavored with lavender. It's one of my favorite scents and love it when I can find lotion with lavender in it. So it kind of weirds me out when food or drink has lavender in it. I feel like I'm eating lotion.

The day got even better when we went to Pinkberry for dessert. She got plain tart with mango and I got the pomegranate with raspberries and mochi balls:


I rounded out the day with having my mother-in-law over for dinner--lentil soup, red cabbage slaw, and a sourdough boule with butter--yum. Real butter is so heavenly. The girl and I capped off the evening with some RockBand and Boogie SuperStar and finally, snuggling up on the couch for a mini-marathon of Glee and popcorn. At least she still likes to snuggle.

So Saturday wasn't my most productive. But I spent time with people--which to me isn't exactly a waste of time either. In fact, one might say it's precious time well-spent.