Friday, October 26, 2007

Fire fire

So if any of you are wondering, "Why the hiatus from the useless information?" I'll tell you: I was evacuated early Monday morning because of the San Diego wildfires. It was my first evacuation, though my college roommate and I used to play hypothetical games all the time, like, "If you were in a fire, what would you take with you?" so I did have some preparation. So what did I end up taking? My kids' toys (especially the key stuffed animals), pillows, blankets and dry food in case we ended up at a shelter eventually, two changes of clothes for everyone, our important documents like passports, house stuff and birth certificates, cell phones / chargers and my camera (I really like my camera. My husband took his bass.). I also packed cotton balls and some water.
Later on, after we left, I saw a list on TV of all the things you're supposed to pack. They said, "Don't forget your medication!" which of course was thing #1 that I forgot (for my daughter -- I'm not vying for any mother of the year awards). They also said that you should take photos of everything in your house for insurance purposes, which I also didn't do -- though I had my camera so I could take pictures of dogs on the street in case they would help my insurance claim! I'm very lucky my house didn't burn down (for many reasons). It came as close as six miles away.
The really cool thing was how San Diego really pulled together. Qualcomm Stadium, one of the evacuation sites, had to issue a press release saying that they could take no more donations at their site -- there was apparently entertainment for the kids and bands for the adults there. Other shelters who posted for help were similarly bombarded. My husband went to Target and then to Qualcomm to drop off some air mattresses and pillows, and for the most part people were really grateful (except the teenager who hovered around and said, "So are you giving away that computer?"). Friends called friends offering refuge.
The best story I heard was about a guy who was walking on the street with a gas mask (the really major WWII type), a wet suit...and a surf board. That's San Diego for you!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Photo session

So I decided that while my kids are still cute and before I'm too ugly, we should get some family photos taken -- professionally. There is also the added benefit of being able to Photoshop me out if necessary.

Ok, faithful readers (um...all four of you?), let me know what you think we should use as a backdrop. We live near the ocean, so part of me thinks that we should do ocean pics while we're here. Here is a link to what that might look like (see "Melissa and Casey") -- pretend that there isn't a couple making out on the beach and imagine instead a suburban family of four, including two kids who hate the ocean. And rest assured that I will not be posing for any swimsuit shots, unlike Melissa and Casey who evidently have gym memberships. I'm worried about the wind at the beach -- wind in my hair looks less "California girl" and a lot more "hurricane survivor". Click here to see what it might look like in a park setting. I love all the park colors, but parks are a dime a dozen.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The beach

This is a photo I took of my daughter while we were at the beach this week. In preparation for the upcoming photo shoot I've been gauging the kids' behavior in each environment. The ocean -- beautiful, vast, humbling, soothing...yeah, the kids still hate it. The only way I was able to bribe them to sit on the beach with me was to bring boxes of salty snacks and juice boxes that a good mom wouldn't buy. So I'm leaning toward park pictures now -- I'd prefer not to end up with a photo essay entitled "The day we spent a ton of money hiring a professional photographer so we could have pictures of crying and whining and look more dysfunctional than usual". I keep telling the kids that they're going to be ostracized in California for not liking the beach.

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine, who apparently spends quite a bit of time hanging out at a publishing company, recruited my kids to be photographed for a children's book. My 4-year-old liked it. A lot. I'm worried she could easily be led down the Britney Spears path. My 2-year-old, on the other hand, frowned harder whenever they told her to smile. She is tending toward the opposite path. She has a real talent for chugging milk, so it'd be a serious loss to the college fraternity party scene if she ends up becoming a recluse.Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Good cheap fun

I have a headache. I have hip hop dance class tonight, so I'll be even worse than usual (that's sort of like saying "greater than infinity"). Instead of spending quality time with my kids like I'm supposed to after work, I'm letting them engage in some good cheap fun: playing with ice cubes! Yeah, it's really fun at my house.

I think I got the headache from work. I don't understand why we can't have windows that open in office buildings. It's like they're trying to make it a germ incubator. I'm tempted to walk around the office with a mask and gloves now that flu season is starting -- it couldn't make me any more of a pariah than my recent spanking and biting incident (by the way, I have been avoiding walking by the IT department at all costs.

Friday, October 12, 2007

X me

So I finally started to play around with Facebook and installed this application called X Me. With this application you can do whatever to your Facebook friends -- you can hug them, bite them, spank them, give them beer, etc. Let me start by saying that some of my Facebook friends are people who I haven't even ever spoken to (like that guy Dan in IT). So I installed X Me, and decided as a joke to spank my husband. I also decide to wave to my brother-in-law's girlfriend, and to give a hug to my friend Libby in China.

To my horror, I logged in the next day and saw that I apparently spanked Dan, the guy in IT who I don't even know, I bit Gabriela, my brother-in-law's girlfriend's brother's girlfriend (who accidentally invited me to be a friend on Facebook -- we've never met), and as a dressing decided also to hug Gabriela, who again, I don't know, but who will surely run away from me should the occasion ever arrive to meet in person.

I was so careful to select the appropriate people (I actually triple-checked) so there is something wrong with this application! I'm sure of it! This is not for my generation.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hip Hop + Disneyland = Bad Idea

So I did end up taking a day off from blogging after my first hip hop class, because literally every part of my body hurt. It wasn't the normal kind of exercise soreness -- it was the type of soreness caused by extreme stress on muscles that have never before ever been used. I am not genetically predisposed to do hip hop. I probably don't even have the muscles that are required to do it successfully. But my neck -- after an hour of trying to alternate between snake-like and robot-like moves -- was killing me the next day. Only, not right away.

You see, long ago, in a galaxy far away, before I had even made hip hop plans, I decided that the best time to take the kids to Disneyland would be 1) off-season, and 2) in the middle of the week. I mean, who can take their kids to Disneyland on a Wednesday in October? Apparently, millions of people. By the time I got there the lot was packed. And here is important Disney tip #1: do not bring a large double- jog stroller that does not fold up. Contrary to my assumption that a place like Disney would have wild accommodations for handicapped people and people with children (people handicapped by children?), the trams that take you from the parking lot to the theme park only have two rows that accommodate said passengers. So on the way in, I waited til 6 trams passed before I could get onto one that had space for me. On the way back, it was worse -- it took me an hour to get on a tram because handicapped people had first priority -- so every time I was at the front of the line, a handicapped person would appear and get ushered on. The "handicapped by children" people are screwed.

So I finally got to the theme park, at which point important Disney tip #2 kicks in: do not go to Disneyland after your first hip hop class because the stiffness will kick in at exactly 10 AM when Disneyland opens and you realize you have 12 hours ahead of you pushing 60 pounds of people around a giant theme park. I was feeling totally fine until 10 AM, when I suddenly became an octagenarian and groaned my way around the park.

As luck would have it, I then stumbled upon important Disney tip #3: check that there isn't anything wrong with your stroller before leaving the parking lot. Yup, my stroller broke. I was 5 minutes into Fantasyland and I groaned my way down to the ground to assess the damage. Should I abandon the stroller and attempt to walk the kids around? Should I scream for help? After about 15 minutes of sheer determination I was miraculously able, with my hands as my only tools, repair the stroller. I will now fast-forward past all the whining, crying and saying that they have to pee after finally getting to the front of a long line, to the part where my girls met Ariel the Little Mermaid. My 2-year-old rightfully asked, "Why do you still have fins?" (She's right -- Ariel's supposed to be a human now.) We also stood in line for over an hour to meet some other princesses, and they turned out to be the B-list (Belle, Pocahontas and Jasmine). Bummed out by this, my 2-year-old asked Jasmine where Cinderella was. I'm sure Jasmine was annoyed. I bet she hates those A-list princesses.

Anyway, add to that the traffic on the way back (add an extra hour on for that, actually) and I will summarize that I never want to do that again anytime soon.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Using up left-over chicken

I always seem to have chicken left over. Is it just me? Do people hate my chicken? I digress. The point is, I always have some of it around, and the efficient side of me wants to have something innovative to do with it (to digress some more, apparently a few restaurants in Hong Kong have started charging people for the food that they leave on their plates at all you can eat restaurants. I guess they have so much garbage there that they don't know what to do with it -- so it's one of the ways they're trying to reduce garbage. I guess they didn't grow up with my mom -- let's just say that if you did you would never leave food on your plate.). My husband doesn't like leftovers, so I have to do some food alchemy so that he can't detect the left-over-ness of it.

I've done salads (shred it up, toss it into a salad; or put it together with some mayo and celery and -- viola, chicken salad) and casseroles with varying success, but the best ways I've found to use it are in fajitas (again, using a shredded version of the chicken) and -- my new favorite method -- in tortilla soup. In case you don't know how to make it (or at least don't know how to do it the way I do, which I am sure is an abomination of the proper way to do it), here's what I do:

  • Shred up the chicken.
  • Heat up some chicken stock; salt / pepper to taste.
  • Chop up some tomatoes, avocado and cilantro. Distribute some of each into however many bowls you will be serving.
  • Get some tortilla strips (or you can make some, which is pretty easy, and which I used to do, but since the theme of this blog is laziness in this case we'll assume you buy them).
  • Once the stock is hot, ladle it over the bowls that contain the chicken et al. Throw in some corn if you'd like. I've also put in some shredded cheese before, but it's up to you.
  • That's it!

Tomorrow I start my hip hop dance class. I watched some hip hop videos online tonight and am realizing that I should be very, very scared. Apparently, you have to have abs and cardiovascular fitness in order to do this for more than 2 minutes. The class is for an hour (which, by the way, is sixty minutes). I may not post tomorrow -- I may be at the hospital.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

How not to get really, really sick

I'm not a doctor. I don't even play one on TV. But I can't afford to get really, really sick, because there are people to feed and drive around and jobs to do. In fact, somewhere along the way to parenthood it became illegal to be sick -- if my husband is sick, rather than feeling sorry for him, I'm usually annoyed. So here's my strategy for not getting really sick. It's ok to be a little sick -- that is, you're still functional but have a slight cough or congestion -- but the type that gets you laid up in bed hiding under the covers is pretty much unacceptable once you have kids.

  • As soon as you feel the tiniest inkling of getting sick, like an itchy throat or general malaise, or if you've been near sick people, take some Cold-Eeze. I've tried both Airborne and Cold-Eeze (I'm sure the generic zinc lozenges work just as well) and have had better success with the latter.
  • Keep taking it every 4-6 hours til the feeling subsides.
  • Sleep a lot. If I feel something coming on, I try to go to bed shortly after the kids do. When I used to travel a lot for a demanding job, I found that sleeping was the best way to prevent illness (as well as recover from it). I'm willing to bet this is actually the silver bullet when it comes to mitigating a cold.

I also pop multi-vitamins regularly if I feel like I'm fighting something. It's been years since I've been so sick that I can't do anything, so I think I'm on to something here. Give it a try -- your family will thank you (or at the very least, they won't resent you).

Friday, October 5, 2007

Toe tricks

Another thing that's fallen off the self-maintenance priority list in the past few years is pedicures. Since I live in a place now where people wear open-toed shoes year-round (hence also killing my old east-coast habit of not shaving my legs in the winter -- in, um, the name of energy conservation), I've had to hatch a new plan on how to appear groomed without having to actually do much at all. Why should you trust me? It fools the gay guys at work. These guys can spot a wrinkle in a shirt from a mile away. Trust me -- if they're fooled, the rest of the world will be too.

So here's what I do:

  • Start with a coat of ridge filler -- I like the Essie Ridge Filler, but any ridge filler with a creamy white appearance will likely work fine. This evens out the nail bed and gives it a polished look without much color (even less than the typical "nude" shades like Essie Mademoiselle).
  • Finish with a top coat. I like the Seche Vite formula, which gives a really hi-lacquer shine and dries in less than a minute.

And that's it! The best part is that you can let this pedicure go for a long, long time (think a quarter of a fiscal year or more) without touching it up because chips won't show. In fact, you'll probably end up cutting your toenails before you need to redo the nail polish. There you go...more time for you. Sleep on, friends!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

What are we having for dinner?

The first thing that I usually think of when I walk through the door after work is what I should make for dinner (lest we end up eating what's pictured to the right here). I love to cook, but cooking is a lot more fun when 1) you have a lot of time, 2) there isn't anyone holding onto your ankles, and 3) when you haven't just come home from work.

I'm trying to get better about planning. So I've planned my meals for the next week. Maybe it'll give you some ideas too, so you at least won't have to think of things to make. Being a mom is also like running a restaurant that's open every day, and if you don't have enough variety your customers complain. Or refuse to eat. Or repurpose the food as clothing, for instance.

Here's what we're having this coming week (I try to go to the grocery store on Wednesdays because I hate the weekend crowds):

  • Meat lasagna
  • Chicken curry with rice and carrots
  • Grilled steak with broccoli, carrots and mashed potatoes (ooh, carrots back to back -- oh well)
  • Salmon with lemon, fennel and tarragon; asparagus, cous cous
  • Pasta with tomato sauce (a veggie dinner, since we're getting a babysitter this evening who is vegetarian -- I'm going out to eat!)
  • Steak fajitas (using up the leftover steak)

I usually also buy one prepared meal, in case I get really lazy and don't want to cook dinner. This week, someone else is actually feeding us on Sunday, so I have one less meal to make. Trader Joe's has some great prepared meals, but it's kind of far away so I rarely go there. The Costco Kirkland brand meat lasagna is also incredibly good -- I get more compliments on that than when I make my own. Happy eating!