Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top Ten Things About LA in 2009

I thought this list might make it easier for me to remember all the things I have to be thankful for in my life. 2009 was my first full year as a stay-at-home mom and it was really tough. Though there are times during the day I still wonder what the heck I'm doing, those moments are becoming fewer and far between. This next year will hopefully bring the end of diapers for R, and then life will become even better. But enough of that, here is my top ten list!

This list is in random order and entirely my opinion.

1) Kogi Truck. I don't think I can say enough about how much I like the Kogi burrito. It by itself is almost enough for anyone to live in the LA area. Once it was pouring rain and I had the boys with me. Kogi is too spicy for them so they gave the boys some toasted slider buns gratis. Nice!

2) New Hope South Bay. I've never been to a church that has so challenged my comfort zone and made me part of community outreach. I may not be in LA for life, but I will never lose the sense of mission that I've gained at this church.

3) The weather. It's going to be 72 degrees on Saturday. No complaints! H went out into the snow and has told me that he does not like it, he likes no snow.

4) LA Moms Blog. It's been great getting to know the fellow mom bloggers in the LA Moms Blog community. So many different voices in so many different areas; makes me feel more connected than I did last year. I'm fortunate enough to be mentored by @mintcool. Without her, I never would have started blogging.

5) Farmers Markets. I love being able to get fresh local produce. I'm not saying I do it that much but knowing that there is the option of going to a different farmer's market every day of the week makes me feel like I am not stuck with eating garlic from China or apples from Chile. One of my favorites is the original farmers market next to The Grove. Once I got raspberries and blueberries there for $.99 in the height of berry season. So good. You'd never see those prices in Manhattan. Of course I also love the original farmers market because Bob's Doughnuts is there--best doughnuts in LA.

6) Koreatown. I've never lived in a place (other than Korea) where you could get a full dish with banchan for $4.99. There are a ton of those sullongtang places in K-town. So good.

7) Disneyland. I've been to Disneyland/California Adventure 5 times this year and I don't have an annual pass. I think I've made up for all the times I didn't get to go when I was a kid. It really is the happiest place on Earth!

8) International Moms Club. I went to the Founders Day lunch in February and heard Dr. Laura speak. A lot of people don't like her, but she gave me what I needed at the time--validation as a SAHM. It's really tough sometimes to be in such a thankless job. So many people think that I am on some sort of vacation. I no longer talk to those people. If you're an at-home mom, definitely find your local chapter and join. I don't think I would have survived this year without the Moms Club. I guess this isn't technically LA specific, but it is for me since I never would have joined without having moved here.

9) The Strand. Without it, I would not be able to fit into my clothes. The dolphin at one end is something I use to keep the kids willing to sit in the double stroller. I'm not sure why they like to climb on it but it never fails to engage them. (photo from wikipedia, Joelle Leder)

10) The weather. Did I mention that already? Well, it's definitely worth mentioning twice because H went swimming in our outdoor pool last week, something that probably wouldn't happen in winter in any other place I've lived.

I couldn't mention Legoland because that's technically in the San Diego area but that's another place we love. I can even take the kids there by myself because there are so many free play areas they enjoy.

So get out there and experience all the good things in LA. While you still can. I'm convinced it will fall into the ocean when the Big One hits, but hopefully that is a long ways away. Hello 2010!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Did Someone Say Minivan? Yes, the 2011 Toyota Sienna

If you're thinking about trading your BMW for a minivan like my friend Elizabeth did or getting a new car by the end of the year to take advantage of the 2009 tax credit, you might just want to wait till next year if you're in the market for a minivan or a car with a lot of cargo space. I was invited down to the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel last week to test drive the various models of the all new third-generation 2011 Toyota Sienna.

I'm one of those SAHMs that still has a hard time letting go of her past life as a young urban professional. So a minivan has been a very difficult sell to me. When we moved to Southern California from New York, we had to buy a second car. We bought a Honda Accord with the plan of trading in the BMW a year or so later for a minivan. It hasn't happened. But now I'm feeling the pressure more and more with both boys acquiring their sets of friends and the need to be able to pick those friends up and drive everyone around instead of being trapped at home. So when the opportunity came up last week to test drive the ten different renditions of the five models of the 2011 Toyota Sienna, I knew I had to go. Elizabeth was also there and we partnered up to test drive three models, the XLE V6 AWD, the SE, and the new Sienna 4 cylinder. The XLE V6 AWD felt just like Elizabeth's current model XLE. We didn't really have the road conditions to experience the difference AWD would make. Some nice new features about the XLE AWD (XLE MSRP $32,175) are the standard leather interior and Lounge Seating (reclining captain chairs in the second row, complete with footrests). I think the new Sienna 4 cylinder with a base MSRP of $24,260 is meant to compete with the Kia Sedona, which had a base MSRP of $22,195 in 2010. With just a $2K price difference, I bet more consumers would go with the better reviews, styling and reputation of the Toyota Sienna over the Sedona, especially if you're only driving around town with the kids. The 4 cylinder vs. a V6 really makes a difference only if you're lugging a lot of cargo or doing frequent highway driving where you need the extra power. With gas prices going up and down, the better fuel economy of a 4 cylinder (26 mpg highway) also makes sense for the budget-conscious consumer.

That brings me to the new SE (MSRP $30,550). I really think that Toyota should have called the SE something else, and labeled it not-a-minivan. It sits lower and the steering is a lot tighter so when you are inside you feel like you are in a regular sedan, maybe even a sports car. The Chief Engineer of the 2011 Sienna is Kazuo Mori, someone who spent his youth competing in the All Japan Kart Championships. When he began redesigning the Sienna in 2006, it was after a 7,000 mile cross-country road trip from Socal to NY to Detroit with the Toyota Alphard, known as the King of the Minivans in Japan. His market research led to him believe that there was a need out there for a minivan that was not only about Comfort and Convenience, but, based on the comments he got on the stylish Alphard, also the "Cool" factor. So he was able to infuse his passion for sports cars into the design of the third generation Sienna, namely the Toyota Sienna SE. If I were to buy a minivan, this would be the one for me. It even has cool exclusive instrumentation that has a completely different look from the other Sienna models.

The all-new 2011 Sienna will go on sale in February with the arrival of V6-powered Sienna grade, LE, XLE, and Limited models. Four-cylinder Sienna grade and LE models, and SE grade will arrive at dealerships in April. Another neat aspect of the third-generation Sienna is that the sliding door slots are so well hidden that they are barely noticeable. A lot more features have become standard equipment at all levels so this means that the Sienna is giving the Sedona a run for its money, literally. That means even though you wouldn't get the 2009 new car tax credit, you'd be getting a lot more car for your money to make up for it.
So now that I know which Sienna I would get if I were to get a Sienna, I just need to make the decision whether to trade in that BMW. Bob Carter, the Toyota Division Group VP & GM I met at the test drive event, said that if I were to get the SE, he would change the name on that car for me so it wouldn't be a minivan. After all, what makes a minivan? The sliding doors? Well, at first glance you can't even tell that the SE has sliding doors. So I wouldn't really be buying a minivan, right? Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

December Halftime Report

At times this December it's felt like we were in the middle of a very intense rivalry football game like Army-Navy, Stanford-Cal, Yale-Harvard. As we go from activity to activity, play to play, we're fighting to keep our energy up so we can make it to the end zone. So far this December we've been to 9 different events, not counting playdates at the park and at friends' houses. It was all kicked off by the Got Milk? event on December 1 where H got the best face painting of his short life. I got to sample delicious lattes in between chasing H and R around the patio of Le Pain Quotidien. Everyone at the event got to go home with their own Got Milk? apron, a milk frother and CD of latte recipes.

Then it was four Christmas parties in the span of a week. H got to see Santa twice and R actually sat on Santa's lap without crying this year. I think giving him a big piece of chocolate right before he met Santa really helped. It's really strange, I never sat down with H and said, there is a man called Santa Claus and he brings presents with his reindeer on Christmas. Yet he somehow knew all about it. He kept asking Santa, "Where are your reindeer?" Santa pretended not to hear him. Before I knew it, even though I hadn't made up my mind whether I was going to have the boys believe in Santa or not, I was telling H, "Santa sees you, he only brings presents to the good boys." And before I knew it, H was crying and saying, "I want to be a bad boy, I want to be a bad boy." So at least I know he won't be tricked into doing something bad by a stranger with a present. Right?

Then we made our way over to the Treehouse Social Club in Beverly Hills for the HAMO playdate. The only packs of unopened diapers we had in our house were the Fisher Price ones we had gotten from Toys R Us on Black Friday at 6 am. I had never tried those diapers before but bought four packs because they were half price. Surprisingly high quality. I never even knew Fisher Price made diapers, but I will definitely buy them again. A long non sequitur, sorry. I told H that we were going to a place like Pump it Up Party because I couldn't really describe the TSC. Well, the TSC is nothing like PIUP. There is a giant treehouse in the middle with a slide and areas with different themes, like a game room (complete with Macs and Nintendo Wii), a supermarket room and craft area. H had a fabulous time, but when we were leaving, he said, are we going to Pump it Up Party now? What is it with toddlers and the fascination with giant inflatables? And why does the nearest PIUP have to be in the OC? I was exhausted after two hours of live children's music and running after R. H was ready for the afterparty.

Disney on Ice. By then I couldn't even remember to bring a camera. I had heard a radio message on KFSH that sometimes the best thing to do is just enjoy the event instead of trying to run around capturing the event. Yes, that's what I was doing! Except I wasn't really enjoying it because H ran away before the show started (thankfully he was found quickly by security) and R kept trying to run away during the show and we were asked by security to keep a tighter rein on him. I learned that the boys are, and I am, NOT ready to go to shows like this, at least not R for another two years. A few weeks ago, a friend forwarded me information about this product called Mommy I'm Here that you can attach to your child's shoe to prevent them from running off. I wish I had ordered it then! By the way, I loved the parts of the show I did get to see--especially the Tinkerbell portion in the second half. The flowers popping out of the sides of the rink were definitely an unexpected cool effect. You can still catch the show in various locations in the Los Angeles area. Read my previous post about the discount.

That brings me to this past Friday. (I have a good reason for the lack of updates, my sister-in-law was visiting the past five days and staying in the computer room so no internet for me!) Cookie exchange at the park. Umm...did someone forget to tell the weatherman that it is December and should be cooler than the middle of July? 85 degrees. R was sweating in corduroy overalls and H was drenched from wearing his bike helmet. Finally I just took off R's pants. Someone once said that a toddler can get away with just a diaper as pants until age 2. I wholeheartedly agree. At least if you live in the desert. It would probably be considered child neglect if you did it in the middle of winter in Minnesota. So, cookies exchanged, ensuing crashing from sugar high experienced, vow to never eat cookies made. Broken the next day.

I won't even mention the Christmas party yesterday except to say that I have now officially seen the worst white elephant gift ever. Worse than the poop tea given at the mom's club Christmas party, worse than the spool of half-empty blank DVDs at a previous church Christmas party, and worse than the enormous bottle of pickled peppers given two years in a row. I can't even describe it because it makes absolutely no sense, and yet it completely explains why 10% of the attendees at the party refused to participate in the exchange based on previous year's experience. What is the worst white elephant gift you've ever seen?

And somewhere in the middle of all these running plays, I've been fortunate enough to participate in some really great outreach ministries in our community, from putting together gift baskets for victims of human trafficking to filling toiletry shoeboxes for the homeless to getting up early to score $3 sweatshirts at Old Navy for the Fresh Brothers sweatshirt drive. Fortunate because it completes the message behind all the celebration during Jesus's birthday month, that he came to earth to help us all. Touchdown.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fitness Quest Take Three, or is it Four?

A couple days ago H looked at my stomach and said, the milk in your booby went into your belly. I don't know if he was commenting on the fact that my breasts have shrunk since I weaned R or if he was just trying to explain why my stomach was so large. And so, I got the kick in the stomach I needed to get out the exercise mat. The Wii Fit Plus yoga mat to be exact. I recently received a Wii Fit Starter Kit to review from Performance Design Products, headquartered in nearby Sherman Oaks, CA. I hadn't taken it out of the package but H gave me the incentive I needed to take it up a notch in my Wii Fit routine. I've been doing the Balance Games and bypassing the yoga option. If you had a choice between a hula hoop game and the tree pose, which would you pick? Precisely. But if you're serious about core strengthening, you have to fire up the yoga, be it bikram or otherwise.

Performance Designed Products is an industry leader in designing and manufacturing peripherals for all major video game platforms, including PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii, GameCube, DS Lite, XBOX 360, and XBOX. PDP has been supplying video game accessories to the U.S. market for over a decade. The Wii Fit Starter Kit is manufactured and sold under the Pelican brand name. It retails for $29.99 on Amazon, which includes shipping. I've seen it for $19.99 at Gamestop, which ends up being less (after tax) if you buy it at the bricks and mortar store, but about the same as the price on Amazon if you have to pay for shipping by buying online.

The Starter Kit comes with a yoga mat and a fitted neoprene sleeve to protect the Wii Balance Board and cushion your feet. For anyone with young kids, the cover is essential. When I put on the cover, I noticed R had spilled grape juice on the Wii Fit board. Not sure what the board was doing out since Stewart "hid" it under the couch, but if you want to extend the life of your Wii Fit balance board, definitely get a cover. The yoga mat gave me the push to do a yoga routine on the balance board. Since our living room is carpeted, this actually helped a lot because it prevented my feet from slipping all over the place.

So I think the Starter Kit is helpful if the user of the balance board is likely to use it for yoga on Wii Fit Plus or for stretching and working out with other Wii fitness games like EA Sports Active and Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum. I know you can drip sweat at the end of one of the hard aerobic workouts featured on those games, so a yoga mat is especially nice to stop you from getting sweat all over your carpet. The protective cover is a great idea for anyone with young kids or old kids (husbands/boyfriends) who spill things. I'm thankful to Performance Designed Products for giving me another tool to help me get my butt (and stomach) in gear. Maybe one day God will appreciate my efforts and give me the opportunity to review Charm City Cakes when they open their LA location. Here's to hoping!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Help a Mother Out Playdate this Sunday

If you are in LA and have kids, you would probably have a great time at the playdate hosted by fellow LA Moms Blogger, Kim Prince, at the Treehouse Social Club on Sunday December 13. She's collecting diapers for the charity, Help a Mother Out. Grab a pack of diapers and join the fun!

HAMO Holiday Playdate

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Next Up on Quest for Fitness Motivation-Interview with Alison Sweeney

I am still having a tough time getting out there. Last week I exercised 2x. I would have done more Wii Fit Plus had I not put it in my closet because the boys were insisting upon doing it the minute they woke up. Well, after demanding chocolate and cookies. Need to hide those too. So this week I'm vowing to exercise 3x. Not sure what it will be but I've gotten a boost from my e-interview with Alison Sweeney. I missed interviewing her in person last month at the Glide Tight Spaces Challenge because of H's concussion, but she graciously agreed to answer some questions by email! Without further ado, here is my first celebrity e-interview:

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Alison, it's so great to see you looking so svelte after having your baby girl. What are some of the things you did to help you lose the weight quickly?
I began working out slowly building up to my pre-baby workout routine. I also watched my diet and tried to eat as healthy as possible. I have a ton of advice for mom's trying to lose weight - I'm writing a book about it! It's going to come out next October, The Mommy Diet. And one of my tips, is don't beat yourself up about those last 10 pounds! Believe me; I'm still working on it, myself!!

I really admire women who are out there working and fulfilling their dreams. How do you balance your career with being a mom? Do you have the kids travel with you? What is something you do to keep connected to them?
It's always easiest to say it starts with balance but it's about every day making the decisions you can live with for that day. Then it is about looking back over your day and checking that nothing has fallen off your radar. I also give my job 100% while I'm there... not regretting that decision. I decided that I'm going to be away from my kids, I owe it to them to make that time worth it. When I am with my family, I give them my 100 percent attention too. I love when there are opportunities for Megan and Ben to travel with me for my job and am lucky enough for them to often be on set with me.

How did you get involved with Feeding America? And how did Glide get involved? Is Glide also providing dental floss for Feeding America to give away with meals?
I got to know Feeding America through the relationship with The Biggest Loser. It's been an eye-opening experience to realize how many people in this country fight hunger. When you think about how many of those are children, it was clear to me that I wanted to be involved. I wanted to help.
I’ve partnered with Glide to help raise money for Feeding America this holiday season. Those who follow me on Twitter @ali_sweeney know that I’m talking to my fans about it and showing them how they can get involved. They are not donating product but for every person who Tweets with the hashtag #GlideTightSpaces through December 31, 2009, Crest Glide will also donate $1 to Feeding America with a guaranteed donation of $20,000. We also hosted two Tight Space Challenge events in NY and LA last month where Glide donated $1 for every person who went through their Tight Spaces obstacle course.
I was so excited when Crest asked me to be involved with this campaign because not only do I love working with Feeding America, but I actually floss with Crest Glide every day before I go on set. It's an important part of my routine and helps me to feel more confident. Glide is just much smoother than other floss, so it slides easily between the tight spaces of my teeth - allowing me to be camera ready. So, this partnership was truly a perfect fit.

I'm really curious as to how the show The Biggest Loser has influenced you, if at all. Were there things health wise that you changed because of your involvement with the show? Does hosting the show make you conscious about your weight all the time?
I guess because I struggled with my own weight as a teenager, obesity issues strike a chord with me. And since joining the Biggest Loser, I’ve seen so many success stories, Jerry from season 6 is a perfect example. At the finale, Dr H told him he won 25 years of his life back! It IS possible to regain control of your weight, and it’s so scary to see how many people in this country are playing Russian Roulette with their health. Especially kids. Now with two children of my own, it’s impossible for me not to be passionate about encouraging people to get healthy, and to help their children be healthy.
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I'm really impressed that she took the time to answer my questions through email. I think she definitely thinks about how to manage her time and be a good mom. If you have a twitter account, please tweet #GlideTightSpaces through December 31, 2009 to make a donation to Feeding America. Please note, I didn't receive anything for posting this interview. I really believe in the need for groups like Feeding America, especially in these tough times, and love the fact that I can raise awareness by blogging.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Republican Moms Night Out

A few nights ago, I went to my first Republican Moms Night Out. The evening festivities in Santa Monica started out with a spin class at Revolution (my first time spinning and a great experience!) and ended with dinner at Kreation Kafe (organic everything, so delicious). We enjoyed a special of spinning/dinner for $25. This is an awesome deal since many of the menu items for dinner are that much alone. Now they are having a special for pilates and dinner for $30. Still an awesome deal.

The dinner was so much fun. Anyone who is a Republican mom in the Los Angeles area should definitely join. I think we scared the people sitting next to us in the restaurant with our talk about breastfeeding/weaning, Sarah Palin, and our kids taking guns to school. I'm still sore from the spin class and smiling from the great conversation at dinner. You are not alone, join us!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Disney On Ice Worlds of Fantasy coming to LA!

Once early on in our relationship, Stewart made the mistake of saying that ice skating was not a real sport because you couldn't score points. After listening to my subsequent diatribe, he never made that same error again. For many years, I lived vicariously through Michelle Kwan. She was Asian-American, her parents were immigrants, and she was roughly the same age. I felt such immense pain for her when Tara Lipinski and then Sarah Hughes won Olympic gold. But I digress. I've always been entranced by figure skating and even took my first skating lessons while I was in college. I dated a guy mostly because he was a speed skater who went to the Olympic trials. These days I live vicariously through my good friend who, even now as we come into our middle age, skates on a champion synchronized skating team. All this to say, I love ice skating! So of course when I heard about Disney On Ice Worlds of Fantasy coming to LA, I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce the boys to the wonders of skating. I hope to take my family and review the show on my blog. I figure if I take them to a show first, then they'll have more of an idea of what to do when I take them to real rink to try it out the next week.

You can watch Disney on Ice in the LA area from December 17th-January 10th at the following locations: Los Angeles, Anaheim, Ontario and Long Beach. I received a press release stating that the show will bring four magical Disney stories to the ice with characters from Disney/Pixar’s Cars and Disney’s Tinker Bell, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. The Disney Princess Pre-Show taking place an hour before each show is free with ticket purchase and includes a special appearance by a Disney Princess.

There is a promotion going on right now if you enter the coupon code MOM you can receive 4 tickets for $44 on weekday performances or $4 off single weekend tickets. You can order online by heading to http://www.disneyonice.com/ or http://www.ticketmaster.com/. You can also order tickets by phone: 800-745-3000 or at the venue box office. Minimum purchase of 4 tickets required; additional weekday tickets above 4 can be purchased at $11 each. Email me if you would like a copy of the flyer. (I tried uploading it to share on google docs but it doesn't seem to be working.)

I'm so excited about the show and hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

How to Have a Frugalicious Holiday

Like everyone, I'm trying to cut back because of the economy. It's also been a tough transition going from 2 incomes to relying solely on hubby to support us all. It seems like every month we go over our budget because of all the emergency room visits! (I just don't know why they can't get deathly ill during the doctor's office hours--why is it always midnight or the weekend?) Anyway, when I heard that RedPlum was going to have an event in LA entitled My Frugalicious Holiday to show moms how to cut back on spending and still have a fabulous holiday season, I knew I had to go.

I recognized RedPlum because I've been a proud coupon clipper since I was a tween and I've seen it on the cover of some of the coupon inserts in the Sunday paper and the mail. I didn't know they had a comprehensive website where you can also get money-saving tips as well as coupons and restaurant deals. It even has all the recent coupon codes for online retailers. At the event all of the RedPlum best holiday gifts under $30 were on display. I even met the RedPlum editor who had picked them! I think my favorite was the Brugo coffee mug where you can put the hot coffee and immediately take a sip because the technology cools it so it won't scald your mouth. If I were working in an office I would definitely get this for the commute, which kind of defeats the purpose of the event which was to find gift ideas for other people. And my other favorite item was the myperennial interchangeable headband that has a snap so you can change the headband just by switching the cute attachment. But I don't have a girl!

Ikea was also there with two table arrangements, one grown up and a kiddie table. The grown up table was done half in beige and half in black and white. The entire table was done for less than $150! I wish I could have a grown up party where I could set up a table like this without my kids destroying it. Even the kiddie table would be destroyed in 2 seconds. Just a few more years, right? The stager had sewn the tablecloths from everyday Ikea fabric. I never thought to do that, but I bet that is much more cost effective than going out and buying a tablecloth.

A couple ideas from the event that I think would be helpful at parties:
1) Have a signature cocktail prepared in advance so no one has to be stuck making drinks.
2) Have a tapas party so everything is hors d'oeuvres and you don't have to worry about keeping a main course warm. I think this is awesome because the appetizers are the best part of every party.

If you have tips on how to save money this holiday season, please share!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Time to Get (Wii) Fit

CONGRATULATIONS to PCREPAIRMOM, second place winner chosen by random.org.
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CONGRATULATIONS #10, chosen by random.org. Please respond to my email within 72 hours!
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My sister's awesome pumpkin cheesecake put me over the edge tonight. It was the first time my husband (mashed potatoes) and I (everything else) cooked an entire Thanksgiving dinner from scratch. Past turkeys were always provided by mom and/or Boston Market. Even though I left the bag of giblets in the turkey until midway through the roasting (emergency call to Butterball hotline confirmed bird was still edible and many people do this which is why the company designed the plastic bag to withstand this practice, thank God!), the turkey turned out all right. I used Martha Stewart's recipe, which called for a cheesecloth cover and basting liquid of a bottle of white wine and 3 sticks of butter.

So what did I do to combat the atherosclerosis and turkey coma? Fire up the Wii Fit Plus, of course! I've been trying to do something physical every day and it's quite ironic that some days I can't work out outdoors because of the weather, meaning that it is just too darn hot here in So Cal. (Yesterday it was so hot, the boys and I went swimming!) I nearly had to turn on the A/C today since it was 80 degrees outside and even hotter inside due to the oven being on all day. But I digress. I think God is trying to help me out with my fitness goals because lately he's been giving me a lot of opportunities to find motivation. Last week I had the chance to interview Jillian Michaels at the Guinness World Record setting Wii Fit Plus demonstration at the Torrance Sports Authority. Sports Authority is the only national sports retailer that has an actual training area and employees that can help you figure out how the Wii and Wii Fit work. I think one challenge for parents and electronics is how to find the time to figure out the instruction manual. When someone is actually walking you through the setup and how the system works, you're much more likely to use it.

Here is part of the interview (my friend @mintcool double-teamed with me and held the flip video since I was holding something else as you will see):

video

Obviously after meeting someone with abs like that, you can't help but feel the need to burn some fat. And I want you to burn calories with me! Sports Authority and Nintendo have generously offered a Wii Fit Plus balance board for one of my readers to win. It was one of the ones used in the world record setting demonstration so it's a part of history! Here is how to enter: Contest period runs from midnight Black Friday to 11:59 pm Cyber Monday (PST). Enter by leaving a comment stating when and what was your last form of exercise, and leave your email address. If you don't leave a comment about the last time you exercised, your entry will be disqualified. One entry per person; please do not use multiple email addresses for the same person. At the end of the contest period, I will utilize Random.org to randomly choose a winner. Winner will be contacted by email the business day following the end of the contest period. Winner has 72 hours to respond to my email. If winner does not respond within 72 hours, the Wii Fit Plus balance board will go to the second place winner as decided by Random.org. Good luck!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

3-2-1 No Contact

H's contact sport career is over before it began. Five months ago he suffered a concussion by falling in our neighbor's garage. A week ago he had another fall, this time by falling face first off one of our cheap IKEA dining chairs (we were waiting till the kids were past the crayon scribbling stage to get a "real" dining table and chairs). The first time was worse since he fell on the back of his head--disorientation, vomiting, loss of focus. We went to the ER and they did a CT scan, luckily no internal bleeding in his head. This time was not as bad but he is still out of sorts and not acting like himself--he even asked for medicine because he felt sick. What kid does that? So basically he can't have any more concussions because there is a well-documented risk that it will increase his chance of having Alzheimer's, already in his family history. After a week he seems to be getting back to his old self, but definitely no contact sports for him.

I was the manager of my college football team. As a perk of that role, I met a lot of future and former NFL players. I have autographs from Charles Woodson and Peyton Manning before they entered the NFL. I've been on the field at Soldier Field and Giants Stadium. One of my dreams was to have a son who could play on my college team and/or be the first Korean-American player in the NFL. Those dreams are now dead. It's strange how small things dictate the course of someone's future. I have to believe that he can still be an athlete. If he doesn't do something physical to release his enormous amounts of energy, I don't know how I will survive his childhood. Perhaps he can race in the Tour de France or outswim the Thorpedo one day.

This Black Friday I will be shopping for heavy heavy wood dining table and chairs.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My latest LA Moms Blog post.

You can click on the widget and scroll to the second post.
Los Angeles Moms

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mommy Makeup

A couple weeks ago, my friend Heather came by to borrow a baby swing for her third child. She was decked out in full makeup, a slinky black dress, and 3-inch heels. I asked her if she was on the way to a party and she said that was how she had to look to go pick up her oldest daughter from pre-school. Apparently she dropped her off 1 day without putting on makeup and her daughter told her not to pick her up unless she was wearing makeup because, without it, she was not pretty enough. O-kay! That is the difference between the mom of girls and the mom of boys. The girls keep their mommy looking pretty and trendy and the boys keep their mommy looking like she just stepped off the rugby field. And that is exactly what I look like most days. If I can get some lip balm on my lips, I'm lucky. So when my friend @mintcool told me she was hosting a makeup party a few weeks ago, I gladly signed up.

The makeup was provided by e.l.f. (eyes lips face) and the party was catered by Fresh Brothers. Hollywood makeup artist Shannon Hughey was there to give us tips and pro photographer Laura Joyce was there to capture all the fun. Since it was my birthday, Shannon picked me to be the makeover model. I was so excited! She taught me how to do a 5-minute face and then layered on smoky eyes to complete the makeover. I definitely looked like I was ready to hit the club! I wanted to keep it on and surprise the mommies at pre-school drop off the next day, but I knew there was no way I would be able to sleep in one position and not get makeup all over my bed. Since that night I've been trying the 5-minute face a few times a week. It's strange how doing something so simple can make a difference in how you hold yourself. I think it's not really about layering on the makeup, but the act of doing something for yourself to prepare your self mentally to present yourself to the world instead of just trying to sneak around as quickly as possible without having people look at you (my usual m.o.).



There used to be (and may still be) an email going around that Nordstrom had bought e.l.f. and the makeup was on clearance for $1. This isn't true, but the low price of the makeup is true. A lot of people think that something cheap must be bad but Shannon said that wasn't the case. You pay for the name of the higher end makeup but the makeup inside is the same, compare the e.l.f. duo blush/bronzer at $3 to the one from NARS for $45. I think I know which one I want. They just started selling the e.l.f. studio line and the mineral line at Target. Maybe I'll see you at the endcap.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Portland Recap

Having grown up in Chicago I think about snow nostalgically, especially when it's November and 80 degrees in the blazing sun here in LA. I was even planning on taking the boys to Chicago for Christmas this year. That was before this past weekend in Portland. More on that later.

When we got to Portland, my good friend from the Korea University summer program picked us up from the airport. She let us use her daughter's old car seat so we only brought the backless booster for H. Not traveling with a car seat really helps, especially these days when we're only taking carry-ons and a car seat would mean having to wait at baggage claim just for that item. We got a tour of southeast Portland on our way to Pine State Biscuits, but the line was too long and we made our way to Hopworks Urban Brewery, aka the Hub, where I had my first organic handcrafted beer. The great thing about this place was that half of it was a bar where kids aren't allowed, but the other half is kid-friendly where parents (at least the non-driving parent) can kick back, drink beer, and watch their kids play in the toy corner filled with a train table, dinosaurs, books, a chalkboard, and more. I wish there were places like this in LA. The food wasn't so great, but the beer, excellent! We later checked out the OMSI, where H and R ran around like crazy till I was about to pass out from exhaustion chasing them.

The next day we went shopping and walking in downtown Portland. Oh, did I forget to mention there is NO sales tax in Portland? We ate at the food trucks and got our obligatory Voodoo doughnuts. (I didn't get any Stumptown coffee, but bought some beans to brew at home.) When we walked into Voodoo, I smelled bacon frying for the bacon maple doughnut. Does it get better than that??? H ate mostly the topping off his doughnut, but I think he thoroughly enjoyed it. R was conked out during the entire walk.

Over the weekend we spent time on Mt. Hood for a family wedding at the Timberline Lodge, where the exterior shots for The Shining were filmed. It may have been the lingering presence of whatever evil was portrayed in the movie (I'm not really sure because I can't watch scary movies), but H and R were unable to sleep (screaming in the middle of the night) and we were all zombies the day after the wedding. Unfortunately we were in one of those bunk rooms and subjected other relatives to their craziness. Never again. Whenever we travel, we will get our own room. I don't know what possessed me to think that sharing with other people would work.

Sleepiness aside, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Portland with all of its sights and eclectic personalities. The boys especially enjoyed playing with their cousin C--Pump it Up Party anyone? But what we discovered is that H is no longer the same boy that was born in NYC and spent his first winter playing in the snow by Riverside Park. I thought Portland would be a great place for him to reconnect with nature, snow and the four seasons. We all discovered that H didn't share that goal. When we went to a playground after a light sprinkle (light by Portland standards), H went down a slide and got his pants soaked. He immediately started moaning, "I am not OK!" He said this repeatedly until I went to the car and changed him into disposable pants. (These boxers have saved us on several occasions. I would never use them for sleeping, though, they're just too expensive for that!) Then when we were on Mt. Hood and finally playing in the snow, after five minutes H started whining about his wet pants, "I'm wet, I have to change it. I don't like it." So a year and half in the LA sun has turned my snow angel into a beach boy. Say it ain't so!

I am going to abandon the plans to go to Chicago for Christmas and fly my parents to LA instead. I guess the only White Christmas we'll have is if we go to one of the pristine beaches in Dana Point where the sand is almost white. I think the hardest part is to admit that I had just as much trouble with the Portland weather as H did. I feel like a traitor to myself.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunny Day...Sweepin the Clouds Away

Tomorrow is one day I will let H watch TV before preschool. The new season of Sesame Street premieres tomorrow. First Lady Michelle Obama will be featured in a segment promoting growing vegetables as part of the show's new two-year "curriculum" called "My World is Green and Growing." I had the opportunity this past Friday to meet puppeteers Carroll Spinney (Big Bird and Oscar) and Fran Brill (Zoe and Prairie Dawn) to discuss their history with Sesame Street and its past 40 years.

I remember from my childhood that there were a lot more new shows a year and they confirmed that the show had been cut from 110 shows a year to 26. Mr. Spinney revealed that the producers wanted to do 25, but then someone said, "which letter of the alphabet do you want to cut?" Hence the 26. I was surprised to hear that the show that basically taught my sister and me English after we moved to the US has also been hit by the downturn in the economy. I thought, if there is any show that should get public support, it's Sesame Street! Instead the show has been hit by layoffs and funding cuts along with the rest of America.

Talking with Ms. Brill really made me think about things I hadn't thought of before, like the disproportionate male/female ratio of monsters on the show. She also pointed out that the male monsters were free to do whatever they wanted, but they had to be extra careful with what the female monsters did because everything could create a backlash. Consider the example of Cookie Monster--it's ok for a male to be eating everything in site but if a female did that, people would say she had an eating disorder. I began to appreciate even more how much thought went into planning the show and the responsibility the puppeteers took on in creating their characters.

After my fellow LA mom bloggers and I wrapped up our discussions with the legendary puppeteers, it was time for H and R to meet Oscar and Zoe. H was so excited. He ran right up to Zoe and gave her a big hug. He showed her his best ballet moves. R was scared as usual. He preferred to hold onto the friendly PR representative for support. Finally he let me get a picture of him with Oscar. I don't think they made the connection between the puppets and the puppeteers so they're still safe in their magical world where little furry monsters are real.

We were lucky enough to be able to preview the new DVD Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days. They have been watching it nonstop since we got home. It can be credited with getting H to pee standing up (because I said he could watch more if he did that), a huge milestone after ten months of sitting down. Thank you Grover! This DVD set is awesome and may tie their all time favorite, the Sesame Street 25th Birthday Celebration. (That DVD's last segment with the African acapella troupe, Ladysmith Black Mambazo is the best rendition of Sing I have ever seen/heard. H could probably watch that over and over again for hours.)

I hope to see Mr. Carroll and Ms. Brill at a 50th anniversary Sesame Street event. It was truly special to meet people who have made such a positive impact on the world. These days there is just so much bad news, it's nice to know that there is a place where there are friendly neighbors and the air is sweet. Let's hope for many more sunny days.
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Update 11-11: I watched the show this morning and guess what the letter of the day was---H! The segment with the First Lady was really funny because of her interchange with Big Bird. At one point, Big Bird says to her something like, "We could be in the same family." On Friday Mr. Carroll told us that he was a distant cousin to President Obama, so this was clearly an inside joke. Watching Big Bird and knowing there was a 75-year old man in there was pretty surreal.

The format of the show was a little different, every so often Murray would come out and say what was coming up. I'm not sure why they inserted that and took up time they could be using to focus on the letter and number of the day. The past seasons definitely spent more time on showcasing the letter and the number. Perhaps it was a special episode to commemorate the milestone. I'll definitely be paying attention to that in future shows. All in all a great show!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fitness and Fun at Home

Ever since the fateful day of the pool party when another mom told me to my face that I was fat, I've been looking for ways to slim down. Yes, I know, I shouldn't care what she says since my BMI is in the normal range but I've been socialized enough by American culture that when someone says something like that, you just can't ignore it. So I've been going for run/walks with R while H is in preschool, but twice a week just doesn't cut it. I think God has been noticing my efforts, however, because in the past two weeks I've had the opportunity to go to a Wii Fit Plus party hosted by fellow LA Moms Blogger Kim Prince (check out her blog for info about the LA holiday playdate she's hosting next month to collect diapers for charity) and the EA Games Annual Winter Gaming Wonderland event.

At the Wii Fit Plus party we were given a tutorial on how to get started with the Wii Fit balance board. I think that's the biggest hurdle, at least for me. A lot of times electronics have so many different steps you have to do, that if you're not a tech savvy person, you'll probably give up. I'm really glad I went to the event because now I think I can actually use the Wii Fit to exercise at home when the kids are asleep. I've done Denise Austin yoga at home, but always wondered if I had the right form. Well, the Wii Fit measures your center of gravity so if you drift off, you can see it right on the screen. The Wii Fit also comes with fun games that helps you burn calories while you're playing. There is a game where you move your hips side to side and front to back to add up to 10. I said to my friend, "oh, it's a game for Asians." She said, "yes, Nintendo is Japanese." I can't help but wonder if this was the Japanese being ironic by playing into the Asian stereotype and also if I'm the only one who's thought about it. In any respects, the game is fun and burns calories so the rest is besides the point. At the end of the night, the sponsors surprised us by giving each participant her own Wii Fit Plus to take home. So cool!


At the EA Games event, Stewart and the boys went nuts. They hopped from game to game, from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to Boom Blox Bash Party to Hasbro Family Game Night 2. For me, however, the best game was the Active More Workouts. I think I've found the perfect indoor workout. The More Workouts program integrates the Wii Fit balance board to give you as complete a person trainer you can get that is not an actual human being. I tried one of the demo workouts and I got so pumped up, I had to take off my jacket. The Active game monitors your leg as well as arm movements and has you working with a resistance band, so it seems like you get a more intense cardio workout than the Wii Fit Plus. So Wii Fit for core strengthening and Active for cardio, I really have no excuses now.

I also played the Sims 3 expansion pack World Adventures. Ok, this might be weird but I've always wanted to kill a Sims character to see what would happen so I got my character to starve to death. The grim reaper came out and he became a ghost. The demonstrator told me that there were ways to bring him back to life, so really, no harm done. I think a lot of my frustration at being a mom is that I expect my real life family to act like a Sims family. I want my kids to eat and sleep when I dictate, I want my husband not to leave his clothes all over the house, and I want the ability to control time. Then I think that if that actually happened, then the Matrix would probably be real. So it's a good thing that my family is the way it is, right?

Another game our family got to try out was the Wii Fifa Soccer game. Stewart was so enthusiastic about it that he even wrote a review of it that he wanted me to post on my blog.
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Without further ado, Stewart's global internet blog debut:
Growing up, I was firmly entrenched at the bottom of the video game totem pole when it came to success on our family’s old 8-bit Nintendo console. Sports games in particular were highly mystifying with complex game play which often devolved into a series of unresponsive button mashing. I bought the Nintendo Wii in the hopes that its motion-sensing technology would make video games more accessible for the casual gamer like me. Wii Sports is the perfect example of a game that can be both simple and fun to play. But would more hardcore games be as easy? After trying Fifa Soccer 10, I can say that the answer is yes. Sure there is a bit of a learning curve, but with its simpler “All-Play” mode, there really are only limited set of options to worry about: shoot, pass, sprint, standing tackle, and sliding tackle. And thankfully, two of those options are executed with a simple flick of the remote. Sure it’s a dumbed downed alternative, but most of the fun is actually getting to play Wayne Rooney of Manchester United and seeing him score some killer goals without having to press a million buttons and perform some odd sequence of directional movements to make it happen. And since I’m not a hard core gamer, it provides the right amount of thrill with the precise amount of needed complexity. And for those of you who want to really dig into the intricacies of the game, you can simply change the settings to open up a wide breadth of additional controls (e.g., trick moves and shots). But for now, that header by Rooney over the Chelsea keeper during my 10 minute break is sufficient enough for me.
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I think it can be summed up as, "I like it." I know he likes it since he's been up till 1:30 am the past couple of nights playing it. Crazy man. With him and my two boys I predict my entree into the world of late night video gaming is just beginning. Hopefully, they will give me enough time on the Wii so I can reach my Wii Fit BMI goal of 22 by the end of 2 months. So now I have the tools, I just have to go and do it. Please cheer me on!

Friday, November 6, 2009

How to Crush It?

Today's inspiration is Sgt. Kimberly Denise Munley. I pray that God will heal her quickly. She is a true hero, responding without regard to her own life to serve and protect others.

I really wish I could do something to change the world for the better. My pastor gave a sermon recently on taking Revolutionary Risk. We have all talents and gifts, and not to use them is just plain lazy. One thing he said that resonated with me was his question along the lines of--does anyone grow up wanting to be average, to have a mediocre life, just to get by until they take their last breath and die? When I was young I wanted to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. When I got a C+ in organic chemistry in college, I realized this wasn't going to happen. Then I turned to law and the goal of becoming a Supreme Court justice. I found myself practicing corporate law so that also isn't going to happen. So what is left for me? I don't know yet.

Someone I greatly admire is Paula Deen. She suffered from agoraphobia in her 20s and didn't really come into her own until late middle age. So there is hope for me, right? A friend of mine gave me the book "Crush It" for my birthday, which basically says go after your passion night and day until you attain it. The biggest problem I think is that I don't have a passion. As long as I've known my friend Rayray, her passion was to become a doctor. She didn't pursue it right away after college but went into the peace corps, but she planned to go to med school afterwards. Unfortunately, the peace corps gave her malaria meds that made her hallucinate and eventually she had to be medevaced. She had some brain damage (not as bad as it sounds since we all only use 10% of our brains) but managed to overcome that and got into her choice of med schools (40 on the MCAT!). She'll finally graduate from med school next year, a 12-year journey from college graduation. To me, that shows true passion. To go after something so doggedly without ever contemplating defeat. I don't have anything close to that.

Except one thing. I wanted to be a mom ever since I was young. I wanted to have lots of children and be home with them. I wanted to cook marvelous meals using my 20 different cookbooks and have wonderful sit-down family dinners where we would all talk and enjoy each other. But it's not working out the way I wanted. There are so many days when things blow up and I feel like a complete failure as a mom. Everyone says you do such a great thing for your kids just by being there, but really? I don't think that's true. If your kids want you to go to work and their dad to stay home instead then isn't it time to throw in the towel on that dream? If your kids ask for macaroni and cheese or just plain rice day after day, what does it say about my cooking? And if the only way I can get them to eat is by chasing them around and shoving a spoonful of food into their mouths, what does that say about my parenting skills? I just want to go inside a hole and hide there for a week. What is the cure for mom burn-out?

When I read about someone like Sgt. Munley shooting down an insane gunman, I just appreciate so much what a strong woman can do out there in the workforce. Kudos to her. And anyone who says she should have been home with her kids instead of working needs to be kicked out of this country because they obviously don't appreciate the freedom we have to make that choice to work. Thank you Sgt. Munley, job well done.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Blogging

I'm trying new looks for my blog. Why? Because it really irritates when there is a lot of empty space on the page. So I had to stretch it and there aren't a lot of stretch templates on blogger. I could try to edit the html and adjust the box sizes but I don't think I'm ready for that.

I'm in a bit of a mood now because H has peed in his car seat yet again after he fell asleep in the car. When will he become fully potty-trained? He just can't physically hold it when he's sleeping. I read a book in college of this writer's memory of the year when she woke up. Became aware of herself as a person, existing. When will this happen for H? I'm waiting to speak to him coherently. Will this day ever come? It makes me feel like a horrible mom because I feel like I'm doing something wrong or not doing something right that he needs to develop. Being here just isn't enough.

I told H's friend that we had a crawl space in our house because that's where we're going to hide when the aliens come. He then said he didn't have a space like that in his house and I told him he did and he should ask him mom where it is when he goes home. What a fun conversation. It makes me feel sad that I'm not talking to H like this. I know you're not supposed to compare kids, but that's what you say to other kids' moms when they are saying how their kid isn't up to speed. Ugh. I'm waiting...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Redux


Can there be too many Halloween parties? When my family came to the US we didn't really do Halloween. I remember going trick or treating only a handful of times during childhood. In fact, I've never had a store-bought costume for any occasion (although I guess my wedding dress is the ultimate princess costume). Once in college I wore a friend's dress that she had gotten at the Salvation Army and said I was a hippie (because the dress was so old). Another year I put on my sister's Stanford Law shirt and said I was a law student. So this year has become the bonanza of Halloween parties to make up for all those fun times I think I missed out on when I was a kid.


Over the past three weeks we've gone to 9 parties/events and the circus. The Got Chocolate Milk event kicked everything off, then we went to a neighborhood pumpkin party, then the Moms Club party, Borders Halloween party, the circus, three events on Friday and two yesterday. H has become a party animal. He never wants to go home now, but expects to go to the next event. I have started him on a path that I can foresee leading to beer pong and jello shots in college. What have I done?

The saving grace of all this is that H doesn't really like candy. He licks a lollipop three times and then says he's done. The only thing he really likes is chocolate, but now I've trained him to think that is a prize he gets only after going no.2 in the toilet. R, on the other hand, is a candy junkie. I think it was the gestational diabetes that did it, but there is no food with a discernable sugar content that he will turn down (except raisins, but what kids would pick raisins over candy?). Funny to see an 18-month old wrestle you to the ground before giving up his trick or treat bag. Luckily he's too young to realize that we took all the candy last night and put it in a box to give away.

So the top ten things I've learned this Halloween:
10) Bad candy should be outlawed, nobody wants to get mints in their Halloween bag.
9) If you're going to multiple events, you should have more than one costume otherwise all your photos will end up looking the same.
8) It's not a good idea to skip breakfast and eat candy instead. Both Stewart and I had bad headaches all day Friday and realized why parents have been saying this for ages.
7) Giant Elmo costume on an adult is NOT cute.
6) Toddler boys do not want to carve pumpkins.
5) Your kid should not be the only one not wearing a costume at a Halloween event.
4) Tootsie rolls have been reformulated and now taste like chalk.
3) If you are in high school and over six feet tall, you shouldn't be trick or treating. And if you are, you should at least have a costume.
2) It's not about the candy, but the thrill of the unknown, of going up to each person and saying trick or treat not knowing what their response will be.
1) You don't have to do everything, one event per day max should be the rule.

I think this year's frenzy of activity has cured me of the desire to go nuts at Halloween. Next year, it will be very sedate. Perhaps we will even skip it and move right on to Christmas. Time to get the ornaments out...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Brandi Carlile

Ever since I got into blogging I've been given chances to do things I wouldn't have done otherwise. Like go to super fun events with my kids and other moms. So when something came up that wasn't kid-related, I thought it might an interesting detour. Especially since it was a free music download and I love music. I had a whole month to listen to and review Brandi Carlile's new album, Give Up the Ghost. Only problem was, when would I find the time when I had a quiet moment to listen to an entire album? I listened it to it once when I first got the download, but haven't been able to write the review. And so here I am on October 31 listening to the album again, hiding from my kids before we go trick or treating.









Unfortunately I haven't been listening to much "real" music since H was born. I have over 300 music cds from before his birth that are now in storage because he would take them out of the cases and break them. And when we listen to music, he insists it is HIS turn, which means Laurie Berkner or Elmo or TMBG. I want him to love music, so usually I give in. So listening to the CD was a treat for me to actually listen to lyrics that were clever and meaningful instead of just repeating "grumpy old troll" 500 times.

My favorite song on the CD is "I Will." If you've ever had a bad breakup, this song cuts to exactly what you've felt. My favorite lyrics from the song, "you've drawn heavy-handed lines around morality about yourself and I don't share your point of view...it hurts to be the one you regret...I'll never be the same because we've met..." I like it in that it's different from other breakup songs, she's actually saying that she did learn from that person and she won't forget him/her but she will survive the loss. At least that's what the song said to me.

I also liked the tracks "If There Was No You" and "Oh Dear." I liked the lyrics a lot to all of the tracks because you have to listen to them carefully and actually think about them, so they're definitely songs that get better every time you listen. If you've ever listened to the group The Story, Brandi Carlile will remind you a lot of that style--very very clever lyrics and great vocals. In fact that's what I immediately thought of when I came across another of Brandi Carlile's albums, The Story. Another band I thought of when I listened to this album was Indigo Girls.


And that's my review. It's definitely been a great experience because it reminded me that I am a person too and I don't have to have children's music on repeat wherever I go. Sometimes it's MY turn.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Internet Mommy

I think I'm officially an internet mommy now. I've started writing for the LA Moms Blog in addition to blogging here and even have a twitter account (@unellie). So when I heard about the launch party for Kimberly Blaine's newest book, Internet Mommy, I jumped at the invite. A party at night without my kids at a hotel in Santa Monica--of course, I'm in!

The party was a great time. It was nice to get to meet Kimberly and many of the other women who had contributed to the book. That's one of the best things about this new blogging world, meeting women outside my little social circle who bring new perspectives on mothering. Apparently I spent a good chunk of the night speaking with someone who is a hardcore liberal, something I only found out afterwards on the ride home. (Yes I worked on the McCain campaign, proud of it!) Not that I wouldn't have spoken to her if I had known that before, but it probably would have colored our conversation. Now I know I won't see her at the next Republican moms night out, but I look foward to seeing her again.

I learned at the event that I was a baby internet mommy when I saw @techmama whip out her autographed Vivienne Tam HP netbook to write up a blog on the spot. I've never seen anything like it. I don't have any super expensive designer purses (although I do have Birkin envy ever since that episode of Gilmore Girls), but I'd definitely like to be able to whip out a computer that matched my outfit. Maybe just once, for the cool factor.

Anyway, it was way past the boys' normal bedtime when I finally got home. I fully expected them to be up anyway because Stewart has never been able to put both of them to sleep by himself. But lo and behold, when I got home the house was quiet. I thought for a second he had taken them to McDonald's, but no, they were sleeping!!! It wasn't the sound of silence, but the sound of true freedom. Now I can go out at night without having to get home by 9 at the latest. But part of me was a little sad because I knew it was the end of yet another stage of their short lives, that part that needed me a little more than they needed papa. It's kind of silly really, I've been yearning for this ever since R was born, but now that it's happened, I feel like I've lost something. Good bye my baby. Hello little boy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mickey Mouse at Travel Town

This past Wednesday I was lucky enough to be invited by Disney Consumer Products to Mickey's arrival in Los Angeles as part of Mickey's Virtual Train Tour of the West. It was a dream come true for H--he got to play with trains, ride the Travel Town train ride at Griffith Park, and probably his favorite part of the event, view a prescreening of the upcoming Disney Channel primetime special, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Choo Choo Express airing Sunday, October 25th (7:00-7:45 p.m. ET/PT). For me that would be like eating chocolate and watching a food network challenge at the same time!

A fun thing about the event is that they took footage of the kids playing with Mickey. And here is H's youtube debut:



There has been a lot written lately on whether you should or shouldn't post images of your kids online, including one article published just yesterday in the NY Times. Well, I won't tell you where he appears so it could be any of the kids in the clip, although you will notice that there is only one Asian boy. And if you blink you will miss him!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Got Milk?

From the time H was 11 months old to 2 1/2 half, he drank a lot of milk. He had always had formula mixed in with his bottle (never learned to latch on) so he had been accustomed to the flavor. R on the other hand, refused all bottles and wouldn't wean until 14 months. That is when all the milk drama began. He refused to drink plain milk. The doctor said that was the reason why he had dropped from being in the 70th percentile at six months to 10th percentile for weight at fifteen months. So I had to find creative ways to make him drink milk or risk him dropping off the chart all together. Yogurt, kefir, soymilk, yogurt drinks, chocolate syrup, and apple juice (not as gross as you might think) are only some of the things I mix in to get him to drink his milk. And of course, whatever R gets, H wants so now both boys are non-drinkers of plain milk. So when my friend @mintcool told me about a chocolate milk Halloween event sponsored by Got Milk?, I was really excited to go because that's one of their favorite food groups. (Both kids are not big eaters, but that's a story for another day.)



The event took place last Tuesday, the first day it had rained in Southern California since June. I would not be deterred by a little rain (especially since it was @mintcool who was driving us in her minivan). We made it to Paramount Studios in Hollywood in record time because so many people stayed off the roads to avoid the rain. It was my first trip to a movie studio since I had moved to Southern California and I was excited. We passed the Blue Sky and made our way to New York street. It was a great event filled with chocolate milk, treats and games for the kids.

We also got to see Got Milk? unveiling Angie Harmon's new milk mustache ad. There was an opportunity for us bloggers to take photos and talk with her, but like many of the women there, I didn't want to be photographed with my disheveled hair and sweatshirt (it was raining!) next to Angie Harmon. But I couldn't pass up an opportunity for R to get his photo taken with Jason Sehorn. Being most recently from New York, I can tell you that was a big deal for me. R shares his name with a certain NFL Hall of Famer so it was even more thrilling. Perhaps R will be the first Korean to make it to the NFL and one day this photo will be on his fan page!

Of course no blog is complete without a bit of drama. R ate and drank so much chocolate at the event that he threw it all up when we got home. But that's my fault for letting him overindulge because I was so distracted by my first blogger event. So we Got Chocolate Milk all over R, me and our living room couch. Totally worth it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Shame on you Pumpkin Patch

On Sunday I took H and R to the pumpkin patch. I couldn't believe the prices. $6 for a pony ride (last year I think it was either $4 or $5) and $3 for the "petting zoo" which was a total of 5 animals. What was even more disgusting was the fact that the pony was so thin you could see its ribs. If you are raising prices because of the increase in the cost of whatever, you should at least be feeding your meal ticket!!! And $2 for 5 minutes in the bounce house. They made this little girl get out even though there was no one else waiting. Ridiculous. I will never go to a Cottone & Sons pumpkin patch again. H was screaming when I took him out of there but he has to learn sometime you can't get what you want all the time. That poor pony!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dunkin Donuts

I am so missing Dunkin Donuts out here. There are only a few places in the LA area where you can get a decent doughnut. Saturday I'm going to the Grove and getting myself some delicious Bob's Doughnuts. Stewart said, aren't you going to be full from the lunch? We're going to a friend's daughter's 1st birthday party at Maggianos, yum! I said, yes, but I can bring the doughnuts home.

If DD would give me a franchise, I would wake up at 5 am to make the doughnuts. Anyway, here is my first attempt to putting a widget on my blog, hope it works:

Dunkin' Donuts. Dunkin' keeps me blogging. Try Dunkin' Donuts Coffee For Free. Get a Sample