Sunday, November 29, 2009
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
CONGRATULATIONS #10, chosen by random.org. Please respond to my email within 72 hours!
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):
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
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
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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...