29 November 2008

Bunny Vision

Omigawsh. Am I the last person to discover this hilarity? Toon bunnies reinacting classic films in 60 seconds. Total time-waster. But ... Tee Hee.


24 November 2008

Imagination Movers rock

Reach High!
Think Big!
Work Hard!

Have Fun!

The Imagination Movers rock!

Longtime readers (*snort*) will recall my past exultation of The Backyardigans as a great show for preschoolers. And it is: Music, dance, imaginative play - My boys and I spent many a morning dancing around the living room to that show.

But the love a four-year-old is fickle.

Minon #1 has a new obsession: The Imagination Movers on Playhouse Disney. And Mommy doesn't mind at all that he and his 18-month-old brother want to watch this show. Every. Single. Day.

No, really. Because I like it just as much as the kids do. Seriously, these guys are awesome.

The Movers - Rich, Scott, Dave and Smitty - are four "regular" guys from New Orleans who started recording and performing their own kids tunes and quickly became a local phenom.

Three of the Movers are Dads themselves and only one of them has a "professional" music background. The others have varied backgrounds: Award-winning teacher, architect, firefighter.

Their music has been called "Beastie Boys meets Mr. Rogers" and I'd say that's not a bad description. Their sound is actually pretty eclectic: A little rock, a little pop, a little funk, a little country ... and a lot of fun.

The tunes are so catchy that Minion#1 dances around the living room singing his favorites even when the TV is not on. And the messages of the songs and the show are spot-on for preschoolers.

The Mover Motto: "Reach High! Thing Big! Work Hard! Have Fun!" has become our family mantra for "brainstorming". Just say those words to my boys and watch them grin and start to dance.

If you have a preschooler and, for some strange reason you have NOT seen this fun and educational show, do yourself a favor: Crawl out from under your rock and check it out.

So ... what is YOUR favorite kids show?

20 November 2008

Grammar Matters

Wedge over at Kilobox Communique has a guest post by Jules about the importance of spelling.

This is a topic close to my heart, and I'm afraid I wrote a whole book - or at least a few chapters - in my response. Sorry, Wedge. :)

So, I thought I'd share my thoughts on this here, as well. Here is the gist of what I had to say:

As a self-professed grammar ninja (which is two degrees kinder, but one degree more dangerous than a grammar snob) I have to fall strongly on the side of "Spelling Counts!"

I walk around my daily life mentally copy editing everything from billboards to menus to shop signs to fliers posted on telephone poles - a habit and hazard of my trade.

My dictionary, thesaurus and AP Style Guide are indispensable tools of that trade.

Yes, we make all make mistakes. Typos Happen. And I'm a teensy bit more relaxed about it in my "casual" writing (personal emails, text messages, blogs, twitter).

But I am absolutely mortified when grammatical errors slip into my professional writing or past my professional editing.

Some of my colleagues think I am a bit over-zealous (thus the "grammar ninja" title). But I would argue that it is not only my job to get it right - and therefore a matter of personal and professional pride - but it is also a matter of the CREDIBILITY of my organization - and not just because I work in public education.

There is little-to-no excuse for companies and organizations to NOT have perfect copy.

As a customer or stakeholder, why should I trust your judgment or have faith in your skills if you can't spell a word associated with your product or service .. or if you don't know the difference between "it's" and "its" ... or if you can't seem to master subject-verb agreement?

Customers SHOULD question the credibility and professionalism of companies that don't know or don't care enough to get it right.

Jules, if you are "outdated" or "arrogant" ... I guess I am, too. Grammar Ninjas Unite. :)

This is not the first time - and certainly not the last - I have climbed up on my grammar soap-box to proclaim my opinion to the blogosphere.

The bottom line? Grammar matters.

19 November 2008

Equal Protection

Some very interesting and insightful discussions going on over at the Daily Dish about the legal and constitutional implications of California's Prop 8 today.

My favorite:

"That's the point of the Equal Protection Clause. The rights of minorities aren't subject to extinction by the majority's fiat."

Yep. That pretty much sums it up.

14 November 2008

On becoming ART

This week, I went with a good friend as she got her first tattoo. She was a little nervous about the pain and she wanted me there to support and distract her.

I can relate, because it's been just under a year since I became art.

I've always liked (tasteful) tattoos, but there were two things that kept me from getting one: Pain and Permanence.

After I had kids, both of those reasons went away - the pain didn't seem so scary because, well, after childbirth, nothing seems as scary. :) And as for the permanence, what could be more permanent than your children?

As our families are Scottish and Irish, I wanted to get a Celtic knot of some sort with my son's initials or birth signs incorporated into it. Doing some research, I found out that one of the top Celtic tattoo artists in the country just happens to be in Santa Barbara - just a few hours away from my home. So, I made an appointment - it was an 8-week waiting list - and started narrowing down my design ideas.

With help from artist Pat Fish (who is a very interesting character herself) and her assistant, Colin, I chose a beautiful Celtic Tree of Life design by Welsh artist Jan Delyth added my sons' initials and birthstone colors.

I was supposed to meet with Pat on that Saturday to finalize the design and then return on Sunday for the tattoo. But it turned out she had an opening Saturday night, so I took it.


Don't let anybody tell you different. Sometimes it felt like being scratched or scraped, sometimes it was a burning sensation, and sometimes it was a little "stabby". :)

But, hey, if they were licked on by kittens, everyone would have one, eh?

Anyway, it wasn't the worst pain I've ever felt. (I did mention that I've given birth to two strapping young lads, yes?)

The tattoo goes across my spine and is relatively large, and I thought it was funny that some parts hurt more than others. Pat said it's because of the way nerves are clustered around your spine. At the time, I was too busy gritting my teeth and counting the tropical fish in her tank for the 400th time to really pay close attention. But, in retrospect, that's interesting, no?

Funny story: When Pat started the ink, my husband made a joke about "too late to back out now" and Pat told us about a girl who came in to get a Pegasus tattoo and left with one horse leg because the pain was too much! Daay-am. Now THAT'S a story. I wonder what she did with that?

So, anyway ... after about two hours in Pat's super-cool antique medical chair, she declared me "art".

Having done my homework on tattoos and their care - and having a top-shelf artist - paid off. My art healed up very quickly and without any major discomfort.

I have to say, I think the end result is lovely! What do you think?

Okay. I've shown you mine. Now you show me yours!


Two bits of advice for anyone getting a first tattoo ...

1) Eat first.

Seriously. Don't get tattooed on an empty stomach. The pain endorphins mess with your blood sugar and leave you all wiped out like your coming down off a Red Bull binge. I just ate a light snack before mine and I was shaking and sweating after the short walk to the car and I just wanted to eat and then pass out.

2) Do your homework.

Get a good artist (yes, they cost more, but they are worth it) and work with her to really get exactly what you want. After all, it's the only thing you will take with you when you go. Choose wisely.

12 November 2008

Randomness x 7

I've been meme'd. So here are Seven Random Things about me:

1 - I have been knitting the same baby blanket for almost two years. I have no idea what I will do with it when it's completed. But I WILL finish the darn thing. Someday.

2 - I got my first stitches before I was 3 years old. Three stitches. In my face. That pretty much set the trend for my life. I am a klutz and injure myself on a regular basis. But never very seriously.

3 - I like to eat lemons. With salt.

4 - I'm a grammar ninja.

5 - I love the outdoors. But I hate bugs.

6 - I catalogue my personal collections of books and movies. Alphabetically. In Excel. Because I'm just a little bit OCD like that.

7 - Is my second-favorite number.

11 November 2008

Tale of the Magic Jeans

I don't like shopping for jeans. C'mon, who does? Really?

For me, it's like "Cathy" shopping for swimsuits. I start out with positive expectations and slowly devolve into disappointment, frustration and lowered self-esteem to the point where I want to grab the nearest fashion designer by the ears and scream, "REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES!"

Well, it turns out someone was paying attention to that war-cry of hippy women everywhere (I'm lookin' at you, moms.) Because NYDJ came out with Not Your Daughter's Jeans with "Tummy Tuck" technology.

I know. You're skeptical. So was I! I saw the sign and thought, "Pfft, yeah, whatever."

Then I read their miracle-tonic label, "Flattens your tummy! Lifts your Butt!" Suuuuuure it does. "Makes you look and feel a size smaller!" I actually snorted at that one. Ignoring the dirty look from the nearby saleswoman, I read on: "... no love handles ... more comfortable than your favorite sweat pants ..."

What? No claim that it erases wrinkles and cures world hunger?!

I didn't buy their snake-oil sales pitch for a minute .

But ... they did feel really soft ... and the color and cut were nice ... and maybe, just maybe, this pair might actually be made to fit a real person and not some stick-figure fashion model. So I took them into the dressing room and tried them on ...

And a chorus of angels burst into song as I sank softly into the most comfortable pair of jeans I'd ever put on.

I knew without even looking in the mirror that I would buy them, they fit and felt that good. And then I dared look in the mirror: Hmmm, not bad from the front. Not bad at all. No mommy bulge ... no muffin top ...

But what about the back? I stepped outside to face the dreaded three-way mirror.

And there was that choir of angels again!

Waaaa-hooo! My ass looked great, if-I-do-say-so-myself!

Seriously, these are the most comfortable thing I have ever put on my lower half.
They are magic ... a'la Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. They FIT. They DO make your tummy flatter and your butt firmer, and they ARE so comfortable that you could do yoga in them.

I mean, c'mon! Sliced bread's got nothin' on these jeans!

And then I found out they come in SLACKS, too!

*Haaa-lle-lu-jah ... Haaa-lle-lu-jah*

Consider this a Public Service Announcement for curvy women everywhere: Buy. These. Jeans.

At least go try them on.

If I was Oprah, every woman on my show would get a pair of these jeans. "You get a hot ass, and you get a hot ass, and you get a hot ass ..."

* Disclaimer: Jeans may or may not include angelic chorus.

On Love: Keith Olbermann

Beautiful: The best 6 1/2 minutes of television I've seen in a while.

10 November 2008

Kid Logic: Deep Holes

Four-year-old minion, intensely plying his plastic shovel to the dirt pile in Daddy's wheelbarrow: "I'm digging a really deep hole. I think I am digging all the way to China."

Daddy, with a chuckle: "Oh? You think you can get all the way to China from here?"

Boy, deadpan, with a hint of reproach at Daddy's lack of faith: "Daddy. It's a VERY deep wheelbarrow."

09 November 2008

Best. Turkey. Ever.

You must make this turkey!

I am not a cook. I admit this freely and without shame. The Husband does 90 percent of the cooking in our house. If you want omelettes, pancakes, waffles, enchiladas, Spanish rice, lasagna, chicken breasts or something out of a box - I'm your gal. Anything else - talk to The Husband.

So, considering that disclaimer, why the heck am I blogging about a recipe?! And why on earth should you listen to *me*?!?

Because it is The. Best. Turkey. Ever. And it's EASY!

Why should you take advice from someone as culinarily challenged as me? Because it's not MY recipe - it's Alton Brown's! And HE is a kitchen god (which is a little bit like being a rock god, but yummier.)

Seriously, do yourself, your guests and your bird a favor: TRY THIS RECIPE. I did. And I made a flavorful, moist, golden-brown-and-delicious turkey. Me. The girl who can't boil toast.

Trust me: If *I* can do it, anybody can. :)

So do it!

Good Eats Roast Turkey

1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 tablespoon candied ginger
1 gallon iced water

For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Canola oil

Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.

A few minutes before roasting, heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.

Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine.

Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add steeped aromatics to cavity along with rosemary and sage. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola (or other neutral) oil.

Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees F. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.

06 November 2008

We Shall Be Free

This is the song I have been hearing in my head all week.

We've come so far. And yet ... not.

Californians demonstrated this week that we care more about the humane treatment of farm animals than we do about the humane treatment of human beings.

Fortunately, the battle is not over. Because so long as one of us is chained, none of us are free.

In the end, I am confident, compassion and equality will prevail. But only if we don't give up.

We Shall Be Free
Garth Brooks

This ain't comin' from no prophet
Just an ordinary man
When I close my eyes I see
The way this world shall be
When we all walk hand in hand

When the last child cries for a crust of bread
When the last man dies for just words that he said
When there's shelter over the poorest head
We shall be free

When the last thing we notice is the color of skin
And the first thing we look for is the beauty within
When the skies and the oceans are clean again
Then we shall be free

We shall be free, We shall be free
Stand straight, walk proud
'Cause we shall be free

When we're free to love anyone we choose
When this world's big enough for all different views
When we all can worship from our own kind of pew
Then we shall be free
We shall be free

We shall be free
Have a little faith, Hold out
'Cause we shall be free

And when money talks for the very last time
And nobody walks a step behind
When there's only one race and that's mankind
Then we shall be free

We shall be free, We shall be free
Stand straight, walk proud, have a little faith, hold out
We shall be free

We shall be free, We shall be free
Stand straight, have a little faith
We shall be free

05 November 2008

Free at last!

It's a history-making event! A redefining moment! A break-through for the country -nay, the world!

Nooo ... not the Presidential election. Pfft. That's so yesterday's news.

No, I'm talking about the genius of "Frustration-Free Packaging" from Amazon.

Amazon.com will now deliver (select) products in "an easy-to-open, recyclable cardboard box."

Shhhh ... you had me at "easy-to-open".

Almost any parent can tell you that "wrap-rage" is a serious problem in this country. Kids toys and electronics are the worst culprits.

I can't count the number of times I've wrestled with child-proof, theft-proof, zen-proof packaging while my kids danced around just wanting to "plaaaaaay with it!"

(Mostly, I can't count them because I can no longer see my fingers through the band-aids. Those scars have forever ended any chance I had for a career as a hand model.)

But - at last - there is HOPE!

No more tearing into plastic clamshell packages can-opener style; No more piles of teensy-tiny plastic twist-ties and their choking-hazard grommets; No more kung-fu fighting with taped-up, tied-up, trussed-up toys while your toddler cries in frustration.

It's gotten to the point that I break into a cold sweat just walking by toy aisles. Christmas and birthdays make me hyperventilate.

But now! ... "easy to open" ... beautiful.

Wait! And it's green, too?!


Where have you been all my life?!

I guess these guys will soon be out of business. Meh. Serves 'em right for marketing a mono-tasker. Not in my kitchen, bub!

03 November 2008


There was a "No on Prop 8" Rally in my town yesterday.

Yay! Just the idea makes me feel not-so-alone in my opposition to this attempted ban on Same Sex Marriage.

But, I couldn't attend. My children are too young to be trusted anywhere near a busy street corner unless they are being firmly held - or are tied to a lamp post. The first is not really an option for the squirmy mass of limbs that is my escape-artist 17-month-old. And people tend to frown on trussed-up 4-year-olds in public for some reason. Go figure.

So, I did not participate. But I did make it a point to drive by and honk and wave and give a "thumbs up" to those brave folks out there on the street corners with their homemade signs.

And, trust me, it IS a brave thing to do in this town. As I have mentioned before, we are little specks of Liberal Blue awash in a sea of Conservative Red here in California's Central Valley. My thumb was not the only finger being waved from a passing car.

So, we drove by a couple of times to show our support.

And my 4-year-old was fascinated by the joyful cheering and waving from the street corners as we honked and waved.

"Mommy, they are celebrating us," he said in a happy, awed tone.

"Yes, big boy, they are."

"But why are they celebrating us?" This as he waved frantically from his car seat at anyone he could see.

"I guess because we are celebrating them," I replied.

No hesitation: "Yeah, cuz everybody wants to be celebrated. It's nice. It makes you happy."


Everybody wants to be celebrated. Everybody wants to be happy. Everybody wants to love and be loved.

Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness: Self-evident. Unalienable.

Equality. Compassion. Love. Celebration.

Without these, where would we be?

My 4-year-old gets it.

Why don't the h8ers?

My husband and I voted NO on Prop 8.