Wednesday, October 31, 2007

13 Costumes...mostly cute

  1. Many Mini Mouses
  2. A rather impressive pirate (á la Pirates of the Carribean's Jack Sparrow).
  3. A rather impressive female pirate...not á la Pirates of the Carribean's ;-)
  4. A guy built like a football player in an evening gown.
  5. A cute little ballerina.
  6. A cute little pink bunny.
  7. Several cute little monkeys.
  8. Some cute little Elmos.
  9. An e-mail and attachment
  10. A little race car driver (looked like pajamas with several patches attached and she was riding a toy car).
  11. A woman in psychedelic colors and a large, blonde afro. Note: she could have just been crazy as this is Los Angeles.
  12. A pretty impressive renaissance era dress.
  13. A chef :-)

Nozin for Noses

For the germophobes out there, Nozin

Mmmm....99.98% germ mortality rate. Excellent, Smithers.

Via Daily Candy

Sleeping Babes

My sister-in-law has two kids, both of whom are great sleepers. She joked that her first was sleeping through the night by the time she was two weeks old. Her second, a little boy, took a bit longer, but not by much relatively speaking. When we visited back in February, we noticed that he would nod off while having his bottle. She would have to wake him to get him to finish the bottle, which only served to annoy him. He and his sister would then sleep through the night, regardless of ambient noise or light. It was marvelous to watch!

Sleeping baby
© Photographer: Brebca | Agency:

MetaBaby is nothing like his cousins. For the first 6 weeks, we were lucky if we got him to sleep before 6AM. We would both stay up trying anything and everything to get him to go to sleep. If he fell asleep, it was usually on top of one of us. 

Out of desperation, we tried co-sleeping and found that it worked really well for us. If he woke up in the course of the night, I could nurse him back to sleep without getting up.  This was a definite benefit given that I was still tender from my c-section, and I was dealing with a pretty bad case of mastitis.

After a few months of peace, the co-sleeping stopped working.  I realized that I was nursing him every time he woke up, but I started to suspect he didn't need it.  Additionally, he started moving and kicking more in his sleep, which was becoming annoying.  We moved him to his crib, but kept him in our room.  Though he woke occasionally, I didn't nurse him every time, so he was able to put himself back to sleep.  It was a good balance at the time.

But everything wears thin at some point, right?  The occasional wake-ups started taking a toll on our sleep, so we moved him to his room.  We (or was it me) resisted moving him  because we (I) thought we'd (I'd) miss his little baby breaths...but it turns out that what we really missed was sleep.  He still wakes up once a night, but sometimes...he doesn't!  Oh, those nights are good.

A Good Day

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

7 Plus 4(s) Things About Meme

What Works for Mom dared me to do 2 memes.  Who am I to back down?  No one, that's who.  So off I go.  Theoretically, I would tag 7 people.  Well how about this.  If you wanna play, then "Tag!" 

Meme #1 - 7 Unique Things
Rules for Meme #1
1. Link to your tagger and post rules.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself, some random and some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of post and list their names.
4. Let them know they were tagged by a comment on their blog

1- I like finding new music before it hits the mainstream.
2- My favorite yogurt is plain (with crunchy granola, no cinnamon!).
3- I used to eat lemons until I weaned myself off when finding out it was bad for my teeth.
4- I would never, ever, ever get a tattoo.
5- I didn't eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich until I was in my 20's.
6- My favorite childhood sandwich: peanut butter and mayonnaise.
7- Before I was 20, I never used moisturizer, which some think is unique. I did a little in my 20's. And I admit that upon hitting 30, usage has gone way up.

Meme #2 - 4 Questions & Answers
4 jobs you've had:
1- Usher
2- Cashier at a car auction
3- Personal bookkeeper
4- Accountant at a business management company (specifically, accountants for celebs)

4 movies I could watch over and over
1- When Harry Met Sally
2- The Princess Bride
3- The Sound of Music (especially as a kid)
4- Birdcage

4 tv shoes I watch
1- The Office
2- 30 Rock
3- Dr. Who (my husband's fault)
4- Monk

4 places I've lived
1- Los Angeles-the city
2- Los Angeles-the east valley
3- Los Angeles-the west valley
4- Los Angeles-the beach

4 favorite foods
1- Tortilla de patata
2- Roasted chicken
3- Cucumber salad with a tangy lemon dressing
4- Almost anything with avocado and cilantro (my version of catnip)

4 favorite colors
1- Burgundy
2- Dark green
3- Dark blue
4- Currently, oddly enough, orange (everything *baby* seems to be orange these days...I blame the manufacturers)

4 places I'd love to be right now
1- Seville, Spain
2- Paris, France
3- Kauai, Hawaii
4- Barcelona, Spain

4 names I love but could/would not use for my children
1- Boogie (short for Boogenstein)
2- Tristan (vetoed...too British)
3- Trinity (vetoed...too geeky)
4- Jesus Ignacio (nickname: Chewy Nacho) (vetoed, obviously)

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Germiest Places in America

Funny enough, people must know me as some kind of germ-o-phobe. Well, I kind of am one, and I've only gotten worse since MetaBaby was born.

MetaDaddy and a friend, completely independent of each other, sent me a link to an article by Health titled The Germiest Places in America.

Ew. Like I didn't have enough problems, now I have to start worrying about my sink more, which I already obsess about. It really brought out my inner Monk, which honestly, is more an outtie than an innie these days.

Germs Under The Microscope
© Photographer: Madartists | Agency:

Here's a snapshot of the list, but feel free to go there if you really need to know more:
  1. Your kitchen sink - Our sink is usually empty, and I clean it often. And yet, ew.
  2. Airplane bathrooms - It's a port-a-potty in the sky.
  3. A load of wet laundry - Ya, that makes sense.
  4. Public drinking fountains - Ya, now I understand why bottled water got so popular.
  5. Shopping cart handles - Done.
  6. ATM buttons - I'm going to need more hand wipes.
  7. Your handbag - I don't care who, when or why...never put your bag on the floor in a public bathroom.
  8. Playgrounds - I'm pretty sure I'm gonna be that weird mom who cleans the jungle gym and swings. *le sigh*
  9. Mats and machines and health clubs - Obviously, this is why I don't go to the gym. I knew there was a good reason.
  10. Your bathtub - This makes sense, but I didn't need to hear it. I'm gonna have to go do some cleaning, now.
  11. Your office phone - I used to have a bottle of alcohol in my desk...for strategic wipe downs. Crazy or not, those who laughed at me also borrowed it ;-)
  12. Hotel room remote - Never trust anything in a hotel. Cross your fingers for a duvet because the covers get changed. Otherwise, just sleep without a know why.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Quote: Jessamyn West

A good time for laughing is when you can.
--Jessamyn West

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Avoiding Unwanted Calls and Catalogs

Things that annoy me: junk calls and junk mail.

Two things to consider so as to avoid unnecessary excess in your life.

First, the national Do Not Call registry started about 5 years ago to help consumers get off of telemarketer's lists. However, it's not a permanent solution. If you signed up when the program started, your registration might expire soon. To find out, go to the Do Not Call registry to confirm if and when you registered, and consider re-registering to avoid those *pleasant* dinner-time calls starting "Can I speak to the head of your household?"

On a similar note, Green Girl in LA, who now writes for the L.A. Times blog Emerald City, brought catalog relief to my attention. I hate all of the unwanted catalogs I get in the mail. I always mean to call companies and ask them to take me off of their mailing lists, but it doesn't always happen. When I do, it's a chore. Name, zip code, address (exactly as it appears), source code, customer code, blah, blah, blah. They're usually pretty nice about it, as am I, and they tell me I might get a few more catalogs since...whatever. It's all automated. They should be able to update things sooner than a few months.

Given the chore it can be to call some of these catalog companies, some of which have silly hours (e.g., 5PM EST), the online alternative is tempting. You have to give Catalog Choice your information (e.g., name, address, etc.), but they claim they'll remove your name from the mailing list of the company in question. I suspect the information has to be exact since that's the feeling I get whenever I've called, but the website doesn't suggest precision. Though I hate to give out my personal information, I tried it. We'll see what happens.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sia Music and Videos

I'm a big Sia fan. If you watched 6 Feet Under, you might remember the song Breathe Me from the final episode. She's also the lead singer in Zero 7, which I also love.

She was recently on KCRW, if you'd like to hear her live. She's a bit silly, too, so the interview is amusing. As for her videos, some are disturbing, some are cool. Check out You Tube to decide for yourself. I also currently have a few on my sidebar.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Los Angeles Air Quality

We went to Carson this morning to visit Ikea. It was a relatively quick trip as we had to pick up something to finialize MetaBaby's costume (ooo...exciting!!), but it always feels like a journey. Everything does when you take the 405. You never know if you'll get stuck in traffic and end up cursing your stupid decisions. Not that I'm one to regret things...I'm just saying.

What struck me was the air. It's not very pleasant in Santa Monica right now, but we can walk to and from the car without gagging. I can't say the same for Carson. When I got out of the car, I smelled smoke. It was bad. I practically sprinted to and from the store (with my wee lad, of course). I feel like I can still smell it, but that's probably my paranoia playing games with me. Not cool, paranoia. Not cool.

I was a little surprised at how bad the air quality seemed in Carson. Yet, it made sense when I thought about it. The erratic winds push all of the smoke westward. As you can see from these pictures, coastal cities are heavily affected, and much like with the fires, there's little predictability of impacted areas.

Imagine being in the line of a smoke of that Malibu fire. Or any fire for that matter.

That said, my obvious concern is for MetaBaby. LA Public Health suggests that sensitive groups (e.g., elderly, very young) avoid prolonged exposure at this time. As a result, we've been avoiding being outdoors, and will continue to do so until the dust settles, so to speak.

Juicy Crittoure

Check it out, pooch! (I could use another word here, but then I wouldn't be very child friendly.)

Feeling left in the dog house while you're people glam up and head out on the town? Well, no more. Juicy Crittoure was made for you. Nail polish, shampooch, softening paw palm, pawfum, or pick the Jet Set for the doggy on the go. And if you need some new threads, Juicy's got you covered. Like the reversible vest with the faux-fur trim. Pricey? Yes. But you're worth it, baby.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Thirteen Silly Quotes

Ah, the silly things people have said over the years. Some true, all silly. Thanks for the inspiration What Works for Mom :-)
(Can you tell I find Sam Goldwyn hilarious?)

  1. I don't want any yes-men around me. I want everybody to tell me the truth even if it costs them their job.
    ~Samual Goldwyn

  2. If I look confused it's because I'm thinking.
    ~Samual Goldwyn

  3. I can give you a definite perhaps.
    ~Samual Goldwyn

  4. This music won't do. There's not enough sarcasm in it.
    ~Samual Goldwyn

  5. He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious.
    ~Yogi Berra

  6. It ain't the heat, it's the humility.
    ~Yogi Berra

  7. It's like deja-vu, all over again.
    ~Yogi Berra

  8. Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded.
    ~Yogi Berra

  9. Think about how stupid the average person is, then realize that half of us are stupider than that.
    ~George Carlin

  10. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
    ~Mark Twain

  11. All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.
    ~Mark Twain

  12. Windows: Just another pane in the glass.

  13. People who think they know everything are annoying to those of us who do.

WW: Female Panda Bear

Halloween Costumes: Toddlers

On my mind right now? Halloween costumes for MetaBaby. This site has some great ideas for homemade costumes, and instructions on how to sew them, if applicable.

Dressing your kid in a certain color, and then painting his/her face is a safe and easy option. For example, dressing a kid in black and drawing on whiskers. Or this website's suggestion for a black-eyed pea sounds hilarious:
"dress in brown from head to toe, adding eyeliner or shadow to totally blacken one eye, and finally cut a large 'P' out of construction paper then pin it to your chest."
And my all-time favorite worn by a friend way back when: Get some packaged Smarties and stitch (or otherwise adhere) them to a pair of pants. End result? Smarty Pants. The costume might not make it through the day if the smarty pants in questions gets peckish, but nothing lasts forever ;-)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fires & Preparedness

The air is thick out.

Here in Santa Monica, we've had an orange day. Every time there's a big fire caused by the Santa Ana winds, it seems to get blown out over the sea, directly over us. The effect is a surreal orange shadow over the day. The ocean, usually a crystal blue, is a dense, ashy-orange. It's hotter than usual, and there's something haunting about the whole effect. It would be almost enchanting if it wasn't all so depressing. I would take a picture, but honestly, this is when I'm reminded that I'm no photographer. I might take a picture that comes out well every now and then, but for the most part, I can never convey the mystical effect of a moment like this.

We're not in the direct line of any fires, thank goodness, but we're not far from them, relatively speaking. We're being told to avoid spending time outside because the air quality is pretty bad. No arguments here; it's very unpleasant outside right now. Malibu is just a few miles away. And we have several friends impacted by fires in the Valley. One friend went out on errands with his family and they packed all of their valuables in the car "just in case." The fire near them has since been extinguished, but there are constant reminders that they're not in the clear yet.

On that note, this is usually a great reminder to inventory the contents of your home for insurance purposes. At the very least, take a video or photographs of each of your rooms (in and out of your home) and note the date of purchase and cost of items above $50. Keep these records, along with receipts, warranty information, etc. in a safe place. We like to have it all on our computer, which we backup often on an external hard drive and keep at a safe deposit box. If possible, try to keep a copy out of town, too. We're not there yet, but we're working on it. I'm still working on completing our inventory list, so this is as much a reminder to me as to anyone else.

If you're overwhelmed at the thought of an inventory, here's a handy list on how to start. Some interesting tips they suggest that could be very useful, but easily overlooked:
WHN TIP:Paul Winans, the president of NARI (Natl Assoc. of Remodeling Industry), recommends documenting the finishes and fittings in your home. "There is a big money difference between sheet rock and plaster, a formica counter versus granite, linoleum versus tile." Also note special features such as decorative plaster work, intricate hardwood floor patterns, craftsman work from 100+ years ago. Document the age, make and models of your utility systems (e.g. 50 year old furnace vs. 3 years old).

WHN TIP: Be honest when you quote the cost of items. A question about one could to lead to questioning the value of all your things.

WHN TIP:Stephen Hadhazi, public insurance adjuster and publisher of recommends taking close ups of your windows, doors and their frames. Also, videotape or take a picture of someone holding a level to your foundation to show that the foundation is indeed level at the moment.

That Lovely Baby Smell

I'm borderline obsessive about washing my hands. I need to have them clean, and if I think I might have touched something suspicious (e.g., shopping cart), I really want to wash my hands...quickly.

I obviously wash them after certain things baby things like changing diapers. We use Mustela products (e.g., barrier cream), which smell wonderful. Not sweet or of baby powder...just baby fresh and clean. But I wash and scrub my hands afterwards because...well, you know why.

So when I've finished and forgotten about the diaper and I'm off eating lunch, I'm conflicted. My hands smell of Mustela. I know I washed very, very well, so I know my hands are clean. However, I can't help but be reminded of where my hands where not-so-long ago.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Italian Home Cooking

Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie covered Italy it all of it's fresh, delicious glory. The highlight of the episode was the Home Food organization, a network of home cooks in Italy started in 2004 by people who felt real home cooking was dying out in Italy. For a fee, these cooks open up their homes to guests (i.e., strangers) and make traditional Italian meals for 6-10 guests. Imagine visiting Rome, Naples, or Bologna and getting authentic, regional, seasonal home cooking made by women who learned about food and traditional cooking from their mothers, aunts, and grandmothers. The beauty and history in the food must be intoxicating.

Unfortunately, it looks like the Home Food website isn't always functional. Italy Logue has some information, and Solo Dining provides a sample menu and a phone number. If you're thinking about a trip to Italy, it might be worth checking out.


A Green Reform School

Being green is more about avoiding consumption and consumerism, but we can't give up everything all at once. As our babies and toddlers have taught us, it's all about the little accomplishments that make for huge changes in our day to day lives. So sometimes, splurging isn't all that bad. And what better way than with crafy, organic, and sustainable goods. Reform School isn't exactly built around thrift store prices, mind you, but cute is cute.

Which is why I'll allow myself to say:
Oh, how cute! An English summer pendant for $35. I'm not into jewelry, and yet...precious!

There are a few interesting kid's toys, too. The recycled wood block set, for example, also priced at $35. Rustic, yet fun. Makes me feel like roasting some marshmallows.

Via Daily Candy

Sunday, October 21, 2007

MetaNana Pays a Visit

Had a pretty good week. MetaNana was here, which was great. The visit would have been better if we had an extra room, and unfortunately noise pollution is an issue in our home. That said, we think she enjoyed herself, and we know MetaBaby had a great time. Between the extra walks, play time, and affectionate feeding, he couldn't have asked for more.

We even got a MetaMommy & MetaDaddy night out. We opted for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. They do amazing sushi, and we haven't been in at least two years (or at least since I found out I was pregnant oh so long ago). We chatted and gazed at our surroundings...theorized about other couples and the goings on at other tables. Better than any movie plot if you ask me ;-)

We thought about getting the sushi chef to select a few menu items for us, but MetaDaddy felt this might be a bit too adventurous for my taste. In particular, there is one dish that freaks me out. The sweet shrimp is a spectacle. If you're at the bar, the chef takes a live shrimp from the tank, cracks it in half, and puts the tail on a roll of rice. The head is then placed on the plate next to the shrimp roll, and it's served to you. But wait, there's more. The antennae intermittently twitch. Personally, I feel that if my dinner brushes up against me, meals over. Though I was glad it wasn't on my plate, across the room I witnessed a similar meal with a lobster. It's entirely possible yelped when I saw it move. I twitched every time I saw it twitch out of the corner of my eye. We didn't want the chef to suggest something this adventurous, so we went for some other options which excluded the sweet shrimp and lobster, and the meal was excellent. We got a bit more adventurous for dessert; we ordered a black truffle mascarpone cheese ice cream.

And the meal was that much better because we knew that MetaBaby was in the best of care.

*Le Sigh*

We'll just look forward to MetaNana's next visit :-)

MetaNana: Hope you had a good flight home!!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Unbalanced Kitchen

Note to self:

The next time you drop something small, but heavy in the kitchen while MetaBaby's sleeping, don't overreact. That is, don't hurl yourself towards the floor to catch said object before it hits; it will hit anyway. More important, don't do this while wearing tight jeans just out of the dryer. The combination of the two will result in an unsightly bump in the middle of your forehead.

Heed this warning, self, or invest in more hats.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Perfect Meal

An article in Time by Joel Stein took inspiration from photographer Melanie Dunea's book My Last Supper to ponder the question of the last meal. High end? Comfort Food? Foie gras? Fried chicken? Apparently, professional cooks have heated debates about this all the time. Dunea's book has photos and interviews of cooks and their perfect last meal, and they're all over the map. Good food, as any of us would likely agree with, is a very subjective issue.

A while back, Evan Kleinman interviewed Mike Randleman about his blog: Dead Man Eating. Here he documents the last meals of inmates on death row. It's very interesting, if obnoxiously grim.

Well, I think the whole topic is far too depressing to ponder as is, even if restaurant kitchens are often stages for hashing out culinary preferences. I prefer to ask: "What's your favorite meal?" What completely gives you joy? Not necessarily just your favorite foods, but if you were to select the perfect meal regardless of cost, convenience, or availability, would you take the roast chicken or lobster thermador? Rare salmon sashimi or Big Mac?

I have a few foods that are escapes for me. I'd say thinly sliced cucumber with a very lemony lemon dressing, roasted chicken with some roasted vegetables on the side (i.e., potatoes, carrots, onions), and...oh gosh...what for dessert? I'm torn...a traditional chocolate cake, profiterole with custard filling (still warm), or vanilla ice cream with a bit of baileys poured on top.

That said, I'm off to scrounge up some lunch.

What's your perfect meal?

Via Eater L.A.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

WW: Bathroom along the Yangtze River

Naps, Interrupted

Posts have been a bit light this week, but that's only because we have company. MetaBaby's having a blast with all of the attention :-D

That said, I still have time to be weird. In an attempt to limit the number of times delivery people buzz our door while MetaBaby is sleeping, I lamintated a note stating "PLEASE DON'T BUZZ - BABY SLEEPING" and I post it on our buzzer while he naps. I wouldn't mind the occasional buzz, but if our neighbors aren't home, delivery people always resort to buzzing me, and I'm very protective of his naps.

We'll see how this goes!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Carnivals: October 15, 2007

Manic Mama was generous enough with her time this week to host the Carnival of Family Life. Big endeavor, but some great stuff out there.

Holla: WWFM and CFO.

Around the Internet: Green Topics

How do we reduce our energy consumption? How do we redue our waste output? How do we keep ourselves happy while keeping our environment happy? Is there a happy compromise?

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day


Tax Credits and Incentives on Green Upgrades - Various tidbits of information on rebates, tax credits, exemptions, and discounts on:
  • buying higher efficiency or more green appliances and building products
  • choosing a more energy-efficient or disaster-resistant home
  • making your existing home more energy efficient.
Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiencies - "DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency." If you've been thinking about getting a tankless water heater or solar panels, find out which incentives you qualify for.

Green Quiz - Find out if you're daily life is sustainable. If not, find out what you can do to change little things that make a big difference.


Plastic Bags from Baby Toolkit - I've said it before, so I won't bore you with my feelings on plastic bags (and here). I'll point you to hers :-)

Baby Donations - If you have baby stuff and toys that you no longer need, don't throw it all away. Give it to a friend or neighbor. Within certain guidelines, you might also be able to give it away to a non-profit. There are organizations that will accept such donations for needy families. After much research, I recently found Baby 2 Baby in Los Angeles; I feel much better about donating baby stuff here because I know it will go to a family who will truly benefit from something we no longer need. You might also consider a domestic violence shelter, homeless shelter, or other such places in your area where baby items are in short supply.

What Kids Truly Need from No Limits Ladies - Such great insight. Don't buy your kid another toy until you think about why you're doing it. That is, talk, listen and communicate with your child. It might be that s/he really wants more of you, not more of Mattel. For that matter, evaluate all of your relationships and ask yourself if you're buying unnecessary stuff resulting in wasted resources (e.g., water, oil, transportation) because you need to, or because you don't know how else to cope. Save a dollar & a tree; get a hug & a smile.

Garbage Toting - Marketplace's Tess Vigeland decided to carry around her trash around with her for 2 weeks. She figured she didn't throw away much, so how bad could it be? 10 days in, the smell had her waving her white flag. However, she learned a lot, as did her readers. One of her best questions:
"When it comes to recycling, there should be national standards for what's available to citizens. It's mind-boggling that I can recycle something in Southern California that someone up north can't... and vice versa.

I know these things are decided by local governments and sanitation districts. And recycling is expensive. But there's got to be a solution to what really is an issue of inequality. People who don't have access to good (easy!) recycling programs are stuck sending everything to landfills."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Getting to Know Meme

It feels like it took me forever to do this. My buddy Mom over at What Works for Us tagged me with a meme. Challenge: answer in 10 words or less. Questions...interesting but tough. In 10 words...Ack!

That said, I'm passing on the torch because I'd like to get to know you all better. Don't hate me :-)
Sabine M, Dragonheart, and Ipanema.

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
    Dessert, sunshine, shady tree, and my boys.
  2. What is your greatest fear?
    Death of a loved one.
  3. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
    I try to learn from history, so..any and all.
  4. Which living person do you most admire?
    My husband - he does so much for us.
  5. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
    I should speak out more.
  6. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
  7. What is your greatest extravagance?
    Being a stay at home parent.
  8. What is your favorite journey?
    Through the farmers' market
  9. On what occasion do you lie?
    Some people just don't want the truth.
  10. What do you dislike most about your appearance?
    Those pesky gray hairs.
  11. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
    "I'm just saying" & "Stop that please"
  12. What is your greatest regret?
    I don't believe in regrets, only learning experiences.
  13. When and where were you happiest?
    Pre-2006: Spain 2003; Post-2006: Weekends with my boys
  14. Which talent would you most like to have?
    Photographic skills
  15. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
    Exchange the nuts for Kit Kats.
  16. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
    My family
  17. If you were to die and come back as a person/thing, what would it would be?
    Knowing my luck, a "tongue-for-toilet-paper" cat.
  18. If you could choose what/who to come back as, what would it be?
    The Container Store
  19. What is your most treasured possession?
  20. What is your favorite occupation?
    Pastry chef
  21. What is your most marked characteristic?
    Big brown eyes
  22. What is the quality that you most like in a man?
    Geeky smart, not smarty-pants smart
  23. What is the quality that you most like in a woman?
  24. What do you most value in your friends?
    They are my reality check.
  25. Who are your heroes in real life?
    People who do what they have to do to care for their families.
  26. What is it that you most dislike?
    When my plans are foiled. Oh, and these.
  27. How would you like to die?
    I don't want to know.
  28. What is your motto?
    When in doubt, eat chocolate.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Photo Hunt: Smelly

Does it count if someone else took the photo? I'm guessing not, but this is my interpretation :-)

Smells Like Teen Spirit

A Blogger in Afghanistan

Some beautiful photos that made me smile. Daily life in Afghanistan at Frida's Notebook.

Via BlogHer

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

13 Things That Annoy Me

Banner courtesy of Boho Rhap
  1. People who drive while using their cell phone.
  2. People who try to cut in front of me at a store or farmers' market because I have a stroller or toddler. DO I LOOK LIKE I'M GOING TO BE OK WITH THAT RIGHT NOW?
  3. Sneezing.
  4. People who badly park their ginormous vehicles in 2 spots. In L.A. traffic, you drive 3 MPH; do you really need the Hummer? Really?
  5. Stumbling over strategically placed pointy little blocks. *le sigh*
  6. Screwing up a recipe because I wasn't paying enough attention. I know, I fault. But annoying nonetheless.
  7. Minty Kit Kats contaminating my delicious non-minty Kit Kats. That's OK sweetie; I still love you.
  8. Having to close our living room windows because the neighbor is smoking.
  9. Anything that wakes MetaBaby up from his nap before his 2 hours.
  10. Junk mail.
  11. Non-delicious desserts (see #65).
  12. A small pantry.
  13. People to talk down about UCLA because they attended or prefer USC. Guess what. No one at UCLA cares.

Parking in L.A.

Odd day. We went to the grocery store at around 4PM, and found a surprising lack of parking spaces. After circling around, I found a spot, but it was in the other direction. I was going to go around to get it, but I saw an elderly lady waiting right in front of it. I thought about going elsewhere, but I figured I'd try. If it was still there, score!! I go around, and guess what. Still there. The elderly lady was waiting for the disabled parking space, which incidentally was in the other direction. I go around her, take the spot I wanted, and start getting us assembled.

Meanwhile, somewhere behind me, the car in the disabled parking spot leaves, and a man in a car driving in the correct direction takes it. She drives towards his car, as though she was thinking of ramming it, and starts yelling that she's been waiting for that spot. He parks and opens the door to respond.

Him: I need this space.
Her: I need this space.
Him: I have one leg. (He takes out his leg, and has nothing below the knee.)
Her: Do you have a disabled sticker?
Him: Yes! And I'm I don't have a leg!
Her: Get your fat *** out of my spot.
Him: What did you say to me? WHAT DID YOU SAY TO ME!?!

It was getting ugly and I was thinking about just picking up and leaving. The security guard, who'd been trying to pacify the situation, finally settles the two. There was another disabled parking spot in the other direction, which after much complaining, she agreed to take. I finished getting us out of the car and go inside, just in time to see the elderly lady leaving the parking lot.

It was all a bit surreal. The hostility was palpable. I thought they were going to throw down. I think the security guard was a bit worried himself. And if they did, did either of them really need that spot? Then I thought she'd get all mad at me because I took a spot that was really just as good as the one she missed out on.

I just had to share that one.

Programming Mystery

Perhaps the geekiest cartoon ever. So geeky that I don't understand it, though I somehow "get" it.

Nerds rejoice.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

WW: Yangtze River in 2003 (mid-way thru controlled flood)

Blogosphere: Food & Recipes

Homemade Butter at Traveler's Lunchbox - When I read this post, I figured I'd confirm "ya, right." Hmmm...I didn't. I came away thinking "I might actually be able to do that." City girl that I am, I didn't even know this was possible outside of a farm. Why hasn't Alton Brown covered this?!? He's covered making homemade yogurt, which seemed much more complicated.

Butter Snobbery by David Lebovitz - Speaking of butter, he makes a very good point. If you're going to eat butter, shouldn't you aim to eat the butter that tastes the very best it possibly can? If you're spreading it on toast, where you really get the flavor, I find this to be especially true. My theory is if it's not worth it, don't waste the calories.

Homemade Vanilla Extract also at Traveler's Lunch Box - If you ever use vanilla beans, this is a great way to get a second use out of them. And as Melissa points out, it means you'll never run out of delicious, homemade vanilla.
If you have the following on hand, you're money and you don't even know it: a jar, a bottle of booze, a bottle of vanilla extract, used (or new) vanilla beans, and 6-8 weeks.

Writing on Cupcakes on Geek Sugar via Chief Family Officer - Apparently, cupcakes are popular again. In, out, in, out...why won't they make up their minds? In any event, they are convenient for parties. Everyone gets a cute little something, and there's no mess or clean up. Well, not on the table. The clean up will still be required on the floor, under the table, on the refrigerator, under the couch, the dog, etc. Use your cupcakes to offer cute geeky characters or spell something out, like "Happy Birthday" or "The Sky's the Limit."

Cinnamon, cranberry rice pudding at the Perfect Pantry - I've never been one for rice pudding. I've tried it on several occasions, and I think the texture does me in every time. I loved the aromatic flavors in this recipe though, so I gave it a whirl. It came out lovely, and my husband, a rice pudding aficionado, loved it. But at the end of the day, the texture just didn't do it for me. I like things either velvety smooth, or not...but velvety smooth rice makes my Virgo impulses twitch. I feel the same way about tapioca. Just weird. That said, this really is a lovely recipe. I used dried black currants from Trader Joe's because it's our current favorite dried fruit.

Expensive Cats

My cat: Free
This cat: $22,000

car? cat? car? cat? Tough decision, n'est pas?

Via Daily Candy

Monday, October 8, 2007

Lower Customer Service Standards

Have you felt like the customer services at your favorite corporate stores and such is lacking recently? Perhaps your favorite airline -- the one where you have all of your airmiles -- isn't going the distance for you continued service?

Marketplace's segment on Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, breaks down the new buzz word with companies looking to increase their bottom line. Instead of rewarding loyal customers with excellent service, they now work extra hard to troubleshoot customer service. That is, if they've treated you badly historically and suspect that one more incident might send your business elsewhere, then they ramp up the smiles and deals to keep you from writing them off for good.

The article's example:
"If I've already had two flights canceled in the past six months, the airline might predict that any further mistreatment might cause me to take my business elsewhere. In fact, having tons of frequent-flier points might even hurt your chances, because airlines don't have to worry as much about giving inferior service to loyal flyers who will tolerate just about anything to earn more miles."
The problem, as Ian Ayres points out, is that companies aren't using data to keep you happy, they're using it to keep you from leaving. It's just another sad truth about our society today. Everything and everyone is so disconnected that we really don't see each other as people, but numbers. It's nice to go into a little mom and pop shop and get advice, a smile, and a wooden toy. It might cost a little more money than the big box stores, but keeping places like these in business is what will keep that balance in our daily lives.

Hospital Fine Dining

I sure wish the hospital I had MetaBaby in had fine dining like this. It would have made for 3 much tastier days (the first day was ice chips -- there's no such thing as fine dining ice chips). The segment on ABC stated that about 20% of hospitals now have restaurant quality food. There are even food competitions for the chefs.

Here's the dish, per ABC news.

A menu sampling:

Kaiser Permanente Hospitals:
Crisp Garden Salad
Ancho-Citrus Marinated Loin of Pork - Served over an essence of Natural Jus, paired with Cinnamon Stewed Apples. Comes with Barley Pilaf and Steamed Broccoli.
Seasonal Fresh Fruit

University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle:
The Evergreen Salad - A fresh baby green salad with your choice of grilled salmon, julienne of chicken breast, grilled vegetables or tofu. Served with balsamic vinaigrette.
Lemongrass Pork Loin - A taste of lemongrass, fresh ginger, lime juice and soy sauce -- cooked to perfection.
Chocolate Torte

BOGO Coupon: Jamba

Oooo....BOGO (new term to me!) smoothie

Jamba Juice

Via Cheap Like Me

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Puzzle Bubble Widget!

Oh, treasure!! I found Puzzle Bubble. I haven't played this game in ages. And when I did, I could play it for ages. It's ridiculously addictive. Sure, I could find it on some website. But even better, I found a widget! Scroll all the way down on the main page...and good luck. You'll need it ;-)

Inflammatory Breast Cancer or Mastitis?

If you're not nursing, but you have mastitis-like symptoms, have you considered getting checked out for Inflammatory Breast Cancer? It's different to the mainstream breast cancer we've been trained to inspect for because there is no lump, but it's just as lethal. Here's a 6 minute video clip from ABC News with some good info.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer

WhyMommy at Toddler Planet, who is currently fighting IBC, is doing a world of good by helping get the word out.

If something doesn't feel right, get it checked out. Something to keep in mind as we go through our daily struggles to avoid falling behind on work and family affairs.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Quote: Steven Wright

Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
--Steven Wright

Friday, October 5, 2007

Also Curvy

What Works for Mom's post reminded me of this curvy picture, also shot in Kauai ;-)

Counting Down for MetaDaddy

This week has been a struggle. MetaDaddy's out of town on business, so it's just the kid and me. Sigh.

Here's what's happened:
  • We've been getting over a cold, which mostly entails labored breathing, some sneezing, and snot everywhere. I know, lovely visual.

  • We decided to change MetaBaby's sleep schedule last week by dropping one nap. It's going pretty well, as long as he gets that one good nap. Unfortunately, he doesn't always work with me on that one.

  • We got a safety gate that divided the living room in half to block him off from certain areas, while allowing him some freedom. We didn't want a permanent gate, though, so we secured a non-mounted gate which doesn't have a door. It's just low enough for me to climb over. However, getting over it several times a day has proved to be quite a workout. I've been waking up sore as though I went to the gym. I know, I pain, no gain. Well, I wasn't looking for gain, so along with everything else, all I am is sore and achy.

  • Yesterday (Thursday), MetaBaby got sick. It started in the afternoon after lunch. He didn't have a very long nap. He was cranky when he woke up. He seemed exhausted, and had a slight fever. I cuddled and nursed him for a bit. Then I got his dinner ready, which he didn't seem interested in. This was a red flag; he has never refused a meal. I gave him a few bites of his fruit dessert to entice him, and he seemed equally disinterested. He then drank some water and proceeded to throw up everything he'd eaten. I gave him his bath, nursed him (which I never do before he sleeps), and put him to bed. He fell asleep right away, but it was a light sleep. I checked on him a couple of times and his fever was almost gone, to my relief. However, at 11 it was back. So I woke him, gave him some Tylenol, and nursed him again. He fell asleep and woke up at 7:30, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. He seems fine today; back to being a bundle of energy. I don't know if it was teething, the banana at lunch, or some secretly consumed bug, but I'm glad it's over.

  • Feeling better about his health, we were going to go to the farmers' market today. Everything was ready, but I couldn't find my wallet. I know I had it in my hand last night and unless I thew it away with the garbage, it had to be somewhere. I thought I'd put it in my purse, but it wasn't there. I looked everywhere -- purse, diaper bag, between cushions, in magazines, in pockets & the hamper, in the washing machine & dryer. Eventually, I gave up and we went with some other money I had. I figured I was getting antsy and I wouldn't find it until I calmed down. We got back and MetaBaby was exhausted, so I put him down for his nap. I proceeded to think and look...think and look...think and look. It occurred to me that if I lose things now, how bad are things going to be when MetaBaby starts taking and playing with or hiding my keys, wallet, etc. Then, on a whim, I decided to check his toys. Guess where my wallet was!!! Grr. At least I found it, and I know the little klepto has it in him.
Counting down the hours for MetaDaddy's return.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Event: Families and Allergies

Here's an interesting event for parents of kids with allergies.

Food Allergy Day at the Zoo

The Zoo joins forces with the UCLA Food Allergy Clinic to present a day of education about food allergies, featuring talks by experts in pediatric allergy and immunology, exhibits, cooking demonstrations, and parent networking. Activities and games for kids are also planned, as are face painting, videos, and, of course, the animals. Access to the zoo is free to those registering before September 30.

Date: Saturday, October 6, 2007
Time: 10am-4pm
Cost: Adults $7; Children $4

Via Go City Kids

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

13 Kid's Musical Instruments

13 musical instruments that kids play. Don't you love the kooky names?!?

  1. Musical Washboard

  2. Doodle Drum

  3. Finger Drum

  4. Kid's bongo

  5. Kid's Conga

  6. Whole Mini Percussion

  7. Kids Percussion Lollipop Drums

  8. Glockenspiel Xylophone

  9. Mouth Harp (aka Jaw Harp)

  10. Guiro

  11. Sound Funnel

  12. Junior Bagpipes

  13. Boomwhackers
Note: If you have a kid under 3, be careful of instruments with choking hazards. Mallets for xylophones, for example, are usually glued together; the ball can come off, especially with prolonged exposure to saliva ;-) Try to find a mallet that is one piece.


I wish I knew all of the "what ifs" about nursing because it wasn't an easy start, let me tell you. Let's get in the "way, way back machine" and start at the very beginning. When I started nursing, I just went with the flow (tee hee...flow) and let MetaBaby nurse away. He latched on well and was doing a great job. I had a lot of milk -- possibly too much milk. At some point, just after I was recovering from my C-Section, I got a lump on my breast. After doing a lot of research online, I discovered it was probably a plugged duct, which Dr. Sears describes as follows:
Sometimes a milk duct leading from the milk-making cells to the nipple gets plugged, resulting in a tender lump beneath the areola. There may also be a wedge-shaped area of redness extending from the lump back towards the wall of the chest. Unlike mastitis, the pain comes and goes with a plugged duct, and unless the duct is infected, you will not feel generally ill. If left untreated, however, a plugged duct may become infected, resulting in mastitis, infection, or a breast abscess.
I tried the following methods to clear the duct, which were a combination of tips I read online, as well as suggestions from my lactation consultant.
  • Nursed from the affected side first at every nursing session.
  • Pressure massage the lump in the direction of the nipple.
  • Apply moist heat compresses or take a shower before nursing.
  • Wear a non-restrictive nursing bra.
  • Treat self like you have a cold: get a lot of rest (nurse baby in bed), drink fluids, take echinacea, lecithin, and extra vitamin C & E.
  • Position nursing baby's chin towards plugged duct.
Despite my best efforts, the lump only got worse. I didn't have a fever, so my lactation consultant and I were consoled in knowing that I didn't have mastitis. She really helped me exhaust the natural methods to clear the duct. While I really didn't want antibiotics, in the end I had no choice. I started on them on a Friday, and the next day, I noticed there was an abscess in the affected area. It turns out that I not only had mastitis, it had developed into an abscess, which in case it's not obvious, hurts like you would not believe. A portion of it drained that weekend, and I went to see my ob/gyn on Monday.

She was pretty nonchalant about it until she saw it. She gasped in what I can only assume was horror, and sent me straight to the surgeon two floors down. He took a look and sent me to get an ultrasound to see how much fluid was left and if it was worth draining. It turns out there wasn't much left, but he was pretty concerned, so he drained it to allow the area to heal properly. Out-patient surgery...eek! The sound of that scared me, but it turns out it wasn't too bad. It was quick, and MetaBaby was cooing in his stroller a few feet away. I won't say it was painless, but it didn't hurt as much as the abscess, so I just coped. I went back for a few follow ups and it seemed to have cleared up pretty well. Once I stop nursing, I need to go back and get a mammogram to evaluate the health of the breast when it's off duty and milk free.

The moral of the story?
  • You can have mastitis even if you don't have a fever or flu-like symptoms.
  • When you start nursing, avoid engorgement as much as possible. Allow you're baby to drain each side well, but don't use a pump to finish the job as this will impact your milk supply.
  • Cabbage leaves on your breasts serve to reduce your milk supply. They're great to relieve engorgement, but do so sparingly so you don't overdo it.
  • Wear a bra that doesn't dig into any sensitive areas, and avoid underwires entirely, or at least until after your milk supply settles.

Dr Sears' list of mastitis symptoms:
  • Part or all of the breast is intensely painful, hot, tender, red, and swollen. Some mothers can pinpoint a definite area of inflammation, while at other times the entire breast is tender.
  • You feel tired, run down, achy, have chills or think you have the flu. A breastfeeding mother who thinks she has the flu probably has mastitis. Mothers with mastitis will sometimes experience these flu-like symptoms, even before they get a fever or notice breast tenderness.
  • You have chills or feel feverish, or your temperature is 101F or higher. These symptoms suggest that you have an infection.
  • You are feeling progressively worse, your breasts are growing more tender, and your fever is becoming more pronounced.
  • With simple engorgement, a plugged duct, or mastitis without infection, you gradually feel better instead of worse.
  • Recent events have set you up for mastitis: cracked or bleeding nipples, stress or getting run down, missed feedings or longer intervals between feedings.
Potential causes, per KellyMom:
  • Engorgement or inadequate milk removal (due to latching problems, ineffective suck, tongue-tie or other anatomical variations, nipple pain, sleepy or distracted baby, oversupply, hurried feedings, limiting baby's time at the breast, nipple shield use, twins or higher order multiples, blocked nipple pore, etc.).
  • Infrequent/skipped feedings (due to nipple pain, teething, pacifier overuse, busy mom, return to work, baby suddenly sleeping longer, scheduling, supplementing, abrupt weaning, etc.).
  • Pressure on the duct (from fingers, tight bra or clothing, prone sleeping, diaper bag, etc.).
  • Inflammation (from injury, bacterial/yeast infection, or allergy).
  • Stress, fatigue, anemia, weakened immunity

The Pump Station's list of possible causes:
  • Missed or irregular feedings and/or an unusually long interval between feedings.
  • Pressing the breast to provide nostril space for the baby.
  • Wearing a tight or poorly fitting bra that impedes milk flow.
  • Having an overabundant milk supply and insufficient breast drainage.
  • Practicing vigorous upper arm exercise.
  • Extreme exhaustion.
  • Rapid weaning.
I hope none of you ever have to deal with any of these issues, but you're better off if you know what you're dealing with. That said, this post is only a reflection of my experiences. Be sure to contact your doctor if you have any serious symptoms because time is of the essence. The sooner you resolve the problem, the less drastic your course of action.

Note: October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Go check out Mom's post at What Works For Us on breast cancer facts and statistics. The numbers are staggering.

Nursing in Public

LOL...and the problem goes beyond us people, it seems.

Via Not Your Just Desserts

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Handmade Noodles

Running on the Roof

Ugh! MetaDaddy's away, and I'm pretty sure I just heard something with little feet running on the roof.

I sure hope it was a talented bird!

Business Trips

I think you should get away this week. We're sick, and we don't want to get you sick, too. Nor do you really need to be around two sniveling, whiney people, only one of whom shares your genes. In fact, you're safest if you fly all the way across the country. Go somewhere warm and inviting. I'm thinking sun, swimming pools, maybe even a few amusement parks to keep you entertained when you get bored with the lounging.

It's for the best, really. Now go! Go on. Go!!


OK, this is not quite how it happened. In fact, he'll likely be annoyed when he reads this. But it's all in good fun. Besides, it's my blog. And since we're recovering, I get to be a little cheeky...I've got the 1-year-old, remember? Truth is, we were supposed to tag along with MetaDaddy to his Meta-Conference*, but we had to back out because we didn't think MetaBaby was up to the trip. I wasn't 100%, either. Which meant a less than 100% MetaMommy would have been chasing after a snotty and less than 100% MetaBaby while MetaDaddy went to work...and all away from home, meaning everyone was already going to be jet-lagged and confused at the best of times. The thought of it still exhausts me.

Anyway, I'm feeling like I'm missing out on something. So I think I'll have to arrange some sort of dessert or fun take-out tonight.

In the end, we made the right decision. MetaBaby is recovering, mostly do to proper eating and napping, which might have been stressed if we had gone. That said, MetaDaddy had to leave his brood behind, which I know is never easy. And he doesn't get to share the fun stuff with us, which he enjoys doing. So by no means am I insinuating that he's making out on this deal. But like I blog. MetaBaby also knows MetaDaddy's missing because after his bath, they usually play a game: Daddy and Baby play peak-a-boo. So Baby looked around for Daddy and couldn't find him. Eventually, we moved on. Poor little guy. I think we'll all be looking forward to Friday :-D

*Revision: My MetaDork of a friend pointed out that MetaDaddy should be attending MetaConferences. Touche, MetaDork. Touche.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Carnival Aftermath

Ooo....too much twirl-a-whirl.

Riverdancing Monkeys

I don't like Arby's, but I like this ad. Why? I don't know. Perhaps it's the Riverdancing monkeys?

Who doesn't like a good Riverdance?

Carnivals: October 1, 2007

What a fun start to the week! I'm in two carnivals. I mean, who doesn't like a good carnival? Has anyone seen the twirl a whirl? Anyone?

Carnival of Recipes at Everything and Nothing. My recipe for fast beans and veg is included. She's done a great job with the layout; fun and easy to read. And, of course, some great recipes ;-)

Carnival of Family Life at Real Life. At the suggestion of Mom at What Works for Us, I submitted my post on car seats. You'll also find a plethora of other posts...insightful, informative, entertaining.