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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Preparing for the New Year

Black-eyed peas? No.

Clean house? Yes.

The way I always hope to ring in the New Year is with a clean house, and therefore a clear mind. This superstition comes from my Nana, who at midnight every year would hold money (we're not just talking about $5 or $10, she would hit the bank to have at least $100 for her, and any loved ones who were with her) in her hand to ensure a prosperous new year. That tradition is carried on by me (as are the mini-weinies we eat every New Year's Eve), but it has transformed itself into a bigger belief of how you start the New Year can set the tone for the entire year. I always try to clear up the post-Christmas clutter and do some spring-cleaning in December.
So, for the last few days I have been bringing bags of garbage to the curb -- some of it good ol' American excess, some of it months of build up in the office, bedroom, etc. etc.

And while we're on the subject, I have simplified my resolution into this: Live healthy.

I wish you a happy and healthy (and prosperous) New Year.

posted by Laura at 3:51 PM | 0 comments

Friday, December 24, 2004

Simply disturbing

Some commercials entertain me. Some bore me. But more and more lately, commercials disturb me.

Evidence #1: The recent Metamucil commercial urging us to all join "the regulars." Three guys who apparently are on the same potty schedule. There is just so much wrong with that commercial. Crapping should really be a personal thing, not a high-five-on-the-way-into-the-stall moment. Laurie Notaro wrote quite eloquently about public restroom anxiety in "The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club," she put into words the thoughts I've had many times while wanting to be along in the stalls. Sometimes you have to go, and sometimes you have to make a little noise no matter how you try to avoid it, but the thought of knowing who else is there with pants around their ankles, and that they know it's you in there too ... eewww. I've been known to just wait it out while others finish their business and leave the bathroom, to avoid that awkward, "You must be feeling better" look as I wash my hands.

To "the regulars" I would suggest, "Do that shit at home!" (Not that I enjoy talking about tummy issues, but the Pepto Bismol stomach-distress dance is fun, clever and not too offensive given the subject matter -- especially when my girls dance along with it!)

To Metamucil, I have to say, thanks but I think I'll pass on this regular business.

Evidence #2: I'm not so disturbed by this commercial, but I'm really thinking the U.S. Coast Guard isn't doing much recruiting with the commercial I see, usually late at night when I can't sleep. It goes something like, "I'm the first line of defense, I'm the line in the sand ... etc. etc." But it ends with some Coast Guarders on the front (is that the bow or the stern?) bobbing up and down, up and down, up and down. With a closing like that, the slogan should be, "The Coast Guard, not for the sick at sea."

Evidence #3: I am prone to extended periods of sleeplessness in the middle of the night, so I see more than my share of public-service announcements. The Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk ads where we see vibrant, lively folks who have been killed by drunken drivers are some of the most sobering advertisements I have ever seen. I shed a tear at the end of every one, but even more so when they show children who were killed.

Ending on that cheery note, be safe through the holidays and Merry Christmas!

posted by Laura at 1:58 PM | 1 comments

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Yet more things I love

Slowly, I'm remembering everything I love.

I just love, love, love our Dyson vacuum. Sure, the inventor guy on TV is cute and all, but what's really sexy is watching my husband maneuver that yellow sucking machine all around the house. And, unlike our previous three or four machines, this one really does suck.

I'm also quite fond of our washing machine. It's a Fisher & Paykel (pronounced Pie-kel) and during its spin cycle it spins at something like 1,000 RPM, so it gets the clothes pretty dry for their adventure in the dryer. This washer gave our dryer a pardon from what we thought was its death sentence. I was much-better versed in the praises for the washer when we first bought it, but it goes something like this: F&P is a New Zealand company that makes stainless steel surgical equipment and they make awesome washers (I seem to remember their dryers might just be rebranded GEs). They spin so fast that it sounds like it might take off, but the clothes come out barely damp. It's one of the few Energy Star-rated top loader washers, and I really like that. And a co-worker who has spent time in New Zealand says that everyone there has one and they are very, very proud of their hometown appliance.

And I have figured out what would make this the most popular blog in the whole wide universe -- dare I say, even more popular than www.dooce.com -- if I could get the manufacturers of the things I love to give one to every reader. I'm working on my resolutions and things to do in 2005, perhaps I'll get to work on that.

posted by Laura at 9:53 PM | 0 comments

Guess who said it

I'm hoping this one will become a regular feature 'round here. And one day there might be prizes and surprises for the first right guess. So, without further ado, who in the household said this?

"You're hurting my penis."

posted by Laura at 9:50 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

It's just a dream

I have two recurring (though not all that frequently) nightmares. Really the dreams are not the same, but the topics are: tornados and waitressing.

The tornado dreams are pretty self-explanatory, big twister comes my way, I always wake up before it hits. Different locations, different houses, etc. But always the big dark funnel cloud.

The "waitmares" too involve different restaurants (though mostly places I've worked) but they always involved the same scenario: I'm triple-seated and cannot keep up. Waters, drinks, food ... I cannot get any of it on time. I'm sure if I charted the occurrence of my waitmares they would correspond to more stressful times in my life when I'm not sure if I can keep up with the workload/family load/life load.

The good news about my nightmares: When I wake up, I always get that feeling of relief. No, I won't end up like Dorothy and get swept away to another world. No, my tips won't come up short tonight because I couldn't keep up with the pace.

Then there's another kind of dream that plagues me. The doorbell dream. This is the WORST. In my dream a doorbell rings and I wake up. But instead of having that it's-just-a-dream relief, I stay very still in bed to see if the bell will ring again. Was it real, I always wonder. Why is someone at my door at (insert middle of the night time when no one should be ringing doorbells unless it's an emergency)? Is the house on fire? Is the neighborhood being evacuated? My mind does not work in a rational manner at whatever-o-clock at night.

posted by Laura at 6:11 AM | 0 comments

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Nocturnal lives

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is going to the Electric Safari at the zoo. Being members of the zoo, we're there a lot but it's all during the daytime hours. The Christmas lights extravaganza at the zoo gives us that great peek at what happens after dark and it's always amazing. (And membership has its advantages: After we waited for about 20 minutes in line to get in, the very polite dude who looked at our membership card and checked our ID apologized for the long lines. I'm guessing he didn't apologize to the people who just paid $6 each to get in.)

Of course the lights are just amazing ... millions of them give the place a surreal effect. We were walking in a winter wonderland. But the best part is getting a glimpse of the nocturnal animals. Tonight we watched a spectacled bear pacing, climbing and making this strange little noise ... when I think of bears I think of roaring grizzlies, I cannot even describe what this gentle noise sounded like - not so gentle that I'd like to be face-to-face with the bear, but this was not a noise you would expect to hear coming from a bear. We watched for 5 or 10 minutes, but finally I couldn't stand as each family came over the bear threshold and squealed, "Oh LOOK! Look at the bear!"

Next, we went beyond the lighted pathway to watch the tigers near the rear of their display. From our position, the fence was just about three feet away. When the tiger came our way it was frightening and amazing. It looked right at us as it paced around its display. (Yes, the pacing is a theme and it's probably why so many people don't like zoos. I'm guessing that these animals are just freaked out because for 11 months of the year they roam and do what they do all night long without an audience, then come December and the crowds swarm and the kind zoo folks put out little fire pits all over the place. So the animals that are used to some private time after dark now smell a bunch of people and fires!)

The final fun thing of the evening was in the usually stinky hippo house. It was stinky as usual, but for some reason the smell of ammonia didn't make me gag as it has done in previous years. Two hippos were lounging on the terrace while the third was in the pool swimming laps and chasing a ball the size of our exercise ball. It would open its mouth, grab the ball and dive. The ball would pop up and the hippo would follow. Some splashing ensued and if I were the woman who got splashed on the nose, I would still be in the shower three hours later. They give those hippos new water every day, but those are some disgustin' animals and that water was a dark, dark brown. Ewwwww.

When we got to the zoo tonight the lines were so long we really considered just turning around and leaving. The girls said no, and it is all about them. It helped that the temperatures outside reached about 65 today, so tonight was balmy and waiting in the long-ass line wasn't complete torture (the teenage mom and her friend in front of us might have disagreed, the teenage mom was demonstrating why most teenagers are not equipped to have children as she got frustrated by her daughter who was acting just like any 20-or-so-month-old would be acting in a long line with lights and excitement and fun just beyond their reach). Lucky for us, that's two years in a row that we've found the warmest night of winter to visit the zoo.

After the zoo we went downtown to grab hot chocolates so we could drive around and look at more lights (don't tell, but that means the girls had canned peaches and hot chocolates for dinner tonight). There's this one house just outside downtown with two enormous evergreens ... they must be 50 feet high (don't ask me how I determined 50 feet, just trust me, they're tall). Every year these trees are covered from bottom to tippy top with little white lights. If you drive down the highway you can see the perfect trees. Driving right by the house is amazing. They must have a crane to get these things lighted every year. I cannot even guess how many strings of little white lights it takes to make two perfect trees. Every year I swear I am going to send these people a thank you Christmas card. Maybe this year I will finally do it (though I don't know who owns the house, so perhaps I'll address it to Current Occupants).

We got home about an hour ago, turned on the Disney Channel and as I sit in the corner and write this, Max is asleep on the floor, and Madi and B were snoozing on the couch. But about five minutes ago he picked her up and took her upstairs. Being able to sit and watch my family sleep around me just makes my heart sing. And here's just a little more proof that B is a good husband and daddy. He disappeared for a while, making me think that he left me the 50-pound daughter to bring upstairs. But he came back and took her up too.

Now that the family is tucked in securely upstairs, I think it's time I join them.

Good night and happy holidays.

posted by Laura at 9:07 PM | 0 comments

Another thing I LOVE

How could I forget my favorite kitchen tool of all time on my previous list?
Microplane Zester, I'm so sorry I forgot you!
How did I live without this? Well, I didn't zest much. But I've found that while it's awesome for zesting and amazing at grating nutmeg (I now actually have nuts of nutmeg in my spice collection!) ... (I wish I could think of another positive a-word, but can't) ... My Microplane can turn a block of hard - frozen even! - Locatelli cheese into a cloud of fluffy, salty tasty goodness. Just how light and fluffy is this cheese after a few strokes on the Microplane? It melts before it even hits the steaming pile of pasta and sauce. Delightful! I now want every other kitchen tool that Microplane makes, and I'm seriously considering taking up woodworking just to buy EVERYTHING this company makes!

posted by Laura at 9:01 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, December 09, 2004

More Things I Love

Just like Oprah's Favorite Things, only different ... and more affordable ... and no ear-numbing screaming from women whose heads might explode any second now.

Liquid Loofah by Bare Escentuals: The closest BE store is about 60 miles north, but a friend introduced me to this stuff and it's been true love ever since. I learned they sell it on QVC of all places, but was THRILLED to find it at my local Ulta store. Use it to exfoliate in the shower. I read the label and they're right when they say it's great to put on your legs before you shave. On my budget, this one is a splurge ($18 at Ulta, $16 plus a lot of shipping at QVC, $? because it's been so long since I've made it to the actual BE store).

Sap Moss Shampoo by Aveda: I thought the same thing, You want me to put sap in my hair? But it's awesome. I don't even know if it's right for my hair type, but the scent, the thick, gooey consistency ... mmm, I love it! It's a little pricey too - $11 for about 4 ounces - but I got one for my birthday in June that I just finished today (and no, I do not use it every day). I just wish I could find one of their conditioners that I love the same.

Bengal Spice by Celestial Seasonings: A caffeine-free throwback from my pregnant days that's still a nearly daily indulgence. Just read the ingredients and you'll know why I love it: Cinnamon, roasted chicory root, roasted carob, natural spice and vanilla flavors with other natural flavors, dates, ginger root, cardamom, black pepper, cloves, and nutmeg.

The Barefoot Contessa: On TV and in print, Ina Garten cooks and lives the way I want to. Her Hamptons home is beyond gorgeous. The food drool-inspiring. Ina, I can tell from your show that you already have plenty of friends, but I make it back to New York every couple of years, any way I can drop by just once for a quick lunch? I'll even chuckle politely at your jokes if the cameras are rolling.

I could write all night, and given that I have two pieces I SHOULD be working on right now that's a good thing!

posted by Laura at 6:18 PM | 0 comments

Monday, December 06, 2004

Isn't it ironic?

While home nursing two sick children and sick me (the stomach virus from hell is raging through the halls of the university and the elementary school), I caught a few moments of the Jane Pauley show. She had Eve Ensler on talking about "loving our trees." I recognized Eve Ensler from The Vagina Monologues, and for a few moments truly thought that impact of the FCC was that we cannot say "vagina" on national television, instead referring to it as our trees.

I caught on eventually. I always do.

But after five minutes of the very affirming message of loving our trees, the first commercial break was LA Weight Loss Centers! Just proving that we all could love our trees more if only the trunks were a little slimmer!

posted by Laura at 6:44 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Conspiracy theory

About a week ago we started getting all these strange emails with viral attachments. Just a few days after that started, our antivirus software protection started giving us notice that it was about to expire.

Something smells fishy to me: I'm thinking these multiple messages we receive each day are coming from the software manufacturer themselves, trying to remind us just how hard they're working for us because before this it was pretty quiet on the email front. I think they're trying to scare us into resubscribing RIGHT NOW!

posted by Laura at 7:09 PM | 0 comments

Yet another reason

You might be a bad parent if ...
Your child is in the midst of a big fat crying fit and all you can do is laugh.
It went something like this: Max got a blue sucker from the doctor's office yesterday. Madi wanted it. Max cried. Mom (that's me) said, "It's Max's." Madi cries. Daddy comes on the scene and asks, what's wrong. The answer goes something like this: "WaaaasuckerwaaaaaaMaxdidn'tletmewaaaaaaaaaIwantitwaaaaaaaaaa." Mommy and daddy share a smile across the room. "WaaaaaIwantasuckeeewaaaaaaa." Daddy wonders what a "suckee" is.

What's worse: Mommy lets Daddy deal with the continuing fall out while she blogs the whole thing.

posted by Laura at 5:51 PM | 0 comments
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