Compliment Sandwich

I use the compliment sandwich a lot when I am criticizing people – especially people I don’t know very well.  If I know you fairly well or just know you aren’t a big cry baby, I’ll give it to straight.  For those unfamiliar with the compliment sandwich, it’s when you tell someone something positive, then state your negative criticism, followed by another compliment.

*You are so brave to get up and sing in front of other people.

When you sing it sounds like whales raping each other.

You’re hair looks cute like that.*

Pretty simple, right?  My children have yet to master this technique.  Instead, they are using what I refer to the compliment open-face sandwich.  Here is an example from each child.

First from Kamryn:

Mommy, you are really skinny.

No wait, I’m not done yet, your belly is kind of fat.

And then from Rory:

Mama, I like your shirt.

You have a baby in your belly?  Me touch it?

Any questions about my “problem” areas on my body?

*Actual compliments and criticisms I have received.




She Makes Being A Mom Awesome

Kamryn is 5 1/2 years old, finishing up her first “real” year of school and yet when I look at her, sometimes I see this very grown-up little person.  I watch her teach Rory simple arithmetic, sometimes including all of their fingers and toes on the really complex problems.  If he happens to guess the right answer, she praises him with a “Good job, Buddy!”  At times, her patience is infinite and her voice calm and soothing with the little 3 year old who idolizes and mimics her every move.

Kamryn reading books to Rory.

That version of Kamryn amazes me and leaves me in complete awe.  Luckily, that Kamryn is around about 95% of the time.  Those that know her, know she can be generally found with a big smile on her face.

The other day she told me, “I’m starting to be a mommy.  One, I drank a whole can of Sprite.  Two, I chew with my mouth closed.  And second, I take my own showers.”  (No, there isn’t a typo in that sentence, that is how she said it.)  She proceeded to tell me that now I only have to wash two people everyday…myself and Rory.

I have to admit that her stating that she was starting to be a mommy had me a little bit concerned because she does have a slight obsession with babies right now.  But after she explained herself, I understood what she was getting at.  I’m a mommy and although she is what identifies me as such, it’s what I do outside of being her mother that she associates as a mom privilege.  For example, every Wednesday night I go out with friends to sing Karaoke.  All of my friends are moms as well so Kamryn makes comments like “I wish I was a mom so I could go to Karaoke too.”

Karaoke makes me super happy.

I like that Kamryn thinks she has to be a mom to do some of the fun things that I do.  I know she’ll realize one day that isn’t the case, but it’s a nice reminder that my fun didn’t end once I had kids.  It’s a little different and possibly a bit tamer (except maybe on Hump Day Karaoke nights), but still fun.  And what Kamryn really doesn’t realize is that if I didn’t have her and Rory, I would be missing out on a lot more fun.  We’re going to Legoland today and if I didn’t have kids, I am pretty certain I wouldn’t be going to an amusement park on a Wednesday afternoon.

A picture from our last Legoland Adventure.


Weekly Menu 5/29 to 6/3

This week, as well as last, has been a bit crazy with lots of activities and goings on.  I’ll give you the menu as I have it written, but I don’t think we’ll get most of the meals in this week.

Tuesday – Pasta W/ Meat Sauce – I have about 8 billion 3/4 used boxes and bags of pasta.  You would think I would learn to just buy the same kind of pasta so I can easily make the unused portions, but that would be far too simple.

Wednesday – We are planning a little afternoon trip to Legoland tomorrow so we will either still be there at dinner time or on our way home in which case we’ll probably pick something up.

Thursday – I have a going away dinner for a friend who is moving across the country.  I have pizza on the menu, but in lieu of making it from scratch, I’ll suggest Ryan orders it from somewhere.

Friday – Orange Chicken – I love this chicken so much, but I’m trying to figure out a way to being a little more efficient when making it.  It’s a little time consuming, but it’s so good, it’s worth it.

Saturday – Ham & Cheese Turnovers – These are really good and the kids love them.  You really can’t go wrong.  Ham – good.  Cheese – good.  Bread – gooood.

Sunday – Gnocchi W/ Sage Butter – I haven’t made this for years and I kind of did my own improvisation of it.  I tried to grow a little container garden and the sage was the only thing that actually produced anything.  I kind of fried the leaves in butter and they were delicious.  They get nice and crispy.  I may try doing that again instead of using the dried sage like the recipe calls for.



Memorial Day

Today we remember all of our fallen soldiers and give thanks to those who have served and continue to serve to keep our country safe and allow us the freedoms that we enjoy.

A Lesson

I have said it before and I’ll say it again.  I have no problem with my age.  I am 35 and every once and awhile I wonder if I’ll get to an age where I find it difficult to admit to, but I kind of doubt it.  There are far too many age related cliches out there that I don’t think I’m allowed to be hesitant in stating my age.  You’re only as young as you feel;  Age is just a number; The older the grape, the sweeter the juice, etc.

With all that being said, nothing brightens my day more than someone carding me when I buy beer.  I know I look over 21.  Hell, I am pretty sure most people would put me over 31, but it’s still nice to have to pull out my ID.  Before today, the last time I was carded was at a bar in West Hollywood.  That bartender could teach a class on charming thirtysomething women, but he was also working for tips…which I gladly gave.

Today I was carded at my neighborhood market by a kid who was anywhere between 16 and 20.  I seriously have no concept of how old people are anymore, the older I get, the younger they look.  The first thing he rang through was my 6 pack of beer.  I could feel him looking at me, but I was fumbling around in my purse trying to see if I actually had my ID with me should he ask.

Two things could have happened:  he could have ask me for my ID, or after having taking a good hard look at me decided there was absolutely no reason to ask me for my license.  I’m clearly old enough, but I like that there was a little shadow of doubt somewhere in his head and he asked me to prove I was legal.  If I could have given him a tip, I would have.

Here are some additional tips to anyone working in the service industry or where alcohol can be purchased.  I’m not sure if guys like to be carded or not, but I have never heard Ryan say he was excited about it and he used to get carded a lot.  And while some of you aren’t working for tips, think of it as something you should probably be doing anyway so why not make someone happy in the process?

  1. Always look at the face of the person you are asking for ID.  If you just ask blindly, the gesture looses about 90% of its effect.
  2. If someone asks you if you need to see ID, the correct answer is Yes!;Absolutely!orWithout a doubt!   Unacceptable answers would be:  No.; Nah, you look old enough. or HaHa!
  3. Another nice touch when carding someone is checking to make sure that the ID is authentic.  The kid today flipped it over and looked at the back.  Nice.
  4. If you are sure that the person you are carding is way over 30, but want to go that extra mile to make them feel good, simply saying “We make it a policy to card anyone under 30.”

For all of you out there that hate getting carded, I apologize.



A Little Crafting

I decided to knock out a little craft that I have been hanging on to for about 3 months.  It was supposed to be a teacher appreciation gift, but Kamryn’s teacher was out for 6 weeks for surgery on her hand and it is specific to just her so I couldn’t even give it to one of the substitutes she had during that time.

We found out a couple of weeks ago that Mrs. M be back on the 29th to finish out the year and we’re so excited!  I thought I would make the gift and give it to her as a “Welcome Back!” gift instead.

I ordered two stamps from Pick Your Plum months ago.  One is a “This Book Belongs To Mrs. M…” stamp and the other one says “From The Desk Of Mrs. M…”  Only after I bought the stamps did I come across the idea to putting them in a little personalized box with some ink pads on the crafting blog, Skip To My Lou.

I did my own version – I’m not good with paper crafting so I painted instead.  First I took off all the hardware.  Normally, I would try and paint around it, but it was so small, I knew I would screw it up.Next I painted the box with Spa Blue acrylic paint.I printed out a little card to glue on the top to personalize the box.The ink pad and stamps fit perfectly inside.I also put a coat of Mod Podge on the box to give it a little bit of a sheen.  I forgot how tacky that can be, though.  Oh well.

Also, since I had the glue gun heated up, I fixed my shoe too.We’re going to chalk this day up to productive!

Flashback Friday

The Cedar Fire from my front door in October of 2003.

Last night there was a breaking news report on TV that was alerting San Diego County of the Banner Fire burning east of Julian, a small mountain town about an hour east of San Diego.  Some residents had already been evacuated, but as of this morning, firefighters had already contained a significant amount of the wildfire and luckily, the weather was cooperating.

Ryan and I moved to San Diego (the first time) in late September of 2003.  We didn’t have jobs, but we had a little money in our pockets that we received as wedding gifts from our August nuptials and figured we wouldn’t have trouble finding jobs once we settled in “the big city”.

We moved into a 2 bedroom apartment on October 4th, but didn’t have any furniture until at least October 20th, which was a bit of a cluster fuck because I had specifically told the moving company that I wanted the furniture delivered on the 4th.  In the fine print, which I did read and even discussed with the moving rep regarding language stating what date we were requesting our furniture to be delivered.  Apparently saying I wanted it on a specific date was actually saying I wanted it within 2 weeks after that date.   Irregardless,  we had enough foresight to pack an air mattress and a TV in the car when we drove out to CA so while it wasn’t ideal, it wasn’t horrendous.

We got our furniture and we devoted ourselves to getting everything unpacked and put in it’s proper place almost immediately because we were so happy to sleep in an actual bed as opposed to an air mattress that we had to re-inflate every morning.  I had all of the pictures on the wall, curtains hung, throw pillows in their proper places, dishes in the cupboards and clothes in the closet.  We were finally settled after being without our possessions for nearly a month.

And then the fires.  As a girl who grew up in the Midwest, the one natural disaster that I associated with California was earthquakes.  I knew nothing of wildfires.  We were right next to a seemingly infinite source of water, fires never even occurred to me.  My knowledge of wildfires came quick and was born out of absolute necessity.

Ryan and I lived in Mira Mesa at the time of the 2003 wildfires.  We were in a residential area that was encapsulated by 8 lanes of freeway on either side of the suburb – I felt pretty safe.  It wasn’t until the woman who lived upstairs told us that she was evacuating that Ryan and I thought we should go on a recon mission.  Yeah, not the best idea, but we had no idea that we were putting ourselves in danger.

We hopped in the car and took off south down I-15.  We didn’t even have to go one exit before we saw huge flames literally jumping across those 8 lanes of concrete freeway.  HOLY SHIT!  Things got real, really fucking fast.  We took that first exit and were back at our place within minutes of leaving and tried to decide what we should do.

I remember being pissed that we had just gotten all of our things and now there seemed to be a real threat of them burning into nothing.  I had no idea what we should take with us and where we should go.  After a long discussion, we decided to stay put and if we had to leave, we would just go with the clothes on our backs and some of the pertinent documents needed for survival – credit cards, license, social security cards and our recently obtained marriage license.

Shortly after this decision, I started to have trouble breathing from all the smoke and ash in the air.  I have asthma and for the most part it doesn’t cause me problems (if you don’t count the 5 day hospitalization in ’98).  I had a prescription for a rescue inhaler and a steroid inhaler, but hadn’t had a need to fill it for months.  I was feeling close to how I felt prior to being hospitalized 5 years prior and having no insurance wasn’t helping me feel better.  I waited as long as I could and finally went to the pharmacy and paid full price for both inhalers – a steep $350.

The next day, I opened the front door of our apartment and took the picture above.  The picture doesn’t do the image justice.  They sky was blood red and it was the most horrifying and eerie thing I have ever seen.  That picture was taken at roughly 3:00 in the afternoon when it is normally bright and sunny.  You can see that the outside lights had turned on because it was so dark from all the smoke.

I don’t know when the fire was actually completely extinguished.  Between the Cedar Fire and Paradise Fire, 16 people lost their lives and over 2000 people lost their homes.  My good friend, Rochelle, lost her condo, which sat in the very middle of a huge complex.  The surrounding buildings were unscathed.  She lost everything.  I didn’t know Rochelle at the time, but met her soon after once I started working at Qualcomm.  I remember the first time she told me about her experience and my heart ached for her.  Her home – all of her tangible memories.  The tangible memories of her brother, Eric, who passed away years earlier were in that home.  Pictures and trinkets that can never be replaced were reduced to ash.

Rochelle’s house was rebuilt, and with the help of many of her family and friends, she was able to obtain many pictures of her brother that she lost.  It definitely put things in perspective for me.

I still think about the fires and how scared I was. It was the only time that I can look back and think how grateful I was that I didn’t have kids.  If there ever comes a time when there is even a fraction of the threat that there was in 2003, you can bet your ass we’ll be off like a prom dress with only the things we can’t replace – Kamryn and Rory.


What Have I Gotten Myself In To?

A couple of months ago I read a blog about a family that was a member of NCP, National Consumer Panel.  She didn’t really describe what she actually had to do, but instead focused on all of the great things she had gotten from the company for being a member.  A few weeks following that post, she had posted that they had opened up new zip codes, meaning there may be an opportunity to become a member myself and get a scanner.

Not at all thinking about what this might entail, I went ahead and clicked on the link and signed up.  To my disappointment, they didn’t have any available scanners for my area.  Oh well, I thought.

I forgot about it and then two weeks ago I got an email asking me for more information about my purchasing habits and ultimately my address so my scanner could be shipped out to me!

I was excited about this for some reason – again, still not finding out what I really had to do.  Today my scanner arrived via Fed Ex and I got a glimpse at what is surely to be a huge pain in my ass.

My scanner.

In short, I have to scan everything I buy. Everything.  And it’s not just me!  If Ryan gets a Snickers at the vending machine at work, I’m supposed to scan that candy bar UPC code.  And it’s not just scanning the product.  I have to say whether I used a coupon, the price, where I bought it and how much my total order was.  Like I said – a huge pain in my ass.

I reluctantly logged on to my profile once I read through the scanner’s users manual.  I will be awarded points if I scan my purchases and then download the data once a week.  I wanted to find out how many points I needed in to get the flat screen TV that was on the cover of the manual.  As it turns out, I need 317,000.

OK, that’s not too bad.  They started me off with 1,000 points just for signing up so maybe if I do this for a few months, I’ll be able to get the TV and then I’ll just quit.  Now to find how many points I get each week for sending my data.  I found the information in one of the three booklets they sent me.  For the first six months I earn 150 points a week.  The number of points awarded increases the longer you are on the panel – up to 325 per week once you hit six years!

Let’s just pretend that I do this for longer than a week.  In fact, let’s pretend I do it for a full six years.  I will have accumulated 89,780 points just for my data submissions.  Apparently, I can earn additional points by taking surveys and I am awarded extra points on my three, six and one year anniversaries.  Who knows how many, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it isn’t 227,200 in gift points because then I could actually get the TV in six years.

I’m going to give this the old college try for a month.  I am sure that I’m not going to be excited about scanning in that pack of gum I grabbed at the convenience store or figuring out how I input the car wash I got after I got my gas.

I think it’s a marketing strategy to tell people that they don’t have any available scanners.  They want all of the suckers to think that these are incredibly sought after and I am unbelievably blessed to be able to receive one.

I’ll be utilizing that return address label that came with my scanner before you know it.

WTF Wednesday

This morning I had to go to CVS to pick up a prescription so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and run there so I could get my workout in too.  Rory wasn’t much in the mood to be in the stroller so I promised him he could pick out a treat when we got to the store if he was good while I ran.  He sat like a good little boy the whole way there.

The minute we got in the store, Rory asked if he was a good boy and could have a treat.  I told him he was and before I could steer him to the non-candy aisle, he was already drooling all over the M&M’s.  It was about 8:30 in the morning, I was not about to let Rory have candy.  I got him to settle on some chocolate donuts instead.  Sure, they probably have more sugar, fat and calories than the M&M’s, but it’s all about perception, people!

Anyway, this reminded me of a time about 4 years ago when Kamryn and I were at the grocery store.  She was somewhere around 18 months old and sitting in the cart as I checked out.  I had thrown a bag of Peanut M&M’s on the conveyor belt and thought I had done it without Kamryn noticing.  It wasn’t until the woman checking me out held them up and asked me if I wanted to put them in my purse.

I shook my head quickly back and forth while shooting a glance in Kamryn’s direction, which is the universal sign of “NO, AND HURRY UP AND PUT THEM IN A DAMN BAG BEFORE MY DAUGHTER SEES IT!”  Seriously, even in writing this out without a picture or video to show you what I did, you can understand, right?  Apparently she had never seen a sitcom.  It’s the same exact display when “Character A” is going on and on about how big of an ass their boss is to “Character B” only to have said boss come up behind “Character A”, thus ensuring “Character B” try in vain to get “Character A” to shut the hell up.  Believe it or not, this is not why the woman is deserving of my award.

Still holding the bag of M&M’s in her hand, she stared at me with a confused look on her face.  Let’s just assume I’m the crazy one here.  I clearly shook my head “No” so beyond any additional meaning I was trying to portray, she should have at least understood that, right?  I guess that was too much to hope for.  Instead, she says “You do want them?” and extends her arm out to give them to me, coming within inches of Kamryn’s head.  Huh?  WHAT?  With M&M’s in her peripheral vision, Kamryn whipped her head around and tried to grab the bag.  I was a little too quick and got to them right before her chubby little hand could grasp the candies causing an ear piercing shriek to emit from her mouth.

Here is where it gets interesting.  The checker kind of jumped back with a shocked look on her face like she was surprised that a toddler would react in such a way.  Kamryn, not surprisingly went from shriek to full blown, hysterical cry and completely out of control.  The checker, despite her previous reaction, sensed no source of urgency at this point and continued to ring up the rest of my groceries at a snail’s pace.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to console my screaming child with soothing, “It’s OK”‘s and “Shhhhhh”‘s.  Eventually, the cashier had all of my groceries rung through and gave me my total.  I avoided eye contact with her because I think my glare would have shot holes through her skull.  As I was running my card through the kiosk, Kamryn continued to cry and it was then that checker became my least favorite person and earned her award.  She leaned in toward Kamryn and crooned, “Oh, it’s OK, honey, your mommy will give you M&M’s when you get home.”

Congratulations, grocery store checker from 4 years ago!

You Better Not Have Screwed Me, Mark Zuckerberg!

No, I was not in on Facebook’s IPO and from the sounds of it, that’s probably a good thing for me.  I don’t have a lot of disposable income…oh wait, I don’t have an income.  So yeah, good thing I didn’t get any of that initial stock.

However, one thing that I did receive was a message on Facebook dated May 18th, but I didn’t receive the notification until today.  Normally, when I get messages, they are from friends who either don’t have my email address or they are just elaborating on some correspondence that we already had on Facebook so not getting an immediate notification isn’t a big deal.

This particular message was to inform me that I had won a prize!  No, it wasn’t a fake prize, but one I had signed up to win and I won!  It was for an Armpocket Armband on Bucketlist Publications.  This is the same blog where I was a finalist in the skydiving competition and while it would have been really awesome to win the skydiving adventure, this armband is more my speed and something that I really need.

So what’s the big deal?  Well, the message was sent on the 18th and according to the website, Lesley from Bucketlist Publications was only giving the winner 24 hours to respond or a new winner would be chosen.  Lesley just had a baby and I can only hope that she is frazzled as I was during those first few months that she didn’t notice the 4 day time lapse in my response.  Or takes pity on a fellow mom and says “Rules were meant to be broken!”

I am on Facebook every single day – multiple times a day and if I have a message, I look at it the minute I see it.  I swear on someone’s grave that I didn’t have that little red notification bubble pop up and I even went back to check on my notifications and there isn’t anything there that said I had a message.  Now I just have to sit and wait and hope that Lesley feels sorry for me for devoting an entire post to possibly missing out on my super awesome Armpocket.

If not, you can rest assured that Mr. Zuckerberg is going to get a sternly written email…or message on Facebook.