Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Thanksgiving Holiday

As this long 4-day weekend rolls to a close, I find myself tucked under a blanket on my couch, catching up on some old television.  The weekend was a busy one, so this "quiet time" to myself is good to get ready for the crazy week ahead.  As I decompress, my thoughts wander back over this weekend, and others like it over the years.

Oddly, as I was driving home from work on Tuesday, I felt a letdown similar to what I feel at the end of most holiday seasons. I found myself almost wishing that the holiday season was over and had to remind myself that it had not even started yet.  I blame that on the saturation of holiday decorations and music in the stores before Halloween was even over. 

While watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, I remembered as a kid spending the night before Thanksgiving at Aunt Helen and Uncle Rick's house.  We'd get up in the morning and watch the parade and then Mom or Dad would pick us up before heading to Grandma Norton's house.  Watching the parade this year with my girls got me all choked up a few times, like when they both got so excited over the Hello Kitty balloon and K had to "boop" Kitty's nose.  I can only hope that they remember these times and in another 25 years or so, they will get up on Thanksgiving morning and watch the parade with their kids.

Our Thanksgiving feast was the usual array of too much food - turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberries and pie.  Lots and lots of pie.  There was something new at our feast this year as well - two people who were dieting.  Yes, I said "dieting."  First, before I continue with this story, I will preface my comments with the caveat that I make no judgments of these people or of their choices.  I merely comment on them here to add some "depth" to my discussion of my turkey weekend.  As I was saying, they are dieting, under their physician's supervision, and have a specific goal weight that they are working towards.  The diet includes a process that cuts out all sugars for a period of time.  They basically eat protein (eggs and meat) and vegetables at every meal.  No dairy or fruit (sugars).  The Thanksgiving feast was an interesting one for them, as they focused on the turkey and had some green salad as well.  The challenge came when dessert was laid out.  As I said before, pies, pies and more pies.

As we were putting things together and onto the table, one of the people dieting made the comment "you guys are killing me, here!" or something to that effect.  I responded with "what they don't know..." (meaning the doctor) and someone else commented "but they will know" (meaning the dieters.)  So here is my question.  One piece of pie won't kill you, right?  I understand the part about willpower and wanting to continue to work towards your goal.  I understand that if you "cheat," the doctor may not know but you will and you have to live with yourself.  I have seen many, many seasons of the Biggest Loser and I understand that people must be ever vigilant against the things that got them into trouble in the first place.  At the same time, the dieters from our dinner were not "large" by any means.  They have commented about struggles with weight over the years but I would not consider them overweight and I don't know that they really have that much to lose.  (Which isn't to say that they don't look great!)   So again, I ask the question (without judgment or even an idea of an answer) of whether a piece of pie would do that much damage. 

For myself, I am o.k. with eating the pie.  I recognize my weaknesses and sometimes indulge, particularly on holidays.  If I know that a big pie-eating day is coming up, perhaps I will ease off on other sweets on the days leading up to it in order to get ready.  Some things, I can take or leave.  When there is a pie in the house (pumpkin, of course) I might eat a piece each night until it is gone.  But if there is no pie in the house, I don't go out of my way to track it down, or buy it or make it.  I guess that is just how I am wired.  Maybe that is why I have trouble understanding another person's seeming inability to eat just one piece of pie on Thanksgiving and get back to "business" the next day.  But, as I said, I make no judgments and I certainly applaud them for their steadfast approach to their dieting.

On to the shopping!  Many of my friends commented on Facebook about the stores opening on Thanksgiving and that they planned to boycott those stores because they (my friends) believed that even employees of big box stores deserved to have some time.  Some of my friends mapped out their route and got started late Thanksgiving evening/ early Friday morning.  Me?  I needed sleep and did not see anything in the fliers worth crawling out of bed that early for.  Over the past few years, there have sometimes been things worth running for, but not this year.  Mom and I chose to make a leisurely 6 a.m. appearance at Target, which was the closest store to my house on our route.  The parking lot was at least 1/2 empty.  I found a spot in the row closest to the doors - I don't even park that close on a regular Saturday!  Where was everyone???  As we walked into the store, not only were there carts, but there were no lines of people waiting to check out.  There were no hoards of people crowding the entertainment section.   And there was NO LINE AT STARBUCKS!  WHAT?!?!?!?!  We ended up spending almost an hour in Target, only because Mom did some of her "every day" shopping and we went in circles a few times, and I managed to get in line behind the one person that did not seem to have her stuff together, so of course it took longer.  

We found a similar situation at other stores.  Heading into JoAnns at 7:30, with it opening at 6, we found a line to have fabric cut, but no lines of people checking out and no masses of people clambering for the good deals. (Although I'm not too sure that there were that many deals at JoAnns.)  Last year, the line to check out at Kohls wrapped around to the back of the store.  This year - no line.  Where was everyone?

The mall, where we found ourselves later, was a bit busier, but even there we only had to wait a 1/2 hour to be seated for lunch at Lucille's.  I'm not sure if people were choosing to wait until Cyber Monday, or if they were just skipping the entire weekend's worth of shopping experience as some news sources had suggested, but wherever they were, they were not between me and my shopping.  Which was kind of nice.

At the end of the day, we survived Thanksgiving without too much overeating and we survived shopping on Friday without any injuries or spending too much money, but still managing to find some nice gifts.  We spent time with our families and got to snuggle up on the couch with the girls. (But seriously, how many times can one person watch a single episode of Phineas and Ferb.  I think my head was going to explode!)

This week, it's on to B's birthday and next week, Winter Book Fair at school and then Hanukkah.  WHAT?  Where did the year go?  You mean it's December already? I guess I better get myself in gear before I blink away the New Year too! 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mental Meanderings for Your Friday Afternoon

Ah, Friday.  I have been waiting for you all week and finally, you have arrived, bringing with you some sunshine to chase away the rain and the still-chilly temperatures of fall that we have been missing.  What would I do without you and a glass of wine to end the week?

I checked our our Valley's new 99 Cents Only store this morning.  Holy crap, what a zoo!  I think the store opened earlier this week and you would think that these people have never seen one of these stores!  (In case they, or you, are wondering, there is one over on Lyons Avenue, just a hop, skip and a jump away.)  Maybe it is because the carts are new and therefore all wheels pull in the direction they are supposed to.  Maybe it's because it is the holidays and all of the low priced decorations and wrapping paper are out.  Maybe it is because this store seems to have an expanded grocery section.  I'm not sure what it is, but people are out in droves and they are all crazy!  It's been ages since I've been personally rear-ended with a shopping cart and it happened twice today.  Fun stuff.  I think I'll wait a few weeks and let the excitement die down before I head back there to bargain shop.

The election is finally over.  Whew!  We made it.  I had to laugh at a few posts on Facebook on Wednesday, comments with pictures of women about "stopping that" and nipping things in the bud.  It's interesting how the media is wondering why Obama pulled off that "last minute" surge, and I have to say that if women make up 51% of the population and Romney's ticket was identified with those anti-women statements, you don't have to look very far or do much math to figure it out.  That is just my take on it, who knows what the real reasons are.  I will say that I was a bit troubled by some of the post-election-results posts of some friends.  I saw one that said "Not my President!" and another one that made a joke (I think) about moving to Canada.  I don't understand how people can say things like that.  I recognize that the party of their choice did not win.  I recognize that they may not be happy with the current administration or the economy or things in general.  But it seems to me that he is still "their" President, because they are American citizens and he is the President of the US.  Am I missing something?  No, you may not have voted for him, which is your right, as a citizen, but he is your President.  Maybe I'm looking at things a little too simply.   I saw another post that I really liked and I wish that I would have thought to save it somehow.  A friend shared someone else's blog, and in the blog the writer spoke about living in Russia just a few years ago and not knowing if there was going to bread to eat that day and worrying about being shot or harmed just for seeking out basic human rights.  The writer felt blessed to be living in a country where we can choose which person we want to run our country, and where we can voice our displeasure when things aren't going our way.  We should all remember to feel so blessed, even when it seems to some that the "wrong" person won.

Fashion - I had a run-in with my jeans the other day.  They are nice and soft, a little stretchy and I washed them.  Which means that when I went to put them on, they didn't quite fit the way that they were supposed to.  I'll admit it, I'm a size 10.  I'm not quite the size 8 that I once was, but I'm working on it and have lots of clothes waiting for me in my closet when I get around to it.  But in the meantime, why are my current clothes taking it out on me?  Really!  Is it too much to ask that my jeans fit when I take them out of the dryer, without my having to go through the "breaking in" process all over again?  I remind myself (alot) that Marilyn Monroe was curvy and supposedly a size 12.  (And I'll ignore the fact that sizes have changed a bit since then and the 12 that she was probably isn't quite as big as a 12 is today.)  But seriously.    The same day that I fought with my jeans, I read an article on TMZ or some other trashy news site that the Victoria's Secret models are supposedly fairly small chested.  Some, the article claims are a mere 33A or 34B.  Um, right.  sure.  And if you believe that, I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you.  The article linked to photos of some of the models and gave their measurements (but not cup size, so I hesitate to believe the claim.)  The interesting note (aside from which celebrity they were dating, married to or recently split from) was that all of their waist measurements were 24 or 25, and many of them were 5'10 or 5'11". Yikes!  I haven't had a waist that small since I was in college!  Maybe I should have chucked it all and found a way to get a modeling gig with Vickies.  I guess that wouldn't be too bad - maybe I'd be dating Adam Levine right now.  (Yum!)  Ah well.. as fate would have it, my waistline expanded (having kids will do that to you) and despite my height and my seemingly "average" chest size, as far as Vickie's goes, my waist is much to big, so I will have to content myself with my current lot in life.

I wanted to mention something about kids at a young age being rude.  I'm sure that the thought stemmed from a conversation I had with B, but now I don't remember the details.  She is funny sometimes.  She listens to conversations all around her and picks and chooses parts that she wants to add to her own vocabulary.  Sometimes it is words, sometimes a tone or facial expression.  Unfortunately, she doesn't quite "get" sarcasm, and sometimes she just sounds mean or rude.  I'm sure all kids go through this (at least, I hope they do and that mine is not singularly nuts) and we just have to work with her on it.   I hope.

And finally.... a topic that I've discussed here before, but have a new take on.  I am calling this part "My Disneyland, covered in dust."   Some of my faithful readers may remember from posts long-ago, that someone who did not like me very much came into my home, spent some time, and then left to make disparaging remarks about my decor and my housekeeping, and she said it looked like "Disneyland covered in dust.".  At various times it has come back to haunt me, only from the standpoint that I felt like I never got the chance to defend myself and because of what was going on at the time.  A few weeks ago, I was cleaning up the house to get ready for K's birthday party and found myself dusting off a set of shelves.  As I wiped away the dust, I was struck by the memories that sat there on those shelves, reminding me of things and people that have come and gone.  On the top shelf, a photo of Rob and I on our wedding day, in a frame made by my best friend.  On the side of one shelve, several painted ornaments made by my aunt, and next to those, a paper piecing picture that same aunt made for me when I was just a year old.  The shelf below holds two tiki carvings from our honeymoon.  One I purchased for Rob and I, and the other I purchased for my great-aunt Kay.  When she passed several years ago, I got it back.  Another shelf holds a Pooh Bear dressed as a London Bobby and Mickey Mouse dressed as a Palace guard.  Both were from my first trip to London.  Another shelve holds a family of nesting dolls with Pooh and Friends on them, that Rob got for me on a trip to Europe which included a trip to Turkey.

As I dusted these shelves and these things, I realized (maybe a bit late?) that the shelves in my home hold mementos of memories and tie me to the people I love and the adventures we've had.  The reason they are dusty is because we are busy living and enjoying (and because I have kids.)  I also realized that I don't need to feel defensive about her comments, because I am pretty sure that any house or apartment she might have is empty of such memories and quite possibly, love.  What she saw and commented on was on the surface.  If she had taken any time at all to get to know me, she would have seen so much more.  Fortunately for me, she is long gone from my life and won't be coming back. But I've still got my memories and my Mickeys and Pooh Bears and Figment (from my first trip to Disney World) and crystal Snoopy to remind me of friends and family and adventures.  And yes, they are most likely still a bit dusty, just the way I like them.

Monday, November 5, 2012

This Crazy, Mixed-Up World.

I spent a few minutes this morning, snuggled on the couch with K, who was wrapped up in her "Blankie" and sucking her thumb.  We were watching Good Morning America, which is on ABC and which was participating in the "Day of Giving" to raise money for the Red Cross to benefit victims of Storm Sandy.

Just a short 1/2 hour of television and so much emotion and thoughts going through my head.  Sometimes it is difficult living inside my head, so funny to try and make sense of everything swirling around in there. (Rob sometimes shakes his head at me when I switch subjects, wondering how I get from one to the other.)  But I digress.  Wait, what was I talking about?

During one of the commercials, they ran one of my all-time favorite holiday commercials - the Hershey Kiss one, where they are set out in the shape of a tree and the one red one does the extra ringing at the end and then says "phew!" as it wipes its brow.  Truly, one of my favorites and makes me smile every time.  But as I was watching, my second thought was "huh?"  It's November 5 and they are running holiday commercials already.  Why?  I realize that the stores have been decorated (except for Nordstrom, but more on that later) since weeks before Halloween, when they started clearing out the Halloween decor, but why would broadcasters (or merchants) run those commercials now?  Do we really need a kick start to the holiday shopping that early?

Election coverage - one story on GMA was about the First Lady and Ann Romney doing some last minute stumping.  It never fails to amaze me at what people consider news.  Part of the "hook" for the article was something about why the ladies were so emotional.  But the story never actually got around to telling me why.  I am left to ponder.  On the flip side of that coin, the candidates themselves.  While I have promised myself and others (even on this blog) to remain apolitical in an effort to maintain friendships, I am truly confused by some of the things that I read on friends' pages.  Whether it is comments from others that they share, pictures that they "like" or status updates of their own thoughts and feelings, I can't help but wonder at what drives these friends of mine, and what the basis is for their positions, on both sides of the aisle.  I don't mean this in a facetious way, or to be in any way demeaning.  I am really curious about it, and at some point might like to sit down and discuss it.  Not because I think they would convince me to change my views, or that I would try to change theirs, but more because I would like to know if I am missing something or only have half information on these topics. 

To give one big example, female friends of mine have professed support for the Republican party and Romney as the candidate.  Some of the comments that I see discuss the economy and jobs and it looks like those are the reasons for the support.  I think others may just be fairly conservative in their approach to politics which is more in line with the Republican philosophy.  I myself considered Reagan to have been a great president (although, I was in elementary school when he was in office, so it did not have the same effect on me as the presidency does now.)  Here is where my confusion sets in.  Romney's running mate, Ryan has gone on the record as saying that he wants to do away with a woman's right to have an abortion.  He has even spent some time running around with his foot in his mouth, after that crazy comment about pregnancies resulting from rape.  (If you are curious, Google it.)  Republicans normally (I think) take a more conservative approach to the "Pro Life/ Pro Choice" debate, but this year's presidential slate seems to be taking such a harder line, wanting to challenge (or even get rid of ?) Roe v. Wade.  So much so, that I have to wonder how any woman could consider voting for someone who wants to take away their right to control their own bodies.  Yes, the economy and foreign policy and those other things that make up a platform are important.  But I simply cannot get past giving up a fundamental right to decide what happens to my own body - particularly on a topic that is driven by men - who can never truly understand how a woman's body works.  I understand that there is a religious component to this issue, but at the same time, I cannot get past the idea of a man trying to tell me what to do with my body. 

I'll give you a real life example.  After B was born, I had post-eclamptic seizures.  The doctors were baffled as to why it happened following a "textbook" pregnancy, but everything seemed to resolve itself and B and I were both fine.  When I got pregnant with K, the doctors kept a closer eye on me, but for the most part, the pregnancy was normal.  7 days after K was born, I had post-eclamptic seizures again.  My doctor sat down with me in the hospital and said "no more children."  While we have taken steps to follow the doctor's advice and don't plan to have any more children, strange things happen and you never know.   VP candidate Ryan would have us believe that if I got pregnant, it would be for a "reason" (i.e.: G-d wanted it to happen) and therefore I should not be able to choose whether or not to continue to be pregnant, therein having to choose between my own life and that of an unborn child (but essentially taking away my choice.)  What would be better, that another child might be brought into this world (running the risks of problems stemming from my own health issues) or choosing to end the pregnancy and save my life, so that my 2 already living children could continue to have a mother and my husband continues to have a wife.  No one should have to make that choice, but why should someone in politics who has never met me or my family get to make that choice for me?

I did not intend this post to become political, but as I wrote, I realized that this is an issue that I feel very strongly about, partially because I do potentially have health issues that would affect a pregnancy and my ability to have another child.  I just don't believe that anyone else should be allowed to tell me how to handle that situation.  And I won't even get started on the issue of what overturning Roe v. Wade would do in increasing "back alley" abortions.  I shudder to think.  But back to some less-heavy stuff.

As I mentioned, ABC is having a Day of Giving, taking calls from people donating. (You can text "Redcross" to 90999 to donate $10 on your phone!)  During one piece, the camera panned the phone banks and Grover was taking calls!  (Yes, Grover from Sesame Street.)  Sitting here typing this, I think I should have called to see if Grover would talk to K - that would have been fun this morning.  Grover made me smile.  All of the Muppets and Sesame Street pals never fail to make me smile, which is a good thing, because at one point, I found myself almost tearing up.  Pictures of the devastation and destruction of the storm break my heart.  Pictures of the signs that people have made, both to Sandy and to people passing by, melt my heart.  I sometimes feel so helpless and wonder if there is more that I should or could be doing, beyond donating a few dollars here and there.  It is a tough time of year, and I typically "adopt" a family or children locally for the holidays, but at the same time, I wonder how families in New York and New Jersey will get through this holiday season and the cold weather that is on its way.   There are stories from the aftermath of Katrina, of student groups that went to New Orleans and helped clear trash and debris and helped rebuild.  Somewhere in my mind, I wonder if I could have done that.  I have to hope that there are groups even now helping the victims of this storm.  I have to hope that my few dollars goes to help someone buy a child a new toy or buy someone warm clothes or pay for a place to sleep.  In the midst of it all, I have to have hope.

I did not start this post with a thought towards the serious, but it seems to have ventured that way all on its own.  I hope that if nothing else, we all stop to think for just a moment.  Whether it is about the election and who you might vote for (Regardless of who, get out and VOTE - especially all of you ladies), or about how you can help someone in need, just think for a moment outside of your usual sphere of influence.  That's all, just think.

OOPS!  I almost forgot - Nordstrom.... someone posted a picture on Facebook the other day, of the Nordstrom sign saying that they would not be decorating their stores until after Thanksgiving, and that they believe it appropriate to celebrate one holiday at a time.  This is from the past few years and so far, I haven't been able to find anything for 2012 on it, but I'm guessing they will continue with that same idea this year.  An interesting thought, when all others have been decorating since September.  A random story - I remember when I first moved here to LA, I got a job in a Halloween store that was fairly popular in the area.  The store did a crazy amount of Halloween business, with rentals for props and costumes and such.  It was the day after Halloween that killed us - all of the Halloween had to come down and all of the holiday went up, virtually overnight.  The store owner used to say that "everyone else has had Christmas up for 2 weeks, I've got to catch up!"  I don't remember it being that big of a thing then, but now I notice it more often.  Of course, I've been listening to Christmas music here and there for a few weeks and have already bought a few presents, but that's just my own craziness.

One last note, to my friends who are doing a 30-days of gratitude project of some kind (I have seen several), I commend you.  I always think about it after the fact, but maybe I'll get it rolling right here.  (1) I am thankful that Rob and I have created some great friendships out of business connections.  (2) I am grateful that I can freely go to Temple and worship as I choose.  (3) I am grateful for old friends.  (4) I am grateful that the kids slept in just a bit with their extra hour. (5) I am grateful that Grandma Trudy is on the mend and getting better everyday, and that my girls get to know her and spend time with her.   (Today is a double helping!)

On that note, I will leave you.  VOTE tomorrow.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bunch of savages in this town...

Happy All Saints Day!  Have you recovered from your sugar high yet?  I'm still cruising along on mine, at least for another week or two, I think.

A few tidbits from this most recent "holiday"....

"Please, take 1" and "Please take 2 pieces."  As we wandered my brother and sister-in-law's neighborhood last night, we came upon several houses with bowls or cauldrons placed on chairs or on the porch, with a sign for trick-or-treaters to just "take 1."  Sadly, when B got to many of the bowls, they were empty.  While I do not know how much candy was in the bowl when the evening started, I do know that we weren't out that late and while I saw several roving bands of ghosts and goblins, there were by no means huge masses of kids.  So where did the candy go?  My guess is that it went directly into the bags of a few select hooligans, who opted to just take the entire bowl and the rest of the kids be damned.  Cynical?  Yes, probably.  But I believe that the homeowners who left the bowls did so with the best of intentions and were instead taken advantage of by a few select ne'er do wells who decided to steal from others. 

"You're a Blockhead, Charlie Brown!"  A few days ago, I shared an article on my Facebook page that mentioned a blog where a parent lamented the viewing of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and asked if it was not time to retire the show.  He claimed that the bullying by the other kids of Good ol' Charlie Brown was not appropriate in today's society and that it had no redeeming qualities for kids.  I heartily disagree.  I think that the show is a perfect opportunity for parents to teach their children what is right and wrong, and also to simply enjoy a tiny slice of their own childhood.  I still believe that parenting needs to start at home, and parents need to stop asking society to do their jobs, by removing any trace of violence or unpleasantness from the television.  That dad needs a several reality check if he believes that his children are not already fully aware of how the world works.  It is up to him to help them parse through the details and figure out the right and wrong of things.  Circling back to my candy thieves above, where were the parents on this one?  I wonder - if your child is old enough to go out trick or treating without you, are they too old to trick or treat?  An interesting thought to ponder.  I have to assume that any kids dumping large handfuls of candy into their bags from a bowl left unattended would likely be doing so without parental supervision.  Unless the parents were the ones grabbing the candy.

Then there was the guy roaming through the neighborhood in his golf cart, full of self-importance.  But I don't think I'll go there today.

In the meantime, just 21 days until we sit around the table and stuff ourselves with turkey and all of the trimmings, only to run it off that night, beginning at midnight or 2 a.m. or 4 a.m. in our quest for the perfect gift.  In case you are wondering, yes, I am already listening to holiday music.  Yes, I have already started my holiday shopping and have toys on layaway for the girls.  Yes, I stuff myself on Thanksgiving with way too much food and even more pie and dessert.  Yes, I shop on Black Friday, although I do love my sleep and tend not to go out too early in the morning, unless there is something I absolutely can't live without.  This year though, I'll be trying to do a little shopping for those less fortunate, at the same time.