Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Presenting

This holiday recap has taken me FOREVER to do because I keep forgetting to upload a video from Christmas morning that I have on the computer in Em's room. I'm just going to do the post and add the video tomorrow, hopefully.

Anyhow, we had a nice, mellow holiday. We spent Christmas Eve at my in-laws' for a yummy homemade dinner. My brother-in-law is in town, so he had fun watching all of Em's new toddler tricks.

I really wanted to wake up in our place Christmas morning as it was Em's first somewhat lucid Christmas, even if she won't remember it.

Em's grandparents offered to buy Em's big gifts.

My mom bought Em this Fisher-Price Dollhouse. I ordered the Caucasian version 'cuz for some reason they don't offer a "quapa" option. "Quapa" is what we loving refer to Em as since I'm hapa, and as a result, she's a quarter Filipina. Get it? :::taps mic::: Is this thing on?
I had originally scored a FABULOUS deal on a different dollhouse, but between when I ordered it and its arrival, I decided it'd be too large for our tiny condo. I ended up selling it via a local parenting message board to a nearby mom, whose name is also "Nanette." I kid you not! We both thought there was something wrong with our email systems when we sent our first correspondence to each other. While I've met a few other Nanettes in my life, I was the first she'd met in her 38 years.

The largeness of the original dollhouse probably wouldn't have been as big a deal if Em's other grandma had generously offered to buy Em this awesome play kitchen.
It says it's for 2 years and up, but there are no small parts we think she needs to worry about, and we've kept the play knife away from her since she likes to put it in her mouth.

When you put the skillet on the burner, it lights up and sizzles. When you put the pot on it, it lights up and bubbles. Tons of fun, although Brent screams, "That's the ONLY time hot pots and pans are considered fun, Em! Stay away from OUR stove!"

Em's just starting to get into pretend play. She has this adorable habit of pretending to snack on air. She pinches non-existent food out of my hand and puts it in her cute little toddler mouth and chews. She loves to take the phone that came with the play kitchen and walk around our condo with it to her ear, babbling "hi's" and other conversation. (She's also started taking "calls" with her hand... the remote controls...the pretend burrito that came with the kitchen...)

I researched and chose this particular kitchen above. Ya gotta see some of the other available options:

That's at least double the size of the one we got Em. That little Top Chef-wannabe cracks me up.

My jaw hit the floor when I saw this one. Massive!
This play kitchen is supposed to be a "modern" kitchen, but it reminds me more of the dated "modernness" that was imagined in the Jetsons.

With that, I'll conclude the randomness of this post. Hope Santa brought you everything you wanted!

"Well, there are some things you should know. First off, you see gum on the street, leave it there. It isn't free candy. Second, there are, like, 30 Ray's Pizzas. They all claim to be the original. But the real one's on 11th. And if you see a sign that says 'Peep Show,' that doesn't mean that they're letting you look at the new toys before Christmas." - Santa, Elf

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Tis the season

Hope all of you have had a wonderful holiday season this year!

Here's some of our holiday cheer!

Our festive front door, with decals from Etsy.
Our festive door

Sweet Em tried out her new puffy red coat today. Don't know that it'll stop people from calling her "buddy" or "pal" like when they saw her in her blue coat (even with a PINK hat), but it's worth a shot.
Baby, it's cold outside

Here's Em's second pic with Santa. (Last year's is here.) If you're feeling brave, check out the wacky version Brent made in Photoshop.
"Hey, Santa!"

And here's a quick video from the day we took Em to see Santa.


Happy holidays, everyone, and Merry Christmas!

"It's just like Santa's workshop! Except it smells like mushrooms... and everyone looks like they wanna hurt me..." - Buddy, The Elf

Monday, December 21, 2009

Health & hats

Em's been sick the past few days. Today she seemed about 90% better.

Brent's been sick, too, but with different symptoms. Today he seemed about 75% better.

While I was working today, Brent took his almost-better self out with our almost-better daughter for a surely-silly photo shoot.

Em braces herself before they go outside. "Ya gonna make me go out in PUBLIC in this HAT?"
inside

The hat is definitely too big, but Em can pull it off well.
wacky hat

Em is getting ready for Christmas. She loves wearing this other pink hat...
santa baby

...sorta.
scrunch

"I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up -- they have no holidays."
- Henry Youngman

Friday, December 18, 2009

Templates and treats

First, I'm happy to report that my mom is back at home. She was so ready to get out of the hospital, despite my pointing out the silver lining that at least at the hospital she had an arsenal of nurses and docs to take care of her.

Second, I've installed a new blog template, courtesy of the pre-made designs from Delicious Design Studio! I love it, and it was such a pleasure working with the designer! She made some tweaks for me to the premade template I chose, at no cost! If you like my new look, I highly recommend checking out her stuff. VERY reasonably priced, and she provides a video tutorial to install the template -- easy peasy! (Just do me a favor and don't pick the same template I did, m'kay?)

Moving on...

Two years ago my pal, Jenny introduced me to an amazing holiday treat, which I think she naughtily referred to as "Reindeer Nipples." Last year I decided to make them for myself -- well, for me to give to others -- and as they were such a hit and fun to make, I decided to do it again this year.

Here's how ya do it.

I suggest using round pretzels, which are hard to find, but worth the effort. I got mine from here, and because they only come in 8 lb. increments, I split them with my friend, Jami. (Other friends have had success using square and other pretzels, so don't despair -- you can be creative.)
Pretzel rings

Get some candy melts. I use Wilton.
Candy melts

You can melt the candy melts in a candy-making squeeze bottle, but that caused me too much heartache. So I use these special candy-making plastic bags, which you can pop in the microwave for a minute on defrost. Then I typically squeeze it a bit to distribute any of the unmelted bits, then microwave for another 10 secs or so.
Bags

Get your M&Ms ready to go.
Getting ready

Cut off the tip of the melted candy bag, then start squeezing!
Piping

The bag of melted candy doesn't usually fill an entire tray of pretzels, so when it runs out, I pop the M&Ms in before the candy starts to harden. Voila!
All done!

The great thing about these is that it doesn't take long for the melted candy to harden. So in less than a half hour they're ready to go! Boxed up...
In da box

Pretty!
Wrapped up

They are a perfect combo of salty and sweet, which I love. The lucky recipients are always impressed, too!

I also plan to try making them the way Jami does, with Hershey's Hugs instead of candy melts. So cute!

Jami refers to them as "Pretzel Kisses" and "Reindeer Belly Buttons." I thought they could also pass as "Snowman Warts" or "Elf Zits" -- but that's probably not so appealing, huh?

"364 days... 'til the next Pretzel Day." - Stanley, The Office

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Week sauce

Been nearly a week since I posted.

Things have been busy.

My mom had surgery here in LA on Monday. I'll spare you the multitude of details, but it was a fairly routine surgery. And it should have been a fairly routine hour-recovery from the general anesthesia. That turned into more than four hours to get her to wake up enough, and then it became a vicious circle of lameness. The hospital staff and doctors have been doing what they're supposed do -- my mom just has a very high sensitivity to the anesthesia and didn't think to tell the anesthesiologist.

She was originally supposed to leave after one or two days in the hospital, but her recovery has been slower than they'd like, so it may not be until tomorrow but more likely Friday.

It's been crazy around here, and I plan to be back to blogging when things have settled down a bit.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Em Dash among the punctutation

Today we took Em to see Santa. More details in an upcoming post, after I've scanned her photo with the big guy.

After her visit, we took her to the mall's play area. Unlike another nearby mall with a play area filled with soft, cushy, giant fake food for the kids to run all around on, this mall features giant, metal punctuation marks and other abstract shapes. While they're more artsy than kid-friendly, Em certainly has fun running and exploring among them.

As you'll see, I had fun dressing Em in quite an ensemble. If Punky Brewster were Santa's Helper, this is probably what'd she'd wear.
Run, Em, Run

Sorry that one is blurry. I have to play around with my shutter speed on my camera. There's gotta be a "super speedy toddler" setting on there SOMEWHERE.

Here's an idea of how teeny Em is compared to the play pieces.
Little Em

She loves running and then stopping to slap her little hands on them.
Play area

Disbelief

Glee

Em

14-months is such a fun age! She loves trying to make Brent and I laugh. When she knows she's cracking us up, she continues her antics until we're in stitches. Everything is so funny to her, too. She loves to giggle. I have no idea where she gets that from. :::whistling innocently:::

Silly, sweet girl.
New friends

"Your imagination, my dear fellow, is worth more than you imagine." - Louis Aragon

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A pinch and an Em Dash

My mom was in town earlier this week. We took her car somewhere and came out to find this lovely scene:
Piss-poor parking job

If it's not obvious, my mom's car is on the right. The JERK's is on the left. The picture doesn't do the reality justice - there were probably three inches, if that, between their passenger side and my mom's driver's side. We were PISSED. I grabbed a piece of paper, a pen and left a scathing note on their windshield. (In retrospect, I could have been a lot meaner in the note. I SHOULD'VE been a lot meaner.) I climbed through my mom's passenger seat (in a skirt, no less), and slowly worked my way out of the spot. It was like world's biggest Game of Operation - "don't touch the sides!"

First the hit-and-run wench, whose damage has been estimated at $1,100, not including the value of Em's car seat, and then this jerk? Oh, and our recent flat tire. I could scream!

Having said all that, at least I have a cute kid. Those other asshat drivers? I'm sure their current and/or future offspring are UGLY.*

See? I have the potential to be MEANER!**

Onto the cute kid!

Green

Sidewalk2

dots

To the side

*And by "ugly" I mean "ugly in personality" because their parents are stupid and inconsiderate people! It's widely known that stupid and inconsiderate people typically breed other stupid and inconsiderate people!

**Ok, I guess I can only be meaner to an extent. Sigh...

"So you talked to Tammy? What's it like to stare in the eye of Satan's butt hole?" - Ron, Parks and Recreation

Monday, November 30, 2009

At last

Today is the final day of National Blog Posting Month -- aka NaBloPoMo. I'm amazed and proud that I was able to make my goal of posting every day this month, even if I had to phone in a few posts, literally.

Although I don't see myself blogging every day from here on out, I do think this was a nice way to boost my blogging habit. I'll definitely blog more than I was pre-November.

My mom is in town tonight, and we made an impromptu trip to a new Target in a remodeled mall to pick up some stuff for Em. As we entered the mall, I caught a glimpse of a sign that read "pandesal," which is a tasty Filipino bread. My mom and I stopped and then quickly ran into the store. My mom was as excited as I was to see that it was a Filipino bakery called Red Ribbon, which also offers Filipino meals.

We continued onto Target and came back before the bakery closed so we could pick up some halo-halo, a Filipino dessert that I'd never had before but had always wanted to try.

Halo-halo

It's a shaved ice with sweet beans, coconut jelly, palm fruit, purple yam, sweet coconut strips, jackfruit and milk topped with leche flan, rice cripies and mango ice topping.

I ate about half of it once we got home. The verdict? Not bad, but not something I'd crave. I am excited to go back, though, and try some of the food. I know it won't be as great as my mom's home cooking, but it may serve as a worthy substitute.

"Life is not a having and a getting, but a being and a becoming."
- Matthew Arnold

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Post in pictures

From our trip this morning to the local farmers market, featuring an adorable outfit from our pal, Amber. (The shirt is from Baby Gap while the cutie cupcake skirt was handmade from Amber herself!)
smilie
"Farmers Market with Mommy and Daddy!"

stretch
"I gotz to warm up..."

dance
"...'cuz it's time to DANCE!"

At the petting zoo
"Daddy, there are more kids than pets in that petting zoo. Just sayin'."

With Daddy
"Interesting..."

withmommy
"I'm just gonna hold onto Mommy."

"No, Mommy!"
"No, Mommy. I want to stay and play with my new friends!"

Let's go!
"Alright, LET'S GO!"

"It is not possible for civilization to flow backward while there is youth in the world. Youth may be headstrong, but it will advance its allotted length."
- Helen Keller

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Crash and burn

I am NOT a happy camper.

In my car on the way home from my in-laws' tonight, we were about to pull onto the 10 freeway (leaving in the local landmarks for my local readers). The light turned green, and Brent honked at the red Eclipse in front of us as he saw her white reverse lights come on. She ignored our warning and proceeded to -- presumably by accident -- slam on her gas pedal, thus slamming into us.

My brother-in-law Tyler was with us, and he was in the front passenger seat. I sat in the back with Em. I screamed out and threw my arm across Em.

After the impact, Brent honked and flashed my car's lights. We totally expected the woman to pull over. Instead she continued to pull onto the 10 West on-ramp and then onto the 405 South freeway with no sign that she was going to pull over. The worst part? She had no plates. No car dealership paper plates. Nothing.

Brent continued to honk and flash the lights while I grabbed the phone and called 911. Somehow it knew to connect me to Highway Patrol, and I explained to the dispatcher what had happened and that we were following the car.

Her immediate response?

"Ma'am, do NOT follow that car!" I relayed the message to Brent, who said, "Ok, tell her I'm not following the car...but I'm still going to." The operator overheard him and was not happy. Since the actual accident happened on a surface street, she transferred us to the Los Angeles Police Department. I explained to that operator what had happened and that we were still behind the car.

His first comment was, "Ma'am, PLEASE do not follow that car. If they get into an accident, they can say you were chasing them." I relayed the message to Brent, who finally agreed to get off the freeway.

The woman in the Eclipse changed lanes from the far right lane to the next lane over, and as we pulled off we were able to pull up next to her. She refused to look over at us, not surprisingly. Brent and Tyler were able to see that it was an Asian woman with black hair and bangs, probably in her early 20s. She was by herself. Brent also confirmed that there were no plates on the front of the car.

As we pulled off the freeway, the LAPD dispatcher said he'd send a car out so we could file a report. It was already past Em's bedtime, which was quite evident by her meltdown. Brent and Tyler got out to survey the damage, which was thankfully minor. Hopefully the part of the bumper that is a little loose can just be popped back into place at minimal cost. HOPEFULY. My license plate is also bent, but that's easy to remedy.

We waited a half an hour for the police before we called our insurance to find out if we even needed a police report if we decided to file a claim. They said it'd make no difference, so we went home. I called the non-emergency number to let them know we weren't waiting, but I couldn't hear the prompts over Em's wails. It was waaaay past her bedtime then. They called us shortly after we got home, and we explained why we had left.

Beyond Em's meltdown, she wasn't in any physical distress. I'm thankful we're following the AAP recommendations to keep Em rear-facing as long as her seat will allow. Brent, Tyler and I all have slightly stiff necks, but not anything that would require a hospital visit. (Hopefully that will still be the case in the a.m.) If Em had been facing forward, she might be in more discomfort than us. (More rear-facing info here. You can also check out YouTube for videos that demonstrate the difference in front- and rear-crashes.)

The thing about our collision is that it was overall quite minor. But the wench was so scared -- and stupid -- and made it a more stressful situation than it needed to be. We have no idea why she didn't have plates. Was the car stolen? Did she have no insurance? Expired tags? Whatever the case, it seems like no plates at all would attract police attention. I have faith that her karma is going to come back to her in a way that will make us happy. The Universe works in mysterious ways.

"If we are deprived of our just due, we naturally experience emotions of anger."
- Smiley Blanton

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Fridays -- then and now

I worked a lot of retail jobs in college. Each store required that all its employees work on Black Friday, for obvious reasons.

That, coupled with my lack of funds, meant that I never did any Black Friday shopping.

One of the first Black Fridays out of college I decided to wake up early and see what the fuss was all about. Armed with a list, I was done with all my shopping by 7 a.m. Strangely, that didn't make me happy. Apparently I'm the kind of person who likes spreading my shopping out over the season.

Last year I wanted to take advantage of Carter's amazing Black Friday deals. I got up at 5:30 a.m., which didn't seem that early to me since Em was up at that time anyway for a feeding. I made the 15-mile trek to the nearest store and dropped more than $200 on clothes for Em, as well as a bunch of gifts for kids on my list.

I haven't thought too much about this year's holiday list, but I didn't feel the need to do any shopping today -- pre- or post-sunrise. Maybe it's because I've curtailed my shopping habits since neither Brent or I are working full-time. Maybe it's because I'm hoping to do most of my shopping from Etsy and/or give homemade gifts. (Hope you all like picture frames made out of toothpicks and tin foil -- I'm CRAFTY!)

Whatever the case, I'm excited for -- but not at all jealous of -- those who battled the crowds this morning while I slept. Hope you got some awesome deals and found everything you were gunning for!

"I always say shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist."
- Tammy Faye Bakker

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thank you, thank you

I'm thankful that my wonderful in-laws decided to take us out for dinner tonight.

I'm thankful they chose Tavern, a great restaurant in nearby Brentwood.
Tavern

(Interior shot from Tavern's website)
Tavern's dining room

We'd celebrated another occasion there earlier in the year, and we loved that it was an upscale restaurant that actually welcomes kids. They even have a fine-dining menu just for kids! (Even Em was surprised.)
Em

I'm thankful that Tavern started us off with a persimmon and pomegranate salad with arugula, local walnuts and seal bay triple cream. Mmmmm.....triple cream...
Salad

I'm thankful they then served us an herb-roasted organic turkey breast and stuffed leg with mashed potato and gravy.
Turkey, mashed potatoes

I'm thankful they also gave us two stuffings - Mom's traditional and Suzanne's chestnut, prune and cavolo. They also gave us brussels sprouts with pancetta and thyme.
Sides

I'm thankful there were sweet potatoes with sherry and roasted shallots, cranberry sauce with orange and mint (no pictures, sorry) and Italian broccoli with garlic and chili.
Brocolli

I'm thankful they gave us TWO kinds of pie - pumpkin with piloncillo and pepita tuile, and candied pecan with vanilla ice cream. I'm not usually a fan of pecan, but that was DAMN FABULOUS.
Pies

Oh, yeah, I'm also thankful for these two tasty treats.
Em & Dad

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

"Rule 17: don't turn your back on bears, men you have wronged, or the dominant turkey during mating season."
- Dwight, The Office