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.


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!)
"Farmers Market with Mommy and Daddy!"

"I gotz to warm up..."

"...'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

"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.

(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.)

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...

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.

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.

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.

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

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Parent trap

I read a great article from a recent Time magazine about the growing backlash against "overparenting" -- those who take too much of an interest in their child's growth.

As Em is transitioning from a baby to a toddler (and more of a kid), Brent and I are finding that it's less about just doing everything we can to keep her happy and smiling, and more about teaching her right and wrong. Instead of just moving her away from our wall heater, which isn't on yet, we try to explain that it's hot and dangerous while we move her away.

It's hard not to hear about the latest parenting trends and wonder if we're keeping up with the Joneses, particularly when those Joneses are alllll about the "helicopter parenting" described in the article. But it's all about keeping it in perspective, and the Joneses don't really matter. Not talking about the ACTUAL Joneses I know, btw. THOSE Joneses are fabulous!

Brent and I are learning as we go, discovering a parenting style that works for us. We remind ourselves that what's right for other parents may not be right for our family. (I wanted to infuse this post with some examples, but I don't have the energy tonight to do it the way I'd like to without potentially offending other parents for their own choices.)

We're finding that balance of guiding Em and showing her the way, and letting her discover it for herself. As the Time article noted, "You really want your children to succeed? Learn when to leave them alone. When you lighten up, they'll fly higher. We're often the ones who hold them down."

"What I dream of is an art of balance."
- Henri Matisse

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Shake it off

Thanks, guys and gals, for all your lovely comments on my last post! It was definitely out of the norm for me, but it was cathartic just to get all that bitchin' out in the open.

I also didn't mean to make it sound like I was fishing for comments, but it was nice to see some of you come out of the woodwork! Admittedly, I haven't been nearly as good with comments lately on all the blogs I read. But I'm working on it!

All in all, I woke up in a much better mood this morning. Time in a funk is time away from getting down to the funk. And we can't have that.

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort." - Herm Albright

Monday, November 23, 2009

Not in the mood

It may please some of you to know that even the eternally optimistic get the blues every once in a while.

I don't have an exact reason to pinpoint as the source of my mood. Brent is great. Em is awesome. Despite all that, I'm in a weird funk tonight.

I've been thinking a lot about my late father. I miss him so much, and it hurts to think that he'll never have an opportunity to play with Em.

I can't seem to get on top of my housework and other chores. With three of us home all the time -- and of us who insists on removing every item from every container and then taking it across the condo, leaving it somewhere totally random -- there's a lot to stay on top of.

I've encountered some attitudes, in real life and online, that need adjusting. If only everyone could think before they speak...

I was going to forget my worries in a Netflix copy of Confessions of a Shopaholic, but I can't find where I put the damn DVD.

And I don't understand how more blogging = less comments. Meh.

It's a good thing that Brent is at the UCLA game tonight. I'm sure I'll be in a better place, mentally, by the time he returns.

I have a lot to be thankful for, obviously, but that doesn't mean I can't get hit by a funk every now and then.

"I am an optimist, unrepentant and militant. After all, in order not to be a fool an optimist must know how sad a place the world can be. It is only the pessimist who finds this out anew every day." - Peter Ustinov

Sunday, November 22, 2009

About a boy

Operation Squishy Newborn Nephew was a success!

Taylor was squishy and fragile and smelled like sweet baby goodness. Also, he has GIANT hands and loooong fingers! I've never seen such a thing!
90% hands

He slept the majority of the time, as expected. I about died when I caught one of his baby yawns.
Baby yawn!

I just watched as he dreamt his sweet baby dreams.
All bundled up

We took turns cuddling him, and he got a little annoyed with my constant pics.
"Not ANOTHER pic, Auntie!"

My mom had a cold when Taylor was born, so today was the first time she held him. She was enamored, as all good grandmas should be.
Meeting Grandma!

Last but not least, here he is with his Auntie Vampire. (I had no idea I was so pale!)
Meeting Auntie Vampire

"I don't need to be friends with Pam. I have plenty of female friends. My mom, Pam's mom, my aunt... although she just blocked me on IM, what's her face from Quiznos, I see her four times a week." - Michael, The Office

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Baby love

Tomorrow I'm heading up to Visalia to see my new nephew, or as I've frequently called him, The Squishy Newborn. Since his arrival, I've been reminiscing about Em's first days. While I don't miss the thick, new mom fog that clogged my brain those first weeks, I fondly remember her sweet baby coos. I recall her little cries, which sounded more like kitten meows before her lungs grew large enough to fill our condo with her protests.

I think about how teeny tiny she was, and how easily we enveloped her in our arms.

Chillin' on Mom

As all newborns do, she slept so much of the day.
Car seat

Brent and I talked about how excited we were for her to become more interactive. In the meantime, we enjoyed her sleepy smiles.

And the smiles we got when she was awake were even more exciting.
Waving to her public

While I wax-poetic about Em's newborn days , I'm happy that it's my brother's family who'll get to endure them instead of me. We're having plenty of non-newborn fun now.
Em's got Daddy's tongue

Squishy Newborn Nephew, here comes Auntie Nanette! She can't wait to soak up your new-baby goodness!

"The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it."
- Richard Bach

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ray of sunshine

I'm about to leave to see one of my favorite musicians, Ray LaMontagne, thanks to a last-minute ticket deal I got from a friend.

I've been a fan of Ray's for a couple years now, and while he's growing in popularity, he's still somewhat obscure. He's also very introverted, despite his desire to share his music with the world.

So the first time I saw the following ad, I wondered aloud if Ray even knew his song was featured in the ad. He just strikes me as the kind of guy who doesn't own a TV. I jokingly imagine that his agent/manager gave their approval for the rights, knowing that Ray would never see it 'cuz he's too busy collecting maple syrup from the forest in his backyard or hand-rolling cigars.

"Everybody on a shoestring. Everybody in a hole. Everybody crossing their fingers and toes."
- How Come, Ray LaMontagne

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nom nom!

Don't know if this is a trend anywhere outside of LA and NYC, but food trucks are all the rage here! There's the food truck that seems to have started it all. There's a GRILLED CHEESE TRUCK that I'm very excited to try! There's an ice cream sandwich truck, which we liked. Heck, you can just see all the local options here.

We drove past this food truck earlier in the week and were intrigued. We didn't even know what it was selling, but Brent likes the idea of gourmet food trucks while the cute name and logo sung to me.

We didn't stop, but Brent googled it later and discovered it was a banh mi truck. Banh mi are Vietnamese sandwiches. We've had banh mi, but have never been impressed. We saw that the truck would be nearby today, so we took Em out for a lunch excursion.

We came back with delicious goodies!

We both decided on the Nom Nom Combo special, which includes your choice of two tacos, a banh mi and drink.

Tofu and grilled pork tacos

Lemongrass chicken and bbq pork tacos

I was so excited to eat my sandwich that I didn't remember to snap a pic until I was halfway done. Oops!
BBQ Pork Banh Mi

The tacos were amazing! Very flavorful, perfect proportions of filling to tortillas -- Brent and I both loved 'em.

You have the option to have jalapenos added to your sandwich (I declined), as well as pate (I accepted). Other banh mi we've had has been dry with stale bread. These sandwiches were not dry at all, and the bread was fresh yet crusty.

We'll make lots of return trips to the Nom Nom Truck! We'll be stalking watching them carefully on Twitter!

"I want confirmation that there is food in that truck."
- Skipper, The Penguins of Madagascar

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I haz a new nephew!

Meet Taylor!

Born today at 8 lbs., 5 ozs., and 19 inches!

Congrats to my brother, his wife, and my other nephew, Jayden! Looks like I'll be making a return trip to my hometown very soon!

"Be gentle with the young." - Juvenal

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happiness is...

...a last-minute request for a sushi dinner, where the hottie hubby wholeheartedly agrees.

... Em, all snug in her stroller footmuff, which we put back on while we were in Visalia. I wish there was room for Mommy in there! (No comment from the 13-yr-old boy peanut gallery on that product name, dirty kids.)
Snug in her stroller

...winning a free MicroZone facial via Tara's blog!

...a fun faux-coffee cup mug -- with a pink "sleeve" in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness! $7.99 from Bed, Bath and Beyond. (And look at me, using my aperture settings!)
My awesome new mug!

"Guys, I'm scared. I'm really scared. I think I'm growing into a giant. Because look at this normal sized coffee cup. Looks so tiny in my giant hand now. Anybody want to go to lunch with me later on?" - Michael Scott, The Office

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hometown harvest

This weekend's trip was a bit of a whirlwind, topped off with a stupid flat tire, but we had a great time.

Em got to play with her 4-year-old cousin Jayden a bit on Friday.

She had a lot of fun with Grandma, who hadn't seen Em since she started walking. It was also the first time Grandma saw her pigtails.

Saturday evening we attended Megan and Jim's wedding. I surprised Shelby that afternoon when I dropped by the salon where she and her sister Megan were getting their hair done, but as our babies were both at their respective grandmas' napping, we hadn't met each others' little ones yet. So when we arrived at the wedding, we both squealed in delight as we ran over to finally see our little ones.

Her son, Rex, was chilling in his stroller, and Em cheered along with us.
Meeting for the first time!

It was a really well-done harvest-themed wedding. (The invites happened to be creations of my pal, Jenny, who also did Shelby's wedding invites a few years ago.)

Loved the pumpkins lining the aisle, and the hay and corn stalks at the altar!
Harvest wedding

We took a quick family self-portrait before the ceremony.
Silly self-portrain

And Em people-watched.
Em & Daddy

Then it was time for Megan's big entrance! She wore a lovely short lace dress and a gorgeous bird cage veil.

Check out her fabulous red shoes! (I was afraid of messing up the pro photog's shots, so I didn't lean out into the aisle as much as I would have liked. Forgive the random shoulders.)

She and Jim had a nice, short but very sweet ceremony. The groom told the story of how they met, and his brother was their officiant.

Look how great Shelby looked as the matron of honor!
Shelby, the matron of honor

The ceremony ended...
The bride & groom

Shelby & the best man

Then it was time for the reception!
Reception hall

Check out the pumpkin cupcakes! Too bad we left before it was time to cut the cake. Em was getting cranky and tired, so we took her home and put her to bed.
Pumpkin cupcakes

We invited another of my oldest friends, Stacie, who's temporarily back in Visalia, to come hang out with us that evening. She and Brent both sported the faux-Snuggies my mom had. I was perfectly fine in a regular blanket, thankyouverymuch.

The next morning we showed Em off at the restaurant my mom manages. She won over the early-morning blue-haired diners by toddling between each table, stopping, waving and saying, "Hi!" happily. (Brent's not convinced that it's her first official word, but I say it is as she says it unprompted now.)

After Em's morning nap, we got some one-on-one time with Shelby and her family. Em and Rex compared phones, and she only went for the sweet boy's hair once.
Sweet boy

(He's so freakin' adorable!)

I'm delighted to have finally met Rex, and I'm hoping it won't be so long before our next visit!
Moms & babes

"In my friend, I find a second self."
- Isabel Norton