Friday, November 30, 2007

What IS that Wet Stuff Coming Out of the Sky?

It is raining here today. And when I say rain, I do not mean the paltry, only get the road a little damp, type rain that most southern Californians are used to. I mean rain, real rain, like significant amounts of water is falling from the sky.

The ABC weather forecaster last night said that we were likely to only get about 1/10 of an inch of rain today. I sure wish I had a rain gauge because I believe we have had at least 1/2 inch since 7 AM. It is now almost 1:30 PM.

It has been raining constantly since early this morning. I am so happy to see it, because finally all the ash is getting washed out of the air and off the leaves. Only thing is, our storm sewers do not seem to be handling the amount of precipitation well, because there are veritable creeks forming right next to the curb and they threaten to flood over into the street. I hope that there are no mudslides as a result. Thankfully I do not live in the hills so I don't have to worry so much about mudslides, but I know some people that do.

This would be good sleeping weather.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Car Air Fresheners

Now, please correct me if I am wrong, but isn't the point of having an air freshener in your car to help keep the air smelling fresh? I got a freebie air freshener (I can't even remember where I got it) and today I opened it up and hung it off my rear view mirror. I went back into the car a few hours later, and all I can say is P U.

That damn thing smelled like a cross between stale gingerbread and burnt marshmallows. WTF??? Now that smell is forever embedded in my brain. And my car doors have now been left open overnight in the garage, in the hopes that it airs out before I have to drive in the morning.


My Daughter's Thankfulness Assignment

This week for my daughter's sharing time, she was assigned to write two sentences about something she is thankful for. She wrote:

I am thankful for hugs. When someone is feeling sad, I can hug them and make them feel good.

I am so proud of her.

My Day at The Price is Right

Yesterday I went to see a taping of The Price is Right. I was with a group so we did not have to wait in the standby line. We had a reservation for the 4:00 taping.

We left Irvine at 10:00 AM because one never knows what the traffic into LA is going to be like and we had to be present at noon. Traffic was very smooth. We got to CBS and checked in with the group leader who said we had time to go have lunch. So we went to the LA Farmers Market for lunch (man that place has changed, and not for the better). A bunch of us ended up eating at Chipotle.

After we ate, we headed back to the studio and basically sat on a bench for awhile, got moved to another bench, had our IDs and SSNs checked, got our nametags, moved to yet another bench, and then went through the "interview". The "interview" consisted of one of the producers asking where you are from and what do you do. You have to be very enthusiastic, and memorable, so they know who to pick as contestants.

I was amazed at how many people in the standby line (not with any of the groups) appeared to be homeless or close to it. What is a homeless person going to do with a new set of Broyhill furniture?

They finally sent us through the security screening, took our cellphones (gave everyone a tag to pick it up later) and seated us in the studio. The studio is tiny, I was shocked at how small it is. It looks SO much bigger on TV.

Once we got seated, we were given directions by the announcer/producer guy (forgot his name) and then they started the show. One of the men in our group was one of the first four contestants called down, and he won the first prize (a set of camping equipment) and got to get up on stage with Drew Carey. The big prize he got to play for was a new Chevy Cobalt, and he won! He did not get on the showcase, but I think it was really cool that he won.

Our group was a mixture of people from different places (some from one church, some from a school's PTA, etc). So we all said we were from "South Orange County". Well Drew Carey made jokes about "South Orange County" all afternoon. He seemed to really enjoy what he is doing. He really interacted with the crowd. He is also very very witty, and quick with a comeback to stuff. Not that that is a big surprise, because of his background in standup, but it was fun to see. One of the guys in the crowd yelled "I love you, Drew!" and immediately he came back with "Let's just be friends!"

All in all it was pretty fun. A bunch of us are planning to go back again. Maybe I will be called to "COME ON DOWN!" next time.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Malibu is Burning Again

Malibu is on fire for the third time in the 15 months I have been here. The Santa Ana winds are at it again, I am hoping that they can contain that fire and that no other fires crop up. I hate this. So far I am not too stressed since Malibu is like 50 miles from here, and the fire should not really affect our air quality here. But it is a reminder of what happened here, just one month ago. So far the fire, which started at about 3AM (it is about 9:20 right now) has burned about 2200 acres and 35 homes.

In baseball news, Angels fans are all a-tingle about Torii Hunter coming here. It allows them to use Garret Anderson as a DH more often.

We are planning a trip to Thai Town today, and to go see the Christmas lights in Griffith Park. We will not be anywhere near the fire when we go, so the air should not be too bad there.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Things You Do Not See in Minnesota

  • People with parrots on their shoulder in the grocery store
  • Prada dog bags
  • Six year old girls wearing makeup every single day of their life
  • Bentleys
  • Tree lots that advertise that they flock their trees
  • Baseball games in November

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Torii Hunter - Good News and Bad News

It is with sadness that I am writing this. Torii Hunter is no longer the center fielder for the Minnesota Twins. I knew this day was coming but man, this hurts. I hate Carl Pohlad. I really do.

The good news in this is that Torii Hunter is now with the Anaheim Angels. So every time I go to Anaheim Stadium, I do have a great chance of seeing him play. I am also glad that he did not end up with the White Sox. That would have truly broken my heart.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Text Messaging

In our preparations for the upcoming gluttony holiday, my husband called his sister, who is cooking the Thanksgiving Feast, to find out if we could bring the pies. She never called him back, which is pretty typical. (I am rolling my eyes, here). So, I took the bull by the horns this morning and text messaged her, asking whether she wanted us to bring pie. She texted me right back, saying, "Yes, that would be great!" (Again, I am rolling my eyes, here).

She only actually talks on the phone to her friends and my father-in-law, otherwise, she only communicates via text message to the rest of us. Normally, I do not do the text message thing, because it is an extra charge, but if she refuses to talk to us, what other recourse do we have?

I hate it when people do not call back, after receiving a voicemail. Particularly family.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cold Weather Person in Warm Weather Holidays

Here it is, two days before Thanksgiving (my second Thanksgiving since moving here). It is 75 degrees outside, the sun is shining, the holiday is upon us, and I am so not feeling it. Spend 42 years in climates that actually have all four seasons, and then suddenly end up in a climate that has two seasons...mild and hot; and just try to get "festive" when it is nearly 80 degrees out. It just does not work.

I was walking through the schoolyard wearing a polo shirt and capri pants this morning, it was about 63 degrees out, and several people asked me why I was not cold. I love listening to the weather reports here and how lows in the 40s are seen as extremely cold. Of course I now hear about traffic reports in the Twin Cities and snicker about the fact that most Midwesterners have no concept of what really bad traffic truly is.

Oh well. We will be setting up our new to us artificial Christmas tree sometime this weekend. I am pretty excited. I will miss having a real tree (the fragrance is what I will miss), but I will not miss the annual expense, and the endless vacuuming of tree needles. I will also not miss stringing the lights every year, since our new to us tree is prelit!

Last year when I decorated, I felt like I was just going through the motions. I think I still feel that way. There is something about the very crisp winter air and the snow that gets me in the mood for the holidays. I think we need to take a trip up to Big Bear, or through the grapevine so I can actually see some snow, to reassure me.

There are some days that I miss Minnesota so much that I just ache. Today is one of those days. I wish the ache would just go away.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Air Pollution

Today in southern California we are experiencing a temperature inversion. Because of this, our air quality is really bad. My lungs are burning and feeling very heavy.

My daughter wanted to go outside to play today, but with the air as bad as it is, there is no way.

Could someone please remind me why everyone seems to want to live here. I am currently seeing far more downside than upside to living here today.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

American Girl Place

A bunch of us moms went to American Girl Place at the Groves in Los Angeles this morning, while our children were toiling away at school. HO-LY Cow! I could live vicariously through my daughter to the tune of tens of thousands of dineros there. They have such incredibly cute things, and it is all so well merchandised. Too well merchandised.

K, my daughter, has an American Girl doll. We got one of the custom ones a couple of years ago at Christmas. She loves her doll. I do like the whole 'teach girls self-esteem and good character values' thing that go along with all of their stuff. It is refreshing to me, in a world full of Bratz dolls that there are still dolls that look like wholesome little girls. And there are story books that go with the main dolls they market.

I picked up an outfit for K's doll, a set of hair clips for K, and a birthday present for K's friend, whose party is next week. I dropped about 60 pictures of George Washington there. If I had it, I could have easily dropped 5 pictures of Ben Franklin. E-GAWDS!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Homework Homework Homework

My daughter is in first grade, and even in Kindergarten she had homework. The first week of school, the homework averaged about 70 minutes a night. I mark part of that up to not being in a routine for doing homework. But it was quite excessive. Now it averages about 30-35 minutes a night (not including the 15 minutes of daily reading required).

The school my daughter goes to sends homework folders home on a weekly basis. The folder comes home on Monday (or Tuesday if they have Monday off) and is due on Friday. The teacher assigns what she wants done each day. Our routine has been to get the week's homework (except for the reading, of course) done in two days rather than four. I know I am pushing it with my daughter's attention span, but the homework is work for me too, and there are other things, i.e. dance, play dates, etc. that I want to do after school.

My daughter is really doing well in school. She is keeping up (she is one of the youngest kids in the class - so sometimes her focus wanders). She is respectful and works hard. I am really proud of her.

Last year, when my daughter was enrolled in Kindergarten, she was put in the late Kindergarten group (the more advanced children) because she was already reading. Toward the end of the school year, her teacher wanted her to move down to the early group because she was not keeping up with the worksheets given in class. I dug my heels in and did not allow her to be moved down. I think her teacher had several names on the list of kids to ask to be moved down, and not one of them moved. I heard from another parent that she had asked to have their child moved down as well. How I handled it was I upped my volunteer hours in the classroom, and requested that the work that my daughter did not finish in class be sent home and worked on at home.

Her teacher this year, is not worried about the volume of work she gets done, as long as she knows the material. I am so grateful that my daughter got her as a teacher. This teacher is requiring the children to write sentences for each of the words of the week. This is an area that I have been working with my daughter on. I am glad for the assigned homework that addresses this for her. I am noticing that since the sentences have been assigned, she is finding it much easier to come up with ideas to write about. That was an issue last year, especially during journal time.

My daughter is still very compliant about doing her homework, thank the gods. She is resistant about other things, but the homework, she is happy to do when asked.

Precocious Children are Scary

Last night, we were meeting my husband's extended family at a restaurant in Westminster for dinner. I was planning on taking the 5 to the 22, but once I got on the 5, it was clear that my judgment was flawed.

My daughter asked, "Why aren't we moving?"

I replied, "There is an accident up ahead on the freeway."

My daughter responded, "Well, Mama, why didn't we take the 405?"

A very good question in deed. I think my daughter is 6 going on 16 sometimes. It scares me that she has figured out that the 5 and the 405 by us go relatively in the same direction. Next time I am planning a trip, I will consult her about which freeway to take.

Monday, November 12, 2007

We Met Our Goal

The lemonade stand was a complete success. Our group raised $200 exactly, for the Santiago Fire Relief fund.

Today Team Kids (the main group that coordinated this project) had an event at the Irvine City Hall. There were firefighters, police officers, the mayor and other city dignitaries present. The kids all got to get their photos taken with the firefighters, write thank you notes to them, and eat pizza. It was a pretty cool event.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lemon AID

One of our friends in the neighborhood organized a Lemonade stand to raise funds for the Santiago Fire Relief fund. It was done in coordination with Team Kids, the Irvine PTA and Families Forward. We baked some chocolate chip cookies and brought them and helped with the sales this afternoon.

It was a gloomy day, kind of chilly (for California - for me, chilly just does not happen when it is over 60 degrees Fahrenheit). All in all, the children had a great time. We sold a lot of cookies and lemonade. Many people just gave donations and did not want the refreshments. My daughter's Kindergarten teacher came by and donated some money, and enjoyed a cookie. Our goal was to raise $200. My friend is counting the money and will email us the final take. I do know that we were close to the $200 toward the end.

In addition to the Halloween candy, we now have left over chocolate chip cookies. I am never going to lose this 15 pounds!

In other news, my Vikings did terrible against the Packers. How can they look so good one week (last week against the Chargers) and do so terrible the next? Of course, the announcers commenced their Brett Favre worship way too early in the game. I am thinking, from now on, when the Vikings play the Packers, I should turn the sound off and just watch the play on the field. Only turn the sound on for when the referee is making announcements. That could work, right?

Yesterday, we went to the Los Angeles Toy District. It was fourteen blocks of mostly toy wholesalers. Pretty much a lot of it was cheap plastic stuff. One wonders how much lead paint can be contained in a fourteen block area. We did not buy any toys, but we got our daughter a new dance backpack (Hello Kitty - tag said it was licensed, I am thinking, at the price we got it, there is no way Sanrio gave their permission), a High School Musical t-shirt, and some pretty new hair clips. We also got a beach umbrella for $7.00. After we tired of the shopping, we took the Metro to Thai Town and had lunch, and browsed through the Thai markets. We almost got nailed, walking across Hollywood Blvd, when in the crosswalk. Almost all the cars stopped fine, except for one. SCREEEEEEEEEEEEECH! Not a sound I want to hear when I am in the crosswalk. Oh well, no harm done.

Friday, November 9, 2007

My Head is Officially Exploding

The other day I posted a burn photo, and I guess I should be glad I actually took them and got a few good ones. Apparently, the Irvine Company (the company that does all of the real estate development and property management here), in its infinite quest to make a buck, has gone to Portola Springs (one of the newest neighborhoods - that has many homes for sale), and painted the charred areas green. Yes, I understand the fire was a buzz kill, and probably hurt sales quite a bit, but, how about a little truth in advertising?

If you live near the foothills, or in a canyon, your house is likely to be in the line of fire, maybe not this year, or next year, but chances are, in any given 10-15 years, you are likely to have to abandon your house and hope that the firefighters can contain the fire before it consumes your house. Painting the area green does not take that risk away.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

My Mission in Life: Eat all the Halloween Candy

Today is the first day since Halloween that I have not had a single piece of Halloween candy. Today I replaced the candy with the pumpkin muffins my daughter's Brownie troop baked. There is some nutritional value in them, right?

I am not saying that I will not eat any Halloween candy today, since I will probably not go to bed for another 2 hours or so.

It has been a really, really busy day. I volunteered at school this morning. While I was there, the principal "invited" me to the Wednesday afternoon staff meeting. He wanted to have parents and students there to help come up with a school vision. They just created a mission statement for the school. This principal is new to the school and is very enthusiastic. I think the ink is not quite dry on his PhD as well, thus the mission/vision statement thing. I am thinking it is not a bad thing though, as the previous leadership at that school had things pretty stagnant.

Anyhow, we had these little break-out groups to discuss our 'dreams' for the school. All the parents were in one group, and there were three groups of teachers/staff, and one group of students (5th and 6th graders). One of the parents happens to be a teacher in another district. Every idea we parents came up with, she argued with us about. I really got kind of snarky toward the end of the thing, because she seemed to want only her voice and vision to be heard from our group. I think she should have gone into one of the teacher groups because of her profession and her lack of wanting to work with us lowly parents. I liked the rest of the parents that were there. In fact, most of them are becoming friends.

The Brownie troop had their re-dedication/investiture ceremony today. When it was my daughter's turn to light her candle, she was terrified that she would burn herself. I just realized that it is the first time that she has ever lit a candle by herself. She is so funny, how can she be so fearless about some things (wanting a Tarantula) and so frightened of others?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Burn Area

I took a drive today to see and take photos of the burn area close to our house. The fire got even closer to us than I originally thought. That was a rather sobering thought, especially since before this fire, I was operating under the illusion that the fires in the foothills would never reach us because we were too far away from them.

I had originally thought the fire had not crossed a certain major thoroughfare, but it had. Scary.

The fire actually did burn in an area that used to be base housing for the Marines at the El Toro Marine Base. If El Toro had actually still been open, I wonder if the federal government would have handled the fire any differently. Things that make me go hmm.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Way Too Much Halloween Candy

Don't you just love this time of year? The Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years season, ripe with ways to tempt you away from your "food program" (I refuse to use the word 'diet').

Not only did my daughter get a lot of candy while trick or treating, but we only had 6 kids (including my daughter) come to our door to beg. So we have most of a large bag of candy from that, plus all the candy my daughter brought home.

I will end up eating most of it, because I go through these nasty hormonal eating spurts. Plus I have been using the steroid inhaler for my asthma because of the fires and the poor air quality. If you want to lose weight, don't go on steroids. They make you ravenously hungry (or at least they do that to me).

Of course right after the "holiday season eating extravaganza" will be the "time to guilt you sorry-ass people back into shape after you gluttonously gorged yourselves sick during the holidays". GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. I hate that.

I do not have so much to worry about, weight wise. I am over 6 feet tall, and the most I have ever weighed was around 210. But there are 15 pounds that I would like to lose (and can, if I put the effort into it). But I hate the whole binge-deprivation-binge cycle that is encouraged by the media. Yes I can make choices. Yes I have ultimate responsibility for my choices. I just don't like the negative reinforcement of the environment.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Giving Back

I am feeling a pull to do something for the firefighters who have toiled so valiantly against the fire here in Orange County and the fires elsewhere. But I do not know what they need. I am thinking that I may buy a couple cases of bottled water and drop them off at one of the fire stations. I know it is not much, but I really feel the need to do something for them. After all, they did put themselves in harms way to save lives and property.

Maybe I will even bake some cookies for them. I have to do something.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

(Twins Baseball) A Step in the Right Direction

The Twins exercised Joe Nathan's option for the 2008 season. Thank you Baseball Gods. Nathan is a fantastic closer (when he actually gets a chance to get out there and close!) and it is good to see that the Twins are doing what they can to keep their bullpen strong.

Torii Hunter is about to file for free agency. I will cry when he goes. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Torii Hunter and somehow center field will not be the same without him. I wish Carl Pohlad, who is far far richer than George Steinbrenner, would cowboy up some cash to keep #48 at our center field baggie. Torii Hunter has been the heart and soul of the team, much like his predecessor in center field (Kirby Puckett) was. Say what you want about Puckett's off the field incidents, but anyone who understands baseball can tell you that on the field, Puckett was one of a kind and truly played his heart out.

I watched Torii Hunter's last home game as a Twin on TV (I wish I could have been at the dome, but it is an 1800 mile drive to get there). I cried in the top of the 9th inning when they pulled him out of the game, and when he came out of the dugout and tipped his cap. Torii, please do not go. Carl, please do not let him go.