Sunday, October 30, 2011

Drowning Nightmare

A few nights ago I had a terrible nightmare.  The final seconds of the dream have stuck with me and left me feel sick to my stomach.

The dream started out that my oldest chickadee and I were Sea Doo-ing out in the open ocean.  Just me and her and no other boats around.  She was behind the Sea Doo tubing or swimming and was very comfortable in the water.  (Which isn't really the case in real life - she isn't a proficient swimmer yet.)  I was driving the Sea Doo and kept looking behind me to check on her. 

Then, the next time I looked behind me, she was really far away and was waving her hands to come back and get her.  Her eyes were staring right through me pleading with me to hurry and save her.  Just when I got near enough to get her, she started sinking under the water.  So I dove into the water to grab her, but my hands couldn't reach her. 

I opened my eyes under the water and saw that she was sinking faster and faster and was beyond my reach.  My arms were trying to grab her but kept missing.  Her pink bathing suit and blonde hair started to become a grey blur in the deep water below with her hands outstretched above her head.

I felt helpless and sick with dread and despair.  She was just GONE and there was nothing I could do.  In that moment in time, a window of realization opened of how fragile a life is and how it can be over just like that.  In my dream thoughts, I wondered, "What am I supposed to do now?!  How do I handle this?!"  Like, do I call the Coast Guard, 911?  Who can help me?  How can I live with myself?

For a whole day I didn't tell anyone about my nightmare.  I just sat with the fear and dread in the pit of my stomach all day.  Then that evening when we took our dog for a walk, I told the oldest chickadee and husband about the dream.  Even retelling it to them brought tears to my eyes.  They just brushed it off and reassured me it was just a dream, but I still felt that it left an ominous warning to me about my mothering duties - keep them safe from harm!!  (Which I try, but often feel like I have no control over them or their safety.  Then guilt over not doing more.) 

Time to get off the computer now and be more attentive to the little flock.

Friday, October 28, 2011

New, Healthier McDonald's Happy Meals & Arch Card Giveaway

McDonald's restaurants are now offering a healthier Happy Meal for kids.  Which is great news for busy parents who require stopping for fast food on occasion.  Here are some details about the new healthy initiative from McDonald's:
"In September, California was one of the first states to unveil the new Happy Meal which automatically includes Apple Slices (¼ cup or ½ serving) and new smaller size French Fries (approximately 1.1 ounces) as a side to the choice of Chicken McNuggets®, a Hamburger, or Cheeseburger.  The meal also includes a choice of beverage in which 1% white milk or fat-free chocolate milk are options.  The new Happy Meal is now available at all Southern California McDonald’s and nationwide by the first quarter of 2012."
McDonald's New, Healthier Happy Meal
Personally, I always thought I'd be the gung-ho organic, healthy meal mom, but lately it's just not feasible.  Three small children, often on the go and always hungry!  It turns out I don't like being a short order cook after all. 

We've been making stops at McDonald's a lot lately.  I enjoy the Grilled Chicken Club, french fries with tartar sauce (yummy guilty pleasure) and the mango pineapple smoothie.  The chickadees love their Happy Meals.  On our last drive-thru adventure, pinched between school and music class, we stopped for Happy Meals and then ate them picnic-style at the church.  The toys were a hit!

I am well aware that there are a group of concerned citizens who want to rid the world of Happy Meals and the 'evil toys'.  I am not one of those moms.  My children are thin, fit, healthy and active and there is such little joy in this life, (which they will learn soon enough) that Happy Meals and toys are a non-issue to me.

On Halloween day this Monday, participating Southern California McDonald’s restaurants will give costumed kids under 12 years old a bag of apple slices. Stop by a participating McDonald’s restaurant in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties from 4 to 7 p.m. on October 31st.

Which leads me to the topic of Halloween.  Last year, when I was in my 3rd trimester of my pregnancy, I dressed up as Juno (from the indie film about the high schooler who got knocked up.)  
This year I'm thinking of what my costume should be.  I am toying with the idea of being a working mom - with all the appropriate props and accessories.  It would give me a reason to wear some of my old work clothes and 'get into character'.  Then again, dressing up as a frumpy stay-at-home mom might be funny too.  I could poke of stay-at-home moms, but that might offend some of my neighbors and friends, so I think I should stay clear of that.  Or not? 

As a mom, do you still dress up for Halloween and get involved in the festivities? 

Giveaway: $20 McDonald's Arch Card

Please leave a comment below on your thoughts on the new McDonald's Happy Meal and/or your mom-Halloween plans.  I'm giving away a $20 McDonald's Arch Card to one random winner who leaves a comment.  Make me laugh if you can - I need comic relief!  

Deadline to enter the drawing is midnight on Saturday, November 5th.  Limited to U.S. residents.

I will notify the winner by email after the drawing has ended.  

Disclaimer: I was asked by McDonald's PR firm to host a giveaway, but I have not been compensated for this post.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Vintage Beauty

Stephen King's Dream Car.
This little beauty of a classic car is parked in Lake Forest near a few preschools. Hard to believe it runs, but I know it does because I've seen it driving around the 'hood. You can't help notice it!

On the day this photo was taken, it was filled with indescript junk (dead bodies?). Reminds me of my dad's old cars; barely running, unsightly and filled with 'treasures'. I especially love the spray painted number 8 on the back.

Stephen King, I think we have an idea for your next book!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

'Mad Moms' at OC Blogger Bash

OC Blogger Bash was a gas!  Brigitta at Brighter Schemata was so kind to invite me on behalf of Moms LA, and I'm so glad I did!

The Anaheim/Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau, Moms LA, and Purry Communications worked together to put on a well-polished, superb evening 'Mad Men Mom' style circa 1960.  
 
Satellite Bar greeting us at the entrance.
After overcoming my initial fear of going solo, decked out in a hodge-podge of 1960s garb, I was ecstatic to see Megan from Sunshine Wonderland, who I'd met at BlogHer.  Brigitta introduced me to some nice bloggers: Alma from Field Trip Mom, Sarah Auerswald of Moms LA, Desiree at Day Tripping Mom, and Amy at The Mom Bot.   There were many beautiful, spiffy, funny bloggers there – but don’t forget the few, the proud - The Dude Bloggers!

I can't say enough how incredible the sponsors of OC Blogger Bash were!  Knott's Berry Farm was one of them.  Snoopy is a great dancer; they should totally keep him on staff!

Snoopy blushing.
Some of my personal faves of the evening were the 60s-inspired food and entertainment!  I tasted a little of everything: soda shop sliders, gourmet pizza, PB&J milkshake, lemon bundt cake, orange martinis, not to mention candy cigarettes from the Daily Hot Guy.

PB&J milkshake and a hot rod.
Great music was performed by Doc Rock-It who plays vintage rock, soul, rhythm and blues. Talented, friendly and available for hire! One of the musicians even whispered a sweet nothing in my ear boosting my ego - "You really stood out tonight". (Better than an orange martini.)

The photo booth with 1960s accessories was a huge hit with the Mad Moms.  (This local company, Photo Booth Pro, rents out their photo booth for events and parties.)  They printed out our Anaheim-backdropped photo montage right then and there - so fun!  This area of the convention center was hoppin' all night!
Mad Moms in Anaheim

The best part was the PRIZES!  All attendees received a vintage Anaheim lunchbox filled with sponsor goodies - 2 Knotts Berry Farm tickets, adorable retro sunglasses, McDonald’s Arch Card and more.  

Then I won two Disneyland Parkhopper tickets ($$!) for having a number on my badge.  In the raffle, I also won a one night stay in the Anaheim Marriott suites, breakfast and two tickets to an Anaheim Ducks or Angels game ($$$!!).  I was euphoric! 

Lunch boxes are always en vogue.
The Anaheim/Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau would like to spread the word about Anaheim as a premium destination in Orange County, California.  I actually used to live in Anaheim in my cute little starter townhome.  It has world-class restaurants, sports, entertainment, Disneyland, culture, and it’s clean, modern with a rich history.

Anaheim's resort area has grown so much in the past few years - it's unbelievable!  Anaheim Convention Center's Grand Plaza is the newest on the horizon.  It is an outdoor special event space projected to be created by the end of 2012.  The design plans were absolutely stunning!

Anaheim Convention Center's Grand Plaza




I can't wait for OC Blogger Bash 2012!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Trapped

Poor Polly! All dressed up Half dressed and nowhere to go! I'm sure we can all relate.

"What happened to my well-planned life?  Trapped here with all that laundry to do.  I'm too pretty for laundry!"

Too Pretty for Laundry

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Message From Above?

I've been unemployed for about 8 months now.  I often pray for an answer on what is the right path to follow in the next chapter of my life.  Usually, I don't get a response from above - just the instinct to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep on keeping on.

This morning, however, I heard both on the radio and from a cashier at Trader Joes, the message that being a stay at home mom is a tremendous value for your family. On the Christian radio station I stumbled upon, the pastor related statistics about how much healthier children are with one parent staying home when children are young.  He said that moms have no greater mission than to take care of their children.  And if they have to work, it should be in a job that doesn't interfere at all with their kids or family roles.

Then the cashier at Trader Joes asked me out of the blue if I was a stay at home mom.  I said I was "in between jobs".  She told me that staying at home with your kids is the best thing you can do for them and it was very rewarding. How fast the time flies...

This is not normally a message I like to hear.  I don't see myself as the 'stay at home mom' type.  But I feel as though God is speaking directly to me through these people. As I mentioned, I have been praying about it for almost a year or maybe ever since I've been a mom.

The problem is my negative connotation of the term stay at home mom. It sounds like such a loser title. That sounds mean of me to say, but I grew up in a working mom household and I've worked since I was old enough. The stay at home moms I picture in my mind are lazy, overweight, plain, uneducated, unemployable, impoverished, over-religious, over-involved, crafty, domesticated, apron-wearing, husband-worshipping, minivan-driving, subservient, judgmental, weak, potluck mavens. But - I have MANY close friends who are NONE of these.   

Plus, I feel families need a duel income to survive. It's definitely not cheap to live in Southern California or anywhere for that matter. The thing is, I can still be a working mom and be here for my family. I just need a job that I can do from home. I have that - I just need consistent clients and projects.  Ideally, I would also love to have a mother's helper and cleaner. How much would that cost me?

Well, this morning at church, the message was about Learning Contentment.  Being happy with what you have, not striving for wealth and material possessions, prestige.  Also, investing in what's most important - people. Family.  The legacy you leave your children - your time, attention, love and dedication.  (Everything you've got is my interpretation - they are never satisfied.) 

Everywhere I go lately, older people stop to admire my children and talk to them.  Then they tell me to enjoy them now because they grow up so fast.  They must sense or see my frazzled expression when they see me.  I've only been a mom for 6 years now, and it is so exhausting and unrewarding at times.  I had no idea it was going to be like this - but I AM truly happy to be home with them right now.  It is helping to grow me as a person and as a mom. 

But - I will still never call myself a stay at home mom. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Persuasive Communication

There are some people that are naturally persuasive.  They command attention and a following.  They can sell ice to Eskimos.  You get the idea.

I am not persuasive or commanding.  I'm a more passive aggressive whiner and shirker.  I would not be good at sales or marketing.  Yet - I am a communications professional - go figure.  Unemployed communications professional, mind you.

I have never been one for direct sales or MLMs or whatever new-fangled catalog selling parties were popular.  I don't like feeling the pressure and strain you feel when your friends try to sell you crap.  However, I love a particular line of little girl clothes that is sold at trunk shows/parties/open houses (Matilda Jane).  I've been to one before and spent a pretty penny.

Now I'm hosting my own trunk show this weekend at my house.  This is very ambitious of me since I hate cleaning and entertaining.  I try to avoid large crowds of women.  I don't like selling - even though I won't be.  So, I invited over 20 friends/acquaintances and used various communication tools to reach them: email, text, Facebook event invite and USPS mail.  Not to mention the old fashioned method of face to face.
Matilda Jane You & Me Collection
Out of all that effort, maybe four people said they would stop by.  So aggravating.  Most just ignored my invites and the rest just said no or maybe.  I think the clothes might be too expensive?  Or they just don't like these types of selling parties?  Or they don't like me?

Either way, I'm not very persuasive I've decided.  I even promised delicious mimosas, coffee and pastries.  What else does a girl need to dangle, a creepy balloon blowing clown or a male stripper?!

I'm over it.  I'm not too bitter though - I have jilted other people when they have these types of parties.  But now that I'm committed, I just want to get it over with.  There are probably some clothes that I will want to buy anyway - I was just hoping for a discount. Matilda Jane has super cute clothes for women as well as girls.

There is my shameless plug for the brand.  Did I persuade you? Didn't think so!

UPDATE: The trunk show went well! I LOVE the clothes. I bought over $400 worth of clothes for my chickadees and myself.  (OUCH!) Sadly, only 3 of my friends actually showed up, and only 2 of them bought something, so it was ultimately a bust - as I was anticipating.  I will probably NOT do that again as I am now in the hole for food/drink purchased and all the clothes bought, not to mention how much time I spent cleaning.  *sigh* Lesson learned...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Overachiever vs. Underachiever Moms

We had a visit from a family member recently who lives up in Northern California - we'll call her Betty the Brains.  Betty has a daughter the same age as ours and an older son.  She comes from a long time of achievers and brainiacs.  (Me - not so much.  Brain dead more like it.)

Betty came over around dinner time and began showing the l'il Chicken Hawk baby sign language.  "Have you taught him signs yet?"  Well, yes, I've shown him some basics and I also make some up as I go along.  But Betty started to teach him full-on sign language sentences.  Okay, cool - overkill for a 9 month old.

Then the youngest chickadee told Betty casually that she likes to speak Spanish.  So, Betty proceeded to teach rapid-fire Spanish sentences to my daughter and expecting her to repeat them.  By then, my daughter had lost interest and had moved on to something else. 

During dinner we also learned that her 6 year old daughter had had a Harry Potter themed birthday party.  As a frequent guest to little girls' birthday parties, I can honestly say this is not the typical girl themed birthday party.  None of the little girls we know have even heard of Harry Potter.  But Betty's daughter could read Harry Potter books when she was in kindergarten.  Wow! Our oldest daughter just learned to read See Dick Run books - Level 1.  We haven't evolved from the Disney-themed, G Rated birthday parties yet.

Betty's son is now in the debate club in 4th grade.  Interesting - wouldn't have been my kids' or anyone in my family's choice of activity.  I don't think I've ever even known anyone who has been in debate. We choose to debate for fun at home!

In addition to attending a nice private school and being tutored by their extremely smart, domestically-inclined, crafty mom who also works full time as a lawyer, they have a wide range of activities they participate in that will mold them to be super-humans with sharp minds and bodies - including martial arts.  My children will likely be more socially adept and will know how to entertain the crowds with their parlor tricks and gross humor.  I have to leave a legacy folks! 

Play Time with the Underachievers!
I prefer not to over-schedule and overstimulate my chickadees with too many activities.  I also don't want to spend a lot of my time and money on 'frivolous' things.  They are still too young to be dumping money into things until they've expressed an interest in seriously pursuing something.  I also think that allowing them to develop a love of learning and the process of exploring through play is best at this age.  Which means a lot of dabbling in creative and intellectual subjects and sports classes.  

I could learn a lot from Betty and some of her mom skills.  But I am pretty sure I have my own skills to be proud of.  For example, my chickadees fold their own laundry and put it away.  Booyah! That's way better than reading Harry Potter books!