Monday, May 9, 2011

Fish Story

Fish stories are all the same and the size of the fish increases each time the story is told.

Well, in my fish story, I’m just going to put it out there right away that this fish was absolutely humongous. It was so big that it left two adults and two small children standing in complete awe and jaw-dropping confusion.

Flashback to the wonderful afternoon I had planned with the grandparents and my younger kids, Xavier and Yasmin, up to Apple Hill. At the ranch where we visited there is a pond where you can rent a pole and go fishing. There were a hundred red flags that went up for me from the moment Xavier asked Grandma if she would rent a pole for him (which of course she didn’t hesitate to say “Yes!”).

I Showered This Morning ... Now We're Going Fishing?

There were zero reasons why I would want to include fishing in the day’s events and a slew of reasons why not. First, I was looking and feeling great that day. I had plenty of rest the night before. I woke up and wasn’t rushed to do anything or go anywhere. I got to take time for myself to choose a cute outfit and put on eye makeup. Heck, I was even able to take a shower. Second, I would wager money that neither of my in-laws have ever gone fishing in their lifetime, which would mean that I would likely need to assist. Third, if you caught a fish, you had to keep it or be charged $100 to throw the fish back. The list could easily go on, but I’ll stop there.

Xavier got the pole and I just stood back. I watched in amusement as my mother-in-law struggled to get the hook loose from where it was safely secured on the pole. My father-in-law offered to help, but she knew he wouldn’t have any idea more than she did, so she shrugged him away and continued. After at least two minutes of my son impatiently begging her to “let Mom try”, she did get the hook loose and Xav happily started fishing.

The pond was amply stocked with trout, but none were biting. Plus, there was no bait on Xavier’s hook. I have no idea whether people thought they’d catch fish with an empty hook, but I truly didn’t care as I stood my safe distance. I’d say he was fishing for about ten minutes when a sweet girl came up to him and offered him a piece of bread for his hook. She helped him thread the bait on his hook and, sure enough, as soon as he put his hook in the water a fish was caught!

Does My Super Cute Cocktail Ring Go With This Fish?

Xavier pulled the fish from the water with whoots of excitement, eyes gleaming with pride, and a smile brighter than the sun on the pond. But, what happened next still irritates the #$%@# out of me.

My father-in-law grabbed the string by the bobber and, since this fish was so big, the string broke — leaving the mammoth trout flopping on the shore. The scene was exactly as I described in the beginning — two adults (my in-laws, standing with blank stares), and my 8-year old son and 3-year old daughter watching this poor flailing fish with confusion and helplessness. I can easily say that I felt mad at my in-laws for standing there in utter and complete uselessness. My father-in-law advised Xavier to “pick it up by the string”. He began carrying the fish over to the weighing station and the hook tore a chunk out of the side of the fish’s mouth. Xavier was so close to the water that the fish fell back into the pond.

In that split second, I forgot about my disgust of green, algae-ridden, sitting ponds and slimy, scaly, smelly fish and my inner frugality kicked in. I could only think of two things: 1) my poor son wanted his fish and 2) it is crazy to pay $100 if that fish swims away! Garnered by some instinct I did not know I had, I sped over to the waterside, pushed my hand into the shallow depths, and grabbed that fish by his wide girth with my bare hand.

Let me just say properly that, I WAS PISSED. On so many levels, holding that bloody, writhing, and dying trout in my hand was just plain wrong and I was the last person who should have had the responsibility of grabbing it. Where was Grandma, who so sweetly agreed that fishing was a good idea? Where was Grandpa, the only grown man in the situation, who by the way was wearing his standard jeans and a plaid cotton shirt – and not a silky orange halter top, white-cuffed capris, and jute wedge sandals? Oh, and I add that the hand holding this flailing behemoth wore a super cute, gold and orange cocktail ring with a huge red-orange daisy — that was now covered in slime and mud.

The Big Fish Story

The story does actually end there. Completely disgusted, unsanitary, and still tasting the bit of water that splashed into my mouth one of the times the fish flopped its tail, I left feeling a bit defeated, maybe physically sick, but still somehow triumphant. I can still remember the smile on my son’s face as he held up his catch and even later that night as he proudly became the “hunter/provider” for the evening’s meal.

I’ll deny it out loud if you ask, but I am pretty sure that one of these days (not soon) I will likely go fishing with my kids again. No matter how awful and mortified I remember feeling, it all becomes worth it that the size of my son’s smile was as humongous as the fish he caught on that day. Each time I tell it, the size of his smile gets bigger — and that’s no fish story.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Einstein's Bucket Theory, or Reasons Why I Forget Stuff

A long time ago, I learned that Einstein thought of the brain like a bucket filling up with water. When you’re young, that bucket gets filled up and you’re able to retain most of everything you experience. As you age, the bucket is full and when you gather up drops of water, the same amount of water spills out – meaning you’re just going to lose that knowledge. To add to the unfairness of this concept, the quality of the knowledge is not reciprocal. So, if you take in the information that when your oldest son farts that your middle son will get seriously upset and a fist fight will ensue, you have the same chance of losing a similar useless bit of knowledge as you do losing what you learned about the scientific evaluation for the nature of quasars (everyday stuff, right?).

It was said that Einstein didn’t waste his time remembering useless bits of information, for fear that he’d forget or “lose” something really important – for example, he refused to learn his home address.

Now I don’t know if all of this is true, but ever since I learned this I’ve lived by this idea. I don’t know why I remember some of the things I do, and other things just completely escape me. Instead of feeling completely idiotic when I don’t know something I probably should, or when I forget something – I like to tell myself that it’s just a useless bit of information that I can’t crowd my brain with. I have to save space for stuff like the meaning of life and the day and time of my son’s class play. Oh, and also quasars.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Christmas Tree and Decorations Put Away -- Now For Some Spring Cleaning!

Ugh! So, it's such a great accomplishment to FINALLY get all of the Christmas stuff put away and stored neatly in the attic.

But, there's nothing like having stirred up all the dust that has collected in just over a month to remind me that along with Spring comes the urge to do heavy Spring Cleaning.

It never ends!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

OK, Who's With Me? Fess UP!!! :)

Happy Friday everyone! I didn't start this post off with a specific idea about what it was going to be about. I really just wanted to jot a quick "HELLO!" out to everyone and wish you all a great weekend!

Then, I thought about what I was going to be doing this weekend and along with watching my kid's play sports -- I confess that I have not yet taken down my Christmas tree and put away all of our Christmas decorations. Is it only me??? Am I the only one who still has the yule tide still spiriting around?  Anyone with me on this?  Bueller?

Well, anyway, I know I am soooooo behind.  So, that's the plan -- packing up and storing away all of our Christmas stuff. Now, let's see if it actually gets done!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Parenting Lessons -- Finding Our Way, Neck-Deep Into the Pre-Teen Years

Well, it's been awhile since I've talked about the challenges we've been having with communicating with our oldest son. My previous post was well over a month ago, although the obstacles we've come across have practically been daily.

Well, we did it! We decided together to seek guidance and talk with a family therapist. I scheduled an appointment with a doctor who came highly recommended from a close girlfriend of mine.

Paul and I went to meet with this therapist this morning and I am happy to say that the first session was fantastic. Having gone through therapy many years ago to help me deal with personal issues stemming from my own childhood, I am so much more in love with the man I spend my life with just knowing how he is so open to family therapy.  It shows his devotion to me and our family, his determination to be the best parent and partner, his confidence in the Man and Parent he already is, and just his understanding that many times it is a subjective eye that is able to provide the most helpful guidance.

We Get Homework Too!

Just some quick points we'll be working on to help improve our communication issues with Zack...

  1. Lecture less.

    One of the issues we're having is that homework in the 6th grade has become more challenging for him, and the number of courses increases the amount of homework he has each night. I want to help him, but for various reasons many nights have ended late and with arguments. We have decided that he should go to study hall, which is an after-school option where he can spend some quiet time doing his homework and have a teacher available if he has questions. Well, convincing Zack to go to study hall has been tough. For every point we have for why we expect him to go, he has a point why he does not want or need to. The therapist pointed out that we do lecture him quite a bit. After explaining to her what we say to Zack, she said, "You know what he hears?" And she did the "Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah" mimic of the Charlie Brown teacher. Before we jump into the reasons why we expect him to go to study hall, she advised that we ...

  2. Listen more.

    In the same scenario, it was easy to see why so many of our encounters with Zack result in arguments. It has constantly been a back and forth between him and us -- "You need to go to study hall because...", "Well, I can't go today because..." And, he is not hearing us. On the same note, we aren't letting him just talk. We're rebutting too quickly. It's also apparent now how this one fact likely plays a part in the reason why he does not communicate with us. Why should he? When he says something, we just rebut. So now, we'll be trying more to allow him more space to just explain whatever it is he has in his mind. Whether or not we agree, we need to let him completely have his stance.

  3. Give him some carrots.

    We also determined that we have way to many consequences. For example, we'll threaten to take away his phone or his computer. Since so much of what he did suffered a consequence she asked, "What is his incentive to do anything that he doesn't want to do, that you want him to do?" Instead, after listening to everything he has to say about, for example, not having to go to study hall, our decision as his parents is that he has to go. So, instead of threatening to take something away (which in the end he doesn't really care that much about and actually just gives him reason to be mad at us), we should offer him a reward -- sort of like dangling a carrot in front of him. It should be something small, but it should be easy for us to figure out what he would really like. So, we decided that if he tries it out for a week that he and his best friend can walk up to the local frozen yogurt place, our treat. It's a taste of independence that he'll think is so cool.

My Smart Alec Other Half -- And, Other Things I Already Knew

When we left the therapist's building this morning, I asked Paul, "So, what did you think?"  He was so hilarious.

He said, "Well, she didn't say anything that I didn't already know.  The whole time I was thinking it's all your fault and I wanted to say, 'You know, I completely agree with everything you're saying. That's what I've been trying to tell Jamie this whole time.' But, I held myself back and didn't say anything."

Of course, he was joking and I'm glad we can still laugh at ourselves.  It will help us as we try to work out the things we need to focus on as we continue to raise, love, and (hopefully) still influence our growing son who is so wonderful -- but I already knew that. :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Crazy Auntie = An Additional Kid For a Month

"Why don't you let me keep Jolene while you and Joan get settled in Texas?"

My brother, Joe, is a medic in the Navy and has be restationed from Pearl Harbor to San Antonio. So, I thought I'd joke around and say I'd keep Jolene while they get settled in.  I was sure they'd turn me down.

My brother quickly answered, "That's a great idea."

Well, I was wrong. I believe they may have already been thinking about the scenario before I brought it up. Now, I have an extra child for one month, maybe two months. That's alright, though. At least I love her to pieces!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Our Week-Long Family Christmas Celebration: Part II - It's Actually Happening, In Filipino Time

If you've ever known a Filipino family, you've likely heard the term "Filipino Time".  The concept of time is evidently impossible to grasp.  For one, you can never expect that anything will start at the time stated.  Usually, anywhere between two to three hours late is considered having made good time.  This Christmas, in my family's case, "Filipino Time" was not two or three hours late it was three days late.

Yes, while Paul's side of the family did celebrate Christmas Day with us and a good time was had by all, MY side of the family apparently decided that this Tuesday, December 28th, was a good day to show up.

I've known about my family's week-long visit and now they're here. For the most part, my mother is keeping to herself in the office/library where she's staying in and she's enjoying looking through many of the books in there.  She's only had one of her odd remarks.  Things are going pretty good without her -- the rest of us have played some fun Wii games together, the adults pulled out Balderdash and had a scream of a time laughing at everyone's answers, and the sun came out today and the kids had fun in the forest.  Tomorrow, if it's still warm, we're going to take the five minute walk down to Folsom Lake and let the kids throw rocks.

I thought I'd have a lot of fodder needing comic relief here on my blog due to my mother's week-long visit, but so far she's given me nothing.  That's alright, I guess.  I'll take my sanity.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Is it Wintertime? Summer, I mean, Winter in Santa Barbara

Another full weekend of soccer, and this time my son's team is competing in the Youth Soccer Showcase and attending the NCAA Men's Soccer Championships -- in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA. The sun is out, the light brush of fog and clouds burned off by 10 am. 76 degrees. Crazy.

There's no where I'd rather be this weekend than enjoying Winter in Santa Barbara. People actually live here. So lucky!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Preparing for Our Week-Long Family Christmas Celebration, Part I: Mental Preparation

Without being overly disrespectful to the woman who gave me birth, this post is about my beginning preparations for this year's Christmas family celebration hosted by yours truly. These preparations include the fun of decorating our home (jungle-themed this year), deciding where adults and kids will sleep (we will stuff four families into our home), the joy of shopping for gifts, planning over a week's worth of menus, as well as the annual arrival into our home of my mother.

I've only been blogging for a month and a half and I have not had the chance yet to write about the woman in my life whose relationship with me in my first 17 years was of the utmost influence upon the growth of my self-esteem, the shaping of my outlook on life, and in so many ways even still the way I think about things. I don't think of my mother often, other than seldom and random escaping thoughts. She only lives an hour and a half away, which when you factor in California roads and traffic is actually not far, but as you can denote from my detached regard of her -- we are not close.

Every year around Christmas time, I am forced to consider her since my family and home hosts family Christmas and my mother arrives with one of my brothers. She will arrive with her air of negativity and "woe is me" way about her. The cloud that surrounds her will attempt to suffocate us all immediately, but will slowly diffuse after everyone has the chance to politely ask her how she is doing, to which she will answer with a gruff and sorrowful, "Ooooh ... things are o-kaaaayyyyy ... I guess." She'll sit on the couch for the majority of the week -- barely talking to anyone, glaring at my kids and all the cousins, and ordering my brothers to get something for her.

So, as I prepare for hosting Christmas, this post is simply a bit of a vent about my mental preparations for the week-long visit of my mother.

At brunch yesterday morning, my girlfriends said that at least I'll have some funny stories to tell about the comic relief I will be searching for within the nook and cranny of every moment during her holiday visit -- assisted by a well-stocked wine fridge.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy Ten Year Anniversary! (One Solution for Aging)

Today, I happily celebrate my 29th birthday.

When I was about fifteen, I thought twenty-five was so "old".  Thirty-five was just plain ancient.

When I was twenty-five, I didn't appreciate my youth.  I was caught up in my career, going to the bars after work with my friends, shopping, and just living each day being only responsible for myself.

By the time I was 35, I had three children and lived the life of a suburban housewife.  I was convinced (and still am) that life as a 30-something woman was the best time of my life.  I feel like my kids keep me young.  Life is so fresh and wonderful for them.  Doing things with and for them is like getting to live my life over again but through their eyes.  Granted, I don't have the body I did when I was 25, before I had three kids -- but I am firmly aware that I am more beautiful today than I was back then.  I have the confidence in myself as a woman that I didn't have when I was 25. 

Today, December 6th, 2010, I am 39 years old.  But, after turning 30 I decided that a simple solution for aging would be to just celebrate my 29th birthday every year.  So, actually I am celebrating the tenth anniversary of my 29th birthday.  I have a few more wrinkles and a lot more gray hairs -- but for 29, I sure do feel great!

Have a wonderful, wonderful day everyone!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Parting with Boris and Natasha -- Things That Make You Go Huh?

We are currently in the market for new seating in our family room. The sofa/chair set we have now has been in our family for eight or nine years and are finally seeing their last days. It is a nice looking cinnamon-brown leather set that has served us well, through two boys and a wild little girl and all their friends. It proudly shows off its wear with scuff marks over almost every inch, wrinkles and cracks that make the pair look more than twice their age, and one large tear in the middle of one of the sofa cushions that no one owns up to. I'll likely just sound nutty, but I also lovingly call the sofa and chair, Boris and Natasha, so they're almost like members of the family.  (Huh?  I know, right?  So, I put this post in the "Things that make you go Huh?" category.)

However, we love to entertain, and they only allow seating for 4 adults. It would be great to get a sectional sofa that would seat 6 or more adults.

This sofa and chair are inanimate objects that have no feelings and, of course, show no emotion. Neither have they once let us know their feelings about being spilled on, being wrestled and jumped on, and being beaten in every way imaginable.

Tell me, why do I feel a bit of nostalgia for these pieces of furniture that have greeted our just-awakened bodies almost every morning, accepted our tired bottoms after long days, and helped us to entertain all of our friends who stay and visit with us for awhile? Just because we've owned these objects for almost as long as our oldest son is in age, why do I feel like letting them move on is like giving away an important part of our family?

So, then I took a picture of Boris and Natasha to show how beaten up they are.  But, as you'll see in the picture -- they actually look great, other than the tear in the seat cushion.  It's almost as if they are speaking to me, saying, "See, don't let us go!"


The part of me that is still able to reason about this topic tells me that these are just replaceable "things" -- and "things" don't really matter. The sensitive and sappy part of me just likes the simple feelings and memories that flood into my mind. They remind me how much our family has grown and changed in the past eight or nine years and how much of it has played out day-to-day in our family room -- on this sofa and chair.

So, we continue our search for family room furniture replacements. But, I also find myself taking my time. It's silly, but Boris and Natasha are like part of the family and I'm a bit sad to know they'll soon be gone.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

That's the Way, Uh Huh Uh Huh, I Like It -- and Other Great Basketball Plays

I am the total sideline mom.  Although I don't know every aspect of each sport my sons' play, I will cheer their teams on (and I will look good doing it).

This morning, my son's basketball team played their first game of the season and enjoyed a successful season opener.  My DH, Paul, is the assistant coach -- but he'll be getting knee surgery in less than two weeks, so will be limited while he's on crutches.  So, the following letter is one I wrote just after the game to the head coach (our friend, John) who will likely need assistance while Paul is recovering.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

John,

Great game this morning! It will definitely be exciting to watch the whole team progress through the season.

This morning, Paul told you that he will be getting knee surgery on the 16th and that will leave you without an asst. coach for an indeterminate amount of time. Therefore, I can offer my expertise in the position while Paul is recovering. After watching the kids this morning, I see that a couple of my simple maneuvers can easily incorporate into the existing play plans. I'm positive that you will see some of my training is already evident in Zach's style of play. You can thank me later.

Anyway, here are a sample of just a few plays out of many that I can contribute:

1) The Booty Move - When being closely defended one-on-one, offensive players can sharply stick their booties out -- both keeping defenders from behind away from the ball and either grossing them out or confusing them completely.

2) The Shake and Shimmy - When defending the ball handler, sing "That's the Way, Uh Huh Uh Huh, I Like It" while shaking and shimmy-ing. Another great way to force the loss of possession.

3) The Goodyear Blimp - An oldie, but goodie. Right before driving to the net, point east and say "Oh look, the Good year Blimp!", then nimbly dribble the ball right up to the key for an easy lay up.

In any case, please let me know if you need help with the team and whatever I can do to help out.

Again it was incredible to see what you've done with the new team in such a short amount of time. It's impressive and I'm really looking forward to watching them play again. Have a great rest of the weekend and see you all soon.

~Jamie

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tribute to a Beautiful Soul, Michael Gable -- Get Informed and Save Lives

[Saturday night, Paul and I returned to the school where we met and graduated from together in 1993.  College classmates, friends, and family came together to remember a fellow classmate, friend, brother, son, and husband, Michael Gable, whom we lost unexpectedly and tragically just a little more than one year ago.  Saturday's event, Rock For a Cause, was a celebration of his life with a benefit concert/auction to kick off the Gable Beats Foundation and the release of the tribute album "One Race Human".  Another college classmate and friend, his wife, Michelle Gable, spoke in front of the crowd and shared her story of the horrible night that forever changed her and her family's lives.  We love and miss you so much Michael!  Michelle, you know that you, Matteo, and Grace are loved and will always find support around every corner.

Please read on for more about Michael, to learn more about the Gable Beats Foundation, and watch the video to get informed and save lives.]

In college, Michael Gable was a star athlete and a magnetic and outgoing personality.  He was always surrounded by friends.  He wore the biggest smile and had wide open arms.  He truly was such a genuine friend to everyone who met him.

On September 17, 2009, Michael passed away after suffering a heart attack.  Unknown to him, his wife, and his family he had the heart disease known as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), which is an excessive thickening of the heart muscle.  He was 38 years young.  Two weeks later, his baby daughter, Grace, was diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy and it has since been determined the causes are genetically related.

"Tell Them You're Human" -- and the "One Race Human" Segue Tribute Album

The inspiration for the tribute album came from a t-shirt his mother, Beverly, had purchased for him that had the slogan "One Race Human".  Michael was teased about his bi-racial background when he was younger.  When he was asked "What are you?", his mother advised him to "Tell them you're human".

Excerpt from http://www.seguesounds.com/: "Throughout his life, Michael strove to break down all racial barriers and create a better world for his family.  He lived each moment with love and gratitude.  In 1996, Michael joined the band SEGUE and used his lyrics as a way to spread his beliefs about the equality of ALL human kind.  SEGUE performed for over 15 years in some of the most respected venues in the San Francisco Bay Area.   Michael developed a reputation within the music community as an accomplished singer and songwriter."

The Gable Beats Foundation is part of the Heart Beats Community, a philanthropic network that provides support for families affected by various forms of heart disease.  True to Michael's genuine and true heart, he would have wanted his story to be shared so that other families might avoid experiencing the same tragedy.
Please take a look at the following video and get informed:



For more information about the Gable Beats Foundations and for details about purchasing the One Race Human tribute album, please visit http://www.seguesounds.com/.
Additional links:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How Could I Forget?, or More Proof I'm Getting Older

When I saw him for the first time, I still remember the birds chirping and wind blowing through my hair. I walked into the room and when he saw me, his eyes lit up like fireworks and we were the only two people on the planet. OK, not really but seriously it was exactly like that.

Fast forward to today -- Paul and our oldest son went to my dad's house to help him out with some stuff around his house. I stayed back with our two youngest kids. I did some work at home in the morning, then took the two kids out for some fun at the bookstore and a treat.

I was driving home listening to Stevie Nicks' You Never Promised Me a Rose Garden and it hit me ... both Paul and I have been so busy with our jobs and just with our day-to-day lives of raising the kids that we forgot that our 18-year anniversary was on Sunday, November 21st.

I'm. In. Shock. I'm not even disappointed that Paul forgot our anniversary, even though I did mention it three weeks ago on Halloween. I actually cannot believe that the date passed me by. Me ... the one who finds a reason to celebrate anything and everything.

It's more proof I'm getting older.

At our graduation from Saint Mary's College of California, we were babies!

It is our first anniversary, after 16 anniversaries prior, that was forgotten, so I won't let it be said that it was actually missed. This weekend, we have a date planned and just maybe we'll dream about our next 18 years.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dizguise Costumes - Santa Belle (closed)

[Congratulation to Veronica G for winning this contest!]

Dizguise Costumes is a family-owned business that provides costumes for all occasions and celebrations, and party supplies year-round. They have built their small business on the idea that providing the best customer service means happy customers who'll hopefully come back to shop. They feel it is important that if you need customer service, that you talk to a live person. How's that for a great idea?

From the front page of their site: "Our customer service and superb return policy help you breathe easy when shopping at our store. We even offer the option to ship out your order the same day you order it, on most costumes and party decorations. Although our popular Halloween costumes and party supplies dominate our store, please remember that we also provide wonderful decorating ideas for every occasion, whether it's a baby's 1st birthday or a New Year’s Eve celebration."

SaysJamie.com is hosting a series of giveaways with Dizguise Costumes as we enter the Christmas and holiday season.

Starting today, are two separate giveaways. One for Mama -- a Santa Belle costume. One for her child -- a Little Santa costume.

This giveaway is for a woman's Santa Belle costume. It is made with red, faux velvet and has white, faux fur trim. It has a flirty trim of white lace along the skirt hem and two white pom-poms dangling from strings coming off the hood. This costume is available to win in sizes Small, Medium, and Large.

Dizguise Costumes' giveaways at SaysJamie.com:

11/22-29 : Santa Belle Costume
11/22-29 : Little Santa  - Infant to Toddler sizes
11/29 - 12/3 : Santa Belle Costume
11/29 - 12/3 : Reindeer - Infant and Toddler sizes
12/3 - 12/10:  Snowman - Infant to Toddler sizes
12/3 - 12/10: Santa Belle Costume

Enter once per day until Monday, November 29th. Winner must be a fan of Dizguise Costumes on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/DizguiseCostumes). Winner must follow SaysJamie.com (via GFC) OR Follow SaysJamie on Facebook. Winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Winners must have a valid US shipping address and phone number (no p.o. boxes for shipping purposes). Winners will be contacted using the email address they provided on the entry form from me at Jamie@SaysJamie.com. Winners have 7 days to respond before another winner is randomly selected. There is no purchase necessary to win and I promise to never share your information with anyone.


This promotion is only a giveaway, not a product review.  I receive compensation for running giveaways and for providing advertising space for Dizguise Costumes.

Dizguise Costumes - Little Santa Giveaway (closed)

Dizguise Costumes is a family-owned business that provides costumes for all occasions and celebrations, and party supplies year-round. They have built their small business on the idea that providing the best customer service means happy customers who'll hopefully come back to shop. They feel it is important that if you need customer service, that you talk to a live person. How's that for a great idea?

From the front page of their site: "Our customer service and superb return policy help you breathe easy when shopping at our store. We even offer the option to ship out your order the same day you order it, on most costumes and party decorations. Although our popular Halloween costumes and party supplies dominate our store, please remember that we also provide wonderful decorating ideas for every occasion, whether it's a baby's 1st birthday or a New Year’s Eve celebration."

SaysJamie.com is hosting a series of giveaways with Dizguise Costumes as we enter the Christmas and holiday season.

Starting today, are two separate giveaways. One for Mama -- a Santa Belle costume. One for her child -- a Little Santa costume.

This giveaway is for a child's Santa costume. The Infant's costume is the Velvet Santa Infant/Toddler Costume. It comes with the romper and hat and is available in three size: Newborn (0-6 mos), Infant (6-12 mos), and Toddler (12-18 mos). The Little Santa Toddler/Child's costume includes the suit, hat, and mitts. It is available in sizes 18-24 mos, 2T-4T, and 4-6X.


Dizguise Costumes' giveaways at SaysJamie.com:

11/22-29 : Santa Belle Costume
11/22-29 : Little Santa  - Infant to Toddler sizes
11/26 - 12/3 : Santa Belle Costume
11/26 - 12/3 : Reindeer - Infant and Toddler sizes
12/3 - 12/10:  Snowman - Infant to Toddler sizes
12/3 - 12/10: Santa Belle Costume

Enter once per day until Monday, November 29th. Winner must be a fan of Dizguise Costumes on Facebook.  The link to Dizguise Costumes' Facebook page will appear after your entry form is submitted (http://www.facebook.com/DizguiseCostumes). Winner must be follow SaysJamie.com (via GFC) OR Follow SaysJamie on Facebook. Winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Winners must have a valid US shipping address and phone number (no p.o. boxes for shipping purposes). Winners will be contacted using the email address they provided on the entry form from me at Jamie@SaysJamie.com. Winners have 7 days to respond before another winner is randomly selected. There is no purchase necessary to win and I promise to never share your information with anyone.

This promotion is only a giveaway, not a product review.  I receive compensation for running giveaways and for providing advertising space for Dizguise Costumes.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

New Job Title: Admittedly Behind and Hopelessly Scrambling For An Agenda...

For parents with kids in public school, Fall break means kids have a week OFF, but parents have the week ON.

So, here I sit on Sunday night, pondering about the week ahead. Why haven't I planned it better? I have all these wonderful ideas in my mind of the things I'd like to do with the kids. I just wonder how many, if any, I will actually get done?

Any ideas for this last-minute planner? Uh, that would be me, with my new job title -- The Admittedly Behind and Hopelessly Scrambling For An Agenda, Mom of Three Kids Who Deserve a Fun Fall Break.

Friday, November 19, 2010

SaysJamie.com is ... One Month Old!

I seriously just noticed about two minutes ago that today is my blog's one month birthday! Ridiculous!

It goes without having to say that the blogging community is quite an interesting one. I started off my blog simply to write about the goings-on in my life. I wanted to get off my chest the challenges I've had the past few months parenting my middle-schooler, as well as to just journal about the experiences I find hilarious. The things I see other bloggers do with their skills (amazing home decor, incredible dishes coming out of kitchens, sewing and knitting, money to be saved, advice shared from those who have "been there"...) and the ways that blogs can be expanded into useful sources of product information, reviews, and giveaways really have me just wow-ed by everyone I've met so far in this community -- and there are so many I haven't even been lucky enough to come across!

So, for my blog's one month birthday I'm excited that it just so happens that I will start number one in a series of giveaways and reviews I have planned in the pipeline. Those are coming later today...

But, for now I look forward to blog hopping today and checking out the amazing blogs out there that have inspired me in my one month here on my blog and that I know will continue to amaze me. Thank you to all those I follow, all who follow me, and all those whom I have yet to meet!

Reviews

Very soon, SaysJamie.com will be doing product reviews!

Giveaways, Coming Soon!

Subscribers to SaysJamie.com, fun giveaways will soon be run here!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Girlfriends -- They. Complete. Me.

I am a sap. I love to feel strongly and am free to cry like a little baby whenever and wherever. I'm a sap.

If I'm feeling sappy, my mind often recalls that scene in Jerry Maguire where Tom Cruise says, "You. Complete. Me." And Renee Zelwegger says, "You had me at hello." See, little frog already in my throat. LOVE IT!

Of course, my mind goes directly to Paul and the kids when I think of the people in my life who give me purpose and make me who I am. But, this past weekend I was reminded how my girlfriends are also such important people in my life that I know I would not be complete without them.

So to my Girlz who got together this weekend, (Cici, Lo, Laurie, and K.O.), who were roommates of mine in college and whom I've known for over 19 years - I LOVE YOU. (Ash, Suz, and Jules -- LOVE you too! We missed you.) It is such a wonderful feeling to see you and your children, to know Laurie and K.O. travelled more than 5 hours and Lo was visiting from Nebraska. How great is it that our relationship is such that although we might not speak every day, week, or even months, that we can spend time together and laugh and enjoy one another like no time has passed.

I almost cannot believe how fortunate I am to know women like you, that you share my life with me, and make me feel loved. Sappy time... You. Complete. Me.

Do you have girlfriends in your life who just make it so much more fun, funny, crazy, interesting, _____ (fill in the blank)? What are some words you could use to fill in the blank, that would describe how your best girlfriends add to your life?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quick Thai Seafood Soup

The cold weather in fall prompts me to make soup for dinner.  I love how warm soup warms me from the inside out -- both my body and my spirits.

Since it's stayed so warm and sunny here in the southern part of Northern California, I haven't had the chance yet to get into the soup-making mode.  Well, I was very excited that this weekend we were greeted with some colder weather -- where not only could I finally whip out some cute boots to wear, but I could also put together a big pot of Thai Seafood Soup.

My kids love this soup, so I've made it several times.  Now, I'm sure there are more elaborate ways to make this soup that is a staple on menus in many Thai restuarants.  I also imagine that this isn't the authentic way to make it, however being a Mom who (on most nights) has limited available time to spare in the kitchen, the way that I make this soup is fast and easy.  It also doesn't demand that measurements be exact (I don't cook with measuring spoons or cups).  Honestly, this soup comes out perfect every single time I make it.

So, here is the "recipe" that I generally go by.  I hope that some of you get a chance to make it as well.  If you do, please let me know how it turned out!  ~Jamie

Quick Thai Seafood Soup (serves 4 big bowls, with leftovers for 4 (or can be halfed))

Ingredients:

  • One yellow onion (cut into big pieces @ 1/2 in)
  • Garlic (minced, 2 or more cloves depending on your taste)
  • Peanut oil (a couple of splashes or so)
  • 32 oz of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • Rice vinegar (about 6 long squirts depending on your taste)
  • Fish sauce (about 4 long squirts depending on your taste)
  • Lemongrass (one stalk finely chopped, but for ease I just use the kind shown in the picture in the tube on the left.)
  • Sugar (put some in your palm, it's that much)
  • Ground fresh chili paste (shown in the picture, below, with the green lid)
  • Handful of cilantro
  • Handful of basil
  • Shrimp and Scallops (I like a lot, so last night I used 14 jumbo shrimp and 12 jumbo scallops)
  • Sliced mushrooms (I like to use those 16 oz packaged pre-sliced baby bella mushroom bags, but you can use white mushrooms, canned straw mushrooms, whatever you want)

Directions:

  1. Heat onions and garlic in peanut oil until onions just start to get transparent.
  2. Pour in chicken broth, juice from tomatoes, coconut milk, rice vinegar, fish sauce, lemongrass, sugar, and chili paste (according to your taste, you can omit this if you don't like spicy soup).
  3. Bring to a light boil. Add a handful each of washed cilantro and basil and put into the soup.  Stir and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove cilantro and basil.  Add tomatoes and mushrooms.  Cook another 5 minutes.
  5. Add shrimp and scallops.  Cook 3 minutes or so, just until seafood is cooked.
Remove from heat and serve.  The leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated to enjoy in the next few days -- if it lasts that long!

Here are some pictures.  Enjoy!  ~Jamie

Onions and garlic,cook until soft
Ingredients
Handful of cilantro
Handful of basil, too
Just put cilantro and basil in soup, stems/leaves and all
Stir cilantro and basil, cook 10 minutes
Remove cilantro and basil, then discard
Spoon into bowls. Yum!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Growing Up ... Well, Not So Much

As moms, I'm sure we all see signs from our kids that they are "growing up". Sometimes these signs are definite, like when my oldest son got his first girlfriend. Other times ... well, not so much.

Me (to my 8-year old): "Xavier, you're so cute".

Xavier: "Mom, you know I really don't like the word 'cute'".

Me: "Why not?"

Xavier: "It's really baby-ish."

Me: "Alright, then what should I say instead?"

Xavier: (Without a pause.) "How about 'adorable'"?

So, what started out potentially as a "growing up" lecture from my X-man, ended up quite nicely that my big man is still my little man.


So, what are some signs that you see with your kids that they're "growing up"?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Beginning of a New Week ... Do I Get a Do Over?

Well, it's Sunday. The beginning of a new week, and maybe the beginning of many new things. This past week ends on a rocky note. So, maybe I can look at this new week as a chance to do some things over -- or at least a little differently.

First, I made a new gravatar and header for my blog. I do think it is still a work in progress, but it definitely better fits me. My hair is exactly the same (if I had a constant up-burst of wind blowing my hair up into a fantastic volume of sexiness. Just like J-Lo at the grammies. Mmm, note to self, find something on eBay that can do that for me.)

Second, we had a setback in our pre-teen communications just two days after my small win in that department (see Big Hair Was Cool, and Other Things I'll Talk to My Pre-Teen About). Big blow-up, all out argument on Friday after school -- so it's been a rough weekend so far. However, today starts a brand new week, and I'm confident that things can't possibly get worse.

Third ... well, I haven't thought about a specific third new thing so I'm just optimistic about the possibilities for greatness.

Anyway, happy Sunday everyone! Here's to new things and maybe a chance for some do overs!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Valances at Target, Fundraising Events, and Things That Make You Go Huh?

I go through these phases where I’ll find myself saying a word all the time. Whatever the word is, I’ll use it correctly and incorrectly in numerous daily experiences.

For a while there, my favorite word was Ridiculous. When one of my kids did something that was just rude and uncalled for, Ridiculous!, I’d say. If something were terribly funny, I’d reward it with Ridiculous! If something were really great and quite close to the next best thing, I’d exclaim, Ridiculous!

Anyway, for just about every situation during the day, the word Ridiculous seemed to easily find a way to be used – I’d say at least 15 to 20 times a day.

Da da da da! And the New Word Is…

Earlier this week, I wrote a post called Einstein's Bucket Theory, or Reasons Why I Forget Stuff and tagged it under a new category I named Things That Make You Go Huh? Well, ever since then, my new word is Huh. (See these things I think of? According to the Bucket Theory, it's no wonder I forget stuff!)

Anyway, a close relative of Eh? and polar opposite of Oh!, Huh makes a comeback for me from my days in college when my ability to take full advantage of higher learning was negatively impacted by my ability to party every single night.

In the past few days, I’ve noticed that I’ve used Huh more than I normally would. It may be a side effect of reduced sleep, since lately I’ve been working more hours, worrying about my pre-teen son and how we need to have “The Talk”, and just being a bit more stressed lately. The fact that I’m a bit tired and generally lacking in attention these days, is most likely the reason why I’m constantly saying Huh.

My Shining Moment – Using My Word of the Day

So, my girlfriend, Kim, and I are together planning the biggest fundraiser of the year at our kids’ elementary school. This fundraiser is a Dinner/Auction and is responsible for 70% of the funds raised each year by our PTC (Parent-Teacher Committee). Yesterday morning, we met and talked about the event planning so far. Kim was talking about the subcommittees and then about the event budget. Well, my mind wandered and I started thinking about the new curtains and rods I had put up in my living room. And, then I heard Kim say something about a valance at Target. I spun out of my own little world, regained my focus back on Kim, in disbelief that she was actually talking about the same thing I was thinking, and said, Huh?

Well, we were meeting about the fundraiser, not talking about window coverings. We needed to make sure we ”balanced the budget” and not about adding a valance from Target. I’m pretty sure I recovered well, because our meeting continued to go smoothly – although I had to try really hard after that to try not to think about whether Target had any cute valances. Huh. I'll have to go check.