Monday, March 30, 2009

Bedtime Stories for the whole family



This is a scene from the newly-released movie, Bedtime Stories, starring Adam Sandler. And I just have to say that if you like family movies, or even just like families in general, then this is the perfect film for you.

Seriously.

The summary on the box is pretty accurate. “Skeeter entertains his niece and nephew with elaborate, original bedtime stories that transport them to exotic locales, including ancient Greece, the Wild West and outer space. When he tries to help his family by telling one outlandish tale after another, it’s the kids’ unexpected contributions that turn all of their lives upside down. Full of imaginative special effects and good-natured hilarity, Bedtime Stories is a winning combination of comedy and adventure.”

I loved this. We watched it together last Saturday morning, and each of us laughed aloud in different places. And not out of stifled embarrassment at something inappropriate, but honest laughter because it is just very clever.

The movie even received an even more dubious stamp of honor the very next day when eight third-graders camping out overnight watched together the entire time captivated and completely entertained.

So if you are looking for a great story, at bedtime or otherwise, I highly recommend starting with this one.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Flowing into the weekend

I'm in the ebb cycle of my posting this week. Blech. I hate this bimonthly lack of inspiration that seems to plague me.

However, after a weekend camp-out with six 3rd graders tomorrow, I'm sure I'll have plenty to talk about. That's right, the Intern left last night for a weekend furlough back home, so to fill the dead space with boy squeals and smells, M. has invited his posse over for a sleepless half-night in the backyard.

It will be a mere hour before they can't take it and we'll move the party inside, but the boys are looking forward to this with unbridled enthusiasm, so we will attempt tent set-up 101 for the cause.

I'm off to target for supplies--marshmallows, batteries for the flashlights and a gross of Advil.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Are you sure we don't need milk?

Ah, Tuesday. My little mid-week Spongebob respite. How I've missed you...

This Tuesday's date night which is usally filled with errands, eyebrow waxing, HOA meeting dramas, grocery store runs sans "help," and the ocassional appointment has none of those things on the agenda this evening. Weird. I hardly know what to do.

So I think after hitting the gym someone should meet us out for cocktails.

Who is in?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Please send help

I know I need to seriously step away from the cupcake book now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

How to get into the salon when they are already completely booked:

Just repeat what your 8 year-old said to you that morning when looking at your head.

"Mom, you look like a skunk."

Female humiliation is universal, they will squeeze you in.

I wonder what mammel I'll be compared to today.

Monday, March 16, 2009

If I've ever asked you to pick one up in car line, I didn't mean you...



Sunday's paper. My first feature. Happiness.

I need to clear up something here because it's come up with my friends and I feel bad--this article wasn't directed at you! It's for the strangers that feel the need to comment on my ovary production at every flippin' inappropriate moment, not to people that actually know me. So, really, I wasn't talking about you--just the creepy guy behind you. :)

I'm just now catching up on all of the very nice emails and comments I have received. Yesterday, I was in an ibuprofen-induced stupor because of some crazy shoulder thing that has the right side of my body paralyzed. It was either from swinging a baseball bat the day before with the kids, or all of the worry I've had over this piece concentrated in a large knot in my hypothalamus.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday the 13th, squared

Because this is the second month in a row with a Friday the 13th, my luck is pretty good today. Consider:

1.) I completed the 5th major assignment of the week. Boy, are my synapses tired.

2.) Mint chocolate-chocolate chip ice cream from Coldstone doesn't have meat in it so I can eat it all day.

3.) I almost beat Sean in our marathon online Scrabble fest.

4.) The proof-reader liked the story running on Sunday and NOT because it was a professional challenge.

5.) It may be the 13th, but it's FRIDAY.

Any good luck befall you?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What I've been doing in my spare time

I haven't been ignoring you on purpose, I've just been busy in other non-cupcake pursuits. And so help me, I do hope I never have to write that tragic sentence again.

But I have been writing other sentences. Lots and lots of them. And if the publishing gods residing on Mt. St. Pete smile upon me, my first feature will be printed in the Times in this Sunday's Floridian section. A little lighthearted piece on big families.

And now this big family is shuffling off to hockey practice.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sweet Things

I love cupcakes. No, seriously love them. I love them so much that if Florida recognized confectionary unions, I would marry them. That’s a lot of love.

So imagine my elation when perusing the selections at the Scholastic Book Fair at my childrens’ school, that amongst the Diaries of Wimpy Kids and paperback Spongebob episodes, was a sexy little tome in the adult section: Hello, Cupcake, Irresistibly playful creations anyone can make, by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson.

Hello, yourself, sweet thing.

Inside its colorful pages was the cupcake lover’s manifesto. In the introduction it teases, “All this is easy: honest. Forget the complicated pastry techniques and expensive decorating supplies. You can find almost everything for these projects at your local grocery store, drugstore, or even a gas-station convenience store.”

You had me at gas-station.

There were dozens of cool cakes to choose from. Sleeping children with fruit roll-up blankets for a slumber party, a candy corn turkey for Thanksgiving. There were dogs, horses, and even a T.V. dinner sculpted mostly from cut-up Starburst for April Fool’s Day. Decisions, decisions.

We ended up choosing the highest degree of difficulty to begin--the 3-dimensional penguins because that’s how we roll. After I procured all of the ingredients at the grocery store (except for the black food coloring which I found Michael’s) my kids and I set to work.

We used a regular cake mix, although there are recipes for homemade cupcakes and frosting in the back of the book. We baked them and let them cool and then began assembling them according to the books’ clear directions.


And you know, it worked. It actually worked.

In less than an hour (after baking time) we had these adorable penguin cupcakes complete with coconut-snow covered icebergs for the Swedish Fish. They looked pretty close to the picture, and using the candy pieces instead of something infinitely more complicated liked marzipan, made this a very kid-friendly project. The only trouble I had was dipping the cupcakes, which probably could be solved after a few practice runs.



I’d like to report that they taste as good as they look, but I can’t honestly say because no one is willing to bite the head of those penguins to do a taste test.

So the fires of my love affair with the cupcake have been stoked once again.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Wow.

It seems my light post about Tattoo Barbie has drawn some anger from some folks.

Um...okay?

I’m not sure why a humor piece poking fun at a tattoo “machine” (not gun as I’ve been admonished) marketed to five year olds would draw so much ire, but apparently there is a section of the population that believes that the comedic protest of children’s toys mimicking something that’s illegal for minors to get in 38 states to get is really, really offensive to them.

Um...okay?

As I stated, (twice in fact) have at whatever you want to do to your consenting adult body, that’s not the issue. But why on earth would a toy manufacturer go in this direction? If a kid wants to put a tattoo on her Barbie, there’s a pack of Sharpie’s in the drawer. We need no additional accessories than that.

So, to conclude from the insightful comments I’ve received:

1) Don’t you worry--this Barbie was never on my shopping list anyway.

2) Hepatitis inoculations are available for types A and B and not C.

3) Thanks for the concern on the elasticity of my buttocks, but I think I’m just fine in that department.

4) All those who looked for offense where there was none might want to refer to number three.

Thanks.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Going National

Although it wasn't about my doll protest, CNN ran a story this morning on the new tween Dora doll that another Mom blogger wrote of earlier this month.

It was a great mention with a very generous screen shot of Whoa Momma! and I'm tickled to be a part of that.

Even though I have a feeling the haters will be out in full force this weekend...

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Mixing it up in 2009

What’s new for hungry foodies in 2009? While going out to dinner thoughtlessly is out, the re-appreciation of cooking at home is in.

A recent conversation with famous food blogger and author, Pim Techamuanvivit, reveals that it is the adventurous home cook’s time to shine.

In addition to eating out less often, the influence of food-related television, blogging and online resources have changed the way we eat. “These have really expanded our food horizons and brought the world to our living rooms.” She notes, “people are cooking more at home, playing with flavor.”



And she should know a little about exotic flavors. Her blog,Chez Pim has recently been named by The Guardian as one of the top 50 blogs in the world. She has served as a guest judge on Iron Chef America. She has recently published her first book, The Foodie Handbook: The (almost) Definitive Guide to Gastronomy, and continues to write for food magazines like Bon App├ętit, Gourmet, and Food and Wine. She recently partnered with Rachel’s Wickedly Delicious Yogurt and Cottage Cheese because she appreciates their ingredients and unique flavor combinations like pomegranate acai and pear mangosteen.


Photobucket





She says fellow foodies can look forward to a number of exciting food trends emerging this year.

-Lavender. You’ll see this in everything from chocolates to cocktails.

-Already popular in Latin America, look for more U.S. chefs to use cactus in their dishes.

-Exotic produce, especially from Southeast Asia, becoming more mainstream and available.

-Mixing unexpected flavor combinations in familiar foods and products.

She advises adding surprises to traditional comfort foods is a great way to encourage adventurous eaters. This may help to introduce new foods into even the pickiest repertoire.

Like her food philosophy, her writing is just as varied. Today’s entry may feature “Thai scallop ceviche,” but one of her most popular posts was her homemade “Pop Tarts” recipe.

So dare to be a little different this year and mix things up in the kitchen.

Any way you slice it, 2009 will be deliciously different.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Scrapped

I just set aside yet another post into the draft pile, deeming it not blog-worthy.

This was on Lent, and after I wrote an entire manifesto, I thought my personal convoluted journey through Lent is probably not something that both readers of this blog would be interested in.

I have several of such partially-written, harshly-judged documents in my repetoire at the moment, and I really am hoping to push past this particular writing phase shortly.

Please stand-by.

Monday, March 02, 2009

And the winners of paint are...

What a colorful world this will be...

There were so many wonderful, touching, humorous and general fabulous comments left for this Olympic paints and Exterior Stain giveaway, that I was very glad to select the winner by random drawing rather than have to choose among the stories.

I could totally relate to the seemingly endless home redecorating projects like Alter Ego Jenny’s 100 year old house or Jenna’s 11 month Master bedroom redo.

I could see the color swatches gone terribly wrong in Shel’s “eggs and ketchup” kitchen or the “you know the color of the nurse's office where you went to elementary school?” mint green of Becki’s basement.

I was also touched by CatalystMom’s efforts to decorate after IVF, “the birth and now life with our three year old toddler and the birth of my new business.” And Sdurviage’s needs after Hurricane Dolly gave them extensive damage to their homes.

So as you can read, it was good thing this contest was random. And the two randomly selected names out of the hat are Mikki W. from Tampa and Karianna. Mikki will receive enough Olympic paint of her choice to “transform our kitchen…I am dreaming in shades of gold and cranberry with little toy chefs accenting around. Kind a like elf on a shelf…” (or whatever project she likes) and Karianna will receive exterior stain and cleaner to get her deck, fence or Tiki hut ready for spring. (Not sure if they make a purple stain or not…)

Congratulations to our winners, and thank you all so much for sharing!

Greening Our Schools

They turn off the water when they brush their teeth. They shuffle the recycling bins to the end of the driveway. Paper or plastic? How about canvas?

With help from the kids, your home is getting greener by the day.

But what about that other place where they spend their days? Is your child's school as green as it could be?

Terra Wellington, author of "The Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family Green: Saving the Earth Begins At Home," says the effort "starts in your home and moves outward from there." Much like the anti-litter campaigns of the seventies, our children need to integrate good recycling habits by learning it culturally.

She outlines a complete "green school action blueprint" in her book, but shares these tips that parents can help implement in their child's school.


~Homework: Ask your child's teacher if some assignments can be printed on both sides of the paper. Paper consumption is automatically cut by 50%.

~Use and donate recycled paper rather than virgin paper. According to the Bureau of International Recycling, recycled paper not only saves trees, but the manufacturing of recycled paper generates 70% less air pollution and 35% less water pollution.

~Assign a "light monitor" to make sure lights are turned off and computers are in standby mode. A standby setting can reduce power over 90 percent, helping to conserve energy.


~Encourage "litter-less lunches" by packing lunches in reusable or recyclable material like aluminum foil which is endlessly recyclable. Ideally, any food waste should be composted and then used in a school vegetable garden maintained by students.

But perhaps the biggest impact for greening our schools is how we get there. By using the school bus we save energy and money. According to Wellington and the American School Bus Council (ASBC), diesel school buses:

~Take 36 cars off of the road per bus.

~Are 8 times safer than passenger cars and use more green diesel technologies.

~Save 3.1 billion gallons of fuel every year.

~If another 10% more children rode school buses, another 300 million gallons of fuel could be saved annually.


~The daily fuel cost to transport a child to school is $3.68 for a private vehicle but only $.73 if that child rides a school bus.

And to help your school get greener, IC Bus is sponsoring an essay contest for students to win a $3000 scholarship and a hybrid bus for their school. Students are asked to submit a 500 word essay on how their school is going green. Go to AmericasGreenestSchool.com for more tips, contest details and to enter.

Entries are accepted until April 30, 2009--just in time to celebrate Earth Day.

Good green habits are great lessons for homework and in the classroom.