Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Buzzing the neighbors

MiniMe has been practically assaulting the UPS man this week. While I may love a man in uniform, her reason for giving the man in the big brown truck extra attention is that she ordered something online and is more than anxiously awaiting its delivery.

She saved the money she got from grandparents and great grandparents and used it to purchase an electric Razor scooter. I knew she wanted one, but I had a problem with buying her a scooter that did all the work for her when she has a perfectly good regular scooter and a new bicycle that she hardly ever rides. But it is her money and if she wanted to blow it all on what was apparently the most popular item for adventurous kids between the ages of 8 and 12 this holiday season, who am I to stop her?

I checked every store in the two-county area online and by phone and no one had a single one of these scooters in stock after Christmas - not even a scratched and dinged floor model. In fact, the over-tired customer service reps that answered my calls all laughed when I asked.

So now that it has been ordered and we've gotten notice that it has shipped, MiniMe practically launches herself into the truck of all delivery men and women who enter our neighborhood looking for the anticipated Razor scooter. My neighbors will not know what hit them when this scooter finally arrives and MiniMe goes zooming all over the neighborhood like a white-blond-and-freckled-bat-out-of-hell.

While we didn't have electric scooters when I was a kid, my dad made sure my sister and I had a chance to aggravate the hell out of our neighbors. He built us a two-seater go-kart with a 4 horsepower engine. The thing probably sounded like a lawnmower on steroids, but we thought it sounded like a whole lot of fun! While the go-kart did have a roll bar, it had no seat belts and we wore no helmets. Those were the good old days when kids were bulletproof and parents were more relaxed. I think my sister and I with that go-kart were probably responsible for the early loss of hearing of many of our senior neighbors. Well that and the fact that my dad had a rail dragster that he used to run up and down the road for practice. I bet we had more than a few neighbors who would have paid for us to move!

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth

In addition to all the clothes and techno gadgets I got for Christmas this year, I gave myself a gift that is long overdue - braces. That's right, I'm a 40-something year old woman sporting braces. Apparently adults are the fasting growing consumer segment in the orthodontic industry. Perhaps it is a mid-life thing? A way to return to my youth? I think next I'll try out for the cheerleading squad, develop a crush on a senior boy and lament the fact that I have NOTHING to wear this Friday night! You know, the usual teen angsty thing.

Beloved laughs at me whenever I rush off to brush my teeth after eating anything. I'm so paranoid I'll have food in my braces. Gross! My girlfriends all promised me that they would be true friends and be the first ones to tell me if I have spinach stuck in my braces . . .after they take a picture and post it online of course. Gotta love good friends.

My orthodontist (I can't believe I have my own orthodontist - how retro!) gave me a waterpik to use when she put the braces on. Only I'm so uncoordinated that when I try to use it, I soak down the entire bathroom. I now only use it in the shower to keep from having to break out the mop.

I think after a couple of weeks now I'm getting the hang of the braces thing. Only, there's one question I have not been able to solve. Since my braces are silver, can I still wear gold jewelry or is "mixing medals" a fashion faux pas?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from my new netbook!

I'm blogging from my new Samsung netbook, which was my Christmas gift today! That means you'll be hearing from NativeMom from anyplace I happen to be. I'm mobile!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Very Mutzy Christmas!

I got a Christmas card today from someone I was not expecting to hear from and it made my whole year! 

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to foster a shelter dog here at Casa NativeMom this year. And even more fortunate that this dog found a great, loving home. The family that adopted Mutzy (pictured on the left) took the time to send us a very nice note thanking us for helping them become a forever home for her this year. Receiving that card, with Mutzy's happy fuzzy face, along with all the other continued communication that the adoptive family has generously provided to us along the way, made our first experience in fostering a shelter dog a truly rewarding one. 

Peace, Love, Paw - Adopt a Shelter Dog!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mother's Hall of Shame

So I was reminded this afternoon that I won't ever be inducted into the Mother's Hall of Fame. I'm probably a much better candidate for the Mother's Hall of Shame. Here's why.

I get an e-mail from a very creative friend. She has designed little ready-to-print gift tags that say "To Kevin, Love Santa" with a picture of Santa and the tag written in "Santa's handwriting."

She blasted a copy of the tag out to all her friends offering to create tags with their children's names on them for all of us lucky parents to use as we wrap our holiday gifts. We simply had to e-mail her back with the list of our children's names.

Now that is a VERY generous offer and the tag really is adorable. I'm sure any child would love to have a gift addressed specifically to him/her from Santa under the tree this year.


The e-mail might as well have read as follows.

Dear (slacker mom):

Merry Christmas! I have finished all the shopping, baking & shipping and hand crafted ornaments for the tree. As I sip my chamomile tea, relaxing in my artfully decorated home, with my beautiful, smart, well-behaved children sleeping snugly in their beds, I am anxiously awaiting the glorious Christmas morning that is to come in just a few short days. While I'm baking dozens of homemade gingerbread men for all my friends and family tomorrow, I'd be happy to create one-of-a-kind gift tags for all your children. Simply send me your list and I'll whip up these artistic tags so that you too can experience the joy of seeing your little darling's face light up as he or she opens her gift delivered straight from Santa on Christmas morning.

She found the time to design personalized Santa gift tags?!?!? (By the way, this UberMom works and has two children). Up until this moment, I was proud of the fact that I'd actually spelled all my kids' names correctly on the sticky, cheapo, store-bought tags on their hastily wrapped gifts. Heck, let's be honest, I was actually kinda proud of the fact that with 4 more days to go until Christmas, I've gotten every one's gifts bought, wrapped, and placed under the tree. I even managed to ship all the gifts to family without having to resort to taking a loan to cover overnight shipping costs.

Yes, I was feeling kinda proud of myself. Until Miss Handmade Children's Gift Tag had to remind me that I'm really just a slacker mom

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Welcome to the World!



My sister and brother-in-law welcomed a 5Lb 10 ounce baby girl at 1 a.m. this morning. While baby (no name yet) was early, everything is good.

Sissy made birthing a baby look like a walk in the park. Overachiever!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas at Epcot

This week MiniMe, Beloved and I went to see the Candlelight Processional at Epcot. First of all, the park is decorated beautifully. If you've never been able to visit France, England, Morocco or Germany during the holidays, you can experience a taste of it at Epcot. Walking through them all is a great way to learn more about holiday traditions around the world.

We started our evening with dinner at Marrakesh in Morrocco. Everyone had to put on their "try new things" faces as the menu at Marrakesh is a little different than what we're used to. MiniMe, who usually has no problem trying new things, was being a little stubborn. So when the salad and appetizer came and I couldn't get her to give it a try, I let her know that they wouldn't let her ride the camel after dinner if she didn't give everything a try.

"What camel? Is there a camel? Can we really ride it?" she asked.

"There's a camel," I replied. "But I doubt they'll let you ride it if you don't participate in the meal."

So wouldn't you know it, she gave a few things on the menu a try. And wouldn't you know it, I made up the whole camel thing. Well kind of.

She was not amused. 

But we all thoroughly enjoyed the Epcot Christmas experience!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Vegetarian Lite

I rented a documentary this weekend I'd been wanting to see, Food Inc. I transitioned to a vegetarian lifestyle about a year and half ago, and while I don't push it on others, I did start watching the documentary on Saturday while everyone else was home. So of course, MiniMe came in and plopped down to watch TV with me for a while.

I tried to explain to her what the documentary was about, which is the the affect of factory farming on our society and health and the control of the nation's food supply by a handful of multinational companies. This is not one of those shock-value PETA type movies. There aren't any video/photos of animals being tortured, just a real look at the machine that feeds America. 

After only about 20 minutes, MiniMe says "Ewww, I think I may have to become a vegetarian."

To which I reply, "Well, that's a choice everyone has to decide for themselves."

"I could live on macaroni and cheese I think," she says a few minutes later.

Finally, she gets tired of watching the documentary and heads to the kitchen. I hear the fridge open and the sounds of lunch being made. 

"What are you eating MiniMe?" I ask from the living room.

"Lunch" she replies.

"What are you eating for lunch" I ask.

"A sandwich"

"A vegetarian sandwich?" I inquire.

"Kind of," she replies.

"What does that mean?"

"A sandwich with only two pieces of ham on it."

I guess that's her version of vegetarian lite? In one ear and out the other I guess.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Bad Toys Hall of Fame

Blogger Extraordinaire Lenore Skenazy shared a list of toys readers submitted that WILL NOT be inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame this year or any year, as published in The Week magazine. I just had to share!


Recently, the ball was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame — really! — along with other classics like the jump rope and bike. We asked you to predict a toy that will nevermake it into the Hall of Fame and you sold us on:

 The E-Z Bake Electric Chair
Bruce Meyer, Carlsbad, Calif.

SECOND PRIZE: Mr. Potato Head’s neighbor, Mr. Crack Head
Ed Markarian, Santa Monica, Calif.

 Text ‘n’ Drive Big Wheel
David R. Tune, Hagerstown, Md.


Strawberry Shortskank
Bill Muse, Seattle

Obstructive View-Master
Bill Hutton, Winchester, Va.

Jihad Joe
Keith Newman, Athens, Ohio (and others)

Don’t Tickle Me There Elmo!
Dave Zuda, Worth, Ill.

Free-Range Ant Farm
Mimi Hassett, Housatonic, Mass.

Hamster Embalming Kit
Daisy Michael, Westminster, Md.

Abandoned Refrigerator Secret Hideout
Eric Peterson, San Jose, Calif. (and others)

Co-Dependent Ken
Sean Osborne, Cross Plains, Tenn.

Dart Board with an Automatic Return
Ken Hussar, Lancaster, Pa.

Ginsu Hula Hoop
Francesca Kranzberg, Washington, DC (and others, similar)

The Hula Square
Chuck Gaston, Lancaster, Pa.

Subprime Monopoly
Valerie Potter, Albuquerque, N.M.

The Solid Color Rubik’s Cube
Steve Kaplan, St. Louis Park, Minn.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Amazing jumprope girls!

The Firecrackers are a performance jump rope team made up of talented 4th-8th graders from the Kings Local School District in Ohio. Coached by Lynn Kelley, they perform at venues across the country. 

Amazing Jump Rope Girls!!!

This wore me out just watching it!!! Thanks for passing this along Tigger!

Weird Holiday Traditions

Everyone has their own holiday traditions. I have a few, but I don't seem to be able to keep them alive this year. One of my traditions has always been going to see the Nutcracker ballet. This year, I just haven't been able to work it into my schedule due to holiday parties & other obligations. But, keeping flexibility in mind (I've decided flexibility will be my new thing), I may have to watch it on TV. 

Another holiday tradition that was dashed this year involved decorating the christmas tree. For years, I've enjoyed having the kids around to help me decorate the tree. This involves forcing them to stop what they are doing and grudgingly come help me hang ornaments on the tree. But the really fun part is that we watch the Jurassic Park movie while we do it. Nothing says "holiday" like a few hundred genetically engineered dinosaurs! 

This year, I was only able to force MiniMe and Beloved to help me decorate the tree. And when Beloved put the Jurassic Park VHS tape in to play, the player ate the tape. Now it is a 15-year-old VHS tape, so it's amazing it's lasted this long. And I've been watching the movie during the tree decorating exercise every year. Just cause I'm weird like that. 

So with the Jurassic tape broken, and only one of my kids around to help me with the tree, we had to be flexible and find an alternative for our traditional holiday tree-decorating movie. Buffy the Vampire Slayer seemed like a good substitution.

I missed seeing the dinosaurs this year, but forgot how funny Buffy could be, especially the part where she realizes the secret weapon she possesses as a vampire slayer . . .PMS!

I'm putting the entire Jurassic Park DVD series on my Christmas list this year. Just in case . . . 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Brussel Sprouts, by request

Ok, here is the Brussel Sprout recipe. 

1 lb fresh brussel sprouts
Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic
Salt & Pepper

Trim the brussel sprouts and slice lengthwise in half. Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add 2 cloves garlic and stir until it begins to brown. Remove garlic from pan. Place the sprouts cut side down in the garlic butter in a single layer. Cook without stirring until the sprouts begin to brown, about 6 minutes. Drizzle olive oil over the sprouts and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Place skillet in 425 degree oven. Cook for 15 minutes or until tender. Toss with more salt & pepper to taste and serve warm. 

What makes these good (besides all the butter) is that the sprouts sear on the cut side then roast in the oven, which locks in flavor. 

Monday, November 30, 2009

My favorite part of thanksgiving

I hosted thanksgiving this year. My favorite part of the day was trying to explain to my favorite 90-year-old Mammaw the apps on my iPhone. It all started because my friends were HeyWAY'ing me. What's a HeyWAY you might ask? It's an app for my iPhone that lets my friends send me a location update and request my location update in return. This way we can keep track of where we all are at any given time - at home, on the beach, camping in the Florida wilderness. Why would you want to use HeyWAY (which stands for Hey, Where Are You?), you might be wondering. Because when you are actually someplace fun (like Disney World on a weekday or a beachside bar at 3 p.m. on a Friday afternoon) while your friends are possibly stuck at work or at home with their kids, it is fun to use this to brag!!! Unless you are my friend Bob, who keeps sending me HeyWAY-like messages with pictures of his toilet to let me know he's in the bathroom . . . again. 

Anyway, I was showing my Mammaw my iPhone and trying to explain all the things I could do with it to her after our feast. Imagine trying to explain the concept of the internet, a cellular phone, and how they combine to create the iPhone to a 2-year-old who does not have the knowledge of terminology like "app", "wireless", GPS, etc. This was what I was facing in trying to explain iPhone technology to a lady who just learned how to use a DVD player. As I reached way back into the recesses of my vocabulary to try and explain my wonderphone-slash-mini-computer-with-internet-access-and-e-mail-capability-and-oh-yeah-it's-also-a-digital-camera, I not only got myself cracked up, but got her cracked up as well. We finally decided to leave it as a "mystery" not to be solved in her lifetime.

My second favorite moment of Thanksgiving (cause I know you're all just dyin' to know) was the success of my brussel sprouts. That's right, I said brussell sprouts. Not a favorite among vegetables. And when I let everyone know I'd be cookin' brussell sprouts for thanksgiving, I got a lot of "oh, okaaaayyyy" type of responses from my guests. Yet, when I served my roasted brussell sprouts, they were so tasty, they were the only side dish on the menu of which there were no leftovers. And .. .my favorite 90-year-old Mammaw even asked for the recipe. Twice. 

Which just goes to show, let a Vegetarian serve the side dishes for thanksgiving and leave the meat to the carnivores. 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dear Scout,

Dear Scout,

Since this is a week of Thanksgiving, I'm going to try to remember the spirit of the season and be thankful for you, my four legged friend, and forgive you for chewing up my favorite pair of shoes. I know I've been really busy and didn't stop to take the time to scratch your belly this morning as I scurried around the room trying to get ready for work. Which must be why you sat your furry butt down in my closet and chewed all the beads, rhinestones and jeweled adornments off my blue shoes. 

A sparkly pair of shoes is like Corgi Crack for you, I know. But I had these shoes put away neatly in my closet, not lying in the middle of the floor where they would be an unfair temptation. Last year when you chewed all the jewels and sparkles off just ONE of the shoes in this pair, Ira the miracle worker of shoe repair was able to fix it. But this time, this time you've chewed off ALL the sparkles and jewels and I've only found a few remaining, which all have teeth marks in them. I guess the rest of the sparkly adornments will show up sooner or later. But there's no salvaging them this time. 

I promise this week I'll try to fit in time between work, getting ready to host Thanksgiving and blogging to give you the attention you so obviously need. 

Support Animal Arts

The annual St. Augustine Arts & Crafts Festival this weekend, Nov. 28-29 at Francis Field, will have a booth featuring some very special artists - Marineland's Dolphins.

The festival donated the booth space to Marineland's Dolphin Conservation Center to help raise awareness and funds for the dolphin research and conservation program. I think this is a fantastic idea! I mean who wouldn't want a piece of art created by a dolphin?!? And your purchase helps protect the species. What a deal!

If you've ever wanted to have a dolphin encounter, NativeMom recommends Marineland, located just south of St. Augustine on AIA. 

Vampires and Flashes and Hounds, Oh My!

What a weekend. Got started early by taking MiniMe to see New Moon on Friday afternoon. Oh, who am I kidding, I was going to see New Moon and took her as a cover. There were lots of adults sans kids at the theater, so I guess I needn't have worried. I don't know what all the reviewers are saying about New Moon, because I'm not reading the reviews (big raspberry to all you Twilight hating middle aged white men reviewing movies for the associated press). But I can tell you that New Moon definitely earns a Native Mom endorsement. It was very action packed and MiniMe and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Saturday night it was a night of Flashes. No, not paparazzi or streakers, a reunion with my high school friends. Our high school mascot was the Flash, represented by a lighting bolt. I know, pretty sorry excuse for a high school mascot. Other high schools had cougars and rams and bulldogs. We were just inclement weather. 

Anyway, my friend Lliba, always the social expert and organizer, managed to get 5 old classmates and our spouses together to see the Nights of Lights kick-off in St. Augustine. If you haven't had a chance to see the Night of Lights in St. Augustine during the holidays, I highly recommend it. 

The weekend rounded out with some holiday hounds. I was joined by Wondertwin and her two adorable kittens (a.k.a kids) to hand out some holiday cheer at the humane society. We delivered rawhide chews to all the "big dogs." November is Senior Dog Adoption month. They say it is better to give then to receive during the holidays. So if you are so inclined, give a senior dog a home. It is a gift that keeps on giving!!!

This week - Thanksgiving at Casa NativeMom. Oh, what fun and hijinks are in store? You'll have to wait to find out . . .

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dead Tree Versions

So, all you bloggers and lurkers out there, since you've embraced this new medium for communication, how do you feel about electronic books? I LOVE books and got the Amazon Kindle for Christmas last year. I wasn't sure if I would like reading books this way, but I love it. In fact, using it has changed the way I read. Now that I have an entire library of books at my fingertips, and in a very portable format, I find that I read 2 or 3 books at a time. It can be a little confusing, and sometimes I do have to go back and reread a page or two. But I love being able to read a heavy and serious book like What is the What and then take a break to read something lite and fluffy like Causing a Scene: Extraordinary Pranks in Ordinary Places with Improv Everywhere (shout out to PFHQ who just loves pranks!). 

I've recently discovered a new term that Kindlers like me are using to refer to books they are reading but not on their Kindle (as in the hardback and paperback variety ) - Dead Tree Versions.  I'm hoping that one day this term will make it into the dictionary (the electronic version of course). 

I'm still a fan of print - I mean after all I do get 3 newspapers delivered to my house each day. But I'm starting to embrace the electronic age more fully. Downloading and reading electronic books is easy, inexpensive, saves trees, reduces pollution and makes reading more available to a broader range of people. 

So if you have a reader on your gift list this year, consider the Kindle. It's NativeMom recommended!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Disney's Holiday Relationship Advice

I received some very helpful advice in the form of my weekly Disney e-newsletter today, that in the spirit of giving, I just had to share with all of you. At Disney, this holiday tip was titled "Give your relationship a holiday gift." The article was all about how to manage your relationship with your significant other during the stressful holiday season. 

So here is the advice offered by Disney's Los Angeles Relationship Expert (yes, that was her title, I kid you not). 

"We women have a very specific vision about things we're invested in; gifts, decorations or the way to set a table. But we rarely want to take the time to be that specific with our partners. We want them to be psychic."

Kaiser says that leaves us with three choices:

  • Let it go and allow him to do it his way.
  • Give specific detailed instructions and relax. If it's not perfect, deal with it.
  • Do it yourself. But if you choose this option, don't complain that it's all on your shoulders.

Cricket, cricket. Don't quite know what to think about that do you? I know, that advice stopped in my tracks as well. Let's start with the first point of advice. 

If I let it go, not only would it not get done his way, it wouldn't get done at all. I could illustrate this point by telling a story here about a Thanksgiving Turkey I once let one of my husbands be responsible for ordering, but that story ends with a rotisserie chicken from a 24-hour grocery store. Next point!

Give specific detailed instructions then relax . . . Ok, I could get on board with this. But halfway through the detailed instructions, I'm interrupted with suggestions for how to do it differently, then comes some backtracking over the first several steps, then confusion, frustration, a look of panic on his face . . . "Where do I find the eggs again? I think you're out of eggs. Are you sure we have eggs?" Oh, just forget it!

And finally our last sage nugget of advice, "Do it yourself but don't complain." I call this the Joan of Ark Syndrome. 

What good is doing everything yourself if you can't complain about it. I mean, it just wouldn't be a family gathering around Casa NativeMom without a few complaints. In fact, if I didn't complain or at least utter some sarcastic remarks, my family would think I'd been replaced by a Stepford Wife.

By the way, Joan of Ark was burned at the stake at age 19. I will not go quietly!

Hey Disney, if you're looking for a real relationship expert, stay out of L.A.!

TwiMom Countdown!

No, your eyes do not deceive you. Those are tickets to one of the first showings of the new film in the Twilight franchise we're holding. This TwiMom will be among the first to see New Moon this Friday. Oh yeah, and MiniMe is going with me. As if she had a choice?!?

MiniMe has proudly proclaimed herself Team Jacob, while I'm holding court as the original Team Edward representative. But let's be honest - Jacob, Edward, Werewolves, Vampires - it's all good stuff. 

I read all of the Twilight books during my Christmas vacation last year. MiniMe is still working her way through the first book. Whether or not the books are great is open to debate, but what is great is that I've found something MiniMe and I can enjoy together - great mother-daughter bonding material - and it's not as if I have too many more years (months, maybe) to be included as an equal partner in her fun little world. Any day now she's going to turn into a teenager and I will be lucky to get a few minutes of her time. 

So at 2 p.m. on Friday, we're gonna be TwiMom and TwiGirl with our popcorn, soda and Team Edward (Jacob!) t-shirts enjoying the New Moon!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thanksgiving at my place this year

In acknowledgement of the fact that I will be hosting the family for Thanksgiving this year, I took the preliminary steps toward getting prepared for my holiday hosting duties. That's right, I went out and bought the November issues of nearly every "food related" magazine on the market. My favorite, Everyday with Rachel Ray, is filled with recipes and plenty of "you can do it!" encouragment that make it seem as if pulling off Thanksgiving is as easy as a 30-minute-meal. 

It's not. But the folks at Everyday with Rachel Ray certainly make you feel that way. 

Then there's O the Oprah Magazine. I know, not a food magazine, right? But it has plenty of advice on how to spend a holiday with your dysfunctional family and stay sane. Forget the turkey, as a Southern born girl, the mom of a 'blended family' and with my very pregnant and moody sister in the mix, this is the kind of holiday survival guide I really need. Forget "how to make a perfectly moist thanksgiving turkey!" Oprah's the girl with advice like "how to serve the Thanksgiving turkey without having evil thoughts of your beloved family while you carve into the bird." 

My other magazine purchases included Budget Travel and Psychology Today. Need I say more?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Time Change or Time Warp?

Anybody else out there having some trouble adjusting to the time change? I usually look forward to the time change when we GAIN an hour of extra sleep in the morning. But this year, the time change left me feeling lethargic. I know it is not just affecting me. Last night when Beloved got home from work, he found me sitting in front of my computer. He wandered in and out of my office before finally saying, "I guess dinner is up to me tonight?" I looked at my watch. It was not quite 6:30. I was simply serving some microwave side dishes with a rotisserie chicken from Publix, so that would take me all of 10 minutes to prepare. I thought to myself, "gee slavedriver, I'm supposed to have dinner waiting for you when you walk in the door?!?" Then I realized, because it was dark out already and had been for a while, he was thinking it was later than it really was. 

We had dinner at the normal time - which around here is close to 7 p.m. because not everyone is home from work/soccer/swimming class, etc any earlier than that usually.

So the time change seems to have caught me and Beloved in the time warp. 

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It just wouldn't be halloween if . . .

. . . you didn't have to suffer as you trick or treated your way around the neighborhood with a costume that was scratching, itching or poking you or made it hard to breathe and or walk. 

This is a truism I had to keep reminding MiniMe about last night as we spent 2 hours trick or treating in our neighborhood and the one just a short walk away.

Her dad had rented her a "parrot" costume, with lots of feathers, which while they looked beautiful, were actually kind of scratchy and pokey. 

"I think this costume is giving me a rash," complained MiniMe only a half hour into our candy-seeking jaunt. "I've got a feather that keeps poking me in the eye."

Man UP! This is what halloween memories are made of. Scratchy costumes. Suffocating masks. 

"Believe me," I said to MiniMe, "one day you'll be trick or treating with your child and be telling him or her stories about the year you thought it would be a great idea to be a parrot, only the costume gave you a rash."

Then I told her, not for the first time or even the second time, about all the halloween experiences that my sister and I endured for the sake of that perfect costume. Some favorites:

The year I thought it would be a great idea to go dressed as Kermit the Frog. Wearing swim fins on your feet is ok when you're getting dressed and ready to go, but after about half a block, walking in the dark with swim fins on your feet is not only a pain in the ass, but a tripping hazard.

One year my sister and I went in matching costumes. Bags of jelly beans. Mom's idea and really quite a creative one. She took clear plastic drycleaning bags & cut leg holes in the top. Then she stuffed balloons around us inside the bags and tied the whole thing up around our necks with a pretty bow. We thought we looked great. But by the time we made it home from trick or treating, we'd left a trail of balloons through the neighborhood and now we were wearing nothing but tattered clear plastic bags. 

MiniMe and I left a trail of red feathers around the neighborhood along with a few candywrappers. Had to test the goods along the way. 

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shock & Awe

It's been coming on for a while now. But once MiniMe turned double digits, she entered the age range when she begins to think parents - namely me - don't know anything. I've discussed this with my girlfriends and we've identified several stages and warning signs. 

First, around the age of 10 or 11, the child begins to explain things to you as if you're an idiot. Especially anything having to do with the pop culture of tweens/teens.

By the time the child reaches 13, they no longer feel obligated to explain things to you that they think you don't understand. They just begin to roll their eyes and give you one word answers.

By 14, the child begins to openly argue with the parent that he/she doesn't know what they're talking about. This is the crucial phase when parents really become completely clueless and stupid.

Apparently, parents stay stupid and clueless until the child reaches the early 20s. Then they start asking for your help, guidance, advice again. Surprise, parents actually do know what they're talking about.

MiniMe is firmly in the early stage. She was reading aloud to me this week and one of the characters in her book about friends at a middle school used the term BTW. MiniMe stops reading to explain to me that BTW means "for your information," since of course her dumb old mom would have no idea what this hip, cool youthful term could mean.

"Actually, MiniMe, BTW means By The Way, but as it is being used in the sentence, the sentiment as you explained it is the same. It's another way of saying For Your Information, or FYI."

MiniMe looks back at her book and checks the spelling of BTW. I can see the wheels turning as she realizes By The Way and BTW share the same letter set.

She glances up at me with a look of pure astonishment. "How did you know that?!?"

"Because I'm a cool mom."

"No really, how did you know that?"

Like I said, she's in the early stage of my parental slide into stupidity. 

Monday, October 19, 2009

Native Mom Recommends . . .

MiniMe and I enjoyed ourselves immensely this past Sunday when we took the Kim Possible Mission at Epcot. All I can say is, great job Disney! You've got a real winner with this activity and I can see sooooo much entertainment possibility with this. The Kim Possible Mission is not a ride. It's not a show. It's completely interactive. It's the wave of Theme Park future! It worked like this.

We checked in at a Kim Possible command center. They swiped our park admission ticket and we were given a ticket with a scheduled time and place to report for our "mission," which in our case was Norway in about 30 minutes. When we got to Norway, we received our Kim Possible Kommunicator, which looks like a clunky cell phone. 

Once we activated our Kommunicator, the screen ran a animated video that gave us directions and clues. We had to travel around the park looking for "clues" and when we found them, we pushed a button on the Kommunicator and it activated something - like making wind chimes spin in Japan or making a fountain turn on in China. 

MiniMe and I got a huge kick out of looking for the clues and seeing what would happen when we pushed our Kommunicator button. Along the way, we ran across other families, kids and even adults playing the Kim Possible game with their tell-tale Kommunicators. 

There are 5 different missions in 5 different countries in Epcot. Each mission takes about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. It doesn't cost anything extra to participate.

You learn a little about the country on the way, you get some excercise, you learn to work together as a team and see things you might not have noticed before as you do your search.

It was really great. We had a blast. Great job Epcot Magic Makers!!! We'll definitely be back!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Take a ride for kids this weekend!

This weekend is the 15th annual Harley-Davidson Ride for Children. Tell anyone you know who likes to ride that there is still time to register to take part in the Sunday, Oct. 11 ride to benefit Camp Boggy Creek. I'll be working at the camp that day and Beloved will be riding along with some of our family and friends. Register and learn more at

If you join this ride, here's what you'll experience. 

  • A police escorted ride from Destination Daytona in Ormond Beach, FL. to Camp Boggy Creek, Eustis, FL. 
  • Nearly 1,000 motorcycles take part in the ride, which stretches for miles along the route.
  • When the riders arrive at camp, they're greeted by dozens and dozens of children and their families who line the route into camp. These are the families who have benefited from this amazing camp.
  • Outback Steakhouse serves up a great meal to each and every person that participates in the ride. 
  • There will be music, entertainment and a chance to see the camp and meet the staff, campers and their parents. 
  • The ride has raised more than $1 Million dollars for the camp. 

See what Camp Boggy Creek is all about at

Monday, October 5, 2009

Class Reunion

Our annual trip to Epcot's Food and Wine Festival has turned into a class reunion of sorts. My two best friends from high school bring their husbands along and we all spend a few days eating and drinking our way around the world. I think Epcot should embrace this idea of class reunions. I mean, after all, sometimes class reunions aren't that much fun. But if you get to eat and drink your way through a couple of dozen countries while catching up with people you haven't seen or talked to in 20 plus years (cause maybe there's a reason why you haven't spoken to them), that would be a big seller.

Not that it is that way with my group. These are folks I would spend time with whether or not there was a pinot noir from Australia involved. 

Beloved and I were also celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary. Here are my top picks from the Food & Wine Fest menu. NativeMom recommends:
  • Chile's Rock Shrimp Ceviche (I had one each day)
  • Ireland's Cheese Plate (Big H had 3 in one day)
  • The wine in Greece (pick one, they're all good)
  • The sparkling pomegranate Kir in France (even better at night when they serve it in a glass that glows)
  • Sausage on a pretzel roll in Germany (especially when served by a man in lederhosen, right Bob!)
  • Pork pot stickers in China (Mis & I agree on this)
  • Braised pork shank with cabbage in Poland
  • South Africa's seared beef tenderloin with sweet potato and mango barbecue sauce
  • Frozen margaritas, mango, peach, any flavor (Wondertwin calls them adult slurpees)

Best by far . . . the New England Lobster Roll and Boston Crab Cake. No one wanted to share one of these. 

It was a great weekend of weather, relaxation, entertainment, great food and great friends. Same time next year!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Back up plan

Yesterday MiniMe told me she has a back up plan. For a little more than a year now, she's proclaimed that when she grows up she wants to be a photographer. Which I encourage, or course. And actually, she's already pretty good at it. She's been taking pictures and video since she was only in the single-digit age.

Anyway, yesterday she said that just in case she doesn't make it as a photographer, she has a back up plan. To which I replied, "Well, that's good. There's a lot of adults I know who don't have a back up plan, so I think that's a good idea."

What is her back up plan, I inquired.

"In case photography doesn't work out, I plan to go to law school and become a judge," she says in all seriousness. "I think I'd make a good judge."

Yes, I agree, you would. 

Monday, September 28, 2009

Special Offer for Florida Residents

Beloved and I will be making our 4th annual trip to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival soon. We've always just purchased tickets for the park for the day. But this year, I got an e-mail reminding me of a special offer for Florida residents (like me!). Disney is offering its annual pass for 15 months instead of 12. So I did the math (with my trusty calculator) and figured out that since Beloved and I were spending two days this year at the Food & Wine Fest, it actually worked out cheaper to buy the annual passes. That's because, since it covers 15 months, we'll get to go to the Food & Wine Festival a couple of days this year AND a couple of days next year with the annual pass. And we can visit a few other parks this year in between, all for about the same price. Believe it or not, Beloved has never been to the Magic Kingdom. I guess he'll get to go now. 

So if you're considering making a trip to the "World" for any of the upcoming special events (Food & Wine Fest, Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween, Christmas events, etc), and you're a Florida resident, check out the special offer. 

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fall in Florida - No Waiting!

Enjoyed the local waterpark with the family yesterday. Beautiful day, great weather, and no waiting in lines for the rides since the tourist season has wound down. The lazy river wasn't a crowded bumper-car like experience. I even rode a few rides with MiniMe. 

The strangest thing, though, and this really happened, unfortunately. There were two women at the park, sitting not far from me on the pool deck. I happened to talk to one of the women, who told me that she and her friend were there to have a fun day without their kids. Not exactly the place I would have chosen to go on a kid-free Saturday with my girlfriend - a waterpark with nothing but kids surrounding you. They were sitting at the little tiki bar at the waterpark for a while. About an hour later, I come strolling by and now one of the ladies is dancing, drunkedly, around the bar. Uh-oh, I thought to myself. Another hour later and now both of the ladies are dancing drunkedly and suggestively as children scamper past. Cut those two off, I thought. 

I get back from a trip around the lazy river, and now there's a small gathering of park personnel around the ladies. One has passed out on the pool deck after getting sick. The other is apologizing to the park personnel while sitting half on and half off her lounge chair. 

Geez! What were these two thinking? "Let's each pay $20 to go to a family-filled waterpark on Saturday, spend a fortune buying overpriced shots and mixed drinks at the poolside tiki bar, and then show the local kids the effects of binge drinking up close." 

We're steps away from the beach, which has several bars for adults along the boardwalk, and the family waterpark is where these two decide to booze it up?!? Stupidity runs rampant. 

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Blog gets a mention

My other blog, plainbrowndog, got a mention in the Daytona Beach News Journal today. Here was the conversation around the breakfast table this morning.

Nativemom: Hey, check out this article. I spoke to this reporter yesterday and he mentions my blog in his article.

Beloved: Really, let's see. (reads the article). But this is your Bloggie (which is what he calls my plainbrowndog blog), not your NativeMom blog.

Nativemom: Yea, I know.

Beloved: This seals it. You're now officially a "crazy dog lady." Ha, you've been doing that Bloggie for only a month and that's what you get publicity for? You've been doing your NativeMom blog for almost two years. Ha, ha. You're a crazy dog lady!

Nativemom: People read my NativeMom blog! Just because it hasn't been mentioned in the newspaper, doesn't mean that it's not popular.

Beloved: Crazy dog lady!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Smile & Wave

MiniMe had a friend visiting for the day (damn those teacher duty days!!). So off they went with me while I ran my errands on a Friday morning. First stop, the bank drive thru. And of course, it was 2 or 3 cars deep in each lane, because it was Friday. 

We finally get our turn with the teller and we're in the lane that is farthest away from the giant window behind which the tellers are working. 

"Mom, roll down my window please" asks MiniMe when she realizes the child lock is engaged on the windows in the back seat. I roll the window down and continue preparing my deposit. Off I send it with a whoosh! From the backseat I hear giggling, and some chatter.

"Helllloooooo! Beautiful day! Hellooooo!"

I look in my rearview mirror and see MiniMe encouraging her girlfriend to join her in something that looks a lot like the Queen's wave with the beauty-queen-acknowledging-the-masses-from-her-parade-float posture. 

"Smile and wave, smile and wave" she encourages her friend, who's now fully involved in the princess posturing as well.

What are you doing? I ask. 

"This time, I'm gonna make sure the bank teller knows there's cute kids back here so we get lollipops! Helloooo!"

Next thing I know there's a statically crackle and the teller's voice squeaks over the car-side intercom, "How many lollipops would you like?"

Giggle, giggle . . ."YES!!! It worked!!"

I'll take two please. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ballroom Dancing . . .the New Soccer

I was taking MiniMe to her swim class this week and we were discussing this and other after school activities. 

"You know what my perfect week would be, Mom?" asks MiniMe.

No, what.

"A week where I have an after school activity every day."

Hmm, I reply, that's funny. Because you've done nothing but complain about this after school activity. 

"Well, I'd be happy doing after school activities if I could go to ballroom dancing class after school each day."

Damn that Dancing with the Stars I thought to  myself. 

But MiniMe, I replied, I don't think they offer ballroom dancing to kids. I think that is more of an adult thing. 

"I could do it. I could do the salsa!" she happily points out as she wiggles her little white butt.

Well, I don't think you would really like ballroom dancing, since you didn't like the ballet and jazz classes you took a few years ago.

"But Mom, ballroom dancing is different. I'd get to dance with boys."

Heaven help me when she turns 16!!!

Florida's First Theme Park Closes

Known for beautiful Southern Belles in period costume greeting visitors in the expansive botanical gardens, Cypress Gardens closed its doors on Wednesday. The state’s first theme park opened in 1936 and featured daily water ski shows that defied gravity.

So in honor of Cypress Gardens, I want to encourage everyone to give some of Florida’s classic theme parks and roadside attractions a visit before they disappear from the Sunshine State landscape.

Weeki Wachee Springs, my personal favorite, home to the underwater mermaid show and one of the deepest freshwater springs in the state.

Gatorland, a roadside attraction that pays homage to Florida’s native alligator.

Marineland, the world’s first oceanarium, opened in 1938. Today you can swim with dolphins and learn about ocean life in a unique oceanfront park.

Silver Springs, where the glass bottom boat ride originated, is a great wildlife and wilderness park and yes you can still take the boat ride.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm, which began way back in 1893 as the first animal attraction of its kind.  See alligators, Gator Wrasslin’, snakes, turtles, monkeys, birds, and much more along with educational shows. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

End of Summer

Today's high is 82 degrees with 86 percent humidity. Partly sunny. Yep, it's definitely the last day of summer! As if.

I'm thinking of taking MiniMe to the waterpark this weekend. While it is still summer-like conditions, the summer crowds have thinned, so it might be the perfect time to use those waterpark coupons I have had pinned to the bulletin board for 3 months. 

I saw the first ad for the Epcot Food & Wine festival in today's paper. Our motley crew will be there for two days this year, instead of just one. I'm counting down . . .because attending the Epcot Food & Wine festival is a real sign that fall has arrived. At least for me. 

Friday, September 18, 2009

Intimidating Old People

So you don't feel intimidated being surrounded by all us old people do you?

That was the question posed to me on a late Friday afternoon after I made a short day of work and stopped by a local picturesqe old Florida bar on the intracoastal waterway. 

"Not at all," I replied. "Am I cramping your style."

I mean, after all, it was 4 p.m. and that means happy hour and dinner time for the over 65 set around here. 

"No, we just don't get a lot of young people around this time of the day."

Well, I thought, that's because you've never met a slacker ass mom like me who will call it a day on Friday mid-afternoon. And you know this crowd was old, because it's not like I'm under the age of 40 anymore and he's referrring to me as a young'un. 

But what I really said was, "Old people are much more interesting to hang out with."

But the most amusing part of my senior citizen happy hour, was when 3 old codgers sitting at the bar (probably since noon), spotted me across the room and got all excited. One tried to get my attention and raised a glass to "toast" my 'youthful' beauty (or at least that's what I imagined he was doing). Only the ice had melted in his waterglass and he only succeeded in pouring water all over himself. Which almost sent his senior companions off their bar stools in laughter. 

So, I'm definitely back next Friday, right?!? Only this time, I'm taking Mammaw with me. Husband No. 5 for her has got to be there somewhere . . .

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Signs of Fall

My husband has scheduled a vacation for us in October that will hopefully allow us to see the fall leaves changing in the north Georgia mountains. I've never really experienced it. Beloved is a yankee, so he grew up experiencing the change of seasons. Being a Florida native, we experience the change of seasons, too, but fall isn't one of our "seasons."

Since the temperatures in late September here in Florida are still in the high 80s with a humidity level of about 90%, my husband gets very wistful for the temperature change and other signs of fall that he experienced in his youth. I try to empathize. I'm sure if someone transplanted me to the north, there are a lot of things about Florida I would miss. 

So I try to point out the "signs of fall" in Florida to Beloved. Certainly these things can't replace the fall remembrances of his childhood, but at least I can try to reprogram him to identify the subtle signs of fall in the Sunshine State. Here are a few I've identified, feel free to comment with your own.
  • High school football season starts, which means most parents/grandparents spend their Friday nights at a stadium someplace getting eaten by bugs.
  • The lines at Florida Theme Parks get shorter. 
  • You get your tax bill. 
  • Halloween decorations start appearing in neighbors yards, wilting under the Florida sun. 
  • Kids in the neighborhood start hitting you up for sales of wrapping paper, popcorn, candy, etc. to support their schools and activities. 
  • Your local TV weatherman/woman starts to look as if they're getting a little more sleep as hurricane season winds down. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Where are kids safe?

Where are kids safe anymore, you may be asking yourselves after hearing the story of Jaycee Dugard resurfacing after being abducted for 18 years. I say kids today are safe playing in the front yard. Safe in our neighborhoods. Safe walking to and from the bus stop. To use Jaycee's story as proof that good parents should never let their children go anywhere alone - even the front yard -  is shortsighted. 

I mean, if you use that logic, then you have to consider the story about Yale graduate student Annie Le, whose body was found yesterday in the high security medical school building at her school. Then say to yourself, our kids aren't safe at Yale!!!

Thank goodness for people like Lenore Skenazy over at Free Range Kids. She may seem like the only voice shouting in the wind as a supporter of allowing our children to be raised with independence, but she's not alone. Many moms, like myself, support her ideas about raising free range kids. Helicopter parenting may be popular, but does it really make sense? Especially when you consider that a helicopter mom who drives her child to and from his bus stop, is actually putting her child more at risk in the car than he would be walking through the neighborhood. That's because in America, a child is 40 times more likely to be killed as a passenger in a car than by a kidnapper. 

Children who are raised to be independent are in turn more confident, better at problem-solving and are self aware. Which makes them safer. 

I'm just sayin'.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Battle of the Theme Parks

Our Sunday newspaper had a huge article about what Disney World is doing to try and brace itself for the attendance drain that will come as a result of Universal Studios opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - a theme park within a theme park. Or at least that's how the Universal folks describe it. I have to say, this is the very first time I've seen a legitimate threat to Disney's theme park dominance in Florida. But don't worry fellow Floridians, it will all be good for us. Because Orlando will be overrun with tourists when that Harry Potter World opens next year. Little muggles and wizards from all over the world will be flocking to Central Florida to experience Harry Potter world. More tourism for Universal means more money for Florida. The travel and tourism of our state will definitely get a boost from Harry's magic wand. 

So what's Disney doing to prepare for the spell that Universal will cast on tourists near and far? It's overhauling Fantasyland. This Fantasyland redesign will rely heavily on the Disney Princess franchise, which is a powerful force, speaking from experience. Between the Little Mermaid, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Belle and now Tinkerbell, if you're the parent of a little girl, you cannot escape the Princess Fantasyland! 

I can't wait for the Harry Potter - Snow White throwdown! It's going to be magical!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

the board game that's never boring

Left hand RED! Right foot GREEN!

How many kids can you see in the photo? It's like a giant, 6-legged kid spider!

Friday, September 11, 2009


What a very, very long week. Now that the weekend is here, my family is up to its usual tricks.

Stepson has taken off for a two-day fishing trip. There will be junk food, fishing, lots of silly young guy hi-jinks and no parents around. I think they're gonna camp or sleep in the bed of the pick up truck. 

Beloved is itching to get out on his new surfboard. When my motorcycle loving man found a used surfboard that had red and gold flames painted on it, I knew it was a mute point to put up any argument on whether or not he should splurge on the purchase. 

My soccer crazy teenage stepdaught is .. .playing soccer this weekend. What else? 

And MiniMe and I are going to ride our bikes and enjoy a family reunion of sorts. My mother's side of the family, whom I haven't seen since I was probably MiniMe's age, is all coming into town with their kids, grandkids. So it will be a Florida Native family reunion. I figure there will be a lot of good southern homecooked food. Count me in ...burp!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Boil Water

I arrived at Wondertwin's house tonight for Gin Night. Head Gin Girl & I found a notice hanging on her door knob warning that she should boil her water because of possible contamination.

"Hmmm, I don't think Wondertwin knows how to boil water," I said. 

"I know. How am I supposed to keep a straight face when delivering this news to her," responded Head Gin Girl.

So when Wondertwin arrived (we have a key and had made ourselves at home), we broke the news.

"Does that mean I can't use my ice cubes?" she asked.

Gotta See - Alien Milk

What do you get when you combine a big black dog, a bowl of milk and some dry ice? A great video from Florida Cracker. See it now

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thanks for Crushing Our Dreams Obama!

So I asked MiniMe if she got to watch the President's address to school children in her classroom today. Of course they did. And if you're one of those whack job conspiracy theorists who made an anonymous call to your school district demanding that the school not expose the kids to the speech . . .you wasted your dime on that call. Idiot!

Anyway, MiniMe said she thought it was a good speech and that her favorite part was when Obama "told a little about his life." She also said that there were a few audible groans from some kids in her fifth grade class when Pres. Obama spoke about not counting on becoming professional athletes, rappers or reality show stars when they grew up, because most likely they wouldn't. 

"Thanks for crushing our dreams Mr. President!!" MiniMe giggled. 

I listened to the speech on the radio today. I only caught about 20 minutes of it. He didn't say anything new, at least nothing I haven't already heard him say before. I appreciated the straight talk he doled out to kids about "doing their part" for themselves and their country by staying in school, staying out of trouble and giving their best. Somebody has to remind kids that success doesn't just fall in your lap. You have to work for it. And the fact that U.S. kids got to hear that fantasy-crushing, soul-sucking, reality-smacking pep talk from the President of the United States, well, all the better. Cause let's face it, they don't listen to their parents. 

My first beach cruiser

MiniMe got her first beach cruiser this weekend. I had been trying to get her to ride bikes with me for a few weeks, but she just kept saying she didn't like riding her bike. To her credit, her bike is a few years old and is getting a little too small for her. So I took her out to shop for a new bike on Saturday. MiniMe was very reluctant. Didn't even want to get out of the car when we got to the bike shop. Eventually I coaxed her inside (which means I ordered her out of the car). 

Once she sat on one of the cool, new, bright colored beach cruisers she began to warm up to the idea. And when the bike shop manager selected one that would be just right for MiniMe (not too big, not too small, not too expensive) and lowered the seat, she agreed to take it for a test drive. 

The humongous smile on her face let the bike shop manager know he's made his sale. We switched out the seat for one that was a little softer. Adjusted the new seat and the handle bars. Then loaded up the purple beach cruiser and headed home.

Even though it was sprinkling just a bit, I convinced her to break in the new bike with a ride with me to the park. We rode for nearly an hour. On this bigger bike, she can actually keep up with me. In fact, she passed me several times. 

"Mom, I love this new bike! It's so easy to pedal and I sit up straight, I'm not all hunched over," MiniMe exclaimed as we toured through the neighborhood. "I just love the feel of the wind in my hair!"

I guess having the right size bike really made a difference. Should have thought of that before. So now I have a new bike riding buddy and maybe I'll get in shape and put in some quality mother-daughter time, too.

Friday, September 4, 2009

VOR Needs Wine!

So my friend VOR called this afternoon. She is really ready for this 3-day weekend to get started. She invited me to accompany her to a wine tasting this evening. Unfortunately, MiniMe has a friend spending the night, so I can't just disappear and leave MiniMe and her friend home alone. 

Not one to give up so fast, VOR came up with a solution. She quickly (a little too quickly if you know what I mean) offered up her own teenage daughter as a babysitter so I could attend the wine tasting with her. She even offered to PAY for the babysitter herself. 

Wow, that woman really needs wine! So, looks like I've got a (free) babysitter and us ladies will be out on the town tonight after all. Woo, hoo!

The power of the internet

Wow! Never underestimate the power of the internet. I took in a foster dog this week and built this dog a blog to promote adoption. The blog has spread like wildfire and I've had 2 people contact me this week inquiring about her. We've got a couple of meet & greets with prospective owners set up for this week. Thanks to all you NativeMom readers for passing along Misty's request for a family. Go Misty!! Plain Brown Dogs Rock!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Introducing Plain Brown Dog

I took a big step this week. 

Animal rescue is close to my heart. I've been a volunteer for the local humane society for about 3 years. I adopted my dog Boo Radley 2 years ago, and although he's a velcro dog (he's stuck to me 24/7) and afraid of thunderstorms, he brings me a lot of joy. I'm an energetic advocate for adopting pets and I try to walk the talk. 

Last week my humane society called me and asked if I would consider fostering a dog. Misty has been at the shelter since February. She's a good dog. A senior dog whose owner surrendered her due to job loss. But like many dogs at the shelter, she hasn't been adopted because she's simply a plain brown dog (PBD). No particular breed. She's not teacup size, she's not a puppy. She's a medium sized PBD. So despite the fact that she's housebroken, very gentle, doesn't bark much, is good around dogs and kids, she still goes unnoticed. 

And lately she's gotten depressed, has stopped coming to greet the volunteers when they visit her kennel. She even started pulling her toenails out in distress. It was time for a change for Misty.

So I took Radley down for a doggie meet and greet last week. It went well. My stepson has agreed to help me out with the fostering by working with me to find a home for her and by helping out with her care. I brought her home today after she had her surgery (spay and neuter folks!!!). She's confused. A little sad. But I figure in a few weeks she'll be happy & healthy and ready for a forever home.

In the  meantime, I'm putting on my PR hat and marketing this great PBD out in the community. Of course, she now has her own blog, which I will use to help attract a new family. To raise money for her adoption and for adoption of PBDs like her, I've opened an online store. You can find the link to my store at the bottom of NativeMom and on the new website PlainBrownDog.

If you, or someone you know, would like to adopt a friendly, sweet, gentle, kind, low maintenance PBD, let me know! She deserves a forever home. Don't we all? Wish us luck! 

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thanks for the tips!

Thanks to all of you who sent me great tips, links to other bloggers who live in the Sunshine State. I'm really just trying to expand the list of blogs I frequent and would love to see & hear the perspective of others in the Sunshine State. Please feel free to forward other blog recommendations in/for/about Florida to me anytime!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Special Request

Attention all NativeMom fans, lurkers and accidental visitors! I have a request. 

I'm looking for blogs written by Floridians. The blog can be about living in the sunshine state, or not. The only thing I require is that the writer currently lives in Florida. If you wouldn't mind taking a moment to post a comment and recommend a blog or two you may know that meets this very narrow, I mean special, criteria, I would be most eternally grateful!

Thanks in advance and Enjoy!

Sign of the Times

A friend of mine posted this on his facebook page. I loved it and decided to share (I hate you bike thief!!). It got me thinking about all the ways I could incorporate this person's philosophy into my own life. Don't just get mad, post a sign!

Signs I should have posted recently:

Attached to the check I wrote to the John Hall Chevrolet Service Department 2 weeks ago, the sign would read:

I don't know why I'm paying you. You did a crappy job. Warranties are a rip off. But shame on me for paying for the warranty to begin with. I'll never purchase another warranty in my life because I might as well throw money in the wind. And by the way, Angie the service rep, you can't spell "bitch" with the letters in 'customer service', but nice try.

On a cocktail napkin at the overly expensive bar where I was stuck while attending a conference in Boca Raton recently.

Wow! $12 for a glass of crappy chardonnay? That takes guts! I can honestly say it was the worst chardonnay I've ever had. I think maybe it was because it was hard to enjoy the wine while I was still choking on the ridiculous tab. What the hell is wrong with you folks in Boca Raton? Do you have to pay three times as much for everything just to make yourselves feel superior. I got news for you, my Target box of wine is superior to your chardonnay everyday!

Whew, that feels better. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Weekend at Perry's

We took full advantage of the last weekend before school started and spent the weekend at an independent resort in Daytona Beach. While I love the Marriotts, Hiltons, and Comfort Inns of the world, the chain hotels just aren't as interesting as our independently owned superior small lodgings. Perry's Ocean Edge is a true, good old fashioned Florida beach resort at its best. The property has 3 pools, including one indoor pool so that the inevitable afternoon thunder
storms don't result in wet, bored, cranky kids. 

The resort has picnic areas everywhere, perfect for a group like ours with 3 families staycationing together. It's right on the beach with a lifeguard tower strategically positioned in sight. Almost every room has some sort of kitchen, some even have full kitchens, and lots of options for sleeping arrangements. This is where we had MiniMe's birthday party and this time we enjoyed oceanfront kids suite rooms. The view was awesome. The kids enjoyed the bunks and tv/game system in their "room" and we saved a lot of money by bringing drinks and snacks with us, stored conveniently in our in-room kitchenettes. Highlights of the weekend included:
  • Homemade strawberry ice cream made by Beloved and enjoyed by all!
  • Fresh, hot, homemade donuts, served up free by the Perry's Ocean Edge crew each morning for guests. 
  • Watching the Main Street fireworks from our hotel balcony Saturday night.
  • Being able to keep an eye on the kids that were enjoying the beach AND the ones enjoying the pool from our shady table on the resort "lawn". 
  • Did I mention the Tiki Bar?
  • Early afternoon brunch at Tiki Bill's restaurant on site, with the best homefries in town!

If you really want a beach vacation that will give you the true Florida experience, try a superior small lodge in your area. I highly recommend it. And you can visit Perry's here

By the way, we decided that when we retire we may just move into Perry's, on the ground floor of course (ouch, my hip!). So in 30 years I'll be posting a photo of our same group here only a little older and a lot more relaxed!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Channeling Mimi

I remember when my mom taught me how to cook. Every so often, she'd ask me to help her in the kitchen. The real goal of this invite was to teach me something. But she was sneaky enough not to phrase it that way. Maybe that's where I learned my early PR skills?

She taught me to cook spaghetti& homemade sauce. Cornbread. Chicken and dumplings. Clam chowder. Fried chicken. Mashed potatoes. Cornbread stuffing. Chocolate chip cookies. And lots of fresh vegetables. I really enjoyed working alongside her in the kitchen and learning how to make all my favorite dishes. Mom was very patient and would often tell me stories of the dishes she made that didn't quite come out right or what her favorite foods were growing up. 

So I tried to channel my mother yesterday when MiniMe and her lifelong friend asked if they could bake cookies. Dog cookies. Seems the girls went online and printed off a recipe for homemade dog treats. Ommmmm, Mimi-Mimi-Mimi, Ommmm, I chanted repeatedly in my head as off we went to the grocery store armed with the dog treat recipe. 

Whole wheat flour. Check. Yeast. Check. Overpriced plastic dog cookie container to present the final product in. Check. Wine for mommy. Check!

Once the girls started mixing the ingredients, and arguing over whose turn it was to stir and whose turn it was to measure, I reminded myself of how patient my mom had been when I spilled things, didn't measure correctly, etc. Ommmm, Mimi-Mimi-Mimi, Ommmm.

"Ok mom," said MiniMe. "We're ready to roll the dough. Where's the flat surface?"

Ummm, you're looking at it. It's the countertop. We need to spread some flour around and then roll the dough out on the countertop. 

Much excitement ensued as flour was flung far and wide and they only argued a little bit over my only rolling pin.

At this point, Beloved came home, took one look and whispered in my ear as he gave me a kiss, "You're a glutton for punishment."

3 hours (and two glasses of wine for mommy) later, we had trays and trays of dog treats. And after only two warnings, the girls eventually cleaned up the mess. Best of all, the dogs ate the treats with enthusiasm. 

Thanks Mimi for being a good example of patient life lessons in the kitchen. 

Thank You Mud Monkey!!

Now that the kids are on the verge of returning to school, I have to give a big shout out to a summer activity that really rocked. Our local paint your own pottery place, Mud Monkey, kept my girls entertained for countless hours this summer. And here's the ceramic collection that's now covering most every square inch of space on every shelf and table in my house to prove how much fun they had.

I got a little smarter about the weekly trips to Mud Monkey about half way through the summer. After bringing home penguins, turtles, cupcakes, ice cream cones, fairies, and elephants, I insisted the girls paint something useful. The result of which was a colorful chip and dip tray. 

About once a week, I'd give the girls some money and I'd drop them off at Mud Monkey. It was air conditioned, safe, lots of moms around and just a short jog from my house. The girls would paint, walk across the plaza to McDonald's for lunch, then call me on the cell and I'd come pick them up. Sure it cost me about $40 per trip, but how can you put a price on 3-4 hours of peace and quiet, happy kids, and a ceramic monkey you'll treasure forever?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You can't see that from Ohio

For the first time since 1946, the state of Florida actually lost residents with its cumulative population number going down. With that news and Hurricane Bill sitting in the Atlantic staring right at us, I thought it might be a good time to remind myself (and all of you) of just one reason why Florida is such a great place to live. 

We can see the space shuttle and rockets launch from our front yard!

I recently visited the Kennedy Space Center and really enjoyed it. Haven't been there since I was a kid and I definitely appreciated it more this time. I've taken for granted the fact that as Floridians we have been an eyewitness to history by watching the spectacular launches of rockets and space shuttles. In fact, it wasn't until I was in college that I realized that not everyone in the U.S. can see the space shuttle launch. I just assumed it flew over every state at some point or something, I don't know what I was thinking. My stupidity became crystal clear when I was a college Junior and working at the Orlando theme park Wet N Wild one summer. The space shuttle was scheduled to launch that day and the park kept making announcements about it to keep everyone informed of the launch time. One visitor told me his entire family planned their Florida vacation so that they would be able to see the shuttle launch. 

"You mean you've never seen it?"

"We live in Ohio. Of course we've never seen it."

"You can't see it in Ohio?"

"Ummmm, no."

I know he must have been thinking dumb blonde!