Subscribe: sweatpantsmom
http://sweatpantsmom.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
Tags:
asian  don  family  hollywood  kids  life  make  new  parents  pasadena playhouse  school  show  teen  time  year   
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: sweatpantsmom

sweatpantsmom





Updated: 2018-03-06T05:34:17.262-08:00

 



Aren’t We All ‘Next To Normal’?

2017-05-26T16:30:07.007-07:00

What is ‘normal’? And are others allowed to answer that for us, or is it up to us to determine what ‘normal’ feels like in our own skin?It’s a question I thought about after seeing East West Players’ production of ‘Next To Normal’ last week. The Tony-and Pulitzer Prize winning musical centers around a suburban family struggling to find some sense of order in the midst of illness and grief. Diana (Deedee Magno Hall), a mother with bipolar disorder, agonizes over the havoc and stress her illness puts on her marriage and family. Her husband Dan (Cliffton Hall), while trying to help his wife, is having a hard time confronting his own depression and an unfathomable loss. Their overachieving daughter Natalie (Isa Briones) tries to cope with her mother’s unpredictability and while shielding her boyfriend Henry (Scott Keiji Takeda) from her family that is not quite ‘normal.’ And in the midst of it all is son Gabe (Justin W. Yu), who we discover is the source of all their heartbreak.We see Diana’s journey through treatment and medications that others hoist on her to make her ‘well,’ but at the same time are making her feel numb and joyless. (Yes, it will definitely punch you in the gut at times. Bring tissues.) While there are heavy issues that seem even more intense because of the intimate staging of the production, there is also a theme of resilience and hope that carries throughout the story.From the production:Next to Normal — music by Tom Kitt, and book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey — tells the story of the seemingly perfect Goodman family. However, Diana, the mother, is a little too happy. Her husband Dan constantly worries. Her daughter Natalie is awfully intent on getting that scholarship to Yale. And her son Gabe, well… This Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize- winning rock musical is a heartbreaking, humorous, and unflinchingly authentic look at a suburban family struggling with the effects of bipolar disorder. Being a parent and a spouse, I found Diana’s focus so relatable — the overwhelming desire to keep her family and her marriage functioning, while at the same time tending to her own needs. Hers is a universal struggle: How do we tend to those we love, when our own well runs dry? While theirs is a unique story, it also alludes to the dysfunction and dissonance that exists in the dark undercurrent of so much of what is perceived as normal suburban life.‘Next to Normal’ will not only move you with its message, uplift you with its music and make you laugh with its wry humor — it will also give you a fearless, raw view into the world of mental illness and its sometimes controversial treatments. It may also leave you wondering what ‘normal’ is, and ultimately what that means to each of us.. . . . .The timing of this particular production was significant: May is Asian Pacific American Month (EWP is and the largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work) and this month is also Mental Health Awareness month, which tied in with the show’s themes of mental illness, loss and suicide. Focusing on the theme of mental illness is particularly significant with this production, considering the stigma surrounding mental illness in Asian American culture — Asian-Americans are three times less likely to seek mental health services than whites. Additionally, among Asian-American women who witness depression in their families, many stay silent due to cultural pressure and because they fear the stigma for their families even more so than for themselves.Kudos to East West Players for their dedication and perseverance in supporting these productions that give Asian-American actors, artists and writers a place to be seen and heard, and for shining a light on issues that affect our community.. . . . .“Next To Normal” is playing through June 11, 2017Buy tickets here.David Henry Hwang Theaterat the Union Center for the Arts(Little Tokyo, downtown L.A.)120 Judge John Aiso Street,L[...]



I'm going to see Sandra Tsing Loh's 'The Madwoman In The Volvo' and you can, too

2016-06-01T14:24:37.131-07:00

I was at Target recently and did the unthinkable – I bought the really expensive moisturizer and the shampoo that wasn't on sale. Who cares if the rest of my cart was filled with bread from the clearance shelf and cheap toilet paper - I was going to have soft, supple skin and caressable hair! I'm thinking it might be part of my mid-life crisis – giving in to my vain beauty needs while everything else takes a back seat. Next thing you know, the kids will have to go without milk for their cereal because I'll be using it to soak the callouses off my feet.

And speaking of mid-life crises, I'm really excited to see my favorite author/performer/public school mom Sandra Tsing Loh in 'The Madwoman In The Volvo' – the stage production of her best-selling memoir that hilariously takes us through her mid-life crisis that is fueled, among other things, by a random trip to Burning Man. Loh, who identifies herself as someone who is from the “Triple M Generation—menopausal, middle-aged and a mother," is so relatable and so fantastic live (I saw her years ago when she performed 'Mother On Fire') and I can't wait to see her again. Maybe I'll get to meet her after the show and let her touch my luxurious hair.

And you can see her, too. I'm giving away a 'Girls Night Out' prize package of 4 tickets to one of her shows during its run at the Pasadena Playhouse from June 2-26. See details below to enter. Self-indulgent shopping spree for beauty products at Target not included.

Here are the details:

What: 'Girls Night Out' prize package of 4 tickets to 'Madwoman In The Volvo' at the Pasadena Playhouse The winner can provide 3 performance dates of choice excluding Saturday and Sunday matinees (subject to availability.)

How: Leave a comment here no later than 11:30pm Friday night (June 3) telling me about your mid-life (or if you're too young to have one yet, tell me about your parents or someone else old.) . I'll use random.org to draw a winner from the entries. One comment per person, but you can share on Facebook or Twitter for additional entries.

Or, if you don't win or don't care to enter, you can use the special code MOM25 for 25% off seats, excluding HOT SEATS and Sunday June 5, and buy tickets here.

Please don't forget to leave a valid email address.

The Pasadena Playhouse
39 South El Molino Street, Pasadena

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
 



Shopping for back-to-school supplies is likely to ruin your day

2015-08-28T20:18:32.814-07:00



I'm not saying standing in an office supply store line with a hundred other cranky parents for forty-five minutes to spend an entire paycheck on a stapler isn't fun. But there are smarter solutions that don't make you want to stab someone with a ballpoint pen.

This year, we bought all of our school supplies (everything you see in this photo) for under $20. Look, if being a cheapskate is wrong, I don't want to be right.


 You can read about how we did it by clicking over here.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 





Go see INSIDE OUT at the El Capitan Theatre and unlock the secrets to your teen's brain

2015-08-14T14:25:31.779-07:00

You may have seen me mention this on Facebook, but for those of you who haven't seen INSIDE OUT, go see it now. Better yet, go see it now, at the El Capitan Theatre. You'll be filled with joy and not sadness, fear, anger or disgust. (If that last sentence makes no sense to you, you need to go see the movie to see what I'm talking about.) Another thing is, this movie is like having a peek inside your teenager's brain. Sure it's kind of scary in there, but in the end it all makes sense.To be honest, I was kind of done with animated films. After years and years of seeing them, once my girls got older it was kind of a relief not to have to run out and see the latest kids movie matinee – now movie night is the four of us heading out to see an R-rated flick, which is fine by me. But I'd heard so many great things about INSIDE OUT and since the main character is a tween who is a bundle of emotions and giving her parents a run for their money, I thought it would be like seeing a documentary of my life and I was right. From Pixar:Do you ever look at someone and wonder what is going on inside their head? Disney•Pixar’s original new film “Inside Out” ventures inside the mind to find out.Based in Headquarters, the control center inside 11-year-old Riley’s mind, five Emotions are hard at work, led by lighthearted optimist Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), whose mission is to make sure Riley stays happy. Fear (voice of Bill Hader) heads up safety, Anger (voice of Lewis Black) ensures all is fair and Disgust (voice of Mindy Kaling) prevents Riley from getting poisoned—both physically and socially. Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith) isn’t exactly sure what her role is, and frankly, neither is anyone else.When Riley's family relocates to a scary new city, the Emotions are on the job, eager to help guide her through the difficult transition. But when Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley’s mind—taking some of her core memories with them—Fear, Anger and Disgust are left reluctantly in charge. Joy and Sadness must venture through unfamiliar places—Long Term Memory, Imagination Land, Abstract Thought and Dream Productions—in a desperate effort to get back to Headquarters, and Riley.Also, the only place you should see INSIDE OUT is at the El Capitan Theatre – they have a spectacular stage show called "Music of Light" that uses brand-new 3D technology that allows the live performers to interact with a 3D background. Seriously, the kid sitting next to me dropped his popcorn because he thought something was coming at him out of the screen. (Poor thing. I gave him some of mine.) Check it out: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bQhLyge2pp0?rel=0" width="500"> INSIDE OUT will only be playing at the El Capitan through August 19, and is your only chance to experience "Music of Light" so hurry up and get your tickets here. They also have some other fun activities offered along with the movie, like this Dave & Busters combo. Do they know the inside of a teen's brain or what?INSIDE OUT is playing at the El Capitan Theatre through August 19. You can buy tickets on their website or call 1-800-DISNEY6.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  [...]



Meanwhile, back at the ranch

2015-07-11T14:45:51.116-07:00

Hello, blog are you there? It's me Marsha. I haven't been here for awhile, since I'm busy writing stories about teens over at Mom.me. I promise to get back here soon and tidy things up, but until then please visit me over there for riveting stories about teen angst, parties, tattoos and the odd celeb or two. That Time My Teen Daughter Got a TattooI remember watching a show years ago on MTV about extreme fans, and there was an episode that featured a 14-year-old that was obsessed with Gwen Stefani. One scene showed this girl's parents taking her to a salon to have her hair dyed pink, just like Gwen's. My daughters were toddlers at the time, and I recall thinking all sorts of judgmental thoughts about these parents—what kind of monsters let their kid do that to their hair? If I wasn't so busy making homemade baby food and washing my cloth diapers by hand, I would have called CPS immediately.  Read more...14 Times I Was Paranoid About My TeensI admit it. I might be just a little paranoid when it comes to parenting my two teens. Given even the most innocent of situations, I will almost always go to the worst-case, glass half-empty, psycho-with-the-chainsaw scenario. Surprisingly, my kids have turned out pretty good even though my daughter did think someone had planted a bomb in her teddy bear when she was 6. Of course, I cut that thing open just to make sure. Read more...8 Teen Life Hacks Moms Could Use Right NowIn case you haven't noticed, your teen is an expert when it comes to figuring out ways to make life easier for themselves. While my first instinct is to get mad when I find out they're pretending not to know how to change the toilet paper roll, I've come to look at these acts as pure genius and have decided to try and use these to make my life easier, too. Read more...How Do Your Kids Act When You're Not Around?When my daughter was in kindergarten they had a weekly "share day" when each child could bring something to school—a book, stuffed animal, favorite toy—and spend a few minutes showing it off to their classmates. After one of the days I missed, I got a call from a parent who was there. She said she knew, as a mom, that we always wondered how our kids did when they weren't under the watchful eye of their parents, and she wanted to let me know how impressed she was with my kid's presentation that day. I was happy to hear it and a bit relieved—you never know what kind of mayhem can go down when a 5-year-old gets center stage. Read more...17 Ways to Know You Were a Teen in the '80sDo you find it impossible to part with your fur vest? Can't dance unless Parliament Funkadelic is on the turntable? Then you were probably a teen in the '80s. Sure, this is admitting you're kind of old, but think how jealous everyone is that you got to see the original "A-Team" on your television set—even if you did have to keep getting up to change the channel and adjust the foil on the antennae.I'm not saying being a teen in the '80s was the best thing in the world, but we were the first ones to dance to Madonna's "Holiday" in a club. OK, maybe it really was the best thing in the world. Read more... Why Your Teen Broke Down Over Zayn MalikHas your teen been crying more than usual in the past week? Unable to eat, clutching her pillow and sobbing "Come back come back" while "Story of My Life" plays on an endless loop in the background? She may just be reacting to the news that Zayn Malik has left One Direction. Yes, I know it's already been seven whole days since the horrible event, but when the entire Universe comes crashing down and the earth stops spinning on its axis, it takes a while to recover. Read more...9 Reasons Teens Are Better Than ToddlersTeens get such a bad rap, especially from people with young kids. I keep hearing friends say, "Ugh, I'm dreading the teen years," and they're usually saying this as they're wiping gobs of baby spit-up off of their arms.Well, I'm here to tell you that tee[...]



No pressure, Mindy Kaling, but my kids' future might depend on you

2015-02-13T16:38:26.083-08:00

Speaking of Asians, we are big fans of Mindy Kaling over here. In fact, in one of my latest posts for mom.me I write about how I'd like for the actress to take over raising my kids if some catastrophe befalls me and my husband. (Just kidding. We all know that job will go straight to Oprah.)
We all love Mindy Kaling, and I think she’s a great role model. Not only is she the perfect combination of brains, beauty and kick-ass wit, but she’s incredibly stylish as well, which means my girls would not only welcome her, but her closet also with open arms. Here are a few other reasons why Mindy is the ideal person for my teen girls to look up to. Read more...

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 



I'm so Asian

2015-02-09T21:47:40.893-08:00

(Yes, as a matter of fact I am singing the title of this post to the tune of "That's So Raven.")Sometimes I feel more Asian than usual. Times when I don't feel like I blend into my world quite so seamlessly and am keenly aware that even though I was born and raised in this country, as were my parents, I'll always feel like a little bit of an outsider.One of those times are these months at the beginning of the year, when parents are in the process of choosing high schools and colleges for their kids. Without fail,  every year, I'll hear at least a few people make this comment about a school they're considering."That school is full of Asians."To be fair, sometimes it's said with affection as in, "I love me some Asians. The math scores at that school are THROUGH THE ROOF," and I can concur with that person and also point out that the after-school Origami class is probably pretty killer, too.But other times it's said with a bit more disapproval, as in,"This muffin is full of raisins. I FUCKING HATE RAISINS."Either way, I try and pretend that nothing happened. Because I'm so Asian like that.The past week was another reason to feel my Asian-ness at full volume – it was the premiere of 'Fresh Off The Boat,' a new sitcom on ABC. The story centers around the Huang family – recent Taiwanese immigrants who have settled in Florida – and the culture clash they experience. It's the first TV show in 21 years to star an all-Asian cast; the last was 'All American Girl' starring Margaret Cho in 1994. Don't start sending me links to PBS documentaries about the royal family in Japan – those don't count.I don't think I was prepared for what an impact this show would have on me. A show that was just CHOCK FULL OF RAISINS! I knew it was an important milestone but thanks to social media the night of the premiere was like being at one of my huge family gatherings, except without the fighting over the check and the pressure to take home leftovers.JUST SO EXCITING.All of my Asian peers watching at the same time, equally thrilled that we were seeing people who looked like us on TV. It was overwhelming and pretty emotional. Here were Asians that weren't cast in roles as the nerdy best friend, the sushi bar waitress or the dry cleaner owners. They were real, flawed, characters who looked and acted like people I know. Something that most of you take for granted, I'm sure, but an empowering, long-overdue moment for Asian Americans.But then that excitement was dimmed a few days later. My friend and fellow blogger Grace Hwang Lynch posted a photo on Facebook that was taken during a press tour for 'Fresh Off The Boat.' The thing that stood out about the photo? Not one Asian face among the attendees. A press tour for an Asian show, one that is one of the most important things to happen to network TV in terms of Asian representation and NOT ONE ASIAN HAD BEEN INVITED. It stung.I'm not that much of a blogger anymore. I wouldn't expect to be invited to an event like this, but there are plenty of Asian American bloggers who are active online and in the community who should have been at this press tour to represent and to weigh in on the show. For them not to be included felt deliberate and calculated. Was it deliberate and calculated? The jury's still out, but I can only say it felt exclusionary and insensitive. Kind of like how it felt to not be represented on network TV for the past 21 years.And the backlash has been swift and harsh. A lot of people are saying that we're just jealous we weren't invited. That we're being too sensitive. That we shouldn't be making it about race. That we should just stop complaining, damnit. It surprised me that so many people couldn't step back, look at the situation and say, 'Hey, that's a mistake. There should have been Asians there," and to see the bigger picture – that Asian Americans have been fighting for a seat at the table for awhile, and this[...]



For goodness sake, take the quiz!

2015-01-23T12:08:17.236-08:00


Here's my latest post over on mom.me. Taking this enlightening quiz will require only 60 seconds of your time and can determine, once and for all, if you are indeed the parent of a teen or if you are in fact harboring a robot in your home. The more you know.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 



Things we're eating: Pasta Bar

2015-01-26T15:08:24.719-08:00

Newsflash: Teenagers like to eat. A LOT. So what do you do when you've got fifty of them about to descend on your house for a party and your kids don't want to serve just pizza? Try a pasta bar.We've served this at more than a few parties now, and it's always a big hit. Much like our popular ramen bar, it's all about giving them choices – let them choose the toppings for their pasta and they'll feel like they can conquer the world. Well, at least the dance floor. Start by cooking the pasta the night before, and store it in ziploc bags in the refrigerator. I used penne since it's easy to serve up with a spoon but any similar pasta like fusilli or farfalle will do. I suggest you estimate how much you'll need, laugh at that paltry amount and then cook way, way more if you're serving a party of teenagers.For example, when we were expecting fifty kids I used the 'two-ounce per person' rule and figured that came out to a little more than six-pounds of uncooked pasta. Just to be safe I bought ten pounds of penne, which proved to be a grave underestimation. Halfway through the party we ran out of pasta and some of the kids started eating the sauce by itself, which was both sad and disgusting. The day of the party, keep the pasta warm in a chafing dish on the table. I suggest putting out two pans of pasta at a time for easy serving since teenagers tend to stampede when they're hungry and you don't want any fistfights breaking out over the penne. I used jarred sauce, but if you're fancy and masochistic you can make your own the night before. I served both marinara and Alfredo sauces, and also put out a small bowl of pesto for the rebels. Keep the marinara and Alfredo sauces warm in separate chafing dishes. For the toppings, use your imagination. I put out another chafing dish of grilled chicken breast strips along with bowls of parmesan cheese, sundried tomatoes, chili flakes, fresh tomatoes, olives, chopped parsley, toasted pine nuts and mushrooms. Again, put out way more than you think any humans could possibly eat in an evening and I guarantee you it won't be enough.I rounded out the meal with lots of sliced french bread, a platter of fruit and bagged Caesar salad. (Buy a lot of salad. Also surprising: Teens love salad!) At the end of the evening, I kid you not – there was not a crumb of bread or even a single grape left on the table. You would think they wouldn't be able to eat any more after that, but then how would you explain 75 cupcakes disappearing in five minutes.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[...]



Sleeping Beauty And Her Winter Knight: Everybody panto now

2014-12-16T19:21:59.782-08:00

Let me just start off by saying SLEEPING BEAUTY AND HER WINTER KNIGHT at the Pasadena Playhouse is not for everybody. If you like your theater and its music unadulterated and stick-to-the-script you might be better off seeking out a more traditional telling of this classic tale. The one where the princess gets her kiss, gets her prince, and then gets to sing that song. However, if you're looking for an invigorating, unpredictable production that is a real kick-in-the-pants with catchy top-40 tunes, big doses of humor and some names your teens will swoon over – I suggest you definitely check out SLEEPING BEAUTY AND HER WINTER KNIGHT at the Pasadena Playhouse. Don't worry – the princess still gets the prince in the end of this production, too. She just gets to sing a John Legend song while it's happening.From the production:An updated version of the classic Grimm fairytale, in the style of a traditional British family Panto, SLEEPING BEAUTY and Her Winter Knight is a singing and soaring winter adventure that features family- friendly magic, with a comedic twist, dancing (with 'So You Think You Can Dance' alumni), interaction with the audience and contemporary music from Jessie J's 'Domino' to John Legend's 'All Of Me,' Pharrell Williams 'Happy' to Survivor's 'Eye of The Tiger' and more. I had my first introduction to panto last year at the Playhouse's Aladdin And His Winter Wish. It took a little getting used to, but I now see it's such a celebratory, exciting form of interactive theater. The audience – especially the kids - are so enthusiastic about participating with the actors on stage, and the contemporary music is especially enticing for tweens and teens. This production had a great cast – Disney Recording Artist Olivia Holt, Garret Clayton (Disney's Teen Beach Movie) and Tamyra Gray (American Idol) that my teens were familiar with. And while they described Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess) as 'before their time,' they agreed she made a great Maleficent.One of the things that makes this production special is the Winter Wonderland event that takes place in The Playhouse’s Engemann Family Courtyard before every performance. Guests and their families can enjoy – free of charge – crafts, activities, games, Santa Claus (on select dates) and photo opportunities. (There is also face painting for a nominal fee.) For the adults, there's a no-host bar in the courtyard provided by the adjacent restaurant, redwhite+bluezz – they'll even give you a cup with a lid so you can have a little wine with your panto.If you want to take your family to a unique, family friendly, all ages show this holiday, definitely check out SLEEPING BEAUTY AND HER WINTER KNIGHT at the Pasadena Playhouse. Performances run through January 4 and you can click here to purchase tickets. There are also a couple of special experiences your kids can take part in, like Golden Tickets (a special on-stage sing-a-long experience during the show) and Character Breakfasts. The Pasadena Playhouse39 South El Molino Avenue,Pasadena CA 91101. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  [...]



Things to do besides shopping: SLEEPING BEAUTY AND HER WINTER KNIGHT at the Pasadena Playhouse

2015-01-20T15:29:24.706-08:00

It's December so now you've shifted into holiday season overdrive, running yourself ragged with shopping and family obligations. You might already be decorating like a crazy person. You've definitely cried at least once.Here's a suggestion: Take a break and head out for an evening of live theater. Statistics* show that people who attend live theater during the holiday season are 95% more likely to refrain from drinking too much and fighting with family at the annual holiday party. (*I made that statistic up. Nothing can keep you from drinking too much and fighting with your family.)To start you off, I have FREE tickets to give away to Sleeping Beauty And Her Winter Knight at the Pasadena Playhouse. Great casting: Disney Recording Artist Olivia Holt, Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess) and – for the teens and tweens in the audience – Garret Clayton (Disney's Teen Beach Movie).See how peaceful she looks? She's finished with all her holiday shopping.Even better – before every performance, all Playhouse guests and their families are invited to enjoy a 'Winter Wonderland' event in The Playhouse’s Engemann Family Courtyard free of charge, complete with crafts, activities, games, Santa Claus (on select dates) and photo opps. I went to last year's holiday show at the Pasadena Playhouse and my girls and I loved it. The production was first rate, and the activities in the courtyard got us out of our funk and into the holiday spirit. (And that was before they met Neil Patrick Harris in the lobby.)From the production: An updated version of the classic Grimm fairytale, in the style of a traditional British family Panto, SLEEPING BEAUTY and Her Winter Knight is a singing and soaring winter adventure that features family- friendly magic, with a comedic twist, dancing (with 'So You Think You Can Dance' alumni), interaction with the audience and contemporary music from Jessie J's 'Domino' to John Legend's 'All Of Me,' Pharrell Williams 'Happy' to Survivor's 'Eye of The Tiger' and more. So get out and see some live theater this holiday season – the mall will still be there when you're done. What: 'Family PacK' of 4 tickets to Sleeping Beauty And Her Winter Knight for Wednesday, December 10 at 7:30pm. How: Leave a comment here no later than 11:30pm Sunday night (December 7) telling me your favorite live performance you've seen. I'll use random.org to draw a winner from the entries. One comment per person, but you can share on Facebook or Twitter for additional entries. Please don't forget to leave a valid email address.The Pasadena Playhouse39 South El Molino Street, Pasadena. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  [...]



Things we're eating: Ramen Bar

2014-11-13T13:22:33.486-08:00

One of our favorite meals around here is something I call Ramen Bar. All I have to do is call out, "Ramen Bar" around dinnertime, and everyone stops what they're doing and comes running. And by 'come running' I mean they actually put their cell phones down and make their way to the kitchen.When I've mentioned to people that I'm making ramen for dinner, I've gotten some judgy questions: "Is a 25¢ block of noodles really a sufficient meal?" "What about all that sodium? " "You're Asian, isn't ramen for dinner just a cop-out and a cliché?"Once I've given them some serious side-eye, I explain that this isn't your dorm-room ramen. These are fresh noodles that you purchase from an Asian market, and with a bunch of different toppings – all fresh ingredients – laid out that everyone can choose themselves. My teens and their friends seem to especially like this – it's about time we let them make their own decisions, and there's nothing like being the boss of your soup.Start with fresh noodles - you can find these in the refrigerated section of most Asian markets. Each package has two servings. Or only one if you want a larger portion. Our local ramen shop offers a 'large order' that comes in a bowl the size of a child's wading pool. They usually have three different flavors available: Shoyu (soy sauce), Miso and Spicy Sesame. The  flavor refers to the broth packet that comes in the package, but this isn't the usual powder that comes in a foil packet that comes with Top Ramen – it's a liquid, slightly oily paste that you mix with boiling water to make your broth. If you're a purist you can even make your own (here's a good recipe from momofuku) but honestly I've been-there-done-that and the broth that comes with these fresh noodles is really good, so why bother? Use the extra time for sipping some cold saké.Sidenote: While you're at the Asian market you should really pick up some of these to reward yourelf for all of your hard work: Back to our ramen: Next, lay out a bunch of toppings. I've used slices of chicken, hard-boiled or fried eggs, tofu, cilantro, basil, sliced jalapeño, shredded cabbage, green onions and lime. This is probably more of a ramen/pho mashup of toppings – more traditional ramen toppings would be bean sprouts, sliced shiitake mushrooms, spinach, nori (seaweed), kamaboko (fish cake) and char siu (barbecued pork.) Really, the sky's the limit – just don't do anything weird like french fries or Oreos because then I'll have to send the Asian police to your door. The broth concentrate goes into your bowl and covered with boiling water. Meanwhile, cook your noodles for 2 minutes, drain, and serve up into the broth with the toppings nearby. Yell out, "Ramen Bar" and watch your hungry family stampede over. Sort of.(Not to imply that those store-bought, hard bricks of noodles don't have their place. This video of Hayao Miyazaki making ramen for his staff is one of my favorites. If Top Ramen is good enough for the director of 'Totoro', it's good enough for me.) allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='https://www.youtube.com/embed/0BPTNdmdJSc?feature=player_embedded' FRAMEBORDER='0' /> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .I signed up to do NaBloPoMo (short for National Blog Posting Month) which is an online event where bloggers are challenged to post every single day of the month. This is only my third post out of twelve days, which is bad no matter how you do the math. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[...]



Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

2014-11-07T23:56:13.669-08:00

What's on my mind tonight? Fantasy vs. reality. Mainly, this big box of lies:

I bought this for one of the girls' sleepovers, because what could be more genius than food that comes in its own serving container? Can you imagine the possibilities? What if you could buy a big, juicy steak that came on its own plate and then after you were done stuffing your face with that big animal carcass you could just dump the whole thing in the trash? Isn't that the definition of heaven?

My illusions were shattered, though, when I popped up one of these lying liars and it came out like this:


When I followed the instructions and pulled off the top, the bag ripped and popcorn went flying. Also, if you look at the picture on the box the popcorn is bursting out the bowl, but in reality it is barely 1/3 full. They need to rename this Straight Up Lies Bowl.

Did I eat it? YOU BET YOUR BUTTER-SOAKED FINGERS I DID.

(image)

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I just signed up to do NaBloPoMo (short for National Blog Posting Month) which is an online event where bloggers are challenged to post every single day of the month. I started late, but I intend to finish. Only 23 more days to go! Grab some popcorn and pull up a chair.


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



Don't come at me with your technology fasts

2014-11-06T16:51:14.958-08:00

Don't be frightened children – it's just a cellphone from the '90's. A few days ago I was trying to send a photo to a friend via text, and my phone died. My phone is old so this has been happening a lot, and I proceeded to do what I do every other time this happened – curse at it, threaten to throw it out the window (because it feels threatened when I say this) and then eat a handful of potato chips to ease my suffering. Of course, then I had my kumbaya moment where I realize how fortunate I am to be able to take a picture with my phone and then somehow miraculously send it through space to my friend's phone fifty miles away, and I took a step back and just praised science. Then I had another handful of potato chips to calm myself down.Technology has been daunting to me lately – my phone dies, my computer crashes, my FitBit keeps telling me I'm a lazy bitch – and a friend suggested I join her in a tech fast that she was embarking on. This inhumane endeavor consisted of going three days – cold turkey – without any computer or phone use, except for work or essential activities. This meant no posting on Facebook, sharing pictures on Instagram, conversing on Twitter or texting photos of my cocktail to Rigel.This sounded like a hell I wanted no part of. Who would validate my feelings about life if I couldn't share them on Facebook? How would I know about world events without my Twitter feed? And without photographing my lunch and then enhancing it with a pleasing filter, DOES FOOD EVEN EXIST AT ALL?I politely declined to participate in this heinous exercise in self-torture, and it got me thinking about how we all love to demonize technology, although I think there are very few of us who could go without it. Is this just a fad? I can't imagine a farmer in the 1800's declaring that he was going to go on a plow fast, or our parents defiantly announcing that they would go without their toaster oven for an entire seventy-two hours. Come to think of it, I don't remember any one of my friends ever bemoaning the fact that they were becoming overly-dependent on their pager, either.I'm still going to curse at my phone and threaten to cut my computer if it shows me that goddamn spinning beachball again, and yell – at no one in particular and on a daily basis – "They can put a man on the moon but I can't get a decent WiFi signal in my bathroom?!" But I won't be giving up my technology anytime soon. Come to think of it, not my potato chips, either.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .I just signed up to do NaBloPoMo (short for National Blog Posting Month) which is an online event where bloggers are challenged to post every single day of the month. I joined in around six days in, which means I've already failed before I even started. On the upside, you can come back here everyday for thrilling stories, like this one about my phone. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[...]



Kill It: A Love Story

2014-07-24T15:43:07.520-07:00

This story is 100% true*.Last night our cat Milkshake started freaking out, doing this thing where he starts dashing around and leaping at air because he senses danger. To my horror I realized it was this: a humongous beast had appeared in one of the innocent decorations left over from Kiyomi's Sweet 16 party.*Scale slightly exaggerated for artistic purposesIt was 3:30 in the morning. First I got out a pair of binoculars so I could get a closer look. Because isn't that what binoculars are for? We aren't bird watchers so I don't know what they would be doing in our house otherwise.*Size and facial expression slightly exaggerated for artistic purposesIt was more dire than I thought. It was huge, ugly and worst of all it was CRAWLING AROUND AND SHIT. I just knew it was planning to attack me and my family with its hairy arms and ugly feet.I didn't know what to do. I considered lifting Milkshake up and letting him get at this asshole and eat him whole. After all, isn't that what he wanted? But then I couldn't figure out how to do it, because that would mean getting pretty close to this savage creature. Should I build a tower of pillows? Get a ladder? Do cats know how to climb ladders?I decided I only had one choice.No, it wasn't this.I had to wake up my sleeping husband.Sure he had to get up in a few short hours for work, but it was technically July 24, our 21st wedding anniversary. Wasn't there something in our vows about always being available to smash bugs and flush them down the toilet? There should be.Me: There's a humongous creature in the living room! I can see his teeth. Rigel: Well, of course this means you have to wake up your husband at 3:30 in the morning.And with that, he got out of bed, made a few jokes and calmly grabbed a fly-swatter and knocked the predator out of his attack perch. He didn't even get angry when I was yelling, "It's still moving. KILL IT KILL IT," the entire time he went to fetch a paper towel. One gets philosophical at 4am when your husband of 21 years saves your life, and at that moment I realized there was one piece of advice I wanted to give to my daughters about choosing the love of your life: Find someone who is always happy to be there at 3:30am to kill the bugs.Happy Anniversary Rigel! Thank you for slaying all the beasts for 21 years.xxxxoooo  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[...]



Nintendo Kids Corner at E3 2014: Feels like she's livin' a Teenage Dream

2014-06-23T17:48:32.168-07:00

We were lucky enough to attend E3 this year as guests of Nintendo, and even though the event was called Kids Corner my 15-year-old was crazy excited to attend. She'd been wanting to check out this mythical gaming mecca for years (attendees have to be at least 17 and affiliated with the industry) so just getting to set foot inside was a dream come true.Also, she's been a gamer for years and the only system we've owned is Nintendo, so it was sort of like the mothership calling her home (cue the five-note sequence from 'Close Encounters Of The Third Kind'!Talk about standing out in a crowdWith the majority of marketing aimed at young kids and their parents, it's great to see brands paying attention to the teen market who – hello – make many buying decisions on their own, have their own money to spend, and maniacally share information with their friends via social media. Know any five-year-olds who have a Tumblr, Twitter, Vine, SnapChat, Instagram and Facebook account? I DIDN'T THINK SO.Plus, teens do things like this without your help: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" mozallowfullscreen="" src="//player.vimeo.com/video/98917552" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="500">And who would've thought that with an entire convention center filled with teen boys and costumed video characters, the people she was most excited to see were these guys:Reggie Fils-Aimé, President and CEO of Nintendo (who knew he was like a rockstar for hipster gamers?)Tsunekazu Ishihara, CEO of the Pokémon company (standing here with his faithful employee.) And then there was this holy-grail, meta moment - when she got to play Mario Maker with the creator of Mario (as well as Donkey Kong and Zelda), Shigeru Miyamoto! For us older folks who have a hard time grasping the enormity of this, imagine playing Operation with Milton Bradley himself.Okay, Mr. Miyamoto – I'mma let you win.Along with meeting all these gaming celebs, all the kids (and parents) got a chance to play a bunch of the newest Nintendo games that are about to be released. One of my daughter's favorites: Pokémon Art Academy, that teaches you how to draw all of your favorite Pokémon. Brilliant new video game, or genius method of scoping out future Nintendo employees? My kid's on board either way. Then there was probably the highlight of her day - getting the chance to play the new Super Smash Bros. on the humongous screen at the Nintendo booth - and then winning a medal! She said, and I quote, "Best thing that's ever happened to me, and totally going on my college resumé." Crushing you.And if you doubt how seriously people take this game, check out this guy's attire:RESPECT THE SATIN ROBE.Another game that we both loved: Splatoon, that lets you use giant water guns to mark your turf and do battle. I liked that there was an aggressive way to play the game (taking down your opponents) and a passive way (marking your territory with your paint color.) I chose the passive way, because I'm a lover not a fighter (and because I have terrible aim and suck at shooting games.)Not to take away its street cred, but this game is mom-approved.I could go on, but I don't want to spoil the excitement for when these games hit the streets and you get to experience them for yourself. Here are the upcoming games, and their release dates. Get your satin robes ready, people.Splatoon – 2015Mario Maker – 2015Pokémon Art Academy – October 2014New Super Smash Bros. – October 2014Mario Party 10 – 2015Fossil Fighters Frontier – 2015Mario vs Donkey Kong – 2015Kirby and the Rainbow Curse – 2015Captain Toad Treasure Tracker – 2014Yoshi’s Woolly World – 2015. . . . . . . . . . . . .[...]



The Ford Theatre: The other theater under the stars

2015-01-20T15:30:09.365-08:00

I've lived in Los Angeles my entire life (that's a lot of years) and drive past the Ford Theatre at least every other day, usually with a twinge of guilt because I've never set foot inside the venue. A few weeks ago I was invited to join them as they kicked off their Summer Season and I finally got to check out the grounds – it was like hearing my mom say, "Oh, so you finally decided to stop by and visit?" Suddenly I wish I'd brought some pie.

I admit I've been many, many times to the Hollywood Bowl (the other outdoor amphitheater that's located right across the freeway), but have never had the opportunity to attend a single show at the smaller, more intimate Ford. But after I saw how it offers so many of the same features that makes the Bowl so enticing (diverse artist lineup, open outdoor setting, picnic areas) I was eager to check out the summer schedule and see my first show at the theater.

And hey look! I saw that my cousin's band, Minyo Station is playing there for the Japanese Folk Dance event (tonight!), part of their free JAM Sessions at the Ford series. These are interactive shows that allow audience members (of all skill levels) to participate with ondo, samba, tap dance, ukulele, Bollywood, son jarocho and other artists and take place on stage on Monday evenings at 7:00 pm. (Did I mention they're FREE?) (And speaking of my mom, I'm taking her to this show!)
Minyo Station

Take a look at the Ford Theatre Summer Season – everything from film to dance to classical music to rock – and stop by for a relaxing evening under the stars! And don't forget to visit your mother.

Click HERE to see the Ford Theatre 2014 Season 

FORD THEATRES
2580 Cahuenga Blvd, East, Hollywood, CA 90068
323-461-3673
Click HERE to purchase tickets
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .




5 Reasons to see 'MALEFICENT' at the El Capitan Theatre

2015-01-20T15:30:39.118-08:00

This is not a post to try and convince you to see 'MALEFICENT,' because I know you'll be seeing it anyway. The combination of Angelina Jolie, Angelina Jolie's cheekbones, a feminist plot twist and stunning visuals is impossible for anyone to resist. No, this is to convince you to make sure you see 'Maleficent' on the gorgeous screen at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. Angelina Jolie's cheekbones will thank you.The 5 Reasons to see 'Maleficent' at the El Capitan Theatre1) The pre-movie magic show by acclaimed magician Greg Wilson. This isn't just your average magic show where you get to see a rabbit being pulled out of a hat (although he does that, too.) Prepare to see Wilson's dazzling assistants get shot out of a cannon (well, not really but how did she end up in that box in the corner of the theater?) sawed in half and in half again (seriously, I still don't know how that works) and levitated with the help of a magic rope. Hurry – this live stage show is only running until July 6. 2) An exhibit featuring props and costumes from 'Maleficent.' This is your chance to get up close and personal with Maleficent’s gown and horns and peek into an intricate model of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Getting tired? You can also check out Aurora's bedroom.3) A live performance by the El Capitan's house organist, Rob Richards. I've seen this many, many times and it never gets old. How often do you get to see an almost 100-year-old Wurlitzer played live? Kudos to the El Capitan for realizing the importance and impact of live music and for bringing it to young audiences.4) It's not in a mall. Sure, there's something to be said for your theater being steps away from Forever 21 and Panda Express, but do you really want to see a fight between Maleficent and King Stefan on a screen the size of a postage stamp? Once you've seen a film in the plush, gorgeous, ornate El Capitan you may never want to see a movie anywhere else again. Besides, there's a Forever 21 right across the street in the Hollywood/Highland center (which also provides validated parking for the theater.)5) You can reserve your seats, buy your tickets online and print them out at home. Avoid the lines at the box office and cruise right into the theater. This gives you more time to ponder your popcorn and drink selection. Even easier - select the VIP ticket option and your refreshments are included in the price of your ticket! MALEFICENT is playing at the El Capitan Theatre through July 17. To buy tickets call 1-800-DISNEY6  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[...]



Be Safe Out There: Bing In The Classroom

2014-05-22T03:34:59.930-07:00

This is Little Brown Bunny, my now-teen daughter's first toy and prized possession. (That she still has, by the way, somewhere in her room underneath all of the teen girl clutter.) Years ago she decided to search for 'Little Brown Bunny' on the internet. We're not sure why – was she looking for his family lineage? His LinkedIn profile? All we know is, what she found instead was a movie from 2003 called 'The Brown Bunny,' and let's just say it definitely was not about a cuddly stuffed animal. (Go ahead, I'll wait – I know you're pulling up the IMDB page for that movie now.) Luckily we were there to intervene, but we can't always be there to lunge in front of the screen and cover their eyes. Now there's a new program called Bing in the Classroom that provides ad-free, safe, private search in schools. A customized version of the Bing search engine for use by students (in grades K–12) Bing in the Classroom is ad-free and comes with enhanced privacy controls that allows teachers to utilize filters to block adult content and ad targeting.In addition to the search engine features, Bing in the Classroom also offers:• An opportunity to earn tablets for your child's school. By joining Bing Rewards parents, friends and your community can donate earned points towards Surface tablets for your school of choice.• Free lesson plans. From the Bing homepage, teachers and educators can access lesson plans that promote digital literacy.I realize we can't have control 100% of the time over our kids' online activities. But it would be encouraging to know that, at least while they're in school, there are steps being taken to limit their exposure to inappropriate or potentially dangerous content. After all, you never know when they'll go searching for info on their beloved toy bunny only to discover he's involved in some shady dealings on the side.Here's more on Bing in the Classroom: allowfullscreen="" height="281" mozallowfullscreen="" src="//player.vimeo.com/video/92662483" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="500"> This post was created in partnership with Bing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Disclosure: I am being compensated for this post but all opinions and references to the sullying of beloved childhood icons and inappropriate movies are my own.     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [...]



Hospitals Report Rise in Gut-Punch Injuries As Financial Aid Letters Arrive


2014-04-10T13:15:26.216-07:00

Los Angeles, CA – Hospitals are reporting a rise in the number of patients, specifically parents of college-bound children, being admitted after complaining of pain in the abdomen area after receiving letters informing them of their financial aid status.

“It feels like some guy sitting behind a desk in the financial aid office just punched me in the gut,” said Brad Toller, after finding out he would be receiving a measly $5000 from his son’s Ivy League dream school. “It starts with a dull ache when you open the letter, and then all of a sudden you’re writhing in pain begging your kid to go to community college.”

Children are being traumatized as well, as they watch their parents deteriorate before their very eyes. “Dude, first my dad started cussing like crazy, and then my mom drank an entire bottle of wine,” said Mandy Taylor, a 17-year-old high school senior who was with her parents when they opened her financial aid packet from the prestigious Ojai Fine Arts Institute. “Next thing I know they’re both on the floor. I freaked and called my BFF Heather and her parents were sick, too! So, like, then we had an Uber take us all to urgent care.”

“It was horrible watching my parents go through that,” said Mandy, who was only awarded $1500 towards her $55,000 yearly tuition in Experimental Paper Maché studies. But the teen says the worst part of the hospital visit was talking to 30-year-old hot resident Todd Majors, who told her he was still paying off $150,000 in student loan debt and was reduced to living above his parents garage and buying his clothes at Ross. “That’s when it really became serious for me,” Mandy said solemnly. “I hurled all over my iPad.”

Doctors at East Hollywood Memorial Hospital say they are treating their patients with a combination of Xanax and a list of famous people who didn’t go to expensive colleges but turned out just fine. “Once they see that Oprah and Steven Spielberg seem to be doing reasonably well without having gone to an Ivy League school, they appear to have a significant reduction in their symptoms,” says Dr. Tom Rettig.

Along with their gut-punch cases, doctors at Hollywood Memorial Hospital are reporting seeing parents with other serious injuries related to the financial aid situation, mainly those complaining about losing an arm and a leg to their children’s intended colleges.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



The Pollinator Garden at the Natural History Museum is worth a trip or five

2014-04-10T12:49:08.554-07:00

When was the last time you went to Natural History Museum in L.A.? If you're like most people, this is probably the last thing you remember seeing, along with the sound of your second grade teacher screaming your name:For most of us trips to the museum were usually courtesy of elementary school field trips. I gained a new appreciation for the place when my kids started going to the summer camp there (which is excellent, by the way. More on this later). I would spend many solo hours exploring the grounds and got to know every nook and cranny pretty well – the sprawling Rose Garden is not a bad place to hang out while you wait for your kids. After camp my girls and I would spend another couple of hours checking out the exhibits and end with a visit to the gift shop. We have a pretty hefty collection of NHM pencils. But a couple of weeks ago I was invited to the opening of the new Pollinator Garden, the last component of their new (well, new to me) 3-1/2 acre Nature Gardens and I was completely taken by surprise – the entire garden attraction has completely transformed the space, and once again it's taken on a whole new appeal for me.After I parked my car, I was directed up a gorgeous trail – one of several – and over a pedestrian bridge. (The one on the right leads you to the Edible Gardens.)What was once a parking lot now looks like this: The Pollinator Garden is located in the northeast corner of the new outdoor garden space, and was created to attract wildlife and demonstrate the relationship between flowers and pollinators. It will be in bloom every month of the year.But wait – I can't resist showing you the other parts of the garden too. Check out these 'trumpets' along the path where you can listen to the roots: No, not these Roots, although that would be kind of awesome.Look at these beautiful areas to climb into and under. These are part of the Get Dirty Zone. I know just the sound of that gives some parents the dry heaves, but it was one of my favorite parts of the garden and seemed to be the most popular with all the young kids, too. Last but not least, the designer in me could not get over these gorgeous hand-made signs. They're everywhere. I plan on a special trip back just to photograph all of them. That's after my special trip just to hang out in the garden with a picnic. That's a lot of trips. Getting back to those girls of mine, they're teenagers in high school now but are still fans of the museum, and are eager for a visit after they saw my pictures of the new Nature Gardens. They also want to see the newly remodeled gift shop. I guess you can never have enough pencils.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Natural History Museum of LA County900 Exposition Blvd.Los Angeles, CA 90007Phone: (213) 763-DINOHours: 9:30 am - 5:00 pm dailyCheck the NHM website for ticket info.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[...]



Everybody cleanse now

2014-01-29T17:32:22.753-08:00

*This chart is a lie, since we actually spent 0% of the time doing the juice cleanse, but the pie chart program wouldn't let me do a slice that small. Even science is disappointed in us. A few months ago I managed to convince Rigel to do a Costco run with me (he considers it on par with other hideously unpleasant activities, like cleaning the catbox or watching 'Sex In The City' reruns) and while we were there we decided to buy one of those pre-packaged juice cleanses. We had been talking about wanting to "get healthy," and it sort of made us feel less guilty about that five-gallon drum of beef jerky, oversized bricks of cheese and pallet of beer we already had in our cart. By the time we left the store we were feeling so hopeful, visualizing ourselves as glowing, wholesome beings living life anew with cleansed bodies outfitted in expensive yoga pants and tight tank tops. We decided to do the cleanse over a weekend since it would be easier to coordinate our meals, and we could be there to comfort each other as we went through the horror of doing without caffeine and alcohol. And as cleanses go, this one sounded reasonable – only three days, and it was more of a supplement to a healthy diet that they carefully outlined in their instruction booklet.At least I think that's what was in the instruction booklet, since we never got around to really reading it. In fact, the only thing we managed to do was pay for the cleanse and put it in the refrigerator because this is the conversation we had when we got home.Rigel: So let's start this cleanse on Friday.Me: Well, we have that dinner party that night. I am definitely going to want to pig out and have a cocktail.Rigel: Right. So let's start on Saturday.Me: What?! You can't expect me to wake up on Saturday morning and not have a cup of coffee. Or bacon. Let's start on Sunday.Rigel: No way, I have rehearsal that night, and I'm going to want to have a beer with the guys. Next weekend it is.The next weekend rolled around, and of course there were parties and events with our girls that we just knew prohibited healthy living, so we pushed the cleanse back to the next weekend. We figured it wouldn't kill us if those toxins and liver deposits hung around in our bodies for just seven more days, and besides the date on the cleanse said it didn't expire for another three months. Renewed with our excitement over a robust, fit future, we poured ourselves a scotch and toasted our good judgement.Slowly those bottles of cleanse moved to the back of the refrigerator, barely visible behind the jugs of lemonade, Chipotle leftovers and that hubcap-sized disc of brie I picked up at Costco. We tried not to look at those vessels of good health beckoning to us from the back row, because they just reminded us of disappointment and failure. Occasionally when we'd open the refrigerator we'd feign interest in making another attempt. Rigel: We should really do that cleanse this weekend.Me: Can you move, I'm trying to get to the leftover Chipotle guac. As you can guess, those three months rolled around pretty quickly and we eventually just poured it all down the drain, the entire time promising ourselves we'd buy some new bottles and begin anew. I think we also spent some time making fun of people who were so obsessed with being healthy and who did juice cleanses, and agreed that they were just trying to cover up for other problems like not being able to enjoy life or appreciate a monstrous wheel of really good cheese. We made a pact right t[...]



Holidays At Disneyland: Our Night Of 5 Firsts

2013-12-20T12:49:03.860-08:00

How many times have you been to Disneyland? I don't have an exact count, but if I had to guess I'd say we've been there close to a hundred million times. It never, ever gets old – especially for my girls – but we do tend to do a lot of the same things whenever we visit, whether it's visiting the same attractions or eating the same foods. For example, I always clap loudly and embarrassingly whenever I get on my favorite ride.Last weekend we were there for Holidays At Disneyland – where the entire resort gets transformed for the holidays – and we did some things we hadn't done before. Here they are – see if you can make it through the entire post without singing Foreigner's 'Feels Like The First Time' in your head.1) We rode the first-ever holiday version of the Jungle Cruise – the Jingle Cruise!For the first time, the Jungle Cruise gets transformed for the holidays! I'm not going to lie, this is one of my favorite rides and my girls', too, and I was ridiculously excited to ride this new version. The dock has been decked out in lights, and the skippers have added some holiday humor to their comedy routines – don't judge, but we actually love all of their slightly corny jokes. Which leads me to another first – for the first time ever I followed a Disneyland ride on Twitter. And you should, too because then you can read things like this:One of the hippos just put “arm floats” on her Christmas list. #lazy— Jungle Cruise (@JungleCruise) December 12, 20132) For the first time, someone else besides me took the photosWe just bought Kiyomi a new camera, so she was happy to document our visit. She did an amazing job and took all the photos you see here (except for the pics accompanying item numbers 3 and 4. Those slightly blurry, over-filtered Instagram pics are all mine.)She did a photo essay of Kira and her Santa hat throughout the park. Here are a few:I highly suggest this idea of putting your kids to work documenting stuff so you don't have to. It helps you to see things through their eyes, and also frees you up to enjoy things, like bacon-wrapped asparagus. (See next item.)3) I ate bacon-wrapped asparagus skewers at Bengal BarbecueThat's a big lie. This is the eightieth time I've eaten these, not the first. But I have to keep mentioning them because some of you out there haven't tried them yet, and I won't stop until every man, woman and child has tasted one of these amazing pairings of meat and vegetable. (However, in keeping with the spirit of the 'firsts' theme of this post, I will say it's the first time I left without wishing I had another one – this is the first time I ordered TWO skewers.)4) I rode the Red Car Trolley in California AdventureI'm used to having people yell at me to get out of the way as this thing comes at me while I'm texting in the middle of the street. So this was a much more pleasant experience. The trolley takes you for a short tour through the park – starting in Carthay Circle, up Buena Vista Street, through Hollywood Land and ending at the Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror. Along the way the nice conductors (that's one of them there) tell you stories about the the park and Hollywood, including the history of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, the basis for the Tower Of Terror ride. Want to hear the story? You'll have to ride the Trolley yourself. (See how I did that?)5) For the first time, we did NOT ride 'It's A Small World'One of our Disneyland mottos is, "No visit is complete without a ride[...]



A plea for help made of gifs from 'Fight Club' and one from 'Grease'

2013-12-17T21:48:05.555-08:00

A few days ago I appealed for help for my daughters' school but apparently no one heard me. So now, you leave me no choice but to re-tell my story and plea for funds using jerky moving pictures and movie captions.Apparently the first rule of fundraising is YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT FUNDRAISING.Let me break it down for you.A few months ago the kids had to watch their beloved performing arts department get wiped out.  It hasn't been an easy year. Everyone is carrying on but we know how they feel inside. Now, because of a lack of funding, it's looking like the Senior Class of 2014 will be the first class in the high school's history NOT to graduate at the Hollywood Bowl.GO AHEAD, KICK US WHEN WE'RE DOWN, UNIVERSE.It doesn't feel good. It fact it hurts like a mutha.Now everyone is stressing out trying to figure out how to come up with the down payment.All of our appeals are falling on deaf ears. It's like we're the Amway salesman of high schools.If we don't come up with the balance of the down payment, the kids won't get to graduate at the Hollywood Bowl, something they've been looking forward to for FOUR YEARS.I KNOW I KNOW THERE ARE BIGGER PROBLEMS TO WORRY ABOUT.But these kids have been through a lot this year, and man, you don't know how happy they would be with a great sendoff on their last day of school. If you or someone you know would like to help sponsor the Hollywood High Class of 2013, please leave your contact info here or email me at marsha_tm@yahoo.com. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  [...]



Help us get to the Hollywood Bowl

2013-12-13T14:03:03.746-08:00

I'm about to ask for money for my kids' school. If this type of thing upsets you, you might want to look away, turn off your computer, block me or erase me from your contacts list. (But don't un-invite me to your holiday party – I promise not to ask for money there, only for your rum ball recipe.) As you know, my girls go to Hollywood High School. Like most public schools in the inner city, they are constantly strapped for funds. Adding to their woes this year was the decimation of the Performing Arts Department, when another school (with much deeper pockets) swooped in and hired away the musical director, the technical director and took many of the top-performing kids with them. It was brutal, like that scene from Kill Bill, only worse. (Okay, not worse. but it felt like it.)One of the things Kira's looked forward to from the day she started at Hollywood High was to graduate at the Hollywood Bowl. It's a time-honored tradition with the school, and they are one of only two schools in the city who have the honor. The Bowl only charges one-dollar for the event, but a staggering $22,000 is needed to cover additional costs like staff and security.In years past they've had corporate sponsors who helped cover the Bowl cost, but no sponsor has materialized this year. The kids have been doing fundraising, but a majority of the families at the school have limited means. Many of them are struggling to meet the basic graduation costs of their cap and gown, senior dues, etc.  Right now there's the possibility that they may be the first Hollywood High senior class ever not to graduate at the Bowl. As of now they have only raised $8,500 towards this goal, and a deposit of $15,000 is needed by next week, December 20 in order to secure the location for their graduation in June 2014. I know, it doesn't rank with some of the other more dire needs of the school district as a whole. But these kids saw their senior year – one of the most significant periods in their educational journey – get yanked out from under them. They go without what a lot of other affluent schools have throughout the year, and it would be great to be able to give them this one last sendoff, and to let them have the opportunity to perform from the Hollywood Bowl stage. They would be so grateful.So, we're appealing to friends, family, and associates and asking: Are you, or do you know, work for, associate with, drink cocktails with, are married to, have BFF status with, or are owed a favor from, any corporate sponsors or big-hearted supporters of public education who could come through for us and help us meet this deadline? Right now we're only looking to raise the additional $6,500 needed to meet our deposit amount – that will give the kids a few more months to raise the final balance.What will they get in return? A private performance by Kira and some of these talented kids. A big shout-out at the graduation. A prominent mention in the program. And most of all a deep, heartfelt THANK YOU from a bunch of grateful teens. Thank you for listening.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  If you would like to share this to get the the word out, please use the hashtag #HollywoodBowlGrads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  [...]