July 06, 2010

Closing a Chapter...and a Group Blog

I discovered not long after I began blogging three years ago that even though I intended to blog primarily about books and reading, I fit into another niche as well: I was a Mom With a Blog. I didn't see myself as a "mom blogger," really - the "typical" mom blogger seemed to have younger children than mine, as well as more a more intimate style and approach to content and communication than I envisioned for myself. Still, I did want to share some of my personal life with my readers, and I've been a mom for my entire adult life, so I technically qualified.

Many of the other blogging moms I was drawn to weren't typical mom-bloggers either, as it happened...but I knew I wanted to connect with this community somehow. I also knew I was interested in making some off-line connections with the people I was getting to know online. When the Silicon Valley Moms Group prepared to expand its network of regional blogs into Southern California  in mid-2008, I was quick to apply as a contributor, and excited to be among those selected to launch the Los Angeles Moms Blog.

I've gotten a lot out of my two years of association with SVMG and LA Moms, including those "real-life" connections I'd hoped for; I might not have summoned up the nerve to go to to BlogHer'09 if it weren't for knowing people in those groups. I've also had a place to write about things that didn't really fit in so well on my personal blog, and exposure to promotional opportunities I'm not sure I would have found otherwise. All the same, I've felt like a misfit among the mom bloggers for some time, and forging more ties in the book-blog community has only intensified those feelings, so I've been deliberating about my future with the LA Moms Blog for a few months now. But a couple of weeks ago, a decision was made for me.

Continue reading "Closing a Chapter...and a Group Blog " »

July 3, 2010

Do You Know What Your Family is Eating?

Since the beginning of time humans have been trying to save food from spoiling. We’ve used salt cures and chemical processes to ensure items don’t go bad. I recently learned there is a new process for ensuring wholesome food lasts called High Pressure Processing. HPPLA uses a process known as Pascalization to preserve and sterilize natural foods.

The advent of chemical preservatives meant we could keep food for longer than ever. But the long-term effects of consuming chemically processed foods are worrisome. Pasteurization has long been an alternative to chemicals but this removes nutrients due to cooking and can also change the texture of consumables. HPP involves putting pre-packaged natural goods into a hyperbaric chamber and pressurizing it equally throughout at extreme pressures.

I highly recommend you ask your local grocers which products they carry are processed with HPP to ensure your family is getting maximum nutrients without sacrificing safety.

July 05, 2010

Change

Excitement

Change is coming in the form of no more LA Moms Blog. Today will be the last posting. It's sad to see it go, but I'm hopeful there will be something new and equally fun to takes it's place in my life. One of the things you learn, being a mother, is to accept change as gracefully as possible.

Pretty much from the moment you realize you're pregnant you have to accept that your body is changing, and for many of us will never be the same again. Droopy boobs and ponchy bellies are no ones idea of a good time but it's a trade we make for a family. It's a good trade.

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June 29, 2010

Memo From A Mom Blogger To The FTC: WTF?

Screen shot 2010-06-29 at 5.12.37 PM I am a Mom Blogger, not a Journalist. Apparently, I need to disclose that right up front. Like you couldn’t tell. Like you thought I was suddenly the NYT. Which I’m not.

But the Federal Trade Commission thinks you can’t tell and that I’m trying to defraud you. The FTC thinks I want to sell you some magic acai berry beans made of broccoli powder that will cure your cancer and that unless I tell you upfront that the magic acai berry beans company paid for an ad on my site and are using me as a mouthpiece you wouldn’t be able to tell and would be defrauded when you buy these worthless beans and I get the cash.

But here’s the problem: I don’t sell cures for cancer, I do dvd and video game reviews. Not in the same league, if you ask me.

Continue reading "Memo From A Mom Blogger To The FTC: WTF?" »

June 29, 2010

A Different Language of Love

Heart

The words "I love you" was never said in my household growing up, not in English and not in Tagalog (the Filipino language). I don't know if it's a cultural thing but I've found that most Asian families don't express affection towards one another on a regular basis.

I remember going to an American friend's house in the seventh grade and seeing her hug and kiss her parents and sister then everyone said, "I love you" to each other before going to bed. This blew my mind. I stood there with my eyes wide open and a little confused by it all. Was this normal? Should I be telling my parents I love them? Being that we were immigrants were we exempt from this type of behavior? My questions were never answered because I couldn't bring myself to ask anyone in fear of embarrassment. 

I still remember the first time I told my mom I loved her. It was right after I gave birth to my daughter (yes, this was very recent) and she had stayed to help me for three days after I came home from the hospital. She cooked, cleaned and took care of my baby as I tried to recover from my delivery. When it came time for my mom to leave I broke down at the door and couldn't stop crying. She asked me what was wrong and all I could say was, "Nothing. I just don't want you to leave because I love you." She immediately dropped her bags and said, "I'm staying." Maybe it's because I became a mother and I had a deeper understanding of the relationship between a mother and a daughter but at that moment I just wanted my mom to know that I loved and appreciated her.

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Can This Single Mom Ever Be Normal?

IMG_1969 My daughter started summer preschool this week! A huge milestone for her and me, as her mommy. I'm so proud of her for jumping into a new and exciting situation with 3 year old gusto! She did great and no, mommy didn't shed a tear. I've always enjoyed ushering her into each stage of independence throughout her little life and nine child-free hours for me each week ain't nothin' to cry about.


There were, I believe, 12 or 13 three year olds in her classroom on that first day and she was one of only three children who didn't burst into tears and freak out when it came time for the parents to leave. Once again, I was proud. But then something that I wasn't expecting happened...

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June 28, 2010

The Importance of Wearing Sunscreen

SunscreenIMG_1742 One of the strange things about living in Southern California is that sometimes you can't tell the Asians apart from the Latinos on quick glance, especially in the summer. The boys and I spend a good portion of the year being brown rather than yellow. It doesn't seem to matter how much sunblock I put on our bodies, we just can't avoid getting tan. My mother-in-law wears a burka type get up on her face, gloves and a light long sleeve shirt with the collar up whenever she drives--the only part of her body that the sun could possibly hit are her eyes, but then those are covered up with sunglasses. Recently I gave in and bought driving gloves for myself. Not really to keep from getting tan, but because the sun was starting to hurt my arms every time I drove long distances (like driving to Legoland twice in eight days).

But all this got me thinking--what is the point of sunscreen? Maybe it's because I grew up in Chicago, ranked 25th out of 26 cities surveyed for the American Academy of Dermatology's “Suntelligence: How Sun Smart is Your City?” online survey. (The Academy's website has good tips on sun protection for kids.)  I just don't think sunscreen works all that well. If you think about it, since the beginning of the human race people have been working outside, whether as hunters or gatherers. Most of the world still uses farming techniques which require workers to be outdoors for most of the day. I highly doubt that farmers and other outdoor workers in Asia or Africa are lathering on the sunscreen. So if people haven't been dropping like flies from skin cancer without it do I really need sunscreen? More importantly, do I really need to be attacking my kids with sunblock sprays and lotions before sun exposure?

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June 25, 2010

The Secret to Staying Cool in the Summer

As temperatures spike here in Los Angeles, it’s tempting to retreat indoors while cranking up the A.C. – if you have it. Installing central air in our home is definitely on our To-Do, but given the extra trips to the doctor for our kids this year coupled with some unforeseen car repairs, it’s temporarily on hold. Luckily there are some pretty great alternatives to staying cool in the hot sun.

Sure, ceiling fans can help, but I want my kids to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. Perhaps not coincidentally, we were undergoing some home repairs last month, just as we hit our first real heat wave. Even though the best plumber Los Angeles has to offer was making minimal noise while fixing our bathroom, I needed to get outside. So I found the nearest pool.

When I was little, community pools were a staple of my childhood summers. We didn’t have a lake or ocean nearby, so my family and I would hit the local pool, sometimes spending half a day there. L.A. has the Pacific as its pool, but sometimes driving across town to the beach is more hassle than it’s worth.

Luckily I discovered that the Culver City pool was ten minutes away! My kids loved it. My oldest couldn’t get enough of the diving boards. He’d never been on the high dive, but as a boy who can’t resist an adventure (for better or worse), he took to it quickly. The little one was too young to be left alone, so I put some adorable orange floaties on her arms, and got in with her. We’ve spent three or four afternoons cooling off in the water, and will definitely be back.

June 23, 2010

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok: A SV Moms Group Book Club

Transplanted from Hong Kong to New York City as a (very poor) young girl with her mother, Ah-Kim or Kimberley, struggled to make things better for her family, to learn English, to walk the line between traditional Chinese duties and the Americanized teenager she grew into. Join us today as we discuss the book Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok.

Girl in TranslationHere are what the SV Moms Group contributors ave to say today, all inspired by the book Girl in Translation:

Silicon Valley Moms Blog is hosting the book club discussion this month. Please leave a comment here to join in the discussion.

Past SV Moms Group Book Clubs have included:

Click here to read all about the SV Moms Group Book Club.


June 21, 2010

When The School Bully Is A Teacher

Apple for the teacher My son’s school has so much going for it – a great Dual Language Spanish Immersion Program, it’s a 2 block walk from my house, and did I mention it’s free? There’s only one problem: one of the teachers is a bully.

(Well, there are maybe a few more problems than that, it is LAUSD, after all, but for now I’m focusing on the bully.)

He could be my son’s teacher one of these years – it’s all such a random lottery, it seems -- but I can’t let that happen. So I’m doing all I can to make sure it doesn’t.

He yells at the kids in his class, actually screams. And he says the most horrible, humiliating things to them. I've seen him snap his fingers and call kids over to him the way you might treat a dog. If you were mad at the dog and didn't like it very much.

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June 15, 2010

Red Hot and Toxic

ADA  The newspaper sitting folded on my desk has been there since Thursday, June the 3rd. I read the front-page article, folded the paper carefully up and placed it on my desk with the intent to write about it. Perfect for LA Moms Blog, is what I thought. But I'll face it later. 

It's been sitting on my desk for almost two weeks, glowing red hot and toxic. The article is titled Disabled students losing 200 classes and reports on the budget crisis reaching The Los Angeles Unified School District's most vulnerable students. We all see these articles daily, and those of us in the school system skim them and sigh. If we've got any energy left, we work to raise money at our schools so that our children's class sizes remain smaller or perhaps so that aides won't be let go, to maintain what little art and music and physical education programs there are stay that way. And the deluge of bad news keeps coming. I have two boys who attend a neighborhood charter school with remarkable parent-driven support. I also have a fifteen year old with severe disabilities who attends one of the city's lowest performing schools, where she is in a class for moderately disabled students and receives minimal services. The vast majority of the students there are disadvantaged and I have seen, first-hand, that they are getting screwed by the LAUSD. But this blog post is not about them.

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June 11, 2010

Why My Kid's No Abby Sunderland

SailboatThe news is good: Abby Sunderland has been found alive in the Indian Ocean. Thirty-foot waves had pummeled her boat, which no longer has a mast, but the vessel is still seaworthy. A trio of ships is heading out to rescue her.

Abby is the 16-year-old local girl who set sail back in January, in hope of becoming the youngest person to complete a solo sail around the world. Her family lost contact with her in the middle of a satellite phone call, and her actual location was unknown.

I cannot imagine the anguish her parents must have felt while she was missing. Then again, I cannot imagine allowing my kid to embark on such a journey in the first place.

It's only been a couple of years since I've allowed my daughter to enter a public restroom on her own. Until recently, she had never walked up to the counter at Baskin-Robbins to order her own ice cream cone. She has never walked to school on her own, nor has she ever ridden a bike to a friend's house. These are things I did all the time when I was a lot younger than she.

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One Potato, Two Potato, Three potato . . . No More!

DSC00686 A year or two ago, I interviewed babysitters very differently than I do now. Two years ago I was willing to hire a sitter because she had CPR and claimed to love children. She proceeded to sit on my floor and pat my kids on the back while watching soap operas. One down. The next one got cozy on my couch and decided it was ok to change what was recording on our TiVo because she wanted to watch something else. Meanwhile, my kids sat on the floor and looked up at her with curiosity. Two down.  I hired a doula who is my mom’s age, and she was wonderful. She came over twice a week, made me something to eat and insisted I go take a nap. While I fitfully slept, she folded laundry, tidied up and fed the babies. But she was ghastly expensive and I desperately needed more help. Three down. All this within the span of a month. Over the next few months I tried one more gal, who seemed great at first – then called in pregnant one day. Four down.

Somewhere along the way in that first couple of months, KK came along. She was laid back, and at first I thought maybe she was not so motivated because she came across as very mellow. Boy howdy was I wrong! She is one of the best things that happened to my kids and our family. This girl walked in and started laughing with my babies, and was equally at ease laughing with me, even though she is young enough to be my daughter (notice I didn’t say I am old enough to be her mother). Over the past two years I also hired two more amazing young ladies, and they all work a few hours a week so I can get out to the store, meet a friend for coffee now and again and they provide extra energy to the kids when I feel just worn out. From them all I have re-learned things I used to know and thought I still did. They are all closer to having been babysat and been children than I am. They are more in touch with playing games, blowing bubbles and drawing with sidewalk chalk than I am. I was so sure I was. I wanted my kids fiercely and I love them with all my heart. But no one tells you how hard motherhood can be. And truly, you can’t know anything about anything until you are actually there. 

Continue reading "One Potato, Two Potato, Three potato . . . No More!" »

June 10, 2010

Where was I?

Amanda blog

I grew up privileged. I am an American Jewish woman who had the privilege of never truly experiencing prejudice due to religion. I have spent most of my life on the west coast surrounded by other Jewish people. Where I live, Target carries Hannukah decorations. The public schools are closed on Yom Kippur and the Coffee Bean sells challah on Shabbat. Israel is a destination vacation. This has always been my Jewish existence...except for the one week I spent in Poland as part of The March of the Living, an educational program that brings students up close and personal with the Polish remnants of the Holocaust, culminating in a silent march from the notorious concentration camp,  Auschwitz to Birkenau. 

It was there at Auschwitz that I stood on the railroad tracks and felt my body tremble. The Holocaust had always been this horrible nightmare I'd read about in history books and Elie Wiesel's profound writing. I'd met survivors and seen the tattooed numbers on their arms. But nothing prepared me for the real thing. I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt. Why them? Why not me? How was I lucky enough to be born years later in America? As we walked from Auschwitz to Birkenau, I made a promise to myself and to them, those not as lucky, the souls I could feel surrounding me without a voice. I promised to be a voice for them. I promised to raise my children Jewish and give them a voice. I promised to Never Forget so that this would Never Happen Again.

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I do...

Lotsoftulle I did. I took the plunge. Tied the knot. Got hitched. I am married.

Everyone asks "how does it feel?", "does it feel different?", "are you happy?" Well after two weeks and two days of wedded bliss my answer is I am happy and it does feel different.

How does it feel different? Let me count the ways...

• I get to say "my husband!" I feel like a little schoolgirl when I do.

• My husband and I were watching a painful date scene during a movie the other day and we looked at each other and said "thank god we're done with that!" I'm sure that I have been on more dates in one lifetime than anyone should be. And too many that left me feeling...do I have to? We had a good laugh over our worst date stories. Mine was years ago. It was my mother's friends, friend’s son or something like that. He took me to one of those "buffet" restaurants and we split the bill. Need I say more...

• I got to dress up like a princess and have the most beautiful photos of myself... I never like my pictures and I melt with these. My photographer, Lisa Franchot, (check out more of my amazing photos including some with my son that slays me) is a genius!

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