Thursday, December 30, 2010

Celebrate, good times, come on...

And don't forget to get kissed at midnight. Legend has it, a kiss at midnight on New Year's Eve brings luck for the coming year. I don't know if it is true but I am happy to test the theory. We have a fun long weekend in store. I hope you do as well. And I hope 2011 holds something amazing in store for all of you. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rewind: So Jimmy Buffett walks in to a bar

Ahh, the year in rewind. Already? I hope you are all enjoying a great holiday season. I am. And I enjoyed two weeks of time off, family, snowflakes (short and sweet), eating great food, drinking great wine, and watching a few bad movies (Sorry JMac). I am also moving office buildings this week so don't be jealous. I lose interest in packing once I have packed a box that shoes can fit in but it is required chore. So let's do a playback of some of my favorite and most popular posts of this year. Hopefully, they will make you laugh again. This one is one of my all-time favorite family stories. The original post and comments here. Feel free to laugh AT me.


My parents gave me some surprising news my freshman year of college. My Mom and Dad were moving. And not to a house across town either. [Point of clarification: I have two Dads. My Father (retired police officer) and my StepDad who is referred to as SD or Dad.] My Mom and Dad were moving to the great frontier: Alaska. I am sorry...what's that you say? Yes. Alaska. This photo is an aerial view of where they lived. The biggest import /export point on the entire Western Seaboard.
That following summer, I returned to our house in Seattle. By myself. The summer without my parents was not comprised of raging keggers and frolicking in the hot tub either. I missed them and didn't actually enjoy staying in an empty house. Foolish, foolish girl.

So the summer after my sophomore year, I accepted the invitation to brave it in Alaska for three months. My Mom and I literally passed each other in the atmosphere as she flew to Seattle the same day I flew to Alaska. First to Anchorage, and then three more hours on a small plane to the island my parents were living on.

When I arrived, I was shell shocked. Both gorgeous in its beauty and more desolate than anything I had ever seen; the Aleutian Islands are as phenomenal in their topography as they are bleak in their social and cosmopolitan offerings. While I might like all kinds of perfume and pretty clothes, I am also not a priss. Big coats and boots the name of the game? I am in.

My SD picked me up at the airport with very interesting news.  Jimmy Buffett was in town. Jimmy Buffett on this tiny island was like a figurative needle in a very wild haystack. But it was true. He was researching for a book he would later publish titled Where is Joe Merchant? And he was performing that night at one of the rowdiest bars in the United States, The Elbow Room.

We take all my luggage home and after the quickest of turnarounds, we head out for a night on the town. Being all of 18 at this time, I am ballsy at dinner and order a cocktail. I wait to see if my SD is going to put the foot down like I KNOW my Mom would. He does not. I think he is super cool. He is secretly laughing inside because I ordered a White Russian. I will likely never get drunk from it. And to me, after a semester of drinking Natty Light and Flaming Doctor Peppers, I thought a White Russian was the epitome of sophistication.

We phone my Mom in Seattle prior to going to the bar. She is mortified. She does not like the idea of her precious child within 100 yards of such a watering hole. Why? Because in addition to having a very low surplus of fashionable heels, this island also has a very low surplus of young college-age women. She perhaps attempts to put her foot down. Good luck. That foot in Seattle was a thousand miles away from me. Put it down all you want, sugar! I am going to The Elbow Room!

Before entering the bar, my SD says, "I don't care if you have a few beers but you don't need to talk to a single man in this bar, and none of them better speak to you." Did my SD not realize that college was a wonderland of opportunity to practice certain skills? I mean, in addition to increasing my base of valuable knowledge, I was becoming quite adept at how to drink beer and talk to boys? But he meant business. And rightfully so.Once inside, I changed my tune. From the outside, an unassuming beat up old blue shack. This is an actual picture. Inside, it was like Roadhouse. Only less tame. When I asked the giant man behind the bar for a White Russian, he said, "Sure sweetheart." Then laughed. Then place a bottle of Bud in front of me. I knew better than to toss my hair and sass.

The bar was filled with the most motley of crews, peppered with East Coast based CEOs in town on business, family men working hard towards their children's futures, college boys spending the summer on fishing boats, and more than a light dusting of convicts. I stayed glued to my SD's side the entire night.

But listening to Jimmy Buffett play from only 3 feet away, in a bar with about 150 other people, on a remote island in Alaska was one of the coolest things I have ever done. I mean besides getting to have a cocktail with my Dad when I was not quite 21. Oh, the liberation.

Leaving that night my thought: THIS PLACE ROCKS. THIS IS GOING TO BE AN AMAZING SUMMER. Into the wild...nothing quite like it.

And today is my SD's birthday. Some of the greatest memories of my life involve you and when I said at ten years old that one of the best gifts I ever got was you as a second dad, I still mean it today. Happy Birthday.

Friday, December 24, 2010

I played my drum for Him... pa rum pum pum pum

As the year ends, I am thankful for so many things but the friendships and paths I have crossed with so many of you from around the world is one of the greatest aspects of blogging I could never have anticipated when I started. Thank you for being a great part of this experience for me. A toast from me to you, JennyMac

And a bit of real jingle bell rock from our favorite Little Drummer Boy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A positive and negative of holiday shopping

Scenario 1:  I visit a swank boutique last week. A girlfriend recently bought a gorgeous Kill City leather jacket and I wanted one. The boutique hunts one down for me and I am delighted to go and try it on. A beautiful and uber sassy boy behind the counter helps me. I try the jacket on and return it to him. The following conversation ensues:

Him: Uh oh. (Makes a sad face.)
Me: I love it but I did not realize it is cropped in the back.
Him: Girl, who cares! Everyone loves cropped!
Me: Everyone? Maybe Mary Kate and Ashley but not necessarily everyone.
Him: Didn't you say your friend wore this jacket the other night?
Me: Yes, but I did not realize it was cropped only in the back.

Me: 1. Jacket: 0. Final verdict: Negative. There are various methods to sell me a gorgeous garment. The verbal betch slap method is not on that list. But bless that sassy heart.

Scenario 2: Shopping in Bloomingdales for possible holiday gifts for JMac, I peruse one section of the men's department. An older, well-dressed, distinguished- looking man appears to be looking for something. From about ten feet away, he politely calls to the Associate with whom I am speaking.

Him: and says, "Show me to your pants, please?"
Her: Brief pause. Then: Excuse me?
Him: Ma'am?
Her: My panties?
Me: WTF?
Him, very slowly: Show me to your pants. Please.
Her: Hand over mouth, mortified look on face. Then: Oh, I am terribly sorry. Men's pants are one section behind you.

Yes, he phrased the question in an unusual way. BUT even the randiest codger does not walk into Bloomingdales during the holiday shopping frenzy and ask one of the Associates: Show me your panties. Poor girl. She needed a cocktail on the spot. Final verdict: Positive because I witnessed it and it was hilarious. And you know she laughed her arse off later. At least I hope she did.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Santa has NEVER seen this on his wish list...

We all know this particular time of year, while steeped in tradition for many, has also become extremely commercial and consumer based. As parents, we attempt to balance the reason for the season with charitable giving and also the pure joy our son who is only 3 maintains for all things Frosty, Santa, and Rudolph.  In fact, the other night MiniMac asked me to say his prayers with him. I thought it was very sweet. He got to his "God Bless" section and said, "God Bless.....Santa." I asked if there was anyone else. He replied, "Oh, and Daddy." Usually the list is quite a bit longer. Usually the list includes me. He is apparently praising his male role models this time of year.

But the balance between the purpose of Christmas and the commercialism will become more and more challenging as our son grows up. We are constantly asked what our son has on his list so this year he made a small list and I know I am personally looking forward to seeing the look on his face when "Santa" brings the new bike he requested. And we hope that teaching our son about gratitude will shape the way he views things. But there is no shortage of items especially created for children, and our son's list is very short.

Perhaps you too have lists of things to consider and select. With so many choices, it is a buyer's world. I have seen commerical after commercial with the newest toys, games, electronic equipment. But I did spy something I had never seen before. I am a proponent of learning and we introduce a variety of learning tools to MiniMac throughout the year.

But the giant stuffed eColi? Ummm, please don't put that in my stocking.It makes me think I would rather have a Care Bear.

Drew Oliver, a former Harvard Lampoon editor has created a company called Giant Microbes. His stuffed germs, popular amongst doctors offices as a teaching tool, now have their own Facebook Fan page.

And apparently there is a subculture of fans ever eager to buy the new releases. This year's version of beanie babies? Oh my. The newest release includes stuffed measles and stuffed rubella. The intent to help children understand illnesses and hygiene is a wise idea.  

They even have a line of STD toys (clearly not marketed for children.) So if perhaps they can teach one person the importance of using a condom, congratulations.  And maybe a few people you know deserve a giant stuffed version of VD under their tree.

An opportunity to enhance learning ? Great. And making science fun? Well, that would have been great to introduce to me 30 years ago. I applaud anyone who can create entertainment out of eColi but I am certain Santa has never seen this on his wish list. And we are likely not quite ready to bring it to our house. We will stick with the characters from Toy Story for now.

And yes, now you have heard it all, I know.

Monday, December 20, 2010

It is innate to males all things that go fast are a turn on.

There is a crocodile farm in Golan Heights which sits below an airspace used to train Israeli Air Force Pilots. In this air space, Israeli planes frequently break the sound barrier. While it might be hard on the ear, apparently, it is also a sexual charge. For the crocodiles.

Approximately 100 crocodiles live on this farm and the frequent sonic booms heard overheard have stimulated the male crocodiles. These males have initiated their mating calls months earlier than the typical spring ritual. Apparently, it is innate to males that all things that go fast are a turn on.

A man working on the farm believes the male crocodiles believe the sounds are males encroaching on their domain. Apparently, it is also innate that some males are up for a good fight. Especially when it involves females. 

So while the male crocs are busy getting bowed up for love and other shenanigans, it has been reported there has yet to be an increase in actual sexual activity in the group. Proving once again that just because males ask for it, does not mean they are going to get it. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What I have learned from Disney

I will admit that Disney (both Land and World) were not big attractions to me as a child. In fact, I never went to either until I visited Disney World for a work event in 2003. I have a friend who visits Disney multiple times a year with family who proved to be a great guide. However, this friend was also the liar that told me Rock and Roll'er Coaster was "not that bad." But now that we have been multiple times including twice in the past three months, I can see many reasons why people love it. And I can also see why some people do not and never will. This is what I call What I have learned from Disney:

1. You better be patient. Even now that we are self proclaimed experts on navigating Disney and its widespread terrain, you better be patient. At all times.

2. We met a family in Disney visiting as part of Make A Wish. Nothing will humble you more quickly than to see the beautiful face of a child with terminal cancer. Often, that child is the happiest child you will see all day.

3. You will meet some wonderful people from all over the world.

4. Do not wear high heeled shoes of any kind. Really. People do this. Have fun being sad and crying because your feet hurt. I am a committed high heel wearer and could wear heels for 24 hours straight. Not at Disney. 

5. When your child finally reaches the height requirement, it is like they won the lottery. MiniMac could finally go on Soarin' and Test Track. And he LOVED Test Track.

6. Even the nicest person on Earth is going to encounter certain families whom cause you to kids are brats. Oh, ditto for the parents of those kids.

7. Disney has some fantastic restaurants like Todd English's Blue Zoo, Flying Fish at the Boardwalk, California Grill at Contemporary, and Jiko at Animal Kingdom. You also have multiple great restaurants around Orlando. You don't have to eat corn dogs and stale chips with fake cheese.

8. All day at Disney is hazardous to your child's energy level. Or what I like to call Why THANK YOU Disney and Hallelujah!

9. I will never, and I do mean never, be down with Disney apparel made for adults. Apparently I am in the minority. Same rule for the crazy Minnie ears with veils or fake hair attached. I am also in the minority there.

10. Sometimes the greatest lift you can get in your day is witnessing other people's pure and unfiltered happiness. It abounds at Disney. It is an amazing thing to see.

11. Spending all day going on rides is fun. Especially when that day is a day you would normally be at the office. Even better when this is the FIRST trip all year I left my Blackberry in the hotel room. All day.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Scaredy Cat

I have already told you before how I feel about roller coasters. Oh yes, the spinning, whirling, twirling. I used to love them like I loved scary movies. What happened? Oh, I know, I think there is a medical term for it called Scaredy Cat.

How much of a baby am I? Well. I decided on our last trip to Disney I would ride the Rock and Roll'er Coaster. This fast ride surrounded by blaring Aerosmith music is really about 2 minutes long. JMac rides this ride about 5 times a day. I decide to put on my big girl pants and ride it. Since I have ALREADY ridden it before, how bad could it be?

This bad: I get to the front of the line and decide to let a few people pass me. Then a few more. I am standing next to two girls who appear to be about 12. They are PSYCHED to go on the ride. I decide to get on and the split second that claustrophobia bar snaps down (also known as harness) I start getting antsy pants. The sweet 17 year old boy working says to me in his chipper sing-songy way, "Are you ready for fun?" And I reply "Is it too late to get off this ride?" He tries to give me a pep talk. Bless his heart.

How about LET ME OUT OK? PRETTY PLEASE? He kneels down to talk to me in a soothing voice which I find as soothing as acetone poured in my eye. Do I have to beg? Cry? High kick? Karate chop? He then flags someone down to unlatch me so I can pounce out of there like a cheetah. WHEW.

As I am walking down some dark bleak 'emergency exit' hallway, I hear two other very young Disney employees laughing and one says to the other, " I love adults who are actually big babies."

I am not a baby smartass, do I look like I am wearing a diaper? NON FRERE. I would only need one if I WENT on the ride. And it is actually what is referred to as a scaredy cat. BIG DIFFERENCE.

But I have no idea from where this scaredy cattishness stems. I used to be braver apparently. My BFF MarciaGarcia was shocked I backed out of the coaster. Even her sweet sister mocked me. 

Now I will determine if I outgrew that scaredy cat fever. Why? Because we will be standing in front of that exact roller coaster in a few hours. JMac and I are taking MiniMac to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party tonight in DisneyWorld where I will thoroughly enjoy watching him thoroughly enjoy himself. Oh, and he is finally ready to "meet" the characters. Mr. Incredible is his new favorite. And as special treats for the Mom and Dad on this trip, JMac has planned some killer dinners in some of the uberfab restaurants in Orlando. And I will surely be sipping wine and watching fireworks on our balcony at night as well.

Five days in Florida where is currently 72 degrees? Perfecto. Have a gorgeous weekend. See you next week.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Apparently, not everyone is in the holiday spirit....

In Long Island, officials are citing people with elaborate holiday decor. REALLY LONG ISLAND? Bright colorful lights are the primary issues you are facing? A resident received a citation for "unlicensed electrical wiring" because she used extension cords to light the display. The display she and her family have built for years. The display they receive donations for which they then give to charity. You will keep Buttafuoco but forbid the gingerbread men, Long Island officials? NICE. 

Now listen, I love holiday decor.  I love nice and festive holiday decor. Not Branson, Missouri style but still nice and festive. At least at my own home. However, I love Disney during the holidays because I do not have to live at the Mouse House so of course I can love it.  And I am lucky I don't have neighbors who go Guerrilla Griswold. The type of neighbors who settle in on holiday lights like it is the Super Bowl. 

As kids, we had a house about 1/2 a mile from us that were those people. You know, the people who kept lights up all year long. And this was back when there was one style of lights. Giant multi-colored lights. Not twinkling dreamy lights resembling icicles. Not delayed-timer lights flittering like angel wings. Just giant lights in either red, green, or blue.

But  when I was a teenage girl, there was a house in our town that did the most elaborate and amazing display. Their son had special needs and has passed away and the parents continued the tradition in his memory. They also hosted a Santa every year and families could take their photos as the homeowners passed out hot chocolate.

But I know some people aren't down with the festive light brigade. And in some cases, the holiday lights are so intense, even the animals get restless. The Mayor of Braintree, Massachusetts had the town holiday lighting party derailed when they discovered squirrels have eaten through wires of many of the strings. The Mayor said the lights were left on the trees since last year to save money. Apparently, a mistake he won't make again. However, perhaps it was just the rodent like varmints way of sending a message.


Hope your holidays are shaping up brightly.

Friday, December 3, 2010

10 simple life lessons, as learned from Cinema

Last year was a great year for movie theaters. It marked the first time in seven years consumer actually spent more dollars watching movies out than in.

Will 2010 be the same or better for the theaters? I doubt it.

There seems to be a declining number of five star productions. Where are all the blockbusters? The competing titles? The fervor over new releases? It has dissipated culminating in some good movies and a lot of flops including the paltry sales of the much awaited Sex And The City II.  But if consumers are spending top dollar at the theaters, it must be for more than pure entertainment.Perhaps, it might also be the vast knowledge one can glean from a simple two-hour visit to the cinema.

The top 10 simple life lessons I have learned over a box of popcorn and some Twizzlers.

1. If it is late at night and you are frightened by an unknown sound outside, simply strip to your underwear, and run outside. The culprit will appear instantly. You do not need a knife, you can simply carry your Swiffer. And when it is time to run away, the most efficient way to do this is wearing high heels.

2. If you want to be a professional basketball player, it matters not if you are 5 feet tall, all you need to do is dream.

3. If your dog gets lost 2,000 miles away from your home, do not fret, your dog will make a friend, hitchhike toward home, and be at your front door in a day or two.

4. All important meetings between underhanded men will occur in a strip club. All employees of the strip club are "working their way through medical school."

5. All important meetings between gossipy women will occur in the spa. All male employees at the spa look like The Rock.

6. All important meetings between two lovers, who are not supposed to be lovers, will take place in the elevator. There is never an alarm bell when the STOP ELEVATOR button is pushed either. When the elevator resumes, all disheveled hair and clothes will reveal nothing to the people getting in the elevator.

7. All offices in the world have blinds that can shut when a young fraulein steps in the boss man's office. All disheveled hair and clothes will reveal nothing when the blinds are opened, often 4 minutes later.

8. All children who run away in anger from their parents are found on a busy street by a kindly stranger who will provide incredible wisdom to set that child straight. A stranger can do in 5 minutes what parents cannot do in 15 years.

9. If you are female and heartbroken, simply visit a lake or a beach and stare off into space. A sweet love song will automatically start playing and it will soothe your broken little heart. While you are being soothed, another man will appear, much hotter, wearing no shirt but likely riding a horse or coaching a team of underprivileged children, your eyes will lock and you will forget all about that first guy.

10. If you are male and heartbroken, all you have to do is go to a bar, get wasted, hook up with some girl that is not the girl you really love, wake up the next morning feeling lonely and disheveled, and you will instantly write a poem even though you have never written one in your entire life. That poem will be about the girl you really love, which you will accidentally leave one day at Starbucks, she will find it, not know you wrote it, be smitten, and you will get back together the following week over a pumpkin latte.

So regardless of profits made inside the theater, think of everything you can learn. Had only I known #9 when I was a teenage girl.

*This is my third published post on Technorati!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

31 Days of Goodness....

Last year, I wrote a post called 31 Days of Goodness. That post had a record number of views because of you. Yes, it had a lot of great information but it was shared and viewed because YOU are great and interested and willing to do great things for other people. I believe most people, given the opportunity or information, contribute to the goodness of the world and the happiness of others. There are new charities formed every single day so let’s refresh our options for this year and present 31 Days of Goodness Part Deux with some old favorites and some new favorites mixed in.

By nature, I am a person who includes thankfulness and gratitude in every day. The economy has been challenging enough for so many people but it is heart breaking to see the list from the family our son’s class adopted for the holidays because it does not include toys. It does not include DVDs or games for the Wii. It includes basic things likes shoes, toothbrushes, and blankets. It is the state of affairs for many families and a clear reminder hard luck can hit anyone, but also that kindness and generosity can (and should) be easily shared. It is not the amount that is given, it is the act of giving itself. So many people donate, contribute, and volunteer to causes throughout the year; I think it is outstanding to see human kindness in action.

And now with the turn of December, there are an abundance of opportunities for every person to contribute. It’s the 31 days of goodness, and easy exercises (and many of them free) to put a smile on someone else’s face as well as your own. And to lean over that blade of grass and whisper: grow, grow.


1. One of the best thing I personally did all year: I donated eleven inches of hair to Locks of Love. They make wigs for children with terminal cancer.

2. You can also donate your hair to Matter of Trust where environmental experts have learned hair and other natural fibers can clean up oil spills.

3. Get involved. To start, visit Do Something which is a fantastic website which  can help you find service projects in your zip code. They also encourage you to engage your teenage family members to get involved in philanthropy. Their aim is to inspire the next generation of “doers”. You can also find local events/charities/nonprofits to support at Do Good Channel.  

4. Mentor/coach/tutor a future John Grisham, Louisa May Alcott, or Chelsea Handler at which is 7 nonprofits working to celebrate and advance creative writing in students age 16-18.

5. Go to your book case and clean it out. Instead of donating to the library, take those books to a local literacy program.

6. You can also join Books For Soldiers for free and send them to troops.

7. Give blood. To find a local blood bank: Visit Give Life.

8. Send a holiday card for FREE to a soldier abroad through a Xerox sponsored program called Let's Say Thanks A very quick and easy way to show support and solidarity.

9. Save all of your magazines from the month and donate them to a local women’s shelter.

10. Call a local retirement community and schedule a visit. You can spend an hour or two calling bingo. We have done it and it is a total hoot. One of the elderly ladies won and yelled “OH SWEET JESUS”. I crack up now thinking about it. (You can also take your sassy OPI or Essie nail polish instead and do some fun manicures.)

11. You can donate baby blankets, stuffed animals, and children’s books to Project Night Night  which helps homeless children.

12. Donate your old cell phones to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Go to the site and click under Take Action and then Donate.

13. Donate shoes (you know you have more than you can ever wear!) to Share Your Soles.

14. Mentor an at-risk teen online at I Could Be

15. Become an online reading mentor and penpal for kids in 3rd – 5th grade at (They do a background check: Use promo code: SAV2449 so it won't cost you a cent.)

16. Play Free Rice and every correct vocab word you identify, 10 grains of rice are donated to the UN World Food Program. You can also play Free Kibble and for every correct answer, they add 10 pieces of dog food for an animal shelter in need. You need a break from playing Word Mole or Farmville right?

17. Put your favorite charity on your  Facebook page or Twitter account. You are on there all the time anyway.

18. Donate gift cards you won’t use to Plastic Jungle.

19. If you knit, you can send squares to Warm Up America. The squares will be knit into afghans and donated to battered women’s shelters.

20. Sign up to volunteer at  and become a one on one volunteer to teach kids with disabilities about noncompetitive sports.


21. Give a $35 Gift of Hope to women and children rescued from Sex Slavery and Sex Trafficking at

22. Donate a minimum of $10.00 to which provides jammies and books for kids in orphanages, group homes, and shelters. To date, they have given almost ONE MILLION books and pjs to kids who need them.

23. A small $10.00 gift to will give a supply of diapers to a struggling Mom.

24. Lend $25.00 to which takes your loan and helps woman all over the world start businesses. You can choose your cause and the money will be paid back. So many people did this last year, it was incredible.

25. Donate to The Wounded Warrior Project  which provides benefits, services, counseling and more to men and women who have risked their lives to protect our country and our freedom. This is my Mom’s favorite charity.

26. A $10.00 donation to Noah’s Ark helps abused children rehabilitate abused animals. I know someone very involved in this program and it is amazing.

27. Help the teachers who are educating our children! At, you can views long lists provided by teachers regarding classroom needs. Everything from writing utensils to science equipment.

28. A $35.00 donation to Sleeping Children Around the World  provides a Bed Kit that consists of a mat or mattress, pillow, sheet, blanket, mosquito net (if applicable), clothes outfit, towel and school supplies for a needy child.

29. $35 dollars will also feed a needy child for one month with Share Our Strength

30. Go to Best Friends and make a small donation to help this organization dealing with thousands of displaced pets. Your money can help set up shelters, prepare furry friends for adoption, or have microchips put into the animals.  

31. And finally, and of critical relevance: Go and buy a new super-fly cold-drink canteen for $19.00 at Water.Org. EVERY dollar goes to help people around the world gain access to clean drinking water. 1 in 8 people DO not have this access.  

If everyone we know did just one of these things, consider the benevolent impact. We can make December beautiful for people who need it the most.