Children, cooking, marriage, random stuff, funny stuff, photography, dogs, cats, depression... Whatever you're looking for, you might find it here! The modern 5 and dime.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Of sickness and of travel

So sorry, dear readers, that I didn't post much last week. My husband decided to catch the plague at Comic-Con and it has turned into this ugly pneumonia type thing that I have been desperately trying to ward off of my house using the eveil eye. I think I shall just follow him around with a bottle of Lysol forever. And burn my sheets.

I did manage to go see my folks in the OC for a few days, so I swear I will post more as soon as I can. In the meantime, I got this cool new shirt, you can get one yerself over at Fussy

Monday, July 24, 2006

San Diego Comic Con 2006

I finally went to my first con this weekend. Followed up by a trip to Losa Angeles to hear Kevin Smith's Q&A after a viewing of "Clerks II" at the Arclight in Hollywood.

I will try to recap as much as possible, but I am exhausted...

We took the trolley downtown- we weren't willing to pay $25 for parking (when $10 would give us our tickets on the trolley) and I wasn't game for the traffic nightmare. We got downtown in 30 minutes, and despite earlier predictions aced right in the front door pretty fast.

We hit the exhibit floor, but there was way more to see than I had time to see. We planned on returning later to the exhibit floor, but due to circumstances beyond my control, we never got the chance. Therefore, I highly recommend going more than one day- one day is just not enough time! Next year, I am going to buy my four day pass.

Still, the exhibit floor was awesome. We headed right over to The View Askew booth, where I picked up a t-shirt and the exclusive comic-con "Tales From Clerks II" comic book.

Next, we hit "The Simpsons" booth. That was pretty cool, we picked up a few comics there.

Then we hit Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network Studios booths, picking up some freebies for my daughter.

We managed to hit Sony, Lionsgate, IFC, Sci-Fi Channel, Mattel, Hasbro, Warner Brothers, Universal, and saw a lot of promotion for upcoming movies. We saw Henry Rollins while we were walking around. We probably only saw about 15-20% of the exhibit floor though.

We went to get in line for Matt Groening ("The Simpsons"). I waited in line an hour and while the line moved (the show began at noon), by 12:20 I bolted from the line to go get in line for Kevin Smith in the main hall (Hall H). At 12:30, my husband called to say he got in. I was bummed.

But, I got in Hall H in record time and got a seat to see Rosario Dawson, Quentin Tarantino, and Robert Rodriguez. In the meantime, my husband tried to procure a lottery ticket to get in line to meet Matt Groening, and was not able to get one. He also tried to get a t-shirt, and they ran out. He tried meeting John Kricfalusi (Ren and Stimpy) and the line got cut off right in front of him. He was very frustrated and disappointed.

I, too, ended up frustrated and disappointed, but that quickly dissapated. After Quentin's panel, Kevin Smith did not show up. He was stuck in traffic (the same traffic I would sit in the next day). I waited his entire hour and a half panel just in case he showed up. He didn't, and they rescheduled him for 5 and a half hours later. The last 15 minutes of his panel Rosario Dawson came out to entertain us, and boy, did I fall in love with her! She was so sweet and endearing, she also sang to us! She called Kevin on her cell phone and let us chat with him for a moment that way.

Afterwards I don't even remember what the panel was, I was so tired by that point. My husband came to join me, and we decided that given the big names coming later in the day, we better not leave Hall H for fear of losing our seats.

I did wait 45 minutes in the special "Hall H" line for a crappy hot dog, but at least I got food. They were running out of everything, seeming completely unprepared for what they knew was going to be a large crowd. Hall H holds 6,500 people, and it was full just about the rest of the night. That line made me miss part of the "Narnia" panel, but I did get to see the Pirates of the Caribbean 2 panel. They showed the CGI effects of Davey Jones, AND they showed us a special clip from POTC 3! Looks awesome, and I loved seeing the unfinished shots.

Afterwards was the "Sony Presents" section. The first part was "Ghost Rider" the new movie with Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes. They were both so cute and looked so Hollywood. Nicolas Cage was a total crack-up, really enjoyed him. The movie looks scary but cool.

Then came Sam Raimi (director of Spiderman 1, 2, and 3 and the Evil Dead movies) presenting clips from Spiderman 3. Well, he did one better than that- he brought along Kirsten Dunst, Bryce Dallas Howard, Thomas Hayden Church, Topher Grace, and Tobey Maguire! It was so amazing, I screamed myself hoarse. I had no idea they were going to be there, and I just love all of them. It was very cool. The Spiderman 3 clips were incredible- it really does look like the best one yet. Venom (played by Topher Grace) looks just fantastic, I was so impressed! The hall went crazy for this panel, seriously.

They followed that up with a 45 minute Question and Answer session with Kevin Smith, who brought along Jason Mewes. His original panel was supposed to be an hour and a half, so I was disappointed it got cut down so much. But never fear- I got to see Kevin again the next day!

By the time we got out of there, it was 7:30 and the exhibit hall was closed. Looking at the schedule, we missed a TON of stuff- but what can you do? You can't be in two places at once. Seriously, I need to go every single day next year, so I can catch more stuff, although I can't imagine the energy you would need to do that. I was exhausted after one day!

Oh, almost forgot to mention the costumes. Some were pretty amazing, but you have to realize- San Diego had record breaking triple digit heat (my house was 111 on Saturday- no joke). Can you imagine walking around downtown in that heat in full costume and make-up??

So, Sunday, I had procured weeks ago tickets to a Kevin Smith Q&A for a smaller crowd- a movie theater, post-viewing of Clerks II.

The traffic that screwed up Kevin's panel on Saturday we had the pleasure of enjoying on Sunday. We had Los Angeles type traffic in San Diego (horrendous!) took us from 1:20 pm until 3pm to get to San Onofre. After that? We got to the Jay and Silent Bob Secret Stash (comic books and memorabilia store) at 4:15! It's located next to UCLA so parking was nightmarish, but I can only imagine what it is like when school is in session.

J&SBSS is an homage to the View Askew movies. They had several movie props there, including the wings Ben Affleck wore in "Dogma" and the Mooby with the computer from Clerks II. They had a slew of "Inaction" figures from the movies, several were even autographed by Kevin Smith. They did have memorabilia from other movies too, notably a section of "Sin City".

I loved the store, although they were out of some of what I wanted. I found a talking Simpsons Magic 8 Ball (that now that we're home doesn't work- it's supposed to "talk" instead of having a floating indicator like the classic) and a Chasing Amy t-shirt for Shawn, and I got a Clerks 2 t-shirt and Chasing Amy DVD for myself. I came home and placed a big on-line order to catch all the items I missed. I'm sure they've been quite busy because of the recent publicity (from the opening of Clerks II).

Just in case I had the chance, I put the DVD in my purse afterwards, butI was unable to procure Kevin's autograph- this weekend, with the movie premiering, he's just too busy. Next time, I hope.

After that we drove over to the Arclight in Hollywood and had dinner at the Arclight Cafe. Very nice, good food, and not as expensive as I thought it would be. I had the sweet corn tamale and grilled skirt steak. Yum! Fancy. The restaurant was full when we left, and they also had a nice gift shop. An incredible place to see a flick, for sure.

The arclight was cool, neat to see where the hollywood premieres are. Plus, we drove down Sunset Blvd and saw Hollywood High School and the Laugh Factory and the House of Blues. They all looked much smaller than I imagined, I'm sure none of those places hold very many people! The Arclight is a few blocks from the Pantages theater which is always showing the broadway style shows. We did see them filming a movie on Sunset Blvd but of course did not get a glance "behind the curtain". It's amazing how people in Hollywood don't even blink when they see a movie filming. Me? Total fangirl.

I wish we had had more time to explore the area, but alas, we didn't.

The arclight dome is where the premieres are, we weren't able to be in there even though the official red carpet premiere of Clerks 2 was shown in there. Regardless, our theater was very plush. I wish all movie theaters were like this. Nice bathrooms, they keep them clean; big comfy seats with stadium seating; and reserved seats! Awesome. We were in row O exact center.

The movie was incredible, really enjoyed it. Laughed a lot and even teared up at the end. I will most likely be going to see it again, when Kevin's iPod commentary comes out (genius marketing, I tell you!) The 10,000 MySpace names went by way too fast for me to see my name. And yes, there is a donkey show ("inter-species erotica") and had moments where I had to look away. Hysterically funny though.

Kevin came out after the credits stopped rolling, looking so tired. His first few questions he seemed kind of out of it, but the whole time I was trying to get a decent picture (don't think I did, way too dark in there- he just stood in the front of the theater and chatted with us). Then, he really livened up. Gave a great show. I got to ask him a question, and had a little mini-conversation with him from across the theater. That made the whole thing definitely worthwhile for me :-) Really awesome.

An amazing weekend. I'm so starstruck. It was really fun for me, but I am completely exhausted today. Can't wait for next year!

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I found out someone's secret tonight.

It didn't feel good, it didn't feel like "tee-hee, I know something you don't know." It wasn't gossip.

I just feel sad. Sad for this person. Sad for their spouse. Extra sad for their kids.

And mad that I didn't know. Mad at myself for not catching the signs. And wondering what, if anything, I could have done. What I can do. Is it too late?

Wondering why no one else told me, why my other friends felt they had to keep it from me. Did it affect me? Did it affect my daughter?

It shatters my perception of people. A picture perfect family. A family I envied, respected, looked up to, really strived to be like. The nicest people you ever could meet. And now, now I try to imagine the hell they are going through, and I can't. I just can't imagine.

Now I feel like no one is immune. Everyone has a dirty little secret. What's mine? What's yours?

Post Secret

Las Vegas Gets It Wrong

Las Vegas has made it illegal to feed the homeless in city parks.

Instead of spending tax dollars enforcing such a ridiculous law, why not spend those tax dollars on FEEDING these people who need help??

I'm just shaking my head. Whoever thought that was a good idea has just got it wrong. So terribly wrong.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Finale

Saturday was the grand finale of theater camp.

I can't call it "drama camp" anymore, because my daughter sighs, rolls her eyes, and says, "Mo-om, it's not *drama* camp, it's THEATER camp", in all of her best dramatics.

Saturday all of the students got to show off what they've learned.

I was completely blown away by how much they learned in 3 weeks! My daughter was dancing, singing, and had lines memorized.

Of course, her true self really shined when she got to boss around the boys on stage for not remembering their cue :-)

Now she's watching the video of her show over and over again, and wants to watch it alone, unencumbered by adults, full of her own thoughts and her own dreams.

She's spent the days since drawing, writing, and even composing music. I'm watching my little budding artist and wondering what her interests will be in a year, 5 years, 15 years. Our girl scout meeting on sunday focused on "Careers". A year ago if you asked her what careers she was interested in, she listed "Teacher" and "Scientist" at the top of that list. Now she's got "Movie Star" in that list, along with "Art Teacher", and "Scientist" didn't make her final cut. "Chef" has also dropped off her wishlist, too.

I remember those days, when I could dream of what lay ahead, when anything was possible. I try to remember what was on that list, and over the years "Writer" and "Teacher" and eventually "Journalist" made it on that list. Pretty sure the word "Statistician" was not even in my vocabulary. I remember the mimeograph paper and how good it smelled. I remember setting up my "classroom" and creating math tests for my dolls to take. I've been a teacher, and I've been a journalist for my high school paper. At what point does money take precedence over dreams? I've always thought people were crazy for chunking a high-paying position and following their dreams, of acting, of writing, of teaching... but deep down inside I've always admired their courage, and wished I had that same confidence.

I will always look at my daughter and her activities and wonder if that's the thing she'll love to do forever, if that's what she'll do for a living when she is older. I can sit right along next to her as she explores her world, and dream, too.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Good people in the world

Ah, yes, my faith in humanity was restored on Friday.

I went to pick up my daughter from camp friday afternoon, and soon after getting on the freeway to go home, I saw a big metal ladder in the very middle of the lane. I had two choices- hitting it or a car next to me.

I decided to try to go over the ladder, centering it in the middle of my car- and guess what?

It got stuck on the bottom of my car.

I had to pull over (the shoulder on the fast lane side, too- ugh), and tried to get the ladder out.

Mind you, this is friday afternoon rush hour in SAN DIEGO, and I had my daughter in the car.

As soon as I noticed the ladder wasn't budging, I started to panic.

I opted to try flagging down a passing motorist, because waiting for the police would mean sitting on the edge there for way too long. I was begging and pleading for just a few minutes when a white BMW pulled over.

A nice gentleman got out as I blubbered my story to him. I think every other phrase was "Please help" to which he must have translated as "Please help this crazy lady".

He came to study the situation and he also couldn't get the ladder off.

Me in all my crazy genius decided if I stepped on the gas pedal while he pulled on the ladder, maybe it would come free.

And it did!!!

I've never been so happy. I was so grateful. Again, all he could say was "Goodbye, Crazy lady", but actually he was very, very nice.

So thank you nice gentleman who took the time to help the crazy lady in the extremely dirty minvan.

And to the police officer that was 3 cars ahead of me in the lane, and did NOT stop to do anything about the ladder? Thanks for creating a scary afternoon for me. Appreciate that.

I took the car in to get checked out ($50 for that), but apparently no permanent damage resulted.

Through the whole thing my daughter never batted an eyelash. She told my husband later, "Mommy was crying." Heck, yeah, I was- it was scary being that close to cars going 80 miles per hour. No thanks.

Be careful out there, folks! You never know what's out there. But at least, sometimes, there are still some good people in the world.

Friday, July 14, 2006

A most ridiculously unneccessary product

Pre-packaged ice cubes.

That's right! The ultimate tool of laziness, and as Slashfood points out, a ridiculous waste of packaging.

But then again, there was a time when everyone made fun of bottled water. Who's laughing now?

I understand the company's point about food safety and hygiene, but really, couldn't the same result be achieved by using a bottle of water and freezing it into cubes? Why not just market those little itty bitty ice trays?

Why are people wasting research dollars on stuff like this?

Photo courtesy of

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Idol Mania

In case you haven't heard, the Season 5 Top 10 American Idol's have begun their nationwide tour. They aren't coming to my town until the end of August, but I've got my tickets, baby!

My cousin also became an Idol fan. She called me two nights ago and asked me to buy some souvenirs for her at the concert, because tickets sold out where she lived. We had spoken before about her disappointment, and even after they added a 2nd show, she was still unable to get a ticket.

She called me last night, laughing- her paper had run an article about the concert in Hershey, PA last night, complete with a phone number for tickets. She said she was so MAD, why, oh WHY would they taunt her like that, knowing they were sold out of tickets?

She was so mad, in fact, that she called the number to complain, only to find out there were some AWESOME seats available! After doling out a small fortune, she procured 3 tickets to last night's show, with only a few hours notice.

She and her husband and her grandson made the trek out to Hershey and had seats eye level with the stage, on the very corner of the stage by the stairs the artists use to get up to the stage! Talk about awesome seats. She said Taylor Hicks was so close she could reach out and touch him, practically.

She was disappointed Katherine McPhee had still not re-joined the tour (no idea when she is expected to return), but that they did show photos of her.

As you may also know, the band Live is from York, PA near Hershey, and apparently they were in attendance (they were there to see Chris perform). Chris gave them a big shout-out.

She said the show was really fun, but she was unable to get through the lines to buy souvenirs. I told her we'll look on-line when the tour is over, as I expect those same long lines at the show here.

Anyway, it was just so cute to hear her so excited about the show, giving me a sneak peek. I'll call her after my show, but it seems so far away right now. I wish my cousins didn't live so far away (or rather, that I didn't live so far away!) as I wish my daughter could see them more often (and me, too).

For those of you with tickets to an AI show near you, enjoy the show, and let me know how it went! Still a Taylor fan here...

Hero of the day

Here is an incredible story... a woman in Albion, Michigan who is pregnant with twins due ANY DAY NOW rescued her neighbor from a fire...

It's a great story, take a peek:

Mom Pregnant with Twins Rescues Woman From Fire

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Annual Cleaning of the Room

Yes, it is true. I finally snapped. I had it with all the clutter in my daughter's bedroom. Saturday night I dragged buckets of toys out into the hallway, with the instructions that they were not to be returned to her room until her room had been cleaned, and all of the toys sorted.

In the end, I threw out three large trashbags of trash, and filled three cardboard boxes of toys that were worthy of donating. I can finally see the floor of her room, and there is finally enough space to add a *gasp!* chair to her desk. I also cleaned out her books, pulling out any books that were way below her age level (and boy, was I shocked to see how many we had!) She still has 2 full bookshelves of age-appropriate books- both picture books and chapter books.

Now taking bets on how long this lasts...

The floor! Can you see it?? And look how neatly her books are organized!

I still have not found a good way to store this beautiful American Girl doll bed.

The toys! They fit... IN THE CLOSET!!! You would be amazed, if you only knew, how many Barbies and Polly Pockets and Build a Bear Workshop and Littlest Pet Shop can fit in there.

Yes, I know, she has a lot of stuff. But now? NOW it is in the closet!!!

Floor, beautiful floor.

Look, I can see the floor!!! Now, just maybe, I can walk in to kiss her goodnight without breaking a toe on a barbie.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Summer camp

My daughter has been in summer camp the last couple of weeks. Not stay-away-from-home camp, but day camp. They have so many cool activities for camp now that they just didn't have when I was a kid. Like, "Learn to be a motocross racer while dissecting a squid with your toes!" and really, who doesn't want to learn how to do that.

There were so many options for camp this summer, and I wanted her to do them all- until I saw how much they all cost. So we had to scale back, but still, she is doing some cool stuff this summer and is having a total ball.

Here's what I recall of summer activities- warning, nerd alert!

* I remember going to vacation bible school at the Presbyterian church. We got to make a little plaque out of clay, and they took all of our plaques and made them into a giant cross by the side of the church. I thought that was pretty cool. Even when I had "switched" to the Episcopal church, I remember going by that cross every once in a while to find my name.

* I remember going to the local swimming pool, and my swimming teacher used to give us snacks. To this very day, a community swimming pool immediately makes me think of soggy animal crackers (I can almost taste them).

* I remember going to Episcopal overnight camp twice. Once in 4th/5th grade when I was terrified of the priest who was missing a hand, I threw up in the middle of the night and demanded to go home early. (Did I? I don't even remember, but I remember being horribly shy and homesick). I went the second time as a teenager (16? 17?) where I got a (gasp!) boyfriend out of one of the other counselors (not one of my counselors, mind you- he was a counselor for the young 'uns). That time I had an absolute blast and did not want it to ever end. I was there with my two best girlfriends, we shared a cabin together (a nice cabin! With running water and electricity! and air conditioning in the counselor's lounge!). I recall this camp as being one of the best experiences of my teenage years.

* Ok, Internet, here comes the big confession. I went to COMPUTER camp for 2 weeks (overnight camp!) and absolutely loved it. I learned to program my first PASCAL code there, and even won a programming contest for my animation program. This was back when Macs were brand new (I'm sure that was a big selling point in the brochure!) This camp I am SURE is entirely at fault for creating a computer career for me that has now spawned over a decade.

* And in case you weren't entirely convinced of my nerdiness yet, let me tell you that I went (voluntarily!) to summer school from sixth through twelfth grade at Rice University. I loved being the little nerdy kid among all the college kids and academic types. My favorite spot was the library. I remember riding my bicycle to campus, and I also remember being so happy when I had my driver's license so I could drive over there. The best part was school was only part of the day (instead of a full day like in the regular school year), so most summers I had season passes to Six Flags. My afternoons were full of begging my parents to drop me and my friends off at Six Flags, hanging out there, and going to concerts at the amphitheatre. With a season pass, standing room tickets for most concerts were FIVE DOLLARS. I have a slew of ticket stubs from those concerts- Depeche Mode, UB40, Mister Mister, Erasure- all the 80's greats :-)

What about you? What are some of your favorite summer activities from your childhood?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Musings of the Fourth

I decided that since we didn't have anything we absolutely *had* to get done on July 4th, I would do my best to do as little as possible. I succeeded! My daughter didn't wake me up until 9:45 (yes!), and then after turning on the electronic babysitter ("Madagascar"), I was able to climb back in bed until almost 11:45. As my daughter would say, it was "Fantastical!"

My daughter is taking piano lessons. She recently "graduated" out of the primer level into level one. This book includes a "teacher's duet" at the bottom of the page- so I am glad to say my near 12 years of lessons paid off in the best duet of all time- a mother/daughter duet that was just one of those moments that make parenting the best job in the whole wide world. I also noticed she is able to very, very quickly memorize songs, a skill I never really had or developed.

In honor of the Nathan's hot dog eating competition yesterday at Coney Island, we ate Nathan's hot dogs yesterday. My daughter flat out refused a hot dog (wha??)- but she eventually confessed it was because the hot dog at the party spilled ketchup and mustard on her swimsuit, and she is now forever afraid that hot dogs will up and spill ketchup and mustard on her.

I did venture out of the house ONCE yesterday. I went to the gas station to fill up for the week (daughter is at camp, I'm going through a VERY EXPENSIVE tank of gas each week). Instantly saw weird lady standing next to me and smiling. Weird lady says, "Excuse me, do you have a light?", which you know, I don't because I don't smoke. Instead, I'm thinking, we're at a gas station, idiot, don't smoke here. So I said, "No, I won't give you a light at a gas station, you can't smoke here."

She smiled and said, "Thank you", but continued to stand there staring at me. Of course, the pump wouldn't print my receipt, so I locked my car and went inside. By the time I came outside, the woman found a bigger idiot who DID hand her his lighter, and she lit up, right there next to the gas pump.

I wasn't eager to see that kind of fireworks, so I was glad to be leaving.

I did manage to work out on the treadmill yesterday. You know, feeling guilty for not leaving the house and for eating too many hot dogs this weekend. My daughter decided she wanted to try, so I let her try the treadmill at the lowest setting. She thought it was pretty neat but said it felt "weird". About 5 hours later she says, "I feel like I'm still on the treadmill."

While we were inside all day, my daughter never left the house the entire day. She thought this was very cool. I didn't even make her get dressed until lunchtime! Today I was fun mom! She played with her new barbies she got with her allowance/tooth fairy money (yes, she lost 2 teeth last week!) and she played on her leap pad computer for quite a long time. Today, it is back to camp, and back to work for me and hubby. Hubby also said he thought his 4 day weekend went by much too fast. But really, think about it- it's July 5th now, this year seems to be going awfully fast. The summer seems to be going fast, too- could it be because we are so blasted busy??

We watched, "A Capitol Fourth", together on PBS last night. Other than being sugary sweet, my daughter most enjoyed the appearance by Elmo, in which she was simply in awe that he could ride a tricycle with no help at all. It stumped her.

When the fireworks started (which, by the way, were lame and the New York firework show was much more impressive), we could hear the fireworks from our own town outside from all sorts of places but couldn't see any. She kept asking me how fireworks, well, work, and I didn't really know. She also wanted to know where the fireworks went when the lights stopped. I told her about ash, and she seemed satisfied.

A few minutes later, she said, "Momma, I see the ass."


"Honey, it's ASH."

*Photo courtesy of Weniki's Daddy-O-Matic

Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy Fourth!

We celebrated the fourth of july yesterday, on the second of july- as we did last year, we had a barbecue and pool party. Perhaps it was the experience of doing it last year, but this year's party went much smoother, and it seemed more fun for me. I had more time to get in the pool (although still not as much as I would have liked), and I had somewhat more time to chat with friends. My husband still got stuck on the BBQ grill, but not for 8 straight hours like last year.

Above is a photo of the little one with her balloon bouquet. She seemed to have the best time of all, she was so excited. She never got out of the pool except for when she begged me to let her show her friends some toys in her room. Now, the day after, we are all exhausted.

So, on the actual fourth of july, we are planning on resting and doing nothing. I will watch fireworks on TV, read, and sleep! Oh, and eat the gazillion hot dogs we have left over.

Hope you and yours have a great holiday!