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Showing posts from 2010

The Santa Situation

"Mom, I must have been really bad this year," my nine year old said. "Why is that?" I asked. "Because Santa brought my friend a bike and all I got was little stuff. Santa must not like me much," she said. The terrible, horrible, no good Santa Situation aka the Big Dilemma aka the rough moment and what is a mom to do? Let me back up a bit. My husband and I decided a while ago to be very conscientious about how we handled the Santa situation and Christmas gift giving. We planned with an eye to the long-term. Here are key factors we considered: Both kids have birthdays in December, making it a massive gifting and receiving month, with the rest of the year pretty bone dry. Santa is a very special part of the holiday, but we didn't want the holiday to revolve around Santa or what Santa brings. Santa is a great morality tale/myth potential that's gotten way too diluted. The original concept of Saint Nicholas giving to needy and building out a concrete em

Last Minute Awesome Gift (and Stocking Stuffer) Ideas: The Hit Parade

Note: Read all the way to the bottom for the MUST WATCH kids' Christmas show, which will air on Christmas Day. Okay so here are the things I got this year for gifting that I actually thought were awesome. They meet my "I'd really give this to someone and feel great about it" criteria. Some were things I might never have thought of, but got offered as review. I admit I used a good deal of selectivity in agreeing to receive certain products to review, so there was always a good chance I'd like them, but let's just say some were hits and some were misses. There are also a few things I risked buying online and have since received, whereupon I discovered they were as awesome as I'd hoped. I'll distinguish what I found from what was sent for review. Here are the hits: My find -- Lillian Vernon I used to buy from Lillian Vernon frequently on gift-giving occasions. I'm not sure why I veered away. They have good stuff, you can personalize most of it, it inc

The Slacker Cook Triumphs Once Again With Crock Pot Cooking

It finally got cool here. I know, highs of 62 barely qualify as cool but there you have it: our average winter low here. It feels like early fall to me, and so that means I am whipping out the crock pot (and anyone who knows me knows how I love my crock pot: it's mass amount cooking, everything and the spice cabinet, tasty, aromatic, slacker cooking -- in other words, all my favorite ways to cook rolled in to one!). When I pull out the crock pot, I tend to also pull out a vintage cookbook. My stepmother gave this cookbook to me in 1989 when I moved into my first apartment -- solo living, like a real grownup, with rent, utilities, and everything. It's like feeling that taste of independence, doing it my way, anew. All while getting old-fashioned comfort cooking. You know what I mean? So, of course, my first foray for crock pot hot meal cool weather cooking is...chili. Hey. It's Texas. And of course I use a recipe straight out of this cookbook called Chili Con Carne. Except I

The art of friending (and unfriending)

Not too long ago, I was reading a New York Times article about why people unfriend other people on Facebook and it got me thinking about a lot of things, truly. What does Friend mean, anyway? (And when did it get to be a Proper Verb? When did Verbs get Proper, anyway?) Don't you Friend people you like, and thereby, de facto, accept as they are? Who are you to deem someone else uninteresting? Okay let's start at the end. From the article : "The rules of Internet friendship seem to differ in other ways from their earthbound equivalents. There is a bluntness to unfriending that would hardly fly in real life: “As soon as you have a baby, you become uninteresting,” noted one survey respondent." Really? You think maybe, possibly, it could be that it's a case of the other person hasn't become uninteresting but, in fact, developed a new life focus that is just worlds away from your own, and that doesn't make either of you just means you don't fit the

RIP Ted Sorensen (If You Can)

After a stroke today, incomparable JFK speechwriter Ted Sorensen died . He was 82. Sorensen might be the most quoted speechwriter. He is certainly the man behind JFK's best lines. Sorensen, though, always attributed the famous lines -- such as "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country" -- to Kennedy. In an interview with the BBC about a decade ago, Ted Sorensen tried to explain why he and John F Kennedy got along. I think, in fact, it was his way of trying to explain why he always said JFK came up with the best lines, rather than taking the credit. It's something writers can understand, I think; in essence, to paraphrase, he said he channeled JFK when writing -- he knew him so well, knew what he'd want to say and simply formed the lines that he knew his friend would want. As someone who has ghostwritten and extensively "developmental edited" books, I know what he means. As someone who has written lines for politician

She Used to be My Girl

In a time of white wicker, macrame, and ferns...when the pointed collars of polyester shirts brushed the tops of short-sleeved sweaters that bloused gracefully over flat fronted jeans with bottoms like bells...and the most popular Halloween costume included fluffy felt skirts with a black poodle applique and bobby sox... Sunday nights were devoted to the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Mystery Hour -- our one television program we got each day -- but Saturday mornings, those were reserved for Casey Kasem. His smooth, familiar voice announced the country's most popular songs each week, and I listened patiently through the countdown, measuring my favorites against what my fellow countrymen preferred. I adored the inside scoop about the rock stars, such as the story about the guitarist from Jefferson Starship who loved to skateboard. I thought of my own blue board, and felt a kinship. I also felt a kinship to listeners around the nation, as Casey sang out their radio station's call numb

Restaurant Trauma in Texas: How eating out prompted a really uncomfortable lesson about culture

WARNING: This is NOT a family-friendly post, aka the warning I WISH I'd gotten yesterday before I walked in. Yesterday was a Holiday. I hope you heard the scare quotes around that. Yeah, when you are an adult here is how holidays work: you, same workload as always, kids WOO HOO NO SCHOOL FREEDOM. Do the equation. The result is the day I had yesterday. If math isn't your strong suit I'm pretty sure you can still add that up but just in case let's say the highlight of the afternoon included me dumping out the mismatched sock basket and telling the children to have at it, in a way very reminiscent of Miss Hannigan of Annie . Anyway luckily I've taught my kids that Chores are Fun! and they had a good time. Later, I cranked up the fun-o-meter on a bank errand by dropping in the Halloween store to check out costumes, and upped the ante on "Mom needs new running shoes" by tacking on a "Hey let's eat out at a restaurant!" My husband was able to join

They Get What They Deserve: Lessons I hope we're learning through social media tragedy

The other day I listened to one of the most brilliant modern satirists, David Sedaris, talk about his new transition into fictional stories, where the main characters are animals ( David Sedaris, Anatomizing Us In 'Squirrel' Tales ). These aren't fables nor are they for children. They are instead modern Grimm's Fairy Tales of a sort -- although Sedaris claims they have no moral to them (I think they do, in fact -- any satire of a culture includes a lesson, if you think on it). Sedaris said: "Fables have morals, and not all of these do," he tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. "So I wound up calling it a bestiary, which is just a book in which animals do things that people do." In contrast to classic animal fables like Aesop's "The Tortoise and the Hare," there are few identifiably good characters in Sedaris' stories. "I don't think our world is as black and white now," says Sedaris, who consciously avoided Aesop and La Fonta

How the Tooth Fairy Got His Groove Back many times have I written about the Great Tooth Fairy Conundrum? Frankly, my husband and I sort of stink at Special and On the Ball. Someone once told me how they have stockpiles of Tooth Fairy prizes, at the ready, just in case. Someone else once said they have gold dollars that come from the Tooth Fairy. Another person has a special treasure chest for teeth. Our Tooth Fairy gets frantic texts messages, "OMG get off tollway NOW!! LOST TOOTH!! Must have WEBKIN, preference PINK and CUTE, nothing from OCEAN!!!!!!!!!!" Then said Tooth Fairy has Webkin in hand (do not EVEN ask how the Webkin precedent got set, suffice it to say...LESSON LEARNED!) and said Tooth Fairy and his ahem colleague, aka the Assistant Tooth Fairy, are tired from a long day of tooth business and tend to sort of collapse right around Tooth Fairy time. Then around 2 a.m. the Assistant Tooth Fairy tends to wake up in the middle of a heart attack, pokes the Tooth Fairy hard and hisses, "WE FORGO

The Texas Women's Conference Winner!

Every single one of you who stopped to post and discuss where you are in your career really, really moved me. There is so much I want for each of you...and I'm working on that. In the interim, if you can attend the conference or a networking group or jump into a Twitter chat within your field, I encourage that. Austin has some great entrepreneur groups and a wonderful conference that's pay-as-you-can and Houston has a number of women's business and networking groups above and beyond professional organizations. And...I entered everyone's name who wanted to win a ticket (some commenters opted out) into randomizer and the results were: List Randomizer There were 15 items in your list. Here they are in random order: christina 52 There were several Christinas so I had to assign numbers. I contacted this Christina who is able to attend the conference and is very excited! Congratulations, Christina, and thank you to everyone who commented. Check back--let's see

One huge kick start to my career and how you can have it too

Right now, my career is going well. It has been a pretty good run but that's 95% nose to the grindstone and 5% luck. Or thereabouts. I do what I do and have what I have because I've made and seized opportunities, taken risks, sucked it up for a lot of years, and worked hard. When I moved to Texas five years ago I had to transition my career a bit. Not a huge demand for managing editors at major publishers here, unless you happen to be in educational publishing, which I wasn't (for good reason). So I had to parlay my skills into actual work, and it has been a five year journey. I hit a point of frustration not too long ago when I'd get some opportunities, but...without the concept of pay attached. For some reason, these people would schedule meetings with me and assume I'd do all this work and promotion for them just have content for my blog. What a joke. Like other bloggers, I do not lack for content on my blog. I lack for time to write up and publish all the conten