The Chocolate Lady

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Holiday Gift Ideas

If anyone is still reading, thanks. I just spent the past few days with Little One in the hospital, it was a diarrhea extravaganza, which hasnt been completely resolved, but hopefully will be soon. If you are interested in that kind stuff, you can read more

As an apology of sorts, for my extended absence, I thought I would do you all a favor, and pass along some fabulous holiday gift ideas, cause Im nothing if not helpful.

Ill tell you the truth, after watching so many episodes of The Silicone Housewives, Ive kind of gotten jealous of their really neat-o tattoos. I have found myself daydreaming about what type of tattoo I would get, if I were on would be kind of fun to get a hershey bar across my buns, or a pixie-fairy chick flying out my nose, and it made me think, "I bet so many people want a tattoo, but not forever", here's a gift for someone like that on your's a "tattoo sleeve"...looks real, but it's not.... If you want to visit the page to see all the other great tattoo designs, go here

I know Im sometimes hard on pet lovers, mainly pet lovers who let their dogs poop all over the place, or pet lovers who think their pets are humans, and take them to restaurants and dress them up and carry them around.....and perhaps Ive been a little too hard on them. So, for the people on your list that like to be all "hollywood" with their little animals, here's one that is adorable and cuddly, and wont poop or run away....

and to buy it go here

Practical gifts are always appreciated during the holidays, and here's one that cant be beat, in fact, I think we could all use this gift... It's particularly beneficial if you have a roommate or spouse, and you sometimes use their towel to wipe your mouth after brushing your teeth...because, then you can make sure not to spread herpes or whatever...

and to purchase go to their website

For the tree-hugging, vegetarian type on your gift list, this tasty number cant be beat!

It's a gummy steak, doesnt it look delicious? Buy this yummy treat here

Every girl loves a good pair of shoes. Not sturdy shoes, but fashionable shoes, glamour shoes, like these...which, while they are pricey, they are undoubtedly worth it!

buy groovy shoes at this website

I hope Ive helped you along with your holiday shopping, remember, when buying gifts, it's the thought that counts, unless of course the thought is, "I drew your name in the gift exchange but didnt want to get you something nice, so I got you this gag instead."

Sunday, November 25, 2007


We have spent the weekend being inundated with coverage of the most recent Malibu fires, again.

It's no surprise that the place is ablaze, again. Not because it has a history of being lit up in flames, but because it seems the news media practically begged for it. really.

For the past week, during the evening news, the local weathermen would remind us that the Santa Ana'a were expected to arrive this week (for those out of the area, the Santa Ana'a are a dry, windy condition)....they have also given in depth, colored analysis of the Red Flag (fire) warning that would be in effect, and THEN, they would go on and on about the specific areas that would be most vulnerable, making comments such as, "If that were to ignite, there would be little that could stop an inferno" and things that seemed to tempt potential arsonists.

Each night, My Honey and would sit there in disgust, wondering why they didnt just print up an, "Arsonist's handbook" and pass them out. It really seemed as if they were almost encouraging the activity.

So, no surprise when we woke up Saturday morning to see that Malibu was being ravaged by flames. again.

For those wondering, we are a couple hours south from Malibu. It is the coastal area at the northern most part of Los Angeles County, and we are at the southern part of Orange, we arent in danger. Our hearts go out to those that have lost their homes, and we pray that the fire is contained soon, and that the media stop making the whole thing seem so exciting.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tis the season.........

My Honey has reminded me about 56 times today, "this is the earliest we have ever had the outside decorations finished." I realize he is really saying, "Way to go self, you got all the wreaths up, hung the star, and got Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus in place all in one day!" but to me it sounds like, "In all years past, we were late getting our stuff up." Thanks for the reminder!

I like to get all ready for Christmas, including sending out my Christmas cards, during Thanksgiving weekend. I like to think that such a thing happens each year, but in reality, we have gone without the wreaths entirely, and I have been up late on Christmas Eve licking Christmas card envelopes. To remind me of these foibles, is not something I want to hear all day, especially on the year that we finally got things done on time...but anyways....

The lights were actually up a week ago, and my kids were going bonkers wanting to turn them on, but we made them wait until the night after Thanksgiving (tonight) before doing so. To say they were excited is an understatement, to say they were so wrapped up in anticipation that they spent the day driving me crazy, bouncing off the walls and getting into trouble, would also be an understatement.

This year, the kids picked alternating red and green lights. My Honey and I decided a few years ago, that tastefully decorating for Christmas was not worth the battle, and we handed over the selection of light color to the kids. Last year was multicolored, one year was plain red, one plain white, they like to mix it up.

My one insistance, is that we have a Nativity on display. My Honey liked the idea of a Nativity, but was adamantly against those of the "internally lit" variety. I still remember 6 years ago, looking high and lo for a decent Nativity that didnt cost the price to Bethlehem plus a donkey farm. There was a beautiful, royal looking set at our local "Home Goods" store, but it was over a thousand dollars. I finally found one that would have to do, I bought it on ebay for pretty cheap. I promised My Honey, that they didnt really LOOK internally lit. Yes, they were plastic, yes they had a bulb inside, but they really, really didnt look cheesy.

I still have pictures from the day my packages arrived, and wish they were digital, Pooper was so hilarious....He was just a year old, and after I pulled the plastic Holy Family from the box, he got down on the floor and laid beside them, hugging and kissing Mary. Im telling you, I should have known right then and there what this kid would be like, but I digress....

My Honey came home that evening, and commented that the display looked "too Precious Moments" to go in HIS yard, but 6 years later, they shine tonight, with a lit star above them.

So tonight, after getting all our gear set up, we decided to begin our annual routine, of driving around at night, looking at the lit houses. There were several households already decked out, and some in the process.

Our community goes all out, and there are contests amongst the neighborhoods. Our tour through the streets involves spotting all the Santa's, pointing out the giant blow-up snow globes, and looking for other Nativity displays. There are always a lot of "ooohs" and "aaaahs" from the back seat, and a few "what were they thinking?" 's from the front row. Some folks go traditional, and some just try to cram every last holiday related item onto their lawn.

Im gonna try to take pictures, and post them up here for my Holiday Lights stay tuned!

By the way, Beauty INSISTS, that last year, she came downstairs on Christmas Eve and saw Santa and his reindeer. She claims she was pretending to be asleep on the couch, but kept an eye open to watch them. She wanted me to know that she had some important information to share about the reindeer and the carrots we leave out for them.....

**Each year we leave cookies and milk for Santa, and some carrots for the the morning, it's all eaten, but those darned reindeer leave carrot bits on the floor, they are messy eaters.....***

Beauty told me the reindeer arent messy eaters, it's just that they dont like the carrots. The reason there were carrot bits on the floor, is because they were mad they didnt get cookies like Santa, so they dumped the carrots onto the ground and stepped on them, smashing them up!!!

She swears she witnessed this, and so, this year, we need to give them all cookies. chocolate chip!

Speaking of leaving goodies out for absolute MUST HAVE ITEM (which also makes a wonderful Christmas gift) are these custom and affordable and ADORABLE plates....and the proceeds go to help a few families who have children fighting cancer, and could use the financial assistance..... Stop by Marey's blog to order some of these cute plates!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The hottest housewife yet!

Before I get started, let me just go on record saying that if my daughters ever come home with a tattoo, especially of an anchor on their neck, or a bug on their foot (??how bizarre!)....we will make an appointment to see the laser removal docs, pronto. I know everyone may not agree, but Im just putting it down in writing, so that if my daughters ever read this blog, they get the message.

But to heck with the OC housewives on TV, Ive met a new lady that will put them all to shame.

Meet Nora Hardwick.

She's 102 and great-grandma, you can tell just how sweet she is by that neatly coifed hairdo....

But just because she has lived through an entire century, doesnt mean she doesnt still have a lot of life left in her....notice that spunky twinkle in her eye......

And if you need more of a hint as to just how spicey this grandma can be, check out her completely bare shoulder!!!

You see, Nora Hardwick doesnt need to run off to the Playboy mansion to expose her goods, she is gonna be Miss November on a nude calendar, to raise money for a local sports team in the UK.

Im imagining she was really something during the roaring 20's, when she was just a teen. Imagine her as a 40 something housewife in the 50's, she'd have put the OC housewives to shame, Im sure.

Now, here she is, revealing her birthday suit for all to see (well, not all, because I cant show that on this blog.....but you can always buy the calendar.)

Then it occured to me, she COULD be the hottest housewife in my community, because I know a guy that is looking for a lovely lady, maybe I can hook them up together.....

what d'ya think??? cute couple, huh??

PS. speaking of "cute couples".....did you see the Bachelor? Besides talking like a robot, the guy seems to have no feelings at all, put a fork in him, his love life is over!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bye Bye Soccer

Beauty's first soccer season has come to an end. The Mermaids have played their last game, and received their much deserved trophy (a bobble head of a girl kicking a soccer ball!)

Im not gonna miss the morning "let's-get-ready-for-soccer" wild hunt for shin guards and cleats. Im also not gonna miss having to pack up all the kids, their stuff, snacks, a duffle bag, blanket, and haul it all in the stroller, down to the fields. I will however, miss my little Beauty, becoming her own self.

You see, on that grassy field, her personality was developing, her preferences in life coming clearly into vision. And it was evident to all around, that, she really doesnt like soccer.

While the other girls were fervently hunting after the ball, Christine was passively idle. Sometimes noticing the efforts of her teammates......and sometimes not.

Notice here that her little mermaid friends are getting their bodies into action, leaning towards the ball, feet gearing up beneath them...and Christine, thinks it's all very curious, as to why people would get sweaty and hot, chasing a round thing.....

While most of the kids are rushing to cluster around the ball, Christine could often be seen practicing her dance moves. She loves dancing! Here she is doing some hand motions.....

She has told us repeatedly, that she doesnt like's too hot, too tiring, and she gets too sweaty. (She has a point!)

But there are some things she loves about it...for one, socializing with her mermaid friends, and most importantly.....THE TUNNEL.....


IT's all about the snack!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

How do I stop this train??

Pooper is 7. Not 17.

Two years ago, when he was in Jr. Kindergarten, his dad was concerned. While the other boys liked to play Power Rangers and Trucks, Pooper was hanging out with the girls, huddled around the doll house, playing "baby". He was just starting to put on some weight after being anorexic for a couple of years. His weight was in the mid 20's. So, while he was 5 years old, he was wearing 24 month clothing.

God always brings blessings amidst adversity, and Pooper learned quickly that the bonus from being so light-weight, was that people could easily carry him. People, people like the 5 year old girls in his class.

His teacher said that everyday he was eager to play "baby" and would earnestly shout, "Who wants to be the mom??!!" He spared no charms when trying to get the girls to play mommy, and the result, was that the "mommy" would carry around the baby, sit and cuddle the baby, the baby all curled up, nestling into the mommy.

My Honey wondered if this didnt mean that Pooper had a "feminine" side, a very dominant feminine side, and that he was devoid of any masculinity. The teacher assured him that all would be well. The fact that Pooper was always on the hunt for a "wife" to marry him, was also an indication that he had a masculine side.

Fast forward to this morning, when Pooper came to give me, what I thought would be a standard good morning kiss. As in a quick peck and a cheery "good morning." As soon as his lips touched mine, it was like they were magnetically locked. The kiss lingered on and on, and I could have sworn he was leaning his head from one side, and then to the other. When we finally "smacked" and separated, I said, "Wow, that was really a special kiss, it seems like you have been practicing that."

Very proudly, he said, "I can do even better!"

Well, he is 7, and it wont be long before the thought of kissing me causes him to blush, so I tried to act non-chalant and I said, "ok"

He was eager to plant another one on me.....slowly moving his head from side to side, while our puckered lips held tightly together. I was just praying that he didnt part his lips and try to slip me any tongue.....and then he started making slight "mmmm" noises, and it was all I could do to keep from bursting out laughing, as I kept my lips tightly pursed. I feared if I laughed I would cause some sort of life changing trauma, that might make him kiss-phobic (now that I think about it, not a bad idea!)

When the kiss ended, I said again, "WOW! It really seems like you have been practicing that." He denied working on his smooch....

"Where did you learn how to kiss like that?" I asked.... And he shrugged unknowingly.

This has me real concerned.

And just this week, I was snooping, er, I mean accidentally came across his High School Musical journal (where they ask questions and you fill in the blanks...) One question asked, "Who is your favorite teacher?" I was a bit surprised by the answer, since Pooper has never had this gal for a teacher, although, she does teach at his school. Then the next line asked, "She is my favorite teacher because......" and in his elementary penmanship, he had written, "She's hot."

It seems this train is going full speed ahead, and the kids only 7. Not even 7 1/2. Im not ready for all of this. It was cute when he talked of finding a wife and getting married...maybe because it was something he couldnt legally follow through with for another decade or so...but all this kissing and finding teachers "hot"....It's making mer nervous!

When is he gonna get to the stage that girls are gross and have cooties? Can anyone tell me, please, that it's just around the corner? Please?

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Just a word of warning to any papparazzi that might read this blog (ok, I know, but anyways....)

If you dont want to get your foot run over (or head crushed, or hip knocked out of it's socket) dont lean on a car that is trying to drive.

It seems everyday we are bombarded with all the things Brittney Spears has done wrong. And not that Im defending her, but....while people are screaming, "She RAN OVER someone's foot!" and it's accompanied by pictures of her car, totally surrounded (think the Beatles tour bus kind of surrounded), with photographers, LAYING ON HER CAR, I mean, yeah, it's sort of a no-brainer that someone's foot is going to get run over. My mom taught me nothing if she didnt teach me not to lean against or stand in the way of moving cars.

So, Im just saying, Paps, get out of the way, geesh!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Well, well, well

Quite honestly, Im left a bit stunned after last night's episode. I think one houswive's husband said it best, when he told her it was "sad" that she felt the need to compete by accumulating material things. (This was the discussion about "downsizing" to a 4000 square foot home, and how that made her feel like a "failure"...not to be confused by their conversation over the budget for landscaping the backyard...he wanted to cap it at $150,000, but she felt strongly about having a "fire and ice" volcano in the pool, and dishwasher next to the outdoor BBQ and refridgerator, even if such luxuries pushed the backyard budget to $400,000) AYE CARUMBA!

I dont want to judge these gals too much, because if my son was living with my new-live-in-boyfriend's ex-wife (did you follow that?) or was wanting to move back in, but my new hubby didnt want him to, or was terrorizing the community via golf cart romps-to the point the community board put restrictions on him, or my young daughters were getting all gussied up for a night at the Playboy Mansion...well, Id be downing jello shots too. That's not to say that wont happen, my kids are still young, and heck, sometimes even now they bring me to the verge of drinking....but who knows how my kids will behave as teens/young adults.... My point, is that I dont envy their lives. If that's what great, high living is all about, no thanks.

I will point out one little tidbit from last night that was TRUE and REALLY BUGS ME.....although it was such a tiny thing, perhaps nobody else noticed....but *I* noticed, because it's become my pet peeve (pun intended)...was when one mom and her son went to lunch, and they commented that the restaurant allows them to bring their dog. In case anyone forgot to read the HEALTH CODE, that is against the law. But apparently a lot of people around my town have forgotten all about LAW, becaues I see people bringing their dogs EVERYWHERE, including restaurants and the grocery store. They carry their little Fifi's around, or drag them along by leash.....and besides the LAW, there is that little know fact that DOGS GO POTTY! Anyways, when I saw that last night, I thought, "They should do a whole episode on how people worship their pets and bring them everywhere" .....

As for the rest of the show, rather than nit pick all the things that horrified me, Ill just tell you a little bit about the MAJORITY of people that live here, things that they dont show on THAT SHOW:

Lots of gals that I know, are part of home Bible studies. Yes, women gathering together with friends and neighbors, to study the Bible. I know many that have morning groups, or evening get-togethers....sometimes with husbands, sometimes just the girls....and the reason? To grow in their knowledge of God, and to live a life that is pleasing to Him. To learn how to set priorities that are healthy, to gain insight into raising children who are honorable, to develop a better understanding of marriage and how to make it work. It might sound boring, but I wish someone would focus on the woman that work really hard to try to do things in a way that is good and wholesome.

Ive already shown you the real moms, their wrinkles, their down-to-earth work ethic.....and I mentioned that Housewife #1 does a great deal for charity. The truth of the matter, is that my entire community is quite charitable. I know so many women that do volunteer work on a regular basis, go on mission trips with their families, raise money for those in need, collect donations to assist the poor and hungry from around the world...I would love an episode to focus on the good-heartedness of the women in my town, that's what REAL life is all about.

By and large, most people in my neighborhood set limits for their kids. The exception might be the lady at the pool the other day...her daughter and friends (young teens?) were purposely disrupting Andrew's swim lesson. It was a holiday, and the instructor had a small portion of the pool (we have more than a dozen pools here, so there is no shortage of water space)...but even at this pool, he had a small area, and the teens had the rest of the pool to themselves. But they thought it would be fun to keep bumping into Andrew and the instructor, giggling about it. The instructor, an Olympic swimmer I might add, asked them many times to please move. Finally, I said, "Girls, please! He has asked you many times to use the rest of the pool, you have the entire pool to yourselves, why must you use this small area?" They played dumb, and laughed.....and then their mom came over to defend them. It was suddenly crystal clear why these children were disrespectful brats, as their mom sounded like a tuba, WHAA WHAA WHAA-ing about "dont talk to my daughter that way".....but aside from her, and perhaps a few others....MOST moms here do set limits, and there are dads in most families too...dads that are involved. Letting kids have parties with alcohol, sending them off to "South Beach" in Miama, letting them race motorcycles on the main street....I dont know many friends that would EVER let those things happen. ever. And then, its a big mystery when these kids end up in juvenile hall, or jobless, or dating a guy who raises pitbulls (and then the daughter gets a tattoo of the pit bull breeding company, but then breaks up with the guy...HELLO tattoos are FOREVER...too bad marriages arent!)...but I digress....

I dont quite know what bugged me most about last nights show, there was so much, but I came away feeling saddened by the portrayal of lives, lives that seem different from the many people I call "friend" around these parts of the OC.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lovely ladies 2, 3 and 4

The word on the street, is that this weeks episode of the OC Housewives will include one of them going under the knife. Dont pull out the rosary beads, nobody is ill (technically)...what I mean, is that nobody is facing any life threatening disease.....the surgery, is of the "plastic" variety.

In no less than a few different social circles this week, the upcoming episode, and the upcoming coverage of the plastic surgery, were the topics of discussion;

"Didnt they cover that LAST season with that Botox session and telling everyone that WE ALL go to Botox parties?"

"I think that was Season 1. But they did mention that all the women have breast implants, nose jobs, and that we are lining up our daughters for the same."

So, of course, I feel the need to clarify this for all of you. Most of the moms here have never had plastic surgery, and most have never even been to a Botox party.

Personally, I could use a series of injections, but my fear, is that in a few years, the botulism (you know they are just injecting a disease into your skin to kill off the nerves or muscles or something.....) but I fear it would eat away at my tissue, and in a few years I would have flesh eating disease or some blackened, dead area...and that's just not pretty. Besides, who wants to talk to someone who cant show facial expressions??? Who wants to tell their friend something funny, or scary, or sad, or surprising, and get a dead pan look in return? That's not fun at all.

Anyways, wisdom comes with age. Im not as silly or naive as I was when I was 20, so why look like it? With each year, with each wrinkle, comes experience, knowledge, growth, insight, and a load of good memories, no need to hide THAT beautiful stuff!

Thankfully for me, I live in a community where lots of ladies think just like me. They look natural, and beautiful that I dare show their entire face, or they will become internet celebrities (yeah, that's right, my whopping "readership" will turn them into overnight, internet celebrities)...and these women are nothing if they arent humble and modest, so, Im not showing their entire face.

Id like for you to meet ladies 1, 2 and 3. All of whom are bright, funny, educated, warm and fabulous mommies to boot.

Dont they look wonderful? Ok, well, it's not their best side....and Im not the best photographer...with my old camera. I dont know how to focus or make lighting changes, and I think my flash caught too much reflection off of their glowing faces...but you get the idea. They are real, no plastic, no botox, just gorgeous moms.

If you watch the show this week, remember MY gals, and that not everyone here is getting surgery, honest. I wish there was a show that focused on the genuine caring, warm spirits, and down-to-earth charm that I have found in many of my neighbors and friends.

**DISCLAIMER** I dont personally KNOW any of the women on the show, and Im sure they are wonderful people, but, sadly, that isnt what is being promoted.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Meet Housewife #1

In an effort to be real, and dispel any myths about OC that are promoted by that crazy show on Bravo, I have decided to tell you all about some honest-to-goodness women that live in the OC, in fact, they live within the same communities as the TV Housewives......

Meet Housewife #1 (names and faces have been removed, so that internet stalkers dont attach themselves to these authentic wives...because, they are so cute and adorable and wonderful, that they would undoubtedly get lots of attention if I put their name and face up...and unlike the women on that show, these real gals dont want that kind of attention.)

Housewife #1 has 3 girls and works at their school. Everyday she puts on her red vest and gets out her walkie talkie to help with the "drop off" routine that occurs in the school parking lot each morning. Then she works in the classroom, doing super glamorous things like cutting out turkey heads and correcting phonics worksheets, cause let me tell you, housewife #1 is talented with stuff like that.

You may notice, when admiring that stunning red vest, that there are no silicone orbs protruding from the neckline. That's right, many of the authentic folks in this community are thankful for what God gave them, and feel really good about who they are, natural hair color and all, even if they are a brunette.

The TV gals are usually in blouses that cost hundreds of dollars. In fact, on one of the shows, they were talking about how they have brought attention to the blouses with the jewelled medalions in the middle. Notice the attire of Housewife #1...a t-shirt coordinated with her trusty school sweatshirt. You wont catch her wearing fancy embroidered jackets and stuff, no siree!

Dont feel bad for Housewife #1, just because she works and isnt spending her days doing photo shoots or attending parties at the Playboy Mansion. She gets out, every now and again.

Recently, she put together a major fundaiser for the American Cancer Society, a cause that she has been committed to for years. This gala event had some pretty fance people in attendance, including (gasp!) one of the TV housewives. And, Ill just say, one who has let us all know that she is a top real estate agent in the area, and has lots and lots of money. I expected that my friend would tell me that this TV Housewife gave a generous donation to the ACS, but instead I found the only thing she gave, was autographs! GAG!

If I could do a video clip on here, which I cant, I would interview housewife #1 and you would see a sweet, down-to-earth gal. Whether working or raising money, or just being a mom, she is caring and kind, and so are her children. She is proof, that you dont need plastic body parts or plastic credit cards to find happiness, you just need a good heart.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The other housewives

First, yes, in case you didnt know, I watch tv at tv or come online. Once the kids are in bed (which is by 8pm, thank goodness) my weary self (when not working, because I do work some nights)....but when Im not, my tired old forty-something self likes to relax in front of the tube, or monitor, depending on the schedule.

Around these parts, we have been bombarded, with non-stop commercials for the new season of, "The Real Housewives of the OC". The promo states it's BRAVO TV's second most popular show, behind Project Runway, so that must mean people from outside the OC watch. Yikes!

I watched the Season 3 premiere last night, and the "sexiest housewife" is from our little community, with the other women living in the community next door. Of course the cameras only show the fancy part of life, or the dramatic. They arent necessarily protraying the life that most of us lead here....because, despite what the housewives say, we dont all have breast implants, nor do most of us buy them for our daughters.

Those of us in the OC, find the show to be embarassing at best, in that it makes it look like everyone around these parts is rich and spoiling their children. Id like to be the first, but am not...and hopefully Im not guilty of the second. And even if I were the first, Id like to think my priorities would be different.

I thought that in an effort to bring some authentic reality to the image of our community, Id chronicle some of the REAL real housewives of the OC. Im gonna break out my dilapitated camera, and show off some of what I love about this place...including some great, down to earth folks, that dont have pink crystals on their hubcaps.

So, stay tuned.....

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Christmas Card Saga - The Final Chapter

Well, today I saw one of, if not THE, picture(s) taken on that smokey day. The photographer has a blog and she posted one picture from each family, as a preview of sorts. Seeing as our family only had one picture, or perhaps 3, that probably made our selection easy for her.

Most of the other families did outside candids, close ups of their kids hugging a tree or looking at a leaf, that kind of thing. I wonder if I am the only one that felt disappointed, if not ripped off, by the situation. I mean, the schools were closed due to bad air quality, so I know it wasnt my imagination that ashes were falling from the sky like snowflakes, but maybe other people just didnt mind. Or maybe they did. Who knows?

Our photo was a black and white, which did a pretty good job at covering up that Beauty's dressed was twisted up. Little One looks beautiful in the picture, but the other two were squinting like ninety year old's trying to thread a needle. My kids have beautiful eyes, if I do say so myself, so it's particularly stinky that their eyes look like botton hole slits in the photo. Oh well.

Im not going to link to the photographer's page, for fear that she'll sue me....but after the holidays, and my kids photo cards have been sent, Ill post it here, so everyone can see. And maybe you wont even notice. Maybe it will be like 2004, when everyone assumed we spent a gloriously warm day frolicking at the beach for our photo....maybe this year, people wont have a clue about the soot covered conditions. maybe.

As some of you have suggested, I need to invest in a decent camera and just take my own pictures. I think Ill tell Santa, because that's a great idea. With all of Pioneer Woman's photo shop lessons, it should be easy to start creating my own great photos, or at least she makes it look that way.

Do any of you send photo cards? Do you take your own picture?

and as for that crazy writers strike that cancelled all the late night shows......if there are any budding writers, or comedians reading, now is your time to shine.....

Leave your own late night joke in the comments section.....we all can use a good laugh.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Christmas card photo saga, Part 9

The hostess to the photo party welcomed us into her home, and I quickly scanned the premises in search of the photographer and her set up. I had been told it would be a white backdrop, and as I looked around the family room, Beauty began to squeel, fearful of the family dog that was barking and racing towards her.

Thankfully, there was a baby gate that kept the dog from reaching us. I calmed Beauty, as the hostess encouraged us to follow her, and led us to the backyard.

Suddenly, my mood shifted. As we entered the filthy, smokey, COVERED IN ASH AND SOOT, backyard.

The photographer was a very young gal, who greeted us with a warm smile, and as much as I tried to muster one in return, I was in a state of shock, still soaking in the fact that my beautiful children in formal wear and white stockings, had been ushered to the darned backyard. on a smokey day. when even the schools had closed down.

This house was in a prime location, if you like the view of a fire. It was up on a hill, overlooking the valley. Instead of a fence or wall, they had glass (or plastic) partitions, so we had a sweeping view of...of....fires and smoke.

What the heck?

The darned hostess, who was no doubt getting free pictures for hosting the party, hadnt even cleaned the place at all. It was gross. And she wasnt much of a hostess, as she sat herself down in her own house, with breathable air, while me and my lovelies were stuck in the thick black cloud in her backyard.

I looked around, still astonished at the situation, and wondered where my kids were supposed to be photographed. The young camera-laden gal stretched out a piece of white butcher paper. The roll was on a rod about 6 feet up from the ground, and she pulled it down to form a backdrop ...with some extra stretched onto the CEMENT, for my kids to sit.

Despite having on brand-spanking new shoes, as soon as they stepped onto the crisp white butcher paper, they created tracks of dirty soot, carried from the backyard.

Me: Um, this is getting all dirty

photo chick: No problem, I can edit that out.

And I wondered, could she edit it out of the stockings too? Cause this is gonna get real messy, real quick.

And Pooper, who has lung damage, by the way, began to cough and hack.

The kids sat down, and before I could get Beauty to put her legs to the side, or straighten out her dress, the photographer began to snap a few shots. The kids werent even straightened up or situated yet. She got about 3 shots in, and then Little One started to cry.

My kids are pretty good at going with the flow, but the circumstances were not conducive to getting good shots. I mean, they were on butcher paper, which had already torn, I might add, in two places, sitting on the hard cement. There was no room to walk or move, as the paper was narrow (4 ft. wide?), and besides, any movement would result in more paper tearing or soot sharing, it was just a joke.

I picked up Little One, in an effort to calm her down and comfort her. Beauty and Pooper were coughing, and my eyes and sinuses were blazing. I cant imagine that Little One felt comfortable at all, and sitting her on that tiny little spot on the hard, soot-covered butcher paper, was not going to make her feel any better.

The photo gal was taking pictures of the older two, not sure why, clearly Im not going to send a Christmas card with only two kids.....

I made one more attempt to put Little One in her spot, next to Beauty and Pooper (who by the way sat stoicly, smiling between gasps for air)...and Little One screamed even more.

I looked at the photographer and said:

Me: I dont think she is going to calm down in this environment, and honestly, I dont like my other two sitting here breathing this horrible air either.

Of course, professional that she is, she didnt say anything.

I asked to see what shots she had so far, and she showed me the three she took with all of them. In one, Pooper's eyes were closed, the second one looked like it might be ok, and in the 3rd one, Little One was trying to escape the scene. I asked if she could show me a close up of the second one, so I could see their expressions, and she said she couldnt. liar.

I said, "Well, I guess Im taking a big chance that the one picture you got is a good one."

Again, no comment from her. No offer to not charge me, or offer a reshoot, or an apology for being so unprofessional as to expect people that signed up for indoor, formal portraits to be taken out to a smokey yard on a day that the air quality had been deemed unhealthful and dangerous.

And the hostess, she's just as guilty. I would be embarassed to invite people over, and then send them out to a filthy yard where they could barely breathe.

It was 14 minutes after we had arrived, and my dear kids and I packed up in the car. They knew I was not happy. I let them know that they had done perfectly, sitting nice and smiley when it was terribly uncomfortable. I wasnt mad at them, I was mad at the two ladies that had such bad manners, that they would ask us to sit outside in the smokey, filthy backyard.

I wont get the disc for 3 weeks. I have no idea what the lone possibility of a Christmas card photo will look like. Ill probably go take my own crummy shots with my broken down camera, and see what I can get.


And, while Im griping....what is the deal with the "Writers Strike"????

I just heard that The Tonight Show with Jay Leno will be having reruns. Really! I understand that he has a "team" of writers, Ive always assumed they 'helped' with the monologue.....kinda crazy, that it takes a collective GROUP to come up with a handful of commentary and jokes. Ok, so they are on strike, but cant Jay come up with anything on his own? The monologue lasts about 5 minutes.....he gets paid big bucks, not to mention, wasnt it his own talent that GOT HIM THE SHOW? If you are the host of The Tonight Show, for crying out loud, at least be able to crack a few jokes on your own, every now and again. It's not like the world hasnt created lots of material......with the Presidential candidates, Kim Kardashian doing Playboy (didnt she cry about her 'sex tape'???) and I guess she'll be featured on that fold-out page, so they can fit her rear end in. Cant Jay just send Ross the intern over to a turkey farm to run around and ham it up?? I dont get all the hullabaloo over the Writers Strike....I guess we are all stuck watching Reality TV (new Amazing Race started!! What's with KYNT and VYXSEN??) TV at all, read blogs instead!

Christmas card photo saga, part 8

I have shared the adventures of Christmas card photos 2003-2006. Why did I start this story? What would prompt me, at the end of October, to start rambling on about Christmas photos past? It was the photo session for this year's Christmas card pic that had me so annoyed, causing me to reflect on photos past, and ask myself, why not just make your own crayon drawing of the kids from now on, because, that's how bugged I was about this years experience.

It all started with receiving an evite to a "photo party".

Actually, it started before that. I was invited to a photo party in July, and I went, and had gorgeous pictures taken of my kids. And, she was digital, so she had a disc. But the prices were so high, that I could never afford the disc, and part of my heart withered and fell off when I realized that the beautiful pictures of my kids would be saved on her website for 3 weeks, and then they would be destroyed forever.

So, I set out to get this gal to hold a photo party at my house...we talked about it, and then she got so busy and it was impossible to get ahold of her after that. I was bummed, because if you "host" the party, you get the disc. And it's all about the disc.

When you take pictures for the purpose of Christmas card photos, you gotta have the disc. The only way to ever afford photos for the holidays, is to get them printed at Costco (or somewhere like that, for a few cents a print) so you need the picture on a disc. There are some great photographers who dont do digital, and so, they are of no use to me. I need to find someone who goes digital, for cheap, who doesnt make my kids get wet and naked and almost freeze.

I was all depressed about not hosting a photo party by the gal I met this summer, when lo and behold, I received an evite for a photo party with a different photographer. I checked out her website, which SEEMED professional and stuff, and it was a "one low price for all the pictures on a CD" kinda thing, which was just a great deal. So I signed up.

The original evite was for a Thursday, with 1/2 hour slots to sign up. I signed up, and the response was so popular, that they set up a 2nd day. This photographer would spend 2 days snapping her camera, and do pretty well. Win-win, I think.

THEN, came a message from the party hostess (a gal I dont know, but she lives in our neighborhood)....mentioning that we would be taking our pictures outdoors at the park.

YIKES. I had planned to put my kids in formal wear this year (I dont want to ruin the suprise for those on my Christmas card list)...but the girls would be in white tights, and while Little One walks most of the time, I dont think she would do well in the park, in the grass, in white tights. I called the hostess to see if all the photos were in the park, and told her my dilemna.

Eventually, the hostess sent out an email, saying we could choose between photos at her house, or outside at the park. I let her know my choice for the house, and thought we were all set.

My pictures were set for Thursday, and the Sunday prior, the state of California caught fire, literally. Infernos raged to the north and the south of us, with Tuesday and Wednesday being the worst, with flames visible from the two different fires. The air was thick and dark, the ground was covered with soot and ash, and all athletic organizations had cancelled sports for the week. The air quality was so bad, that the schools were closed for Thursday and Friday. It was a dark and gloomy feeling, and even a walk out to get in the car caused my sinuses to burn.

On Thursday morning, I got the kids dressed. I took extra care to make sure the clothes were pressed, the tights werent twisted, and I fixed the girls' hair to look pretty, in a natural sort of way. We hurried to the car, and drove to the neighbor's house who was hosting the photo session.

I carried Little One and hurried to the door, and Pooper and Beauty scurried ahead, as we tried to limit our exposure to the thick, brown air. We knocked, and the hostess greeted us, and after a cordial hello, led us to the back yard.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Christmas card photo saga, part 7

2005 turned out very well. It was easy, inexpensive and the kids looked adorable. And adorable in a way that didnt almost cause pneumonia or septic shock, which is always a plus.

2006, well, I dont know what happened. Fall is a crazy season around here, with lots of birthday and such. And last year, Little One was a newborn, and Pooper had a bunch of appointments coinciding with the completion of his 3.5 years of chemotherapy, and, I guess we just had so much on our mind that I didnt really think much about our Christmas card photo.

Now, if it seems I am making too much of a Christmas card photo....I want to explain that I look at it as the one time of year that I can touch base with friends and family around the country. Friends and family that have provided us tremendous support, and it is important to me to send out a nice photo, with a letter, keeping touch with those that are dear to us.

And, I like getting them back. I have a fear that if I forget to send them one year, I wont get any in return, and I LOOOVE getting Christmas card photos, and seeing how everyone's kids are growing up. Heck, I even have Christmas photo albums, and every photo card we get is kept in an album. After 5 years of collecting them, it's already amazing to look back and see how families and kids have blossomed.

But the planning for 2006 got away from me. So, rather than spend money or time, I sat the kids down in front of our own fire place, minus a fire, but plus lots of greasy finger prints on the fire place glass door, and took my own picture. Here it is....

Actually, you have seen it before, as it's the photo displayed on the right side of my blog...see it there ----->>>

And the adorable toile outfits that the girls have on, came from that sweet baby boutique, the one that took our 2005 picture.

I would have been smart this year to just take my own picture again. But my camera is dilapitated, and has so few pixels that the pictures start to blur if they get a nanometer past 4X6....they just arent very clear pictures.

But I should have done that anyways, and might just have to the 2007 Christmas card photo session was not what I had hoped it would be. ...To be continued.