Saturday, July 31, 2010

Put on a vest with an S on your chest, oh yes (Blogher is comin')

Every year around this time there is a cacophony of protest raised on twitter and elsewhere and it needs to stop. Some pretty fabulous women, women who otherwise are self-assured and together, freak the hell out at the mere thought of meeting other women, who feel the same way. Why?

Blogher is our conference. Women bloggers. (and some men) come together for an annual roustabout celebrating that thing that the outside world pooh-poohs, writing a blog. And we are all in the same boat. It is what unites us. With varying degrees of transparency, we proverbially barf all over the Internet's shoes, and hope that the resulting mess is something that will be accepted. Some write about nipple rings, some about death, some about children, some about business. The point is, we write.

So it kills me to watch every year as women who are amazing and talented downplay their skill because they aren't, in their mind, A List bloggers. Honestly? Who is? Because if you talk to those so-called "A List" bloggers, they don't think they have "made it" either. So who defines success as a blogger? How many are actually making a career out of their blog? Dreadfully low numbers, I can assure you. And for all the sleep you lose thinking that the A List bloggers aren't going to like you? I guarantee that someone thinks YOU are A-List and wants to meet you.

YOU make a difference. You might not realize it, but you really do. Every time you hit "publish" on your blog, people are moved. And what makes you special is that you write. So what if you aren't the biggest blog, with the best stats. Screw the stats. Seriously. Write because you like it. No, write because you love it. Don't get caught up in the "Business" of blogging. Forget your "brand" and the swag. Just write.

And next week, when we all get together, hold your head up high, rock those shoes like the mutha that you are. You are a writer, dammit. It's enough. And you are worth knowing. Do not be intimidated, get in there and meet people.

You are good enough, you are smart enough, and doggone it, people like you. See you in New York City, Superwoman.

- Posted from my iPad

Friday, July 30, 2010

Just when I think my life is a circus, I attend one

What do you do when the kids are fighting and the dog won't listen to you and you can't find your favorite shoe and you are running late? If you are crAZY, like me? Why, you attend the circus, of course. Nothing like a dog and pony show to make you realize how easy your life is, yeah?

So,Wednesday night, we piled into the car, and on the way stopped for what we hoped would be a quick bite at McDonalds (yeah, I know, but we were out of time). It took 15 minutes and the fries still weren't ready. In exasperation, I got my money back. I was really nice about it, and didn't mention that I was a blogger. The same could not be said for the woman next to me. She announced, rather grandly, for all to hear that she was a blogger and that everyone reads her, and she got FREE tickets to the circus, and they were premium seats... really? How come I have never heard of you? Why aren't you part of Blog Crush? Why haven't I seen you at events? On twitter? Orange County bloggers are you couldn't be that "famous." Really? This is how you want bloggers to be represented? Because you are giving them a bad name. Act thankful, for cheese and crackers! You aren't owed these perks because you are a blogger. You are given a privilege. And don't forget it. I never do. It could end tomorrow. And guess what? I would still be writing. Because? I am not in it for the free crap. I write because I love it. Can "review blogs" say the same?

After what amounted to dinner (the kids ate the burgers without fries.I inhaled half of my pukeburger in the car on the way there), we hightailed it to the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus at Honda Center. We got there just in time for the pre-show, and posed for a picture. (Did I mention that my JBean is afraid of clowns? And look what she did.

This year's show, Funundrum, took its cue from other big-ticket productions like The Lion King and Cirque Du Soleil. With music, special effects and the standard circus-y acts, the show was updated for the fickle audience our children have become. Video games, cable tv and big-budget blockbusters have conspired to erode family events like the circus. But you wouldn't know it. Opening night, the place was packed.

My kids really enjoyed it, and that's what it's all about. This isn't your father's circus, anymore. While I found some of the show forced, the kids oohed and aahed over the elephants, the Ringmaster, the trapeze. And seeing their faces made it worth the time for me.

You can go, too!

Take the whole family to Barnum’s FUNundrum…MOM Discount extended to include weekend performances!

Family 4-Pack of tickets $48
Regular ticket prices - $15, $20, $25
To redeem, use code MOM by phone at 1-800-745-3000 or online at to redeem your savings!

fine print:

(Savings do not apply to Circus Celebrity, Front Row and VIP seats. No double discounts. Service charges and handling fees may apply.)

Have fun!

T, who thought my life was a dog & pony show I didn't get paid to write this. I was given tickets to the circus, though. - Posted from my iPad

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Countdown to Blogher

T minus 7 days.

And my To Do List keeps multiplying:

  • must pick up my braces (I left at the office earlier this week)
  • pick up spare glasses (that were back-ordered and just came in)
  • clean out closet to make sure I have everything I wanted, and wash anything forgotten.
  • take dress to dry cleaner (what the heck IS martinizing anyway??)
  • get my hair did
  • pedicure
  • print itinerary
  • spreadsheet of schedule
  • print tickets to parties
  • PACK
  • work out maps, where I am going, what I am doing...

Things I have ALREADY done

  • replaced my skin care stuff

  • ordered business cards
  • shopped. (oh LORD have I shopped! New shoes! New dresses!)
  • I am getting nervous, but excited!

    What would you see if you were me?

    Tina, who has never been to the Big Apple - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lazy Sunday isn't just a sketch on SNL

I am sitting here on my bed doing...nothing. Well, technically, I suppose I am writing this blog post. But beyond that? Sitting here, refreshing twitter, looking at links and basically being a bum. With some expensive equipment, of course. A girl has got to have her standards.

We skipped church today, and that was wonderful.The day started off slightly overcast and a bit cool, so I took the dog to the dog park and she had a romp. Because it has been so hot lately, she hasn't been getting her regular walkies. I keep her inside with the air conditioner, which is her friend. But today, she was able to gallivant all around the park, enjoying the play that only comes when there are other dogs around who want to play. And for those Christians who think that God only hangs around buildings that are dedicated to him? Spend some time at a dog park. I am pretty sure that is where God rests. I love it there so much.

Afterwards, we came home and she ate lunch and took a nap. (Sounds like preschool). And I have been sitting here since then. Yes, I fed the children lunch, but have done little else. And I really don't know why. I am sort of bored. But not bored enough to actually do anything about it. That sounds sad, doesn't it?

In fact, I have so little motivation to get up off my butt that I am beginning to wonder if I am depressed. Can you be depressed and happy, sometimes? Because I feel happy for the most part. I think. I have been depressed before. I don't ever want to go back there again. I was in such a dark hole at age 25 that I didn't think I would ever find my way back out again. Life was bleak.

It's not anymore. Most of the time, life is wondrous. But not today. Today, I don't want to go anywhere. JNerd mentioned Disneyland. My reply? Meh. The kids want to go to the bookstore. Meh. How about a movie? Meh. I just want to sit here, and maybe take a nap.

Maybe it's a mid-life crisis. Did I mention how old I feel? Or how things are "going south" and not just for the winter? How I feel young but look in the mirror and see that I am definitely not as young as I used to be?

Or it could be it's just summer. And too hot to do much of anything. I won't worry... yet.

- Posted from my iPad

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Obligatory BlogHer 101 post

I am thinking of what I am always thinking of this time of year, BlogHer. (in between thinking of my jet-setting daughter, of course. But, truly I feel at peace. She is in good hands.) In any case, in just a couple of weeks I will be boarding a SF-bound plane to meet up with my girl, califmom and we will fly to New York freakin' City.

I have had trouble finding new shoes that wow, and you know I am alll about that. (Shallow? not hardly, I just like shoes). I will keep looking. It isn't about impressing others, it's about trying to quell my social anxiety by looking my best...for me.

With that said, I have a few ideas about how to make your BlogHer experience the best it can be.. and I have been to three of these things now, so I think I am qualified to give advice. You don't want it, no hard feelings, but maybe it can prove helpful for some.

1. Pack light. I know you are tempted to bring every cute outfit that you own, but trust me, you don't want to overdo it. Make sure to bring a sweater for chilly conference rooms. Pack easy care clothing that will look good after riding in your suitcase all day. Avoid fussy ensembles that require ironing. I once saw a video of a guy ironing a grilled cheese sandwich in a hotel. I no longer use hotel-provided irons.

2. Pace Yourself There is a lot to do at BlogHer, and you don't want to (and can't) do it all. Don't be afraid to leave parties, or forgo them completely. Remain flexible, sometimes the best experiences happen at the spur of the moment. Don't be afraid to leave a session that doesn't click for you. You paid for it, it's your conference.

3. Go With an Open Mind Remember, all the people there have one thing in common: they blog. But just because you read their blog, don't assume you know who they are. Some big name bloggers are very approachable, some are less so. Don't take it personally. Everyone wants to play with the big dogs, but you might find your "tribe" elsewhere. Just be open, because some of the best encounters are the ones you didn't expect. You might find your bury-the-body friend at BlogHer. Some make connections that are forever. But to do so, you have to get up and get involved. Do NOT sit in your room and feel sorry for yourself.

Remember, you get out of BlogHer what you put into it. There are many people there who cannot wait to meet you! Don't be afraid to talk to people. Most are really very welcoming. In fact, come find me and we'll have a drink. Hope to see you there!

posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 18, 2010

It has to happen sometime

am sitting here in the donut tent at church, waiting. Waiting for when it will feel ok that she is leaving. I know, kids have to grow up sometime, but I am having second thoughts. Don't get me wrong, she is fairly mature, and I think she is as ready as she will ever be. But I am another story.

By the time you read this, my daughter will be on a bus bound for LAX, where she will catch a plane 9,662 miles to Kenya, Africa. Along with 80 other people, teens and adults, she will be a part of a missions team over there for two weeks. She is excited, and a bit nervous. I am less of a basket case than I thought I would be.

Many of my friends think I am crazy to send my daughter to the slums in Africa. Maybe I am. But we raise them the best we can and when they ask to do something of this magnitude, we have to let the fledglings out of the nest, so they can spread their wings.

Honestly,I am thrilled. She has battled anxiety, both social and general, and earlier this year things were a bit rough. Depression and spiritual crisis threatened to derail her life. She pulled through, and with some patience and understanding, we got it sorted.

And six months of preparation have come down to this. My baby, my first born, my 16 year old is going halfway across the globe, and I am not. And that? Is how it should be.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why you need large balls of fur in your house

Pets are weird. Not as weird as kids, but weird enough. I know so many people who don't want to bother with animals, because they are a pain in the butt. And yes, they are. But honestly? They bring such joy to our lives. No one loves you like your dog. Ever. And cats? Are like little codependent vampires who sort of love you. When they want to.

The beautiful thing about pets? They seem to understand instinctively about kids with autism. We have a cat who is a bit standoffish with everyone else. Except for my son. I would say she is mostly his cat. She sleeps in his bed, and helps him to calm down. She tolerates him better than she does anyone else.

And this weekend, I found out just how wonderful our Newf is. I have plans to make her a therapy dog at some point. She proved she just might be up to that task. JBean was throwing a tantrum (yes, again) and sitting on the floor. The dog was lying across the room. She army crawled to her until her nose was just inches from JBean's feet. Then she just waited quietly for JBean to come to her. And they laid on the floor together, kid and dog, just...being. Yes, she calmed down. It was good.

Like this:

how about you? Are you a cat person, a dog person or do you prefer no fur balls at all?

T, who figures the fleabags are worth most of the trouble they cause

Friday, July 09, 2010

How To Transition a Child To a Gluten-Free Casein-Free Diet For Autism Treatment

There is a theory in autism treatment that along with a sensory diet, kids with autism may benefit from eliminating gluten and dairy proteins (called casein and whey) from their diets. Gluten is found in grains and nearly all mass-marketed breads, cereals and baked goods. Casein is found in all milk products. Many kids with autism do not process dairy or gluten correctly, and over time, it can hurt their gut. Some refer to this as "silent celiac's disease." The scientific veracity of the diet won't be debated here. My son has been on the diet for over five years and we have seen improvement. Many families have seen success with the diet, but as with all things, your mileage may vary. If you think it might work for you or your child, here are some helpful hints to make the transition to a GFCF diet as painless as possible for all concerned.

* Don't throw away all the food in the house and buy GFCF…yet. Use what you have, but when you buy again, buy GFCF. You can check sites like TACA for acceptable foods and Hidden Ingredients for unacceptable ingredients. Familiarize yourself with the names of ingredients. Print out the list and keep it with you when you shop. Gluten and casein are in many foods you would never expect. Be a label reader!

* Keep a list of what you have tried so if you don't like it, you don't accidentally buy it again. There are some great products out there and some not so great. (you can email me if you would like...I would be happy to provide you with a list of foods from experience).

* Don't change brands of foods that are already "approved" foods. For instance, if the child likes waffles, buy GFCF, but don't change the brand of bacon you serve. Or keep the eggs the same style. Consistency is key. If you change bread, try toasting it and using the same peanut butter, if it is acceptable. Don't change the jelly.

* Find substitutes for tried and true foods. Finding gluten free foods is a lot easier than it used to be. Almost everything can be subbed out. The exception to this, sadly, is cheese. Many of the cheeses that say they are dairy free still have casein. Read your labels!

* When possible, involve the child in food choices. Teach him to read the labels and to understand what happens when he eats foods that his body doesn't tolerate well. Let him pick out some foods he would like to try, and involve him in their preparation. Kids are more willing to eat food they have helped prepare.

* Don't give in. Once you make a decision to try the diet, stick with it. It can take over six months for all traces of casein and gluten to leave the body. Give it a proper trial. The child might protest a bit, but keep at it.

* Make sure to provide a vitamin supplement so that the child is getting proper nutrition. Of course, the best vitamins are from the source food, but if the child won't eat it, vitamins are better than nothing. This is a good suggestion for all kids.

* Consider probiotics, which add good bacteria to the intestinal flora to balance the digestive system. But watch out that they don't contain hidden dairy!

* Limit processed sugars, and cut out artificial colors, flavors, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and preservatives from the child's diet when at all possible. These ingredients can cause problems for sensitive kids.

Some local sources of gluten free products follow, but be sure to check the ingredients list because gluten free is not necessarily casein free as well.

Whole Foods- Tustin (there is even a Special Diets page where you can download product lists)

Sprouts - list of locations in Orange County with map

Henry's - list of locations in Orange County with map

Trader Joe's - list of locations with map

Mother's Markets - list of locations in Orange County with map

Don't be too hard on yourself if it isn't perfect... you are learning and so is the child. The goal here is to transition to the diet, not be a Nutritional Hardnose. If you are stressed, the child will figure it out, and he will become stressed as well. With a bit of practice, you will be an excellent label reader and have a collection of foods that work for your child and maybe for you, as well.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Vlog Friday: Building a Bridge To Nowhere

In which we find out exactly how parenting a teenager is like driving over the side of a bridge.

Go easy on me...I am brand new to this thang.

Sweet Bits Vlog : Building a Bridge from sendchocolate on Vimeo.


How about you? What do liken parenting to in your own experience?

T, who isn't gonna do it anymore

Thursday, July 01, 2010

A real circus as opposed to my life

It was the poodles. Small, furry piles of whirling dervish. They jumped through hoops and pranced around in their floofy white and grey coats all pretty as you please. They were eager to perform. And we were eager to watch. With a flourish, the trainer raised her arms, and the dogs came flying over her head. The audience gasped, then clapped. It was to be expected. We were at the circus.

And this year, we get to go again, as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey come to Orange County in July. And, in preparation, there is a contest.

Nominations are currently being accepted for “The Barnum Award,” a Southland search to honor three stand-out kids who are making a difference in our community.You can nominate a child between the ages of 8-14 who is demonstrating the entrepreneurial and philanthropic spirit of P.T. Barnum. Nominating is easy, by answering a few brief questions on the online application at The Barnum Award. First, second and third place winners will receive cash prizes to continue their service. The award ceremony will be on opening night at the Honda Center, July 28th. if that wasn't enough, you can get discount tickets! MOM Ticket Discount – The multi-ticket discount returns this summer, with a special $48 Family Four-Pack Offer on select performances or $4 off single ticket prices on select shows. The discount can be redeemed online at or by calling (800) 745-3000 . To redeem, use the discount code “MOM”.

T, who says send in the clowns

I did not get paid to write this, but I do get tickets to see the awesome poodles.

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