Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Running for Nachos

Sometime around March 11th 1986, a small, mischievous girl named Jocelyn coaxed her lazy legs to stand and willed them to move forward. After a few wobbly steps, she decided this slow, dull motion was unsatisfactory; she must figure out how to move faster. The fuzzy tail of family's feline caught her attention, and without much thought, she took off running after it. It was then that the world according to her father and mother changed forever.

Running has always been a part of my life. It started with that fated moment when I was just a baby, and hasn't stopped since. My parents, searching for an outlet in which we could channel our energy, placed my sister and I in track and field at a young age (I'm thinking 5, but I could've been 4).

I have so many memories from running: when I was 7 or 8, and my sister and I where on a 5 mile run with my Dad (child abuse anyone?). I was not in the mood nor enjoying this "family activity" when I slipped and fell (maybe on purpose), scrapping my entire palm so it was filled with dirt and gravel, and my Dad saying there was no way I was getting out of the run even if I was bleeding... and I should suck it up and stop crying. Oh the memories.

And there was the time I got kicked off the cross country team in high school because the coach overheard me yelling at my sister, telling her to slow down her pace so I could keep up with her. Apparently, my unsportsmanlike and self-serving attitude was like a disease that could spread and damage the entire team. I had to write a heartfelt apology to be let back on a team sport I hated (No, I did not choose to run cross country in high school; my parents forced me). My apology probably went something like this:

Dear Coach,
I'm so sorry for my actions the other day. They were uncalled for and disrespectful to you and my other teammates. If you give me the opportunity to prove myself and let me back on the team, I guarantee something like this will never happen again. This team means so much to me, and I appreciate all the training and guidance you've given me over the last two years. Sincerely, Jocelyn.

I've had to write a lot of apology letters for "my actions" in this lifetime. I can pump 'em out like Cocoa can fart (sorry, he's been really fart-active lately, so it's been on my mind. Also, why is the dog allowed to fart around my husband, but I am not? There's something wrong with that).

But the point of this story (and I assure you there is one!), is that you have to give people goals and make the rewards very apparent if you're going to ask (or demand) they participate in challenging activities like running. The reward that always made running worth the effort for me was nachos - sweet, delicious, neon orange, cheesy, crunchy, wonderfulness. I would dream about all the nachos I could eat during track meets. Would my mom only allow me to buy one serving, or could I convince her to let me get two? Would I share my nachos with anyone? Or would I sit under the bleachers where no one could see me so that I wouldn't have to share? I think it was the nachos that pulled me over the hump and made me realize running did a lot more good for my body than bad. Nachos were good, and every time I was at a track meet there were nachos for sale, so it must have meant that running was good too.

So the next time you're trying to get your child, brother, sister, mother to do something, coax 'em with a fresh plate of nachos. I think it'll do the trick.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Secret Garden

One of the things I love most about the house we live in is the backyard. What used to be a mix of dead lawn and dusty cactuses is now a secret (and practical) garden.

The yard is sectioned into three different areas: the lawn (where Cocoa does his thing), the gravel path and fountain (doesn’t it look like a giant cat litter box?), and the succulent garden (the actual “garden” part of the yard).

The other morning, before the Valley summer heat set in, I did a little frolicking in the succulent section of the yard.

The morning dew, combined with the fresh, bright colors, transported me to a different world...

Into a wondrous, secret garden.

Being out in the garden makes me wish I was one-twentieth of my normal size.

I could lie on this soft bed of groundcover.

And climb the lush, bushy shrubs.

I could forage for wild vegetables and berries.

And splash my face with the morning’s dew.

I love that a bunch of succulents and groundcover can awaken my adventurous spirit.

And I encourage you to do the same! Go out and enjoy the little things in life.

Or, alternatively, redo your backyard with a bunch of low water plants. That’s the real reason for this fabulous section of the yard: a lawn’s too expensive.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Shackin It Up

Has anyone been to the Sugar Shack lately? Because apparently I don’t go there anymore. It’s been almost two months since I gave a remodel update!

Despite my neglect, things have been chugging along in the remodel process. The most prominent updates are the addition of stone and primer paint to the exterior of the house, the construction of a stone fireplace in the living room, and the application of drywall throughout the interior of the house.

Come on in, let's take a look.

Drywall is very interesting to me. I don’t know much about it, except that I used to think drywall and stucco were synonymous. They are not.

Now that the drywall’s in, we have walls and ceilings where there used to be gaping holes! Progress I tell you. Progress.

And there’s the stone fireplace in the back. You can’t really tell from the photo, but some stone pieces were strategically placed to create shelves, which will be useful if we want to place photos or other decorations over the fireplace. They are also some smaller, broken stone pieces that jut out between the larger flat pieces. I’m not sure what we can use these for yet. Christmas stocking holders?

The view from the living room into the dining room.

Here’s the kitchen. Notice the green board drywall. That's special waterproof drywall which is placed behind all the sinks, toilets, and other areas of the walls that are liable to come in contact with water. Apparently, regular drywall will disintegrate if it gets wet. I’m glad we got someone who knows what they’re doing to build this house!

The view from inside the kitchen looking into the dining room and living room.

And our super exciting, cement back porch! With a bunch of junk on it.

Things should really get moving in the next couple of weeks. That is of course, if I manage to get my act together and help out. Home Depot here I come!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ten Vocabulary Words to Teach Your Baby

Due to the impending arrival of my un-named nephew, who I’ve dubbed "PM C Baby", I've compiled a list of ten vocabulary words which I think any mother should teach their baby. You can never get too early of a start molding their little brains and turning them into erudite geniuses. I find myself using these words every day, they are so important. I've also included examples for each word (most are baby themed!), to help convey their meaning.

1) Erudite
(adj): Having or showing great knowledge or learning.
My example: The sophistication of writing displayed on The Jelly Logs, indicates it is penned by a very erudite author.

2) Donnybrook
(noun): A brawl or fracas; a scene of chaos.
My example: A donnybrook broke out in the playpen, when the babies realized there was only one Tickle Me Elmo toy to share.

3) Skullduggery
(noun): Crafty deception or trickery or an instance of it; activities intended to deceive; a con or hoax.
My example: Dr. Thomas, whose medical license had been recently revoked, told the expectant mothers "If you give your baby a bottle every time they cry, you’ll be playing into their skullduggery. They’re not really hungry. Babies are just attention whores."

4) Verisimilitude
(noun): The quality of appearing to be true or real.
My example: A childless person may think Jon and Kate Plus 8 is the verisimilitude of what it’s like to raise a large family, but a real parent knows it’s much harder to wrangle several children when you don’t have a television crew and staff helping you out.

5) Ineffable
(adj): Incapable of being expressed; indescribable or unutterable; taboo.
My example: Good mothers do not express their ineffable hatred of that purple dinosaur named Barney. Better mothers tell their children that dinosaurs went extinct millions of years ago and it’s really some pervert with BO inside the purple costume.

6) Rapscallion
(noun): A mischievous person; a rascal; a scoundrel.
My example: Her preschool teachers chose not to use her real name, Jocelyn, but instead began calling her Miss Rapscallion Grand Evil One.

7) Roustabout
(noun): A laborer employed for temporary or unskilled jobs; a circus laborer; a deck or wharf laborer, especially on the Mississippi River.
My example: Little Jimmy had dreams of becoming a roustabout. Mother always told him he should aim low because of his ADHD.

8) Equanimity
(noun): The quality of being calm and even-tempered; composure.
My example: Despite the baby food in her hair, the feces underneath her fingernails, and the constant crying blasting over the baby monitor, young Jeanie displayed remarkable equanimity as she watched the second line appear on pregnancy test she was holding in her hands.

9) Salubrious
(adj): Promoting health or well-being; wholesome.
My example: "What is this salubrious beverage I am drinking?" the young lady asked. "It is champagne, but of course" her loving companion answered.

10) Zaftig
(adj): Full-bosomed; having a full, shapely figure.
My example: The zaftig mother on the cover of this month’s issue of American Baby exhibits the benefits of effective breastfeeding.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I did something on May 21st that I’ve likened to having a baby. There was lots of planning, planning, planning, then a BIG delivery, but then my baby was taken away like I gave it up for adoption. Therefore, I have been feeling a bit bereft lately.

Oh where did my baby go? 48 hours of partying was not enough.

Oh where did my baby go? She was so beautiful, wasn’t she?

It doesn’t help that my fabulous photographer sent me these few images as a tease. I want the rest!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

In the Spirit of Tina Fey

While I was waiting for my flight to depart Monday evening, to take me out of that godforsaken place known as Indiana, I wandered over to the bookstore and purchased a copy of Tina Fey’s BossyPants. I had originally wanted to get this book from the library (Seriously people, the library is free. Why don’t more people use it?), but seeing how the wait list for the book was 137 people long, I decided I would wait to read it until 2019. Fortunately, it’s availability at the bookstore and my lack of anything to do on a four hour flight, meant that I was able to read the whole book in its delightful entirety. 

I haven’t seen more than 30 minutes of 30 Rock, and I’m only a casual viewer of Saturday Night Live, but any dodo knows that Tina Fey is one funny woman; and I’m happy to report that BossyPants delivers in the funny department. It’s a great read. But what I was surprised with after finishing the book, is that Tina Fey’s hilarious honesty also makes her sound like a bitch. Perhaps I had this idea that Tina was a sweet, comedic, supermom that only made jokes because it was her job, but was more of an introvert in her normal life. But if this book is her memoir, it appears Tina’s blatant honesty and no regrets, take charge attitude permeates through her whole life. And I like it.

Not everybody is going to like you, and only a special few will love you, and what’s so bad about that? Why try to mold your actions and opinions so they jive with the rest of the world? They should only have to jive with you. That’s it. And if it means you come off sounding like a bitch, then se la vie. Amy Poehler certainly did when she told Jimmy Fallon "I don't give a fuck if you like it!" at a SNL writer’s meeting late one night, and Tina quotes this as a turning point in her view of life and work. Ultimately, you have to do what’s best for you and not be afraid to stick up for yourself.

Besides being pleasantly surprised by the book’s takeaways (namely: work hard, don’t take yourself too seriously, experience life, don’t think in terms of this-is-the-end-of-the-world… and LAUGH) I have been feeling a symbiotic relationship with Tina’s sense of humor. During my entire run yesterday, I was telling myself jokes and pretending I was a standup comedian. I thought I was genius (in hindsight it seems really sad). I even came up with a bit about gold bars: how the government should bring back precious metals as a form of currency, if only for the fact that dudes could slam a gold bar on the bar and double impress a lady when buying her a drink. Ya, doesn’t seem so funny now. I'll relegate that one to my "shit nugget" pile (as Tina calls them), and keep mining for a "golden nugget".

But I will tell you that me and Ms. Fey have something in common! She displays an un-photoshoped image of herself in the book where she looks like an old lady, and check out what I've been looking like these days:

We’re practically twins!

(Background: I used that image in my 26th birthday email invite, and not to say my comedic genius outranks Ms. Fey's, but her book didn't come out till April 5th. My birthday is April 2nd. She totally stole my grandma joke.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

White Wine to Whet Your Appetite

I’ll be braving the Indiana humidity this weekend (oh how I love summer work trips), and since I’m going to be working, I’ll have to entrust you with the drinking. And seeing how my best friend thinks I write a blog about wine (clearly, she doesn't come round these parts much), I’ll attempt to direct your weekend drinking in a positive direction with two wine recommendations.

On the way back home from our brief honeymoon in San Luis Obispo, we decided to stop in Los Olivos to do some wine tasting. After visiting Bridlewood Winery, a behemoth of a winery with extensive grounds and a huge tasting room (the wines are so-so), we decided to head back up the road and visit a smaller winery which I had never heard of: Brander Winery. The winery is in the process of remodeling their small tasting room, but the space was bright and open, and the tasting fee was only $5.00 (tasting fees in the Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez/Los Olivos area can run anywhere from $5.00 to $15.00). Brander Winery focuses on white wines, predominately in the Sauvignon Blanc varietal. The following two were my favorites.

The first is a traditional Sauv Blanc; light, crisp, and with a nice floral aroma. The winery employee who was assisting us with our tasting told us that this wine is currently served in the White House. Apparently, Ronald Regan used to have a ranch in the area (back in the day), and would come visit Brander because their Sauv Blanc was his favorite. He was such a fan, that when he moved into the White House, he requested they stock and serve Brander’s Sauv Blanc. And so, it remains on the White House menu still today.

The wine was good, and the story equally interesting, so I bought a bottle. It’ll put you back about $15.00, but it’s a nice wine to share with friends or family on a summer afternoon.

The next one is Sauvignon Blanc blend called CuvĂ©e Natalie, named after the winemaker’s daughter. The blend of Sauv Blanc, Pinot Gris and Riesling make this wine delicious, light, clean, and faintly sweet. I’m always a sucker for wine that has a little bit of a sweet, fruity element to it (I’ve slowly been weaning myself off of German Rieslings… I started drinking them like they were water), and this one fit the bill. It will also put you back about $15.00, but it’s a tad more special than the traditional Sauv Blanc described above.

So there you have it my friends. Eat, drink and be merry tonight, tomorrow or this weekend! You deserve it!