Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What's wrong with Breaking Dawn? An exercise in irony

Don't tell me, you saw the latest Twilight movie on opening weekend too?!

Sure it was bad and based on an even worse book but I'm not going to apologize for going.  I consider the effort a fact-finding mission.  A fact-finding mission with eye-rolling and serious-moments-turned-comical.  I just had to see for myself how they did the baby delivery scene.  I listened to the audio book of Breaking Dawn right after my daughter was born in 2009.  Imagine a new mom rocking her newborn daughter to sleep in the dark while her white iPod earbuds spew this s**t forth.  And even after knowing what real birth was like, I was horrified by what happened in Breaking Dawn.  It's just fiction, right?  It's just human-vampire [not real] babies being born--but still.  STILL.  I thought this book was simply unfilmable because of the home-birth vampire cesarean scene.  But here we are.  

Knowing this gruesome depiction of childbirth was in the movie did not stop hoards of teen girls from being there.   Because it's balanced out by, you know, dudes with no shirts on and only the most frustratingly antiseptic love scene that only the entire series has been building up to.  But I think the number of giddy teenagers present saturated the air with hormones and I kid you not, at one point when the teens in our row were laughing/shrieking about something during the movie, an older (post-menopausal) woman turned around and told them to get ahold of themselves.  That's why you go to a Twilight movie on opening weekend: for the drama.

I attended the spectacle with my trusty Twilight research colleague, Amy, who makes anything 10x more hilarious.  Even in a pitch black theater, I can feel when she turns to me and gives an open-mouth WTF look. Which she did often.

Basically the overriding message of Twilight is that sex should be feared, getting married is a drag, the honeymoon is horrifying and pregnancy/delivery is a downright apocolyptic bloody nightmare.  But this view doesn't just come out of thin air.  I'm no psychologist but "someone" (Stephenie Meyer, I am looking at you) might want to get their issues addressed.  Just saying.

Here are a few other morsels of ridiculousness that I've been reveling in since last Saturday:

Throughout the series and in this movie, Bella looks like she's about to vomit AND hasn't taken a s**t in several days.  That's talented acting or the first trimester of a real pregnancy.

There is a vampire with braces (From Alaska no less)  in the wedding scene.  Seriously.  Who does her ortho and how do they not get bitten?

Doesn't every small town doctor have the latest medical equipment and x-ray/ultrasound machines just laying around the homestead?  Carlisle does. (And Tom Cruise) And don't forget that stash of O Negative blood he keeps in a house full of vampires.

Imprinting, the werewolf equivalent of love at first sight, will be further explored in the next movie  since Jacob "imprinted" on Bella's infant daughter.  According to the book, the girl will not physically age past 7.  So basically you have a 19 year old guy and a 7 year old girl who are eventually going to be sexually attracted to each other.  Yeah, that's normal--nothing freaky or weird about that, right?  Stephenie, again I think you need to deal with some of your issues.

So will I be going to Breaking Dawn 2 (the last movie of this cringe worthy series) next year on opening weekend?  Certainly.  If nothing else, to be a witness to the crazy and add more fuel to the fire.  Burn, baby, burn.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Seattle Half Marathon Warriors

Picture from Kay's phone after the race.
Today the Seattle Half and Full Marathon were held on its typical Sunday after Thanksgiving.  Who knows why someone thought it was good to hold an event like this in Seattle in November.  (August or September are too temperate evidently?)  It rained today with 50 degree weather.  (But the first time Ken did this, it snowed so this was a vast improvement.)  Ken, brother Ed and Ed's girlfriend Kay braved the elements and the hills making good finishing times.  Ken beat big brother Ed (again) so hopefully this will settle the dispute of who is the fastest.  Though I have already been hearing plans to start training for the next race competition.  Oh boy.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

First Thanksgiving Do’s and Don’ts

Do brine the turkey for moist, flavorful meat.

Don’t depend on pop up timers or non-numerical thermometers which only indicates “done” or “not done”--they are worthless.  Use an oven safe, numbered one.  160 degrees throughout!

Do get a fresh bird (not frozen).

Don’t buy 10 lbs of potatoes for mashed potatoes when serving dinner for 4 adults.  Anyone want some?  We have extra.

Do use an electric knife for carving to get as much of the meat off of the carcass and to avoid carpel tunnel syndrome.  (Thanks Uncle Ed for ours!)

Don’t expect pre-made gravy to be free of chicken stock/base.  In trying to keep it simple, we bought gravy from the same butcher we got the turkey from.  Passable but disappointing.

Do employ initial hot temperature browning then reduced temperature cooking for primo outcome.

Don’t use 6-year-old pineapple juice you found in the back of the cabinet in your fancy cranberry sauce recipe.  While you will be fine, it will taste too acidic and you’ll blame yourself for days for “ruining” an otherwise perfect meal.

Do consult Alton Brown DVD for tips and assurance that helped first-timers like us cook an awesome turkey.

Don’t leave the giblet bag inside the turkey.  We ended up cooking ours inside the turkey INSIDE the plastic bag they came in.  The lesson:  if you don’t find it at first, look again--it’s in there.

Do get everyone in the family involved in the process.  Makes great memories and inspires appreciation of what it takes to make a Thanksgiving feast possible.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Holiday Gift Guides for Babies & Toddlers

It's mid-November now and that means holiday shopping is in full swing.  Have you been to the mall lately?  <shudder>  There's a lot of pressure giving gifts these days.  It's almost like the process of picking the gift is almost as important as the gift itself.  With the economy and general mood, it can be a little heady because you really want to hit that sweet spot of something a) uber useful b) completely fitting/appropriate c) doesn't require taking out a loan (even if you could get one.)

Allow me to help you out a little or at least give you some ideas.  As my daughter Sidney has grown from a newborn to a bustling toddler, I have kept track of the items that have delighted and challenged her.  Fellow moms with younger kids sometimes ask me about recommendations and, as we all know, I love to make lists.

So here are my holiday gift recommendations for the various ages birth-3 years.  They will also be on my sidebar until further notice for quick linking.

(If I can get inspired, I may do a gift guide for Moms but I'm really just waiting for when you can buy units of sleep via Amazon Prime.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Great Indoors for Seattle Toddlers

To live in Seattle, is to accept that it rains a lot and going outside nine months of the year requires bundling up and/or precautions to keep dry.  As an adult, you can go one way or the other: become an outdoor-loving mossback or just embrace your inner-hermit and take refuge inside.  (I am the latter at heart which clearly disappoints my hiking-fiend of a father.)  

The weather is beginning to turn so that means caregivers of small children have to load up their arsenal of potential places to take stir-crazy kids.

Here are my favorite indoor destinations for Toddlers (in random order):

Third Place Commons (Lake Forest Park):  I wrote up a profile on this place on Red Tricycle earlier this year.  Food Court, play area, bookstore, super cool community space with a unique vibe.  And a photo booth.

Nurturing Pathways (Phinney Ridge): We have done this dance and movement class for 3-4 sessions and love the connections between movement and brain development that the instructor discusses as we do fun, interesting activities.  I suggest the class at Phinney Ridge taught by Christine, the founder.  

Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center (Ravenna): Great indoor tot play room that is big with lots of cars, trikes, toys and things to do plus a fantastic outdoor play area if the weather's nice.  Tot room has a schedule and costs $2/kid to enter.

Twirl Cafe (Queen Anne): Pay-to-play space with food.  A good option when wanting to stay central to the city.

Vios Cafe (Capitol Hill): Greek Restaurant and one of the best indoor play areas I've ever seen in an eatery.

Mosaic Coffeehouse (Wallingford): In the basement of a church with it's own separate entrance.  Large, well-equipped play area.  Food/drink is a pay-what-you-want set up.

Children's Museum (Queen Anne): We have never been personally but we know plenty of parents who love this place.

Kids Quest Museum (Factoria):  We made the trek to the Eastside for this.  A little spendy but totally worth it.  So much to do and see--very unique.  Get there early.

Shoreline Library Storytime (Shoreline): Definitely a drive but it is hands down the best story time we've been to.  Songs, interaction, take home papers with letter of the day, music.  And it's FREE.

Central Market (Shoreline): They have mini-carts that the kids can push.  A fun, interesting place to roam around in with live crab & lobster tanks, a huge salad bar and hot lunch options.  While you're there, pick up groceries or stuff for dinner.  Two-fer!

Seattle Aquarium (Waterfront): We received a membership as a gift and we make the most of it.  They have a program called Toddler Time that does activities just for kids under 5 years.

Om Kids Play Gym (Wallingford): This has been recommended to us but we have yet to go.  Looks like a playspace with things and instructors to interact with.  Have heard from two sources that it's pretty cool.

Issaquah Community Center (Issaquah): Toddler (1-3 years) indoor playground (8am-Noon weekdays) with lots of trikes, cars and active toys for $2/kid.

If there are any other favorites, please feel free to post in the comments section. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pacific Science Center and Storm Preparedness

Announcing my latest Red Tricycle article on visiting the Pacific Science Center and getting winter storm prepared.  With the weather changing and winter on it way, it's smart to be ready.  A big thanks to Karen Rich who inspired the story idea and for all the information about

The article is HERE.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Honey Badger

"Honey Badger don't care. Honey Badger don't give a sh*t." One of the funniest things I've come across in a long time.


Monday, November 07, 2011

Japanese Family Dinner

Back when I was 9 or 10, I can remember dinners out with my Japanese side of the family.  We always met up in the banquet rooms of Chinese restaurants.  You might be asking why would Japanese people do this and I have no idea.  I did like Chinese food at that time so I did not complain.  (I now find it too greasy, salty and "sauced," but I digress.)  We met up with my many great-aunts and uncles, 1st and 2nd cousins and occasionally my grandpa and grandma (if the were visiting) to talk, drink tea and eat lots of Chow Mein.   Speaking of Chow Mein, I've still never learned how to make it.  But I hear there are culinary classes from accredited online colleges available, so definitely worth checking out.

My younger brother and I were usually the only children present so we had to entertain ourselves.  It being the 80's and pre-Gameboy or iPhone, our options were limited to playing with the chopsticks, slowly sucking up our soda with a straw, making sugar packet forts or drawing on the paper placemat with Dad's check writing pen or just wandering around the table/room/restaurant.  When an elder would catch us in their eye line, they'd try to have a conversation with us.  Everyone always asked about school which is part Asian cliche, part standard protocol when talking to a school-aged kid.  But it didn't take long to list off what we were doing and kids don't give a rip about what adults like so the conversation pretty much fizzled out.  There would be an uncomfortable silence and then they'd turn to the nearest adult and start talking again.

The Japanese folks were a lot less raucous and emotive than my Italian relations but they could still surprise you.  Once my great uncle Walter ordered a fancy drink but at age 9, I had never seen anything like it before.  To me, it looked like water in a triangular, stemmed glass.
So I leaned over and said, "Is that water?"
He said, "Yes!" (a bit to enthusiastically I should have noted)
"Can I have some?" I asked.
"Sure," he said as he slid it over.
I took a big mouthful which was okay for a second and then as I swallowed, it BURNED all the way down.  Oh yes, that would be a gin martini.  My normally reserved uncle howled with laughter and some of my other relations flashed a knowing smile.  I gulped down my own water as fast as I could to wash the taste out of my mouth and I never asked to try his drinks again.  Sure, it's not nice to trick children who trust you but I have to admit that was pretty funny.

So last Saturday, I found myself at a long table with many of my Japanese relations seated across and next to me.  Earlier that day, my family celebrated the life of my great uncle Bill who passed away in late September.  Ken and I were not at that earlier event but we were very eager to be at this dinner. It was in a Thai restaurant which fit the prerequisite of an Asian-cuisine-laden-in-sauces-that-is-not-Japanese. Only this time I was not a kid any more and ended up asking my younger cousin how school was going.  Sidney proceeded to wander around the table as my brother and I once did.  It's like this has happened before and will happen again.  The cast of characters has certainly changed.

Now you can pick your ending:

But nothing says family like having a good meal together, reminiscing about those no longer with us and introducing the next generation to this tradition.

But nothing says family like Dad & cousins comparing receding hairlines, dealing with a toddler who won't eat anything and tracking the UW vs. UO game on Smartphones during dinner.

The cousins: Euge, Ken, Steve

Dad gives Sidney some coconut ice cream,
one of the few things she would actually eat that night.

Cousin Ali meets Sidney for the first time.

Ali holding Sidney.  Ali and Sidney both have dads who are called 'Ken Sakai'.
But only of them is actually named that.  

Great Uncle Hank & Great Aunt Juli.
Juli was later styling in her "hot" Juicy Couture hat (not pictured).   True story.

Riyo & George

Max & Rosanne

Little brother with cousin Dave and Great Aunt Susie

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Remembering Auntie Rosie

Today, we lost a dear, lovely lady in our family.  My great-aunt Rose who was my grandmother's sister passed away this morning, surrounded by her children.

She was always very chipper, easy-going and optimistic.  One of my earliest memories of her is visiting her and Skipper, her dog.  He loved these little "hot dog-like biscuits" call Snausauges.  During one of our visits when I was 4 or 5, I was allowed to give him one.  I decided to sample one also and to my surprise IT TASTED AWESOME!  From then on, I equated going to Auntie Rosie's house with getting to eat, straight from the box, these amazing "crackers" that were really dog treats.  My mother and aunt just let me go to town on them like they were Nilla Wafers.  I don't begrudge it though--they were delicious.

All joking aside, it is truly a loss that I have not come to terms with yet.  Rose was the closest thing to a grandmother that we/I had left on this side of the family.  She was so excited about Sidney and always lit up when she saw her at family functions.  Auntie would always want to hold and play with Sidney and had such a caring way about her.  (You can just see it in the picture below.)  It made the absence of my own grandmother just a little easier, knowing that her younger sister Rose was doing an outstanding job filling in.  RIP Auntie.  We will miss you.

Christmas 2009

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween 2011

Sidney's costume this year was a triumph in procurement. While my mother used to make many of our costumes and was amazing at turning fanciful ideas into reality, sewing is not my core competence. So I had to start early and be on the look out for ideas. I think by late spring early summer I bought Sidney's antennae headpiece. I loved it so much and built her entire costume around it. Next I found that little dress on the internet on clearance and it came with the lamest set of wings I've ever seen.  So I found another set of wings on the internet but when they arrived I realized they were for adults and too big & heavy for her.  Then a few weeks ago while trolling around in Target I happened into the costume section "just to see" and wouldn't you know it?  Perfect purple wings with the curly ends and everything.  Looks like the headpiece and wings are a set but they weren't.  Score!  The downside of those wings are those curled ends: they grab on everything so she has to have a 4 foot radius of open air.

This Halloween we went up to Queen Anne to participate in their neighborhood trick-or-treat event.  I know, we don't even live there, it's scandalous!  But we were with our friends the Testas.  They joined us last year in Ballard for our neighborhood trick-or-treat event.  Up on Queen Anne at their neighborhood event where you go from store to store, it was pretty crowded and there were some kids who were 10-12 years old who were like velociraptors and as our little toddlers would approach a person with a bowl giving out candy, these kids would rush up in front of them nearly knocking them over and crowding them out.  Seriously, there's enough candy for all of you--take it easy.  In all honesty, Max & Sidney will not get to eat most of their bounty this year (that's what we're for) but at least they got the experience so they can sharpen their elbows for next Halloween.

And on top of that a gal from one of the coffee shops had all the candy in a glass jar and was sitting outside the shop, holding it on her lap.  I passed her then I heard a loud crash and felt something hit the heel of my boot.  I looked back and saw the glass jar had shattered on the ground with candy scattered among the very sharp pieces.  (I'm still not sure what caused her to drop it.)  Ken and other adults helped pick up the chunks of glass as there were a lot.  Once that was done, "the velociraptors" moved in and started taking the candy that was still littered among the smaller glass fragments because no one could grab a broom fast enough.  But the gal working there was actually letting them take it.  This would be THE scenario where I would say checking for foreign objects in trick-or-treat bounty is a good idea.

(Also posted on Sidney's Page)