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Christmas with The Huxtables

I am just coming to the end of a 10-day-east-coast trip, which, I spent with the BIL (Boy I Like) and his entire family. It would be kind of fun to write about all the mishaps or dysfunction I experienced, but there was none. His family is so normal and nice, I feel like I have been a cast member of the “Leave it to Beaver” show for the last two weeks. When the plane lands at LAX, I’m thinking my dad, who is picking us up, is going to take me back to the set of Modern Family and BIL is going to make his way over to the Huxtable house for dinner.

The trip started the day after Christmas in the Adirondacks. We pull up to a lakefront home surrounded by just enough snow to make it look like a winter wonderland. The house was filled with children in footy pajamas, the smell of homemade food and hand knit stockings hanging from the staircase.

The family photos on the wall dated back to a time when I didn’t even know that photography existed and instead of having one half-eaten game of Monopoly, they had a designated game closet that was organized by age and theme. “Wow this place is like out of a storybook,” I actually said out-loud sounding a bit like Little Orphan Annie.

Upstairs in the guestroom the beds were decorated with comforters sewn by BIL’s mom. It was explained to me that she made the comforters for BIL during his first year of college. If that wasn’t enough to make me feel insufficient for never learning how to sew a button, I was told that the family had built the newer part [...]

It’s Not Fair

Isn’t it weird how a lot of us think we are so right about so many things? Like our way is the right way and everyone else is just a dumb-dumb. I was thinking about this after I watched a local city council meeting. I listened to an argument about how detrimental it would be to cut jobs and salaries of city employees and what should instead happen is that certain taxes, which would affect business owners, should be raised.

The city council member, who proposed the idea, gave the argument that taxes hadn’t been raised in that particular area for a long time and the city was below the tax bracket of other neighboring cities. However, those who opposed the argument pointed out something that had received an increase were the salaries of certain unionized employees.

While a couple of the city council members stayed safe in their responses to the suggestion of raising taxes saying it was “an area that was worth exploring” a couple others down right disagreed and said the city needs to tighten its belt rather than raise taxes.

I started thinking about this issue on a smaller level.

Let’s say you have two kids: “Autumn” and “Summer.” Autumn wants to earn money by way of allowance. Summer decides to make bracelets and/or sell lemonade.

Both kids work hard for their earnings but while Autumn gets the same amount of money each week for doing the same amount of work, Summer will often make twice as much money on a sunny day or during the holidays (when the bracelets and lemonade seem to sell more.) However, there are times when the bracelets don’t sell and nobody wants lemonade and in those times Summer doesn’t [...]

By |March 19th, 2014|Articles|0 Comments|

Mom and Jackie Birthday

There are no two people who make me feel more comfortable, more confident or more myself  than my mom and sister. Ironically, these are the only two people,  who will not, under any circumstances blow smoke up my … (As my mother has told me, “that’s your father’s job.”) If I write an article or even a post-it with typos (which happens a lot) they will tell me, if I gain weight they’ll tell me, if I date a guy who appears to know woman’s fashion more than I do and they think that’s a problem, they’ll tell me. On the flip side, no one has ever been there for me more or knows me better than these two women. Born two days and a few decades apart, my mom and sister are the strongest people I know and they are in my corner every second of every minute of every day of my life.

This last weekend the three of us went on a “staycation” to a very fancy hotel in Pasadena. Growing up we never bought our candy at the theatre but rather we would buy it at the store and bring it in. So it only seemed natural to bring our own facemask to the fancy hotel’s fancy spa. Here we were the three of us all steamed up and sauna-d out sitting around in the “contemplation room” in our robes, sipping our lemon water and eating our fruit on a toothpick each of us wearing a mud mask I had brought from home. “Wow, what type of facial is that?” a very fancy blond woman with perfect eyebrows and French manicured nails asked us.

“The VIP Mask,” I answered. “It’s not on [...]

Fortune Cookie Praise

Isn’t it good luck to get two fortunes in one cookie? So what happens if both fortunes say the same thing? Recently, after finishing my teriyaki chicken, I cracked open my plastic-wrapped-less-than-fresh-dessert, to find that I had stuck the lottery; a two-fer fortune, both reading, “You are never bitter, deceptive or petty.”

Well halleluiah, move over Jesus Christ, there is a new woman in town. According to Dragon Express Chinese Food, I’m the new ruler of the heavens. Okay, okay before I discourage all my atheist readers, let me get on with my point.

Let’s start with the first adjective. Doesn’t it take a certain amount of bitterness to promote change in the world? I’d like to think that even Mother Theresa was a little bitter.

The words deceptive and petty, those are words I’d wish not to be associated with, but honestly, I have been both petty and deceptive and not just once or twice. My father would like to believe that I am angelic (my mother knows better) and that the fortune I received is one that I should have tattooed on my forehead. Except angles don’t have tattoos they have wings. The reality is I have tattoos and neither of them have anything to do with me living a life without pettiness, deception or bitterness.

The key word on the small strip of white paper, which negates anyone from authentically taking this fortune to heart, is the word “never.” A word, which I believe in a way, is a contradiction in itself; it means everything and nothing all at the same time. I mean basically until a person is dead and the evidence shows they have stayed true to his or her statement, we can’t [...]

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    Jennifer Evans’ Insight Out: Prioritizing with a 6-month-old

Jennifer Evans’ Insight Out: Prioritizing with a 6-month-old

Once upon a time I was good about sending thank-you cards and birthday cards and “just because” cards, but now, not so much.

I feel like now, actually right now as I am writing this, I am in constant survival mode. My phone has binged 10 times in the last seven minutes and I don’t want to pick it up. I should have never sent that picture of “Baby P” in a group text, because now I will be sitting here trying to concentrate on writing this column while I know my family is going back and forth with each other discussing the picture of “Baby P” up on all fours looking as if she is going to crawl.

“Wow, she is so advanced,” my dad will write. “Are those her Christmas pajamas she is wearing?” my sister, the constant comedian will ask. “Isn’t it 2 p.m.? Why haven’t you dressed her yet?” my mom will question.

This back and forth between my family members about “Baby P” will go on into the night, my phone binging with each comment.

What is my point? I really don’t know. I started talking about cards, right? OK, let’s get back to that. When the BIL and I were dating, I gave him eight cards on his birthday, and as much as I hate to admit it, this year he didn’t even get one card. My sister-in-law, who always makes sure that a card and gift arrives for me on time for my birthday, also didn’t get a card from me (her birthday was Sunday) nor did she get a thank-you card from me for my on-time birthday gift. Same story goes for my mother-in-law, who also gave me a very [...]

Teaching Seventh Grade

The room is so quite, still and empty that it almost makes me wish they wouldn’t have left.

I find myself consumed with them, intrigued as to why some succeed and others resist the opportunity to do well. They are all capable of being well above average and although I have been told not to take it personally when they don’t meet my expectations, I do take it very personally. It’s my personal responsibility to help them see themselves the way I see them. I see them as smart, creative people who are easily distracted but willing to listen if need be. They are motivated by rewards. It’s up to me to find a fitting reward and when I have done so, it is less likely I’ll have to go in search of a consequence.

I see them as people who crave attention and affirmation. Weather they know it or not they have a need to know I care about them. Few people in this world are motivated to do anything for another unless they know their work, energy, thought and time spent will be well-received and ultimately cared about.

“But they should care about themselves and that should be what drives them to do well.” Some skeptics have told me.

Perhaps some do, but most seventh graders care about things, people and events that are right in front of them. To see the big picture is overwhelming and foreign to most. Though college is right around the corner, they still see it as a mile a way.

“My son sees the bigger picture,” the parents may argue. “He already knows he wants to go to USC or Stanford.”

I am sure he does.

“Remember what we were like in seventh [...]

Body Hoarder

Why does it feel like my workout clothes went through the dryer ten times on the highest heat?

What happened? I have a new car and live on the second floor, so whose funny idea was it to give me a spare tire and a set of sandbags for a wedding gift? I am like a body- hoarder. Holding onto every inch knowing I can’t take on anymore, but do anyway.

And now here I stand sleepy-eyed at my new “personal training” gym with the “Boy I Love” next to me watching little miss perfect pony tail demonstrate a box jump with a pull up.

“So,” she says as she lightly hops on the box, like a delicate fairy and pulls herself up in one swift movement like an Olympic gymnast, “this is how you’re going to do it.”

I look across at myself in the mirror and notice my socks are mismatched, my shirt is inside out and my broken shoe lace is broken again. I start to wiggle my stubbed toe to see if it was ready to “box-jump”, and that is when I realize I have a small hole in my shoe.

Meanwhile, with her eyes dressed in mascara and her jiggle-free body wrapped in something she borrowed from a manikin in a shop-window, little miss ponytail, appeared to be awake well before my alarm went off.

“Everybody down on the floor and let’s do some push ups,” I hear ponytail command.

I drop to the floor and as I start to push up my glasses fall off my face. Nothing screams “world-class” athlete like a pair of black rimmed glasses sliding down your nose.

“Why didn’t you wear your contacts?” the BIL asks in between reps.

“Probably the same [...]

By |December 4th, 2012|Articles|0 Comments|

Learning On The Job

They were all staring at me, waiting for something profound or at the very minimum something of interest to come out of my mouth. A variety of writing utensils stemmed from their pre-teen hands. Some did as they were told and brought the bare essentials to class: pen and paper. Others found a stray pencil or forgotten marker left on the ground, a few of them sought refuge from an overly prepared neighbor, “Can I borrow a pen or pencil,” I heard whispered a half a dozen times.

Now it was my turn. Had I prepared enough? Probably not. Ten minutes before the hallway filled with chatter and locker door slams, I felt overly prepared, but as the minutes ticked up to the ringing of the bell, I started to second-guess myself.  What if my lesson has no point? What if I run out of time or have too much time at the end? What if I all of a sudden forget what a verb or an adverb or an adjective is or I can’t remember the necessary elements of a narrative essay? What if they ask me something I don’t know? What if they ask me something I do know but I can’t explain it.

In this moment of expectation from a group of people whom I already have invested so much, I knew there was no time for self-doubt or second-guessing.

I gave them their warm-up assignment and prepared them for what was to come next. We talked about their vocabulary words, specifically about the word receding and why and how it was used both as a verb and an adjective in their text, we talked about theme and genre and the difference between the [...]

By |October 30th, 2012|Articles|0 Comments|

Loving Last Place

Not many people appreciate last place as much as I do. As I child I played softball and our team was known as the bad-news-bears. For two consecutive years we lost every game and each one was more fun than the one before. But as I grew older and the sports became more competitive I quickly realized that nobody was interested in someone who was comfortable with last place. Instead of agonizing over it, I opted to stay on the side lines cheering on my friends as they won volleyball games, competed in swim meets, became football champions and jumped hurdles higher than I ever believed I could ever jump.

As much as I would not have minded being last, I was more afraid of not being accepted if I came in last.

The BIL (Boy I Love) isn’t comfortable in last place. I understand his distain coming in less than first, second or third and I am sure it is one of the reasons why I am attracted to him. However, I wondered up until this last weekend, what he would think, if I ever came in last place.

Would he love me less?

I got my answer last Saturday when the two of us participated in the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation’s South Bay Dozen. We both agreed to participate in at least three of the 12 water events, which involved various paddling, swimming and surfing skills.

We arrived at the designated beach at 7 a.m., paid our entry fee and got our numbers inked on our arms. I started to look around at the crowd of competitors and noticed there was no ounce of extra inches in the group. I started to panic. “Honey, look at these [...]

By |August 15th, 2012|Articles|0 Comments|

4th of July

I’m not trying to sober up anybody’s 4th of July drinking parade, but I would like to take a moment and remind all of us Americans that the day before the 5th and after the 3rd , is not just about fireworks, burgers and red cups.

Though the Hermosa Beach Iron Man is an important tradition as well as the Strand-house parties and community fireworks, it is just as important to recognize the reason behind why we put on those red and white bikinis and Uncle Sam hats.

Let’s start by recognizing the 1,343,812 men and woman who have died for our country since The American Revolutionary War to our current War on Terror. Let’s also remember each and every single brave man and woman who is currently fighting for our country, as well as all of the surviving veterans who have ever put their life on the line so that we could celebrate our independence.

All you high school graduates out there, who are getting ready to go off to college and celebrate your independence, just remember with independence comes an extreme amount of responsibility. Our country claimed its independence 236 years ago. Relatively speaking, the United States of America is still a teenager. However, though we are one of the youngest, we are the most self-sufficient, smartest and strongest unions in the world. This doesn’t mean we are perfect, but despite our issues (and right now we have a fair amount) we are still the most desired country to live in or be from.

Our country began its independence with 2.3 million people and 13 colonies. Today, according to the United States Census, that number has grown to 313.9 million people.

In honor of our country’s growth [...]

By |July 4th, 2012|Articles|0 Comments|