Monday, December 15, 2008

And the winner of the HP Giveaway Contest Is....


Congratulations, Kerri! 

Please contact me no later than tomorrow so I can ship the goodies out to you before Xmas.

I do have a runner up (or two) should I not be contacted in time.
The entries were amazing, heartrending ALL.

I wish I could give away more.  
I focused on the stories that hit my gut.  Whether personal or charitable on a larger scale.

It was a really tough decision.  My heart goes out to all of you who are struggling.  
I wish you much luck on the other contests.


 Kerri has accepted the prize as of 1:45pm today.  Congratulations, Kerri.  

Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday

Today's post will be short and sweet because I am on deadline and seriously behind due to spending every free minute of my weekend reading contest entries.

So, here goes the gratitude:

  1. I am grateful for the opportunity to give a lucky winner the HP Giveaway loot and hopefully make some people's Christmas a happy one.
  2. After reading all the entries, I am especially grateful for my family's health and my husband's hard work which is keeping food in our fridge and a roof over our heads.
  3. I am grateful for the rain.
  4. I am grateful vacation is coming.

What are you grateful for today?

HP Giveaway winner will be announced at 12pm PST.  Be there!  Winner must contact me by Tuesday if they want to receive the packages before Xmas.   Good luck!

Saturday, December 13, 2008



co-sponsored by Microsoft Windows Live.



  • My blogger friends ARE eligible.  
  • Regretfully family members and IRL friends (in real life for non-bloggers) are NOT eligible for MY contest.  BUT you ARE eligible to enter ALL the other HP Magic Giveaway contests.  See my HP posts or HP MAGIC GIVEAWAY's home page for participating sites.
  • International entrants welcome.
  • Winners of other HP Magic Giveaway contests are NOT eligible.
  • You must have a legitimate shipping address.  P.O. Box addresses will NOT be accepted.  
  • Make your case!  Tell me why you deserve to win $6000 worth of HP and Microsoft products.  How will you put the equipment to good use?  Who will you share it with and why?  The contest is about the spirit of giving so I ask that you illustrate for me, either in words (250 words or less) OR on video (4 minutes or less) how you will make the most out of this charitable opportunity.  It can be for a friend in need, an organization such as a hospital, a residence home, a school.  Your choice.  Tell me what it will mean to you to have them share in your good fortune.  WOW ME.
  • Include a link in your entry to HP Magic Giveaway's home page and to this post on
  • Post your entry on your blog, on Facebook, on YouTube, or in my comment section.
  • If you have posted your entry anywhere other than my comment section, please leave a comment with a link to the site of your entry, your name, and a valid email address so I can contact you.  Some entries do not include a valid email address so I cannot contact you if there are questions/issues with your entry.  You MUST provide contact info or you will be ineligible.  Thank you.
  • Entries will be accepted beginning Sunday, 12:01AM (PST) December 7, 2008 and ending 11:59PM (PST) December 13, 2008.  (No entries stamped before or after that time will be accepted.)    TO THOSE OF YOU WHO ENTERED BEFORE 12:O1 PACIFIC STANDARD TIME PLEASE RE-ENTER NOW.  THESE ARE THE RULES AND I AM STICKING TO 'EM.   CONSIDER YOURSELVES WARNED.  THANK YOU!
  • Winner will be announced on  Monday, December 15, 2008 at 12PM (PST).
  • I am the sole judge of this contest.  My decision is final.
  • Winner will have 48 hours from the announcement to contact me at or I will award the prize to the first runner-up.
  • Winner should provide valid shipping addresses for all recipients.  I can ship directly to all destinations from here.
  • By entering, the winner agrees to deliver to me within 4 weeks of contest close, a story of their experience SHARING THE MAGIC. (It can be written, photographed,  or in video form.  Written:  500 word max.  Video:  4 mins or less).  We want you to share the magic with everyone.
  • All shipping charges are billed directly to sponsors. 
  • Any taxes paid by winner will be compensated by sponsors. 
  • A few of the packages may have been opened and re-packed in their original packaging.  (I will choose a few of the computers to check out and review during the week.)

Remember:  The point of the contest is to SHARE, so I am hoping you will pay it forward and give some of your prizes to others who could benefit from them rather than sell it on Ebay or keep it all for yourself.  If you do choose the latter you'll have to live with the bad juju I will send your way when I find out.  (And I have my ways.)



Monday, December 8, 2008

Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday

Hello everyone.
Yes, it is Monday.
The end of a weekend...
  the beginning of a loooong week.
(At least that's how I'm feeling this morning.)
So let's find something to be grateful about shall we?
  Or I (and possibly you) might just not make it.

  1. I am grateful for my sweet husband who busted his ass this weekend (and drove my friends crazy) to make a beautiful birthday celebration for me.
  2. I am grateful he bugged my friends instead of me.
  3. I am grateful for having so many fantastic friends.
  4. I am grateful for having the wisdom of my age (most of the time) but not the appearance of it.
  5. I am grateful for Southern California where the mountains and the beach are my gym year-round.
What are you grateful for this Monday?

Friday, December 5, 2008

3-2-1... Let Merlotmom's HP Giveaway Countdown Begin!


On your mark...
Get set...
Don't go...Just yet.
Come by merlotmom tomorrow to see how you can enter my HP Magic Giveaway!

My contest will start promptly at 12:01am on Sunday, December 7 and end promptly at 11:59pm Saturday, December 13.  That's PST.

I will be asking you to tell me why you are the best person to win this incredible, $6000 package of state-of-the-art techno goodies.  In 250 words or less.   HINT: The contest is called a Giveaway, so I will be looking for stories of those who want to share the wealth - with whom and why.  Of course, keeping some of it for yourself is acceptable and irresistable.   You're only human for goodness sakes!

So think about it.
Get your fingers ready.
Tell me a story.
Be the one that stands out from the crowd.

BUT DON'T SUBMIT UNTIL 12:01AM Sunday December 7.
Come back tomorrow for contest rules and regulations.


HP Magic Giveaway is LIVE right now (or starting at midnight tonight) at these sites.
Enter them all!:
The Gadgeteer
Gotta Be Mobile
I Started Something
Down-to-Earth Mama
moosh in indy.
La Bitácora de Erwin Ried
Carlos Alberto
Geeks To Go!
One Day, One Job
Techie Diva

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Not Quite the Griswold's

He leaned over the steering wheel as he drove.  Sweating.  Breathing hard.
“It’s over.  No one was hurt. “ I placed my hand on his leg.

The Highway Patrol officer was trailing behind.  An hour ago his flashing blue and red lights were a welcome sight as we stood on the side of busy Highway 15, half of our belongings strewn along the road behind us.

“Is that your debris covering my highway back there?”  he asked.

“Yessir,”  my husband said as he extended his hand and smiled.  “We’re the Griswold’s.  Welcome to our family vacation.”   

He pointed to our car, leaning precariously on the left side of the road.  Two big Labradors in the back,  two kids in the middle, with their laptops, DVD’s, headphones, a Gameboy, a Nintendo and remnants from breakfast on the go.  The dogs barked wildly.  My son screamed in unison.

Earlier, about 10 miles outside of Mesquite, Nevada, while the kids watched The Simpsons movie and I enjoyed a New Yorker Fiction podcast, there was a sudden and startling WHOOSH and BANG.  My husband braked and pulled over to the side.  The resistance of stopping from a high speed woke everyone from their digital stupor.

“Is it a blowout I asked?”

“No,” my husband said.  “The top of the storage unit came off.  I saw it in the rear view mirror.”

He exited the car and ran to the people behind us.  By some huge stroke of luck, the top of our storage unit flew back and rather than flying through their windshield, hit their front bumper, bounced off and continued on it’s way down the highway, shredding into hundreds of pieces as it went.

I noticed a herd of cows grazing close by as my husband checked on the other party and traded insurance information.  I leaned over my seat to attend to my son.  He was hysterical and between he and the dogs no one could hear my assurances that everything was okay.

I tried to get out of the car so I could sit near him but because the car was leaning to the left, the weight of the passenger door was too heavy.  I used both my feet to push the door but my small frame was no match for a steel-enforced Volvo and gravity.  It didn’t help that cars were whizzing by at 80 M.P.H.

I climbed over the console and came out the other side.  My son was still screaming but thankfully the dogs had calmed down.  I caught a glimpse of my husband, running down the littered highway, jumping in when the road was clear, to pick up our coats, scarves, and Converse sneakers.  Old tire treads raised up from the road as he ran, attracted to his track pants like magnets; dangling like a piece of modern art.

The tall officer, armed with broad muscles,  guns and sticks wore large aviator sunglasses over his impressive, Roman hook nose.  He took our information and filed a police report.  It took a while and during that time he seemed to soften to my husband.  I watched from my now quiet car as they actually seemed… friendly.  At one point,  my husband leaned in to whisper something to the officer.


Later, as I thanked him and said goodbye, the officer appeared uncomfortable. 

“Really appreciate your help,”  I repeated.  “You have a nice Thanksgiving.”

He looked to my husband and then back at me and stammered, “Uh, I think I’ll just trail behind you guys for a bit.  Make sure the bottom half of that unit doesn’t fly off before you get to Mesquite.”

“Great!”  my husband said as he jumped into the car.

Something seemed fishy but he was a cop and what he said made a bit of sense, so I excused his odd behavior and got into the car.

My husband leaned over the steering wheel as he drove back onto the highway.  He was sweating.  Breathing hard.

“It’s over.  No one was hurt.”   I placed my hand on his leg. 

The wind picked up as we gained speed, “Let’s turn on the AC, so we can close the windows,”  I suggested.

“NO!  No A.C.”

I looked at him, suspicious.  “What did you whisper to him back there?”

He mumbled, sheepishly, "We’re out of gas…It's ten miles to the nearest station."

"WHAT?!"  "No gas!” I screamed. “You have got to be kidding me.”

Let me stop here a minute to tell you that while no one has ever been hurt (for which I am VERY grateful), situations like this happen to us often.   While dating my husband, I heard many an anecdote from his friends about a vintage convertible blowing up on the Pacific Coast HIghway, of having car trouble in the middle of the desert without a cell phone.  There are plenty of others.  These kind of incidences follow my husband.  Now, having married the guy, they follow me, too.  The officer must have noticed my teasing nudges and prodding sarcasm and taken pity on my husband.

So here we were, windows open, sitting knees to chin to accomodate the extra luggage, coasting as much as possible down Highway 15.  And...we had our own personal Highway Patrol escort.

We did make it to Mesquite, where we bid goodbye to our new friend.  We gave the bottom half of the storage pod a proper burial -  in a dumpster outside of the Oasis Hotel - while a choir rehearsed hymns in a neighboring church.

We arrived in Utah, five hours later, behind schedule and a bit sore. But being the holiday, we were thankful everyone was alive and well.  And for having yet one more story to tell.

 * photo courtesy of Google Images

HP Magic Giveaway Update - Contest Is In Full Swing!

Have you entered the contest yet ? 



Did you not hear that HP and MICROSOFT are giving away FIVE brand new, state of the art computers???


And a printer, and software?


See this post for prize details.

Checkout the sites that have already gone live. 

Bleeping Computer
Gear Live
Windows Connected
Morningside Mom
Thoughts on poetics & tech
The Gadgeteer
Gotta Be Mobile
I Started Something

Try to win there and if you don't...come back here, 
because on:


Merlotmom goes LIVE!!!!

And you could win HERE!

Good luck

Monday, December 1, 2008

Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday

Welcome to Monday.
I hope everyone had amazing times with their family and friends this Thanksgiving.

I don't know about any of you but having had that small break from monotony, I am now TOTALLY looking forward to Xmas vacation.

But, since that's a few weeks away,  I'll show my gratitude for the blessings at hand:
  1. I am grateful for not having to spend any time in my car yesterday.  (After Saturday's drive, I'd had enough.)
  2. I am grateful that Merlotdad had the car cleaned so it no longer smells like fast food and dogs.
  3. I am grateful for the GORGEOUS weather we are having in Southern CA.  (Some say it's too warm, I'm not one of them.  I enjoy smelling the roses in December.)
  4. I am grateful to be back home where I can decide at the last minute whether to walk in the mountains or on the beach.
  5. I am grateful for putting my aging old IBook to rest... and getting a new MacBook.  Awesome!
What are you grateful for this Monday?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Hangover & HP Magic Giveaway Info

Happy post-Turkey Day.
Is everyone as full and disgusted with themselves as I am?
Although it was tasty going down, I could do without the after-effects.

I need to get out and exercise but, damn, here I am sitting at my computer again.
Between writing, blogging, and keeping up with the news (I'm so sad/mad about the events in Mumbai),
I am NEVER away from my computer.

I am going step away for a bit take my kids and nephews to see TWILIGHT.
Has anyone seen it?
Is it okay for my 8 year old to see?
I would love to hear from you if you have...

And for those of you following my incredible giveaway!! :

The contest has begun.
Not here, YET.  But keep checking in because it's coming here SOON.  Each participating blogger is going LIVE with their contest on different dates between NOW and MID-DECEMBER.  The contest will last 7 days.  Check out each blog for specific details of how to win, EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT!

Sorry, no family or IRL friends are eligible to enter on my blog, BUT YOU CAN ENTER 49 TIMES on the other blogs (assuming you're not friendly or related to them either.) 

The contest is live  RIGHT NOW at these amazing blogs:


Go visit and enter to win the following:

  • HP TouchSmart IQ816 PC
  • HP HDX 18 series Premium Notebook PC  
  • HP MediaSmart Connect 
  • HP Pavilion dv4 series Entertainment Notebook PC (with Windows Live)
  • HP Mini 1000 (with XP)  
  • HP Photosmart C6380 Wireless AIO (printer)
  • HP 564 Photo Value Pak 
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate/Home Premium or Microsoft Windows XP pre-installed on all units (Mini 1000 runs XP)
  • Microsoft Office Home and Student Edition 2007 (Student-Teacher Edition) – 1 DVD with 3 licenses  
  • Microsoft Windows Live
  • Corel VideoStudio X2
  • Kung Fu Panda (2 widescreen DVDs; 1 widescreen Blu-ray disc)
No,  I am NOT kidding.  YOU CAN WIN ALL OF IT!
Check out HP's homepage for more details.

The only thing we ask is that you keep with the spirit of giving that HP and Microsoft have intended.  They are giving you a HUGE package in the hopes you will share the goodness.  Maybe some less fortunate friends, schools, hospitals, assisted-living residences.  YOUR CHOICE.  But we do hope you give some of it away.  (I mean, how many computers can you possibly keep?!)

I'll give more details on rules and regulations and what you can do to win MY CONTEST when I go LIVE.  Keep checking!  TICK-TOCK.

And you can check out the other 49 participating bloggers here:

Gotta Be Mobile
Barb’s Connected World
Gear Live
Small Biz Vista
JK On the Run
I Started Something
Bleeping Computer
The Gadgeteer
Planet x64
Digital Home Thoughts
Digital Inspiration
Geek News Central
The Digital Lifestyle
Last 100
Geeks To Go!
Slashdot Review
Windows Connected
Techie Diva
One Day, One Job
Student Bloggers
Study Hacks - Demystifying College Success
Noticias Tech
La Bitácora de Erwin Ried
Carlos Alberto
Unión de Bloggers Hispanos
Living - In Theory
Moosh in Indy
Thoughts on poetics and tech
Stop, Drop and Blog
Down-to-Earth Mama
Morningside Mom


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Give Me The Grateful Life - (Tuesday??)

Okay, so I'm a day late, but hopefully not a dollar short...
I blame it on being out of town, on being out of my usual routine...

But no more excuses, let's get to today's GRATITUDE...This is the week for gratitude, is it not???

  1. I am grateful that we made it to Park City unharmed and without harming anyone else.  (Details in a post to come.)
  2. I am grateful there's no snow because I have too much work to go skiing.
  3. I will be extra grateful the day I get paid for said work.
  4. I am grateful for being with family in this absolutely gorgeous location.
  5. I am grateful for blue skies, clean air, and mild temperatures.  
  6. And, of course, I am grateful for being a part of this amazing, in-the-spirit-of-holiday-giving contest.

Please check this post for details.

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving week??

Monday, November 24, 2008

Let The Holiday MAGIC begin!!!!! A H-U-G-E GIVEAWAY!!!!

Are you ready for the spirit of the season?
For miracles, magic and giving?

I am, or will be, in less than one week.
And I hope you are, too...because one of you could be the lucky winner of...

HP is launching a MEGA promotion full of GOOD CHEER and GREAT STUFF!
Their giving away $6000 worth of HP products to 50 lucky winners!

That's right, you read me correctly, $6000 to ONE LUCKY WINNER!

They have invited 50 bloggers, OF WHICH MERLOTMOM IS ONE, to help.
EACH blogger is giving away $6000 of HP product to ONE of their incredibly LUCKY winners!!   That's 50 WINNERS!  That's $300,000 worth of amazing computer hardware and software!!

Check out their HOME PAGE for the exciting details and to see the other lucky bloggers invited to the party.


In the meantime, Happy Turkey Day!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yet Another Mommy Screw-Up: When Will It End???????

It was an atypical Wednesday afternoon at the MM household.
And by atypical, I mean peaceful.

Merlot Girl (her new name, you like?) gets out early on Wednesdays, so I picked her up and took her for a haircut.
While she was pampered, I  relaxed in a comfy chair, eating a tasty Subway salad and checking my emails.
We picked up Merlot Boy (you like?) from school promptly at 3pm.  No rushing, no fretting.

We returned home to no evidence of destruction - no shredded magazines, no chewed up shoes, no signs of paw prints on the kitchen island.
All was good with the world.
And continued to be,
As the kids did their homework without fuss,
As I walked my two dogs around the block,
As I chatted with neighbors,


At 5pm,
With one call to my cell,
My blissful bubble burst


"Hey," my friend said, "I've been calling you.  Can I pick up my boy now?"
"What?!" I screamed into the phone, in shock, my brain slowly processing my  mistake.

"Alright," she said, not believing me.  "Just have him ready, okay?"

Why would my friend believe me?  I've often pulled pranks of this nature; pretending I'd forgotten to pick up her kid, or neglected to feed him dinner,  or let him swim in an unheated pool in 50 degree weather.

I don't do it much anymore (I'm maturing I guess), but rest assured it was only with a select few who I knew could forgive handle my SICK sense of humor.

"Holy shit!" my stomach fell.  "I forgot to take him home!  Shit!"  

Today was my day to carpool.

Realizing I was telling the truth she panicked, "Where do you think he is?" she asked.  "How long do they keep the yard open?"

"I think someone's there 'til 6,"  I tried to reassure her.

"Alright, I'm going to look for him."
I demanded. "Let me go.  Please.  I feel awful.  I want to go."

I locked my kids in the house with a rushed, cryptic explanation.  I sped through the neighborhood, slamming the gas pedal and making perfunctory stops.  As I ran onto campus,  I did not see him.

What if something happened?   I thought.  What if he's upset?  What if he's crying?  Why didn't he call anyone?  Shit, I'm such an idiot.

And then there he was.  Waiting.

I threw up my arms, "I'M SORRY, I'm sorry, it's all my fault."
I explained how I was supposed to pick him up, how I totally spaced (I'm mostly into the honest, adults are totally imperfect approach) and I promised him a huge ice cream.  (Good, right?)

He was cool about it, unharmed,  immediately taking advantage of the situation by trying to wrangle a cell phone from his mom.

But it made me think that something so obvious to us, like finding an adult or going to the school office to ask for a phone, isn't always obvious to a kid.  When I asked him about this, he said the adult supervisor he knew was inside with another group, not on the yard, and he didn't think that the office was open.  I explained to him the various options should this ever happen again. (Not by me, of course.)

I apologized profusely to the mom who was also cool about it (thank G-d), I came home and explained the situation to my son so he, too, would know what to do if I ever didn't show up as planned.

So my atypically peaceful afternoon ended precisely at 5pm.
It's just about 6pm and my house, once again, reeks of typical.
My son is bitching about feeding the dogs, my daughter is conference video-chatting with friends, and I am sitting at my computer, writing, with a nice, big glass of red wine by my side.

Dinner? Who's making dinner?

Sort of.


*graphic courtesy of Google Images

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Who Said Marriage Wasn't A Competition? (Warning- Profanity)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday

Welcome to a new week readers...
Let's begin with a deep yoga breath and some thanks, shall we?
  1. I am grateful that my house and those of my friends were safe from the fires.  (And deeply sorry for those whose weren't.)
  2. I am grateful for, and hoping to see again soon, a clear, blue sky.
  3. I am grateful to have had the morning free to work on my class assignment.
  4. I am grateful for libraries where I can get away from my house and dogs to work on said assignment without distraction.
  5. I am grateful for meeting such nice women last night at the LA Mom Bloggers launch and to SV Moms Blog for hosting it.  
  6. Oh yes, and I am grateful for Spanx - those things are da bomb!
What are you grateful for today?

When Do Moms Come First?

6 Have you asked yourself this question?

I have, many times since leaving my career in television.  I thought it would be a pleasure to leave the rat race and become a SAHM.  I fantasized about baking cookies, walking my kids to the park, cooking family meals, and reading (something other than scripts).    After four years at home, I have done all of these things yet I’m still haunted by a sense of dissatisfaction.

When I worked, I blamed the feeling on my bosses, the demands of my job, the office politics; I thought staying home would eliminate my obstacles to self-satisfaction.  But, instead of blaming it on my work, I started blaming it on my family.  Days filled with fighting over homework, carpooling, grocery shopping, and cleaning dishes were not exactly soul-enriching endeavors.  I became angry, resentful of the people I loved.
I’d dreamed of being a writer since I was small.  I worked with tv writers and read stacks of how-to books on writing but fear and lack of confidence kept me from actually trying to become one.  Nevertheless, the dream continued to nag at me and in my 30’s I stirred up enough courage to take some classes.  Unfortunately, courage was not enough and with two babies at home, writing for hours a day just wasn’t a reality.  So I let myself become distracted.  After all, being helpful to others and checking off to-do lists was much easier to do than risk my own failure.

So here I am, close to 50, and still poked by this dissatisfaction...   (link to rest of article here)

*this post is an original to LA Mom's Blog

Monday, November 10, 2008

Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday

Wait, I'm not even sure I know how to do this anymore...
Hold on the photo icon, search desktop, add image...
Hey, I think I've got it, I think I remember how to post!

Hello bloggers, I am back.  At least for today, I make no promises I might otherwise break.
I wanted to stop in and share a little WHOLE LOT of gratitude this beautiful, post-election Monday.  I hope you'll join me.
  1.   I am grateful for the ability of the American people to recognize a hero when they see one.
  2.   I am grateful to be a citizen of what can once again become the powerful and respected nation it has been in the past.
  3.   I am grateful for my writing class where I have, so far, written four pieces of which I am proud.
  4.   I am grateful for the hours (and hours) I have set aside to follow my dream, even though much else has fallen to shit.
  5.   I am grateful to my kids for making me laugh.
  6.   I am grateful to my husband for putting up with me.
  7.   I am grateful to the bloggers who let me get away with starting a contest and never finishing it.  SO SORRY!
Oh, who am I kidding trying to stay calm?  I am SHOUTING FROM THE ROOFTOPS grateful that we BARACK-ED the vote!  From all I've read and all I've heard (you must see last night's 60 MINUTES interview of  his campaign staff), if anyone can take us to the promised land from this shit heap we're currently mired in, it's this man.  GO OBAMA!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday

Hello blogger friends!
I decided to stop by and share a little gratitude with you this beautiful Monday.

 Here's what I'm grateful for today:

  1. I'm grateful to be spending less time in front of the computer and to feel my sanity slowly returning.
  2. I'm grateful for spending the afternoon shopping for Halloween costumes and for the laugh I had upon seeing my son as a pimped out Mr. MoneyBags.  Bling!  Bling!
  3. I'm grateful for not having to pull another all-nighter for my writing class tomorrow.  I'm way too old for that shit.
  4. I'm grateful my daughter is still rational and lovely despite her impending hormonal implosion which is due any day now.
  5. I'm grateful for the blogger friends that still have me in their reader despite my abrupt decision to go AWOL.  Anyone?  Anyone?
What are you guys grateful for this Monday?
Check in and say hi.

I miss you all and hope you're well.
Be back soon.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Cheating Heart: A Confession of Blogger Infidelity

Dear Beloved Blog,

I've been wanting to tell you this for awhile... 
The guilt has been killing me...
There's no easy way to say it so I'll just...


Actually more than one person.
Actually hundreds of people.

You can call me SLUT if you want to...

There's no need to know who...
No, I'm not going to name names...
Okay, fine, if you must know, it's...


CALM DOWN!  It's not's ME.

It's just...well...our relationship has become... high-maintenance.

In the beginning, we were great.
You inspired me.
You made me feel good.
And in return I gave you my all.

But, lately, it's been hard.
While my mistresses are satisfied with quips and quotes, the mere gift of 140 character gab,
You stare me down, arms crossed,  your foot tap, tap, tapping with expectation.
I've become a slave to your wiles.
Your cunning demands for popularity and ever-increasing reader stats.

I've lost the pure joy of writing - moving you to tears and making you laugh.
My thrill or defeat now rests with the number of comments you receive.

I want to please you but I'm beginning to resent you.

I'm taking the pressure off.
Taking time to reconnect with other things that I love: books, movies, my kids, my husband,
did I forget to mention I was married?

I'll see you when I see you.
Could be tomorrow.  Could be next month.
Could be random days in between.

But you haven't seen the last of me yet, dear blog.

Not by a long shot.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday

It is Monday, again.
Can someone tell me where my weekend went?
I blinked and POOF it was gone.
Lately, I feel like this every day.
How do I stop this hamster wheel I'm on and B-R-E-A-T-H-E?

  Being grateful is a start.  Additional suggestions are MORE THAN welcome:

  1. I am grateful that I am FINALLY feeling better.
  2. I am grateful that now that I am finally feeling better, I can resume my morning walks.
  3. I am grateful (and optimistic) that now that I can resume my morning walks, my anxiety level will drop back to it's "normal" levels.
  4. I am grateful for my dog trainer and E-collar.

What are you grateful for this Monday?

P.S. Thanks to everyone who entered the contest.  Later on today, I will post a poll where you will choose the three eye-concealers I will sample.  Help me, help you (and me, of course) look beautiful.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

If Only SpongeBob Were My Child's Teacher

7 "Ooh, third grade, " a friend says to me. "Tough year."
"At least you have a good teacher," another mom chimes in.
Her words should have comforted me except for one small problem... my son HATES his teacher.

He greets me on the school steps every afternoon upset, worn out. He's boiling over with pent-up rage that seeps out steadily, punctuating our walks home with whines, demands, and impotent punches at the air.
After a snack and some outside play he calms down but soon it's time to start homework ... and in our family dictionary the definition for homework is: NIGHTMARE. I cannot think of anything short of painful medical procedures or pulling my fingernails out one by one that I would LESS like to do with my son.

Math problems that should take fifteen minutes take an hour or more considering the complicated matrix of mental breakdowns and maternal manipulations involved. Multi-tasking is out of the question because he demands I remain glued to his side, ready to help. He cries out for help with a pitiful combination of helplessness and blame, calling himself stupid and lashing out at me for not being able to help him.

I want to cradle him and smack him at the same time.

Please click here to read the rest of the article at LA Mom's Blog.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Declare Yourself...and Tell Your Friends

My civic duty for the day.
Get out and register.
Tell your friends to register.

Fed Up This Friday

If you follow my twitters, you know that yesterday was spent fixing and tolerating numerous technological breakdowns. 

My Tivo broke, my 6 month old IMac's operating system crashed, my home internet went out, and when I tried to make the best of my circa 1980's office situation by catching up on my mailings and filing, my copier broke down!

I had no choice but to give up and take a walk.  Thankfully my IPod still worked.  It was my only link to sanity. 

I woke this morning with the hope today would be better.  I'd fixed my Tivo, fixed my internet connection, found a way to go around the problem with my copier (temporarily),  and the computer repair guy was due tonight at 7pm.

I sat down in front of my ancient laptop, waiting (somewhat) patiently as it's aging brain slowly computed each and every command.  I was distracted by a foreign sound.  Water.  Dripping.  Dripping.

I turned toward the sound coming from under my kitchen sink - NEVER good news.  Fretfully I opened the cabinet as water rushed out onto me and the hardwood floor.

The cabinet under my kitchen sink is chock full with household goodies:  a garbage can for recycling, a box of garbage liners, extra water filters, sponges, dishwashing liquid, a box of Brillo pads, and an under sink water filtering system. 

It was this system, normally a welcome addition to our household, that for some unknown reason, was leaking it's purified drinking water all over the wood cabinet, soaking everything in it's wake. 

So, having wasted yet another morning cleaning up household "messes", I am desperate to find something to smile about.

Here is a picture of one nice moment I had yesterday.  I'm sharing it with Candid Carrie and her Phriday Photo Phinish Phiesta and I'm sharing it with you.  It makes me smile.

Out of desperation to calm my destructive annoying highly-energetic puppy and take back control of my house, I recently taught my water phobic Labrador how to swim.

 A Boy and His Dog

Have a nice weekend.  I hope I will. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Merlotmom Does Japan: Part 4, The Bullet Train, Sad Excuse For A Tour Guide, and The Pee Story!

MM:  Hello? Yes, I'm back with another installment of MM Does Japan.
Readers: Finally, we've been waiting like for-ev-ah.
MM:  Yeah, yeah, I know.  Quit giving me grief I get enough of that at home.
Readers:  Later girlfriend!
MM:  Wait, wait!  Come back.
Readers(chirp, chirp).
MM:  Shoot.  Now I've burned the blogger bridge, too.  (sniff, sniff) Who else is left?    LinkedIn.  I'll try LinkedIn. No one knows me there.

Hi, All!
Yes, it's been awhile, so if you need a Japanese refresher go here , here, and here.

I'll begin Part 4 as we bid goodbye to the big city in search of a more traditional Japan.

Just as we got the hang of navigating Tokyo's Metro system and communicating with the natives (in spite of knowing only six Japanese words), it was time to leave the big city for Kyoto.

We were sad to leave the omnipresent masses behind:

masses of people

masses of neon
and masses of way-cool technology NOT compatible outside of Japan
(what's up with that?)
 The above three photos are of Akibahara aka "Electric City"
(these are courtesy of google images)
But we looked forward to seeing Kyoto which is an older Japanese city loaded with temples, shrines, castles, and palaces made of gold and silver.

To get there from Tokyo we took the Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train)
(photo courtesy of
The bullet train was inaugurated in 1964 as the world's first high-speed train. It travels at 300 km/h, which for number-challenged Americans like me, translates to 186 mph.
We got to Tokyo Station in time for our 12:32pm departure
At precisely 12:25pm the train arrived
 Female member of cleaning crew

At which point a gender-specific dressed cleaning crew descended upon the train like swarms of ants in search of a candy bar.  In uniforms of pink and blue they carried their neatly packed plastic supply totes and swiftly made their way through the cars.

At 12:30pm the crew departed and we were instructed to board. Not even during NYC rush hour have I seen people move so fast.  In an orderly and efficient fashion, commuters carrying briefcases and bento boxes stashed their totes in the rack above, hung their suit jackets on hooks, and settled into their assigned seats.

At 12:32pm EXACTLY the train pulled out of the station as businessmen pulled pork cutlet sandwiches and sushi rolls from their cozy packages. It was like watching a perfectly choreographed ballet.

Not to be made to feel like tourists, though "DUH" just look at us,

we pulled out our own array of Japanese munchies: chicken teriyaki, chicken meatballs on a skewer, shrimp tempura, sushi rolls, noodles, seaweed and sprouts (the latter were mine).

Where did we get all these goodies?   Glad you asked.
Why, in our favorite place to eat in all of Tokyo - the department store - of course.

Yes, the department stores in Tokyo all have huge, glorious gourmet food markets on the bottom floors. This ain't your typical California mall food court, this is epicurian HEAVEN. Chocolates, pastries, cakes, fresh breads, bread rolls shaped like rabbits and turtles, gigantic fresh produce, prepared lunches, salads, meats.  It sounds tacky but, more than once, we purchased a customized smorgasbord for four and brought it back to our hotel to eat (no seating areas in the store - probably too messy).

Arriving at the Hyatt Kyoto, my kids were thrilled to see a modern hotel lobby with a choice of three restaurants: American, Italian and Japanese. Hamburger, anyone?
They LOVED the Japanese influenced room complete with the comforts of home.
That evening, we ventured out to the Gion District, an area of backstreets filled with traditional tea houses and antique shops.  We had hoped to run into some real life geishas. But actual sightings in the street are rare, and as far as I know, my husband is not a regular client, so no geisha girls for us!
We still had a great time shopping and people watching.  And we did see plenty of these:

Japanese rickshaw driver
The next day we visited the Imperial Palace. The Emperor moved from here to Tokyo (which became the capital of Japan in the late 1800s). This palace is now open to the public. We were looking forward to our guided tour until I was introduced to our tour guide.

 She seemed unsure of herself, nervous. Turns out she had reason to be, we were popping her tour-guide cherry.
 Lucky us.

The kids picked up on her anxiety right away and being that we were touring yet another palace, the whines and groans started immediately. She did manage to read off her notes in very bad English explain the history of the building to us but her voice was so quiet and her sentences so broken it was difficult to garner any real information from her.   So I took pictures instead...

It started to pour which made it harder to hear what our tour guide was saying but I did manage to catch this brilliant suggestion when we reached the Japanese gardens:

"This is a bridge.  Take picture now, please." 

So I did.


On our way out of the Imperial Palace, I could no longer avoid what I had been dreading for weeks:

I had to pee.

I could tell from the restroom's exterior that I had reason to fret.  The moment of truth had arrived.

I opened the stall door and was faced with my nightmare:

A Japanese-style toilet
In case your perspective is off (or my photo is bad) the toilet is built into the floor.  I am standing above it, those are my feet on either side of it. 
As much as I feared this moment, I was ready.  I had prepared myself for battle by wearing a dress and mentally mapping out my strategy. 
Dress up.
Underwear off.
Center body directly over toilet.
Problem was, it had been a while since my last yoga class and my squatting had seen better days.  I released into the porcelain basket.  All went well.  I started to relax, and then, big mistake - I shouldn't have relaxed!  Suddenly without the tension to guide it, my stream went astray, missing the target and landing squarely on my left white shoe.
Now, I know I've mentioned in this blog before about the dozen or more supplements I swallow every day.  Do you know what happens to your pee when it's on vitamins?  It turns bright yellow; like radiating special powers yellow; like never cough or sneeze while wearing white pants yellow; like there's no getting away with having peed on your foot yellow.
Shit.  I put my underwear back on and as I left the stall to head toward the sink a woman exited the stall across from me. I caught a quick glimpse behind her and you know what I saw?  A western-style toilet.  The only one in the place.  Shit.  Shit.  I learned my lesson for next time:  check ALL stalls before doing the squat.
I went to the sink and did my best to destroy the evidence which wasn't easy considering the lack of paper goods in public Japanese bathrooms.  Luckily the pee hit the leather of my shoe rather than the suede so whatever was left of the stain I quickly covered with dirt before returning to the group.    I managed to save myself public humiliation but, of course, quickly shared the story with my family.  Hey, I had to share it with someone!  In hindsight, I suppose I could have twittered.  Oh well.
I have no pictures of the pee on my shoe (I'm not sure whether that upsets you or makes you want to kiss me.)  Truth is, it didn't occur to me at the time. Whatever brain cells I have left were occupied with the shame of the moment and couldn't see it for the humor it would bring you me us no one later.
Next time on Merlotmom Does Japan we see more of Kyoto, the beautiful city of Nara - where the largest Buddha in the world resides, and, yes, the inside of a Japanese ER where you get to see Merlotmom sans makeup.  Prepare yourselves.
Before I go, I'll leave you with an old Japanese proverb:
Man who pees on his shoe...has dirty shoes.

See you next time!

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