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Author: toni

~ 07/27/10


Ever heard the saying “looking at life through rose-colored glasses”? Then you know it refers to someone who looks at life with a rosy optimism. I wish I was guilty of that. I’ve always envied people who manage to be endlessly upbeat and full of optimism and hope. You know them, they’re the ones who make lemonade when handed lemons. When I get handed lemons I suck on them and make a sour face.  Anyway, Melanie in “Gone With The Wind” was one of those lemonade-making characters. No matter that the Civil War stripped her of everything, no matter that she was starving, no matter that Scarlet was so mean to her and secretly on the prowl to steal her husband Ashley – although heaven knows why she wanted that man pansy when she had Clark Gable  – that Melanie, she could find the good in everything and everyone. I hated envied her.

But that’s not the point of this post. The point is that I’m guilty at looking at life THRU something all right.  But it isn’t rose-colored glasses.

I’m guilty of looking at life through a Canon digital camera viewfinder. And as I only recently came to realize, there’s nothing rosy about it.

I was at the Hollywood Bowl a couple of weekends back. It was the first trip for my daughter Julia (who is eight) and we took her to the Bugs Bunny show where the L.A. Philharmonic plays along to the cartoons projected on big screens. And as I was videotaping the fireworks finale at one point I turned the camera toward my daughter, you know, to capture her expression. I could see her there, in profile, her wide eyes lit by the flashing fireworks in the sky, her face filled with awe and the joy of the moment. I paused for a moment, sort of taken aback by the utter rapture  she seemed to be experiencing. I mean, what we were doing was cool, but was it truly that amazing? 

At first I attributed it to the fact that she was only 8 and at 8 one is experiencing so many things for the first time. And as we all know, the first time is the most exciting. After all, it had been that way when we took her to Disneyland for the first time. So thrilled was she by the sights, the sounds, the magic of it all that it even rubbed off on jaded old me who had been to Disneyland too many times to count – for whom the magic had completely worn off.

But when I put down the camera that night at the Bowl and I looked at what she was looking at, I mean REALLY looked at it, through my very own eyes, not the viewfinder of my camera – I realized, her feeling of awe had nothing to do with being 8. I looked up at the fireworks in the sky, big and beautiful and sparkly, shattering light over the dome of the Bowl. At the crescent moon that hung in the distance on that crystal clear summer night. At the 18,000 upturned faces all experiencing this moment together. And you know what? To my amazement, it truly WAS amazing!

And I realized, I hadn’t been seeing it. I mean, I was  seeing it on the tiny video display but I wasn’t seeing  it seeing it.

And in that instant, it also occured to me that this has been the case for the last 8 1/2 years of my life! Why 8 1/2 years exactly? Because that’s how long my daughter’s been in the picture – figuratively and literally.

Since she was born and I got my first high quality digital camera, I have chronicled every move, burp, smile, gurgle, and later dance recital, talent show, piano recital, etc.  It’s the reason  Randy the perfekt husband gave me the nickname MAMMARAZI. And while I have recorded all these moments in her life for posterity, I never really experienced them first hand because I was separated from these events  as they were happening – by the camera!  So busy was I  making sure the images were centered, that no one was walking across the frame, that the focus was right, that there was enough head room – that I never truly got to enjoy them. Because I was never, not once,  in the actual moment – watching my little girl sing joyfully at the top of her lungs, tap dance to the perfect rhythm of a song, or even smile shyly as she was handed an award for being an exceptional student.

And suddenly I was very sad. Suddenly, the loss of the last 8 1/2 years hit me like a ton of bricks.

And I realized we have become photo obsessed, we parents these days.  That’s right. It’s not just me. There isn’t a single birthday party or school event I go to that doesn’t feature dozens of parents jockeying for position to get the perfect picture or video of their kid.  It’s such chaos and madness you’d think Brangelina was on the red carpet announcing another adoption! One MAMMAKAZE joked about the fact that whenever her one year old heard the word SMILE, he immediately struck a pose, even if there wasn’t a camera around! This is how conditioned our kids have become to having a camera in their faces.

I mean, my stepdad was a professional photographer and he never took as many pictures of the four of us kids the whole time we were growing up as I have taken of my one, single, only child in the past 8 years!  

I don’t know if it’s the ease and cheapness of taking pictures now – the fact that we can immediately see what we’ve taken and delete what’s bad without having to wait a week and pay a fortune for images that feature closed eyes, a partial thumb over the lens or some wise-acre sticking two fingers up behind someone’s head.

Whatever it is, we’ve created a whole generation of parents that will have a lifetime of memories of taking pictures of their kids , but not of the moments themselves. Very sad.

So I have VOWED that next time Julia gets an award or does a performance or blows out a birthday candle I will sit back, relax and take it in, burning it forever on that brilliant little hard drive known as the cerebral cortex.  Well, I mean, as long as Randy is taking the pictures with the Canon. Oh. And my brother John is doing video on that amazing Nikon he has with the super long lens. That thing captures images like nobody’s business!

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Author: toni

~ 06/24/10

Let’s face it. Something happens when we become parents. No, not a greater sense of responsibility… we lose our COOL. Not temper-wise, although that happens too, especially during those “terrible twos” years. I mean cool as in hip, fly, da bomb (I think that’s what I mean anyway. I’m not so good with those slang words).

Yep, once you become a parent gone are the free-stylin’ days when you can stay up until 1 am seeing an Art House movie and sipping a late latte while discussing the meaning of all those weird angles the director used. There’s no more sleeping in on Sunday mornings then rolling out bed whenever you darn well feel like it and heading  (with full-on bed head and maaaaaaaaybe even a little “morning after” glow) to the local trendy breakfast place where they use cheeses from goats on your omelette and put a french press ON YOUR TABLE! Oh yeah baby. Those were the days.

One of the biggest changes. Trading that sporty little two door Accord for a MINI VAN!

Yeah, I have some friends who are still hold-outs. Fearing that they will lose their last drop of cool (I’m talking about you Johanna) they opt instead for the SUV in which to cram their multiple kids. But let’s face it. Those MINIVANS have some serious  allure. Not the least of which is the fact that, because of their sliding doors, you don’t have to worry that your kid’s gonna SWING OPEN the car door into the $50,000 BMW next to you – in which case you either have to leave a note while calculating how much that $12,000 ding is gonna raise your insurance rates OR re-park  REALLY FAST.

Anyway, Toyota has embraced the dorkiness that is parenthood. And they have made a really funny RAP MUSIC VIDEO for their Sienna Mini Van (aka THE SWAGGER WAGON). I thought I’d share it with you because, well, you’ll GET IT.

Thanks MAMMAKAZE Nancy for sending it.

Oh, and Kevin and Janet. Hope you’re paying attention.

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Author: toni

~ 06/18/10


I’ve seen a lot of disgusting stuff in my 8 years as a mommy. I have seen pea-chunked puke and curdled milk  drool. I’ve seen poop that defied gravity and actually made it’s way UP and OUT of the diaper of an upright toddler. I’ve seen vomit SHOOT out of a mouth and HIT a curtain 10 feet across a room with the velocity of something created for the military by Lockheed Martin.

And you know what? As mommies we expect that. Well, if it’s our first child, we don’t. But we quickly learn that “gross” and “disgusting” come with the territory. And we accept it because, well, what else are we gonna do? Give the kid back? Hire a nanny like Uma? Have daddy deal with it? Yeah, right.

So we do our duty and we clean it up. No matter how stomach-churning. No matter that the scene might look like something that Crime Scene Clean Up would gag at. Because, well, it’s our job.

Somehow, however, in my naivete, I assumed most of the grossness would disappear after the potty training stage ended. But it doesn’t end. It just…changes.

Case in point. Recently, my kid got a T-Rex. No, not the dinosaur brought back to life by brilliant scientists with God complexes. A palate expander put into the roof of her mouth by her orthodontist.

Turns out she has a narrow palate and crossbite (thanks Grandpa!)  and they need to widen it so that her permanent teeth have room to come in straight.  This is one of those advancements that they have made since our childhood that has made our kids’ childhoods so much better than ours. You know, like TV remotes and video games that have 3-D exploding zombies instead of little white balls PINGING back and forth. I mean, if you can call watching entrails fly and sitting on your ass instead of getting up to change the channel, progress.

Anyway, in the old days, they’d wait until kids were in their teens (and  at their most emotionally vulnerable and self-conscious) to stuff them with a mouth full of metal. And because by that age their palates were set in bone, they’d have to pull healthy teeth to make room and then begin the years-long process of moving the remaining teeth into the gaps  so that they would be straight. In some cases there was also headgear that made the stuff they used to “inquisite” during the INQUISITION look like sand box toys.

Today, they have discovered that the palate is still cartilage when they’re young. And so they use the T-Rex to  slowly spread it to make it wider and then, VOILA, plenty of room for healthy teeth to come in. No pulling. And no mortification because when kids are 8 they actually think braces are COOOOL. Also, they don’t care what the opposite sex thinks, as long as they stay far enough away so as not to contract COOTIES.

Anyway, Julia has had the appliance for two weeks. And other than the first two days of minor discomfort, it has been a breeze, pain-wise. Cleaning wise, not so much.

Because that thing is DISGUSTING! Now the orthodontist did not explain why they call it the T-Rex, but I’m convinced it’s because it consumes everything that comes its way. Turkey, beef, edamame, couscous, bread…You name it, that thing grabs it and makes it its own.

And brushing doesn’t do it. No siree. The only way to get that T-Rex to give up its prey is high water pressure. Hence the purchase of a waterpik. But Julia and I  had no experience with a waterpik. And although I fairly quickly mastered the steady hand and aim, Julia didn’t quite catch on to the concept of keeping her mouth shut while I was pressing the “ON” button.

So in the last two weeks I have gotten face fulls  (and yes, even mouthfuls) of backsplash and backwash. Ew. My glasses have been speckled with food spray.  My hair has been drenched in spit water. And once, I looked in the mirror to find a RAMEN NOODLE ON MY CHEEK. Yeah, that’s right.

Did I gag? Did I throw up? Did I throw down that waterpik, say forget it,  and advise Julia that she should just enjoy her mini-snacks as they appeared randomly in her mouth later in the day? Nope. I kept on pik-ing. Because I am a mother. And that’s what mother’s do.

Yes, I have freed much captured  foodage in the last two weeks. So much so that I am wondering if she is getting any nutrition at all. But she’s not losing weight so I’m not worrying…too much.

Meanwhile, Julia and I have BOTH learned to keep our mouths shut during the process. Usually. Sometimes, anyway. And as much as it grosses me out to do this, I have learned to let go of that obstinate piece of food and let it’s find its own way to freedom. And usually it does.

I have also learned that the gross part of being a mommy never seems to end. I can’t imagine what the future has in store for me. Perhaps some late nights sitting on cold porcelain tile brushing the hair off a clammy face that is vomiting into a toilet as a result of a flu or, worse, an illegal beverage or three at a high school party.

I don’t know. I DO KNOW that I’ll do it. Without complaint. Because she’s my kid. And I love her. ‘Nuff said.

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Author: toni

~ 06/01/10


Welcome to Mommy Confessions, where I confess my mommy sins for all to read in the hopes that it will make other mommies feel less guilty and/or lame about their failings in the area of mommyhood.

My Confession for Today:

I suck as a cook.


Okay, I have always sucked. That is no big news or secret. Especially amongst the members of our household who are reliant on me for nourishment.

I am not, nor have I ever been one of those women who can whip up a gourmet meal from the handful of items around the kitchen. And I HATE watching those shows on TV where they do that and make it seem so easy. They make me feel inadequate, even though I know that behind the scenes they have 20 people doing the prep work. I’m not instinctive that way. Or ever prepared enough.

I have wanted to try recipes, but I never seem to have the right ingredients or spices hanging around in my fridge or cupboard. And it REALLLY bugs me to have go out and buy an expensive bottle of spice only to use one teaspoon on a recipe I will probably never make again because it sucks because I am unable to focus for long enough to keep track of how many cups or ounces I have put in. Yeah, that’s right. I can’t even follow a recipe. I get really, really distracted when I cook. Probably because my heart is not in it. Or I’m missing the gene. Yeah, that’s it.

Pretty lame, huh? Well, it gets worse than that. And this is where the real confession comes in.

This last weekend Randy the Perfekt Husband accompanied me on a trip to Trader Joe’s. He rarely does this as I do most of the grocery shopping. But he does love him some Trader Joe’s. He feels about this place the way he does about Costco - like a kid in a candy store- because they have so many fun and interesting items.  And when he goes to either place we always end up buying a lot more stuff than we plan on.

Anyway, as we were going down the aisles at TJ’s he spots these overpriced stuffed chicken breasts. They were stuffed with some kind of fancy cheese and cranberries and ingredients I’m certain I don’t have anywhere in my house. You know, the kind of thing I could do at home for a lot cheaper if I had any clue or inclination – which I don’t.

Well, here they were, this overpriced pack of 2 fancy stuffed chicken breasts, and Randy said he thought those looked good. So I thought, what the heck. I’ll get them. It’s like making a gourmet meal without me making a gourmet meal. And all I had to do was bake them for 40 minutes or 165 degrees. I couldn’t screw that up, right?


So last night I go to make these lovely overpriced gourmet chicken breasts that someone else has done all the hard work on. I heat the oven, remove them from the packaging and put them in a shallow pan covered with aluminum foil per the instructions. I set the timer for 20 minutes. BEEP! I remove the foil and set the timer for another 20 minutes.

I’m feeling pretty proud of myself at this point because while this was going on I managed to whip up some whole wheat couscous (microwave instructions 3.5 minutes) and edamame (stove top 5 minutes). I’m thinking, my family’s going to be doing some gooooood eatin’ tonight.

BEEP! Chicken’s done. At this point I stick the thermometer we got for a wedding present and have never used (why not, as long as I was being uber domestic, right?) into one of the breasts. I watch the temp climb but it never gets past 140. What the what the? How can this be? I have followed the instructions to the letter. And I know for a fact that my oven runs hot so it can’t be a temperature issue.

Perplexed, I stuck a fork in one and started to turn it over. And that’s when I saw it .


You know what I’m talking about. Those little liners they put between meat and the styrofoam packaging. I’ve encountered them before, in packages of turkey or beef. Usually however, they are large and VISIBLE! Not squares smaller than the chicken breast under which they sit! Completely hidden from view! And yep, upon further investigation, there was one under each breast!

AAAAAGGGHHHH! I mean, how was I supposed to know they were there, sticking to the bottom of my overpriced piece of stuffed chicken?!

I know, I know. If I was a better, more experienced or even caring cook, I would have known. I would have at least known to look.

I felt like a total idiot. A complete and utter mommy moron in the kitchen. And the worst part was confessing it to my family who looked at me with word-filled eyes but who said ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! (Definitely the best way to go given my emotional state).

Naturally I couldn’t feed the chicken to my family. Not after all the articles I have read about toxins that are released from plastics into food when they’re heated. And then there was Randy’s proclamation “I’m not eating that!” which also greatly influenced my decision.

In the end, after a period of mourning during which I spent a little time with the breasts imagining the meal that could have been, I dumped them uncermoniously into the trash.

Yep, I threw out those breasts and threw some sausages on the grill (organic, no preservatives, natch!) and my poor family was deprived yet again of anything resembling a special meal.

And though it’s not in my nature, I’m trying to look at the bright side. Had I not decided to use a thermometer for the first time in my life, I might have assumed those breasts were done. I would have then scooped them onto plates and served them up, only discovering AFTER A MOUTHFUL, that there was an unwanted ingredient in them.

Then I would have felt lamer. Nah. I couldn’t have felt lamer. Just maybe more guilty. Yeah, that’s it. Guilty. From now on, I’m sticking to what I know. Boiling pasta noodles and heating sauce from a jar. You know, for my family’s sake. SIGH.


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Author: toni

~ 05/10/10

As I am  scrambling to get back on the blogging wagon after a lovely Mother’s Day weekend that included a trip to La Quinta Resort and Spa  in Palm Springs (thanks Randy and Julia) I thought I’d post an oldie but goodie video.

This video has been around for a while. But every once in a while (usually after a trip to the nearby nail salon) I get a hankerin’ for it. And for anyone who has had a mani, a pedi or both – and hopefully you did for Mother’s Day weekend because when are you ever going to have time otherwise – you might find it humorous.

Here’s comedienne ANJELAH JOHNSON  recounting her experience at a nail salon. 

And hopefully you won’t find it objectionable.  It doesn’t seem so to us at Mammakaze. It’s not mean-spirited after all.  And no one complained when they did a similar thing on Seinfeld. Anyhoo, I’m sure my readers will let me know quite LOUDLY if it upsets their delicate sensibilities. Not that my readers have those or, you know, they probably wouldn’t be my readers.  But in case you’re not sure if it’s okay to laugh at this, CLICK on this link: RACIALIOUS





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Author: toni

~ 05/02/10

Here at MAMMAKAZE we’re all about helping marriages (in addition to getting you over all that mommy guilt you’re carrying and providing yummy recipes for cocktails).

So check out the following ad for a marriage saving blanket. I’m not sure who invented it. I suspect those guys who created that amazing Snuggie, or the Chia Pet.

Now I’m not pointing fingers. I definitely don’t think it’s always the men who have this problem. I’m just sayin’, if you do, and that BEANO isn’t working, might want to invest in one of these babies.

Now if only there was something that would eradicate snoring. And blanket hogging.  Oh and ESPN. Can anyone do anything about THAT? Surely there’s a guy at a Radio Shack somewhere who has the perfect inexpensive solution. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

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