When a Neighbor’s Hobby Bugs You

Red Drum

Red Drum

Honestly, I do not feel like writing today but I’m doing it because I told Michael Katz of Blue Penguin Development that I would to honor his dad who passed away this week with making a blog post.  You see, his dad followed through on running for exercise nearly every single day.  I have made schedules for writing but I have NOT followed through every single day.  Michael’s dad lived to be over 90 years old, whereas my blog may not last the next 90 days unless I start writing for it regularly.

Walking down the street the other night, I noticed a garage band playing again.  The band plays their music very loudly every time I walk past, and that is what prompted me to write about when a neighbor’s hobby bugs you.

Neighbors:  they can be good and they can be bad or even awful.  For example, one of my neighbors goes on a motorcycle ride every weekend morning.  Forget ever sleeping in, this man will make sure of it with his very loud and very large bike that he warms up for 15 minutes prior to leaving.  Nice!  Toxic fumes float inside my bedroom window along with the noise pollution.

I love it when people have hobbies, but wouldn’t it be nice if their hobbies didn’t conflict with your desires (sleeping)?

My other neighbor’s hobby appears to be entertaining.  If I’m really honest with myself, I’m partially envious that they not only have enough friends to entertain, but they have enough stamina to work 90 hours a week and then come home and party all weekend.  The only upside to these neighbors’ parties is that if I’m bored, I can go outside and listen to their party talk.  Sometimes it’s gets more or more interesting as the evening wears on and the drinks start to take effect.  No, I’m not doing anything illegal and I’m definitely not stalking–I live in California so my roof is precisely 10 feet from their roof.  You try not hearing what people are saying when they’re practically in your backyard.  I can’t wait to move to somewhere less congested!

My old neighbors used to work out on exercise machines in their garage.  The guy was particularly funny as he grunted, groaned and gagged while lifting too much weight or ran on the treadmill.  I wish his working out had motivated me to do more working out myself, but unfortunately it just made me giggle.

Now it is your turn to share with me what your neighbors do that bug YOU!


The News Ain’t All Bad

After rereading my post yesterday about the local news coverage of all the San Diego fires and its impact on my friendships, I feel the need to set the record straight.  Even though many of my friends didn’t contact me to check-in with my family to make sure we were safe during the recent Poinsettia Fire (I was a little hurt about that), I am extremely grateful to Channel 10 news.  My family and I were stationed around our TV waiting for any hint that suggested we should leave.

Without the blow-by-blow account of the Poinsettia Fire, we wouldn’t have known when to worry and when to remain calm.  Without the local news, we also wouldn’t have known about Reverse 911.  Although the site was overwhelmed on Wednesday, I was able to sign up on Thursday morning.  Any future emergencies will go to my cell phone which is a relief (as long as it works!).

The local news certainly has a valuable place in society and I’m grateful for the lengthy, in-depth coverage of the recent numerous San Diego fires.

What I Noticed Today Is…The News is Harming Friendships

Poinsettia Firestorm 2014

Poinsettia Firestorm 2014

What I noticed today is who contacted me to make sure my family and me were okay during the recent Poinsettia Fire.  We were really, really close to the second fire with the first one being dubbed the Bernardo fire.  We were given orders via Reverse 911 to get ready to go.  My family and I quickly decided what to take with us and what to leave behind to…burn??

Actually, I guess what I really noticed is who didn’t contact me, and you know what?  It’s going to be hard to not ask them why they didn’t care enough to send a ten second text.  I know the fires were all over the news all over the U.S. so I cannot imagine that the friends didn’t hear about it.  These, of course, are the people who are out of the state and not the ones living the nightmare.

I asked some friends of mine if they were surprised at who didn’t contact them, and they all replied no.  One friend said that nobody asked her if she was ok.  She didn’t seem to care that nobody had.  She offered this as an explanation, “Perhaps they didn’t think it was that bad.”  And that sentence is very telling.  Here’s what I think about why that is: the evening news.

The news has become over sensationalized about every little drop of rain, wind, and fire and we’ve all experienced it (Firestorm 20xx–said in a booming, powerful voice).  Friends have watched the news covering San Diego from their states, reached out when they thought it was bad (because of the news), and then when I said, “Thanks for checking in but it’s barely sprinkling here.  We weren’t affected by the mudslides,” they must feel embarrassed.  I think it makes them less likely to call/text/email again.

The sensational news stories need to stop so that my friends and family don’t feel dumb about asking me if my family and me are ok.

[We are, by the way, in case you were going to ask :-)]

Touch&Know Discreet At-Home Drug Testing Kit for Parents Who Need to Know NOW

What is this in my daughter's backpack?

What is this in my daughter’s backpack?

Rifling through my purse the other day, searching frantically for something important while at a hotel out of town, I started pulling things out of side pockets, pouches, and every nook and cranny looking for…well, I don’t even remember at this point.

My daughter looked at a plastic baggy full of a white powder, and with wide eyes asked, “Mom, what is that?”

I looked to where her eyes were transfixed, and knew instantly why she was concerned.

My plastic baggy full of white powder looked like cocaine to the untrained eye, but it was simply Z-Sweet, a sugar substitute I cannot live without especially in hotel coffee.

I knew it wasn’t cocaine but to anybody passing by the spectacle of me digging through my purse might think differently.

What if the roles were reversed and I found a baggy full of white powder in my daughter’s backpack or in her jeans while doing laundry?  How would I know what the substance is without confronting and accusing my daughter of possessing drugs?  And what if I were wrong?  What if the found substance was something innocent?  Now I’ve lost my daughter’s trust, and I’ve cried wolf.

What if my daughter is doing drugs?

What if my daughter is doing drugs?

Back in the Dark Ages, if a parent wanted to know whether or not her daughter were doing drugs, she would have to get a urine sample (ew!), or a hair sample (120 hairs at the root-ouch!) and wait for the lab to get back to them.  Many days would pass, and maybe the lab loses the sample, or loses the results.  Like that’s not happened before!

And then there’s article after article on the Web about how to cheat on those tests.  Kids today have the Cliff Notes on avoiding detection by a parent.

A simple test will let you know!

A simple test will let you know!

Those days are gone, however, with a very easy to use at-home kit available at Walgreen’s.  For only $18.49, a parent can know if it’s drugs in only 5 quick steps.  Each box contains two tests.  One is for general drug screening of 20 different drugs such as heroin, crack, cocaine, and the second box is for Marijuana and Hashish.  It’s 99% accurate with no loss of time sending urine or hair to a lab.  In fact, no urine or hair is needed.

Most importantly, the parent tests the substance, not the relationship.

I got the opportunity to use Touch&Know and it was incredibly easy.  Essentially, if you know how to break a glow stick, you already know how to use the Touch&Know Drug Testing kit.

Although I hope I never need the Touch&Know kit for my girls, it gives me a convenient and discreet option if I need to know now.

Find it? Test it!

Find it? Test it!

For more information and the latest product updates, go visit Touch& Know’s website.

Follow Touch&Know on Facebook

Follow Touch&Know on Twitter.



Disclaimer:  Although this is a sponsored review, the experience and the thoughts are my own.

What I Noticed Today Is…The Loss of a Child’s Life

I feel I have no business writing this post because I did not know the victim but I feel compelled nonetheless.  After all, the 14-year-old girl who died on Thursday in a terrible car crash attended my youngest daughter’s school for over a year, and a life, even as short as Dana’s, is worth writing about.

My daughter didn’t know her either but because she was in a grade above her but I know she knew of her.  The school is far too small for my daughter to not have noticed her or maybe even spoken to Dana.  The classes are set-up where 6th, 7th, and 8th grade are all together for some parts of the day, or they pass each other in the tiny hallway.  In total, there may be less than 50 kids in these grades.

I’m afraid to go in search of Samantha’s yearbook because I know as soon as I see Dana’s picture, I will remember her.  As a frequent volunteer at the school, I know I’ve seen her and the ache of loss will be even greater.  Right now I am insulating myself from the pain.

What I noticed today is the loss of a child means so much more.  As an adult, I know all that she will miss.  Dana will never experience her first dance, her first boyfriend, her first kiss.  She will never to make it high school.  She will never get to wear a gown to prom or ride in a limo to get there.  Dana will never get her driver’s permit or license.  She will never do the college tour with her family and choose a college to attend.  She will never live in a dorm or join a sorority.  Dana will never get the job of her dreams.  She will never travel around the globe.  Dana will never meet the love of her life.  She will never marry and have kids.  She will never watch her kids grow up and go to high school and college.  Dana will never be a grandmother.  Her life ended at 14 before life really begins.

Dana has died, and in her passing onto whatever is next, she has reminded me to hug and kiss my girls more often, tell I love them every day, and to make sure their lives are so filled with so much more than video games and iPhones.

Today marks one week since Dana died in a horrific car crash.  It has taken me this long to be able to type without tears and try to figure out what to say.  Although none of this is profound, it was somewhat therapeutic to me in a tragic way.  Today I will have a moment of silence at 4 p.m. for Dana.  I hope she is at peace.



What I Noticed Today is…the Kids are Probably Too Old for Easter Baskets

Easter Baskets 2014What I noticed today is that the kids are probably too old for Easter baskets.  My husband and I are awake and nearly finished with our first cups of coffee and there’s not been a peep (I had to!) from the children.  While I type this, I am staring at 80,000 calories of sweets, and yet my children continue to slumber.

A couple years ago, the girls used to raid their baskets, and search for the eggs the Easter bunny left behind in the dark.  Yes, it was still dark outside–they were that excited.  Not anymore.  It is not only already light but the birds have been singing for quite a while, and I think the sprinklers have run.

Do you think they’ll notice if I eat one of their candies with my coffee?  There truly is nothing better than a Hershey’s chocolate egg with a steaming hot cup of coffee.  And then maybe a Reese’s peanut butter cup, and then a malted milk egg, and then…??  They better get downstairs quick before I eat everything the bunny left behind.

I think I may have to finally admit that the girls are growing up, and leave the purchasing of plastic orbs to the young moms.

Happy Easter to you and your family!

5 Clues Your Text Conversation is Over

What a weird topic, right?  But I needed to nudge myself to get writing again.  I wanted some topic (any topic) to jumpstart my mind to becoming more creative again.  I feel as if I’ve lost my muse and I want to find him again.  If it’s not today, maybe it will be tomorrow, or the next day.  Whenever it is, I will know because each post will flow from my fingers flying across the keyboard into my WordPress site.  Wishful thinking?  Gawd, I hope not!

In no particular oder, here are the 5 Clues Your Text Conversation is Over:

1.  The texts from your friend were nearly a chapter long but now have dwindled down to a sentence or two.

2.  The texts were coming at you rapid fire (you could barely keep up!) but now there’s a minute or longer lag time.  Then a 5 minute lapse…This is how you know your friend has moved on to share his/her exciting information with another text buddy.  You’re old news!

3.  The response to your reply text is a 3 or 4 letter acronym like LOL or ROFL.

4.  The response to your text is an emoticon of some sort :-)

5.  And of course, no reply means the texter has fully left the building and you’re left to crickets.

Okay, there you go.  How do you know when your text conversation is ovah?



What I Noticed Today Is…A San Diego Radio Station KPRI

What I noticed today is a local San Diego radio station kept two generations in suspense on the daily drive to school.  KPRI (102.1 on the dial) managed to stump both my daughter and me for over a week.

Every day, KPRI has an “impossible question” that allows listeners to call in and guess the answer to various questions.  Most days the questions are something like, “10 percent of women find this annoying in a man on the first date.”  The answers can be very interesting and telling about a person’s character.  Some answers are concerning.

Last week, though, the radio show host got deep and asked “What are the three keys to happiness?”  So many people answered with the typical responses like:  being healthy, wealthy, and wise; having love, family, and purpose, etc.  All answers were really good but not right.

My daughter and me talked everyday about what the answer was until yesterday when we came up with what we thought was the answer:  charity, community, and adaptability.  I even got the phone number for KPRI, put it in my contacts, and we called nonstop this morning.  We never got through but this is the first time we have ever tried calling a radio station before.

Most people have no problem calling radio shows and winning things, but my daughter and me both have social anxiety so calling for us is a challenge.  KPRI got us both to come out from where we hide and call.

Nope.  Not even close.  Despite being sure we were on the right track, we weren’t even in the ballpark with our answer.

The correct answer is….the three keystrokes that make up the smiley face :-)  The three keys to happiness is the smiley face emoticon.

Well done, Madison, well done.  You managed two generations talking, debating, and interacting in the morning rather than the usual teenage daughter staring at her phone while mom stares off into space.  You made us comfortable enough to call, and you made us think.  In the morning…yes, I know–amazing!

All this from a local radio station.  Oh, and we got to listen to great music in between callers.  :-)

What I’ve Noticed Today Is…Facebook is Fantastic for Fathers



My love/hate relationship with Facebook continues but I’ve recently noticed something that had not been readily apparent to me before, and that is Facebook has brought out the sweetness in my male friends who have recently become fathers.

One friend of mine posts so many cute pictures of his newborn son that I feel as if I already know the baby, and I’ve never even met him.  Another friend gushes about his daughters’ accomplishments and shows the very funny side of single fatherhood.  He has posted pictures of what it’s like to be a single dad in Wal-mart with three young daughters.  Hilarious.  Another man shows the pride he feels in his sons by taking pictures of their fat lips, hanging-on-by-a-thread black, blue and bloody fingernails, and broken appendages.  Whatever works, right?

Dads all over the world can share that they are just as sentimental as moms in a safe environment where they’ll get lots of likes and positive feedback.  The atta boys from the Facebook family makes people feel good, even the more stoic and quiet of the group.

Facebook has created a safe environment for men to be proud fathers, and has produced a generation of people who respect and recognize that fathers have deep feelings for their children, too.

Life is Z Sweet(est)!!



Thinking there was never going to be a zero calorie sweetener that wouldn’t slowly kill me, I gave up hope of ever finding something acceptable to put into my coffee.  After discovering just how bad aspartame is and having a reaction to Splenda that resulted in not one, but two trips to Urgent Care, I started shoveling sugar into my coffee which I now know is also bad.

A few days ago, while binge watching health videos by Dr. Greger, a link on the right to another video caught my eye.  It was called “A Harmless Artificial Sweetener” (cue angels singing…).  As someone who is always on a diet, reducing my intake of sugar in my drinks is ideal.  I’ve always heard not to drink your calories, and I’m pretty sure I was getting some hefty upticks in my diet from just my coffee.

I watched the video with bated breath after artificial sweetener after artificial sweetener got a red light (vs. yellow or green).  Finally, Dr. Greger gave Z Sweet a yellow light but I think it received a yellow light versus a green light because as new research comes out, some food ingredients are found to be not as safe as was once thought.

The video from Dr. Greger is from 2009, so I did a search to see if there was any new information about erythritol out there and it appears that it’s still in the yellow.

With the yellow light in mind, I immediately visited the Z Sweet website.  I’m not sure why…maybe to make sure its packaging is pretty?  Who knows but that was all I needed to head over to Amazon.com to buy it.  I am surrounded by health food stores where I live but by ordering Z Sweet from Amazon, I avoid driving from one store to another searching for this product.

Two days later, Z Sweet showed up at my front door.  I received two 1.5 lb bags of Z Sweet, which in hindsight was a stupid crazy amount of sweetener to buy especially when I had no clue whether or not it was something I was going to like.

But my fear was for naught as I love Z sweet.  If I could marry it I would.  It is perfect for my morning coffee and afternoon tea.  I don’t put it into my green tea because I can down that without anything added to it.

Z Sweet’s Bottom Line:

Zero Calories

Zero Glycemic Effect

Measures and Tastes Like Sugar

Does Not Promote Tooth Decay

Safe for Diabetics and Those With Other Blood Sugar Issues

No Laxative Effects or Digestive Issues

Tastes GREAT!

Checked my local Vons store and although they don’t carry Z Sweet, I will be requesting it.  My store has the Monk fruit Sweetener which is also  all-natural, but for now, I will stick with Z Sweet.

P.S.  You should watch Dr. Greger’s videos as they are all very short (usually under 5 minutes), and chock full of so much great health information told in a humorous manner.  I never watch videos of anyone or anything (unless shoved in my face by my girls, and then OF COURSE I watch one) except Dr. Greger.  Because of him, I now know why I should eat flaxseed daily.  My naturopath never explained why, I was just instructed to do it.  I drink tea daily, and I know I should eat broccoli as much as possible!  Go sign up for his videos and newsletters — your body will thank you with improved health.

P.P.S.  After writing this post, I stumbled upon a post from Food Babe who says, “…Eythritol is a naturally occurring sugar that is sometimes found in fruit, but food manufacturers don’t actually use the natural stuff. Instead they start with genetically engineeredcorn and then go through a complex fermentation process to come up with chemically pure erythritol.”  Ugh, GMO corn.  So, if you don’t care about GMO, give Z Sweet a shot, but if you’re like me and try to stay away from GMO foods, it’s back to the drawing board!