Archive for November, 2013


Ring Master MomNovember 30, 2013Leave a comment


One reason I love holidays is because it reminds me of being together with my family, making memories, reliving hilarious things we’ve done, and crafting and baking together. This was the first Thanksgiving I’ve not been around my Mom and it was tough on me. She’s in isolation now for her treatment and while we talk on the phone every day (okay okay, several times a day – sorry Mommy!!) it’s hard to not have her here in person to help chop, stir, read to the kids, etc. As James put it, the spark was not present on Thanksgiving dinner. She and my Dad shared Thanksgiving dinner together which must have been lovely and quiet. :)

We hosted dinner to my brother, sister in law, nephew along with a friend visiting them from China. My Auntie and cousin attended along with a friend of James’ from Australia who just moved here a week ago. I love sharing traditions with others, and it was great to explain Thanksgiving and share dinner with two new friends who hadn’t experienced it before.

I have to share this pic of Patrick from his preschool “dinner”

He’s descended from Myles Standish so to see him all dressed up like this was really special.

I am obsessed with flowers and wish I could have fresh blooms in every room every day. I try hard to always have something in the house, and was excited to order an arrangement from the local florist. I ask for a small one, and hello, anything but small. Just breathtaking!

I love the small touches like mini pinecones, the different textures, and colors. It is still so gorgeous sitting on our dinning room table.

For holidays or dinner parties, I always set the kids table with kraft paper and crayons. It’s a great way to get the kids to sit down right as I serve and I love what they create. I got some great white chocolate turkeys in NYC for favors, so the little ones also got a special treat in their bags.

The adults received these bags filled with tangerines and chocolate caramel treats.

This was the second year I made my veggie-turkey.

Appetizers included a giant cheese platter and goodies

along with some huge shrimp. I don’t know why but this is always the crowd fave and demolished the quickest.

I served lots of beer, wine, juice, and cranberry cocktails (and mocktails!) Love the frozen cranberries to keep the drinks cold!

James was in charge of the turkey and he’s chopping in this shot

This was by far the juiciest turkey we’ve ever eaten. We found a few recipes online, and then pulled from that. We cooked a 16 pound turkey upside down, tied with twine. Covered the top with a small amount of melted butter, lots of garlic, and fresh herbs at 450 for 30 minutes, then down to 350 until it had cooked through.

While James carved, I finished the gravy, stuffing, and brussel sprouts while the mashed potatoes got finished and the carrots were roasted.

I am not a fan of brussel spouts on their own and had to add bacon to make them edible. I sliced bacon, cooked it, and transferred the bacon to a plate. Then added shaved brussel sprouts to the bacon grease and cooked that on a high heat for several minutes and added the bacon. Too easy!

Little Marcus woke up right as we all sat down so James got to soothe him while Marina ate.

Games after dinner are a tradition, so the kids and I played a little CandyLand together.

I tried so hard to not nibble these little thighs and was unsuccessful. He’s sooo nibble-tastic!!

And I’m feeling very blessed to have my youngest cousin Ruthlyn cuddled up with my babies.

Although I was without my parents this Thanksgiving, there’s still so much to be thankful for and I hope we can all be together very soon. How was your Thanksgiving? Did you start any new traditions this year?


Ring Master MomNovember 30, 20131 Comment

Blood Drive for my Mommy

Hi Friends – Thank you for your kind emails, calls, letters, gifts, and support to my Mom during her time in the hospital and at home. Many of you have asked what you can do to help. Here’s some info for you straight from my Mommy.

Calling all friends! Save the date! Saturday, January 4th from 9:30-3:30 there will be a Red Cross blood drive in my honor. I won’t directly benefit from this drive, but there are many others who will. It will be held at the CSAA building at 39600 Balentine Dr. in Newark, CA. for which I thank them kindly for their space.

As many of you know, I came down with a rare blood disease called Aplastic Anemia. (only 600-900 cases a year in the U.S., my doctor says I’m “one in a million”.) My bone marrow shut down and my white blood cells started to attack themselves. I had a special treatment to kill off my bad white cells, so I currently have a very low immune system as I need to wait a few months for that to start up. My platelets are so low that my blood doesn’t clot well. This makes cuts and bruises dangerous.

To help me get through this disease, I have been having platelet transfusions every 4-7 days, and the blood transfusions every 2-3 weeks. I absolutely had no idea about the demand for blood other than for accidents or surgeries. Sitting in the Transfusion Center at Stanford with all the people with blood disorders and other problems, made me so aware of the need for blood. I can’t thank the donors enough for their gift of allowing me more time with my family and friends. I have occasionally donated blood, but I sure do wish I had donated more often. I am no longer able to donate blood, but I would love to give back.

So… I am asking for your help. My good friend, Rita Rosen, has set up a blood drive. It would be great if you could donate blood. If not, send a friend, child, sibling, or spouse to the drive. Posting this note at work, or passing it on to friends would be great. I’m not picky! Please let me know soon if you can make it so I have enough Red Cross people at the drive. And don’t worry… the only bowl game that Saturday is the BBVA Compass Bowl.

Happy Thanksgiving to you. I know that I am thankful for the generosity of strangers who made their blood donations so I can overcome this disease.



Ring Master MomNovember 22, 2013Leave a comment

Land of Nod Toy Shop coming soon!

Last night I attended a holiday party + trunk show for The Land of Nod hosted by the fabulous crew at The Makery. The Land of Nod (TLoN from now on) is my absolute go-to place to get toys for kids. From storage solutions to design to the creative toys, I cannot go through a catalog without calling my Mom and getting excited about what’s new.

Imagine how thrilled I was to be invited to a trunk show for a pop-up Toy Shop for TLoN coming to Los Altos in early December! It was a great event to preview a few toys I had my eye on and also get my craft on at The Makery! To get in the holiday spirit, one of the crafting rooms was used to embellish your very own elf! The Makery had tons of charismatic vintage elves, and the holiday nerd in me had my very own two elves stashed in my purse. Tulle, gold ribbon, and bells were what I used to go to town on my little guys.

And in true Makery fashion, their fabulous events cannot go without just a little bubbly. And some St. Germain – my fave!

Since TLoN store hadn’t opened yet, there was a setup to place orders for the evening. Dangerous because I now had a cocktail and Christmas shopping to complete.

And I may or may not have bought 27 things at that point. Let’s not kid ourselves – it was 27.

I had a blast doing some shopping for my kiddies and their friends and you bet I will be there when the store opens on December 6 in Downtown Los Altos.


Ring Master MomNovember 19, 2013Leave a comment

Trip to NYC

James has a few business trips each year which require him to travel around the U.S. or over to India, Ireland, and Australia. This is sometimes hard on the kids (“How many more sleeps till Daddy comes back?”) and myself as I’m a stay at home Mom. We thought with his trip to NYC in November, we’d all tag along!

James and I have been to NYC a few times, but always separately. I came here right after I finished weaning Patrick (girls trip, woohoo!!) and again last Spring to relive the glory days with my fave college party animals. James has been for work and out and about each night he was able. We knew since James had already booked his flight/hotel that we wouldn’t really have a weekend or time together to do things as a whole family, so we’ve been doing as much as we can while James is still in work-mode.

Before we even got on the airplane, we had to get Alice’s crazy bloody nose taken care of me lots of cold meds for me. Luckily the doc said to keep doing what we were doing with Alice and just be mindful of the dry flight and air on in our hotel room. The handle of one of our suitcases fell on her as we were getting on the shuttle and that was enough to start a bloody nose as we loaded up for our ride from long term parking. It wasn’t totally out of control, but did get on her bunny and shirt. She was a little trooper and doesn’t mind me shoving vaseline up there to make it all better. That and a quick trip to the bathroom to clean up and we were off!

Alice standing in the big taxi queue outside JFK.

Our flight landed on Sunday night, and we checked into our hotel and I got everyone organized and unpacked while James picked up his favorite $1 slices of pizza for a late night snack. Monday, James was off to work and the kids and I got some sweet treats at Magnolia and played in a nearby outdoor playground.

Luckily that was around James’ lunch time and he was within walking distance, so he came over to surprise the kids and we walked him back to work. We had dinner that night at the Rocking Horse Cafe, a place I had many a sangarita with my gals. James walked from his work, and I strapped Alice in a new child carrier pack (by myself!!) and Patrick and I walked 12 blocks for some lovely food and drinks.

I was also able to make a quick Target run before we left, and got some new books, coloring books, crayons, and games to bring along. This has been the perfect quiet time activity at night with Alice and Patrick.

For Tuesday’s adventure, we went to the American Museum of Natural History and dinner together.

Tuesday morning’s forecast called for snow and while we didn’t get any, it was cold enough to ensure that we had indoor plans. But see – not too cold – Alice was rocking bloomers and tights.

The Museum was awesome and while we probably only saw a quarter of the exhibits, it was more than enough for Alice and Patrick. Each exhibit they talked about what they saw, counted things, and asked endless questions when it came to the different cultures. “Why did they not have trees in the desert?” “Why do they wear those masks?” I had a cold start up a few days before we left and had put a brave face on and lots of meds/cough drops/hot beverages, but I really felt spent at the end of the day.

Since the kids’ internal clocks were between PST and EST, we’ve been having a great brunch each morning – sharing a huge fruit plate/yogurt/making our own parfaits, having bagels, coffee, bacon, etc – and a dinner out with James in the evening. This has been a time and money saver that I hadn’t planned, but I’m happy it worked out this way. Also, we haven’t been able to spend all day out and about since Alice is still an afternoon napper, so I’ve been trying to make sure we go out each day without doing too much for the kiddos.

Wednesday morning I woke up feeling absolutely horrendous, so James got some more hardcore cold medicine for me. The kids and I had a lovely brunch and then back up to our hotel room to play, color, and relax so I can recharge. James came back in the evening time and we all walked over to the Empire State Building for a tour and one memorable view of the city.

I love this picture so much. My little daredevil looks quite thrilled to be at the top. And it wasn’t until the next day that I noticed her giving the camera TWO thumbs up. What a ham!

Then dinner at one of James’ favorite BBQ restaurants. Lots of meat, sides, beer, and my family. And me cracking up at Alice who wouldn’t share any cucumber salad because it was hers.

On Thursday, I took the kids to the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and we explored nearly every inch while having a wonderful time getting tons of energy out.

My non-napper Patrick had to take a nice rest after today’s adventure so I was really happy with some quiet time for myself for the first time in a few days. Sometimes vacations can be rough with everyone in a hotel room, but we’ve been very lucky that the kids have had enough outside time despite the colder temps. And, I’m thrilled that the lows reported for the week we were here never really made it that low. It was supposed to snow one morning and we saw nothing. The kids rarely used mittens/hats or even jackets!

Friday we met up with some friends for lunch and the kids got to explore a bit of Brooklyn and Jane’s Carousel followed by one giant and decadent cookie at Jacque Torres.

Our flight was on Saturday afternoon so we weren’t quite sure what to do as a family. We went out for a nice breakfast together and I really felt rotten at this point. James luckily stepped in and took the kids to Central Park for 2 hours while I packed and then napped. This was perfect for me because I had been fighting the flu for so long and not getting better. I finally had no aches after this wonderful nap and this made the flight home easier for me. We had an hour delay once we were all on board and despite my crabbiness of “please – I just want to go home and recover” thoughts in my head, Patrick and Alice were little angels who napped and snacked and cuddled with me.

It was a perfect way to end the trip, so once we were home, I asked Patrick what he wanted for having great behavior in NYC. He replied, “A turkey dinner with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce…”

After a long week of the kids on my own plus being sick, I could not believe I had the energy to go to Whole Foods and get food for a delicious feast for my family. And of course the smallest turkey they had was 13 pounds! A roaring fire, James and I cooking together, the kids playing games all reminds me how much I have and what a great part of the world I live. While we had grand adventures together in NYC, there’s really no place like home.


Ring Master MomNovember 10, 2013Leave a comment

I’m still here!!

Hi friends!

I’m sorry I’ve been M.I.A. as of late.  My poor Mommy has been sick and as much as I like to think I can do a quick post here, it’s often time consuming.  With everything going on, it’s also the last thing on my to-do list for the day so it never seems to get done.

My Mommy started training with my Daddy for a 65 mile bike ride in Chico the end of April.  Around that time, she had a bruised/broken rib and from then, never really felt better.  Her doctors performed every test and the poor dear was submitting blood tests every few days while getting no firm results.  About a month ago, they noticed that her white and red blood cell count was low – so low that if she got a bruise or cut, she was to immediately go to the emergency room.  We were able to go out a few times, and luckily I was able to keep her safe.  But a week later, she somehow hit her hand and it began to swell right away, so off to the emergency room she went.  The doctors were still unsure what was causing her blood counts to drop, and they kept her in isolation in the hospital while trying to treat the symptoms.  This was the toughest part for me.  Not being able to see my Mommy.  It’s very selfish, but once I heard she was in the emergency room, I got the kids dressed, and started driving over.  I hadn’t thought about the possibility of not seeing her.  I understand why I and others weren’t allowed in, but it made my heart so blue to not be able to hug her, talk to her in person, or squeeze her hand.

After about a week in the hospital closest to her home, she was transferred to Stanford to undergo more testing, and blood and platelet transfusions.  She was in her own room, but able to see visitors, and wouldn’t you know it, I believe I was there every night to bug her!!  She was only able to see close family, and no grandkids yet.  Finally, the doctors were able to diagnose her with aplastic anemia.  Right now she’s back at home undergoing treatment that could take 3 months to show any effect of working.  My Mommy also has to deal with drugs, steroids, and more blood/platelet transfusions.  She is in isolation for 3-6 months or the soonest her body can make blood and platelets again – only close family may visit and I’m at home with a cold.  She still can’t see her grandbabies, so I’m hopeful that soon her numbers will go up and she can venture out again.  I was hopeful that she’d be able to receive a bone marrow transplant since my brother and I were ready to donate, but it doesn’t look like that’s the treatment option for someone her age.  She’s also been a trooper with the lack of sleep from one of the medications, pain, weird bruising, etc.  And is always there to listen to me blab on about my day.  <3

What can you do?  My Mom still would love to hear from you if she hasn’t already.  You can send her a message on her Facebook page (, and donate blood, platelets, and sign up to be a bone marrow donor if you haven’t already.  I am so hopeful that this treatment will work for her.  We’re not allowed to get together for Thanksgiving this year, but we’re already making some grand plans for Christmas.  Thank you for all your wonderful notes/calls/texts/emails.  They have meant the world to me, and I appreciate the time you’ve taken out of your day to help out.  XOXOXO!!


Ring Master MomNovember 9, 2013Leave a comment

Quick survey

I have one kickass Mommy friend who along with another friend are starting a new business.  They’re going to be hosting educational playgroups in homes for an hour and a half while Mommies (or Daddies) run errands, go to the gym, or hang out together – whatever!

They’d love your feedback here (we know we all have some!!) – and it should only take a minute or two.

Thanks for your time!!