Mama's Favorite Things (Oprah Who?)

(Note: After watching the show today, Oprah opted not to do a Favorite Things Show. Instead, she did stuff about a Having a Thrifty Holiday. She said "Favorites" weren't appropriate to do this year because there are so many people out of work. I get it. I really do. But I'm sticking with my list anyway.)

Today is Oprah's Favorite Things show. I've gotta admit, I love this particular show as much as the next fan. Who doesn't love to see what Oprah will have on her list? But I believe that there is enough room in the world for more than one Favorite Things list, so here's mine. Before you go Christmas shopping this weekend, check these out.

1. The Cosby Show: 25th Anniversary DVD(a "this is my all-time favorite" gift)

As a T.V. junkie, I have many favorite shows, but this one is my all-time favorite. They just came out with this DVD set with all of seasons. Hint to the Golfer: I sure hope this is in my stocking this year.

2. Nick + Nora PJ's: Red Reindogs
(a "must have for Christmas Eve" gift)

I've had a new pair of PJ's to wear on Christmas Eve my ENTIRE life. This year will be no different, except now I have to buy my own. I'll be wearing these year and my boys have the same. (I bought them all at Target.) Yes, we will be matching this year on Christmas morning, except for the Golfer who is being very much of a Scrooge about the whole thing.

3. Tom's of Maine Toothpaste(an "I care about your dental health" gift)
My mom always put vitamins in my stocking as my "I care about you" gift. The Golfer always had a toothbrush in his. I think I'll go with my favorite new toothpaste: Tom's of Maine. It's all natural and works just as well (if not better) than the usual stuff.

4. Peet's Coffee: Holiday Blend("something to keep you warm inside" gift)

I'm not a big Starbucks fan. I'll go there because it's convenient, but there coffee is a little too strong for me. I like Peet's. The Holiday Blend is especially tasty.

5. MAD MEN on DVD(a "for my fellow TV junkies" gift)

Season One is now on DVD. If you haven't seen the show, you have no idea what you're missing. It is so good for so many reasons. Jon Hamm is a gift that every woman should be given.

6. M&M's Premiums: Mint Chocolate(an "I think your sweet" gift)

Do you like Junior Mints? Girl Scout Thin Mints? Then you will totally love these new M&M's. Beware: the bag is small and you will be tempted to eat the whole thing.

7. Dove Soap: Classic White
(an "I care about your cleanliness" gift)

There's something about the smell of this classic beauty bar--I love it. And what woman doesn't love their Campaign for Real Beauty? I'll buy anything from a company who celebrates the way women really look.

8. OPI Royal Rajah Ruby nail color(an "It'll make you pretty" gift)

This is such a good fall/winter nail color. It's a dark ruby that goes with anything. A perfect stocking stuffer.

9. Mrs. Meyer's Cleaning Products in Basil(an "it'll make your house look and smell good" gift)
You're gonna love how this makes your whole kitchen smell. I love all of the different smells that Mrs. Meyer's makes, but the Basil fragrance is my new favorite. And knowing that it is safe and earth-friendly makes it even better.

10. Our New President(an "I care about the future of our country" gift)

This gift came early this year. And thank goodness it did.

Things I'd love to find under my tree this year.

photo courtesy of
  1. The desire to exercise. I'm in desperate need to drop some pounds and just can't find the motivation to do what it takes. Santa better have a pretty big box to put all that motivation in, cause it' gonna take a lot to get me off my butt.
  2. A Tahoe hybrid. I realize that this might be difficult to fit under the tree, but it's worth a try.

  3. A new puppy. Yes, we already own two dogs, but I'm currently reading Marley and Me (trying to get it read before seeing the movie) and it's making me want another dog. If you're one of my family members or have known me and my pet buying habits, you won't be surprised by this.

  4. Maid service. I'd love this gift, but afraid that it'd feel too much like receiving an electrical appliance.

  5. Syndication. This doesn't happen too much any more (national syndication for humor columnists--think Erma Bombeck or Dave Barry) but I'd love for all of the big papers in the country to suddenly decide that they can't live without my column.

  6. A bigger kitchen. I have a beautiful new home, but it doesn't quite have the gourmet kitchen of my dreams. I'm not complaining, just wishing.

  7. The body of a 20-year-old. If I can't have the desire to exercise, then a whole new body will work just fine. I don't want to be 20 again, just the body that I had when I didn't appreciate it.
  8. A floor that stays clean...forever. I'm sick of working for nothing. I'll be mopping while the dog is walking behind be shedding everywhere. It's enough to leave it dirty, which I usually do.

  9. A manicure that lasts, no matter what. By not having in-house maid service, I can't keep a manicure looking nice to save my life.

  10. Children who listen. 'Nuff said. I'm sick and tired of repeating myself.

  11. Diamond earrings. I've been hinting around about these for years, but it doesn't hurt to keep trying.
  12. Endless buckets of cash. Because I'd give it to all of the charities that are hurting this holiday season because of the economic crisis of our country.
I plan on being very, very good in a last attempt to impress Santa these last few weeks. My children are setting an excellent example of being good for the Big Guy.

So what's on your list this year?

Weekly Column: A Modern-day Ma Bell

©Stephenie Freeman, The Sunday Constitution

Remember the days when no one could get a hold of you, when you could leave the house or work and actually escape without a cell phone ringing and tracking you down?

Remember when you owned only one phone that was permanently connected to a wall in your house and if you weren’t at home when someone called they simply had to leave a message and hope for the best?

To steal a phrase from Senator John McCain, those days are long gone my friends. Cell phones have completely taken away your right to run away and hide.

Nowhere was this point made clearer than during a recent lunch with a few of my girlfriends. We were happy to be getting some early Christmas shopping done without our kids, enjoying a lunch at a quite restaurant with no one to feed but ourselves. Unfortunately, our grown-up lunch was continually interrupted by the ringing and buzzing that was coming from our purses.

Our adult conversations kept getting interrupted by the intermittent need to check our phones…just in case. I mean, isn’t that the main reason that we parents have them? Isn’t it a safety issue that our children be able to reach us at all times? “I just need to check this,” one of us would say as our phone buzzed. “Better make sure it’s not one of the kids.” In truth it had little to do with concern over our kids and more to do with satisfying our cell phone curiosities. Along with making us more efficient and organized, our cell phones have also made us rude.

We are all guilty of it. We talk on our cell phones instead of conversing live with the other parents standing outside of the school. We send text messages while our kids play at the park instead of simply enjoying the beauty of the day. We chat in the grocery store checkout line when we should be asking the hardworking clerk sacking our groceries how his day is going.

Why are we so rude when it comes to our phones? It’s because these little devices are more demanding than our kids. They are constantly asking for our attention—ringing, vibrating, and blinking—and when they do, we succumb to the possibility that whatever is on the other end might be more important than whatever we’re doing at that moment. And it never, ever is.

I hate my husband’s cell phone. It’s the mistress in our marriage that is constantly drawing his attention away from me. It’s as if my husband works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with no overtime pay. Having to bring work home with you on occasion is one thing. Having to bring it with you on vacation, during your child’s T-ball game, and even into your bedroom late at night is something totally different.

The Golfer’s BlackBerry seems permanently fused to his body, unable to separate from one another. Every time that thing vibrates I can feel my stress level start to rise and I start to wonder what would happen if his little micro-chip filled mistress disappeared for a while.

I’ll hear it vibrate when someone calls, pulsate from a new voice mail, and buzz from a text message all day and night with no regard to anyone or anything else. I’ll suddenly see my husband’s head bend down to glance at his phone—a move known as the “BlackBerry Prayer”—and find myself wanting to yank it out of his hands, throw it against the wall, and sit back and wait for the CrackBerry withdrawals kick in.

Obviously, I am not a cell phone addict like my dear husband. My phone only calls people. It doesn’t take pictures or play music. It doesn’t give me directions or send me emails. It only lets me call people and lets other people call me—and it doesn’t even do that very well.

And that’s what I love about it. I use my cell phone the way God intended—for emergencies only. And the best part of it all? I still manage to escape from the world around me when I need to. You can try to call me if you want. Just don’t expect me to answer.

Just FYI

Some of you may know that I have a website in addition to this blog. This "professional" website has been home to my weekly newspaper column for the last two years.

But I have recently decided that instead of making you loyal readers navigate between two sites, and since most of you are so generous to give of your time to even read my stuff, I've decided to put an end to having a blog AND a website. Having both is just too much. As I wrote on my website, "I'm just not that cool."

From now on, tweet will be my only baby, besides my real babies of course. And my husband.

Starting tomorrow, be on the lookout for my weekly column to appear here on "tweet." I will do my best to post my column (which runs in The Sunday Constitution styles section every Sunday) on Monday mornings for your reading pleasure and enjoyment.

Wordless Wednesday: The next Bobby Flay

Yes, my son's the next Food Network star. I plan on him supporting me in my old age.

Our church is built on a bunch of rocks.

Six months after living here, we still hadn't found a church. It was the one thing that I made the Golfer promise that we would find when we moved here: a good church to make our home. But it wasn't as easy as we thought it would be. We had tried several different ones, but none of them felt like a fit. My personal favorite was the church where the worship leader, dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, looked and sounded just like Don Ho. The Golfer and I got the giggles waiting for "Tiny Bubbles."

Welcome to California.

Then we saw a sign on the corner of Newhall Ranch and Grandview that said, "Future Home of Real Life Church." There was a website on the sign, so the Golfer thought we should check it out and give it a try.

With the building yet to be constructed, the church was currently meeting in a movie theater. We didn't care. We loved everything about it. We loved the music, we loved the pastor, we loved how much the church gave back to the community and encouraged the congregation to do the same. And best of all, our boys loved it. We had found our new church home.

Yesterday, we had our first dedication of the new land for the church. During the service, we were given rocks to write on. The rocks were to be dropped into the hole where the baptistery will be poured. (At our cool church, the baptistery will be outside--only in southern California.)

On the rock we were to write something--a praise, a thank you, a prayer. These rocks would form and altar--an altar that was going to be filled with cement and made into a permanent fixture of the church. A fixture where people will enter a personal relationship and commit their life to Christ.

How cool is that?

So after lunch at the new Bristol Farms (my new favorite place in town) we walked over to where they're building the new church--the place where we very first saw the sign--and after a short speech and a prayer, the congregation walked down towards the baptistery hole.

The Golfer and I stood with the boys right on the edge of the hole. I couldn't help but be moved by the moment. God is beyond cool and amazing. He brought us here to California when everyone thought it was a crazy (i.e. stupid) idea. But we had faith. We knew that we were following God's will for our lives and as stupid (i.e. crazy) as it seemed, we did it anyway.

"Trust me," He told us. And we said, "Absolutely!" Because when God talks, we listen.

And you know what? He has blessed us like crazy in the last year and a half, giving us all that we could want or hope for. He brought us through a time when all we could do was look at each other and say, "what the heck are we doing?" to now being at a point where things are pretty close to perfect in our little corner of the world and all we can do is praise Him, feeling God's parental sense of humor as he says, "I told you so."

Now here we were, standing on holy ground--ground that will be used to do God's work, ground that He was asking us to invest in and be a part of. With our little rocks we were getting to be a part of something bigger than ourselves--creating an altar for the Lord to say, "Thank You God, for all that you've given me!" and to top it off, committing ourselves--in cement--to our new church home.

Standing over the hole, I closed my eyes to pray. I prayed that people would be drawn into this building, just the way the sign had drawn us in. I prayed that the people who are, like we were, searching for a new church home or perhaps their first church home, will drive by this ultra-cool eco-church (yep, our church is very environmentally friendly) and be compelled to walk in and check it out.

Most importantly, I prayed that our sons will come to know Christ in a real and personal way in this new building, and that the next time that we would be standing here in this very spot it would be when my boys are being baptised.

There were so many people around us, quietly praying and throwing in their rocks, giving all praise and glory to our God. It was such a cool moment that I was blessed to be a part of.

Yeah, you try to stand there and not cry. I dare you.

And what did I write on my rock, you ask? Well, if I told you, then it might not come true.

This won't hurt a bit.

Today I had my first mammogram. Yes, you're right. I am too young to be having to get mammogram. But due to my grandmother having breast cancer and other cancers in my family, my doctor thought it best to go ahead and get a baseline started.

She actually beat me to it. I had walked into the appointment thinking that I was going to ask her about that very thing. I had just spent the whole month of October reading about different women and their breast cancer stories. It's hard to get through the month of October without being reminded of the importance of breast cancer awareness. So I thought, "Sure, why not" when she suggested it.

But I have to be honest. I was a little nervous about the whole thing. I always heard about how uncomfortable the whole experience is; that it hurts a little and is fairly unpleasant when they smack your boob up on the table and flatten it like a pancake. But it wasn't the pain that had me a little shaky. I mean, I've had 2 c-sections and breast fed both boys, so a little boobie squishing didn't sound like that big of a deal.

For any of you nervous about the squishing, don't be. It really isn't that big of a deal. Sure, having my boobs manhandled and misshapen isn't something that I'd want to do on a regular basis, but it certainly isn't something to be afraid of. My suggestion? Don't look down. My watermelons looked like a flesh colored cookie cake.

But seriously, what I was nervous about was the possibility that they might actually find something. I have no reason to believe that they will, but isn't that what makes people nervous about going to the doctor in the first place? You walk in for a check-up perfectly healthy and you walk out with a myriad of issues and problems that you didn't know that you had.

So I'll wait a couple of weeks to get a letter telling me that all is clear. I have faith. God knows what a bad sick person I am.

On a lighter are some pics from Halloween and the Cheese's final football game, curitosy of Grandmoms. Ahhh, the beauty of having a professional photographer for a mother. (And these only sratch the surface of all of the great pics that she took. Thanks, Mom.)

Daddy and Uncle Dust and the boys get ready to hit the neighborhood...

Mama and Daddy on Halloween. Like my costume? I made it myself...

Aunt Kay and the Cheese busy carving a pumpkin...

Mama and her Baby Yoda at the preschool parade...

The Cheese played center for the final three games...

The Cheese's cheering section. (Aunt Kay, Mama, Uncle Dust, and Pop)

The parent tunnel at the end of the game...

The Cheese receiving his first trophy...

Boobs, Halloween, and football. Not such an odd combination after all. Sounds like some kind of male fantasy.

What? Where am I?

In the past two weeks I've had 5 house guests, been out of town for 6 days, celebrated Halloween and the election of a new president. It was great to have our family visit, Halloween was a blast, my trip with the Golfer to one of his tournaments was fantastic, and the election of Obama was amazing. But now my house is a wreck, I have piles of laundry that don't seem to be getting any smaller, and a sick Monkey lying on the couch who is throwing up every ten minutes (hence the reason why the laundry piles aren't getting any smaller.)

I'd shoot myself, but that would only make a bigger mess to clean up.

Having house guests, no matter how much you love them, is tiresome. What is that old saying about fish and house guests smelling? Well, my house guests certainly didn't smell, but my kids did. I was too busy being out of town and playing hostess to worry about things like bath time for the boys.

Now I'm experiencing the post-house guest/post-vacation/post-election hangover. It's fun having people come to visit because it breaks up the regular, mind-numbing routine that normally fills my days and no one needed a vacation more than I did, but now I'm stuck with the reality that life must return to normal which means that there's no excuse--the children have to be bathed.

On a positive note, Saturday the Golfer's team was recognized for their national championship win during the UCLA football game.

Their pictures were up on the jumbo tron (yep, that's him on the screen) and their names announced over the loud speaker, which is especially cool happening on the field at the Rose Bowl.

And when the announcer said, "And now...introducing your national championship head coach...Derek Freeman!" my mascara started to run underneath my sunglasses.

To make it even more special, the Golfer gave the team their championship ring that same day.

So, even though I'm tired and currently covered in vomit (I'm only able to write this in between catching vomit in a towel) it really has been a great couple of weeks. Now I just have to sit back and wait for the rest of the family to get sick.

I'm not dreaming...It's real.

I woke up this morning with a smile on my face.

In my dream, President-elect Obama was coming over to my house. We were having a party and he was invited. I asked him if there was something that I could get him. He said that a beer sounded good. I laughed and said that I was sure that it did. I hurried off to find a cold glass to put it in.

I swear, I'm not making this up.

We sat down at a table together, just the two of us. He said he needed my help. I said that I was flattered and was there for whatever he needed. He said that he needed my help in figuring out what kind of present to give Michelle. He wanted to do something to thank her for all that she had done and put up with and had heard that I was creative--good at coming up with gift ideas. I laughed, played modest, and got out a huge legal pad for brainstorming ideas.

We were coming up with ideas, laughing over our beers, when my alarm went off. I've never been so sad and so excited to wake up at the same time.

I was excited to wake up to turn on the morning news. I wanted to continue the excitement that I felt when I fell asleep. It's a brand new day. A brighter day has come. Hope has arrived and change is in the air.

The dream is alive.

Now I'll just sit back and wait for Mr. Obama to call and invite me to be apart of his cabinet. Maybe he could use a little of my creativity in the White House.

"Change has come to America."

Overcome with emotions tonight, I can only write in simple one word sentences.
Historical. Amazing. Overwhelming. Excited. Relieved. Overcome. Emotional. Proud. Inspired. Hope....

And the one word that my 6-year-old son used when he was told that Obama had won..."YES!"

November 4, 2008--a day that I will never, ever forget.