Monday, August 29, 2011

Keeping calm when you're on live TV

The other day I was interviewed on Good Day LA, sharing great deals that we were running on Plum District. When I arrived at the beach at 7 am, I was pretty frantic because no one was there to help me set up and we were going LIVE in 1 hour. The morning got worse before it got better. As I was unloading a box, a man walked up to me and I looked up squinting at the sun. He had papers in his hand, so I asked him if he was the balloon delivery guy. No, he responded I am Bob Decastro, the reporter from Fox. Yikes! I tried to recover. But then the real balloon guy showed up and I kind of nodded to Bob as if to say, see, I was expecting the balloon guy, not I didn't recognize you.

As moms and kids showed up the day got better and better. I was pretty nervous and kept doing my deep breathing exercises as it got closer to 8:30. But everything was calm around me, the kids were playing nicely in the sand box and we were all set to go. Bob took off his shoes and rolled up his pants, he was a pro. He played in the sand with some kids and we were LIVE. It was such a rush, but I held my own. Check out the link.

Bam, it was over. We were all set up for the second shoot and I noticed that the camera crew was wrapping up. Bob comes over and apologizes that they have to leave, some homicide in Torrance....

I had to break the news to all of the people I had waiting on the beach. Then an idea...I decided since we had everyone there already, I'd be the reporter and we'd go ahead with the shoot. I had way more fun this time, not live TV. See
me as a reporter at Gladstones

Dog and a Duck PR firm, edited this and really helped me made lemonade out of a sour situation!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What kind of role models are best for our children?

I went away to the mountains recently to do a reality TV Show for the Discovery Channel. I can't say much about it now except that it was CRAZY! I lived in a wilderness camp 9,000 feet high with 9 other people and we were told to, "Survive on our own." I will definitely share more details about the show, when it will air and my experience on it, when I get the OK. The reason I bring this up now, is that my children spent 2 weeks at their Grandma and Zadee's house. When they came home they had all kinds of new manners, good ones, gross ones and some that sounded a little scary. The best was my littlest learned that talking with your mouth full was bad. The worst was that the punishment for talking with your mouth full was being "locked" in the closet. Now mind you my kids were never locked in the closet, but you can imagine my embarrassment when my son announced this punishment loudly to a friend and her children who were visiting us and unfortunately, "talking with food in their mouths." "Don't talk with food in your mouth or you'll get locked in the closet," he sing-songed to her. "What?" I said, "Who taught you that?" "Grandma," he said as he took a new bite. "Did you ever get locked in the closet?" I wanted to know. He refused to answer until he had finished chewing; Pointing to his mouth as he chewed. Well, he hadn't and it apparently had really made an impression on him. But wouldn't also threatening to lock them in the dark basement if they didn't eat their broccoli? I had to get down to the bottom of this and I did. My mother explained it was a well lit closet of sorts that was easy to get out of and they would never have done it. In fact, only Zadee had gotten "put" in there once. I guess you get a warning before that happens, so you have a chance to change your behavior. Either way, it probably wasn't what I would have said. But how can I complain, I dumped my kids there for 2 whole weeks while I went off on a journey of self discovery and starvation! Here are a few other great manners that they learned:

1) After burping you MUST say, "Excuse me, I am a piggy."
2) When you get to the bottom of your milk, you suck noisy air through your straw and say,"Blue Angels" like the noisy airplane air show.
3) And it is okay to wake people up by tickling their feet!

These well meant manners aside, I really do feel totally blessed to have parents who care so deeply about my children and love them so much that they just adore having them visit. My parents play with them like they are kids themselves. Their actions of having uncensored fun with my kids and showing them that adults can be silly too is just the kind of role model that I am thankful my children have. It's not like at home where we as parents have to clean the house, pay the bills, go to work. I want to spend more time playing with my children. I have an idea of how to get them to help out more at home to free up more time for me to play with them ( but that's another blog entry). My parents give 100% of their time when the kids are visiting; playing hide-n-seek 100 times as day, reading to them, taking them for long bike rides and letting the kids squirt them with water canyons, which, by the way, has a penalty of getting a "free" butt squirt if you accidentally squirt someone in the face. Even though I have to make a few minor tweaks when they come home, I know summers at Grandma and Zadee's will forever be filled with fun memories. But beyond those their grandparents will have a lasting impression of learned lessons from two people whom I admire and love.

Parents: Speak well and you'll hear good manners

When I think about teaching my children manners, it is not all about their actions. It is also about how they say it. We are so caught up on teaching our children to say, "Please and Thank you," have we forgotten about proper English? It is just as important for children to use the correct words when asking for something. Instead of "Can I have...? " It should be, "Please, May I have more peas?" "Could you please pass the vegetables?" As I listened closer to my children's words, I found I needed to listen closer to my own words. If I asked, "Does anyone want pizza?" the response was more often than not, "I want pizza." So, if we are to expect our children to be polite, we need to guide their response. We should say, "Would anyone like more pizza?" in hopes of a "Yes, please," or a "No, Thank you." It is just the same as with our actions. If we do the same routine when we sit down to the table, our children will learn from that as well. If my husband pulls out the chair for me, the children will see that it is a nice gesture for a husband to do for his wife. When I sit down, I always take my napkin, unfold it and put it on my lap. I use a knife and fork to cut and eat my food. I wipe my mouth by dabbing and I never speak with food in my mouth. Sure, I am perfect. Actually, I am not...I put my feet on my chair and hug my knees while sitting at the table when I am done. I often speak with food in my mouth because I love to talk. And I leave the table 10 times during any given meal. So, it is really me who is sending messages to my children that these behaviors are okay. It is up to me to be a good role model and not only tell them what are good table manners but physically show them.

I am sure this is not the first time anyone has said this. But to me it may be the first time I have had a minute as a mom to actually reflect on my own teachings and realize that I need to listen to my own advice.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Polite at 40,000 miles high

We have just returned from spring vacation, were we spent a few days in the cold, rainy and SNOWY mid-west. I have been storing up adventures since taking a few weeks off of writing and the napkin notes are piling up. To catch you up on how the manner training is going, I have to share my insight into the overall project at hand. After starting this blog and hoping to teach my kids a "new manner" each day, I begun to realize that it took much longer than a few hours to ingrain a behavior into my children's actions. A friend who read my blog, commented by saying, “well, this is life” meaning to her it is an everyday task on which she works. It got me thinking that perhaps my goal of refining my boys in 1 years time was not achievable. Perhaps raising polite boys will take me a lifetime or 18 years at least to achieve. Regardless of the length of time, my mission remains clear. Tame my wild boys and teach them the rules for acting well behaved in society. I didn’t realize when I wrote this what that really meant until I wrote this next section.

MANNER #8 - Look a person in the eyes and ask politely for something you need.
The Rules:
1) Look the person in the eyes before you speak.
2) Speak loud enough for the person to hear you.
3) Use polite language, such as Please and May I. Do not say, “I want.”
4) Smile friendly at the end, showing the person you respect them.

I took my lessons to the sky as we flew home, 40,000 miles above the ground. Who knows why I decided a noisy plane was a good place to enforce this rule. We had previously practiced at a few restaurants much to the annoyance of the glassed-over-eyed servers who desperately wanted to leave our table. Here it was, the moment of truth, engine noise blaring as we were, of course, seated over the wing. I instructed Henry, “look at the flight attendant and say, May I please have some apple juice.” He looked up and repeated what I had said, like a good little robot. Perhaps she didn’t hear me whisper the cues to him. Because she was surprised and delighted. She responded in her southern charm way, “Well now aren’t you the cutest, most polite little boy… May I please?” Then she looks at me approvingly, “He is so sweet.” I smile back and said, “Thank you.” But my thoughts were thinking, thank goodness you didn’t see him in the car on the way to airport burping so loud you’d think he was a 50 year old man. Or even 5 minutes ago in the cramped bathroom, where I was scrunched up in the corner, worried the waiting passengers might have heard him declare, “My penis gets larger when I fart.” No, she only saw the sweet little polite boy. And that is I guess what I aiming for. Not a stuffy boy who is not allowed to be loud and have fun at home. But boys who when in public, know how to behave, be polite, courteous and helpful. I now understand it is the face that we put forward to the world that is the one that gives people a good impression about who we are. So it is, wild-n-crazy in private, polite and respectful in public. That, I think we can do.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Manner # 7 - Napkin Do's

Unfold your napkin half size if it is a large one and all the way if it is small. Put it on your lap where it should remain until you need to wipe your mouth.  It should be returned to your lap after wiping. When wiping your mouth, do NOT rub the napkin across your mouth.  You must pat your lips. Always wipe your mouth before you drink so that you will not leave any crumbs on your glass.  And never drink when you have food in your mouth, wait until you have swallowed.

Its been over a few weeks since I started implementing these manners.  And as usually it is a little lost on my 3 year old. I just sighed, but I am hopefully that if I lay the ground work someday it will all just miraculously happen.  But for my 5 year old, he has taken to it whole heartedly. He even surprises me sometimes.  I ask him to wipe his mouth, yes, I still have to tell him.  But I always kind of forget that I have instructed him to pat his mouth instead of wiping, and then he PATS his mouth.  I practically die of laughter (INSIDE, of course) and then look at his face which still has a TON of crumbs on it and sigh again.  Maybe this patting technique needs to be rethought. 

If you have kids like mine, their faces are so dirty sometime that even a chisel with hot rag scrub won't do the trick.  So a "Pat" seems a little silly.  But we'll try it and even though there was still food on his mouths after the pat, it was soooo cute to see Lukas do it.  I think we need to work on getting them totally clean before reaching the table and "patting" more frequently.  But forget about it if we are having spaghetti bolognese!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

MANNER # 6 - What Not To Do at the Table

So we have been working on knife and fork use, and as I previously mentioned the placement of the knife and fork when you complete your meal.  Specifically, when you are done you keep you napkin on your lap, never put it on the table.  When you are done and if leaving the table, you may fold it neatly and slide it under the right side of your plate.  You then should place your knife and fork across your plate pointing to 3 or 4 o'clock. This lets everyone know you are finished. 

Okay, THEY DID IT. Tonight before dinner I prepared them and said that dinner would be ready soon and they should wash up and they stopped playing and went to wash their hands.  I put the food on the table and they arrived just as I called to them.  My goodness, that was easy.  Well, let's see if they can keep it up.  And btw, we had dinner guests.  Maybe they were a good influence on my boys?  Anyway, when the meal was over our guest announced, " I am done."  Lukas said, and I quote word for word, "You do not need to say that, just place your knife and fork across your plate and everyone will know you are finished." I almost died! It was too hilarious.  I was super proud of him.

At breakfast we asked the boys to share what  were some bad manners at the table.  Here is what they said: 
No feet on the table (Lukas likes this rule in particular and reminds Henry frequently) 
No spinning your knife (Lukas said this - I guess he did listen yesterday!)
No shouting, No getting up from the table, No eating with your fingers. No elbows on the table.  Well, I guess they have been listening all along.  I was super excited.  So I am off to bed a happy mom.  Tomorrow - back to the table for more good manners.