Thursday, March 14, 2013

Yes, I Compare My Dogs to Your Kids

Fact: I like to compare my dogs to my friends' children, or as I like to call them "spawn." I'm at the age (29) where my friends are starting to reproduce.  My Facebook newsfeed has blown up with pictures of tiny people under the age of three, monthly pregnant belly size updates, "clever" ways to announce a sperm and egg were fruitful and multiplied, and also ultrasounds (sidebar: this is a pet peeve of mine). I am happy for my friends as they take their family to the next level, but as most of you know, and I make it VERY clear, I am just not there yet. So, the best way for me to relate is to compare what I know (my dogs) to what you know (your offspring). 

Comparison #1: Weight
Like your children, my dogs also have their annual visits to the doctor (vet) where they get weighed. Granted, vets don't give a percentile for their age and breed, but they do let me know if they are healthy or not (which mine are in perfect health for their size, just so I can brag). So when I have a conversation with a friend about their infant and they tell me how much their kid weighs and what percentile they are in for their age, I like to respond by saying, "your kid weighs more/less than Winnie," which is my smaller dog (she weighs 22lbs.). So yes, I am comparing the size of your kid based on the weight of my four-legged kid. 

Comparison #2: Potty Training
My dogs are house-trained and your kid won't be potty trained for years. Dog > baby = I win! And yes, I will compare the process to crate training a dog. It's all about consistency, right? 

Comparison #3: Dogs and Babies Both Change Your Lifestyle
Granted, a dog doesn't change it THAT much, they are still added responsibility. I can't just go straight out after work, as someone has to come home to let the dogs out and feed them dinner. And just like you new moms, I can't be too spontaneous with leaving town - we have to find a dog sitter or make sure daycare has room for them first, and then weigh the value of spending the extra dough to leave town and pay someone since they can't be left alone. And no, in our case our family is not an option (yet...).

Comparison #4: Lack of Sleep
While I don't have to get up every few hours to feed a baby, my days of sleeping in are over! Now, my smaller dog, Winnie, is much better about being lazy and sleeping in until we are ready to get up on the weekend. However, the big dog, Cali, doesn't really let me sleep in past 9am (yes she only annoys me, not my husband). For whatever reason, she likes to only jump up next to my side of the bed and will eventually start to whine when she is ready to take her morning walk. 

Comparison #5: Daycare
My co-worker has a four month old baby girl who is in daycare during the week, since she is a working mom. What's cool about her daycare center is that there is a camera on site where she can login to their website and watch her kid. While the doggie daycare we take our dogs to for boarding doesn't have a camera on site (some do, though), I do stalk their Facebook page daily to see if they post any pictures of my dogs and get really excited when I see them having a good time. So I totally get it! 
Side note: who doesn't love watching puppy cams!

Comparison #6: Discipline / Training 
There is nothing more that I hate than when a kid is not disciplined, and the same goes for a dog! No one wants to go anywhere in public and experiencing your kid run around and act like an animal (pun intended). If I am going out to dinner and paying for a meal, I don't want to have to spend my time out ignoring your screaming child that is going crazy running around the place unwatched while you pretend they aren't owned by you. If only I wouldn't get sued or arrested if I had the ability to grab that kid, scold him and then tell him to sit in his chair like a "big boy/girl" or else they they will punished when they get home. It takes a village to raise a kid these days, yet it's frowned upon if anyone but the actual parent steps in to teach a kid right from wrong and how to act like an actual human. The same goes for irresponsible people and their dogs. Please take your dog to training and at last attempt to teach your dog some manners! I did it with both of my dogs, and when basic training wasn't enough, I got private training lessons. The key to raising a kid is the same as a dog - make sure you are consistent with the discipline and that you are on the same page as your partner.


I want to conclude by saying that I am not trying to insult you parents out there - this is just my way of relating and trying to care. And don't worry, I know in 3-5 years when I am ready to reproduce I fully except each and everyone of you to give me crap and tease me throughout the pregnancy until the time my future spawn leaves for college. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Case Study 1: Why Stupid People Shouldn't Breed

"Stupid People Shouldn't Breed" has always been one of my favorite bumper stickers. Not only is it funny, but it is the absolute truth! I saw a news segment tonight that made me think about this bumper sticker - it's the story about the mother who took her two year old son to the Pittsburgh Zoo and stupidly stood him on top of the railing. She then somehow let go of him, watched him fall 14ft. into the animal exhibit and then watched him get eaten by a pack of wild dogs. 

If you didn't hear about this story, you can read about it here

What makes the story even worse is that the exhibit was for African wild dogs, which are endangered. I actually saw these dogs for the first time this past summer during my time at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. They are beautiful animals and remind me a lot of one of my own dogs, Cali. They are pack animals and hunt just like wild animals would do in, well, Africa. I watched the dogs get fed at the zoo and they tore up turkey legs like it was nothing - sort of like watching hyenas eat. 

Once the child fell into their exhibit, the dogs instinctively saw the boy as prey, attacked him and ripped him up just like he was normal food to them. The zoo keepers did everything they could to get the dogs off of the little boy, however, one dog just wouldn't let go. Instead of tranquilizing the dog or just letting him do what he naturally does, they shot and killed the dog - an ENDANGERED animal! Isn't that illegal?

African painted dog
As awful as this incident was, it was completely preventable! The mother is 100% to blame, and it seems like she is getting away with this with a clean slate. Her child and an innocent animal had to die because she was so stupid and negligent to do something so ridiculous like put her wiggly toddler on a railing. 

Lord save us all if this woman reproduces again and creates another life! And please, for the love of all animals, do NOT let this woman back into another zoo. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Maine Vacation Through Food

For our 1 year wedding anniversary, my husband and I spent a week in Maine. While the state has maintained it's natural beauty and has the nicest, most down to earth residents, what we both took away from our week long trip was the food. Whenever anyone asks how our trip to Maine was, I respond with, "Absolutely delicious!" Here is a recap of how we ate our way through the great state of Maine.

We started our trip with a drive from a wedding in Hartford, CT, where we entered Maine by ways of I-95. First stop, Exit 1: Kittery, ME. Our plan was to do some shopping at the outlet mall and just find something quick to eat. My husband ended up talking with a local who suggested Bob's Clam Hut. This local restaurant was actually featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Unfortunately for my husband and I, we didn't realize that they were known for their fried clams (yes, in hindsight we should have figured based on the name of the place). We both were so excited to try a lobster roll that we oversaw the clams. Looking back, this was not the best lobster roll and if we go back we will be trying something fried. 

Lobster roll and yummy fries from Bob's Clam Hut in Kittery, ME
Next stop, Kennebunkport, ME, which is the home to the Bush family's vacation compound (because it's WAY more than a house). We arrived before dinner time and asked the innkeeper at the bed & breakfast we were staying at (the Maine Stay Inn, which was fabulous!) where we should go for dinner, preferably where the locals like to eat. She recommended Arundel Wharf Restaurant, which was just up the street from where we were staying and also along the water.  Here I ordered a cup of New England clam chowder, which was quite tasty, and then ordered the steamed mussels (in wine, shallots, garlic and herbs) as my main dish. The mussels were the freshest I had ever had, and the sauce was quite delicious. My husband ordered the lobster pasta, which he really enjoyed. Highly recommend this restaurant if you are ever in Kennebunkport.

Lobster pasta from Arundel Wharf Restaurant in Kennebunkport, ME

Mussels from Arundel Wharf Restaurant in Kennebunkport, ME
The next day it was raining so we decided to take this time to drive 45 minutes to Portland, ME. I was really excited for this stop as I had seen on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives about this place called the Porthole Restaurant, where the lobster was caught and then dropped right off at the pier next to the restaurant, so that it was the freshest lobster you can get in Maine. Without even looking for it, we found the restaurant and of course had to have their lobster rolls. We weren't disappointed! It really was the freshest lobster roll we had. And they added some of their own sauce, which made it taste much different than the lobster roll we had the day before at Bob's. If you are in Portland, this is a must-eat dive restaurant. 
Lobster roll from the Porthole Restaurant in Portland, ME
After checking out a local lighthouse (or as they call it in Maine, "head light"), we headed back to Kennebunkport to enjoy our anniversary dinner at the White Barn Inn, which is a AAA 5 Diamond, Forbes 5 Star fine dining restaurant. The menu changes weekly, and I can't remember what we both ordered for our starter courses. However, I will forever remember what I ordered for my main course, as it was the VERY best thing I have ever ate in my life: Steamed Maine Lobster nestled on a bed of homemade fettuccine with carrot, ginger, snow peas and Cognac coral butter sauce. My mouth is salivating just thinking of this meal! The lobster was absolutely to die for, and then adding the homemade pasta just made it perfection! I believe this is a staple on their menu so if you go you MUST order this dish. You will thank you later. 

Lobster dish from the White Barn Inn
Our next stop on the trip was to Camden, ME. However, the highlight of this part of the road trip was stopping at Red's Eats in Wiscasset, ME. I had seen this tiny little shack of a restaurant on various Food Network shows, as well as heard about it from anyone and everyone who has ever been to Maine. Red's was voted the #1 lobster roll in Maine by the people of Maine, and trust me, they delivered! Each lobster roll consists of at least 1lb. of Maine lobster, and is then served with your choice of their homemade mayo or butter sauce on the side (which it didn't need it at all). In fact, this was the only place we went to where lobster was served with butter, which I found interesting. I grabbed a table after we ordered, and when my husband went to grab our food, the owner, Debbie, turned to the cook and said, "I need more lobster on this one!" Seriously, it was a crazy amount of food and I really didn't want the meal to come to an end. Along with the lobster roll (which I ordered), we got a size of fried zucchini with a side of their homemade ranch sauce, and my husband ordered the crab cakes. I will go back to Maine just to go back and eat here!
Our spread from Red's Eats - lobster roll, crab cakes, fried zucchini
Me enjoying the best lobster roll in Maine. You can see how much lobster they pile on.
We arrived a few hours later at our next destination, Camden, ME. However, because we were so stuffed from Red's, we didn't even eat dinner during our one night stay in this sleepy town. Next stop, Bar Harbor, ME and Acadia National Park. We arrived before we were able to check into our B&B, so with the advice of the innkeeper (this was our favorite B&B - we liked that they gave us choices for breakfast each morning, too), we headed over to Acadia National Park's only restaurant, The Jordan Pond House. Before we ate lunch, we ended up taking a 3+ miles hike around Jordan Pond, which wasn't planned (I was wearing boat shoes). Because we worked up such an appetite, I completely forgot to snap a photo of my lunch, which was a cup of their New England Clam Chowder and two of their famous popovers. The best way to describe a popover is a giant, hollow muffin shaped baked pastry, which sort of tasted like a pancake. It is served with butter or jam (we preferred it with jam). They were definitely unique and quite tasty. 

The Jordan Pond House
Popovers from The Jordan Pond House
By the time dinner came around, we both weren't terribly hungry. We asked our innkeeper for a place where we could have a light dinner and she suggested Side Street Cafe. She said that it's where the locals like to eat, and we even had live music from a local musician. We didn't order anything crazy - my husband had baby shrimp Asian style in stir fry, and  keeping to my seafood only rule for lunch and dinner, I ordered the crab cake sandwich (no photo for this one), which was pretty good. The next day we set out for a four hour boat ride to go whale watching. We knew we wanted to eat at Poor Boy's Gourmet Restaurant that night, which has a reputation for large portion sizes, so we just ate breakfast at our B&B and then grabbed a snack on the boat. Poor Boy's didn't disappoint! We ordered mussels as an appetizer (which we definitely didn't need, but it was really good and fresh), and then I ordered crab stuffed shrimp. My husband ordered The Feast, which consisted of a cup of clam chowder, his choice of a full Maine lobster or snow crab claws (he went for the crab legs), a vegetable size, as well as a pasta side, and then a brownie dessert. I have no idea how he finished it all! We both really enjoyed all of the food at Poor Boy's, and we recommend to anyone going to Bar Harbor to dine here, but make sure you come hungry. 

Mussels appetizer at Poor Boy's
Crab stuffed shrimp at Poor Boy's
My husband with the main course of The Feast, snow crab claws
Our last day of stay in Bar Harbor was spent with a quick drive to Thunder Rock in Acadia, followed by some time walking through downtown, and of course eating. At the recommendation of a friend, we headed over to West Street Cafe for some lunch.  I ordered a lobster roll, as I knew this was my last chance to have one (my husband had fried clams), as well as a cup of clam chowder, which was really thick and yummy. The lobster roll was decent, but of course nothing compared to the lobster roll from Red's. Our server suggested the crab cakes, and it looked like the full lobster was also a crowd favorite. 
Lobster roll from West Street Cafe
I wasn't hungry by the time we went to dinner, which was disappointing because we went to the Italian restaurant, Guiness & Porellis, which my husband really enjoyed. He had the clam pasta and said it was absolutely delicious. Next time we are in Bar Harbor, I will have to be sure to stay hungry so we can go back to this restaurant. 

This concludes the tour of food as experienced from my recent trip to Maine. I will leave you with my list of random observations from the course of our trip about the state of Maine:

  • 90% of the population drives a Subaru
  • Most people do not neuter their male dogs
  • There are a crazy amount of snow birds who spend the winter down in Florida (which surprised me being that I am from So Fla and never met anyone from Maine)
  • Everyone enjoys the outdoors - even new parents would take their babies hiking
  • I-95 is known as the Maine Turnpike and had tolls every 30 minutes
  • As soon as you cross over the state line, you can see the state's beauty 
  • The weather is similar to Seattle, which I was told is why the state has so much greenery
  • Everyone gardens, period! I swear, every house in Maine had beautiful landscaping

Monday, May 14, 2012

Customer Service Fail: Crepe Revolution

Two weekends ago, my husband and I met two friends up in Smyrna for brunch. After going back and forth on where to eat, we decided to go to Crepe Revolution, which I had only heard great things about. I was very excited to try this place as I really love crepes but rarely eat them due to lack of restaurants that serve this yummy dish. 

We ended up having one of the worst service experiences I have had since moving to Atlanta 6 years ago. It was so bad that I actually Yelped about it, which I normally only Yelp good reviews. Here is what I posted on Yelp:

"The service was horrendous. We waited five minutes for anyone to greet or seat us, and another ten for our server to come to our table. The server didn't ask if we had any questions about the menu and never asked what we wanted to eat. When our coffee was brought out, we had to press it ourself. However, with our refill the server pressed it for us. There was also a hair in the creamer. Our water had not been filled once. The server came back to our table and claimed the food runner lost our ticket and asked one member of our party what he ordered again. When our food finally came another member of our party's food was wrong. She sent it back and when it was brought back out it was wrong again. The third time it came out it was finally right. The food was very, very good, which was their only saving grace. When our checks came we were all surprised to see that nothing was comped, especially the order that came out wrong twice. Brittany P. you should not be working in the food service industry and the manager needs to better support her staff."

The biggest issue with our experience was that the manager brought my friend's food out the third time and never apologized or offered a make-good for their poor service and mistake. As someone who has previously worked in the food industry, a little bit goes a long way when it comes to making things right. Just last night we went out to our local thai restaurant. The food was taking longer than normal, and without even complaining, the manager came over to us, apologized and offered us all free drinks. 

As if this experience wasn't bad enough, I just went to check Yelp and saw that Crepe Revolution has pulled down my review. Really, one bad review among all of the other positive ones and you take it down? This leads me to believe that they aren't being true to the consumers by only accepting positive feedback and removing the negative. I just reposted it, so let's see how long it will stay up for. 

While I really did enjoy the food, their poor customer service, both at the restaurant and clearly in the cyber world, has lost me as a customer forever!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Controversy of Disciplining Children

Last night on the news and this morning on my morning radio show was a segment about a man who spanked someone else's child. The cliff's notes to the story was that the man was at the vet with his sick cat, who was in a crate, and the boy was at the vet with his mother. The boy kept trying to pet the cat even though the cat's owner told him no. The boy refused to listen and the mother clearly wasn't paying attention to her kid or doing anything to discipline him, so the man spanked him on his butt. The mother immediately called 9-1-1 and had the man arrested and charged with battery. 

While I do not believe in violence as a way to resolve an issue, even with a small child, I do believe that if a parent is not disciplining their child and the said kid is in fact disrespecting someone else (more so an adult than another child), than that person has the right to step in and do something. There are way too many parents these days who just let their kids run around like animals loose from the zoo, which is extremely disrespectful to other people. 

Recent example: I was in Old Navy a few weeks ago and there were these two little boys, probably around 8 or 9 years old, who were literally running around the front of the store, taking soccer balls out of the bin and throwing them and kicking them around. One of the boys threw one at my head. I immediately looked for the child's mother, who was no where to be found. Instead of scolding the child, I told the Store Manager to take action, which of course they did nothing. After five minutes of these crazy kids messing up the front of the store and hitting numerous customers with the balls, the mother finally appeared, grabbed one of them by the arm and dragged him outside (with the unbought ball) and scolded him. I'm guessing the other child wasn't hers as she did nothing to him. I left the store before I could watch it play out anymore. 

I also worked at a nice restaurant in Boca Raton, FL for a summer while I was taking summer classes at the local university. My job as hostess went beyond just greeting and seating customers. I was deemed the unofficial child police. Because this was a nicer family restaurant, the manager was keen on ensuring that all child were kept under control. If a child was screaming for more than a minute without being escorted outside, I would go over to the parent and ask them to step outside while the child calms down. If a kid was running around the restaurant unsupervised and disturbing the other guests, I would have the child show me where their parents were sitting and ask them to either keep their child at their table/booth or they would have to take their food to-go. Is this mean? Maybe. But it definitely made the restaurant enjoyable for the other customers, as well as kept the staff sane, as well as safe from accidentally running over a child while delivering hot food to a guest. 

Don't let this be your kid
The biggest issue I have with children these days isn't the actual child, but rather the parent who refuses to take responsibility for their child's behavior and discipline him/her. What is the old saying, "It takes a village to raise a child"? So good for this man who was trying to teach the little boy who was disrespecting the authority of an adult by doing the complete opposite of what was asked of him and showing the kid that there are consequences for disobeying rules. And shame on the mother for not being a mother and keeping her kid under control while out in public. 

Friends with parents, please don't be THAT parent who ignores their kid while out in public, while the rest of the public looks at the child like he/she should be put on a leash with a muzzle over their mouth.  If you don't want your kid disciplined by anyone but you, than do it yourself! 


Great investment

Monday, April 16, 2012

LA Fitness - Zumba Fail

I have been going to Zumba classes for about a year now, as a groupd of friends and I bought a Groupon and LivingSocial deal for two different Zumba studios. I'm not an expert in this Latin-inspired Jazzercise aerobics dance form, but I can tell if an instructor is good or not. 

Since my coupons all expired and I decided to start back up with going to the gym more frequently, I was excited to learn that the LA Fitness location I go to in Midtown Atlanta offered Zumba classes three nights a week. I observed one of the Tuesday night classes a few weeks ago and noticed that there was this awesome instructor named Reginald. He had a huge following and the class was always packed (with about 50 people), and everyone looked like they were getting a great workout and also having fun. I was sold!

About a month ago, my gym buddy and I decided we wanted to try his Zumba class. We showed up early on a Thursday night, figuring that the class wouldn't be as packed later in the week. However, we were confused when there were only about 10 other people waiting for the class to start. After waiting 10 minutes past the class' start time, we started to get antsy. I turned to a girl that was standing next to me and asked if she knew what was going on. She said that Reginald had quit the week prior and it was apparent that the substitute instructor wasn't going to show up. Apparently, Reginald asked for a raise and LA Fitness wouldn't comply. Even though I didn't get a chance to take his class, I saw that he had brought in people from all over the Metro Atlanta area, who came just for him. In fact, the girl I was talking to came from Buford, GA, which is about 45 minutes north of the Midtown location. You would think that LA Fitness would have tried to at least negotiate with him considering how he helped bring in members from near and far.

After waiting 15 minutes with no sign of an instructor, the dozen or so of us paraded to the front desk to complain. Of course the person working the desk had nothing to do with group fitness, but said that he would pass our complaints on to the morning manager. After cooling down from being stood up by the so-called sub, my workout buddy and I decided to wait to try the Zumba class once a permanent instructor was assigned. 

Two weeks ago, when we saw there was an instructor assigned to Tuesday nights, we decided to give it a shot. My gym buddy had never done Zumba before and of course I talked it up about how much fun it is and that it's a great workout. We got to the class early, as we expected there to be a large crowd. I noticed there was only about 20 people in the class, but we didn't think anything of it since it was Spring Break. The instructor showed up 5 minutes late, which already pissed me off, but I told myself to just stick it out and give her a chance. In hindsight, we should have left right then and there. 

The instructor ended up being a woman who I had randomly talked to before a flag football game. She taught a class on Monday nights at the gym next to the flag football fields. I ran in one night to use their facilities before our game and saw she was wearing Zumba gear. Being the talkative person I am, I asked if she was the instructor. She not only went on to tell me that she was the instructor, but she told me how she brought Zumba to Atlanta and trains all of the other instructors. I was intrigued so I took her information and then went back to my football game. I called one of my Zumba buddies who bought the Groupons with me and told her about this new place and asked if she wanted to try one of the woman's classes with me. When I told her the woman's name, Janet, my friend immediately got animated and yelled out, "She is THE worst instructor in Atlanta!" She then went on to tell me how she had tried her class and that it was so slow and boring and wasn't even really Zumba, but more like an old school Jazzercise class. I trusted this friend and never tried out Janet's class, until now... 

You see, once the woman started talking, she gave the same schpeal - "I'm Janet and I'll be your Zumba instructor. I have been doing Zumba for X years and I am the one who brought Zumba to Atlanta." I was immediately disappointed. I turned to my workout buddy and warned her that this wasn't going to be a real Zumba class. However, we decided to give her a chance and see for ourselves if she was decent. She was by far the WORST Zumba instructor I had ever taken a class with. She was slow, boring, and to be honest, she can't really dance. At one point in the class, my workout buddy turned to me and said, "I feel like I'm at the Copacabana." I can honestly say that this was the first "Zumba" class (and I'm using the term loosely since it really couldn't be classified as Zumba) that I took where I didn't even break a sweat. 
DO NOT take Zumba with this instructor!
LA Fitness, you really have failed! You went from having possibly the best Zumba instructor in the city, to hiring, in my opinion, one of the worst. The class attendance speaks for itself. The only good move you made is hiring her to teach only one day a week and not all three. You will never see me or my gym buddy in that class again, and we certainly won't be recommending it to anyone. You get two big thumbs down for this bad decision!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Facebook Ad Fail: They Just Won't Go Away

I haven't posted about the irrelevant ads on Facebook in a while. However, I have a friend who likes to remind me that these ads still exist and appear quite often. As a tribute to her e-mail reminders, here are some of the latest Facebook ad fails:

Fact: Dietitians tell all of their patients to get healthy by eating cupcakes and cookies, especially if they look like Cookie Monster. 

Um, what do turtles have to do with this kid dressed up like Frankenstein?

Where can I ride the rainbow slide?!? I want to go down the yellow part...

I feel like if this was in my city, I would have known by now where to find it. 

Oh Madonna, my how you have changed since your Super Bowl performance. 

And my favorite - when you get your Ultrasound Tech degree, you will gain the ability to have your pregnant patients' bellies magically appear with a painted version of the fetus coming out of an egg. I must switch careers, stat!