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southern y’all

an unconventional thanksgiving

Posted on by Dalton Dorné Posted in holidaze, singapore, southern y'all | Leave a comment

I’ve lived abroad for essentially my entire adult life. Thanksgiving for me has gone from being the most fun family get together as a kid, running around my grandparents house playing with my cousins; to 5 star hotel buffets in Beijing where the food was right but the Philippine cover band singing Beatles songs was oddly off; to hosting it for a group of friends in a boozy house party setting; to eventually doing a more family friendly version with my grown-up friends in Beijing and our expanding families.

Needless to say, my thanksgiving traditions have been a bit colorful over the years, but I have always done something with some level of authenticity. And while living overseas provides great opportunities for many things, thanksgiving consistently proves to be one of the hardest times to be away from the US.

For one, its truly an American holiday only, and as such, you definitely don’t get time off for it abroad. This makes it hard to cook if you are doing your own thing, it also makes it nearly impossible to fly halfway around the world for this holiday. If you do, you would use up your vacation days and likely not be able to go home for Christmas. There are probably many reasons I get homesick at this time, but I think my friend Ted hit it on the head when he described it as “a holiday that almost everyone celebrates in the US, there are no pressures over gifts or religion, its just good family time.”

In what is my 10th thanksgiving away from home, I have to admit this is also my lamest. You think I would have been all over it, and with now living in Singapore and thus making it easier to get the right ingredients (compared to Beijing) it certainly would have been easier to pull off compared to previous years.

We were invited by some new American friends here to go to their house for thanksgiving, she loves to cook and I signed up to bring some of my best dishes too. Even better is they have a four year old and a two year old, and we were ecstatic for Niamh to get to spend some time with other kids. Win-Win! A couple days ago when she called to confirm the menu, I mentioned that I had a Pin the Tail on the Donkey Thanksgiving game for the kids (pin the pilgrim hat on the turkey to be exact!). She told me that she wasn’t sure the adults would be into that, and that it wasn’t really a party for the kids.

I was pretty shocked. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am consistently the parent that doesn’t bring our child along with us to things, assuming they are adult parties, only to arrive and find everyone else brought their kids besides us… and we then have to field a zillion “where’s Niamh” questions. I am that person, over and over again.

So you can imagine my surprise over hearing the kids wouldn’t be at thanksgiving. She then reminded me that her kids go to bed at 7:30 so they wouldn’t be around for the dinner anyway, but since Niamh is such a night-owl, I could go ahead and bring her. (off-topic, I am fascinated by parents who get their kids to go to bed so early AND sleep through the night. If I put Niamh down at 7:30 I’d be lucky if she made it to 2am).

Let me be clear, this lady is as nice as the day is long. She is absolutely lovely and this is not at all her leaving the kids out, she simply has 18 people coming for a sit down dinner. Factor in kids and that number would be 30. But not knowing that going in, I didn’t make other plans for thanksgiving with Niamh – and working full-time left me little time to plan something on the side.

I know she won’t remember, and I know we will have many more thanksgiving memories to create, but it still makes me sad deep down. And it makes me feel like a bad mom. I had the most amazing childhood, the most magical Christmases, the best memories at my grandparents house, etc. And I often fear that I am simply incapable of creating that same experience for my kid. I know, she is well traveled and is living an amazing life, but on some level, we want our kids to have what we did, and more.

I came home last night and saw Niamh before we went out to dinner with friends. I wanted to spend some time with her at least on Thanksgiving. I scooped her up in a bear hug and explained that today was thanksgiving.

“What are you thankful for?” I asked.

“Uh. Ohhh, I’m thankful I can stay home all day,” she said.

“That’s silly, you went to school today, do you mean you are thankful for when you get to stay home?”, I asked.

Well, that makes me a little sad that she so dislikes her school the thing she is most thankful for is days when she gets to stay home, like weekends and sick days. When pressed, she also told me she is thankful for our missing cat, and the dog.

“I’m thankful the Indians taught you to grow corn only so you could turn around an slaughter them with small pox blankets,” said my husband helpfully (who was NOT asked!).

My American friend Ted and I just rolled our eyes, before meeting some other friends for the most unconventional thanksgiving dinner to date – a local Singaporean seafood restaurant where we had black pepper crab, sambal shrimp and Hong Kong style fish.

And while I felt a bit sad, it made me think. Isn’t thanksgiving really about what you are thankful for? Sure, it doesn’t feel the same without the things we associate with it, like the stuffing, and turkey, and all the fixin’s. But really, a dinner with your favorite people in Singapore and hugs from your kid are actually enough.

It made me think about what I’m really thankful for, here’s my list:

  1. My family, all of them! This includes my husband, my fab in-laws, my awesome Mooma, everyone (especially my parents for giving me a great childhood, even if it sets the bar high)
  2. My daughter and how being her mom is more fun by the day
  3. My friends, near and far, who are so great I only wish we could all be in one place all the time
  4. My pets, who bring me a lot of love and affection (well, my cat does)
  5. My job, which I actually like, and pays the bills. What a winning combo!
  6. My jewelry line, which is still in the early phases but each baby step makes me proud
  7. My nanny, who makes my life as a working mom possible
  8. Our house, which we are fortunate to rent and makes living abroad feel more like a home
  9. my day-dreams, which push me to try new things and set new goals (like to write my book one day!)

So however you spent your holiday, I hope it was fabulous – even if unconventional!

why is this necessary? robodeer

Posted on by Dalton Dorné Posted in just because, southern y'all | Leave a comment

Dear Florida – why is this necessary?

Seriously, hunters can’t control themselves, so it was necessary to create a robotic deer to catch hunters shooting in off season?

Treehuger explains:

Wildlife in Florida have an unlikely new ally in the fight against poaching – a remote-controlled buck lovingly known as Robo-deer. Although he can do little more than flick his tail and turn his head, Robo-deer is so convincingly lifelike that some illegal hunters can’t help but take a shot at him. But when they do, those poachers end up getting served something a lot worse than steel veal – that’s because Robo-deer works for the cops.

Officers are able to control Robo-deer’s movements from up to 50 feet away with a radio-controlled device mounted its back. When the tempting target is placed in the brush along the roadside, folks driving by who have no qualms about hunting illegally will inevitably stop to shoot at the majestic, albeit mechanical, “animal” — giving officers justification to step in and arrest them.


For a video demo, click here

a good hair day

Posted on by Dalton Dorné Posted in just because, southern y'all | Leave a comment

A good hair day is obviously when you wake up like this.

I’d say I have good hair days about 90% of the time. I know, you’re jealous.

On a side note, like a true southerner, I associate good hair with some volume, so its not ALL bad.

the last china christmas

Posted on by Dalton Dorné Posted in china, holidaze, mommyhood, southern y'all | Leave a comment

After nearly 9 years in Beijing, we’re moving on to greener, and sunnier pastures. Recently, I agreed to move to Singapore with my company, and my family couldn’t be more excited about the move. A new decade, a new start.

Before we go, we wanted to document better our time in China. Before Niamh, we used to travel all over China, but since then we’ve been staying home a lot more, and well, the pictures from the past two years are primarily in our house and could be anywhere in the world! We definitely want to take lots of China pictures for Niamh, so she has something to show for being born in Beijing, and the fun we’ve had here.

Being a perfect mother who is always on top of her game, I thought I might set the simple goal of sending out Christmas cards this year. I envisioned loads of festive postcard options, great photographic sessions of the family with a fab historical Chinese site in the background. In my mind, my friends soft-touch black and white photos of their kids would be put to shame. Heck, I might even write one of those page-long letters about our past year. The thing that would announce to all we know that I have officially arrived on the scene in the mommy wars.

Then I remembered I’m still not at my desired weight, and my husband’s least favorite activity is being photographed. In fact, he is mentally hard-wired to pull a funny face. On top of this, who has energy to go site seeing in the winter in Beijing? But we must put all this aside and achieve the impossible. If adidas can do it, so can we, right?

Needless to say, we did the low rent version of the photo, in front of a small Chinese house (or was it a shed, thats up for debate) near where we were having Sunday brunch. Hey, it looked cultural! Two birds, right?

It seemed the perfect solution as my in-laws were visiting so they were able to help us capture this magic moment – our first family Christmas card (you’ll realize why this is monumental when you do the math and realize Niamh is going to be 3 this year). What a special treat, having them there meant we could all three be in the photo, perfect for our last Chirstmas in China!

Of course, everyone was on their best behavior and was super cooperative. In fact, we didn’t need a photo shoot at all, we only had to take two pictures to get the perfect one.

In the end, I sent out my Christmas cards on New Year’s eve, a full 6 days late. And if I’m honest hons, some of them are only being sent out now. My party line is that ‘I’m trying to make the Christmas cheer last’.

Despite our fabulous family photo, I used this one of Niamh building a snowman in our front yard. Which turns out, could be a front yeard anywhere in the world. But hey, its our last white winter for some time.

Hope Y’ALL had a great Christmas and New Year.

Think you can beat my family Christmas photo? Please send me any photos that you think can compete.

Happy 2010

using your non-corporate voice

Posted on by Dalton Dorné Posted in just because, southern y'all, workLIFE | Leave a comment

Love it. This video has made my day. I for one, have slipped from my corporate voice to my non-corporate voice on occasion! Maybe not with this quickness.

So funny, it makes me homesick. I miss the South.

the next real thing: fizz on this

Posted on by Dalton Dorné Posted in marketing mumbo jumbo, southern y'all | Leave a comment

Coca-Cola (love of my life and one of my favorite brands) is launching an ‘interesting’ new product. I’m not normally one to question the genius that is Coke, but I have to scratch my head when I hear the next real thing is going to be none other than fizzy milk.

The drink will consist of skim milk mixed with sparkling water. Wait, isn’t skim milk mostly water anyway? It will also be flavored with fruit and cane sugar, and have nearly the same sugar and fat content as a regular coke. (For those of you confused about this term of coke, in the south, we don’t use soda, or pop or other funny words. There is only coke, thank you very much).

Apparantly the drink is going to be positioned as a nutritious drink given the milk base. A copywriter describes it as a ‘birthday for a polar bear’. SAY WHAT? I’m not sure I’m feeling this. Don’t polar bears eat meat, what are they on about??!?! Have you ever wanted to go to a polar bear’s birthday?

I get that Coke has long used polar bears in their advertising, and I must admit, I’m especially fond of the polar bears ice skating in their Christmas ads. But I’m not sure ‘birthday for a polar bear’ is going to send me to the store for some warm, fizzy, fruit-flavored milk/water.

Coca-Cola in Chinese translates roughly to ‘happiness for your mouth’ and normally, I couldn’t agree more. In this case, I think its best to think of it as a milk float, or a coconut milk treat.

The product is first launching in the US and then possibly rolling out in other markets.

I think this could be a winner in Asia, generally speaking, there aren’t a lot of pre-conceived notions about what goes together and what doesn’t. Fizzy milk, why not?

The best part? The drink doesn’t need to be refrigerated. (Collective, ewwwww.)

I think I would position it as a good mixer, like a twist on the white russian.

Will you try the drink?

if the crown fits

Posted on by Dalton Dorné Posted in southern y'all | Leave a comment

1. They say we don’t deserve to be there (Texas?)

2. They give us ACC refs.

3. They don’t favor us to win.

4. Gators prove the crown still fits – winning the national championship title, again!