Friday, May 27, 2011

AM I THE ONLY ONE COMPLETELY UNINSPIRED BY "SPIRIT WEEK"???

So, here we go again. The most annoying week of the year. Next to Teacher Appreciation Week, of course.

And let me just be very clear, before you go off on me, that that's not because I don't think teachers in general should be infinitely more appreciated, because, oh my God, talk about the most undervalued, overworked, grotesquely underpaid, most influential, and yet least revered job in America.

BUT because it's one of those forced acknowledgement things, I just abhor it. It's right up there with what  Mother's Day is becoming for me.  I mean, what about the other 364 days of the year that I'm a mother? Don't we deserve any acknowledgement or appreciation then? I know I'd like a random breakfast in bed in, I don't know, November, just because it's chilly.  Soooooo...when my kids' teachers are awesome, we do everything we can to make sure they know it.  Little things here and there, extra volunteering time, pushing the kids just a little harder to be leaders and help their teachers out.

Disney Day
But if they don't, and when they're not, and Lord knows there are those handful that really just have no business in this line of work -- at all -- ever, then I just don't feel that we should be guilted or coerced into reveling in their mediocrity, at best, or celebrating their incompetence, at worst.  Anymore than I would allow my children to be satisfied with their own.  That's just not okay with me.  And it's not a lesson I ever want our children to learn.

But that's not what this post is about, so let's just get to the goofy pictures, right?  So, okay, besides the additional annoyances of having to get everyone up extra early so we could get dressed and do hair, my two favorite days of the week were, not surprisingly, 80s Day, and, thoroughly shocking, Disney Day.

Full view of 80s Day Attire
For Disney Day, though, the monsters opted out of the traditional and lazy don-a-Disney-Store-t-shirt concept (which we don't own anyway). Instead, he dressed up as Mickey in the Sorcerer's Apprentice from Fantasia (he made his own costume personally).  Saia, who was not about to dress up as yet another Disney princess, decided to go with Mother Gothel from Tangled, and spent the whole morning singing my favorite song from that movie, "Mother Knows Best." :)

About 80s Day, they first asked if I was ALIVE WAY BACK THEN?!?!?  And then, once I'd recovered from that mild aneurysm and had them all decked out and shiny, they managed to easily bring me to complete tears of joy when they both said that they wanted to dress like this every day from now on. :)

It was a totally rad moment, dude. Like, fer sure.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

WHO'S IN LOVE WITH ABBOTT AND COSTELLO? NO, HE'S ON FIRST BASE!

Watching the "Who's on first?" skit

I don't know how, exactly, we got onto the conversation. I overheard Santiago saying something punny (which in itself is not unusual), but something about it reminded me of the scene from Airplane! (yes, don't judge) where the tower is speaking to Captain Oveur and Roger Murdock, and everyone keeps saying "over" and "roger" and both men keep responding, "Huh?"

Yeah, you know it. Cracks me up just thinking about it!

So, I described the scene to Santiago, and he was, literally, curled up into a ball on the floor laughing within seconds.  Just hysterical over it.  Which, of course, sent Saia into fits of laughter.  Which then meant that I really had no choice but to laugh, too. That sort of thing being contagious and all. :D

Realizing, though, that they were obviously ripe for *exactly* my type of humor, I immediately launched into the story of Abbott and Costello and the "Who's on first?" skit.  I did a terrifically horrible job of explaining it.  If you know me at all, you know how very much I suck at retelling jokes. If I'm lucky, I'll maybe remember a part of the punchline, usually not the important part.  And more often than not, I get stuck right before it's supposed to get good.

So never was I more excited to have the internet at my fingertips than when I found EXACTLY what I was looking for on YouTube in two point five seconds.  Watching the performance within seconds of talking about it was the most anachronistic moment I've had since teaching my Grandma how to redeem her online gift card at JC Penneys.

But here it is, in all it's glory.  And it really doesn't matter how many times you watch it, you're gonna laugh every single time. :)



Okay, so, because these are my little seedlings, they became, of course, obsessed. Absolutely O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D!!!

"Play it again, Mama!" he said.

[More belly laughs.]

"Again, Mama, again!" she begs.

[More splitting our sides.]

And at least 4 more times before I even started making dinner.

Then while I was busy with their chalupas, they decided to try it themselves.  Santiago, the great improviser, who thinks absolutely everything can be improved upon if he just puts his stamp on it, decided to take a little liberty with it and make some adjustments.  And this was just his first, totally unrehearsed dry run.

video
(gave up messing with the orientation on this one)

And because I very often obsess about latching onto things they love, while they were eating dinner, I found and printed out the script, one for each of them, stapled, and with their lines highlighted...in different colors.

Oh, yes. I did.

And, of course, they squealed with delight!

At bedtime, they began officially rehearsing, as they've since decided they'll be performing it for the school talent show.

[Oh, Lord, help us. What have I done???]
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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

BREASTFEEDING BABY DOLL -- WARNING: I TALK ABOUT BOOBS

How in the world did I manage to miss this when it was released in the U.S. on April 6th?!!?

Apparently, it has stirred up quite the controversy, with the most ridiculous argument being that it sexualizes young girls. Seriously?!? Sex? That's where you go with that?

Clearly, that's been the primary issue with women breastfeeding in public all along.  It makes people uncomfortable because they immediately view breasts as sexual.  And not to insinuate that they aren't, but let me just assure you, for the record, that at the moment you're breastfeeding a baby, let alone two at the same time, it's anything but sexually stimulating.

In fact, early on, it's pretty fucking painful.  There's biting and blood and cracked nipples and flaking skin.  And in between feedings, when you should be resting and recovering, you're busily pumping your overly engorged, rockhard milkbags with a sadistic electronic sucking machine just to help keep up your supply, or to store it while you're at work, or to donate it to needy milk banks.

That being said, once your body acclimates, it's a pretty phenomenal experience.  That you can sustain a life with your body is an incomparable power.  And, truly, breastfeeding is possibly one of the greatest moments you'll ever share with a child, if you're lucky enough to do so.  I don't regret a single second of the 2 years I was fortunate enough to do it.  And for every year since, the cry of a newborn, any newborn, still sends tingles right through my breasts.

But as much as I'd like to support this new marketing ploy under their whole "play and learn" scheme, I have two melon-sized complaints about this:

1) Why is the baby pretending to suckle on a flower?  

Didn't we already go through this social discussion a few years ago, about how it's not healthy to give pet names to children's private parts and that they should just be referred to by their proper biological terms? (And yes, that's coming from the hypocrite who's daughter has a "gigi" and who's son has a "jalapeƱo and a couple of vidalias".)

And yet here we've got a little flower on a bra. And not a fake nipple in sight. What's wrong with nipples, for crissakes??? We'll give Barbie 56 DDD breasts, but we shy away from a nub?  Even though every single one of us has seen piglets and kittens and puppies and calves suckle from teats.  And most of us HAVE actually seen a baby suckle from an actual woman's...gasp!...actual breast.

Really?? What is it that we're so afraid of here? That we're encouraging our children to pretend play? That our little girls are gonna wanna have babies earlier?  That we're damaging a child's psyche by exposing them to the magnificence of mother nature's self-sustaining concession stand?  That more little girls are gonna wanna be stay-at-home mommies than Board Room Bitches? PLEASE! We can be and do and become whatever we want,  regardless of how we're socialized, or I'd be married to Ken and living in a three-story townhouse with a pulley elevator and baking homemade brownies all day long in my easy-bake oven!

So, does that mean, then, that we should also get rid of GI Joes and the buckets of army guys and the fake guns and rockets because they encourage our children to perform adult actions without fully understanding the genesis or consequences of said actions???  I mean, just the sight of phallic instruments that seek to destroy human life certainly makes ME uncomfortable...

But no. No, of course not.

Because children learn by mimicking behavior.  Any and all behavior.  Bad and good.  Healthy and eh, not-so-much.  And that in combination with their life lessons, and family values, and friends' influences, and teachers' guidance, and free market advertising (forfuck'ssake) somehow produces the best possible iteration of ourselves.  If we're lucky.

Okay, enough, onto complaint #2) The sucking baby doll is almost NINETY DOLLARS?!?!?

Why the hell would anyone spend $89 dollars on a toy just because it puckers and purses its lips, when what we're supposedly trying to encourage here is PRETEND play and children using their IMAGINATIONS?!?

Betsy Wetsy's functionality was WAY more impressive, and actually, you know *produced* something.

But this, this is just ridiculousness.
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Friday, May 06, 2011

SCREW THE FLOWERS AND CHOCOLATES, HERE'S THE DOWN-AND-DIRTY ULTIMATE HI-TECH MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE YOU WERE ACTUALLY LOOKING FOR

So I was shocked to find that when I googled "high tech gifts for mom," all I kept getting were top ten lists of things like, "Sign her up for a Skype account."  I mean, okay, yeah, if she's over 65, but hey, what about the rest of us?!?

Don't let my 5" heels, french manicure, and Fendi shades fool you -- I'm a geek thru and thru.  But not a pink keyboard, blingy iPhone case, and robot vacuum kinda geek. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) I'm more of a tekky mom. In my let's-just-call-them-early forties. And if you've read me even more than once, then chances are, you probably are, too.  So, really girls, isn't it about time we just came out of the electrical closet already?

We don't have to let another Mother's Day pass us by chained to dangly heart-shaped costume jewelry and lamely stuffed heart-hugging bears, do we? Really? I mean, we can do this. If we stand united, we CAN overcome our natural maternal guilt and innate need to selflessly just smile and hug and coo.  At least for the 30 seconds it'll actually require to complete this task. Can't we?

And yes, I'll be the first to admit how hard it is to let that go.  When my kiddos started asking earlier this week what I wanted for Mother's Day, I did what we all did. I said, "I have everything I need. I just want to be with my beautiful babies."

Which is true, of course.  And I'll treasure beyond words until my dying days every single macaroni necklace, chicken scratched love poem, and finger-painted self portrait that I've ever or will ever receive.

BUT...lemme just say now, for the record, whatthefuckever.  What we REALLY want is gadgets.  All sorts of gadgets.  But not just any old gadget, like something they just pulled off a hook from that rotating case in the checkout lane at Target.  And not, let me repeat, a kitchen gadget.  Of any kind.  What we really really really want are legitimate, plug-me-in-suck-my-battery-power-and-make-my-lights-flicker gadgets.

So, because I couldn't quite find THAT list on the interwebs, I went ahead and threw one together on my own.  Here's the actual list (in no particular order) that you'll need to slip into your children's lunch boxes today or your significant other's underwear drawer tonight because it's highly unlikely they've gotten it right so far and they've really only got one more shopping day to do it:
  1. Wireless Charging Station Because cords all over the house is nerdy, not tekky. There's a big diff.  Here's a pretty cool example from WildCharge.
  2. iPad2
    Preferably in White, Engraved, in a Cool Neoprene Carry Case with a Handle, you know, since you asked.
  3. Sirius Stiletto 2 Portable Satellite Radio
    Because sometimes Pandora and iTunes just. don't. cut. it.
  4. Flip Video Camcorder And the sexy underwater case because we're worth it, dammit.
  5. iTech Easy Chat Skype Headset
    Because it's so cute and compact, plus I hate how everyone stares at me at Starbucks when I'm yelling at my monitor thinking it somehow affects the volume control on my end.
  6. Apple Magic Trackpad
    Because carpal tunnel syndrome, and any and all versions of it, sucks.
  7. Adobe Photoshop Elements 9
    Because, oh, my God, have you TRIED it out yet!??!
  8. Blog2Print Gift Card So we can finally turn our prized blogs into the hardcover, totally shelf-worthy books they should be.
  9. Enormous 2 TB (1,000 GB!!!) Backup Harddrive
    Because, ya know, we gotta whole lotta shit goin' on. Oh, and here's a smaller portable 1 TB version for those of you who still believe size doesn't matter.
  10. HyperMac External Battery
    It's like a combination of Botox and Viagra for your Apple products. They're all still eventually gonna die, but they're gonna look and perform like the day they did when you first unwrapped them -- and in most cases, even better!!
So, that's it! What'd I miss? Please please please drop 'em in the comments section 'cause, you know, there's ALWAYS time for an update.
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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

HAVE YOU SEEN 'THE RED BALLOON'?

Have you seen this adorable award winning 30-minute French children's short film?

It's subtitled, but actually has very few words, and the kids were easily able to keep up.  Although, it really never even needed that much.

I did have to twist their arm to even get it from the library, though.  And then had to double twist it to get them to even agree to watch it.  And then I'm pretty sure there was an ear-pulling bonus in order to get them to actually sit down and watch it.

But from the minute the movie started, they. were. hooked.

And I knew they would be.  Because, of course, Mama is never wrong.

The cinematography was amazing. The use of, and lack of, color.  And the surprisingly moving story line. The ending, I thought, was just a little silly, but it was too sweet not to love just the same.

The monsters gave it an enthusiastic two thumbs up!!

And, evidently, you can just stream it from Amazon right now for $1.99, or even buy it for five bucks, which probably would've been a waaaaay smarter move for me, as I'm pretty certain we're at the very top of the Notoriously Late list at the local 'brary by now and those fees are NOT pretty.

 (This, by the way, is not a solicited or paid review, although, after re-reading it, it sure sounds that way, doesn't it?)

Monday, May 02, 2011

HOLY EASTER BUNNY? SOOOO NOT WHAT YOU THINK.

Another successful midnight stuffed animal surgery in our home, as the girl, aka Destructo, managed to rip a hole into the side of her brand new Easter Bunny less than a month after his arrival.  Of course, that was 29 days longer than expected, so there's always that. :)

But she claims he came to her that way, and I couldn't bear to get into a holy easter bunny discussion ( ;P ), soooooo, the brave and still quite shaken little thing took about 10 sutures, refusing any anesthetic, and is now happily eating his jello.

"Please tuck him into bed with me when you're done, Momma. He gets scared without me," she said.

And as I happily obliged, the only remaining evidence of the incident, whose details still remain a mystery (and really, as far as we're concerned, don't ask, don't tell), is the tell-tale sign of Mama's red-threaded heart lovingly (and clearly, a little sleepily) stitched into his back right paw.

The next morning, Chago says, "Look, Saia, Mama put her love mark on your bunny."

[heh. heh. no comment.]

We wish you well, Fluffy ol' boy. But I'm pretty sure we'll see ya back here soon.  She's kinda hard on her plastic-eyed peeps.  I'll save ya some thread.
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ON CELEBRATING THE MURDER OF A MURDERER

I received 4 texts, 2 emails, and a phone call last night from friends and family who were overwhelmed with relief at the news of Osama bin Laden's death.

Then, for the next two hours, my phone turned pinball machine as Facebook status updates and tweets poured in.

But me, I still couldn't formulate a single thought.

To be honest, I actually didn't feel anything when I first heard the news.  It was the fall of an evil nihilistic human being, yes.  The end of a decade-long search, for certain.  The period at the end of the sentence for an iconic global terrorist, absolutely.  And the death of someone's son, grandson, sibling, cousin, and friend.  But the fact that he was suddenly, willfully and brutally erased from the earth didn't change the way I felt...about anything.

I mean, as a society, we're already so desensitized to death, and violence, and war, as it is.  And so I think because of the unbelievable weight of human suffering and misery that we're faced with daily on the news, in our own lives, on the streets, that we must, as emotionally driven human beings, find a place to put that in order to even be able to get out of bed in the morning.

After the horrible tragedies of 9-11, in particular, the only way we as parents could ever step out of our homes again was to compartmentalize those feelings somehow, while still finding a way to simultaneously manage to remain sympathetic to everyone's suffering and still be and raise a compassionate forgiving race of people.

But once you do that, once you put that away and bury it beneath the surface, tucked neatly beneath the illusion of orange safety alerts and heightened security screening, it's not always so easy to flip that switch again. Especially if you were fortunate enough to not have been personally affected, and then walk around with this guilty need to apologize for the fact that you've been fortunate enough to not have been personally affected all these years since.

So, I think it honestly took me a few hours to allow myself to fully recall the memories, where I was when I first heard about the towers, what it felt like watching it on TV that morning, hearing my brother's voice first thing as we listened to each other breathe on the phone while we stared in horror at the screen.  The perpetual lump in my throat that's rising again today.  How I was completely unable to tear myself away from the news reports for the next five days. Unable to concentrate on anything else. Uncertain of my own future. Terrified suddenly of the whole entire world and every single person in it.

And yet, here we are, almost 10 years later.  A little more cautious, a lot more patriotic, but still a strong, surviving, thriving community of people with varying backgrounds, spiritual beliefs, political convictions, and controversies.  But we're still here.  It was a horrific moment in history.  But we're still here.  We lost so many, so soon, and so unnecessarily.  But we're still here.  And I guess that that's what I'm most focused on today. I'm most proud of the way our country came back after September 11.  The way that everyone, despite our differences, found a way to move forward, united and divided all at once.  That THAT was what made us the greatest superpower in the world.


Not this.  Definitely not this.

And while I do know how much the certainty of his absence from this world brings closure, and peace, and a tangible sense of vengeance for so many, his death really means nothing to me.  No, actually, that's not true.  The news of any death is a horrible thing. But death at the hands of another, for me, is always always so much worse. 


No arrest? No trial? No evidence? No justice? Just licensed vigilanteism and dancing around the stuck pig. In a time of war, especially, it's a blurry line that crosses the grey space between a legal and an illegal action. Did he deserve to be judged for he did? Without a doubt.  Did he deserve to die? That's not for me to decide. Nor you.  But it's kind of a done deal now.  So, that's that. Or is it?

The terror threat has not changed.  Evil still exists.  We are in a perpetual state of war.  And the fact that we have now martyred and elevated him to the level of Hitler or Stalin only ensures his immortality, just as our gloating ensures we will taunt his minions into retaliation.

And where's the grey line now?

So, as I woke the kiddos up at 6:30 this morning, I knew I had to find a way to explain what had just happened, that there would be kids celebrating his death on the playground, that he would become a punchline to jokes, that his name would suddenly be on the lips of my children, too.  And while everyone grumbled about it being Monday and how the weekend was never long enough, I watched as they stretched their perfectly healthy limbs, and yawned with their strong lungs, and slid their well-fed and well-clothed bodies out from under their warm blankets under their free sky, and all I could feel was this vacuous sense of guilt for having been born so lucky.  And what the weight of that responsibility actually meant.

So, sitting with them on their beds, I began to retell the story of 9-11, reminding them of who bin Laden was, what he had done, and the legacy he had left behind.  I talked about all the people who lost their lives that day and since, and all those who lost their loved ones because of it. And then I told them that bin Laden had been killed by our military.  And I waited.

And the only thing Santiago said was, "Oh. Then that's good...and bad."

And that was exactly what I needed to hear.
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