Friday, September 9, 2011

No, I am not ready for some football, thank you very much.

I haven’t written in a while, I know. August was one of those months I am pretending didn’t happen. But enough with that, onto the new!

I hate football. Really I do. When Hank Williams Jr. screams “Are you reaaaadddy for some foooottttbaalll!?” I hide in a corner and rock myself while repeating “It will be over in February, it will be over in February…”.

We have a lovely Sunday ritual where hubby prepares an utterly delicious chili in the crockpot and retreats to the basement to enjoy his man time. He’s working on indoctrinating our daughters into it too, and our oldest refers to football as “Daddy’s favorite show!”. Probably the only time football has been equated with Dora the Explorer. Usually I get to read a book or take a nap or get my toes made pretty. Everybody wins!

I have tried to like football- I’ve watched games with my husband and tried to make erudite observations. I’ll tell you the story of the one time I uttered a declarative statement quite relevant to the sport and he responded with a non-sequiter “I don’t know” BECAUSE HE WASN’T LISTENING another time. I have gotten to the point where I can appreciate a well-executed play, and really who doesn’t like to say “flea flicker” in the context of polite conversation?

But still, love of football eludes me.

At least in baseball I can appreciate the handsomeness of certain players. In football they are all helmets and pads. Are we even sure there are actual people in there and not those annoying Fox robots that jump around like idiots during commercial breaks? I also don’t care for the brutality of the sport- those guys go out there to try and kill each other in order to get a ball onto a particular piece of grass. And we pay them exorbitantly for it. And cheer them on. While we eat nachos and drink beer. It is like we are all Joaquin Phoenix’s icky emperor in Gladiator minus the creepy sister-love and thumbs up/thumbs down power.

For a while I was able to hold out hope that the strike would continue and our Sundays could be spent going to Home Depot to pick out wallpaper and maybe Bed Bath and Beyond (only if we have time). There could be relaxed brunches were my children wear dresses and keep pigtails in their hair while using knives and forks like civilized human beings and no food ends up on the floor. That is a pipe dream to be sure, but billionaires fighting with millionaires over who gets how much of the fans’ money was a dirty reality.

And then there is fantasy football. It has ruined everything. There was one time when I sat with my husband and asked what team we are rooting for. Okay, the Saints- great, who can’t get behind New Orleans? Yay Reggie Bush! Yay Drew Brees! Wait- yay guy on the other team??

And then he uttered the following death knell for my interest in football:

“He’s on my fantasy team. So I want him to do well but I also need New Orleans to do well because they are my defense so really we’re rooting for New Orleans but also that one wide receiver on the Giants.”

I believe this is when I got up, went upstairs and took a nap.

Wake me up when the chili is ready. Or even better, when college basketball starts.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Favorite Children's Shows

1. Olivia- I love, adore, worship this show. I have watched it by myself multiple times. Olivia is a little girl pig who is creative, articulate, smart and a dreamer. The storylines are original, sweet, funny and often involve Olivia imagining elaborate schemes and scenarios. From the ridiculously catchy theme song, to the sweet and smart silent intros to each episode, to her very true relationship with her family (especially her little brother Ian), the show is absolutely delightful. I particularly like Olivia’s Rules for Life:

#4: If you really want to hide your baby brother, change his diaper first.

#52: If your mom is having a baby and she asks you whether you want a brother or a sister, that does not mean you're really gonna get the kind you ask for.

#24: Just because it's called a veggie loaf, it doesn't mean it can't be something more exciting, like a veggie castle.

#31: Most people think animals don't talk, but they do. They just talk very quietly.

#100: Red is the very best color for absolutely, positively everything.

#110: It's important to use fancy French words when you're talking about ballet

Also, it is made in Ireland, which is just icing on the cake.

I love her. And Maeve loves when I sing and dance along with the opening music. Well, maybe not right now but she’ll learn to appreciate the joys of interpretive dance as she gets older.

2. Backyardigans: The catchiest songs on all of television. I dare you to watch this song and NOT find yourself singing “Racing day, its racing day! It’s not puppy chasing day, today’s the day we race!”. The stories revolve around 5 neighbors- a penguin named Pablo, a Kangaroo named Austin, a hippo named Tasha, a moose named Austin and, well, something named Uniqua. I don’t think we’re supposed to know what she is. Each episode is about the friends playing together and venturing off into imaginary scenarios. These can be anything from pirate adventures to spy games, to delivering pizza to Mayan temples. The music is wonderful, the stories are sweet and educational, and the characters have very well-developed personalities. Each episode also ends with the Backyardigans having a healthy snack. Mmmm, healthy snack. And there’s a family of worms called the Wormans that we occasionally see, with Herman Worman and Sherman Worman being the patriarchs. What’s not to love about that?

3. Dora: This is going to be a divisive choice, I know, but I really like Dora. The repetition can be annoying, but it is rooted in educational theory and my daughter loves it. The show also sends good messages about solving problems, helping friends, and the use of maps. Oh, and how to handle a grumpy old troll that controls a bridge. Useful life lessons all.

4. Dino Dan: Canadian kid has cop mom, mildly annoying little brother, dad who is away at the Royal Museum of Canadian Stuff, and sees dinosaurs. What’s not to love? I can’t tell you how much my daughter has learned from this show, but the fact that can both say Quetzalcoatlus and knows what that means is a pretty good example. Also, I have a thing for gender equality (which is at the root of my hatred for Max and Ruby) and this show does a great job of portraying strong female characters (cop mom and Dan’s school female friend who is as awesome at dino stuff as he is and has a mind of her own).

5. Team Umizoomi: This show is a fun intro to mathematical concepts. As a math-deficient adult, I appreciate any exposure my kids have to numbers, patterns and the use of math in everyday settings. In fact, I have been watching it as part of my GMAT prep. Not really, but maybe I should…

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Most Annoying Children's Shows

Like most parents, I spend an inordinate amount of time watching children's shows. Many of them frankly, suck. Below is my list of the world's most annoying kid's shows. Disclosure: we watch primarily Nick Jr., and I assume that children's shows in Burkina Faso or somewhere are probably pretty bad too, but I haven't seen them.

Behold, my list, in descending order of suckiness (#1 being most sucky):

1. Max and Ruby

Where to begin? Max and Ruby are rabbit siblings with no parents in sight, yet have a grandma. What drives me most crazy about this show is the reinforcement of really terrible gender roles- Max is the irascible little brother, always doing something to mess up Ruby’s day. Meanwhile, Ruby is an inflexible, nagging perfectionist. In the real world this would be a melodrama about two orphans making it on their own and the brother eventually killing his sister because he just can't take it anymore, but in cartoon-land it is the world’s most annoying show. To cap it off, I know many mothers whose kids have adopted Max’s extremely annoying one-word vocabulary. The kid doesn’t say please or thank you, or speak in anything resembling a sentence- “milk!”, “airplane!”, “truck!”. It would be okay if he’d just say “bitch!” once in reference to his sister. Did I just type that? Bad Siobhan!

2. The Upside Down Show

I don’t even know what this show is. There’s a reason it is on at 11:00pm on Nick Jr., and that is to appeal to stoner college kids. Another export from Australia, Land of the Wiggles, there are two brothers who talk funny and act kind of dumb so your kids feel smart. Sometimes there’s a puppet. I shouldn’t write anymore because I have only watched about 3 minutes of this show total, it is all I can take.

3. Toot and Puddle

Toot and Puddle is actually rather endearing- one of the friends travels the world and writes back to the other one about his adventures and sometimes they go together. I can’t tell which is Toot and which is Puddle, which is why I am being vague about their individual responsibilities. My issue with the show is that I am fairly certain that Toot and Puddle are porcine life partners, and I while I support gay marriage in all its forms I think the show should just come out and say it. Plus little Opal (girl pig and cousin of Toot) clearly has a massive crush on Puddle and I can just see “Opal- The Teenage Years” coming to Nick at Nite soon, where she dyes her hair black and plays lots of Tori Amos after he finally comes out of the closet. Just not fair to poor little Opal.

4. Franklin

My problem with this show can be summed up quite succinctly: Why is Franklin the only one with a name? Is he a racist turtle and so all the Owls and Bears and Beavers look alike to him and so he doesn’t bother? I do like the show’s messages of responsibility and dealing with complex emotions, but man does the name thing bug me.

5. Caillou

Weird kid with no hair does sort of strange things while being overly excited about them. Surprised that this show is Canadian? Me neither.

Coming Tomorrow: My Favorite Childrens' Shows!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Joy of Mediocrity

There are myriad parenting methods out there to choose from. For instance, I happen to be an adherent of the Mediocre Parenting Methodology, which is loosely defined as doing what it takes to get through the day with everyone alive, only mildly injured, and with a modicum of sanity intact. There's no book or anything for this particular method, but the following list of questions may help you determine if you are a follower of MPM:

If your child says she has boogers and you reach for a tissue as she tells you "not in my nose, in my MOUTH!" you might be a mediocre parent.

If you put more in your 401(k) than your kids' college fund because, hey, they don't give badminton scholarships for retiring, you might be a mediocre parent.

If people compliment how nice your child's hair looks, and you say thank you because you know it is due to his liberal application of bananas this morning that his cowlick is tamed, you might be a mediocre parent.

If you've expanded the five second rule to say, thirty seconds and no visible dirt or hair, you might be a mediocre parent.

If you have given your one year old potato chips at dinner time just so you can enjoy one meal in relative peace and quiet, you might be a mediocre parent.

If you've put off cleaning your car because you know that a petrified French fry might come in handy during the next blizzard/time you run out of gas/post-playdate tantrum, you might be a mediocre parent.

If you've faked a business trip just so you can check into a hotel for two nights of uninterrupted sleep/showering/peeing, you might be a mediocre parent.

These are but a few examples. If you are an adherent, please add your guidelines in the comments below!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dear George...

Dear George,

I am terribly sorry to hear about your break up with Elisabetta. She seemed like a lovely girl. Rumor has it that her interest in getting married is what got in the way of your relationship, a problem I think I have the perfect remedy for:

I am already married.

Really, it is beautiful. Marc won’t have a problem with this arrangement as you are number 1 on my “Celebrity Hall Pass” list and have already been pre-approved. If by chance his feathers do get ruffled, we can introduce him to Scarlett Johanssen and all will be well. You’ll like him, by the way- I can totally see you two playing basketball and being best buds. No “Indecent Propsal”- like jealously here!

I offer the following qualifications for this role:

-I eat Italian fluently
-I think I look good on a Harley, not that I’ve been on one before
-I am from New Jersey and therefore have mad driving skills for avoiding paparazzi
-I think your dad might actually be more handsome than you are
-I totally support your Sudan work and I would be a delightful First Lady of Save Darfur
-I loved Ocean’s Twelve and will not let anyone talk me out of it

One thing we should discuss is children. I already have two little beauties, but I firmly believe that your refusal to have children is simply unacceptable. Your genes are spectacular. To not pass them along would be a travesty. At a minimum I hope you are donating anonymously to sperm banks around the globe, but I would also be happy to have one or two little Georges and raise them all by myself. I’ll even give them mini-Caesar haircuts like back when you were Dr. Doug on ER. Can you imagine anything cuter? Didn’t think so.

I don’t need a whole lotta money, just use of the Lake Como pad from time to time and like $300,000 a year. I don’t need to go to the Oscars and parties and whatnot, we can sit at home and watch your Batman movie where your costume has the molded man-nipples and eat pizza. I have no interest in talking to Us Weekly. Our relationship will strictly be between you, me, and the eight people who read my blog.

Also, I am a tall brunette, which seems to be your particular cup of tea, so I have that going for me. And I love Kentucky. And your Aunt Rosemary was the coolest.
Should you have any questions regarding my additional qualifications for this role, please email me.
Much Love,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Would Like to Return My Big-Girl Panties, please?

Man does being a grown-up suck. When you're little being older is so glamorous- "you can't drive until you're 17! You can't be a senator until you're 35! social security is for grown-ups!", and then you get to be in your thirties, and if you're lucky you've got a good job, some family and friends and a place to live.

But no one tells you this- your friends will get sick. You will know women who cannot conceive, and in some instances you will know of babies and children who die. You will have friends, close friends, who will go through divorce. Parents become older and fragile, and suddenly you are forced to acknowledge that they will not be here forever.

The unfairness of life will unveil itself in all of its depressing glory.

I have two close friends with significant health problems- one is living with MS, the other with 10% kidney function. A family member recently lost a perfectly healthy three day old baby for seemingly no reason. One of my husband's best friends, a groomsman at our wedding, has separated from his wife after she told him she felt she was a better person alone. My dad has had a series of small strokes over the last year that I am grateful have not been more serious, but still force me to think about matters that I am simply not ready for.

I don't always know what to do in these situations. I've offered help in ways big and small, promised my kidney should it be needed, cried for a mother and newborn child so cruelly taken from her. My husband helped his friend move out, I've visited and talked with parents a lot about courses of treatment and what the next phase of their life together will look like. But I still feel pretty helpless in each of these situations. So I try to make myself useful in other areas like donating to the local infant and maternity home in hopes that the karma will come back around to those closest to me.

Now might be a good time to mention that I live somewhere on the border of atheism and agnosticism. We don't need to get into the dirty details but I know that this is where most people would say that prayer would not only help my friends but would make me feel better too. I was raised Catholic, so I understand the viewpoint, but i think it would have been a whole lot easier if God had just not visited these problems upon my loved ones in the first place, no? And then no one would have to pray, beg, borrow or steal to be made whole again. I don't get why we would ask God to fix something he broke. It's like asking the mob boss who ordered you to be knee-capped for help paying your hospital bills.

The funny thing is though that my friend's MS has helped her find her voice, and her calling as a writer. My friend with kidney disease still lives extremely well with limited issues but an emphasis on taking care of herself instead of working 100 hours a week as an attorney. Our separated friend has a new girlfriend and seems to be coping well. My dad is great. Still a little weird, but great.

The mother who lost her child- well, I know she has taken time for herself to heal. I cannot imagine what just getting out of bed each day must be like for her. There's no bonus to her situation. But I know she has a heart the size of Montana, and a family who loves her, and I can only hope she is able to heal in a way that allows her to move forward with hope.

Yeah, being a grown-up can suck. But at least I can drink wine now to cope.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Nice is Different Than Good

I'm not a terribly nice person. I am kind and friendly, but not nice. I have an inherent mistrust of people who are infallibly nice- something has to be wrong with them. I think that's part of why I don't trust Mormons. No one can be that nice all the time, especially without coffee. But nice is overrated: there's a song in the musical Into the Woods with the line "nice is different than good". Amen.

When I think of "nice" I think of someone who wants to be liked. Always. But for everyone to like you all the time you are at their mercy and not able to be yourself. That must be a sucky existence. Imagine pretending you actually like stinky cheeses, "The Happening" and the Shake Weights your friend got you for Christmas. Horrifying, no?

I'm a strong personality- sarcastic, opinionated, with no poker face to hide my disdain. I am not everyone's cup of tea, and that is fine-I'm not running for prom queen. I will always tell you the truth, so don't ask for my opinion if you don't want to hear it. I am judgmental but I've been working on that, I just get a very clear reaction to people when I first meet them and it is difficult for me to change that, whether positive or negative.

People love golden retrievers and labradors for their friendly, low-maintenance demeanor and loyalty. I think I'm more of a doberman: kinda intimidating, a little too smart, but deeply, fiercely loyal. If I love you and someone hurts you, I will rip their throat out. Well, not literally, but you get the point.

Girls are brought up to be sugar and spice and everything nice. But nice doesn't mean keeping your opinions or feelings to yourself, or sacrificing your individuality for the above-referenced prom queen title. I'm far enough in my career that I know how to professionally disagree and argue my point, but i wish in my early days that had been more assertive and less worried about being liked. There's a reason you don't write about how popular you are on your resume. I highly recommend a book called "Nice Girls Don't Get The Corner Office". It is eye-opening and extremely helpful for women on any career path.

I shall leave you with the below line, uttered by the witch in Into the Woods, as food for thought:

I'm not good; I'm not nice; I'm just right.

Judgmentally Yours,