Sunday, March 30, 2014

April 2014 Photo-A-Day Challenge

It’s been quite a while since I took on a month of Photo-A-Day challenges, so I’d say I’m about due. So I searched around online and came up with the April 2014 list from  the fatmumslim website:

As I usually do for these challenges, before the month starts I take a look at the list and try to come up with a few general ideas of what I might choose as a subject for each day. I find it interesting to go back after the fact and see how accurate my predictions were. Here are my initial thoughts on my photo subjects for each day. See you back here in a month to see how well I did!

01.  Something Purple: Considering that roughly 50% of my daughter’s wardrobe is purple (the other 50% is pink), there’s a pretty good chance this will be a photo of her wearing a purple item of clothing and doing something cute.
02.   In My Hand: My world is filled with a plethora of hand-sized objects: Lego blocks, Barbie shoes, small socks, Candyland game pieces. I’m just hoping it’s one of them and not, say, a pre-chewed piece of bubble gum or apple slice.
03.   Shapes: My kids’ toybox is full of objects with geometric slots and cut-outs, so I’m predicting some item with either a Playskool or a Fisher Price label on it.
04.   Good Together: If April 4th happens to be a day when my children are playing nicely together, it will be them. If not, probably a salt and pepper shaker or a pair of candlesticks.
05.   Not Mine: My son loves to borrow and lend toys back and forth with his buddy Ben, so “not mine” will probably refer to one of Ben’s monster trucks, motorcycles, or dinosaurs.
06.   A Taste of Spring: Oh, how I hope this will be a photograph of a sprig of green peeking up from the dirt in my garden!!
07.   Where I’d Rather Be: If the weather is gloomy, this will probably be a photo of a past vacation in a tropical spot; if it’s sunny and warm, it’ll probably be a photo of exactly where I am.
08.   Hobby: My three main hobbies are theater, writing, and sewing, so something related to that.
09.   Dark: There is often a lovely view of the sunset outside my front door as darkness falls.
10.   My Fave Part of the Day: On a good day, this would be snuggling with my kids, reading them stories before I tuck them into bed. On a bad day, this would be a the glass of wine I have after I tuck them into bed.
11.   3 of a Kind: Three other people besides me live in my house and they often wear matching outfits (and smiles).12.   On My Left: Since April 12 is my wedding anniversary, you can expect to see a photo of my engagement and wedding rings.
13.   More Please! See #10, above.
14.   Dirty: I have small children, so most likely someone’s peanut butter-covered face.
15.   I’m Reading This: Who knows what book I’ll be in the middle of by the 15th!
16.   My Vice: There are so many…wine, chocolate, nachos…I don’t know what it will be but it will have plenty of calories.
17.   Something I Learned: Don’t know; haven’t learned it yet.
18.   Good: See #16.
19.   Money: My daughter loves to steal loose change from my husband’s bedside table, so this shot will probably be a penny I discovered in some unexpected location: my shoe, my coffee mug, the toilet.
20.   Egg: The kids will have dyed Easter eggs so I’ll be bragging on their artwork.
21.   Close: Hmm, will I choose close meaning “near” or close meaning “shut”? I predict something shut, such as eyes or a door or a book.
22.   Four Things: In a family of four, it could be four dinner plates, four coats hanging in the closet, or even four game pieces waiting to play.
23.   Entrance: Plenty of doors in my house to choose from!
24.   A Pop of Color: Much like #6, I’m really hoping this will be a photo of some flower in my garden getting ready to bloom!
25.   Remember: There are old photos all over my house.
26.   Enjoy the Little Things: A smile from one of my kids, a small piece of candy, a pretty sunset.
27.   Under My Feet: Legos spread out all over the floor.
28.   Chaotic: Probably also Legos spread out all over the floor.
29.   Contrast: For all that they’re alike in many ways, my kids are also a study in contrasts: the petite tow-headed girl playing with stuffed animals and the tall, sturdy brunette boy building guns and helicopters out of Legos.
30.   Something Silly: My kids are always up for being silly!

Looks like a fun month ahead!!

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, March 29, 2014

God, I Hope I Get It

As many of my blog readers know, I am a frequent community theatre performer. Which means that I am an even more frequent community theatre auditioner. I’ve auditioned for school plays and musicals; for community theater plays and musicals; for local fundraising performances; and for various assorted chorales, choruses, and choirs. Since I’m also an instrumentalist, I’ve auditioned to get into bands, orchestras, summer camps, and college performing arts programs as well. Since my first audition at age 10, standing around the piano in Mrs. Tatarunis’ music class taking turns singing solo lines, I have auditioned literally hundreds of times. But today I had the shortest audition I’ve ever had. It lasted a grand total of 25 seconds.

A theatre audition is essentially a job interview. In most job interviews, you send in your resume, someone looks it over, then they call you in for a chat, either on the phone or in person. It is extremely rare that such a chat lasts less than 15 or 20 minutes. And generally the person doing the interviewing has spent at least 5 or 10 additional minutes reviewing your resume. But in theater, you show up, hand the “interviewer” your resume and headshot, they glance at it while you sing your 16 bars (for you non-musical types, that’s the 25 seconds referenced above), and then you’re done. You don’t get a chance to defend what you just did, to explain the rationale behind your choices, or to expand upon the experience shown in the resume that they probably didn’t even read all the way through. Within 30 seconds, they’ve judged whether you’re worthy or not.

Of course, in many cases, the initial interview is just to sort out who makes it to the second round, and that is sometimes the case with auditions, as well. In most job situations, it’s a second interview with additional people; in theater, you get another 30 seconds or so to do a cold reading, or if you’re a dancer, you get 45 seconds to perform a combination you learned in the previous 10 minutes. If you were that terrific in your original 25 seconds, you might get a whole 90 seconds to sing again. But in a lot of cases, all you ever get is that first 25 seconds to make an impression.

The whole audition process is nerve-wracking, even terrifying. It’s frustrating. And since every show only has so many performances before it’s time to move on to the next show, it’s never ending. So why do we keep doing it? Because sometimes, you get the job.

And when you get the job, there’s no greater feeling in the world. Someone thinks that people are willing to pay money to see YOU on stage. Someone wants to hear you sing, to watch you dance, to listen to you speak, to fall in love with or hate or fear or sympathize with the character you’re portraying. Someone wants to give you the chance to dissolve your own self into a character, to lose yourself inside another human (or sometimes, non-human) being. Someone wants YOU to do what you love.

God, I hope I get it.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Murphy's Law for Parents

I’m sure that everyone reading this is familiar with Murphy’s Law, which states, “If anything can go wrong, it will.” Murphy, I firmly believe, came up with this law while his (or her; I don’t want to assume) children were preschoolers. It seems like small children are particularly prone to constantly illustrating Murphy’s Law. Murphy’s Law is certainly alive and well in my house, thanks to my own small children. Let me give you a few corollaries of the parents’ version of Murphy’s Law.
  • Items which can cause a stain (permanent markers, cranberry juice, lipstick, Desitin) will always find their way onto the least washable surface (white velvet couch, dry clean-only clothing, cathedral ceiling, a sibling’s artwork) in the vicinity.
  • Screaming fits are most likely to happen when a) a parent is on an important business call, b) a sibling has fallen asleep after fighting taking a nap for two hours, or c) the new neighbors have just dropped by. 
  • Growth spurts kick in immediately before important events requiring special, expensive clothing (weddings, Christmas, Easter) but immediately after purchasing said special, expensive clothing. 
  • Any food which you have recently assured your in-laws that your child will eat will be added the child’s most hated food list immediately prior to being served by said in-laws.
  • The messiest accidents happen within the last 60 seconds prior to departure for an important event.
  • The urgency of a child’s need to use the bathroom is inversely proportional to his ability to manage the fasteners of his pants.
  • Ugly furniture that you bought secondhand 15 years ago will never be spilled on; new furniture will be “christened” within 12 minutes of delivery.
  • Diapers only leak on dry clean only clothes.
  • The knick-knacks you hate will rarely be knocked down and will never break when they are; the ones you love are toast as soon as your kids become mobile.
  • The day the preschool sends home all the glittery craft projects the kids have worked on all year long will be the day you get your car detailed right before pickup.
  • Children will never repeat vulgar or inappropriate things they’ve heard in private, only in public and at the most inappropriate times (church, funeral, in front of your boss).
  • Self-imposed haircuts happen immediately prior to important picture-taking events (school photo day, your brother’s wedding, your parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party).

Any corollaries from your own experience you’d like to add ?

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, March 23, 2014


This blog is in response to – or, more accurately, in support of – Beverly Beckham’s article in today’s Boston Globe, entitled, “A crude, but wildly popular shot at kids.” Her article, in turn, is in response to – and most definitely NOT in support of – a book called “I Heart My Little A-Holes.” Despite the wild popularity of the book, Ms. Beckham and I are, in Ms. Beckham’s words, “dumbfounded” by the author’s attitude. I would even go so far as to say that I am “appalled.” In my husband’s words, “It’s just so ugly.”

I have not read the book (or the corresponding blog), but between the title and the synopsis, I am stunned by the lack of respect this woman shows for her own children. Not her adult children, her children. Her young children, whom she is responsible for bringing up to be responsible, respectful adults.

One of my complaints about many young people today is their lack of respect. Their lack of respect for their parents, their teachers, their neighbors, their employers. But if the attitude of this author is typical of parents, it comes as no surprise that some young people have no respect. If they are not respected, why should they offer respect?

When my husband and I got engaged, we talked a lot about what our relationship would need to survive. We admitted that we would sometimes get angry with each other, that we would sometimes even dislike each other. But we agreed that we would always love each other, and that we would always treat each other with respect. I don’t know how any relationship can survive without mutual respect, be it husband-wife, parent-child, or friends. Respect is crucial in allowing communication, understanding, cooperation, and compromise. Without respect, none of those four things can happen, and without those four things, no healthy relationship can survive.

So I treat my husband with respect. Even when I really want to wring his neck – and there are times when I do. Because there are also plenty of times when he wants to wring mine, and I appreciate that he still treats me with respect at those times. That respect is what allows us each to step back, take a breath, recall that we love each other, and open ourselves to working together to fix the problem.

I consider it critically important that we model that respect to our children. Respect for each other, and respect for them. I demand respect from my children, but I also offer it in return. I do not allow my children to call me (or each other) names, and I never call them names, except in clearly understood jest. My son loves it when I call him a goof, because it is plainly said in love and affection. But I cannot possibly conceive of calling my child an “a-hole” under any circumstances. That is not jesting, it is downright disrespectful. And where there is disrespect, how can there be love?

Children learn what they see and what they are surrounded by as much as, and often more than, what they are taught. A child who is treated with disrespect, who is called names or treated as a burden by his parents, will learn to treat others with disrespect and to consider the needs of others as a burden that takes away from his own needs and his own comfort, regardless of the words he hears telling him to respect and care for others. Perhaps if parents treated their children with respect from the time that they were tiny infants unable to earn it for themselves, they would grow up continually earning it, and striving to earn it, and would never be deserving of disrespectful titles such as “a-hole.” After all, if you call your child an a-hole and treat him like an a-hole, don’t be surprised when that’s exactly what he turns out to be.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Priceless Heirlooms

Some families have valuable heirloom pieces of furniture, or historical artifacts, or antique jewelry that has been passed down from generation to generation. Mine…doesn’t. I do have a beautiful wooden cradle that my grandfather made for me when I was 4 or 5 that I intend to pass down to my daughter soon, and my grandmother gave me a lovely sewing table she’d had for years when she moved to a smaller apartment. But nothing of large innate value, and nothing that has been in the family for a hundred years. Nothing that fits the specific definition of an heirloom.

That doesn’t make any of those pieces less valuable to me, though. Along with that cradle I will pass along memories of my grandfather and my father, both skilled woodworkers and craftsmen who made me and my sister many creative toys over the years, including a pair of stilts and a pair of “Romper Stompers” (which were essentially upside-down buckets that you held on your feet with rope reins while you clomped around). With the sewing table, I will pass along memories of my grandmothers’ and my mother’s skill with a needle, sewing and knitting and quilting and embroidery. The items themselves don’t have a lot of value, but their worth as a reminder of important family history and memories is beyond measure.

So this morning, when my daughter requested a tea party, instead of giving her the usual plastic dinosaur cup, I decided it was time to do a “proper” tea party, and I pulled out my grandmother’s silver christening mug. 

The top edge of the mug is ringed with a wreath of embossed roses, and underneath, in beautiful, elegant script, is her name, “Ruth Elizabeth Dunbrack,” and her date of birth, Feb. 9, ’07. More than one hundred years ago, someone – I don’t know exactly who, but I suspect a great-aunt or great-uncle – picked out this gift for her and had it personalized. It's lovely and special, but not especially expensive. But the fact that her parents kept it throughout her childhood and passed it down to her, and she passed it down to her oldest daughter, is proof that they all considered it valuable.

My tea party with my daughter brought back distinct memories of having tea parties with MY mother, using that very same mug. And I have no doubt that those tea parties brought back HER memories of tea parties with HER mother and that mug. And perhaps someday my daughter will have a tea party with HER daughter and will recall memories of this very morning’s tea party with me.

That mug might not be priceless, but what it represents sure is: love and family. Two things that are definitely beyond price.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Seven (More) Mom Myths, Debunked

Every now and then, I like to look back over my past blog entries, particularly those from when my son was the age that my daughter is now. I think it’s interesting to see how their development is different and how it’s similar; how their thought patterns are similar and how they’re different; how their personalities have developed along parallel but distinctly differing lines. But it’s also interesting to see how my own thoughts on parenting have developed, and how they’ve changed – or not.

One of the blog entries I re-read recently was from May 26, 2012, entitled “Seven Mom Myths, Debunked”. My son was 2-1/2 and my daughter was 9 months old. Many of the realizations I wrote about came from having a second child and seeing which childrearing truths seemed to be universal (or at least, which applied to both my children) and which were unique to each individual child. Now that my children are a bit older, I’ve discovered even more “Mom Myths” which could use some public debunking. So here are seven more bits of advice that just might be wrong (or at least, wrong for you and/or your child).

1.  If it worked for kid #1, you should use it on kid #2.

Unless you’re raising clones who have never been apart from each other for one second of one day, this myth is possibly the mythiest myth that ever mythed. Every child reacts differently to every possible parenting technique, from potty training to healthy eating to learning to write his name to sleep training. If it worked for kid #1, you should probably TRY it on kid #2, but be prepared for it to not work the same way. Parenting is not a science but a creative and ever-evolving art. Always be prepared to come up with different ways to solve a problem, and just keep trying things until you find something that works.

2.  Allowing your children to use any kind of technology will instantly melt their brains.

Plopping your kid in front of a television set with an iPad in her lap while you text on your smartphone all day long is not the best idea. But the children of this generation will be living in a world of technology, and allowing them to become comfortable with it early on is not a bad thing. Certainly, use discretion in the applications they are allowed to use (there are some wonderful educational programs and apps out there!), limit the time they spend in front of a screen, and balance it with lots of socialization, exercise, and face-to-face mom and dad time. But don’t treat technology as something evil, because it will be a part of your children’s lives their whole lives long. The added bonus? If you learn along with them when they’re small, by the time they’re using technology independently, you’ve got the hang of it too and can keep a protective eye on them.

3.  You need to spend every waking hour interacting with your child.

This myth is almost a corollary to Myth #2, above. But there is a whole world full of activities between plopping a child in front of a screen and plopping him in front of YOU all day long. Neither of those extremes is healthy for you OR your child. Children need to learn to interact with adults, but they also need to learn to interact with their peers, and above and beyond that, they need to learn to keep themselves entertained without someone else directing their activities. A child who knows how to play on his or her own is a child who has learned to think creatively, independently, and confidently, and who has developed mental resources that will serve him or her well in school and in life.

4.  Picky eaters can be trained to eat anything.

This is utter and absolute bosh. Sure, there are some kids who will turn up their noses at new foods who can be taught to try (and like) new things. But there are also some children who simply dislike the taste (or smell, or texture) of certain foods, and there is nothing you can do to change that. Can you force them to eat foods they hate? Sure you can. But speaking as a former picky eater, you can believe me when I say that this particular technique will NOT encourage your child to be open-minded about food, or to magically start to like foods she didn’t like before. The best thing to do with a picky eater is to try different alternatives. If your kid refuses to eat vegetables, try to find some fruits he likes. If she turns up her nose at red meat, offer her chicken or pork. If they won’t eat anything that isn’t some shade of white or beige, give them jicama and cauliflower and pears and mushrooms and turnips and white peaches. Experimentation and creativity are key.

5.  All children need to attend pre-school to develop needed skills before kindergarten.

I know dozens of parents who work themselves into a frenzy before their children are even born, trying to enroll them in the perfect pre-school program. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting the best possible program for your child. But there’s nothing wrong with skipping pre-school, either. It’s not the only option for either socialization or readiness skills. It never ceases to amaze me how much my kids pick up from the world around them without anyone actively teaching them. Their own curiosity is often their best teacher. Read them books, take them to the playground, take them to the library, have playdates with other families, enroll them in gymnastics or T-ball or karate or dance class. Go to the grocery store and ask them to pick out a yellow fruit, or to put three potatoes into a bag, or to tell you what number is on the sign at the end of the aisle, or to pick out some cereal with the letter “P” on the box. Give them crayons and bubbles and sidewalk chalk and your attention and they’ll practically teach themselves. Is pre-school great? Absolutely. Is it necessary for every child? Absolutely not.

6.  Your kids should always come first.

Your kids’ NEEDS? Yeah, those should generally come first. If you’re in a financial bind and have to choose between milk for the kids and a new pair of shoes for you, buy the milk. But the kids’ WANTS? Nope, those don’t always get to be first in line. If you sacrifice everything you want (or need) so your kids get everything they want, you’ll be so burned out that pretty soon you won’t be able to give them what they need, never mind what they want. Plus, if you give them everything they want, they’ll come to expect it. Let your kids see that sometimes you give things up so they can have something, and teach them that sometimes they’re expected to go without something they might like so that you can get something you want. Maybe that means that sometimes YOU get to pick the movie for family movie night, maybe it means that sometimes the family goes out to dinner somewhere other than Chuck E. Cheese, maybe it means that every now and then you get Daddy’s favorite cookies instead of theirs at the grocery store. Raising a child to understand that the world does not revolve around him creates a human being who understands the worth of looking out for others and not just himself.

7.  A good, thoughtful parent rarely makes a mistake.


That bears repeating, actually: Hahahahahahahahaha.

No matter how careful, how thoughtful, how well-prepared you are as a parent, you will, on a regular basis, fail. You will fail spectacularly. You will fail EPICALLY. You will fail repeatedly.

And you know what? You and your kids will live to tell the tale. Letting your kids see you fail – and apologize, and pick yourself up, and figure out how to fix it – is one of the best lessons you can teach them. Because they’ll fail, too. Spectacularly, epically, and repeatedly. And knowing how to move on after failure is a terrific life skill to have. A child who is not afraid of failure is a child who will try anything, who will think outside the box, who will come up with innovative solutions, and who will persevere.

And that’s the kind of child I’d be proud to raise, no mistake about it. 

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sometimes You've Just Gotta Break the Rules

I would describe myself as someone who’s generally a rule-follower. Someone who obeys rules merely because they ARE rules. Someone who does what’s expected, what’s “normal,” what’s “right.” But every now and then, I just need to break the rules.

So today, when I picked up my son at lunchtime and he and my daughter begged to play on the big bell outside the school, I let them. I paid no attention to my arbitrary schedule that said we needed to be home by 12:05pm and eating our healthy, nutritionally-balanced lunch by 12:23pm and attempting to get my daughter to take a nap by 1:03pm. Instead, we hung around for nearly an hour, just kicking snowbanks. We banged on the big brass bell until it gave deep, sympathetic, shivering chimes. We chased each other down the sidewalk and played tetherball with the balloons on the signboard and took turns being the King of the Mountain on the big piles of snow still in the yard. We listened to the big carillon in the church steeple playing hymns. We spotted a fat robin hopping across the grass in search of worms. We waved at passing trucks.

And when we got tired of that, we decided it would be a good day to have ice cream for lunch. Not WITH lunch, not AFTER lunch, but FOR lunch. And not just ice cream, but ice cream sundaes, complete with hot fudge and rainbow sprinkles and mini M&Ms and gummy worms. 


A certain young man was quite proud to sit all by himself at the counter, politely wiping up his own spills (of which there were impressively few) and running over to throw his dirty napkins in the trash, while a certain young lady was content to let Mom share her treat, and who politely informed the older couple who inquired about the deliciousness of her ice cream, “Dat my brudder Ryan. Dat my mom. I Katie,” much to their delight.

And when we got home, instead of following my instinct to get them inside and cleaned up, I let them play in the snow and the puddles and the mud. (I did make my daughter take off her brand-new sneakers and put on her old, almost-outgrown ones instead.) My son spent an hour chipping little bits of ice and snow with his shovel and relocating them, pausing to watch a squirrel race up a tree or to pull a broken stick free from a snowbank. My daughter, at first clutching her stuffed monkeys, tentatively poked a toe at the mud just beyond the brick walkway, but eventually embraced the sloppiness so much that she actually lost a shoe in the mud. She patted puddles with her hand and then one foot and then jumped in with both feet, making a huge, muddy splash. She took charge of her brother’s shovel and dug both snow and mud indiscriminately. Her monkey pals were abandoned to play in puddles on their own (they were rewarded for their troubles with an exciting ride in the washing machine later in the day). 

And what was the price I paid for breaking the rules a little? There are 2 more pairs of pants and 4 more socks in the laundry than there would have otherwise been, there are a few muddy footprints in the hallway, there are a couple of pairs of shoes that will need to be scrubbed a bit, and there’s a full dishwasher that probably should have been run through before dinnertime. But the rewards of an afternoon of fresh air, two happy, laughing children, and several hours of not thinking about a schedule or a list of chores? Those rewards are far, far beyond price.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

True Mom Confessions

Sometimes, as a mom, I do things that I’m not proud of. Sometimes, I just need to confess my shortcomings to purge my guilt. Feel free to post your own confessions, mom or otherwise, anonymously or otherwise, in the comments section!

  •         Sometimes I deliberately pick a leftover container that’s too small just so I get to eat the few bites that don’t fit.
  •         Sometimes I make my kids macaroni and cheese for lunch because it’s what I want for lunch.
  •         Sometimes I make my kids take a nap because I need a nap.
  •         Sometimes I tell my kids it’s “Pajama Day!!!” because all my yoga pants are in the laundry and I can’t bear the thought of putting on jeans.
  •         Sometimes I “reward” my kids with pancakes for lunch or dinner simply because I can’t think of anything nutritious that I want to cook.
  •         Sometimes I’m in the car by myself for half an hour before I realize that I’m listening to “Frog Trouble” or “Broken Piano” or “On Top of Spaghetti” – and liking it.
  •         Sometimes I take the long way home from errands hoping that my kids will fall asleep in the car so I can sit in the driveway and read Facebook and Pinterest on my phone for 20 minutes uninterrupted.
  •         Sometimes I cheat at Chutes and Ladders just to get it over with.
  •         Sometimes I let my kids cheat at Chutes and Ladders just to get it over with.
  •         Sometimes when I hear the kids wake up early I pretend to be asleep so my husband will get up and get them dressed and fed.
  •         Sometimes I pretend I need a second cup of coffee just as an excuse to leave the chaos of the playroom for 5 minutes.
  •         Sometimes I go in the bathroom when I don’t actually have to go so I can just sit in the quiet for a few minutes.
  •         Sometimes I describe an elaborate invisible villain to my son so he won’t make me be the bad guy.
  •         Sometimes I play Simon Says with them just to tire them out.
  •         Sometimes I make them paint the flagstones on the porch with water.
  •         Sometimes I blow bubbles with them just to enjoy the head rush after the 327th “blow.”
  •         Sometimes I let them blow bubbles inside the house because it’s easier than washing the kitchen floor.
  •         Sometimes I let them slide around in their socks for the same reason.
  •         Sometimes I watch them while they’re sleeping just to remind myself how much I love them.
  •         Sometimes I see aspects of my own personality in them and I’m crazy proud.
  •         Sometimes I see aspects of my own personality in them and I’m crazy embarrassed.
  •         Sometimes I wonder how on earth such a wonderful, brilliant, thoughtful, sweet, kind human being could have issued forth from my loins.
  •         Sometimes I wonder how on earth such a pig-headed, stubborn, self-centered, annoying human being could have issued forth from my loins.
  •         Sometimes I would gladly sell them to whatever circus or band of gypsies was passing through.
  •         Always, I would throw myself in front of a bus or a speeding bullet or a raging lion for them. Even despite all of the “sometimes” above. 

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Irregular Exercise

I hate going to the doctor. I hate it because I don’t like being mostly naked in front of a relative stranger, because I don’t like people touching me, because the questions they ask remind me that I’m growing older. But one of the top reasons – if not the very top reason - that I hate it is that I know my doctor is going to ask me the dreaded question: “So, are you getting any regular exercise?”

By “regular” exercise, I know she means stuff like going to the gym three times a week, jogging on the treadmill for an hour a day, swimming laps at the local Y every morning, or taking a weekly spinning/Pilates/Zumba/yoga class. In which case the answer to that question is a resounding, “NO.” But if she were to ask me if I get any kind of “irregular” exercise, I could respond to that question with a confident, “YES!”

Yes, I get plenty of irregular exercise. And by “irregular exercise,” I mean “any of a multitude of physical tasks required to keep two small children from destroying themselves, my house, and my sanity.” These physical tasks include things like spontaneous bedtime dance parties attempting to exhaust them into falling asleep without complaint; chasing a naked child around the house at top speed while waving a diaper; wrestling with a child who does not want to put on his/her [insert article of clothing here]; dead lifting a sleeping 50-pound child from a car seat and carrying him up a flight and a half of stairs without waking him; hefting a 30-pound child in and out of a high chair/car seat/grocery cart/trash can (don’t ask); flying tackles of a child who is about to fall off the back of the couch/stab himself with sewing scissors/stab his sister with sewing scissors/wake Daddy at 5am/let herself out of the house wearing only a diaper, a pair of cowboy boots, and a Cinderella tiara/set the neighbors’ dog on fire.

I understand that these exercises are not exactly endurance events, but believe me, there is a significant cardio component involved. If it’s true that “whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” then this is the kind of exercise that will make parents immortal. Every time my heart stops beating in panic and then spontaneously re-starts itself in relief, I figure it must be gaining muscle.

There are also quite a few non-cardiac-related exercises involving my kids that I perform on a very regular basis: swinging them back and forth while singing, “Tick-tock, tick-tock, I’m a little cuckoo clock!”; lifting them with my legs so they can fly like an airplane; heaving them up onto my shoulders to see over a crowd of tall adults; pushing them on the playground swing; galloping around the room neighing like a horse with one of them riding on my back; and simply going for walks around the neighborhood. That, at least, is regular irregular exercise.

So maybe the next time my doctor asks if I’m getting any exercise, I’ll think of my kids and answer, “Yes, I am!” Of course, thinking of my kids probably won’t help that much when she goes on to ask me if I drink…

Bookmark and Share

Monday, March 3, 2014

Oscar Fashion Review 2014

There were an awful lot of really pretty gowns on parade at last night’s Oscar awards, and very few misses. So without further ado, let’s dive right in with some of the memorable outfits. In alphabetical order:

Amy Adams continued her streak of stunning, striking, flattering dresses in this simple cobalt blue gown. The color set off her beautiful hair and skin, and the simplicity of the cut set off her perfectly toned figure. It had just enough details, such as the curved flaps at the bodice, briefest hint of a peplum, and tiny train, to be interesting. Her choice of striking but subtle earrings, a single bangle bracelet, and a softly waved updo allowed her to shine without being overshadowed.

Sandra Bullock has been hit or miss at awards shows lately but she was on the money with this charcoal blue dress. From the sweetheart neckline to the full drape to the structured train, she radiated elegance and glamour. Her sideswept hair revealed a large diamond earring that coordinated with her diamond bangle. Sheer perfection.

Kristen Chenoweth often struggles with proportion and her petite frame is easily overwhelmed by gowns. But this Art Deco-inspired column hugged her figure nicely and her sleek bob helped her to avoid the “bobblehead” trap. This is not an easy color to pull off but she makes it work.

The rich emerald of this gown was an excellent choice for Viola Davis. The asymmetrical neckline and deep flat pleats of the skirt are lovely, but at certain angles the criss-cross detailing made her look a bit poochy. The heavy diamond cuffs, cylindrical clutch, and marcelled bob were all excellent accessories (as was her adorable - and adoring - husband).

Jennifer Garner’s dress was pretty when she stood and posed, but became absolutely stunning when she moved. The flapper-style rows of fringes swung beautifully and caught the light, and the severe, squared-off neckline was softened by their movement. The pop of color in her bright red manicure was a nice touch, although I would have loved to have seen it echoed in a bright red lip. 

Kate Hudson’s dress had beautifully draped panels around the hips and falling from the shoulders that balanced and softened the stark straight lines of its plunging v-neck and severely squared-off shoulders. Hudson’s skin had a golden glow that worked nicely with the silvery-nude color of the dress. Not an easy look to pull off, but she made it work.

Angelina Jolie made a rare misstep in this 80s-looking dress. The sleeves are too long and ill-fitting, the poufed bodice does nothing for her fantastic figure, the placement of the glitter on the bodice makes her boobs look saggy, and the wide boat neck makes her shoulders look disproportionately broad. Her hair and makeup, however, were simple and beautiful.

Jennifer Lawrence once again went with a bright crimson dress, this once a simple column adorned only by a split peplum. It looked lovely in still photos, but when she walked the peplum and tight fit at the knees made her look hippy. Her poufed, streaky hair didn’t seem to fit with the style of the gown, but the backwards-draped diamond necklace and mirror bag were terrific accessories. 

Idina Menzel’s look reflected quite a few trends of the evening, including a criss-cross draped bodice, deep green color, sideswept hair, single bracelet, and nude lips (which she carried off much better than most). The heavy diamond necklace matching the cuff bracelet was a nice touch, as was the subtle, simple hair and makeup. 

Older performers represented themselves extremely well in the fashion arena, with Bette Midler at the front of the pack in this red-and-white flowered gown. The wide square neckline, tiny train, minimal jewelry, and shiny red clutch all contributed to its flattering and age-appropriate look.

Lupita N’yongo continued her string of perfect color choices this awards season in this ice-blue gown. The bodice was not the most flattering, making her look quite flat-chested and a bit bottom-heavy against the full, heavily-pleated skirt (and topped by a tiny headband). But her gorgeously glowing face more than made up for any sartorial shortcomings. And the shiny gold statuette she brought home at the end of the night was a pretty nice accessory, too.

Jada Pinkett’s pale peach gown was one of my favorites of the night. The trendy criss-cross at the waist was echoed in a twisted halter neck that fell into a softly draped train from the shoulders, and a revealing slit added a touch of sultriness to the softness. 

I wanted to love Lara Spencer’s dress; I really, really did. And I did love a lot of the details: the large button-style beading, the smooth clean lines, the deep keyhole neckline. But the beading on the collar was just a bit too heavy and too low and made her boobs look saggy (which was quite an accomplishment considering the perfectly-toned body underneath). I also felt like her earrings and hairstyle belonged with a different dress, and the dress was begging for a pair of heavy cuff bracelets echoing the beading. So close….but not quite.

June Squibb was another older actress who hit all the right notes in this elaborately-beaded emerald gown with matching bag. Her bright red lips and nails and simply-styled snow-white hair somehow managed to avoid looking Christmassy and instead just looked cheerful and bright.

Meryl Streep continued her streak of non-traditionally styled black-and-white gowns. The off-the-shoulder draped neckline and matching paired bracelets and belt worked; the baggy, poufed top and bland black skirt did not. But her simple and elegant hair and makeup were nicely done.

Charlize Theron’s striking black gown was another of my favorites. The invisible straps and see-through overlay with a horizontally pleated hemline leading into a long train were fabulous details, as was her stunning diamond pendant necklace. The sleek hair and subtle makeup set off the stark but stunning look beautifully.

Kerry Washington set the bar high for maternity chic in this dusty lavender gown that gracefully wrapped her burgeoning figure and draped from a long diamond bar pin. The fabric was unfortunately wrinkled (no doubt from her attempt to sit comfortably in a limo), and I would have loved longer earrings that matched the bar pin at the neckline, but her sparkly shoes, dark lips, twin diamond bangles, and loosely waved hair were all spot on.

So, no tragic fails this year and no spectacular wins, but a good solid field all the way around. 

Bookmark and Share