Sunday, December 11, 2011

On Hiatus

This will be my last blog post of 2012. I'll try not to disappoint. But I warn you I'm kind of not in a great head space. Lately I haven't really been feeling the blogging bug; I'm going to chalk that up to how much I kind of don't like this time of year. Thank you, shitty-ish childhood Xmas memories of my parents fighting. They should have gone to counseling like us. Bah humbug. Sometimes it is hard to get over childhood pain. I should be thankful I suppose that mine is relatively minor, yet it still casts a pallor over this season for me.

Our holiday cards are all in the mail. We've started getting a few, too. The husband's name has appeared first in about 90% of them. Sigh... (Inside I'm screaming go read your ETIQUETTE!)

I recently had a stomach bug and lost a little bit of weight due to some gross GI tract issues. The result? I officially lost count of all of the "You look so great!" comments I've been getting this week. Sad commentary on the society we live in, eh? Where sickly whittled down = better looking in the eyes of many.

We're off to my parents' house 2 time zones away for a long winter break starting later this week. I seriously can't wait. I love how we get to pretty much stop being a mom and dad when we visit there - once we walk in the door the kids suddenly start to look to my parents for every need. That right there is the best Xmas present ever.

In other news, some members of my Pretty Good book club have decided to have a discussion about changing the way we choose books. The current book selection method is as follows: each of the 12 members is asked to host one monthly meeting anywhere they like, and choose the month's book, and reserve copies for the rest of the group at the local library. The problem giving rise to the need for the "discussion" is that 2 of the members have been waiting until the last minute to choose a book from the long library list - leaving us with some truly horrid book choices. Instead of talking to the offenders directly, it looks like we are all going to choose as a group the books we'll read each year - there will be no individual choices anymore. Hmm. I guess that will help raise the overall quality. Yet there have been a handful of times when the assigned book an individual selected was a little more esoteric, or funky, or a classic, or great stuff that book clubs don't typically read. I fear we're going to lose that, and we'll migrate into Traditional Book Club fare. And I reeeally don't want to read "A Thousand Splendid Suns." No offense.

In merrier news, my kids are awesome. DD met Santa the other day and told him to fuck off. "No Santa, Don't Hold Me! Go Away, Santa!" Awesome. Her brother, on the other hand, couldn't get enough of the big red man. While on his lap, DS took the opportunity to question Santa about how he is able to fit all of the toys for all of the world's children in his small sleigh. Santa was stumped. He muttered something about his elves working overtime and making multiple trips, and carrying a lot of toys in his bag, too. At this rate, my guess is we'll have a believer for about 1 more Christmas season, tops.

Have a great rest of the year, all! What's happening at your house these days?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When Keeping It Real Goes Right, Book Club Edition

My "Other" book club met last night, that is, the book club I joined about a year ago hoping it would be a welcome contra to the original shitty, ginormous Podunkville book club of 25 people I was invited to join when we first moved here 3 odd years ago. And in many respects it has been.

If you've been reading me awhile, you know the importance of being in a book club in Podunkville - that's how you get the information you need to make it here in business, family and in life. Maybe it's a small town thing.

The truth is, Other Book Club is usually boring. After the last several meetings, I've gone home each time thinking I needed to gently break up with these folks but I couldn't bring myself to do it; because as I've already said I need the info being a member of the group can provide. Our book club seems to be missing a certain spark. Everyone is perfectly "nice." And sometimes "nice" is really grating, and not enough. Part of the problem is none of the members are really outspoken or funny or vibrant. Least of all introverted me.

Last night I decided to take the risk of being really honest about what I truly thought of the book. Holy hell, I hated the book so much so that I finally felt I had to keep it real.

The actual title of the book is irrelevant. Bottom line: it sucked out loud. I'm just grateful it was a library book. It was this ridiculous, poorly-written, fictional tale of a dysfunctional Oregonian family where everyone - children, mothers, the differently-abled - gets violently raped. Literally, I lost count of the number of assaults and rapes detailed in the damn book. And I mean it when I say none of it was at all essential to plot or character development. It was one of those shitty 450-ish-page books that on the surface feels female empowering, but when you dig deeper it is totally antifeminist, complete with those tired old "mother must be punished for having an abortion" tropes, and going back to the absentee dad thereby affirming the power of traditional marriage bullshit. It depicted a developmentally disabled character in a troubling "magical" and "inspirational" light, and with a certain dialogue that just did not ring true. And I kept thinking to myself "I just don't believe any of this could be real." I could go on and on, but I won't. Strangely, it has gotten glowing reviews online except for one negative one out of 87 that reassured me I was not taking crazy pills for hating it.

So I said pretty much all of that out loud at book club. And lo and behold, some of the other members revealed they felt like I did. We had a deep conversation about it. I felt like everyone was heard and respected. I even felt like I understood the rationale of the couple who loved the book - although I won't be jotting down their book recommendations, nor they mine, I came away liking them as people. What a pleasant feeling.

How about your book club experiences? Have you read anything lately in a group or on your own that really spoke to you? ("Wolf Hall" is on my list, thanks @Paola, as well as "Kindred" by Octavia Butler, thanks @Cloud.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

20 Albums Meme

I'm answering @Anandi's call for a list of the top 20 albums that have influenced my life. I purposely stayed away from "Greatest Hits" albums, because I wanted more of a challenge. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Doolittle - The Pixies. Back in the day, I included songs from this wonderful little album on pretty much every mixtape I ever made. There was a time in my life where, if you were a boy, knowledge of this band was a prerequisite for talking to me. Incidentally, I had the opportunity to see them in concert the week before I got married. Amazing.

2. The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album) - The Beatles. Man, I totally grew up on this record. See, my parents are very musically literate and did not abide "children's music." This was their version of the music they thought children ought to be experiencing at all times. None of that Disco Duck crap, thank you.

3. Pet Sounds - The Beach Boys. Another one of my classic childhood albums that was always playing in the background. Yes, I realize its release actually pre-dated my childhood by several years. No matter.

4. Thriller - Michael Jackson. Though I believe in my heart of hearts that he was a ped, and that perhaps we should all be thanking a certain tranquilizing-prescribing MD instead of imprisoning him, I can't deny how much this album once meant to me. I can still do every step of the Thriller dance upon request (which is never).

5. London Calling - The Clash. Every damn song is good.

6. Rumours - Fleetwood Mac. Reminds me of every road trip I've ever taken. I love Stevie.

7. The Joshua Tree - U2. Hands down the best U2 album, and they've put out so many good ones.

8. Led Zeppelin II - Led Zeppelin. It was also hard to pick just one Led Zep album.

9. Let It Bleed - The Rolling Stones. Again, they've put out so many great albums, but this is a standout for me because it includes my favorite song of theirs "You Can't Always Get What You Want." True dat.

10. Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd. I've never tried playing this album along with the movie "The Wizard of Oz" on mute - but they are supposed to be in sync. Someday when my kids are old enough to appreciate it, we'll have to try that.

11. The Doors - The Doors. "Crystal Ship" is probably my fave, in addition to all the songs of theirs everyone and their mom has heard a million times. And by the way, Val Kilmer made a fantastic movie version of Jim Morrison, IMHO. He wore the same black leather pants for the entire shoot. I bet that smelled lovely.

12. Appetite for Destruction - Guns n' Roses. Despite being released in the 80s, and all that perhaps implies, his album has aged so well. They never got lame.

13. Remain in Light - Talking Heads. I can't get enough of T.H. So many excellent songs.

14. Nevermind - Nirvana. Came out when I was in high school. Instant love affair with their sound. How I never got sick of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is totally beyond me.

15. Parallel Lines - Blondie. I want to be Debbie Harry when I grow up, but I'm too tall, too brunette, and can't sing. Keep hope alive though.

16. Substance - New Order. My DH totally hates "that synthy poppy crap" but I cannot get enough. This album will always be cool to play at parties.

17. Tapestry - Carole King. My favorite 70s singer-songwriter. Her version of the Shirelles '61 hit "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" is so beautiful.

18. Sam's Town - The Killers. The most recent album (2006) on my list. Guess that means I don't think very much memorable music is being put out today. Yes, I'm looking at you Ke$ha.

19. The Chronic - Dr. Dre. Instant classic. I loved Snoop Dogg's contributions to this album, too.

20. Pretty Hate Machine - Nine Inch Nails. TR made this album pretty much singlehandedly in a studio where he once worked as a janitor, if I'm not mistaken. He's gone on to do some good work on movie soundtracks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Holiday Card Etiquette

I've got some heavy things happening in my life right now. I still can't stop thinking about the evils perpetrated at Penn State. A close friend is divorcing. Another was just diagnosed with breast cancer. Another can't get pregnant, and has exhausted all treatment options. So I feel the need to do a post on the lighter side.

Let's be vapid and talk about holiday cards.

We just ordered ours. We send them every year, and we love getting them. Yes, even the ones with the 500+-word supplemental essays sharing how the supergenius kids are on the honor roll again, and telling cruise ship stories. Good for you. I mean that. But if I'm not related to you, please don't send one my way. A simple card will do.

We always put a picture of the kids on our cards, but we never include DH and me in the picture. I hear that's a southern thing, though we are definitely not southern. And we're not fugly or anything, it's just - well, we prefer to see people's kids and pets, and not so much them. Especially not them in the picture every year. Depends on the personalities involved, I know, but it just seems vain. Anyway, there's just nothing better than seeing how the kids have grown and changed. Love it.

It irks me when people do not follow the proper card etiquette. Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking: Um, what about "it's the thought that counts," not everyone cares about etiquette, blah blah blah. It is something I just can't help but notice, ok? Kind of like my issue with walking into someone's home and seeing pictures hanging way too high, making the ceiling look shorter. I would never say something IRL, of course.

Yes, I know I have a problem.

I'm a big proponent of Old School Etiquette. (Although from the coarse language I use on this blog, I can see how that might not be too obvious.) I'm talking Miss Manners, Crane's Blue Books and the like. There is nothing worse for me than to get a well-designed card from a faraway friend, then I keep reading and I see the order of the names, and notice that they are listed incorrectly! Gah!

PSA time: When informally listing the names of members of a (hetero) family, PUT THE WIFE'S NAME FIRST. Ladies first, people.

Happy Holidays!
Wilma and Fred Flintstone
Bam Bam and Pebbles


The Flintstone Family
Wilma, Fred, Bam Bam and Pebbles (you could put a comma after Bam Bam's name if you want, or use the "&" sign)

However, when using the formal, such as "Mr. and Dr." - the (hetero) husband's name goes first. And if no one changed their names when they got married or shacked up, RESPECT THAT and use their Actual Names.

Ms. Goldie Hawn and Mr. Kurt Russell


Get it? Got it? Good.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wear Blue This Saturday


The Board of Trustees of Penn State has fired head football coach Joe Paterno. Having read the grand jury report (and by the way, I suggest you don't - it is truly horrific) it was the least they could do. Paterno knew, and he did nothing.

Here's how some members of the student body responded:

"Demonstrators tore down two lamp posts, one falling into a crowd. They also threw rocks and fireworks at the police, who responded with pepper spray. The crowd undulated like an accordion, with the students crowding the police and the officers pushing them back. “We got rowdy, and we got maced,” Jeff Heim, 19, said rubbing his red, teary eyes. “But make no mistake, the board started this riot by firing our coach. They tarnished a legend.”

When I read accounts like the above, it makes me want to cry. What the fuck is wrong with our culture?

How is it that so many people can know that children are being abused, but not one of them can pick up the phone and dial 911 to report the crime?

As a parent, I am grappling with how to process this. My son will probably play baseball, though a small part of me hopes he does not. He'll encounter this fucked up male sports culture bullshit someday. Even if he chooses not to play - it's in the American culture.

I know I'm not sounding terribly articulate here. This is really bothering me, and I don't really have the words.

A therapist I respect has said that after about age 5, too many boys stop getting physical affection from their parents. As if at some point their parents deem them too big to hug and kiss. I've seen it all around me. Sometimes boys look to athletics and their coaches to fill this need for affection and physical contact and belonging in a group. This is also the point where predators know boys are particularly vulnerable.

I need to go hug my children now.

Wear blue on Saturday - the color of child abuse awareness.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Assorted Updates for My Long-time Readers

This post just might read like a series of very random thoughts. I want to share some updates about some of the people and issues I've posted about in recent and not so recent months.

Remember my son's play-dough obsession at Montessori? I met with DS's teacher. It was my first parent-teacher-student conference, which is kind of a funny thing to call it considering DS just turned 4. What a great meeting. I walked away feeling so impressed with the program there, and so proud of the person my son is and is becoming. When I originally posted, my dear commenters were unanimously adamant that there is nothing "wrong" with a 4-year-old having a healthy obsession with play dough. Turns out the teacher agreed with all of you completely! He wanted to meet with me to let me know that this is what DS had been choosing to spend his time on at school, but soon moved on to other "works" and showed me what he's been drawn to. He assured me this is all well and good and as it should be, and he wanted to get from me a sense of what DS's passions are (that question is a real stumper, actually. DS is kind of a learning omnivore. He's as passionate about jigsaw puzzles as he is about the song "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele. Good luck finding an overarching theme there.)

I remain so impressed that the teacher cares so much, and keeps the class small despite a long wait list so that he can devote a lot of attention to the needs of each kid. He shared with me the story of his own daughter's experience at a different local Montessori where there was no communication at all with parents about their children's experiences there everyday. Turned out, his daughter spent an entire year coloring at Montessori, and no one there even noticed. Ultimately he felt this failed to prepare her for K, and in his own school he has vowed to keep notes on the kids and keep parents in the loop by having mandatory conferences periodically, and by sharing videos and photos of what's going on in class. I don't know that this high-level of communication is typical for "Montessori" schools, but we are absolutely loving it. And DS got rave reviews - he really is a sweet, caring kid who is a "calming influence" on some of the older, wilder girls and boys. Man, they are so different at school than they are at home!

Remember when our sitter suddenly needed to take time off because her daughter cried a lot about having to go to Kindergarten? Her daughter is enjoying school now. And apparently eating the 'good enough' lunch already. Sitter's back to working for us as regularly scheduled, so my work is no longer suffering, thank you baby jeebus! The recent debacle prompted a long term plans discussion, and it looks like we can count on Sitter being with us until at least March 1, so the search is on for her replacement. Appreciated the ample notice, Sitter. I also have secured a spot for DD at Montessori next fall, so really the only potential child care gap will be March 1-mid June. Once summer hits, we can easily find a college student.

The couple that moved to Podunkville recently with the wife who makes shitty comparisons? No, we're definitely not going to be BFF's. Not at all. Though I've been trying to be gracious. Like inviting them to trick-or-treat with us. Hanging out every few weeks is about all I can stomach. My kids apparently agree. Her DD, same age as mine, has a hitting issue that my kids can't stand. And her son is turning out to be a bit of a problem child at school, but is an angel at home so that is throwing them for a loop it seems. Trying hard not to have any Schadenfreude-ish moments nor place any unfair labels on what I'm seeing. la la la! I've tried introducing her to nice people, including my sweet friend C, but it turns out perhaps not shockingly C isn't much of a fan of hers either. I'm glad I'm not actively being mean about it. Except behind her back on the internets, of course, of course... Thanks, I had to get that off my chest!

Continuing on in the "shitty female acquaintances you just can't seem to shake department," my ex-friend, M, the lying liar who lies to get out of paying her share of a hotel bill has been successfully demoted to casual acquaintance. I'll see her in groups every couple of months, otherwise I'm remaining Perpetually Busy. She sent me these odd texts recently about getting together for coffee or a walk, then wishing me a good trip when I wasn't going on one, and now I really think there is a dementia diagnosis in her future, unfortunately. Perhaps she really did "forget" she agreed to a hotel stay on her trip. At this point though, it certainly no longer matters. Sad.

And in ancient history (not really) update news - anyone remember local yokels Bill Clinton and his now-ex-wife Skeletor? Those are some not very nice names I gave them, I know. Do they deserve them though? Hells yes. I mention them now because Bill Clinton is the first real life person I've ever known to actually personify that old-fashioned, Don Draper-ish stereotype of the middle-aged divorced guy who suddenly starts dating his much younger secretary. Can you say "Walking Stereotype?" The new girlfriend is a 22-year-old subordinate who DH says is not too bright. Bill Clinton's oldest child is 10-years-old. You do the math, people! Skeletor has also moved on, and she too is dating a 20-something dimwit who reportedly dyed their daughter's hair jet black and gave it a severe crop, taking her from Marcia Brady to Coraline. How the mighty have fallen. Two short years ago, they were in the running for America's Preppiest Family. Oh, and the kids recently contracted lice, too. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just that the old them would not have been having any of that. And Daddy who has primary custody hasn't been following the treatment protocol, so everyone in my Shitty Book Club is really mad at him right now. It's a real shitshow. One of those cases that makes you question that almost-always valid presumption that it's better to divorce and get the kids far away from the parents' toxicity. I guess in some rare cases like this, sometimes each of the parents go on to find themselves in a whole new set of toxicities. Gah.

End update rant.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

So I finally read "Free Range Kids"

Book review time. Our topic today is a recent book whose mere title alone has become a new catchphrase in the parenting vernacular: "Free Range Kids" by Lenore Skenazy.

I really wanted to love it. Really I did. I had heard both good and bad things about this Free Range concept everywheres. The whole idea is pretty polarizing - and falsely dichotomous, I might add. As though most of us are either these Overprotective Ninnies or Risky Child Endangerers. Dr. Laura doesn't like it, so I figured that meant I would probably love it. Yeah, not so much.

Now that I've finally read it, allow me to share my shitty opinion. DH read it too, and he was a lot less charitable than I'm about to be, so I'll go ahead and share his shitty opinion, too. I'll try my best to be brief.

What I said to myself after finishing it and returning it to my local library: "Ouch. The author has a lot of unresolved hurt feelings about the way she was treated and mis-labeled in the media when she published her account of putting her 9-year-old son on the NY subway alone. I sympathize with her. Sucks to be judged like that. And she is clearly not over it, nor should she necessarily be, however let's not forget she CHOSE to put her shit out there with her real name and her son's real (?) name on it, so honestly, whatever did she expect?." (BTW, I love that she put "America's Worst Mom" on the front cover of the version I read. I chuckled every time I saw it.)

Let's be real for a moment: if folks suddenly started going around calling me "America's Worst Mom" you bet your ass my memoir posing as a parenting book would come across as more than a bit defensive of my various parenting choices. That, or I'd have to spend a crapload of time and money with my therapist. And therein lies my basic problem with Skenazy's musings in "FRK" - taken together, they lack a sense of intellectual, research-based rigor free from this sense of painful, righteous indignation about how she was personally hurt. Yes, she was the victim of media bullying and unfortunately, her book read like she was lashing out, grasping at straws trying to prove those mean bullies wrong. As a result, I didn't find her arguments terribly convincing. Let me give you a flavor.

Among many other helpful hints, Skenazy suggests parents let their school-age kids walk alone to the bus stop, or all the way to school. She cites lowered rates of violent crimes against children, and mentions the increasing dangers of having more cars on the road when parents drive their kids to school. She says if you look at the numbers, we have nothing statistically-significant to fear about strangers who abduct children. Our kids are getting fat, antisocial, and vitamin-D deficient because we keep them inside all the time because we're scared of kidnappers. Conclusion? Just let them walk to the bus stop alone like we did in the proverbial good old days, you overprotective parents, you.

Then she goes on to say, (I'm paraphrasing) "Well, actually my own sister was often bullied on the way to school by older kids, and neither she nor I ever told our parents about it, so the bullying continued and she was maybe scarred for life, but you parents today can overcome that by being close to your kids and asking them if they're being bullied!" Um, no. Read the research on kids who are bullied. News flash: they don't usually tell their parents!

I'm with Skenazy on the 'don't irrationally fear the strange adult' bit. I say read Gavin de Becker's "Protecting the Gift" - teach your kids never to leave anywhere with an adult they don't know - do teach them to talk to adults they don't know, especially women with kids, in order to ask for help. However, we part company in one key area. For my kids' sake, I actually do fear some of the other kids they'll encounter. That, to me, is one of the biggest dangers to my kids' well-being. Raise your hand if you've never been teased or bullied or worse. Yep. Both DH and I have. Luckily nothing too traumatizing though. And no surprise, we didn't tell our parents either. I'm digressing. Where was I? Oh yes, it irked me that Skenazy didn't fully analyze and process the account of her sister's bullying, and put it in context. Really, what are the best practices for helping our kids thrive despite bullying? That would have been really helpful reading, way moreso than making fun of parents who buy baby knee pads and shopping cart covers.

As I've already mentioned, DH also read the book, then said: "You know, fun ideas to think about here. I enjoy the novelty of it all, but when the main thesis doesn't really pass the sniff test, I'm not buying it. 'Let your kids ride public transit alone! Give them a note for when police and conductors will inevitably stop them that reads 'My mom knows where I am!' - Huh? I don't think so. I guess it all depends on the context, sure, like the kid who grew up riding the Manhattan subway since age 2 would be fine to do it alone at 9 perhaps, but not with my kids living in Podunkville who did not, obviously. If you're so passionate about wanting kids to roam free like chickens why live in a large city where that's arguably hardest to accomplish? There just have got to be other ways to teach the values she holds dear - independence, confidence, freedom from fear - letting the kids take calculated risks without resorting to gimmicky, headline-grabbing shit that just doesn't ring true as a smart thing to do."

Amen, DH, he made me laugh. So did various parts of the book actually. I can see why Skenazy was a successful newspaper columnist; she writes with an urban, sophisticated flair. In summation: "FRK" was a memorable read, capturing an interesting slice of the cultural zeitgeist; though I'm glad I didn't shell out any money for it; this is not a book we are going to parent by, but I suppose it is good food for thought.

Has anyone else read it? Or not? I'm tossing around a few other intentionally polarizing-tastic parenting memoirs/how-to guides to review here, pending availability at my local library. Tiger Mom, I've got yours in my sights.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Octopuses, not octopi

It's not everyday you read something that instantly makes you feel like a kid again. This delightful article on the minds of octopuses totally transported me back to being about 9-years-old, feeling full of wonder about the cool possibilities out there in the natural world.

I also learned a new grammatical point: "Octopuses, not octopi, is now considered the correct plural among the octopus intelligentsia. Octopi has been discarded as the plural because of its Latin ending on a Greek word."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Two October Birthdays, One October Anniversary

October is a very big month here at Casa hush. First comes DD's birthday, followed a week later by our wedding anniversary (7 Year Itch, anyone?), then DS's birthday, then Halloween.

If we had known then that we'd be so fertile around Christmastime, we probably would have re-thought the whole fall wedding idea. That said, I remain a huge fan of fall weddings. We got married in a large-ish Midwestern city, on one of those unseasonably warm, sunny October Saturdays. It was something like 70 degrees outside. We were such lucky bastards.

Every year on our anniversary we break out the photo album. This was the first year the kids really noticed the photos, and seemed to enjoy looking at them. I have to pat myself on the back a little bit: my wedding gown has aged really well. It was a form-fitting, lace-embellished gown, in the style of Monique Lhuillier. I think some of our guests thought it looked very conservative and maybe even a bit grannyish back in 2004, but it would fit right in with today's bridal fashions. Of all people, it was my mother who convinced me that it was, in fact, The Dress. She urged me not to go with the type of strapless, poufy skirt number that was all the rage circa 2001-2005. That was the first and only piece of fashion advice my mother ever gave me. And 7 years later, I still have to say: Hey thanks, mom. You were right.

So, DD is now 2 and DS is now 4. We no longer have any children in diapers, nor drinking from bottles, nor sleeping in cribs. Mostly we all sleep fine at night - if they wake up and get lonely, the kids just crawl into our ginormous bed. We seriously thought this time would never come. It is so good.

Halloween is the last of our Big 4 October events. We have 2 parties to go to this weekend, and on Monday we'll do some trick-or-treating in our friends' neighborhood. We live too far out in the country to ever get any trick-or-treaters ourselves. DS wants to dress up as either Iron Man or Captain America. Bummer. The days of my son in cute, cuddly Halloween attire are apparently over. DD is going as a bumble bee. I know it won't be long before she asks to be a frickin' princess. Gah. My friend who is Halloween-obsessed and also has a 4-year-old, was lamenting the fact that her daughter chose a "racy kitten" costume this year. Major bummer.

In other news, there is an older girl at DS's school who has a major crush on him. She keeps drawing him notes with stories and pictures depicting their future together. It is really too funny. The girl's mom approached me after class yesterday and joked about how we're going to be future in-laws. DS seems oblivious to it, and simply says "yeah, she's my friend." I think it's his utter nonchalance that keeps her coming back for more.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Proper Responses?

Sometimes I just don't know what to say in a particular situation. I wish I were one of those people who can think clearly on their feet, and who immediately knows *exactly* what to say in response to something someone says that is outrageously off. (I generally think of a good response several hours or days later.) Anyway, twice this week I found myself on the receiving end of 2 very awkward comments from 2 different people in Podunkville. Allow me to share them and get your feedback.

The first outrageously odd comment, to which naturally I didn't know at all how to respond, came from my neighbor, a woman about my age who has 2 kids about my kids' ages. Our kids were playing when suddenly she brought up the local elementary school close to our homes and said the following: "Now, I'm not a racist or anything, but I'm not comfortable sending my son to a school where he'll be the only white kid in class and will have no friends." She mentioned that several white families she knows have opted out of the school in fear of the putative majority Latino presence there.

Wow. First of all, whenever anyone prefaces any statement with the assertion "I'm not a racist or anything, but..." it means they're about to say something crazy racist!

Secondly, on all of the basic educational metrics people usually like to examine in order to make such school comparisons, it's not even close: our neighborhood school has been nationally-recognized for excellent test scores; and also has the benefit of small class sizes, and an extremely cohesive team of teachers using an educational model proven by peer-reviewed research. Yes, my neighbor is correct - there is a sizeable Latino population at the school, however the numbers show that her white son would certainly NOT be in the "minority."

I'm appalled that she thinks that the racial make-up of a potential class even matters - that is, it seems to matter to her if whites are not the super-majority. Because she hates the very idea of her kids associating with Mexican-American kids so much, she's planning to send her children to a different school that is mediocre on every measure - with lower test scores, larger class sizes, and where she'll have to drive them and have a longer commute. Seriously, I give up.

When someone says something racist, and moreover, doesn't even have their basic facts straight about the topic, where do you even begin? Ugh.

My actual response was something borderline incoherent, followed by "Well, have you actually visited the school or talked to any of the teachers or the administrators? I can also give you the names of several parents with multiple kids who go there and absolutely love it...."

WTF, right?

Moving on to the 2nd awkward Podunkville comment of the week. If you're still reading, it's not nearly as awful as the first comment, it's just irritating. I'll be brief. In fact, I'll just paraphrase what was said.

Bottom line: when someone you know earns upwards of $300k/year after taxes, and their only debt is a reasonable mortgage on a home they got for a steal (it's their only debt because their father is uber wealthy and paid for all schooling/professional degrees), and yet they routinely mention how "poor" and how "on a really tight budget" they are, and how they simply can't afford to pay for new clothes for their kid, and get all 'woe is me' when the bill comes? Um, yeah. Not getting a lot of sympathy from me. But what does one say when presented with icky comments about it, that have zero basis in economic reality?

Ok, so, obviously, I have a problem with 1) statements made from a place of racism, and with 2) people not bothering to get their basic educational facts straight before turning their backs on a perfectly good public school, and also with 3) objectively affluent people bitching about things they think they can't afford, when really they're just cheap and probably extremely selfish. Good to know these triggers about myself!

How do you handle your triggers when they come up in a conversation? Do you know what to say at the right moment? Do you say anything at all?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

American Horror Story, and a play dough obsession

Anyone have too much time on their hands and need another TV show to start watching? Want to be scared shitless by a TV show with only a mere TV-MA rating?

Then you need to start watching American Horror Story on FX. It debuted on Oct 5th, so catch the second episode tomorrow night, Oct 12. It stars recognizable-faced Dylan McDermott, Vera Farmiga's little sister, the fabulous Ms. Jessica Lange, and one of my personal favorite character actors in the history of ever, Mr. Denis O'Hare (aka Russell Edgington from True Blood).

The premise? A therapist's family getting over some late-term miscarriage and infidelity trauma moves into a haunted house in L.A., and of course all hell breaks loose!

Don't say I didn't warn you - it's SCEERY!

In other news, I take DD to an organized playgroup one morning a week. It is so precious to hear her call her new little playmates by name, and ask for them repeatedly after we go home. I love how she adorably mispronounces some of their names.

DS is apparently obsessed with play dough at Montessori. So much so that his teacher approached me to talk about how we might encourage him to branch out into trying some of the other works available to him at school. I replaced all of the off-brand play doh we'd been using at home (which DS told his teacher was too hard,) and that he liked the softer dough at school better. Then we encouraged DS to play with the new dough all weekend, which he did, happily. We'll see if this helps him get over his obsession, or whether it just continues to feed it. His explanation? "I just really love it."

Makes perfect sense to me.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sitters Who Just Can't Handle Vegas

My DD turned 2 yesterday. Wow. I can't even begin to put into words how blissfully happy and how incredibly sad that makes me. She is our last child. Loads of "womb wistfulness" just like @caramama says. Amen.

We had a fantastic, fantastic, much-needed trip. We ate the shit out of the Big City. Saw my flaky, yet golden-hearted BFF and her new baby. Glad we could make that happen. I feel great about it. I also feel great about my marriage. Hard to believe we ever needed counseling (boy, did we though.)

Came home to an odd conversation from the woman who watches one or both of my kids a couple days a week so I can work. Apparently, her third daughter, who just started Kindergarten one month ago, is having a hard time 1) adjusting to leaving her house for school in the morning, and 2) eating lunch at school without her mother present. Let me clarify: her daughter loves her teacher, loves what she is learning in school once she actually gets there, but throws a tantrum and locks herself in the bathroom every morning that her mother is not there to personally escort her to school. Neither her aunt nor her 2 older sisters have been able to reach her. And she is apparently losing weight due to not eating at school unless her mother is there. The actual food quality is not the issue, it is just that she won't eat it unless her mother is there. Can you say 'Holy Manipulation, Batman!?' And she's been to the doctor with a lot of what I think is 100% psychosomatic stuff going on this month. I get it: this is a little, 5.5-year-old kid who Just Can't Be Without Her Mother. And a mother with Good Intentions But Very Poor Boundaries.

What I don't get is our sitter's chosen response to the behavior. Instead of finding some way to deal with the child's behavior, and actually work with her on it, she thinks she needs to acquiesce and just quit working so that she can be present at her daughter's school every day at drop off and lunch. WTF? This is the thought that apparently entered her mind when she told me about it: "Hmm, I'll ask my employer to give me 2 weeks off, and then I'll finally decide if I'm going to come back or not."

Um, it doesn't usually work that way.

Unfortunately, we don't live in a place with any decent daycare, nor with any sort of nanny placement agency. Sitters are all found via word of mouth, which actually works quite well in a small town with a strong rumor mill, but the lead time is very long. Ugh. Wish us luck, please. Because there is no work/life balance happening at my house right now!

I know what you're thinking. "Fire her! This is some unprofessional shizz on top of some other unprofessional shizz!" But seriously? I simply can't right now. There is no one else to replace her. Work-wise I'm so screwed if she leaves now. So I need her to hang in there for just a few more weeks. I need good help - a known quantity who I can trust both with my kids and my valuables. You'd be shocked at how hard that is to come by in Podunkville. We've tried. Say what I will about her choices vis-a-vis her Kindergartner, and her predilection for Too Much Honesty with me, her hapless employer; I know my kids are thriving in her care, and we're better off with her in our lives at this time.

The logistics of life really, really suck sometimes.

I just need someone who will show up for just 11 more months! Then DD can go to the Montessori preschool, and I can BREATHE.

Am I the only one out there with sitters who just can't handle Vegas?
P.S. Bonus points if anyone knows that movie reference.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Before I Leave Town

We're heading out of town tomorrow for a week-long trip to visit family and friends in the Midwest. This will include 3 days, 3 nights of away-from-the-kids time for just me and DH. Can't wait! We desperately need to recharge the marital batteries. Short getaways always do us a world of good.

We're really lucky that my folks are so unbelievably awesome with our kids. They beg us to take trips like this where they watch the kids so we can have some alone time. And the kids beg for it, too. DS has been counting down the days, and planning all of the things they're going to do together in the Bigger City. The excitement in the house is palpable.

Also on the books is a visit with one of my BFF's, S, who just had her second baby at the end of August - her son is almost 3. Planning the part of the visit where we hope to see her has actually been a huge pain in the ass. You see, S has many, many amazing qualities, but is just not a very organized person in general. Even before she had kids, she typically was 30-45 minutes late to everything. Since adding kids to her life, now multiply that number by a thousand, and you're still not even close to the level of tardiness she's capable of. That being said, she is hands down one of the most caring, genuine people I know, so I put up with her little quirk (and she puts up with loads more of mine, I'm sure.)

S originally wanted to meet us in the Big City where she lives for dinner. Then she changed her mind and asked us to drive an hour and a half to her parents house to meet there on a Saturday night, after having flown halfway across the country, even though her own house is in the Big City. Then she realized we weren't planning on renting a car, so she said she'd meet us in the Big City at 7:30pm after her son goes to bed, and they want to bring the baby which is fine. So we're taking that to mean we had better go have dinner by ourselves somewhere at 5pm, and plan to meet up with her at like 8:30pm at the earliest somewhere else. Big ginormous eyeroll.

For reasons I'll explain, I've been feeling like not so special a person to her lately. But I'm trying to temper those feelings with a dose of reality. (She's just had a baby! Give her a break!) In short: she took 2 weeks after her normal, healthy, vaginally-delivered baby was born to finally call and tell me about it personally. Yes, truthfully, I was kind of bummed that the woman I think of as one of my 2 best friends in the world chose to deliver me the news of her baby's birth via a text message from her DH to my DH, which simply said 'it's a girl,' and gave the date and time... It then took another week for me to get the mass email telling me the baby's name and sharing a picture. Ugh. Not necessarily the communication choices I would make for an event one generally has 9 months notice on. I think the kicker is that her mother is taking 100% care of her and her family for the next month. She has literally moved into her parents home to be doted on, and she loves it. (Man, I'm jealous.) But then again, with all of that help she still couldn't manage to find 5 minutes to pick up the phone? I know, I know. I need to cut her some slack. She's a new mom again. It sucks. And she's disorganized as all hell to begin with. It so clearly is not personal. I know the last thing she'd ever want to do is hurt one of her best friends. But still. I'm hurt.

I have this assumption I walk around with that goes something like: "You make time for the things and the people who are truly important to you. You may say someone is important, but if you didn't make the time for them, they truly weren't that important to you." And I tend to view others' actions as though they share my worldview. From my own experiences, I just can't wrap my head around treating a friend that way. Even though I had zero unpaid helpers with both of my postpartum experiences, I still managed to put together a list of people to call from the hospital. So to me, that equals a bare minimum standard that I apparently am expecting her to uphold without ever having mentioned it. ;) This is where I suck as a person - I have these great expectations for myself and sometimes I put them on to other people, and get disappointed. Then I finally have a moment of clarity: "Oh, my Type A way is not normal?" Yeah. Having one of those moments right now!

Talk to me before I get out of town!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

True Blood recap - S4, E12 Finale

Goodbye, Season 4! All things considered, I thought this episode was a rather nice send-off.

Except the I Choose Neither of You scene. Huh? I don't get it.

Why not date them both! You haven't even been outside of Bon Temps yet with Eric. You still think you have been fired from your job! You have nothing but time on your hands. GO ON VACATION with one or both of these men, Sookie. Get to know them. See the world. Live it up. Gah - her line of reasoning just made no sense to me. Moving along..

Farewell, Jesus! Now that was a total shocker. It seems that the fate of Tara and Lafayette must be to each lose the one they love at the hands of something supernatural. That was a horrible, horrible scene with the knife and Marnie's threats. Ugh, hard to watch. Lafayette should probably be a bit worried about being charged with murder - might be an interesting test case of the "I was possessed by an evil, dead witch" defense. My gut tells me Bon Temps isn't exactly a place where a black man can get a fair trial.

Sayonara, Nan Flanagan! I kind of saw that coming. Nobody calls King Beel and Sheriff Eric Northman 'puppies' and lives to tell of it. Clearly, The Authority and the "Factions" within in will be a major theme next season along with....

RUSSELL EDGINGTON! Welcome back, you! He makes me happy. Such a fantastic little villian. Glad he clawed his way out of the concrete (and like, duh, of course he was going to). By my calculations he was underground for about 13+ months. Long enough to go uber-crazy-crazy. Even crazier than his initial, televised spinal column ripping, You Killed My Talbot! batshit crazy. Watch your ass, Sookie.

And Sookie, you'd better watch out for Pam, too. I think it takes a lot of pain to make Pam cry like a babe in the arms of Sweet, soon-to-be-glamoured-again-for-the-bazillionth-time, Ms. Ginger. I don't know about that scene though. Something was off. The humor in that scene, busting on Sookie while bawling, now that part I totally buy. Pam is probably a lot more patient than that overreaction illustrated. But anyway, we get it: she loves her maker.

Adios, Debbie Pelt! We're in book territory now. If memory serves, that's also how Charlaine H took her out. Minus the part of course where Tara is about to die on Sookie's kitchen floor with a massively bleeding gunshot wound to the head. Nice cliffhanger, ABall! Which vamp will run through Sookie's door first? (Wait, did this all happen during nighttime? Yes, I think so.) I predict one of Sookie's vamps is going to have to turn Tara to save her. And I think it will be Eric. And I think this will make Pam positively apoplectic in addition to the state she is already in.

Jessica made one sexy Little Red Riding Hood. That's how you do Sexy Halloween Costume. And yes, Hoyt's analysis of Jason missing something inside was spot-friggin'-on. But you know what I've been wondering about? The perma-hymen. No mention of it yet with Jason. Hmm...

So Rene's ghost made a Halloween appearance - I loved Arlene's reaction. (You know, only bad things happen by that green dumpster in the back of Merlotte's.) Ghost Rene says Terry's new ex-platoon buddy is going to turn Terry into a Bad Guy, and Arlene needs to get Baby Michael out of there. Should be an interesting storyline next season.

Your thoughts?

p.s. The next TV show I'm going to recap weekly will be AMC's Mad Men, whenever the new season comes out in 2012. Hope you'll join me!

Monday, September 5, 2011

True Blood recap - S4, E11

I felt like this episode was only like 30 minutes long tops. It was really action-packed. And I can hardly believe the season finale is next week. Holy hell!

So many things about this ep totally cracked me up. Lafayette proclaiming: "Marnie just puked the bitch out!" Jason going down the row of 4 vamps telling each one off in turn. Andy Bellefleur's woods wandering then sexy romp with a putative fairy. Andy telling Arlene all about it in funny/bizarre detail. Her reaction. Priceless. I wonder what Andy's pinky promise to this fairy is going to mean for him next season. Could she be Sookie's actual fairy godmother?

There was some of that wild and crazy mix of the grotesque with the hilarious. Eric ripping Marnie's right hand man's heart out, and then sucking blood from the main artery as though it were a drinking straw, before tossing it to the floor. Eew. But funny. I love how this show can pull that off. Welcome back, Real Eric.

Pam busting out the bazooka that could have killed Sookie - you know, maybe Eric should have used a little foresight here. Of course Pam is going to have a Sookie problem given all that has transpired! And if you think about it, Pam truly has Eric's best interests at heart. Perhaps Sookie is not an appropriate love object for Eric given that she also loves King Beel. Really, no good can come from it. It is hazardous to the health of everyone involved. (And they have no chemistry, but I digress. ) Anyway, as a 1000-year-old, with the incredible wisdom that has got to come from all that experience, it seems to me Eric could have simply used a little of that "as your maker I command you" stuff to get Pam to come around. Now they're having a little tiff. Hmm...

Jessica, that was good of you to save pretty Jason's face with your blood.

Marcus met his maker at the hands of... Alcide. Not Sam, even though Marcus killed his brother. Because it looked to Alcide like he was screwing Debbie. But actually nothing really happened between them, even though she was scantily clad and sitting on her bed-- right? We saw the Scary Yellow Eyes again that I hate. Alcide needs to work on managing his macho dick shit. Now Debbie is going to run off, and do loads more V, and eventually come after Sookie like in the books, right? Nooooo!!! Can't say I'm loving this were storyline anymores...

Your thoughts?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Not on FB, But My Kid's Preschool Is

I got the following email from DS's Montessori teacher today:

"Dear Parents,

I've created a private parent forum on facebook. The purpose of this
forum is to provide a place to share Spanish language resources,
promote parent interaction, and encourage each other in providing
Spanish instruction to our child/ren.

In order for me to give you access to this site, I need you to log
onto facebook and look for: [Teacher's Name] and ask to be added as a
friend. Once I have you as a friend (thank you by the way), I'll add
you to the parent forum. I'll also add a widget on the homepage of
the school so you can easily click onto the forum..."

I know, I know. Everyone and their mother is on FB. I note the assumption of such in the email's first line.

This sucks, because DH and I have basically made a pact not to be on FB while the kids are tiny. We will reconsider it once they're older. No judgments to those who are on FB and love it (which is like 80% of everyone we know)! This is merely a lifestyle choice we've made due to the fact we live in a ridiculously small town, and we want to zealously guard our privacy, and we want to spend less time online (says the woman who blogs)...

Anyway, I want to let the teacher know, and see what the options are for getting the info the school want us to have but without the hassle of being on FB. Ugh. I don't want the tone of my email to come across as "off" though, and I'm afraid it will. Gah!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Montessori Day One, Or Why Did I Ever Worry?

On my clock, I've only got 20 minutes of "summer" left. Forget what the calendar says about the actual beginnings and endings of seasons around the solstices [would the plural of that be 'solsti'?]. I define "summer" as any day in June, July, and August. Full stop. Let me enjoy my incorrect assumption please.

There is something sucky about the week leading up to Labor Day. The end of American summer. The start of school. Suddenly it gets noticeably cooler. The waterparks and pools are about to close. Halloween decor is all of the sudden every-damn-where you look. I no longer feel as comfy sporting my white jeans, madras print, and jute tote bag. I notice it is actually dark at 9pm.

My firstborn "baby," who'll turn 4 in about 7 weeks, started half day, drop off, bilingual English/Spanish Montessori preschool today. We had been talking about it all month. Literally, All Month Long. You see, my Mr. Spirited seems to do best with lots and lots of notice about upcoming transitions.

"You're going to Montessori in a few weeks, so-and-so will be there, Mama and Daddy won't go into the classroom with you because you need time to be with your friends, your works, and your teachers, then we'll pick you up when class is dismissed. And you get to wear special McQueen slippers only at school...."

To which DS usually responded with "Are we going today? You mean today-today??"... "I don't want to be dropped off!" ... "Why can't you come in the classroom with me?"... "What are you going to do while I'm at school?"... "No, Mama! I want you to take me with you while you do your work and run errands!"... "I don't want to speak Spanish!"

We drove up at 8am today. One of the teachers was waiting by the door. I was fully expecting a tearful goodbye, with DS kicking and screaming. Nope. DS bid a cheerful "Hola!" to the teacher and ran right into the school. Without so much as a goodbye. See ya! So I handed the teacher his things, and got the eff out of there before DS changed his mind.

At the 11:45am pickup, DS was the last kid out of the classroom. He didn't want to leave.

Tonight, all he did was talk about school. He mentioned the names of a boy and a girl he wants to be friends with. He told me that the teachers don't allow any candy at school, and that if he uses naughty words or fights with the other kids, he'll be "kicked right out." (Um, pretty sure they didn't say it quite like that. Gotta love preschooler speak!) He demanded I take him back there tomorrow.

They say today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. ;) Wishing you many smooth transitions.

Monday, August 29, 2011

True Blood recaps - S4, E9... and E10!

I've been away on a little vacay, but I'm back now. And I've finally watched the most recent 2 episodes. I feel like this show is definitely back in the saddle again. Now that all is right with my world, let's begin with a little SPOILER-tastic recap of Episode 9, a.k.a. the one that I will recall forever as "That Episode Where Sookie Dreamed of a Threesome with Eric and Beel**...

** As Seen Through the Eyes of a Horny 18-Year-old Straight Guy Who Clearly Watches Too Much HBO."

First of all, during the aforementioned scene, Sookie looked like she would fit right in as one of Hef's girlfriends at the Playboy Mansion. No stylistic complaints here, however... I just felt like there was this overwhelming straight male gaze thing going on, and it just messed it all up for me and I suddenly went into critique mode. It didn't really ring true as the sort of feminist-y dream I'd like to think Sookie would actually have. (Perhaps the double shots of V is to blame? Nah, just the producers at HBO.) It was as though her "dream" was more performative for the straight male HBO audience instead of what an authentic, empowered Sookie who loves both of these vampires and wants open relationships with both of them on her own terms would REALLY be all about. Because you know if this were the dream of say, Jason Stackhouse, and 2 imagined women he loves there would of course be some hot faux lesbian tropes being trotted out. But alas, there was not even a hint of sexual tension between Beel and Eric (and BTW, R.I.P. Queen Sophie-Anne. They should have just had sex already. I would have loved to have seen that, too, honey.)

Moving on... I personally hated the Scary Yellow Werewolf Eyes thingy. Debbie, I love that you were watching "Cheaters" in bed and then pretended to be asleep. Alcide sucks like that. Too bad it is interfering with your addiction recovery.

The "Go to the Light" scene under the tree in Hoyt's yard was a nice mix of funny/sad/campy. I heart Terry Bellefleur so much for his "We still love you, Lafayette" line. Nelsan Ellis played Lafayette to perfection as usual. So "Virgil" is the name of the no good very bad girlfriend and baby son murderer? I predict a clever backstory in the future, and am wondering if it has anything to do with the Bellefleur/Compton family tree.

Nan Flanagan's gratitude at never having been a maker after Jess' bloody-eyed breakdown totally cracked me up - reminded me of Pam's reaction last season to meeting Arlene's kids at Fangtasia. Is Nan perhaps more good than evil or vice versa? From his basement sleeping chamber for 3, I think Beel simply needs to replay the tape for The Authority of Nan's insistence that the Tolerance Event go on as planned despite all of these spellbound necromanced vamps running around. Yes, but as Nan says "there are Factions"... and that will probably be highly relevant next season.

Sam and Luna on a camping trip where he turns into a bunny for her daughter = precious, but also made me think "vulnerable." And Fatal Attraction-esque, which might be spot on when you factor Marcus into the equation.

Jason and Jess in the back of his pickup truck. Oh man - I hear New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle" playing. No discussion of the perpetually recurring hymen though. Jason is a shitty, shitty friend. On to the next episode -

Episode 10 = Sookie in Peril! I liked the silhouette of Alcide running and carrying her through the woods - it evoked some classic Hollywood cinema for me. Then those silly, creepy yellow eyes again - nooo! Now Eric is a zombie! But seems to have retained a little residual love connection with Sookie. Then dying Sookie drinks more of Beel's blood and it even removes bullets! I adored the pained subtlety in Beel's face as he and Alcide watched over Sookie on her sofa. Fantastic acting there; beautiful scene before the opening credits.

The Tolerance Event turned out to be a real shitshow, natch. I soooo did not need to see the Hannibal Lecter-esque synchronized intestine popping out routine though. Sookie used the fairy force and brought Eric's memory back (I liked how they showed that in flashback format, starting with Viking life) while simultaneously saving Beel's life. But one thing fucked it up for me and it was THAT GODAWFUL SWEATSHIRT WITH THE HEARTS ON IT! Um, 1987 called and Blossom wants her sweatshirt back. NOOOOO!!!!

So real Eric is back, huh? And he "loves" Sookie. Hmm... I'm still not believing it. The acting and the chemistry is just off. Nice scene though between Sookie and Eric in the parlor at Beel's when Pam shows up. Yes, why didn't he summon her immediately? I'd be disappointed, too, Pam. Yeah, I don't think Pam and Sookie are going to be all buddy buddy like in the books.

Holly and Tara chanting in Latin to try to bust out of the MGE? Though it reminded me of the chanting Tara and the residents on BT did when under Maryanne's influence. Wonder if that is at all significant.

Jessica refusing to glamour Jason because she herself will have to remember it and feel the guilt? YES! I say Amen, Jess!

Debbie and Marcus? Ugh. Seriously, Debbie. How can you go from the likes of hot Cooter and dreamy Alcide to that short guy with a fugly weird hairline. Again, It Must Be the V making you do it.

I loved Terry's rehab of Andy at Camp Bellefleur. Seeing Andy try to wrestle him was hysterical.

Tommy Mickens' deathbed scene was... what's the word I'm looking for? Gross. Yes, I believe that's it. Was the foaming, gurgling bloody mouth really necessary, people? But hey, it brought Alcide and Sam together.

Lafayette saying "It's a Latin Thing" to explain Jesus's Dia de Los Muertos-looking changing head was excellent. It's that wonderful mix of funny/scary again that this show does so well.

The very last scene was a bit much: The Vamps vs. Marnie in a Matrix-style showdown where they're just going to blow the place up and be done with it. No supercool vampire powers will be used? Just gonna wear black, walk in slow motion to some rockin' music, and launch some bazookas, eh? You might as well be humans.

Your thoughts?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My 100th Post

This is my 101st blog post. Hurrah, hurrah. I stuck with blogging longer than I thought I ever would, and I plan to keep at it because what can I say, I really, really need this outlet in my life. I'm doing a looong sentence in Podunkville and I seriously would not be able to get though it without you anonymous lovelies out there, somewhere. Anyway, in my head this is kind of bizarrely reminiscent of the 100th episode of "Friends" where the adorable 6-some broke character afterwards, interacted with the fawning studio audience/laugh track, and all patted themselves on the back (it was a show I never liked, BTW, but my roomie back in the day was obsessed, and owned the TV, so let's just say I'd probably fare ok in a "Friends" trivia game scenario). I'm going to go eat a self-congratulatory cookie now.

Thanks for reading me, y'all.

I think in honor of this not-very-momentous occasion, we should have a listen to the delightful Mr. Samuel L. Jackson's hilarious reading of "Go The F*ck to Sleep" - here.

SLJ cracks my shit up. Just hearing him always puts me in a better mood. In fact, I own the movie "Snakes on a Plane" and am known to make visitors to my home watch the scene where Jackson busts out with "I'm sick of these muthafuckin' snakes on this muthafuckin' plane!!" Cinematic gold, I tell you.

In other news, DS starts at the new bilingual Montessori next week. I think it is going to be a hellacious transition, full of a lot of missing his mama, but hopefully it will eventually turn out ok. Maybe he'll finally start speaking the Spanish we all know he understands. I'm told I should just drop him off and get the hell out of there ASAP. That way, I won't be around to be embarrassed when the teachers hear DS scream "fucking bitch!!" once he realizes I've driven off. (No joke there, that's truly what I think he'll say. Picking up colorful phrases like that are the downside of watching too much HBO at one's house.) Conventional wisdom I trust tells me the longer preschool parents linger and the more they act all ambivalent, the longer the painful reaction from the child - or so they all say. Ugh, who knows?

DD is finally daytime potty trained. Ican'teffinbelieveitthankyoulittlebabyjeebus! That's the good. The bad? She dropped her nap and is overtired from like 2-6pm, she yells at me pretty much all the damn time, and has hair that looks like Donald Trump's whenever I'm around because the minute I walk through the door she immediately rips out whatever cute barette her babysitter had lovingly styled into her hair. My little rebel. ;)

How's your summer (or winter, depending) winding up?

Monday, August 15, 2011

True Blood recap - S4, E8

I think Pam's hilarious line "This is fucking lame" in response to Beel commanding her never to harm Tara, has got to be the best, most accurate summation of the events of this wacky "Spellbound?" episode.

Where do I begin? Let's start with what was good.

Lafayette. So fucking funny, and such a wonderful scene stealer, as always. I'm enjoying the unveiling of the backstory of the female spirit who has jumped into Lafayette's body. Now the creepy doll that was originally found in Hoyt and Jessica's house but kept showing up again, even after Jess threw it into the lake, is finally making some sense. Apparently, Hoyt's home is the same one that the spirit's no good-very bad white married lover used to live in. And something awful happened to their baby son. Honestly, that was the most intriguing story within this episode.

Second most intriguing bit to watch was the sad unraveling of Hoyt and Jess's relationship. Am I sick because I enjoyed Jess' juicy/sadistic dream of how it ended so much more than how it actually ended? At least she didn't glamour Hoyt this time; Jess has finally learned the wisdom of that old adage 'you gotta be cruel to be kind.'

I'm surprised Jason could resist her extremely sexy vamp charms - actually, this is one of the characteristics I like best about Jessica: she is still really only 18-ish years old and is trying to negotiate her vampire identity, and she screws things up a lot. Getting disinvited on the same damn night from the homes of 2 male mortals who are extremely attracted to her? Wow. Jess needs to hang out with Pam more.

And Beel! I'm surprised at how much I'm liking King Beel, and loathing Forgetting Eric, although Eric's idea to run away with Sookie is about the only thing that made much sense in this episode.

In short: we need more Pam, more Lafayette, more Arlene, more Lettie Mae, hell, I'll even take more of Andy Bellefleur's crazy cracker-ness.

Now, on to the bad....

The way Jason saved Jessica in Beel's foyer just did not ring true for me. Am I the only one who felt this scene violated some rules of vampire physics? As in a human could not just tackle a vampire to the ground. And then carry her around Beel's basement and tuck her into silver chains all romantic like? It just seemed off.

Eric and Sookie. PLEASE MAKE IT STOP! I've been as patient with you fakers as I can be. You simply have no chemistry. I don't believe for a minute that you're in lurve and want to have sex with each other. That bed romp in the snowy woods was laughable. (Even my DH said so, after the scene was over he turned to me and said "You must be really disappointed." Exactly.) And the worst part was they had to go and tease us with what started to look like The Shower Scene of the books, but devolved into some silly, fairytale-ish camp with nonsensical dialogue and fur blankets carefully covering all of the naughty bits. HBO, I know you can do better. Stop being so tasteful already. Look, I know Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer are newlyweds, and therefore maybe she and Alexander Skarsgard are feeling pressure to hold back and that's what's coming across... I don't know. What I do know is I'm not sure I can stomach much more of this. Let's hope the spell Antonia cast on Eric will bring the mojo back.

Alcide, why did you have to go and make a promise to Debbie that you knew you were going to break that very same night? Figure your shit out! In the meantime, do feel free to serve us up a steamy sex scene with Sooks, or Debbie, complete with lots of close ups.

Tara, why are you such a follower? I really do want to like you, but I'm tired. Stop being so literal.

Tommy Mickens, forget the blood and guts all over the neighbor's sidewalk - watching you skinwalk as Maxine was the grossest thing in this episode. Did I actually hear you offer to screw the salesman while skinwalking as Maxine in exchange for a better financial deal? Yikes! New low there.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

True Blood recap - S4, E7

Hands down, this was one of the all-time sceeeriest TB episodes yet. (Jessica, don't die!!) I don't know about you, but watching Jess escape from the chains and the cell, then ignore Beel's freaky command as her maker, and finally crawl across Beel's foyer freaked me right the eff out. And yet, the cutaway to the scene with Maxine Fortenberry's foam hair roller-clad neighbor suddenly bursting into flames ("I knew it!") had me totally cracking up. Yet another great mix of the sceeery and the funny.

I really enjoyed the sweet conversation between Jess and Beel. I don't know how Jason is going to save the day on this one.

Oh, Tara. (I think I like Toni better, too.) Um, do you see a pattern here? Your penchant for blindly following powerful women with names that begin with the letter M, who suddenly turn out to be all supernatural and nihilistic? I predict Sookie is going to get Eric to somehow call off Pam's bloodfeud against you.

Pam, glad you finally got your fabulous self to "the healing kind" of doctor. The thought of an eternity of vamp botox would make me want to rip someone's throat out, too - You Tube be damned. Oh, and I heart you so very much for that pink coffin. Ginger definitely deserves a raise.

Eric and Sookie, somehow I'm just not feeling the afterglow. There was a lot of "Do I really want my memory back?/Will you still love me once I remember all the sociopathic things I've done for the last 1000 years?"-ish discussion. Which made me start to question their overall strategy: since Eric has all of these fabulous residences all over the world, and since Sookie still thinks "Sam" fired her, and clearly they're ambivalent about getting Eric's memory back in the first place, AND just about the only thing they're 100% certain of is their desire to keep Eric from daywalking, then pray tell why not just fly off to Eric's apartment in Paris, or even his "windy shithole" of a farm in Sweden? But no. Instead they choose to wait it out in friggin' Bon Temps, Louisiana? This would be the TB equivalent of people who see a tornado coming and choose to watch it from the roof of their double wide.

Speaking of people who ain't feeling the afterglow - Alcide and Debbie stumbling upon Eric and Sookie in the woods? Ugh. Yeah, I can see why Debbie might start getting a little crazy about this whole dynamic of 'I so obviously am obsessed with Sookie but won't admit it.' Snap out of it, Alcide! You're making ME crazy.

Lafayette, ok so now we know you're a medium, and you see dead people whispering to demon babies in your kitchen. Kind of sucks to be you - but your talent is probably going to end up saving all the vamps of Louisiana and maybe even the world, too. Marnie is the only other person on the show to have your gift. I think that's significant.

Andy Bellefleur, you are one of my favorite hot messes on the show.

Tommy Mickens, you are not.

Luna, I hope you get to enjoy a little piece of the real Sam Merlotte sometime.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

True Blood recap - S4, E6

See, I was sure King Beel wasn't about to actually kill Eric. What would TB be without Eric? I was surprised by how moved I was by Eric's dying declarations, although they seemed so very, very un-Eric-like. He loves Sookie and just wants her to be happy - and clearly Beel feels the same. Reminds me of post-Enlightenment Godric, actually. I'm kind of starting to miss the old Eric of the badass, hilarious, stylish, Barbarian, "Viking god" variety. Gran did tell Sookie via her psychic enemy that this was only temporary. And I hope for Pam's sake this is all only temporary.

So we didn't get the infamous Shower Scene from the books, we instead got a lovely, tasteful Moonlit Woods Scene. I don't mean to complain. Really. But, and I'm just wondering here, why were there no close-ups?! I mean, could that camera have been any further away from the action? I honestly couldn't tell if Eric was actually making love to Sookie or if they were just hooking up. And I even watched that scene more times than it is probably normal to admit, but I still couldn't quite tell. Even though it was a bit faux sex/Skin-e-max-tastic for me, it was still a great scene though. Bizarrely, I think this is the first time I've ever wished for a more graphic depiction of something on TB! And I loved the "I Wish I Were the Moon" song that went with it - so perfect for the weary Beel on his balcony scene. Not sure if I totally loved the song for that particular Sookie and Eric moment though. (Do you happen to know the person who wrote that song, too, @mom2boy? Reminded me of Mazzy Star. I should look it up.)

Big sigh of relief time - Jason is not a werepanther! Can I just say how happy that makes me? I wish the Hot Shot storyline would go the same way as the Mickens storyline. Speaking of which, brilliant call about the significance of Luna's skinwalker story in the last post's comments @Haley! Watching Tommy pass himself off as Sam was seriously creepy, though I thought Sam Trammel did such an amazing job with the acting - it really seemed like Tommy was Sam. Impressive. And can I just say poor, poor Luna. That sucks.

Jessica suddenly running off to "save" Jason, who says such funny/idiotic things, was a really fun exchange to watch. "Think of somewhere safe" (he gazes at her cleavage.) It was nice to see Jessica happy at last as a vamp. You know, seeing her with Hoyt reminds me though of those high school sweetheart/long-distance relationships that people sometimes maintained once they went off to college. Good Guy, but... I'm also wondering if vampire medicine has come up with a cure for unwanted hymen regrowth.

I also enjoyed the fire scene and it's aftermath over at Arlene and Terry's. Loved the awkward scene between Sheriff Andy and Holly - yet another amazing character actress on the show. Who is the mysterious young African-American woman Baby Mikey saw, dressed in 1950's style clothes? I'm pretty sure she's benevolent. I noticed that the shot of her whispering cut over to a shot of Lafayette holding Jesus - I sense a connection there between her and Lafayette's family. Maybe Lettie Mae somehow attracted one of their Thornton/Reynolds family ancestors who is watching over all of them?

I'm starting to get a tad more interested in the Alcide and Debbie Pelt storyline. Funny, I was watching the first of the recent Tobey Maguire as Spiderman movies from a few years back, and noticed that actor Joe Manganiello also played the bully who goes after Peter Parker in the middle of the hallway and gets spidey-punched down the hallway. He looks so much better as Alcide. So far I find the Debbie Pelt of the show much more intriguing than Book Debbie.

As for Lafayette and Jesus - what a crazy, unpredicted scene with the rattlesnake sacrifice! Yikes! Crazy Grandpa Brujo seems to have suggested vis-a-vis the blood magic that Marnie/Antonia is actually their real enemy, and that Lafayette is really the one with the magic in him - and now some creepy looking uncle spirit currently inhabiting him has been added to the magical mix. My money always has been, always will be on Lala.

Now about Antonia Galvan(?), the O.G. witch who once caused all vamps in a 20-mile radius to meet the sun... She has got to be one of the most sympathetic supposed "villians" I've seen in awhile. Vampire Sheriff Luis? Hear that sound? That's rough justice calling. You best be kissing your rapist ass goodbye right about now. Can you blame her (or Tara?) for thinking the world would be a kinder, gentler place sans vampires? That's one of the things I enjoy so much about this show. As in real life, few people are all-hero or all-villian. The show always manages to explore these kinds of ambiguous moral grey areas so deftly.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Late July Whine

Post cribbed from my recent comment on Ask Moxie - sorry it's been one of those craptastic phases and I gotta do a little cut and paste! My DS has been a HOLY TERROR this week. He'll be 4 in exactly 3 months and suddenly he has been acting out in public, being extremely defiant, tantruming, and having urine accidents after being totally potty trained for a year. He is really pushing back even more than usual on any and all discipline. Prior to this, DS had been behaving relatively well for the last few months. But something in him seems to have suddenly changed this week. There has to be some funky developmental phase/regression/disequilibrium shizz going on is all I can come up with. Also my parents are visiting us this week, and they actually got into an argument after dinner about how they should handle their part of DS's discipline (it kind of made me laugh actually - they're well-intentioned but my dad never wants to be the bad guy who ever disciplines a child blah blah...) But the behavioral changes in DS predate my folks' arrival. A few weeks ago he rebelled against anyone speaking any Spanish in our home. MAMA, NO, DON'T SPEAK SPANISH!! He is in the "silent phase" with acquiring Spanish, where he understands what is being said but answers in English.

I dunno. I just think DS is not like most of the other kids his age around here. Never been a carpet square sitter who will do the assigned craft project or sing along with the shitty kids song (he prefers Led Zeppelin and Lady Gaga.) He looks, sounds, and acts so much older. I think of DS as an old soul. If we lived in a bigger city, I'm sure we'd encounter loads more kids like him. People around here who are meeting him for the first time are always amazed that he's only 3 because he is ginormous (has been off the height charts since he was 6 months old, and is the height of an average 5-year-old), and does a lot of physical things that his older friends do but his same-aged peers usually cannot, like riding a bike, going across all of the monkey bars at the park without any help, and sitting in the same place for over an hour completing a 100-piece jigsaw puzzle all by himself.

We're looking forward to starting a preschool that is a better fit for his personality - that would be a Montessori. And the Montessori preschool in Podunkville still hasn't told us which days/times DS will be attending starting in 4 weeks, nor have they sent us any kind of written confirmation that yes, he's in fact enrolled, though they've said so orally and have our (small enough to walk away from) deposit and paperwork. I hate that I actually have to show up there and track down the head teacher in order to have any communication, and that my friend who doesn't work there but whose kids go there is the only one who has actually communicated with us and served as a go-between. DH actually called another Montessori preschool yesterday to get the ball rolling there in case the first one falls through. The new Montessori is actually bilingual Spanish/English, and has a much smaller enrollment, so perhaps this could be a real blessing in disguise, but argh! I hate how the local businesses here are so lazy about returning phone calls! And now I'm scared that DS will keep rebelling against speaking any Spanish.

My 21-month old DD suddenly refuses to fall asleep at night without a fight and a lot of crying. I actually had to consult a couple of the dreaded sleep books. Guess what? They weren't helpful. Except the one that told me she's just in a bad phase and I need to wait. Duh. Maybe her sleep is being thrown off because she's working on mastering some new skills like potty training. (Update: she is day trained for urine, but still prefers to poop anywhere but the potty. My dad bought her the hilarious book "Everyone Poops" by Taro Gomi and she is loving it, so maybe the poop portion will click soon?)

Oh, and my last blood pressure reading was 150/93 = real deal holyfield hypertension. Could this be related to the fact that you, dear readers, haven't gotten a single Friday running update from me in weeks? I think so. I know I'm going to have to use the buddy system on this whole workout idea. I need there to be someone I'm supposed to meet at the gym in order for me to actually want to get off my arse and go there.

Talk to me - anyone out there?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

True Blood recap - S4, E5

Well, Gators love marshmallows, y'all. Which means sayonara Joe Lee and evil Mama Mickens! And hasta la vista to Joe Lee's nasty tighty whitey underpants, too! Whew, that felt good.

Oh Andy Bellefleur... I was already afraid enough of police misconduct, then you came along with all your flagrant civil liberties-infringing shenanigans this season. There's no internal affairs division in Bon Temps, I presume. Don't your loved ones know you have some sort of serious addiction going on, beyond the drinking problem of course? With all of those boundaries you keep crossing on Sam Merlotte, one of these days Sam's anger management training won't be sufficient enough to keep him from feeding YOU to the alligators. Speaking of which, Tommy's interpretation of the various Commandments he violated rocked. It was odd though that Sam chose that moment to confess his own murderous past to Tommy - bet that will come back to bite Sam in the ass.

And Portia Bellefleur... trying desperately to make the case that she and Beel could legally keep getting it on was at once sad and funny. But mostly icky. Thank you Beel for being the voice of reason. Beel should have definitely added the suggestion "You find incest revolting" as he glamored away her affections.

Lafayette had a couple of good funnies in this episode - "that dog ate my homework" stuff isn't going to fly with vampires!... and calling Jesus "goat killer." I can't wait to see what kind of crazy shizz Jesus' grandfather the Brujo is going bring to the party.

Loved, loved, loved every scene involving Eric. Scary Godric was an awful bad dream. I hope Beel doesn't get to the Stackhouse home in enough time to cockblock Eric from getting a piece o'Sookie. (Please, please, please let them have the Shower Scene from the books!! Doubtful, I know. I bet they're just going to have time enough to smooch, then Beel and his goons will show up.) But um, Sookie, before Beel takes Eric away, could you please ask him to change out of those horrible gym shorts? We know from last season he looks great naked. M'kay thanks.

Death Becomes Her aka Beekeeper Pam, I think you are actually warming up to King Beel. I actually liked the tough Beel I saw engaging with the 4 remaining sheriffs, including the one (Luis?) who knows the Ancient Witch inhabiting Marnie from back in the day. (And calling Google and Fox News the most powerful human institutions today was absolutely priceless!) Pam, if it were any other royal, or even Eric were you not his child, they might have given you the true death for disobeying a direct order. Beel perhaps thought having a half-rotten face for eternity was punishment enough. BUT... I can't believe Pam 'accidentally' slipped and revealed Eric's hiding place. That didn't quite feel true to the impervious Pam character who is the most ruthless and loyal person Eric knows. I think Pam knows deep down that Beel will not actually kill Eric, and that somehow having Eric in Beel's custody will give her and Eric the best fighting chance. Yes, even though Beel tried to incapacitate Eric last season with cement. Ok, so that doesn't exactly add up in a perfectly logical fashion, but let's put logic aside so they can keep telling such a good story.

My hands down surprise favorite scene though? When clean and sober Lettie Mae Thornton, I mean Mrs. Rev. Daniels, and her holy rollin' new hubby did the song and dance routine complete with a smudging ritual at Terry and Arlene's house to cleanse away "Rene's ghost!" Too funny! "You people"..."I mean people who are religious...." = brilliant! I absolutely love these wonderfully kooky side characters - Lettie Mae and Arlene are 2 of my favorites and it was great to see them in the same scene. I don't think it's Rene. I've said this before, but I think this is a riff on the recurring 'ritual can be dangerous' theme of the show, and that Arlene and Holly invited a demonic entity into the unborn Michael. And clearly this demonic entity has a fondness for playing with matches. Creepy!

Now about Jessica-Hoyt-Jason (cue New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle" here). What was Jess smelling on Hoyt's right shoulder? The scent of Jason? The V-induced sex dream where suddenly Hoyt was in Jess' place was too funny. I hope Jason reveals this to Sookie so she can set Jason straight about the romantic side effect of drinking a vamp's blood.

Your thoughts?