Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

What says Christmas better than the face of a very happy little boy?

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's A Horrible Life?

Last night David and I snuggled under a blanket for a viewing of "It's a Wonderful Life". This is an annual tradition normally reserved for Christmas Eve, but since we will have David's parents here and a lot going on that day, we thought we would watch it early. It is one of my very favorite movies, and one that I never tire of seeing.

Apparently, I'm not the only one. Wendell Jamieson, writing for The New York Times, declares his affection for the film, even going so far as to state that it still "chokes him up" each time he views it. Ah, how sweet. Me too. But wait...

Mr. Jamieson writes: "Lots of people love this movie of course. But I'm convinced it's for the wrong reasons... 'It’s a Wonderful Life' is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher and your oppressively perfect wife. It is also a nightmare account of an endless home renovation."

Say what? Were we watching the same movie?

He goes on to wax fondly about the George-less alternate universe "Pottersville", i.e., Bedford Falls under the thumb of black-hearted Henry F. Potter, saying that it would be a lot more fun and a lot more appealing to the adventure-craving George Bailey than the stagnant old town he longed to escape. And not only is Pottersville bigger and better, it would have had a stronger financial future. All those gambling halls and nightclubs would have brought in more money. All that sin would have helped the economy thrive! Mr. Jamieson concludes, "Had George Bailey never been born, the people in his town might very well be better off today."

Well, isn't that sweet? It turns out George should have jumped off that bridge after all. I'm so touched.

In fairness, I suppose Jamieson is right, if your definition of "better off" is exchanging virtue for vice, living a selfish life without concern for others, putting your own desires and dreams ahead of any greater good, and foregoing a family in favor of sowing your oats among the Violet Bicks of the universe.

I don't know about you, but I can just feel the holiday cheer.

Personally, I think we could use a lot more George Baileys and a lot fewer idiotic newspaper columnists.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Something Wicked This Way Comes

A few weeks ago I made an exciting discovery - a Mormon family with two little boys staying just two doors down from us! This could only mean two things (besides the fact that divine intervention is alive and well) - 1. sanity-saving playdates during the day and 2. babysitting swaps! And boy, have we lived it up! We are about to have our fourth and final date tomorrow, as they have the nerve to ditch our perfect arrangement in favor of California so the husband can "keep his job", or something equally lame. (Excuses, excuses). I have tried to bribe them with all manner of enticing things to stay here, but so far my offers of turn-down service and chocolate mints on their pillows have been rejected. Rats.

So we have been having a blast - four dates in two weeks! I feel so... refreshed. And relaxed. And slightly giddy.

What better way to take advantage of date night in NYC than to see a Broadway show? So we did. We saw "Gypsy" (with the original Tony-award winning cast, starring the unhinged but amazing Patti LuPone) and "The Phantom of the Opera" (because, believe it or not, I had never actually seen it). Both shows were wonderful. And there was just something so fun about hopping on the subway to go on a "regular" date and ending up on Broadway. What can I say, we're spoiled rotten? (And our bank account is suspiciously low...)

For our third date we thought we would try putting our names in the "Wicked" lottery, and then when that inevitably failed, we figured we could go out to dinner somewhere totally kid-unfriendly. We had already tried the lottery once (the convenience of on-call babysitters...) but failed, of course. We truly didn't expect to get tickets, especially with the number of people hoping for a seat. But hey, once David won some stickers in a drawing, and once I won the opportunity to clean the port-a-potties at girls camp, so I guess we can't say we've never won anything.

Well, I guess we've now lost our complaining rights forever. David's was the last name called! So we found ourselves on the second row of the Gershwin Theater watching "Wicked" that night. It was awesome, of course. If only we could see it again tomorrow.

I suppose lightning could strike twice, right?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Adolf Hitler!

In the news today, it appears that 3-year old New Jersey resident Adolf Hitler Campbell (brother to JoyceLynn Aryan Nation and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie) has been denied a birthday cake after a local ShopRite refused to desecrate one of its sugar confections by writing "Happy Birthday Adolf Hitler!" in what was certainly a request for blue-eyed, blond-haired icing.

In a fit of bewildered self-righteousness appropriate only to those who are fully aware of their own stupidity, the parents insist that "It's only a name... how can a name be offensive?"

Let me count the ways.

"It's not fair!" they say. Well, they should have thought of that before they befouled their children with such hideous monikers. But of course, no one names their child "Adolf Hitler" or "Aryan Nation" hoping to blend into the sidelines. They want to make a statement, and they want to make sure that someone gets sued for discrimination along the way.

I just feel bad for these innocent children who will spend their lives being poisoned by their disgusting parents.

In this case the rose is definitely not as sweet.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ready To Roll

A few days ago while we were out and about we got the following comment:

"That is one warm kid!"

You'll notice this is in stark contrast to being yelled at by strangers for letting our child freeze to death, the superior, I'm-saying-this-loud-enough-for-you-to-hear-but-not-directly-to-you comments like "look at that child - no hat, no gloves" (said as smugly as possible, without knowing that the hat and gloves have been put on by the parents and taken off by the child a thousand times in the last half hour), and the simply dumb comments like "that child must be freezing" when it is 60 degrees outside.

But now Michael is ready to face the super cold days in soft, fuzzy comfort. He's ready to roll.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Strollers And Selective Charity

Yesterday David had the following conversation with an acquaintance:

Acquaintance: You're not one of those annoying people who takes their stroller on the subway, are you?

David: (Proudly) Yeah I am! All the time! What's the problem with that?

A: (Disgusted noise) They just take up so much space!

D: What do you expect me to do?

A: Can't you just fold it up?

D: I need to keep my son contained so he won't take a flying leap onto the tracks or jump in front of a train. And he is really hard to hold onto once he is on the train, especially if you are trying to hold onto something else, like his stroller.

A: Oh, I guess I never thought of it that way.

This exchange is a perfect example of personal experiences preventing someone from having understanding toward other people. As this person does not have any kids, she could not see any need for children to remain in their strollers on the subway. Who knows how many years she has been looking down her nose at harried parents as they push their wiggly children onto the train? At least now she might have a bit of understanding and sympathy when she sees a child taking a ride in his stroller.

I've been thinking about this understanding and sympathy a lot lately as I've walked around the city ignoring the panhandlers who would be happy with a simple dime in their cup. Every time I pass one by I know I should be doing something to help these people. But I let my personal hang-ups prevent me from reaching out a charitable hand. (After all, they might be using it to buy alcohol or drugs!)

David and I have discussed how we can best help the homeless of our city, and have decided to donate to a local shelter each month. The problem with donating to a shelter is that many of the people who spend their time begging for money are not frequenters of the homeless shelters and so wouldn't be helped by that donation. And I'm still not sure that is the full solution to the pangs of guilt I feel as I walk by a decrepit old man holding out his styrofoam cup for my help. I've thought about withdrawing a set amount of money each month in dollar bills and passing them out as I venture around the city, until I run out. I still don't know what the perfect solution is.

Sometimes our charity is so selective. We dole it out after a lengthy interview process to determine if a person or cause is worthy. We seem to have no problems looking at someone and saying, "he isn't worthy of my charity because of A and B" and then patting ourselves on the back for our own wonderfulness in dealing with our personal trials.

The experiences we have so color our perception of the world that sometimes we are rendered truly incapable of having charity towards others. I think this is when the scriptural definition of charity - the pure love of Christ - comes into play. True charity is when we reach past our own human inability to show sympathy, kindness and a little understanding to another person, and find some way to relate to them and love them. With the help of the Lord, we reach past our incapacity to love and care about someone and can often find we have no trouble putting our arms around them and saying things we didn't know we were capable of saying, let alone actually feeling.

The Lord seems to be trying really hard to cement this concept in my brain. As I have struggled and fought through unsuccessful fertility treatments and miscarriage to have the children I always hoped for, I often find it difficult to be around pregnant women, especially when they are doing what many pregnant women seem to do best - complaining. Because I would give anything to trade places with these women, I often cannot see past my own hurt to show them a little sympathy. To reach down past the depths of my broken heart and pull out an understanding comment for a discouraged pregnant woman is often more than I am humanly capable of doing.

But I know the Lord is capable, and can help me find some understanding words, even when I can't come up with them myself. Of course this doesn't stop it from being a daily battle, but it is a lesson to me on what true charity is, and that we cannot expect to have our hearts filled with charity simply from our own efforts or on our own merit. We have to reach past ourselves and allow the Lord to help us.

He's always willing.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

So Much For My Theory (And Thank Goodness For Modern Medicine)

For the last twenty-seven years I've been convinced that my entire family is somehow immune to strep. No one ever had it until my oldest brother came down with it this year and blew my theory. Well, I decided to take that a step further and come down with it myself. Man, it's miserable. I'm having trouble deciding if it's better or worse than hand, foot and mouth disease, which I caught from Michael earlier this year. (I'll bet you didn't know adults could get that, did you? Well, they can, and it's not pleasant). Right now the jury is still out. But I think strep might be winning by just a hair, mostly because that's what I'm dealing with now and I can't see far enough past my severe pain to be scientific about it. All I can say is thank goodness for penicillin, and I hope it starts working fast! And thank goodness for the Jamba Juice across the street, which has provided my meals for the past two days.

In other news, thanks to Oliver, I've spent the last hour glued to my computer screen watching this video. Luckily for David, he isn't home to be subjected to the never-ending loop. I am having trouble wrapping my brain around the fact that it is actually humanly possible to play this piece. It is just so amazing! I love the addition of the melody line of "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks" in the middle. And check out those feet! Wow.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Happy Birthday!

It's not truly a birthday unless you try to grab the candle on your cake (or brownies, as the case may be).

Monday, December 8, 2008

Why Do I Do This To Myself?

I have this terrible compulsion to read magazine articles about pregnancy, even knowing it will be emotionally painful for me. I just can't seem to help myself. Today's foray into stupidity was in a magazine David had brought home for me because the lead article was "50 kid-friendly NYC activities". But did I open it to that page and begin reading? No, my eye was drawn to the smaller blurb "Older, Wiser... and Accidentally Pregnant."

Even while telling myself that reading this article would be a mistake, I just couldn't resist. I don't know why I do this to myself. Perhaps it's some sort of masochistic desire to make my heart bleed, maybe I'm hoping that reading an article about ultra-fertile women will somehow rub off on me, sprinkling baby dust on my fingers as they run down each page.

So I found myself ankle-deep in the article, trying to stop myself from wading in any further, my eyes growing bigger and more horrified as I read the tales of "accidents", abortions and babies. All of them yanked on my heartstrings, some exacting my sympathy for women in truly desperate and lonely situations. But there was one name-has-been-changed story that was so disgusting I had to read it again just to make sure I hadn't misunderstood it the first time.

"Nicole", a mother of two children with two abortions under her belt talks about becoming "accidentally" pregnant for the third time:

"I wanted to seize the moment," she says [referring to the accidental conception], and she was sure the timing was safe. Then she sighs, adding, "Our lives are so regimented. On some level, I think I was daring myself to tap into this well of mystery and awe that can come about with an unplanned pregnancy." If she's really honest with herself, she also just wanted to know if her body was "still capable of creating the miracle that is pregnancy."

She terminated that "miracle" with yet another abortion.

So the creation of human life is nothing more than a fun science experiment, a volcanic mixing of vinegar and baking soda to be thrown in the trash when the science fair is over? Well, congratulations, Nicole, you were "womanly" enough to conceive a human being. Good for you and your perfectly functional reproductive system. Don't let any pangs of guilt get to you when you destroy the little "parasite" who is threatening to inconvenience your life.

The idea that someone would purposely get pregnant just for some kind of reproductive gold star, fully intending to terminate the life of the human being resulting from such experimentation chills me to the bone. I don't think it's possible to get any more vile than this woman. This is a case of cold-blooded, pre-meditated murder. And there is nothing sadder or more disgusting than that.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Potty Mouth

Michael has a bit of a potty mouth, if only accidentally. He is having some trouble getting his two-year old tongue wrapped around words like fork, chips, and soup, which all come out as swear words. However amusing it is, (I admit that David and I had a laughing fit the first time he called soup by a more uncouth name) we are working daily to add the right sounds in the right places, correcting him each time he says something the wrong way. And hoping he can say these words like a pro before his Grandma comes to visit and has a heart-attack when her sweet little grandson asks for his silverware.

Of course, all this potty talk could just be something Michael picked up on the street. The language I hear as I walk around this city would have made Jezebel blush. The most common word, the infamous F-word, is used in pretty much every sentence, spoken by pretty much everyone. It doesn't matter whether the person is a fifty-something professional, an eighty-something grandma, a teenager, a construction worker, a policeman, you name it. If I tried to count how many times I hear the F-word in one trip to the grocery store I'd run out of numbers. People use it to add emphasis to every sentence they speak. (Which brings up the question, is it really emphasizing something when you use it seven times per phrase?) People even use it when they mean to compliment you. Just put the word in place of "very" and you've got yourself a glowing commendation. Gee, thanks... I think.

Of course, I say that the F-word is the one I hear most often, but in reality there is one phrase that is used even more - you can't go anywhere without hearing someone say "Oh my God." About anything. And everything. It was even shortened to the cutesy, blonde-ish "omigod" and then to the even more cutesy, teenaged text-friendly "OMG". It's on T-shirts and cell phones. You can't watch anything on TV without hearing it, or go anywhere or do anything without being smacked in the face with it. And since a recent poll showed that 92% of Americans believe in God, I find it disheartening that we have sunk to throwing His name about as if it were nothing more than a brand of cheap perfume. Forget about reverencing or honoring the name of Deity. We throw it in the gutter and stomp on it.

Of course, I'm pretty sure most of these people don't have any idea what they are saying and what it implies (about themselves more than anything). Even the most devout believer seems to forget that whole third commandment thing, or at the very least disconnect it from what is coming out of his or her mouth. People use God's name out of anger and frustration or disbelief, but they also use it to express excitement, gratitude, or any other happy emotion that they are feeling. It's the ultimate all-purpose word. It's even a filler-word, as in, I don't know what to say so I'll just put this word here while I think about it.

It's no wonder that the still small voice has a hard time getting through to anyone. How can it possibly be heard over all the disgusting trash coming out of peoples' mouths?

I guess that's just all the more reason to make sure that these words can never be heard coming out of mine.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

And The Winner Is...

I had this idea to make a cute video of Michael drawing the winning name out of a bowl. Unfortunately my plans had to change when Michael came down with a fever and yucky cough yesterday and asked us to put him to bed early. (There is nothing sadder than your toddler asking to be put to bed, especially when his usual routine involves staying up as late as you will let him, getting more and more hyper by the minute).

So David and I did the drawing ourselves. And the winner is...

Jen Mangum! Congrats! I will email you shortly.

But wait, there's more. I always like to see who comes in second, so we decided to keep drawing. As David pulled the second name I said, "Too bad it wasn't Rachel since she said she never wins anything. She'll probably be drawn last." This got a glance and a smile from David who said, "Let's see!"

So we kept drawing and drawing, waiting for Rachel's name to appear. With no cheating and no peeking or trying in any way to mess with the results, Rachel's name finally appeared... dead last. It was so funny we couldn't help laughing hysterically. Rachel, your luck is as bad as mine (just ask me about the infamous fourth grade tale of woe involving a giant Hershey's kiss and math bees).

But the good news is that we laughed so hard at the situation we decided we simply had to give away another book. So, Rachel, you are getting a prize for coming in last. Congratulations!

Thanks to all who participated! That was really fun.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Breakfast At Tiffany's

It's one of those classic movies that everyone raves about. (And if you are one of those people who raves about it, stop reading right now. I don't want you to hate me. If, however, you will remain unscarred by my scathing review, read on. Just be glad I will not be reviewing Twilight).

I started the iconic film with high hopes. After all, what's not to love? Audrey Hepburn. New York City. High fashion. Handsome leading man. But I must say, I was unimpressed. In fact, unimpressed is too diplomatic a word. Annoyed? Aghast? Confused beyond measure? How in the world did this movie become a classic? After watching it, I have absolutely no idea.

The movie was too long, too random, and had absolutely nothing to do with having breakfast at Tiffany's. Oh, the famous store is mentioned and one scene is filmed there, but any actual breakfasting does not take place. I was expecting some sort of pivotal moment from which the movie plucked its title. But no. It's a film where an idiotic/materialistic girl meets an idiotic/materialistic guy. She's busy fishing for some multi-millionaire to support her in style, he's living on some rich woman's dime in some sort of reverse sugar-daddy role, complete with bedroom privileges.

You'd think a movie made in 1961 would be a lot less racy. But no, we have a scene where Miss Hepburn's character climbs into bed with a completely naked man she just met, she attends a strip club with him where they watch an exotic dancer remove her top, leaving the camera to avert its lens in just the nick of time, the main falling-in-love activity includes some time spent shoplifting (apparently a fun little habit of hers) and to top it off, she's ridiculously stupid enough to be passing secrets to an incarcerated criminal through a fake weather report. And if that weren't bad enough, we are supposed to believe that her character, Holly Golightly, began life as hick-ish Lula Mae Barnes, married at the age of 14 to a man who must be three times her age. Whom she apparently left, to find herself or whatever.

Not to mention the musical score is about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the head, and seemed more appropriate for a suspense thriller than a cotton candy romance. At times completely inexplicable, and at others completely absent - the music would swell hopefully until the characters kissed, and then stop dead, leaving me strangely unfulfilled. How are you supposed to experience the romantic climax if there is no accompanying musical crest? Just wondering - it took away from the movie itself, apparently forgetting the rule that the best musical score is one you don't notice.

And yet, somehow this score managed to clinch an academy award, in addition to a nod for its famous retch-worthy song, "Moon River". I don't know why, but this is just one of those songs I can't stand, much like anything by Neil Diamond (a common thread being ridiculous lyrics - "Huckleberry friend"? What is that? Or in Neil Diamond's case "I am I said to no one there, and no one heard at all, not even the chair..." Um, maybe it's just me, but I think I'm missing the deeper meaning.)

I know, you can all hate me now for my lack of taste or art appreciation, or simply because of my mean comment about nice-guy Neil Diamond, but honestly, this has to be one of the most overrated movies in the history of humanity. It deserves to be knocked off its place atop the totem pole. I mean, I love a large number of classic movies, cheesy endings, films with cutesy songs, and especially romances. But this movie was just more than I could stand. And apparently more than I could understand.

Friday, November 21, 2008

In Gratitude (And Shameless Promotion)

As we come closer to Thanksgiving, I would like to thank all my loyal blog readers. Well, not all of them, only the ones who comment. Because how am I supposed to know you are reading my blog, and thus be grateful for you, if you never leave me a comment?

So in appreciation of you, dear reader, I am announcing the first ever LIFE AS AN ADVERB contest. Well, it's not really a contest. It's more of a drawing. But there is a prize.

Some of you may know that my sister, Stephanie, is a published author. (Actually, two of my sisters are published authors. I mustn't forget the delightful Evil HR Lady, also known as my sister, Suzanne, and her weekly blog at US News).

Anyway, Stephanie pens LDS Fiction, and is a pretty spectacular writer (which I would actually say even if I weren't related. And if she would just put down that gun she has pointed to my head). She has published two books so far:



Her third book, a suspense novel called The Devil You Know is expected to be released next August. If you would like to read reviews of these awesome books (or if you just want to see what an amazingly talented mother of five looks like), visit Stephanie's website. As there are not yet reviews of The Devil You Know, you'll just have to take my word for it that it is really, really good. It kept me up till four in the morning because I simply had to find out what happened. Curse you, Stephanie.

If you would like to be the owner of one of these books, personalized and autographed by the author herself, leave me a comment on this post in which you tell me your favorite adverb. For example, my favorite adverb is, of course, "overly". On December 1st I will draw the name of one of the commenters out of a hat, and you will become the lucky owner of the book of your choice. (The Believer is my personal favorite, but both books are page-turners, and if you have the patience to wait till August for the release of The Devil You Know you are welcome to choose that one).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Move Over Zuma Nesta

Ashlee Simpson (of Saturday Night Live lip syncing fame) and her husband Pete Wentz (of who knows what fame) have had a son. I wasn't sure if there were any remaining names out there that could make me drop my teeth, but it appears I was wrong.

So welcome to the world Bronx Mowgli Wentz! (Yes, that's Mowgli, as in Jungle Book's Mowgli). Perhaps your mom can arrange a playdate with Zuma Nesta Rossdale.

So many sarcastic comments I want to make, so little time...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

On Behalf Of All Mothers Everywhere

I have a multitude of pet peeves. For example, it bothers me when the microwave door is left ajar, or when I go to a friend's house and they leave the TV on for my entire visit. Or when I call some company and they have no available option to talk to an actual person (which once caused me to yell at the voice recognition software, "I just want to talk to a human!" which actually worked, by the way).

But I decided that those pet peeves are rather ridiculous and petty (except for the TV one - I really hate that). So let's get down to one that is truly important. In the interest of making the world a better place, I thought I would resolve this most irritating pet peeve by writing a letter:

Dear DVD Producers Everywhere,

I have kept silent in the past, but as the mother of a soon-to-be two-year old who is just starting to take an interest in television and movies, I'm begging you, please, please do not program your DVDs to make the previews required viewing. You don't know the frustration I feel when I see that annoying red no-no symbol dash my hopes of skipping the preview of a movie I never plan to see.

I'm certain your intentions were good. You wanted to make sure people would actually watch the previews for upcoming movies or videos, which makes some sense if they are merely being rented for a one-time viewing. But obviously you have some sort of sadistic grudge against mothers whose children fixate on a particular DVD and want to watch it over and over and over again until their brain matter oozes out their ears. By not allowing mothers to skip the previews, you are contributing to nervous breakdowns all over the country.

And while we're at it, must there be any pre-movie things at all? For the love of Disney, please just put up the menu screen immediately upon DVD insertion. Watching the same movie 87 times (in one day) can be rather wearing. Please don't make it worse.

Sincerely,

Frazzled I-Just-Want-To-Get-To-The-Menu-Screen Mom

Thanksgiving Prep (Clara 101)

We've been spending the morning getting reacquainted with Clara in preparation for her visit next week. Michael is enthralled by our old videos of the two of them playing together. He asks to watch them over and over again, and is calling her "Cara" which is an improvement over the old "Rara". As for me, I'm already getting sad about when Clara will have to go home, and she's not even here yet! How's that for pathetic?

The usual Thanksgiving preparation fun has been heightened by the fact that I'm in a new city without access to a Wegmans (ah, beloved Wegmans), so I've been slowly foraging through all the grocery "stores" (ahem, mini-marts) to make sure I have all the necessary ingredients for the perfect Thanksgiving feast. Last week I did happen upon what I would call an actual grocery store, just as I was about to give up hope completely. The knowledge that I can now buy sugar in a bag instead of a tiny mouse-portioned box is tremendously encouraging. We'll just forget the part about groceries being twice as expensive as they were in Virginia. (I say as I choke and sputter my way through each purchase of a $6 box of generic-brand cereal).

So far this week I've been yelled at by a complete stranger for allowing my child to "freeze to death" (he wasn't cold, by the way), told a taxi driver to shut up when he honked at me, and got cheated out of a dollar by Toys R Us, who insisted they could not give me the price listed on their shelf because it was the wrong one, even after a price check proved I was right, a fact which they readily admitted. (a grouchy letter to their corporate office is soon to be mailed).

Michael and I might head to the playground this afternoon. I have looked around for an indoor playground for use in the dead of winter, but all the indoor playgrounds have insane membership fees. I just looked at one this morning that costs $3000 per year. Yikes! If it's going to cost that much money I would prefer that Michael and I just sit around and stare at each other all day. (So far the cheapest membership I've found is $825. But the good news is these memberships often include parents and "one to two caregivers". I'm so glad to know I could bring my horde of nannies along).

Michael is celebrating the upcoming holiday by acting like a turkey (albeit a really cute and really fun turkey). I, on the other hand, prefer to stick with my favorite poultry persona - a really big chicken. We'll see which of our personalities wins out on the getting-out-of-the-house war today. So far chicken is ahead by three points.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Can I Get Fries With That?

This weekend David and I watched "Super Size Me". For those of you who haven't seen it, it is a documentary about a guy who eats nothing but McDonald's for thirty days, causing him to put on twenty-five pounds and sending his cholesterol through the roof, among other issues.

It was a fascinating documentary, and it upset my stomach enough that I nearly committed myself to a life of eating nothing but wheatgerm and lemon grass. Of course, this morning I came to my senses, but I was nonetheless extremely grossed out by the whole thing.

And annoyed. Not at McDonald's for making such disgusting food (which they certainly do, though I must admit a fondness for their cheap hot fudge sundaes and breakfast sandwiches), but at the lawyers and the people who insist on blaming the fast food industry for their obesity. I'm certain that every person with half a brain knows that deep-frying your over processed food is not the way to enjoy bodily harmony. And yet they keep eating, and they keep blaming. It reminds me of an article I just read talking about the toddler response to adversity. When he gets hurt, out of embarrassment or anger he will often walk up to his mother and slap her to shift attention and assign blame (boy am I familiar with that response). It seems the obese are doing the same thing, walking up to McDonald's and slapping them - with a lawsuit.

I have noticed that there is a much greater push for nutrition information in NYC. Calorie counts are included on most menus, and the ban on trans fats is still in force. But does knowing that a plate of delicious cheese-drenched, bacon-sprinkled delectably-seasoned fries contains enough calories to feed a small third-world country stop me from eating them? Um, no. It just reminds me that I shouldn't eat them every day.

Which is how people should treat McDonald's. It is something to be enjoyed on occasion, but should never be visited on a daily, or probably even weekly, basis. This seems to be one of those obvious, common-sense things that everyone is hardwired to figure out.

Of course, I'm positive these lawyers (and most certainly their clients) don't actually think McDonald's is the sole responsible party for their sizable girth. They merely see dollar signs among the double cheeseburgers. And why take personal responsibility when you can shift the blame and walk away a gazillionaire? After all, doesn't sitting in piles of money make you feel better about yourself?

The reality is, our actions have consequences. No one is dragging people into McDonald's and forcing them to eat a Big Mac every day. (Unless the lawyers are right and we've all been conditioned through some sort of hypnotic, subliminal advertising to become addicted to this fast-food junk. And if that is the case, maybe we should all start turning off the TV now and then).

Wouldn't it be great if we could get personal responsibility on the menu? (And yes, you can order fries with that).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

People Watching, New York Style

New York City is a great place for people watching. You can't venture outside without seeing something strange. And I've discovered that even though I own black boots and a black coat, I need to invest in fishnet stockings and eighties-style leggings if I truly want to fit in. And possibly a little dog. We saw a man pushing two little dogs in a stroller yesterday. Some people have way too much money and way too little sense.

I've been stopped by four people so far (and avoided making eye-contact with a few oddballs who looked like they were about to stop me). The first was a clean-cut guy shilling for the ACLU who tried to convince me that I should be worrying about the government listening to my private phone conversations. I told him he was overly paranoid, and that the government has better things to do than listen to my phone conversations about diaper changes and PMS (and if they are listening, they deserve what they get). He was bewildered at my indifference, I'm sure.

The second was an old black woman with one remaining tooth who stopped me to ask where she could find an ATM. I told her I didn't know, as I just moved here and was still exploring the area myself. This launched her into a whole discussion about her sister who used to live in Washington, D.C. and her nieces and nephew soon to be born. I nodded and smiled my way down the sidewalk as she chattered at me. We went a full block before I was able to extricate myself from the conversation.

The third stop (and the last one I'll mention, as the other isn't particularly noteworthy) came from a sixty-something professional-looking gentleman who parked himself in the middle of the sidewalk, held up his hand in a halt-now gesture, and asked David and me to stop so he could talk to us. As he was blocking our path completely, and was very insistant about us stopping, we did so. He then proceeded to bend down to Michael's level and ask Michael to give him five. Michael (surprisingly) obliged, and we were on our way. So strange.

Speaking of Michael, he is perfecting his charming ways, saying "hi" and "thank you" and "bye bye" to everyone he meets. He has enamored a large number of strangers, and I don't know if people are just more touchy here or what, but everyone seems to want to touch his hair or give him five or tickle his foot or something. Michael is not a fan of this development, and spends a lot of time trying to climb out of his stroller into the safety of my arms.

Of course I'd probably try to run away too if strange people kept trying to run their fingers through my hair or pinch my cheeks. There are advantages to being a grown-up.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Definition of News

According to my simple news formula, the following would be considered news:

Biological Male Is Pregnant!

On the other hand, this statement would not be considered news:

Biological Female Is Pregnant!

And yet, Barbara Walters and her ilk insist on making the latter statement news. You see, earlier this year a pregnant "man", i.e., a biological female with intact female reproductive system who decided to live her life as a "man", gave birth. This exciting development made international headlines.

I can see why. I mean, someone who was born a girl and still has all the girly parts can give birth? Wow! Stop the presses!

Why do I bring this up? Well, it turns out that this "man" is pregnant again and due in June. And Barbara Walters is currently promoting her special "What Is A Man, What Is A Woman? Journey of a Pregnant Man" featuring this woman. Excuse me, um, "man". (Sorry, but I just can't write it without the quotation marks. I have too much sarcasm floating around in my head to leave them out).

I'd ask what "news" we can look forward to next, but frankly, I just don't want to know.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Maybe I Should Have Brought More

I read this morning that Mariah Carey required twenty pieces of luggage for a three day jaunt to England. Before I ask the obvious question, let me show you what we brought along for our one year stay in NYC:


Now for a shot of what we left behind:


And now for the obvious question: How in the world does one fill twenty suitcases for a three day trip? Is that a choice of fifteen outfits for each day? A suitcase full of money? Three suitcases worth of shoe choices?

And more importantly, don't these people feel completely ridiculous? I mean, just how much stuff does one need to survive?

Oh, snap! I forgot my suitcase full of handbags!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Taking To The Buses

Atheists are launching a bus advertisement campaign in Washington, D.C. This comes directly on the heels of a similar campaign in London where Brits were told, "There probably is no God, so stop worrying and enjoy your life." I don't know about you, but if I found out there was no God, that would make me start worrying. Especially because that would mean this life is all there is, and that people no longer exist after they die - yikes! That sounds extremely depressing. Of course, I'm sure most Atheists picture "God" as being a Zeus-like figure who loves to throw lightning bolts at sinners, or at the very least, "God" is a mean kid with a magnifying glass who is happily sitting on an anthill and zapping the life out of the friendly critters. And if you think that God could only be out to get you or make your life miserable (or worse, require you to live by a set of rules), maybe it's just nicer to go on your merry way.

Somehow this just doesn't seem logical. So let's dissect the D.C. bus campaign, which will make its appearance throughout this holiday season, and cheerfully declares, "Why believe in God? Just be good for goodness' sake." Hmmm... I feel very motivated to be good now.

Why do you suppose people are inclined to be good? Fear of punishment is certainly a motivating factor (whether from some divine being, or from laws of men). On the other hand, so is that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you do something nice. But if you could make your way to the top of the food chain by being a jerk with no thought of any cosmic consequences, why in the world would you want to be nice?

It seems to me that if there is no God, it's every man for himself (or every jerk for himself, as it were). So forget being good for goodness' sake. Be good enough to stay on the right side of the law (or not - after all, you might be able to get away with it), but as for the rest of those to-be-good-or-not-to-be-good decisions, who cares?

I also love how the atheists wave the flag of "separation of church and state" at the mere mention of deity, as if the elmination of religion in its entirety is what was intended by the founding fathers. "We can't have any religionists imposing their beliefs on the rest of us!" they say. Well, as my mom so astutely pointed out, all law is based on someone's moral or religious beliefs. We just have to decide whose beliefs will prevail. And I don't know about you, but I hope it's people who believe in God (according to a recent poll, that would be a staggering 92% of Americans), rather than the atheists who get their virtuous feelings as they systematically strip any reference to God from our daily lives. (And just how is it that 8% of the population can be so influential, anyway?)

It's times like these when I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon, and for the words of Alma. You know, those words that say "All things denote there is a God". I'm not sure how people miss the fact that evidence of God is in everything. It seems blatantly obvious to me. And it is so much more comforting than thinking we are some evolutionary accident and that this life is all we have.

Maybe someone should put that on a bus.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Those Darn Mormons

We're in the news again, and no, it's not Proposition 8 related (although there is still plenty of that nonsense going on). This time it's someone getting in a snit about Mormons and their irritating habit of performing baptisms for the dead. In this instance, the baptisms in question have been performed for Holocaust survivors.

Now, I can see how someone would want to (and should) reverence their ancestors and the heroic lives they lived. And I can see that they wouldn't want the faith of those ancestors to be diminished in any way. But explain to me how some crack-pot religious faction performing posthumous baptisms in any way diminishes the faith those people had while they were alive.

It seems to me that there are two arguments: Mormons are right, or they are wrong. If they are right, great! Any of your baptized ancestors will have the opportunity to accept or reject that baptism. If, on the other hand, Mormons are wrong, then those baptisms will obviously have no efficacy anyway since they weren't performed with the proper authority. And if that is the case, why would you be worried about a bunch of crazies performing ineffectual religious rites for your ancestors?

If it's just a matter of feeling insulted, personally, I feel honored when a person of any religious persuasion says they are praying for me. It means they care about me (or at the very least want to prevent me from being dragged down to hell). And if someone from another religion wants to perform posthumous baptisms for my family I wouldn't mind (and for those problem-causers who say that I wouldn't want Satanists baptizing my family into their church, I say who cares if they do? Obviously it would have no effect on anything whatsoever. The only rational reason why I could possibly be bothered is if I thought it would have an effect, in which case I would be smart to join up with the Satanists).

So I just don't understand why people get their knickers in such a twist over this. Even the Catholics have joined in the hand-wringing. For heaven's sake, aren't there better things to be worrying about? They think we're wrong anyway, so why does this even matter?

Perhaps all the worrying comes from that little nudge that says the Mormons might be right after all.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Peanut Gallery

Continuing on the food theme today, I found this fascinating article during my morning perusal of news websites.

In way of confession, I tend to be a laid-back sort of mother and I didn't obsess about the food I was eating while I was pregnant or nursing. I certainly enjoyed my Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and my trips to Five Guys (yum!). And I gave Michael peanut butter at 8 months or something like that (verdict: delicious!).

I used to nod my head and smile when my pediatrician would say, "no peanuts until he's two" (pretty much like I handle most trendy advice from my pediatrician) and then I would go home and have no guilty feelings whatsoever about feeding Michael a peanut butter sandwich for lunch.

So I'm happy to see some science backing me up. Of course I'm sure there will be some opposite study in the news next week, but for now I will revel in my scientific correctness. And while I'm at it, I think I'll have some peanut butter.

An Organic Experience

David and I went on a grocery store quest this weekend. While we have a store right across the street, it happens to be a Whole Foods (which I just can't visit without rolling my eyes... perhaps it's that crunchy granola feel underfoot). I mean, no regular cereals or fruit snacks or any other human food? How will I survive a year without junk? Scratch that. How will I survive a year without regular food?

You know why they put "organic" on food labels, don't you? It's so you will buy the product again, because frankly, no one in their right mind would buy the tasteless stuff again unless it was somehow "better". And what could be better and more virtuous than buying organic, saving the planet, stopping global warming, and going pesticide-free? I'll tell you what - buying food that is actually edible.

Putting aside the fact that scientific studies have yet to show any significant benefit resulting from the consumption of organic food, or to show any definite link between pesticide and fertilizer use and any detrimental effects on humans, (for an interesting article from Time Magazine click here) I just wouldn't want to eat most organic foods because they are yucky. Plain and simple. Call me a food snob if you will, but I want my food to taste good. And I don't want to pay a premium to know that my lettuce was grown on a cute little farm in upstate New York where the bugs are allowed to roam freely.

It seems going organic is the only remaining virtue these days. Well, I'm happy to miss that boat.

Now pass me those processed potato chips.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Look!

Michael is enjoying the view from the 19th floor at least as much as we are. We have windows on both sides of the apartment, and he will run from one side to the other and shout, "Look!" and climb up to the windowsill to survey the city. He is also thrilled with the constant flow of cars and trucks, and exclaims over each one he sees or hears. Several times a day we find him plastered to a window, observing the world below him.


What a fun place for a little boy.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Room With A View


Well, we made it! That lovely edifice you see is the Empire State Building, and that spectacular view is right out of our kitchen window.

It's okay, you can feel jealous.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Are We There Yet?

You know how moving is so stressful that every time you do it you swear you will never do it again? I think I'm inches from full-blown hysteria. So I am doing the only sensible thing, of course. I'm procrastinating by blogging.

I've spent my day trying to handle Michael (who is in perpetual meltdown-mode owing to the time-change, a two-hours late bedtime last night, a ten minute nap yesterday, and the cold that has been plaguing him), and trying to sort through the remaining sneedlets that have accumulated gremlin-style in our house over the last 5 years.

I felt I was doing pretty well with the packing and cleaning (I think I'm about 80% there), but I was so looking forward to a little help from my husband this evening to tackle the multitude of remaining tasks. That would be the husband who came home from work, went straight to the bathroom, and stayed there for the next four hours while his system tried to eliminate everything he ever ate or ever thought about eating.

Let's just say that the sound of barfing does not help my stress level for many reasons, not the least of which is that I could be next. I can just see it - a scenic drive to NYC, pausing periodically to throw-up out the window or run desperately to a rest stop, or worse, to clean up a similarly-affected Michael (in a rental car, no less). The horror. Oh please let this plague pass by us. Either that or let us magically move forward to this same time next week, without having to experience any of the in-between time.

Why do these things always happen at the most horrifically inconvenient times? Not that digestive ailments are ever convenient, of course. But if this is some sort of cosmic joke, it's not funny.

It's A Bird, It's A Plane...

"Groundbreaking" Study

This just in: A new study has shown that there is a connection between teens watching sex-filled TV shows and ending up pregnant. In fact, teens who watched such shows were twice as likely to become pregnant as their peers who didn't watch them.

You mean the things we watch have an effect on our behavior? Pardon me for my cynicism, but "duh".

It seems obvious - if you spend your time watching shows that glamorize sex, portray it to be risk-free and emotionally inconsequential, and make it seem like only nerds aren't doing it, you will be influenced by that. Especially if you are a hormonal teenager who thinks their status in high school is the end-all-be-all of existence.

The only casual-sex consequence I've ever seen portrayed on TV is pregnancy, but that always turns into a glorification of unwed parenthood. The baby is a romanticized little cherub who will appear for the occasional laugh line, but otherwise won't interfere in any way with the life of his parents, and especially not with their dating/sex life.

Why don't researchers just ask me these questions before they spend millions of dollars on such studies? I could have saved them a lot of money.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Destroying Angel

This morning I used our camera to take what would be its final picture:


How did this picture come to be, you might ask, and why was it the last? Those are both good questions. Let me explain.

This picture is of Michael immediately after he dumped an entire container of oats all over my freshly swept kitchen floor. In order to keep myself from knocking him into next Tuesday, I decided to take a picture. Then I began to sweep up the mess. While I was distracted, Michael somehow managed to get ahold of a box of spaghetti noodles and began adding those to the pile. He also decided it would be fun to use his hands and feet to sweep the oats over every square inch of the floor.

By this point I had reached the absolute end of my overstretched patience. I yelled at him (um, I mean sweetly asked) that he better not dump out anything else and told him to go away. Which he did. To the desk, where he found the camera I had used to take the picture. My back was turned to him, so I didn't see that he was playing with it. I only discovered this in time to see that he had totally mangled it. In thirty seconds he somehow managed to destroy it completely. Nothing works. Nothing. All the camera will do is let out a horrible, strangled alarm noise for about ten seconds and then sputter and die. The lens won't even hint at budging from its unnatural, Michael-induced position.

At least it was our old point-and-shoot camera, and not our new one. So farewell, beloved camera. Thanks for the memories, and I'm sorry you were so rudely swept out of existence.

As for Michael, well, he is still alive, and that shows just what a patient mother I am after all.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Cuteness of Michael

Michael has many very cute moments. These are to help me have patience in the screaming-frustrated-I'm-almost-two-and-I-know-what-I-want-except-when-I-don't-know-what-I-want-in-which-case-I-want-you-to-guess-and-if-you-get-it-wrong-I'll-have-a-screaming-wailing-kicking-world-is-ending-tantrum moments. A few highlights from the last week:

One day as I was taking Michael upstairs for his nap, he pointed to my room and said, "Mama, cuddle?" How could I resist? (Now that he knows that word and has used it to his advantage, he often yells "cuddle!" to be rescued from his crib in the morning).

He says "Thank you" completely unprompted any time you give him something. When we went to our ward trunk-or-treat he would say, "Treat!" and then "Thank you" to every person who gave him candy. All the way home he kept repeating "Treat! Thank you!" "Treat! Thank you!"

This afternoon, following tantrum-of-the-day number 57, out of complete exasperation I asked him, "Michael, what will make you happy?" He paused from his wailing for a moment and said hopefully, "Daddy?".

In the morning he will say "See ya!" and "Love ya!" to his daddy.

He gets so excited by the sound of airplanes or trucks that he will put his hands over his ears (I assume to show me he hears something) and yell "Airpane!" or "Guck!" and run to the nearest window. He says new words every day. It amazes me how much he is learning.

When he is angry about being in his crib, he will throw his blankets and cup over the side. Tonight I went into his room to tuck him back in after he had fallen asleep. I found him curled up at the end of his crib, peacefully snoozing and looking like a little angel. It was a good moment that reminded me how precious he is - a nice end to a long, hard day.

Going All Political

I only have one thing to say about this presidential election: For crying out loud, isn't it over already?! At this point I don't care who wins (though for the record, I think Obama has it in the bag), I just want it to be OVER! Over, I say! Over! I can't stand even one more millisecond of political coverage. I get twitchy at the mere mention of the election, let alone the commercials warning us that voting for Obama/McCain will result in the death of all fluffy animals/the end of the earth.

So on that note, a political-something that actually made me laugh:


Let's just hope and pray this is not one of those elections that drags on interminably, recount after recount, until we just can't take it anymore and are forced to make a sanity-saving permanent relocation to Bora Bora.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

O Fortuna

I am not superstitious and I don't get into horoscopes or anything like that, but I love fortune cookies at Chinese restaurants. Well most of the time. I hate the cookies that say things like "Sunshine is happiness" (not a fortune) or "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" (again, not a fortune). But most of the time I like them. And I particularly enjoy the ones with misspellings, like "You will gain insight from your pears". Who knew Bartletts could be so helpful?

Luckily for me, my favorite Chinese restaurant generally has great fortunes. I'm talking about PF Chang's, of course, or her little sister eatery Pei Wei. I've received many a good fortune while dining at both establishments (waiting to crack open the cookie until my meal is finished, of course... it's bad luck to do it beforehand you know. Not that I care because I'm not superstitious).

My favorite fortune was one I got on my birthday several years ago. It said, "You and your spouse will be happy in your life together". Awww. Perfect birthday fortune.

Another was "A wish long delayed will soon be fulfilled". I got that one right before we found out I was pregnant with Michael, and those who know me know just how long delayed that wish actually was.

So tonight Michael and I ventured to Pei Wei for some chicken fried rice and a little insight from the Fortune Gods. Michael's cookie said he will receive many great kindnesses over the next year. I'm crossing my fingers (not literally, of course, because I'm not superstitious) for a patient nursery leader.

My cookie said, "Sometimes traveling to a new place leads to great transformation." Ah, fortune cookies, omniscient as ever. I'm hoping that "great transformation" has less to do with character-building and more to do with a decrease in hip circumference. Or possibly a few inches off my thighs. Okay, okay. I'll settle for a flat stomach.

I'm not picky.

Monday, October 20, 2008

You've Got Mail

On a daily basis there are a handful of news headlines that make my eyes bug out of my head. Today's highlight of leading news was the following:

"STD Postcards: You've Got Mail - And More"

Apparently you can now send a former, um, partner, the news that you might have shared a little more than just a romantic tete a tete. How cheerful. And how pathetic that someone you had a VERY intimate experience with is only deserving of an e-card to tell them you might have given them a life-threatening STD. "Just thought you'd like to know I'm HIV positive. You might want to get checked out too. Ciao!"

In the last four years, 49,500 of these rays-of-sunshine have been sent. I can't tell you how much this disturbs me. I mean, it's always been disturbing (and revolting) to me that people can meet someone, climb into bed with them, and move on the next day without so much as a slight there's-something-wrong-with-this nudge from their dulled conscience. But an STD e-card? Are you kidding me?

The irony of the casual-sex generation is that the same women (and men) who have participated in one night stands are the ones frantically rubbing their hands with sanitizer as they disembark the metro, sticking to an organic, pesticide free diet, and refusing to sit down on a public toilet seat for fear of contracting some icky disease. But hey, a roll in the sack with some drunk hottie they met in a bar? Okay. People are more concerned about buying bruised produce than they are about exchanging bodily fluids with a complete stranger.

I recognize that not all STDs are the result of a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am, but if the purveyor of disease is a former boyfriend or significant other, I would hope that they would have the courtesy of informing their partner of a possible infection in person. But I guess if sex is nothing more than a "casual" exchange, why should informing someone of the bad consequences be any more formal?

Somehow chastity has never made more sense.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Is Anyone Surprised?

In the way of supposedly-shocking-but-not-really-surprising-to-anyone-with-a-pulse celebrity news, Madonna and her director husband Guy Ritchie are divorcing after nearly eight years of marriage. I know you are all shocked and appalled. Well, definitely not shocked, but in the case of Madonna it is always safe to be appalled.

The thing that gets me about the whole celebrity marriage charade is that these people seem truly bewildered when their unions crumble. In Madonna's case you are talking about a woman who has made a career out of writhing around on stage in less-than-nothing outfits, writing and starring in movies about her various sexcapades, and possessing such an over-inflated sense of self-importance that she recently dedicated a performance of her hit song "Like A Virgin" to the Pope. Classy. And she couldn't make her marriage work? I'm astounded.

Hollywood seems to be full of these types of people. They find a spouse, spend their days filming steamy love scenes with someone else, and then they end up dissolving their marriages on grounds of "irreconcilable differences". Yes, it is a bit hard to reconcile your sweetie pie rolling around in the hay with someone else, onscreen or not.

Honestly, the most shocking thing about Madonna's divorce is that it didn't happen sooner. If I were Guy Ritchie I would have divorced her as soon she evaporated her body fat and was left with nothing put a pile of veined, bulging muscles. I'm all for a little tone and definition, but the girl looks like she's shooting up testosterone. Nothing says femininity like the ability to bench-press your own body weight with your pinkie toe.

Ick, Madonna. Need I say more?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Naptime

Naptime has been a bit of a struggle in our house lately. Usually one of two things will happen: Michael will get a burst of energy and start jumping and doing somersaults in his crib, or he will get really mad and scream and cry (he has remarkable stamina). Scenario two always involves throwing his cup and blankets out of the crib,and then yelling that he wants them back.

I decided I needed to preserve these, um, "precious" moments for posterity. Unfortunately I didn't catch any of the somersaults on video, but it's a small taste of the energy ball that is Michael.

Enjoy!



Random Thoughts

Why do they make parallel parking such an integral part of the driving test? Unless you live in a large city, you will only have to parellel park about two times in your entire life. I agree with my sister that a better driving-skill indicator would be to take you to the interstate at rush hour and let you try to merge.

Have you ever noticed how the mornings when you absolutely have to be somewhere at a specific time, your child will sleep long past his regular waking time? And if you don't have to be anywhere and would like to sleep in, he will bounce out of bed at 5:30?

How is it that you can have 150 TV channels and absolutely nothing to watch?

Do you suppose prostitutes ever feel disenfranchised by the fact that everyone is wearing their clothing? Just how are you supposed to tell a hooker from a teenage girl nowadays?

People place too much stock in hearing someone say "I love you". Doesn't anyone realize that actions speak louder than words?

I just read that Lisa Kudrow, one of the stars of the hit TV series Friends, remained a virgin until her marriage at age 31. She said she is worried because kids are having sex at younger and younger ages. That is all very honorable, but if she truly feels that way, why did she star in a TV show (and play a character) that glorifies and encourages pre-marital sex?

Since Oliver keeps calling us every time he goes to Cafe Rio ("Just wanted you to know I'm eating at Cafe Rio," he'll say), I will now exact my revenge: I am making cinnamon rolls.

Anyone who says boys and girls are no different from each other has never had a child.

My sister-in-law compared this Presidential election to having a choice between cream of celery or spam for dinner. Somehow, either way we'll come out losers. Or at the very least throw up.

Why do women talk like sailors and dress like sluts and then act bewildered when their men don't treat them like ladies?

It's amazing what people categorize as "needs" even in difficult financial times. If cable TV is more important to you than eating, you are not that desperate.

What makes you dream about certain things? For example, why do people you haven't thought about in ten years suddenly appear in your dreams?

The latest "Dear Abby" column was people writing in about how they get offended if someone responds to their "Thank you" with "No problem". If you are spending time nitpicking over something that small, you need to get a life.

How is it that your child can smack the keyboard with one hand and manage to delete your hard drive and shut down your computer when you can't even figure out how to change your font?

Why does the dentist always wait until your mouth is full to ask you chatty questions?

I love that Michael can see an airplane for the thirtieth time in as many minutes, and be just as excited as the he was the for the first one.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Husband-Bashing Commercials, Part 3

Another husband-bashing commercial to add to the ever-growing litany of offensive advertising. (You can read about my other favorites here and here). The latest culprit? Pepto Bismol.

While this commercial takes a welcome break from the disturbing indigestion dance routine (if you don't know what I mean, count yourself lucky) it nonetheless ventures into something equally bothersome.

The commercial starts out with an attractive woman sitting on the couch, her dog's head resting woefully in her lap. She has called the Pepto help-line, wanting to know how she can help "Rex". You see, he has eaten everything in the house, leftover Chinese food, ice cream, tapioca, and of course dog treats.

"We don't cover dogs," the Pepto man says.

"Oh, no, Charlie is my dog. Rex is my husband."

Cut to the groaning husband in his chair, obviously regretting the dog treats he recently ingested.

I would have laughed, but I can't think of a single funny thing about such an insulting punch line. Honestly, who thinks of these things? They should be ashamed of themselves.

Satan's Little Helper

Last night we were engrossed in a new episode of "The Office" when a commercial came on for Bill Maher's new movie, "Religulous". Immediately out of David's mouth were the words, "I hate that guy. He's like Satan's Little Helper." An apt description, if I ever heard one. It sounds like something that should be on his resume: Bill Maher - Servant to the Prince of Darkness, a.k.a., "Satan's Little Helper".

In case you haven't heard, Maher's new film, "Religulous" is one of those documentary-type movies meant to make religious folks look like dangerous fools who are responsible for every bad happening since the beginning of time. (If you are at all curious, you can read Roger Ebert's review of it here).

The ironic thing, which I'm sure escapes Mr. Maher, is that this movie is sure to reveal way more about his own idiocy than that of those followers of religion he is trying to bash. He is showing his true colors, and they are nothing more than the telltale stripes of a paranoid jerk. He says he approached this movie as "I'm a skeptic, convince me", which is completely laughable. Instead he's preaching to the choir. People are only seeing this film for two reasons: they already agree with him or they want to see how despicable one person can be. I doubt anyone is going to the theater hoping for a spiritual experience.

Of course, that's really the good thing about a movie like this. Someone shares their psychotic-level paranoia with you, and you can see them for what they truly are. It's why I am definitely in the allow-flag-burning crowd. I want to be able to identify the ungrateful jerks that hate America. Why not allow them to reveal themselves to the rest of us?

So thanks for the reveal, Bill Maher. Of course, we already knew you were a dangerous nutcase, but it's nice to have indisputable proof.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Nosiness of Strangers

There's a strange phenomenon out there. I'm sure we've all been on the receiving end of it at some time or another. This phenomenon causes all sorts of weird symptoms, but first and foremost, it causes strangers to abandon their I-don't-know-you politeness and to stick their noses in something very private and personal.

The subject? Your family planning.

I can see having an interest in your own siblings or your close friends. And I don't believe you if you say you have never once had a conversation about someone else's family planning. But hopefully you have had the tact and good sense to avoid sharing your opinion with the person in question. After all, it is absolutely none of your business, no matter how close your relationship with them may be.

But I just can't understand why complete strangers seem to feel no shame in informing someone that they have too many kids/too few kids/their kids are too close together/their kids are too far apart/they are obviously selfish because they don't have any kids/they are ruining the planet by having kids, etc., etc., etc.

I hate it when strangers, however well-meaning, inform me that my son needs a sibling. Thank you for reminding me. Would you like me to share the hell I've been through trying to have another child? No? But you seemed so interested in my personal life to begin with! And then, on the rare occasion that I say something like "my son was very difficult to come by", hoping it will end the conversation, my favorite follow-up question:

"Why don't you just adopt?"

Oh, I never thought of that! I will just run down to the Baby Store and pick up a brown-haired, green-eyed mini-me! Be right back!

But first, tell me why you let your kids act like dictators. Inquiring minds want to know!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Vaccinations And Spiritual Flu

A few years ago my mom gave a really great talk on "Spiritual Flu". In it she said that we can't quarantine our children from the evils of the world, but by helping them internalize the truths of the gospel we can immunize them so they will be far more able to resist evil when they come upon it. Alma tells us that teaching the gospel will have a more powerful effect on the minds of our children than the sword or anything else (see Alma 31:5). We need to teach our children (by word and example) so that they can develop the spiritual "antibodies" to resist wickedness.

Isn't my mom awesome? But besides that, she's a registered nurse and knows a whole lot of useful things about medicine. It is so handy! I can't count the number of times I've called her with some medical question or other. She's also practical. If we ever had a headache, the first question she would ask is, "Did you take something?" If we hadn't, she would send us off to take some Tylenol instead of listening to our complaining. She was a regular drug pusher. No need to suffer when something can be done about it, was her motto. When I got braces, she taught me how to swallow pills by rolling up little tiny balls of bread and having me practice swallowing them. She sneaked the ibuprofen in one of the little bread balls, and I got it down without a problem. From then on, taking medication was a snap.

But back to Spiritual Flu. The world seems to be getting so scary, I sometimes get really freaked out about sending Michael out there to fight off all the fiery darts of the adversary. But then I remember that David and I have the opportunity to immunize him against the evils of the world. If we do our absolute best to teach him the gospel, and if we do our absolute best at living it and showing him by our example what the gospel means to us, he'll be okay. There is no need for us to panic.

I have also been thinking about how this spiritual immunization parallels a current world situation. Doctors everywhere are getting concerned about the number of people who aren't vaccinating their children. In this day and age of too much access to crazy health information on the internet, belief in inaccurate reports of vaccines causing autism or other frightening side effects, and downright ignorance and stupidity, it seems many parents are foregoing the opportunity to protect their children against some awful diseases.

I honestly think part of the problem is that we have never seen what these diseases are like. We have never seen whooping cough or polio, or even measles or mumps. We have no idea of the devastation that can be caused by tetanus or diphtheria. And so we ignore the warnings of medical professionals, and we don't vaccinate our kids. After all, who gets these diseases anymore? Do we really need to make sure our kids get all these shots?

Frankly, this attitude scares the pants off me. Yesterday, my sister was telling me about a whooping cough outbreak in her daughter's school. It caused the death of two babies, who were not yet old enough to receive the vaccine. And how do you think those infants caught it? Well, their un-vaccinated friends or siblings brought it home! How scary!

I know of many pediatricians who will not treat children who haven't received their vaccinations. (And rightly so). It's simply too risky! They can't put other patients at risk because some parent thinks a polio vaccine is unnecessary for their own child. It's not one of those personal decisions that doesn't affect anyone else. One unvaccinated child can cause a whole lot of problems for a whole lot of people.

I really think the diseases that will sweep through and destroy a bunch of people in these last days are not going to be new-fangled bugs we haven't yet discovered. I think we are going to be wiped out by outbreaks of measles or pertussis, or diphtheria. We'll be killed by our own stupidity and our inability to listen to the warnings.

Which brings me back to Spiritual Flu. Prophets have told us, I don't know, about a billion times, to have Family Prayer, Family Scripture Study, and Family Home Evening. Why do you think they keep telling us this? Because it will help inoculate our children against the evils in the world! And yet, we still aren't doing it. Because we don't think it's important, because we don't think it will help anything, who knows? But when the fiery darts of the adversary manage to spiritually kill our children, won't we feel horrible for not having protected them by doing everything we could to immunize them?

And as long as we're spiritually immunizing, why not physically immunize as well? We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

TWS

One of the things that drives me crazy is something I will call Tyrannical Wife Syndrome (TWS, for short). I am sure everyone knows a man whose wife suffers from this affliction. It involves lots of wifely whining if hubby ever wants to do something by himself, lots of complaining if he is out of the house for any reason, and multiple restrictions on his activities away from wifey-dearest. It can also involve the husband being responsible for most of the household chores when he arrives home after a long day at work (cooking dinner, taking care of the kids, cleaning up, etc.).

I can't stand it when I hear a man say, "I can't come to (fill in the blank with activity) because my wife won't let me." Aaarrgh! I understand that there are times the husband is needed at home, but this is something that he and his wife should be able to openly discuss and compromise on. We often talk about how women need time for themselves, but somehow the memo that men also need time for themselves got misplaced en route to all the females. I know wives who complain constantly any time their husband is gone, whether it's work-related, church-calling-related, or out-with-friends-related. These same women demand to have time with their friends, they demand to have the husband watch little Johnny while they go to enrichment or visiting teaching, or while they just do whatever they want, but they completely flip out if hubby asks for the same courtesy.

Recently my sister and I were discussing this Tyrannical Wife Syndrome, and she was telling me how women in her ward were asked to submit questions for a discussion about how husbands could better help their wives. The thought made her cringe. Her perspective, and I agree, is that the question needs to be reversed. We expect our husbands to work, to help with all household chores, the kids, the meals, and at the same time read our minds, meet our emotional needs, put up with any moodiness associated with PMS, pregnancy, or other hormonal insanity, and do it all with a smile (and after they have brought us a bouquet of roses). And then we get together in little groups and talk about how incompetent our men are, how they can't do anything right, how they don't care about anything but the football game on TV, and how picked on we are.

I have to say, women are completely clueless. If our men treated us like this, the world would end. Yet, most men trudge on trying to do everything, anything to please their unpleaseable wives. What a tragedy.

Husbands are partners, not children. They have needs and feelings, and they get tired and discouraged just like we do. How much better would the world be if all the women would stop focusing on themselves, and start focusing on that guy they chose to marry? After all, you love your husband, right? Don't you want him to know you love him? Don't you want to show him?

All right, enough. End of rant.

As a postscript, One of the best books I have ever read on this subject is Laura Schlessinger's The Proper Care And Feeding Of Husbands. If you haven't read it, do it right now. You'll learn a lot.

Friday, October 3, 2008

What's In A Purse?

I have one purse. I bought it 7 years ago for $50 and used it every day until the advent of the diaper bag 22 months ago. It's a nice purse. Sometimes I wish it were a little bit bigger, but it holds the essentials - wallet, cell phone, chapstick, carkeys. Now it only makes its appearance on special occasions that don't require the diaper bag - hot dates with my hubby and the rare solo outing.

Recently some of David's female coworkers were gushing about some great purse and suggested to David that he buy it for me. For $1000. That's right, these women would consider spending $1000 on a purse. And not only would they consider buying it, they thought I would appreciate it if my husband bought it for me.

Um, hello? $1000 for a purse?!!! Are you kidding me?! No purse is worth $1000! Not one. Zip. Zero. Nada. And if David came home with such an expensive handbag, I would make him take it right back to the store. Actually, first I would murder him. Then I would take it back myself.

So here I was, thinking that this $1000 purse was nothing but pure insanity, when my sister sent me a link to this:


For those not in the know, this is a Birkin purse, a favorite among the Hollywood elite. You too can be the owner of this fetching handbag for the mere price of $55,000. Yes, that's fifty five thousand dollars. What a steal! Where do I sign up?

I find it absolutely disgusting that any human being would ever consider spending that much money on one purse. And yet, in the past there has even been a wait-list for this hot item. That's right. People were lining up to hand over their bank accounts (and, apparently, also their brains) to buy the stupid thing. Can you imagine?

And Hollywood says they're not out of touch with the rest of us.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

It's A Sign

Anyone who has seen me teach Relief Society knows I am not a centerpiece person. This is not to say that I don't love decorations (I do! Have you seen my house around a holiday?) or that I don't like other people's lesson centerpieces, but when it comes down to it, I think it's a complete waste of time. Why would I want to spend hours stressing over an artsy arrangement to complement my assigned topic when I could spend those hours stressing over something more important, like, I don't know, the lesson itself? And why would I want to spend even more hours wrapping individual cookies in cute little baggies when I could just pass around a plate and let everyone help themselves?

If you are one of those people who enjoys making centerpieces for your RS Lessons, or bagging your cookies, more power to you. I am in awe. But it's just not my thing.

Along the same vein, I'm not much of a cheesy sign person. I have a few nice little sayings displayed in my house, and I've seen a few in other homes that I like, but I am not going to paint "Home Is Where The Heart Is" above my front door. Because then I would have to gag every time I left the house.

So I had to laugh my head off when I saw these alternative signs on the Six LDS Writers blog, created by the hilarious LDS author, Robison Wells:














I'm putting in my order now. Anyone else want one?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Magical Kisses

Michael recently discovered the healing power of a kiss. He will come to me multiple times a day saying "Owww!" and holding some body part that needs a little peck. It is amazing how well it works. The whining and crying stops immediately. And really, what is cuter than your little boy asking you to kiss a scraped knee, and then happily going off to play once everything is better?

He is also very concerned about my injuries and will point to my bruises or scrapes and say "Owww!" in a very worried tone of voice. Yesterday I asked him if he would kiss a particularly painful bruise he had been concerned about. He happily obliged, and I honestly did feel better.

Yesterday I also found myself needing an extra cuddle, and so gave into his whining and let him lie down with me for naptime. I let him snuggle until he fell asleep, and then went to put him back in his bed. As soon as I lifted the blanket to make the switch, he opened his eyes and said, "No, no, no" very earnestly and sweetly. It was easy to give in and just hold my little angel while he slept.

It's amazing how the magical cuddles and kisses have healing powers in both directions. I never realized they could work so well on me.

Dear Abby

I read advice columnists for two reasons: one, to see what sort of ridiculous things people seek help for, and two, to mock the mostly horrible advice the columnists give in response. The only columnist I still have any sort of respect for is "Miss Manners", who has somehow managed to maintain a little dignity and common sense in this crazy world.

Anyway, I read "Dear Abby" on a daily basis. I can't remember the last time I agreed with her advice. Probably when I was about eight. She is just that pathetic in her responses. But it is so entertaining to read that I just can't help myself.

The latest column that caught my eye wasn't really advice-related, it was a bunch of people writing in about surprise pregnancies, and how it is possible for someone to carry a baby to full-term without knowing they are pregnant. I've heard of cases where this has supposedly happened. And I realize people can be in extreme denial about things. But honestly, I just don't think there is a single pregnant woman, including these ladies, who has made it to full-term without having a single twinge or thought or inkling or nudge that she might be pregnant. Come on, your organs do not normally pummel you from the inside. And perhaps the huge belly would be a give-away, or maybe the missing period or the constant need to go to the bathroom. The only way I can see this being remotely possible is if a woman is very overweight in the first place and old enough to mistake herself as going through menopause. But your average-looking, childbearing-aged woman? If she didn't notice she was pregnant, don't you think someone would? A husband perhaps? Or a friend? Or the little old ladies at church? Seriously.

And surely, even if you didn't realize you were pregnant, wouldn't you realize something was off? The symptoms of pregnancy are often so dramatic I can't see that any sane, otherwise-healthy person would not seek the care of a doctor. If you didn't think you were pregnant, wouldn't you at least be concerned about all the aches and pains you were having?

I read all these stories, and I'm just not convinced that these women didn't "know" they were pregnant. They may have ignored the little red flags popping up along the way, but to make it full-term and have no idea? Come on. How could anyone be that clueless? And as for the nurses that "didn't know", would you really trust them to work in your hospital after ignoring every possible warning sign in their own bodies? I know I wouldn't. Who knows what else they might be missing?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Never Trust A Photo

At least when it comes from my brother. He is a complete genius with Photoshop. Either that or his boys have some serious behavioral problems.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Lucky Seven

Since I don't want my sister-in-law to consider me a "pinecone" for the rest of my life, I'll respond to her "Lucky Seven" tag. (For those of you who don't understand why being known as a pinecone is a serious matter, let me explain. Growing up, when someone was acting really grouchy or crabby, we would refer to that person as having a pinecone. Like, "Gosh, what is wrong with you today? Why do you have such a pinecone?" Or "Stop being such a pinecone!" It really is a useful little term).

Ahem...

7 Things I Can Do:

1. Play the piano
2. Make rolls
3. Memorize easily
4. Drive a stick shift
5. Give myself shots (impressive, no?)
6. Repeat all the dialogue in the movie "Clue"
7. Win at Boggle

7 Things I Can't Do:

1. Follow a map while I'm driving
2. Turn the right direction when I walk out of a hotel room
3. Ride the twirly rides at amusement parks
4. Stick to a diet
5. Resist the call of chocolate (see #4)
6. Balance on one foot
7. Step on a cockroach

7 Things That Attracted Me To David:

1. He was nice to everyone, not just me
2. The way his eyes crinkle when he smiles
3. He was always a complete gentleman on dates, opening doors, etc.
4. He was a returned missionary with a strong testimony
5. He was appreciative of everything
6. He put a lot of time and thought into dates and gifts
7. He's cute

7 Things I Say The Most:

1. I love you
2. Any new e-mail?
3. Pinch your little cheeks
4. Do not bite me or you will go to time out
5. Let's go!
6. Michael, kisses for mama?
7. No more fruit snacks today

7 Celebrities I Admire Most:

Um, if you've read my blog in the past you'll know that I don't have much admiration for celebrities. This is why:

1. "Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life." - Brooke Shields

2. "I get to go to lots of overseas places, like Canada." - Britney Spears

3. "So where's the Cannes Film Festival being held this year?" - Christina Aguilera

4. "Twenty-three is old. It's almost twenty-five, which is, like, almost mid-twenties." - Jessica Simpson

5. "I make Jessica Simpson look like a rock scientist." - Tara Reid

6. "Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean, I'd love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff." - Mariah Carey

7. "Is the world flat? I never thought about it." - Sherri Shepherd

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Start Spreading The News

We're leavin' today. Okay, maybe not today, but in a month. We decided we were simply too comfortable here in Virginia and needed to change things up a bit. So we will be moving for one year to... drum roll please... New York City!

We are really excited, and totally freaked out. Think of all the fun things we'll be able to do! (I just have to keep telling myself that every time I start hyperventilating).

David will still be with The Firm, just doing a different type of work. We will be living in Manhattan, so it will be fun to experience true city life. It's going to be a huge change, and at this point I'm really not sure whether or not I can live without Costco, but we will manage to adjust. There is a grocery store right across the street from our new apartment and several playgrounds nearby. We need to invest in some warmer winter clothing so Michael and I don't spend the next few months trapped indoors.

So look for us when you watch the Macy's Parade, and when you watch the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's - We'll be there!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'm Not A Doctor, But I Play One On TV

I've heard of actors being mistaken for the characters they play on television; for example, actors who play doctors getting asked for help with real medical problems. I'm not sure how people get confused about the difference between an actor and an actual doctor, although I can see how one might form an attachment to an actor playing a certain character. I, for one, was very sad when I found out Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad were not married in real life - they made such a cute TV couple.

Of course people tend to look to celebrities for advice on everything - whom to vote for, what to wear, what causes to support, that sort of thing. So I suppose it shouldn't surprise me that yesterday a reporter asked Michael Douglas about the financial crisis on Wall Street. The reporter actually referred to Michael as "Gordon", a character he played in the film "Wall Street" twenty years ago. Aren't you glad there are such intelligent people working for the press?

I'm not quite sure why we place such stock in the ramblings of celebrities anyway. Does it really make sense to take the environmental advice of someone who lives in a 2 million square foot mansion, flies in a private jet, and probably uses a billion watts of electricity every month? Or to take advice about parenthood from someone who has a nanny for each of their children? Or to take political advice from someone who really thinks President Bush is too dumb to tie his shoes, and yet smart enough to have orchestrated the entire 9/11 terrorist plot?

Sometimes I think we would all be better off if we permanently shipped the celebrities to those private islands they like to frequent. But then, if we got rid of celebrities, who would be left for me to make fun of?