Saturday, May 30, 2009

Up, Up and Away!

This morning we took Michael to his first ever movie theater to catch a showing of Pixar's new film, "Up". We weren't quite sure how well he would handle the experience since he is only two-and-a-half and has the attention span to match, but as David has been planning and waiting for this day since the moment he found out I was pregnant with Michael, I couldn't bear to hold him off any longer.

So it was off to Times Square we went, having told Michael all about the big movie screen and the popcorn and treats. It was made all the more exciting when we stepped in the theater to find that we would have to ride six or seven very tall escalators to get to our show. Michael was thrilled!

We quickly claimed our seats and pulled out our 3D glasses. We weren't sure how tolerant Michael would be of wearing them, but he left them on longer than I expected. The picture was actually quite clear even without them, which made me very glad we hadn't hiked out to New Jersey (where we would have had to go if we wanted to catch a showing that wasn't in 3D).

Michael enjoyed the show about as much as you would expect a two-year-old to enjoy it, only having a few minor incidents of restlessness. He especially liked the balloons, the flying, the giant colorful bird ("Peacock!" he exclaimed in top voice) and the talking dogs. With the aid of popcorn, soda and candy, he made it through the entire movie without having to be taken out of the theater (though he did have to be coaxed back into his seat a handful of times). I guess love of movies is in his genes after all.

David and I loved the show, laughing and crying our way through the entire thing. As I have been a bit disappointed in Pixar's last few films, it was nice to have my expectations fully satisfied this time around.

Since we were so impressed with Michael's movie theater behavior, we thought we'd take him to a Broadway show next month.

Ha ha, who am I kidding? There's no way we would spend that much money on a two-year-old. Ten dollars for a movie matinee is about all we can handle.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

While waiting for a doctor's appointment yesterday I was casually flipping through an entertainment magazine - brain candy, as my sister-in-law calls it - looking at an ugly designer outfit here, a celebrity interview there, when my eyes fell upon this little gem spoken by Spencer Pratt, a "celebrity" of whose existence most of you have probably been mercifully unaware:

“[My wife] Heidi and I... do love fame. We’re honored to be famous. We feel blessed to be famous. We pray every day to stay famous. It’s the most fun. That’s our mentality with fame. That’s why we’re so different than everybody else in these tabloids — because we embrace it.”

Come again? They actually get down on their knees and ask God to help them stay famous? Besides this being the height of arrogance, I'm pretty sure God has better things to do with his time than to make sure these yahoos stay in the tabloids another week.

I've never understood the desire for fame, but it appears that I am in the minority. I think my main distaste for fame (besides its propensity to induce severe bouts of stupidity and selfishness) stems from the fact that, in Hollywood, if you have enough clout to demand an exorbitant salary for a minimal amount of work, you are also well-known enough to have to swat away photographers as you enter a restaurant for dinner. Why would I want to eat a meal while cameras are angling for an unflattering shot of sauce dripping down my chin? I prefer to dump spaghetti on my blouse in peace, thank you very much.

But, there are a lot of people like Spencer Pratt who apparently do want cameras involved in their every intimate detail, selling their souls to the highest bidder in order to land their pearly whites on the cover of a magazine.

It seems the lust for fame is a motivating force for many people, which is why thousands flock to audition for reality shows whose sole purpose is to make fun of the contestants. Last night David and I were watching TV and happened upon a cringe-inducing clip from an ABC reality show called "Here Come the Newlyweds". All it took was one glance at the unbelievably dorky and embarrassing couple (making complete fools of themselves with their proud pronouncements about their hot sex life) to cause David and me to turn to each other and say, in unison, "Those people look like Mormons." But I don't know what happened after that because I was curled up on the floor in the fetal position screaming, "Make it stop!" as they stereotyped their way into the "Proof that all Mormons are nuts" sections of the audiences' brains. David jumped to the computer to confirm our fear that this couple were indeed LDS and found out they were one of two sets of Mormons on the show. Of course that meant that we had pull up ABC's website to watch what our fellow believers were doing. And then we had to poke our eyes out with sticks.

I'm sure these couples must think this kind of reality show is a good opportunity to earn a large cash prize, but really, must they present their religion and newlywed naivete for public scorn and flogging? (Gratefully the other Mormon couple wasn't nearly so twitch-worthy, but still, what are they doing on a show like this? Are they out of their minds?).

As for the rest of the reality television universe, it's pretty much as pathetic as it could possibly get. I won't even discuss the most prevalent reality show drama going on in the tabloids at the moment (for those of you who don't glance at the magazine covers in the supermarket check-out, I'm talking about "Jon & Kate Plus Eight" stars Jon and Kate Gosselin, who have not only dragged themselves and their marriage through the mud, but are taking their eight little innocent children along for the ride).

Great, just great. Why, oh why do people have a desire to make idiots of themselves on national TV? Isn't it enough to make a complete mess of their personal lives without everyone watching? Why would anyone want to give people a front-row seat to their temper tantrums and irrational behavior?

Fifteen minutes of fame hardly seems worth it when you consider the price you would have to pay.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

How Not to Be a Role Model

Brooke Shields is on a mission to empower girls, which means she devotes a lot of time to various charities that help girls feel good about themselves. This is all well and good, but then she has to go and ruin things by saying something that is absolutely inexcusable. They say actions speak louder than words, but in this case the actions can't possibly be noticed over the damaging message blasting full-volume from Ms. Shield's mouth.

As part of a Q&A for Health Magazine, she was asked: What's your biggest health regret?

Her answer?

"Not learning to love the way I looked earlier. And I think I would have had sex a lot earlier! [Laughs.] I think I would have lost my virginity earlier than I did at 22. I had the public and all this pressure, and I wish I had just gotten it over with in the beginning when it was sort of OK. I think I would have been much more in touch with myself. I think I wouldn’t have had issues with weight—I carried this protective 20 pounds [in college]. It was all connected. And to me, that’s a health regret."

Are you kidding me? She's on a mission to empower young girls - to give them confidence and help them get ahead in life - and she thinks it will help them to say that she regrets not having had sex sooner? Great. She's practically saying "Go ahead girls, rush into sex as a teenager, before you are emotionally or physically ready to handle the consequences".

I don't know if this was a case of speech before thought, or if she truly believes this is good advice. Regardless, any statement that encourages young girls to get involved with sex - an activity which is well-known to have life-altering consequences - is just plain inexcusable.

Has it ever occurred to Ms. Shields that if she had waited even longer - say until marriage - to "get it over with", she might not have had so many body issues, been more in touch with herself, and actually have enjoyed the experience knowing that her husband would love her no matter what her measurements were or how well she "performed"? There is nothing like the security of a lifetime commitment to ease self-confidence issues in the bedroom.

If young girls want to get ahead in life the best thing they can do for themselves is to stay away from sexual relationships. Nothing ruins self-confidence as quickly and easily as a boy who selfishly uses a girl and then moves on to the next available pair of willing legs while she is left wondering what she did wrong.

A message like the one coming from Brooke Shields does not empower girls, it holds them back.

Now that is something which truly deserves regret.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Against My Nature

David and I have realized that the family reunion in Yosemite is creeping upon us at an alarming rate. I feel like we should be doing something to get ready, but I'm not sure what, as we don't have a single piece of camping equipment here in New York. At the moment we can't even claim our pillows as our own, so I'm just not sure how four days in the wild is going to turn out. My sister is going to be sick of me asking, "Do you have this? Can I borrow that?"

As a rule, camping is not my favorite thing. I am not totally opposed to the idea, but my ideal tented adventure consists of one night, one bonfire and accompanying smore-making, and one uncomfortable sleep that ends with a quick breakfast and breaking camp by 10 a.m. so that I can go home and shower. I absolutely hate being dirty, and by that I mean wallowing in my own grease, which is exactly what happens after just one day of showerlessness. A little dust I can handle but it's the oily hair that puts me over the edge into Camp Insanity.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy nature. We just get along better when one of us is clean.

And another thing, as my sister recently relayed to me: Camping is when you do what you do at home, only a lot more inconveniently. Generally I'm all about convenience, which to me means indoor plumbing and a refrigerator. And possibly a donut shop downstairs.

But it will be fun - family memories and all that. Michael will enjoy his cousins, the scenery will be lovely, and I'm sure I will be happy to hop back on a plane and return to my city life.

After I shower, of course. Because, ewwww, who wants to sit next to someone who hasn't showered in four days?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Somebody Please Explain

I see a lot of strollers while wandering around the city. Most are Maclarens, with a few Bugaboos and other high-end baby carriages thrown in for the Nanny-employing crowd. But the $800 strollers aren't the only variety that make me roll my eyes. Most often I have trouble hiding my feelings when I happen upon this kind of wheeled ride - a stroller for dogs.

That's right, they not only make strollers for dogs, but people who mistake their pets for children actually buy the ridiculous things. I can't tell you how many times I've walked by a stroller expecting to catch a gurgly baby smile only to peek in and be greeted by a slobbering dog face instead.

Honestly, this product makes no sense to me. Aren't dogs those animals that are supposed to be walked every day? Especially the ones that have been cooped up in an apartment all day long and could probably use the exercise?

So I whipped out my trusty google page and typed in "Why do people use dog strollers?" just for kicks. Among the results was this article, which I read, and subsequently came away even more convinced that people need to stop treating their animals like children.

Among my favorite reasons to buy a dog stroller:

"Worried about germs from other sick animals in the waiting room [at the vet]? A stroller keeps your dog off the floor and other surfaces visited by sick dogs all day."

Oh good, because I would be really worried if an animal that voluntarily eats poop and vomit, roots through garbage cans in search of delectable yummies plastered to the bottom, and washes the whole meal down with a drink from the toilet came into contact from any nasty germs at the vet's office.

Strollers are apparently also good for paw protection, especially on city sidewalks and in crowded situations, and can keep your dog from getting her tail stepped on at family picnics (You know, that place where your pet wants to be participating in the frisbee game instead of watching forlornly from her doggy throne?)

But my favorite reason?

"A dog stroller simply gives you more quality time with your dog. It lets you take your dog more places than a leash or even a pet carrier. With more workplaces, stores and restaurants becoming dog-friendly, a responsible dog owner with her dog in a stroller will always be welcome. A stroller lets your dog come along for errands, social visits, “bring your dog to work day,” and even shopping."

Bring your dog to work day? Are these people for real? I mean, no offense to my brother-in-law, who makes his living off this kind of crazy person, but does your dog really need to accompany you to Saturday brunch?

I just don't get it. Somebody please explain.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Living the Night Life

New York is the city that never sleeps. Not that we would know, because we like sleep - a lot - so our desire to party hearty at 3 a.m. is pretty much non-existent, the last bits of it having been scooted out the door after our college days (along with our fast metabolisms).

But, since we had friends staying in our home over the weekend, David got the harebrained idea late one night to run out and see a movie. Since sleeping doesn't really equal babysitting, it wouldn't be too much of a burden on our guests to "watch" Michael, and it would be free (much better than the $15/hour we usually pay). And since they were going to bed anyway, it's not like we were asking them do do anything extra, so hey, no one loses!

Unless you count lost sleep for us, that is. But David was so giddy over the prospect of a movie that I couldn't bring myself to turn down his pleading eyes in favor of turning down the covers instead. So I agreed to run (literally - we had 15 minutes to make it to the show) up to the movie theater where we slid into our seats just in time to catch the midnight showing of "Angels and Demons".

We discovered that New York City is indeed alive at midnight. Heck, it's just getting started! In fact, on the way up to the theater a twenty-something woman, obviously high on flashing neon lights, graciously offered to show David her, um, assets (okay, so it was more like "Hey, wanna see my t***?"). He hastily declined (and was smart enough to avert his eyes as he did so, just in case her hearing was as bad as her social skills) and we continued on our way.

As we walked home after the movie, we discovered that street vendors are still out in full force at 2:30 A.M., which is good, because you never know when you might get a hankering for a knish or falafel.

We fell into bed, set the alarm for 6:30, and slept soundly until we were awakened by our human alarm, who cheerfully called, "Hi, Mommy!" from his crib at 5:30. That is when I may have said something like, "Michael, if you don't go back to sleep right now, I'm going to have to kill you."

Gratefully, he did go back to sleep, I woke up when the alarm went off, showered and dressed for the day, and ran to catch the subway while the rest of the house was peacefully sleeping. A stranger told me I looked tired and that I should drink orange juice and take echinacea. Instead I voted for the curative effects of a nice long nap, which has muddled my brain so much that I just might consider repeating the late-night movie experience again.

I said "might", David. Put down those movie listings!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Mug Shot

He may look innocent, but recently this little Tasmanian Devil has been caught throwing freshly laundered towels into a water-filled bathtub (among other things like mom's watch, hairbrush and make-up bag), stuffing puzzle pieces down the heating vents, using his milky cereal for art projects, swirling his toys tornado-style around the room (watch out for the flying cash register), escaping the apartment in an embarrassing state of nudity, and trying to make a break from a restaurant by running out onto the city streets. He also has a particular fondness for throwing things off of store shelves and yanking shirts from clothing racks.

But in spite of his recent criminal activity, he still managed to make time to kiss each and every one of his mom's owies, give plenty of hugs, giggle, dance, do all the actions to "Eensie Weensie Spider" and "Do As I'm Doing", answer the phone when he knew it would be Daddy ("Hi, Daddy!!!" he said with buttons bursting), and generally spread delight and joy wherever he went.

So you can see that the jury might still be swayed in favor of leniency. But today's weather forecast almost certainly calls for a time-out and slight chance of spanking, sometime this afternoon.

It's amazing just how rascally (to borrow a word from Fiona) one little cutie pie can be.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The C-Word

No, no, not that C-word. Although, for the record, I don't know what that C-word is, I just know that it's supposed to be offensive. And I prefer to remain blissfully ignorant, so please do not enlighten me.

I'm talking about the other dirty C-word: Censor.

Why is "censor" a dirty word, you ask? Well, it's one of those words that allows people to be outraged about something without truly knowing why they are outraged. They don't have to be educated about the issue at hand; they just have to throw this one little word around and they can rile up the masses and start hyperventilating their way to the ACLU. After all, this is America and we have a right to free speech here, so censorship equals bad and evil, right?

I bring this up because the band behind the most popular CD in the country at this moment, Green Day, is upset at Wal-Mart for wanting to censor their latest release.

"Wal-Mart's become the biggest retail outlet in the country, but they won't carry our record because they wanted us to censor it," whines Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong. His cohort in dirty talk, guitarist Mike Dirnt adds: "As the biggest record store in the America, they should probably have an obligation to sell people the correct art."

Oh, should they now? Does Mr. Dirnt really believe that businesses should be forced to sell material they find objectionable? Because that doesn't sound very free-speech to me.

So let's check out Wal-Mart's policy on the matter of objectionable content in music. Wal-Mart spokeswoman Melissa O'Brien stated: "As with all music, it is up to the artist or label to decide if they want to market different variations of an album to sell, including a version that would remove a [Parental Advisory] rating. The label and artist in this case have decided not to do so, so we unfortunately can not offer the CD."

It's nothing against Green Day in particular; Wal-Mart just doesn't want to sell CDs that are full of so-called "adult" material, but it will sell them if the record label agrees to remove the offending lines from the songs. This seems to me to be a reasonable policy for a company that wants to maintain a family-friendly image.

Artists, actors, songwriters and singers all get upset over someone messing with the "artistic integrity" of their products, a complaint that seems rather ridiculous. Surely a movie or a song is not the least bit enhanced by gratuitous use of the F-word. So why do they care so much if those F-words are removed?

For an industry that is all about money, you'd think they would be falling all over themselves to adhere to Wal-Mart's standards so they could increase their sales and expand their fan base. Instead they shoot themselves in the foot (and the wallet) by ignoring this easy-money opportunity.

Green Day can complain all they want, but no one is censoring them against their will. The fact is that Wal-Mart is a for-profit business and should be able to set its own rules about what it will and will not sell. If Green Day doesn't want to conform to those standards, that's fine, but they have to live with the consequences.

And that means selling their CDs somewhere else.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It Ain't Easy Being Beautiful...

According to Hollywood hottie, Jessica Biel, that is. (I'll pause while you cry your buckets of tears for her...). Apparently she just "want[s] an opportunity" (of which she's obviously had none, considering she's selling her sob story on the cover of a magazine).

Waaaaahhhh waaahh wah waaaaaaah waaaaaahhhh. (Sorry, smallest violin playing there for a second). I'm not sure why it is that people complain about such "trials", expecting the world to feel sorry for their pampered little behinds. Just yesterday one of my old high school acquaintances was lamenting her super fast metabolism, and that she has to eat so much to stay on top of it. Oh, poor baby. My hips are crying for you as you dig into your fifth dessert of the day.

But then, all this complaining has got me thinking - What sorts of things do I whine about that might elicit this irritated response in others? What things should I be appreciating instead of taking for granted?

I have an incredible husband, a sweet little boy, a fabulous New York apartment, and I'm sitting here in my bathrobe at 8:00 in the morning blogging, because I have nothing more pressing to do. The only thing that could make this better is if I were currently sucking the middle out of a chocolate-dipped cannoli.

But other than that, life is pretty good. Well, it would be... if only I weren't so beautiful, of course.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Save the Trees!

I just got back from the Central Park Zoo where I vied with about 30,000 obnoxious elementary school students on field trips for a prime position to view the sea lion feeding. But, in spite of the slight twitch I developed, we managed to survive the ordeal and have a little fun in the process. (This is an especially important accomplishment for Michael, who was stomped on more than once by kids who were old enough to know better).

Whether it was the accidental wandering down the wrong pathway in search of the zoo, which gave me more time to enjoy the leafy greenness of the park, (and also set me up for the misfortune of having my butt grabbed by a passing homeless man) or the inch-thick scum on the fish aquarium that made me feel as though I should be more environmentally conscious, I thought it would be an appropriate day to blog about a globally pressing issue:

Save the Trees!

For a small donation at any of the New York City area zoos, you can be part of the coalition to combat climate change and do your part to save a tree!

Apparently this is a popular cause around here, as my tasteless organic breakfast cereal has been telling me the same thing:

I just have one question before I sign up - hasn't anyone realized that trees are completely renewable resources? I mean, you chop one down to make your cereal box and you can plant another one in exactly the same place, right? Or am I missing something? And isn't cardboard or paper supposed to be more environmentally correct than plastic? So this cereal company is saying we should ditch the more earth-friendly cardboard box in favor of plastic, which is still considered evil in tree-hugging circles even when it doesn't contain BPA?

Somewhere fish are choking in grocery-bagged confusion. I mean, does the "made with renewable energy" somehow make the plastic bag instantly biodegradable? Or is using a plastic bag okay now because it was made with windmills and smiling sun rays?

I'm just so confused. We are not talking extinction of a species here, people. Use a tree, plant another one - that's my motto. Oh yes, I know we're supposed to be saving the rain forests, or whatever, but honestly, aren't there better causes out there - causes to save things that actually need saving instead of things that can be completely regrown?

How about a coalition for saving common sense? Now there's something I could really get behind.

Monday, May 18, 2009

My Two Dads

In today's shake-your-head moment, it appears that a Texas mother of 11-month-old twin boys has a little explaining to do. Mia Washington got the shock of her life when she found out her twin boys have different fathers (which, as you might guess, is a very rare occurrence due to the fact that most women don't sleep with more than one man in such close succession, let alone manage to get pregnant with twins while doing so).

Which brings me to my favorite quote ever, in all of Newsdom (or in this case news-dumb): "Out of all the people in America and of all the people in the world, it had to happen to me."

Honey, tripping as you walk to work just happens. Losing your wallet or missing the exit off the freeway or even getting leukemia just happens. But getting pregnant with separately fathered twins is not one of those things that the universe just decides to dole out on a random basis. You see, most people do not put themselves in a situation where this would even be a possibility, let alone a reality, so you can't really take the "Why Me?" approach as if this had an equal chance of happening to everyone. Yes, it's odd that two different men managed to father your twins, but you can't act as though you are surprised to have been struck by lightning when you were out in a thunderstorm with a fishing pole. Intelligent people do not engage in unprotected bed-hopping in such a fashion as to become pregnant by two different men in the same week (no matter how common a feat Maury Povich may make it out to be).

Gosh, Mia, of all the stupid luck! Why couldn't this have happened to some other person who was fooling around on her partner?

Honestly, that is the least of my questions for the universe.

Staying Connected

My family isn't the type which exerts pressure on its members to live in a certain place, or within a certain distance of other family members. (I've never understood that, really. There is more than one great place to live and raise a family). My parents think it is good for their children to move away and establish their own homes and lives. My siblings and I have spread all over the map - Boston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Indiana, California, even Ireland and Switzerland have been homes for my siblings and their families.

You might think that this vast geographical distance has made it impossible for us to maintain close relationships. But you would be wrong. Thanks to a little help from the internet, in the past 24 hours 36 emails have been sent and received by my siblings, their spouses, and my parents (I contributed a handful to that number). Many are just a couple sentences - excitement over new Wii Fit equipment, comments on things that were going on this weekend, sharing an interesting news article - but it's one big group conversation that never quits. Over the past week I have received at least a dozen pictures of my nieces and nephews, my sister sent a digital recording of her daughter playing a piece at her piano recital (how fun to be able to listen to my niece's performance, just as if I had been there in person!), my mom sent the weekly recording of my Dad's Institute class so we can all listen, and just this morning she sent another page from the personal history of my Grandma, which she has been working on compiling. I have been completely filled in on what is going on with my entire family.

I also talked on the phone last week to two of my sisters and my mom, and enjoyed a couple of family blog posts. But, while I love the individual conversations (and the hilarious blog posts), I love that we aren't limited to them. I'm so grateful to be able to keep in touch with my entire family on a daily basis. While I would be happy to live closer to any of them for the simple reason that time spent with my family is mainly time spent laughing my head off, I feel I can honestly say we are all just as close as if we lived next door to each other.

So it's great that we don't have to. We can live in different and exciting places and count down the days till the next family reunion, all the while staying closely connected. And continuing to laugh our heads off.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sweet Moments

Michael's newest phrase is my all-time favorite addition to his vocabulary. Now when you ask him if he would like something and he's not in the mood, or doesn't want whatever you are offering, he will say, "I'm fine, Mommy, thank you." He came up with this phrase out of the blue one day when I offered him some more rice at dinner and he didn't want it. After I recovered from nearly dying of cuteness, I decided that all his tantrums and past disobedient behaviors had been instantly erased by this one giant "Awwwwww" moment.

I simply love these little bits of sunshine that stop me in my tracks and cause me to want to squish the living daylights out of his two-year old cheeks. Today I came upon another of these moments when David was using the beaters to whip up dessert and Michael had dragged a chair into the kitchen to help his daddy with the task. Then, after the work was done, David showed Michael the joy of licking the beaters. It was father and son sharing in one sweet, sticky moment of delightful discovery. I would have run for the camera, but as it was I was too busy realizing the meaning of life.

Now Michael is down for a nap, and of course I had to peek in to check on my sleeping "baby". I'm not sure what it is about sleeping kids - the calmness, the peacefulness, the stillness - but nothing can bring your heart as close to bursting with happiness as gazing upon your sleeping little one.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Why I Don't Fit In (Or Why Things Don't Fit)

My cousin recently asked the question on her blog: if you could swallow a pill that would make you just a little bit dumber, but would also ensure that for the rest of your life you would have a perfect body, would you take it? (She said she would take two, in case the first one didn't work, a sentiment which was readily shared by pretty much every woman who responded).

I don't think I ever realized until just that moment how profoundly different I am than most women. My immediate thought was, "No way!" And then my eyebrows knit together in confusion and I wondered how it is that the women asking these sorts of questions are always those who would fit into a size 2, even if they were wearing their bulkiest sweaters as underthings. You know, the ones who are forever squishing their skin between their fingers and moaning, "I'm soooo fat!" as if skin counts as excess poundage.

While I admit that it might be nice to be able to revert to my teenage metabolism, the fact remains that I do have some control over how I look, so it seems an awful exchange to give up a piece of my intelligence for a smoother fit into the new Spring Line.

It's not that I don't care how I look. I do. But it doesn't consume me on a day-to-day basis. When I look in the mirror and realize that one of my favorite outfits is no longer flattering or when my pants seem too tight or my arms are bulging out of my cap sleeves (why must all short sleeves be cap sleeves anyway?) it does cross my mind that it might be nice to take my frame down to the body shop and exchange it for thinner model.

And then I eat a brownie, because it's good to eat chocolate when you're feeling badly about yourself.

But if getting into shape was something that I lived and breathed to accomplish, I could. While I've been the recipient of genetics that will never afford me a flat stomach no matter how many thousand crunches I do (I remain bewildered by a friend who says she loves the moment when she can see a little pregnancy bump poking out of her normally flat stomach - I was never sure where the belly fat ended and the baby began), I could tone and shrink myself down to a more appealing size, if I were motivated enough. But I guess that's just it - I'm not motivated enough. At least until I'm declared a National Monument to Whales, or something similar. And regular female motivators like swimsuit season just don't have the same effect on me that they do on other women, who hyperventilate in the changing rooms as they slip their tanned bodies into the latest design only to emerge wrapped from head to toe in a flowing sarong that would hide the body flaws of Jabba the Hut.

I don't know if this relaxed attitude about my body stems from the fact that I never had a perfect figure to begin with, so gaining a few (er, okay, multiply that by 10) pounds, adding a few stretch marks, and going up a couple dress sizes since my high school days doesn't seem so traumatic, or if it's just because I'm missing the gene that most women carry which encourages them to obsess over this type of thing. But I have to say, I'm sort of relieved. Suddenly things are making so much sense. My years of inability to relate to other women have been explained in one random blog post. I can't relate to these women because they have totally different priorities.

I mean, a perfect body would be nice. But beauty without brains? What's the good in that?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Female (Mis)Trust

The torrent of female animosity pouring from this article is enough to drown every man on the planet. The author's hatred of men is so suffocating I felt a little breathless myself, and I have a uterus to hang onto for protection. Considering I got that choking feeling just from reading the thoughts of this woman, I imagine that being in Ms. Platell's actual presence would be something like feeling trapped in a room the size of a bathroom stall, trying to avoid the red-hot sparks coming out of her Medusa-like eyes.

So it's sort of ironic that the article begins, "Men are wonderful creatures...". Of course, knowing what we know about militant feminist types, we immediately realize that a statement like this simply means the author has given herself clearance to trash anyone with a Y chromosome, which she does, quite fatally:

"Men are wonderful creatures, but they are not to be relied upon. Even some of life's simplest things are apparently beyond them.

Remembering your favourite flower is one of them; washing the dishes before the sink is overflowing with dirty ones is another - as is doing the housework, without constantly complaining about how much they do around the house; and multi-tasking, unless it involves watching football, drinking beer, shouting at the TV, then watching the game all over again on Match Of The Day."

Wow. I don't know about you, but I am totally persuaded to listen to everything this reasonable woman has to say, so let's continue. The author goes on to tell her readers about a new contraceptive injection for men, which works by inhibiting sperm production. There's only one little problem, Ms. Platell shrilly laments: What woman in her right mind would trust a man when he says he is on birth control? How could you possibly trust someone you "barely know" to be honest about such things?

Well, honey, if you are sharing your body with a man you "barely know", then you are an idiot! And for heaven's sake, if you don't trust a man to use birth control, doesn't it immediately follow that you shouldn't trust him to be free of sexually transmitted diseases? So shouldn't you be using a condom anyway?

After all, Ms. Platell goes on to state that " can't buck human nature. Deep inside every man who still has his own hair and teeth, and even those who don't, is a sexual predator who will have sex anywhere, anytime, if he can.

Of course, for many of them the sexual encounters are with their wives. But wife or no wife, the urge for sex with other women never leaves them. And I'm sorry to say that sometimes they will fib to get what they want."

Besides this attitude being completely disgusting, it begs the question, if you really think men are nothing but sexual predators on the prowl, why in the world are you having sex with any of them, especially when you are on a first-name basis simply because you haven't progressed to the state of knowing each other's last names yet?

In the end, Ms. Platell admits that this type of contraception might work in a "faithful, loving, trusting, long-term relationship, provided the man has no issues about his masculinity, no fear of needles and no concern over his fertility."

And then she cements her own awful character when she states, "Now, how many men do you know like that?"

The answer to that question is easy. The vast majority of men I know are wonderful people who are faithful to their spouses, have no issues about their masculinity, and would be willing to discuss this form of birth control with their wives if the need arose. And the reason that this woman doesn't know any men who are so honorable is because she is obviously not honorable herself. If you want a good, faithful guy, you don't go looking in a bar for someone who will jump into bed with you on the first date. Good guys aren't out looking for whores, and if they come across one, they will pass her by in pursuit of something better.

You certainly need trust in relationships, and that doesn't start by stripping down to nothing thirty seconds after you meet someone. Trust is built over time and involves respect, honesty, and keeping your passions under control so that you can get to know each other without your hormones making decisions for you. Sex is never truly "safe" unless it's within marriage; i.e., with someone who is wholly and completely committed to you and your happiness.

Ms. Platell may make fun of someone like me for being old-fashioned or unrealistic. But which one of us is worried about unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and "predatory" men who couldn't care less about the feelings of their partner? I'm certainly not. My partner even knows my favorite flower, does the dishes, and never complains about helping me around the house.

And I'm sure he'd take a needle in the butt for me, if I asked.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Leave it to Barbie

Barbie is getting hip. Or rather, she is getting something on her hip. In celebration of her 50th Birthday, Barbie has been given a tattoo.

Awww, how positively special. Who knew Mattel felt the need to start marketing "Trailer Trash Barbie"?

Apparently the dollmaker thinks this little addition will bring Barbie "up to date", promoting the new "Totally Tattoos" line of the iconic toy to little girls who can share in the fun of Barbie's temporary tats.

Now, quite honestly, I see nothing wrong with a temporary tattoo, or having your face painted at a carnival, or other little-girl entertainments like stick-on earrings and lipstick and plastic high heels. But is it really a good idea to provide sexy {heart} Ken stickers that are meant to be plastered to Barbie's backside?

It's, as my brother once pointed out, the difference between Disney's Ariel or Princess Jasmine and those "Bratz" dolls. We don't mind the fact that Ariel is swimming around in seashells or that Jasmine's whole middle is on display because the point of the dolls is not to encourage immodest and inappropriate behavior. On the other hand, that is the express purpose of "Bratz" dolls. Why do you think they are called "Bratz" after all?

A little washable heart tattoo is not going to warp a young girl for life (and neither is playing with Barbie, for that matter, regardless of what the body-image crowd may say). But it's the idealization of a reckless lifestyle and making tattoos look exciting and fun that bothers me. I don't want little girls to think getting a tattoo is a sign of maturity or intelligence. It seems to me that permanently inking oneself signifies exactly the opposite.

Barbie should steer clear of tattoos. (And so should everyone else, frankly. I don't care if they are pictures of cuddly little bunnies or hearts with "MOM" emblazoned in the middle. They look ridiculous, they could damage your career aspirations, and they will not seem so totally awesome when you are thirty-five and coming off your third c-section).

But I guess I should just be grateful that Mattel hasn't come out with "Teen Pregnancy Barbie" or "Hangover Barbie".

Then again, give them a few more years and they might.

The Weekend Overheard

One sees and hears a lot of strange things while walking around the city. Especially on the subway (we strongly agree with Bill Cosby's assessment that there is a nut in every car), but that is by no means the only place where one should perk up her ears in the hopes of coming across a tidbit that is worth hearing.

As part of an object lesson in our primary class yesterday we asked the kids to fold a piece of paper into a boat, with no instructions. One boy exclaimed, "I can't do that! Man, I'm only seven!"

Also heard in our primary class: "If Bill Gates was a member of the church and he paid tithing, he would have to pay like $1000!" (Other class members respond, "Whoa!". David and I, appreciating this innocent lack of money awareness, exchanged a knowing look and fried their little brains by telling them he would probably have to pay millions of dollars in tithing).

I was wearing a ruffly skirt yesterday that happened to expertly catch the wind every time we crossed a street and ran into the strong gusts rushing down between skyscrapers. This caused me to have many Marilyn Monroe moments on the way to church, trying in vain to keep my skirt around my knees. Then David, pointing out a sightseeing bus as my skirt flew up for the tenth time, remarked, "Hey Bonnie, all those tourists are taking pictures of you." Luckily I realized he was teasing me before I launched into a rendition of "Happy Birthday, Mr. President".

One of our fellow primary teachers is a somewhat, shall we say, unique dresser. He is definitely an arteest - you know the type - and obviously delights in wearing nonsensical outfits that make you raise your eyebrows (however unwillingly) as you pass him by in the hall. Yesterday, his bright turquoise pants and plaid vest were just itching for a comment, which was readily provided by a member of our primary class who asked, "Why is he wearing nurse pants to church?" Good question, I say.

Though his outfit was nothing compared to this one, which David discreetly snapped using his cell phone camera. You can thank him for sparing you from the "front" view, which was a little more, um, personal. (David says his only regret about living here is that he hasn't whipped out his cell phone to take pictures on a more regular basis).

Yesterday we rode the train up past Central Park to have dinner with my cousin. This provided a decent amount of time to absorb the conversation of the man sitting next to us. He talked all about the coming war between humans and dragons, asked his invisible companion about his trip to London (and told his "friend" he was blocking the light and to move over) and spent several minutes discussing guns and everyone being blown away. He was also the only man to offer me his seat when I embarked the train with a toddler on my hip, go figure.

Of course, we were interrupted in our trying-to-pretend-we-weren't-listening-to-the-prattle-coming-from-our-subway-companion when a woman got on the train, wished all the mother's a happy Mother's Day, and proceeded to sing us a song that had absolutely nothing to do with mothers, or even women for that matter. While these types of performances are nothing unusual, you would think she would have strayed from her usual repertoire in honor of the day.

Do you think we'll be bored when we move back to Virginia? I'm a little worried.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A New Poll

Would you prefer I had a separate blog for my opinions? Or do you like the combination of family adventures and other ramblings? I have posted a new poll for your input, if you have a preference about such things. Otherwise you can go back to whatever it is you were doing.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Date with Broadway

Last Thursday David and I ventured to Broadway for a relaxing evening at the theatre. It couldn't have been better timed, as I was at my wit's end with Michael and was more than happy to hand him off to the babysitter. (A short list of the the things he did that day: broke the vacuum and a picture frame, drew all over the Wii balance board, dumped an entire glass of pink juice on the carpet, had two "accidents" on the carpet and pooped his pants once, put balloons in the toilet and stuffed a pretzel into the electrical socket, which I still can't get out).

We went to see "Blithe Spirit", which is currently starring 83-year old Broadway legend, Angela Lansbury. Thanks to some excellent timing, David was able to procure seats that are normally reserved for Tony voters, so we were front and center.

The show was hysterically funny, and I must say I was amazed by Ms. Lansbury's leaping and dancing around the stage. For all of her energy you would have thought she was a good twenty years younger. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to see her perform live. (She has since received a Tony nomination for her role).

Since we had such an enjoyable time (and because we wanted to get in a couple of our must-sees while David is not busy at work), we decided to repeat the experience this week with a different show. We are off to see "9 to 5: The Musical" this evening.

I don't know if we're ever going to be able to give up our date nights to Broadway. We just might have to stay here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Greatest Love of All?

Last night we went to Baskin Robbins for our Family Home Evening treat. While we were waiting for David to pay for our ice cream, Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of All" came on the radio. This is one of those songs that I absolutely despise, and every time it comes on I can't help myself: I sigh. I snort. I just can't deal with it. I think the song needs to be banished to a desert island, never to be heard again.

Why the vehement dislike? I just think it has a terrible message. Not that children are our future and we should teach them well, blah blah blah. That part is okay (if cheesy). It's the main message that bothers me - you know - "learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all". What?!

Since when does the greatest love involve loving yourself? That is the worst thing I've ever heard. The greatest love may be a lot of things, but it is not selfish and certainly doesn't involve patting oneself on the back.

It's like those Relief Society lessons we get at least once a year where someone gets up and uses Matthew 22:39 to say, "It says in the scriptures that we should love ourselves." And then we get to spend forty-five minutes discussing the benefits of self-pampering. Huh? I'm sorry, but I don't think that's what that scripture means at all. I think it means we already love ourselves plenty (probably too much), and that we should start loving everyone else the way we do ourselves.

I'm not discounting the importance of feeling good about oneself or having a healthy self-confidence (or taking sanity-saving breaks to care for one's personal needs, emotional or otherwise). We should feel good about ourselves, if we are living as we know God expects us live. (And if we don't feel good about ourselves because depression or perfectionism are preventing us from being able to see ourselves as capable, lovable beings, then those issues need to be dealt with, whether through counseling or medication). But having a healthy outlook on life and confidence in one's abilities is not what people mean when they say we should love ourselves. What they mean is that we should be able to go out and do whatever we want, behave in whatever manner appeals to us, take care of our own needs first, and then tell ourselves it's all okay because we should love ourselves just how we are.

Every time I go to the playground I see what this self-esteem "love yourself first" movement is producing, and it's not pretty: Spoiled, snotty children who are completely undisciplined and unguided, but who have a healthy dose of self-appreciation. They can do anything! The world is their oyster! They are so talented at art and dance, and are the smartest, best little inventions since sliced bread, don't you know? But ask them to wait their turn to use the slide and you can literally see the universe quit revolving around them for a split second, which is so disorienting to them they nearly fall over. (It only takes a moment for them to bounce back, though - generally with a hostile, "No! I'll do what I want!")

I'm certain that the world's future problems will not be caused by the low self-esteem of any of these children (though teachers, parents and doctors may say otherwise as they breathlessly rush to compliment every scribble little Johnny produces). I think the majority of our problems will come from too much self-esteem - thinking we know everything and deserve everything, whether we've worked for it honestly or not, and loving ourselves in spite of our hideous behavior.

The greatest love of all? I don't think so. More like the greatest danger.

Monday, May 4, 2009

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go

Up till now, "Life as an Adverb" has enjoyed a sort of google reader motif (we didn't want those of you who check our blog straight from your reader to feel left out). But, we now have a new background thanks to Megan, who couldn't stand another second of being greeted by the same boring white screen every time she checked my blog. I love people who feel they must compensate for my lack of crafty creativity by doing these sorts of things for me. You're the best, Megan!

I love the new "do". The only trouble is that now I feel all dressed up with nowhere to go. Of course, I would do housework in high heels and pearls if it weren't so impractical, so I guess a fancy blog background suits me after all.

Thanks, Megan!

The Review You've All Been Waiting For

I did it. I watched "Twilight". All the way through. And I didn't even throw up.

Surprisingly, more snide comments and disbelieving snorts came from David than from me. Of course, that may be because I have read the book and was familiar with the story so I was expecting it to be totally cheesy and had properly prepared myself for the barrage of teenage passion.

My problems with the basic premise remain the same as they were in the book; i.e., the only reason Bella likes Edward is because he's beautiful and the only reason Edward likes Bella is because she's his favorite, um, "flavor". Ah, so romantic. Nothing like a little blood-sucking passion to get true love going.

I just can't stand that Bella is so unflinchingly, all-encompassingly stupid. This guy tells her he's dangerous and doesn't know if he can stop himself from killing her, but she'll wander off into the woods alone with him, and hey, why not let him sleep in her bed and kiss her neck? GREAT IDEA! What a wonderful thing Stephenie Meyer is slipping into the heads of young girls. Pursue the exciting, dangerous guy and put yourself in situations that make it almost certain you will irreversibly screw up your life (or lose it altogether)! Lovely.

That said, I think the movie did not live up to book as far as holding my interest. When I read the book I wanted to throw it against the wall or at least climb in the pages and slap some sense into Bella, but I kept reading (if nothing else to find out if Bella would suddenly have an epiphany and renounce her idiotic behavior, or if some vampire would get the best of her and save me from a sequel). But the movie was too slow and had so much painful dialogue and so many meaningful looks that I thought I was going to have to put an ice pick in my brain before it was over. The direction was poor, the acting left much to be desired, and the tension that existed in the book wasn't there. It only seemed more ridiculous than it was originally written, which is quite an accomplishment, all things considered.

I guess my main problem is that I have a low tolerance for stupidity, which means I just can't stand it when people behave like morons. This is why I'm prone to scream at my television when any heroine strips down to her underthings and goes to explore a spooky old house at night, in the rain, with only a small flashlight. Wait till daylight and bring someone with you, for heaven's sake! So in the case of "Twilight", my screaming tendency presented itself with relative ease. Passion aside, you do not wander alone into the woods with a guy who says he might not be able to stop himself from killing you, or let him climb in your bed. Oh, I know it's supposed to be romantic that Edward seems to be able to control himself because he "loves" Bella (ahem, loves the smell of her blood). But even if he is at times gallant in his behavior, it's "Stay away from me, I'll hurt you. Now come here and kiss me." Yes, truly romantic.

I can see why teenagers are obsessed with this story, but it's the obsession among grown women that continues to bewilder me. This is true love and passion and romance? I'm sorry, but if my teenage days taught me anything, it's that I had absolutely no idea what true love was when I was 16. So reading about a couple of hormonal teenagers pledging their undying passion for each other (I think we have already determined that what Bella and Edward have is not love) seems terribly unromantic compared to, say, the maturity of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck's characters in "Roman Holiday", who decide that, in spite of their deep passion for each other, being together is not the right or honorable thing to do. So they part ways, with mutual admiration and respect for each other. Now that's love. Responsible, mature, and never endangering oneself or one's integrity.

But maybe it's just me. So, since I've shared my two cents (and mortally offended those of you who are swooning over Robert Pattinson out there), leave your thoughts on the movie/book in the comments. I'm very curious to know if I am the only one who feels this way.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Coney Island

Today we decided to venture out to Coney Island, which has always conjured up images of hot dogs and funnel cake and Ferris wheels in my mind. It was pretty much exactly how I expected, right down to the dilapidated old buildings. There is just something magical and exciting about carnival rides and the scent of cotton candy in the air. We took a ride on the famous "Wonder Wheel", despite this rather ominous pronouncement we noticed while waiting in line:

Hmmmm, nothing like a little white-out to make you wonder just how long it's been since some poor soul plunged to his death.

David somehow managed to convince me to ride in one of the swinging cars (they run on tracks, so when you go around you zoom back and forth, swinging at each end of the track), telling me that it wouldn't be a true ride on the Wonder Wheel if we didn't try it. I told him he wouldn't think it was much of a Wonder Wheel ride if I ended up vomiting in his lap, but my objections were soon overcome. (I did end up feeling slightly sick, but a few hours later I had no trouble downing a funnel cake).

We were going to try out the spook alley, but a trip to the old, filthy bathrooms with peek-a-boo saloon-style doors on the stalls was scary enough, so we called it good.

It was a lovely, sunny day, perfect for walking along the boardwalk. Michael delighted in watching the waves crash against the shore. "Here comes a big one!" he would squeal each time one made its way up to the beach.

I think this is the first picture where I've actually been able to see a resemblance between David and Michael:

It was a fun day. And we even managed to resist the call of a deep-fried Snickers bar (which somehow manages to sound revolting and enticing, all at the same time), mostly because we had just polished off a funnel cake. But for us, that's some serious self control.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Random Thoughts

Why do mannequins have nipples? Isn't the point of clothing to cover up nipples? If you can see them that means the clothing isn't doing its job.

Have you ever noticed how those who demand the most tolerance for themselves are the least tolerant of others? Case in point, the demonization of "Miss California", Carrie Prejean, for her belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Do you think, if you put two toddlers in a room with a hundred identical toys, they would still fight over the one toy the other kid has? I have to think that yes, they would.

I put on a new shirt the other day and Michael said, "That's cute, Mommy!" He is such a charming two-year old.

I was lamenting the fact that my mother, who has given birth to six children, weighs a good twenty-five pounds less than I do when my brother pointed out that she had her last baby nearly thirty years ago, which means she's had a lot more time to take the weight off. He deserves a gold star or something.

I am in love with the street fairs here in NYC. Where else can one buy a half-sour pickle, a deep-fried oreo, some thai food, and a pashmina and cute chunky jewelry, all for a couple bucks?

Overheard at the playground yesterday: "Have you noticed that people are wearing a lot less designer clothing since the recession?" Well, gee, it's about time people stopped paying ridiculous sums of money for really hideous clothes.

I hate the term "knocked up". It makes pregnancy sound like something nasty, not something miraculous and wonderful.

Nothing ruins desserts like raisins. It's like finding squashed dead fly bodies in your oatmeal cookie. Yuck!

I could go to a Broadway show every month for the rest of my life and feel that it was money well spent.

At this very moment, I have "Twilight" sitting in my mailbox. My husband put it on my Netflix queue out of "curiosity". You can expect a full review next week.