Monday, July 30, 2012

Random Thoughts - Olympic Edition

Last night we sat on the couch watching the Americans swim the 4x100 meter relay.  "Go!  Go!  Go!" we yelled.  "Faster!!!"  We even stood up and pumped our arms a little in the excitement of it all.  Then, when the race was over and the Americans had come in second, we sat back on the couch, put our hands in a bucket of popcorn, and our faces in a box of ice cream sandwiches.

Mmmm... America.

Really, don't you think it's kind of funny that we are all gathered around big bowls of junk food telling people who could probably strangle us with their thighs to "GO FASTER!!!"?

And then I woke up this morning to the news headline:  "Disaster! Phelps Loses His Golden Touch as France Wins Relay."  Um, not to be picky here, but Phelps actually won his portion of the race and gave the Americans a lead.  Yes, I know he didn't perform well on his first race of the games and everyone is secretly enjoying the fact that he's fallen from his golden perch, but seriously, the man has 17 Olympic medals -- 14 of them gold -- and has set 39 world records.  So I guess what I'm saying is I think we should all shut up now. 

We should also shut up about the Queen looking bored and picking her nails for fifteen seconds during the opening ceremonies. I mean -- this is what -- her five billionth official event?  That makes me bored just thinking about it.  (Although, in the interest of full disclosure, I say this as someone who fast-forwarded the entire parade of nations because, really, who cares about the team from Angola?  I'm just saying).

Personally, I think it would have been a lot more interesting if they'd brought Voldemort back and let he and Mary Poppins have an old-school duel.

And speaking of Voldemort, I think he has been at work behind the scenes:  did you see the incredible shrinking bikini bottoms of the women's beach volleyball team?  Who wants to play in those?!  For the love of dignity, no woman should ever be required to pick a tiny swimsuit out of her butt crack every time she makes a good save.

As for other things I could do without?  The men's gymnastics teams' armpit hair and those annoying announcers who stick cameras in competitors' faces right after they they biff it on international television.  "You just lost out on the dream you've been training for your whole life!  How does it feel?" 

*Athlete runs away sobbing*

"There you have it, folks!  Another inspiring Olympic moment!  Back to you, Bob."

Unfortunately, we'll never know if Bob Costas is moved by it or not, seeing as too much Botox has rendered his forehead immoveable.  Maybe at the next Olympics they can hand out medals to journalists who can still raise their eyebrows.

I'd watch.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Chick Filleted

Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A, recently made waves when he stated his views in favor of traditional marriage and expressed his opinion that gay marriage "is inviting God's judgment on our nation."  Now cities from Boston to San Francisco are getting their battle gear on to make sure the fast food chain is not allowed anywhere near their streets.

Boston mayor, Thomas Menino, said, “You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against the population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion. That’s the Freedom Trail. That’s where it all started right here. And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-fil-A or whatever the h*** the name is, on our Freedom Trail.”

San Francisco and Chicago soon jumped on the bandwagon, with Chicago mayor, Rahm Emmanuel, saying that "Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values" and that, unless they change their discriminatory ways, Chick-fil-A can forget about sharing waffle fries with the Windy City.

Putting aside the fact that Chick-fil-A is not actually discriminating against anyone (as far as I've been able to ascertain, homosexuals are welcome to eat and work there), does anyone else see a glaring irony here?  You have the mayor of Boston saying, "We're an open city... a city at the forefront of inclusion..." and yet he feels just fine discriminating against an entire company because of the owner's religious beliefs.

Let me be clear:  I have zero problem with someone choosing not to eat at Chick-fil-A because they disagree with its mission or policies (although, as I said, my research has shown me that Chick-fil-A does not discriminate against people because they are gay, nor do they have policies in place that would promote such a thing).  I also have zero problem with The Jim Henson Company severing its ties with the restaurant over the views of its president.  But I have a big problem with government officials stepping in and saying someone is not allowed to open a business in their town because the owner's beliefs do not pass the PC religion test.

Last time I checked, this was America.

When it comes to situations like this, you can't just immediately side with causes you agree or identify with.  For the sake of fairness you have to perform a personal bias check by shuffling the cards a bit.  For example, for those who think the mayor of Boston is justified in his actions:  What if a business owned and operated by a homosexual woman (who used her profits to make regular contributions to gay and lesbian causes) wanted to open a restaurant in a small southern town?  And what if the mayor stood up and said, "Her values are not our small-town values.  We are God-fearing people and I'm going to block her permit so she can't open a restaurant here."  Would you be fine with that?

Try it again, this time throwing new cards in the deck.  What if a Muslim wanted to open a restaurant?  Or an atheist?  Would you still think that a government official is within his rights to block that person from opening a business, simply because of that person's beliefs or lifestyle? 

If you don't like what a business is spending their profits on, that's fine.  You can register your dislike by withholding your money and encouraging others to do the same.  You can write letters and protest and take to the internet.  But the government has no business withholding a permit in this situation.  Especially not when they justify it by waving it under a banner of "freedom" and "inclusion".

Perhaps it's time for those who are screaming for tolerance and understanding to start looking in the mirror.

They might be surprised at what they see.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why High School Is Not The Best Years of Your Life

Recently David and I attended a marriage class as part of an education day put on by our local church leaders.  As the instructor (a licensed marriage and family therapist) tried to explain the differences between the male and female brain, I leaned over to David and said, "The problem is I'm not a normal girl, and you're not a normal guy."

"I am too a normal guy," he said.  "Did you DVR 'Project Runway'?"

Kidding, kidding.  He didn't actually say that.  He said, "Did you DVR 'So You Think You Can Dance'?"

For our anniversary this year he told me I was too hesitant to spend money on myself, handed me a gift card to my favorite store, and said he was going to take me shopping (because he actually likes shopping, even when it's for me).  And he did.  Then he sat on the couch in the dressing room with some guy who looked tortured to be there and watched me twirl around in dresses for like two hours.  I was really dizzy afterwards.

And I've decided that's the great thing about growing up.  Not the dizziness, of course (why on earth did we enjoy that sensation as children, anyway?), but the fact that being an adult frees you to be yourself.  We often joke about the fact that some of our best friends would have thought us total losers in high school.  I'm not making it up when I say the most spectacular move I ever performed in a P.E. class was to hit the volleyball (intending for it to go toward the net, obviously) and see it fly backwards over the top of my head and knock the clock off the wall, which fell straight into the garbage can.  I don't think it's a coincidence that I was wearing a really ugly sweater that day.

In high school I was a total failure at sports and calculus and confidence in general.  I had two left feet (and still do, but now I don't care that I do).  Nobody told me I was going a little overboard on the eyeshadow.  Seriously, why did nobody tell me I was going overboard on the eyeshadow?!  Mom, I'm looking at you.  And as long as we're discussing it, I also have questions about the years 1992-1996 and why you let me out of the house like that.  I mean, really, braces, glasses and a perm?.

But now I'm married to a guy who is not afraid to admit that he'd rather watch "Pride and Prejudice" than play baseball, doesn't care that I have two left feet, unmanicured fingernails, and a midsection that looks like I borrowed it from the Michelin Man, and says "Thank you" every time I clean off the bathroom counter.  Plus he will still use a piece of 2x4 to whack voles for me while I'm mowing the lawn.

This is way better than high school.

On Tragedy, Panic, and Losing Our Heads

I'm sure you've all heard about the horrible tragedy in Colorado where a deranged gunman shot up a movie theater full of Batman fans who were excited to see a midnight showing of the new Dark Knight Rises, leaving 12 people dead and 58 wounded. 

In the how-can-we-prevent-this-from-happening-again panic surrounding news of the massacre, many have taken to the internet to express ideas:  Tighter gun control, metal detectors in movie theaters, guards standing watch at every emergency exit, etc.  There's just one problem: none of these things will actually make anyone safer.

I am reminded of the time I was leading my sister's family on a touristy walk past the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.  Outside was a group of protesters waving signs plastered with statements about the evils of guns and how outlawing them would prevent crime.  My niece, who was about nine-years-old at the time, turned to her mother and asked if this was truly the case.

My sister responded by asking her a question: "What would happen if you made a law preventing good people from buying guns?  Would they buy them?"

"No," my niece replied.

"And what about criminals?"

She paused, thought for a moment, and said, "That wouldn't stop them."

"So what happens when you make a law that means only bad people will have guns?"

"Oh," said my niece, suddenly wiser than a whole group of adult protesters.

Yes, outlawing guns might prevent a child from having the opportunity to pull a gun out of his dad's nightstand and accidentally shoot himself, but it will not prevent crime.  The thing about criminals is that they are criminals.  They will find ways to get around laws.  Particularly criminals of the terrorist variety, who are bent on killing large groups of people, sometimes for no apparent reason.

This is why I can't help rolling my eyes every time I'm trudging through airport security with shoes off, my water bottle empty, and my 3 oz. liquids packed in a clear ziploc baggie.  For heaven's sake, does this make anyone feel safer?  There are so many easy ways to get around these ridiculous security measures it's almost hilarious.  "Sorry Ma'am, but your bottle of lotion is 5 ounces.  That isn't allowed...  Oh, but you have a box of could-be-anything medications and needles?  And six cans of pre-made 'baby formula'?  Go right through.  Hold on, I need to wave that guy through who is wheeling six barrels of 'beer' to the restaurant down the hall."

It's insanity.

And now, thanks to this latest tragedy, we have the general uneasiness that was expressed by one woman I saw on the news who said she wouldn't see the Dark Knight in theaters because it was too "risky."  "I'll rent it at home in six months," she said.  Then, most likely, she hopped in her car, shot down the freeway at 80 miles an hour while chatting on the phone with her best friend, and had a near-miss with another driver who was busy texting.  (Talk about risky).

Not to make light of the very real mental trauma involved when one hears about an act of terrorism, but, for the most part, going to a movie theater cannot be considered "risky."  The isolated act of one psychopath does not make the entire world a more dangerous place.

Losing the ability to reason, however...  Talk about dangerous.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Stranger Anxiety

It's hard to be a kid these days, what with all the helicopter parenting and back-to-back private lessons and grooming for the Ivy League that begins at the same time as introduction to solid foods.  You can't go to the playground anymore unless your mom is with you, you aren't allowed to talk to strangers, and you're taught that behind every decent looking man is a pervert waiting to snatch you and murder you in the woods.

This week I had to de-program Michael from the stranger-danger mantra after someone told him that he should never speak to strangers, which he took to mean that everyone he doesn't know is out to get him.

"Michael," I said, "It is always okay for you to talk to strangers.  It's just not okay for you to go anywhere with someone you don't know unless you talk to me first."

"I can talk to strangers?" he asked, eyes wide.  Um, yep.  Permission granted.  You can start with the words, "Sir," "Ma'am", "Please", and "Thank you."

Now, would y'all please stop scaring my little boy into thinking every Grandpa with a lollipop is up to no good?  I don't want him looking over his shoulder in fear every time someone offers him a kind word or a hand getting out of the pool.

This doesn't mean I'm naive.  We talk about what to do if someone tries to touch him inappropriately or tells him not to talk to his parents.  He knows our phone numbers and that, in case of emergency, he should run to the nearest adult (stranger!) and ask them to call us.  But the fact is that most people are decent.  Most men are good.  Most neighbors passing out Halloween candy are not looking to drug anyone.  And most kids just want to be kids. 

How about we quit trying to scare them out of their childhoods?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Don't Be Fooled

It's hard to believe that a girl this cute could stuff a roll of toilet paper down the sink, flood the bathroom, and smear an entire stick of butter all over the front of my kitchen cupboards, isn't it?

Yep.  That's how she gets you.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho

David went off to work this morning a full hour earlier than usual, armed with a frown and a ziploc bag full of excedrin.  After a prolonged hug and kiss at the door he said, "I'll miss you," as if he were boarding an aircraft carrier bound for Afghanistan.  Then we kissed again, because, let's face it, you can never kiss too much.

In a burst of post-vacation blues combined with an uncomfortable awareness that David is back to busy season at work, at 9:00 this morning I ate an entire bar of authentic Swiss chocolate (direct from Switzerland!  Thanks, EHRL!) and followed it with a swig of milk straight from the jug.  Since I ate a bowl of cereal at 7:00, I figure the chocolate and milk counts as "brunch".  That combined with the fact that I was being environmentally responsible by drinking directly out of the jug means I am officially not as pathetic as you think I am.  Besides, none of my children saw me do it.

All right, all right.  I admit to being a little pathetic.  Not to mention that last night before saying our prayers, David and I were swapping less-than-flattering stories about someone we both find to be incredibly irritating.  Then we bowed our heads, folded our arms, and David paused long enough to make it seem awkward before he said, "Um, you pray."

"For our souls?" I asked.

Then we laughed hysterically.  This is how you know we're pathetic and we're going to hell.

Plus, I've been up for four hours now and I'm still sitting here in my bathrobe.  And I just discovered that I have a hole the size of a large planet on the backside of my underwear that has very obviously been gaining size for awhile now.  How I did not notice this before now, I'll never know.

As for my kids, Matthew and Leah are helping themselves to a snack from the box of cereal that is still sitting on the table and Michael is simultaneously watching Team Umizoomi and playing a game on my iphone.  Luckily it's summer and I still have a good 11 hours to redeem myself as a mother before the children go to bed. 

I better hurry if I want the chance to take a shower.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Matthew's Science Experiment

Supplies Needed:

1 freezer
$100 worth of food
1 on/off button or knob
1 small boy who likes buttons and knobs:

Step by step instructions:

* Go out to the garage
* Grab your scooter and head toward the back door so your mom thinks you are going in the backyard to play
* Once she goes back into the house, open the freezer
* Turn control knob to "off"
* Shut freezer door so she doesn't know you were in there
* Return about a week later to check progress:

Most interesting findings:

* Rhodes Rolls actually explode through the bag when thawed (those are the rolls all over the bottom shelf and in the door).
* Chicken juices are not contained even by vacuum-packing.

Total damage:

6 lbs. of spoiled chicken
4 lbs. of bacon
4 lbs. of butter
3 lbs. of ready-to-eat shredded pork (that I painstakingly slow-cooked last week)
60 frozen rolls
6 containers of homemade jam
Frozen spinach, Healthy Choice Fudge Bars, and Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches

Sigh.  Oh well.  I've been meaning to defrost the freezer anyway.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Cher's Underwear Problem

Music icon and fashion horror story, Cher, has a problem with underwear.  Not hers, of course (nor the fact that she often mistakes hers as outerwear).  With Mitt Romney's.  Because his underthings are ultra weird and scary -- pssst!  Romney thinks his underwear is magic!!

Behold, her twittery wisdom:

"I Feel if he [Obama] doesn't get all his DUCKS IN A ROW we'll b forced 2 listen 2Uncaring Richy Rich!  The whitest man in MAGIC UNDERWEAR in the WH!"

Maybe it's just me, but I don't think Cher is the right one to be pointing fingers here.  I mean, if anyone's underwear looks like it is about to sprout wings and start shouting, "Expelliarmus!" it's Cher's.  Not to mention the other glaring ironies - that she not only happens to be white, but according to Forbes Magazine, she is richer than the old GOP devil himself, by upwards of $55 million.

But, she cares, so I guess that's the difference.  (Celebrities: they may not know what they are talking about, but they "care.")

Well, I hate to disappoint you, Cher, but Mitt Romney's underwear isn't magic.  And if you were to suggest such a thing to his face, I think he might manage to unzip his business-like demeanor long enough to give you a hearty guffaw.  He might even snort a little.  I mean, for heaven's sake, magic underwear?  Really?

Yes, many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (myself included) wear what are called "garments" underneath their regular clothing.  It's simply a reminder of promises they have made to God in temples.

But I realize that such a boring and reasonable explanation would defeat the purpose of making Romney look like a backwards religious nutcase, and I hate to spoil your party, so I'll let you get back to your "tolerant" and "understanding" ways.

Right after I make fun of this outfit.  Honestly, Cher, what were you thinking?