Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Miley Cyrus: The Tip of the Iceberg

*Warning --  This post contains mature content*

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard by now that former Disney Darling, Miley Cyrus, just expanded her repertoire to include a nationally televised performance that was two tiny pieces of flesh-colored vinyl away from being fully X-rated.

As the future Mrs. Hemsworth gyrated and thrusted her way through a performance that would have felt dirty at a strip club, she was joined on stage by Robin Thicke, who sang his mega-hit "Blurred Lines" and didn't seem the least bit bothered by the fact that a 20-year-old was honing her lap dance skills on him.

I only watched ten seconds of the performance in a news clip on CNN, but that was enough to stop me from ever picking up a giant foam finger without using tongs.

And yet, I find it telling that in the news and social media explosion that occurred during and after the performance, there was complete radio silence about the relevant fact that Ms. Cyrus was humping her way through a song about men "smacking a****" of "hot b******", men propositioning women to "get nasty" and guys so... er... well-endowed that they could "tear your a** in two."

Sounds like Miley was just playing along.

Yes, she should be ashamed of her disgusting performance, but you know what?  She is a product of a culture and industry that degrades women and devalues sex to the point that it is nothing more than a commodity to be bought and sold.  So who can blame her for thinking she had some selling to do?

I'm much more bothered by the fact that Robin Thicke's depraved and offensive song is celebrated and fawned over.  Why, as women, do we ignore this sort of thing?  Why do we decry a performance like that of Ms. Cyrus and refuse to see that we are partly to blame by downloading "Blurred Lines" from I-tunes?

Miley Cyrus isn't the disease, she's a symptom of the disease.

The simple fact is that anything that degrades women also degrades men, and anything that degrades men also degrades women.  We diminish ourselves when we engage in any sort of demeaning behavior toward the opposite sex.

In the case of "Blurred Lines," women, we deserve better than this.  Miley Cyrus deserves better than this.  And men, you know better than this.  So let's quit attacking the tip of the iceberg.

It's time to work on what lies beneath.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pictures and Kisses

You know those Moms who post first-day-of-school Facebook statuses like, "All my kids are in school. :(  I miss them already!"?

I am not one of those moms.

I am literally counting down the minutes until I have my first ever all-my-kids-are-in-school, two-hours-and-fifteen-minutes to go somewhere -- ANYWHERE -- without helpers.  I am so excited that I think Christmas morning is going to feel pretty anticlimactic by comparison.

It's not that I don't love my kids.  I do.  But after two solid months of David being home never, I am ready for a break.  I mean, seriously, God created preschool because he loves me and doesn't want me to murder my children.

Which is exactly the reason I engage in two specific parenting practices:  1 - I kiss each of my kids every night after they're asleep and 2 - When they're doing something cute, I take a picture so I can remember.

For example, last week I was trying to mow the lawn and Matthew kept trying to arrange an extended vacation to the Pearly Gates by riding his scooter in front of passing cars.  After scolding him multiple times, I could still seem him out of the corner of my eye, defiantly inching his wheels onto the road.  I might have been seething more than a bit at his disobedience (and taste for near-death experiences) as I ordered him into the house to get ready for bed.

When I finished the lawn and got inside, I found him on the couch like this, sound asleep.

Awww, see?  How can you be mad at a kid who can fall asleep like that?

It even works on the older kids who know just how to get under your skin.  After a day of disobedience so extreme that it should have been considered an Olympic sport, I was at my wit's end when Leah got a bad knee scrape just as I was trying to get the kids in bed, get the kitchen cleaned up, and get the rest of my notes together before I was due to have a Relief Society committee meeting at my house.  Even after the injury had been band-aided and kissed and Leah had been hugged and held, she kept on screaming.  But suddenly it got quiet and I looked up to see Michael snuggling his sister on the couch and comforting her, saying, "It's okay, sweet girl" and "It will feel better soon."

By the time I got over there with the camera they were all smiles, including Matthew, who popped up behind the couch with a big grin just as I snapped the photo.

When David and I snuck into their bedrooms around midnight to give them a peck on the cheek and pull the covers up to their chins, I looked over their angelic little faces and forgot every reason I had ever raised my voice at them.

Pictures and kisses.

It's amazing how they work.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

About That Apple...

You know those car commercials that take place on a cold, snowy Christmas morning -- the ones where an Audi or a Lexus suddenly appears in the driveway wrapped in a gigantic bow?  For some reason, the spouse in these commercials is always delighted.  Thrilled, even! --  "Oh, honey, it's a dream come true that you would buy a really expensive car without talking to me first!"

Which is exactly how I would react.  Except that I would be really angry and say something like, "You better drive that thing back to the car dealer faster than I can run, because if I catch up with you, you are going to need medical care."  Even if we were sitting on piles of money and could afford 30 brand new cars, I would still be majorly ticked off if my husband bought one without discussing it with me.  Married people, they should discuss things.

Which is why I got the itch in Sunday School recently to raise my hand amidst all the glowing comments about Eve and her "bravery" and "wisdom" in eating the forbidden fruit and say, "Don't you think she should have discussed it with her husband first?"  I mean, no matter how much foresight Eve may have had, no matter how convinced she may have felt that eating the fruit was the right thing to do (though, frankly, "the serpent beguiled me" doesn't exactly sound like "I know what I'm doing here."), the fact remains that she did something that would drastically affect her husband, their marriage, and their family -- forever -- WITHOUT DISCUSSING IT WITH HIM.

"Adam, honey, guess what?  I ate this fruit and now I'm going to be kicked out of the only home we've ever known and consigned to a life of sorrow and pain and hardship.  I hope you're okay with that, because if you want to stay with me, you have to eat the fruit, too!"

Honestly, it doesn't matter how right a decision turns out to be if the way you go about making it is all wrong.  You don't get to do whatever you want to do (or even what you think is "best") without taking your spouse into consideration.

This doesn't mean you need to talk about every little thing (obviously).  A dollar for a candy bar is probably immaterial and it's not like you need to call up your spouse any time you want to go out for lunch or get your hair cut (unless doing so would be a burden on the family finances - in which case you do need to run it by your spouse first) but you don't get to make the decision to have a baby or take a job or buy a house without some serious discussion.  You don't get to make life-changing or bank-breaking or debt-incurring choices without asking for input and approval from your spouse.

If you're truly a team, you both need access to -- and equal say in -- the game plan.  Especially when it concerns those life-altering apples.

Otherwise they might come back to bite you.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

It's Hard Out There For a Dad

It's tough to be a dad these days.  No matter how hard you work or how hard you try, you log onto Facebook and see something like this:

Now, before I say anything about how much I despise these little girls rule, boys drool placards (as if you didn't already know), first I have to address the most pressing problem:  If you're going to say something, say it correctly.  It's "me neither."  Ugh.  Sorry to be picky, but the grammar in these memes makes me want to strangle people.  (Which is actually quite fitting, since the sentiments expressed also make me want to strangle people).

You see, I have a serious problem with women who go around wearing their motherhood like it's part of some blue-ribbon contest in which they are the prize apple pie.  Fathers work hard too, ladies.  Just because their job descriptions are different does not mean their work is easier or less deserving of empathy or praise.  And just because they don't perform many of the night-feeding and diaper-changing and puke-cleaning duties that are tackled by the mother, it doesn't mean they aren't contributing to the family, and it certainly doesn't mean they are lazy.   (I know of a woman who spent 30 years complaining that her husband never contributed to the family (because he didn't help with the house or kids) before it finally dawned on her that going to work every day, whether he liked it or not, actually was contributing to the family.  *facepalm*)

While it's true that many men find it easier to relax than their wives do if there is still work to be done, I seriously doubt this meme is the result of a man who sat on the couch all evening in some sort of clueless stupor while his wife scrubbed the floors.  More likely, it is the result of a man who had a long day at work, came home, and decided to put his feet up even though his wife was up to her elbows in dishwater.  Then, instead of sitting down with him to relax for a few minutes or asking nicely if he would be willing to help her get the rest of the dishes taken care of (remember, he doesn't read minds!), she gets all peeved because she's working and he's relaxing and grrrrr how can he be so oblivious???

In spite of what many wives seem to think, the ability of their husbands to sit down and relax when the stove isn't sparkling clean is not some sort of neanderthal flaw, nor is it proof that women are holy angels whose only defect comes in being bonded to someone with Y chromosomes.  For heaven's sake, ladies, quit being so self-righteous!

Recognize that if your husband comes home from work and plops down on the couch with an exhausted sigh, it's not necessarily out of some kind of willful disregard for how busy you are or how dirty the kitchen is (frankly, he probably doesn't even care how dirty the kitchen is).  He's just tired and needs time to recharge - just like you do.  Instead of getting in a snit, show him some sympathy.  Be a little more understanding.  The nicer you are, the more understanding he will be when you need a break.  Believe me when I say that a woman who is kind and empathetic to her husband will find that he is willing to do anything for her.

He might even help with those dishes now and then...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Random Thoughts

I was going to write a real post based on real news articles and everything, but it's been a frustrating day and the kids were so crazy at bedtime that I went kind of kali-ma and threatened to start ripping hearts out of chests.  So instead of writing I've spent the last hour video hopping on youtube, hoping to find a clip that would make my blood pressure go down.

Eventually, I landed on this one.  It makes my brain hurt.  Literally hurt.  How is this even possible?  She's playing "Flight of the Bumblebee" in OCTAVES.  I'm seriously still sitting here with my mouth hanging open and I stopped watching it five minutes ago.  I mean, I know I should have practiced the piano more, but I think even if I practiced 95 hours a day I'd never be that good.

Anyway...  Since it's been ages since the last Random Thoughts post and I don't have the brain power to put together more than two sentences per subject, behold, my randomly firing synapses:

Tonight I got a text from someone that said, "I am so crabby and I hate everyone.  Except you.  You are reasonable."  Best. Text. Ever.

Can't all stores put the date at the top of the receipt?  It takes me five minutes to find the date every time I'm entering things into Quicken.

I do not understand "security" these days.  I can call a company and they won't give me a single piece of information because I'm not "David."  They won't even let me send them money.  However, I can use all the information I have to log on their website and do whatever I want with the account.  Is there really a point to this charade?

I love pull-ups.  I love washing machines.  I do not love finding pull-ups in washing machines.

Sunday afternoon I had two pans of brownies in my house.  This made me a little panicked so I gave them all away except for one little brownie.  Then I woke up Monday morning and remembered I only had one little brownie to eat.  Saddest morning ever.

Why is it that kids who are potty training freak out if you flush the toilet for them, but once they've got the whole big-kid thing down they NEVER flush the toilet?  I think it's been over a year since anyone voluntarily flushed the toilet in our house.

Today Michael asked me, "What are hard times?"  At first I thought he was being all deep and philosophical, but, after some probing to find out why he was asking, it turned out he just wanted to learn his times tables.  I immediately revamped the way I would respond to the question, "How are babies born?"

I wish companies would quit miniaturizing their packaging and instead just raise their prices.  I want my half-gallon of ice cream back!

Recently I got a migraine and, while I was busy smashing my head between pillows, my kids left a ticking metronome in the hall outside my bedroom.  Someday, when they have children of their own, this is going to come back to bite them.

I hate Amazon reviewers who give products a one-star rating for things like, "It arrived late" or "The packaging was damaged" or -- my favorite -- "I haven't received this product yet."  These people should not be allowed to vote.  Or get on the internet.  Or reproduce.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ding Dong, the Fish is Dead!

I am not a pet person.

I used to be, but that was before I had three goats children who I'm required by law to take with me any time I go somewhere.  Honestly, by the time we get home from the grocery store and someone spills a gallon of milk I'm like NO PETS.  EVER.  Not even cute little kittens who will die if we don't take them in.

So I don't know what I was thinking when I let my kids bring home three little goldfish from a party.  But I did, so we had three of the most bored goldfish ever swimming around in a triangular vase (I wasn't willing to spring for a bowl).  And then I started having worried mommy feelings for these fish.  They would creep in when I least expected it and suddenly I was washing their vase every day because I didn't want them to be uncomfortable.

Seriously, I didn't want goldfish to be uncomfortable.

This is what pets do to you -- even slimy little goldfish you can't hold or pet -- they sneak in and make you care about them.  And then you are stuck looking after them while your kids go about their lives ignoring them.  Your kids don't even care about the fish at all until little Nemo dies and you find your daughter digging next to the raspberries because she wants to see her buried fish again.  Then you feel bad for her and have delusional thoughts like, "Maybe we should get another fish."

The problem with that is that fish are just gateway pets.  Once you get one you'll find yourself allowing thoughts of hamsters and bunnies and purse-sized doggies.

Thankfully, all three fish are dead now and I'm back to my senses after Matthew and Leah's quiet time project reminded me that I don't need any more living creatures to look after.

That's play-doh wrapped up in about three dollars worth of scotch tape, in case you couldn't tell.  (I knew I should have been suspicious when I couldn't find the tape dispenser!)

I didn't take a picture of my carpet because it made me twitch a little bit.  Let's just say that play-doh is officially banned from our house until the kids are 45.

Maybe by then I'll be willing to consider another fish...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Edition 3.1

I ran a 5K on Saturday.  For reals.  (I'm serious!  Stop laughing.  And stop checking the url!  It really is me blogging).

Okay, okay, I didn't so much "run" as "not die" but considering that my bucket list consists of things like "Drink out of a chocolate river, Augustus Gloop style" you should be impressed.  I didn't even come in last.

And I have proof that I finished!  See?

The most unflattering picture of me, ever, crossing the... what the??? The START line?  Dang it!

David was a nice boy and agreed to stay with me for the entire race even though I know he wanted to run faster.  He even tried to keep me going with some talk about hard things being good for us until I told him to quit being so inspirational.

Honestly, I thought I would be able to run more than I did, but I had a rude awakening when I discovered that my treadmill had not adequately prepared me for a race that was 50% uphill.  My marathoner brother and sister-in-law kept trying to make me feel better by telling me it was a really tough course, but that's just because they are nice people.  Also because I leave chocolate mints on their pillows when they come to visit.

But, the fact remains, I did it.  I survived.  I not only ran in an actual race, I ran in a race where missionaries handed out water cups and a bagpiper serenaded us from atop a hillside.  How many of you can say that?

Plus, I only limped around like an old lady for two days afterward and now I have a really cool medal that I can wear on special occasions hang on my wall keep in a box.

Hmmm.  Come to think of it, why did I do this again?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Truth About Beauty

What do you think of when you look at this picture?

I'll tell you what I thought the first time I looked at it (hint:  It wasn't "Oh, what a cute picture!")  For a split second I looked at it and thought, "Wow, my butt looks big!"  

And then I cringed.  Not because of my pant size, but because it seemed tragic to look at a picture of my beautiful, happy family and think, "Man, my rear end is huge!"

Coincidentally, the same day this picture was taken, this article was published, in which U.K. Women's Minister, Jo Swinson, encourages parents not to tell their children they are beautiful:  “I know as an aunt, you fall into the trap of turning to your niece and saying, 'you look beautiful’ — because of course all children do look beautiful — but if the message they get is that is what’s important and that is what gets praise, then that’s not necessarily the most positive message you want them to hear.”

This is not the first time I've read something like this, and I'm sure it won't be the last.  In the last year alone I've come across dozens of articles that chastise parents for telling their daughters they are beautiful instead of focusing on the more important things like intelligence and work ethic.  (These days "smart" is de rigueur.  "Smart" and "capable."  They don't need this "beautiful" stuff).

And then, in the midst of my musings on the subject, a duchess gave birth to the future King of England and everyone slunk out of their holes to weigh in (pardon the pun) on the new mother's post-pregnancy belly.  Less than 24 hours after she delivered the future monarch, news outlets across the globe couldn't think of anything better to do than to comment on Her Royal Highness's "mummy tummy." 

This is the world we're living in.  A world that's full of derision for anything less than bodily perfection, a world where IT MAKES THE NEWS because the future Queen of England appeared with a rounded stomach less than a day after giving birth.  And, in this world, we think that the best way to boost our daughters' self esteem -- the best way to make sure they achieve their potential in life -- is not to tell them they are beautiful?

I'm sorry, but this is madness!

How is it that we have frightened ourselves into thinking that "You are beautiful" or "You look beautiful" translate into "Looks are the most important thing."?  How have we twisted these words so much that we think we are doing our daughters a favor by not using them?  

Well, I'm here to tell you that these words are vital for our daughters to hear.  They are vital for our girlfriends and mothers and grandmothers to hear.  Because as much as we like to pretend otherwise, most women need to be told they are beautiful more than they need to be told they are smart.  (You don't believe me?  How many women do you know who complain that their husbands never tell them they are intelligent?)

Problems with body image and poor self-esteem aren't caused by telling our daughters they are beautiful; they are caused by living in a world that makes them feel like they must meet an impossible standard before they can be considered as such.  

My daughter will spend her entire life in this world, and it will tell her that she is not beautiful, that she is not valued, that she does not have infinite worth; it will denigrate her body and discourage her spirit.  Which is why, every single day, I will tell her she is beautiful.  Every single day I will tell her she is loved.

And when she's grown and looking at a picture like mine, I hope she sees the truth -- because the truth isn't ugly, it's beautiful.

And so is she.