Friday, December 11, 2009

Do They Know It's Christmas Time?

I attended my son's Winter Celebrations concert at school today. Based on the name of the concert (and is it me or does it sound like some sort of a pagan festival?) I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that he and his fellow 4th grade classmates did not sing a single traditional holiday song. Not one.

WARNING: This is not one of those crazy keep-Christ-in-Christmas rants. Au contraire...I'm all about Christmas commercialism. I like Santa, I like presents and I like Christmas trees. I like lights, I like decorations and I like holiday parties. And the thing that I like most about the holiday season...are the songs.

I love to sing. I'm not a good singer, but that does not stop me from singing at the top of my lungs. All. The. Time. I constantly break out into song (much to the dismay of those around me). My sister thinks that I have some sort of musical Turrets Syndrome. Honestly, sometimes I cannot stop. And when I don't know the words to a song, I simply make them up.

So imagine my disappointment when I couldn't sing along with the kids today. It was like going to a Springsteen concert and not hearing Born to Run. I'm not suggesting that they sing The First Noel or O Holy Night, but there are traditional holiday songs about secular Christmas themes such as winter scenes and family gatherings that appeal to the masses without trampling on people's religious beliefs. How about Winter Wonderland? Let It Snow? Frosty the Snowman?

Maybe I was expecting more because I am a little depressed about Glee wrapping up this week. (I am going to miss singing along with the cast.) But something tells me that if McKinley's Glee Club director, Mr. Shue, was in charge of today's set list, I would be singing and humming right now instead of blogging. I'm just sayin'.

It's not the the kids didn't do a great job - they absolutely did. And it's not that I didn't enjoy myself - because I did. It's just that I wish the concert had more traditional holiday spirit. I wish I had left school whistling one of my holiday favorites.

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's the Holiday Season...

Ok, it's time to blog about Christmas. You know why? Because I AM DONE SHOPPING, that's why. Granted, my list is very short this year and I did most of it online, but still...I'm done and I'm gloating.

I had the day off, so I went to the mall and crossed off the last remaining things on my list. Man, I hate to shop, especially in malls. It wasn't exceptionally crowded, but because they roll in those seasonal carts for the holiday shoppers, there wasn't much room to roam the mall. Perhaps they do that to create the illusion that the mall is bustling. I can barely get my head around malls, much less why people would shop at those carts. (Maybe it's because those carts are staffed with the most aggressive salespeople on earth.)

Hickory Farms? Really? Is it really necessary to bring in a cart of that crap for the holidays? Who is buying the summer sausage trio gift box? Because I better not be on that person's Christmas list, I'm just saying. I was accosted - literally stopped in my tracks - by one of the Hickory Farms helpers who asked if I might be interested in the Family Togetherness Gift Basket. Now, on paper, that might sound good: I'm all about family togetherness and I'm all about snacks. But in reality, I am fairly certain that my family would leave me if I brought out cheese balls and sweet, hot mustard during a heated game of Hearts.

Have you seen the Smokeless Cigarette cart? It's the most bizarre thing...a shady looking character walks around the cart puffing on an electric cigarette. It actually gets red at the tip and appears to give off smoke (or it that vapor?) when he inhales. The gentleman struts around the cart inhaling and exhaling, thinking he looks like a suave, sophisticated movie star...but he looks more like a borderline criminal to me. I overheard him telling a passerby that it saves your health, your money and best of all - you have the freedom to smoke anywhere. (I kind of doubt that, but I was not about to challenge him. He might be packing an electric gun.)

Time to duck into an actual store and get away from the carts. There is something almost creepy about GapKids. They're big people styles for little people. I stop to glance at the Stella McCartney flower applique dress and think, "Damn, I would wear this thing to a cocktail party if it were 40 times bigger." And I swear the cable knit sweater tunic by Stella is...well...kind of sexy. I don't want to see a chubby-armed 3 year old toddler in a sexy, sleeveless knit this holiday season. That's just wrong.

Why is it that even when the mall is empty, the Apple store has a line out the door? I'll tell you why, because it's hip and it's happenin' and it's totally current, that's why. I walked in (no line today, but still, very crowded) and was immediately approached by Shelby, an ultra-cool 20something with a funky hairdo and a big smile. Shelby showed me exactly what I needed and then checked me out with his wireless, handheld credit terminal. "Would you like a print out of your receipt, Mrs. Reid....or would you like me to send it to your email?" Before I walked out of the iPhone pinged informing me that the receipt was in my inbox. Now that is a beautiful shopping experience.

On my way to the next store, I walked by a line of people waiting to have their photos taken with Santa. I counted at least 5 kids who were freaking out of their minds with fear at the thought of approaching Santa. They could barely look in his general direction much less sit on his lap. They were dressed in their holiday finery and one little girl was ripping the bow out of her hair while screaming at the top of her lungs. Really? Is it essential that we get this photo? Can't we just pick up some summer sausage and call it a day?

Last stop: the Tommy Bahama store for their deliciously smelling pineapple cilantro candle. Apparently the salespeople at Tommy Bahama get paid on commission because everybody was bending over backwards to help me. Sure enough, when I got to the counter, the cashier asked, "And who was helping you today, ma'am?" As I handed her my credit card I told her that it seemed to me that the entire sales force was eager to please. She swiped my card, but it didn't seem to work. She swiped again and again, but still, it didn't work. Now keep in mind, I had just swiped the thing at least 4 times within the last hour. Not to mention, I never have cash on me, so that card is swiped several times a week and I have never had a problem. But to no avail, the card was not registering and so she called the manager over for help. Hello? Has she never keyed in a credit card? (she would be blown away by Shelby at the Apple store).

The manager took over the keyboard and completed the transaction while thanking me for my patience and printing out my receipt. Then, instead of handing back my card, he pulled out one of those old-fashioned, handheld swipers. I'm not talking about the wireless gadget that they are holding two doors down at the Apple store, I'm talking about the big hunk o'metal clunker that slides across the card imprinting it on carbon paper. What the? The manager assured me that he was not double dipping, he simply needed a copy of my card for security purposes. Because nothing screams security like a piece of carbon paper.

And with that...I sashayed out of the mall and into the holiday's the most wonderful time of the year!

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's Time...

I'm getting harassed by the readers of this blog to post a new entry. Apparently the Halloween posting is getting stale (personally, I could look at a picture of candy corn 365 days a year). But I suppose it's time. I missed my Thanksgiving blogging opportunity, but if you think I'm going to blog about Christmas on November 30th, you've got another think coming.

I need to ease into Christmas before I start blogging about it. It's not that I'm a total Scrooge; come mid-December I'll be belting out Christmas carols with the best of 'em. But I can't go from Thanksgiving left-overs to trimming the tree within a span of a weekend. I can't tell you how many Christmas trees I've seen on top of cars these past few days. I have had to fight the urge to run those cars off the road. Ok, not really. (I'm not that bad.)

In fact, today I hung a wreath on the front door and the stockings by the chimney. I know, right? But I didn't do it because I was feeling particularly jolly; it was guilt that drove me to haul out the holly...

Last night I had a helluva blow out with my daughter. (I was right, of course, and quite justified, but still...I shouldn't have become completely unglued.). Our little "misunderstanding" led to a shouting match between my husband and I when he tried to come to my daughter's defense. (Um, hello? He's supposed to be on my side.) (Especially when I'm right!) I'll spare you the gory details, but rest assured, it was not pretty. So, this morning I was mad and sad and embarrassed and disgusted and decided that our house could use a little Christmas spirit.

And while I was going through the boxes in the attic, I thought, "Hey, maybe this is what Tiger Woods is doing." Maybe instead of talking to the police about his "car accident", he's decorating his house in an attempt to change his karma. Hmm. But if that's the case, Tiger really needs to put down those colored lights and talk to the police. And to his fans. It's time. Listen, I of all people know what it's like to lose your cool in the privacy of your own home. If my walls could talk, well, I'm just thankful that my walls can't talk. But then again, I'm not a celebrity so nobody is interested in what my walls have to say.

But people are interested in what Tiger has to say. Privacy, schmivacy. You can't have it both ways. You can't accept those million dollar endorsements and the endless royal treatment and then cry PRIVACY when you don't care to explain yourself. And really, how bad can the explanation be? Sure, it might be embarrassing, but it's not as if the rumors running rampant are any less embarrassing, right? We all have our ugly moments. Tiger just needs to come clean, so he can move on. It's time.

And then he needs to hang a wreath on the front door and the stockings by the chimney....I guarantee he'll feel much better.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Can the Candy? I think Not.

You'd think that after years of eating candy which resulted in thousands of dollars and endless hours spent in the dentist chair to repair my damaged teeth, I would have kicked the habit. But alas, I have not. Nor would I ever deny a trick-or-treater the joy that comes with a sack full of candy. As far as I'm concerned, folks who hand out healthy alternatives to candy, should be burned at the stake. Ok, that might be a little harsh, let's leave it at egged. People who hand out apples and granola bars on Halloween should be egged.

I was thumbing through a ridiculous women's magazine the other day when I came across an article entitled How to Manage Halloween. Really? When did Halloween get so complicated that we need tips on how best to manage the day?

Here's what I learned....

Avoid stocking up on Halloween candy early. Having candy around the house will only tempt you. Aim to purchase your candy no more than a day or two before Halloween (you may hit some great sales, too!) Having eaten my weight in candy corn over the past two weeks, I can vouch for the temptation thing, but the part about hitting some great sales is a bunch of bunk. If you wait too long to purchase your Halloween loot, you will be left with the candy that nobody wants and you're just asking to be egged.

There is nothing wrong with giving treats that are healthier than traditional candy. Um, yes there is...that statement is completely false. Nobody wants a bag of baked chips, a box of raisins or a bag of microwave popcorn in their plastic pumpkin head. A Clif Bar is a great snack for a random day in April, but come October 31st, kids want chocolate. And I am not talking about dark chocolate miniatures, I'm talking Snickers.

Consider handing out non-food treats.
Consider nothing of the sort. Repeat after me: bubbles, pencils, stickers and Slinkies are not treats. I've heard stories of clever moms who give out toothbrushes instead of tasty treats. I have one word for those moms: killjoy.

Rally your neighbors and as a community make a plan for a healthier Halloween.
God help the neighbor in my 'hood who approaches me with a pre-approved treat list. I'm not in favor of passing out candy to kids every day (I know that's rich coming from me) but one day a year isn't going to kill 'em. Stop raining on their parade and let them have a Kit Kat.

Talk to your kids about the treats that they are most looking forward to and the right amount to consume. Make a pact with them about what you will do with the "left-overs".
I'll tell you right now, I could never be friends with the woman who wrote this article. Ever. But as tips go, this one isn't bad. In fact, I guess it's good for my kids to know up front which candy I'm going to be looting from their stash. As far as left-overs go...I define left-overs as the candy that remains after all the trading is complete. It's the candy that nobody wants (think: Dots, miscellaneous hard candies, wax candy lips and Good & Plenty). The left-overs should be tossed out immediately, as I have been known to cave in a weak moment.

Consider a visit from the Halloween Fairy. Allow your children to pick ten pieces of candy from their haul and place the rest on a table for the Halloween Fairy. When the children awake on November 1st, they find that the Fairy has left a small gift in exchange for the candy. Good luck with that plan. It would have never worked when my kids were young. First of all, my daughter stopped believing in Santa at age 4, so something tells me the idea of a Halloween Fairy who confiscates her candy would never have taken off. Secondly, as the person most likely to play the role of the Halloween Fairy, I can assure you that the candy would be safer with my kids. And last, but not least, why do today's parents feel the need to control every aspect of their children's lives? It's Halloween, for crying out loud, let the kids enjoy the day.

When I was a kid, handing out apples was frowned upon by parents and children alike. Everybody knew the story of the psychopath who hid razor blades in apples and passed them out to unsuspecting children on Halloween. Dozens of children cut their mouths when they bit into the forbidden fruit. Clearly this was an urban legend as most children would not voluntarily choose to bite into healthy apples over delicious candy on Halloween night.

Now go buy some Hershey bars before they disappear from the shelves.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rewriting Memories

I sat in my car watching my son leap out of the school bus hoping that the weight of his backpack wouldn't crush him on his dismount. He landed a perfect 10 at the bottom of the steps and immediately sprung into action sprinting toward his friend. They must have been making paper airplanes on the ride home because they each had what appeared to be a stash of folded paper in their hands. As soon as they were in throwing distance of one another, they began pelting the crowd with their homemade crafts. I could hear their shouts of joy and roaring laughter through the closed windows. But the fun ended when my son's friend spotted his ride and took off like a shot. My son glided a few more planes before repositioning his gigantic backpack on his back and finally looking around for me.

When he spotted my car, he lifted his chin acknowledging my presence and slowly made his way over picking up a few stray airplanes and making necessary repairs. As he swung open the car door he asked, "Are you still dizzy, Mom?" This morning's bout of vertigo was by far the worst. I barely made it downstairs and I suppose, in hindsight, I never should have gotten up. I was a nasty, cranky, bitter mess during breakfast and I let me family know it. My Mommy Dearest performance ended when I screamed bloody murder about a pillow on a chair that hadn't been put back properly the night before. Then I dramatically excused myself and stumbled back upstairs cursing and carrying on every step of the way until I collapsed in my bed.

"I am a bit dizzy" I told my son "but not nearly as bad as I was this morning." It's so like my sweet son to ask how I am feeling, but I think this time he was inquiring because he wanted to know if I was still in a foul mood. I told him that I slept from about 9:00 am until about 1:30 in the afternoon and woke up feeling much better.

"So when I was in reading class, you were falling asleep." He paused for a second and then added, "I almost fell asleep at that time, too." He confided that sometimes he gets so sleepy in reading, he has to concentrate just to keep his eyes open. My power of recall is pretty much shot, but I have vivid memories of sitting at a desk trying desperately to control my head bobs. I'd like to think that those sleepy moments came later in the day after a full schedule of challenging classes, but who am I kidding, I was probably doing head bobs in the morning just like my son. But, the beauty of not having a good memory is that I can rewrite history and since my son pretty much believes everything that I say, I am able to fool my captive audience. "Hmm, I never got bored in school. I loved all of my classes, especially reading." Then I added, "Maybe we need to adjust your bedtime." I may be dizzy, but I'm still as sharp as a tack.

During dinner my daughter complained that she has to memorize a bunch of prepositions for a test. "It's so stupid" she whined, "we're just going to forget them after the test." I'll give it to you, 99% of what I learned in middle school is completely gone, but somehow the prepositions stuck with me. About, above, after, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beside, between, beyond...I can rattle them off in alphabetical order in about 16 seconds. If you'd prefer, I can sing them to the tune of America the Beautiful. A useless feat, I realize, but I celebrate the few things I've managed to retain.

I'll teach her the new lyrics to America the Beautiful over the next few days and she'll be all set for that test. And maybe in 40 years she will still be able to spot a prepositional phrase when she sees one. One can only hope. But it would be nice if her memory failed her on one account...and that would be the memory of her lunatic mother and her crazy performance this morning. I'll do my best to rewrite history, "Remember when I had vertigo and I was just not myself...." Hmm. I don't think she'll buy it, but my son probably will.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

As The World Turns....

I finally saw Julie & Julia. For weeks I've been hearing and reading great things about the movie. As promised, Meryl Streep's performance was amazing and Nora Ephron's screenplay was magical. Several people told me that I'd especially enjoy Amy Adam's character, Julie Powell, the blogger who gained a large following, scored a book deal and eventually sold the movie rights to her story.

As much as I would like to follow in Julie Powell's footsteps, her story is not why I was enamored with this movie. It was Julia Child's excessive use of butter that had me mesmerized. Ms. Childs was no stranger to fat, as evidenced in her pork and veal stuffed duck that she then wrapped in a buttery pastry crust. For all intents and purposes, Julia Childs and her husband, Paul, were walking, talking heart-attacks-waiting-to-happen. But, they both lived into their 90's. Fair? Hardly.

From what I can gather from the movie, both Childs were heavy smokers, enjoyed their wine and the only exercise they got was walking to the market. For more butter. I'm not knocking their lifestyle, in fact, I'm bitter and jealous. I desperately try to lead a healthy lifestyle: I avoid butter, do not eat red meat, work out on a daily basis, drink (almost) 8 glasses of water a day, eat my fair share of fruits, vegetables and healthy nuts, drink alcohol in moderation, and visit my doctors for yearly preventative medical check ups. And yet, despite my best efforts, I have had some strange ailments over the years. Well, really just since I turned 40. Five years ago (ok, almost six).

My latest malady came 5 days ago in the form of vertigo. After spending a few days in bed while the world whirled me by, I finally managed to drag myself to a doctor who diagnosed me with Benign Paroxymsal Positional Vertigo...those of us afflicted simply refer to is as BPPV. It seems that the inner ear, the labyrinth, if you will, maintains a sense of balance. Small pieces of said labyrinth, called canaliths, can break off and float into ear canals where they have no business floating and when this causes vertigo.

Using what is called the Epley Maneuver, the doctor was able to move the canaliths into an area of my head that does not upset my balance. Or at least, that was the plan. Many patients feel immediate relief after the procedure, others require a second maneuver. So far, I haven't benefitted from its effects. If I don't feel relief soon, I am cutting my own head off, thus eliminating the need for a second maneuver.

But if I really wanted to, I could perform the maneuver on my own. In fact, I did, perform the move the day before I visited the doctor. Having spent the better part of the day Googling vertigo and all that it encompasses, I was able to find several You Tube videos detailing the Epley Maneuver. But, much to my dismay, it did not do the trick. The only thing that my DIY Epley Maneuver provided me with was a massive projectile vomit session. Too much information? Yeah, well, I apologize.

After yesterday's doctor-assisted manipulation, they sent me home sporting a neck brace with directions to stay vertical for 48 hours. They told me that I should sleep in a Lazy-Boy at a 45 degree angle. And that would have been just swell, providing I had a Lazy-Boy to lounge in. Instead, my kids constructed a make-shift variety in the guest bed (while laughing at my neck brace). But, to no avail, I am still spinning.

What would Julie do? She'd probably blog about it. And while blogging does allow me to keep my head is in the perfect position (neck long, chin out), I can assure you, it hasn't helped with the dizziness. So what would Julia do? I bet she'd throw caution to the wind, shed the neck brace and saute something in butter. Perhaps chopping a few onions will force my head into a position that will knock my insubordinate canaliths back into place, thereby releasing me from this endless pirouette.

I'm going to give it a try. What do I have to lose? Everything is better with butter. That's my new motto, thanks to Julia.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Careless Mistakes

We have a new catch phrase at our house: careless mistakes. I've been hearing it from both of my children, several times a week, since school started. "I would have gotten an A+ on my test, but I made a few careless mistakes." It just rolls off their tongues as if the mistakes are perfectly acceptable because they were careless in nature.

It doesn't sound like a term that either one of them would have come up with on their own, so I'm assuming they are quoting their teachers. I'm sure their teachers use the phrase as an incentive to do better on the next test, but my children use it as a defense. They plead not guilty by reason of careless mistakes. It's much easier to cop a plea than to admit that their efforts, or lack thereof, might have had something to do with their oversights.

When my son brought home his math test this week, the numbers circled in red did not indicate that he had a fundamental problem understanding the material, but rather that he was sloppy and absentminded. These careless mistakes are happening so often that I'm beginning to wonder if he and his teacher will soon abandon the term "careless mistakes" and replace it with "chronic mistakes".

My daughter has been after us for about, oh, I don't know, roughly 3 years to buy her a cell phone. When we were finally ready to succumb, my husband threw out a challenge: ace your math test and you'll get your precious phone sooner rather than later. A few days later she strutted through the door announcing, "Yeah, baby, somebody is getting a cell phone!" I was pleased as punch for her and told my husband that he better deliver the goods. So imagine my surprise when she brought the test home the next day and I saw that she received a 90, not a 100. "Um, hello? Acing a test means getting all the answers correct." Her response? "Pfff, come on, Mom, I did, these are just careless mistakes." Seriously?

Now granted, careless mistakes made on math tests should not have huge ramifications (yes, she still got the phone), but careless mistakes made by a bank teller, a construction worker, an airplane pilot or a neurosurgeon could have horrible repercussions and I don't want my children to lose sight of that fact. And add fertility doctor to that list: I read an article in yesterday's paper about a woman in Ohio who is carrying another couple's child after a fertility clinic implanted her with the wrong embryo. Now that was a careless mistake of monumental proportions.

I don't have a problem with my children making mistakes, but I am getting a bit fed up with their cavalier attitude toward their slip-ups. They act as if there is nothing they can do about careless mistakes; they simply come with the territory. And that might be true, after all, they are just kids. But at what age do careless mistakes become just plain old stupid mistakes?

Some people are paralyzed by the fear of making mistakes. I don't want my children to ever feel that way (although, surely there's a happy medium?). Oh, for the love of Pete, I am trying to do two things at about mistakes and make brownies for a friend and it seems I've made a careless mistake...I've added too much oil. Hmm. Looks like I will have to double the recipe and keep some brownies for the Reids. I hope my children learn from my careless mistakes. Or are my mistakes considered just plain old stupid mistakes because I am no longer a kid? No, I don't make stupid mistakes, only very, very clever ones. And I'm pretty sure that my kids will agree when I offer them a brownie this afternoon.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I'm Much Too Busy...

It was a week of lessons in civility brought to us by Wilson, Williams and West. Every newspaper I picked up, every website I visited, and every magazine I subscribed to was abuzz about our society's inability to be gracious and humble. It seems that we as a nation have forgotten how to keep our mouths shut and demonstrate self-control.

I grew up in a household of five girls where my mother would often tell us to "act like a lady, even if it hurts." Over the years, I've learned that biting your tongue figuratively can be a lot more painful than doing so literally. But lately it seems that what we as individuals have to say simply can no longer be contained. (Hence my blog.) When did we get so gosh darn important?

Which brings me to my rant. I'm not going to add my two cents to this week's civility lessons. Instead, I'm going to vociferate about a problem that I believe has added to this attitude of self-importance. This week, I'm going off on....busy people.

Every one of us is allotted the same 24 hour period, 7 days a week. Mother Teresa managed to minister to the poor, the sick, the orphaned and the dying during her 24 hours. Leonardo da Vinci made due with his 24 hours while dabbling in math, science, engineering, botany, anatomy, painting, sculpting, writing and playing name a few. Best I can tell, Franklin Roosevelt put together the New Deal in a string of 24 hour periods. And yet, a lot of people today cannot manage to get dinner on the table in the same 24 hour time span.

My problem is not in the fact that dinner isn't made, but rather that busy people feel the need to recite the litany of reasons why they don't have time to make dinner. They reel off the list of excuses as if I couldn't possibly understand because I'm not nearly as busy. Or perhaps even more offensive, they assume that I haven't made dinner either. Quite frankly, I don't have time for this behavior (I'm far too busy).

Busy people wear their busyness like a badge of honor. It's become a competition amongst busy people to prove that they are the busiest. "You think you're busy? Your child plays soccer, takes piano lessons and art lessons? Hah! Mine does all of those as well, and he's in a play at school AND he's got 2 brothers in activities as well!" You do the math...the person with the most kids in the most activities is the busiest person. And the busiest person wins.

I love how busy people act as if they aren't responsible for setting their busy schedules. One minute they are in complete control and the next..POW...their kids are put on several sports teams and are forced to take guitar lessons. So, I guess what we are to believe is that coaches are sneaking into the homes of busy people in the middle of the night and taking their children to travel soccer tryouts without the parents consent or knowledge. And to make matters worse, when the parents do find out, they can't say no. It's out of their hands and there is nothing they can do about it.

Don't get me wrong, I realize that there are plenty of truly busy people out there. I think the difference is that a productive person, one with a lot on his plate who manages to pull it off on a daily basis....doesn't obsess about it. And doesn't feel any more important as a result of having a hectic schedule. (Nor does he feel the need to share the boring details with others). And most importantly...a truly productive person doesn't fear free time.

I could go on and on and on, but I don't have the time...if I told you all that I have to accomplish between now and the time I have to be at the bus stop, your head would explode. I'm one busy lady. Move over Mother Teresa....

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Keep It In Perspective

We are right back in the thick of it: school, homework, soccer, forgetting our homework, field hockey, homework meltdowns, flag football, carpools and more homework. Like it or not...we are back in a routine and on several occasions, that routine has been known to set me over the edge. But after today, I've vowed to try to keep it all in perspective.

You won't hear me reading my son the riot act when he tells me he can't do his spelling because his book is in his desk at school. And far be it from me to lecture my daughter about her commitment to the field hockey team. If I spend the next 5 days in my car shuttling kids, that will be ok, because after a day like today, I am going to rejoice in every single ordinary, customary, familiar piece of my routine. Because having a routine signifies that every thing is normal and normal is good. Just ask my friend Amy.

Amy, who lives in Charlotte, spent the day in NYC at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center with her husband, Jeff, and her 5 year old son, Grier. When Grier was 2 1/2, he was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma; since then, their lives have been anything but normal. Today Grier underwent another surgery and I don't think I've stopped thinking about him for more than 5 minutes at a time. I spent most of the day checking for updates on Facebook and Grier's website. I don't know how Amy does it, but she does it and she's an inspiration to everybody who knows her. And so in honor of Amy, I've vowed to keep it all in perspective. (And, boy, do my kids owe her BIG time).

When I click on her website, I immediately hear Amy's voice and that crazy giggle of hers. And while I know it must be unbelievably hard for her to write about the things her family has been through, she always does it with humor and grace. And most importantly, she keeps it all in perspective. I remember one post back in the spring where she described the grueling round of scans that Grier undergoes every three months. She wrote that while Grier bears the physical part of the tests, she and her husband endure the emotional burden. But that's it, she doesn't go on to question why this is happening to her sweet son and the rest of her family. Instead, she convinces Grier that everybody goes through these tests...and he believes her and is comforted by her. And we almost believe her, too...but not really...but we are comforted by her. And when she recounts an incident where somebody asks Grier about his summer vacation plans and he doesn't miss a beat with, "we're going to NYC to live at the Ronald McDonald house!" we find ourselves laughing along with her. And we can't believe how well she manages to keep it all in perspective.

The last update I received this evening said that Grier was resting comfortably in the Pediatric Observation Unit. I hope Amy and Jeff are resting, as well. But if I know Amy, she's watching monitors and keeping tabs on nurses and IVs and medications and catheters....but undoubtedly keeping it all in perspective.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Honk If You're Always Right

While pulling into the farmer's market parking lot, I noticed a woman backing out of a space who was completely unaware of my presence. I stopped and waited for her to notice me, but to no avail, she continued to back up. When she got dangerously close to my car, I beeped my horn to let her know that I was there. Or maybe I laid on my horn, in moments of panic, I don't always recall the specifics.

But the horn got her attention and she stopped immediately. As she pulled beside me toward the road she mouthed the word "sorry". I nodded, acknowledging her apology and as I started to pull into the empty space, the off-duty police officer who mans the lot motioned me over.

I've been going to the farmer's market every Tuesday and Friday for years and this particular off-duty officer is always there controlling the traffic flow. He's tall and thin, wears dark sunglasses (even when it's cloudy) and shaves his head. He almost looks like Mr. Clean, but not quite. I think he'd be flattered by the comparison, but quite frankly, he isn't nearly as buff as the grimefighter. Still, he's probably more at home at the farmer's market than at Dunkin' Donuts and I get the feeling he likes this gig of his.

I've never had a full-fledged conversation with him, we've just exchanged pleasantries, but based on the way he looks and the way he carries himself, I've managed to sum him up quite nicely. I do that often, and yes, I know that you can't judge a book by it's cover or a person by their appearance, but that never stops me. I'm quite good at it and on the rare occasion when I'm wrong and misjudge an individual, I am overwhelmed with guilt (but then am quick to do it again).

So, I roll down my window and Mr. thinks-he-looks-like-mister Clean, puts his (not very) massive forearms on my door and leans into my window and says, "She didn't see you, you know." And I want to say, "Really? Hmm, you don't say?" But, I don't say that, instead I say, "I know she didn't see me, that's why I beeped my horn." And then the keeper of the lot says, "Well, I saw your expression, ma'am and you looked angry." And I want to say, "Not as angry as I would have been had she hit my car." But, I don't say that, instead I say, "I'm sorry if I appeared angry, I think I was more scared than angry." And why are you getting all Dr. Phil with me? Is it against the law to look angry or do you just want me to work through my emotions? (and no, I did not say that).

Seriously? Are we having a discussion about my body language and facial expressions? Does he think he can sum me up based on how I look? Cause I get that, really I do. And I get the whole knowing-what's-going-on-in-your head thing because I fancy myself a doctor of psychology, too. I guess the difference is that I don't go telling people to roll down their car windows so that I can tell them what I think and he does. (and maybe I'm a little envious of him, because I'd like to be able to do that). (I'm just saying.)

Deep breaths.

So now he's turned his entire body and he's leaning on just one arm and his head is a bit closer to mine as if he's going to let me in on a big secret. And then he proceeds to tell me that tempers often flare in this parking lot and he does his best to keep everybody calm. Really? Do fruits and vegetables make people crazy, I wonder? Or does he make people crazy? Because I was fine until he told me to roll down my window. "Ok, listen up Officer, get your overly flexed bicep off of my car door, let me park my car, buy my veggies and then you can continue to pretend that you are controlling both the traffic flow and the overall mood of the farmer's market." But I don't say that, instead I say, "And we so appreciate all that you do." (And if I had that sarcastic font I would have applied it to the previous sentence.) Then I looked straight ahead, put my car in drive and pulled into the space.

I wasn't angry when I arrived at the farmer's market, but clearly I was leaving feeling a smidge irate. But then I thought, I was soooo right about Mr. Clean; I knew he thought he was something special. And just knowing that I was right made me happy. And when I left the parking lot, I tooted my horn, but I made sure that it was a happy toot.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

On Being Red

During dinner last night my daughter mentioned that several boys on her bus have been giving her a hard time about her red hair. That particular morning one of them broke out into a chorus of "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire" while rubbing his hands together over her head. We all chuckled about it. And then I told her that they do it because they think she's cute; that's how middle school boys flirt with redheads. If she were blonde, they would tell her dumb blonde jokes, that's what 12 year old boys do. She was quick to silence me, "Stop it, Mom, they do NOT think that I'm cute, just stop." (She's far more bothered by me, than by them.)

She's actually ok with her red hair; in fact, she's always been ok it. Which is rather odd when you consider that she doesn't like attention of any sort. You would think she would prefer being a brunette so that she could blend in, but I don't think that's the case. Apparently only 1% to 2% of the human population has red hair, but I didn't realize how truly unique it was until I had a little redhead of my own.

I must come clean, while I think her hair is beautiful, there was a time, not so long ago, when I was not a fan of red hair. I knew a girl in college who had a wild, crazy, unruly mane of flaming red hair that was, well, in a word...tragic. Poor Grace, she didn't resemble Bozo, per se, but her hair was the same shade and it certainly had the same texture of the popular clown's wig. The phrase "better dead than red" was often muttered under my roommates' breath whenever poor Grace walked in the room. Today I'm eating those words ...

Since the beginning of time people with red hair have struggled with a bum rap, treated as a redheaded stepchild, if you will. They've been thought to be untrustworthy: Judas is most always depicted as a redhead. During the Spanish Inquisition, flame colored hair was evidence that its owner had stolen the fire of hell and as such redheads were burned as witches. Another common perception about redheads is that they have fiery tempers and sharp tongues.

My daughter's red hair came as a complete surprise to my brunette husband and I. But I think it was more of a surprise to my BFF. She was one of the college roommates who coined the phrase "better dead than red" and she was there in the delivery room when my daughter was born. I was in the throws of the delivery when my friend glanced down (as only a BFF could do) to check on my progress as the doctor announced that the baby's head was crowning. And as I watched the expression on her face, I knew something was terribly wrong. Did my baby have two heads? Was she missing an ear? I couldn't bear to hear it. But then my doctor, very matter-of-factly proclaimed, "Ahhh...we have a redhead!" I looked at my BFF and she winced as she patted my arm and whispered, "we can dye it."

So you see, when your own mother and godmother are dissing your hair color before you're even born - a little ribbing from the boys on the bus is simply small potatoes. Red hair is often associated with fair skin, and while my redhead has her fair share of freckles, I'd say her skin is pretty thick.

It didn't take us long to fall head over heals in love with her... and her gorgeous red hair.

Friday, August 28, 2009

One Woman's Perfume is Another Woman's Poison

So, I'm back. Once again.

I had one of the best summers on record and I am not nearly ready for it to end, but like it or's time. The kids are back at school, the days are getting shorter, and the fat lady has all but sung.

The last time I pondered new blogging topics, my husband lost his job. So this time around, I'm not looking for anything new. Hear that universe? Do not, I not send me anything new to blog about...I'm good. No news, is good news. While I am tired of blogging about unemployment and job searches, I am sure that I can come up with something else to rant and rave about without turning my world upside down, thank you very much.

For instance...

Today I returned to my favorite spin class. Having taken a sabbatical from cycling this spring and summer, I decided today was a good day to get my butt back on the bike. I've been in a funk since the kids returned to school and decided that spinning was just what the doctor ordered to get me back on track. Aside from giving a killer workout, the instructor is adorable; he plays great music, gets my heart pounding (not only because of the way he looks), motivates me, and manages to do it all while doing a stand-up comedy routine. I always leave in a good mood (which makes me wonder why I ever stopped going in the first place. Hmm.)

So...I get there 15 minutes early to stake out my bike only to find that somebody has taken "my" bike. Granted, it's been awhile since I attended class, but still, that was my bike for months. But much to my dismay, there's a towel on the handlebars and a water bottle on the seat and that's Y talk for "this bike is taken." But that's ok, I take a deep breath, find a new bike and get myself situated.

The room starts filling up with familiar faces and I'm pumped, ready for a good workout....and then I spot her. I've never seen her in a spin class before, but she takes other classes at the Y and always comes in late and NEVER SHUTS UP. Ever. So while the cute instructor blasts Black Eyed Peas and tells us to find a road, I hear the drone of Chatty Cathy's voice in the background. My blood pressure is rising and my heart beat is elevated...not because of the resistance on my bike, but rather the resistance to this woman. Deep breaths. Breath in through the nose, out through the mouth. I will not let her ruin this for me. This is my time. It's all about me.

And much to my surprise, I am able to keep it in check. I control my breathing and manage to block her out completely. My eyes are closed and I'm sweating like a pig and have obviously slipped into the zone because I never heard or saw the woman who climbed on the bike next to me. That is, until I smelled her. Holy. Good. God. I seriously almost fell off my bike.

And so now I think I have a topic worth blogging about: Do not, under any circumstances, wear a fragrance of any sort while working out in a group setting. One woman's perfume is another woman's poison.

As I gasped for air, my eyes popped open and my head shot to the left to see who (or what) was next to me. I will be honest with you, I am not a fan of perfume and it might be because I have an overly active sense of smell. I not only smell perfume, I taste it. And this particular scent was lodged in the back of my throat and burning the bejesus out of me. I felt like I couldn't take a deep breath without vomiting. Now keep in mind I am on an exercise bike gasping for air; the fact that I couldn't breathe even if I could breathe seemed beyond ironic to me.

I'm pretty sure she doused herself with Off before coming to class. My first thought was...I haven't been in the cycle room in a while, maybe they are having a problem with mosquitos and the joke is on me. Maybe my smelly neighbor is going to be fine at the end of 45 minutes, whereas I will be covered with mosquito bites because I didn't know to wear bug spray. (although if that was the case, I assure you, she was wearing enough to cover the both of us). I look around at the other spinners hoping to catch somebody's eye so I can mouth the words, "Hey, are you being fumigated by the insecticide too, or is it just me?" but everybody has their head down and seems unaware of the stench. So I do the same. I find myself trying to eavesdrop on Chatty Cathy's conversation in an attempt to get my mind off of the stench.

It's been five hours since the spin class ended and the smell is still lodged in my nasal passages. My husband wants to go out for sushi tonight, but I'm pretty sure all I'll taste is hardly seems worth it. On second thought, maybe the wasabi will sear my taste buds...I'm in.

Count me in for sushi and for more public service announcements....

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Go Speed Racer, Go!

Is this week, the one leading up to the 4th, considered Fourth of July Week? Or is next week - the week after the 4th? It's hard to tell with the 4th falling on a Saturday. Regardless, I don't know where June went and I feel like summer is starting to slip away...

We are staying put this holiday weekend. At least, the kids and I are staying put. My husband is taking his super-charged Batmobile to the track with his buddies for BMW driving school. That's racing to you and I, but he refers to it as "driving school". It's his passion and I do not begrudge a single minute of the joy he gets from changing brake pads and tires, souping up the M3 and taking his baby around the track at speeds that I simply cannot comprehend. I don't have the need for speed, but I totally respect his. But, let's call it what it is, shall we? It's racing.

So, a couple of times a year he heads up to VIR; this just happens to be one of those weekends. It's a shame it falls on the 4th, but that won't stop the kids and I from celebrating our nation's birthday without him.

I bet that the population in Charlotte goes from nearly 700,000 to about 350,000 this weekend. Ok, I may be exaggerating a bit, but in my 'hood, many neighbors have flown the coop. As much as I enjoy them (most of them), I do love when my fellow Charlotteans vacate the premises and head to the mountains and beaches (and VIR). I love having the grocery store to myself, I love driving down East Boulevard and being the only one in the left-hand turn lane, I love reading on my back porch and not hearing a sound (I think even the birds fly to the beach for the weekend), I love going for walks and bike rides and not passing a sole.

But, it's Thursday afternoon, two days before the 4th and it's not completely dead around here...which leads me to believe that next week is the official Fourth of July Week. Who knows? I just know that I'm looking forward to smaller crowds this weekend. And then when folks start returning to their homes (and to the grocery store and to the left-hand turn lane on East Blvd), I'll resent the hell out of them.

Happy Fourth of July!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

All That And a Bag of Chips...

Picture, if you will, a small bag of chips. The kind you get with a Subway sandwich when you upgrade to a meal deal. Got the picture? I'm pretty sure I can snarf down that bad boy in about 2 minutes. Tops. And that's a conservative estimate. Yet it takes me son roughly 25 minutes to eat the contents of the snack bag.

This afternoon he came home from a full day of tennis camp and swimming and inquired about the small bag of Doritos he saw in the pantry. I usually don't have that type of deliciousness on the shelves of my pantry (for the aforementioned reason in paragraph one). I told him he was welcome to it, as long as he sat down and told me about his day. As I listened to his camp stories, I became fixated on his approach to eating a a bag of tortilla chips.

First of all, only one chip leaves the bag at a time. Never, not once, did I see more than one chip in his hand. Each chip is nibbled at least 4 times, sometimes 5 or 6, before it completely disappears in his mouth. And, each bite requires at least 10 chews before the chip is actually swallowed. While the chip is slowly pecked at, he twists and turns it as if he is in search of the perfect bite; as if, somehow he is solving a puzzle. He keeps his eyes focused on the Dorito while his fingers and lips gradually turn a bright, neon shade of orange.

He never speaks with his mouth full (note to self: keep up the good work in the manners department), so when I asked him a question, if his mouth was "full" (and by full I mean with an 1/8th of a piece of a Dorito chip) he'd hold up his orange-stained pointer indicating that I needed to wait before he could elaborate. I'm telling you, I was tempted to rip the bag out of his hand and shove a handful in my mouth.

Enter my daughter. Who has an entirely different approach to snacking. She also had a full day: field hockey camp in the morning followed by an afternoon of swimming. As she breezed into the kitchen where her brother was torturing me with his monotonous, deliberate approach to eating Doritos, she informed me that she was starving. She had a scoop of peanut butter for breakfast, a smoothie for lunch and now, at 5:00 pm she was standing in front of the refrigerator in search of the perfect snack. She had a few teeth pulled yesterday to make room for braces and her mouth had been throbbing for most of the day. She needed something soft, yet satisfying, so she settled on a cup of strawberry banana yogurt.

She used to have good table manners (note to self: revisit the concept of social behavior with my daughter), but they seem to have fallen by the wayside as of late. She managed to inhale the entire cup of yogurt in 3 ginormous bites. Quite the contrast to her brother. Not only did I see it, I heard it. She blamed the grotesque noises on the expander in her mouth and the gaping bloody holes that once housed teeth. Regardless, nobody should have to hear yogurt being ingested, thank you very much.

Thus my snacking goal for my kids this summer: normal bites in a timely fashion. A lofty goal, indeed. But if they can achieve it by August, they'll be all that and a bag of chips...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Tragic Week

I was chatting on the phone with a friend this past Thursday, catching up on our summer plans as well as the celebrity news of the week when she warned, "There is going to be one more death before the week is over, my mother always said these things happen in threes..." After we hung up, I sat down in front of my computer and was bombarded with the news of Michael Jackson's cardiac arrest.

My friend was right; first Ed McMahon, then Farrah Fawcett and now Michael Jackson. And so, I will always hold my friend responsible for Michael Jackson's untimely demise. Always. She's lucky she wasn't alive in Salem during the 1600's; I would have had her burned at the stake.

A tragic week, to say the least. They will all be missed. My 9 year old son and I spent Friday afternoon watching Michael Jackson music videos on YouTube. He was a big fan of the King of Pop, but he didn't know Farrah Fawcett, so we googled some photos of the beauty in her heyday. He wasn't all that impressed and after looking at a few Google images, he requested some more Michael Jackson music videos. (Forgive me, Ed, we never got around to googling you.)

But the week in news would not be complete if I didn't touch on Mark Sanford. South Carolina is a 20 minute drive from my front door, so I thought it was just the local media going crazy with coverage of his disappearence and reappearance. But apparently the rest of the world was just as curious: Mr. Sanford's lover's name drew more Google searches than Michael Jackson or Farrah Fawcett. It's a bizarre story, perhaps more wacko than Jacko. Either the man is a complete and utter assclown, or he completely lost it. I think it's a combination of the two.

His wife, Jenny Sanford, is also getting a lot of press. Some feel that if she had been concentrating on what was going on at home, instead of what was going on at the office, none of this would have happened. I'm not even going to comment on that load of crap. As if her husband's infidelity, poor judgement, and outlandish behavior is the result of something she did or didn't do. Please. Others are applauding the fact that she did not stand by her man - not when he went missing and not during the press conference. A Charlotte Observer blogger wrote, "Jenny Sanford is going through a defining moment in her life and she has chosen to put herself and her kids first..."

Kind of.

Sure, it's nice to see a woman stand up for herself....but I'm not buying the bit about putting her family first. To me, the definition of putting your family first is staying out of the press altogether. Why is she even granting interviews? It's none of our business what is going on in the private life of the Sanfords. (That coming from an avid reader of People Magazine who loves reading gossip and trash.) Why is she telling the media how she found out about the affair? I cringed when I read her words, "He was told in no uncertain terms not to see her." Did he really need to be told not to see his mistress? And did she really need to share that with the world?

Ms. Sanford went on to say, "You would think that a father who didn't have contact with his children, if he wanted those children, he would toe the line a little bit." I agree 100%, but I would have thought that a mother who claims that she is putting her children first would toe the line a bit when it came to spilling her guts to the media. Spill your guts to your family and friends, but spilling it to the media cheapens everything. She's a smart woman and I believe her intent was to use the press to her advantage: she sounded loving and forgiving and reverent. Mark Sanford comes off looking like a horse's ass, but in so doing, I think Jenny Sanford does herself an injustice.

I get that she is mad as hell at her husband. She has every right to be. And I get that she wants to hurt him. I would want to rip his head off. But what I don't get is when the Observer reports, "For Jenny Sanford, the focus is the couple's four sons." I would think if the four sons were the focus, she'd spare them the heartache of reading about their parents' marital woes in the newspaper .

Jenny Standford doesn't owe anybody an explanation. I wish the media would leave her alone. She didn't ask for, nor does she deserve the public humiliation. She is quoted as saying that parenting is the most important job; if that's the case, I wish she'd spare the kids by staying out of the spotlight (even if the coverage makes her look like a media genius).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Now Accepting New Patients

There is a dentist office a few blocks from my house located above one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants. There is limited parking for the shops on the street and so this dentist has put up signs claiming a few of the spots for his patients and his patients only.

Every time I visit the restaurant (and I'm there more often than I'd like to admit) I think about walking up the stairs to the dentist office and inquiring about his lease. "Just out of curiousity, does your lease include those two prime parking spots in front of my favorite restaurant or is that just something you decided to do on your own?" I've also been tempted to park there and deal with the dentist and his drill if it ever came to a head. But the rule follower in me is not able to do so; I resent the signs, but a sign is a sign and so I obey. Needless to say, the dentist has left a bad taste in my mouth (no pun intended).

Yesterday I was driving by the office and noticed he's got a new sign on the road; a cheap, tacky, knee-high sign that reads, "Now Accepting New Patients". Rrrreally? So, if I had inquired about a teeth cleaning last month I would have been turned away and told that Dr. Parking Space Hog was not "accepting" new patients? Huh.

Granted, I am not in the market for a new dentist, I've been going to Dr. Sowell since 1987 and have no intention of leaving him for a hoarder of parking spots. And just for the record, I'm the kind of patient dentists would love to get their hands on as explained in an earlier blog. But if I were shopping around for let's say, I don't know, a new set of dentures, I would be the one doing the choosing, not the dentist. It would be me accepting a new dentist and not the other way around. I believe this dentist has his dental practice on East Blvd confused with a plastic surgeon's office on Rodeo Drive.

I realize that times are tough and people are probably foregoing their 6 month cleanings and this guy is doing his best to drum up some business. I just think "Accepting New Patients" is a bit much. For a dentist. On East Blvd. In Charlotte. I have nothing against fact, I am desperately trying to cut back on expenses, too, but I would rather have my right hand cut off before missing a teeth cleaning. I love getting my teeth cleaned. If I ever win the lottery - and I realize that you have to play the lottery to win - something I do not do - but if I ever win, I'm going to hire a personal chef, a personal trainer and a personal dental hygienist (if they'll accept me.) So, believe me, I'm doing my part to support dentists.

I stopped at the coffee shop a few businesses down from the dentist office yesterday because I received a coupon in the mail. Clearly the coffee shop owner needs to talk to the dentist about how best to acquire new customers. Coupons = good. Accepting New Patient Signs = bad. Seriously, how would it look if the coffee shop had a sign outside their door that read, "Accepting New Coffee Drinkers."

Like I said, I am not looking for a new dentist. Lately my dentist has been practicing yoga with me at the Y. We've done sun salutations together, so even if I wasn't happy with his work - which I am - there's no leaving him now. Namaste. But if I were in the market, that bit about accepting new patients would not persuade me to inquire within. The only thing that might get me to visit that office is if the dentist gives up the prime parking spots.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

If It's Free, It's For Me...

It's been awhile since last I posted!

My family and I just returned from the Isle of Palms where we had the time of our lives. Some friends offered us their family beach house (after reading my staycation blog...the one that mentioned we would not heading to the beach this summer.) We were reluctant to accept such a kind offer, but man, were we glad that we did!

The accommodations were fabulous. The home has been in their family since the 1950's and it's loaded with family pictures and knick knacks and every time I came back from the beach, I felt like I was stepping into a novel. There is a lot of love in that house and we were thrilled to be a part of it. Mother Nature fully cooperated by giving us glorious weather and the icing on the cake was that a very good friend of ours and her family were vacationing on the island as well.

But now we are home and back to reality...

The first week that my kids were out of school, my husband was consulting in the Ukraine. The second week we were at the beach. So, this is the first week that all four Reids are home in Charlotte under the same roof. And just as it took some getting used to having my husband around when he was laid off in November, it's going to take some adjusting to having the kids around while he's trying to get some work done this summer.

I'm thinking if this gig continues, he's going to have to find an alternative to our 2nd floor office. Yesterday I had to time my vacuuming around his call to somebody named Vladmir in the Ukraine; not a problem as I'm happy to put away the vacuum and blame the dust bunnies on him. No, the problem is not in avoiding housework, but rather constantly having to shoosh the kids when he is on the phone with suppliers in Europe. I'm afraid, "Kids, quiet! Dad is on the phone" is going to be this summer's catch-phrase.

When he finally emerged from the office yesterday, I mentioned my concerns. Now, my husband is a very easy going guy, but when he replied, "I don't mind the noise, just as long as they don't fight" I looked at him to see if he was joking. He was not. Um, hello?

He'd barely gotten the words out when I heard the kids screaming and yelling followed by the sound of 4 feet thundering down the steps from the third floor. As long as they don't fight, you say? Chances are pretty good that there are going to be a couple of fights. And I'm not talking about a couple of fights throughout the summer, I'm talking about a couple of fights each day. Don't get me wrong, my kids get along rather well, and for the most part they enjoy each other's company. But, like most siblings, they have their moments and those moments are often LOUD.

I mentioned to my BFF that I need to find some free office space on East Blvd (East Blvd is two blocks from my house; I'm envisioning a walking commute). I realize that I've taken the whole "if it's free, it's for me" thing a bit too far, but surely there are some empty offices that he could keep warm until the economy picks back up? He has a laptop and an iPhone, so no need for electricity or a phone line (although an overhead light might be nice) (but a big window would do in a pinch). He doesn't need much space, but he does require a door because when HE CALLS THE UKRAINE HE SPEAKS VERY LOUDLY. In exchange for the free office space, I'll provide freshly baked muffins in the morning and delicious snacks in the afternoon. Surely that's an offer some desperate landlord can't refuse, no? I will add that he's a very likable guy and would be an asset to any office.

My friend very kindly responded with an offer to use her house as office space. She's got a beautiful office (that overlooks a pool) and said that he is welcome TO TALK ON THE PHONE AS LOUDLY AS HE WANTS as nobody is home during the day. She pointed out that her courtyard is a lovely place to work and added that she would make room in her fridge and pantry for snack storage. Now, that's what I'm talking about....

If he doesn't take her up on her kind offer...I just might.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Chosen One

So the Idol hysteria has just about died down. I've heard from many of you that Adam was robbed and that Kris is too white bread, middle America and not very talented.

It happens every year; the loser's partisans generate stormy protests about alleged voting improprieties that cost their star, the runner-up, the Idol crown. I love a good conspiracy theory and they seem to run rampant after each and every Idol season.

I didn't vote, so I was in no way responsible for the victory. But, yes, I am pleased that Kris won the trophy, pleased because I prefer his style of music over Adam's. I would choose acoustic guitar over screaming rock n' roll any day of the week. With that said, I have no doubt that if I were to party with Kris and Adam, I would have a lot more fun with Adam. And, something tells me that my political and religious views are more in line with Adam's than with Kris's. I may have vanilla taste in music, but my thoughts on politics and religion are more Cherry Garcia.

But the bottom line is...there can be only one American Idol. Adam was a truly gracious runner-up who, I'm sure, will go on to be very successful and prove that you don't have to win the title to be a worldwide star. America did not chose him this year, but he is certainly not a loser.

Yesterday my son came home from school with the year's final monthly newsletter. I glanced over the paragraph about dress code revisions and the one about summer math review suggestions (that will never happen) and stopped at the new guest policy for next year. Many parents enjoy going to school to have lunch with their child. When they do, they sit at a table reserved for visitors and their child gets to invite a friend or two to join them. (Personally, I'd prefer to sit at the table with all the kids, but that's not how it's done.)

Well, according to the newsletter, teachers have noticed that some children feel excluded and left out when they are not chosen to accompany the parent and child. And then the teacher has to deal with hurt feelings. So, beginning next year, when parents come for lunch, the school asks that they enjoy that time with their child and their child alone - no friends - and more importantly, no hurt feelings.

Rrrreally? Really? Necessary?

God forbid the kids learn the lesson that they will not always be included. It's easier to simply eliminate any circumstance where feelings might be hurt. I wonder if they still pick teams for kick ball these days? Probably not, being chosen last could send a kid into therapy for years. I'm not saying it's easy, I'm just saying eventually kids are going to have to learn that life isn't always fair and sometimes it sucks and are not chosen. Dealing with those feelings is a part of growing up. Heck, it's a part of being a grown up, as well.

I read it again: "The teacher has to deal with the hurt feelings." What is that about? Apparently explaining to the children that they will not always be chosen is not an option? It's not as if the child "left out" is put in a closet and told to eat alone; they remain at the table with 20 classmates, for crying out loud! How much could that hurt?

Something tells me that Adam had his feelings hurt a time or two when he was a kid. And I bet you anything those experiences helped him become such a gracious runner-up. I'm all about sparing feelings, but not at the expense of raising a generation of sore losers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

There Can Be Only One American Idol

What's the moral of the story? America likes their Idols to be humble. He may not be the most articulate fellar, but he is adorable and he is cool and he can sing. And man, oh man, is he humble. America cast 100 million votes and something tells me it wasn't even close (or Ryan surely would have mentioned it). Despite what the judges wanted us to believe, Kris has been a favorite for quite some time. Hats off to Kris...I think he is very worthy of the prize.

It took 2 hours to get through the final...I'll try to do it in a matter of minutes....

As usual, it was too long and drawn out and then too rushed at the end. God forbid we should get to see the winner bask in his glory. (although I did love that hug between Kris and his wife as the show faded to black...)

Ryan starts us off with the judges roast where we are reminded that Randy constantly abuses the English language, Kara is anything but a sweetie, Paula honestly believes that she has a firm grasp of the English language, and Simon doesn't really have a flaw, so the producers come up with a lame-o bit about him being hard of hearing.

First Group Sing of the Night: Pink's So What. It sounds like the Kidz Bop version. Huge cheese factor as we get reacquainted with the Top 13, some of which have no business being on that stage.

Then last year's humble Idol takes the stage singing Permanent. He's dressed like a train conductor and gets a little verklempt singing the song. But he sounds great and he looks great and I'm wondering if he's still dating Kimberly Caldwell? Please, God, no.

Next it's time to give out the awards for the crazies. Outstanding male goes to Nick/Norman and I have to admit, it was kind of funny. Just kind of. The bit could have been shorter, but I did chuckle when the camera panned to Ryan wearing Norman's glasses and headband.

Duet time. First up, Lil Rounds and Queen Latifah singing Cue the Rain. I don't like the song; they are totally out of sync. In fact, they are singing together, but separate. At the end of the song, they don't smile at one another or hug one another or even acknowledge each other's presence. Big egos (and lots of big booty) up there on that stage.

Back from a commercial break we find Alexis Grace and Anoop singing I'm Yours by Jason Mraz. Alexis is very much at home up there on that stage, it's a shame she won't be touring this summer. Enter a shoeless Jason Mraz wearing his peace shirt and epitomizing what it is to be cool.

Buckle up, we're going on a Kris journey to Humble, Arkansas. I like Kris a lot better when he's singing and not talking. He and Keith Urban team up to sing a song about kissing a girl. They sound great together. Kris looks like a natural.

It's time for all the girls to parade out in their Glamorous attire. This song is so 5 minutes ago and I must say, the girls look like a bunch of whores. Enter Fergie, the original butter face (as in: everything looks good....but her face). I am relieved to see that she is joined by the rest of the Black Eyed Peas to sing Boom Boom Pow. During the performance Fergie is replaced by a still Idol logo image - what is Fergie up to? One can only imagine....

More awards for the crazies...Best Attitude goes to Bikini Girl and as she parades across the stage I am pretty sure that she had some augmentation. Loved Ryan's quip, "I was going to ask you what's new...but I think I know." And as much as I despise Kara, I have to give her her props for singing and flashing! She sounded great and has a smokin' hot bod. But I still think she is an awful judge and should get voted off the island...

Next duet is performed by Allison and Cyndi Lauper. They could be mother and daughter and both are singing as if they have marbles in their mouths.

Time to visit the Allen and Lambert camps: Kris' mother could have used some help in the dress department tonight. And, as usual, his father is beaming. And where, pray tell, is his wife? I don't think we've ever heard her speak once the whole season? She was sitting next to them earlier, but seems to have disappeared. Hmm. Adam's parents don't especially like the spotlight (maybe because Adam has always stolen it from them?).

Ok, now I'm starting to get rrrreally bored. And to make matters worse, Danny is singing with Nicole Ritchie's father. Zzzzzz.....

Wake up, it's time to go on Adam's journey. Yes, we know you've been performing since you were 10, Adam. Yes, in the theatre. Uh-huh. He's singing Rock N Roll All Night with Kiss and I think he's finally met his match with the screaming and the pointy tongue thing (not to mention the platform boots).

And they're losing me again with Carlos Santana's Black Magic Woman. Followed by the Steve Martin song with Meaghan and Michael (worst performance of the night.) Then Rod Stewart comes on stage looking old and feeble and a little like Mr. Weasley (Ron's dad) from Harry Potter. He sounds exhausted, but apparently he feels up to touring this summer. Necessary, Rod? I think not.

Now, you knew that if Norman got his two minutes, Tatiana would get hers, too. Her little act is silly and very played.

Is it not time to crown the winner? My clock says 9:55, but no, uh-uh, not up the boys are going to sing We Are the Champions with Queen. (Hey! Kris' wife is back in the audience next to her in-laws - she was so avoiding Ryan).

Ok, it's finally time...Ryan asks Simon for some parting words. Since he's the only judge who can actually speak English and form a coherent sentence he tells Adam and Kris that they are both brilliant, both unusually nice guys and that the future is all theirs.

And then....Ryan crowns the winner. Kris looks shocked! Kris receives the very first Idol trophy and immediately says that Adam deserves it. Humble until the bitter end. He's not very well-spoken, ok, that's putting it mildly, but he's super adorable and I'm all smiles until....Ryan announces that Kris will be singing No Boundaries. For the love of that absolutely necessary?

So, I'm turning off my TV for the season.....


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Who Gets Your Vote?

Tonight the stage is bigger, the audience is bigger and the stakes are bigger. Each contestant sings three songs to a theatre filled with stars, celebrities and old Idol wannabees.

The first song is the contestant's choice; their favorite song of the season...

Dim all the lights...a thick fog rolls over the stage while a menacing dark figure in a long coat appears on the top of the staircase. Enter Adam Lambert looking very much like a vampire. He's in his element. I'm not sure why the judges have labelled him a rocker, clearly he is all about grand entrances and Broadway productions. You can take the boy out of the theater, but you can't take the theater out of the boy. What I do like about this performance, and yes, it truly is a performance, is that there is no screaming. He's got his serious face on and he sounds phenomenal.
  • Randy says something positive, but I am having a hard time taking him seriously (what with his dueling plaids and polka dots) and so I don't really know what he says...
  • Kara is all fired up; she's shouting as she delivers her lines like a well rehearsed speech. Can't tell if she's more thrilled with Adam or herself.
  • Paula is a shimmering shade of orange this evening and may have hit the bottle just a smidge before taking the judge's chair.
  • Simon loved the performance but thinks it was a bit too Phantom of the Opera. Perhaps Adam can star as Edward in Twilight: The Musical?
Kris' favorite song is Ain't No Sunshine (in keeping with the vampire theme) and it is brilliant. Looking all cool behind that piano of his, he's current and happening and is the most comfortable I've seen him.
  • The Dog says it's his best performance ever.
  • Kara is screaming something about, "if you don't feel a Kris Allen performance, there is something wrong with you." There is something very wrong with her.
  • Paula Worst spray-on tan ever.
  • Simon admits he was wrong last week when he thought America made the wrong choice with Kris. He's taking it all back and round one goes to Kris.
Simon Fuller choses the next two songs. For Adam, it's Change is Gonna Come. He's got his theater eyes on and he's looking all serious, almost like he's snarling. But he's not snarling, he's screaming. For the life of me, I don't know why the judges never call him on his screaming shenanigans. He ends the performance with jazz hands and angry eyes last parting scream.
  • Randy (seriously, who put that outfit together?) says he can sing his face off.
  • Kara thinks its his best performance and his best interpretation AND she's still screaming. Everybody needs to relax and stop screaming, for crying out loud.
  • Paula is on her feet, professing her love for Adam
  • Simon says that he's 100% back in the game
The judges are doing their job: trying to make this an even match by creating drama where there really isn't any drama. And just before I hit the ff button, I think I spot Katie Holmes in the audience.

Simon Fuller's choice for Kris is What's Going On. It's a very Kris-like performance; laid back and mellow. He's playing his guitar and his crooked smile is out in full force as is his ultra-cool style. No orchestra, no big band, just Kris and a few other guys...
  • Randy thinks it's a little light for him...
  • Kara says he's true to himself and she's still yelling!
  • Paula thinks he tore the song up and made Marvin Gaye proud.
  • Simon thinks Kris didn't grab hold of it and declares Adam the winner of round 2.
And now it's time for No Boundaries, the single co-written by Kara for the contestants. It's an opportunity to showcase Kara's song writing abilities and as far as I'm concerned, she falls flat on her face. The song is horrible. I hope the winner doesn't have to re-sing it tomorrow night.

Adam attempts the little ditty first. Man, is he sporting a lot of rings on those fingers. The crowd is eating him up.
  • But for was just awright, dog.
  • Kara is moved and proud that Adam is singing her song. Like he had a choice? She must be moved, because she is speaking much softer.
  • Paula proclaims that she is a fan.
  • Simon starts by saying that he's not going to judge the song (because it sucked), but he is going to judge the person and then goes on to say that Adam is the best, most original contestant ever and he believes that they have found a worldwide star.
Now it's Kris' turn to attempt No Boundaries. He does so without the screaming and with much less drama and fanfare, but he doesn't look comfortable singing it. Maybe because it is an awful song. Maybe because it's not in his range. It certainly isn't his best performance, but I like his rendition better than Adam's.
  • Randy says Kris is an amazing competitor and this song fit Kris' voice better than Adam's.
  • Kara says she hopes that America will vote on the season and not this song. I hope the producers will vote her off the island based on the season and this song.
  • Paula says that Kris deserves to be up there on that stage, but falls short of endorsing him for the title.
  • Simon thinks Kris' first song was the highlight of the night, but agrees that he thoroughly deserves to be on that stage.
Carry Underwood sings us out and now it's time for America to decide the fate of Kris and Adam. I think Adam had a better night, but I still want Kris to win...and I think he might....