Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bad News and Good News

For years now I've been avoiding the real news. I am very up to date on who is doing what in Hollywood, but ask me about what they're exactly fighting over in Syria and I'd mutter something about the Arab Spring and then I'd be out. I'm not proud of this, but I feel like the news is so depressingly bad and there is nothing that I can do to alter the outcome of any of the many problems facing the world that I'd just rather totally stick my head in the sand like an ostrich.

Over the last few days I've made the mistake of listening to the news on the radio while making dinner and driving to soccer practice, which just reinforced the validity of my self-imposed media blackout. After hearing news of the sequester, rising global temperature making living in Atlanta impossible in 100 years, and the European fiscal crisis, I'm ready to advocate for putting anti-depressants in our water supply. Apparently, though, lithium water is already a thing and it's giving fish autism

Monday, February 25, 2013

Don't Die on That Hill

One of the pieces of advice that parenting experts always dispense is to "pick your battles" with your children. It is interesting to note that this guidance has also been given to the architects of American foreign policy. However, in parenting and foreign policy this help is mostly theoretical, because more often than not, the other party will pick the battles for you. My children have had meltdowns over things that I couldn't even imagine being issues. For example, the Baby recently insisted that the brownie she ate after dinner didn't qualify as dessert, and that she should be able to have ice cream. She was very convincing in her screaming explanation that she was not asking for two desserts, the brownie just was not a dessert. Really, it was an issue of semantics, according to her. I held my ground, and decided that allowing her even a smidgen of ice cream would be interpreted as a tacit concession that maybe brownies aren't dessert. Then it's just a slippery slope to eating pudding for breakfast.

Sometimes, though it isn't so easy to decide when to let things go and when to make an issue of something. Over the last nine years, I have identified several areas that you should just let your kids win. It's just not worth the aggravation and you can save your energy for bigger battles like brushing teeth or hitchhiking across country.

1. Clothes (the early years)- When kids are little, some will happily go along with whatever a parent chooses for them to wear. Others will have quirky requirements for their attire, i.e., no stripes ("what am I, a zebra?"), only orange shirts, no dresses, only dresses, no shirt collars, or only short sleeves. But, when it comes down to it, what is important is that they don't freeze to death in the winter or overheat in the summer. Any outfits that meet those criteria are pretty much acceptable. If you are type-A, like me, this will drive you slightly insane because there is a closet and dresser full of cute, appropriate clothing being ignored while your kid traipses around in a bag-lady clown suit, but it is simply not worth the fight. That is why this happened:

And this:

Friday, February 22, 2013

Funny Friday

In celebration of the Academy Awards, which is often called "women's version of the Superbowl" by men who must find football extremely tedious, Funny Friday will feature some entertainment-industry humor. Experience has taught me that you should skip the entire Oscar broadcast because it is so long and insufferable. Inevitably, you will fall asleep and only know that Best Supporting Actor is Christoph Waltz or whomever. If you want to know who looked good and who Joan Rivers will be lambasting on Fashion Police, consult People Magazine on-line during the red carpet. As a bonus, you can preview what dresses will be shortened and tarted-up for prom this year. The actual Oscar winners? The next day you can read the list of winners, promptly forget all but Best Picture, and watch a five-minute recap from your favorite morning news show and you are done. You now have enough time to catch up on the last season of "Homeland" that's been sitting on your DVR for three months.

Who knew that statues even had hair?
Television Actors of a Bygone Era

Ever hear of Kevin Brophy, star of the 1977 television series "Lucan" in which he played the title character who was raised by wolves? No? How about Peter Barton who played Dr. Scott Grainger on "The Young and the Restless" for six years? No, me neither. Well, lucky for Brophy and Barton, Ray Fulk, a 71-year old Illinois man not only remembered them, he made them the main beneficiaries in his will. Fulk died last year, leaving an estate of up to $1 million to the two actors, who actually knew each other because they appeared together in the 1981 movie "Hell Night." 

If I became a recluse and disinherited my family, I would have to leave my estate (currently valued at up to $387.45) to my favorite obscure television stars, Robbie Rist and Lara Jill Miller. You probably know Rist best from his work as Cousin Oliver on "The Brady Bunch," while Miller played Samantha Kanisky on the 1980s series "Gimme a Break," with Nell Carter. Currently, the two do animation voice work and both appear on the Baby's favorite show, "Doc McStuffins" in which Rist voices a dragon named Stuffy and Miller voices Lambie, Doc's chupacabra. Oh wait, no. Lambie is a lamb. 

Isn't that the cutest farm animal slaughtering, blood-draining cryptid you've ever seen?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ho Hey

The other day I was sitting in the carpool line when this song came on the radio:

I thought it was beautiful and a little bit heartbreaking. I mean, of course songs about unrequited love are a little bit heartbreaking, unless the person singing is stalking the love-interest, in which case that's just creepy/retraining order time. But the thing that was heartbreaking to me was it made me realize that I am now past an age when this kind of love song is relatable to me in any way. Then I thought, "I like this song now, but 15 or 20 years ago, I would have loved it," and I realized why people have mid-life crises.

An odd thought, I know. In my defense, I was slightly insane from having tackled Disney and then spent an additional three days with the children. I was also probably thinking about a weird thing that happened over the weekend.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fun for All Ages

When we were waiting to ride Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin at Disney World, I was surprised to see that the people behind us in line were a couple who appeared to be in their late sixties. They didn't have any children or grandchildren with them. It was just the two of them waiting in line to vanquish space villains. The description of the ride is, "Evil Emperor Zurg is stealing batteries from helpless toys to power a new weapon of destruction. As a Junior Space Ranger, it's up to you to maneuver an XP-37 star cruiser through the neon-lit Gamma Quadrant and fire lasers from an on board cannon to stop him and score points." Nothing in the description is meant to appeal to people over age ten. But, yet there were grandma and grandpa doing finger stretches so they'd be ready for an alien take down.

Aaaaah! The Lights!
So, I decided to write a blog post about adults who play children's games and I was going to let loose with some sarcastic, smart-ass comments about old people waiting in a twenty minute line with a bunch of families to play a game targeted at preschool and elementary school aged kids. But, in my first Google images search for "old people playing games" I saw this picture:

Wii players in a nursing home. 
and my heart grew three sizes. Then I thought that maybe I could stop being judgmental and critical for a minute and figure out if this is really something to disparage, or just something that I might not "get," but that is fundamentally fine and makes people happy. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Disney - Day 5

Because of the Disney saga, Funny Friday will not be seen today. I know you all will understand my need to finish up with this last Disney day so that I won't be writing about this trip until March. Look for Funny Friday to resume next week. 

Wednesday was our last day at Disney and we headed over to Disney Hollywood Studios. My initial impression of Hollywood Studios was that the security and ticket lines were the worst of any of the parks that we visited. Also, it was the only park that I had never been to, so I wasn't familiar with the layout, which hampered navigation. Admittedly, I have a terrible sense of direction, but the layout of the park is kind of strange. I'm sure it's strategic to make you walk in circles so that you'll get hungry and need to buy a $9.00 bag of popcorn, but I just got cranky.

The center of the park is this big Mickey Sorcerer's Apprentice Hat that doubles as a stage and there was some kind of show going on that was like the Fresh Beat Band, only that's Nickelodeon, so it was some Disney version of that deal. Is High School Musical Disney? It was like that...or what I imagine that to be like. Lots of jazz hands. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Disney - Day 4...and a Dilemma

Monday night, Sister called me with some big news: President Obama was going to be visiting our little town of Decatur on Thursday and she thought that she might be able to get the whole family into the event to see him. So, exciting! Of course, the problem with was that we were in Florida, 300 miles from Decatur and not scheduled to come home until Thursday, after Obama would be back in D.C., celebrating Valentine's Day with Michelle. We also had basically one thing scheduled the whole week, and that was dinner and a show on Wednesday night and I really didn't want to cancel those plans. So, we would have to drive back to Decatur after the show in order to do both things. We would be driving from about 9 pm until 4 am. I told Sister that we'd sleep on it and let her know in the morning.

Tuesday morning, we let the kids vote on whether they wanted to leave early, or stay at Disney. The Baby and the Boy were against going to see POTUS right off the bat. The Girl was more interested in returning, but the K had decided that he was going to have to be the one to drive all night and used his lawyer skills on the Girl to talk her into voting with the other kids. I texted Sister to deliver the bad news that we couldn't make it (I am in blue and Robert is the less-cool name of the K):

I felt sad to be missing seeing Obama, but we'd already seen Honey Boo Boo, which is essentially not at all the same.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Disney - Day 3

Still exhausted from the prior day's activities, we dragged ourselves out of bed and made it to the park a tad before 10, which was not part of my plan. What was part of my plan was to go to Buzz Lightyear, which is in Tomorrowland, but we missed doing on Day 2. The line was about 20 minutes and it was worth waiting for. The kids really liked it and I liked that it wasn't the same kind of sit in a boat or shell or honeypot and watch a reenactment of a Disney movie. This time you sit in a rocket, but you shoot at alien targets and score points. So, it's slightly more interactive. The girls and I got in one rocket and the K and the Boy got in the other.

To infinity and beyond!

Then it was on to Frontierland and, most importantly, Fast Passes for Big Thunder Mountain. With the passes in hand, we made our way over to lunch at Pecos Bill's which was fine, but for the cowbell playing waitstaff. The K is not a fan of random noisiness in general, and cowbells in particular because he went to Ole Miss. For those of you who are not up on your Mississippi in-state rivalries, Mississippi State fans ring cowbells during football games much to the chagrin of Ole Miss fans.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Disney - Day 2

Because I'm more type-A that I like to admit, I did some Disney research so that I would have a clue of what to do when we got to the Park. And by "research" I mean that I asked other people, read Mousesavers, and read Dixie Delight's posts on her family's Disney trips. I may actually be a type-A minus. You all need to go and look at Amanda at DD's posts on their trips because, frankly, I want her to be the mom and plan my trips. Her boys look totally adorable in their matching Disney-wear, although I wonder if they won't rebel on her sometime soon. I thought Amanda was the only person who thematically dressed her kids for Disney, but now that I've been here I can tell you that matching Disney attire is a thing. Also, matching clothes, generally. For example, Louisiana schools have off for Mardi Gras, so the Bayou State has reassembled at Disney. I can tell this because they are all wearing Mardi Gras clothes, Saints gear, and LSU shirts. It's like a flashmob, only I don't think any of them actually communicated the plan to each other. They just know, like it's the way of the bayou or something.

Our first real day at the Park was Sunday and we planned to hit Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. We arrived at the park around 10:30, caught the show in front of Cinderella's castle, at which point the Boy wanted to go home because, well, not much to like in singing and dancing princesses for a straight seven-year-old boy. But, we convinced him that it wouldn't all be so lame. I was a little hazy on how Fast Passes work, but I got it in my head that we should get some because avoiding standing in line sounds good to me. I made the K go pull some Fast Passes for the Winnie the Pooh ride that had a crazy long line. He got them and the machine spit out some bonus passes for Dumbo. Score! I thought we could go get some other Fast Passes, but apparently you can get Fast Passes every two hours, so we had to wait to get any more.

Something I read suggested eating at off-times, so at 10:45 we got in line at Be Our Guest Restaurant. This, as you might be able to tell from the name, is all Beauty and the Beast and the restaurant is tricked out to look like Beast's castle, complete with "stone" work gargoyles and other carvings:

I thought this face looked oddly like George W. Bush.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Disney - Day 1

As some of you all know, the whole OWTL family has decamped to Orlando for our first family Disney experience. I went to Disney once when I was a little kid and once as a teenager. The K's family went a couple of times. Their family was kinda fancy and stayed at the Disney Contemporary Resort, which looks suspiciously like the Watergate Hotel.

The Watergate Hotel

The Disney Contemporary Resort -  but that easily could be the Potomac.
My family stayed at some hotel so far away that we had to rise at dawn to make it to Disney. I was about 11 and as the alarm sounded at o'dark 30, I moaned, "there's something wrong about getting up early to have fun." I was wise beyond my years. Surely my parents must have done some research before we went, but I know the lines were ghastly and Dad's strategy was that we would go to what ever attractions had the shortest lines. So, I think we went to the Swiss Family Tree House eight times.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Funny Friday

I can't believe it's Friday already. I know it's a clichĂ©, but this week has flown by for me. I spent the better part of Monday half-blind after getting my eyes dilated at the opthamologist (okay then, spellcheck how do you spell opthamologist because these guys agree with me.) Try not to get too bored with my eye dilation story, but my eyes dilate really easily, so last year when I went to the eye doctor my eyes were supposed to stay dilated for 3 hours. Well, 24 hours later I was still all wonky-eyed and looked like I was on some kind of amphetamine bender. This time I begged the nurse to only put one drop in each eye. I got 1/2 drop in my right eye and 1 drop in my left and my left eye was still dilated for eight hours. So, just in case you saw me that day, that is why I was wearing sunglasses at Publix. I'm not trying to be like Jack Nicholson:

Sunglasses at night and inside.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

First Sentences

It was a cranky morning at the OWTL house today. For some reason the Girl, who is usually the sunniest of the children, woke up on the wrong side of the bed (which, if taken literally would be difficult as her bed is against the wall). When I presented her breakfast of toast and juice, she sat at the kitchen counter and proceeded to lick the toast. "I'm done!" she announced.

I tried to look unimpressed. "I think you might want to eat a little bit more than that." She shrugged and proceeded to stick her tongue through the center of her toast and sat there with the toast hanging off of her tongue for a good ten seconds before I said, "If you are going to be gross with your food and cranky, then you can leave the table."

"Fine by me!" She tore the toast off her tongue, slammed it on her plate and sat under the kitchen counter to finish her breakfast.

Sigh. They grow up so fast, don't they? Whenever I envy the children's youth and innocence, I am immediately reminded of the fact that I never have to do all that adolescence and teenager and twenties stuff again. Especially with all the stuff that people have to deal with today that I didn't have to worry about during the majority of my majority warming, college costing a bazillion dollars a year and then no jobs, the Internet, texting, social networking, the end of courtship, and men in skinny jeans.

Hate is a strong word. Perhaps pity is better.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ain't No Party

Let me tell you something about parties and me. Nothing in the execution of a party causes me more angst than the guest list. This is because I hate for anyone to feel excluded. This overblown empathy has been with me since I was a child. When I was in first grade my teacher made me get up in front of both first grade classes during morning meeting and tell everyone about my 6th birthday party. I had had a Halloween party since that's sort of a no-brainer if you're born on the holiday, but I'd only been allowed to invite 12 friends. So, when I stood in front of the 50 first graders, close to 90% of the kids had not been invited to my party. Never mind that I didn't really like that many of the kids and that the feeling was probably mutual. I thought they'd all be crushed to hear about how they missed it when we played pin the face on the pumpkin. So, I did what all overly self-conscience children do when they're put on the spot: I cried. I cried a lot in school, and I could see through my tears that Mrs. Beck was shaking her head and writing something in her notebook. A couple months later I received a "needs improvement" in self-control on my report card. This, not my SAT scores, prevented me from getting into Princeton. I am sure of that.

This was the least-dignified Princeton picture I could find.
I searched for Rutgers University pictures and came up with three dozen right off the bat that make the ice skating tiger look like the Queen of England. This, for example:

As always, I have digressed from my original point, which is that I am posting about a party and I'm sorry if you weren't invited even if you don't live near me and wouldn't have come anyway.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

War, Sports, and Childbirth

On occasion I catch snippets of sporting events while walking past the television en route to the laundry room or doing some similar domestic task. It seems like whenever I do tune in, I'll end up doing an eye roll because of the insane overuse of military terms by players and commentators when talking about the actions on the field. Trust me, tune into the Superbowl and you won't have long to wait before you hear someone talking about one team "battling back" or referring to players as "warriors."  Back during the playoffs, Robert Griffin III, the Redskins quarterback continued to play on an obviously injured knee against the Seattle Seahawks. Redskins coach, Mike Shanahan received a lot of criticism for the decision to allow Griffin to play. Griffin tweeted in defense of his coach, "Many may question, criticize & think they have all the right answers. But few have been in the line of fire in battle." 

Aspirational, but sadly unlikely.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Funny Friday

I don't know if you've heard, but the Superbowl is this Sunday. Since Manti Te'o isn't playing, the big story is that the San Francisco 49ers coach and the Baltimore Ravens coach are brothers. Allegedly. Soon it will be revealed that they've been catfishing each other since childhood and that Jim (49ers) is a gay aspiring singers from Samoa and John (Ravens) is a tragedy-prone female Stanford student. Oh, wouldn't the media love that twist!

Since Atlanta isn't in the Superbowl, I will be rooting for the Ravens because I'm a big Edgar Allan Poe fan, especially "The Fall of the House of Usher," which has nothing to do with a hip-hop mogul's termite problems, but rather being buried alive. Of course, the game is really secondary to the real entertainment, which is of course, seeing whether any boobs will be exposed during half-time and whether Beyoncé will actually sing. Oh yeah, and the commercials. So, in honor of America's third-favorite pastime, buying stuff, I have found some funny/horrifying advertisements. (By the way, America's first favorite pastime is football and second is public meltdowns of famous people).

The Good Old Days

Have you heard of Tipalet cigarettes? Me neither. Perhaps it's because their ad pitch was accurate and all their customers ended up getting stalked and suing the company:

Nothing more alluring than carcinogens in your face.