Monday, November 30, 2009

I Dreamed a Dream

So I took my daughter to the see The Nutcracker this past weekend. I thought it would be a nice mother/daughter bonding activity and with her turning five, the time was right. My daughter believes that every outing requires a princess dress, so she was in her finest Snow White attire. I stuck to jeans and a sweater, but with a tiara to get into the spirit of the occasion.

The premise of the play is simple; a little girl falls asleep and dreams about her newest Christmas gift. But what kind of screwed up, psychedelic, Codeine-induced dream is this girl having?

Act I is as follows: there is a party, a guest arrives, does some magic, and presents the little girl of the house with a wooden nutcracker dressed as a soldier. In the production we saw, Drosselmeyer (the magician/funny uncle) brought three full-sized creatures to life to show off his mad magical skills, one of which was a gorilla. The gorilla then danced and fought a toy soldier over a marionette. This magical demonstration receives polite applause from those on stage. Um, are you people high? Is the eggnog spiked? Is there more than incense in the air? The toys just performed a pas de deux! Does this seem like a normal party trick?

Well, here is where things get even stranger. Clara falls asleep (or does she?) and finds herself surrounded by mice, which grow into ROUS’s for no apparent reason and, led by a Mouse King, attack. The Nutcracker comes to life and a battle ensues. Clara wounds the Mouse King with a shoe, the Nutcracker finishes him off with a knife, and the wooden solider magically turns into a prince. Again, in our production, things took a turn for the surreal as all the small soldiers ran back and forth across the stage waving teeny tiny bayonets. Warfare never looked so fun. Then at the end of the battle, this huge hunk of a man showing his gluteus maximus to maximum effect arrives to whisk Clara off to the land of Sugar Plum Fairies. Is that even legal?

Act II is where things really go off the rails. Basically, Clara sits on her fanny while various creatures and people dance for her. You try explaining what is happening during this act to a child. I dare you. Mine couldn’t get past the idea of a “Plumber Fairy.” I mean, the cast of characters for this act include the Spanish, Arabian, Chinese, Marzipan, and the Lamb corps, the Polichinelles, the Russians, and the Waltz of the Flowers. What on God’s great green and abundant earth is a Polichinelle? (Please don’t tell me. I looked it up. It still doesn’t make any sense.) During this act, every type of ethic stereotype is brought out, plus the added incongruity of women dancing with farm animals. (Our little dancing lambs were cute as pie and absolutely stole the show from the principal dancers who probably dream of serving them with a mint sauce and a nice Chianti.) Of course, my child called these the Mary Fairies and liked them best of all. There is dancing, there is more dancing, there is absolutely no plot, more dancing occurs, and then Clara wakes up.

The end.

Seriously, what the hell is this play about? Why is this poor child dreaming of vengeful rodents, men with Ken doll genitalia, and exotic dancers? Does this seem normal to you? If I had a dream like that, I’d be scared witless. If my child told me she had a dream like that, I’d take her to therapy. Upon leaving, my daughter asked to buy a Nutcracker for her brother. My guess? She wants to make sure the house is defended, but doesn’t want the damn thing to come to life in her room.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sounds of the Seasons

Did you ever wonder why all radio stations stop transmitting holiday music on noon of Christmas Day? It always seemed odd to me. When I was little, driving home from my aunt’s house, I would be overjoyed with my haul of gifts and wanted Christmas to last forever. As I grew older and actually had to give instead of just receive, my thoughts changed a bit. As my shopping grew from a mad dash on Christmas Eve, to a full weekend spent with my sisters-in-law, to a month of planning, lists, and making sure each kid got an equal amount spent on them, I have come to the realization that the reason Christmas music ends at noon is because everyone is completely and totally over it.

In my area, a local radio station began its all-holiday playlists a few weeks ago. Many of them will wait to follow suit until right before the holiday, giving all their radio personalities a few days off and making interns do all the work. However, most will start incorporating Christmas music into their regularly scheduled programming. This is the point where you realized how completely deranged and depressing songs about the season can be, especially if you listen to country music. Take your average country song, add in Jesus, multiply the number of deaths, disease, or abandonment, and subtract any sense of humor, and you have a country Christmas song. How on earth someone can sing about adopting an orphan or making sure a kid has enough money to buy his dying mom red shoes (um, kid, I’m not sure she’s going to need them where she is going, but I guess it is the thought that counts) is absolutely beyond me. If Grandma gets run over by a reindeer on a country station, you can bet the song talks about her funeral and how the family sat down to eat her last batch of biscuits with tears in their eyes. There is an actual song about unemployment and not being able to afford gifts. Boy, doesn’t that just fill you with joy and cheer?

I prefer my Christmas songs with a little less death and disillusionment. We are celebrating the birth of Santa and the retail world finally moving into the black, right? I want music that is harmonious with the sound of cash registers. (My husband does work for an e-retailer after all.) I want music that makes me shake my bells and helps my kids know that Christmas is a season of fun and laughter. As previously mentioned, I don’t shop on Black Friday (not until Matt Damon goes on sale at Walmart), so instead, I will hang out in my pajamas, bake cookies, and listen to my own Christmas playlist. And since it is the season of sharing, here is what I’ll be listening to this year. Feel free to share your own favorites as mine tends to be a little heavy on the Harry and a little light on anything sung in the past decade.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas – The Christmas Caroler
Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms
Gabriel’s Message – Sting
I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas – Gayle Peevey
You’re a Mean One, Mister Grinch – Thurl Ravenscroft
Christmas In Hollis – Run-DMZ
The Little Drummer Boy – Lou Rawls
The First Noel – Andy Williams
Linus & Lucy – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Santa Claus is Coming to Town – B2K
Christmas in Sarajevo – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman – Barenaked Ladies
Frosty the Snowman – Harry Connick Jr.
The Happy Elf – Harry Connick Jr.
The Chanukah Song – Adam Sandler
I Pray on Christmas – Harry Connick Jr.
Santa Claus is Coming to Town – Bruce Springsteen
Opera of the Bells – Destiny’s Child
(It Must Have Been) Ole Santa Claus – Harry Connick Jr.
Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses
Handel’s Messiah

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's Beginning to Look at Lot Like Christmas

So, the official start of the Christmas season in my house is Black Friday. I do not shop, I decorate. My house is fully prepped and ready for Santa before December even starts. The year my daughter was born, all of my Christmas cards were pre-addressed and stamped before I went into the hospital! It’s a type of madness, I know, but my middle name is Noel for Christ’s sake (pun completely and totally intended), so really, I just can’t help myself.

However, even I was unprepared for the torrent of questions about Santa and Christmas that have been unleashed upon me by my almost five-year old. See, a few weeks ago, a friend shared the story of the Elf on the Shelf. Apparently, a little elf is sent from Santa into your house and essentially spies on your children, reporting back to the S-Man every night. The parent changes the location of the elf every day, further convincing the kids that he does indeed leave the house to file his report. The elf earns its wings, or hat, or ears or something if the kids are good. I’m not too clear on the details because, instead of spending $30 on Amazon for the book and accompanying elf, I unearthed a Care Bear in a Santa suit and decided it would do. So, like any good parent, I prepared my children for a month of tyranny and told them the elf would arrive after Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, my daughter found him hiding in my pajama drawer and the elf (Santa Oopsie Bear) has begun his reign of terror a bit early. (Side note – a friend has a velvet Santa hanging in her dining room for this very purpose, but instead of scaring them one month per year, he’s there year round. It’s genius.)

Now, I am treated to hourly questions about the magic of Santa. Why does he land on the roof? How does he fly? Is the North Pole above the moon? Above the stars? Who gets presents? What does Santa do the rest of the year? What is coal? Why are there different Santas? What is an elf? How does Santa Oopsie Bear move around the house? How does he get to the North Pole and back while I am sleeping? What time does he leave? Does he get back before Daddy wakes up? Does he fly? Does he ride on a little sled? Does he take a helicopter? Will he be here every day? How does he watch us from different rooms? How does he know when we go to sleep? What happens after Christmas? Will he go to another family? Will we get a different elf next year? What does he tell Santa? How does he tell Santa because stuffed animals don’t talk? And on, and on, and on.

Then she asks the same questions again two hours later. This has been going on for three days.

My father tells a charming story of when my sister was very small, he got very angry with her and said that if she didn’t behave, he was going to set Santa on fire when he tried to come down the chimney. As you can imagine, this did not go over well. But now, as a parent myself, I can totally see how killing Santa seemed like a good idea. It is not even Thanksgiving and I am already knee-deep in reindeer poo. I simply can’t sustain this much good cheer. No one can. It’s unhealthy.

The worst part is that as I answer such important questions as how does Santa Oopsie Bear turn the doorknob and why don’t we just leave the front door open and unlocked on Christmas Eve – I actually have to remember what I say. If I mistakenly give a different answer the second, third, or fifteenth time the question is asked, then all hell breaks loose. It’s like Lost, if I get too detailed, I’ll just entangle myself five questions down the road. I have 32 days until Christmas and I’m not sure Santa Oopsie Bear is going to make it. There might be a tragic accident involving driving while drinking eggnog or a heartbreaking overdose of sugar cookies. I hear that white powder can kill you. He might accidentally get stuffed in a turkey or succumb to an allergic reaction to cranberries. I’m not sure, but it is possible only one of us will last through this Christmas season. The elf might be on the shelf, but it will be sitting next to an empty bottle of Jack.

Friday, November 20, 2009

ABsolutely Fabulous

I am way, way too tired to write a coherent blog post about my experience seeing New Moon last night. Suffice to say, a very good time was had by all, it was a very late night, and the sight of Jacob's rockin' bod will be rockin' my dreams for a very, very long time to come.

So, in the spirit of the upcoming holiday, here is my list of things that have happened in the last 12 hours that I am thankful for:

… my husband, who thought the whole idea of me going to see a midnight movie was hysterical and whose only request was that I make him brownies before I left

… J and J who happily picked me up

… Bahama Breeze, whose absolutely fantastic Chocolate Island dessert gave me the sugar rush needed to get through a very long night

… getting into our actual theater an hour early so we didn’t have to wait in a stifling hallway with hundreds of hormonal teenage girls and pre-menopausal women

… MM, whose cell phone picture got us through a momentary lull in conversation

… coffee, popcorn, and Junior Mints

… the lengthiest previews ever, which made us really appreciate when the movie finally started (at 12:40)

… the fact that the movie theater was trying to be environmentally friendly by drastically reducing any air flow or air conditioning during the length of the movie

… the lack of squealing when the movie actually started

… the absolutely dreadful acting on the part of Kristen Stewart, who apparently cannot force a tear and whose entire acting method is based on either blinking steadily or breathing heavily. She did occasionally look like she was passing a gallstone, so I should at least add that to her acting repertoire.

… Robert Pattinson’s hair, which was by far the most interesting thing about him in this movie

… Taylor Lautner’s abs

… the scene when Jacob first takes his shirt off

…the suspension of disbelief necessary to help me forget Jacob is only 17

… the scene where Jacob stands in the rain, half-naked, and shows off his extensive shoulders

… the CGI, which allowed the werewolves to look like real creatures by saving money on the sparkle effect (I could do better with Vaseline and glitter)

… the term “blue balls” which perfectly describes Jacob’s state of being for the entire movie

…the scenes in Italy, which allowed Edward to be shirtless and prove, once and for all, that Jacob’s six-pack is the true body to die for

… the women in the rows behind me, who could not stop themselves from moaning in pleasure whenever Jacob took his shirt off and who actually seemed disappointed when Bella chose Edward

… the rain, which woke me up quite nicely after the boiling hot theater

… the flat tire, which really made the night blog-worthy

… healthy self-esteem, which allowed me not to mind when people ignored my trying to wave down help while standing in the pouring rain wearing a Team Werewolf shirt so tight you couldn’t even see the W or the F

…the Cherry Hill police, who told me to call a tow truck (duh) and the AMC security who told me to call a cab (double duh)

… the woman who heard me beg for help and actually told her boyfriend to drive around the parking lots until they found me to offer assistance

… Evan Almighty, the best, most wonderful Good Samaritan ever, who gave us a lesson in how to fix a flat tire all while getting soaking wet in the middle of the night and was completely cheerful the entire time

… puppy pads, which soaked up most of the water in my jeans and saved my ruining J’s car

… my Fossil watch, which is miraculously still running after being immersed in water

… not getting pulled over on the way home since two out of the three women in the car were no longer wearing shirts

… the warm welcome from my daughter when I finally came home at 4am

… my husband turning on the heated blanket when I finally crawled into bed and who even cuddled up to the soaking, frozen mess that was his wife

… the two hours of sleep I did manage to achieve

… my hair still being wet when I woke up, saving me from taking a shower

… finding pair of dry sneakers on my way out the door

… the brownies my husband saved for me, thus giving me the energy to get to Mommy & Me

… a great night spent with friends, a good story, and the 38 minutes of screen time devoted to Jacob’s almost naked body

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bite Me!

The Twilight series is like a greasy meal after a night of drinking. For some, it is eaten quickly, it hits the spot, and it lingers in the system. For others, it is impossible to choke down and is pushed away quickly. Sadly, like much in life concerning food, I just can’t get enough of it.

I am a fan of vampires. I’ve read my Bram Stoker, Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris, and even Elizabeth Kostova. I am obsessed with Buffy, liked Angel, love True Blood, and won’t watch The Vampire Diaries for love or money.

Let’s get something straight right off the bat – The Twilight vampires are the saddest, most ludicrous bunch of vampires ever. What the hell kind of vampire doesn’t drink blood? Only in the Pacific Northwest would you get a freaking vegetarian vampire. They also get to gallivant around during the day – as long as they aren’t in direct sunlight – at which point they sparkle. Yup. Sparkly vampires. Gag me with a stake. They are immortal, but choose to spend their unending years in high school. I guess they have never heard of homeschooling or college. These vampires even have superpowers, but only the touchy-feely ones.

The story itself isn’t very original. Boy meets girl, boy wants to eat girl, boy and girl fall in love. Edward is particularly intrigued by his inability to read Bella’s mind. Sadly for him, he never realizes it is because nothing much is going on inside of it. As for Bella, she never once thinks it is creepy that a centurgenarian is interested in a teenager. The second book introduced Jacob, a werewolf with a taste for depressed, suicidal brunettes. He and Bella become friends without benefits and the romantic triangle is set that will carry through the rest of the series.

It really is that simple. Oh sure, there are bad vampires, breakups, makeups, bloodshed, tears, and a fourth book that is so stupid and ridiculous that it will one day get its own post. And yet, the Twilight series has become a phenomenon. I could try to explain it, analyze it, and understand it, but I’d rather just enjoy it. It’s goofy fun. And tonight, I’ll be attending a midnight showing of New Moon to continue the saga of the lion falling in love with the lamb and millions of women falling in love with a scruffy Brit with a bathing problem. But I’ll tell you a secret; I’ll be wearing a Team Werewolf t-shirt, because Oz, well, Oz is my homeboy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chicken Little Saw a Pig

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate; that is the question.

I have discussed immunization with every one of my friends, every physician I know (regardless of their area of medicine), everyone who has an opinion, I have asked it of them. Well, everyone except my mom, who usually gets her information from a “teacher at school who knows someone who works in a doctor’s office and says . . . “

And why have I repeatedly pestered people about this topic – well because the media, as usual, has dropped the ball. It is way more fun to scare the tuna salad out of people with shock and “aw” stories. Take for example, the news story about the “Washington Redskins Cheerleader Seriously Crippled after Being Vaccinated.” It showed a young woman, in the prime of life, completely incapacitated. She could no longer walk forward, only backward. She could only talk normally while running. She claimed her rare disorder was brought about by her seasonal flu vaccination. Not even the HINI, just the seasonal shot.

But here’s the thing, none of the actual words in the headline were true.
Let’s parse the sentence, shall we? For starters, she wasn’t a Washington Redskins cheerleader. She was trying out for the team. That’s like saying I am the next American Idol because I sang in front of Simon once. So, the next part is that she was seriously crippled. Well, that’s a stumper. What constitutes being crippled? She participated in an 8k marathon, albeit while running backward, which seems like a rather, um, healthy thing to do (except the backward part, because that is just freaky.) She claimed that listening to Coldplay relieved her symptoms, but rap and techno made them worse. Well, that settles it then, a life lived only listening to Chris Martin but no Kanye, truly is a disability.

The last part of the sentence is the “gotcha” moment, “after being vaccinated.” She got the shot, she got sick, therefore, the shot made her sick. Generation Rescue immediately jumped on her bandwagon, using her as an example of why people should not get vaccinations. Save the cheerleader, save the world. (Really people, do you normally seek medical advice from former Playboy bunnies? Jenny McCarthy may have a heart, and does indeed have a healthy set of lungs, but that doesn’t mean she has a brain.)

But here is the really large problem with the above statement. She didn’t get sick from the shot. In fact, her illness wasn’t external, it was internal. It was in her head. And like any good faked illness, she was “cured” by a placebo. Was she intentionally faking? Probably not, but something caused her to believe she was so sick, she could no longer function. And then someone else made her believe they had a cure, so she was able to get better.

Obviously, good reporting would show that the link between the shots and her illness was negligible at best, imaginative at worst. But I don’t expect good reporting from Inside Edition, which is where the story ran nationally after it was picked up from its regional source. But then it went viral, at which point I do expect a better news source to come forward and point out the flaws, expose the facts, and uncover the truth. When Fox News is the only one willing to step up, you know there is a big, big problem. So how ‘bout next time, when the health of a nation is supposedly at risk, you don’t tell people that broken umbrellas may allow them to get wet, or that a little rain doesn't hurt anyone. Instead, you tell them to jump the hell onto the ark and ride to safety.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The List

It’s been a long, slow week. My husband has worked ridiculous hours (even for him), the kids are still recovering from their return to reality, and I have once again hit a wall in terms of dieting and exercising. What is a woman to do? My tub isn’t big enough for Calgon to take me away, but my imagination, it is boundless.

Let me explain, on season three of Friends, Ross and Rachel create the “Freebie List,” otherwise known as the one where they got to pick five different celebrities they could sleep with without it being considered cheating. My list is my screensaver. I take it very seriously. Realistically, I do understand that a hot, rich, celebrity will have no interest whatsoever in a medium-sized housewife from South Jersey, no matter how well she is stacked. However, I can dream, right? I have friends who keep their lists on their fridge, other friends who couldn’t come up with five celebrity names at gunpoint, and friends who have Robert Pattinson on their lists (and that man is in serious need of a bath). So, in descending order, here are my Top Five.

  1. Matt Damon. He’s been number one for years. Years. I don’t think he’s moved from his perch since Good Will Hunting. The more I read about him, the more I love him. And if you haven’t seen Sarah Silverman’s “I’m F’ing Matt Damon” video, then hie thee ho over to YouTube. If you cannot fall madly in lust with the man after watching it, then, well, I’m not sure we can be friends. Seriously.

  2. David Boreanaz. As the locals know, he is the son of weatherman Dave Roberts. As Joss fans know, he was Angel. And boy, what a yummy angel he was. Sure, he couldn’t act worth a damn in the early seasons, but he got better, especially when he was Angelus. On one of the first episodes of Bones, he walked into the room without a shirt and smiling and I kid you not, I must have rewound it a dozen times. Shirtless and smiling? Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause.

  3. Matthew McConaughey. Now, I realize that the man is a moron. I think he has been so stoned for so long that there isn’t much gray matter left. However, I have no interest in his mind, just his body. And if he does have to talk, at least he can do so in that soft southern accent. He’s best in his earlier roles in A Time to Kill or Contact (specifically the scenes in which he is wearing a sweater), but is still very easy on the eyes.

  4. Kiefer Sutherland. That voice. The gravel coated in velvet voice that issues forth from my television every other commercial. The voice alone puts him on my list. And while I realize that he’d have to stand on a box to reach eye level, I don’t plan on doing much standing with him, so in this case, size really doesn’t matter. He does have his issues. In I Trust You to Kill Me he did indeed attack a helpless Christmas tree while drunk out of his mind, but it really does just add to his charm.

  5. Boston Rob Mariano. I didn’t think twice about him during Survivor: Marquesas, but he did grab my attention during Survivor: All Stars. How do you not love a guy who is so charming, that even though everyone knew he lied, they all believed he wouldn’t lie to them! It was awesome. He treated “Am-buh” like gold, screwed Lex, and while he didn’t win the game, he did win the girl. I loved him on The Amazing Race, Amazing Race: All Stars, and Rob and Amber Get Married, which I will even publicly admit that I DVRd. I should also note that this is the one man on the list that my husband wants to veto.

In the interest of full disclosure, there are five other honorable mentions. They are only on the list because of a specific role or a specific moment, not just on general principle like the above five.

  • Johnny Depp. I have a photo of him taken by the paparazzi back when he was filming Pirates. He is standing on a yacht, shirtless; holding a glass of wine, with his face turned toward the sun, and just seems to be soaking up the moment. It’s decadent and divine.
  • Jon Bon Jovi. He did an episode of Crossroads with Sugarland and while they are performing, he watches Jennifer Nettles in a way that is not at all professional. In fact, he looks like he is about to lick her like a cream sickle. It almost made me wish I could sing.
  • Alexander SkarsgĂ„rd. In his role as Eric, he is given the absolute worst clothing to wear. Flip flops and a green t-shirt? Track pants and a razor-back tee? On Eric, they are mouthwatering. And when he has nothing to wear, well, that’s another post entirely.
  • Harry Connick Jr. When he sings, he’s sexy. When he acts, not so much.
  • Mark Salling. My new boyfriend. He sings, he has a Mohawk, and while he plays a teenager on television, I am happy to report that in this case, 17 will not get you 20.

Who is on your list? Come on, I know you have one.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Save the Date

Today is my eighth wedding anniversary. I married my darling husband in Falmouth, Massachusetts, at 5:30 pm in St. Elizabeth Seton church. There were many tears, a few averted fights, and, I believe I can safely say that a good time was had by all. While I can list all the things that made the day memorable, I will instead focus on why my husband is the best man ever – for me. Not for you – you can’t have him. He’s all mine.

We have a lot of inside jokes. On our honeymoon, a man fell off a barstool into the pool while calling for his wife. All these years later, we will still randomly call out “Terri” to each other. It is not uncommon for one of us to intone, “You choose poorly” or “We’ve gone plaid.” I can actually say, “Ok, I'll meet you at the place near the thing where we went that time,” and he will know where I mean. I understand him even when he says entirely the wrong thing. For example, did I throw him off the escalator at Macy’s when he referred to my pregnant body as having “girth?” No, I did not. I wanted to, but it was easier to laugh instead; not as much lifting involved. Now, I’m sure you all have the same types of jokes with your significant other, but I don’t understand them. I just understand the ones I have with mine. And, “Hey, I have a great idea for a centerpiece,” will make me laugh out loud every time.

I know I should be more modest, but I have a great rack. And luckily for me, my husband is very appreciative of it. Given the choice between saving the ta-tas or saving the planet, my husband will bid adieu to the fishies before he’d ever say goodbye to the bubbies. He could care less if I wear makeup, heels, or a skirt. In fact, he recently told me the only side effect of my wearing heels is that I walk slower. Clean, fresh-smelling, and busty, that’s really all he asks for in his wife. As for him, I could care less if he shaves, only mention haircuts when it gets to the Hawk from Buck Rogers stage, and expect ties only at weddings and funerals.

And, while he has been known to bring home flowers for no reason and he is very free with endearments, my husband knows that real romance does not come in a Hallmark card. On bad days, it may arrive in the form of a Chik-Fil-A shake. On others, it may be a Diet Pepsi, an extra 20 minutes of sleep, emptying the dish washer, or turning on the heated blanket. In our house, romance is in the thoughtful little things, not the forced big ones. Tonight, he won’t be home til almost 10. I’ll have a little cake waiting and that’s all we’ll need. (Of course, if we hadn’t spent all weekend celebrating, I’d probably want more than a cake.)

Now, I could go on and on and on about all the goofy ways my husband is perfect for me, but I won’t. (Well, just a little: he’s an excellent father, a good man, and his snoring could wake the dead, yet it doesn’t wake me.) Instead, let’s just say that unless you are on his Top Five, I’ll fight you for him. Happy Anniversary sweetie and let’s have dozens and dozens more.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

What I did on my Kid-Free Vacation

So, my children were gone for a five-day stay at Chez Pocono, where they were treated to gourmet meals, personal one-on-one attention, luxurious accommodations, and a bath/bed routine that is Olympian in length. They love going, their grandparents absolutely adore and worship them, and I got to spend some quality time both alone and with my husband.

Day 1
The first thing I did when my kids left? Slept. I crawled into bed and indulged myself with an afternoon nap, complete with a heated blanket. When I roused myself from my peaceful slumber, I immediately put on music and set to cleaning. To a SAHM, actually getting to clean without someone underfoot “helping” to sweep by scattering crumbs everywhere, “helping” to dust while knocking things over, and screaming in terror at the vacuum, is close to heaven. (Actual heaven would be getting someone else to clean for me). As an added bonus, I didn’t have to listen to Taylor Swift. I rocked out to songs from Glee (originals only, except for the completely overly enthusiastic cover of It’s My Life) and cleaned the toilets with joy. Loud, sing-along, joy. One lost World Series and a seriously depleted Halloween candy bowl later, and the day ended.

Day 2
I won’t even admit to what time I awoke for fear that several local friends will come to my window with pots and pans next time the kids leave town. After accomplishing several small chores, I indulged in something I have only seen in movies: I went to a coffee house to read a book. I ordered a gingerbread latte, extra whipped cream, found a chair by the window and settled in. Two hours later, I went home, poured myself a free beverage, sat on my own couch and continued reading. Survey says – home is better, and significantly less expensive. Come nightfall, I set out on the Tour of Toys, Part I (Shop Hard), with my husband. I ixnayed a tank, complete with several types of weapons, that would surely be useful in our war against the dust bunnies. He said no to anything with Bratz on it. Once home, my husband indulged himself by screaming full volume at the television. I left him to his armchair coaching (which must have worked because the final was 16-3, Hokies) and went to bed.

Day 3
Once again, I awoke so late in this time zone that I was wasn’t even early in the next one. I spent the day being highly unproductive. I dithered. I dallied. I putzed and I puttered. I might even have lollygagged. Eventually, I gave up on being industrious in any way and climbed into bed with my heated blanket and another book. When the husband arrived, we set off on the Tour of Toys, Part II (Shop Harder), and then went out to a delicious early anniversary dinner. Well, the anniversary part was early, dinner itself required almost a 90 minute wait and didn’t end til 11pm. But Iron Hill Brewery has excellent raspberry wheat beer that helped to pass the time.

Day 4
The first words I heard were, “Hon, FYI but it’s __ am!” And yes, my husband actually used the phrase FYI first thing in the morning. He was so amazed at the time that he lapsed into corporate speak in the bedroom. In the car, we actually got to listen to NPR! (I realize I should have spent the time having meaningful dialogue with my husband, but really, three whole podcasts of Wait! Wait! is too good to pass up). We then spent the day walking around Cape May, buying art, eating food samples, and giggling over how easy it all was without children. Hell, most of the stores didn’t even ALLOW strollers! Perfect weather, good food, good buys, and no whining. Really, is there anything better? We concluded the day with the Tour of Toys, Part III (Shop with a Vengeance), and a few episodes of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit.

Day 5
The honeymoon was over. A long, long list of necessary chores awaited us. The Tour of Toys, Part IV (Live Debt-Free or Shop Hard), gave us the final Christmas lists for Santa. My husband headed outdoors for his manly duty of leaves and grass while I headed indoors for my womanly duty of groceries and toiletries. Both of us would have preferred to watch Howie and Terry. But with T-minus three hours until my children arrived home, battered with lack of sleep, broken from all routine, and beastly from lack of discipline, there is no more time for play. My stay-cation has ended.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Moving to Greener Pastures

I grew up in New York. My state of birth has two football teams, two hockey teams, and two baseball teams. I don’t care enough about basketball to know if we have two of those or not. But growing up, sports had absolutely zero impact on my life. My father has never willingly watched a sporting event. My high school had sports, but I was in drama. My college had sports, but I was too busy drinking during Homecoming to notice. My best friend married a guy who was into sports and I mocked her. Then I met my husband and I was introduced to football.

I cut my teeth on Michael Vick and the Hokies. I learned the basics of the game by watching Beamer Ball. It was a slow indoctrination by a passionate fan. My husband once cheered so loudly, and so suddenly, that the sleeping cat jumped two feet off the couch and did a full rotation in the air before landing. Another time, when he was soothing my son to sleep during a game, he very carefully placed the baby on the couch, jumped up and down like a man possessed and then, as if nothing had happened, picked the baby back up and continued rocking him quietly.

When we moved to South Jersey, I was introduced to a football team with fans so violent that the Vet had a jail built right into it. These are people who once threw snowballs at Santa. When we dressed my daughter as an Eagles cheerleader during a Halloween when the team was on a losing streak, people talked smack to her and pretended they weren’t going to give her candy. She was two. Eagle’s fans are rabid, mean, and utterly devoted.

And I am very happy that they can now go back to their regularly scheduled programming of hating on McNabb and second-guessing Reid. All of this happy-go-cheery Phillies fandom has been very off-putting to me. The Eagles just spanked Eli Manning – again – and nary a word of it was spoken anywhere. Spanked! Manning! Again! No one cared. And worse, when the Phillies inevitably lost to the Yankees last night, I awoke to find a flurry of FB updates with “Good Job!” and “Wait til next year!” Are you f-ing kidding me? Atta boys are for dogs and small children. When a professional sports team whiffs it in the final games of the World F-ing Series ™, you don’t pat them on the back and tell them to try again – you rend clothing (preferably theirs) and scream for ousters, trades, and heads on platter (preferably tarnished). People are already talking about spring training, which truly does show that hope really is eternal. So please, I beg of you Philadelphia, learn a lesson from Star Trek and put your Phillies gear away. Nothing good ever comes from wearing a red shirt.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Taking Organic One Organ to Far

So, I was catching up on my stash of Time magazines during the interminable baseball game last night and came upon an article that caught my attention. It was demented and sad and shows just how far people can take a good idea and warp it past all recognition. The sex toy industry is now going green.

Yup, you read that right, the recycling movement has moved into the bedroom. Now, I am a proponent of doing anything you want in the bedroom, provided it is between two consenting adults. However, if both adults are stupid, then they shouldn’t be having sex and possibly diluting the gene pool with their offspring. If you want to save energy, light a damn candle. Don’t dim the lights hoping to diminish your electric bill. In fact, if you are worried about your electric bill during sex, then maybe you should just read a good book instead.

They article listed several items that would add to your sexual and environmental enjoyment. For example, you can purchase a cruelty-free whip. This is either the best example of an oxymoron or the best example of irony I have ever found in a magazine, I really can’t decide. Another item mentioned is the hand-crank vibrator. I am as DIY as the next person, but in such a case, surely it would be easier to just take matters into your own hands, as it were. The logistics of such a device are baffling. In fact, I can imagine few things less erotic than the image that calls to mind. It probably sounds like a cross between a pencil sharpener and a can opener, which just can’t be conducive to reaching your happy place (unless you are grooving to a mental image of Julia Child in a schoolmarm outfit).

Some things should not be reusable. Condoms are definitely high on that list. Luckily, while organic condoms are not meant to be recycled, they are vegan-friendly. These condoms “replace the dairy protein in latex condoms with cocoa powder.” According to the author, they don’t taste like chocolate, which just seems like a crying shame and the waste of a potential marketing goldmine.

You can also go green in your choice of birth control. The Catholic Church is now telling its believers that Natural Family Planning is organic because you aren’t adding chemicals to your body. The fact that by following this method, you could actually grow people in your body is beside the point. In fact, even the article states that the best way to save the planet is to have fewer children – but isn’t it more fun to say you are acting on behalf of the planet than to actually do so?

So, the next time you prepare to make love, consider if you are making the planet a better place first. And if the answer is no, direct your attention to Pyrex toys, which can be microwaved for added pleasure. Throw some popcorn in and you’ll even have post-coital snacks ready for half the energy usage. Now that’s putting the “O” into organic.