Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rite of Passage

It was bound to happen, but I thought it would be a few years down the line...

That, my friends, is my son's introduction to Playboy magazine. The magazine he will one day, invariably, read for the articles.

How did this chance meeting come to be, you ask?

Last week during winter vacation, Ethan and I spent a day trolling through one of my favorite little coastal towns; between bouts of collecting shells on one beach & pretending to be salty old pirates on another (being sure to keep at least 300 ft from the baby sea lion pups basking in the sun--its the law), we made a stop at my favorite vintage junky-artsy shop. There we climbed piles of broken tiles and glass (Mother of the Year award, right here, baby!!!) looking for the perfect pieces to use for stepping stones for our garden. We shuffled through a yard full of old door knockers, vintage winery signs, and the odd brass buddha. Think Anthropologie tchotchkes, but not mass produced. And cheaper.

At one point, nature called, and so we asked the nice little hoarder guy who owns the shop if there was a bathroom inside. He led us down a hallway of more flea-markety artsy junky stuff to a little bathroom. And there we met....the Playboy.

Vintage 1968 copy, still in its plastic wrapper. Just hanging out all Bunny-rific, on the counter of the bathroom. And like the proverbial moth to the flame, Ethan almost immediately assumed the posture above and maintained it the entire time we were in the bathroom. No questions, no "what is this?" No questions about the woman wearing the bunny ears bathing suit. Just quiet, reverential contemplation.

And its not like he hasn't seen women in bathing suits before. We go to stores where there are bathing suit sections and there are marketing ads of women in bikinis far skimpier than the tastefully provocative bunny ears one piece gracing the cover of this particular magazine. He spent a week on the beach last week in full view of any number of body types in any number of bathing suit styles. But for some reason, this image, with the letters PLAYBOY over it, captivated Ethan into a prolonged silence and appreciation I've not seen him maintain since he first discovered The Beatles.

Oh my.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Best Comment Evar!

So my last post a couple weeks ago about the The Fresh Beat Band garnered comments from my best bloggy friend, and yes, Amy, at first opportunity, we will be taking Ethan to see Paul McCartney (pleeeeeeeease don't drop dead, Sir Paul, until my kid has been in your presence--pleeeeeeeeasssseee!), and Sarah, I may have spit my drink out when you compared the first Marina to 90210's Andrea (pronounced, Awwwndraya, please).

But by far, my favorite comment on this post was left by "someone" called Fresh Beat Concert Tickets (her parents must have been clairvoyant hippies with bad taste in music), and it went something like this (Well, actually that's exactly how it went because I couldn't make up or edit these sentences no matter how hard I tried...)

The Fresh Beat Band is one of the most popular Band in our children’s and as well as youth also. The main thing in these are to target the child and use the memory of every person childhood life... I love TFBD


What now?

I just....I don't....WHAT?!!

Now this is not the first spam comment I've gotten before. Its not even the first one in which the grammar and usage has left a bit to be desired. But seriously, as a former English teacher, this comment makes my eye tic. Is someone being paid by some business to leave that comment? And do they know that the person they are paying to leave that comment is randomly picking words out of a thesaurus and threw the words Fresh Beat Band in there for good measure?

I have to say the phrase "target the children" made me look twice. Target them? That's pretty aggressive language for someone trying to promote a happy bouncy, loudly color-blocked quartet of kiddie entertainers who sing about friendship & the joy of making music.

So very weird. Perhaps my next career could consist of providing style & composition classes for blog spammers, because if we're going to get these types of comments anyway, they may as well be written in a way that does not make our eyes bleed. But then, I guess it wouldn't be nearly as much fun to mock them. And I do like mocking them.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fresh Beat Mania....

Because we are gluttons for punishment ,super parents ,crazy, we got tickets to take Ethan to see the Fresh Beat Band last weekend. You know, these guys:

Freakishly cheerful singers of infuriatingly upbeat & ear-wormy kiddie tunes. Late 20-somethings pretending to be bouncy teens involved in some sort of otherwise un-academic "music school" in a town comprised entirely of smoothie shops & primary colors. So right up my alley. Oh my god, the horror.

Ethan's been watching the "Fresh Beats" since they were called the Jump Arounds and had the original Marina before she mysteriously disappeared (perhaps hacked up & turned into a fruity concoction by Melanie, the proprietor of the Goovy Smoothie). When they first appeared on the scene (before I learned how to operate the DVR), we planned our park trips around their TV schedule--much like I did my college class schedule in regards to General Hospital's air time. They were a major fixture in our daily entertainment line up, much of which consisted of music---Music Together class, Guitar Hero, and The Jump Around/Fresh Beats. At the sound of "What a great day!", signaling the final song & dance number of the show, Ethan would stop whatever he was doing & try to get his little 3.5 year old body to do the same thing as the 25 year old 6' tall blonde kid was doing on the TV screen. We are all grateful he wasn't ever injured in these attempts.

While his ardor has cooled somewhat and we no longer have to schedule our lives around Nick Jr's programming, when he hears that the Fresh Beat Band is coming up next, he is still very much a captive audience. And these days, a better dancer.

So we bought the tickets. For the show in Stockton, which is almost 2 hours away. Because the show 20 minutes away was sold out. Well. Was sold out of seats that we thought were good enough for our special snowflake (::hanging head in shame::)

We bought the tickets in January, but having learned our lesson about sharing information with Ethan too far in advance of a fun event, we kept our pie holes shut about it. Ethan's natural impatience combined with his burgeoning interest in all things clock/calendar related has made sharing any information with him about upcoming events, from vacations to impending play dates, a "how many more hours/minutes/days/seconds until...." nightmare. So it wasn't until Friday night that we spilled it that we had a "surprise" for him on Saturday. This, as expected, began a every-5-minute "is it time for my surprise" countdown that threatened to keep him awake well into the night, brain swirling over the possibilities of said surprise. Imagined surprise went from the mundane, "Is Daddy staying home from work tomorrow?" (um, yeah, its Saturday. Let's focus on days of the week in school a bit more, shall we?) to the grandiose "Are we going to London?!" (dial it back a bit, kid. Wait. Are we?!!! Are we going to London???!!!!)

The best part of the lead up was that every time we saw a Fresh Beat show or ad on Nick Jr, I'd casually throw out a "wouldn't it be so cool to see them in concert?" and Ethan would stop what he was doing and say, "I would love that. I would love to get up on stage and sing with them." Sigh.

Somehow we managed to get through breakfast, swim lessons, a few hours of incessant questioning and outlandish guesses on Saturday morning and then it was time to head to California's armpit, Stockton. Not a fancy place, that Stockton. Not what you'd call a destination.

Ethan's reaction at the big reveal, walking up to the theater and seeing the name Fresh Beat Band in lights, was more subdued than I had expected. Perhaps because he was in a state of total shock and emotional shut down--it seemed the only way to keep his head for exploding clear off his body in sheer excitement. But once we got in to our seats and were surrounded by the other mini-music-maniacs with their Fresh Beat Band shirts and flashing glow sticks (we were grateful that Ethan didn't once ask for a shirt, because...no. But we did indulge him in the flashing glow-stick), and he saw that stage all decked out in its mod-esque shapes and primary colors, he got all fever-pitchy and excited.

The rest is a bit of a blur, but it looked a lot like this:.

and this:

and so on...

At one point, the tall lanky beat-box "kid" came out into the audience (as a friend said later, they must draw straws pre-show and who ever gets the shortest one has to endure the throngs of slobbering preschooler/kindergarteners, rabid with looooooooooove and squeeeeeeee'ing delight the likes of which rivaled the panty-slinging histrionics usually found only at Elvis or Tom Jones concerts). As "Twist" neared our row, Ethan bounded out of his seat and ran, like a moth to flame to the TV-star turned "he's RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY FACE" human being. Somehow he got through the throngs of other kids and gave Twist a giant bear hug and OMFGGGGGGGGGG, Twist hugged him right back, all happy & best buddy-like, and not at all Jerry Sundusky-ish. While it freaked me out to see my kid run into a crowd of kids in a semi-dark theater and hug a total man stranger (seriously, have our discussions about stranger danger meant nothing to him???!), it was sweet to see such crazy wish-fulfillment (and to set his future expectations so freaking high--yay us!) for our little guy.

It wasn't *quite* getting up on stage and singing with them, but Ethan was content, when the lights went up and the Fresh Beats disappeared off the stage and back into the realm of the TV screen, that he'd had a pretty awesome time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pintrest: More Than Just a Time Suck...sort of.

So we are finally at a school where holidays are actually acknowledged. Since my own teaching days, I have found myself always associated with schools (both public & private) that refuse to accept that you can put on a cowboy costume and not be a devil worshipper, or offend those people who think putting on a cowboy costume (or G-d forbid, a Harry Potter costume) makes you a devil worshipper. And Valentines Day has always been shunned in the class room either because of the inevitability of 25 children going face-down in piles of chocolate, thereby falling into sugar comas & inching this much closer to a life of morbid obesity, or oft-left out word "Saint" in front of it, which I guess makes it a religious holiday. And heaven forbid we offend anyone who doesn't acknowledge saints by eating a chocolate heart and a heart-shaped mold of sugar with the word "cutie" on it. I don't acknowledge saints as any sort of demi-gods, but I do love me a red velvet cupcake, so.....

We've already reveled in the joy that was dressing up for Halloween in kindergarten. Ethan donned his Transformers costume (and somehow managed to elude the clutches of Satan) and paraded around school with his friends. We did a craft and ate some treats (a mixture of uber healthy straw and kibble mixed in with the standard sugar overload one associates with Halloweens of old. And lo and behold, we all survived, both the threat of demonic possession and the risk of Type-II diabetes. Miraculous.

So as we neared the next formerly taboo holiday, I roamed the aisles of Target (starting promptly on Jan 2nd, before the ChristmaHannuKwanziKah and New Year Stuff was cold in its grave) looking at the variety of Valentines candies and crafts available for our mass consumption in the coming month. I was most delighted by the glitter Darth Moll boxed heart o' chocolates I found, because if Darth Moll isn't the very spitting image of baby Cupid, I don't know who is....right?

Imagine my disappointment when I found out that we were "strongly discouraged" from bringing candy into school attached to our valentines cards. Will the assault on traditional values never end? Sigh.

I kid. I'm actually relieved that Ethan won't be coming home from his party today with a bag full of chocolate covered goodies because when he does that, I gain 5lbs from the contact high of being that close to that much chocolates. And also, I eat them. all.

And really, Ethan's feelings for chocolate run very tepid. He doesn't get all swirling-optical-illusion eyes hypnotized by it like I do. So he doesn't care. When the kindergarten moms bring in treats for the parties, he is far more likely to knock a classmate over to get to the watermelon and grapes than the cupcakes. He has asked me, "Mommy, when will my sweet tooth come in?" I hope soon, because right now I'm the only one in the family with a sweet tooth, which means either we partake of NO sweets at all, or I eat ALL the sweets. Neither is an acceptable scenario in my book.

So, candy treats were out. I wracked my brain to think of something non-sugar/chocolate/delicious to go along with Ethan's store-bought Valentines (nothing says "I put a lot of time into this" like a fold over picture of Annakin Skywalker brandishing his lightsaber at you). And then I remembered one of the first things I'd every pinned on Pintrest, wayyyyyy back when.

You take bits of crayons (ideally the nubs of old, used up crayons--in our case, a brand new box of 48 because Ethan wasn't willing to part with his old 1/2 used crayons, and could not see the logic in claiming the new box as his own and chopping up the old crayons. Okay), chop them up, put the pieces in heart-shaped silicon molds, stick 'em in the oven for 10 minutes at 230 degees and VOILA! You have a plethora of funky, swirly, totally usable mult-colored crayon hearts.

Fun mother-son bonding, a handmade gift to go along w/ the store-bought-because-most-of-the-kids-can't-read-anyway cards, and? Zero calories (except for the little heart-shaped box of mini reeces peanut butter cups we split between us during production (and by "split between us" I mean I think Ethan might have eaten one)....so......)

Where does he get that penchant for flirting????.....

....oh. (me, circa 1976)

first we had to peel all the brand new crayons. This might have made me a little twitchy, but I kept reminding myself "they were only $2. they were only $2."

it was a lot of recycling....

then we smashed the pieces so they were nice and small...

While I chopped the crayons up handily with a knife, Ethan stirred the pieces up ever so helpfully in our mixing bowl, to ensure a pleasing color mixture. He begged to be able to chop up the crayons, but the pintrest "recipe" is for melted crayon hearts, not for melted lopped-off finger hearts. So.

Yeah, that cutting board is so trashed.

into the oven @ 230 degrees for 10 minutes...

oooooh, swirly....''

We popped them out of the silicon mold, taped them to the cards & mission accomplished!

We even had a few left over for ourselves to play with.

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Heavy-hearted. Goodbye, SGK...

So unless your address contains the words "under a rock somewhere," you probably know about the whole Susan G Komen....disaster, fiasco, implosion, cluster--whatever you want to call it...that transpired last week. There was defunding, refunding, stories of lawsuits simply for using combinations of words that have been part of the English language LONG before the inception of SGK, information about the political leanings (and intolerant, hateful views) of some of the executives (not to mention the salaries of said execs). Somehow the fight to cure breast cancer became about a woman's right to choose. And millions of heads all over this country exploded in unison over Susan G Komen's decision to defund Planned Parenthood. And then, 48 hours later, millions of other heads all over the country exploded in unison as SGK decided to "re-fund" Planned Parenthood. It was a bad week all around for exploding heads.

There are so many layers of wrong involved in what Susan G Komen did last week. I just wouldn't even know where to begin and my blood pressure has finally come back to normal, so I'm not going to try to outline all the reasons I used the word "apoplectic" to describe my state of mind last week. Suffice it to say---it was the ugliest ugly that ever uglied. As each new revelation came out in the news, whether it be about how SGK sued other charities over the color pink and the word "cure," or the video of SGK's VP talking about how same sex couples shouldn't be allowed to adopt children, or the salaries of their executives (where exactly is the $$ for a nearly 500,000 salary for their CEO coming from?), my back muscles tightened exponentially until they commenced spasming sometime around Thursday morning.

While I should have been happy to read about the reversal of their decision to defund Planned Parenthood, the wishy-washiness of the decision was apparent in their statement. They said they are honoring all of their funding commitments this year & invite PP to apply again in the future. Hmmm....am I the only one who reads, "Fine. We'll give them their money this year, but we're going to spend the next year figuring out how to defund them again. And we'll be spending more of your hard-earned money on Ari Fleischer's consulting fees to figure out how do it better this time."? Yeah, so.....thanks, but no thanks, SGK.

Last night the group of amazing women I walked with last year met for the first time since our post-walk party in September. A couple of weeks ago, this reunion would have been to brainstorm training schedules, training walk locations and fundraising strategies. Instead, last night we sadly agreed that we are no longer going to associate ourselves with SGK. We agreed that given the circumstances surrounding the past week, and the colossal questions raised about SGK's distribution of funds and management and political associations, there is too much doubt in our minds to commit ourselves to their organization at this point.

It is heart-breaking because the experience of walking last year was one of the greatest of my life. It is heart breaking because of how hard we all worked to gather the money we blindly handed over to this behemoth of an organization with no idea what they were actually going to do with it. And heart-breaking because I realize that SGK still does lead the charge in funding research for finding a cure for breast cancer. I wish I could say I felt like the re-funding of PP and the resignation of Karen Handel was enough to restore my faith in the organization. But I can't. The taste left in my mouth is too foul and the doubt left in my mind is too powerful to wish away.

However, that does not mean I've come to the end of my participation in the fight to end breast cancer. While agreeing last night that we are no longer going to put forth our efforts in the name of the Susan G Komen organization, my team rededicated itself to the fight against breast cancer. It is horrifying how many of us know someone who has fought and won, is currently fighting, or has fought and tragically lost against this horrible disease--we simply can NOT turn our back on them, or the millions of other women who need the funds we are able to raise for research and treatment. So we will continue fundraising, holding our annual benefit concert and silent auction, and we will be researching smaller, local breast cancer charities and breast heath organizations to receive money we raise through those efforts. My hope is that other walkers in other parts of the country will consider going local as well, cutting out SGK as the middle man, making sure more of the money they raise goes directly to research and breast exams and treatment costs.

And I hope that SGK will be forced to use this experience as a turning point in their own management. I hope that those people who do choose to continue to fundraise and walk for SGK, regardless of what "side" of the Planned Parenthood funding fiasco they were on--will demand that SGK pare down its bureaucracy, abandon its practice of basing decisions on politics, and insist that they provide transparent and comprehensive information of where every penny raised by their loyal following goes.

My heart is heavy this morning as I close one chapter. But I'm looking forward to the next chapter and the renewed commitment my team has made to fighting breast cancer in our own little corner of the world and making a difference in the lives of the women (and men) in our communities.

My sincerest thanks to those of you who believed in me last year and contributed to my fundraising efforts. I am hopeful that the vast majority of the money I raised with my team went to research and funding we can feel proud of. And now we move on.