The Princess, who is now ten years old, has been asking for an African American “Ken” doll for a couple of weeks now. When I asked why she needed another Ken doll at all, she said that it was so she can “pretend that he’s Aaron Burr.”
Yes, I know that Aaron Burr was a white man, but she thinks he’s black because Leslie Odom, Jr. plays him on Broadway.
I don’t know whether to feel super proud of her for further diversifying her Barbie collection or to have some kind of white lady guilt for not already having a African American Ken doll.
Anyway, African American Ken dolls do not just materialize for no reason. Maybe she will find one in her Easter basket, or as a reward for having blood drawn, which she needs to do this month.
Yesterday she told me that while she’s waiting for the doll, she’s just going to “pretend Leslie Odom, Jr. is sick,” and the Ken doll she has “is his understudy”.
I think my induction into the Theater Mom Hall of Fame might be imminent
When I woke up on Saturday, I knew I’d be good for nothing. Migraine. Couldn’t get out from under the weight of my head. So the day went by in a blur, kids bringing my ice water, dog licking my face, kids asking if I wanted anything. Whenever I’d wake up, it was just to roll over to the other side.
Meanwhile, Manfrengensen was a super man. Took care of the kids, made them breakfast for dinner. Took the Princess to her field hockey game (where she scored her first goal and I MISSED IT), even took time away from his ND-football-watching-schedule to drop Edison off at the movies with friends.
Then today, he took The Princess with him to Clooney’s soccer game, so I could catch up on all my weekend chores in peace. As I walked around the house, I realized what an amazing guy he is. Not only did he totally take care of the kids yesterday, but he also brought in wood and set up the fireplace for winter.
But the best part was when I opened up the freezer and found a brand new quart of my favorite ice cream.
Love that guy. He rocks my world.
I’ve been having some minor physical problems the last year or two. Until then, I had been a fairly avid (and not half-bad, I think) tennis player. But I began to have pain in my legs, and the pain became more frequent, until I finally just had to leave the court. I saw a few doctors and it turns out that I have chronic exertional compartment syndrome, and though PT helped a few years ago, when I tried that again earlier this year, the pain actually became worse.
At first, the doctor (let’s call him Dr. Paul) told me that there was a surgery that could be performed, but he added that this was an option usually reserved for runners, “…and you’re not a runner.” he said. Seriously, he actually said that, and it reminded me of this bit from Louis C.K.:
But the thing was, maybe I could be a runner, if I didn’t have debilitating pain in my leg every time I run. And when I look back on my past experiences with trying to be a runner, like that time I tried Couch to 5k, it sure seems like perhaps I may have had this problem for a lot longer than I’ve had the actual diagnosis. What I had once assumed were just shin splints were probably the early onset of the chronic compartment syndrome.
But any way, I ended up seeing another doctor, Dr. Jim, because Dr. Paul didn’t actually perform the surgery, and Dr. Jim is the only one in their practice who does. Dr. Jim sent me to another doctor in a different practice, Dr. Brad, who is the only doctor in my area who actually performs the test for chronic compartment syndrome. And that was really fun, because Dr. Brad stuck a needle into my shins and calves in like eight different places to test the muscle pressure on a little calculator he held in his hand. Then (without the needle) he sent me upstairs to run on a treadmill for as long as I could before the pain made me stop. This turned out to be a little longer than six minutes. At that point, the nurse rushed me back down to Dr. Brad’s exam room, where he stuck the needle in again (in as quick a sequence as he could) to measure the pressure after exercise. It turned out that there was a significant increase, so the diagnosis was (I guess) confirmed.
Dr. Jim was very eager to do the surgery, despite whatever running I may or may not plan to do in the future. But I didn’t really have a great rapport with Dr. Jim, (who basically told me only that they do it in a surgery center, not a hospital; I would have some bruising, two-inch scars on both legs, and I wouldn’t be able to drive for two weeks) so I decided to try a sports medicine guy at a much more respected health institution (Dr. Cool) for a second (or third, I guess) opinion and also to see how he did his surgeries. Dr. Cool confirmed the diagnosis, BUT he explained that the surgery doesn’t always work, nor is it any kind of quick-fix for the problem. In fact, his own college-age daughter had had the surgery, but it took FIVE YEARS before she was able to run another 5K, and that’s a long time to be on the couch.
Plus, he said, “I’m not going to tell you not to walk or drive for two weeks after the surgery, but I will say realistically that when you get up from your bed to go to the bathroom, the pain will be so bad you will feel like you’ll pass out.”
So, as you can imagine, I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to sign up for all that.
Instead I turned to alternative therapy, after someone suggested myofascial release. I went looking for someone who does it, which wasn’t easy to find, though a chiropractor friend said she did have someone in her office who practiced it, and offered to speak to her about it on my behalf. About a week later, she said that her colleague didn’t think I was a candidate for therapy because it would be too intense, and might then cause more damage than was already there. She did, however, recommend kinesio tape to help loosen things up, and that’s been really helpful. Whenever I feel like the muscle is tight, I just put on a few strips of the tape, usually for the day, go about my business, and then it feels better. Overall there’s less soreness and more mobility.
Which brings me to the yoga (long story short — too late!)
I signed up for a Brand New Beginner course at a local studio, thinking it would help to stretch the muscles in a low-impact kind of way. It seems like it’s going to be great — eight sessions, everything explained in detail, just the kind of pace I need at the moment.
For the first class, I arrived early. I had planned on getting there early in case there was any paperwork to fill out, but it turned out that because I am an idiot when it comes to time, I actually got there 45 minutes early instead of the 15 I had planned for. The receptionist was very nice; she’s like this super-cool older (older than I) lady that you can just tell — nothing gets by her notice and she handles it all with the same monotone interest. Kind of like Roz in Monster’s Inc. (Turned out, I didn’t have any more paperwork.)
So, since I was alone and had some time, Roz offered to give me a tour of the studio; here are the lockers, the showers etc. And then, she pointed to a room where I could tell there was a lot of activity going on.
“That’s the aerobic-yoga cross class,” she said, “You could take it any time you want. You’ll love it.” And then she left me in the lounge right outside the room, where I stretched out and started leafing through a stack of O Magazine issues.
“Get your kettlebells!” called the trainer lady from the room. I imagined a room full of people swinging their kettlebells like they were all going for the bronze in hammer throw to her prompts. The music was pumping like a 90s rave; the place was shaking with the accumulated movement of the people in the room. I turned a page to see how Gayle King was handling the purge and organization of her enormous and very cluttered closet. (Who needs that many purses? How many shades of blue shoes can you wear?)
All of a sudden, the door flew open, and a guy just stood there in its frame with an empty water bottle in his hand. He was just DRIPPING with sweat. He was, no exaggeration, built like Dwayne Johnson. I mean, HUGE, sinewy muscles, wearing an itty bitty hanky of a black tank top that clung to his dampened pecs like tissue, the kind of guy you’d see in a GNC ad, and he was breathing so heavily, in such a labored fashion, that for a brief moment, I thought he was just going to fall forward on his face like something in a Warner Brothers cartoon.
He made his way over to the water fountain to refill his bottle, but his breathing never slowed, was never steady, never inaudible. He could not retrieve enough oxygen for what this class was taking from him.
That class? Roz thinks I would love that class? What had I ever done to Roz? Why would she want to kill me? Needless to say, I don’t think I will be taking that class any time soon, and by soon, I mean before Kanye West is POTUS.
Anyway, I’m going to stick with my nice quiet yoga class for now. Two classes in, and it’s been pretty good. I do feel like it’s going to be helpful, if not for the compartment syndrome, at least just in general. I’m never going to be the poster girl for lululemon, but hey, it’s worth a shot.
Her: Let’s play. I wanna play. See?
Me: Okay, but where’s the squirrel?
Her: I don’t want the squirrel. I want to play with the bully stick I have in my mouth.
Me: Yeah, but that’s like 3 inches long, and all slobbery. I can’t do anything with that.
Her: Yeah, but I want to play.
Me: Okay, here’s the squirrel. Drop the stick.
Me: Don’t you want to play?
Me: Want to play with the squirrel?
Her: No, just you and the stick.
Me: What if I hit you in the face with the squirrel like this:
Her: That does nothing for me. Did you see this stick?
Me: I’ve got stuff to do.
Her: Me too. I’m going to lie down here with the stick. Did you see this stick?
Me: I need coffee.
This morning I read about the controversy surrounding GoDaddy pulling its Super Bowl ad because of a kerfuffle about puppy mills and animal cruelty. Which of course, is something we should all be concerned about, yes, yes. I hear you. But what bothers me about this, whether it’s actually true or just a GoDaddy-staged publicity stunt is that while you can get this kind of action for the rights and dignity of animals, you can’t really say the same thing about the rights and dignity of women. Seriously, just try complaining about the objectification of women in ads like the ones for
Carl’s Jr. or any of the other myriad Super Bowl ads, or almost any ad (one of my favorites is the one where the guy is watching the game on his phone under the table because obviously it’s more interesting than anything his woman has to say from across it…but I digress…) for that matter, and you won’t hear anything about the ad being pulled for a reason like that. If anything, what you will hear is the sound of crickets chirping.
I could go on, but that ‘s not really the story I wanted to tell you. No, this is a story about parenting. A story about how I would like for my boys to grow up understanding that women are human beings, not slaves or sex objects, and that the way women are portrayed in the media has an immediate effect on how men view them in the real world. And I made my point, in the car on the way to school this morning, by relating it to Congress’s recent refusal to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and the fact that women in the United States of America on average earn seventy-eight cents for every dollar that a man earns, even if they are doing the same jobs with the same amount of experience. It’s 2015. The 21st century. The new year came and everyone was bitching about how we weren’t getting the hoverboards that Back to the Future II had promised us. I’d just be happy if they gave us the 22 cents. I mean, can you imagine what would happen if people whined more about pay inequity than they do about the injustice of not getting hoverboards??
But again, I digress…I’m a stay-at-home mom. Basically, as I’ve said before, that means I am a cook, a laundress, a chauffeur, a judge, jury and jailor, janitor, a pet sitter, a nurse, a cop, a safety monitor, a teacher, a gardener, a comptroller, head of purchasing, a cruise-director, appointment secretary, and all-around shit-doer. So when I mentioned to my sons this problem of the pay gap, I was a bit incensed when the one in the back seat said, “Yeah, but you don’t work.”
That’s right. He said it. After asking me this morning where he might find his freshly laundered gym uniform, and then packing the lunch I had prepared for him into his backpack, this son of mine had the stones (though admittedly not the brains) to say to me, “But you don’t work.”
But the funny part was that he had said this as we were pulling into the parking lot of his school, and not a minute later, he realized that he had actually left his gym uniform back at home. “Can you bring it to me before 8:30?” he asked. (This was at 7:50, and I still had his brother to drop off at another school.)
“But, Clooney,” I said, “I don’t work.”
Warning: Contains Spoilers
So, I Just had “the talk” with Clooney, confirming his suspicions about the Easter Bunny and Santa. He took it much better than Edison, whose response a few years ago was the dramatic accusation, “You LIED to me!” before storming up to his room and slamming the door.
Clooney said that he had been “testing” his theory about Santa and the Easter Bunny for a while. This testing entailed not writing a letter to Santa, and not telling me what the Easter Bunny should bring in his basket. Overall, he took the news well, and before he went on his way, he said “Wow. You and Dad should really think about doing some professional acting because you guys are good. Dad keeps secrets better than that guy on the Bachelor .”
We don’t watch The Bachelor , so I’m not entirely sure what that means, or where he got that concept, but still, that kid makes me laugh.
Just want to start this off by saying (in case you don’t already know) that parenting can often be a soul-sucking experience. Don’t get me wrong, of course sometimes it’s great; they make you laugh; they make you proud. But mostly they just wear you down to a little nub. At least until they’re in college (and even then, only if you’re lucky).
And that’s just before your first cup of coffee, mind you.
Anyway, basketball season ended, and since Clooney is the kind of kid who needs some structure and activity to his days, I suggested he try running track this season. He’d never done track, but he’d done a couple of cross-country kind of activities in the past. He’s long and lean, so I figured track would be a good outlet for him.
Clooney’s kind of artsy. I mean he loves art, but more than that, he’s into music. He can talk about music these days the way he could talk about cars from the time he could speak. Not that he can’t still talk about cars. Generally speaking, he can talk about anything. In fact, his rambling
conversations could talk cats off the back of a tuna boat. But anyway, he plays three instruments: electric bass, the clarinet, and cello. He also sings in the school chorus and has a part in the drama club’s spring play. He’s plenty busy, but I still worry that he will be sucked into that iPad, that Minecraft will turn his brain to pudding, that he needs more stimuli. I’m a mom. I worry…
His school doesn’t have an elementary track program, so when I went looking for a program, choices were kind of limited in our area. I finally found one through the Catholic Youth Ministry, but our church doesn’t have a track team, so I had to sign him up through the diocese website, and then get a dispensation to put him on the team of another parish. Already I was jumping through hoops, but hey, a mom does these things.
After we got signed up, we were able to get more information about the team. The first sign that perhaps we’d made a mistake, was the practice schedule: Tuesday and Thursday nights from 5:45 until 7. Not ideal, since he has bass lessons on Tuesdays until 5 and drama climb on Thursdays until 5 as well. But again, I’m Mom. If he wants to run track, I will make it work.
His first practice was cancelled because of late-season snow, so the first practice he actually attended was on Thursday. Thursdays are a bit crazy for us, because I signed The Princess up for a dance class this season, thinking that she could take a school bus one day a week to the school that offers this after-hours program. However, I was mistaken on this point, and didn’t find out until after I had paid for the class. So, every week, I pick up the Princess from her school and drive her to this other school, about 15 minutes, for the class. It’s not really a big deal, but I have to pick her up at 5 as well. The dance school is only about a mile from Clooney’s school, so it actually kind of worked out, in terms of picking them up around the same time.
On a normal day.
The first day of practice, was also the day that I took our dog to be groomed. She wasn’t ready to be picked up until 3:00, so after I got her, I took her with me to get The Princess. After dropping off my daughter at the dance class, I ran the dog back home, which was 20-25 minutes from the dance school, depending on the traffic. Got the dog settled at home, grabbed some cold chicken for Clooney to have for dinner before track, and headed back to get them both. First I picked up The Princess, and then I headed over to get Clooney, and one of our neighbors’ kids, with whom we carpool. From there, we headed back toward home (at 5:00, traffic is thicker, so 25 minutes was making good time). Clooney ate his dinner in the car, but it turned out that he had forgotten to bring his track clothes, so after we dropped off the neighbor, we stopped back at our house for him to change, and to drop off The Princess with her older brother, Edison, who was by then home from his own after school activity.
Clooney quickly changed, filled a water bottle, and we headed to the practice, which was 10 minutes away, but still in heavy rush-hour suburban traffic. Lots of cars, lots of lights. I missed a parents’ meeting with the coach, but I got him there by 6:00, which I told the coach would be a regular occurrence.
After I saw that Clooney was settled, I got back in the car, went home, fed the other two kids (because Manfrengensen was working late), walked the dog, and went back to the track to get Clooney. By that time, the sun was going down, and it was getting cold. I stood watching him run for a bit, and then he saw me. The coach told them he’d see them Sunday at the meet, and the kids were free to leave. Clooney came through the gates with the crowd, broke away to come to me and said, “You know what? I don’t want to do this. Track’s not really my thing.”
And I just kind of felt like this:
One time, we were down at the beach, watching Casino Royale, and the torture scene came on:
Around the 45-second mark, my dad said, “What are they trying to do? Give him hemorrhoids?”
Another time, my nephew was watching Yo Gabba Gabba:
My father, as he was just walking through the room said, “These guys are lucky to be working.”
Of course, he had myriad other great things he said, but these two just keep making me laugh.
I took one of those BUZZFEED quizzes the other day that’s supposed to tell you what to give up for Lent, thinking it would be kind of funny, but it turned out to touch a bit of a nerve for me. Not that I watch that much TV, but what I do watch, I’m quite passionate about, and it’s a very exciting season in the world of television. I’m not talking about any of that so-called reality crap. Instead, I want to focus on well-scripted, thought-provoking hour-long dramas. The things that are filling the void left by Breaking Bad for me. So here, in no particular order are the series that I am currently watching and simply cannot give up for God or anyone.
1. True Detective – HBO
Sunday night the finale to this 8-episode season will air. All this time wondering who the Yellow King is, if in fact the Yellow King is the murderer. I can’t just stop watching now. Plus Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are just riveting in these roles. It’s dark and it’s vicious, and totally worth watching.
2. The Americans – FX
Last season was really good, but when it was over, I wondered how they were going to keep the idea of Russian spies in 1980’s suburbia in play. Well, this season, the whole family is in danger, not just the spy parents. Add in that the daughter is starting to suspect something is up with her mom and dad and you have one taught thriller.
3. Game of Thrones – HBO
Season 4 starts April 6th, a full two weeks before the end of Lent, and I’ve got to tell you, I freaking LOVE this show. There are so many characters, so many layers. It’s so well-written that I can forget that there are dragons and white walkers, which aren’t usually my thing. But still, those things are intimidating. So many great performances, so many plot twists. I know I could read the books to find out what happens, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise of the show. It’s simply the best thing on television right now. (Well, right now starting April 6th.)
The best season was the second one, but still, I could watch Timothy Olyphant just walk across the screen all night long. Damn. Oh, oh, oh, and there’s some witty dialogue in there too.
I realize this series has yet to air. In fact, it starts on FX on April 15th. But I loved the Coen Brothers movie upon which it is based, and if the series has any kind of the same dark humor as the film, I will be hooked. Also, what a cast!! Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Bob Odenkirk, Colin Hanks, Oliver Platt, and many more. I can’t wait.
6. Mr. Selfridge
PBS has been churning out some great TV via the BBC for many years, and for anyone going through withdrawal from Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge provides a fine fix. Jeremy Piven, formerly of HBO’s Entourage plays the title character, who’s part P.T, Barnum, part Don Draper. He’s interesting and all, but the other characters (and there are quite a few) are just as compelling. Miss Agnes Towler (Aisling Loftus) is like an Edwardian Peggy Olsen, smart, ambitious and hoping to find a true career. If you haven’t seen Season 1, I highly recommend you catch up before Season 2 premiers March 30th.
7. Mad Men
Well, I’ve been with Don Draper from the beginning, so it’s too late to give up now, right? Seriously though, the end of Season 6 saw Don setting off in a new direction, and it will be very interesting to see where he ends up. My only complaint is that AMC is breaking up the final season into two mini-seasons, with the first part beginning April 13th. Not sure I like this new trend. It’s as if TV executives saw the marketing potential in splitting Breaking Bad into to two seasons, so now every long-running series will have its final one milked into two. Kind of like how Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was cut into two movies, so then so was Twilight: Breaking Dawn, and now Mocking Jay will follow suit. (Don’t get me wrong, Deathly Hallows needed two movies to be done right. Not so sure about the other two.) But I digress. However many episodes they stretch Mad Men into, I will watch every one.
And mind you, these are just the dramas. There are a few sit-coms that are worth watching out there too, but I will save them for another post. In any case, the DVR will be working overtime this Spring, and reading books will just have to wait for Summer.