28 February 2011

The Cereal Wars



Heaven only knows I take issue with Sarah Palin virtually every time she opens her mouth, but when she stuffs it full of s’mores and attacks Michelle Obama on America’s childhood obesity crisis, she really gets under my skin. I was immensely relieved to learn that I am not the only one she troubled. Her remarks provoked national outrage, as they are so often wont to do. Even several leading figures of the GOP joined the chorus this time. But most recently, I understand Jamie Oliver, the Naked Chef, has called Sarah a Froot Loop due to her stance on the issue.

Gotta love the guy, and I do. First of all, anyone who can provide me with books full of easy, delicious and nutritious recipes to feed my family is already a hero to me. If at the same time he is willing to take on an issue as serious as overweight kids, well, he pretty much flies off my ‘that’s my man’ chart.

So I’m worried about him. I know Sarah is likely to bristle (or is that the name of one of her kids?) at any criticism and because she might very well ‘attack’ him back, I think Jamie must be prepared. In Sarah’s own infamous word – he should ‘reload’ his verbal arsenal. So I looked up a few other cereal names he could use, purely in the interest of helping him out. I found a company called Tasty that makes a cereal called Crazy Flakes, which I can’t help but think would work very well.

The thing is America’s youth obesity crisis is real and has incredibly serious consequences. These range from sky rocketing rates of diabetes, asthma, cancers and heart disease to the basic ability of our kids to move around and not to become even more obese adults. The economic cost of the health care is staggering and on an exponential curve going up, up, up. So anything anyone tries to do to help solve this massive problem (pun intended) is just fine with me. I suffered from weight issues in my youth, and I know first hand the problems it causes are real. 

And what’s more, Sarah, the kids that Michelle Obama is trying to help are not the ones whose families go on white water rafting trips and then light up the campfire to roast up the s’mores (a delicious outdoor treat of chocolate, toasted marshmallows and Graham crackers for anyone who might not know.) Obesity is far more prevalent among low income children - kids desperately in need of a bit of ‘nannying’ from the state or from anywhere they can get it, because they sure don’t seem to be getting much more than fast food and chips at home. Let alone the education they need to eat well.

Tackling the problem is hugely complex. Food is always a loaded issue – and not just in the United States, not just in low-income areas. I’ve been on the PTA of my kids’ International School in Monaco for years and I can tell you no single issue has been more debated at monthly meetings than that of the food doled out at the four school lunches served per week. Four meals per week. And luckily, as far as I’ve seen there isn’t a single obese kid in the entire school – it’s not a huge problem in the South of France, yet even so the concern to define proper nutrition is there.

So I say, ‘Go Jamie!’ ‘Go, Michelle!’ Do everything you can possibly do to reduce this problem. And Sarah, why don’t you pour yourself a nice big bowl of Fruit Loops and go check if you can see what they eat for breakfast in Russia! 

23 February 2011

The Duck Pond



On at least three separate occasions recently, I’ve heard my sons comment to the effect that they ‘can’t believe it’s already winter holidays’ or ask ‘don’t I think this year is going by so fast?’ The comments are shocking to me, because that is the type of thing you expect to hear from people – people who the French so beautifully describe as being of a certain age, those who are wont to express the perception that time is racing by.

They are not comments I would expect from kids.

I remember feeling that childhood lasted forever.  In the town where I grew up, there is a small pond.  It is named, with great originality, the Duck Pond, just like thousands of ponds across America where ducks swim. It is a decent size pond, but in my childhood I thought it only slightly smaller than Lake Superior. Even if it was perhaps quite significantly smaller, its presence was enormous.

For mothers, the duck pond was a salvation, as one could walk to it with young children in tow, stale bread in hand, for the breathtaking adventure of, yes, feeding the ducks.  The fact I still remember these excursions from earliest childhood is a living testament to the thrill incurred. As we grew and the Duck Pond shrank – it nevertheless remained exciting.  Every winter it would freeze over, and there would come a day when a member of the police department would walk out, test the ice and declare it safe for skating.

This annual ritual stretched back in continuity far beyond my years. My father was born and raised in the town where I grew up and I have no doubt he too experienced this same thrill come a cold day in winter. I know, because he told me he did. He learned to skate and play hockey on the Duck Pond and he could skate like few people I’ve seen before or since – the man was a symphony on ice. 

Every winter weekend, come the long awaited proclamation that the Duck Pond was frozen solid; my father would take me, my brother and about half the kids in town ice-skating. He always found the time. He would lace up one pair of skates after another, serve steaming hot chocolate from his giant thermos and teach us all to play ice hockey, snap-the-whip and other games.  These were long, rosy cheeked, magical afternoons that I still remember as some of the happiest times of my childhood.

Today I am on winter holidays in Switzerland with my own children and without a doubt, we’re having a ball.  For the most part, life in Monaco means we travel to our winter, which is only about four weeks a year.  That is a fact I know will garner me little sympathy from those living a long, cold and seemingly endless one.

But our winter is short and much like our life, our holidays seem to literally fly by. And maybe it’s just that soon I will be a ‘certain age’ myself that makes me feel this way, but when boys not yet in their teens feel time is racing by too, you have to wonder why.  Is it just the pace of life today, where every minute is chock a block full? Or just that we want to do so much all the time, especially on holidays?

Whatever the reason, as the boys and I skated this afternoon around our wonderful ice park here in Switzerland, I really missed the Duck Pond.

18 February 2011

Winter Holidays



Today winter break begins in Monaco.  And your newly minted blogger is desperately in need of a holiday. OK, maybe not in desperate need of one, but certainly in would-really-like-a-holiday-now mode. Life in a hectic household requires a pause from time to time. For that reason, I thought it an excellent idea that my blogging should henceforth be in keeping with school vacations.

Therefore, dear friends and followers, I will not be writing on a regular basis for the next two weeks.

That is, unless any great irresistible ideas come to mind. This writing is an addictive process and I might possibly feel the need to share something. Just because there isn’t a drop right now, doesn’t mean the well will remain dry forever.

I will, after all, be driving to Switzerland tomorrow, normally about a 6-hour trip, so perhaps an idea will occur to me in the car. I’m sure the calm and tranquility of traveling with our 3 boys plus one friend will lend itself to a writer’s contemplation.

Actually, come to think of it, I could create a sequel to the Good Guest Guide, especially as we are returning to the ski home that inspired the original piece. According to my blog statistics, it seems to be very popular. Give people advice, I always say, it doesn’t hurt to offer and they certainly don’t have to take it. 

Or perhaps travel tips would make a useful post. How to keep the kids entertained while driving into the mountains when they have lingering gastro and you are afraid they will vomit all over their ipads.

A list of car songs to sing; now that could definitely be a blog!  Bet most of you remember the days when families would sing in the car – back when we didn’t have ipads and getting carsick didn’t mean lasting electronic damage.

Or how about plain old simple pre-travel stress? The utter impossibility of a mother sleeping before 3 in the morning the night before a trip. That could be interesting. Why exactly does it become critical – what is this utter compulsion to finish everything before leaving? Is it truly overwhelmingly imperative that the pile of children’s certificates, that have been sitting on my desk for the past nine months get laminated before we leave? Obviously. It must be done, or else! Or else, what? They won’t be laminated?

And packing!  Oh, the stress of packing – now there’s a blog topic if I’ve ever heard one. Yes, we happen to be leaving for our own vacation home, one fully stocked with everything we could possibly need, but we still ‘have to pack!’ I am sure I could come up with something to say about that.

In fact, I’ve already got it. Another highly blog-worthy topic – pre-travel marital stress with packing! An examination of why a man, despite a shirt collection to rival Jay Gatsby’s, finds it necessary to bring along the same 15 shirts worn winter, summer, spring, fall, wherever in the world we go. Or why, with everything necessary for a vacation already in place at the destination, said man considers it necessary to fill three suitcases with ‘stuff.’ Stuff – ‘just in case.’ Stuff we can ‘just toss in the car.’

All these ideas would no doubt present a possibility, if, that is, I hoped to do any writing. Maybe tune in just in case and I’ll keep you posted.  And if not, have a wonderful winter interlude – we’ll be back in a couple of weeks!  

16 February 2011

Mr. Grizzly



There are times when it is worth going through the motions. If you ask me, a great many of those times occur in a marriage or similar significant relationship.

Years ago, when my husband and I were newly engaged, Valentine’s Day came about. It felt like the holiday was invented just for us. Fortunately, as we were living a long distance situation back then, my husband was visiting me in New York. I was working, so he went strolling along 5th Avenue and passed FAO Schwartz, the famous American toy store. 

In retrospect, I’m not at all surprised he couldn’t resist going in. In all my experience with men before and since, whatever the age – they just love the toys. They never really outgrow them, they only add to the collection. And yes, while it’s true that the difference between men and boys is the size of their toys, most women appreciate the fact. We need all the help we can get when it comes to what is often a difficult distinction.

This particular Valentine’s Day my husband did just fine in the big toy department (at least for something non-motorized.) He left Schwartz’ carrying a gia-normous teddy bear – a member of the grizzly family, I believe. It weighed an astounding amount for an animal that is all stuffing and no bone. And he, my husband, I mean, carried this bear about 45 blocks down Fifth Avenue, as not surprisingly, he couldn’t get a taxi to stop for him and such a cuddly, but obese-ly fat bear.

It really was a lovely romantic gesture. And being somewhat crazy in the initial phase of love, we took Mr. Grizzly along with us to a wonderful restaurant and decided then and there that no matter what we would always go out to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Since then, we’ve gone out to countless dinners, for Valentine’s Days, other holidays and for absolutely no reason at all. (Well, perhaps that’s not strictly true, being that I’m not much of one in the kitchen, there’s always a reason to go out, food being not least among them.)  But besides the point that we love to eat, we love the chance to talk. 

It does get more difficult to make the time. The boys now ask “you’re going out again?’  (We figure it will only be a couple more years till they are jumping up and down with delight, so we should take advantage of family togetherness while we can.)  But it makes it harder to carve out time just for the two of us.

And the other night, it was an effort. I had forgotten to make reservations on arguably the biggest date night of the year, so we ended up in a restaurant that was decent but not great. And quite honestly even if we had booked the Louis XV, it wouldn’t have done much for us. We were both exhausted. But because we had made that pact 18 years before, we went out to celebrate. And of course, after a glass of wine and a little food to revive us, we had an absolutely wonderful time.

We still have Mr. Grizzly. He’s dumpier than before, seems even fatter as he lost his shape over the years - too many boys climbing over him and treating him like a bean chair. And my husband is starting to ask when are we going to get rid of that ridiculous bear, but it’s not happening any time soon. I still love my bear.

Sometimes you just have to go through the motions.

14 February 2011

My Valentine


Today is Valentine’s Day and appropriately, I am in love.  In fact, I am having an illicit affair – one I suspect is consuming far too much of my time and attention. I am becoming obsessed.

You see, I’ve fallen in love with my laptop and we are truly inseparable (joined at the hip if you will.)  I start my day staring into its smiling face – O.K., it isn’t really smiling, but the screensaver photos make it feel as if it is.  And although there are periods I leave it behind – it’s always with regret. I can’t help but wish someone would invent a jog along laptop case – workouts would fly by - and waterproof would be good, so after I could shower and catch up on the headlines whilst performing morning ablutions.  Because I hate leaving it even for a moment.  Luckily, we do spend much of the day together.  Even when the boys come home and need homework help, my laptop is nearby.  No need for tutors – it knows everything – it’s normal that I depend on it, as I can’t honestly be expected to remember high school algebra this many years later. 

I draw the line, however, at inviting my laptop to dinner.  There are times I would like to, but I don’t feel right about breaking rules I impose on the rest of the family – the no-electronic-devices-at-the-table one specifically.  But after dinner it resumes its rightful place, on my lap.  This might be in front of the television, which occasionally claims my attention, but mostly my laptop has my undivided regard.

We of course go to bed together, to my husband’s considerable consternation.  Although there are times when it is banished to the night table (too few and far between, he would say) my laptop is always close by.  Gone, too, are the nights I would wake, toss and turn till I could sleep again. With a laptop, being an insomniac is not a problem, the screen brightness considerately adjusts to low and my nocturnal self is happily occupied until drowsiness overwhelms.

What’s more, my laptop is the ideal travel companion, coming along wherever I want to go only to amuse me. I baby it when we travel, wrap it in a comfy case and stress immeasurably when it goes through security all naked and exposed in those plastic bins. I’ve even been known to unplug vending machines in airports that don’t have available plugs when my laptop needs some juice.

I’m extremely possessive of it.  No one is allowed to touch it but me.  I cringe when I see my husband grab his laptop by the screen.  Laptop abuse is what that is. I wouldn’t dream of treating mine that way.

My laptop pays me back by being the most wonderful source of information, entertainment and communication. It keeps me in touch with family and friends and occasionally even takes me shopping. Most importantly, it listens to me nonstop - records my every word, but allows me to silence it with a push of a button. Sadly, there aren’t many in my household who treat me as well.

But the thing is, I have a nagging doubt, that great as it feels, it’s maybe not such a good idea for us to be quite so close.  I find myself distracted much of the time, waiting for the ‘ping’ of an e-mail or to see what’s new. And my powers of concentration are definitely getting weaker as I depend on it for just about everything. That can’t be good; I’m soon going to need medication for attention deficit disorder.  Yes, although it breaks my heart, I’m going to have to distance myself from this relationship. My husband will be delighted, but he’s in the other room at the moment, so perhaps my laptop could do me one last little favor and email him the message.  I would go myself, but first I have to get my kids off those darn electronic devices they seem to be on constantly!

11 February 2011

This One's For Me!



OK, this isn’t working. I am and have always been a want it/want it now kind of person. And lately life hasn’t improved my patience. No one waits for anything anymore. Want to find something out? Hit 3 or 4 keys  – instant knowledge – you don’t even need to type the entire query. Want a song, book, article, movie? It’s downloaded in a few seconds. We’ve become a society of just about instant gratification.

So although I’ve waited years to start writing again – now that I’m at it for all of the past three weeks, I want to be as successful as J.K. Rowling by tomorrow. OK, I’m exaggerating. I don’t expect to become richer than the Queen of England because I wrote a few lousy blogs. And I can’t imagine what Lego could possibly come up with based on my postings thus far. But forget JK and Lego deals; let’s say a notch less ambitious – as in Erma Bombeck.  I didn’t immediately remember who she was, but my wonderful cousin read my blog and called me the Erma Bombeck of Monaco. One quick trip to Wikipedia later – and I learned the woman wrote a few columns and was in 36 US syndications within three weeks – just exactly as long as I’ve been blogging! She ended up having 30 million followers and writing 15 best sellers still in demand today.

I can’t help being a live-my-life-by-numbers person and I suspect I’m not alone. Look at Bridget Jones' diary – every entry begins with her counting something. And there writing a blog ropes you right in. You immediately get statistics – this many page views today, that many yesterday. This total in a week and this total overall. It’s extremely cool. Luckily they don’t track the times I check in to check my numbers.

Then there are the geographical statistics  – this many views from the U.S. versus this many from France/Monaco and this many from Greece – thank you my family mou! I have a few followers in Australia and apparently quite a few in the UK. But I have zero reason to be cocky. I happened to see the hits on a very entertaining blog by an 84-year-old grandmother.  It’s called Helen & Margaret. She’s more political than I dare to be – guess you don’t risk much expressing yourself at 84 – but when she called a certain ex-governor a b*tch, she ended up with more than 4 million hits! Can’t help but feel – could’ a, would’ a, should’ a.

Thing is, I really don’t need any more numbers to measure my life. I’ve always measured by numbers, and I don’t mean those preceded with a vertically barred S. My numbers are mundane – grades in school, calories as a teen (who am I kidding – calories every day of my life!) number of dates when single, number of raises when working. Who needs more pressure from a blog that’s supposed to be fun?

Actually, another blogger I admire told me to write for myself and if people stumble across the blog and enjoy it, great. Struck me as spot-on advice. So why did I start this? Because I like to stir my life up – keep it changing directions. To accomplish anything I need to put pressure on myself just as Tiger Mom puts it on her kids. I complain a lot, but ultimately I like it or I wouldn’t do it. Plus my husband just got his dream sailboat and I’m going to need something to keep me busy on the high seas. And I’ve always wanted to write – it’s what I love to do. So I typed my first blog on my iphone and jumped in. Because waiting gets you nowhere, really. Sure, a little more preparation would have meant a little less pressure. It would have been nice to consider what exactly I wanted to do, where exactly I wanted to end up. A few blogs in reserve for those ‘dry days’ when not a single idea comes to mind. But somehow I’ll manage. Life is short and it doesn’t hurt to up the ante.

As for those numbers – cool as they are, it’s all about perspective. While I can’t help counting the hits  (and please, keep ‘em coming) there is ultimately only one number that counts in my life. That is ‘four’ as in 1 + 3 = my husband and my three sons. And luckily I don’t need to check the statistics on hugs per day, so really, screw the numbers - I have what I want. I am damn lucky and I know it!

09 February 2011

So What’s Your Excuse?



I love a good excuse.  Ever wondered what we would do without excuses?  A creative, thoughtful excuse provides the framework for which one can justify just about anything.

As with everything, there are cultural components to excuses and living the expat life has increased my appreciation for them. The word origins are none other that French/Latin.  S’excuser – to free oneself from blame: ex- ‘out’ of causa ‘accusation or blame.’  I have met some wonderful ‘excusers’ and indeed, many are from the surrounding region.  In my opinion, this local expertise comes from the educational system where mistakes are mocked to a far greater extent than encouraged.  When you do something wrong at a tender age and get taunted – it’s pretty normal to look for the best way to ‘ex causa’ yourself out of all future situations.

By contrast, Americans are encouraged to make and own up to their mistakes – i.e., if at first you don’t succeed, the try, try again school of thought.  As a result American excuses can be pretty lame.  Statistically, most revolve around pets – my dog ate my homework, my cat’s stuck up a tree, my fish is sick – I kid you not, I looked them up and the latter is apparently a popular excuse for not showing up to work.  I mean, really, why bother?  If that’s the best you can do just own up and say you’re not coming in because you hate your job or you just don’t want to work.  Because if you can’t do better than a sick fish you’re far better off sticking with the truth.  Trust me, it won’t make the slightest difference to your career.

As I said, people here are more inventive.  They have excuses for literally everything.  Blatantly shortchange you in a shop?  Your fault, you distracted the poor shopkeeper with your accent when you said ‘merci.’  They have a creativity that comes with their good excuse capacity that we mistake-owner-uppers sadly lack.

When at all possible, I do like to blame someone or something else for my shortcomings.  (I didn’t say it was admirable, just my preferred modus operandi.)  It’s easier.  I refer again to the boring student classic ‘the dog ate my homework.’ You’re off the hook and it’s not as if the teacher’s going to leave the class to go kick your dog.  The dog could care less.  Everybody’s happy. 

Children work well too, for all fellow parents out there.  I promise, you are going to be forgiven anything and everything if you blame it on your poor little one having ‘gastro’ (stomach flu).  Actually, children having gastro is so truly awful that even if it occurred three years prior, you deserve to keep it in your bag just for the sheer horror of what you went through when it actually did.

Parents are another wonderful source of excuse material – although perhaps better for character-based excuses than action ones.  Yes, I know, I am a tad compulsive – I get it from my mother.  Can’t argue with that. The entire psychiatric profession would disappear overnight if people were to stop using parent origin excuses.

Of course, not everyone feels the need to offer an excuse – ever!  Some lucky souls accept themselves as they are – and just own right up to whatever failings they have.  A friend told me a great story when she was reprimanding her small daughter for something amiss. Her daughter didn’t argue back or offer any mitigating defense.  She simply asked her mother,  ‘Is anyone perfect?’  The mother was forced to admit no one was.  And her very logical little girl then came back with – ‘well, then, why should I try to be something I can’t?

Excuse me, but how in the world can you respond to that?

07 February 2011

On Tigers and Triumph



Amy Chua’s recent Tiger Mom article in the Wall Street Journal has received so much press from Time Magazine to Facebook, that probably my thoughts are the last thing needed.  (For those few who might have missed it, here is the link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html Given, however, that the piece deals with parenting, education, expectations, the strictness with which one raises children, and national preparedness for competition on the global stage – it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I can’t resist adding one more voice to the fray.

I am something of a Tiger Mom too, although to a lesser extent than Professor Chua.  My boys attend an International School, which encompasses a vast cultural range of parenting philosophies. One of my dear friends is Chinese; her daughter competes in the same class as my son. Their competitiveness has served both well – driving each to greater achievement.

Chua’s article hits a particular relevant note as this past weekend our school held an Arts Festival/Talent Show.  My friend’s multi-talented daughter sang a lovely dramatic duet with a beautifully trained voice and then she played the electronic violin with considerable mastery. Between her many talents and her academic excellence, she would make any parent proud.

And there were many proud parents present.  The festival showcased real talent and I was amazed at the performers’ poise and abilities.  I must admit that for me school shows are one of the great ‘highs’ of parenting. Put me in any venue (classroom, gym, assembly hall) and put my kid on a stage in front of me and I just about melt into my seat. I hold the video camera in one hand and the photo camera in the other.  This makes it difficult to applaud so I am the one shouting ‘Bravo’ and stomping my feet after each act.  My husband refuses to sit with me or even be in the same row.

The students who performed this weekend merited the considerable applause they received.  Their talent was trained and honed.  I couldn’t help but think that there must be at least a few Tiger Moms in Monaco – chasing behind their kids and roaring “practice!”  

Participation in this year’s show was won by audition and only the deserving got in.  This is how it should be, as opposed to another show held a few years back.  Then, every child who played an instrument was allowed to strut their stuff.  No need to audition and as quickly became evident; most assumed there was no need to practice either.  They just got up and played – pretty darn abysmally.  To make matters worse it was an end-of-year show on a stifling hot day in June. The audiences’ programs were flapping so hard that you could barely hear the performances, which, I assure you, was a good thing.

In addition to the fact that it was painful (except of course, for my kids!) it was useless. One would hope that the purpose of school shows is not only to please parents, but also to prepare our children to perform on the larger global stage. Was permitting them to play below par doing them the slightest favor?  Were we not simply setting them up for greater humiliation down the line? Amy Chua would have a heart attack!

Life seldom rewards anyone merely for showing up.  I am therefore 100 percent opposed to medals being given out only for participation.  The medal is absolutely meaningless – and the kids know it. One of my sons used to come in dead last in his ski race year after year.  Of course he was upset about it.  The medal they gave him went into the bin.  But when he finally won first place, he had to have been the happiest kid who ever climbed the podium!

Much to Ms. Chua’s perspective, hard earned achievement feels great.  I completely agree when she says that accomplishment begets success.  The talented rise to the top via selection, it is just the way the world works.  Not everyone who applies gets the job, not everyone who races come in first, not everyone plays at Carnegie Hall. 

With all the criticism (and even threats) Amy Chua has received since her article and now best-selling book published, I haven’t heard a single voice question the love she has for her daughters.  She wants what she believes best for them, as do all parents. The question she poses is how to get there.  And painful though it might have been for her 7 year old to sit at the piano for hours at a time, somehow I don’t think it was any picnic for the mother sitting beside her.  I know, because sitting with my three boys as they play their scales the most I can stand is about 20 minutes.

04 February 2011

Fancy-Free



Fancy-Free

I remember when I was pregnant with my first child; a girlfriend told me that I would never be carefree again.  She said it casually, just offering up what every mother-to-be should know, but her words hit me hard.  I panicked – went into a state of prenatal terror at the prospect of losing my carefree-ness. What would it mean? Would I never again drive my convertible, blasting music, hair streaming out behind me, without a care in the world?

After a moment, thinking about it, I realized I was never really that carefree to begin with.  I would have liked to have been, but I was born a more obsessed worrier kind of girl. And now I just had one more thing to worry about – losing the fancy-free-ness I never had!

The fact is, my friend was right. Once I became a mother, I became so ‘full of care’ that in comparison to pre-mother me, I might have been the most footloose person on the planet. I broke out in hives the day I brought my first son home from the hospital, the realization of the responsibility that was now mine so overwhelming. And although I calmed down with sons two and three, (life with three boys has a way of inuring you) the truth is that from the instant you give birth, you live with a completely different awareness and you will live that way forever. Somewhere on earth are the little beings you put out there and you will always be connected to them. Funnily enough, a synonym for fancy-free is ‘without ties.’

Of course, I don’t mean to say that those lucky, carefree types do not have ties. They just are not worriers. My husband is not a big worrier, and I envy him for it. If there is something worrisome going on – he asks himself if there is anything he can do about it.  If the answer is yes, he does it and doesn’t worry.  If it’s no, he figures worrying is pretty pointless and moves on to other things, like taking a nap.  (As I said, I envy him for it.)  

I can’t do that – maybe because I’m a mother, maybe because women and worry go really well together.  It could also be hereditary: my brother comes from the same worrier parent stock that I do and he’s a worrier too. It’s in our blood. Even as an independent adult, when I went home to visit my parents and went out at night, well, my father wouldn’t sleep soundly until he heard me come in.

It drove me kind of crazy then, although I look at it differently now and appreciate how much he cared. And as a result it was an adjustment for me to marry my non-worrier husband. I equate worry with love - the old Betty Boop ‘Button Up Your Overcoat’ perspective. If someone doesn’t worry about me, then I have to worry if they love me. (This no longer applies to my husband as he has pretty much proven himself in that regard.) But as a non-worrier, he looks at things completely differently than I do. He almost finds it insulting to be worried about – as if I doubt his capabilities. (Never, Sweetheart - just can’t help myself!) If I express concern for him, he has been known to respond that I should worry about the kids instead. Like that is really necessary. I do, I do that too!

Mothers have countless reasons to worry, and I’m sure those reasons will be subjects of future blogs. For the moment, we are in a good place as regards our family concerns, being post the baby/toddler dangers and pre- the serious teenage ones. But then again, even today when everyone is safe and sound at home, you still have to worry about what perils your kids might be encountering in the virtual world. No, there is absolutely no getting away from it; there are always reasons to worry. I better stop now. I have to go find a Valium and lie down.

(Disclaimer:  just so the author doesn’t worry about being perceived as endorsing drugs, the last line is a joke.)



02 February 2011

'Cause It's So Weird!




I get my daily news from several sources and unlike a certain former Alaskan governor; I have no problem naming any of them.  The Huff Post is the home page on my computer so I check in with Arianna several times per day, but in addition I read/watch CNN, Bloomberg, and the NY Times on a fairly regular basis.  And sometimes, for no other reason than to get myself really stirred up I’ll watch Fox – just a masochistic urge to get irritated at a different perspective and see how skewed the news can be.  But without any doubt, for sheer entertainment value my favorite is AOL Weird News.

This is good stuff and I’m not kidding.  With everything going on in the world, AOL decides to publish stories that are so fantastic, I just can’t help reading.  I’m addicted, I admit.  AOL happens to be a well-rounded news source – they also have a section called AOL Good News.  But trust me, nothing holds a candle to the Weird.

Here is a sampling of today’s Top Weird News Stories (AOL’s Headlines)

Sex in Space: Will It Be Good? 
    Hot Diggity D*mn – I don’t know!  I must confess it never once occurred to me to wonder  – but now I sure am curious!  Maybe my husband and I can get on one of those multi-million dollar space tourism trips – apparently Virgin is working on bringing the prices down - and then we could try it out.  We could become the founding members of the Hundred Mile High Club – now those would be some sexual exploits worth bragging about!

Will This Odd French Town Survive the End of the World?
    This is a Mayan calendar end of the world story (yada, yada, yada.) A little French town of 189 inhabitants called Bugarach is worried about being invaded by thousands upon thousands of real people who believe that ‘helpful extraterrestrials are waiting inside the town’s mountain to whisk them away when the Mayan calendar ends.’  The town’s poor mayor is freaking out about it since people are already invading and performing weird rituals all over the place.  He wants to have the army on hand come 31-12-2012. 

Now here’s the thing with the Mayan calendar, I obviously have not the slightest patience with the poor pathetic people who obsess about this – isn’t it painstakingly obvious that if the Mayans were so omniscient as to predict the end of the entire world – they would have foreseen the Spanish coming and the end of their own?  Ugh! But being that this town is not that far away in southwest France, I might quickly MapQuest Monaco to Bugarach, just in case.

Happy ‘Working Naked Day’!
    I also just learned that the 1st of February is now officially known as Working Naked Day.  It’s a very special holiday celebration for all those workers who feel somewhat marginalized for not putting on a business suit and going to an office every day.  It’s officially described as ‘dedicated to those who are working from home naked – stripped of the resources that millions take for granted in the traditional corporate work place.’ You know, people like me.  I no sooner start a career as a blogger than I have a special naked-day holiday dedicated to me!  How cool!  And here I was already feeling fortunate to be ‘working’ in my pajamas!

Plans for the World’s Biggest Yo-Yo Spin Out Of Control.
   A couple in Florida (what is it with this state?) apparently spent 7 hours a day for 18 months building a 7000-pound yo-yo.  Can you imagine???!!! Then, after they dropped it from a crane, the friction on the rope was apparently too much for the yo-yo and it went crashing to the ground.  Aawww, what a shame.  At least Guinness World Records plans to honor their attempt.

So that’s it for today’s Weird News Highlights.  Puts a whole different perspective on things, doesn’t it?  Not the slightest need to worry about those little idiosyncrasies we all have.  So what if you don’t like to step on a crack or sit with your back towards a door, you are not weird!  You don’t even make the cut until you start building 7000 pound toys, while you are naked at home, in the last couple years to go till the world ends.  Man, thinking about it – that sex in space option starts to sound pretty good…  But in the meantime, while I go call my travel agent, just get out there and have a nice, normal day!
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