Tuesday, January 31, 2012

(This is not a) Drive By

It's possible that I misinterpreted the directives of blogging.  I had given a respectable amount of thought to today's blog topic, and came up empty-handed.  I went back to the drawing board, decided to play Webster and re-write a (very small) part of the dictionary---and went about the business of re-defining the term "blog" from whatever term blog actually means (beats the f out of me) to "shameful public confessions".

And shameful it is.

Boys and girls,  I am a Train fan.

I told you it was shameful.  I am deeply and profoundly shamed.

By the way, I wasn't dumbstruck by out-of-nowhere fandom, but rather, it snuck up on me....bit by bit, song by song, and over the course of more than a decade.  "Meet Virginia"---check.  "Drops of Jupiter"---check.  (I'll admit to hating "Calling All Angels" and for that matter, every song ever recorded with "Angel" in the title.)   It wasn't the case of me seeking out the songs---I didn't own any of them--but more the case that every time I'd hear one of those songs, I'd be struck with the "hey, I like that song" thought.

I realized that I was really, really in trouble with "Hey, Soul Sister."  Trouble with a capital T kind of trouble.  As anyone with ears and a functioning radio will attest, that song is played 143,286 times per hour.  For me, the measure of a great song is my willingness to listen to it over and over, despite protests or point-blank pleading from the peanut gallery to switch the channel.  While we are on the topic, I am a world-class radio channel surfer---but I have not once (NOT EVEN ONCE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD) eschewed "Hey, Soul Sister" for whatever is behind door #2.   I'm not sure if that's really sad or some twisted form of loyalty.  Leaning toward sad, for the record.

And then there's "Drive By".  "Drive By" as in the song that I hummed for the better part of a day, then caught myself singing in the elevator (my coworkers already know that I am criminally insane, so that's okay).  The icing on the cake was when I came home tonight, broke down, bought the damned thing on iTunes, then proceeded to dance around to house to it, head-bopping, arms-in-the air, kick-up-one-leg-80's movie montage style.  Nice.  If you don't like it, sue me (yes, I am quoting "Drive By" in my defense of my "Drive By" purchase).  Go me.

Unnecessary tangent:  This song is directly responsible for yet another shameful public confession.   The first time I heard it, I thought that it was performed by Rascal Flatts.  Following is the transcript from my stream-of-consciousness rambling initial reaction to the song:

Wow this song is catchy....really catchy....kind of sounds like Rascal Flatts...yeah, I really like "Bless the Broken Road"....holy shit, I like Rascal Flatts....holy shit, I kind of like the Dixie Chicks, too....holy fucking shit, I think I like country music.....when exactly did a become a redneck....I've spent my entire life in a major northeastern market and I like country music....what the fuck.....well, the girl country singers are much prettier than most other girl singers...Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood are so pretty, it gets on my nerves...I think I'd need to be put on the rack to have legs like Faith Hill, but the rack doesn't sound that bad...how great would it be to weigh what I actually weigh and be 5'10"...OMG, I have an immigrant parent, and in less than one generation, I've become a regular, garden variety redneck, like that Gretchen Wilson woman... why the fuck do I even know who Gretchen Wilson is?...time to play classic rock, STAT.

While we're on the topic of my immigrant parent-- Most of my family speaks with a very thick German accent, and I like uptempo country music.  Go figure.   I'm so German that when I'm angry or otherwise fired up, I lose my ability to say the letter "s" and replace it with "sh".  I don't even want to talk about the number of times that I've yelled at Mady to "Shtop it...shtop it NOW" or to eat her yogurt "with a shpoon" instead of like an animal.   And I like country music.  I don't think any self-respecting European would ever listen to that crap.  I'm just saying.

I digress.  I'm a song lyric person, always have been---and Train's lyrics definitely appeal to my inner girl  (yes, I have one).  Somewhere, not-so-deep-down, I'd like to believe that I'm the unconventionally gorgeous, charmingly complicated woman whose contradictions are blindingly appealing to a poetic-souled man.  It happens.  I think that most women would love to have a song written about them, so I don't think I'm all that uncommon in this regard.  Unfortunately for me, I think that if that song were ever written about me, it would probably be titled "You'd Be So Much Cuter if You Just Once Shut Your Mouth When I Watch TV."  But hey, a song written in my honor would still be a song written in my honor.

Train rules,

Little Miss Sunshine

Monday, January 30, 2012

Brothers and Sisters

The thing about Facebook is that it can artificially inflate your self-confidence.   This surely is a totally stunning confession to you all, but I'm more than a bit snarky by nature.  I'm also raising a promising mini-snark, and the 2x snarky multiple in my house has provided me with ample raw material for Facebook fodder over the years.  I have a keen eye for the utterly ridiculous, which also has served me well.  A sharp eye plus a wicked pen--I'll admit that some days, that allows me to come up with some pretty witty and even some highly amusing crap.

What remains shocking to me is that some very kind-hearted people actually publicly admitted to liking my charming anecdotes, which typically involve a semi-profane musings from a 75% profane 3 year old.   Damn you, Facebook.  You made me believe that I was funny and witty and had some sort of uniquely entertaining worldview.

Here's the thing.  ANYBODY can be funny in 4 sentence clips posted at thrice-weekly intervals-- especially when you're surrounded by a highly entertaining supporting cast.   I know this now.  I'm not special.  Damn you, Facebook, for allowing me to be so self-indulgent as to believe that I was special.

I am so much cooler on Facebook than I am in real life.  Please all, let's take a moment and reflect on just how very pathetic that is.

How do I know this, you ask?  I know this because (DRUMROLL........) I mistakenly thought in a beer-and-Beyonce filled haze, that if I was funny on Facebook, I'd be even funnier in a blog.  Riiiiiiiiight.  It took less than 3 weeks for me to realize that I don't have all that much that is interesting to say, especially when I write in paragraphs as opposed to in phrases.  Maybe Twitter is my medium---I'd surely seem like a comedic genius when limited to 140 characters or less.

I've been radio silent for the better part of the last week because, frankly, I've had nothing particularly interesting to share.  Let's summarize my accomplishments of the last week:

1.  I went to work.  And then I went to work again.  And again.  And again.  I'm pretty sure I spent most of my time there acquiring new work and little time actually completing the work that I already had; thus, finishing the week behind where I started.  Again. 

2.  I made chocolate chip cookie dough (and subsequently burnt some cookies) with Little M.   We sang the "Mixing Song" while making the dough.  For those who are interested, the "Mixing Song" involves singing the word "mix" over and over again to the tune of "Jingle Bells."  I'm a thrill a minute, I tell you.

3.  I got really excited about my purchase of KABOOM! and how shiny it made all of the chrome in my sinks and tubs.  I'm still kind of excited about that, actually.  I heard about KABOOM! on either an informercial or a regular commercial late at night, and I will say, it performs as advertised.  I'm obsessive (shocker) about shiny chrome, and KABOOM! truly delivers.  KABOOM!

4. I got to spent time with my best friend, where I (a) turned myself into a wine bag, (b) got a hangover that was totally unsuitable for someone who answers to the name of "Mom" and (c) took a class called "Core Fusion" (while nursing my wine hangover) where I humiliated myself in a room full of highly fit people.  Allow me to elaborate- I'm in pretty decent shape for a middle-aged woman (thank you P90x and Insanity), but (as one of my trainers once told me), I'm about as flexible as your average senior citizen and (as my dad routinely informs me) as graceful as your average ruptured duck.  Core Fusion involves a ballet barre.  Imagine an interpretative dance performed by the spawn of the Loch Ness Monster and a river otter and you have the general idea.  

5.  Oh yeah, and I went grocery shopping.  With child.  On the weekend using one of those carts that have a car attached to the front of it.  Repeat after me- never.frigging.again.

So, now you know why you haven't heard from me.  Feel free to thank me now.

On the upside, I did get to spend time this weekend with both my brother....and my sister.  Good stuff.  The two of them remind me how fortunate I am to have a family that takes me in when I don't always deserve it, that puts up with my crap, and that loves me, without condition, when I am spectacularly imperfect.  Sometimes, biology makes a family. Sometimes, choice makes a family.  Always, love makes a family.  I'm a lucky girl.

My brother and I have the same mom and dad.  Depending on who you ask, my brother and I either look so much alike we could be twins or we look virtually nothing alike.  Depending on who you ask, my brother and I are so much alike, it's eerie or we are polar opposites.  In point of fact, my brother and I are flip sides of a coin---a little different, but totally complementary. Interdependent.  We are for each other.    We've both gone through life saying that we were 5 years apart in age --but we're actually less than 4 and a half years apart (we're not completely stupid- we were 5 years apart in school and were born in calendar years that are 5 years apart).   My brother was the "cute" one and I was the "smart" one, but somewhere along the way, we realized that my brother is crazy smart and I can be kind of cute in good lighting.  

My brother and I can fight (and have fought) like cats and dogs---but if anyone screws with my baby brother, I would knock their lights out first and ask questions later.  If not for growing up in the same house, my brother and I probably would not have been friends, partially due to the age difference and partially due to the fact that we're enough alike that we'd get on each other's nerves.  I'm so thankful for the shared DNA--there are a good number of times that my brother is the only one able to talk me off the ledge.  My brother's life has been far from easy--far more difficult than mine--but he's lived it anyway, and he's lived it with a grace and a tenacity I'm not sure I could muster.  I may be older, but I love looking up to my little brother.  There's no one on this planet who can press my buttons like my brother can, and no one who I'd rather share DNA with.  Go figure.  Baby Brother C- I don't tell you nearly enough, but I am so lucky and so proud to be your sister.

My sister and I have different parents and live in different states.  We share few physical features, unless you count us being the exact same height (midway between dwarf and average) and freakishly small fingers (how many adults can possibly have a size 4 ring finger?)  I'd say we were alike in all the ways that count, but that would be unfair to her and grossly inflating me.  We are, however, for each other.  

My sister is the most beautiful person I've ever met in real life...inside and out.  She's brave and outspoken and open-minded and listens with open ears and an open heart.  She does not judge (unless it's truly bad fashion, and it's always justified).  Like my biological brother, her life hasn't been easy, but she lived it anyway, and with grace and tenacity that I doubt I could muster (sound familiar?)  I was (obviously) alive when I met her, but my sister is the one who taught me to live...taught me to get a life.  She is my single greatest influence.   Little M has not been baptized in a church, but there was only one person that I'd want to be her (fairy) godmother.  My sister.  Sister J- I don't tell you nearly enough, but I am so lucky and proud to be your sister.  

Here's to my siblings- to the family I was lucky enough to be born into, and to the family that I was smart enough to choose.  Oneword. Love.

I'm a lucky girl,

Little Miss Sunshine

Monday, January 23, 2012

Me and my (little) M

Dear Little M,

It's time that old mom let you in on a little, tiny, itty-bitty secret.  Every word on these pages--every last one--is about you.  Every word on these pages- every last one- is for you.

You'll see in life, if you haven't already, that some people are remarkably articulate.  That some people are remarkably insightful.  That some people are remarkably funny.  That some people will stop traffic and that some people will light up an entire room with their smile and their charm.

Lucky you, little girl.  You are all of these things.

Unlucky you, little girl.  Your mom is none of these things.  If Bridget Jones were a real person, she'd look and sound eerily like old mom with an American accent---right down to the public humiliation on the local news.

(Side note:  if, in 20 years, you are ever convinced by your friend to attend an event called "Dateless and Desperate" at an Irish pub on Valentine's Day, scan the room for camera crews before being a drunk participant in the drunk version of "The Dating Game."  Trust me on this one.  You'd be stunned how many people watch the 11:00 news on Valentine's Day.  I'm just saying.)

The fact of the matter, little girl, is that your mom is probably best served on paper.  It's on paper that I'll come up with semi-profound thoughts, zippy comebacks and some well-timed one-liners.  In real life....well, in real life, I come up with zippy comebacks about 10 seconds too late and usually share my semi-profound thoughts with complete strangers and dogs.   Don't ask.  I will, however, have you know that if real life came with pause and rewind buttons, your mom could kick some serious ass.

I do know that you deserve the best of me, and if the best of me is on paper, so be it.  It's better than nothing.  Maybe someday, you will stumble across this blog, and realize that your mom was periodically struck with articulate thought.

Little M---If every child in the world was assembled in one line, and I was allowed to select the children I wanted,  I'd pick you...every single time.  I wish I could pass along my wisdom to you, but (a) I'm not sure I have any to share and (b) you have the right to find your own wisdom, at your own pace.  I know you'll be wise, little girl.  You're mine, after all.

Cheers to my three-and-a-half foot hero,

Little Miss Sunshine

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

I'd already written the majority of a new entry--one that I liked a good bit, actually--but that entry needs to be relegated to the back burner, at least for the day.  This is a sad day.  This is a heartbreakingly sad ending to a heartbreakingly sad story.

Rest in peace, Joe Paterno.

My heart breaks for him.  I, frankly, cannot think of a worse way to die---and I'm not talking about cancer.  Imagine spending sixty-plus years dedicating your life to something you loved, something you believed in, something with which your identity was completely intertwined-- and losing it, abruptly and in scandal.  Imagine losing your will to live, and dying a broken person, in the public eye.    Imagine, really imagine, dying of a broken heart.  Imagine that happening to your parents, your grandparents, your children, and tell me that doesn't break YOUR heart.

I see some similarities between the death of Joe Paterno and the death of Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts cartoon.   I've carried the Charles Schulz Story for years.  For those who don't know the story, Charles Schulz in his sleep at home February 12, 2000.  His last original Peanuts strip was published the very next day, on Sunday, February 13, 2000, just hours after his death the night before.  His creation could not exist without him, and, as it turns out, he could not exist without it.  

Think about that for a second.  Most of us will end our careers with a retirement party.  Some of us joke about our jobs killing us.  Most of us will retire into the sunset, and will be replaced in the workplace with little fanfare, and will carry on with our second (or third) act. A select few, those whose career accomplishments have  touched the lives of millions, literally cannot live without their work.  Those are the people who are irreplaceable.  

Joe Paterno is irreplaceable. 

Joe Paterno's positive impact is immeasurable.

Joe Paterno's significant positive contributions are his legacy, and should be remembered as such.
This isn't the time or place to discuss the crimes committed by Jerry Sandusky, and it's certainly not the time for armchair philosophers to pontificate on what they would or would not have done if wearing Joe Paterno's shoes.  It's inappropriate, it's callous and it shows a complete lack of sensitivity for a man who most likely died of a broken heart.  Wrap your heads and your hearts around that one.

I recently read an article called "Bureaucracy, Loyalty and Truth" that was written by Eric Silver, a sociology professor, in direct response to the Penn State scandal.  I'd implore all of you to read this article--it was eye opening in ways that were uncomfortable, yet realistic.  The article discussed the statistical likelihood of people truly being whistleblowers, and how the concept of loyalty is a subtle underminer of morality.

Following are two quotes from the article that I cannot shake:

1.  "Everyone likes to think that they would be the whistleblower---they are the ones who would risk their job, their likelihood, their future.  Statistically, you're full of crap.  For every 1,000 people, you're lucky if there are two or three whistleblowers."

 2.  "You like to think of loyalty as a good thing.  Loyalty may be one of the most subtle undermining sources of morality there is.  Loyalty predisposes people to collusion. When a family member is in trouble, what's our first reaction?  We all know that family is about protecting its own."

Those quotes certainly make me think twice about self-righteous indignation and casting stones.  God knows that I've certainly played the "family protecting its own" card more than once. It's very easy and very convenient to think the world is black-and-white...at least for everyone other than ourselves. A black and white world makes us sleep better at night, but that's not what we have.  It is a world colored in complicating shades of gray---for all of us.   

And, make no bones about it--- it's a very gray day.

Rest in peace, Joe Paterno.  You, your contributions and your impact will be sorely missed.  Your legacy will live on.

--Little Miss Sunshine


Friday, January 20, 2012

Time Out. Who Knew?

Had I known that time outs were so blissfully awesome, I wouldn't have been doling them out like they were candy for the last few years.  I clearly need a new disciplinary tactic---one with some teeth.

Why the change of heart, you ask?

Because my time out is the closest thing that I've had to a true vacation in 3 years, 6 months and 1 day (not that I'm counting or anything).

I've (only somewhat jokingly) maintained for years that my fantasy is 2 nights in the Holiday Inn down the street--by myself.  I can barely imagine how great it would feel to be in a bed, by myself, with no diaper-wearing footballs, sponge bob cast members, boppy pillows, Disney Princesses named Chuck, beach towels, abandoned throw pillows, rogue puzzle pieces or a restless-legged 3 year old who snores like a 747 at takeoff.    To be able to pee---uninterrupted.  To be able to read a book that doesn't feature cartoon characters and is not adorned by fossilized yogurt remnants.  To not have to share the marshmallows in the goldfish s'mores.  To not reach into the goldfish bag and find abandoned half-eaten non-marshmallow goldfish that are still slightly soggy.

Someday, somehow....I will live the dream.  Today, however, I got a glimpse---and it was everything I thought it could be.

I've previously mentioned that I find music to be an essential life element, and it's equally important  that I share this passion with Little M.   My girl and I have a sacred Friday morning tradition---the pajama dance party (yes, the "jammy jam") immediately followed by cuddle time on the sofa where we stare into space, and hold hands and analyze song lyrics.  When she looks back on her childhood, I really hope that she fondly remembers our Friday morning girl tradition--or that she hears a song on the radio and is struck with the realization that it was her lame old mom who introduced her to that song.  I know that I'll never forget.

Mothers of sons and fathers of daughters get a special spotlight dance on the wedding day.  Most mothers of daughters...we normally are relegated to playing the role of misty-eyed spectators on the sideline.  On little M's wedding day, I hope she and I can reenact one of our Friday morning dance parties; and that she and I can have a special dance to "our" song.  Yes, we have one.  It's been around for many years- hell, it even predates me--but it was written especially for her.  I'm convinced.

In any case, it was this Friday morning tradition gone slightly awry that landed me in time-out.  Normally, she and I agree on the daily soundtrack, but today, there was no meeting of the minds.  Imagine a bull-headed 36 year old locking horns with an even more bull-headed 3 year old in a spirited Fitz and the Tantrums vs. Radiohead debate.

It's my music library.  I am the DJ.  I retain creative control.  I picked the Tantrums.  In response, Little M was mildly displeased a raging lunatic.  She sprung from the sofa, pointed her finger at me, screamed "Mommy, you are in time-out for 41 minutes", slammed the door and walked out.

A few clarifying items:

(1)   We normally follow a one minute per year of age time out philosophy here.  Little M is due a time out of her own for aging me by 5 years.

(2)  All of her time outs to date have taken place on a staircase.

With these clarifying items in mind, I will admit that I am so grateful that Little M is not a time-out enforcement purist.  If she were, I never would have my glimpse into the dream.

After the initial shock of being punished by a 3 year old wore off, I glanced around the room.  The room where I was the sole occupant.  With a TV.  And my entire music library.  And a half-full bag of chex mix.  And a Diet Dr. Pepper.  Is it wrong that I did a little happy dance?   Time-out exile rocks---can I stay for three weeks????

Sadly, I was eligible for early time-out release.  Little M was thirsty.  Goodbye, blissful exile.

If you happen to observe some unusually ornery behavior from me, it's because I'm trying to get sent back to time-out.

41 is the new 36,

Little Miss Sunshine

Monday, January 16, 2012

Love and Basketball

By now, it should be clearly established that it's Little M's world, and she just lets me live in it.  It's one adventure after the next, and the good news is that she allows me to accompany her on these adventures.  Hell, who am I kidding?  She allows me to play chauffeur and to bankroll the advenutres.  It's all good.

Despite being all of 40.75 inches tall, her new obsession is basketball.  (With genes like hers, those quarter inches count, by the way).  Every Saturday after soccer, she wants to play basketball (with her soccer ball).  It's hilarious.  There are a few good traits that she could have inherited from me, but unfortunately for her, it appears that she might have acquired my hand-eye coordination.  Poor kid.

She did, however, LOVE her first ever Sixers game.  In under a minute, she learned that the "green team" (aka Milwaukee Bucks) needed to go home.  She cheered at the right points, quickly adopted the Philly fan arm gestures (limited to the not-obscene ones, thank you very much), and even learned to make a "T" with her hands after a technical.  Thankfully, she was more interested in the actual basketball than by the dance squad, despite her shimmying in her seat--though, unfortunately, she did learn the term "underboob" after the first dance routine.  Incidentally, that was my bad.

Little M's post-game verdict?  In her words, "I love basketball."  Is it possible that we have Best Dressed Tomboy (Junior) in our midst?  Speaking of the clothes, Junior and I were dressed nearly identically today in black skinny cords, striped shirts and boots.  It was an accident- I'm not a fan of dressing my daughter like a mini-me (though it doesn't bother me when other people do it, strangely enough).   We have very different personal styles-  my outfits are generally coordinated and her outfits reflect a ( shall we say) slightly more eclectic style.

Of course, the only reason that we were able to take her to a basketball game on a Monday afternoon is because we had the day off of work for the Martin Luther King holiday.   In my mind, this isn't a "freebie" day off and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the holiday here, and more importantly, spend time talking about Dr. King and his legacy to Little M (in 3 year old terms, anyway).

I'm thankful that my daughter is growing up in the aftermath of Dr. King's legacy.  It's a better world than I grew up in, and certainly a better world than my parents and grandparents grew up in.  I'd be completely moronic, however, if I didn't freely and publicly acknowledge that there isn't tons of work still left to be done....tons of behaviors and thought patterns still requiring change.

At this point, I've lived a reasonably long time...and not once, has someone deliberately crossed the street to get away from me.  No one has ever locked their car doors while driving through my neighborhood.  No one has cast a suspicious glance at me in a convenience store late at night.  No one has ever suspiciously looked at me while walking to their seat on a plane.  Until the day arrives where these more subtle instances of racism are eradicated--and these behaviors are, unfortunately, pervasive and engrained--there is still much work left to do.

Love knows no color,

Little Miss Sunshine

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Go Golden or Go Home

Passing an evening by watching the Golden Globes.  This is, bar none, one of my favorite nights of the year.  I absolutely love sitting in my awesome chair, in my beat-up green critter pants and an oversized t-shirt, with my hand in a bag of gummy bears/M&Ms/Reese's peanut butter cups while I oooh and ahhh over the pretty frocks and sparkly jewelry.  What I love even more is tearing apart the "WTF" dresses and deluding myself into believing that I would have shown better on the red carpet.  I had such a proud parental moment last year when Little M announced that January Jones's red band-aid/couture dress was tacky.   Google it.  The girl was right.  It was tacky.

Just a quick shout-out in honor of the critter pants.  I bought them when I was pregnant with Little M, and they were too big even when I resembled a double-wide load.  They're flannel and faded and frayed at the bottom and have skiing polar bears on them and I can't walk three paces without them falling off.  None of these factors makes the slightest dent in my admiration.  I love these pants.

In any event, I love watching awards shows-  staring at the beautiful women and pretending to be a princess for a night, all while still being able to eat actual food at regular intervals.  As a side note, I love reading articles where actresses claim to stay so thin because they actually love a steady diet of steamed vegetables.  C'mon now.  Just once, I'd like to read an article where an actress credits cocaine and bulimia for their figure, or where they just publicly acknowledge that they've been hungry since 1992.   A little honesty, people.  I love oreos and snickers bars, which is why I own Spanx.  Being completely honest,  outside of my wishes for an extraordinary life for Little M, my single biggest wish is that I could eat whatever I want, whenever I want, and however much I want without getting fat.

Hopefully, the Golden Globes will overcompensate for a dismal football weekend, where I went 0-for-3 on games I actually cared about and Baltimore won.  Go Ravens.

It was a great weekend of new experiences.  We took  Little M to see her first movie, and in 3D to boot. She was underwhelmed by Beauty and the Beast, but highly impressed by the bucket of popcorn that was roughly two-thirds her size.  I watched my little girl for 90 minutes, marveling at how quickly she's grown and how she might just be the most exquisite little girl ever born.  Not that I'm biased or anything.

Today, we packed up the car as if we were going on a cross-country trip to drive two hours and take Little M on her first snow-tubing adventure.   My public service announcement to you all is that when it's 18 degrees and windy at the base of the mountain, it's cold as f at the top.  Little M was bundled like the little brother (Randy, I think his name was) in A Christmas Story and feeling no pain.  As for me, I am just now regaining feeling in my lower extremities.  In any case, I am so proud of my little speed demon and cannot wait to get her on skis.   Little M is also the only person alive who can convince me that bursting into spontaneous dance in a ski-lodge cafeteria is a good idea.  To everyone else at Blue Mountain who had to witness my dancing, my deepest apologies.

I also had an interesting dialogue about first loves, the resultant first heartaches, and what parents can do to shield their kids from life's disappointments. On one hand, I want to keep Little M in a bubble where her heart is never broken, her spirit is never crushed and she never feels the sting of bitter disappointment.  On the other hand, I realize that such shielding would only preclude her from experiencing the moments in life that are most likely to define her strength and refine her character.  She has the right to make her own mistakes, and to learn from those mistakes.  Speaking from personal experience, I'd hate to see the person I'd be today if not for the moments I'd rather forget.  I need to remember that my role is to be her parent--not her gatekeeper--and my job is to make sure that she grows up to be a thoughtful, well-adjusted adult who can takes life's beatings in stride- and to secretly shove my foot up the ass of anyone who breaks her heart.  Yup- that sounds like a win-win to me.  Little M can learn life's lessons-- and I can get medieval on someone's ass.

Self tanner is a privilege and not a right,

Little Miss Sunshine

Friday, January 13, 2012

Letters to Sunshine

Little M is a morning person.  This concept is beyond foreign to me.  I'm reasonably pleasant (pleasant enough, anyway) over the course of the day, but I hate virtually everything about the first hour that I'm awake.  Over the years, I've found that trying to be nice in the first 60 zaps me of energy for the whole of the day, so I pretty much stopped trying.  It's best for everyone that way.

Most adults that I've lived with have learned to ignore me entirely in the morning, or to opt for the oh-so-effective reverse psychology approach.  Want me to be nice in the morning?  Be mean to me.  Works like a charm- I become a fetching, if bedraggled, bundle of sunshine, rainbows, puppies, chirping birds and hearts in no time flat.  I'm still learning how to adapt to the little girl living in my house who is constitutionally unable to sleep past 6 AM---with a mouth that is fully operational from the second her feet hit the floor.

Transcript from this morning, circa 5:45 AM.

Little M (at top of lungs):  WAKE UP, MOMMY!!!!!  IT'S MORNING TIME.
LMS (whining):  whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?
Little M opens LMS's eyelids with her fingers.
LMS:  no.
LMS:  (grumbling)  Maybe in France.
Little M:  FEED ME, MOMMY!  I'M HUNGRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!  AND I WANT TO DANCE!

(On a side note, I realize that lots of people like to dance.  Some people are good dancers.  Many people magically become good dancers after 3-12 drinks.  I am none of these people.  There is no simply no quantity of wine in this world that I can consume and subsequently think "Wow, I am a GREAT dancer.")

So, I drag my sorry self out of bed and stumble to the kitchen.  Little M informs me that she wants candy bars and sprinkles for breakfast.  She gets the candy bar.  Note that I am not completely unfit as a mother--about a year ago, I had an "aha!!!" moment and told her that the organic cereal bars that were collecting dust in the pantry and more closely resembled paperweights than breakfast food were actually candy bars.  Anyone who tells her anything to the contrary will have some serious hell to pay.

Anyway, I'm awake, so I may as well write.  Recently, I came across a book entitled "Letters to My Younger Self", which is exactly as it sounds.  I did recently say that a guidebook to life would have been  hugely helpful, and I'm fascinated by and wholly supportive of concept of the It Gets Better Project, so here goes.  With no further ado, please welcome the guidance I wish I received when I was 12, 16, 23, 30 and 36....

Dear Tiny Miss Sunshine,

You spend so much time worrying about how to make yourself the kind of person others like that you're going to lose yourself in the process.  The path to conformity is a dead-end and rigidity is going to be the death of you.  While we're on the topic, stop wasting time:  stop wasting time worrying, stop wasting time beating yourself up, stop wasting time trying to re-invent yourself as something that you think others will like.  Just stop.

Forget about money- time is the most precious and finite commodity at your disposal.  Every second you waste trying to fit in is a form of cheating.  You're cheating those people who like who know who you really are and like you, as is, no exceptions.  Most of all, you're cheating yourself and the person you could become if you'd just have enough faith to believe in yourself and follow through.

There will be people in this world who dislike you.  If they dislike you because you are unkind, unmotivated, unreliable--hear the truth and fix it.  Now.  Get better.  If they just don't find you to be their cup of tea--that's fine.  Move on.  You will have more than your fair share of people in your corner, and it's those people who have your back when you're periodically an unloveable pain in the ass that matter.  There's a world of difference between constantly striving to be the best version of you and constantly striving to be someone else.  Know that subtle difference and carefully tread that fine line.

In life, there's a place for pragmatism and responsibility and there's a place for excitement and beauty.  Live within your means, but don't let your means constrain you. Buy beautiful shoes and clothes and experiences---because they're beautiful.  They're not going to change who you are as a person, but if they make you smile, they're worth it.  Appreciate the beauty in things, but realize that at the end of the day, they're just things.  Appreciate the beauty in people more.  Appreciate the beauty in life the most.  Things are nice, but it's people who matter.

Oh, and I know that you like math, but life isn't an equation.  Stop using > and < in defining yourself in your relationships.

By the way, you'll never grow to be a respectable size.  That's okay.  There are certain benefits to being a portable adult--plus, there's usually a great selection of items on the sale rack in small sizes.

I wrote this letter and now I can't find a freaking stamp,

Little Miss Sunshine

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I'm With Stupid

I have steadfastly held the belief that stupid people should speak as little as possible, and yesterday, I fell rapidly down a shame-spiral of stupid.   As to not violate my own rules, I took the night off from writing last night.  I could think of no compelling reason to broadcast my stupid across the public domain.

In my own defense, yesterday’s stupid did not even remotely approach the magnitude of my December stupid, when I obliviously drove away from the gas pump with the hose still attached to my car and didn’t realize it until the gas station owner told me about it.  I hadn’t yet had my coffee.  It happens.  I’ve since bought a new car, and I still haven’t mustered the courage to revisit that gas station.  Again, it happens. 

I’m sure you’re curious.  Evidentiary support of yesterday’s Project Stupid follows below:

Project Stupid, Exhibit A:  Kicked off the day by washing my hair with conditioner and not realizing it until midday when I noticed that my hair (which is normally pretty dry) resembled an oil slick.  Yeah, I’m a looker. 

Project Stupid, Exhibit B:  Grew increasingly frantic over the course of 15 minutes as I searched in vain for my car in my office parking lot.  I covered virtually every inch of the 2nd floor of the garage (P2, for those in the know), peeking around corners, even dropping to my knees and looking up (presumably to see if I parked the car on the ceiling).  Convinced myself that the car was stolen, even though only a really stupid criminal would steal my car when there are so many more appealing options in the lot.  Remembered that I parked the car on P1.  FML.

Project Stupid, Exhibit C:  Did a good deed and drug out the recycling bins, which are still at post-Christmas levels.  Opened the empty side of the garage to drag the bins out.  Closed the garage door---or so I thought, until husband walks in the door and asks me why both garage doors were wide open.  Go me.

In lieu of writing, I spent a good 2 hours watching re-runs of “The Big-Bang Theory” on TBS in the hopes that it would make me smarter.   It didn’t.

(On a side note, how did I NOT know about this show until a few weeks ago?  This show rocks.  Being a proud, card-carrying dork, I love dork humor.  PS- I’ve developed a massive dork crush on Jim Parsons, and I’m okay with admitting that publicly.)

The old me would have written the blog entry anyway---powered through and scrambled to piece something together for the sake of meeting a self-imposed obligation.  Little Miss Sunshine version 2012 opted for a new experience instead---using the good sense that I was born with and rarely use, and taking a break at a reasonable break point.  I don’t know how well it worked.  I feel like a total slacker.  I also feel like a total slacker if I take time to eat more than once a day, fall asleep with dishes in the sink/unopened mail on the countertop/unfolded laundry in the dryer, arrive at work at one minute past 8 AM, skip a workout with a torn rotator cuff, or leave work without having every single item on my to-do list under control.  Calling me a Type A personality is an understatement.  I’m only a Type A when I’ve taken a handful of Benadryl and am in a mellow state.  Is A++++ a widely recognized personality type?

I am admittedly a complete nutjob perfectionist- but it’s almost exclusively self-directed.  I really have few standards or expectations with respect to others.  (I’m not sure what that says about me, either).  In general, I tend to assume that anyone who hasn’t kicked me in the face in the last week is a nice person with their act together, which kind of leads me to my next point.

In the last week, I’ve either been privy to, or have heard about, some rather heated discussions about what it means to raise kids the “right way”, and more specifically, some finger-pointing and name-calling  toward those who aren’t perceived as being up to the task.

Hold up.  There’s A right way to raise kids?  I read all the time, but somehow, I missed that title on my last trip to the bookstore.  I’m fairly junior to this whole parenting thing, but still….I’ve said for years (3 years, 5 months and 22 days to be exact) that an instruction manual would have been really useful.

I’m joking, but I really don’t see much that is funny about this kind of thing, which I kind of view as parent-on-parent crime to a certain degree.  The way I see it (and please take this with a grain of salt because I am someone who drove away from a gas station with the gas pump still attached to my vehicle), all parents have one thing in common:  we all want what’s best for our kids.  In my (teeny-tiny) mind, I view that definition of “best” as a highly personal decision, and I can’t imagine for one second that there is one singular definition of what is “right”.

I can’t lie, though- it drives me crazy when I hear of someone getting browbeaten by another who has taken it upon themselves to make the concepts of “what works best for my family” and “right” synonymous.  Being a parent, and for that matter, being an adult is hard enough without the additional stress of tearing each other to shreds.  What’s the point?

Trust me.  I am a mom with two jobs- one in the home and one where I collect a paycheck.  I don’t know which job’s harder.  I can tell you that I am exhausted beyond the point of recognition virtually all the time and I’m trying my best and I’m constantly questioning whether I made the right choices.  I need a nap, or better yet, a 2 day vacation by myself to just sleep.  Frankly, what I don’t need is someone making me feel worse about my own inner conflict when all they’re trying to do is reconcile their own choices and the self-doubt that comes as part of the package deal.

Little M- Mommy loves you, and I have no idea if what I am doing is the optimal solution or not.  All I can promise you is that you get my best- -every single day.  Some days, my best is pretty good.  Others, my best pretty much sucks.  Know that I'm trying and running on faith to a certain degree.

I know you’re all doing the same.

Hoping that TV will make me smarter,

Little Miss Sunshine

Monday, January 9, 2012

Baby Blogger

I made an honest-to-goodness attempt to have this entry done a little earlier tonight--but true to form, I hit an unexpected snag.  I'm a parent, so you'd think I'd have grown accustomed to the unexpected being the norm by now.  If you thought that, you thought wrong.

I didn't have writer's block, I wasn't unmotivated...I even knew what I wanted to write.   What a didn't have was a computer at the ready.  Why, you ask?  Little M was typing away on Microsoft Word, and, per usual, unwilling to share with Mom.

Little Miss Sunshine:  Grids, can I have the computer?

(You'll note that I called my daughter "Grids".  It's short for Mady McGriddles.  I had an obsession with McDonald's when I was pregnant.   No wonder why I looked like a double-wide load.  With time, I became too lazy to call her by her full nickname, so it got truncated to Griddles, and later to Grids.  By the time she's 4, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if I started calling her "lowercase g".)

M McGriddles:  Mommy, be quiet.  I'm thinking.

LMS:  What are you thinking about?

Griddles:  sshhhhhh....mommy.  I'm busy.

LMS:  (with the mom-face of amusement and annoyance forming)  what are you thinking about?

Grids:  I'm writing my blog.

No. Freaking. Way.

LMS:  What's your blog about?

Lowercase g:  Things I like.  Gym class and play-doh and Dora and nail polish.  Oh, and farts.

Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.  And great.  I'm glad farts are finally getting proper recognition in the blogosphere.

g:  Mommy, why do you write your blog?

Life with a three-year old means that constant bombardment with questions is the norm.  Luckily, I'm an anal-retentive, perfectionist, not-clinically-but-self-diagnosed-with-OCD planner by nature (and really, how often do you get to say THAT?).  I've had some time to think about this very question, and I had an answer.  I was proud to share it.

Life with a three-year old also means that you've grown accustomed to attention spans that you'd more reasonably expect on a gnat with ADD.  She heard the words "Blues Clues is coming up next" on the television and was bounding down the steps before I could even finish the fragment "Mommy is writing her blog because..."

She's not interested in the answer now, and it's ultimately fine to me if she's never interested.  I'm her mother.  I am not her, and she is not me.  Her story is not my story.  It's my job to make sure that she piggybacks on me until her legs are strong enough to follow me, follows me until she is ready to walk alongside me, then leaves me behind to walk her own path, follow her own adventures, write her own story, live her own life.  I hope it's an extraordinary path, an extraordinary adventure, and extraordinary story, an extraordinary life.

I'm a bit of a circuitous storyteller--- and, true to form, this is my long-winded way of getting to the point of why I decided to write this blog.   I've been fortunate.  I've had good luck, good teachers, and good opportunity.  I've also been disciplined and I'm good at following a script.  What this all amounts to is that I've pretty much accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish, done and seen what I've wanted to see.

When you're a planner, you work toward your goals.  When you're a planner and you've accomplished what you set out to do, sometimes you find yourself lost in the aftermath.  That's where I am- just a little bit lost.  I specialize in self-deprecation, so I regularly refer to myself as a middle-aged has-been.   You'll be relieved to learn that I don't actually believe that.  I'm only 36.  I hope that I have many good years left to live and new goals to achieve.  I'll spend the next year wandering, and tinkering with and fumbling through new experiences in the hopes that I will end the year knowing what my next goal will be.

Here's the other part.  Women are often conditioned to define themselves by the relationships formed over the course of a lifetime.   Please don't get me wrong.  I love my people.  I am so blessed to be surrounded by my people and I am better for having them in my life.    I don't take my people for granted-- not even for a second.

But... I'm tired of being referred to as just someone's mom, someone's wife, someone's friend, someone's coworker.  I want more out of my life than to have it simply be defined in terms of my relationship with someone else.  I want to make my own mark and leave my own legacy.  However selfish this may seem, I want for myself what I want for my daughter--- to walk my own extraordinary path, to have my own extraordinary adventure, to tell my own extraordinary story, to live my own extraordinary life-- with my people in at my side and in my heart.

I promise, tomorrow I'll take Little M's lead and blog about exciting things like nail polish and farts.

Little Miss Sunshine

Sunday, January 8, 2012

15 is God's favorite number

New experience of the day:  I Tebowed.

I love the city of Denver.   That's not the reason I'm a Broncos fan. The reason that I'm a Broncos fan is because the Eagles made an abhorrent personnel decision and didn't let Brian Dawkins retire as an Eagle.  It's been years.  I'm still bitter.  Apparently, the Eagles don't value their emotional leaders.  Idiots.  Yeah, I'm definitely still bitter.

You hear about women following their men across the country all the time, though I never thought I'd be one of them.  I'm one of them.  My inner tomboy and my Sunday loyalty followed Dawk to Denver, and a Broncos fan was born.

Of course, I am aware of the fact that Dawk didn't play tonight.  Tim Tebow did, though, and Tim Tebow rocks.  AWESOME.  I'm surprised that I didn't lose my voice.

Tim Tebow certainly would not approve of my initial reaction to the overtime play:  holy f***ing shit.  I am hopeful, however, that he would appreciate the Tebow that I performed on the second floor of my house on a Sunday night.

Unsurprisingly, I'm a champion of the underappreciated.  I certainly hope that the Johns Elway and Fox now properly acknowledge a very special player that they very publicly doubted a few months ago.   Technical skills can be taught.  Heart, passion, and character cannot.   I don't care if Tim Tebow wins another game this year- he's a winner.

In other news, why is Ben Roethlisberger dressed like a pimp?

Moving on.  To be filed under "Evidence of the Decline of Civilization":

There are few things in life that I am unable and unwilling to live without, and the sheer perfection that is the Dunkin Donuts Mocha Swirl Iced Latte (with double whipped cream) is one of them.  I've been warned that they contain about 572,286,143 calories.  I don't care.  I believe this habit costs me about $1,200 a year.  Again, I don't care.  I don't dare start a day without one.

With this as background, it's safe to say that I spend an inordinate amount of time at Dunkin Donuts. In this time at DD, I've observed a disturbing human behavioral trend.  When did it become okay to start your order with "Give me" or "I need"?  Whatever happened to "please"?  There were three people ahead of me in line today, and EVERY SINGLE ONE kicked off their order with a "give me", hold the please.  Manners, people, manners.  If your parents taught them to you, dust them off and break them out.  If your parents didn't teach them to you, I have a three year old who can introduce you to the words "please" and "thank you."   There are many things that are expensive and/or cost-prohibitive in this world.  Luckily, good manners are free, and what's more, they're priceless.

#20 would be proud,

Little Miss Sunshine

PS- Adopted a soldier today:)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Where am I and why am I in this handbasket?

Yesterday, I put my first disclaimer on a post.  Today, I'm about to make my second- not all of my new experiences are going to be good ones.

I awoke thinking that my new experience would be my first-ever trip on a fire truck.  Don't worry- I wasn't planning on cooking, and thus, requiring the fire department to show up at my house.  We were supposed to hit a birthday party for an extremely adorable 2 year old.  Best laid plans went spectacularly to crap when Little M became a vomit-geyser not once, but twice, on the return trip from soccer.  Repeat after me...FAB-U-LOUS.  I'm sure I'd be a great doctor or nurse if I (a) had any aptitude for science and (b) wasn't completely disgusted by a little bit of barf.  I digress.

By 4:30, I realized that I had no good deeds, no new experiences, no shower, and a Christmas gift that I needed to return.  There's an expression that indicates "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear."  Suffice it to say, I got schooled when I made my once-a decade trip into Victoria's Secret after making my return at Ann Taylor.

Trust me.  I know.  I'm old.  I'm rapidly approaching my late 30's, have had a child and I am fully aware that I am a solid decade removed from my best years.   I'm reasonably confident that the people who work in Victoria's Secret would prefer that I not denigrate their brand with my middle-aged, post-child ass.   I went in anyway- they were having a sale:)  I won't make that mistake again.

I was no more than 3 steps in the door when I saw a display that made me throw up in my mouth.  On what planet do we live that underwear that read "Eat Your Heart Out" and "Sure Thing" are acceptable things to sell?  I'll make it easy for you- the answer to that question is none other than our planet Earth.

Are you frigging kidding me?

I'd expect to see something like that on the Wildwood boardwalk, and I did see something like that in a cheesy gift shop on South Beach when I was trying to buy a mug, but mass retail?  REALLY?

Last I checked, the calendar said it was 2012 (despite my continuing to write 2011 at virtually every opportunity).  You mean to tell me that in 2012, THAT is what merchandisers think of women?   I'm disgusted--and more than that, pretty disheartened. I'm raising my daughter to believe that she can be whatever she wants, that she can accomplish anything that she works for, that she should be the kind of person who both commands respect and respects honorable people.

What does Victoria's Secret say?  If you want a boy to like you, really like you...wear underwear (that we sell) that says "F**K ME"....in capital letters....across your ass.

I'm so happy that I was in that store alone, and for the moment, I'm thrilled that Little M can't read.

What's next?  Abercrombie's already marketed push-up bras for 7 and 8 year olds.  Maybe Justice will come up with its "Jailbait"-branded line for summer 2013?  Enough.   Please stop disrespecting and objectifying our little girls, and the women they will someday become.  Enough.

To my Little M-- Don't ever allow a merchandiser, an organization, or a human being to undermine your worth.  You are beautiful inside and out.  You don't need anything sold in a store to make you loveable.  You don't need the whole world to love you.  My wish for you is that you someday find the one person (and I don't care what gender, race, or religion this person might be) who loves the version of you that you love, loves you in the way you want and need to be loved, and most of all, loves you in all the ways you deserve.

I wanted to commit these thoughts to paper before writer's block supplanted my rage.  As such, I still have a good deed to do, and will report on it tomorrow:)

Keep your words off my (and my daughter's) ass,

Little Miss Sunshine

Friday, January 6, 2012

License to Drive

Today, I have a combined good deed/new experience.  Disclaimer:  I never said that my new experiences were going to be impressive to anyone other than me.

Was driving along a stretch of road (Rt 1 between Longwood and Painters Crossing, for those familiar with the area), where the speed limit is 50 and most people (including yours truly) usually roll along between 65 and 75.  Due to the fact that, if not for bad luck, I probably wouldn't have any at all, I somehow got stuck directly behind an elderly driver doing 25, tops, and couldn't get over into the left lane to pass her because everyone else on Rt 1 was already doing it, honking and cursing to boot.

In general, it's completely obvious that I learned to drive in NJ.  The best evidence of this fact comes in the form of Little M, who, by 2 years old, would repeatedly honk the horn in her Cozy Coupe and scream "Get the hell out of the way, you dumbass/moron/jackass/nincompoop/(fill-in-the-blank expletive)" out the little, plastic coupe window.  I'll just collect my mother-of-the-year award now, thanks.

But today.....today, I tried a different tactic.  I didn't honk.  I didn't yell out creative or non-creative expletives.  My hands didn't flail wildly, and my middle finger stayed put.  I let her go....at her speed....and made sure I stayed behind her, forming some sort of blockade from other drivers, until she ultimately (and thankfully, might I add) made her turn.  Maybe there are some things in life more important than speed- and one of those things is compassion.

I may be marginally reformed, but Little M is still a work in progress--- from the backseat, she did yell "a little hustle, lady..... a little hustle."

A horn is a terrible thing to waste,

Little Miss Sunshine

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ramble On

I whine a decent amount about my time spent on Amtrak trains, but those trips afford me a few blissful, uninterrupted hours of ipod time.  I love music.  It's kind of a thing.  In some completely corny way, it's my way of building my life's soundtrack, and I steadfastly believe that a life well lived should be accompanied by a soundtrack.  Please don't confuse me with a music snob. Along with some truly great tunes, my soundtrack may or may not contain a few tracks from Big Time Rush.  Laugh all you want-  hearing BTR makes me happy, and Little M and I agree that the smart one (Logan, for those of you who pretend not to know) is the cutest.

Plus, ipod time is my oh-so-sacred daydream time, where I become the rockstar/movie star/olympic gold medalist/academy award winner/Cinderella instead of completely tone-deaf/hopelessly uncoordinated/accountant/soccer mom.    While we're on the topic of tone-deaf, allow me to assert that I am not being self-deprecating about the tone-deaf part.  Let's put it this way: if I were ever to try out for American Idol, there's a very solid chance that I'd end up on TV- on the segments where they show delusional misfits wearing american-flag patterned jeggings while doing an interpretative dance.   It's that bad.

I love getting lost in music and finding my way back out. I'll find a song that is emblematic of some theme in my life and throw it on repeat.  I'll admit this works better on an ipod because normal people who aren't feeling some deep-rooted connection to one song generally don't want to hear it 14 times in rapid succession.    

Today's multiple-repeat choice- Ramble On.  What other song could capture what the hell I've been doing for last week- searching and seeking and most of all, rambling as I'm doing it?   If I want my daughter to approach the world with open arms and an open heart,  I need to learn to do it myself.   If I ramble while I do it, so be it.  

Which leads me to my new experience du jour:

Decided to start a random conversation with a complete stranger on an elevator in a building that's not my own about the book that was in his hands.  Never exchanged names- just about the book, and reading books like an editor (don't ask, it's a sickness). Baby steps-- but those baby steps were worth it.  About 15 minutes after the conversation, the stranger came down to my desk- handed me the book, and told me to read it and to edit it.  Pretty cool.

and the good deed....Justin Aaberg. Billy Lucas.  Asher Brown. Tyler Clementi. They were tragic examples of LGBT youth who could not believe that it does actually get better and could not see a positive future for themselves. The It Gets Better Project was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years. The It Gets Better Project wants to remind teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone — and it WILL get better.  Proud to support it.  

Resuming my role as queen of all my (day) dreams,
Little Miss Sunshine

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dear Duke, Go Suck It.....xoxo, Temple

Tonight, my blog name is only a half-truth; the way I'm dressed leaves a lot to be desired, but I am completely indulging the inner tomboy.

God, I love college basketball.  I reallyreallyreally love college basketball.  

I hear this affliction commonly happens to people like me- people who have Philadelphia, PA listed as birthplace on their birth certificates.  (I think this also makes it completely okay to teach your child to scream "Yankees/Mets/Cowboys/Giants SUCK" at the top of their lungs).  Throw in 4 years at a Big 5, hoops-obsessed college, and you pretty much become a bball nutjob.  I'm okay with this.

What's more--I love to watch David beat Goliath, probably more than most people, considering I never grew bigger than the average 11 year old boy.  Watching Temple beat Duke (aka the evil empire) brought me such great pleasure- can't wipe the grin off my face.  Go Owls.

I had such lofty goals of writing a heartfelt blog about some great career and life advice I just received---but all I'm capable of writing is "Suck it, Duke."  There's always tomorrow for me to get back to business.

New Experience:  Today's new experience is a very public admission of something that I find to be deeply shameful.  I once LIKED Duke. I told you this was shameful.  The year was 1992.  Many things were shameful about 1992, not the least of which is the fact that I was still going through a can of Aqua Net at an average rate of every 2 days.  The stage was the Spectrum.  It was the shot that did me in- the Kentucky shot.  Who am I kidding?   It was because Christian Laettner was hot.  Shame, shame, shameful, shameful, shame--- and now you all know about it.  (PS- Christian Laettner is still hot).  

Good deed du jour:  The Wounded Warrior Project's mission is to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation's history.  Honor, respect and remember the service and the sacrifice. Wounded Warrior puts it more eloquently than I ever could--the greatest casualty is being forgotten.    

The Devil is Blue,
Little Miss Sunshine

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Just like Carrie Bradshaw- if Carrie Bradshaw was a middle-aged mom in the suburbs

So, today's the day I learned that it's one thing to play armchair anthropologist when you're on vacation and your most ambitious endeavor is making an ass-print your sofa while watching football games, but quite another to attempt to come up with anything remotely profound when you actually have to go to work.   It turns out that I have a limited amount of brain cells, and most of them got blown as I attempted to reacquaint myself to the working world.  Brain cells, or no brain cells, I have new experiences to acquire and good deeds to do, so on my merry way, I go.

A recurring comment I've received in my two-day tenure in the blogging sphere has been "Wow, you're really just like Carrie Bradshaw now!"  Now, I loved Sex and the City, and I whimper at the watered-down version in syndication, but the fact of the matter is that I'm probably more of a Miranda with kick-ass footwear than I am a Carrie.    I'm much more likely to follow a script than to write one; more likely to play the game than to change the rules--hence this entire experiment.  However, I was curious, so I've compiled the following list (oh, how Miranda of me) to identify the ways in which Carrie Bradshaw and I are alike, and how we differ...

How Carrie B. and I are alike:

1.  Uh.....we both have MacBooks
2.  uhh...We both have blonde hair that takes hours in a chair with a skilled colorist
3.  uhhh- I think we're the same height and we've both been to NYC in the last year.
4.  (and this one's legit)....love.of.shoes.  
5.  (and this one's legit, too)--- fabulous friends.

How Carrie B. and I are different:

1.  While we're the same height, I'm pretty sure I outweigh her by at least 15 pounds.
2.  I have a real job that requires me to go to a real office and deal with real people.
3.  Pat Fields doesn't dress me on a daily basis (how great would that be?!?!?!)
4.  In the last 24 hours, no one has said "Mommy, I pooped, wipe my butt" to Carrie.
5.  Carrie Bradshaw eats in Manhattan's finest restaurants.  Right now, I have my hand in a box of cereal (a spoon would require a trip to the dishwasher that I'm unwilling to make), and i'm calling that dinner.....and i'm thrilled that i'm eating it in relative peace.
6.  Carrie Bradshaw lives in Manhattan in a charm-filled apartment.  I live in the freaking suburbs, and I nearly impaled myself on a rogue mega-block that didn't make its way back to the playroom, or anywhere near it.

To summarize: Carrie Bradshaw=fabulous all the time, under all conditions.  Me= fabulous if I happen to have a good hair day and am wearing yoga pants that don't have kid-crust on them while at Target. It's better than nothing.  Maybe by the end of the year, and after 363 more new experiences, I will be ever-so-slightly more fabulous. 

New Experience:  I'm a beachbody junkie, which means that I've tortured myself for the last 2 years doing workouts called "Insanity", "The Asylum", and anything with extreme in the title.  I've just started P90X2 and, for incremental masochistic torture, I've added in some Chalene Extreme as well.  I just survived something called "Plyocide", which is exactly as it sounds.  I'm either going to be in awesome shape in 88 days, or I'm going to reek of Ben-Gay....not entirely sure which.

And on the good deed of the day:  Childhood cancer sucks.  No one deserves cancer, much less a child who has not had a chance to live a full life.  If you have or love healthy kids, thank your lucky stars and DO SOMETHING for those who are fighting. 

Maybe I won't be Carrie Bradshaw by year's end.....and that's okay.  Maybe I'm destined to be more like Sarah Connor--- a mom who can kick some serious ass.

Limping to bed now,

Little Miss Sunshine

Monday, January 2, 2012

We are....(still)

Wow!  For someone who regularly says that there's very little in this world that actually surprises me, I was completely (and pleasantly) surprised by the reactions I received from one little blog entry.  Who knew that anyone cared what I have to say?  I have lived with me 24 hours a day for 36 years plus--and I don't even care what I have to say!   I love to think, I love to observe and I love to write, but I don't love putting myself out there for the world to see---so thanks to all of you for being gentle with blog entry #1!

The response was less than gentle in my own humble home.  I started to read the first entry to my pint-sized critic, who interrupted me in the 2nd paragraph with a strong, hands-on-hips response of "Mommy, this story is boring.  Read Dora instead."  

Okaaaaaaaaay, then.
As for Day #2, New Experience #2:

Day kicked off with house being cleaned, and it stayed clean for approximately 12 minutes, which may be some sort of record.  I once swore that I would never be the kind of parent whose home decor followed a theme of plastic, made-in-China pink kid's shit.  What can I say?  I was a much better parent before I had kids.

Anyway, on to the new experience.  Hosted my first-ever Penn State bowl game party today.  While I didn't actually go to PSU, I did marry into the PSU culture, and I will say that that culture is a strong one (note that the first four letters of "culture" are, in fact, "cult".)  

I'm also the proud parent of a little girl who totes around not one, but two, footballs that she treats like dolls.  Blue Football (as she is known), wears a princess pull-up and apparently is potty training.  Brown football was actually procured at PSU and does not wear a pull-up, which proved to be slightly problematic today because Little M informed me that Brown Football "pissed hisself" today.

I know what you're thinking.  My kid's language can periodically be appalling and that kind of language is probably learned at home.  With that said, I will have you all know that no adult in this house has ever used the word "hisself", thank you very much.  :)

In any case, I couldn't give the actual name of the bowl game in which PSU played, and PSU kind of played like a high school JV squad, but that's well beyond the point.  PSU has obviously had a terrible few months, and its reputation has rightfully been battered by heinous actions taken by (or equally heinously, not taken by) high ranking officials within the organization.   Penn Staters tend to be very proud of their university, and a sad side effect of what came to light in the last few months was watching good people, who were so proud of their affiliation with a once-proud university, replace that pride with a disappointment and sadness that is analogous with learning that there's no Santa Claus.  

Officials in the university did horrible things and ignored unimaginable things- no question- but their actions did not, or should not, tarnish the character and accomplishments of the hundreds of thousands of good people who were educated on its campuses.  I think of the PSU Greeks who stand on corners in freezing cold weather collecting money for THON, a charity that has raised millions of dollars to stop childhood cancer.  I think of the many friends that I have who are amazing, accomplished and character-driven people who should remain proud of their educations.  I think of Little M, whose eyes were so big the first time she laid eyes on the PSU lion statue.  

That pride should still remain- so I was glad to be part of something today that represented a very small and private step toward moving forward and building a new legacy, with or without a win. 

As for good deed- all I will say is that you've eaten today, you're unbelievably fortunate.  Consider Philabundance.

It's a long road ahead, but we are...(still)... Penn State.

---Little Miss Sunshine

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Damn you, Beyonce (and other musings on the new year)

I've never been one for New Year's Resolutions, primarily because I generally blow them by noon on January 2nd.  It turns out that I really can't resist cookies, donuts, caffeine, profanity and parliaments, and the fresh slate of a new year has historically done little to curb my affection for my vices.

What's more, having been a gym rat for the better part of 15 years, I also developed a deep-rooted distaste for those who I've coined "those new year's resolutions f'ers who take all the parking spots and all of the good bikes in spin class and force me to be here 20 minutes early to grab the bike that I had no problem getting in August."

Ah, yes, I'm just a regular ray of sunshine--- but, as it turns out, I am a regular ray of sunshine that got swayed in a big way by a performance by none other than Beyonce on a NYE program hosted by Ryan Seacrest.  (Those of you who still have social lives, feel free to mock me now).

For those of you that had actual NYE plans that didn't involve network TV, track pants, your sofa and a half-decent buzz from Blue Moon and a 2 week old bottle of red that tasted like NyQuil,  there was a clip of Beyonce singing a song titled "I Was Here".   The song is essentially about building a legacy and making the world a better place because (you guessed it!) you.were.here.

Wheels started spinning.  Dammit.

I'm a CPA, which means that by nature, I'm not the most adventurous spirit on the planet.    I write lists.  I'm not a risk taker.  I dot "i's" and cross "t's" and check my work and worry enough so that no one else on the planet needs to.  I don't, however, want my daughter to grow up to be mind-numblingly dull (a la mom), so I want to build some sort of legacy and some sort of example for her.   I want the world to be a better place because Little Girl M was here (DAMN YOU, Beyonce), which means that I need the world to be a better place because I was here.  (DAMN YOU, Beyonce, squared).

From this mind-haze, a year long anthropological experiment was born, with me as subject.  I'm not about to set some lofty goal of a huge life-changing event.  What I am going to do, however, is take small, daily steps to be less dull and (hopefully) someone that the universe thinks isn't a waste of air and flesh.    So, for the next year, every day, I am to do 2 things:

1.  Have a brand-new experience
2.  Do something that is helpful/useful/beneficial to someone else.


Day One Summary of Project "Get off your ass and get a life"

1.  New Experience-- Spouse and I took Little Miss M to the Brandywine River Museum, which is a museum that is less than 5 minutes from my house, and that I've never been to despite living in this area for 9 years.  Little Miss M has expressed considerable interest recently about going to Paris, which is kind of mind-blowing considering that she's 3. Let's just say that 90 minutes in a local museum has made me realize that my dream of enjoying the sights and sounds of April (2012) in Paris with my squirt just might be a hair premature.  Highlights include:  (1) finding 3 "time out" locations in a very small building, (2) Little M screaming "that lady's naked and her boobs are saggy" in the Andrew Wyeth exhibit, and (3) having multiple near heart attacks as Little M attempted to touch the art.

I know the Mona Lisa has survived for centuries (or at least I think it has!!) and survived multiple world wars, but I'm not entirely certain it can survive 15 minutes in the presence of Hurricane M.

2-  Goodwill To Men (and Women):  You know what?  I did a good deed today, but describing in more detail kind of seems more self-promotional than I'm willing to be.  I'll just say "check" on the box and move on.

Stay tuned.....let's see if I can get through January on this experiment.

Happy 2012, everyone.

---Little Miss Sunshine