Monday, February 27, 2012

What Men See, What Women See





No doubt there are fundamental differences between men and women. No one will dispute this fact. Let's not even go into the biological differences of sex, but focus on the mindset that seem to make us strangers to each other. Like a liberal can't understand why a conservative is so uptight and a conservative can't understand why a liberal is so evil (or why libertarians are such potheads), men don't understand why women can't take a compliment, make everything harder than it needs to be, and feel the need to socialize 24/7. Women can't figure out why men can feel fulfilled by doing nothing, could care less about calories, and how they can call a five minute conversation "catching up".

Yesterday, Clancy and Krytondra came over for an Oscars party. Clancy stayed over all afternoon and brought his Kinect so we could all play. I got so into the sports games that I shut out the rest of the room and almost didn't even notice when Clancy and Brandon left the apartment to go pick up snacks and drinks. Brandon had to call my name 2 or 3 times before he got me to answer his question of, "Do you need anything?" Later that night, I asked him how it felt to be on the receiving end of a dazed look and an answer to a question he had to yell at me before I paid attention to him.

B: It didn't bother me. I got your attention, you answered my question, and that was it.

Bull, I said. Then I realized, he was right. Because if it were me, a woman, I would have been upset, but he was used to it. He understood that one often gets enthralled in video games and so naturally, a question has to be asked multiple times before an answer is expected. *sigh* Men.

To me, the difference between men and women is never so apparent than after a shopping spree. Woman comes home from the mall (or Target, Kohl's or Old Navy, in my case) with bags of goodies. Some for herself, some for her child, some for her husband. She waltzes in the room with a glow about her- radiance exuding from her every pore. She takes each precious item from their sacks and proudly holds them to her body to show off how they will look. Add in a Grace Kelly-esque twirl and you feel like you're transported to the 1950's. See how good she feels because of these new clothes, shoes and jewelry? She feels like a new woman- someone beautiful and special and fashionable. Her child will love the new outfit she picked out, not only because it is lovely but because mommy picked it. And dear old hubby... she lifts out the polo and sweater combo she has picked for him and says, "Won't you feel good wearing this?"

"No. I like my t-shirts and windpants."

*insert balloon bursting sound effect*

"How much did all that cost anyway?"

*balloon completely deflates, letting out a barely audible toot as it dies*

Men don't find self-esteem in clothing. Not unless they're metro and named Tom Brady anyway. When men and women both look at clothes, women see self-esteem and men see money. I buy things that make me feel good, that flatter my figure and match my complexion. Brandon buys things that are size medium. It's a fundamental difference that actually makes me very sad. I feel like I have to justify buying things and explain that retail therapy is real! The last time I had a bad day I bought myself "I Love Lucy" season 2 on DVD and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" book. And probably chocolate of some kind. I don't spend like a mad man. I buy on sale. I use coupons. I shop in moderation. And I almost never go out shopping because I'm bored. So sue me if my groceries and accessories all come from Target. I go to get milk and come out with new jean capris, so what?

It's not about the latest fashion. I can't even spell most of the names of the designers actresses were wearing dresses of at the Oscars last night. It's about accepting who I am, what my shape is, and not compromising by wearing large t-shirts and sweatpants. Men wear underwear until they have holes in them and undershirts even with pit stains. In general, they don't care. I care. So women, wherever you are, get yourself a drink and raise your glass, and toast with me to hole-free underwear, sales, and feeling confident. Men will continue to see how much money we spent when we put on a new dress, but when the dollar signs fade away, they'll see what we see: we look good!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pieces of History


 Last week one of Brandon's students informed him that the Blockbuster near Greatwood was closing and they were selling everything. DVD's, posters, candy, shelves, even their step stool and mop bucket. There was actually a sign on the power cable saying "Not for sale- we need this for our electricity".

With most DVD's costing either $0.99 (why isn't there a "cents" symbol on our keyboard?) or $1.99, we stocked up on way more than was necessary. Of course, no movie is necessary to own except perhaps the five films I mentioned in my last post that I tend to fall asleep to. And "The Godfather". But regardless, we love movies, and I love owning them.

I started to feel kind of bad when I looked at our hoard, but since we got about 15 kids movies that will be given to Brooklyn as presents for the next 5 or 6 years, my apprehension eased a bit. And since we don't have cable or satellite, I watch movies like most people watch TV shows. What we spent was about the same as one month of satellite and we'll be enjoying our treasures for much longer than a month.

Perhaps the best reason I gave myself for being glad we helped clear Blockbuster of its inventory was that we weren't just buying DVD's, we were buying history.

I realized this when I chose to watch "What About Bob?" ($0.99) the day after our humungo purchase. I looked at the case- small hole in the plastic through the paper, probably from an animal getting hold of it, faded cover from all the many years of sitting on a shelf facing a wall of windows, blue ticket-shaped "Blockbuster" logo sticker placed on the disc. Just then it dawned on me: Brooklyn will have no idea what Blockbuster was, and will ask us about it one day when she pulls out "The Black Cauldron" or "Madame Blueberry" or one of the others I picked out for her. Owning all these old Blockbuster DVD's really is like owning pieces of history!

Life seems to move so fast right now; there are hundreds of people, events, inventions, places that Brooklyn will never have experienced or known.

"Daddy, you mean there used to be a basketball team in Seattle?"
"Mommy, who was Mema?"
"Did you guys all really think the world was going to end in 2000 AND in 2012? That's silly."
"You were born before The Little Mermaid came out? Wow. You're older than I thought."
"Why did someone want to fly planes into those two buildings in New York? Was it an accident?"

Just some of the comments and questions I anticipate hearing and having to answer. Think about it: I ask my parents about if they remember Kennedy being shot, if they still have any of their clothes from the 70's and about what Beatlemania felt like. Just a part of their life, but history to me. Imagine all of the things that are history to our kids: alternative music will be oldies to them, not having a cell phone will be a foreign concept, and I bet only a handful of toddlers will ever be able to identify a VHS or cassette tape. We laugh at 8-tracks, and they'll laugh at tapes. Who knows- something better than DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray may come along any day now and they'll all laugh at DVD's. We'll get to explain the instant popularity and then immediate hatred of the drink "Surge" (guys get that more than girls do). We'll have to make sense out of why there was such a division between Backstreet Boy and N Sync fans, or even Twilight vs. Harry Potter. Brooklyn won't remember that Texas A&M was in the Big 12 and won't care about Scorsese winning his first Best Director Oscar... scratch that, we'll make her care.

It's just fascinating to realize that history is being made right now, but it takes time before the title "history" becomes appropriate. And it's mind-boggling to think about how my present will be mine because I remember, but just history to my daughter who remembers nothing past a few days ago.

We've got a lot of history in our home. Old books and toys that belonged to Brandon, old baby clothes of mine, knick-knacks from my great-grandmother's house, and now a large portion of the Blockbuster inventory. If you're in need of a history lesson, stop by and borrow something. We don't charge, but we do ask you write your selection in the rental book titled "B+T DVD". We like to keep tabs on where our precious artifacts have gone.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Things You May Not Know

  • My middle name is Meredith.
  • I was born in Meridian, Mississippi.
  • Chicken fajitas are my favorite food.
  • I never rode a horse until I was in college.
  • I'm a sucker for mafia films.
  • I hold my breath when I drive over dead animals for fear of smelling them.
  • I have an intense fear of clowns that did not derive from "It", but rather a combination of "The Brave Little Toaster", "Pee Wee's Big Adventure", "Seinfeld" and "Are You Afraid of the Dark". I don't really find "It" that scary... as long as Tim Curry is a spider or something, and not that clown.
  • I sucked my thumb until I was eight. This may or may not correlate to my fear of clowns.
  • My first grade teacher, Mrs. Boles, is my hero.
  • When I think of a place where I am perfectly happy, I picture Iron Springs Christian Camp in Whitney, TX.
  • I will always choose a bun with sesame seeds over a plain bun.
  • I sleep with the TV on, often watching one of the following films: "Clue", "Cool Hand Luke", "Singin' in the Rain", "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" or "Elf". 
  • I have attended two live WWF matches. Loved DX.
  • I'm a beach person. Mountains make me anxious.
  • I cut my husband's hair.
  • I wished to be Nancy Kerrigan for a small time when I was younger. I thought she was an angel. Then Tonya Harding had her thug blow out my angel's kneecap and I didn't want to be her anymore.
  • I had a memory of locking myself out of my room that I learned 11 years later was a dream.
  • I loved when my dad made me bologna that looked like one of the 3 little pigs when I was a kid. 
  • I can rearrange letters of a word and put them in alphabetical order almost instantly. I acn aaegnrrr eelrstt fo a dorw adn ptu ehmt in aaabcehilpt deorr almost ailnnstty. 
  • I don't like houses with lots of mirrors and windows.
  • The "Scream" movies are the only ones in the horror genre that I enjoy.
  • My senior quote was by John Lennon: "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans".
  • I don't like cheese.
  • Going to a Rockettes show, getting a degree from the University of Alabama and witness a legitimate sword fight are all on my bucket list. 
  • I'm a Mac person. 
  • I love pajamas.

    Just thought you should know.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Deception Starts Early

Last night we had our "Hope for Haiti's Children" fundraiser at church. It was a LOT of fun! I had the 2's, 3's and 4's and with the help of the 7th graders we entertained through a skit about Jesus and his followers, crafts, coloring, songs and games, playground time and a Veggietales movie.

During the movie, one little boy nearly lost it because his goldfish had gotten thrown away. He didn't know that of course, all he knew was that they were gone. One of the 7th graders said, "You can have mine!" The 3-year-old was on the verge of meltdown because he wanted his goldfish, not someone elses. So what did I do? I grabbed my own snack cup and lied to him when I said, "Here you go- here are your goldfish". Crisis averted. And then it hit me: deception starts early!

Lying is bad, we all agree. And yet... we trick people all the time into doing things that they don't want to do in order to try to make things easier to deal with. Especially children.

I prevented a massive breakdown from a preschooler yesterday because it was easy to do and didn't hurt him to eat my goldfish thinking they were his.

Brooklyn always throws her mozzarella cheese on the floor when I give it to her because she thinks she doesn't like it. But she sure did like it when I made it on her grilled cheese sandwich today! "You sneaky mom!"

I even have an entire cookbook about sneaking pureed vegetables into recipes so that your kids (and husband) don't know that they're actually getting a healthy serving of goodness! ("Deceptively Delicious" by Jessica Seinfeld)

It's tricky, because when you think about it... there really is a gray area in life. I mean, you don't tell your wife who has a 2-month old baby that she looks fat in that dress. Some things just aren't worth speaking an absolute truth about. Maybe it won't be understood or maybe it would just be cruel. And though we shouldn't live sheltered lives where we only want to hear kind words and never be hurt, unless if it's going to affect our eternal lives, I think maybe a little deception now and then isn't so bad after all. At least it's not going to stop be from making grilled mozzarella sandwiches or sharing my snacks with toddlers.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Molars and Mommy Acronyms

Just a few minutes ago Brooklyn woke up crying. Not terribly unusual to put her to bed at 8 and hear some crying around 9. Most of the time she puts herself back to sleep, and sometimes we go in and hold her for a minute before putting her back in her crib. Seems to calm her down in times when she can't calm herself, and life goes on and we all sleep until the late hours of the morning.

Something is UP.

For one thing, she's started drooling again. Last week I changed her clothes for a picture with her cousin, Pearl. When we were finished with the pictures I realized I couldn't put her back in what she was wearing before because the front of it was SOAKED through. I don't ever remember her baby stuff getting that wet from drool. Spit up, sure, but drool, no.

Speaking of spit up, that's started again too. She's gotten into the habit of sticking her fingers or entire hand in her mouth which causes her to gag and spit up. Umm, weirdo.

Also, she's had nights the past week where she decides she doesn't want to go to bed until 9:00 or 9:30, and the next morning she wakes up at 7:00! I realize this is a normal child's schedule, but it's cutting down on about 4 hours of her normal sleep, and she doesn't seem to be bothered by it.

Tonight she started crying and I decided to go in and see what was going on. She was laying down in her bed, eyes open, crying. Usually she's standing up, so to see her laying down crying sent a shock through me... is she hurt?

I grabbed her and she began screaming, flailing and throwing her head back, not being consoled by anything. Just a ball of pain and I-want-to-sleep-but-can't kind of adrenaline. We gave her some water (which she immediately tossed... she had, after all, signed "milk" to me, and I opted for agua instead. I guess I deserved the cup thrown at me) and some Tylenol and "teeth pills" (teething tablets) and all of a sudden life was decent again. Bearable and liveable. But for those 5 minutes, the world was falling apart around me a la "Inception". She is currently sleeping in her crib once more.

So, now I do what every red-blooded American mom does when their child seems hurt or sick: I Google the problem to find the solution. Do people even call doctors anymore? Why bother, when mommy blogs are open 24/7 and free?

I just wish I could understand these mommy message boards. I can't figure them out! It's like they're speaking a foreign language, which isn't fair, because I'm a citizen of the motherhood community too! I want to be let in on all these acronyms because my lack of knowledge is frustrating to no end! Who decided that we'd all refer to each other's children as LO's (little ones)? And what is DD, DS and DC? Anyone know? I have narrowed the choices down for the last letter- daughter, son, child(ren). But the first D... still baffled. Maybe "darling". As in "My DD (darling daughter) has been getting her molars too". Or perhaps "darn", as in "My DS (dang son) has been getting so cranky lately!" Brandon says DD is a bra size. That's what he sees when he sees it.

Seriously- why do we have codes for these things? Isn't it hard enough to do something simple like get your child to eat vegetables? (Which, by the way, is what Brooklyn had for supper. A biscuit, corn, carrots, peas and green beans. It's been a long time coming, but veggies are now once again welcome at our table)

And so we've come to the "Dear Abby" portion of our programming. I welcome your advice and thoughts, MOOC (moms of older children-I made that one up. Let's see if it catches on!): how early CAN children get their so called two-year-molars? My Google Mommy Scholars seem to think that 20 months is the earliest, but guess what? Brooklyn is 16 months, and another mom's child kept putting their fingers in their mouth feeling her back teeth too... could be the reason for the gagging and spit up? And she's drooling. And having weird sleeping patterns. And odd eating habits (I told you she's eating vegetables? Yeah, now she's refusing meat. Definitely out of the norm). And oh yeah, screaming her head off until we gave her pain medication for her mouth that was obviously hurting bad enough that when I asked to see her teeth she flipped. Reminded me of parts of "The Exorcist" now that I think of it. Scary stuff.

I don't blame her though. Teeth are bones that are pushing through your skin until they can burst through the surface. Imagine if your femur was doing the same thing. I have terrible images of my elbow trying to bust through and the pain I would feel.

A little too morbid? Okay, I'll stop.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Good Ole Days

A few years ago my mom, brother and I were traveling to Alabama to visit the grandparents. I was really excited to finally be in charge of the radio. We always had assigned seating in the van when we traveled- Dad drove, mom rode in the front seat, Lindsay sat next to the rear controls because she's the oldest and therefore got to be in charge of the radio and air conditioner for Kirby (who was next to her) and me (who was in the back). With my dad and Lindsay not going with us on this particular trip, I finally had the controls to myself. You can tell that this was a monumental occasion in my life, because I remember it so vividly.

I asked Kirby what he wanted to listen to, and after searching through my CD case he decided on Queen's "Greatest Hits". I commended him on his choice, and my mom says something along the lines of "I didn't know you had that CD". Then she tells me I would have made a great hippie.

Are you serious? I would have made a great hippie? Anyone else's mom ever tell them that? It's true, it's just funny to hear it from your mother. I love the oldies. I used to fall asleep to 98.7 KLUV (the oldies station) when I was a kid. I have nearly all of the Beatles albums, including an actual LP of "Rubber Soul" thanks to Chelsea. I love tie dye and Jimi Hendrix and would grow my hair down to my ankles if it wouldn't stop growing when it's halfway down my back. It's funny though, because even though I look at the 60's and think man, THAT's the decade I want to live in, I know that there is no such thing as "the good ole days". It's just a phrase that politicians have been using since the dawn of time to produce false hope in nostalgia.

Even the 1950's, which seems to be perfect, weren't even close. Start of the Cold War, Communism and the Red Scare, everyone smoking cigarettes around pregnant women (I'm watching Season 2 of "I Love Lucy" and I'm shocked- even the doctor smokes around a pregnant Lucy!). In "Dazed and Confused", one of the characters talks about how every other decade is great. The 50's were boring, the 60's were great, "the 70's obviously suck" and so they estimate (sarcastically, in hindsight) that the 80's must be going to be the greatest days of their lives!

Just the other day I watched the movie "Midnight in Paris" (which is excellent and in my opinion the best movie of the year). The premise is that the main character longs to move to France in order to write because it inspires him. He views 1920's Paris as the highlight of romanticism and the greatest time in history. Magically, at midnight each night, an old car shows up and transports him to the streets of Paris in the 20's. He meets people like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter and Picasso. He also meets a girl who complains that the 1920's are boring and she wishes she lived during the 1890's.

It's a perfect example of how everyone sees that we always want what we can't have. I'll continue to watch "I Love Lucy", but I need to stop wishing I was alive to see it when it was first aired. I'll keep listening to The Beatles, but stop dreaming that I was at Shea Stadium for their famous concert. I'm happy that I'm here now, alive to experience the Y2K scare, 4 Spurs NBA championships, the birth of my daughter, and thousands of other momentous and ultimately insignificant occasions in my 26 years.

You can't always get what you want.
You can't always get what you want.
You can't always get what you want.
But if you try sometimes,
You just might find,
You get what you need. 
-The Rolling Stones

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

SO MUCH SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media is out of control. I'm pinning and tweeting and blogging all at once. And I'm texting people who are sitting right next to me. What is this world coming to?

#don'tsellyourselfshortkirbyyoumusttweetinabritishaccentyoudeliverpopcornlikenoneother

See? That was just me writing what my friend and brother are saying to each other as we all sit in the living room together. In hashtag form. Is this fun or is it crazy? What are your thoughts?

I know this won't be funny to anyone else but us, and probably not even funny to us in the morning. But I hadn't blogged in a while, so I thought I'd say a quick "what up". And do it through all of my social media outlets. Every single one.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Every Little Thing I Do is Magnified

To the tune of "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" by the Police

Chorus:
Every little thing I do is magnified
Every little move I make is seen
Even when I think she isn't watching
Now I know she's sneaky, smart and keen...


Last night I was fumbling for my keys standing by the van, and Brooklyn leaned forward to put her sippy cup on top of the hood. No big thing, until I saw she was grinning ear to ear at me. I realized that she put her cup the same place I always put my cups when I have one while I put everything else in the car. The cup always comes last. It dawned on me; she's been watching me this whole time? She sees me place my Chick-Fil-A cups on the hood of the van in this exact spot and is copying me now? She must be- she's so proud of herself! Pretty cute, right? And also terrifying as a parent. She sees everything. She hears everything. She monitors and watches everything and copies me to try and make me happy. Oh boy. What a responsibility I have!

Today I strapped her into her stroller and she showed me the button to push that unstraps everything. She's not strong enough to push it, but she showed me nonetheless, and I told her how smart she was! Kind of a loaded compliment, because as smart as she gets and the more she catches on to things, the more on my guard I need to be. I can't watch my TV shows with her in the room anymore because I don't want her repeating the simplest of dirty words (even "crap" has been taken out of the Strother adult vocabulary).

It made me really sad to hear another parent in our apartment complex refer to his child as "you lazy a** kid". And we wonder where manners have gone? Why we're mean to each other? Because our children grow up with hearing these phrases being said to other adults and what's worse, to their own faces.  It breaks my heart. Makes me want to tell them "you is kind, you is smart, you is important!" And that God loves them, even when it seems like their own parents don't.

We've always got to be on our guard as parents and as Christians to be doing what's right, not because it's going to get us ahead in this life or the next, but because it's what right to do. If we want the next generation learning what's right, then we have to be the examples for it.

I just hope Brooklyn doesn't pick up my bad habits. I get cavities because of the way I slosh my soda around in my mouth, for one thing. I can't help it. I'm just not good as swallowing stuff immediately. I have to make these chipmunk cheeks first. Go figure.