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Not My Favorite Spring Break

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Not My Favorite Spring Break

Thank goodness school started again today. Our spring break kind of……sucked. Not only that, but I’m suffering an uncharacteristic  — for me — amount of mommy guilt over the whole thing. Gotta be honest, mommy guilt is normally not in my wheelhouse (whether it SHOULD be is another question), but this week threw me for a loop.

I had all kinds of grand plans: a thorough spring-cleaning and purge of all boys’ rooms and belongings; outings to the zoo, the science museum, and hiking; frolicking in the great outdoors; garden planting and yard work. Not to mention relaxing extended family reading time, etc., etc.

We made it to the zoo Monday, but after that the week just kind of kerploofed. (It’s a word now, people, it’s perfect for the sort of imploding-while-disappointing sound I was imagining.) I had made just a few wee commitments for the week, but each of them somehow had other meetings appended to them, including meetings for and with my nieces that were really important and out of my control. Then mid-week my poor dad experienced a serious back injury that required a chaperone and multiple appointments, it rained most of the week so no one could play outside, and …… kerploof.

Lessons were learned though, and I record them here for your potential benefit, should you ever experience a disappointing kerploof of a holiday.

1. Huh, I’m raising relatively self-sufficient small people. Instead of adventures with mommy all week, my little men spent record amounts of time alone and in charge of themselves and each other. As the oldest is 13, this should be no big deal on paper, but we’re talking several big chunks of hours of time and three boys. And you know what, people? No blood was drawn, no disasters were had, lunches were prepared and consumed, and all was well.

2. Much less laundry is required when your family members spend most of the week in their jammies. This reduction in laundry was a small side benefit to the fact that the boys got dressed maybe twice between Monday and Friday……oh, look, here comes the guilt again……

3. Multiple Jammie Days??? My boys think that’s the Best. Thing. Ever. So instead of being disappointed at the lack of mommy outings, they were thrilled at the added responsibility of being on their own combined with the luxury of relatively unlimited electronics (truly not the norm in this house, honest) in their pj’s. By their accounting: SCORE.

A sleepover in the basement is the perfect end to a jammie day. Well, that and piles of Oreos.

A sleepover in the basement is the perfect end to a jammie day. Well, that and piles of Oreos.

4. Unlimited Electronics Buffet + Rainy Week Still = Squirrelly Boys. This is just basic physics, no changing that. Thank you Jesus for a sunny afternoon yesterday, or there might have been intra-familial fisticuffs.

5. I have discovered a basic, and to my knowledge, previously unnamed law of human behavior. Other people at the zoo cannot stop making up what are clearly dumb explanations for the animals’ behavior. The Corollary to this Law of Uncontrollably Fabricating Animal Behavior Explanations is the Inability to Control Mocking Others Ridiculous Explanations While Believing Your Own Understanding of Zoo Animal Behavior is Unquestionably Stellar.

6. Baby elephants are so cute, one cannot be blamed for compulsively taking what are clearly awful pictures of them….

Awww....look at the baby elephant. Well, she is cute, but there was all this glass in the way...

Awww….look at the baby elephant. If you can, through the glare, the glass, and her mother’s legs.

7. Much to my shame and dismay, I am not immune to Facebook-related jealousy. Having never really experienced it before, I was pretty confident I was above the capacity of Facebook to effect my perceptions of how fun our life is or is not. Until this week, when the pictures of Palm Desert, Hawaii and Mexico flooded my newsfeed while I went from meeting to appointment to meeting. I realized I am no better than any other Facebook user, capable of being consumed by feelings of envy and inadequacy.

A pathetic group selfie (us-ie?) of us at The Lego Movie.

A pathetic group selfie (us-ie?) of us at The Lego Movie.

I did not post that blurry mess to social media, didn’t feel it adequately competed with all of the beach/skiing/Italian spa/parasailing/rock-climbing on Mars photos. Sigh. (I am completely aware of the whiny nature of my seriously first-world problems. I am a brat. That fact just makes it all worse. More sighing.)

8. When given the chance, my boys rose to the occasion and to my expectations, whether it was helping injured grandpa walk his dog this week, managing on their own so long, or doing extra chores to help me out instead of getting to do extra adventures or fun treats. Our kids are often capable of so much more than we ask of them, and they are proud to do it.

9. This too shall pass, for everything there is a season, kids are resilient, and honestly I can’t remember ONE single spring break from my elementary or middle school years. My mom was GREAT, and I’m sure we did all kinds of super fun spring break things.  Wait, had spring break even been invented then? Anyhow, maybe in the scheme of things it won’t really matter…..

Maybe everything IS awesome….

Also, I’m pretty sure that song was composed by the folks who compose Vacation Bible School theme music. Anyone agree?



It’s About the Story, So Don’t Judge Me

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In which I enjoy some “Joyful Noise,” and shush the uppity hipster critics…..

A predictable movie, well-done, is our version of legend, of powerful folktale told round the fire by tribal elder, myth passed down through generations, or epic saga recited in court by the wise, old royal storyteller. We human beings have an inherent love of story, a need to connect with each other through narrative, through “Once upon a time”, and “….happily ever after.” Even the most esoteric human truth can resonate in our minds if told through the emotional craft of story. It’s how our ancestors taught each other the best hunting tactics, or the best ways to choose a mate, or connect with their spiritual lives.

Few amongst you would derisively dismiss the collected tales of a foreign culture, or mock the stories of a primitive people group. But bring up a predictable movie with a plot that bookies won’t take bets on, and stand back. Here comes the sarcasm. Oh, it is so easy to judge. Especially if you fancy yourself an intellectual, or a hipster, or an intellectual hipster. But I stand among you blog among you today to claim that IT IS NOT SO, that a movie well-done can reunite us with our most powerful human narratives in a way that is both delightful and comforting.

That’s right, I said it. I love romantic comedies. I love musical theater. I even love sports movies featuring underdogs who triumph against all odds and win the game in the final moment.

And yes, in fact, I did recently enjoy the movie “Joyful Noise” with Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton.

You wanna go get you some upscale culture, fine. Go see “American Beauty”, or “Up In the Air”, or “Sideways”.  Perhaps you will leave the theater better off in some way I never did. I find that with the approach of middle age – still in the distance, mind you, I’m not close, it’s WAY off in the distance – I am less interested in the Important Movie, and more interested in what will make me laugh, or cry, or sigh contentedly. Or, on a special day, make me angry or sad or frustrated or motivated.

Me? I’ll go see “Joyful Noise”, and grin the entire time. The. Entire. Time. I’ll  savor the contest between outwardly different rivals, competing to lead their underdog group to victory, based on their deeply held convictions, rockin’ good voices, and contagious choreography.

Because you know what? I’ve got plenty of Serious in my life, plenty of Scary Reality, and honestly, even a fine helping of Mysterious Human Evil in the situations in which I live in day in and day out.

So quite frankly, I prefer to watch Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton trade barbs, and compete for the choir master position in their church, and try to prevent the young people in their lives from striving towards a relationship with each other when they ought to know their families don’t care for each other. ( SEE!??? Romeo and Juliet, eternal human story…..)

I want to bounce and sway in my seat to some excellent southern gospel (and gospelly pop music, and pop-y hip-hop-ity gospel), and laugh as Dolly makes jokes about her plastic surgery, and I even want to be satisfied that every single plot twist happens exactly as I predicted it would ten  minutes earlier in the movie. I LOVE THAT.

And you know what? I could go a very, very, very long time before I watch another movie with an unsatisfying vague ending, an unjustified sad ending, or any movie in which no one in the film is anyone with whom I’d remotely want  to ever hang out.

Life is too short, and I will not be judged. I’m gonna grab my joy where I can find it, and if it comes in the form of Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton, all’s the better.

Joyful Noise Medley

‘Cause if that don’t make you happy right now, you ain’t trying.

The Help, The Junior Mints, The Remake

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Three things I learned at the movies today:

1. The movie “The Help” is nearly as good as the book. Such moving performances from all involved. I was left with an unavoidable urge to utilize my Southern accent and then corner my friend S., from Jackson herself, and demand that she tell me her thoughts. Did she have “help” growing up? Did her elegant momma? How did she feel about that? What do Southern people think when I speak in a Southern accent? Is it annoying, amusing, or strangely homey?

2. I had me some Junior Mints this afternoon, and the theater is now keeping them in the refrigerator. Refrigerated Junior Mints are even MORE REFRESHING. It was a revelation, indeed.

3. I know I should be ashamed, and not excited. I know I should cry foul, not cry for more.  I know remakes are derivative, they are pathetic, I should avert my eyes and protest with the other purists. But the preview for the new “Footloose” movie just made me dopey happy. And a bit giddy. And I LOVE Dennis Quaid. The only part that bothered me in the trailer is that it appears some of the dancing is a bit…….inappropriate. But I’m a sucker for a good decent halfway decent dance movie, what can I say? (Step Up 1 – 17 now? – told you I wasn’t discriminating; “Tap”, “White Nights”, “Saturday Night Fever”, “Flashdance”, and “Dirty Dancing”, oh my.)

What are YOUR favorite dance movies? And what are you looking forward to seeing at the theater this fall?

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