Archive for January, 2011

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I’m All for Positive Role models

January 30, 2011

and girl empowerment, etc., but I take issue with Disney’s newest Avalon High based on the book of the same name by author Meg Cabot. I was looking forward to an evening watching the movie with my girls and for the most part, it did not disappoint. It was the ending I could not believe.

Avalon High is actually going to be one of Cabot’s books that I let my girls read in middle school. The Princess Dairies series touch on topics I consider slightly more mature than the Disney movies. I’m glad I read those first before letting my oldest dig in.

But this ending! Wait a minute! Ali was actually King Arthur? Not Will?? Okay, don’t get me wrong–if that was what Meg Cabot had intended all along, then more power to her! Great strong characterization, good role model and all. But in the novel (spoiler alert) Ali is the Lady of the Lake but for most of the novel you think she may actually be Lady Elaine, Lancelot’s betrayed wife. What would have been so wrong with leaving well enough alone? The Lady of the Lake was a powerful woman figure to be reckoned with. I just do not get why Disney made such a drastic change or why Cabot let them. Then again, Cabot lets Disney kill off dear Prince Daddy from the Diaries series. I guess when you sell the rights, you sell the rights.

According to Wikipedia (and yes, I know I would never allow or accept a Wikipedia article as a reference in a paper) Disney made such plot alterations, that included adding the Miles character as Merlin and keeping Marco from being Mordred so he wouldn’t threaten his brother, because “many scenes were cut out and scene settings were changed to make the movie more appropriate for younger children because the book has violent and some threatening scenes.” Maybe that’s because Meg Cabot does not write for younger children.

I would like to see Disney make movies and programming for the older set because ABC Family seems to have forgotten what a family appropriate show should be. There seems to be nothing in between Disney’s sticky sweet Good Luck Charlie and ABC Family’s atrocious–how is that family programming–Pretty Little Liars? And sadly, even some of the Disney messages are questionable: London telling a thinner than most girls Bailey that fashion designers do not design for Plus size girls like her? Appropriate? I think not, no matter how absurd they make London. Children will repeat her–my own have. And they have no idea of the real effects such words cause because Bailey always bounces back and loves London anyway.

I haven’t watched Mean Girls and I’ve only seen snippets of the new sequel but while the main character I’m sure learns her lesson and redeems herself so that the underdog can become homecoming queen, I believe there are more girls out there wanting to be more like the Plastics than the two that ultimately triumph because they’ve been conditioned that the London-like behavior is okay and it gets its own laugh track.

So maybe a female King Arthur who doesn’t fit the rest of Disney’s formulas is not too bad. I still take issue with the fact the original wasn’t written that way and that the original Ellie was a stronger character herself to be looked up to.

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Writing Workshop: Our dog’s best trick? Shed, of course!

January 26, 2011

I’m posting a little early because I intend to sleep in tomorrow!

Our greyhound sheds. We were told that greys are a low-allergen breed and do not shed because they do not have an undercoat. I don’t have ready access to my books but Wikipedia does state that they DO shed.

Ours not only sheds, but she leaves dust bunnies of fur the size of tumbleweeds!

I have a theory on this. We choose to feed Cassie PHD food (www.phdproducts.com). It is a mail order food that was recommended by our mutt’s obedience trainer, way back when, to help her recover from the mange. Not only did Chewie’s coat grow back in but it was always shiny, healthy, and soft. It is a high protein and supplement-packed food that has restorative and purgative properties. Another bonus is that is reduces the amount of poop.

In essence, our grey shed’s because she is constantly growing new fur. Her winter fur is actually quite thick. And thankfully she does not suffer from bald-thigh syndrome with which many greys are afflicted.

When Cassie is out promoting greyhound adoption often spectators will pet and love on all the animals and they usually end up declaring that Cassie has the softest fur. Generally, greys have a coarse, almost wire-like fur. At least that’s the case of the ones that I’ve come in contact. If Cassie is nervous and has not been given a dose of puppy calming aid (we’ve used several varieties for general anxiety to helping with thunderstorms and all equally effective), suddenly with all that petting, there will be clouds of white fluff floating in the air. Many of the spectators walk away covered in her white fur.

Writing Prompts:

1.)    If you could change anything about your pet, what would it be?
2.) Write a love poem to a favorite food.
3.) Describe a time when you felt left out.
4.) Read the quote and let it inspire your post: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. -Maya Angelou
5.) Social media is an amazing way to reunite with old friends. Describe a good or not-so-good experience you’ve had with it.

If you want to know more about Mama Kat’s writing workshops, just click on that pink poodle over there…

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It’s My Turn

January 25, 2011

Here’s another glimpse into how I “deal.” Well, for the most part I think I don’t but that’s for another debate.

I am by nature, and a little by circumstance, a person who needs extra sleep. I’ve had this explained to me that on any given moment I make more noradrenaline than the average person. I’m not quite in fight-or-flight all the time, but I am someone you want in an emergency because I function very well under stress. It’s the after part where I get to break down.

In fact, I need down time a great deal. It is part introvert and part the body is exhausted being “on”. If I have to do something unpleasant or stressful (like host a party or teach a class, not that those are necessarily unpleasant) I need to make sure I have time after to be by myself, rest and recover.

I am the sole caregiver for my children for 80 days at a time. I have to get up with them. I have to put them to bed. I have to meet their needs at all times. I also had a difficult time after T2 was born. There was one occasion where I was exhausted (if DH is driving I will fall asleep in the car no matter what). We had to stop at both his parents and at the grocery store. T2 needed a diaper change. At first I had DH agreeable to changing the diaper when we got to his parents. Then I mentioned that on our way home someone needed to run in and get a gallon of milk for T1. DH’s quick response was, “Then you change the diaper.”

Excuse me?

I totally laid into him that his time to “Say No” was every day he was at sea. I was not being selfish by asking him–in fact, I only ask when I am completely spent. When he is at sea and T2 needs a diaper change and I just don’t want to do it, what do I say, “Sorry, hon, I don’t feel like it”? This discussion went all the way into the house with us. I said, “I’m sorry you’re tired too but I just don’t willy-nilly think my parenting is done just because you’re home.”

We had to learn a few things when I got better after T2. We had spent a whole year getting me better (and moving) that we didn’t focus on the fact we now had two children and their social lives were getting busier. I guess it would be kind of similar to suddenly adopting. I would meet DH at the door with the keys and say, “I have class at 10. T1 has dance at 11. Meet us for lunch at noon. Your parents want to have dinner tonight. Welcome home. See you later.” And out the door I’d go.

He started resenting such welcomes. And I don’t blame him. He was exhausted. He had just worked (at the time) 90 days straight. No weekends, no holidays; 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. The best advice we got was to look at both his resentment and mine. Both of us were exhausted; neither had a more valid excuse but we had the luxury that when he caught up and got rested he was more than willing to lend a hand. I just had to give him the time to do so. And I had to give him our calendars so he knew exactly how busy we were and where I could use the help.

But my body wants to shut down when he gets home. I want to crawl into bed and not wake up for a week. I had to learn to fight those urges for about 3 days. Then I could rest. It’s also hard to fight that urge when overseas germs attack my already exhausted body. Without fail I usually get some kind of sickness when he gets home.

I also had to fight the urge to sleep for a week. When the children were in preschool, DH would help and would get them out the door or preschool and I could sleep in. It becomes a hard habit to break when I am once again the sole caregiver. It bit me in the butt a couple of times. So now,  do get up with them and keep the routine, going back to bed after they are out the door. Oh there are a few days when I roll over and say to DH, “Could you?” but it’s not such a bad habit.

Well, DH came home congested. He’s on the mend. I seem to have it now. T1 is a bit congested and ran a low-grade fever. I’m shivering as I type this and my back is killing me. I’m about to start my scout plans for DH to implement tonight because I’m not going anywhere.

So it’s my turn. My body is shutting down. I hope it is not the chest congestion from December that caused me to have a hard time breathing. We will see.

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Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know

January 23, 2011

edited by Hamilton Wright Mabie, 1905. The What-Every-Child-Should-Know-Library. Doubleday, Doran & Co. Inc., for the Parents’ Institute, Inc. Publishers of “The Parents’ Magazine.” (Kindle Edition)

For play is not organized idleness, frivolity set in a fanciful order; it is the normal, spontaneous exercise of physical activity, the wholesome gayety of the mind, the natural expression of the spirit, without self-consciousness, constraint, or the tyranny of hours and tasks. It is the highest form of energy, because it is free and creative; a joy in itself, and therefore a joy in the world.

… children do not read introductions, because they know that the valuable part of the book is to be found in the later pages.

So DH got me a Kindle Latest Generation (not the 3G version) for Christmas. It was a pleasant surprise. He loaded it up with free books he thought I would enjoy before sending it to me. There were bets on board whether he actually send it or keep it for himself!

This was the first book I read on my kindle. It brought back memories of my Freud and Fairy Tales Honors course in college. That course focused solely on the Grimm Brothers but this book had a greater variety. I thought the quote on what is “play” was an appropriate aside to my last blog entry.

As I read (and highlighted on my Kindle–how cool!) the second quote, I was of course chagrined that I was actually reading the introduction, the academic discourse on fairy tales, rather than diving right into the many fascinating stories. I felt like a child caught with my hand in the cookie jar.

I was indeed very grateful for DH’s thoughtfulness when I was laid up with the stomach flu. Not that I couldn’t have just picked up one of the many books lying around the house. But there was some thing to be said for turning the screen landscape, just pressing a button to turn the page, enlarging the font so I didn’t have to wear my glasses, or just flick a switch to power it down when I could no longer stay awake.

T1 and T2 are now both working their way through this book. The bookmarking feature is helping keep track of who is reading where. Hopefully the important lessons are subliminally seeping in and they are encouraged to go “play” and have their own adventures during life’s adversity.

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