Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dancing with the Universe

My dear friend Cathy, a good Minnesota girl who's in tune with all things worldy, sent this link to me. She is the mother of two girls who is raising them with a wonderful perspective of the world, and earth, around them.

There is something really engaging about this video. When I watched it I felt like I do every year during the Olympics opening ceremony. I see all those countries' flags and all this emotion bubbles up in me like some sort of power of the universe speaking to me. I am in utter awe of the different countries from A to Z. Places I cannot pronounce or find on a map fascinate me. Incidentally, my brother carried the flag for Palestine when they had a team of three in the Olympics in Atlanta. He was blown away. That brother of mine is always the one doing cool stuff.

I realize that the world is oh so much bigger than the five mile radius that I live in. Don't we all sweat the small stuff and glorify the even smaller? It's time we snap out of it. When I see those flags or watch this video, I remember that people all over the world love their children the way that I love mine. Mothers and fathers in every country on this vast planet of ours have dreams for their children. They cry when they are ill, struggle when they are naughty, laugh when they are goofy, and sometimes weep at the sheer beauty and miracle of life's chain at night when the house is peaceful and quiet and they watch their children's bellies move up and down with each slumbering breath.

People, not regimes, comprise a nation. We all pray for rain or sun or warmth or shade from the same sky. We are such a speck of something greater. Larger. Yet connected. Inextricably connected. Did Dr. Seuss indeed have it right?

Here's a translation of the lyrics from the video. And by the way, what a freaking awesome voice that young woman has! All that vocal power from a 17-year old kid from Bangladesh. The words are taken from a Tagore poem. Tagore is a Nobel prize winning revered Bengali poet whose writing transcends time and culture. He was a fierce protester of the British rule in India and wrote short stories, poems, essays, and plays about political topics, focusing largely on India's independence from the Raj. See, I'm Bengali too so this political writing and ranting is in my blood. I grew knowing about Tagore but did not come to appreciate his works until adulthood. My mom sang his songs, though in a language I didn't understand. My father gifted us books as subtle clue to our culture and heritage. I've had many of his books lining my shelves for years. It's only now that I crack them open.

These lyrics are particularly poignant.

Stream of Life by Rabindranath Tagore

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth
in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth
and of death, in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.
Dancing with the UniverseSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, June 27, 2008

5:00 Fridays

Shasta! Say it again just for kicks. SHASTA! Oh, the rainbow of flavors lining the bottom shelf of our local Kroger. Bubble Gum! Tiki Punch! Grape! Pineapple! Cotton Candy! Orange! Root Beer! None was better than the majestic CREAM SODA. Mmmmm.....lip smack. Tongue to upper lip and around again. Drool. Swirl the flavor around. Gulp. Tasty!

I'm also a big fan of the bottled cream soda from the likes of Stewart's, IBC, and Sprecher. Keep in mind that I don't actually drink soda and never really have habitually. It's more of a hangover remedy, indulgence, or craving. Well, I do drink it as a mixer, but that doesn't count because the alcohol eats up the sugary calories, making it A-OK to eat dessert.

So here you go folks, cream soda for the over age 21 crowd.

You'll need a tall glass. Real glass, not the plastic cup with the worn off "V" from Scott Stadium you've been using since you smuggled in Virginia Gentleman duct taped to your thigh under a skirt in college in 1989. And can I just say, "OUCH!" It hurt like hell pulling off the duct tape, but whatever it takes to take one for the team, ahem, so to speak.

Fill that real glass glass with some ice. I prefer cubes, but crushed would be lovely too. Add a healthy shot of vanilla vodka. I like Stoli Vanil, but cheaper stuff is fine too. Top it off with some ginger ale (I hear Shasta makes a good one.). Stir and enjoy. Mmmm...Ahh... Cream soda, a simple vanilla carbonated delight, never tasted so good. A lovely seasonless drink to be enjoyed year round.

Serve cream soda Jelly Bellies to the under-21 crowd. But I bet you can't resist popping a few of those bad boys yourself.

5:00 FridaysSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Let Sleeping Boys Lie

The Slumber Gods are smiling upon me today. Both Bird and Deal fell asleep in the car on the way home from a day of adventures. Surprisingly, they both transferred easily to their beds, a rarity for Deal. Hmmm....what to do with my afternoon?

File receipts? Fold laundry? Exfoliate feet and elbows? Mud mask? Weed the garden? Organize photos (THREE years worth!!!)? Make dentist, eye doctor, ENT appointments? Window shop on Etsy? Polish the water spots off the wineglasses? Start dinner? Marinate tomorrow night's dinner? Sudoku?


Off to finish A Thousand Splendid Suns. Laundry is what I should be doing but it can wait. Might as well put the guest room to good use by piling on yet another (the fourth!) load of laundry on the bed. Mama needs some mama time.

Even if pay for it at 10:00 PM when Bird is awake long after I am.
Let Sleeping Boys LieSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Environment 101 for Kids: Let Us Edutain You

For some reason I can't get the video file to embed. Click this link instead for a quickie on global warming.


A certain generation of terry cloth romper clad kids remembers Woodsy Owl teaching us to give a hoot, don't pollute. I recall those days of the crying Indian, Schoolhouse Rock, and McGruff peppering Saturday mornings. Public service announcements were great then, and I love watching them on Boomerang now. Hanker for a hunka cheese, anyone? Oh, and the joys of rushing home from school to catch some Deenie-esque character struggling for popularity while trying to become a member of the world class mathlete team on the ABC Afterschool Special!

The 70s were great.

I do, however, consider myself a child of the 80s. I guess you could say I came of age in the 80s, with a wild streak inspired by Cindy Lauper and Madonna a la Holiday. And I tell you what, this girl still wants to have fun! But I digress... I stopped watching cartoons in the 80s, focusing my time on valiant efforts such as reading War and Peace. Yeah right. I was busy reading Seventeen magazine, stealing glimpses of Cosmo when I got the chance. No crying Indians or mention of pollution in those rags. Woodsy Owl had flown the coop years before. I have no idea what happened to the keen eye on the environment and our planet's future.

In those early years society had a steely eye on the future, encouraging kids to take care of the planet. That mentality was quickly replaced with the obscene consumerism of the 80s. Some might argue we are still paying for that and have yet to learn our lesson. Yes, I'm talking to you, you money grubbers tearing down houses in my historic neighborhood of 1920s-era bungalows and putting up energy sucking behemoths in their place! Am I digressing again?

So here's my question? What happened? Where did the ad dollars go for all those nifty PSAs? Why has no one done a damn thing to educate kids (and adults for that matter) about the environment? We proved 30 years ago that it is indeed possible to speak to the school age set about heavy topics without sounding preachy, scary, or righteous. We're talking about everyday, simple things that kids as young as 3 can start doing to become conscious and conscientious citizens. Shouldn't we be raising stewards of our planet?

Well, guess what? I've discovered a new children's cartoon series about this very topic, with a timely modern perspective. Welcome to Heartwood USA, where being green is a super power.
In case you missed the link above, you can see it here too. This is a kids' cartoon currently in production, and I think it really has potential.

Think about it, what earthy messages are your kids getting that don't come straight from you? Nothing my kids watch tells a story about being a responsible patron of the planet. Sure, on paper that doesn't sound very fun, but I assure you that an amoeba singing about cheese looked even worse on paper.

Being the marketing consultant and consumer researcher that I am (really, I am in my other life; people actually pay me to do this stuff in my consulting business!), I conducted my own kids and parents focus groups just for kicks. Everyone I talked to in my very statistically unsound research was delighted with the cartoon. Carson proves to be a real-life super hero, demonstrating to the Hannah Montana crowd that one person can truly make a difference. There's even potty humor to boot, which left Bird asking me what the word "fart" means. OK, so my knock against that word; just use a different term. Surely there's something in our vernacular between fart and flatulate that fits the bill. Cut the cheese, anyone?
Environment 101 for Kids: Let Us Edutain YouSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sensitive Boy: My Deal

"Don't pound on that xylophone so hard. You'll hurt it." Mac Daddy

"Oh, does the instrument have feelings, Daddy?" Deal

That right there sums up Deal's personality. He dropped the xylophone mallet immediately and looked so sad. He gently stroked the keys as if to say he were sorry. Then he wanted a hug. Sweet, sweet sensitive little thing.
Sensitive Boy: My DealSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, June 23, 2008

He's my boy: Birdisms

"I am so not going to do that."
Uttered when I asked him to build me a shoe store out of Lincoln Logs. And yes, he rolled those 4-year old little eyes of his too.

"Can I have dessert even though I totally don't deserve it?"
Sheepish, yet cheeky grin firmly planted when he had the balls to ask after a dinner he took over 45 minutes to eat. We had all left the table, cleaned up, and started playing super heroes by the time Bird was done eating. Too much talking, not enough chewing. Happens every night. I can't imagine where that kid gets his motor mouth.

"Why do I have to look at your big fat butt?"
Upon seeing me exit the shower's glass doors. I still don't know where he learned the word butt. We do learn all about homonyms but haven't covered that one yet. I can't fault him for observing the big and fat.
He's my boy: BirdismsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, Deal!

Three years ago today, we welcomed you into our family, Deal. You completed us, making us a family of four. Somehow that has a better ring to it than a family of three. We were fulfilled but not complete without you. Bird has a little brother now. He, like us, cannot remember life without you.

Labor was ridiculously fast and easy for me. I even took a nap and awoke to a nurse telling me to start pushing. Three pushes and there you were, just 20 minutes and a damn good anesthesiologist later. You were squirming and whimpering, not writhing and crying. As if the bright lights and murmur of the equipment were no surprise to you. As if you expected to see your daddy in your face with a camera poised to capture the moment.

You grasped my finger immediately, bringing me to tears. Then you looked at me knowingly. You were calm and secure, our breath catching the same pace, our hearts beating together to the same cadence. We absorbed each other in that moment. Time halted. I almost expected you to say, "So you're the chatty one I've been listening to all these months! Nice to meet you, Mommy!" The truth is, we didn't meet for the first time that morning.

We knew each other all along.

Mac Daddy and I didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl. Not knowing the gender of your baby is life's greatest surprise. I would never find out ahead of time, even if I had 10 kids (um, which I won't, I assure you). The surprise was a delight, and you surprised us all because all bets were that you'd be a girl. Incidentally, you'd be Audrey Beth if you had been. Audrey for my idol, Audrey Hepburn. Beth for Mac Daddy's sister who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2001. Alas, you were named for the word "blue" in my native language and given your Opa's middle name. We joke that you were born blue in a red state.

You have always been an easy kid, Deal. Your temperament is much like Mac Daddy's, making you less volatile and antsy than your big brother. You are predictable and relish a routine. You are quick to give smiles and hugs, warming hearts around you. You still grasp my finger like you did the moment you were born when you are tired, scared, or just a tad unsure of your surroundings.

Sometimes Mac Daddy puts you to bed when I play tennis at night. When you scamper into our room the next morning, the very first thing you say is, "Did you have fun at tennis, Mommy?" Always thinking about others. That's who you are. You also tell me that you'll protect me from snakes because you know they terrify me. When you sense that I am irritated or frustrated, you ask, "Are you happy with me, Mommy?" Who can answer no to that? Your sweetness keeps you out of trouble, simply because your daddy and I are suckers for your darling little voice and giant grin.

Not that those lungs aren't capable of some serious whining fits and temper tantrums. Oh, we saw them full blown today. You got away with a lot on this, your birthday. Don't expect the same lenience tomorrow, dude.

Before you had teeth to fill in the gummy space in your mouth, your smile was enormous. We called it a bug catcher smile. You crack up at that now. You love to hear stories of when you were a baby. You think you are still a baby simply because you suck your thumb (though never at school) and carry around your teddy bear named Beary. Some time between 2 1/2 and 3 you gave up your blankie, replacing it with Beary. You would rather play with Hotwheels and firetrucks than anything else. Every morning your parting words to Mac Daddy are "Will you play cars with me for one minute, Daddy?' You say this while holding up one finger. Daddy plays with you every single morning, no matter how late he'll be for work. You won't sit still to watch more than 10 minutes of TV, and you are a royal pain in a movie theater. We hold hands and dance to bad music together. Sometimes I lift you up to dance cheek to cheek, knowing that you'll soon tower over me, making it impossible to do so.

In the wee hours when I cannot sleep, I simply stroke your forehead and gaze at you. You fill me with emotions I don't have words to describe. Seeing you and your brother humble me. I am lucky that you are mine and that you chose us to be your family. My goal is to make sure you know the depth of my love every single day. Even when you and Bird make me crazy, know that I love you more than anyone else on this planet ever will. Get over it, future daughters-in-law.

Deal, you are an extraordinary little boy. You aim to please and truly take pleasure in other's happiness. You cuddle, hug, kiss, and nuzzle better than any golden retriever known to man. Your manners are impeccable, and you love to regale those around you with stories of race car drivers, knights, super heroes, and princesses. You always make me a princess in your stories. Know that you will always be my prince.

I love you to the moon and back again.
Happy Birthday, Deal!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend