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Reel Mama: November 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Radio Disney’s nationwide “Festival of Giving” events on December 3 & 4 help kids give back: don't miss the feel-good family event of the year near you!

Family-friendly Radio Disney is having a fantastic event to help kids understand the importance of charitable giving this holiday season with its first-annual "FESTIVAL OF GIVING," and I’d like to encourage all my readers to participate.  On DECEMBER 3 AND 4, Radio Disney stations in over 30 markets are bringing multiple charities together in their local communities to create a convenient way for kids and families to help others.  The festival makes it easy for families to give back with a variety of charitable organizations on-site to receive donations, including Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army, the Humane Society, local food banks, and animal shelters, among others.
Check the listings below to find the "Festival of Giving" event taking place near you this coming weekend.  They are happening across the nation in cities like Philadelphia, Miami, Dallas, Sacramento, Cleveland, and Los Angeles, to name a few.  UPDATE AS OF 11/30: If you are planning on attending the Houston event on December 3, or the New York, Philadelphia, or Chicago events on December 4, please see the list below for important updates.
Whether your kids want to help animals, promote literacy, or feed the needy, they will be able to learn about and donate to the organizations that are meaningful to them.  The charities present vary by location, but this event is a great learning opportunity for kids and offers family fun for all ages with music, interactive entertainment, and prizes.  
What better way to help your kids embrace the true spirit of Christmas and all holiday festivities celebrated this time of year?  Even a small donation is significant.  I can’t think of a better way to feel all warm and fuzzy inside than to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
"Festival of Giving" kicks off Radio Disney’s Project Family initiative, inspiring families to spend time together in an effort to make a lasting, positive change at home, in their community, and the world at large.
Here are the event listings.  On December 3 the events will be hosted at the following locations: 
Dallas, Texas 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
City of Frisco’s Simpson Plaza in Frisco Square with AM 620
Charities: CASA of Collin County, Miracle League of Frisco and Frisco Family Services

Boston, Massachusetts 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Marblehead Christmas Walk with AM 1260
Charities: Marblehead Food Pantry and Making Ends Meet

Atlanta, Georgia 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Atlantic Station with AM 590
Charities: Humane Society of Atlanta, Toys for Tots, Children’s Healthcare Network of Atlanta and Atlanta Community Food Bank

Houston, Texas 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
CityCentre with AM 1590
Charities: Yellow Stone Academy, SPCA Houston, Houston Food Bank, Shriners Hospital

Detroit, Michigan 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Westland Shopping Center with AM 910
Charities: Westland Veteran’s Association, Michigan Humane Society, Toys for Tots and Forgotten Harvest

Phoenix, Arizona 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Outlets at Anthem with AM 1580
Charities: AZ Heroes to Hometowns, Salvation Army and The Al Maag Toy Foundation

Tampa, Florida 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tampa’s Curtis Hixson Park with AM 1380
Charities: Toys for Tots and Metropolitan Ministries

Minneapolis, Minnesota 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Rosedale Center in Roseville with AM 1440
Charities: Salvation Army, Read to Feed the Mind and Pillsbury United Communities

Miami, Florida 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Miami Children’s Hospital Palmetto Bay Outpatient Center with AM 990
Charities: Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation

Denver, Colorado 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
The Streets of SouthGlenn with AM 1690
Charities: Salvation Army, Toys for Tots and Boys & Girls Club of Denver, Mi Casa and Ronald McDonald House Denver

Cleveland, Ohio 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Crocker Park with AM 1260
Charities: Salvation Army, The Up Side of Downs of Greater Cleveland, Achievement Centers for Children, Purrfect Companions Cat Sanctuary, Berea Children’s Home and Family Services, Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland and Family Promise of Greater Cleveland

Orlando, Florida 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Oviedo Mall with AM 990
Charities: A Gift for Teaching, Christian Help and Oviedo Rotary

Orlando, Florida 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Winter Garden Village with AM 990
Charities: A Gift for Teaching, SPCA of Central Florida, Matthew’s Hope, Christian Help and Toys for Tots

St. Louis, Missouri 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Chesterfield Valley with AM 1260
Charities: St. Louis Area Food Bank, Toys for Tots, Salvation Army and Five Acres Animal Shelter

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Century III Mall with AM 1250
Charities: Arthritis Foundation, Salvation Army and Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

Charlotte, North Carolina 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Carolina Place Mall with AM 1480
Charities: Humane Society, Salvation Army and Second Harvest Food Bank

Kansas City, Missouri 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Legends Outlets Kansas City in Kansas City, Kansas with AM 1190
Charities: Hillcrest Transitional Housing, Toys for Tots and Heartland SPCA

Salt Lake City, Utah 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
The Shops at Riverwoods with AM 910
Charities: Kids On The Move, No More Homeless Pets in Utah, Utah County Food Bank, Salvation Army, The Christmas Box House, Head Start and The Adoption Exchange

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
The Shops of Grand Avenue with AM 1640
Charities: Hunger Task Force

San Antonio, Texas 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Huebner Oaks with AM 1160
Charities: San Antonio Food Bank, Toys for Tots, Animal Defense League and SAMM Ministries

Little Rock, Arkansas 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
The Promenade at Chenal with 99.5 FM
Charities: Reach Out & Read Arkansas, The Miracle League of Arkansas, Arkansas Food Bank, The Salvation Army and Pulaski County Humane Society

Richmond, Virginia 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
West Broad Village with AM 1290
Charities: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Richmond and Central Virginia Food Bank

The "Festival of Giving" events taking place on December 4 will be hosted at the following locations:

New York, New York 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Queens Center in Elmhurst with AM 1560
Charities: FreeMAT and Families Building Community

Los Angeles, California 1:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Beeman Park in Studio City with AM 1110
Charities: Pet Orphans, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Bookends, LAPD North Hollywood Division, North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry, St. Charles Borromeo Church Food Pantry and Operation Uplift

Chicago, Illinois 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Gurnee Mills Mall with AM 1300
Charities: PAWS Chicago, Toy Box Connection and the Northern Illinois Food Bank

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
The Shops at Liberty Place in The Rotunda with AM 640
Charities: Pet Orphans, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Bookends, LAPD North Hollywood Division, North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry, St. Charles Borromeo Church Food Pantry and Operation Uplift

San Francisco, California 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
The Shops at Tanforan in San Bruno with AM 1310
Charities: Parca and The Second Harvest Food Bank

Seattle, Washington 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Marketplace at Factoria with AM 1250
Charities: Food Lifeline, Seattle Humane Society, Treehouse for Kids and Salvation Army

Miami, Florida 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
West Kendall Toyota with AM 990
Charities: Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation

Sacramento, California 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Fountains at Roseville with AM 1470
Charities: Placer SPCA, News10 Coats for Kids, Placer Food Bank, Peace for Families and Toys for the Troops Kids

Portland, Oregon 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Cedar Hills Crossing Mall with AM 1640
Charities: Goodwill, Oregon Food Bank, Washington County Animal Shelter and KGW Great Toy Drive

Indianapolis, Indiana 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Feld Entertainment’s Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus at Conseco Fieldhouse with 98.3 FM
Charities: Toys for Tots and Shepherd Community Center

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
The Shops at East Towne Square in Mequon with AM 1640
Charities: Toms and Toys for Tots

Albany, New York 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Clifton Park Center with AM 1460
Charities: Toys for Tots, Saratoga County Animal Shelter Annex, Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York
I hope to see you there!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Is it okay to discipline our kids?

The answer might seem obvious to most, but a scene I recently saw play out at a children’s museum made me wonder what qualifies as discipline.  I saw a three-year-old boy push a one-year-old baby who was just beginning to stand.  The baby fell back, and his head slammed against the hard tile floor.  The parents of the aggressor immediately swooped their child into their arms, hugged him vehemently, and showered him with kisses.  As an afterthought, they apologized to the mother of the screaming one-year-old.  The baby continued crying for the next half hour.  
I was shocked as I witnessed the scene play out.  The last time I checked, snuggling up to your toddler or child while whispering sweet nothings into his ear doesn’t exactly qualify as discipline.  Is this a new approach toward aggressive behavior that I’m just not aware of?  Maybe I’m missing something.  This approach would seem to me to inhibit a child’s ability really to understand consequences and distinguish right from wrong, because he could easily confuse it for praise.  Left unchecked, this type of aggressive behavior could easily spiral out of control into bullying when the child is older.  
A time-out along with some meaningful eye contact and a serious but level tone of voice works well for me, and always elicits an apology from my own two-year-old daughter, indicating to me that she is just beginning to understand right from wrong, and that the actions for which she is being punished (even if it’s just 20 seconds in the time-out corner) had hurtful consequences.  
However, I’ve recently discovered that most daycares don’t use time-outs anymore, so I’m left to wonder what kind of discipline is acceptable.  I don’t condone corporal punishment.  The ruler, the belt, the switch, and the dunce cap have mercifully made their exit as acceptable forms of discipline.  As recently seen by the case in Texas, using violence for punishment can spiral out of control in horrifying ways.  Even yelling can spiral into verbal abuse that can cause our children irreparable harm.  I’m in complete agreement with the experts that parents should avoid these.
But coddling a child with kisses, smiles, and even tickles after he carries out a fairly serious act of aggression doesn’t strike me as the right approach.  So what tools is a parent left with?  Discussion and working through feelings is a valid approach.  When children are older, taking away privileges is also effective, such as no TV, iPhone, or Internet.  
My primary interest is instilling a moral compass in my daughter, so that she learns kindness and compassion, and that her actions have consequences.
Discipline is a very touchy subject, and not one that many parents are eager to discuss.  But it’s a conversation that I hope to start right here on this blog.  What works well for you when it comes to disciplining your toddler or child?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Join the fight to end hunger in Los Angeles the holiday season

Nearly one-third of children in Los Angeles don’t know where their next meal is coming from. This is according to the recent study "Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity 2011," conducted by Feeding America with the support of the ConAgra Foods Foundation.  In addition, the study revealed that child hunger is present in every county in the nation.
To address the problem of child hunger, which can have a devastating impact on a child’s growth and ability to perform in school, ConAgra Foods created the program “Child Hunger Ends Here in 2010.  The initiative strives to increase awareness about the widespread problem of child food insecurity, and to encourage people to take action in their communities.  
Continue reading on Join the fight to end child hunger in Los Angeles this holiday season - Los Angeles Family & Parenting |

Radio Disney’s “Festival of Giving” in LA on Dec. 4 helps kids give back

Family-friendly Radio Disney AM 1110 is helping Los Angeles kids understand the importance of charitable giving this holiday season with its first-annual "FESTIVAL OF GIVING" at Beeman Park in Studio City on DECEMBER 4 from 1:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.  The festival makes it easy for families to give back with a variety of charitable organizations on-site to receive donations, including Pet Orphans, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Bookends, LAPD North Hollywood Division, North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry, St. Charles Borromeo Church Food Pantry, and Operation Uplift.  
Whether your kids want to help animals, promote literacy, or feed the needy, they will be able to learn about and donate to the organizations that are meaningful to them.  The event is a great learning opportunity for kids and offers family fun for all ages with music, interactive entertainment, and prizes.
Kicking off Radio Disney’s Project Family Initiative, the festival offers a chance for families to get into the holiday spirit by spending time together while make a lasting, positive change at home, in their community, and the world at large.  Radio Disney is hosting similar events in 31 cities on the December 3-4 weekend across the nation.
Continue reading on Radio Disney’s “Festival of Giving” in LA on Dec. 4 helps kids give back - Los Angeles Family & Parenting |

You’ve heard of Big Oil: well, meet Big Pizza

Yes, apparently the pizza lobby won out last week when Congress voted pizza a vegetable for school lunches.  Maybe Godfather’s Pizza made our representatives an offer they couldn’t refuse.  Maybe Little Caesar repeated “Pizza pizza” enough to hypnotize them when they cast their vote.  Perhaps Olive Garden posed the horrible specter that Endless Breadsticks might come to an untimely end.  Perhaps our reps were afraid of another Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, and apparently those same tomatoes failed to tell anybody that they are actually a fruit.

Whatever the case may be, Congress delivered the decision in 30 minutes or less.

Mama Celeste, the Red Baron, and the Pillsbury Doughboy were not available for comment.

Congress, stand firm against healthy school lunches.  Stand firm!

Friday, November 25, 2011

I am thankful for every day heroes

Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks to and celebrating the every day heroes in our lives, the people that we meet each day.  There are people who touch my life every day, some of whom I know personally, and others whom I don’t know, but who affect or inspire me in profound or meaningful ways.

I’m thankful for the people in the military who serve and protect us, or who have served in the past.  I’m thankful for the service and sacrifice of the homeless vet who was stuffing newspapers into his jacket outside the coffee shop last week.  I hope he has had a warm meal tonight.  

I’m thankful for the spouses of the troops who provide so much support and who sacrifice so much in order make our military’s service possible. 

I’m thankful for those who gave up their Thanksgiving to volunteer at a soup kitchen or food pantry this year.

On a personal note, I’m thankful to the California Highway Patrol, and the two officers who watched over me and my daughter when I blew out a tire on the Interstate in the middle of nowhere.  They were angels in the desert.

I’m thankful to the Long Beach TSA, and the security guard who carried my diaper bag and escorted me and my daughter to the gate when I was running late for a flight.  I truly appreciate your going the extra mile.

My thoughts are with those who have had to work on Thanksgiving, apart from family.  You are working so that the rest of us can enjoy amenities that we often take for granted, so thank you very much!

On another personal note, I have to thank my husband, who is working so hard to make his dreams a reality, so that our family can have a better tomorrow.  To my daughter and my parents, thank you for making my life magical.  And to my friends and family, you know who you are.  It goes without saying that you mean everything to me.

I am so grateful to all the readers of my Reel Mama blog.  Your support truly means a lot to me!  I look forward to introducing the next exciting chapter in the coming year.

Have a joyous holiday season!

Monday, November 21, 2011

21, where did you go?

It used to be, “Twenty-one, please come.  Please come!”  Now it's, “Twenty-one, where did you go?”
I'm ashamed to admit I can't remember what I did for my twenty-first birthday.  That's not good no matter which way you slice it, either because I had way too much fun to remember the night at all, or because I'm getting too old to remember back that far.
Would I trade places with the 21-year-old girl who up until that night got illicit wine from the hole-in-the wall Chinese restaurant nobody knew about?  The girl who could pull double, even triple all nighters to cram for the exam and somehow remember everything?  Who could eat a full plate of pasta for dinner, and then as a midnight snack have a large slice of NY-style pizza AND something called a Flurry, a decadent ice cream concoction mixed with whatever your thigh-expanding weapon of choice?  M&M’s were mine, and I could still button my jeans in the morning.  Going back a few years, would I trade places with the wide-eyed girl who drove with her dad in a pickup truck to start as a freshman at Yale, sight unseen?  
I know I wouldn’t trade places with my 21-year-old self for all the world.  I would never prefer to forego getting to be a parent, and all the deep friendships and relationships I have with my family and friends, not to mention the life experience and wisdom I've gained through the years, whether through joy or heartache. 
But there are days when I miss that girl.  I was supposed to be the first female director to win an Oscar.  That's been done.  I was going to be a Senator by now.  I think I'm a long way away from that.  
In high school, I was elected "Most Likely to Change the World." But instead the world has changed me.  
I've seen the cruelty now.  I've had enough doors slammed on my face.  I understand now what the world is really like.  And yet, I still understand what the world can be, seen through the eyes of that 21-year-old girl who is still inside me, and who will always be a part of me.  I don't want to be her, but I want to hold onto her, because I don't want to lose the sense of wonder, nor the sense of hope that anything is possible.
She knows it's a wonderful world, and sometimes I need to be reminded of it.
And I'll drink to that.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Is our nation like a cranky 2-year-old?

Let’s see.  As the full-time mom of a 2-year-old I think I'm qualified to make the comparison.  I love this country deeply, but it’s time for a little tough love.  I’m not diminishing in any way the magnitude of the real problems we face, but these days for our country every minor setback seems like the end of the world.
When we have a poopoo diaper and make a big mess of things we run and hide and don't want to tell anybody about it.
We hate to share (at least when it comes to the spotlight or control).
We like to be the loudest in a room full of loud 2-year-olds.
We think we are the center of the universe.
We often perform dangerous and foolhardy acts without having any kind of clue about the consequences, then shout “Look at me!” when we are done.
We hate to admit when we’re wrong.
Recently Congress had to vote on whether pizza is a vegetable.  Congress voted a resounding yes.  So would any self-respecting 2-year-old.
That’s the bad news.  Now for the good.
We as a nation can be very sweet, affectionate, caring, and giving.  Just look at the outpouring after 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina.
We as a nation have the wide-eyed optimism, the knowing no limits, the can-do spirit and love of discovery that characterizes the most enthusiastic 2-year-olds.  And this is what makes us great.
Now all we need to do is stave off the meltdowns.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Love Christmas camp? Get "Gremlins"

If you've seen enough G-rated miracles on the Hallmark Channel this early in the holiday season, then, venturing into PG territory, the 1984 horror film Gremlins may be for you.
Perhaps Gremlins was a part of your viewing experience as a kid.  I revisited it countless times growing up in spite of the black humor and violence (and I’m sure my dad was able to edit out the worst parts using his “editing equipment”--two Beta VCRs).  
In the film, Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axton), an inventor, and a bad one at that, is in Chinatown on business when he spots an unusual creature in a shop, a little furry chirping humanoid with large ears and expressive eyes.  The shop owner, a mysterious Chinese elder with a glass eye, calls the creature a Mogwai.  Randall is looking for something unique for his son Billy for Christmas, and begs the shop owner to let him buy it.  The owner refuses saying, “With Mogwai comes much responsibility.”  The shop owner’s grandson allows Randall to buy the Mogwai behind the owner’s back, and gives him the three basic rules of Mogwai ownership: “Keep him away from the light; never get him wet, not even with a drop of water, and NEVER feed him after midnight.”  Randall affectionately names the creature Gizmo.

Gizmo the Mogwai

Of course rules are made to be broken.  
When a glass of water is spilled on the Mogwai, furry little pods pop out his body, and five or six more Mogwai are born.  These Mogwai are not as cute and sweet as Gizmo.  They are edgier, and a lot meaner.  They like stringing the family dog up in the Christmas lights.  The new Mogwais are a lot smarter than our hero the young Billy (Zach Galligan), and it isn’t hard for them to trick him into feeding them after midnight when they sever the wires of his alarm clock.  Soon the Mogwai are metamorphosing again inside green and sticky pods that resemble something that I hope isn’t, but very well could be, taking up residence at the bottom of my refrigerator.  When the gross green pods hatch, the eponymous gremlins emerge, and chaos ensues.
In the 1980s the gremlins were extremely convincing to my young eyes.  Seen now, they seem slightly better than the mechanical toys under the Christmas tree at the mall.  Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh.  In truth, this is a respectable piece of animatronics from the time period.
My favorite part is when Billy’s mom (Francis Lee McCain) explodes one of the gremlins in her microwave, coating it with an oozing liquid that belongs on the set of The Exorcist.  This mom will do anything to defend her home, not to mention the gingerbread cookies she’s been working so hard on. I can’t say I blame her.  I’d do the same thing even if it meant my clean kitchen appliances getting slimed with gremlin mucous.  
This movie will be holiday fun with a dash of horror for kids and grownups alike.  For parents it'll be a nostalgia fix that isn’t It’s a Wonderful Life, and for kids it’s perhaps something quaint and B-grade but ultimately entertaining.  They may roll their eyes or guffaw at first in a “this-is-so-bad-it’s-funny” or “you-actually-thought-this-was-scary?” way, but they’ll get into it.  Stephen Spielberg produced this movie, after all.  
I’m recommending this for ages 10 and up due to the movie’s black humor, violence, and a bar scene when the gremlins go on a drinking binge that would give any self-respecting frat a run for its money.  The fact that they are obviously puppets and the bad guys somewhat mitigates this bacchanalia.  If this scene sends you into helicopter parenting mode, I’d understand.  The fast-forward button is there for you.
And remember, don’t feed your kids, I mean, the gremlins, after midnight!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

How I became a Real Housewife of New Jersey

Today my two-year-old daughter caught a glimpse of a rerun of the 1990s classic sitcom The Nanny while I was sleeping in (!), and apparently she pointed at the TV upon seeing Fran Drescher and said “Mommy!”  I’m not at all insulted by the comparison.  In fact I’m flattered, but I wasn’t sure how to feel when she saw one of the Real Housewives of New Jersey on a magazine cover (I’m pretty sure it was Teresa Giudice), pointed to it, and said, “Mommy!"

Fran Drescher on The Nanny

Me at a wedding
Teresa Giudice on The Real Housewives of New Jersey
Again, it’s certainly not an insult if we’re just basing this on looks, but for me this one was more cringe-worthy.  It’s not that I mind a comparison to Jersey girls, just to these particular Jersey girls.  I admit I haven’t seen much of the show, but I’ve seen enough to know that these are the women we watch in order to feel superior.  We audience members who indulge in these guilty pleasures love to think that we are above it all.  We look down our noses at their wretched excess, afraid to admit to ourselves that we are living vicariously as we watch.  
I guess the comparison made me uncomfortable because Teresa embodies some of the qualities that I would never want to admit that I have.  Who, besides these women, would like to announce to the world that they are petty, or jealous, or superficial, or indulged in some reckless behavior or wretched excess? (Wow, I feel like I’m running down a litany of the Seven Deadly Sins--let's add manipulative and vindictive to round out the list).  But at one time or another, who hasn’t been guilty of one or two of these (can anyone say high school), albeit on a drastically less spectacular scale?   Just today I sneaked more than my fair share of cupcakes at my friends’ daughter’s first birthday party.  Not as bad as being $11 million in debt after buying a snow plough, breast implants and god knows what else like Teresa, but we all have our weaknesses. 
Of course, my daughter has no way to know any of this.  This was a case a mistaken identity, pure and simple.  While I would have been happier if she’d mistaken me for Penelope Cruz or Kiera Knightley, I won’t take it personally that my daughter thinks I live in a world where the hair is big (Fran Drescher in the 1990s and Teresa Giudice in any decade) but the drama is bigger. Maybe I just need a new ‘do.
But if she sees Miss Piggy on TV and says “Mommy!” then I’ll be worried.

Miss Piggy

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My 2-year-old daughter is talking about Lady Gaga—what’s up with that?

Kids say the darndest things, but I have to admit I was caught totally off guard today when my two-year-old daughter Leilani said, “Mommy Lady Gaga!” in one breath. 
Lady Gaga is a household name, but hardly a towering figure at our house.  That spot is currently reserved for Tinkerbell.  Lady Gaga’s name only comes up in passing, but apparently it’s enough for Leilani to pick up on.  The last time I mentioned Lady Gaga’s name must have really sunk in.  
I was complaining to my husband about Leilani’s eating habits.  She eats all her meals at a small Hello Kitty table next to our dining room table, and while pint-sized and adorable, it does have the downside of providing absolute mobility for our daughter, unlike a booster seat where she would be strapped in and cozy for the duration of the meal.  She can freely do her favorite activity, which is eating almost as if she were in a relay race, taking one bite, then doing a lap around the family room before returning for another bite.  (If I only I could keep that pace up I’d lose those last ten pregnancy pounds!)  Lately she has taken to standing up on her chair and bending over her plate to eat, almost as if taking a bow.  Lady Gaga loves doing this same gravity-defying position with her piano to wow the audience at her concerts: she stands up on the piano bench, then bends over to hit the keys.  
I verbalized my complaint about the absurdity of this Lady Gaga position, at least when it comes to eating a peanut butter sandwich, no more than twice, but apparently it was enough to make the catchy name stick forever in Leilani’s mind.
Then there was the pre-Halloween anticipation my husband and I had felt when his classmate announced that he was going as Lady Gaga this year.  The friend was building the costume from scratch and had announced to my husband that he was making a trip to the hardware store.  We knew this was going to be good.  The suspense was killing us, so no doubt Lady Gaga’s name must have come up a few times in Leilani’s presence then too.  Again, it must have sunk in.

Husband's classmate in Lady Gaga Halloween costume 

However, I’m not sure what to make of “Mommy Lady Gaga.”  What do I have in common with Lady Gaga?  Lipsynching to Sesame Street’s Placido Flamingo hardly puts me in the same league as the pop diva.  I wear sweats, while she wears leather bustiers, phallic heels and, let’s face it, stuff that you buy at the hardware store.  I just don’t have a practical way to incorporate power tools into my wardrobe, although I could probably make some awesome French toast with a blow torch attached to my leather bustier at six o’clock in the morning.
Maybe my daughter was making more of a statement, like, “Mommy, Lady Gaga.”  Meaning, here is someone truly original.  You better sit up and take notice.  (Love her or hate her, you can’t help but notice Lady Gaga).  And though I’m confident that Leilani hasn’t actually seen an image of Lady Gaga or heard her songs, I think she somehow understands that she’s a big deal, just by the way we use her name in passing.  Believe me, I sit up and take notice when Leilani eats standing up, or worse, when she practically does a headstand.
Leilani just got a karaoke mike for her birthday, and maybe she’s already getting ideas.  Maybe she was beginning an announcement to the world: “Mommy, Lady Gaga...” better watch her back!