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Reel Mama: December 2011

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lois from "Family Guy" is exhaust-erated!

I'm normally not a big fan of "Family Guy," but this clip hits home for any mom. Recently my dad came up with the word "exhaust-erated" to describe toddler parents' general state of being.  Here Lois is one exhaust-erated lady, and we understand why.

Disney Classics Movie Giveaway winner: Danielle Papsis

Congratulations to Danielle who won the Disney Classics Movie Giveaway!  Danielle will receive the special 70th anniversary edition of "Pinocchio" on Blu-ray and "Bambi" on DVD!  Watch for another exciting family movie giveaway very soon!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Are you “exhaust-erated”?

If you’re the parent of a toddler, then perhaps like me you find that the word “exhaustion” and its synonyms fail to express adequately the level of tiredness that you feel on a daily basis.  Similarly, if you face, as I do, the many challenges of parenting a two-year-old, “exasperated” doesn’t quite sum it up either.  
My dad (“Bopaw” for my daughter) came up with a new word to sum it up: “exhaust-erated.”  At the end of the day, your brain feels as if it’s been throttled in a martini shaker (and you’re probably hoping for a martini just about now).  Your body feels like it’s served as a trampoline for ten toddlers jacked up on too many servings of that yogurt with the monkey on the front (‘cause that’s all they’ll freakin’ eat!)  You hope you can cover up the bald patches where you tore your hair out (and personally I’m tired of mine looking like a bad imitation of Astroturf.  Is there a Guinness record holder for most consecutive bad hair days?)   You’re literally running a marathon, and your kid is your personal trainer every waking moment.
So yes, I’m feeling exhaust-erated right now.  But do our kids ever stop exhaust-erating us?  Never.  I’ve been exhaust-erating my parents for more years than I care to admit.  And come to think of it, my dad probably invented that word when I was two myself.  And now that I understand what he went through with me, I think he and my mom are the ones who deserve the martinis.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Now what was I gonna do?

We’ve all done it.  Walked into a room only to forget what we were going to do once we get there.  I always chalked these mommy brain farts up to becoming a parent, but it turns out, it’s not my fault!  It’s just my brain doing its job.
Turns out that according to a new study recently published in the "Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology," the very act of walking through a doorway causes our brains to need to work overtime to understand and contextualize the new environment we have just entered, causing us to forget why we entered the new environment in the first place.  It’s called the “location-updating effect.”  The doorway acts as the “event boundary,” and the change in surroundings makes it difficult for our memories to retrieve our motivation for going there.  
I have a theory that passing through baby gates doubles or triples the effect.  Crawling underneath a jungle gym or passing through a play structure in hot pursuit of my daughter practically gives me amnesia.  I’ve whammed my head a few times doing just that, which just compounds the situation.  Seeing stars, I’m lucky to remember who I am at all after a particularly tiring play date.  
In the craziness of being a parent, there’s so much I forget to do.  But there is one thing I remember: I love being a mommy, and that makes all the forgetting--forgetting to eat, forgetting where I left the car keys, even forgetting to change a diaper (yikes!)--worth it.  
So if you forget, forgive yourself!  You might forget a few things here and there from time to time in the short term, but the memories that really count will last a lifetime.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

All I want for Christmas is to avoid a nervous breakdown

Last week I was shocked when the first thing my daughter said when she woke up was, “Mommy, forty dollars, please!”  That’s a pretty steep allowance for a 2-year-old.  My allowance when I was twice her age was a quarter.  But I really think she was giving it to me straight. She doesn’t want presents this year: she just wants the cash. 

It makes me think.  I was at a big box store today.  As I was tempted to elbow a perfectly nice couple out of the way as I reached for the very last box on a shelf that was eerily barren in an apocalyptic, Mad Max kind of way, I began to wonder if I had lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas.  When did Christmas become about avoiding getting crushed in a mob to snag the perfect gift? 

I’m sure pretty soon parents will be creating gift registries for their children’s Christmas gifts. (They are already doing it for birthdays, apparently.)  Kids won’t need to visit Santa anymore.  The man with the bag better get ready to check the Target kiosk.  Then he’ll feel the rush of panic as he realizes he might have to go to five stores to get what he needs.

But for all the wrecked nerves and barely-avoided fender benders this time of year, there still is quite a bit of Christmas spirit going around.  As it turned out, the couple helped me get the box down rather than snatching it out from under my nose.  In reality, my daughter learned about forty dollars when I was paying the babysitter…she has no clue, at least not yet, about the cachet of cash.   

I will avoid a nervous breakdown this year.  The shopping is done and I’m still standing.  Family is in town and the holiday fun has started. 

So go ahead, chow down on that figgy pudding.  Have that extra helping of fruitcake (just don't break your teeth!).  Or make a bubble bath, light some candles, and read your favorite romance novel.  I hope you get whatever you want for Christmas…especially heavenly peace!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ralphie's mom: the best or worst movie mom ever?

Recently Lisa Belkin of posed the question, “Are there any good parents on the screen?”  If we look at TV and films from the past year, it seems there aren’t many, but a standout mom that comes to my mind over the holidays is Ralphie’s mom, played by Melinda Dillon, in the classic A Christmas Story (1983).  

Ralphie’s mom is a housewife in the 1940s, but she’s the antithesis of Donna Reed in It’s a Wonderful Life.  Unlike Donna’s sleek bob, it seems that every day is a bad hair day for Ralphie’s mom.  She wears an old sweater that has seen better days over her yellowing apron, or perhaps a chenille bathrobe from the bottom of her closet. A Christmas Story keeps it real in terms of a mom’s lack of time for grooming.  
Is she a great mom, or a terrible mom?  That might depend on which scene we are looking at. 
She maybe doesn’t win a lot of points in the dietary department:  meat loaf, braised red cabbage (you can find the recipe here), and mashed potatoes served nightly.  In Ralphie’s mom’s household, pickles count as the green vegetable.  However, I have to say I’m impressed that she has dinner on the table promptly at 5pm every evening.  And she puts everyone ahead of herself, “My mother hasn’t had a hot meal for herself in 15 years,” says Jean Shepherd, narrating as Ralphie’s grownup persona.  She’s constantly jumping up to grab another roll for her husband or to pile more mashed potatoes on one of her son’s plates.  (I usually tell someone asking for more, “The kitchen’s in there.”)

And speaking of mashed potatoes, who can forget the “little piggies” scene?  It’s one of the most memorable in the film.  In order to convince Ralphie’s little brother Randy to eat his food rather than play with it, she coyly tells her son, “Show me how the little piggies eat!”  Randy starts snorting and makes a trough of his dinner plate, while the others at the table cringe.  

                                           (Note that the above clip I discovered on Youtube 
                                            has been looped for hilarious comic effect.)  

Was Ralphie’s mom being a bad mother for this?  Perhaps not.  A lot of the parenting research I’ve done said that encouraging kids to eat on their own in spite of making a huge mess encourages independence, and that using food as art helps develop motor skills.  Of course these experts were talking about toddlers, not seven-year-olds.  So maybe it was a lapse of judgement on the part of Ralphie’s mom, but the scene just may be the funniest in the whole movie.
Overall, I think that Ralphie’s mother is a great mom.  She shows sensitivity and understanding when her son gets into a fight, choosing not to make a big deal about it in front of the Old Man.  She chooses her battles, allowing Randy to drink his milk while hiding inside the cupboard because he’s afraid the Old Man will “kill Ralphie” after the fight.  She washes her son’s mouth out with soap when he uses the mother of all dirty words: a fitting punishment, at least for the time.  And, like all good moms, she doesn’t want her son to shoot his eye out with a BB gun.
If you haven’t seen A Christmas Story, check it out.  The 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story begins on Christmas Eve at 8pm/7pmC on TBS.
And Merry Christmas all you mommies, and to all a hot meal and a good night’s sleep.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A case of “CLAUSE--trophobia”: Is Santa too scary for Christmas?

Who doesn’t love Santa? Toddlers everywhere, including my two-year-old daughter Leilani. Her verdict on Santa? He’s “too scary for Christmas.”  When Leilani first found out about Christmas she asked, “Is it Christmas yet?” She showed interest in “Santa closet,” as she first called him, and said “Christmas” with a hint of pride and excitement in her voice upon seeing the garden gnomes who slightly resemble Santa standing in our front yard. And yet, the sight of the jolly red elf in person sends her running for mommy’s arms screaming in terror. The very mention of Santa recently prompted her to say, “Where is he? Is he in the house?!”

My daughter has a fear of giant costumed figures. I get that. A run-in with a man-sized Clifford the Big Red Dog earlier this year started things off on the wrong foot. He was big and he was red, and maybe he somehow made her think of the disastrous attempt at a photo with Santa last year. Clifford was there to promote literacy and PBS; instead he promoted general chaos in the form of bawling toddlers shrieking in horror. My daughter held onto me with such an iron grip that I didn’t get circulation back in my neck for a week.
Why do we put our children through this? Seen from the outside, I can understand how the Santa tradition would look very strange indeed. I was recently told of a friend’s daughter who is now in the Peace Corps in Africa, and she was trying to explain the tradition of Santa to one of the village officials. He just didn’t get it. We in America put our children to bed at night so that a morbidly obese stranger dressed in red and white fur can squeeze himself down our chimneys, then leave noisy plastic toys like Rock ‘n Roll Elmo that the toy-making elves have apparently outsourced to China. He eats cookies and milk left out by all the strangers he’s delivering gifts to. Only they aren’t strangers, because the children will have written him letters beforehand: pleas scrawled in crayon and Marks-a-lot for the toys they so desperately need, and often a persuasive essay on how good they’ve been all year.
The African village official seemed kind of outraged: after all, if Santa was so wonderful, why didn’t he bring presents to the children in his village? It’s a fair question. Those same children hadn’t even heard of Santa. And how can one explain a phenomenon like Santa or Black Friday to a man who lives in a village that doesn’t even have a toilet?
Nevertheless, I’ll keep trying to help my daughter overcome her “Clause”-trophobia so that she can discover the real joys of Santa. I’m still a believer myself at heart, even though dear old Santa makes himself a little too scarce in some parts of the world.
How did we solve the problem of a picture with Santa? Fortunately Santa was able to sneak up behind us as we posed. I didn’t even know he was there for the picture taken below, and thankfully, neither did my daughter.

A Perfect Family-Friendly Disney Classics Movie Giveaway!

Disney Giveaway Fun - Win Walt Disney Classics Pinocchio and BambiA giveaway your whole family can enjoy - full of Disney goodness, sweet Bambi, and naughty, redeemable Pinocchio awesomeness! Who wants to score two classics for their family?

Well, to show our appreciation for our dear readers, Kat of Kat's Cafe and Reel Mama have joined together to bring you a giveaway that ends on Christmas Day - and is perfect for everyone in the family!

You won't want to miss this chance to win two amazing Disney classics for just a few minutes worth of liking, following, circling, and otherwise following back all the blogs involved in the fun.

Here's a little more information about the amazing Disney set you could win:

Giveaway Movie #1: Walt Disney's Pinocchio, 70th Anniversary

Walt Disney's Pinocchio, 70th Anniversary Edition for giveaway

From the Back of the Case:

Walt Disney's Original Classic That Taught The World to Wish Upon a Star

Through the magic of Blu-ray High Definition, immerse yourself in the fantastic world of Walt Disney's legendary masterpiece Pinocchio. Now with an all-new digital restoration and Disney Enhanced High Definition sound, the richly detailed animation, unforgettable award-winning music and adventure-filled story will dazzle your senses like never before.

You'll receive 2-Disc Blu-ray with these bonus features:

  • Never-before-seen deleted scenes
  • Never-before-seen alternate ending
  • No Strings Attached: The Making of Pinocchio
  • Audio Commentary with Leonard Maltin, Eric Goldberg and J.B. Kaufman
  • Geppettos then and now
  • Plus many more Blu-Ray only features!

You'll also receive these DVD Features:

  • Full-Length Film
  • All-New Digital Restoration
  • All-New 5.1 Disney enhanced home theater mix
  • All-New music video
And Pinocchio is BACK IN THE VAULT! You won't find it on Disney's site!

#2 - And Don't Forget you can also win Walt Disney's Bambi!

Walt Disney's Bambi Diamond EditionFrom the Back of the Case:

For the first time ever, the wonder, music and majesty of one of Walt Disney's greatest triumphs come alive in glorious detail through the magic of Blu-ray high definition! Now Bambi, Wal Disney's beloved coming-of-age story, will thrill a new generation of fans with its breathtakingly beautiful animation, soaring music and characters who will touch your heart--Bambi, the wide-eyed fawn, his playful pal Thumper, the lovable skunk Flower and wise Friend Owl.
You'll get all these features between the Blu-Ray and DVD:
  • Features Disney Enhanced High Definition Picture and Sound
  • Disney's Second Screen - Content comes alive on your laptop, or iPad as you watch the movie.
  • Disney View - 16x9 Full frame viewing experience
  • Intro by Diane Disney Miller
  • Inside Walt's Story Meetings - Enhanced interactive edition
  • Two never-before-seen deleted scenes
  • Deleted song
  • Blu-ray interactive galleries
  • Game: Disney Big Book of Knowledge
  • Classic DVD bonus features

Enter this Amazing Disney Classics Giveaway Now!

Read more »

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hugo, the greatest 3-D movie ever made: see it this weekend with your kids

Reel Mama’s kids’ movie pick for this weekend is Hugo.  It’s sheer magic, and it’s set in Paris.  It just doesn’t get better than this.
When I was an undergraduate Film Studies major at Yale, I discovered the filmmaking of Georges Melies in a musty archive, and along with it, my passion not only for making films, but for writing about them.  So you can understand my astonishment and delight that Brian Selznick’s book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which chronicles a young boy’s journey of self-discovery after he meets the great but forgotten master filmmaker Melies, had been brought to the screen by a giant of filmmaking, Martin Scorsese.  
In my opinion Scorsese, with the exception of Stephen Spielberg, is the greatest filmmaker living today, and he is anything but forgotten.  Scorsese is a pioneer in film preservation, and this movie is his valentine to early cinema.  His exploration is joyous and fun to watch.  You don’t have to understand filmmaking to appreciate this movie.  You just have to love movies.
This is the most masterfully crafted 3-D movie to my knowledge to date.  This movie is a technical wonder from start to finish.  Perhaps Scorsese doesn’t handle the sentimental aspect with the finesse of Spielberg, but I doubt there is a dry eye in the house by the end of this movie.
Seeing this movie in 3-D is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Don’t miss it.
Reel Mama’s rating: Appropriate for kids 10 and up. 
The sophisticated story line will be appreciated by older children.  Hugo’s father dies tragically in a fire, after which Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is placed in the custody of his drunken uncle (Ray Winstone), who pulls him out of school and forces him to take over his job winding the clocks at the Paris Gard du Nord train station.  Hugo suffers perturbed nightmares as he embarks on a voyage of discovery to find a message from his late father, and ultimately to find his way home.

Screenplay by John Logan. Ben Kingsley stars as Melies, who, his work having faded into obscurity, barely gets by as a shopkeeper in the train station.  Sasha Baron Cohen of Borat fame gives an amusing turn as the stern and relentless station inspector.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Blood drive to honor injured fashion blogger Lauren Scruggs on December 18 (Plano, Texas)

On December 3, after exiting a propeller plane, Lauren Scruggs, 23, a fashion blogger and aspiring model, accidentally walked into the moving prop.  Lauren was severely injured as the prop struck the left side of her body, resulting in the loss of her hand, along with wounds to her head, shoulder, and face. Lauren is beginning the long road to recovery and is making great progress.
I’d like my Texas readers to know that in honor of Lauren, Carter Bloodcare has organized a blood drive.  Here are the details:
Where:  Lifetime Fitness - 7100 Preston Rd., Plano, Texas
When: Sunday, December 18, 2011
Time:  9 am – 1 pm
Frost Bank will be available to accept donations to the Lauren Scruggs Hope Fund, and Carter Bloodcare will be on site for blood donations in Lauren’s name.
Donate to the Lauren Scruggs Hope Fund online by visiting or through any Frost Bank branch.

Three rare and special holiday films your kids shouldn’t miss

Looking to start a new holiday tradition with your kids?  These three films must have been hiding at the bottom of Santa’s bag because they aren’t often seen, but they are treasures not to be missed.

Christmas Story
This isn’t Ralphie’s Christmas story but an undiscovered gem from 2007.  It’s from Finland and dubbed, and you might wonder why it tops my list.  You’ll understand after you’ve seen it.  If you ever wondered about Santa’s backstory, this is a beautifully imagined story of how Father Christmas came to be.  Beginning as an orphan leaving simple carved toys on the doorsteps of children to whom he’s grateful, the child Nikolas (Hannu-Pekka Bjorkman) grows up to become the Santa Clause we all know and love.  The dubbing is fairly well done and really doesn’t distract.  John Turturro performs the narration.
This sweet holiday film will get your family into the Christmas spirit and may just start a new viewing tradition.  It’s available from Netflix streaming and on DVD.  Directed by Juha Wuolijoki.
Appropriate for ages 5 and up.  Reel Mama’s rating: K+ (Kids will love!)  The ogre-like village curmudgeon, who does lighten up as the film goes on, might be scary for children under five.  The child receives news of his parents’ death, but the scene is handled gently and in a way that makes the film appropriate for kids.

The Snowman
A breathtaking piece animated in colored pencil made in 1982.  For British children, this is the quintessential Christmas movie, so much so that a live-action version was created for London’s West End (England’s version of Broadway).  It’s rarely shown in the United States, and children of all ages will appreciate the delightful journey of discovery made by a boy when a snowman he builds comes to life.  To the snowman, everyday human objects are amazing, and the boy delights in the snowman’s charming antics.  The boy shows his new friend the amazing aspects of the human world, and then the snowman leads him on a magical journey to the North Pole.  
This movie by far eclipses the corny quality of animation of Frosty the Snowman or the strange wooden quality of the motion-capture animation in Polar Express.  It’s a simple story told without dialogue appropriate for all ages, one even my 2-year-old can engage with, but that older ones will be captivated by.  
The film is unfortunately not currently available on DVD (which I would ordinarily encourage my readers to rent or buy to support the filmmakers), but you can view it on Youtube.  Visit the production’s website for more information.  Directed by Dianne Jackson and Jimmy T. Murakami.  Adapted from Raymond Brigg’s children’s book.
Recommendation: All ages.  My only reservation for the youngest little ones would be the ending: sadly, we all know what happens to a snowman when the sun rises in the morning.

The Nutcracker
This 1977 masterpiece stars one of the greatest ballet dancers of all time, Mikhail Baryshnikov, who also choreographed it.  This is a beloved classic that deserves to be rediscovered by a new generation of children who love dance.  Shown for years on PBS, this film showcases an exquisite art form and is a great way to introduce your kids to a love of the arts.  I know it was for me.
This is the ultimate Nutcracker, following the young Clara from the Christmas party in which she receives the nutcracker from her mysterious uncle Drosselmeyer (Alexander Minz), into her dream world where the nutcracker comes to life and battles the evil mouse king.  The nutcracker prince then takes Clara to a magical kingdom. 
In this production Baryshnikov was at his peak, and his athleticism and defiance of gravity are awe-inspiring.  He even does amazing leaps wearing a giant nutcracker head.  Gelsey Kirkland is sweet and introspective as Clara.  A prima ballerina, she is older than Clara is usually portrayed, but we are rewarded with her effortless grace and heartfelt performance.  
Don’t miss this one!  Available on DVD through Netflix and  Directed by Tony Charmoli.
Recommendation:  All ages.  Only the mouse king and the battle between him and the Nutcracker might be too scary for under 5.  I should note that my daughter is two and thought the mice were bunnies.
There is some mild revelry at the Christmas party.  Also, there is something that could be perceived as un-PC: a dancer with his face painted to portray an Arabian doll.  It's something that to me doesn't read as offensive and probably reflects a lack of diversity in the ballet troupe at the time.  This work is such a masterpiece that this should not deter you from seeing the film.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The vomit comet

Tonight it happened.  The vomit from hell.  If you're a parent, then you know what I'm talking about.  The big one.  The apocalyptic one.  The one you can see from space.  It was electric blue, due to my daughter swallowing the fictitious fruit (essentially vitamin C-injected Jujubes) I mentioned in a previous blog.  I checked the box: the “fruits” are colored with a dye called Blue #1, and it's probably radioactive.  I’m probably a bad mommy for letting her eat that junk in the first place, but the nurse on the advice line said to feed a fever.  Get her to choke down something, anything, it doesn’t matter what.  The gummy fruit is my go-to emergency “food” when all else fails.    
The timing couldn’t have been worse.  I was at my parents’ house, and my dad had just prepared an incredible dinner of pecan-encrusted salmon and shrimp skewers.  The table had been set.  The wine had been poured for the grownups.  As the first plate was being placed on the table to a chorus of “oohs” and “aahhs,” my daughter walked toward me, and Mount Kilauea, as we affectionately called her as a baby, erupted.  

My husband had playfully nicknamed my daughter after the Hawaiian volcano as a bit of sleep-deprived humor when she was an infant, because she was so prone to spitting up.  The projectile vomits somehow reminded us of the imposing force of a volcano spewing lava.  The routine in the wee hours went as follows: I would nurse my daughter, then change her.  The movement of the diaper change would unsettle her stomach just enough to cause her to vomit all over her blanket sleeper, not to mention me.  There were times I had to strip down to my underwear.  I would change her clothes and mine, at which time she’d be hungry again, so we’d have to repeat the process.  This was raw, painful, blind staggering through the wilderness of new parenthood.
Now, I’m a little more experienced as a parent, and I’m holding my breath that the stains will miraculously come out of my parents’ Arts and Crafts-period light beige rug.  The electric blue clashes, just a little.  
My heart is aching for my daughter.  All parents go through this when their little ones are sick.  She picked up this nasty virus somewhere, like a shoe bottom inevitably picks up chewing gum if it’s anywhere in the vicinity.  Right now Mount Kilauea is sleeping. I changed her clothes and mine (that felt like old times).  I’ve had my salmon, and the carpet stains seem to be coming out.
I know when my daughter's a ‘tween she's going to kill me for writing this.  I hope she can forgive me.  Someday she’ll understand, when she has little Mount Kilaueas of her own.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hope after devastating tragedy: The Lauren Scruggs Hope Fund

There hasn’t been a great deal of coverage outside of my hometown Ft. Worth and Dallas about the tragic helicopter accident that occurred last week involving model and fashion blogger Lauren Scruggs, 23.  Apparently after a night-time viewing of the Christmas lights over North Texas, Scruggs departed the helicopter upon landing, only to turn back to thank the pilot, at which time the propeller, which was still running, struck her.  Her hand was severed, and the propellor caused major trauma on the left side of her face, including her eye.  Whether she will regain her sight in that eye is still in question, but she is making a slow but remarkable recovery.  
Scruggs is the editor-in-chief of the fashion magazine  A link is available on the home page to make donations to the family through the "Lauren Scruggs Hope Fund," to help cover medical bills and to send messages.  I invite all my readers to do so.  This is a family in need of encouragement and support over the holidays and beyond, throughout the many major surgeries that Lauren will have to endure.  
Lauren’s staff continues to carry on with  I enjoyed visiting the site and found it to be very well put together.  Lauren has helped a number of small Dallas/Fort Worth fashion businesses get off the ground thanks to her coverage.  I wish Lauren and her family the best and hope that Lauren is soon able to return to her fashion passion projects.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mommy, I ate my vegetables...psych! (Or, why won’t my kid eat?)

If you have experience with a toddler, maybe she’s recently tried to trick you into believing she’s eaten her meal when in fact she’s done nothing of the kind.  Mine will go to unbelievable lengths to do just this.  Last night my two-year-old artistically arranged the broccoli shrapnel left over from playing with her food, and she almost convinced me that she’d actually put some in her mouth.  No such luck, upon closer examination.  But an impressive sleight of hand on my daughter’s part. In fact, Leilani has developed some very clever strategies to avoid actual eating.  These include:
The hold and drop:  Have you ever tried to give your dog a pill that’s for his own good by hiding it in his food, only to find that after wolfing down his meal, he holds the pill under his tongue waiting for the right opportunity to spit it out in the corner unnoticed by you?  This is my daughter’s favorite strategy with any food that has greater nutritional value than fictitious fruit (gelatinous pellets made of high fructose corn syrup depicting fictitious characters).  Whether it’s a deviled egg or a winter stew vegetable medley, her plan is to hold it in her mouth until she’s standing over the carpet that’s most difficult to clean, and at that time, she decides to part ways with the mouthful, letting the food fall where it may.  I’ll discover it hours, perhaps days later.  Oh joy.  The strategy seems to be a particular favorite with food that stains permanently, like tomato sauce.
The lick: My daughter hopes that the mere act of passing her tongue over the food will convince me that she has actually eaten it.  Licking the fake cheese powder off flavor-blasted Goldfish does not count as a meal.  She learned this one after pulling apart an Oreo cookie and licking the filling.  A classic move for a cookie sandwich, but a bit distressing when it comes to an entire meal.   
And finally, the fake chew: This is when she purses her lips and clucks her tongue as if feeding a pretend finger sandwich to a lucky invitee at one of her very exclusive high teas (her dolls wait for hours to get in, and there’s even a bouncer, a giant stuffed unicorn).  At dinner the asparagus spear is held aloft, the chomping noise is made, and then the vegetable is dropped right back on the plate.  She actually looks at me and smiles while doing this, as if I’ll congratulate her for pulling off a convincing performance. 
I used to believe that sleep problems were the most stressful part of parenting.  Now I know better.  It’s got to be the food.  
For now a dash of imagination, a plateful of fairy dust lighter than air, and a cup of dreams seem to be all the nourishment she needs.  But I will be very relieved the first time she cleans her plate, for real.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

You’ve heard of the f-bomb: well, how about the “j-word”?

I’m not a fan of the f-bomb.  These days people toss it into everyday conversations like an overzealous Olive Garden waiter dumping cracked pepper on a wilted Caesar salad.  We've become a nation of gutter mouths.  But times change.

Believe it or not, back in the 1940s, the “j-word” was the one the enforcers of the production code found most offensive: the ratings board instructed film director Frank Capra to leave the word “jerk” on the cutting room floor when editing It’s a Wonderful Life.  Apparently “jerk” was the f-bomb of the 1940s. 

In sixty years, maybe the f-bomb will seem as innocent as calling someone a jerk is now.  Maybe it will even be in Toy Story 25, when the toys are unearthed in an archeological excavation and brought back to life.

It’s food for thought, even if that same food (or Olive Garden salad) does have too much pepper.