The New Princess

Listening to AM radio this morning on the way home from driving my daughter to school, I caught wind of the petition by a young Virginia woman who wants Disney to create a plus-sized princess. Her change.org petition already has more than 22,000 signatures. And a whole lot of people piping up, and sparing no expense whatsoever, to be cruel and heartless on the subject.

This very brave girl, Jewel Moore, is a plus size girl herself and wanted to see Disney model its princesses after real women. Just like her. It’s a simple request, one would think, since the average weight of a real woman is 165 pounds.

The cartoon and animated characters we see Disney create today weigh probably all of 90 pounds soaking wet. And like one comment I heard this morning, their eyeballs are bigger than their wrists. So true. Never thought about it before, but yes, they certainly are.

princess

I heard the radio host getting very distressed about the fact that Disney princess are cartoons, dammit, animated characters based on an idea in the drawing room at the studio and why should women want to model themselves after a character that isn’t even real?

Point taken.

But here is another point.

As an avid watcher of the Disney Channel, I  can assure you that the channel’s marketing campaign aimed at young girls titled “I am a Princess” would not be nearly as effective if girls didn’t want to model themselves after the kinds of characters created over the years by Disney. The campaign is about the character traits and attributes — kindness, strength, perseverance, etc.. – that every Disney princess embodies.The campaign uses real girls. Girls with braces, pigtails, acne, tall girls, short girls, thin girls and not thin girls. Girls who can achieve greatness just by believing. I’ll admit, it made me choke up. I like it. It has a great message.

I immediately thought of this when I heard the comments from the show’s host, callers and even an exchange by two female members of a morning news show (it might have been Fox and Friends but I couldn’t find it during a search.) I will spare you the ugly details, but the naysayers equated plus size with obesity, heart disease, laziness and diabetes. They said it sends a bad message and other comments that would lead one to believe that because you don’t fit into the skinny model, you should not be a princess. One very snarky comment by a woman was “Why don’t we just create Diabetes Princess?” It was so cruel. To think that because one is plus size that she, or he, is lazy and doesn’t take care of their health is just plain ignorant.

There are plus size women, and men, who can go to the gym everyday and work hard at keeping good health. And then there are those who can work hard at doing nothing, smoking cigarettes and eating junk food everyday and because of some metabolism glitch, not gain a  pound. And the masses can see the two people next to each other and assume the one with more pounds is the unhealthy one.

Didn’t your mama ever teach you not to judge a book by its cover?

I think Jewel Moore has an excellent idea. Real women as princesses. How about a Disney Princess modeled after Queen Latifah? Or Emme, who is not only one of the most famous plus size models in my memory but I think she was the trailblazer for the term. Or one after Kate Middleton or Diana? Or Oprah or Eleanor Roosevelt?

It doesn’t matter her size. A Princess is a Princess. She is smart, and kind, and helpful, and strong, brave and determined. Someone who doesn’t give up. Someone who can change the world.

Someone like my daughter.

So I say this:  Jewel Moore, you’ve taken that first step with your petition. You are a Princess and even if Disney doesn’t create a plus sized one for you, you have the opportunity to do it yourself. Write a book,. Create a graphic novel,. A comic book series. Write a song. Make a You Tube video. I am sure it will go viral.

Just like the Disney Channel’s I am a Princess campaign says: You can make a difference.

Here is the petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/the-walt-disney-animation-studios-make-plus-size-princesses-in-disney-movies

A Party With Out the Bag

I have officially become a rebel. A square peg in a round hole. A non-conformist.

Call me what you want, but I am ditching the party bag.

ditching. the. bag.

Was that a GASP? Did you drop your coffee on your keyboard? Did you think, how could she?

Listen, my daughter is having a birthday party tomorrow. I booked the roller rink, sent out the invites, need to get the cake, etc. etcetera. RSVPs in. All set. And then.. BAM. I start having anxiety about the stupid party bag.

The dreaded bane of my existence. A little bag filled with a bunch of crap that almost never makes it out of the back seat of my car. And if it does, the contents more than likely end up in the dog’s mouth or underneath my foot, which of course is then followed by my cursing up a storm after having stepped on a very cheap, and sharp, plastic kazoo.

For the record, I HATE party bags. Always have. I see no point to the party bag. You host a party, shell out all the cash for this, that and the other thing. Give them cake. Ice cream. And experience. The pleasure of your company. Yada. And then  you are expected, even encouraged, to present your guests with something for coming to your party that you threw and paid for.

I don’t get it.

Of course, if the party bags were like the ones they give the Hollywood A-listers at the post Oscar celebrations, that’s a whole different story. Fantasy land this is not. Just small town Connecticut. No iPad minis or GoPros in these bags. Maybe some Pinterest-worthy party bag assemblage by some crafty moms. You know who you are. And we know I am not one of them.
partybags

Have you been there? The Love-Hate relationship with party bags and their breakable contents. The cute little temporary tattoos that no longer look cute when they are on your wall. The old-fashioned silly putty that was fun when you could copy comics from the paper but is no longer fun when you are waiting for the dog to poop out the neon green blob you begged your kids not to leave around for him to get. The little rubber ball attached to a band that you are supposed to hit with a paddle only it breaks the first time you try.

Am I right?

I am. It’s been a long haul with the bags.

I am taking this first step. A baby step if you will.

Come to the party. Roller Skate. Have fun with your friends. Eat cake. Go home.

And next year. No presents. I tried to convince my daughter that this year, in lieu of presents,we should have the kids bring donations for the local food bank. I told her all the other kids were doing it and that her birthday is so close to Christmas and all that.

“Next year Mom.” That’s all she said.

Fine. A little compromise then.

I told her that I was ditching the party bag. Her eyes welled up. Big brown blurry discs of pure sadness. I. Am. The. Meanest. Mom.

She didn’t even have to say it.

Eh. She’ll get over it.

And so, I am certain, will the 10 little 8 year-olds at the party tomorrow who leave. Empty handed.

Miley and Hannah: A Lesson for a 7 year old, and a Mom, too

Now before I get going here, let me just say that before the debacle that was the VMA’s Miley and Robin Show, I didn’t know what twerking was.
Gasp! I know. I live in the sticks with my head in the sand. Or something like that.
But then, after the awards show, of course it was all over the place. I felt it was my duty to at least know what the hell people were all like OH. My. God. about.

So I began to watch a little of the video. Wow. I thought that move was something only I did in the privacy of my living room dancing to music. Didn’t realize it had a name.

Nah. I kid. I was pretty grossed out by the whole display just like the rest of the world.

Poor Miley.

And I mean that sincerely. As a parent, I cringed to see a little girl out there shaking her shimmy and wagging her tongue like an amphibian dressed to look like she wasn’t wearing anything. And she still IS a little girl. Regardless of the fact that she has made herself out to be something else.

That brings forth the reason for this post — trying to explain the vast difference between Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus to my seven-year old daughter who thinks she wants to grow up and be rock star. Like Miley.

I know the VMAs were like sooo long ago, but I have had several opportunities of late to discuss Miley/Hannah with my own girl. The first one, after she watched an old episode of Hannah Montana, she told me she really liked Hannah Montana. She also thought she wanted be like Miley.

Oh the horror, my darling girl.

I explained that while Miley Cyrus is Hannah Montana because she plays the part, Hannah Montana is nothing like what Miley Cyrus has become. My daughter was confused and asked why.

Here is my answer and I do hope it made a difference with her.

I told her that Miley Cyrus had a lot of young girls looking up to her as her character “Hannah Montana”, that so many of them wanted to be as funny or quirky or silly or talented as Hannah. (And Miley for that matter.) But then I told her that Miley Cyrus grew older and made her decision NOT to be a positive role model for all these girls.

She shaved her head and decided to do some things I think are inappropriate for young girls to see. I told her that Miley is old enough to make her own decision about that (I think that is true) and maybe she might change her mind later. But for right now, I think Miley has probably disappointed a lot of the little girls who used to watch her Disney show.

I waited.

“Oh. Ok. So I can watch Hannah Montana, but not Miley Cyrus?”

It sounds so darn confusing. But that is the gist of it.

The next opportunity I had to discuss the matter was in the check out of the grocery store where Star Magazine or OK! or one of those kinds of magazines blared the head line about Miley and a paternity suit. UGH.

My daughter stared at the cover, pointed to a crazed looking Miley — with a shaved head and blood-red lipstick — and scrunched up her nose. I know it’s not about the paternity suit part because GOD help me, she’s 7.  I can only hope that it was the conversation we had recently about what has happened to a once really sweet little girl.

At this point, I don’t care if my daughter (or son) had talent that surpassed all others in singing, dancing or acting. I would do everything in my power to steer them away from the very short-lived limelight of child stardom and its ramifications.

Don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t think that all child stars are destined for this road. The Harry Potter kids seem to be well-adjusted quasi adults.  But I am old and I have seen enough of them take the wrong road. And because they are kids, who was driving the car? A long debated, hot button issue I am sure.

That brings me to my own personal view: I feel that society builds up these young talented celebrities, puts them on pedestals, and then watches them fall. They are booed at their concerts for being late. Pictures of them drunk and drugged up at bars they are not old enough to get into are snapped and plastered on every glossy magazine there is with “anonymous sources close to them” saying they need help. And then we sit back and point our fingers at them for being train wrecks.

Maybe if we stop doing that, 15 minutes of fame, whatever way it comes, won’t be such a draw for our kiddos.

Yikes.

A New Stage

Like so many things in which we dabble in our lives, some just sometimes get the back burner for a while. Such is this blog. I was passionate about writing and consistent with posting. And then, well, life happened.

And by life, I mean my second breast cancer diagnosis last November. It just kind of took the wind out of my sails, if I am honest about the whole thing. I found that when I wanted to write on my personal blog, or even take some time to write a few pages of a would be novel, all I could think about was that cancer sucks and it was getting in my way. I wanted to write about it, but then I didn’t want my blog, the blog I worked hard at to entertain the three people who read it, to be about that.

What I should have done was kick IT in the ass and continue writing. But instead, I concentrated on some other things, all the while thinking that sometime I’d get back to it.

And since I am at a new stage in life, almost one year out, my son in the beginning throes of middle school and my daughter all grown up in second grade, I thought I would try it again.

So let me re-introduce myself.

My name is Maria. I am a chocoholic, a romance novel junkie, aspiring novelist, stay-at-home mom to two awesome kids and wife to the most patient man on earth. I was a journalist, I won some awards for that back in the day and they are sooooo old that you can’t even find me on the New England Press Association archives. I didn’t make the cut because I guess it was easier to just dump microfiche with the names of the old reporters. What the hell is microfiche you ask? Don’t ask. It just means that I am too old for any of my awards to come up when I Google myself. (You know you have too, so don’t judge.)

I live in the sticks surrounded by pines and some of the nicest people I have met in my 46 years. Yes, I just told you my age, too. It’s okay. I am embracing it. If I say that enough I might believe it. We live with a black cat who thinks she’s the mother to our 1 1/2 year old Dalmatian. Now before you go and think that Dalmatians are high energy and hyper and all that stuff, would you say to a parent of a child — “I heard that children are high energy and hyper” if you didn’t have any? No. I didn’t think so. Children and Dalmatians are high energy and hyper and I can say this through experience. But it helps if you run them. I’m talking about the dog. The kids, well, I probably need to run them too. Actually Jackson, the dog, is really pretty mellow. Give him a chair with a pillow and he’s good to go.

I am also a habitual digresser when it comes to blogging. In my quest to attempt writing funny, which I am not at all sure that I do, I go off on silly tangents. See above.

 

In any case, here I go again. I have some more to say, what with all the new issues that come with being the mom of a middle schooler, of a second grader aspiring to be a fashion girl and that novel still hanging around. And I have a thing or two to say on breast cancer.

So, I hope you will welcome me back to your inbox, your RSS feed or Facebook status.

Screened

I remember seeing this pretty great Christmas card. A family of four, all festively coordinated in their best holiday red shirts, sitting on their couch, next to their lit Christmas tree. All staring down into their iPhones, iPads, iSomethings. You can’t see their faces, but the dad in the picture is holding up his one finger, (the pointer) in a gesture of “wait one sec…”

I chuckled and said to myself, “that won’t be us.”

And it wasn’t. Because we were not keeping up with the Joneses at all. We had one lap top, one television and the wii. That was it. I have, and still do, a crappy phone, with no data plan and 200 texts per month. (And  I am almost there, so call me if you need me, kay?) My husband has his work laptop and his Blackberry. We were bare bones.

And, according to an article in Woman’s Day in October, really behind the times.

Panic set in as I showed the article to my husband.

The kids will lag in school! Their friends will make fun of them! They’ll be shunned from society! WE NEED TO UPGRADE NOW!

After I calmed down, we decided that it really was time to bite the bullet and get caught up with the rest of the world. At least partially.

So I did some research and we decided that Christmas would be a good time to introduce some technology upgrades to our household. I went to the ATT store and looked at all the new fangled phones that you could actually text on without sliding up half the phone to reveal the keyboard. Wow! (But there were too many choices. I got scared. So I still have my old phone.)

We  did, however, decide to purchase an iTouch for our 10-year-old son. It had been on his Christmas list for the last three years. Though oddly, he hadn’t mentioned it at ALL this year. I mean at all. (Though given he was in a phase, a World War II phase that meant EVERYTHING on his list had to do with outfitting him to be a reenactor of sorts.)

So I looked and found last generation’s model, which by the way I just don’t get. Even when you are trying to upgrade, you are still behind the times with Apple. The cool people have the new one. The uncool people have last generation. What evs. The iTouch 4 was cheaper and I am nothing if not cheap.

I also decided to get an iPad for the “family.” Although granted it was high on the list of my 7-year-old daughter’s wants from Santa, it would be for the family. I was certainly not going to get my daughter a piece of technology like an iPad solely because she wants it. I mean, we are behind the times, but going from 0 to 60 for a 7-year-old was out of the question. Right? Right?

ipad

I settled on an iPad (again, last generation — am I a glutton for punishment?) from Wal-Mart. I think I got a good price, certainly the best one I could find.

And boom! We are in the 21st century. Or sort of.

When I found out about my upcoming surgery, I figured an iPad would be just the ticket for me while I lay in bed recovering. So, since I was going to be monopolizing the iPad, I decided to get my husband a Kindle Fire. (Yeah, yeah, I know. I did actually blog that I would never get a Kindle. I meant for myself. I swear.)

Anyway, so I went to Staples, got the Kindle Fire HD and I swallowed hard.

We just bit the bullet.

So in the month of December, we tried to fish around with the kids about technology. My daughter was still firm on the iPad. But my son said he did not want an iTouch. At all. Great. Just great.

Anyway, fast forward to Christmas morning and everyone was thrilled with the new electronics under the tree. Even my son, who jumped for joy with his iTouch.

Over Christmas break, I walked into the living room where my family was. The cat and dog were in front of the blazing fire, the Christmas tree lights twinkled and the boughs of holly that hung gleamed bright over my window panes.

And there was silence.

My daughter, with her new pink headphones, was plugged into the iPad playing Temple Run. My son had his head buried in his iTouch playing some army game and my husband was fiddling with his new Kindle Fire HD.

They didn’t even know I was there. At all.

Guys? Guys? Family?

So I shouted, “Isn’t this bliss!” And got a chuckle or two, but no one raised their eyes from their iThings.

Okay then. We are now that family on the Christmas card.

I realize things are new, and I hope that the desire to be on the damn things constantly will dwindle.

It will dwindle, right? We won’t be that family that grunts answers to each other because we all have our heads buried in some screen will we?

I think I miss being blissfully under the technology bar.

Well, at least I have an idea for next year’s Christmas card.

Happy Screen Time.

A little itch, a big itch and some glitter, I think

I have, thankfully, never suffered from allergies — seasonal, food or animal hair. I have “allergies” though they are probably more like just bad reactions to penicillin and some other families of antibiotics. All duly noted in my charts and I am given other types of antibiotics when I infrequently have to take them. Usually under the penalty of death, or I just can’t take it anymore. I just hate taking them. Even for a headache, it’s usually where my head is pounding like I am marching in a band before I open the bottle of Advil.

So having to take all these meds post surgery is well, pretty sucky. An antibiotic until all drains come out, some nerve thing, Valium, and Percocet. I stopped taking that one because frankly it kicked my butt so badly I couldn’t function. And the pain was doable with a higher dose of Tylenol. Like I said I am usually an Advil or Motrin kinda girl, but its a no-no for me right now.

As far as the physical recovery, it’s been pretty ok. I had 3 of the 4 drains taken out so now I look less like a plumbing supply truck and more like a person. One who wears oversized shirts and has pretty smelly hair. No showers till ALL the drains come out. It’s fine. I never sported the grunge during high school. Missed it by a decade. I was ruffles and shoulder pads then in the mid 80s. So, well I guess here we are now. Perhaps the grunge look will come back among stay-at-home-moms?  I’m guessing no. I kid. It’s not that bad. I can bathe just a little bit and have actually been to the salon for some washings.

In any case, things were moving along swimmingly with my recovery. That is until I began to itch. Like really itch. Like give me Freddy Krueger claws to scratch my skin till it comes off kind of itch.

freddy-krueger-glove

Of course I googled “itching after surgery” because, let’s face it, the Internet is here solely for self diagnosis and to keep up with entertainment. And Facebook, of course. But anyway, I found lots of stuff.

Mostly I read that the itch was due to healing. Healing schmealing. The itch on my torso and under my arms sucked worse than surgery itself or even having a catheter up the hoo ha for three days.

Needless to say, after at 2 am I hadn’t had more than 5 minutes of sleep, I said screw it and reached for the Percocet. I had a few hours of uninterrupted unitchy sleep. It was nice.

The next day, however, still the itch and the visiting nurse said to try hydrocortisone. So my husband was able to strategically place the lotion away from any incision site and  give me some relief.

But the next day at the plastic surgeon’s office visit, she took one look at me and my now very red, itchy and bumpy self and said I was allergic to the steritape they used during my surgery. She and her nurse promptly ripped EVERY single piece of tape off me. I mean it when I say ripped. I only wish there was some on my chin so she could have taken those pesky whiskers too. They wouldn’t have grown back in a year. Ouch.

So now I am a reddened, bumpy, little less itchy and tape-free version of my former grungy self. She gave me a prescription for some kind of anti- itch thing, like a Benadryl on steroids or something like that. She said it would make me very less itchy. And sleepy.  I couldn’t wait for that.

I think the lack of sleep the previous two nights combined with this new med to make me not itch, and sleep, was a recipe for a Jimi Hendrix-like out-of-body experience. It wasn’t that bad, but it was pretty funny, at least I think so. So I will share.

Yesterday was a snow day. I heard the phone ring at 5:30 a.m. and I knew it was the alert call that school was cancelled cause there was like 2 inches of snow on the ground. In New England. Where it is supposed to snow in the winter. But whatever. So, I fell back asleep. Then around 7 a.m. each kid came in to tell me that there was no school, kissed me on the cheek and went downstairs.

And here’s where it gets funky.

I feel my daughter take my foot out from under the blankets and start playing with it. Only I can’t really feel it. I thought it was weird. Then I hear her go into her room and come back and begin to outline my face with something cold. Then I hear her pad back into her room and come back and begin to shake something on my face. I realize she has just put glue on my face and shaken glitter on me. I actually feel the excess glitter sliding down my neck. Only I can’t open my eyes or talk. I think I hear myself call her name. I think I open one eye. I feel myself grab her by her pajamas and bring her close and whisper “get Daddy now.” Then I hear her leave. And then silence. I can’t move.

And then all of a sudden, I wake up, my own pajamas balled in my fist, and sit up in bed. No problem. No glitter. No glue. Just happy kids downstairs watching tv on a snow day. Holy Hallucinations.

But as far as hallucinations go, having my sweet daughter put some pretty glitter on her sleeping mommy’s face to brighten things up isn’t so bad, now is it?

Anyway, the second night, no strange and sparkly hallucinations to speak of. Now as far as the itching madness from the steritape, it’s better. I won’t talk about the other itch that comes with antibiotics. Unless of course you want me to.

I don’t think you do.

One drain to go and then I’ll stand in the shower for 6 days. And frankly, I can’t wait.

Fearless. Or Not.

Monsters. Things that go bump in the night. That chin whisker that grew six inches overnight. AAAAAAH! Pretty scary stuff as far as I am concerned. Mu ha ha ha!!

So you guessed it. This is a post about fear, and what with Halloweeny around the corner, what better time for some stuff about being scared?

Now for some, fear is merely just fun. An adrenaline rush that leaves them as quickly as it comes. They would be the ones who bungee jump and scale tall mountains. And watch movies like The Exorcist, The Omen and the Blair Witch Project. Or my friend Jane’s scary movie.

Then there are others for whom fear can be an incapacitating thing. That saying “scared stiff”, well it was said for a reason. For these people, fear makes them stop in their tracks. And let me tell you from experience, sometimes, even though you are scared, you shouldn’t stop.

Last spring I found out that I was scared of bridges. Unfortunately it was when I was about to drive across one.

On our way home from Gettysburg and Antietam over spring break, I was driving through Maryland and Delaware and I saw the signs for the Delaware River Water Gap and Memorial Bridge. I was going on my merry way, my husband reading beside me and the kids all snug in their seats behind me. But then, when I saw in the distance, the top of the bridge, I started to panic. Like sweating, nausea, that kind of thing. But the shoulder had already narrowed to two lanes and there was nowhere to pull over.

I grabbed the steering wheel as tightly as I could and then blurted out to my husband “I don’t think I can do this” as I proceeded to slow to about 35 miles per hour.

I will always remember his response. “Get us the hell over this bridge!” he yelled as kindly as a husband whose wife was having a panic attack while driving his family over a bridge could. It was a mental slap in the face, a la Cher to Nicholas Cage in Moonstruck.

And believe me, I needed that.

So I did what he said. I put on some mental tunnel vision and only looked forward and tried to beat my fear of this two lane bridge that just seemed to climb higher into the sky as it spanned the Delaware River, the very river I was sure to drive myself and my family into. My shoulders were tense, my hands were cramping over the steering wheel and I could faintly hear my son in the back seat asking if I was okay.

I wasn’t and I couldn’t answer him. My fear had paralyzed nearly every inch of me except for my foot on the gas pedal and a little itty bit of my brain that screamed Snap Out Of It You Ass, You’ll Kill Us All!

Anyway, I obviously didn’t drive off the bridge. I made it to the other side with my family in tact. But my psyche surely was not.

When the hell did that fear spring up?

I remember the things I was afraid of as a kid. Losing my parents topped the list. Ghosts, scary movies and thunderstorms rounded out the rest. That was about it.

Heights didn’t bother me. I went up to the top of the CN Tower in Toronto and thought it was the coolest thing ever. Then the edge of Niagara Falls coming home from Canada was also the coolest thing ever. Bridges certainly didn’t bother me. Crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel during the trip we took as a family to Florida was awesome.

But then when I was in my early 20s, I took a quick overnight trip to Seattle for work and since I had time to kill before a return flight home, I decided to check out the Space Needle. And then, as the elevator was going up, I started to sweat. I found that I couldn’t look to the edge once I got to the top. My legs felt like Jell-O and I wanted to crouch in a corner until someone saved me. Holy Crap, I was afraid of heights! Get me down!!! I am not sure I actually yelled that, but I sure thought it.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that a new fear (or hell, call it what it is: phobia) could pop up now that I am getting old.

When I got home from my experience over the spring in Delaware, I googled  “fear of bridges” and found out that there are a lot of people out there just like me. So much so that some bridges even offer a service where someone drives your scaredy cat ass (and car) across the big bad bridge. I wonder if they make fun of you when they’ve deposited you on the other side. That would be scary.

Maybe one day I will use the service. I am not sure how to overcome my fear of driving across a big bridge without actually driving across one. Some smaller bridges I can do. Go figure. But I certainly wouldn’t want to have that panic again, for the sake of other drivers out there. I guess I will stick to being a passenger when it comes to a big, scary, death-defying bridge.

There is not nothing to fear but fear itself. Hell no! There is a huge and scary bridge that spans cold water!

Anyway, that’s my scary story for Halloween. It may not include monsters, things that go bump in the night or even six-inch chin hairs.

But hey, what about you? What are you most afraid of?