Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What's in a Line?

A few months ago a dear friend came over to take some photos of me. She is embarking on her new career in photography and since I'm kinda narcissistic and like the way others see me through the lens (huh?) I urged her to use me as a model. Actually, that's not the way it happened exactly. She was in need of a little practice, and some input, and I was in need of recent "blog profile" photos of myself. But I still like getting my photo taken in my own weird little way.

Come to find out, she wanted to be sure to capture my wrinkles. Um, I'm sorry, my what? Oh boy. This might not be as fun as I thought. Or maybe it would be. Truth is, I'm not really all that worried about my age or the aging process thus far for that matter. Some friends I know whisper about botox and their sagging, sucked dry breasts and that flappy skin on the back of their arms. Me? Nah. It is what it is. So, I figured I'd let her just shoot away, unflattering side light and all. And I did. And you know what, I like the photos. Yep. So I'm calling in a victory. It might not mean anything to anyone else but to me, it means that I'm OK looking at my own (40- year-old, this year) face which I think is a pretty good thing.

At first glance this shot is fun and so very me, but after I really looked at it, I saw the lines, the wrinkles around my eyes. Wow. That's a lot of lines. It's surreal catching a glance of yourself aging. Because like Shari MacDonald Strong said in her wonderful story Love-40, "I didn't know I was aging, exactly." So when one day you see yourself and you can trace the last few years of motherhood, of work, of love, of joy, of time carved in lines around your eyes, it can be shocking. But, it's also wonderful, if you let it be.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Babyproofing Your Marriage Blog Book Tour

I first heard about the new book Babyproofing Your Marriage from Kristen. Apparently, she got an unannounced copy of the book in the mail and figured she had been targeted as someone who really needed some help in the marriage department. Let’s just say she is always very candid about the ups and downs of her relationship with her husband at Motherhood Uncensored. About a week later, I got the book in the mail and thought, “Now wait a minute, I don’t talk about my marriage on my blog. Why did I get the book?” and immediately hid it in the closet for fear that my husband would think I was seeking help to improve our marriage, God forbid. Yes, I was worried about what he might think seeing marital book on the nightstand, as ridiculous as that might sound. And then, Mother Talk asked if I wanted to review the book. Oh boy.

I was on the fence about even reading it because my husband and I are no longer in the “baby phase” of life anymore so I figured it wasn’t applicable. That was, until I starting reading the thing. And then I was like, “DANG! This is one hell of an important book!” and have not been able to put it down.

So, what exactly are the three very sage mothers (Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O’Neill, and Julia Stone) behind this Babyproofing book on to? What do they know that we don’t? Well, it’s not so much what they know, it’s that they had the gumption to really look at it for what it is; a universal marital dilemma and they tackled it head (and heart) on. Bravo ladies!

But, what’s the point of reading about something we are living? If we are already well aware that our lives as we knew them have unraveled since we’ve had kids and our marriages are well, a mere shadow of what they used to be? How about for validation? It’s absolutely imperative for us to recognize that what is discussed in this book are not “just our own marriage” issues. In fact, every couple that has kids goes through this stuff in one form or another and for the most part, argues about the exact same things. I swear, as I was reading the many spot on quotes included in the book feeling like I was reading exact conversations my husband and I have had over the course of the past 9 years, since our fist daughter was born. Word for word. I’m serious. And even now, as my kids are 3 and 9, we still drag these same gripes around with us day after day. Sure, life has gotten a easier with a little more sleep (now that our babies are no longer babies) and a few good parenting years under our belts but even still, the fundamental beefs we have had with one another since we had the babies, are still pretty much the same today, and thankfully are exactly what are dissected in this book.

Babyproofing Your Marriage tackles all the issues; the myth of the highly sought after, pretty much unattainable ‘equal partnership’ marriage, sex (and the lack thereof) and everything that goes along with that (which is, um, a lot), and the rest of the brutal truth about what having a children really does to your relationship. And believe you me, it’s not always pretty.

But above and beyond validation, the book gives you hope. I mean, once it’s all broken down, it’s not all that difficult really (if we can pry our resentments from our weathered and weary parent paws). The key is to for once, really start to recognize what our partners are going through. Sure, we moms might feel beaten down and taken for granted but so do our spouses. Both of us are feeling the exact same way (light bulbs going off?) with just a few variations as to 'the what and the whys’ (like hard wiring for example). This book takes it all apart and lays it out in the language that all parents can grasp and then starts to rebuild it as we begin to let ourselves feel the other person’s pain. It’s the first big step and this empathy alone can begin the shift toward a better relationship. Hooray!

What I think is the most refreshing part of the book is that both parties are equally represented. And this is why it is so important for our husbands to read the book (this issue noted in my conclusion). They'll be ecstatic to know they are in no way getting all the blame in this book. For as much as their manly tendencies are exposed (and sometimes constructively criticized), so are our pity parties (we all have them), constant comparisons -aka score keeping (‘I do 10 things to every one thing he does’), and over-protective, gate keeping attitudes (‘surely you aren’t taking the baby out dressed in that’) of which we have all been guilty. In Babyproofing both us moms and the dads are called to the table, held accountable for the mess our marriages are in, and everyone is offered very valuable help and very doable methods that can be used to improve our relationships tremendously. For God sakes, there are even mock scripts we can use if we flounder and lists of ways to make the opposite sex feel appreciated. Hello. Easy peasy. And the added bonus is that although these can be some heavy issues, the tone of the book is light, the writers are funny, and the language is appropriate. Like the F word. Tossing that one in at the right moment gave me the feeling that I’m among friends, having this discussion in my living room, with other normal parents, that are earnest because they too struggle with the same crap in their own marriages. It’s refreshing and enjoyable reading.

And if for some reason you are still even thinking for one single minute that you don’t need to read this book, I urge you to think again. However, be warned, this book is clearly written to both halves of the whole here. Which means, and I reiterate here, when you do get the book and read it, there is this one hurdle that might prove a difficult leap—getting your husband to read it too. I know first hand that that is waaaay easier said than done as I have yet to get a “yes dear, I will read the book” from my man but I won’t give up trying and hope you won’t either.

For more info on Babyproofing Your Marriage - How to Laugh More, Argue Less, and Communicate Better as Your Family Grows by Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O’Neill, and Julia Stone visit the website.

Catch the authors live on The Today Show on NBC...today.

Friday, January 19, 2007

And Now, Part 2

After our excursion at Baby Loves Disco, my husband was very excited to take the girls and I to the world renown Pink's for hot dogs. And not just any hot dogs. These are hot dogs to the stars. Naturally, after an afternoon of dancing and the fact that we aren't cruising around Hollywood that often these days, we happily obliged.

I learned a few things that late afternoon that I'd like to pass on, just in case you're headed for Hollywood anytime soon.

Don't go to Pink's if you don't have the time (or the patience) to wait in line for at least 20 minutes or in our case, 50. For. A. Hot. Dog.

Don't got to Pink's in the middle of a So Cal cold snap. Keep in mind that you are outside, on a street corner as you wait in line.

Don't go to Pink's with children that have danced for hours and are over-tired, hungry and very, very cold (because they just might just have to wait in line for 50 minutes in the bitter cold).

Don't go to Pink's if you think for one moment you'd have the good fortune of actually landing a table inside of their tiny indoor
dining room because chances are you'll have to sit outside.

Don't go to Pink's if you just got a wisdom tooth pulled as you just might, in trying to cram a hot dog down your throat, tear your stitches and injure your so that you won't be able to eat anything but soup for the next 48 hours.

Don't go to Pink's if you don't have your camera because you wouldn't ever want to forget a family outing like this.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Baby Loves Disco - Part 1

And so does Mama, Daddy, and Big Sister!

Saturday was the highly anticipated Baby Loves Disco "family dance party" at The Knitting Factory in Hollywood. Yes, Hollywood! There is no messing around when it comes to the very cool, ultra hip Baby Loves Disco Events. They are held in big cities, at REAL clubs. You know, night clubs. Remember those places you used to go to dance, drink, hang out, have fun pre- children? I know, it's a little cloudy but am I ringing any bells here?

If I told you that you could now go to these same clubs and do these same things with your whole family (babies and all) would you believe me? Well, it may sound too good to be true but it's not. Of course, there area few modifications. Like when you attend a Baby Loves Disco event, snacks are provided, for freeeeee. And we're not talking crappy snacks, we're talking fruit platters, sandwiches, cupcakes, and a plethora of other kid friendly munchies. Oh, and juice boxes. But, you'd better believe they sell drinks (REAL drinks) for the parents. Mmm mmmm. One more reason to go. And the free stuff doesn't end there. We got these unbearably cute BabyLegs legwarmers that, I swear if they came in my size I would totally wear, among other cool schwag.

My whole family attended the shindig as did a few friends and we all loved it. LOVED. IT. There was of course the dance floor, with a disco ball. And bubbles that dropped from the sky. And balloons, hula hoops, music makers, and more play things to keep even the busiest toddlers entertained. The music was in fact good. And spun by a real DJ. And it was loud enough and dark enough to make it cool but not too loud nor too dark. Which was a HUGE relief. So, don't worry if you think your wee ones might get too stimulated. From one over-protective mom to another, it's cool. And besdies, when it is time to take a break for a while, there is a designated Chill Out area where there were rugs laid out, pillows galore, books, games, and all sorts of things to wind your tiny dancers down.

Baby Loves Disco Day

For the rest of my photo set, go to my Flickr page.

My daughters are already picking out their disco duds for the next LA event which is set for February 10th. I'm sure even more than my words, the photos of the day speak of what a fun experience it was shakin' our groove thangs at Baby Loves Disco LA. I urge you to check out their site to see if there is one being hosted in your town. If you're lucky, there's at least one in 'Road Trip' distance.

This review was brought to you by The Parent Bloggers Network.

For a different Baby Loves Disco review from another Parent Blogger (like myself), go read what Kari had to say about her journey into the city as she and her family 'got down' at the San Francisco event. Go Kari, Go Kari!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Christmas List Recap

A recent photo gadget obsession drove me to write a HotSpot feature for Alpha Mom last month which some of you already know. But, I felt I needed to clarify (since everyone keeps asking) that no, I did not get a darling little lensbaby for Christmas. I got something even better.

I heart my husband.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A New Year, A New Perspective

Me- "Honey, your shoes are on backwards."

My youngest- "Not when I do this."

Here's to doing it your own way in 2007.