Christmas movies….

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(Q) Name most beloved Christmas movies….

(A) Holiday Inn, White Christmas, The Bells of St. Mary, Going My Way, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, Polar Express, Miracle on 34th Street, Elf, The Santa Clause, March of the Penguins.

March of the Penguins? That’s not right-this film has zero to do with Christmas-I mean besides the giving birth part. March of the Penguins, was released in June 2005 and set at the South Pole–not the North one and has no business being considered a Christmas movie. Why would anyone in their right mind believe this film belongs there?

Because, March of the Penguins is about love…

Love, shmuv…what do Penguins know or understand about love. Love doesn’t even enter the frame. March of the Penguins is about a species trying to survive…nothing more.

But  for me…March of the Penguins is about LOVE… the love I shared with my mom.

On Dec. 17, 2005 we were informed, following a radio spectrum test at the hospital; that mom was riddled with inoperable cancerous tumors. The radiologist informed us he would not be giving her the news…he wanted to defer to her doctor. My sister Carol and I decided to rent some movies as a distraction from their worries; She would not see her doctor for a few days. That night I told my husband, “I need to go down and watch a few movies with them…I NEED to be there” and he understood.

“I think you’ll like this movie” I said as I placed March of the Penguins in the DVD player. “…it’s about Penguins and luuuvvveee.” I said with a laugh. I figured my dad would enjoy the documentary-having never missed a nature showing of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom or the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau when I was a kid.  For mom, I thought she might find some enjoyment from the film and at the very least take her mind off the pain she was in. I pressed play and then watched my parents watch the movie.

I noticed the subtle changes their faces made while viewing the film. I made mental notes trying to remember what mom looked like during specific scenes and did my best not to cry or get choked up, when she did. Surprisingly, they both watched the movie all the way through-neither one falling asleep. I enjoyed seeing the tears in my mother’s eyes–not because of the pain she was in, but rather because the film evoked the emotions from her. When the movie ended she half smiled at me when I asked what she thought. “Did you like that movie?” “Surprisingly I did.” She replied, dabbing a tissue into the corner of her eyes, to catch her tears.

Looking over at my dad I said, “I think it’s time for you to go upstairs to bed…”Earlier in the day, we moved my mom’s bed into the family room.  Exhausted, he offered no resistance; kissed us both goodnight and then went upstairs. Left alone with her we talked. A mother’s love knows no bounds….

As evidenced in The March of the Penguins.

We are all on this planet with one true goal…to perpetuate our species. Lately though, we’ve not been doing a very good job of that. Instead we’ve found ways to denigrate and murder one another. We find fault in others actions, never our own. We don’t understand differences so instead of learning from them, we prefer to close our eyes and shut others out. In addition, we seem to be on the lookout for new ways to hurt and tear down instead of building up and loving one another.

Over 2000 years ago a child (Jesus) was born in Bethlehem to save the world–through LOVE; in accordance to my faith. That’s why I celebrate Christmas… LOVE. Rebirth with perhaps a better, new improved, more effective way to perpetuate our species.

So every year during the last two weeks of Christmas, I dig through all the old video games and movies we’ve collected through the years until I find March of the Penguins and then proceed to watch the film. Doing so draws me closer to my parents, to my faith and to the promise that LOVE will conquer all… one egg at a time.

 

 

 

25 things…..

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IMG_1861My niece, a mother of three “small” children posted this on her Facebook wall the other day and I identified with most of the items on the list-when my kids were small. The implication being, they’ve outgrown a few…

So I began thinking about which ones needed to be upgraded to fit the growing needs of mom’s with teenaged children. Here are mine:

25 Things Every Mom says Every Day-to teenagers..

1) No

2) Hang on.

3) Go ask your dad

4) Where’s your junk? i.e. glasses, hairbands, deodorant, lunch boxes?

5) Give me a break!

6) Did you put deodorant on this morning?

7) Why isn’t there any toilet paper in the bathroom?

8) How about removing your blinders…

9) Maybe later

10) Just try it

11) Oh, really?

12) I have no idea what you’re talking about…

13) Get your minds out of the gutter…

14) Watch your language…

15) Knock it off…

16) Hello….dishes don’t wash themselves…

17) Do you live in a barn?

18) What part of bedtime do you not understand?

19) Please remove the headphones from your ears and join the rest of us…

20) What’s this? The worlds smallest violin playing its heart out for you…

21) Could you please not yell at each other for one hour?

22) I don’t care

23) Please use the napkin instead of your shirt and pants…

24) Mmm-HM

25) I Love You

If the list could be a little longer, and more specific, I would also add:

1) Believe it or not one day you will be friends

2) He’s not calling you a “baby”  but rather referring to you has his baby sister

3) The only one who will give you unconditional love when you’re older-and we’re gone is your sibling. Don’t rush to hate one another.

4) Seriously?

5) Could you practice using inside voices when talking to one another?

6) Wouldn’t it be nice if you actually got out of bed when your alarm went off?

7) Please disconnect from the world-wide web and rejoin the real world web.

8) I’m not the only one who lives here, I should not be the only one cleaning up…

9) There but for the Grace of God go I…

10) Never forget, your dad and I love you regardless of your grades…

 

 

a Christmas list…

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Saturday following the doll’s basketball team’s come from behind victory, we arrived home, planted our tushes on the couch and proceeded to watch Amazon prime the rest of the day. “Don’t you think we should do some Christmas shopping?” the hubby suggested. “That’s what tomorrow is for…” I replied before turning my attention back to the television. In truth, I needed a mental health day. You know, the kind one dreams about, but hardly ever gets… A day to just sit on the couch, be still, watch television and do little else. With the exception of going to mass, I barely functioned on Saturday.

Sunday morning, after having a good night’s rest, the hubby and I got up early, went to the gym, worked out and then returned home to plot our course for the rest of the day-one that included a trek to the mall. “The boy needs new shirts and then the usual stuff…” I began, “The doll needs new shirts too…and a few girly type of things…” I explained as we entered the car. Before we were barely out of our driveway, I received a text from our doll, letting us know exactly what she’d like for Christmas…

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IMG_1874 I can honestly say, when I read her list aloud, I did so with a hint of incredulity to my voice. I loved how she qualified the length by letting us know she didn’t need everything on it..but more information the better, right? “Hey Marsh, how about this store?” the hubby asked upon arrival at the mall. The walls of the store were covered with concert styled t-shirts and posters. Perfect! I thought until I needed a question answered and was greeted by a young girl, with short red hair, dark make-up with a pierced nose and upper lip. In that instance, I flashed forward a few years and saw my beautiful doll…looking very much like the sales girl and immediately shuddered.

My husband, sensing my unease looked at me and said, “I’m okay with all this…she’s a little rock and roller at heart and that’s not a bad place to be. I don’t even mind the combat boots…” Looking back at him I laughed and said, “Who da thunk I’d be the prude?” Shaking my head back and forth in disbelief, I qualified my discontent adding, “Well, with her peach skin tone and beautiful red hair, she’ll really be a knock out wearing black”. Looking back at me my husband frowned and replied, “Now that makes me worry….”

true facts….

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A couple of years ago, the boy introduced our family to “True Fact” videos on YouTube, which explores true known facts concerning different animal and insect species. In an effort to lend credibility to the video shorts, the narrator impersonates, rather effectively, Morgan Freeman.  With a subject matter, aimed squarely at thirteen year old boys, the True Fact series of videos are hilarious, yet as you might expect also quite gross (at times). But I will add they are far more enjoyable than the video clips we were shown at the same age. Lemmings anyone?

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True Facts about the boy….

As I’ve reported in prior blogs, the boy is always peppering me with true facts about the most innocuous subject matter. Yet recently he’s backed off which believe it or not, has left me wanting… “Bay do you have any quips of wisdom you’d like to impart to me-besides angst toward any teachers?” I asked him Sunday. “Did you know Marvel Comics is trying desperately to regain the rights to Spiderman from Sony?” “And why is this important?” I asked. “Well if they succeed in getting him back, Spiderman can also be used in the Avenger movie series; in addition to his stand alone features. “If that’s true, how come Spiderman can be seen in the cartoons?” His sister asked. “Well that’s because Sony owns the rights to the “live action” Spiderman, not the illustrated one”. The doll replied, “Oh…interesting” Meanwhile I sat there and smiled…the two of them were carrying on a conversation that didn’t involve her yelling or the calling of names…and that’s a true fact.

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Perhaps because she’s unintentionally emulating her brother or maybe because she’s absorbed so much information lately, that knowledge is bursting at the seams. Whatever the case, the doll has been offering her own true facts to us as well…

“Did you know when you look at the color yellow on a video screen, it’s not really yellow? If you looked really close you would see the color is made up of thousands of tiny pixels of blue and red”. “Well that doesn’t make sense, because Yellow is a primary color” Her father replied. “True in real life, all you would find is yellow when you looked into the color spectrum. However, because video screens manipulate the color spectrum to trick your eyes, red and blues are used to make up the color instead”.

“Did you know that before there were refrigerators, people used to put frogs in their milk to keep it fresh? Why do you think they did that?” She asked. “Is this a trick question?” I asked. “No. Apparently the frog had some kind of bacteria killing properties which helped keep the milk fresh” She explained. “What like frog pee?” I laughed. “Mom you’re gross…but that wouldn’t surprise me…” she commented. Her dad overhearing our conversation offered some true facts of his own:  “Some people used to put pure silver coins in milk to keep fresh too. “People are weird” I interjected. “Well the theory was the metal content in Silver, would slowly dissolve, killing bacteria as it went along. Apparently copper works under the same principle.”

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Mom’s true facts….

I have an interesting bunch of people around me… I need to pay better attention to seemingly useless, yet interesting information that one day I may get to impart.

…most of which will more than likely be ignored, simply because it came from me.

ordinary life…

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IMG_1854On an ordinary day in our ordinary world, two things almost always happen: The dog disappears into a blanket and the boy, invariably, almost steps on her. “WHAT THE FUUUU”  The boy’s almost 16 year old brain shouts aloud, as he maneuvers his 200+ pound frame away, trying to keep from landing atop her. Instead he careened and landed on the couch, still cursing.  “Watch your language, you knew the dog was there” I say. “Only moments earlier we both shared a laugh at the dog’s apparent attempt at disappearing”

IMG_1853“I know she was…but still..what the he__” He argues and continues swearing. “Bay…knock it off…let’s go…we’re going to be late…” I reply knowing full well, unless someone picks up the blankets off the floor, we’ll probably repeat this same morning dance tomorrow.

Last weekend the boy and I rearranged and cleaned our living room; brought our 25 yr old Christmas tree upstairs and set the tree up to decorate. As of yesterday, the doll had attached the lights and garland-yet no IMG_1855-0ornaments to the tree. “I was expecting the boy to help me…” the doll complained. “Really? Seriously? You wanted the boy’s help?” I asked in a shocked tone. “I shouldn’t be the only one doing all the work” came her reply. “Hmm….funny.” I said. “What?” She asked. “I say that exact same thing to you both…almost every day”. “Could you not throw stuff in my face one day mom? Jeeze!” She replied. “Where is the fun in that?” I replied…mostly to deaf ears.

And our ordinary day moves forward…mundane and beautiful as we continue on…..

 

Bless the beasts and the doll….

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“I am not a crier” I’ve told countless of people over the years, yet here I am, riddled with tears almost every single day. Nothing is horribly wrong. No one I love is in the grips of a terrible, potentially life threatening illness and neither am I. Yet I cannot seem to escape the cavalcade of tear inducing reminders scattered across the internet, social media, newspaper or regular television. How am I supposed to inspire confidence in my children, if I break down crying at every silly little thing.

“Yesterday on Facebook, I watched a five-minute video about drunk driving…” I was telling my husband. “…and needless to say, by the end I was in tears…” The doll, overhearing our conversation turned to me and asked, “When doesn’t something make you cry?” Sticking my tongue out at her in reply, I returned my attention back to my husband to continue our conversation. A little while later the doll approached and asked, “Mom did you ever feel like you needed to have a good cry and you couldn’t seem to find one?”  “All the time–when I was your age” I said with a hint of nostalgia coursing through my mind.

“But you cry at everything now…” She sarcastically replied. “No I don’t…” I said slightly offended. “Mom you cried during the St. Jude’s television commercial the other day-and it wasn’t a sad commercial”. “I didn’t “cry” I got choked up-two different things” I explained while she said “What ev. ver” at the same time. “Well shoot, the story behind St. Jude’s hospital is a good one…” I said and found myself choking up again-just at the thought. In an effort not to be discovered, I cleared my throat and pretended to cough.

Oh Jeeze!

“Why is it easier for you to “cry” today?” She wondered. “As opposed to when I was your age?” I said, finishing her thought. “Yes…” “Hormones” I replied (which frankly has become my standard stock answer for just about everything these days). Receiving a puzzled look from my doll, I tried to elaborate. “The other night, your aunt Terri and I were laughing about how the older we get, the more we’re taking after Grandma Joyce and her ability to cry on a dime about everything–a trait neither of us likes to have, honestly.

“Okay, but when you were my age, what did you do to, you know…” the doll began. “to …instigate a good cry?” I interrupted. Nodding her head in agreement I replied, “I found a good chick flick that would make me cry…” I said with a smile. “Oh…” She replied and thought for a moment. “Which movie?” She asked. “Bless the Beast and the Children…” I replied and once again was given a puzzled look. “I’ve never heard of that movie…” came her reply. “Of course not…it’s from 1971″. “What’s it about?” “Boys at a summer camp who are misfits and bullied, go on an epic journey to save some buffaloes from being shot and maybe save themselves in the process” I replied and found myself getting choked up again, simply recalling the ending.  Oh Brother!!

Noticing my predicament the doll laughed “Jeeze mom…” “Shaking my head back and forth, I tried to release those dumb thoughts and began to laugh at my own silliness. “What’s a good movie for me to watch…?” She asked. “You cried at the end of Beaches… or that horrible “If I Stay” or maybe you should read “The Fault in our Stars…” I recommended. “Or we could watch Steel Magnolias or Terms of Endearment or any number of other chick flicks with sad endings…” I offered.

Nodding her head in agreement I asked, “So when do you want to watch one of those movies?” “Um, I don’t know…I’m not in the mood right now…but I’ll let you know” She said. Turning my attention back to the television a commercial for Hallmark came on. Instead of watching I left the room. Sometimes tears are better when no one is around-especially the dumb, silly, halmark card sentiment; inducing ones.

 

 

muted hindsight…

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“Marsha you need to find a way to eliminate the volume on that thing…” One of the mom’s said to me. We were anxiously awaiting the start of our daughters basketball game-the first one of the season and I had been assigned the task of recording the game for the coaches. When I arrived, I was handed an iPad and shown what to do and then joined the other mom’s in the bleacher’s. “What are you going to do with that?” One of them asked. “They want me to record the game…so they can look back and see some of their mistakes…” I replied. “You can’t sit here..” Said another mom and we all began to laugh. The implication being, mom’s talk while watching the games and not all of our remarks are complimentary to the players, coaches or our own daughters.

Nonetheless, snarky comments asside, I recorded the game. Before handing the iPad back to the coach I said, “Please, don’t watch this with the volume turned on. You didn’t have me record this game to listen to parents snipe or play bleacher coach. Do yourself a favor and listen on mute and for God’s sake, don’t let the girls listen either.” Giving me an odd look he replied, “Oh-okay…I’ll preview it before I show the girls”.

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Due to the day and age we live in, each basketball practice must have an adult female present, to ensure no funny business occurs between the girls and their coaches. Being a mom who loves basketball, I volunteered to cover all the Wednesday practices through the rest of this year; much to the doll’s chagrin “Mom at practice my name is not doll…Don’t call me doll at practice!!” “Okay doll-er ah hmm.” I’ll also help participate in some drills with the girls and offer thoughts or advice when necessary .

Last night, I approached the head coach to offer some thoughts on what I witnessed on Saturday, “You need to have your best two guards guard each other, so they are used to having problems bringing the ball up the court… maybe this will get them looking up court more often than dribbling the ball with their heads facing down…” I said. He gave me a wry smile in return, acknowledging my advice and then said,  “Yes, that was one of the comments on the video…”   Slightly embarrassed, I snickered and said, “You were given strict instructions not to watch the playback with the volume on!” Before giving way to laughter. “Are you kidding me? I watched that four times…and the mom feedback was amazing. In fact you were right, in the 4th quarter as the game began getting away from us, I should have called a time out”.

“Well it’s good to be right about something” I thought to myself but only nodded to him in return. Frankly, I don’t remember much of what I said while I recorded the game. I do know I laughed an awful lot, made my own share of snarky comments in between cheering for our team. “But don’t worry, we kept the volume on mute when we reviewed the game for the girls-so you’re all safe.” He added with a chuckle.

I laughed again, slightly relieved. Just then the other coach approached and said, “At Saturday’s game we’ll have a different camcorder-this one has a tripod….” Evidently reading the look I projected back to him, he shifted gears and said, “…and we’ll find someone else to film it for us…”

Smiling back at him I replied, “Good idea” and then took my customary seat up in the bleachers, as the girls got busy with their warm ups.