Sunday, January 11, 2015

Into the Woods: A musical lost in translation

Last night we went to see the movie Into the Woods, a whimsical yet action-packed Disney film with a new twist on several different fairy tales, combining all of their happy endings into a not so happy and somewhat unpredictable ending. We went as a family, with our visiting El Salvadoran friend and his teenage son. What I did not know about this movie before heading into the theater was that it is a musical. And what I did not know about musicals was how confusing they can be when English is not your first language.

Francisco's reaction to the flick was hilarious. "That was theeeee worst movie I have eeeebbbeeerr seen, you could pay me all the money in the world to go again and I would say no! I jam more confusing than eeebbbeeerrr..." and so on and so forth all the way home. He was so baffled as to why any movie would ever involve so much singing, and why did they have to have five story lines going at the same time? And what exactly happened anyway? Who would ever pay money for such a complicated bunch of crap? Hysterical.

So Disney, let me advise you. If you are going to make a musical, let people know when you show the previews that the movie will be nothing but song, as this does not always translate well for some. Or maybe I would have paid the $48.75 anyway just to see the look on my poor husband's face as he scratched his head all the way home. Also this movie, while entertaining, was three too many songs, and at least 15 minutes too long, tra la laaaaaaaaaa!!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Graceful Beginning

I am delighted to report that earlier this week I was lucky enough to attend the birth of one of my closest friend's first baby, and what an extreme honor it was.

Working in the birth world I see women labor and deliver all the time, so much so that I probably take the miracle for granted sometimes, although I never get over the gorgeous sound of a healthy newborn baby crying for the first time. Maternity nursing is almost never boring, it keeps us on our toes and has us always examining the unpredictability of nature. Nothing pleases me more than watching a woman pull her infant up onto her chest, heaving a sigh of intense relief as she cradles her little one in her arms. That is all very wonderful, but this time was different.

 There is something so magical about being present for a birth when it's someone you really love. Your heart races with adrenaline as you secretly keep your fingers crossed and pray that everything goes the way it's supposed to, and that she won't end up like the women you occasionally see with complications or unexpected outcomes. The joy that I felt when that little person took her first breath was second to nothing. My beautiful friend easily brought her daughter into the world with a huge smile on her face, radiating with joy that was palpable. She was nothing but grace as she welcomed her girl into the world, and Grace is the name she gave her.

 My mind is still swimming with joy over being part of such an important life event. No matter how many times I help women through labor and birth, and how much I love and cherish my work, it will never compare to being there in that moment for someone so dear to my heart. I welcome her with loving arms into the circle of motherhood and all the powerful ups and downs that come with it, and with this birth I remember that life is a miracle each and every day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Broadway Baby

Last year I began a tradition with my kids: Taking them on a surprise birthday outing instead of the traditional birthday present. It began with Nathan's surprise trip to Fenway Park, which was so successful last year that I decided that all the kids needed to be in on the action. Last year I took Sofie and her friend Evelyn to see the Nutcracker. This year I'm pulling out the big guns for my girl's sixth birthday... Broadway.

 When I was young my grandmother was notorious for surprising various family members with a trip to the city and a Broadway show. I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of several of these outings, and I still remember them as being the most exciting days of my life. We'd board the train from Princeton and Vally would sing an old song;

"You reach the Pennsylvania station 'bout a quarter to four, read a magazine and then you're in Baltimore..."

Until at last we ducked under the tunnel and arrived in the city. Then we'd have lunch in Times Square and head to the theater of her choosing for that day's production (she never told us what show we would see until we arrived). I loved every minute, from the line outside to the curtain closing on the bowing actors. I envisioned myself up on that stage, belting out the lyrics, in full costume with the rest of the cast, and dreamed about it for weeks afterwards.

 Sofie and I are going to see Cinderella on Broadway this year. It's a surprise so WHATEVER YOU DO, don't tell her! I want her to have the full on surprise fantasy day, just like I had. I hope it goes over half as well as it did with me, I will consider that a huge success. She may totally not get it, and she may wonder what the hell we're doing there, but somehow I doubt that. If nothing else, we'll have a good lunch and a great time just the two of us, something I can never get enough of.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Kicking My Ass

My legs are aching tonight as a result of something I never thought I'd do: Kickboxing class. I've been back to my local YMCA three times this week (Hallelujah! The kids are back in school!) and have participated in three aerobics classes, each slightly more torturous than the first. Today's class was painful on so many levels.

I have never thought about kickboxing. Never even dabbled in the idea. Sounds hard, I've always thought, and it was. But the funny thing was the aerobic intensity of the class wasn't what bothered me the most. What bothered me was the creepy look of rage in the eyes of the other (seemingly mild-mannered) ladies in the class when the instructor told us to "knee him in the groin!" and "punch him in the jaw!" These ladies strolled into the gym with their small coach purses and bouncy ponytails, and then became psychotic killing machines thirty seconds after the spastic techno beat came blaring through the speakers. I looked around me after just a couple of minutes in the sweaty mirror covered room and thought "Have I gone insane? Why am I the only one who doesn't get joy out of jabbing an invisible enemy in the face while he's lying on the floor?" Jab Jab Jab! Left hook! Upper cut! Speed bag! It was like a weird alternate universe of tiny fighting women (and one old dude who didn't look that angry, but was struggling to stay alive). 

After pondering it for a bit this afternoon (before my three hour nap and mega dose of ibuprofen), I realized that I had no idea how pissed off so many women are. I guess I just don't have anyone I seriously yearn to punch in the face, and that makes me a bit of a freak in this town. But who are these invisible faces they desire so greatly to sock? Are they husbands, bosses, their parents? Is the invisible face just a metaphor for how society has kept these gals down? Maybe that's too deep, and maybe they're not mad at all, but man, did they sure look it. 

All I know is I won't be rolling up to kickboxing class again any time soon. I prefer my gentle Jane Fonda-esque step aerobics with the happy music and peppy instructors cheering me on, encouraging me to let my ponytail keep bopping and to leave my rage face at home.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tooth Torture

Yesterday I went back to the dentist with my five year old. As many know, the poor gal has terrible teeth, and they have been terrible forever. Unfortunately for both of us, this situation does not seem to improve without significant medical intervention, as the teeth that are rotting out are not due to fall out for several years. For the past week she has been complaining of pain in one particular spot, rendering us, once again, at the mercy of the pediatric dentist.

I hate everything about the pediatric dentist. Or let me clarify, I hate everything about any dentist, but the kids' dentist is particularly bad. I hate that there are three kids getting work done in one big room (read: one screams and they are all horrified). I hate the stupid cloud covered walls, the hanging birds and monkey masks, and the faux friendly hygienist who is quietly judging the crap out of you every second of the way. ("Well, you know, juice is not that good for them", as though it was the apple juice that rotted her teeth out before they even came in). The last time we went for a cleaning the woman taking x-rays got so fed up with Sofie not being able to hold still enough (wait, hold old is she again?) that she huffily jerked her head back and forth and brought tears to my girl's eyes. It was enough to make any mother go postal.

Yesterday Sofie had to endure yet another crown placement, and let me just say, this is definitely getting harder each time. It took me, Francisco, and the assistant to hold her down while she screamed bloody murder and wept, leaving me a sniveling wreck of a mother, while the dentist tried her hardest to get that damn cap on quick. Hideous. My poor girl just kept saying " I want to go home!" through her wrenched open mouth and her gas mask covered nose. When it was over she collapsed in my arms and sobbed, thoroughly worn out from the experience. If she ever makes it to the dentist as an adult it will be a total shock to me, I know I will do my best to avoid taking her back there any time soon.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Countdown

Well fellow parents, we're in the home stretch. The week before school starts, and I know many who are counting down the minutes until those double doors open wide and swallow up our kids for another school year. Normally I am chomping at the bit by this time, but I have to say that this year's start is bittersweet.

Nathan is going into fourth grade and, like the typical fourth grader, is not at all excited. He wants to lie around playing on his iPad in only his athletic shorts all day for a few more months, and who could blame him? The spelling tests, the lining up, the paying attention, all exhausting for the nine year old brain. He just wants to stay home and hang out with mom. That would be sweet, if he weren't such a ball of preteen angst most of the time. I think school is just what the doctor ordered for his moody ass, but I love that he still wants to cuddle with me, so I am also sad to see him trudge back to the trenches.

Sofie, on the other hand, is very excited about starting kindergarten. Unfortunately I can't help but weep silently to myself every time I imagine her climbing onto that bus and coming home hours later, each and every day. What a big girl she is, and man, does that make me feel old. The baby off to kindergarten is so simultaneously awesome and depressing, I don't know where to begin with my emotions.

Carlos is going to be a high school sophomore this year, and everyone is excited about that. No back to school tears for this boy who has spent most of the summer with a camp counselor job and the rest of the summer in his underwear, sleeping the day away. Time to get back and at 'em with the football team and learning stuff, that's enough of you loafing about. Apparently when they're teens they really have angst (huh, you don't say), so out the door you go, keep them busy until nightfall. He agrees wholeheartedly with this plan, and I love that about him.

I am really hoping to enjoy this last week of summer vacation, before the homework rolls in, and everyone needs a ride to the next activity. I'm hoping to spend at least a couple of days lapping up the lazy days of summer with my favorite littles before it all rockets us back into routine and we quickly forget how good summer can be.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Family Time

I just returned from a glorious fun-filled week in Pennsylvania with my extended family. Grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, we span the gauntlet from ages 5 to 87 with everything in between. We pile into a giant old house and prepare to relax for a week of serious family bonding.

I love a lot of things about this vacation, but the top of the list for me is the fact that we put away our phones and iPads, computers, and televisions (with the exception of the World Cup) and spend the week completely with each other. We march around the gorgeous lake, spend hours sunbathing on the beach and jumping off the long dock. We gather on the porch for cocktails and stories in the evening, and sit around a huge table for dinner, each night a new meal carefully crafted by a different chef.

This week we made time for charades and board games, Olympic water balloon tossing, and capture the flag (even my grandfather was making a go at that flag). We played endless rounds of our favorite game "What would you rather do?" and made many trips to the ice cream shop. We had costume night, fancy night, my cousin's birthday celebration, game night, and home movie night, among a few others. At one point after dinner we went around the table to talk about what we hoped we'd be doing at this time next year. The only thing that I honestly could say was that I hope I am lucky enough to be this happy next year, because this is pretty hard to beat, and I am feeling pretty blessed.

Packing up this morning was bittersweet as always, hugging good-bye for the long drive home. I was psyched to be home but once again, our glorious family week went by too fast. I am so grateful to be part of such a wonderful group of people, who I enjoy so thoroughly that I want to spend a week under the same roof. I can't wait to do it again next year.

Photo: Celebrity game night
Game Night

Photo: Time for the family Olympics complete with Chariots of Fire theme!

Kan Jam, my favorite Olympic sport

Photo: E