I recently finished The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. I read about it in Entertainment Weekly when it was released last year and the premise, a son and his mother have a private book club of sorts during her fight against pancreatic cancer, instantly struck a note with me. My mom always, always had a book to read, if not several at one time. Buying books was her major weakness; no matter how many were in line to be read, she couldn’t help herself but to buy more. She’s the one who instilled in me a love for reading and I remember many lazy Saturdays with her on the couch and me in a chair, just reading. As I got older and read books more her speed (so, not Babysitter’s Club or Sweet Valley Twins), we shared books. We shared books and recommendations up until she didn’t have the energy to read anymore. Then I just read alone by her bed, instead.
After I finished The End of Your Life Book Club, I had dog-eared many pages and passages, whether they were about cancer or dying or reading. So many things about this mother and this relationship and this cancer fight meant something to me. After I read the book, I felt a peace but also a slight jealousy. What a wonderful idea and sentiment, this book club they had. And by talking about books, this mom and her son actually uncovered and discussed many topics that may have been too hard to tackle, too complicated to bring up, during someone’s dying days.
Here are some of my favorite parts or thoughts or discoveries (no spoilers, I don’t think):
+ Will’s mother was an incredible woman. I mean, world-traveling, orphan-saving, millions of dollars-raising amazing. And while it’s very easy to romanticize someone after they’re gone, and to only remember how they were an angel on earth (and not how they could frustrate you, too!), I don’t think Will was exaggerating his mom’s awesomeness. She was wise and I learned from her.
+ She wanted Will to read The Etiquette of Illness. This is a book I’ll seek out. One piece of advice: Don’t ask a sick person, “How are you feeling?” but instead ask, “Do you want me to ask how you’re feeling?” Also, “You don’t have to talk all the time. Sometimes being there is enough.” Such great advice. People are really, really bad at this sort of thing, it should almost be required reading.
+ “We were going to have to learn to pace ourselves—which routines we could keep and which we had to jettison; what we could try to cram in and what we had to give up; which occasions we would be sure to celebrate no matter what and which we would ignore….and even when we would focus on her dying and when we would talk about anything but.”
+ He talks about how he and his siblings would have to say goodbye to their mom over and over with each milestone her grandchildren passed. I think about this exact thing nearly every day. She saw my child to age 1. She won’t meet the next one. With each little and big thing they do, I can’t help but think, “I wish she were here to see it.” He writes, “We would also have to say goodbye to the joy of watching this next generation soak up the massive quantities of love their grandmother would have given them.”
+ During a visit to his mom while she’s vacationing in Florida, Will writes about spending time with only her. He hit the nail on the head, especially during the final months when you know there’s not much time left. I found myself getting mad at other people who wanted a piece of her time. I’m glad to read someone else felt that way, too. He writes, “I didn’t want to talk to anyone other than mom. I wanted to talk about books, or just stare at the ocean…But all those strangers with their lives and stories made the landscape less beautiful for me, not more. As the clock ticked, I resented other people for interrupting the limited conversations we had left.”
+ He talks about the big conversation that many of us never actually have with the ones we love, either because they’re gone suddenly or when you’re actually faced with the opportunity, it turns out, you just know. Words aren’t needed. “I was still waiting to have the big talk, the one where I would tell mom how much I loved her and how proud I was of all she had accomplished, and how she had always been there for me—what a great mother she was. And she would tell me then how proud she was of me… There had been many days when we’d almost had the big talk, but didn’t.”
+ I loved his mom’s view on talent and the need to push yourself to be good at something. She kind of thought it was malarkey, and that’s refreshing. She said, “Everyone doesn’t have to do everything. People forget you can also express yourself by what you choose to admire and support. I’ve had so much pleasure from beautiful and challenging things created by other people, things I could never make or do. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”
+ When my mom decided to let go, I put a note up on her Caring Bridge site about the decision and then asked that no one visit or call. It was amazing that people would call DAILY with nothing more to say then, “So?” and you knew they wanted to be the first to know what the latest was. So, I wanted to stop those phone calls. Will writes about a very similar sentiment that he put up on his mom’s site, “It’s very difficult for us, too, to answer the phone or reply to emails, so please do continue to check the blog for updates.” I strongly believe this was the right decision and anyone else in this situation shouldn’t be afraid to ask for what they need.
Will and his mom read many, many, many books over that period of time (he lists every book read or mentioned in the back—many I want to add to my own list) and I loved how the themes of the books wrapped around the themes of their time together. This was an excellent book; though I’m not sure if you’re not a book lover or haven’t lost a loved one if it would strike you quite as much as it struck me. I’d be interested it hear.
It's almost Oscar time! I did this last year, and I did fairly well, actually. (Meryl was a surprise, but I suppose, honestly, she shouldn't have been.) Here are my thoughts again. Long story short, it's Lincoln's year, unless its hype ends up working against it.
Will win: Lincoln.
Dark Horse: Argo. Or it got the Golden Globe as the next best thing.
Will win: Steven Spielberg.
Dark Horse: Michael Haneke for Amour. Amour seems like a film Oscar voters would love, so maybe they’d give the director this over Best Picture.
Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis. People have just raved about his performance and he’s one of those actors (kind of like Meryl) who you just don't want to be up against.
Dark Horse: I really don’t think it’s another man’s game at all, but I’ll say Denzel.
I said this last year, but the actress categories are always filled with talent that in the end, who cares who wins -- they all rock.
Will win: Hmmm, I was going in thinking Jessica Chastain until Jennifer Lawrence started taking home all the awards leading up to this, so I’ll go with Lawrence.
Dark Horse: Emmanuelle Riva. Like I said last year, the Oscars love to give away an award or two to foreign-born actors (plus, they give so much better acceptance speeches).
I’m going out on a limb here, because wow, this is a close race. All good performances, all past winners. Could be anybody.
Will win: Alan Arkin, because he’s my favorite of the bunch.
Dark Horse: Tommy Lee Jones. He’s doing financial planning/retirement commercials, so maybe another Oscar is needed?
Will win: I think it’s Anne Hathaway’s year.
Dark Horse: Sally Field, because that would be cool.
Will win: Brave, because it’s just prettier than the rest.
Dark Horse: Wreck-It Ralph has been getting some praise as of late.
Foreign Language Film
Will win: Amour. If it can be nominated for both Best Picture and this, then it will probably win this one.
Dark Horse: I don’t have one; not familiar with the rest.
Will win: Does John Williams’ stuff just start to sound the same after more than 20 Spielberg films? I’ll go with Mychael Danna for Life of Pi.
Dark Horse: Thomas Newman for Skyfall.
Will win: Adele. Obviously. She wins everything she’s up for and this will be no different. Her speech will be charmingly lovely, too, I assume.
Dark Horse: Not even going to bother.
Will win: Lincoln. I would love to see Kushner win an Oscar. I've been a fan ever since I had to thoroughly study Angels in America in college drama class.
Dark Horse: Argo, so it can at least win something? Silver Linings Playbook might be worthy of the “at least give it something” award here, too.
Will win: Only because I think Django and Zero Dark Thirty might be too controversial to win for writing, I’ll say Moonrise Kingdom.
Dark Horse: Flight. People seemed to really like this movie.
What are your thoughts? Did you have a favorite of the nominees?
I had read lots of good things about this book, and now seemed like the perfect time to read it as I'm in her position right now - toddler boy, baby on the way. She was funny, thoughtful, a bit crazy at times, but so many things she wrote stuck with me.
Not really spoilers, just some quotes I loved:
On parenting fears
“It’s so simple now: I don’t want Ben to die, and I’m afraid that he will…I can’t believe there will be yet another baby to fret over. Can I survive so much worry? Whenever they interview anyone who lives to be a hundred, the secret is always revealed to be a life without stress. At this rate, I’ll be lucky to make it to 35.”
On pregnancy book she would write
“Who are these women so big and so into it? In my pregnancy book there will be a picture of a 10-foot pole in that section. In my pregnancy book there will be practical advice—like how to throw up quietly in public, and how to maximize the nutritional value of Fritos, and how not to punch anybody in the face, even when you feel like you’ve been injected with some crazy rage hormone. And how to sleep with two babies—one three, and one not yet born—lying on top of you on the couch.”
“What happens to this singularity of focus when the new baby comes? As it is, I’m so exhausted from so much feeling, so much negotiating, so much explaining of every single thing.”
On labor (it’s like she can read my mind)
“I confess that I’m so happy this time not to be consumed with the minutiae of the birth, like whether or not to get drugs. With your first baby, you think this is actually an important decision. Only later do you realize that a) You understand nothing about labor until it’s happening to you, and b) The birth is just the first tiny town—barely a black dot—on the enormous, complicated road map that is the rest of your life as a parent. Mistaking the birth for the main event is like thinking that the floral arrangements at your wedding will somehow determine the quality of your marriage.”
On the second baby
“The Buddhists describe life as a river: stand in one spot to watch the water rush by, and it will be always the same, always different. When the first baby comes, it’s like the sudden boil of the rapids: froth and sound, terror and thrill-a-second joy. The second one feels more like a gentle bend in the water’s path. A gentle bend with a boulder or two to keep you on your toes.”
“When we got home, I watched Ben and Birdy sleep, and these waves of love crashed over me, and it was deeply pleasurable, but also entirely overwhelming. My dad has assured me that it will never get any better, this life of worry. Poor guy. He had anticipated that maybe having grandchildren would help him worry less, but it turns out, they are just more and more people for him to add to his roster of concern.”
“Sometimes I wonder whether I would have done this—this becoming a parent—if I had known. You know, known about this love that’s like heartbreak. Mostly, and obviously, I think: Of course. Don’t be silly. But sometimes my love for these children feels almost like an affliction—like my heart is in the fist of a beast, and I am utterly helpless.”
I met my goal of reading 25 books in 2012. However, I’m not sure I loved any of the books I read. And some were just bad. There wasn’t an Unbroken or Forgotten Garden in the bunch (though I did read The Distant Hours, which was lovely, just not Garden amazing.) But, I usually write a Best Books list each year (a little behind, yes), so here would be my top 5. As always, the top 5 I read, not the top 5 that were published.
The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: I’ve really enjoyed all of the books I’ve read by Alexandra Robbins, and this was no exception. In the age where we talk about bullying way more than I’d like, this was an extremely interesting look at popularity and fringe groups in high school. She profiles real students who share (hopefully) their real feelings about the inner workings of high school. The outcomes were so fascinating, and the idea that teachers and administrators may need to shoulder some of the blame (because they tend to treat popular kids more favorably/differently than those who look/act a little different) was quite eye-opening.
Gone Girl: The most controversial book club book of the year, perhaps? We didn’t even read this for book club, but nearly everyone I know (in person or on Twitter) read it, so it felt like one big book club last summer. The book is disturbing and twisted and the characters are so unlikeable. The ending could be considered unsatisfying (though I felt it was maybe the only way it could end?). However, I couldn’t look away. And it kept me thinking. While the characters were hate-filled, I still wanted to know what would happen. To me that’s the makings of a good book.
The Kitchen House: I was one of the few in my book club who enjoyed this pick. It’s the story of masters and slaves, incest, depression—very uplifting topics! But, I fell in love with some of the characters and their struggles and their perseverance. It’s a sad, sad tale, but also one that paints a picture we don’t think about every day. I couldn’t put it down and it made me cry, but yet feel hopeful. I liked it a lot.
The Tiger’s Wife: This was a nice surprise. It made many top books lists in 2011, but oftentimes I don’t agree with those (see Swamplandia). However, this tale, told in numerous times of history was just pure magic to me. It was vivid and picturesque. It moved a touch slow in some parts, but other parts (about the deathless man, for example) were so intriguing and beautiful. I was happy I read this one.
Lizz Free or Die: It may have something to do with the fact that Lizz Winstead grew up in Minnesota and also created The Daily Show (one of my favorites) and spouts political views right up my alley, but I enjoyed these essays immensely. She’s hilarious, but also thoughtful. And learning about the behind-the-scenes workings of both a TV show and a radio show (Air America), as well as her struggles as a female in comedy, was really interesting.
So, think back, what were the best books you read in 2012? I’d love to add them to my list.
Hello! Happy new year! It’s been a busy few months with sickness, holidays and crazy work schedules, but 2013 is here and I’m much overdue for a blog post. So, here are some things I’m loving this week (or loving lately).
Scrubs: My husband started streaming Scrubs and I’ve been watching intermittently along with him. We both watched this show when it originally aired, but it’s been just as hilarious now (if not more) as it was then. It still feels relevant, it’s just really silly (a type of humor we can appreciate), and a lot of fun to watch again. I remember how weird it was when it first started as one of the only comedies on television without a laugh track, and now that’s the way I prefer it. I love a little something about every character and it’s going to be sad to watch them go, once again. "I miss you so much it hurts sometimes."
Alias: Felicity was my rediscovery of 2012 and after I was done with that, I wondered if I should watch Alias. It came up on Netflix last fall and I started watching it and got hooked. I’m only in about a season and a half, and now will probably have to wait until maternity leave to finish up, but I enjoy the ass-kicking nature of Sydney Bristow. I also am appreciating Bradley Cooper in a way I never have; he’s not playing a d-bag, who knew?! The only thing that’s a bit annoying is the recap-like dialogue that happens sometimes, but I understand shows with complex storylines usually have to use this device.
The NFL and the Concussion Crisis: This is a two-year old article, but it came up in a Twitter conversation last week when the news of Junior Seau’s brain tests came out. This article was fascinating (and noted several articles of a similar nature). It really puts in question the ethics of the sport. Do we know the extent of injuries endured? Does it matter, if the men playing are fully aware of the consequences? Is it barbaric? How does class fit in? And how do you feel about your children joining high-impact sports? Many of the women on Twitter were saying a flat-out NO to these sports, and said their husbands were in complete agreement. Is it worth the risk? (Why do we even have to think about these things? Parenthood is already hard enough.)
Robert Langdon: A Love Story: Following the news of Inferno and its spring release, Maureen Johnson tweeted this essay she wrote about Dan Brown’s famous character back when The Lost Symbol came out. I thought it was hilarious, and even a sweet overture to the antihero, the geek in loafers, the scaredy-cat who wields nothing but a pen and a brain. Johnson writes how not only does Langdon give the impression that any nerd could save the world, but that the true bad guys are bad through puzzles that just need to be solved. And wouldn’t that be a nice change from the way the world is today? I’ve read all the Langdon books, and while they’re not great literature by any means, they’re gripping, read-it-in-three-days stories that are a ton of fun. Looking forward to Inferno.
Threshold: This essay by a New Yorker cover artist was one of the better things I read after the Newtown tragedy. After chaperoning a field trip for his daughter’s school, he writes, “Teaching was not, I concluded at one point, a profession in which I could survive for even one day.” Teachers are to be appreciated, for sure. His wife is a teacher and reading her thoughts on the Newtown situation were interesting, too. He ends on an excellent point, having to do with the drastic underfunding and under appreciation of the places (and people who) we send our kids to every single day.
Mommy Shorts Resolution Review: Ilana follows up on her daughter Mazzy’s 2012 "resolutions." It’s a hilarious look back at many of things she hoped her daughter would do in 2012, and many of the things she didn’t do at all. My child is about Mazzy’s age, so I so appreciate Ilana’s honesty when it comes to her toddler’s complete resistance or indifference to things (like, “I haven’t touched dinner since 2010.” I hear you, Ilana.)
A few other awesome pieces on the web: Jason Good's Sequester Her!, Lady Edith and the advantage of untraditional beauty, and Take Better Pictures with your Phone (something I strive to do, but it's hard to learn how).
What do you love this week?
One of my goals for 2012 was to read 25 books. I’m at 21.5 right now, so I might just fall short, unless reading Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel several times a week counts for anything. Anyway, I’ve neglected to update here about my most recent reads, so here’re a few:
No Biking in the House without a Helmet: Journalist and author Melissa Fay Greene writes this memoir about her (and her husband’s) journey through parenthood. They had children of their own, yet once those children started growing, the Greene’s felt they had more parenting to offer. Greene writes about her learning process through the adoption system and then of each subsequent adoption of children from both Bulgaria and Ethiopia. I liked the book a lot. Here’s what I wrote on Goodreads:
"While the book dragged in a few places (some chapters felt unnecessary or redundant), I really enjoyed the extended peek into this blended family. I learned quite a bit about adoption. I also really respected this couple's parenting of all their children. They set high expectations, but didn't hover. They swore, laughed off things like broken lamps or windows, empathized with the loss of a rodent-like pet, etc. They seemed fairly laid back, in general, and their kids turned out to be respectful, highly intelligent, accepting individuals. I admired the way the parents kept their adopted children's culture and extended family in the forefront and the fact that they gave hundreds of dollars to parents/grandparents/cousins in Ethiopia (which was mere pennies to the former, but an EDUCATION for latter). The response was always, "Of course we can help. Here you go." Amazing.
Of course, this is a very well-off family (when the dad is a defense attorney for NFL stars, I'm guessing you make some bank), who can afford trips to Africa many times in life. Not everyone has this ability, of course, but if adoption is something you're curious about, she sheds some light, for sure. And even offers some tips on blending families like this."
Lost in Shangri-La: Another WWII book, which if you’ve read about my book choices in the last five years, you know I’ve veered this way several times. However, this was a book from even another aspect of the war (not Japan or Europe, like many others), and tells of the true story of a sightseeing plane crash on the island of New Guinea where all but three WWII servicemen and women passengers were killed. Those three who survived (two men, one awesome lady) had quite the experience, first surviving and then getting rescued. While this wasn’t as gripping as a book like Unbroken, it was still good; I liked the people and I liked learning about the natives of New Guinea (who had no idea how this war, and this plane crash, was going to change their lives forever, unfortunately).
The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: I’d heard Elna Baker on This American Life before, but I didn’t put two and two together until about halfway through the book. Baker takes us through her struggle with her faith (Mormonism) and her body image (she was overweight, then lost a bunch) and her love life (which directly corresponded with the previous two struggles). She’s a comedian, so there’s a lot of self-deprecating humor in the book, which makes for an enjoyable memoir in my opinion. Learning about Mormonism through her eyes was definitely interesting, but I’m still not quite sure, even after the book, how she feels about it. Though, it’s a strict religion (she says if she were to leave, for example, she couldn’t attend her sibling’s wedding), so I can see why she struggles so much. Her love life dominates the book, because being a virgin Mormon in a “Sex and the City” New York City is a pretty hard thing to be, it seems. In the end, it was a quick, funny read, with some heart, but also felt like “another funny lady writes a book.”
Dreams of Joy: I read Shanghai Girls more than a year ago, and at the end of my copy there was a teaser for Dreams of Joy, its sequel. The teaser grabbed me enough to put this book on my Kindle library list and it finally came through. I don’t want to give a ton away, especially if you haven’t read ‘Girls’ first. But this book gives us a peek into Communist China in the late 1950s (another topic I haven’t read a ton about) and, wow, China was a scary place then. The story was not uplifting by any means, however the parts that really resonated with me were about the love between a mother and her daughter, or more so about the lengths a mother will go to save/protect/support her child. It was amazing lengths, and I could relate, as a mother myself, but also as a daughter. While it started out a touch slow (lots of build up, which was necessary in the end), I actually think I enjoyed this book better than its prequel.
Two months ago I listed what I planned to watch on TV this fall. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with everything, and true, some shows had to go. An update.
Walking Dead is, ahem, killing it this season. Cheesy dialogue still remains, but the Governor and Woodbury are quite intriguing additions.
New Girl: Keeps getting funnier. And while the sexual tension, will-they-or-won’t-they storyline is so predictable in comedies, I do enjoy the fondness and roommate love Nick and Jess have for each other. I love that Jess can bring Nick’s old-man grumpiness down a peg. And Schmidt steals the show.
Parenthood: Obviously. It’s a joke how much this show makes me cry. But I love it. Ray Romano is excellent (even if it’s looking bad for Mark, who I also love). Also cool to see another FNL alum on set.
The Office: I know! I was ready to give up on this show last year. But having Greg Daniels back in the writer’s seat has made an incredible difference. Some of the discomfort from early seasons is back, as are the classic pranks. I don’t love that they’re turning Andy into Michael – seems too easy - but I do enjoy the idea that this whole documentary is really about Jim and Pam and their journey.
Parks & Rec: Leslie and Ben make me so happy. The end.
Also still watching: The Voice, HIMYM, Bones, Raising Hope, The Middle, Modern Family, Big Bang, and Up All Night (though I wish they still worked on the Ava show and I’m not sure about the multi-camera change coming up; feels like they’re giving up?).
Go On: It’s not perfect, but I keep watching it for a few personal reasons. The content hits home, it’s feel-good, and, what can I say, I’m loyal to Matthew Perry.
The Mindy Project: This show is funny. It is. But Mindy got a little “too much” for me and I just couldn’t keep up with one more show.
Guys with Kids: We watched one episode, but can’t keep up. Though Tempestt Bledsoe brings back some Cosby memories! (Speaking of, The Cosby Show is on TV Land now and I try to catch an episode whenever I can. It’s my Friends of the 80s.)
We just couldn’t bring ourselves to commit to the new hour-long dramas: Revolution, Last Resort or Elementary. And couldn’t make myself watch Animal Practice, either (doesn’t matter – but replacing it with Whitney? I don’t get NBC.)
What are you still watching? What did you give up on?
J.K. Rowling: She’s kind of all over the place again doing publicity, since A Casual Vacancy was released last month. And I think she’s just a joy. She’s serious and aloof, but she also has such a dry sense of humor and an honesty to her that’s so refreshing (maybe that’s because she’s English). I really enjoyed this profile of her, Mugglemarch, from The New Yorker. Also, she was on The Daily Show a couple weeks ago. She and Jon Stewart talked about everything from Potter to politics and her views on our system were quite fascinating. Last, I’m 30 pages into Vacancy, and while that’s not far enough to say I love it, it’s a pleasure to read her writing again. It’s much more adult and serious this time, but it’s still very Rowling.
Is it Possible to Rethink ‘Unpopular’? TED Talk: I enjoy Erika Napoletano’s tweets and blog posts (I’ve mentioned her in my Friday posts before). Now she has a TED talk and I found it quite enjoyable. She talks about how she just gave up on being polite and letting negative people inside her life (as a brand expert, she relates this idea to businesses as well). She wants people to embrace “unpopular” by Being Honest and Stop Apologizing. “When are you going to admit there’s something glorious about being you?” she asked. It left me inspired.
Electoral Precedent Cartoon: This cartoon looks at “The problem with statements like, ‘No <party> candidate has won the election without <state>,’ or ‘No president has been reelected under <circumstances>.’” For example, “No one can become president without getting marred. Until Buchanan did (1856),” and “No Republican has won without Vermont. Until Bush did (2000).” It’s fun! [Hat tip MinnPost]
The Kindergarten Canon—Must Read Picture Books for Preschoolers: Sure, this is only one man’s opinion, but boy did this list of 100 book bring back some memories (and some additions to my kid’s wish list). There’re some true classics (Snow White, Three Little Pigs), but newbies too (Knuffle Bunny). Some of my favorites: Caps for Sale, George and Martha, The Poky Little Puppy and Strega Nona (I loved my Tomie dePaola books).
The Walking Dead: There was A LOT of hype for this season premiere, and in my opinion it didn’t disappoint. Each segment got scarier until the end when the prison hallways were like a haunted house from my nightmares. (And it kept me up that night, hoping not to dream about zombies. So, while no sleep sucks, it shows it stuck with me.) While I enjoy the show, I usually scoff at the cheesy dialogue regularly throughout each episode. But, that was at a minimum this time—probably because they were too busy killing the dead—I think I only laughed once or twice at the cheese. The characters have grown a bit, and I’m excited to see what the next few episodes bring (more death, apparently).
Forgive me for my absence. I’ve still loved many things, but life’s been busy lately. Also forgive me for listing some things here that are a bit old, but I post them because they’re awesome and if one person reads them who hasn’t yet, well, job done. And because I’ve been gone awhile, this is rather long.
Parenthood: Thank you NBC, for bringing back one of my favorite shows with some of my all-time favorite TV actors (Peter Krause, Lauren Graham). Now excuse me while I use two Kleenexes per episode. ::SNIFF::
You Know That Bubble You Live In? I pretty much love every post written by Liz. Sure, probably because our values seem to align, but in the end, here’s a well-off mom, with a full-time job, admitting most days that she’s just doing her freakin’ best. In this post she asks something I think every day, amongst the hate and the snark found in the news, in politics, on Twitter (and Facebook, which I stay off for a reason): “I’d like to ask, what the heck is going on in the world when we start to lose our sense of empathy?”
While I think parenting is hard now, with an energetic toddler who loves the word “no,” I also think I would love to keep him at this innocent age forever, when he can’t see or experience bullying (besides the occasional bite from the other two year old at daycare), can’t see or experience hardship, can’t see or experience hate. Because my heart already breaks for him and the fact that I can’t protect him from this garbage much longer.
Raising Successful Children: My friend Emily pointed me to this article about types of parenting. We’ve heard about all of them, of course, and it’s hard to know which type of parent you’ll become. I mostly believe you’ll become similar to your own parents, since that’s the only type of parenting you really know. Mine never pushed me to do anything (like more AP classes, competitive sports), but they did encourage and they did set expectations. I hope to be similar in that realm.
This article also talks about not doing things for your child that they’re capable of doing on their own. This one I struggle with a bit more, at least so far in the toddler stage. Can he find that matchbox blue Porsche on his own? Most definitely, but not without getting angry and frustrated (which is normal and fine!). But also? It’s in my nature to nurture and I just like helping him do things. But will I do his science project after he goes to bed? Um, no.
How to Make A Friendship Outlast Your Vote: I retweeted this post by Miss Zoot earlier this week, but have a few more thoughts other than “great post.” I’ve known (I know) people who have said things like, “Oh, I don’t think I could ever be friends with someone [of opposite political views].” I find this unbelievable, and was happy to read a post reflecting some of the same thoughts I’ve had for years. While I definitely swim with a school of people with similar views as me (and boy do we have fun preaching to the choir), I have family and friends who fall opposite me. And that’s perfectly fine. It’s easy enough not to talk about those things and all get along. Heck, I even married someone who was apart from me on several issues when we first met. And here we are 8 years later, continually moving toward each other. [Example: 8 years ago I wouldn’t have allowed a gun in my home. Today, well, my husband is a police officer. And I think much differently about gun laws.] It’s possible to connect with, and even love, people with opposing political views.
Stand Up, by Chris Kluwe: And while I try not to post about political issues here, for the above reasons of believing we can all get along by not shouting in each others’ faces all the time, I also don’t want to remain silent about an issue that needs support. A value of civil rights that was instilled in me by my mom, who was one of the most non-judgmental, accepting people I’ve ever known. A woman who held the hand of her HIV-positive friend every time he went into the hospital; I bet in the early 90s he never thought he’d outlive her. Never once in my life did I hear in our house that there was anything wrong with this lifestyle. All I heard, and saw, was love.
Which is why I think it’s beyond awesome that Kluwe has been so outspoken about equality under the law. It’s people like this, professional athletes, who really need to come out in support. Men who play the manliest game out there, who tons and tons of young boys (and girls) look up to. These kids need to see it’s cool to be accepting. It’s cool to support your friends. It’s cool to be who you are. That they’re not alone in their struggles. Bravo, man. I hope athletes like Adrian Peterson, LeBron James, Joe Mauer (though the Twins organization has publicly come out against the ammendment to ban gay marriage that's on the ballot this November), Peyton Manning, etc., feel the urge to do the same.
It All Vanishes: Sundry is another whose posts I never miss. And man, some days she just hits home and makes me cry. The passage she quotes comes from a book she read and I never would’ve read it (and cried at it) if she hadn’t posted it. I’ll fully admit I think about how life might be easier if only my kid could do ‘this’ or ‘that.’ But this post was a great reminder that soon enough, he’s not going to need me in this way anymore. ::sob:: (And on the same day, A Girl and a Boy posts a lovely piece with similar sentiments. You guys are killing me!)
West Wing reunion for a political ad: To end on a funny note, nearly all the favorite players from The West Wing made a video to educate viewers on non-partisan judicial ballots (they're easily skipped over apparently; I learned something!) and support a co-star's sister who is running in Michigan. Josh throws a fit, C.J. talks matter-of-factly, the President ends the convo with words of wisdom, they walk, they talk. It's fabulous. If only it was the real world. Let's keep making these, guys, because I miss you so!
Last year I gave my thoughts on some of the new shows to hit primetime. I think I did a pretty good job, too; nearly all I predicted to get cancelled did. (Once Upon a Time hung on; I’m impressed (I don’t watch it).) I don’t have as strong of opinions this time around, but here’s what I’ll be watching for sure and also what I’ll be checking out as potential additions. (It’s long. I unapologetically love TV.)
A pretty dead night for us. We’ll either watch DVR’d shows or football, in addition to:
America’s Funniest Home Videos: We get quite the kick out of this show in our house, so it’s always on while we’re cooking dinner.
Walking Dead: My husband convinced me to watch this show and while it still scares me, I can’t look away. I’m very excited for the third season to see what Woodbury and the prison settings bring to the group.
HIMYM: Like I said last year, I just love everything about this show. I think it’s getting ready to wrap up though (Jason Segal’s ready to move on to bigger things; I thought NPH should’ve been picked for Regis’ spot, but he has big things in store, I'm sure), and while I’ll miss it, I can’t wait to see what happens.
Bones: Moved to Mondays! Brennan’s on the lam without Booth; we have a great, new regular villain; the Jeffersonian team needs to save the day…. It’s all very exciting. I love Brennan and Booth together.
Revolution: I’m actually kind of intrigued. I don’t know if we can fit another hour-long drama into the schedule, but I think I want to give this a shot. Plus, I enjoy Billy Burke.
Tuesday has become the new Thursday. Too many shows, something will have to give.
Raising Hope: We get a kick out of this show. Just the right amount of silliness. Martha Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt are the true heart and humor of the show.
New Girl: A year ago I was worried this would just be a show about a dumb girl living with dumb guys. It’s not. This show just got funnier and funnier with every single episode. Quotable lines, awesome references (See CeCe Run, “C'mon, man, I'm not going to get Winklevossed because of your sloppiness.”). Can’t wait for new episodes.
The Mindy Project: I think this looks cute. My husband isn’t sure, but I think/hope this will be right up my alley.
Happy Endings: At the end of last season, I said this was a show I wouldn’t mind picking up this year. We watched a few and laughed at them all. But then they put it on against New Girl!
Go On: We watched the pilot a couple weeks ago and enjoyed it. I really do love Matthew Perry and want to see him succeed (He has some gray hair and looks so distinguished in this show). This show seems to have some heart and lots of humor. Will it last? I don’t know. But I want to watch a few more episodes at least. It’s after The Voice, which is a good lead in, but on the other hand it's against Happy Endings and New Girl, which is a tough spot.
Parenthood: It’s back! Will Sarah say yes to Mark’s proposal? How will Crosby and Jasmine do as a married couple? Will Amber stay on the right path? Hattie goes to college! I just love, love, love this show. Bring on the drama and let the tears flow.
Southland: We love this show, too. It’s back in February for 10 episodes.
We might need to use this day to watch some of the shows from Tuesday.
The Middle: I said it last year and I’ll say it again: This is a great show. It’s a true image of middle-class America. The complete opposite of (and more realistic than) Modern Family. An average looking family struggling to buy groceries and fix the dishwasher, wondering how they’ll get from day to day, while exhibiting questionable parenting. But at the end of the day, there’s love. I tear up at the end of nearly every episode.
Modern Family: While I can’t relate to this show in its richie-rich feel, it’s still hilarious. I feel sorry that Jay is going to become a father in his grandfather years (why do shows always have to add new babies?), but it adds a new element I suppose.
Animal Practice: OK, so I love that Justin Kirk is in primetime, but why on a show like this? Why with a monkey. Why? I think I’ll watch the first few episodes in support of Andy Botwin, but I don’t have high hopes that I’ll love it, or that it’ll make it to a full season.
Guys with Kids: I don’t know. Looks kind of funny? Maybe we’ll tune in between The Middle and Modern Family.
Thursday is going to look a lot different next year, that’s for sure.
The Big Bang Theory: We gave up on 30 Rock last year, so now at least we won’t have to DVR anything while we watch Big Bang, which is still hilariously good. Though Sheldon’s become a caricature of his original role and that’s a little sad to me. But I love the ladies of the show!
Up All Night: Kind of like Modern Family in its rich-people feel, but we loved every episode of this show last year. And while I didn’t appreciate Ava in the beginning, her character really grew on me by the end. I’m excited it’s back.
The Office: I was about to give up. If this wasn’t the last season, I wouldn’t be watching. But, I’m going to see my once-favorite show through to the end.
Parks & Rec: At least this show came along to take the place of The Office in my heart. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Leslie and Ben and everyone else. Ann with Tom? It’s a train wreck and I have no idea where the writers are going with that one.
Elementary: I’m intrigued. I haven’t gotten into any of the other Sherlock shows that have come up in the past few years, but I do love Lucy Liu (she was excellent on Southland last season), so I think I want to give this a shot, too.
Last Resort: I just don’t quite understand the premise, and how it can possibly be made into a series, but I just finished re-watching Felicity and Scott Speedman is on my radar. I’d like him to succeed. I don’t think I’ll end up watching it though…
Shark Tank: We dig this show.
Community: Now on Fridays? Well, that’s the final nail in its coffin, so we’ll probably just watch until it’s over.
So, what will you be watching? What new shows are you excited for? What have you given up on?