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Entertainment

Entertainment is enjoyable from babies to adults. Whether you’re single, married, have kids or not movies, arts, sports and events bring people together.

The Walking Dead, Negan, Glenn, Glenn Rhee, ABraham, Season 7 premiere, Steven Yeun

I am a BIG fan of the Walking Dead. I’ve watched it since that debut all those years ago when I was a new mom with toddlers. I remember coming home from trick-or-treating that first Halloween, getting my little girls to bed and settling into what would quickly become my mom addiction, The Walking Dead but last night, oh last night, you went too far Nicotero!

 

Look, I love a good gore fest as much as anyone else. Horror has been my favorite genre since about the age of 7. There is just something about having the shit scared out of you that takes your mind off of your own shitty existence and makes you feel alive.

 

Anyways, I’ve invested 7 seasons of my life into the Walking Dead. Rick Grimes is my leader even when he’s a little bat shit crazy. Daryl is the white trash hero I never thought I’d love. Michone is the bad ass that I want to be. Glenn and Maggie were the beautiful love story in the midst of the apocalypse. They were the last bits of humanity. They were the only thing left that had any semblance of what the world should look like.

 

Glenn, Steven Yeun, was the underdog. He was just like all of us. Sweet, a little naïve but willing to sacrifice his life for what was good. He did it time and time again, beginning with that first moment he was on the show and he saved Rick from the zombies. He didn’t have to but he did. He was just a good person and not just sometimes, all the time. He loved his Maggie, respected his elders and was willing to fight and care for the people he loved. He was willing to die every day for them.

 

Abraham, Michael Cudlitz, was the hooker with the heart of gold. He was definitely rough around the edges but he was funny and he always made us laugh. In the zombie apocalypse, he made us laugh with his funny sayings and turn of a phrase. He was the comic relief in a high stress, always shitty situation. He too dared to love big and plan a future in the face of death and that takes balls.

 

Last night as I held my breath and waited for the season premiere to reveal who Neegan was going to kill, it felt personal. First, the producers drug the anticipation out for too long. You know what I mean. When you’re already sensitive and they torture you with making you wait. It was terrible. Then as Neegan did his Ennie, Meenie, Miney and mo around our kneeling group, I could feel myself getting sick. Then he landed on Abraham and Abraham took it like a boss.

 

Seriously, Neegan swung Lucille and dared the group not to say a word and if they did he assured them it would be to their detriment. Sasha and Rosita wept and whimpered through merciful shock and everyone’s stomach turned as they watched in complete horror. Abraham’s last words were appropriate, “Suck my nuts!”  We all felt helpless and sick. Then the unthinkable happened, Daryl lunged forward propelled by sheer emotion and punched Neegan and in return Neegan’s Lucille found its way to the top of a completely unsuspecting and unaware Glenn, as his best friends and mother of his child sobbed in horror unable to do anything.

 

By this point, I was honestly about to vomit. It felt as if I were there on the ground in the woods watching my husband being bashed over the head with a barbed wire covered ball bat. It was personal. I literally gasped in shock and sobbed as I watched Glen’s horrible demise unfold.

 

Then he got back up on his heels, with his head bashed in and his eyes popping out and he rambled like a confused child with a high fever (because he never even saw it coming) and his final words were, “Maggie, I’ll find you.” And then I died and so did he.

 

I sobbed for this character on a show, for the people he loved and for the loss of humanity.  The show will never be the same again. The moral compass has been broken and lost forever. Every single person watching it happen broke in that moment.

 

I watched the rest of the show with a heavy heart and a lot of empathy because I know what it feels like to love someone so much that you don’t remember life before they were a part of it and it’s hard to imagine living without them. It’s unthinkable. It’s terrifying and I think Maggie, Lauren Cohan, played it perfectly.

 

Dear writers, producers, and directors of the Walking Dead,

I say this as one of your biggest fans and a longtime follower please don’t ever do something this gruesome ever again. It was too much for our hearts to handle. I went to bed last night feeling broken and empty and I woke up feeling the same. I keep having flashbacks and it’s horrible. The feeling of grief is real even if the loss was just of a character on a show. Glenn was more than that to his fans and to add insult to injury, you even took the only guy who could make us laugh in the zombie apocalypse, Abraham. I’m pretty sure that I have PTSD now. P.S.The sight of Negan and Lucille makes my stomach turn.

Love,

All the Fans of The Walking Dead Ever

 

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theater, kids and the arts, Broadway, Wicked, Broadway, Theater League, Children and the arts

Feeling a little wicked this morning. Something just has my heart nostalgic for quieter times. We are caught up in the storm and chaos of everyday life. Somehow, it seems like the world just spins a little faster once school starts back. I thought things were crazy when the Big Guy and I were dating back in college. We were firing on all cylinders or so I thought. I had no idea what having children and a life together would really mean. It’s truly a beautiful mess and I love it but some days, it is a bit overwhelming so I love when we get the chance to experience something amazing and outside of ourselves together.

Hands touch, eyes meet, sudden silence, sudden heat Hearts leap in a giddy world. He could be that boy but I’m not that girl.  Don’t dream too far. Don’t lose sight of who you are. Don’t remember that rush of joy. He could be that boy. I’m not that girl. Every so often we long to steal to the land of what might have been but that doesn’t soften the ache we feel when reality sets back in. Blithe smile, lithe limb. She who’s winsome, she wins him. Gold hair with a gentle curl, that’s the girl he chose and heaven knows, I’m not that girl.  Don’t wish, don’t start. Wishing only wounds the heart. I wasn’t born for the rose and pearl. There’s a girl I know; he loves her so. I’m not that girl.

This is the lyrics from one of our favorite songs from Wicked, I’m Not That girl and now it’s a memory we will always share because we experienced it together. You know those special moments that happen when you least expect it.

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Wicked, Broadway, Theater League, Children and the arts, theater

Wicked Emerald City Tour

There are people, places and things in life that magically transport us to another time. Most of my fondest memories can be inextricably linked to lyrics to songs, lines in movies or the way I felt the first time I read powerful words movingly strung together on a page. And now, all of these beautiful moments intertwine with my daughters and there is new joy and perspective seeing life through their fresh eyes.

 

theater, kids and the arts, Broadway, Wicked, Broadway, Theater League, Children and the arts

 

One of my fondest memories as a child was watching The Wizard of Oz with my own mother, every year on Thanksgiving. Our family tradition had nothing to do with Black Friday shopping or things at all; it was about a warm, fuzzy feeling that permeated our togetherness like the lingering scent of a beautiful woman or the reassuring voice of a mother to her child in the middle of the night. Our tradition included football on the television while the food cooked, family sitting around the table sharing what they were most thankful for and then just when we are about to fall into a tryptophan induced turkey coma we’d settle down on top of one another vying for the best seat in the living room, next to my mom, and we’d, almost in a dream, watch this amazing movie. We were entranced for that entire hour and 52 minutes. It was magical.

 

theater, kids and the arts, Broadway, Wicked, Broadway, Theater League, Children and the arts

 

When I was pregnant, I knew this would be a tradition that I wanted to continue with my own children. It was going to be just as magical as when I was a child. Then while I was pregnant with my first daughter in 2004, I read Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the the West by Gregory Maguire. I was hooked. It changed my entire perspective of a favorite childhood movie. I wanted my girls to know this story. I needed my girls to know the “whole story”.

 

theater, kids and the arts, Broadway, Wicked, Broadway, Theater League, Children and the arts

 

By the way, 12 years later, I have 2 beautiful daughters who love the theater as much as I do. We’ve spent our years cuddled in front of the big screen watching my old favorite, The Wizard of Oz but I promised myself that one day I would take them to see this amazing musical that was inspired by the Wicked novel. We play the soundtrack on repeat on most morning drives to school; all of us singing at the tops of our lungs.

 

Wicked, Broadway, Theater League, Children and the arts

 

Last year, I was in New York for business and I knew I had to see Wicked on Broadway.  It was my first time actually getting to see the production. I bought whatever ticket I could find available and I went. It was more mesmerizing and magical than I could have ever imagined. It was absolutely amazing and I am not just using that term lightly. It exceeded every expectation I ever had. I left the Gershwin theater hopeful and inspired and knowing that I had to bring my family back. I didn’t even bother with souvenirs because that was almost too cruel. But when and how? We live in Indiana.

 

theater, kids and the arts, Broadway, Wicked, Broadway, Theater League, Children and the arts

 

A few months ago, I saw that Wicked was touring and I was absolutely over the moon because one of the stops was near me; only a short 1.5-hour drive. I had to make it happen. It’s just one of those situations where you know that you have to do this with your family; like watching the inauguration of the first African-American president or voting for the first woman president or seeing the Grand Canyon or the Aurora Borealis in person. It’s a gift to my children; a memory that they will never forget.

 

theater, kids and the arts, Broadway, Wicked, Broadway, Theater League, Children and the arts

 

So last Thursday, we took a little road trip on a school night and made our little girls’ dreams to see Wicked come true. Wicked is playing at the Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend, Indiana until Sunday, September 18th. If you are in the area, you should definitely get tickets and go see this amazing production.

But even if you are not, it’s touring all over the country and I’m sure Wicked is coming to a city near you.

If you live near the New York City area you can catch it at the Gershwin. It will be something you will never forget. Wicked has taken up residence in our hearts and we will never forget the night we all saw it together, not for as long as we live.

Wicked… You’ll be with me, like a handprint on my heart! Because we knew you, we have been changed for good.

 

Disclosure: I was provided media passes to the Wicked performance but the genuine love and adoration that I feel for this production are completely my own.

 

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My Daughter Taught Me an Invaluable Lesson

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is one of our family’s favorite animated movies. It has been since before we even had children. In fact, when I met my husband it may have been one of the first things we had in common; we both loved the story of Belle the beauty and how she saw past a less than beautiful exterior and saw the beauty within the beast. We both believe strongly that people’s true beauty comes from within, it has absolutely nothing to do with how someone looks.
As we got to know one another, my husband told me stories of being bullied when he was young. He’s been 6’5” since he was a freshman in high school and he was very thin. Over the years, I’ve heard his stories as they reveal themselves to me one by one and it breaks my heart that he ever felt that kind of rejection. It pains me that other people couldn’t see the beautiful person that he was even back then because they were too busy fixating on the outside.
When I look at him all I can see is a big, strong man who loves his girls fiercely, whose heart is bigger and more beautiful than any other person I know. His smile across the room when he spots me, the way his lips curl up unknowingly into a smile and his face lights up when he watches our girls do just about anything only make him more beautiful for me.
I see the man who has held me tight and lifted me up on more occasions than I can count. I see selfless sacrifice time and time again so that he can insure our happiness. When I look at him, I see the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen. That’s what I want for my daughters: to love completely and to love someone and be loved for who they are on the inside, the person they are when they think no one else is watching.
The thing is that I’m not sure that I’ve always done this myself. Before I met my husband, I was fickle and young and stupid. What I looked for in people was more about what they could do for me, how they could compliment me; make me feel better about myself and less about them. I was in my 20s and I was superficial. I had never been bullied. I was popular and I had lots of friends. I lived in a bubble. Everything was about me and I never even once considered how my actions could affect others. I am embarrassed by the person I used to be.
It’s said that we all want better for our children and that is certainly true. Not only do I want more out of their education and circumstances, I want them to benefit from the wisdom that I’ve gained from living my life. That’s why from a very young age we’ve taught our girls that true beauty comes from within themselves and others. We’ve bluntly taught them that judging someone by how they look or before having a conversation and getting to know someone is simply an ignorant thing to do and could certainly be to their detriment.
It’s something we work on daily. It’s something that we teach by example. And though my children are far from perfect, every now and then I get glimpses of the truly beautiful human beings they are becoming.
Bella, our oldest, has just entered 6th grade. 6th grade is tricky, folks. In case you’ve not been there yet with your child. It’s a magical place full of awkwardly beautiful babies in budding adult bodies. Everyone is simultaneously hideous and breathtaking at the same time. It’s like watching caterpillars morph into majestic butterflies while knocking over and breaking everything in sight. It’s helplessly watching your child being reborn into adult form over a period of a couple years. But if you watch closely, there are big changes taking place quietly on the inside too.

 

Sometimes hormones get the better of these ever changing “kidults” and sweet children become ugly beasts. They say and do things that they may not have even thought of doing the year or even the day before. I know, I’ve seen it happen in our house. But in our house, the love is unconditional; at school, that is not necessarily the case. The tween years are almost as fickle as the twenties.
I have witnessed several of my daughter’s friends pull and push away. They buck and rage against the changes. One minute they embrace them and think they are women and then the next they reject the entire idea and try desperately to hold on to who they were in the bosom of their mothers. During this self-centered centric period of growing up things are often said and done out of frustration that cause a lot of collateral damage. Unfortunately, during this in-between time, not only do children shed their little kid bodies they shed some friendships too; some are outgrown and some are irreparably damaged by what’s said during this time. It’s like they are suffering from Jekyll and Hyde syndrome and we all know how that turns out, someone is going to get hurt.
My daughter has a best friend that she’s had since she was 5. Suddenly, this girl started being mean to my daughter. I don’t even think it was bullying. She just became, for lack of a better term, cruel for the sake of being cruel. There was no calling of names but more of a general, shutting my daughter out and bluntly stating things in a way that broke my daughters heart because this was the one friend who has always been there to support her and love her. Suddenly, her rock was gone and my daughter was left confused and unsteady with no explanation.
My mama bear instinct was to tell my daughter to stop associating with this child even though I had taught my daughter to see past the superficial. Let’s be honest, if you are hurting my child, as far as I’m concerned you can drop off the face of the earth. But my daughter, at the ripe old age of 10, said something profound, “Mom, she’s always been my friend and I think she’s just confused right now. I’m not going to stop being her friend because she’s having a bad day. I’ll just give her some time to get normal again.” And that’s what she did. They didn’t speak all summer. There was no animosity. There was just space. Space to grow and get “normal” again. On the 1st day of school, her friend ran to her and hugged her like the best friends they’ve always been. There was no grudges or judgement just pure love and acceptance on both sides.
My daughter embodied the lesson we’ve been teaching her since she’s been a toddler. Like Belle, She showed me that seeing the best in people, giving them the benefit of the doubt and seeing the beauty within despite the ugly they are projecting on the outside is the most generous and caring thing we can do. The student has become the master and I couldn’t be prouder.
Celebrate Beauty And The Beast 25th Anniversary Edition on Digital HD and Blu-rayTM. You can get your copy here.

In celebration of the 25th Anniversary release, you can get a free digital story book with your purchase of Beauty and the Beast 25th Anniversary on Digital HD and Blu-rayTM. Hurry because the offer expires on 11/11/16

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all opinions are 100% my own.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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Giveaway, Beat Bugs, Netflix, Stream Team

Why is it that toddlers always want to watch the same show on repeat over and over again?

Maybe it’s something about the comfort of routine or maybe toddlers just have really addictive personalities. All I know is that there were a couple years when I thought the Wiggles were going to drive me insane. This is one of the perks of being a Netflix stream team member, there is a great variety to choose from.

But whether it’s the Wiggles, Calliou, Yo Gabba Gabba or Max and Ruby little kid’s like to sink their teeth into a show and never let it go. I can’t tell you how many times I wished there was a compromise where they loved something that wouldn’t drive me batshit crazy listening to it.  I mean why couldn’t there be a cartoon made up entirely of contemporary hits, maybe a really cool cartoon featuring 1980’s new wave music ( like an animated John Hughes movie for toddlers) or how about a kid’s show that highlighted some classic rock that we could get down with?

Giveaway, Beat Bugs, Netflix, Stream Team

Well, the wait is over, because Netflix has created a new cartoon for kids called Beat Bugs and it features not only awesome life lessons for the kiddos but the soundtrack is all Beatles all the time. What? Yes, finally we parents can be jamming out to good solid rock songs in the background as we perpetually clean the house, cook chicken nuggets or try to wrangle babies to bed. It’s a game changer. Finally, no more whining Calliou in the background adding insult to injury. Sure, I’m still holding my breath on that whole John Hughes soundtracked animated feature but Beat Bugs is definitely progress.

I watched the first few episodes with my daughters who are a little older than toddlers, 9 and 11-years old to be exact, and they both thought the cartoon was cute but they loved the soundtrack so much that they’ve been listening to it on repeat on iMusic for a couple weeks and I don’t even feel a little bit like I want to throw the speaker out of the window.

We think the music alone makes Beat Bugs great for all ages but if that’s not your cup of tea, Dawn of the Croods is back with a new season, XOXO is a great movie for tweens and for the adults, I just binge watched Blackstone, a fantastic drama series that takes place on a firsts nation reservation in Alberta, Canada.

No matter what you like to watch on Netflix, thanks to Netflix I am offering one lucky reader a 6-month free subscription card. All you need to do is enter and one lucky winner will be chosen. Mandatory entry: Share your best #BeatBugs performance in a photo or video using the hashtag and sharing the link with me here in the comments.

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Gwen Stefani, 1st concert, this is what the truth feels like, parenting, girls, milestones

I learned something life altering at the Gwen Stefani concert last Sunday.Raising girls has taught me to be a better woman. My little girls are no longer little girls. . It is beautiful and sad at the same time. On one hand, they amaze me by the young ladies they are becoming but on the other hand, to be honest, I am nostalgic for the babies who so desperately needed me. I’m torn. Happy for this new phase of real closeness that’s replacing the relationship where I got to be the hero. But, on the other hand, I do miss being the hero. Being human in your child’s eyes is both humbling and liberating but absolutely equalizing. Everybody who has ever had a child that’s grown into an adult knows this. I’m still figuring this all out.

Something strange is happening in our house, the girls are growing up and turning into actual human beings that I love spending time with. The thing  is that this is not what I expected. I based my parenting beliefs on one untruth that my daughters would naturally separate from me as they grew older. I was dreading it but this is something I was counting on saving me from dying from a broken heart when they leave for college. But, contrary to my experience with my own mother, we seem to be growing even closer as they enter these years and this scares the hell out of me. How am I to survive the pending separation in a few years?

Gwen Stefani, 1st concert, this is what the truth feels like, parenting, girls, milestones

I’m not the kind of mom who would ever keep her kids close for her own satisfaction. I had that done to me and, honestly, I think it truly altered the course of my life. No, I believe that if you love something you have to set it free. I have to give my children wings to fly, no matter how much my selfish heart wants to clip them and keep them with me forever.  The thought of not seeing their faces every single day breaks my heart. I try not to think about it too much.

Lately, I find myself catching my breath at the realization that I made this. When they were newborns, I used to be in awe of their sheer perfection. How could someone so imperfect give life to something so amazing and unscathed? But now, I sometimes watch them while they sleep and stand in silence and awe because I can’t believe these amazing humans they are becoming. It’s more than just cute and smart and funny, it’s big hearts with passionate minds and an openness that blows my heart wide open. They’ve been living in this world and they actively pursue goodness. They strive to love in a world filled with so much hate. They inspire me to be better. Then I’m stopped in my tracks when I realize they are reflections of their father and I and that’s wow. HUGE!

Gwen Stefani, 1st concert, this is what the truth feels like, parenting, girls, milestones

I remember being thrilled with each passing milestone; each defiant act of independence made my heart explode a little bit. The thing is this summer, there has been a huge shift happening, one I never anticipated…my girls are becoming human beings that I really enjoy being around. I thought I’d never be able to love them more than when they were sweet little newborns and toddlers and depended on me for survival but there is certainly something to be said for your children choosing to be around you rather than just needing to for survival.

This summer has brought some slight physical changes in my girls, things I won’t talk about because it’s my blog and not my story to tell, but I will say at a time when most girls begin to shut their mom’s out, my girls seem to be turning to me for guidance. Yep, I am as baffled by this as you because when I was a tween and I started “changing” I shut my mom out, first thing. But instead, they’re coming to me with questions, and for hugs and guidance.

Somewhere between the last day of school, all of these little changes have been happening very subtly. My cute little caterpillars are changing like whispers into butterflies. We have real conversations about real things and they listen and want my advice. It’s almost overwhelming because I was prepared for battle and instead, I’ve found allies. I didn’t think it was possible to love them any more than I already did but I was wrong. The bond is getting deeper.

Gwen Stefani, 1st concert, this is what the truth feels like, parenting, girls, milestones

The changes are small, minute almost, but they are definite. Suddenly, my baby is almost as tall as me and her feet are only a size smaller than mine. We can shop from the same stores and in the same departments but the thing that surprised me the most is that instead of wanting to be nothing like me, they want to be exactly like me. I don’t deny them this because they could definitely have worse role models. Sometimes I feel a little embarrassed when the oldest wants to dress alike because I’m sure the perception by strangers is that I’m trying to look younger by dressing like my daughter. That’s definitely not the case. I think, in her way, she uses it as a way to pull closer to me at a time when she feels herself naturally pulling away.

It’s a whole host of moments that have happened this summer. The kind that you’d miss if you weren’t paying attention. Moving into the juniors department and leaving the kid’s department behind. A new perspective and dedication to the things they love, not that of a fickle child but of a determined young lady. Suddenly, they are spending more time at the side of the pool talking to me on a lounge chair than cannon balling. Then there are the glances from boys that I don’t think they even notice, but I see it happening.

They are finally cool enough to enjoy Gwen Stefani in concert!

Their taste in music has improved drastically. We’ve long been past the days of the Wiggles and YoGabbaGabba (well, not too long they will still listen if a CD finds its way into the cd player) but they have been comfortably smack dab in Radio Disney land and that’s ok. They love pop music but suddenly they are developing a taste for alternative and rock and and an openness to all kinds of music (like myself). In fact, we took them to their first ever concert (that wasn’t a kid’s group) to see Gwen Stefani and her This is what the truth feels like tour and they loved it and we loved seeing them love it. It was definitely a moment that I will never forget.

School starts back next week and I’m honestly sad to see our summer together over. The school year brings with it obligations, rehearsals and a full schedule. We literally have one free day a week. I only have 7 more years, 7 more summers with my oldest in my house before she leaves for college and I can tell you definitely, it is not even near enough.

They say childhood goes by fast but in those first few days holding your newborn, you can never imagine just how fast. It’s a flash and I think if you do it right, when the time comes to send your child out into the world, it will break your heart into a million pieces but you will be able to take peace in the fact that they know you will always be their home and you are always there if they need to come home. At least that is what I’m believing from my short 11 years of parenting.

What was  your Gwen Stefani moment this summer with your kids?

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tallulah, parenting, mom wars

Sometimes, I’m not going to lie, I want to quit this shitty job. Being a mom sucks hard… but then it doesn’t. There are other moments when it’s so amazing that I just want to smother mother the shit out of my kids as my helicopter parenting skills buzz above us because they are so freaking, heartbreakingly awesome. We’ve all been here, both here’s, right? But then there are other moments when I miss the hell out of Debi BC (before children), you know, that glorious broad who got to sleep in until she just woke up, roll out of bed and went to lunch with friends and got to eat actual hot food, pee alone and not worry about keeping anyone alive but herself? Oh that lucky lady. I’m so jealous of who I used to be, but then I couldn’t be who I am, the mother to two of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever known. Most days anyways.

When you have kids, your life doesn’t just change, your perspective on everything changes. You are living life looking at everything through mom goggles. That is where I am now and it’s where I’ll always be. Things that didn’t seem to register before (what school district I lived in) are now big deals, and things that were really important to me (having a night life with friends and being in the know) are so unimportant to me now that I could care less what’s cool and what’s not. I just want a good world for my children.

I want to raise good children and I want to be the best mother that I can be. You might be better or worse at being a mother but I’m trying my damnest not to measure myself against you because the truth is if we all measure ourselves against each other life is shit for all of us, especially our kids. I don’t want to make myself feel like a better mother by shaming another mother, I’d prefer to just do my own best to be a good mother in my children’s eyes.

I just had the pleasure of screening the movie Tallulah written by Sian Heder and all I can say is WOW!

No matter what kind of mom you are, aspire to be or thought you would be, you can relate.  And better than that, you can get a little perspective by living a moment from the viewpoint of someone else’s shoes, while knowing a little about how they got that perspective in the first place. Honestly, there were three main characters; Margo, Tallulah and Carolyn; and I could identify with each one of them. I have been all three of them. I’m not sure what that says about me, but I found myself wanting to hug and shake and then hug again each woman.

Tallulah is the story of three very different women whose lives intersect through the impulsive and well-intentioned kidnapping of a child. It’s a story about motherhood, about looking for a mother and becoming a mother. But mostly it’s a story about humanity, about the blurry lines of morality and deeply flawed human behavior. It’s a story that has no clear answer or cut and dry solution, but instead makes you care about each and every person involved, no matter how wrong their actions seemed. It’s a conversation about responsibility.

Tallulah is a movie that lives on the fringe of judgment, that feeling that not all women are meant to be mothers. As a mother, we all have times when we feel like we are flailing and failing. But that doesn’t make us a villain or a bad mom. Tallulah doesn’t have good people and bad people. There were only people doing their best with the limited emotional tools that they had and often making bad choices. Lonely people. People whose families had failed them; who were looking for some kind of connection in an increasingly disconnected world.

Tallulah is about motherhood from different perspectives because no two mothers are alike, just as no two children are alike. We are all just trying to do our best. There is no time for shaming one another. We need to take that energy and direct it towards helping one another do our best for our children, not judging and condemning one another.

Motherhood is hard enough as it is without us judging one another. For better perspective, check out Tallulah.

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Disney, Elena of Avalor, Latina, Princess

Elena of Avalor is a princess for my little girls. Latinas, how long have we been waiting for a Latina princess to share with our daughters? Seems like a lifetime, right? The closest we’ve had has been Dora and she’s not even a princess. She was a little explorer with a blue monkey in wellies but we loved her because she was all we had at the time, when my girls were babies.

Then a few years back, we were super excited about Sophia the First but that kind of fizzled and, while she is adorable and my niece’s favorite princess, she is not really Latina in any discernable way, unless you count her brown hair.

Well, no more. She is here. Disney’s new Elena of Avalor is an animated series that follows the story of Elena, a brave and adventurous teenager who saves her kingdom from an evil sorceress and must now learn to rule as crown princess until she is old enough to be queen. Set in Avalor, an enchanted fairytale kingdom inspired by diverse Latin cultures and folklore, Elena’s journey will lead her to understand that her new role requires thoughtfulness, resilience and compassion, the traits of all truly great leaders.

Disney, Elena of Avalor, Latina, Princess

Elena of Avalor is a princess for every little Latina girl.

I am excited for Elena and so are my girls but, honestly, I am reserving judgement for after I see a few episodes and see just what Disney did with their first ever Latina princess. I want to see if she is really a true representation of a Latina girl. Is she someone my daughters can look to and recognize themselves? Or is she simply like every other princess but with a slightly tanner complexion? These things are important to me and my daughters and they matter.

I’ve watched two episodes and I love the focus of the importance of family. I love the fact that her grandparents call her mija and they play guitars like my father, my daughters and I. I also loved that they made it all begin when she was 15, which is a very important year for a Latina girl because it is the year of our Quincinera. This is especially exciting for my girls because they are already planning their quincineras that are 4 and 6 years away.

One of my most favorite things is that the people of Avalor, though Latino, are all different shades of skin tone, hair and eyes and that is more realistic than most portrayals on television. I also really appreciate the references to Latino culture and language. In fact, my daughters said, “They only got one thing wrong…our Grandpa Manny doesn’t have grey hair.”

Disney, Elena of Avalor, Latina, Princess

Meanwhile, I know all the little Latina girls are going to want to get their hands on Elena of Avalor merchandise because, you know how we Latinas are, we support one another and we really want to love Elena. I just hope she can live up to our expectations. I had the opportunity to get my hands on a few pieces and my daughters really loved them. They really love the “Sister Time” song and love both Elena and Isabel.

Hasbro provided me with three dolls from the Elena of Avalor collection for review purposes.

My girls are loving them and I have partnered with Hasbro to giveaway a gift pack of Elena of Avalor prize pack for that special little girl in your life.

Disney, Elena of Avalor, Latina, Princess

*Disney Elena of Avalor and Skyler 2-Pack; ages 3 years & up; $34.99

*Disney My Time Singing Elena of Avalor Doll; ages 3 years & up; $29.99

*Disney Elena of Avalor Doll; ages 3 years & up; $14.99

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To enter to win all you have to do is subscribe to my newsletter and leave a comment below telling me what you love the most about Disney’s newest princess Elena of Avalor.

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binge watch, Bloodline, Family Travel, Netflix, orange is the new black, travel, stream team

Being a parent is a 24 hour a day, 7-day a week, 365 days a week “job” and if it weren’t for being able to sneak away to Netflix for some “me” time, I’m not sure how I’d survive it. Believe me when I tell you that I am very happy to be a part of Netflix’s stream team. Some people have hobbies or second jobs, I have Netflix to escape reality. As a parent, you are never truly off duty. Never. I feel like my life is a constant game of memory (because I’m always putting things up away from the children then trying to find it when I need it again) and hide-and-go-seek on the world’s longest loop. It is exhausting trying to not mess your kids up, filling childhood with memories and happiness while not being allowed to lose your sh*t (be human).

My girls are 9 and 11-years-old and I feel like the pregnancy brain, morphed into mommy brain and now, I have the worst case of “My kids have got to be at 27 different places at the same time, I can’t even remember where my keys are or why I walked into this room” brain ever. I think I’ll bide my time here until senility sets in.

A couple weeks ago we took our summer vacation to the East Coast and there were two consecutive days when I was confined to a hotel room with my girls. They were bored. I was trying to work and basically, it all ended in a case of too much of a good thing. I really needed a day off when we got back. Honestly, there is nothing quite like being locked in a room with kids to make you painfully aware of how precious “me” time is because when limited to one singular room, any parent will tell you…there is no escape. It’s like prison, only the bars are parenthood and social etiquette.

binge watch, Bloodline, Family Travel, Netflix, orange is the new black, travel, stream team

To get some time alone, I stayed up later than the entire family and binge watched Season 2 of Bloodline on Netflix.

By the way, this season of Bloodline was awesome. I swear, I think Danny was in this episode even more than last season which was ironic since… well,  I don’t want to spoil anything but if you watch, you know what I’m talking about!

At home, I can simply saunter off to my office or hide out in my bedroom, closet, back deck, bathroom…you get the point? But when you are trapped in a one room abode, there is no escaping. Heck, the bathroom at our hotel was one of those cool, sliding barn doors made out of green glass. It looked amazing but it had one fatal flaw; no lock.

binge watch, Bloodline, Family Travel, Netflix, orange is the new black, travel, stream team

In case you were wondering, and if you are a parent yourself you aren’t, staying up alone late at night did give me some “me” time but it was a temporary fix because eventually, I needed to sleep later than they did and so by the end of the week, I was exhausted and they were ready to go early in the morning which resulted in the inevitable, “What are we going to do today? I’m bored!” chorus that they chanted incessantly, in their little kitty voices in that ONE room. I don’t know how the pioneers did it with their one room houses.

After our 15-hour drive home from Boston, I was feeling kind of burnt out. Like our 9-day vacation was too much. Moms you know what I mean. I was on constantly. Suddenly, I felt like I had newborns again because of all the time and attention they were requiring, only they are 9 and 11 and almost as tall as me and I haven’t been in newborn/toddler mode in years. It was hard. It was like I was looking at young adults but they were usurping every ounce of energy out of me because I was their entertainment, all the time.

We got home and the exhaustion was compounding with no end in sight. Then my Mother-in-Law (God bless her) called and offered to take the girls for not one but two days. (Is it just me or did you just hear choirs of angels singing too when you read that last sentence?) I gladly obliged, I mean who am I to keep a Grandma from her granddaughters?

The first night they left just happened to coincide with the release of the new season of Orange is the New Black (OITNB) on Netflix. I am a super fan so I was super excited. I was able to indulge in an interrupted binge watch of the first few episodes. Good thing because this season is really engaging. It had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone but expect the unexpected and there will be tears of laughter and sadness.

binge watch, Bloodline, Family Travel, Netflix, orange is the new black, travel, stream team

The first day, the Big Guy took a vacation day so we slept in and had a day date. We went out for lunch to Cheddars, then we went to see The Conjuring (which is creepy and fantastically scary in the best possible way) followed by getting ourselves one of those new Caramel Espresso Granitas from Starbucks because we never get to just walk around the mall like teenagers or cool couples without children sipping on the latest Starbucks concoctions ( I really wanted to order the Pink Drink off the secret menu but I was afraid the pimply faced barista behind the counter would give me the stink eye because I’m over 22) and then, shopped in peace and silence at Von Maur

After spending a sufficient amount of time and money on ourselves, we headed home, picked up take away for dinner and just were. Remember what it feels like to just exist without it being for the soul purpose of serving little people? It was absolutely amazing.

The second day, we slept in again and after slowly sipping hot coffee got dressed and ran a few errands. Thought we were cool because we even managed to fit in grocery shopping for the week and then we got into a fender bender in the parking lot. That kind of ruined the mojo of the day but we were so well rested and happy, we just smiled like fools and handed the kid we crashed with our insurance card. It’s amazing how your perspective changes when you get to sleep.

That evening, before the girls came home, the Big Guy played Call of Duty and I watched a few more episodes of OITNB. Turns out, we both needed “me” time, “us” time and lots of sleep. By the end of the 48 hours, we both actually really missed our girls and I think they missed us too. It was good for everyone.

The thing is when you go on vacation, you usually come home needing a break from your life because vacation usually means running all over like a chicken with your head cut off, just in a different location. We all needed some time apart, we all needed sleep and now we are all much happier especially since last night, I finished the last episode of season 4 of OITNB but of course, that makes me sad too because no I have to wait a year for the next season. I have no self-control. I’m like a kid left alone in a room full of candy. Don’t ever ask the kid why he ate all the candy, ask yourself, why did you leave a kid alone in a room full of candy. OITNB is my candy.

What do you do during your “me” time to relax? Let me know in the comments below. Do you shop until you drop? Do you sleep in until you wake up on your own? Do you have a hobby?

Do you have a favorite show on Netflix to binge watch?

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cirque du soleil, Kurios, Boston, travel

I’ve taken my family to the Cirque du Soleil live on three different occasions and we’ve seen every DVD available. The first time I saw a live Cirque du Soleil was on my honeymoon in 1999.Since then, Cirque du Soleil has held a special place in my heart and in our family so when I heard Cirque du Soleil Kurios was touring in Boston at the same time we would be there, I knew we had to see the show.

Cirque du Soleil KuriosCabinet of Curiosities is live under the Grand Chapiteau (Big Top) at Suffolk Downs from May 26th –July 10, 2016.

You can either get your tickets online or you can stop by South Market and pick up your tickets while spending the day at Faneuil Hall. Whatever you do, you don’t want to miss this show.

Cirque du Soleil “Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities” is about as close to a transporter device as you can get. Step into the Grand Chapiteau and you immediately enter a magical world. There are 426 props in the show, the most of any production in Cirque du Soleil’s history. Some 65 trucks transport close to 2,000 tons of equipment for KURIOS™ – Cabinet of Curiosities.

This world is simultaneously a retro and futuristic version of a mad scientist’s lab all at once. It’s a mechanized world of the future with people of the 1920’s, at once wondrous and nostalgic. The steampunk ambiance only serves to make this Cirque du Soleil even more astonishing.

From the moment we pulled back the tent flaps, we were transported to another dimension. The energy at a Cirque du Soleil show is palpable. I’ve had the luxury of going behind the scenes on occasion and I am even more mystified of the magic that happens on stage after knowing all the hard work and determination that goes into a show. The 116 tour members come from 22 different countries. Some have been touring with Cirque du Soleil for more than 20 years. All performers are responsible for applying their own make-up every show, which can take them between 40 minutes to two hours. These performers make the near impossible and gravity defying look easy.

When you walk in, the dull gleam of metal is everywhere, from the portal through which the performers materialize to the masses of industrial-duty gears ready to clank into motion in every direction. Towering automated music-making machines cobbled together from giant glass globes, metal bracing and junkyard’s worth of unusual finds adorn the stage defying reason and logic.

The Cirque du Soleil Kurios show, in the Suffolk Downs parking lot, reinvents the wheel.

Anyone who has seen more than one Cirque du Soleil knows that there are certain expectations that will always be met. For example, there will always be a clown who makes you simultaneously think and belly laugh on their witty commentary of society. There will always be amazing aerial ballet (one of my favorite acts) and there will always be incredible acrobats and a trapeze or trampoline act that will blow your freaking mind. This time, even the most familiar acts (13 in total) had new twists and left me gasping and clapping so hard in my seat that by the end of the show, my voice was gone from woo-hooing and my hands were exhausted and sore from extreme clapping. (It’s a thing, look it up.)

cirque du soleil, Kurios, Boston, travel

The show starts with the band parading through the audience. My daughters are obsessed with the live music (both being violinists) and fell fast and hard for the singer, Eirini Tornesaki. I know because I had the privilege of listening to the soundtrack for Kurios for our 15-hour drive home from Boston.

cirque du soleil, Kurios, Boston, travel

A solo trapeze act is performed not from a bar but from a suspended bicycle (Anne Weissbecker).

cirque du soleil, Kurios, Boston, travel

 

Meanwhile, the Russian cradle duo perform 13 feet above the ground as the strongman turns into a human trapeze.

cirque du soleil, Kurios, Boston, travel

The rola bola, balancing atop stacked cylinders, is taken aloft on a levitating platform (James Eulises Gonzalez Correa).

cirque du soleil, Kurios, Boston, travel

The aerial straps are commanded by muscular Siamese twins who magically detach when airborne yet perform in perfect tandem while synchronized with perfect timing (Roman and Vitali Tomanov). Every act more exciting than the last.

One of my husband’s favorite acts was the clown (Facundo Gimenez.) He is a miracle of transformation as he changes from a Lothario trying to seduce an audience member to a parrot, a Tyrannosaurus Rex ( our favorite) and ultimately into a feline which is given to hairball hacks and cat-box indiscretions.

cirque du soleil, Kurios, Boston, travel

“Kurios,” like all Cirque du Soleil shows, inspires wonder, awe, excitement and suspense and will leave you feeling like the impossible is possible. My daughters have both decided that they want to run away with the circus…well, the Cirque du Soleil, anyways. I can’t blame them; I want to too. We are completely enamored with all things Kurios. I’m using it as an excuse to encourage them to practice their violin, ballet and gymnastics more.

“Kurios,” times vary, but generally 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 4:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1:30 and 5:00 p.m. Sundays. Ends July 10. Prices vary but currently are about $40-$165, not including VIP packages. (877) 924-7783 or www.cirquedusoleil.com/kurios. Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes with a brief intermission between halves.

If you can’t catch this amazing show in Boston, fret not. Kurios is touring and I’m sure it will coming to a city near you soon. Next up, Washington D.C. opening July 21, New York City opening September 29 and then on to Miami!

Disclosure: I was provided media passes to see Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities but all opinions and love for all things Cirque du Soleil are my own.

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Stream Team, National Siblings Day, Netflix

April 10th was National Siblings day. I grew up with 6 brothers and sisters so siblings are a big part of my life and I have always stressed to my girls how important their sister is. I loved being part of a big family but it definitely made things like going out to eat or watching television difficult, especially considering at one point my parents had 5 teenagers and 1 television in the house. There were a lot of us in a small space so we learned how to compromise and share. I like to think those “hard times” made us better people.

This was back in the 80’s so there was no running to your tablet; laptop or desktop computer to watch something else if you didn’t like what was being featured on the main screen. I mean, there was only 1 screen! Gasp. This was a time before Netflix, Hulu or Amazon prime existed and we didn’t even have cable. I’m not even sure how we survived.

As children, we learned hard lessons about democracy and majority rule. That’s probably why I became a political scientist; I know that every vote counts. I know that staying silent is giving up your right to be heard on important matters; like which movie to watch Purple Rain or Weekend at Bernies.

Stream Team, National Siblings Day, Netflix

It was so stressful that I got a job the minute I was old enough, just so I could buy a TV of my own! Then I hoarded it in my room and watched whatever I wanted to. I went rogue, I even saved up and bought a VCR. I used to let my brothers and sisters watch tv in my room in exchange for them doing my chores. Being the owner of a television in a house where there was only one other one was power.

Anyways, honestly, if my dad was home we had to watch Univision and if my mom had control of the television it was usually tuned in to General Hospital or Dynasty. It was torturous being a teen in the 80s, what with having to have a personality and hang out with actual friends. If you got really lucky, you’d get a friend who had cable and was a latch key kid.

Stream Team, National Siblings Day, Netflix

These days we have televisions and devices in every room of the house. Honestly, devices outnumber people 3 to 1 in our home. Anyone can watch whatever they want, whenever they want.

Thanks to my wonky gallbladder and surgery, I got to spend a lot of time watching Netflix. Thankfully, I am a Netflix Stream Team member so I felt productive even while I was binge watching some awesome shows. I found a lot of new and exciting shows to watch and I thought how fun it would be to binge watch these shows with my sisters and brothers, now as adults. Even though we could technically be spread out all over the house, there is nothing like sharing the experience of a great show; laughing, crying and thinking.

Stream Team, National Siblings Day, Netflix

This month there are lots of awesome shows that the entire family can agree on, no matter the age or taste in shows. A few of my favorites for adult siblings are The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Lost and Found, The RANCH ( a new favorite), American Odyssey, Flaked, Love, The Returned and River. There is something for everyone.

My husband, our daughters and I like to watch television as a family. I guess it’s leftover from my deprived childhood of living in a house with only one television. The same way we always eat dinner together every night. It’s not just a habit; it is a choice we made as a family because it’s important to us to spend that time sharing experiences, our day and air. Children grow up quickly and all of these seemingly inconsequential moments count. But sometimes finding something age appropriate that holds the attention of all of us, is a real challenge but this month we found a few we really loved like Lost and Found, Dance Academy, Girl Meets World and also, Grease and the Princess Bride!

What is your favorite show to binge watch on Netflix?

 

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