Why did you make me play second base?”
The quote above is from the 1989 film ‘Parenthood,’ directed by Ron Howard. ‘Why did you make me play second base?!’ is what young boy Kevin cries out to his father Gil (played by the masterful Steve Martin) after he causes his baseball team to lose the game. Gil, a staunch fan of America’s favorite pasttime puts his unskilled boy in the position of second base and Kevin plays rather badly, causing an embarrassing loss for his teammates.
I was at Chuck E. Cheese recently, watching a toddler relative ball her eyes out in horror as she saw the live Chuck E. in front of her for the first time ever.
It got me thinking about how often adults put children in situations that the children themselves hate. And we just don’t seem to get it. We assume they’ll love it. Or we feel like said situation is a milestone, and we have to snap a picture of it for posterity.
When I was at the mall once years ago, I walked into the Disney store and saw an awesome Incredibles-themed Halloween costume. My nephew was a baby at the time but I bought the costume anyway for next Halloween. It hung in his closet patiently. I waited impatiently for next Halloween to come, knowing he would be so unbelievably excited about wearing that costume. Boy was I disappointed. He hated the damn thing. In fact, he cried miserably the whole time that he had it on. Cried miserably until we took it off him and dressed him in his—get this—Incredibles pajamas. So he wore Pjs for his first trick-or-treating, and was as happy as a boy could be.
Why do so many of us psych ourselves out about these perceived milestones in kids’ lives? Many of us react with sadness, disappointment or even anger when the kids don’t react how they’re “supposed to.” I’ve been guilty on a few occasions of building up of emotion and excitement before an event—imagining the expression on my beloved nephew’s little face the first time he enters the gates at Disney World, imagining how he’ll react when I take him trick-or-treating for the first time, imagining his reaction when I introduce him to larger-than-life Mickey for the first time at the Magic Kingdom. I’m now convinced that my nephew (and most kids for that matter) can sense it and reacts with anti-excitement just to show me who’s boss. Rightly so too—I’m not master of his emotions, nor will I ever be.
So in this post, I’ve including some pictures of these milestones-gone-awry. There are teary faces. There are eyes squeezed shut and mouths wide open, and you can hear the screams coming out of the photographs. These pictures make me laugh really hard and there’s something I admire about those upset faces, whose defiant expressions read, ‘nope, I don’t like it and I’m not gonna like it, no matter what you say.’ Kiddie protest, if you will; the precursor to armed struggle.
Hope these tears bring a smile to your face!
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
- Kahlil Gibran
“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.” – Ben Franklin
Hi lovely people!
I tried a new wine recently that I’ve added to my spring/summer winelist. After a nice day at Oleta River State Park , the hubby and I were walking around at Whole Foods picking up dinner for a lazy, no-cook evening and we headed to the chilled wines and both pairs of eyes were drawn to the same cheapie ($6.99!) bottle of white wine with the gorgeous and happy springy label that we had never seen before. Well, it was beyond white really—unlike Chardonnay and Pinot grigio and other popular whites, it’s practically clear. We actually both murmured “Ooooh” simultaneously. So cheesy, I know. My husband and I both love and appreciate all kinds of wine but I more often seek out whites, champagnes and rosés, while he’s heavily into reds. Even with our respective preferences though, we almost always find a wine that makes us both happy.
This particular wine, ‘Opala Vinho Verde,’ is from Portugal. “Vinho verde” translates directly into “green wine,” so called because the grapes are picked young, and the wine is meant to be drunk within a roughly a year of bottling. The label promised a “crisp, refreshing, light white wine.” It has a lower alcohol content than most wines—just 9% by volume, as opposed to the average 12-13%.
Dinner was a fillet of flounder lightly breaded, along with a light orzo. It was just a bit warm outside. Opened the bottle and noticed right away that the wine was slightly fizzy. I was happy already. The wine was deee-lish. Kind of citrusy and grassy. A perfect balance between dry and subtle sweetness. It’s perfect for warmer weather and for lighter food. But truth be told, I won’t discriminate—I could drink this with brunch, lunch or dinner, during an August evening or a December afternoon. This bubbly vinho verde goes down easy. REAL easy. And a nice, easily-likable wine for under $10! In this day and age, how great is that?
Happy wine-ing all!
A couple of nights ago, my hubby and I were driving home and I slammed on my brakes to avoid hitting a black cat that darted out into the street. My hubby immediately spit into his shirt (the traditional Romanian response to a run-in with a black cat). Immediately disturbed and distressed by the sight of the creature, I kept on driving in silence. I then asked my husband a minute later if the cat was all black. He tried to reassure me that it wasn’t–that he may have seen some gray marks near its paws, or a white patch on its stomach. I rolled my eyes and accused him of lying just to make me feel better. He admitted that he wasn’t sure, that indeed it may have been completely black. About thirty seconds later, I rolled my eyes again–at myself–for having such a ridiculous reaction towards the beautiful black feline that crossed our paths and it got me thinking about how strongly engrained some everyday superstitions are.
In ancient times, Babylonians had an extreme aversion to black cats–they likened them to serpents because of the way they liked to curl up and rest near warm places. Of course, I’m sure gray cats, white cats, and striped cats do that same damn thing, so why black kitties bore the brunt of this prejudice remains a mystery.
In Western culture, black cats have long been considered a bad omen. Ever since the Middle Ages, black cats were considered creatures beloved by witches. Their black coloring made them the perfect cohorts in witchcraft since they couldn’t be seen in the dark. This belief stayed strong in the New World as early settlers here were obsessed with rooting out witchcraft.
It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” ~Charles Dickens
Happy Spring Season, lovely readers! I know it’s been a particularly long winter for many; some of you witnessed ultra-thick blankets of snow this year.
Blessed springtime is here. It’s a mild 73-degree sunny day in Hallandale Beach. It might still be a tad chilly where you are, but if it doesn’t warm up quickly soon, you could always make like a bird and fly South.
In the coming days and weeks, the quintessential representation of spring–the cherry blossom–will bloom, calling to mind and heart springtime’s beauty at its best.
Roughly two weeks later, these delicate flowers will fall from these magical trees, reminding us how temporary the wonders of nature can be.
Luckily for most of us, spring lasts longer than two weeks. In South Florida, we’ll enjoy plenty of sunny days in the coming weeks and months. But by middle or late spring, most of the people I know down here will have closed their windows and doors to run the AC 24/7. Once summer arrives, warmth will have given way to high heat and high humidity. By then, the only thing I’ll really want to be doing outside during the day is pouring refrigerated gallons of water on myself.
So because down here in South Florida, mild weather is as fleeting as a cherry blossom, I’m determined to celebrate the gorgeous spring season with outdoor activities. Here’s my list of five musts for Spring 2010:
#1 – There must be at least one picnic.
#2 – There must be swimming. Preferably in saltwater. For those of you further inland, fresh water will do if there’s no sea closeby. And if you’re in a desert-like area, you can play in the sprinklers. Ignore the stares from your neighbor.
#3 – There must be kite-flying. I never did this growing up, and feel that Spring 2010 is the time to start.
#4 – There must be a barbecue. Not at my house though–I live in a condo with strict no-grilling rules. But if you invite me and my other half over to use your grill, we’ll gladly bring the very best cuts of meat.
#5 – There must be sowing. I plan to grow my first batch of watermelon this year. I actually don’t like to eat watermelon–but my husband and family love it, I’d really like to succeed at it, and in the words of Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, “in the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” I intend to plant the seeds at my parents’ house since they have a backyard. Hopefully at the end of summer 2010, some people (other than myself) will be enjoying the sweet juicy flesh of homegrown melon.
Do any of you have springtime traditions? Please share!
Let’s consider our earliest forays into the world of poetry. Most of us first learned nursery rhymes early on in childhood. Some of the lullabies, rhyming songs and simple poems that we memorized as little children in North America have been around for centuries– “Jack & Jill,” “Hickory Dickory Dock,” and “This Little Piggy” are just a few from the multitude of well known rhymes from the mid-18th century. “Little Miss Muffet” and “Humpty Dumpty” came to us in the early 19th century.
As we got older, we learned about ABAB rhyme schemes, haikus and limericks, then eventually free verse and iambic pentameter—just some examples from the vastly diverse world of poetry. In school, we even had to compose some poetry. There wasn’t much emphasis on whether the poetry was good or not. In fact, teachers often communicated the idea that poetry could be just about anything, that it wasn’t good or bad. Understandable–we don’t want to discourage a child from being creative. Continue reading
One of my favorite TV shows is the FOX series ’24.’ I’ve got mad love for Jack Bauer and his unconditional unabashed love for the USA. 24 likes to delve into some dark matters—torture, politics, and terrorism among other things.
Fortunately in the current season, Day 8, we’ve had a couple of things to take our minds off the heavy stuff, thanks to the Hassan brothers of the fictional Republic of Kamistan. Namely, pull-out-all-the-hairspray-you-can-find, Zohan-worthy hairstyles. Please note Exhibit A:
And please take note of Exhibit B:
Thanks for the giggles, gentlemen!
**Note** March 15, 2011: This is a post I had put out when I first started my blog in early 2010. I’ve decided to re-post it for its upcoming relevance. Have a pleasant 17th of March!
Every March 17th, masses of people celebrate “Saint Patrick’s Day.” It’s a day for wild boozin’, pub-hopping and partying in the streets. Oh, and the color green. But was the 17th always the Guinness-filled day that it is today? I enjoy holiday celebrations as much as the next person, but I’m more intrigued by the meanings and history behind them.
This ‘Patrick’ whom we celebrate so raucously every mid-March was a man who knew a thing or two about suffering during the course of his lifetime. Though he was born to wealthy Roman citizens of Britain, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders. They brought him to Ireland and made him a slave at the age of sixteen. He became very introverted, generally retreating from people and spending most of his time herding animals. Christian since birth, he became extremely devout during this trying time in his life.
After six years as a slave, he escaped from his captors, managing not only to find passage back to Britain, but also to be reunited with his family. He claims to have had a dream that inspired him to return to Ireland to minister to the Irish people. He stayed in Britain to become ordained as a priest and eventually as a bishop, a path of religious training that took over fifteen years. He went back to Ireland and spent the rest of his years in poverty, preaching the Gospel, building Churches, converting many people to Christianity, and traveling extensively. On March 17 of the year 461 (the year is debated, but most scholars settle on 461 AD give or take a few), this determined man’s heart gave out on the Emerald Isle.
Well, Florida’s always sending out its share of ultra-bizarre stories. So it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that this week, a guy from Miami got in trouble for feeding raw snail goo to his followers. Yup, that’s right. The Miami Herald reports that allegedly this guy in Hialeah went on a trip and brought back some giant East African snails in his suitcase. Highly illegal? Check. These snails in particular, a member of the Achatina fulica species, are especially invasive—they’re known to ravage several hundred species of plants (including citrus), and they even like to munch on our plaster and stucco walls. Oh, and they reproduce like mad—roughly 200 eggs at a time, five or six times a year.
According to the Miami Herald story, this Miami guy is a sort of religious leader who says he practices a traditional African religion. He claims that in his religion it is customary to drink snail juice to cure ills. Unfortunately for him, in Hialeah drinking raw snail juice seems to be having the opposite effect—apparently his followers have been getting extremely sick, have been losing a ton of weight and have been noticing lumps on their stomachs. Grossness factor? 10 to the 10th power.
I’ll bet $100 that 99.9% of the people who got sick off this stuff would never order Escargot off a menu. But they were fine with hanging out in a man’s backyard in Hialeah and believing that drinking raw snail mucus would help them feel better. Raw. Snail. Mucus. Backyard in Hialeah.
All jokes aside, I’d like to wish the folks involved a speedy recovery. It can’t be fun dealing with mystery tummy ailments–lumps on the stomach, good God, what’s that about–so I hope their doctors figure out what’s wrong and get them better soon. And for any Floridians reading this, if you see giant African snails walking around, please call the Florida Department of Agriculture at 1-888-397-1517 and report it. The authorities don’t consider these snails a nuisance—they take their presence and any threat of infestation quite seriously. For more extensive and helpful information about the giant African snail in Florida, please check out this good article from the Orlando Sentinel.
It’s not a figment of the imagination—drivers really have gotten worse over the years. Of course, the sheer number of drivers on the road these days has drastically increased over the last half-century, so bad vehicular behavior is bound to rear its ugly head quite often.
But while bad driving exists everywhere, it’s reached special heights in South Florida. Down here, the extent of personal interpretation of traffic law knows no bounds. And not only do we have our own badass American drivers, we also happily host badass drivers from all over the hemisphere who bring their own sense of surprise and adventure to I-95 and our local roads every day.
I decided to hammer out my own little list that can help you identify…
Ten Traffic Occurrences That Let You Know You’re on a South Florida Road:
1 – The driver in front of you sees that bright yellow ‘Yield’ sign, but to him, it’s just a way to bring in a nice sunny shade of yellow to an otherwise bland gray and black street, so he ignores it.
2 – The driver next to you is drifting into your lane. You take a look into the car to see who would dare do such a thing and realize that she’s drifting into your lane because she’s texting.
3 – You’re in the left lane and need to move over into the right lane. So you turn on your Right signal. As soon as you do this, the driver behind you at the 5:00 angle speeds up to make sure it’s impossible for you to move over.
4 – The driver across from you at the 4-way stop slows down and drives through the stop sign at 25-30 miles per hour because those red signs are actually just a formality letting drivers know that they ought to slow down.
5 – You’ve got a migraine, but the driver next to you wants to help you take your mind off it. So he turns the volume way up on his subwoofer. He figures the bass will rattle your car enough to soothingly vibrate your body. Screw the melody, the rest of the instrumentation, the lyrics and the voice—you only like that song cuz of the bass anyway.
6 – Watch the lady on your left at the next intersection; she’s worried about taking her turn too sharply, so before she turns left, she’s going to swing out to the right. Yes, right into your lane.
7 – You’re on a major road, and there’s a driver in front of you who’s going to be making a right turn. She’s going to decelerate to roughly, oh, zero miles per hour first, hence making a full stop on this busy street. If you pass her by on the left and turn towards her, you’ll see that she’s just one of our many 108-year-old Floridians who still manage to get their drivers licenses renewed every year!
8 – Move over to the right to avoid driving over that dead rooster in the middle of the road. This is very, very, very much a South Florida/Caribbean thing. Google, and you’ll understand.
9 – You’re trying to exit a parking lot, and there’s a beat-up two-door Honda Civic just next to you blocking your view. I know, I know—it’s totally annoying that you can’t see through the tinted-completely-black windows of that old car, but just think how exciting—it could be Johnny Depp or Lady Gaga right next to you! After all, only high profile celebrities tint their windows that dark!
10 – Yes, those two cars on the road in front of you are maneuvering rather erratically. Why, you ask? Butt out and give them their space—those drivers are old friends who haven’t seen each other in over a year, and they’re catching up on old times.
Got some more of your own to add to this list? Please feel free to comment below!
Starting out on a little sidenote–there are some websites and blogs that I follow regularly—GOOP, Gwyneth Paltrow’s site being one of them. GOOP.com gets an unfair share of harsh criticism in my opinion. Seriously, why all the hate? I enjoy the little entries on lifestyle, health and travel. It’s funny how so many people worship, *cough cough*, er, I mean “follow” celebrities and glorify their silly behavior, their alcohol-and-drug-infused crazy spells, and their extravagant spending. Then a celebrity decides to create a website with some pleasant articles that contain useful information like recipes, workout tips and advice, and this is the celebrity that gets bashed. Something’s wrong with this picture!
But I digress, lovely readers. I decided to bring up GOOP because I recently found what has become my favorite article ever about friendship. On Ms. Paltrow’s site, which also sends its articles in newsletter form to subscribers, there was a recent entry titled “Friendship Divorce.” The following question is at the top of the page:
“What do you do when you realize that although you may have years of history, and found real value in each other in times past, that you kind of don’t like a friend anymore? That, after time spent with this person, you feel drained, empty, belittled or insulted. My father always used to tell me that, ‘you can’t make new old friends.’ How do you distinguish if someone in your life makes you change for the better or if you are better off without them?”
What follows is an engaging series of enlightening responses from scholars, authors and psychologists sharing their thoughts on friendships and the way friendships change over time, how one can tell whether a friendship is worth saving, and how one goes about defining “true friends.”
I love love LOVE this article because it addresses one of the most relevant topics in our lives. This everyday miracle we call friendship—this strangely absurd art of coming into contact with one of the 7 billion people on the planet and sacredly keeping this contact over time and distance—often causes as much heartache and headache as it does joy.
I’ve always put a high value on amiability; I’ve spent a lifetime going out of my way to remain likable, even to people who didn’t like me. I used to put all kinds of effort into friendships long after they stopped being of any benefit, much less enjoyment.
A few years ago, a co-worker shared this quote with me: ‘People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.’ The quote didn’t mean as much to me then as it does now. I used to feel a tremendous sense of guilt and loss whenever a friendship fizzled out or died. Now I understand that it’s no biggie, that it’s only natural. All living, breathing things have a life cycle. I now think of friendship as its own living and breathing organism—one that needs nourishment at times, one that is capable of having a long and healthful lifespan, and sometimes one that can become quite disease-ridden.
I used to keep dying friendships on lifesupport at all costs for as long as I could. Nobody likes a funeral. But where’s the quality of life in that? What’s the purpose of the friendship at that point? Let it go with its dignity in tact. Its death doesn’t render its life meaningless. That friendship was a part of your life for a reason; he or she brought you joy at one point. Be confident that you took from each other whatever it is you were meant to take from each other, and move on.
So that said, I vow to be the best friend that I can be. I’ll still be nice and amiable because I don’t know how to be any other way with my friends. If I ever sense weird red flags about any of my friendships, I’ll study the relationship inside and out with a critical, but loving eye. And I mean that with all my heart.