Sunday, November 27, 2011

Maybe at Christmas, everyone wants a happy ending

I have a confession to make: I'm addicted to the Hallmark Channel.

Oh, not all the time. In fact, the channel has been available to me all year and I didn't even know it. But something happens to me around Christmas. I get ... softer. Sappier, even. I want cute stories. I want happy endings. I want everything tied up with a bow and a smile in 90 minutes.

It's so out of character, it's alarming.

"WHAT are you watching?" my husband said as he peered in on me curiously the other day.

"Trading Christmas," I said promptly. "It's a really cute story about this widow who trades houses with  . . ." He hurried down the hall. "No, that's fine," he called back. "I was just wondering."

But it didn't start with Trading Christmas, which is also a very fun book by Debbie Macomber. First was Mrs. Miracle. Then there was Call Me Mrs. Miracle. Both of those, coincidentally, are also books by Macomber. I'm betting she loves the Hallmark Channel, too. But it doesn't stop there. There's Holiday Engagement and Mistletoe Over Manhattan and Lucky Christmas and, well, you get the idea. It's Hallmark's Countdown to Christmas.

The movies are sweet, charming, formulaic. The set-up, the situation, the glitch and the solution. Normally, that would make me crazy. Where are the plot twists? The car chases? The murder, mayhem and mystery?

But not these days.  I'm settling in with them with my blanket and my cinnamon tea and I'm perfectly content.  Maybe, around Christmas, everybody wants a happy ending

Friday, November 18, 2011

A few minutes of mom support can change everything

I made it to the elementary school this morning in the nick of time, bedraggled and out of breath. It wasn't even 8:30, and I had already made three breakfasts, walked the dog, found lost homework, conducted a mock spelling test, located misplaced socks, cleaned up cat barf and packed three lunches.

Now it was time to go to work. You know, real work. The kind where you collect a paycheck.

I felt beat.

A pretty blonde woman sidled up next to me, also dressed in office clothes. "You know, I have to wonder," she said as she trotted past, "Does this ever get easier?" We both broke out in laughter.

And I realized, suddenly, that my morning wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Moms - and dads - all over the world were doing the exact same thing, every day.

"I hope so," I replied. "I feel like I'm barely making it as it is."

She stopped and turned toward me.

"Really?" she said.  I nodded.

"That makes me feel SO much better," she continued. " I feel like I'm the only one who's saying, 'Hurry, hurry, hurry - it's time to get in the car.'"

I shook my head. "No way," I told her. "Half the time, it's time to go, and my son has wandered back to his room and is playing with his Angry Birds."

We both laughed again and parted ways.

I felt immeasurably better. Our little exchange only took about two minutes, but it's amazing what a little mom support can do.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

8-year-old filmmaker finds inspiration from the toy chest

I watched a very special episode of American Idol the other night. Mickey Mouse was the host. Raggedy Ann was a pretty awful contestant. And Woody from Toy Story sang the theme from the popular show "Victorious," besting competitor Barney by a mere boot length, as noted by Judge Mario.

It was put together by my young son, who has a new hobby - raiding our expansive, little-used toy chest in the basement for characters, then making up skits and filming them on our new video camera. I think that, so far, he has put together at least 30 shows.

Kermit battled Mario and Luigi to a truce, while Winnie the Pooh and Arthur are often  leaders of an evil lair. Ken has lost his suitor status, and now often plays a villain chasing the beleaguered Mario. And at one point, a few oranges with faces drawn on them became bad guys, as well. (Those came from the kitchen, incidentally, not the basement).

It's hilarious. I have to remember when to laugh, and when not to laugh, though, because even though I think that drawing faces on fruit and making them villains is funny, the filmmaker often does not. Sometimes, in fact, if my prying is too intrusive, my young Spielberg will shut the door to his room, only divulging his masterpiece when it's complete.

He wants his own YouTube account - he watches videos other kids have out, and he wants his uploaded, too.  But I'm hesitant to go that route - I've seen the cruel comments other videos get. So for now, he'll just have to settle for a toy chest brimming with heroes and villains and a devoted family audience.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Boo! Are you ready to take charge of the Halloween party?

I love Halloween. I love it so much I decided to head up my little boy's class party for the holiday. Now, assuming that someday you, too, will want to head up a class party, allow me to share a few things I learned:

  • Find out if the other moms are wearing costumes. That way, you won't come in dressed like a cat - complete with painted-on whiskers - and find out no one else dressed up. (All together now: Awwwkward!!)
  • Find out if you're in charge or if you're just "helping." If you're in charge, you want to have your problem-solving hat on.  Because a few unplanned scenarios might pop up -  like, how do you serve apples with caramel dip when no one was assigned to bring a knife to slice apples? (Answer: Run to the teacher's lounge and borrow)
  • Bring Halloween music. Or don't complain when you hear the theme to "Ghostbusters" about 12 times.
  • Be patient. Really, really patient. Yes, you want to start the games, but six grandmas want to take pictures with their adorable Ghostface or Demon Hunter. Smile and wait.
  • Don't bring treats designed for grown-ups. Like "witches' fingers" made of string cheese with a bell pepper fingernail. Grownups will say, "I love it!" But a lot of kids will make faces and say, "What's that red thing?"
  • Smile and eat the leftover candy. It's Halloween, after all.