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Alltop, confirmation that I kick ass


Author: toni

~ 03/18/10

 Welcome to movie math where we look at a film and see if it adds up to family fun.

 

TIM BURTON’S ALICE IN WONDERLAND - There are many things that are totally cool about this movie. Among them, the fact that there are 5 actors from the Harry Potter films in it (this according to Julia). That little tidbit aside, visually it’s pretty darn stunning. Burton never fails to deliver when it comes to the look of his films. Story, well, he’s not always on the mark. The premise has promise. Alice is a teenager, plagued by what she thinks are “dreams” of her childhood visit to Wonderland. Her beloved father, a visionary and self-professed mad person (“all the best people are,” he tells her when she thinks she has gone mad) has passed away. And Alice is being forced into a loveless marriage with an annoying and unattractive Lord with digestive issues. (Been there, honey). At her engagement party, just after the Lord proposes and before she answers, she excuses herself and follows the White Rabbit down the hole (been there too) thus returning to Wonderland. Being a Tim Burton film, Wonderland has naturally transformed from a lovely (albeit wacky) place, into a desolate, decimated, nightmarish landscape, all thanks the the evil RED QUEEN played quite convincingly by Burton’s wife without the legal paperwork Helena Bonham Carter (I’d like to be a fly on the wall in THAT marriage). And Alice, according to some scroll we never quite learn the origins of, is destined to be the savior of Wonderland by fighting the Jabberwock.  Fight the Jabberwock?! I’d turn over the reigns to Wonderland if she can tell me what the heck “the mome raths outgrabe” means! Anyhow, the reluctant Alice must find herself and therefore her courage in order to save the day. All fine and good. But this is where the story starts to get lame-o.  It’s predictable and fairly tensionless. Little makes sense as to WHY anything is happening. I know, I know. It’s Wonderland… things aren’t supposed to make sense. Well, yes, the story should otherwise all you have is a Lady Gaga video. Frankly, if it weren’t for the oddities and amazing visuals, I certainly would have taken a snooze. But you know what? Julia loved it! And without spoiling the ending, which I’m sure you’ve guessed, the message is a good one in terms of empowerment for girls. And being the mamma of a girl, I’m always happy to see that. Thanks Tim and Jim (Cameron) for your messages to my daughter this past year. In the end, yeah… it’s worth a look. But if you’re debating 3-D price versus 2-D, you might want to save your money since the 3-D, not so spectacular.

STUNNING VISUALS + NOT SO STUNNING STORY + COOL CHICK EMPOWERMENT MESSAGE = A COOL RIDE FOR KIDS, ADULTS…EH.

A little Lewis Carroll trivia re: the original Alice In Wonderland and what the heck it means.

Apparently, the other-worldly events in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” can be interpreted as satire on 19th-century advances in mathematics. This according to a NY Times article entitled ALGEBRA IN WONDERLAND.

 

CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO READ IT:


 
http://s.nyt.com/u/b-L

Author: toni

~ 03/16/10

 

Okay. Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that the single BIGGEST area of contention in the marriage between me and Randy the Perfekt husband is child rearing.

Yeah, I know, you’re supposed to be on the same page about the important things… morals, religion, life goals, child rearing, sushi.  And usually we are but sometimes we’re NOT…  (especially the sushi thing – ICK! but also the child rearing).

Mostly I think it’s to do with how different we were as kids. I was the straight “A” student who worked really hard at school and followed all the rules. Randy, who was super smart and felt unchallenged,  thought school was a bore and mostly screwed around. One would think that’s an indicator of how you turn out in life. However, if you checked out our respective W-2s from our working lives… well, ‘nuf said.  

Anyhow, our latest marital scuffle came on a recent Sunday night.

I should preface this by saying that our daughter Julia takes very much after me. In fact, Randy says that she’s so much like me that the 50% she got from him must be all in her internal organs. Anyway, like me as a kid, she’s a terrific student and an avid reader. In fact, she had been on a tear last year reading all the Harry Potter books. She was up to book six (Half Blood Prince) and was nearing the end when she got sidetracked by the holidays, her birthday and general life fun and never could seem to finish that darn book. 

I finally gave her the mommy ultimatum.  She had two weeks to finish the book or… well, there was no or else. It was more of a “just because I said so” which I swore I would never do, but I also swore I’d never color my hair, so never say never, right? Also I threw in the added incentive of 10 house points – a rewards system based on the Harry Potter books which actually works pretty well for us. And given that it can take days to earn 10 house points, this was the mother lode.

Well, naturally, despite my nagging encouraging to the contrary, The Half Blood Prince lingered. And lingered and lingered. Until, you guessed it, the Sunday deadline. The whole weekend Julia made choices that took her away from her reading. And the whole weekend, she assured me she would finish the book Sunday evening.

And then the Oscars came on. And Julia naturally wanted to watch them. She’s a HUGE fan of the fabulous gowns and she had seen TWO of the movies (Avatar and Up). I warned her that watching the show meant she wouldn’t finish the book as after the Oscars were over it would be her bed time… but she merely smiled and laughed at “the guy from Night at the Museum dressed like a N’avi”. And then the Oscars were over and predictably, the waterworks and remorse set in.

 

JULIA: Oh no! I didn’t get the book finished. I won’t get my ten house points!

TONI: Too bad. You made your choices.

JULIA: Please mommy, please, can I read the book now?

TONI: No, it’s your bed time.

JULIA: Waaaaaaaaaaa!

At which point Randy the perfekt husband, who’d had nothing to say up until then, chimed in.

RANDY:  Let her stay up and finish the book.

TONI: What the what the?! Uh, no.  She shouldn’t be allowed to violate her bedtime because of her poor choices.

RANDY: (taking my logical argument to heart)  Julia you can finish the book.

Normally this would have resulted in a marital standoff leading to possible curse-inducing, full-scale warfare over the center island (these things always occur with the center island between us). However, being the bigger (and I’ll admit, more tired) adult in the room,  I decided not to go there.

TONI: Fine.

RANDY: (suspiciously) Fine?

TONI: Yep. Let her stay up.

I said smugly and walked away, knowing full well Julia would never be able to stay up and finish the book and the lesson would be learned anyway. La dee dah.

Well, as with most things in life when one is too smug and secure about them, I turned out to be DEAD WRONG!

Not only did Julia finish the book, she stayed up past midnight to do it. Of course I didn’t know this until morning as I’d slept through it all.

When I found out I was STUNNED… and more than a little irritated not only with Randy but myself. I don’t like being wrong.

 

TONI: I can’t believe she finished the book.

RANDY: Yeah. Isn’t it cool?

TONI: No it’s not cool! What does that teach her? That she can put off things until the last minute and still succeed?!

RANDY: It worked for me.  She’s gonna breeze through high school!

 

Randy went to Julia and proceeded to slather on the kudos – congratulating her on her determination and follow-through. I turned, ready to argue my point to the death… but stopped myself. Because I noticed just how pleased and tight the two of them were in this, Julia’s moment of ill-gotten triumph. I watched as they high-fived and hugged and suddenly it occured to me that there was more to this than met the eye.

I realized in that instant that Randy needed to feel like there was SOMETHING about Julia that came from him… besides her internal organs. And this choice of Julia’s, HOW she had succeeded in her goal, was Randy through and through. I backed off and let them have their moment.

When I picked Julia up from school that afternoon and she looked like something out of Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” I wasn’t entirely convinced I had made the best parenting decision by letting the whole thing drop.  But remembering the look on Randy’s face that morning as they did their little victory dance in the kitchen, I was pretty sure I made a really good marital one.

 

 

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Author: toni

~ 03/12/10

 

Okay, I have to admit that I am neither a reader of Playboy nor US Magazine and the extent of my sports knowledge is limited to what I can hear Randy the perfekt husband screaming at the downstairs TV while I’m upstairs trying to ignore him.

So it will come as no surprise to you that I have almost no idea who KENDRA WILKINSON is (apparently a former Playboy centerfold) nor that she recently had a baby with some guy named HANK BASSETT who plays some position on some pro football team (apparently the Indianapolis Colts) .  

Anyway, it has come to my attention thanks to MAMMAKAZE Erin (who curiously is uber-irritated by the same irritants as I)  that this former playmate and her pregnancy have been an ongoing source of news and cover stories for US Magazine.

And now that I have read their recent article, I have to say, I’m really annoyed with this surgically enhanced blow up doll’s woman’s comments about her post-pregnancy body and life:

 

“I had my friends over, and it was bad timing,” Kendra, 24, tells Us. “They were really hot and had really nice bodies,” she says of her visitors, which included former Girls Next Door costar Holly Madison and Playboy model Tiffany Fallon.

“I was just hoping Hank didn’t look at them! Having a different body was such a culture shock. I’m so used to being hot and fit.” Although “it wasn’t that extreme,” the reality star says, “I did go through some depression.”

 

Wow. I can’t even begin to tell you in how many ways I DON’T relate to this woman. First of all, I have never been featured naked before men with staples in my belly. Well, unless you include the time on the operating table right after my C-Section.

But is she kidding me?! Having a baby is a CULTURE SHOCK?!  A CULTURE SHOCK! Why? Post-partum did she become like that guy in District 9 who suddenly started turning into one of the aliens – so she found herself shedding her exoskeleton and craving cat food ?

Uh, Kendra. Newflash. According to Wikipedia:

 

Culture shock refers to the anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, uncertainty, confusion, etc.) felt when people have to operate within a different and unknown culture such as one may encounter in a foreign country. It grows out of the difficulties in assimilating the new culture, causing difficulty in knowing what is appropriate and what is not. This is often combined with a dislike for or even disgust (moral or aesthetical) with certain aspects of the new or different culture.

 

Oh wait.

Uh, now that I re-read that… Maybe Kendra isn’t so far off. Because really, when you think about it, being a new mom is well, like turning into an alien life form. Your body morphs and develops a mind of it’s own. I mean, your breasts shoot milk at the sound of a human cry! 

And truly, it’s a whole culture all unto itself, complete with its own language (binkie, plugged ducts, colostrum) and bizarro customs (hooking breasts up to machines, crying at toilet paper commercials, obessively poking sleeping infants to make sure they’re still breathing). 

And any new mom with an ounce of honesty will tell you that during those first few weeks… it’s not so fun. In fact, there is a lot of resentment. A lot of “what the heck did I do with my life and do I know any adoption attorneys?”

Of course it gets better… usually around the time that the baby starts sleeping through the night (which, admit it, they would do a whole LOT sooner if you didn’t keep poking them awake because they scare the bejeezus out of you with all those SIDS pamphlets at the hospital).

But even after a routine is established and the family resumes a regular sleep cycle. Things are still different. You’re a mom now and the world you knew is gone. But you’re in a new world. A new culture, one could even say.  Because everything is different and let’s face it you’re different too.

And like anyone who comes from a different culture, you seek out those people who are like you. In this case, lactating, hormone-driven, obsessive worriers with whom you can relate and can relate right back at you.  And I gotta say, my mommy friends, they’re a pretty cool bunch.

And while I’m still not convinced this Kendra woman knew what she was saying when she said she suffered “culture shock” after having her baby,  I think she may be on to something.  Albeit inadvertently.

Kendra, if you read this – which you likely won’t because you don’t know who the heck I am either – I predict that unless Holly and Tiffany and Bambi (or whatever those playmate’s names are) have babies soon, you will find those friendships fading away. Because suddenly tales of wild weekends at TAO in Vegas will hold less interest for you than the first time your baby rolled over or said “Mamma”.

Kendra. Welcome to my world culture.

 

CORRECTION: Thanks to my guy readers (Kevin and Ken) I have been informed that Kendra WAS NOT a centerfold but merely one of Hef’s many girlfriends. Turns out, while I never had the tight, hot bod, I DO have that whole “staples in my naked belly thing on her”. Take THAT, Kendra.

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Author: toni

~ 03/05/10

 

MAMMAKAZE reader and neighbor Kory posted a very thoughtful and rational response to my emotional rant about Pit Bulls co-existing with small children.  Since not everyone reads the COMMENTS, I felt compelled to post it to give the other POV equal time.  See what you think:

Toni,

I am rarely moved to comment by your posts, as I’m usually too busy laughing. Today though, I feel I must refute. As a previous owner of two American Staffordshire Terriers (Pit Bulls), it always piques my interest when I see them portrayed as monstrous threats to children / society by the media. I will address some of the points in your post, but first let me offer a different perspective on the “dreaded” Pit Bull.

My last Am-staff was part of my children’s’ lives since they were born. He was an incredibly docile and loving dog with both family and friends. Approaching strangers, adults and children, were always greeted by a wagging tail and a fat tongue. If our interest had been in owning an intimidating killer (it was actually to rescue a puppy from being euthanized), we had failed miserably. His tolerance level for being ridden and having his tail and ears pulled constantly by our two curious toddlers was impressive. Never so much as a growl was heard from him – a real trooper. This was his demeanor throughout his entire life. Even as he became almost completely blind in his last years, when a growl or snap from disorientation would have been justified, nothing but a wag of the tail. Years after his death, both of my kids continue to talk about him – my youngest asking when he’s coming back. His memory still evokes tears, especially from my daughter to whom he was a companion for most of her life.
This was my Pit Bull experience, but of course this is only one dog and all dogs are different. I am not naive to the fact that dogs of many breeds are vicious and that they do attack people and children. My problem is vilifying an entire breed based on individual incidents, the details of which rarely ever come out. Details like how the dog was raised or treated. Was it socialized or isolated? These things make a difference FOR ALL BREEDS.

Now to your post…
You stated that the daughter of an actor on “Ax Men” was killed by the family Pit Bull. The fact is that the dog involved was actually a Rottweiler. This doesn’t change the fact that there are dangerous dogs in the world, but the jump to associate any dog attack with a Pit Bull is part of what fuels what I believe is unwarranted prejudice against this breed. Another is posting pictures of Pit Bulls barking, yet another way to make them look vicious, but not at all a representation of their overall demeanor.

You referenced a quote from Katherine Houpt that I think makes a great point: That there are SOME people who own Pit Bulls (and many other breeds) for the sole purpose of encouraging aggressive behavior. So? This is hardly an argument for outlawing the breed (though it may be an argument for banning “machismo”). Just because some people choose to raise their animals a particular way (or abuse them), why exactly can’t my family save one of these beautiful animals and give them love and a good life? German Shepherds are trained by the Police to attack human beings on command… and also make great family dogs. You might as well outlaw any animal that has the potential of hurting a child, which is a lot. You then made the leap from a quote about SOME people encouraging aggressive dogs, to concluding that “pit bulls are bred to be aggressive,” and that “people who own them WANT an aggressive dog.” The implication is that the only reason someone would want this dog would be to have an aggressive pet. That’s a big stretch. Is there no scenario where this dog might actually be a PREFERRED family pet? Oh wait… there is.

Upon deeper research, you might have found that in fact American Staffordshire Terriers score extremely high on temperament tests compared to other dogs (http://www.atts.org/statistics.html), and in fact a make very good (and safe) companions for children. Did you know that this breed was nicknamed “The Nanny Dog,” because if its protective and gentle nature with children? There are endless websites that support these claims. For example, Wikipedia says this about the temperament of the American Staffordshire Terrier:

“The American Temperament Test Society conducts tests every year on thousands of dogs to determine the soundness of their temperament. The American Staffordshire Terrier routinely ranks well above many “popular” breeds such as the Beagle, Collie, Doberman Pinscher and the Cocker Spaniel.[5] This is a very intelligent, human-oriented, active dog and an affectionate family pet. Over the past 50 years, careful breeding has produced this friendly, trustworthy dog who is an especially good dog for children. One of the characteristics that most owners and breeders talked and look for particular in this breed is gameness. Gameness refers to perseverance, spirited, readiness of a dog to accomplish a given task.”

Finally, this is an intelligent, loyal, and beautiful animal that under the guidance of an unscrupulous owner can be dangerous. This can be said for countless breeds. My life and my children’s lives have benefited greatly from owning this breed of dog. Perhaps a better claim to be made of your post is that people with kids shouldn’t encourage their dogs to be aggressive, regardless of breed. That seems a bit more on target. If you want to outlaw something that kills a statistically significant amount of kids every year, start with backyard pools.

All the best,

Your friend, neighbor, and former “pit” owner.
Kory

 

First of all, I stand corrected. The article I read said the dog that killed the girl was a pit bull. Further investigation and later articles revealed it was a rottweiler. Although the other attacks I referred to were pit bulls.

As for Kory’s comments… Very good points, all. And true, it isn’t fair to lump all pit bulls in with the ones who have attacked children.

However, my question as a parent remains:

Is it worth the risk to have these potentially aggressive dogs around your small child?  WHAT DO YOU THINK?

 

Oh and Kory,  don’t get me started on those backyard pools. No matter how secure people think they are, every summer here in So Cal, there are mutliple drownings. Parents SWEAR they thought the gate was locked or that the kid was RIGHT THERE a minute ago…But that is for another rant.

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Author: toni

~ 03/02/10

 

I know the dog lovers out there are going jump all down my throat. And you know what? I DON’T CARE! Know why? Because I am mortified by the stories I read again and again and again about kids being mauled and even killed by the family dog which is almost always, you guessed it, A PIT BULL!

I mean in the last 24 hours alone there have been two stories about this.

The 4 year-old daughter of one of the loggers on The History Channel’s reality TV show “AX MEN” (about the logging industry) was killed by the family pit bull.

Then today, another 4 year-old girl was hospitalized in Pomona, California in serious condition after her uncle’s pit bull mauled her face. She’s not dead, but is probably disfigured for life.

THIS HAPPENS TOO OFTEN WITH THESE DOGS! 

I was in a local antique mall some time back and the owner’s young son was there with a full arm cast on a school day. I asked what happened. Turns out he was playing in the front yard of his home when the neighbor’s pit bull came up and, unprovoked, started ripping at his arm. He almost lost the arm and had several surgeries to save it.

 

A PIT BULL, DOING WHAT IT WAS BRED TO DO

So, what the heck is up with pit bulls?

Says Katherine Houpt, director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cornell and author of Domestic Animal Behavior: “Different breeds have genetic predispositions to certain kinds of behavior, though that can be influenced by how they are raised. The pit bull is an innately aggressive breed, often owned by someone who wants an aggressive dog, so they’re going to encourage it.”

So there you have it. Pit bulls are bred to be aggressive. People who own them WANT an aggressive dog and even encourage it, thus making them more aggressive.

Hey, fine. You want an aggressive animal in your house, that’s your business. So long as you keep it away from everyone else.  And that includes YOUR CHILD!

I bet a lot of these pit bull owners are the same folks that say it’s safe to have a gun in the house with a child. There, now I’ve ticked off gun owners too. But that’s how I feel! Ooo, I get so angry.

Know what I think? Well, you’re going to hear it anyway.

Just as there are agencies in place to protect children from abusive parents, there should be similar protections/laws when it comes to pit bulls in the house with children. Because statistically, most dog attacks involve children. Maybe it’s to do with their prey-like size or their uncensored behavior.  Whatever.

IF YOU’VE GOT A KID, IT SHOULD BE AGAINST THE LAW TO HAVE A PITBULL!

“Oh, but my dog is soooo sweet. It’s a family pet, it never hurt anyone!”

Yeah. Famous last words. Probably exactly what the guy from Ax Men said about HIS dog… right before it killed his innocent, little girl.

And now the dog is going to get put down for something it was bred and trained to do.

Shame.

 

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Author: toni

~ 03/01/10

 

I think a lot about a lot of things. More like I ponder. I’m fascinated by things like DNA and the mystery of King Tut’s life and death.  I read The Selfish Gene. And I watch all those shows on the Discovery Channel about the origins of the universe. Well, I DID until Julia got freaked out by Black Holes.

Randy the perfekt husband thinks I’m nuts wondering about things that make no difference to our lives or for which there will be no answer in our lifetime. Well, except for the time I saved his life as a result of watching the Discovery Channel’s show on the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake – but he seems to have conveniently forgotten that.

Anyway, my ponderings do not end with the grander questions of life. The little ones plague me too. And here’s one that has troubled me for some time. I was wondering if any MAMMAKAZES out there have thought about it too and have an answer.

 

Is it okay to wash bath towels with kitchen towels?

 

 

I know. I know. I may be overthinking it. But I’ve got to wonder – especially after reading all those articles about germs and e coli and such. Even on the hot settings, do the towels that one uses to dry ALL the nooks and crannies of the body get clean enough in the laundry that it’s okay to wash them with the towels one uses to dry dishes and utensils that one puts in one’s mouth?

 

Please post your answers in the COMMENTS. I, and other Mammakazes who may or may not have thought of this question, would appreciate it.

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