Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cinderella Ate My Daughter.

No worries people, put the phone down- there is no need to call CPS. Olivia is just fine, as it Jackson and are two mentally handicapped cats. Matt... well he is currently huffing in dry wall dust I think so the jury is still out on that. It's time for a book review.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter- Peggy Orenstein

The acclaimed author of the groundbreaking bestseller Schoolgirls reveals the dark side of pink and pretty: the rise of the girlie-girl, she warns, is not that innocent.

Sweet and sassy or predatory and hardened, sexualized girlhood influences our daughters from infancy onward, telling them that how a girl looks matters more than who she is. Somewhere between the exhilarating rise of Girl Power in the 1990s and today, the pursuit of physical perfection has been recast as the source of female empowerment. And commercialization has spread the message faster and farther, reaching girls at ever-younger ages. But how dangerous is pink and pretty, anyway? Being a princess is just make-believe; eventually they grow out of it . . . or do they?

In search of answers, Peggy Orenstein visited Disneyland, trolled American Girl Place, and met parents of beauty-pageant preschoolers tricked out like Vegas showgirls. The stakes turn out to be higher than she ever imagined. From premature sexualization to the risk of depression to rising rates of narcissism, the potential negative impact of this new girlie-girl culture is undeniable—yet armed with awareness and recognition, parents can effectively counterbalance its influence in their daughters’ lives.

I have to be 100% percent honest as I start this review- I am not a granola mom. In fact, I am probably the exact opposite of what I consider to be a granola mom. I'm not a helicopter mom, I believe girls can be rough and tumble and boys can be.. less boy. I don't really care what my kids play with as long as it isn't the dreaded Bratz or Monster High dolls because honestly? Have some class. I let my kids dictate what they play through their own interests and I don't really push anything onto them. I'm not freaking out over Red Dye #40 or *gasp* high fructose corn syrup.

The horrors.

I wanted to read this book first off to maybe gain a bit of insight into the mind of a young girl in the current society. I guess I just assumed it was so much different than when I was growing up (I'm only turning 30 in March, so I'm not that old) because everyone laments on and on about how society is different and jesus- look at all of these sexed up and pregnant teenage girls cursing up a storm. Obviously, I don't want any of these things for my own daughter and I have enough brains to know I have to nip it early to prevent that.

So I read the book.

And wanted to throw it against the wall. I am pretty sure Matt feared for his personal safety on more than one occassion (as I usually read while he sleeps because his snoring is out of control). I think the thing that sent me over the edge was beating the dead Disney horse to death. If I have to hear one more time how absolutely horrible the Disney Princesses, (or in fact- any character) are... I may scream. Raise your hand if you at ANY point in your life wanted to be a princess.

OK- that's pretty much everyone.

Now raise your hand if by wanting to play dress up and pretend you were going to a royal ball you feel you have gained an unhealthy expectation that a man should be taking care of you for life because your vagina prevents you from doing so.

Um, anyone?

That's because that is stupid. I don't consider myself a feminist because like it was mentioned in the book- I believe feminists really missed the mark with the whole movement because part of being a woman means you have a certain level of feminity. We can't ignore that to compete with men and still claim to be true to ourselves. That pretty much goes against the grain of the "we are equal" mentality.

But nonetheless.

I let my daughter and hell, even my son, play dress up and princess all of the time. We own pretty much every Disney Princess figure and movie and by golly- I love it. If I didn't think I'd get laughed at outright at my wedding I absolutely would have played "Some Day My Prince Will Come". Just shut your mouth right now, punks. There is nothing wrong with that. I think every girl should want to feel like her partner treats her like a princess... but values her at the same time as someone worthy of respect.

Enter pageants. Oh, don't get me started. I don't care what anyone says about the positives or purpose of a pageant dressing your toddler daughter as a hooker, they are totally wrong and you are giving pedophiles material on a platter. There is something inherently wrong with a parent who thinks it's OK to dress a girl up, put that much makeup on her, put those horrifying fake teeth in, spray tan and hair spray her to death and then tell her that her inner beauty is what is most important.

Right. She's getting that message loud and clear, isn't she?

I personally felt like the book was not to my liking. I disagreed with a lot of things said in the book and I'm so over hearing people say we should let girls do the same things as boys.. but they bring out girl Legos and everyone screams that how DARE they make them pink! If pink Legos made my daughter pick them up and use her brain and analytical skills to build something, then gosh darnit, I'm getting her the pink Legos. At the same time, if my daughter hated Barbies and would rather play with Transformers, whatever. I'll get her the Transformers if it helps her with imaginitive play.

It's our jobs as parents to use some common sense and guide our children as best as we can. Do I think it's reckless parenting to get your daughter a Bratz doll? You bet. Why have the conversation about how it's OK for the doll to dress like a slut but your daughter can't if you don't have to? Olivia asked me once why she can't have those dolls and I flat out tell her because they aren't dressed like classy ladies and that's what you want to be. On the other hand, is it realistic to get her a Barbie who is oddly proportioned? Probably not- but at least Barbie has a wide variety of careers. And honestly? If you are leaving the self image lesson to be taught through her play with a doll versus discussions with you, haven't you kind of failed as a parent anyways?

So overall... I'm on the fence. I appreciate all of the work she put into this book because I'll tell you what- the American Girl Place scares the crap out of me and I probably couldn't handle dealing with pageant moms. I think it also made me evaluate the things that influence my daughter and makes me more mindful to discuss things I perhaps wouldn't have before.

I'd be interested for you to read the book and let's open up a dialogue. How ARE other moms parenting their daughters and how are you really making sure she feels valued and respected not from just you and those around her, but having those things for herself?

As always, check out what other bloggers are saying about the book HERE. Peggy also has a website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Up close and personal... with my hole.

HA! How many sickos got here from a wayward Google search? Plenty, I'm sure.

Those of you who have been paying attention, I have a hole in my living room wall as a resort to my absurd want of some mother fucking baseboards. That was all I wanted, let us be clear. The problem with husbands having under used power tools is that they can sometimes get a little over zealous with them and you know, cut a hole in the wall and talk you into how great it would be to have a random cubby. In the wall. Of your living room.

At this point- we're too far in to go back. My fear is that if we had just covered it up we would have somehow missed the possible greatness of a hole in your living room wall, so we've continued on. Right now all of the walls are patched and ready for paint in the rest of my living room. The hole itself needed a lot of work: plaster and lath ripped out, electrical wires re-routed, a place for a future mini light fixture, new drywall up, and eventually, some carpet. It's a lot of work.

But here's where we talk about Matt. He's super handy. He really is- I don't question his skill or level of ability because even if he doesn't know how to do something, he can not only figure it out but he also has a contractor friend he can call to get some tips and advice. So basically- he is capable of doing most anything around the house. Hell, he was instrumental in putting the addition to the house on (yet.. the laundry sink is a project he continues to stall...) so I have to give credit where it's due. The problem here is that he starts off with all of this motivation and a clear plan... and then it drops off to nothing. I have to then badger him to finish the project when it's in the worst and messiest state of it.

Last week I told him he HAD to start taking plaster and lath down because we aren't leaving this project hanging mid stream like everything else. So he does. But what he failed to do, which I feel is a critical step, is to put some drop cloths down. At least on the furniture. But no. Dust and shit EVERYWHERE.
 I inhaled so much dust I was wheezing like an asthmatic fat kid after gym glass and every time I had to blow my nose or sneeze? Black dust came out. I'm going to go ahead and assume my lungs are compromised.

But Matt didn't care. Instead, his little Antiques Roadshow heart BEAMED when he found not one, but two old things in the wall inside of secret cubby.
 A book from 1927 about house wiring.
 And a book of matches from when phone numbers were only five digits long. Am I the only one concerned that whoever did the wiring did it from a wiring-for-dummies book AND had matches handy?
 After realizing I probably have to have my furniture professionally cleaned because the dust is literally that thick on it, I simmered down long enough to demand Matt start putting drywall up in the hole.
 Which he did.
This is what it looks like when you kneel in the doorway to the cubby area. It's such a bizarre little space? But I don't know. I feel like I'll be able to do something with it. Hopefully.

Tonight Matt is (hopefully) going to start sanding drywall because this weekend? I paint the living room. No more prolonging this. My living room is a fucking DISASTER and part two of why it's a disaster is coming tomorrow.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Yours, Anonymous

A few months ago I had read a book called 13 Reasons Why and I told you how amazing it was. I am a sucker for books that hook me in immediately with a story line I can relate to. I think everyone likes to read a book you can identify with with just a hint of something extra. So when I was given the opportunity to review this next book, I jumped at it because I felt like it would have the same impact for me.

And I was right.

Your, Anonymous by Peter David Orr
Yours Anonymous is a teen/ young adult drama
When Ashley White, a “geek” to many of his peers, develops a nervous crush on one of Franklin High School's most popular girls, he makes the decision to express his feelings through love letters, cards and poetry... never imagining his words could kill.

YOURS, ANONYMOUS is about good intentions gone wrong. It is a story of how an innocent crush can become "stalking" and "creepy" when the unknown, cliquishness, and envy come together at the wrong time and in lethal proportions.

What makes this book so good, for me, was that you are immediately hooked. It's a short book of only 77 pages so I got this done in about an hour. I really had a hard time putting it down so I could switch over laundry and feed the cats, it was that good.

Raise your hand if you ever had a crush, particularly in high school. Yeah, that would be pretty much all of us who aren't embarrassed to admit it. Now, raise your hand if it was a crush on a "popular" person and you weren't popular? At least half of you are still raising your hands. This story is so easy to relate to because most of you have been there, you like a person but you don't have the confidence to really say anything to them, so maybe you start with little notes. The harsh reality is that kids are cruel and unpopular kids just know to do their best to not give anyone fuel to ridicule them.

Unfortunately for Ashley, he was "discovered" and a couple of mean kids blew it out of proportion. It also highlights that high school kids don't have the natural logic required to really understand what consequences could come with harmless pranks. In this case, Ashley loses his life, much to the upset of Mary Ellen Gerhard. She is a fellow student who has turned her senior project into an investigative look at Ashley's death and the events leading up to it.

Particularly interesting is that the entire story is written as a series of interviews she conducted in her investigation. I don't want to talk about what happens, but I will say that the different personality types of the students completely fit for what you'd expect happens. It's a short read, it's well worth it, and if you are one to read books on bullying- add this to your list.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wish You Were Here

I want to do this book review for you because I want to show that I also read for fun, not just for assigned book reviews! I also like the author a lot AND because I got the book on my Milwaukee trip with my friend Amy!

Wish You Were Here- Jen Lancaster
If You Were Here
Told in the uproariously entertaining voice readers have come to expect from Jen Lancaster, If You Were Here follows Amish-zombie-teen- romance author Mia and her husband Mac (and their pets) through the alternately frustrating, exciting, terrifying-but always funny-process of buying and renovating their first home in the Chicago suburbs that John hughes's movies made famous. Along their harrowing renovation journey, Mia and Mac get caught up in various wars with the homeowners' association, meet some less-than-friendly neighbors, and are joined by a hilarious cast of supporting characters, including a celebutard ex- landlady. As they struggle to adapt to their new surroundings- with Mac taking on the renovations himself- Mia and Mac will discover if their marriage is strong enough to survive months of DIY renovations.

OK. Now all of Jen's previous books had been memoirs, with my hands down favorite being Such a Pretty Fat. I've read every book of hers, but that one is hands down her best. Every book after it has gotten worse (for me) and basically feel as if she's trying too hard. The kicker is that she doesn't need to- she's a naturally funny person, but I feel like maybe she's done what she could with memoirs. So when it was announced she was doing a fiction book... I was thrilled. 

Until I read it. First off, the characters of Mac and Mia are obviously characters of Jen and her husband Fletch. Right away I felt let down that she didn't reach for something completely outside of her norm and try something new. Not the case. 

I thought I could really relate to the story though because it's about new homeowners and the nightmare of home improvement- we all know I've been there and have tales to tell. As I continued my reading I felt more and more disappointing because at a point it just becomes unrealistic and far reaching. I almost closed the book all together when the one contractor comes into the picture because it was just over the top. And the ending? Mike Holmes? Really, Jen? 

So if I had to give this a rating out of 5 stars, I would honestly give it one. It's a harsh rating, but it's deserved but this book was not nearly as entertaining as it could have been. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Dive.

It's time for another book review, I'm back into the swing of things everyone!

The Dive- Peter David Orr
The Dive by Peter David Orr
THE DIVE is a story of a man who goes to the extreme of faking his death in order to start a new life... and the woman who saves him from himself.
   Michael and Maria are flawed, yet redeemable characters who walk a tightrope of events that seem to be ripped from the current headlines.    You will see the world through their eyes as they struggle to find meaning, love and life. Readers uniformly agree on the THE DIVE'S intensely personal realism and overriding sense of authenticity.  
   A strong narrative storyline seamlessly blends elements of intrigue, high tension and romantic suspense.

The first you get from reading this book is that the author is smart. You can tell right from the get go because of the amount of detail that goes into the book. Between the political knowledge, the rich detail of the various settings that make it almost too easy to picture it in your head, to knowing that the author probably did immense research to put this book together. I will say that all of the detail was a little overwhelming in some areas and it doesn't necessarily make it a quick read. 

But I encourage you to keep reading because under all of that detail is a story that people can relate to. You know when life gets a bit overwhelming and you think it would just be nice to start all over? Go somewhere nobody knows you, you have no history, and start all over. This is exactly what Michael toys with in the beginning of the book and how a trip overseas puts this into action after meeting, and falling in love with, Maria. 

Without getting into detail, because it would absolutely ruin it for you, I will tell you that this book is an ambitious read that you'll enjoy. If you are interested in politics, international travel, or starting all over- this book is for you. 

I encourage you to check out Beachfront Press to see all of the books available. Hopefully I'll get a chance to review some more for you, but if you like to support authors, shop here. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ten. (The one where I get mushy.)

So today is Friday the 13th but it is also the ten year anniversary of Matt and I's first date. Back then, I was fresh off of a break up from my first serious boyfriend and then my regretful rebound. I was working two jobs, full time in college, feeling kind of lost in life, and leery about getting into another relationship.

Matt was single, he had a job, he was going to college, and he worked with my mom at a local hardware store. So I knew who he was, but I didn't really know him.

My mom had been saying for months that I should go out with Matt, he was a nice kid who wasn't... well he wasn't like my first boyfriend. Which, by the way, I was engaged to when I was 17. Probably not the smartest decision, but I eventually got stuff turned around for me.

But Matt asked me out to a movie or something, and so on what I am pretty sure was Sunday, January 13, 2002 he picked me up at my house. We went to the movie rental store and got two movies, Pearl Harbor and The Fast and the Furious. I hated Pearl Harbor and cannot tell you what happened? I do know it was impossibly long. I also know that the house Matt was sharing with two other guys was freezing. To the point where you had to wear your winter jacket inside.

We completely hit it off and things went fairly fast. I knew right away that he was a good guy and that this was going to be long term. We moved into our first apartment in July, we got engaged in October, and were married in 2004, a little over two years after our first date.

Never did I imagine that we'd get married, have babies, make a home, and have such a great life. I'm glad that we've been able to weather the obstacles that have come our way. I'm glad I have such an awesome guy to call my husband.

So here's to our ten years and all that we have in front of us.

Monday, January 9, 2012

All I wanted was some baseboards.

I'm a simple gal, really. Scoff all you want, but I like simple things and I just don't really believe in killing yourself for dumb reasons. I don't understand why you see homeowners go into massive amounts of debt for a killer backyard when you can only use it for three months a year (at least around here). Or when you see people re-doing things because their tastes have changed or simply because they think they can afford it.

Int his economy and being realistic on what you could sell your home for, it doesn't make sense to spend a lot of money. And I think people think if they throw down $10,000 on a bathroom that they are always going to see a return on their money. You might.... but assume you won't. That's my theory. Mostly because I don't have the cash to be throwing around.

But we've lived in our house for six years. We've done a lot to the house (added a bedroom and a dining room, gutted and replaced the ghetto bathroom which only highlight was that we had a garden hose for a shower, and made a larger storage closet upstairs utilizing wasted space), but we have a lot more to go. (No, the laundry room hasn't been touched.) But that brings me to this weekend. On Friday night, while watching a marathon of HGTV (which FYI? Needs to come off the air because it makes DIY-talentless people wield hammers and crowbars when they have no business doing such a thing.), that my living room looks like shit. The walls are cracked, full of weird holes, the weirdo putty shoved into a large hole for no reason (it was there when we moved in), the stairs make awful noises, but mostly? I feel like it wouldn't look like shit if we put some baseboards in, patched the walls (since all four walls had a different size baseboard), painted and put some new carpet in. Mostly because the carpet has an unfortunate smell that I just can't fix anymore. And it all started after I realized that brown walls (though I love this brown a LOT), brown furniture, and brown carpet make me feel like I live in a cardboard box. Except an expensive one.

 So see the wall to the left of my TV? You can kind of see the ghetto state of my baseboards.

Now, on Saturday night Matt said that he's happy to help, but that I would have to learn how to do some shit myself because he's not a work horse. (I know, I laughed at that too... it's so sad when dementia hits a person so young.) So I had to learn how to prep a wall for drywall compound or whatever that white stuff is. But guess what? Sanding sucks shit. I got it done though, and he showed me how to apply the white stuff and I have no interest in that.

On Sunday- I went to Home Depot and got us a drywall sanding block because according to HGTV, it's easier to use than sand paper. (Ladies- if your husband hands you sandpaper? Shove it up his ass and get a really snazzy sanding block.) While Matt was skiing, I decided that I was going to sand that drywalll stuff down and take it upon myself to rip up the rest of the baseboards.

Lesson number one is to never let me have a hammer. Or a crow bar. And especially don't let me have the two together because I will make large holes where baseboards should be. After making two fairly large holes that were beyond a "patch job" I decided I should just let Matt do it.

When Matt came home he laughed at me and said was an idiot. I'll take that because I did knock two holes into the wall. When Matt went to look at the wall he discovered a "small room" (his words) and said he was going to the garage. When he came back I was putting laundry away upstairs when I hear a power tool start up. And come down to see this:
Yeah, that would be Matt cutting a giant fucking hole in my living room wall to see what the secret room is about. But lesson number two? When you find unexplainable cracks in your wall like this:
It's maybe because the jackweasel that lived in your house previous put up drywall and only connected it to the wood on the ceiling... not actual supporting vertical beams like you know, a WALL would normally do. We discovered that while making a hideout fit for a troll in our living room.

And you remember that time I bitched the entire summer about our backyard looking like a home remodel nightmare gone bad? And then Matt was awesome and cleaned it? We've regressed.
While Matt was doing that I noticed that we have other holes in other parts of the living room that need more than a patch.
But the secret hideout? Looked like this when we got in there:
Someone handmade this rickety shelf and it was left in there. It's all plaster and lath (suck) with what I am assuming to be asbestos wallpaper (on the back wall) and that curved wall to the right is where the stairs are.
So. We now have a hole in the wall, and we can't make the opening and wider because there is a support beam right along the edge of where Matt cut. We have two options: 1. is to repair the wall like we never opened it up. 2. make the cubby some kind of storage (books and movies?), put trim around the door and have it be a weird thing in our living room. Any ideas on what you would do? Have any of you encountered such a thing? 

Basically, what turned into a maybe $250 job with new baseboards, paint, trim, etc has grown to a bit more of an undertaking. Let's not even talk about the carpet which is grosser than I feared. I discovered while cleaning up sanding mess with the shop vac that the carpet is actually not attached to the floor. And the best part? When lifting up the carpet to clean out what I could, I found a used condom. That wasn't ours. YAY.