Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Funky Boy Band Christmas

Every year I forget about my all-time favorite Christmas song, and then one day it'll pop up on my Pandora Holiday station, and I remember all over again how much I love it.

I'm talking, of course, about the Timeless Classic "Funky, Funky Christmas" by New Kids on the Block, or NKOTB for thoseofusintheknow.

This year it's also a reminder that I will probably never have to deal with the level of psychotic, all-consuming, hysterical fandom that 14-year old girls inflict on their poor families the way I did back in 1989/1990. At least, I don't think most boys cry and scream and faint and elbow others out of their way for the sake of their celebrity crushes, do they? By the time my brother, Mr. Funny, was old enough to be into stuff I was well past my NKOTB coma and either ignored him or went off to college. So I don't remember. He could very well have wallpapered his room with Alanis Morisette posters for all I know. I was too busy being disaffected and full of myself.

At one point my NKOTB addiction grew so severe my parents forced me to choose just 5 pin-ups to keep in my room and everything else had to come down. Let me put this into perspective for you:

One of my friends took great pride in giving me my 100th NKOTB poster. If there was a square inch of wall space in my room, up went a photo or pin-up. I had posters ON MY CEILING. I had a pillow, pillowcase, dolls, books, pins, t-shirts, videos - both taped myself and bought - and all the crap paraphernalia that came with my fan club membership, which I think included a tour schedule so that I could fantasize about hanging out in Wherever, USA with Jordan Knight. (Imagined convo: Jordan: "Meredith, look, it's Mt. Rushmore!" Me: "OHMYGODJORDANILOVEYOU!!!!!!!" *scream*)

Somehow, instead of setting fire to my bedroom, which, in hindsight I would not blame them for doing, they calmly told me enough was enough and I had to choose 5 posters to keep up and the rest had to go. 

So, of course I had the NKOTB Christmas album, with the Timeless Classic "Funky, Funky Christmas." And if you don't think this singular masterpiece has withstood the test of time, you are wrong, my friend. Consider these lyrics, which were clearly strung together by angels on high (is that a thing? I don't know, I'm Jewish.) who touched Jordan and Donnie with godlike inspiration:

"Oh, Little Train, my little elf, another Christmas."
"Nah, man, it's boring, it's boring! Same thing every year."
"So let's have a funky Christmas!"


"Yo, MC Santa didn't know my homeboy Donnie could play percussion, did you?"
"I didn't have a clue!"

"Yeah, get busy, Donnie!"

and my personal favorite, which I swear I could listen to over and over again and never lose joy from it:

"Should I stop? Nah, cool, here's more
Of this song, a funky Christmas melody
'Cause Jordan K feels OH SO CHRISTMASEY!
Throw your hands in the air!
Kick the ballistic Santa Claus!" (They are HARD CORE, people!)

It's like Mozart was reincarnated into a late 80s boy band.

By the way, I typed all of those lyrics from memory. Believe it.

And in case you need reminding:

YouTube video by KangK

There is so much right about this video I don't even know where to start. (Did anyone notice that Jon wasn't in it? Yeah, didn't think so. Sorry, Jon.) From the Jackson 5 choreography, to Arsenio's jumping in with a rap, to Joey's swinging his butt at a screaming audience, to Donnie's humping the air LIKE THE BAD BOY HE IS, it's just WIN all the way through. If you don't have a funky Christmas after this, you are dead inside.

Naturally, when I was 14 I taped this, and Jordan's bare chest sent me into a 14-year old Nirvana-like higher plane of existence. I may have paused it at some point to lick the TV. 

I'm almost sad that I won't have a daughter to share this kind of beserker, kamikazi devotion with. I remember my friend's mom driving us to a NKOTB concert once and talking about her love of the Beatles back in the day, and that sound you just heard was John Lennon rolling in his grave. But then I remember POSTERS ON MY CEILING and my single-minded obsession with NKOTB (My mom: "Mer, please pass the salt." Me: "I wonder if Jordan Knight puts salt on his french fries. May I be excused to go write to the fan club and ask?") and think, maybe it's for the best.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pregnancy Cliche Bingo

This week I made an executive decision for myself to stop trying to finagle into maternity jeans and just wear yoga pants or sweat pants for the remaining three months of my pregnancy.

And no, I'm not looking for "helpful" suggestions or advice, thanks. Let's just pretend like you already told me what worked for you, and I tried it, and it did not work for me.

At some point the battle to remain even remotely stylish got lost in the shuffle. Actually, no, I know exactly where the battle was lost: last weekend at the New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show. What should have been a fun, festive family activity turned into a craptastic, disappointing waste of time. I'm sure the Train Show is fine for normal families, but my son, the Juban Princeling - who loves trains the way I love cheese, that is, he's never met one he didn't like and will take them in any and all forms they come in - was on Day 3 of what turned into a 4-day nuclear meltdown. Even taking two subways, including his new favorite, the "Orange Compress" (express) to get there did not help, especially when he reached out and accidentally shoved a train off the tracks and my husband and I went all psychotic modern parent on him: carefully looking around, self-consciously reprimanding him and wondering if people thought we were being too harsh or too gentle. 

Meanwhile, we shoved our way through the crowd of half-dazed parents holding piles of coats and restless, overexcited little kids, in a hot and humid conservatory. 

Maternity jeans are not designed to last forever, and mine were already so stretched out they kept falling down. At the same time, the "Secret Belly" band pulled on my belly - I'm carrying high this time around - and irritated the skin and caused what I'm sure is massive internal bruising.

So there, somewhere in the middle of the New York Botanical Gardens Annual Holiday Train Show, amongst throngs and throngs of parents and children, I lifted my shirt and yanked my jeans up while simultaneously stretching the band away from my poor, battered, six-month belly. 

I'm not generally one of those people who gets embarrassed easily - behold the photo I let my best friend Tia take of me in Miami a couple of weeks ago - and pregnancy demolishes whatever shame I have left. I'm sorry, world, but you are going to have to put up with my desire to be comfortable for three more months BY WHATEVER MEANS NECESSARY and then I promise never to gestate again, ever. 

No, you would not be the first to make a joke
about me and my love of Cuban c... roosters.
Not shown: the epic amounts of pain I'm in.

A few days later I sat in a run-down Quest Diagnostic office for an hour and a half, starving from fasting for my glucose tolerance test, with the radiator cranked up to "Hellfire," and The Today Show blasting at top volume into my ears against their will, feeling sorry for myself but wearing highly stylish maternity jeans. This time I opted for a pair with a low, supportive band that worked fine when I was standing up, but rolled down and squashed me and The Fetus whenever I sat down. Which was a lot. The Fetus and I had this conversation about it in my mind:

Fetus: Ow! What IS that?
Me: It's part of my jeans. Sorry.
Fetus: Get it off! Get it off! Get it off!
Me: I can't.
Fetus: Fuck you. *kick* 
Me: I know it's uncomfortable, but it's only for a little while longer. Please just hang in there.
Fetus: Fuck you, and fuck Kathy Lee Gifford. *punch kick jab* Also, I'm hungry. *kick kick punch elbow*
Me: *cry*

Screw fashion. Screw style. Screw the world. I am going to be comfortable for the next three months and everyone who looks at me will just have to deal with it. I dragged the Juban Princeling to Motherhood Maternity at rush hour on a Friday and bought myself some righteous black velor sweatpants, and ordered a pair of grey velor sweatpants.

I don't care if I don't have anything that goes with them.

I don't care if I look like a Real Housewife of Long Island in them.

I don't care if they are already covered in lint.

I don't care that they don't quite work with my winter boots.

What I care about is that they are comfortable and don't hurt my baby belly. Even if Barack and Michelle came over for dinner, I'd probably wear the velor sweatpants. Michelle's had two babies, she would totally understand and be all, "If anyone can rock velor sweatpants, it's you, Mer." And then we would fist bump in sisterhood and be BFFs.

So deal with it, world.

And, as I told my brother Mr. Funny, for those of you playing Pregnancy Cliche Bingo at home, here's another square to mark.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Follow Me to My Guest Post!

I'm so internet famous now that other bloggers ask - nay, beg - me to guest post for them. Today I'm hanging out with Greta Van Der Rol of Perceptions of Reality to talk about moving beyond your "Aha!" moment of inspiration to sit down and really write:


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

An Open Letter To: Holiday Travel

Dear Holiday Travel:

It's "that time of year" again, when trillions of people around the world, even in countries that are not dominated by Judeo-Christian dogma, will take to the roads and skies (and rails, probably) to visit "loved ones" in other cities and towns.

And we all get cranky about it.

Because, let's face it, traveling at a time of year when every other human being is also traveling is a pain in the ass. It's the kind of thing that can kill the Holiday spirit and make those of us who otherwise are all about stuff like peace on earth or whatever into giant Crankypantses.

My family's journey to Miami last week was fine, in which "fine" = "nothing bad happened." Unless you count my 3-year old son's tantrum just as we were boarding the plane, which I do not. Look, he had a toy airplane, and the little girl his age nearby at the gate also had a toy airplane, and 3-year olds generally don't understand the concept of "Now boarding all passengers in Group 2," so much. They just want to play, and if you try to take that away from them it is possible they will scream bloody murder like you are hacking off one of their limbs, throw themselves on the floor in front of other passengers, and cry like the little babies they are.

Thankfully the tantrum ended before we got on the plane. 

For the record, my son is an excellent flier. He has never once had a tantrum in the air. Not to brag, Holiday Travel, but my kid is the one other parents wish they had when they fly.

But I digress.

Our flight back to New York was...I think the correct term is "a shit show."

Here are some things I can live without during future Holiday Travels, in no particular order of importance:

  • TSA employees who don't let a pregnant woman with a 3-year old into the "family line" at security because we don't have a stroller, and then proceed to allow another stroller-less family into that very same "family line"
  • TSA employees who steal little girls' shoes. The family ahead of us mysteriously "lost" their daughter's purple sneakers, which the TSA agents swore up and down must have been stolen by a fellow passenger. Later, I overheard the father tell another passenger that the little girl herself found her shoes - behind the TSA counter, while the agents insisted they were "lost." For shame, Holiday Travel.
  • TSA employees who think it is OK to snark to my son that he is "too old" for a pacifier or blankie. I'm sorry, did I ask for your opinion on my son's creature comforts while traveling?
  • The entire TSA in general.
  • Fellow passengers who see a child and automatically pass judgement on me, my parenting, and my kid. Hey, my kid is an awesome flier, probably better than many adults, so just shut your face. And to the lady behind us in the security line who snarked, "Look at all these kids. They shouldn't be allowed to fly," - be thankful that you weren't on our flight because I myself would have kicked your seat the whole time, asshole.
  • Incompetent flight attendants who are so slow with the beverage and snack cart that they are still serving "refreshments" during the descent.
  • Miami International Airport

Here's the thing, Holiday Travel. The Holidays happen at the same time every year, and yet airline and airport employees act like they are completely taken by surprise. "What? Thanksgiving? When did this happen and why did no one warn me? IS THERE NO GOD???"

If that retail store I hate but can't stop shopping at - the big red discount one that rhymes with "Margaret" - can pull Halloween decorations off the shelves to make room for Christmas lights on October 20 (no joke), then surely your people can get their act together? It's not like air travel is new. It's not like Thanksgiving or Christmas are new. I made a calendar full of photos of my son, the Juban Princeling, for my husband to take to work. If I get you a copy, Holiday Travel, will you please use it to mark sometime before Thanksgiving when you need to start anticipating a giant tsunami of travelers, many of whom have small children (who necessarily need their pacis, and shoes)? Because there really is no reason for the extra-surly employees (who snark and steal) and the crazy long lines to check bags and go through security.

If it seems like I am being particularly harsh on you Holiday Travel, it's because I hate you. Get it together and maybe one day years from now I'll venture outside the five boroughs for some major holiday travel again.

Meredith L.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dancing With the Stars Post-Mortem: The Finale

This year for Thanksgiving I am grateful for my wonderful family, my health, my baby-to-be, Twizzlers, the Red Sox failure to make it into the post-season, and J.R. Martinez winning Dancing With the Stars Season 13.

What I am not thankful for is the 2-hour finale starting at 9. Some of us are tired. Some of us are pregnant. Some of us need sleep, and staying up until 11 is mean. You could have started at 8, DWTS, is all I'm saying.

I've been predicting since Week 4 that J.R. would win, so I wasn't that surprised. But I did worry that the judges' collective crush on Rob Kardashian might create an unpleasant upset. Not that Rob isn't adorable and cute and a good dancer, but if J.R. lost it would be like shaking hands with Hitler: disturbing, wrong, and un-American.

J.R.: "Thank you to everyone who voted for me!"

In one of many shockers of the night, Ricki Lake came in third place, but she seemed to be a good sport about it, which is good, because I remember when Layla Ali wasn't a good sport about coming in third and that made me lose respect for her which then made me afraid of her because I bet she could totally feel my lack of respect through the T.V. and wanted to reach out and punch me in the face, like it's somehow my fault she doesn't know how to lose gracefully. At least Ricki didn't do that, though maybe she did and they just didn't show it? No, I can't sleep at night thinking about that, so we're all going to pretend that Ricki was a graceful nerd with a hairy chest. Did anyone else do that rhyme growing up? "First is worst, second's best, third is the nerd with the hairy chest." No? Ok.

The biggest shocker of the night, in my opinion, was that J.R. did not choose his Samba from Week 5 for his third dance of the night. That was probably my favorite dance of the entire season. But later on, when he had to do an Instant Samba, it sort of made more sense. And he didn't do the Waltz from Week 3, but I kind of get that because it is super-emotional, and if it made me cry my eyes out and I don't even know J.R. personally and am not, you know, him, then I can't imagine him forcing himself to do it again. 

So, whatever, he did his Jive and it was fine, but here's the thing: forcing the dancers to do 3-4 dances in two nights was just cruel. In spite of the judges' gushing accolades, J.R., Rob, and even Ricki just fell flat last night. I know, I'm not supposed to say that, I'm supposed to be all, "It was everyone's best dances ever and the crowning jewel in the Dancing With the Stars tiara of joy!" But I can't. Because that's a lie. Everyone was tired, and I think forcing Rob and J.R. to do an instant Samba was unnecessary and made me feel bad for them because they were clearly exhausted. At that point in the show I seriously doubt the Instant Samba made the difference in who won, and it wasn't fun to watch.

Know what was fun to watch? Carson Kressley's dance to Madonna's "Vogue." Well, it was fun if you ignore the fact that poor Carson can't dance his way out of a wet paper bag, but I still enjoyed it.

And I'm glad that Chynna Philips got to redeem herself with her Tango, but more importantly, I'm glad I got to see my Tony dance one last time this season. I LOVE YOU TONY YOU ARE TOTALLY MY FAVORITE PRO!!! <3 <3 <3

But if we're going to talk about the finals, and I mean really talk about the finals here in the intimacy of my blog, we need to talk about the freestyle dances from Monday night, specifically J.R. and Karina's lifts. Did they turn off the gravity in the DWTS ballroom for those? Is Karina hollow inside? IS J.R. REALLY SUPERMAN??? I think Carrie-Ann summed up those lifts best: "sick." In a good way. 

Anyway, I'm at the point in this post-mortem where there is probably tons more to say, but I can't, because J.R. won and all is right with the world, and also I am trying to spend time with my family for the holiday week. Next season starts a few days after my due date, so we'll see if I am capable of doing these post-mortems. We'll see, but hopefully I will be back with these in March, despite a newborn. Priorities, you know.

Thanks for hanging in there with me, everyone, and especially thank you to my awesome husband for putting up with my obsession even though he hates the show. <3

Friday, November 18, 2011

...don't say anything at all

This being my second go-round on the Pregnancy Carousel of Suck, I am well aware of the fact that my baby bump tends to make other people stupid. 

Oh, it makes me forgetful. Lately I've taken to a sort of Tara Gregson approach to what is commonly called "Pregnancy Brain." Like this:

Husband: "What's that actor's name?"
Me: "Oh, man. Non-Pregnant Meredith knows this off the top of her head. I'm going to have to look it up."


Form at the doctor's office: "Name:"
Me: *pulling out my driver's license*

The other day at the supermarket I meant to grab two containers of orange juice, and the next thing I knew I was standing by our shopping cart, checking to see if I had put one of them in there yet. Turns out I had only grabbed one, but the point is half a second after I would have put an oj into my cart I forgot whether or not I had done so.

While that's not nearly as bad as "How I Met Your Mother" would have us believe when earlier this season Lily gave a stapler and a bottle of wine to some trick-or-treaters, it's still not fun, especially when you usually have a mind like a steel trap. Steel! Trap! WHAT???

But, you know, at least I have the excuse of being pregnant to explain away my forgetfulness. Hormones, building a person from scratch, not being able to get comfortable when I sleep, waking several times a night to pee - none of that is good for the ol' noggin. 

Know who does not have an excuse for being stupid? Other people. Especially other (non-adoptive) mothers. You'd think that, of anyone on the entire planet, other women who have gone through the whole pregnancy rigormorale would be a little more careful about what comes out of their mouths, but they aren't. They're pretty dumb.

First, there were the several women who told me how much better sons are than daughters during my first pregnancy. Around that same time I wore a pink t-shirt one day to work and a cashier at the drugstore commented, "Oh, are you having a girl?" Because I guess failure to create another uterus inside your own bans you from the color pink forever.

Then there was my former building super, who told me over and over how his wife walked for miles every day during her pregnancies and both her labors were, like, minutes long, because as we all know, walking is the one and only key to a quick and painless labor.

A pregnant friend of mine today informed me that she told a co-worker how she now goes to bed at 9pm, to which the co-worker responded with, "You need to get a hobby!" Because if there's one thing pregnant women are, it's bored, especially when you work and already have a 2 1/2-year old.

Today I treated myself to a pre-Holiday haircut and eyebrow shaping because even feminists sometimes like to look like pretty ladies, and the woman waxing my brows - who has four grown sons of her own - said to me, "Wow, you're only about a month away, aren't you?" 

Now, my reply: "Actually, I have another four months to go," would normally embarrass and silence most people. Most people would blush and apologize, but not my brow waxer! She continued, "Wow, you're really big!"

I had no witty retort to that, so I just sort of shrugged and said, "Yeah, I'm carrying really high."

Which I am. I'm carrying so high that the baby may well come out of my rib cage ala John Hurt in "Alien," unlike my last son, whom I carried so low that by the end I had to hold him in with my knees locked together, afraid that a hard sneeze or laugh would send him shooting across the room.

So, I'm carrying high this time, but I still don't think I'm carrying particularly BIG, you know? And it certainly isn't the job of anyone else to comment on my size.

Which...bothered me, at first. As a feminist, I make a conscious effort not to fat-shame myself, which is why I can happily report that I am writing this while eating an entire pack of Twizzlers. But if I'm not feeling fat-shamed for that woman's comment, then why did it bother me so? And the answer came to me a while later: because pregnancy, like so much else concerning women's bodies, is considered public domain. Total strangers feel the need to comment upon mine, like the bartender at the Japanese restaurant my husband and I went to (DON'T WORRY, PREGNANCY POLICE, I DID NOT EAT SUSHI!), who asked me, "You're going to breastfeed, right?" while going through the motions of honking his non-existent breast. 

Because ultimately, strangers commenting on whether I look big or small is really their way of commenting on whether they think my unborn child is healthy or not, on whether I'm taking care of myself - and, more importantly, my fetus - or not. I would like to think that it's heartwarming to see such an outpouring of community concern for the well-being of the unborn next generation, but I doubt these strangers are coming from an "It Takes a Village" place. More likely they are coming from a place of judgment, something almost every mother is familiar with. Mothers are a favorite whipping-girl of our society, starting with the nanosecond our baby bumps become obvious.

For those of you who need a take-away from all of this, here is a list of perfectly nice, acceptable, non-judgey things you can say to a pregnant woman:

"You look beautiful!"

"Here's a bottle of Macallan 18-year old Scotch* for when you pop that kid out!"

"Would you like a free foot massage at the expensive day spa nearby?"

"I hope labor and delivery go according to your birth plan!"

"That child is already so lucky to have you as a mother!"

"May your baby never get colic!"

"You're already doing an awesome job!"

"I've heard that chocolate in the womb helps babies develop higher IQs and love their mothers more!"

"May your child be the first gay Jewish-Cuban President of the United States!"

And, of course, there is what my husband tells me on a nearly daily basis: "You are one sexy pregger pants." He's a smart one, is that guy.

*I did not receive any compensation or requests to endorse Macallan Scotch Whisky for this statement, but if they read this and want to send me a free bottle anyway, for when I pop this kid out, I will not protest.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dancing With the Stars Post-Mortem: Week 9

I was so afraid I was going to have to start this post with a giant, "NOOOOOOO!" because of J.R.'s ankle. What if I jinxed him? What if he gets the boot because of me? I was too tired to text in my votes Monday night and what if there's a huge upset on Tuesday because of my laziness? 

Thankfully, I did not cause J.R. to get eliminated. If he had been, I'm not sure I could live with myself. With everything else going on in the news lately I am sorely tempted to move my family to a log cabin in the woods and live as solitary survivalists, and J.R. not making it to the finals may very well have pushed me over the edge.

Because he's still in, we don't have to break the lease on our new apartment. 

This is how the world works when you live with me.

Meanwhile, my husband loves the DWTS finals because, as he puts it, "When that show ends, we all win." See, he says stuff like that, and yet he will also comment on the dances. He pretends to play Angry Birds next to me on the couch, but I think he secretly loves DWTS. 


Nothing on earth makes me as happy as the Muppets do. So Muppets on DWTS? It's like all my Christmases and birthdays rolled into one! Why aren't the Muppets on every week???

And Carson Kressley. I <3 you. Never leave the show!!!

Now, if I were Hope Solo, and I was pretty sure that barring Rob or J.R. or Ricki dropping dead I was going to be eliminated this week, you know what I would NOT do? Start my Paso Doble in chains. And sit on the floor in the middle of my Paso while Maks dances around me. But that's just me; I've seen a lot of seasons of this show and I know what needs to happen in the semi-finals in order to advance to the championship dance. Maybe Hope didn't know these things. Maybe Maks forgot? Maybe he was so busy holding her hand during her shoulder injections and trying to be a Nice Guy that he didn't think, "Hey, the semi-finals are no place for wasting time with chains and floor-sitting!" 

Then again, maybe they both knew, which is why neither of them were at all surprised when Hope got eliminated last night. We'll just never know.

Their Argentine Tango, though....whew! HOT! RAWR! 

Husband: "Doesn't someone do a Tango to that song every season?"

See? He pays lots of attention for someone who professes to hate this show with the passion of a thousand dying suns.

He also called her fringe pants during her part of the Cha-Cha relay "gorilla legs." I'm just saying.

Still, the sexy, steamy Tango could not save Hope from the merciless producers who have clearly wanted her to go from Week 1, but more on that later.

Now, J.R. sprained his ankle during rehearsals, but he took a page from the book of Ricki Lake - and also, let's face it, the dude is probably the toughest man on the planet - and kept going. His Paso was not his best dance, but I didn't think it was as bad as Len said it was. His footwork was surprisingly crisp and precise for having an ankle injury, and I've already said that I know from ankle injuries

His Argentine Tango was also fine, and for a second dance on a hurt ankle, he not only pulled it off he actually impressed the judges. I knew they couldn't stay disappointed in him for long.

I admit, I was embarrassed for Rob when he and Cheryl came out on that parade float with the giant blow-up rainbow behind them. But I also admit that I kind of loved their Samba. I loved it so much that I woke up the next day with "I Go to Rio" stuck in my head, and sang it for my 3-year old son, the Juban Princeling, when he woke up, so we Samba'ed together from his room to the kitchen. It was highly cute. Oh yeah, and Rob got his first perfect score to this dance.

After Rob's Argentine Tango, the judges pointed out that Rob is actually a good dancer, and not hiding behind Cheryl, which is true. I've said before and I'll say again how much I hate when stars don't really put any dance in their dances and still continue from one week to the next, or even win the mirrorball trophy. I'm looking at YOU, Emmett Smith. When the pros don't have a strong dancer, they have a tendency to have the stars simply stand there while they do all the dancing. This is more obvious with female stars and male pros than it is with male stars and female pros, which is how Emmett Smith won a few years ago. But Rob doesn't do that, and I'm glad the judges noticed.

So, Ricki Lake. I like her so much, but is her whole "I'm no good at this!" schtick getting under anyone else's nerves? It's a little annoying, I think, to make it this far in the competition and still act surprised when you do well. She's like that friend we all have who apologizes all the time for everything, and at first you're like, "No, really, you're fine!" but then after a while you're like, "Seriously, stop. You're making me feel like a monster here." Ricki - you are in the finals. I think it's OK to be proud of yourself. 

Anyway, Ricki and Derek did a Samba to "Jump in the Line," which is another song my husband is sure someone does a Samba to every season. And again: he hates this show and tries to distract himself every week when I watch it, but this he notices. Mmm-hmm. (I'm going to end up divorced after this post.) And I didn't notice any glaring problems with the Samba, despite Ricki's sour puss when she finished, and clearly the judges agreed with me because Ricki got a perfect score. So, you know, just smile and say "Thank you," Ricki. Oy.

Her Argentine Tango was excellent. Of course. Just...stop demanding external validation already!


I'd like to take a second and point out how much I enjoyed the Design-A-Dance. Even my husband liked it because he is in love with Anna Trebunskaya. What can I say, he likes bossy redheads. I like it when the Paso costumes are more black leather and Goth-ey, it goes with the dance. (Husband: "Well, yeah. Gothic and Paso Doble go together because who do you think the original goths were, as in the Visigoths who ruled Spain?") I've also always thought that "Bad Romance" would be a kick-ass Paso song. And I was right. Of course.

In fact, some day when I am finally just famous enough to be on DWTS, here is my song list. Oh, I know I won't get to pick my own songs, but here's my list anyway:

Paso Doble: "I Love Rock n' Roll" by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Samba: "The Rhythm of the Night" by El Debarge
Argentine Tango: "Common People" by Pulp (is that Sadie Frost in the video?)
Mambo: "Conga" by Miami Sound Machine
Cha-Cha: "Just Like Heaven" by The Cure
Jive: "Just Can't Get Enough" by Depeche Mode
Rhumba: "On and On" by Stephen Bishop
Quickstep: "A Little Respect" by Erasure
Foxtrot: "Galileo" by Indigo Girls
Waltz: "Angels" by Robbie Williams
Freestyle (for when I make it to the finals): "Say Hey (I Love You)" by Michael Franti & Spearhead

Learn it, know it, love it, DWTS producers. Also: if you pair me with anyone but Tony Dovolani as my partner, I will cut a bitch.

Yes, I've put a lot of thought into this, and maybe if I put this much effort into my writing career I'd be published already.

So, Hope Solo got eliminated last night, to absolutely no one's surprise, least of all hers or Maks's. You could tell by the way Maks embraced her before the announcement that he totally saw this coming. And so did she. She had none of Nancy Grace's (possibly false) bravado, and was not at all stunned to find herself in the bottom two like J.R. was.

And here's another example of inconsistency in judging. I know I'm not a professional ballroom judge, but I never thought Hope's dancing was as bad as all that. Len, Bruno and Carrie-Ann seemed to pick on her a lot when there were always worse dancers around. Hope was actually kind of good, though she had no shot in hell of winning. But the producers of the show clearly had their favorites, and Hope was not one of them. I think this might be what Maks - and, many seasons ago, Derek - tried to say, though it came off as a self-serving rant: that for some contestants, the odds are stacked against them and no matter what they do they aren't going to win. I hate to sound paranoid, but I do believe that's how it is on this show. There are fan favorites who stay voted on, but there are also producer favorites, kept around for ratings reasons no matter how poorly they dance. (See above, re: Emmett Smith.) And poor Hope was not one of the faves. Maybe she wasn't controversial enough or didn't have a famous mama, but clearly her fans kept her alive far past the point which the producers - through the judges - would have kicked her off. 

So, we are nearly at the end of our DWTS run (husband: "Thank god!"). Next week we have the finals, which is always super fun because I like seeing what everyone chooses for their freestyle dances. Here's some free advice, Ricki, Rob and J.R.: don't do a slow song. Do something fun and fast and energetic. The slow songs are pretty much death knells in the finals. 

Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Welcome, Barbara Quinn!

If I had to name someone as my writing mentor, Barbara Quinn would be she. (Is that grammatically correct, Barb?) She went from being my "boss" at the Rose & Thorn e-Zine to a personal friend to, well, a writing mentor. In the 11 or so years it's taken me to finally sit down and write my novel, she has never once given up on me. 

So, it gives me great pleasure to present to you lucky people my interview with Barb (she lets me call her that) about her fantastically dark book of magic realism, "Speed of Dark," which you should all go buy right now because it is really great and I'm not just saying that because I helped edit it. I wouldn't be pushing it if I didn't think it had value.

You can (SHOULD) buy "Speed of Dark" by clicking here.

Here's an amuse bouche for you:

There are some people you never forget. In the summer of 1964, Luke D’Angelo falls for one of them – a mysterious girl named Celeste. Like Luke, Celeste is an outsider struggling to find her identity, but unlike Luke, Celeste has special powers that have the potential to destroy everything Luke and his friends believe in. 

Luke and his mentally challenged sister become fast friends with this curious girl. Set in upstate New York, in a town that is home to a shrimp cocktail plant that belches a foul-smelling tomato and fish fog, this coming of age tale about a girl with a dream and the teens who want to help her fulfill it, is a balance between the comic and the profound. The story resonates with the message that inside each of us is a light that burns so bright no dark can extinguish it. But at what cost?

Meredith Lopez: "Speed of Dark" has such a rich, unique character – Celeste. What inspired you to create her?

Barbara Quinn:  The book grew out of a discussion with a friend about our frustration with being able to change things. I said we can’t even predict the weather, never mind change it. And that made me think, what if there was someone who could control and change things that we think can’t be changed? What would that person be like? And Celeste immediately came to mind.

ML: Why did you choose to set your novel in the 1960s? What were some of the challenges of writing about the past?

BQ: I grew up in the 60’s and have a fondness for the era. The tunes are constantly in my head, and it’s full of rich language. I did have to stop and make sure that the references I used were correct for 1964, the year it is set. 

ML: The characters in "Speed of Dark" are adolescents, but I wouldn't quite categorize the book as being Young Adult, or YA. I can't imagine the story being told by anyone else. How did you choose the character that you did to be the story's narrator? And how did you manage to cross gender lines so well?

BQ: Like Celeste, the character of Luke was clear to me from the beginning and I didn’t think about having problems crossing gender lines. Over the years I’ve listened a lot and developed an ear for speech patterns and behaviors. I have an older brother and a son, so that helped too with the adolescent feelings, behaviors, and speech.

ML:  You've been self-publishing for years, even before it became this massive "thing" in the writing and publishing worlds. How have you seen the self-publishing world change, for better or for worse?

BQ: It really has changed quite a bit, hasn’t it? You can easily put a book up at Amazon or Barnes and Noble now, though the marketing is still a challenge. While all of my books have small publishers, and none are self-published now, I didn’t start out that way. When agents were unable to place Hard Head and Speed of Dark, I turned to self-publishing. Not long ago a publisher, Eternal Press, acquired them and gave me new covers and editing and marketing. It’s great to have a publisher behind them. After my first venture with self-publishing, the next two novels, 36C and Slings and Arrows, found a home with DiskusPublishing, a small publisher. What a boon to writers this new age is.  

ML: Let's talk about the Rose & Thorn for a while. [The online literary 'zine Barbara co-founded and edited from 1998 to 2008.] Do you think your experience as an editor helps you as a writer?

BQ: Being an editor at the Rose & Thorn honed my writing skills. I learned to see why a story didn’t work, and why another one did. It also exposed me to many different genres and broadened my interest in writing and reading.  

ML: Will you ever go back to R&T, or to the literary magazine world?

BQ: That could easily happen. I enjoy everything about writing and will always have a soft spot for the Rose and Thorn.

ML: How do you find the time to write?

BQ: It isn’t easy to find the time to write but when I don’t write I get grumpy so it’s a good thing for my family when I carve out the time to get some words down. I’m not a morning person, and usually late in the day or late at night, I can find some quiet time to let things flow.

ML: What is your writing process like? Are you a planner, or a "pantser" (flying by the seat of your pants)?

BQ: I’m a combination of both. My natural inclination is to be a planner, but I’ve learned that I have to leave things that aren’t clear alone and they will reveal themselves eventually. That was hard to do at first, but I’ve learned to trust that one night I’ll wake up with the obvious solution to whatever wasn’t working in the novel. A fellow writer once told me to write what you know and fill in the rest later. So that’s what I do.

ML: What other novels do you have in the works that you can tell us about?

BQ: I’ve got a couple in the fire. I can’t say too much since there’s a weird magic that goes along with getting them done and that keeps them out of the spotlight. One is a steampunk. I’ve recently grown interested in steampunk and have an idea that I’m excited about. The other is a contemporary women’s fiction about the adventures of a recently divorced woman. Stay tuned…..

Thanks, Mer!

About the author:
Barbara is the author of four novels: Speed of Dark, 36C, Slings and Arrows, and the forthcoming Hard Head. She practiced law for ten years, and held many jobs from lingerie sales clerk to postal worker, cocktail waitress to process server and held many jobs from lingerie sales clerk to postal worker, cocktail waitress to process server. Her love of travel has taken her to four continents and 47 states. She splits her time between Bradley Beach on the Jersey shore and Montebello, New York. She and her husband have one son, Bret, and a grandson, Ammo. Barbara welcomes email at BAQuinn@aol.com  and would love to keep in touch via twitter.com/BarbaraQuinn.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dancing With the Stars Post-Mortem: Week 8

This week's episode almost cost me my marriage. When Ricki Lake spoke with Jennifer Grey, my husband actually asked me: "Who is that?" That's Jennifer Grey. "And what is she famous for?" She won a couple of seasons ago. "Yeah, but what is she known for?"

To which I answered: Get out of the house. I'm divorcing you.

NO ONE PUTS BABY IN A CORNER! Not even metaphorically!

He's lucky I let him stay and didn't make him sleep in the bath tub, amiright?

Speaking of things that I simply will not brook, what was up with the gay jokes on Dance Center during last night's results show? Usually I love Dance Center. I look forward to it all season long, along with the group dance and the first perfect score of the season. Here is what I emailed to ABC:

Why the gay joke regarding J.R. Martinez and Broadway last night during the results show? That was a cheap shot, and beneath the integrity of the entire network. Jerry Rice's sly little, "Don't ask! Don't tell!" aside made light of an important issue that has affected an enormous amount of our hard-working, self-sacrificing service members. Gay jokes, and making light of DADT, are NOT OK.
I'm more than a little bothered that in 2011 this even happened. 

Sighing and moving on.

Monday night the remaining five contestants did one regular dance and then one "instant" Jive, in which they had rehearsed basic moves but did not know their song until 20 minutes before performing. Which I guess is kind of interesting, and I liked seeing how the different professionals handled the pressure of the instant dance. 

The Jive makes my ankles hurt just watching it. I can't imagine having to do it. I have weak ankles anyway, and my left ankle never healed properly from a fall I took when I was 17, so I feel like if I tried to Jive my entire left leg would just shatter. I'd have to pull a Layla Ali and dance in sneakers or something, and even then my left ankle would collapse under me and I'd fall and Tom would have to cut to commercial and when the show resumed there'd be footage of the ambulance taking me away and Tony - who would obvs be my professional partner - would have to make a statement about how much I love dancing but we just can't continue with the show because the doctors now have to reattach my foot directly to my shin bone.

So maybe it's for the best that I will never be on the show, despite every wish I make when I blow out candles on my birthday cake.

Rob Kardashian - whom, I'm not going to lie, I'm kind of crushing on a little bit and it makes me hate myself - did a bloody wonderful Quickstep to "Take On Me," which makes all us Gen Xers very happy. I like when the couples do Old Timey dances to modern (well, modernish) songs, just like I love modern interpretations of Shakespeare. Keeps things relevant and interesting, you know? 

Raise your hand if you ever thought you'd see anything done by a Kardashian compared to Shakespeare. Right???

His Jive to "Maneater" - another 80s shout-out - was so-so, but you gotta give the boy some credit for doing two dances in one night, with the second one being practically by the seat of his striped pants, which my husband hated. (Me: "Maybe Cheryl's trying to draw extra attention to his butt this week?")

During their backstage confessional, or whatever it's called, Cheryl pointed out that it's been a while since she's come this far in the competition, which reminds me: like Macks, Cheryl excels at taking mediocre dancers and turning them into actual contenders. Personally, she rubs me the wrong way. I feel like we would not be friends in real life. She's just too abrasive for me, and reminds me of one of my husband's law school friend's ex-girlfriends who was always up in everyone's business and kind of a spaz. But she's good at what she does and she brings out the best in her partners, so if Rob actually makes it to the finals it'll be because Cheryl is a brilliant teacher.

Speaking of Maks, he brought Hope Solo home to meet his family last week, and even after seeing Mama Maks and hearing stories about what a whiny little crybaby he used to be, I still think he's a douche. And also, I usually assume he's hooking up with his partners, but with Hope I never really got that vibe, so I couldn't really wrap my brain around the sight of him taking her home to Mom and Dad for a home cooked meal that looked DELICIOUS. However, Maks seems to have gotten it through his head that he catches more flies with honey than with being a petulant, megalomaniac douchebag, because he actually smiled and played nice this week and it didn't seem fake, for once. I absolutely adored Hope's Quickstep to "Valerie," which was fun and breezy and quite sweet. If she can do that again next week it'll be tough deciding whether she or Rob should go home.

Her Jive to "The Best Damn Thing" was also quite good, though I had to laugh when they kept dancing even after the song ended. D'oh! Timing FAIL! I'm glad she scored even just one point higher for her Jive than Rob did, because hers was actually much better.

The only reason I have to root against Ricki Lake is that I feel like the Hough siblings dominate this competition, and quite frankly, I grow weary of their wholesome blond perfection. But that's my personal itch to scratch. Otherwise Ricki is lovely, and her Waltz to "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman" was touching and emotional, and I'm surprised Carrie Ann didn't do her usual "I"m trying not to cry!" she does after almost every Waltz. Also, what was up with Ricki's massive pompadour hair?

Ricki had to do her Jive to "Land of a Thousand Dances," which is not a song I would ever choose for DWTS. It's a fun song, and I love Wilson Pickett, but I would think that, ironically, it's a tough song to do a ballroom dance to. Still, if anyone could pull it off it's Mr. "I Can't Fail!" Derek, and their Jive was pretty good. Not great, but a few beats better than average, even despite Ricki being forced to dig her heels into the floor during the turn so that the Lift Nazi Carrie Ann wouldn't dock her a point. 

Oh, Nancy Grace. You're so cute thinking you were going to make it past this week without any of the other four breaking a leg. Kudos for not giving in to what has to be all-consuming jealousy and pulling a Tonya Harding. That's restraint, people. 

Nancy's Tango to "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane" was a noble effort, but lackluster. Her footwork was sloppy, and I did not understand the judges gushing over her. Also, WTF is up with that song? It made me feel icky inside.

Nancy's Jive to "Upside Down" was just plain not good. No, worse than that - it was painful to watch. I cringed. And this is why she could never win this competition: she lacks the stamina to do more than one dance per night and can't hold her shit together the way the others can. 

La la la, J.R. Martinez's Waltz to "What the World Needs Now" was perfect and so was his Jive to "Tutti Frutti." We all know he's going to win, so at this point the question is simply, who will be his competition in the finals? Ricki is the obvious choice, but Rob and Hope should not be counted out just yet. 

So, Nancy got sent home to the surprise of no one, except possibly Nancy. Was that all bluff when she talked about being down but not out yet? Or did she really think she had a chance? Either way, she made it farther than I thought she would, so that's something for her to be proud of. I will miss Tristan and his cute little accent and his cute little costumes, though. 

Next week is the semi-finals, and I honestly can't even begin to predict what will happen. J.R. will make it for sure, and odds are Ricki will, too. I think next week will be devoted to Rob vs Hope for the third spot in the finals, and your guess is as good as mine about which one will make it. If Rob can bring the energy and focus he did this week, and if Hope can relax and trust Maks like she did this week, then it will be a very tight race, indeed. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Real O'Clock: Blog-In for Democracy

It's a Very Special Real O'Clock here at Grey Skies, as I lift my news blackout for just a mo' in order to participate in this Blog-In for the 2012 elections. 

For more information about Blog-In 2011, please click here.

Dear 2012 Presidential Candidates, 

We are your future constituents and we are parents. We are American mothers and fathers and grandparents and guardians. Our families might be the most diverse in the world. Blended and combined in endless permutations, we represent every major religion, political ideology and ethnic culture that exists. We are made from equal parts biology and choice. Our children come to us in every way possible—including fertility miracles, adoption, and remarriage. 

Our very modern families embody the freedom that defines America. We embody America. We are rich in diversity, but we are united in our family values. We come together today, with one voice, to express our grave disappointment in the national political discourse. 

The 2012 countdown has barely begun and we are already being bombarded with the warmed-over, hypocritical rhetoric of 2008. We are living in a time where 25% of Americans now live in poverty, the unemployment rate stands at 16%, and we are spending close to $170 billion annually between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Given the current state of affairs we would expect every candidate to focus on the issues that truly matter: job creation, debt-relief, taxes, education, poverty, and ending the war(s). Instead, it is already clear to us that the conversation has been hijacked, with the goal of further polarizing our nation into a politically motivated and falsely created class-war. 

We will not stand for another campaign year in which politicians presume to know what our family values are as they relate to the nation. 

To be clear, here are our family values: 

Affordable health care, including family planning, for all Americans. We will not tolerate any candidate using the shield of “Choice” to blind us from the issues that really matter. When funding is stripped from organizations like Planned Parenthood, access to sliding-scale health care (including yearly pap smears & mammograms), comprehensive sex education, and family planning is blocked from the poorest of the population.

Access to education, and the ability to actually use it. We want quality, affordable, federally-funded pre-K programs made available in every State, in order to provide an even starting point for all children enrolled in public schools— regardless of the wealth of the district or town they live in.

A reinstatement of regulations for banks issuing mortgages and full prosecution for those who engaged in fraudulent lending practices. We want full accountability —investigation, indictment and prosecution— of those individuals and institutions who engaged in fraudulent lending practices and who helped create the massive foreclosures that left many families homeless or struggling to keep their homes.

A return of strict environmental regulations protecting water, air, food, and land that were removed in the last two decades. We want our children to grow up in a world not weighed down by the strains of pollution and global warming. Between BPA in our products, sky-rocketing rates of asthma in kids, questionable hormones in our over-processed food, and more, we need leaders who will put our needs and safety over the desires and profits of large corporations. 

Family planning, healthcare, education, economic solvency and environmental safety: these are our national family values. 

Candidates who demonstrate the ability to understand the gravity of these issues, and their impact on our families, and who can provide actual, viable solutions to these problems will garner our support and our votes. 

We believe in this democratic system of ours, and we will continue to use our voices and our votes to see that it reaches its fullest potential. 

Your future constituents, The mothers & fathers of America 

If you would like to forward this letter to your elected officials, you can find their contact info at the following links: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

* Sources for stats: http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/13/news/economy/poverty_rate_income/index.htm http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.4452bed82adf3124e5884678e236d7fb.361 http://costofwar.com/en/ 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Real O'Clock: Boys and Body Image

Every now and then here at the Grey Skies World Headquarters, we like to take it down a notch, from our usual wine-guzzling, DWTS-watching, geek con-going ways and get Real. If this were a rock concert, now would be the part where I sit atop a stool, mic in hand, spotlight on, and croon "Every Rose Has A Thorn" while swaying gently, like my depth and emotion are far too sincere to be contained by sitting still.

Get out your lighters (or cell phone screens), because it's about to get Real O'Clock all up in here. I might throw some numbers or statistics at you that I pull off the internets, but that doesn't mean I don't love you.

A couple of years ago I was asked to be the "real mom" on a panel discussing a really excellent book called "Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat?" There, I had the honor of meeting one of the book's authors, the amazing Claire Mysko, who has become a friend and personal hero of mine in the past two years. 

The talk shed light on something women, especially mothers, don't discuss much: body image issues after childbirth. 

I don't want to go into an entire synopsis of the book because that would be doing it a grave injustice. Claire and her co-author, Magali, are quite articulate enough without my ruining their message with a semi-coherent summation. 

Instead, I'd like to talk about a point I was inspired to make after reading the book: a point about boys and body image.

Most of the talk about body image and healthy self-esteem centers around girls, and rightfully so: according to the National Eating Disorder Association, anorexia and bulimia affect females 10 times more than they affect men. Our entire culture is set up to make women and girls feel like they can never "win" some mythical battle with their bodies: either they are too fat or "scary skinny." The media treats female bodies like public property, there to be critiqued, criticized, and publicly consumed. 

Far better writers have discussed that problem, and at great length. I'm not inventing anything new here.

What I want to discuss right now, though, are how boys are also affected by media images of male bodies and a masculine ideal. This is also not new, but I am now the mother of two boys, and this is my blog, and I need to get this out.

There are four main reasons why I think it is necessary to include men and boys in the discussions about body image issues:

1. Societal expectations, cultural norms, and media reflections of manhood and masculinity are as much a part of feminism as those things are for women and girls. 
When my son(s) watch TV and movies and play with toys, they are absorbing what it means to be a man just as much as a little girl absorbs what it means to be a woman. And so as a parent I have a vested interest in making sure the messages surrounding my son are positive ones: that you don't need enormous muscles to be strong, being scrawny is not automatically comical, and physical prowess does not equal being a decent human being. My first son, the Juban Princeling, already seems to take after the boys on my side of the family: tall and skinny. While some of them are athletic, too, none of them have what you'd typically call rippling muscles. They are tall guys, not necessarily big guys. And I want my sons to know that that's fine. Skinny guys do not have to be relegated to the role of nerdy sidekick, or bumbling comic relief; in too many movies and TV shows, the skinny guy is the equivalent of the fat girl - a wise and/or wisecracking best friend, while the more stereotypically attractive girl or boy is the star. 

What does this have to do with feminism? 

When our men feel better about themselves, when boys are not preoccupied with outdated and false ideas of being macho, or being manly, they are more prone to treat women with respect, as equals. A man who does not feel the need to prove his masculinity is a man who does not need to put down women in order to feel better about himself. A man who has healthy self-esteem does not need to stand on top of others in order to feel big.

It's pretty simple, really.

2. Boys and men are not immune from eating disorders.
I found this out while I prepped for the panel discussion: anorexia and bulimia affect about 1 million men and boys in America, or about 10% of the eating disordered population. That's not nothing.

One million! And that's a statistic from the 1990s!

If we treat eating disorders like they are women's problems, or girl diseases, we are doing our sons a grave disservice. While I certainly hope that neither of my sons ever develops an eating disorder, I also believe it is my job as a parent to create a loving, trusting home environment where if they do think they have a problem, or if I do notice something wrong, we can talk about it together. 

Part of raising emotionally healthy boys is setting a good example. Not just their father, but me, too, which brings me to...

3. Having sons is not a free pass to fat-shame myself. 
There's been a lot of talk lately - at least, in my circles there has been - about monitoring what we say, as adults and parents, about our bodies in front of our children. Mostly this is done for the benefit of girls, so they don't grow up listening to Mom complain that she's fat. But I think our boys can benefit from this as well.

As the primary woman in my sons' lives, I have an obligation to model a type of womanhood that I want them to be comfortable with. I want my boys to grow up thinking that strong, outspoken women are what's normal. Part of being strong is being confident in myself, and that means liking and accepting my physical body for what it is. I don't ever want my sons thinking that it's normal or healthy for women to put themselves down regularly, or to diet constantly, or to hate themselves because of a number on a scale or on a clothing tag. I want them to understand that salad is not a meal and ordering dessert is not a crime. I want them to grow up surrounding themselves with women who are comfortable in their own skin, women who are not so wrapped up in losing a few pounds or counting every calorie that they forget how to enjoy life.

And that brings me to my final, and probably most important, point:

4. Teaching our children healthy lifestyles begins with we the parents.
The most important take away I want my sons to absorb from my parenting is that being healthy does not have to be a killjoy. Moderation does not equal deprivation. Enjoyment of food does not equal gluttony. Exercise can be fun. And especially, healthy does not equal skinny. 

When my son sees me do yoga, he sees his mother doing something she loves that makes her feel good. When he runs around with his father he learns that being active is super awesome fun. 

When I get dressed he does not hear me complain about my body - he hears me complain about the clothes. "This doesn't look right on me," vs "This makes me look fat."

My husband and I do not diet. That word is not part of our home. In 2007 when we wanted to lose weight - because we were both overweight and worried about health problems as we got older - we used portion control, healthy substitutions, and exercise to do it. We never once deprived ourselves of sweets, carbs, or anything else we wanted. We just got smarter about them.

And that is the message we want for our sons: that maintaining a healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be hard, and doesn't have to deprive them of happiness or joy. So that as they grow up and go out there into the world they will do so feeling good about themselves on the inside, no matter what they look like on the outside.

*All stats taken from the National Eating Disorder Association: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/index.php