Dinner and a Movie

Last night Mark and I had a rare date night, made even rarer by the fact that it was a week night.  Being new to the area and still being new-ish parents we don’t have a long list of possible babysitters.  So, we tend to find one or two daycare teachers that M adores and ask them to come baby-sit.  Since these young women already know M, tend to have a degree in early childhood, are CPR and first aid trained and can drive we also insist on paying them quite well.  Even if we do find neighborhood kids who can baby-sit I will still pay them at least minimum wage.  By doing this it seems to assure that their schedules are always clear when we ask them to sit….amazing how that happens!

Since the sitter is a significant cost, we don’t go out too often.  However, last night we had the opportunity to screen a soon-to-be-released here indy movie for free at a local independent theater, the Cedar Lee. We both love this place because it’s close to home, it’s a small, old theater and best of all – they serve beer and wine.  We settled into the crowded theater in the front row as they were the only seats left; I guess a neck-crick is a small price for a free movie!

The movie was The Fall directed by Tarsem Singh who did R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” video. Apparently it was shot in over 20 countries including South Africa and India over the course of 4 years and the result is breathtaking.  The movie is visually amazing and the costume design is phenomenal.  The plot was well done and wove reality with fantasy, humor and dark sadness with skill.  We both really enjoyed the film and especially the little girl who plays one of the lead roles, Catinca Untaru who was incredibly natural in her role and a welcome break from saccharine-sweet norm of child actors.  The film was too violent and dark for children, which is a bit sad as it could be a wonderful fantasy movie for them.  Overall we thought the movie was fantastic but were disappointed that we couldn’t drink in the cinematography from better seats.

Afterwords, we strolled over to one of our favorite pizza joints, Dewey’s Pizza, to pick up a calzone to take home.  We ordered and waited at the bar, chatting about the movie and the stores in the area. After a few minutes the manager came up and told us the kitchen had burned our dinner to a crisp and asked us if we wanted a drink on the house while they made another.  Mark got a local brew and I passed; we were in no hurry and this was a nice gesture.  Then the manager, still apologizing, gave us a gift certificate for $15 off our next visit.  All this for a burnt $8 calzone!  We were very impressed, and as it is one of our favorite places we know we’ll be using that coupon.  We got home just in time for Top Chef and enjoyed our late-night dinner. 

A wonderful night of drinks, a movie and dinner all for about $5 (not including paying the sitter)!

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3 Months to 3-Day

See that shiny pink box over there to the right?  The one that says I’m walking 60 freaking miles over 3 days …in August?  As in 3 short months from now? Yea, so that.  I haven’t really been training for it and it just kind of hit me recently that I’M WALKING 60 MILES and maybe I better prepare for it so I don’t die.  Luckily my employer, who has all sorts of fitness classes and incentives for our main office employees, finally realized that they banished about 2,000 people to a suburban “administrative campus” and that maybe we would like some low-cost classes too, please.  So starting June 2 I will be taking classes 4 days a week right after work here in my building.  Pilates and cardio, to be exact.  Of course I also need to get some outdoor walking in to prepare for this endeavor so I plan to hit the road at least 3 times a week after M goes to bed.  I should be able to get in about 1 – 1 ½ hours in before it gets dark.  Plus, I’ve signed up for a 13-mile training walk on June 28, so that will give me a gauge to see how I’m doing (and if I will survive).

The other component to this is the fundraising. I’ve been a professional fundraiser for 9 years now so this should be cake, right?  I know all the rules of the game and the tricks and tips and could give someone else advice and help any day of the week.  But the funny thing about us fundraisers is that it’s really, really easy to ask for money for some greater cause but when it comes to raising funds for ourselves it’s not so easy.  Not that this money is for ME, mind you, but I am asking people to support a journey that I am taking and that is significantly harder to do. I sent out some of my first asks last week and got some very generous responses.  I’m buoyed but the quick return and the support I’ve received this far but I still have a very long way to go. I can’t believe some people do several of these walks each year. 

If you want to help please click on that box and donate, as everyone says – each dollar counts and it is (of course) tax-deductible. If you know me IRL ask me to go on a walk with you or check in to see how my training is going, accountability is a big thing for me.  Or, just send some support (and maybe a casserole) towards my sweet hubby who is about to become a walking widower.

Holy crap – 3 months…wish me luck!

I Just Don’t Get It

Sometimes the blog world baffles me.  Anyone who blogs, especially about their life and their kids, needs to understand that by putting something “out there” you are inviting the world to comment on it.  In the mommy-blogging world people can get downright bitchy, especially if you happen to post a different viewpoint.  Now, I’m not talking about the trolls that start bashing every little thing (like on ParentDish – gees that can be a wicked place)…I’m talking about mostly joyful places when you comment in a nice way but then get bashed by other commenters for having a differing view.  

Case in point – I commented on Amalah’s recent post about having an awful time with an over-stimulated toddler at an overly-expensive Thomas the Train event.  In the past Amalah has also written about dumping a ton of money on every Thomas the Train playset know to man even though her son never really plays with them. So, after reading about 25 comments from others recalling having the same miserable time at similar TV-show-themed events with cranky and overloaded kids my comment was this: “Sorry, I just don’t get outlaying that much cash for a 2 year old to see a train. Just like I don’t get paying tons of cash to get tix to a Hanna Montana concert for your 5 year old. Does any kid or parent actually enjoy this stuff?  Noah would have had the same enjoyment in the Thomas section of Toys R Us and you could have saved $$. Does make a good blog post, though.” 

And I get return comments like this from commenter Sarey: “Wow, ikate has forgotten how to play. why would you go to a concert or a play or any experience that isn’t in front of a tv?”  I guess what Sarey doesn’t know is that Thomas is a TV SHOW(!) and what I am suggesting, especially for the two-year old set, is why do they watch so much TV that they get so obsessed with a character?  And why do parents feel the need to outlay that kind of cash for a kid who would know no different from going to see a (free) train yard..or even a commuter train?  Why does a great experience for a child have to involve some marketed character? My guess is that any child obsessed with trains would be flipping out and “screaming and squealing with total kid joy” (which is why Amalah said she did it and would do it again).  Commenter Cagey hit the nail on the head with “We have two major rail lines running through our town and we go to watch the trains running by about every other day. My kid still goes spastic every single time we see a train coming through..” but then still managed to slam me by the end of her comment.  

And, of course  you wouldn’t get this from my short comment, but the reason I included the Hannah Montana part is because right after we moved to Cleveland she was performing here and there was a photo of a father with his 3-year old at the concert.  He “just had to get her the tickets” when he found out she was performing here…sounds to me like dad was the one who wanted to see HM perform, because I seriously doubt a 3-year old would know the concert schedule.  

I guess what I’m getting at are two points:  One being that I don’t get the backlash from other commenters on a blog when you post a dissenting viewpoint.  I’ve been reading Amalah for over two years now and in the last year or so her commenters treat her like a goddess who cannot be disagreed with so I hardly ever comment there – even if I agree or liked a post.  Sites like Ask Moxie are blissfully bitch free so I know it can be done, but it’s pretty rare.

Second is that I just don’t get the consumerism we heap onto our little ones.  It’s one thing to visit American Girl for a tea party when a 7-8 year old has been reading the books for a year or two and will remember the special day; or to see HM with a school-age child who knows every word to her songs.  It’s another thing altogether to spend an entire day with a tantruming, screaming 2-year old because you get 2 minutes of joy from the nearly $70 you just shelled out for the experience.  There is so much lost in that exchange – it has become all about the parent being the “Best Parent in the World” and nothing about exploring a child’s wonder.

I Heart TAL

Is that that show by those hipster know-it-alls who talk about how fascinating ordinary people are?*
Yes, it is! 

I’m a huge fan of This American Life.  I love the show more than anything else when it comes to entertainment media.  I don’t often hear it on the radio since my new local NPR station doesn’t carry it (what the hell?) but do listen to the weekly shows via the podcast.  If you aren’t familiar with TAL and its host/creator, Ira Glass, it’s a really hard thing to describe.  The show tells unusual stories in unique ways…slice of life, fictional stories that are always so, so interesting. They can be touching, thoughtful, funny, and surprising; but they are always mesmerizing.  Each show has a bit of a theme running through it…in fact, the way Ira introduces each show is “of course each week we choose a theme, and bring you a variety of stories on that theme..” He has a great skill in weaving the stories and interviews with fantastic music and pacing them with a perfect cadence.  The show is simple, beautiful and transcendent storytelling and is next to impossible to explain.  So just go listen to an episode or two…I’ll wait. 

Last year, TAL did a TV show for Showtime and I wondered for weeks how in the world they could translate the unique quality of a radio show to a visual media without losing what makes the show so special.  We got Showtime precisely so we could watch and somehow they pulled it off – what was on the screen was a perfect interpretation of the show we knew and loved.  Balanced, simple, beautiful storytelling now paired with stunning visuals allowed the success of the radio show to shine in a new format.  (BTW – TAL season 2 starts Sunday…get those TiVos set!).  Showtime must like it because TAL now has a contract for 30 shows.

Last night, based on the success of the radio show (1.7 million listeners each week and it’s always listed as one of the top weekly podcasts on the net) and the TV show, Ira and crew did something no other radio show has ever done – they did a live broadcast of its show to theaters across the country.  Of course, we attended at a nearby theater to see Ira on stage in NYC before a live audience talking about the radio and TV shows while playing clips and outtakes from the new TV season.  I was so excited all day yesterday and when I tried to explain it to co-workers I would get really strange looks.  It’s hard to believe that some people have never even heard of the show!

Anyway, we arrived and were pleasantly surprised to see about 60 or so other TAL dorks who shelled out the $20 per ticket.  As we settled in with our dinner of popcorn and soda the “pre-show puzzles” (a hang-man like game to fill the screen before the broadcast started) were up but audio from the usual pre-movie commercials and previews was playing.  Then, right at 8 PM Ira appears on the screen and there was no audio!  We missed the first 7 minutes of audio as the idiots at Regal Cinemas got their act together and fixed it.  It was a strange thing to see Ira on the screen talking into his mic but hear the audio of movie previews.  I was livid that we paid $40 to see this and Regal Cinemas failed so miserably.  However, once the problem was fixed Mark and I were quickly caught up in the show.  Ira seemed totally relaxed, the entire crew did a fantastic job with the live broadcast and we laughed and “oohed” fo the next two hours.  It was a terrific night out and I’m so glad I got to see it.  I can’t wait for the new TV season to start, but in the meantime I will get my fix with one of the over 300 radio shows that are already done.

*Bonus points you know what TV show this is from.