Monthly Archives: May 2010

It Takes an Online Village to Raise a Child

Social Networking has left its thumb print on us all. You’re reading this blog, you’ve undoubtedly run across cringe-inducing TMI on someone’s Facebook page and if you Tweet, you’ve shared a bit of randomness yourself. It’s music, news, politics, business, sports, celebrity gossip and your gossip, nothing is untouched. Not even parenting.

The websites are too many to count: Baby Center, Parenting, JustMommies, Baby Zone, and GreatDad just to name a few. But they all serve to bring us together as parents so we can… well crowd source our parenting.

You just found out your pregnant, you hop online and begin to scour these sites for any and all tidbits and so it begins: Am I the only one who’s freaked out about having a baby? What on earth is going on with my boobs? My baby will only sleep during the day, help!

And helpful it is. There’s advice after advice after advice. Some of it is really good and you connect closely with people who are on the same leg of this mommy journey as you.

I was lucky enough to join two wonderful only communities when I was pregnant with my son Logan. I’ve been part of these two particular boards, as they’re called, for three years. These women know me. They know me and love me warts and all and I love them just as unconditionally. I’ve met some of them in person, which is always so exciting and seven of us are planning a girls weekend next month in Chicago.

We’ve been through a lot together. Not just the birth of our children and various bumps and bruises, there’s been miscarriages, one woman lost her husband who was fighting overseas, lost jobs, new jobs, new homes, marriages on the brink of divorce and couples rekindling their love.

We’re a varied group, some work in the home, others outside the home. Some have financial difficulties, other’s are well-off, we’ve got staunch liberals and staunch conservatives. But our connectivity is our glue. We support each other, help each other in any way we can, even if it’s just listening to a rant.

My how times have changed. With grandma no longer down the hall, down the street or even across town, recent generations have raised children with a lot less support than decades past. Social networking has changed all that as we’ve created our own community.

Good thing too because this parenting thing is tough stuff and it does take a village.

The catwalk on the sidewalk

While in New York I dragged my hubby to quaint boutiques, poor chap. And the clothes, obviously, were fun to check out. But the most fun was the fashion not on the rack, but prancing down the street. Sure an amazing couture dress hovering above stilts as they teeter into a hushed restaurant snags my eye, but what makes me openly stare is people in their daily wares and how they choose to spice them up. It’s the middle of the week, in the middle of the day and they’re going only Lord Knows Where.

By Salvatore Vuono

I saw a scene usually reserved for Chinese paper fans now printed on leggins paired with blue sequined shoes, a cheap prom dress or layers upon layers of a top so deconstructed, I wasn’t sure if was a blouse or a scarf extraordinaire. All of it interesting, all of it fun.

Then there was inner ware as outer wear. Bras, nighties, lace, lace and more lace. Southern belle skirts with black leggins. Black skinny jeans. Leopard skinny jeans. Black skinny jeans with leopard booties. Black skinny jeans so tight she had to lay down to zip them up. Go ‘head girl.

And the belts. Big belts, flat belts, skinny belts, braided, leather, pleather, plastic. I won’t even get started on the shoes.

Yet let me not forget the short short. One morning, a woman in her late 40s/early 50s was rockin these black short shorts with red heels and a peasant top. She didn’t have cellulite. Isn’t that against some law? If I had cellulite in my 20s, why can’t *she* have it in her 40s? And it wasn’t that she had crazy muscles, there was jiggle, there just wasn’t any cottage cheese. To me she looked like she needed to put more clothes on, but mostly I was proud of her, go ahead with your great gams at 40+. Clearly, she still had *it.*

Do I see this in Chicago? Sure! Of course, but for the most part, we’re more reserved. A little more black and khaki with bright spots of red, not many covered in sequins or faux prom dresses while straddling a 10 speed.

The Genius of American Idiot

Praise be to Jesus of Suburbia. Saw American Idiot on Broadway with my hubby and loved it. I’ve always been a fan of Green Day and their American Idiot album was a large part of my playlist for Chicago’s marathon in 2006. So I know every riff and word in that album.

But this musical, this musical made me think of the album in ways I hadn’t before. I love how the songs were strung together to tell a tale of American angst, anger, apathy, averageness and alienation.

Inside the lobby next to St. Jimmy's bar in American Idiot

First, the cast was wonderful. When going to a Broadway show, you want show-stopping performances and numerous times the cast members hit notes that gave my shivers shivers. Rebecca Naomi Jones (I thought it was physically impossible for someone to be that talented), Tony Vincent (I had to read up on the boy after falling under his bad boy spell. *Of course* he was Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar.) After Alyssa Umphress finished belting, I heard someone say “wow.” A half a second later I realized that someone was me. Also, Joshua Henry’s powerfully smooth and controlled voice moved me so much I snagged him after the show to wish him a successful future. He looked honestly appreciative.

I would think that as a performer, the musical had to be special in that this album really speaks to our generation. It’s the alienation of an average generation. Though it’s undoubtedly rewarding to perform anything on Broadway and especially the classics (i.e. Bye Bye Birdie, The Sound of Music, West Side Story) This seemingly would have an asterisk by it because there’s a truthfulness here that’s only universal to this generation.

Also, the set wasn’t some over-the-top get up, but seemingly unfinished, raw like Americans, so it was perfect. Gritty with pop-culture images without being too kitschy and the clever use of television further drove home the point of “being controlled by the media.”

There’s a lot of well-heeled Broadway types who didn’t like American Idiot and it’s fine because that’s part of the genius of it all: differing opinions help make us Americans, not idiots.

‘Take on Me’ and more

The whole reason my hubby and I came to New York was so that he could go to their farewell concert. Yes, you read that right. A-ha. Yes they’re still around. No, they’ve never stopped making music. They’re actually quite a big deal in Europe and have been for decades. They’re not big here largely because of differences between them and a record company. Anyway, the real a-ha has matured past the ’Take On Me’ of the ’80s (not that there’s anything wrong with that…) But I always describe them as a dark mashup of U2, ColdPlay and Keane. Good stuff.
Last night was the concert and it was amazing, great songs (The set list was wonderful, my fave is Manhattan Skyline) and we were about 5 feet from the stage.

a-ha frontman Morten Harket at Time Square's Nokia Theatre

It also was so cool to meet the fans. Imagine loving this group for 25 years and finally getting to see them. We connected with a couple folks like that and just before Aha took the stage, I turned around to watch their faces. It was like watching a child get his first glimpse of the real Santa Claus. It was magic. My hubby and I saw them here in NYC in 2005 and I saw the same thing then. Women in their early 40s magically turning 15 again. No botox necessary. Think about your favorite artist that would do that to you. Mine? George Michael. I know, stop smirking.

An unexpected, yet exceedingly bright spot was Sondre Lerche. What an amazing opening act. I was suspicious at first. Though his hair had that wild and greasy Curt Kobain thing going on, which seems to be a requirement for musical genius, he looked 14 and 104 lbs soaking wet. I kid you not the guitar was bigger than he. But once he picked it up, his nimble fingers were a blur. He ravaged that guitar with upbeat folksy jaunts that plunged into guttural moans _ all in one song. He was also witty, very funny and a regular kid with a very unregular dose of talent.

Sondre Lerche at Nokia Theatre

Tonight we’re going to American Idiot on Broadway… Well, if they reopen Time Square in time because there was a suspicious package, but that’s another entry for another time. Until then.

Getting off the pot

And so it begins. My blog. I’ve been wanting to start one for awhile now for all the reasons others list and more. But I kept putting it off. What will I say? What if I say too much? What if no one outside my hubby reads it? This morning I decided to get off the pot.
I’m visiting New York City (I live in Chicago) and my 19th floor hotel room is overlooking the hole that was the World Trade Center. Almost 10 years later and this is what it looks like.

Early morning construction to build Freedom Tower

Amazing. You still think of the people, the families, the images, the sounds, the lost dreams.
Then in my head, I hear fashion designer/director/king of fabulousness Tom Ford’s voice: “When you really want to do something, you should go ahead and do it.” “I feel fear, but I never let that stop me.” (Not that I’ve even heard him talk, I just imagined what he’d sound like. I read that in Elle magazine months ago and it stuck with me.)
He’s right, it can be scary putting yourself out there, but at least you went for it. And so it’s begun.
Now I’m going back to watching the men in white hard hats, working just beyond the blue crates underneath the red cranes.