Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Hidden Message in "The Lego Movie"

When I heard Fandango's Harry Medved, on the radio, say The Lego Movie was going into its third week as the number one movie, I knew it was because there was probably a secret agenda that was being promoted that everyone who loved the movie was just too confused to recognize. So I decided to see it for myself, uncover the secret agenda, and publicize it to the world. You're welcome.

I shamefully admit that I loved The Lego Movie. But right away, the secret agenda became as clear as Kragle oozing from its tube. The Lego Movie secret hidden agenda message promotes dangerous experimental animal hybridization. I believe they are doing this to normalize experimental animal hybrids and confuse the upcoming generation into thinking animal hybrids are acceptable.

In The Lego Movie, animal hybrid UniKitty is presented as an adorable, big-eyed cross between a unicorn and a kitty. UniKitty is fun and up for any adventure, but it quickly becomes obvious something is not right with UniKitty. Bubbling beneath UniKitty's sweet-as pie personality is dark violence, a trait that is neither present in the majestic unicorn or the independent, but clever kitty.

Taking things one step further, the movie portrays UniKitty's dark, Berserker-like violence in a positive, almost heroic light. If there is one thing kids do not need mainstreamed, it's the idea that going berserk is okay.

In real life, the kind of animal hybridization that created UniKitty would be considered abuse and never tolerated. There would be protests, sit-ins and PETA would throw blood on people! Yet small children, unable to understand the difference between fantasy and reality, will most likely attempt their own hybridization experiments. Before we know it, the world will be overrun with CatDogs, HamsterBunnies, and GeckoGoldfish. Admittedly, HamsterBunnies (patent pending) would be irresistible. But what evil leaning lies beneath the surface of the cuddly HamsterBunny?

HamsterBunny (Patent Pending)

I don't think the world is ready for the answer.

I also have issues with The Lego Movie's hidden secret message that Batman is suitable boyfriend material, the promotion of the "old blind men with long beards are wise" stereotype, and the mainstreaming of cat memes. I will save those arguments for another time.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

One Mom's Music Review

I grew up in Northern California in a town called Castro Valley. This is the town that brought the world late Metallica bassist, Cliff Burton as well as MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow and Pixar producer and Academy Award Nominated Jonas Rivera.

Now, I think it's safe to say, we are nearly ready to add a few more names to that list of famous Castro Valley sons and daughters with the latest release of the Up and Down's album, "Hell of a Time." My friend and former Castro Valley High Class of 1987 classmate William Baptista (wikipedia page pending) plays drums for The Up and Down, and if you like bluegrass punk, the Dropkick Murphys, or any other tunes with a heel-kicking, pub-crawl-meets-hootenanny vibe, might I strongly suggest you check out this album.

If you're still not convinced, take a listen to this live performance of their title song here.

And if, after that, you are still not convinced of how thoroughly enjoyable this album is, take a listen to actual feed back from my teen and pre-teen children.

I played the CD (available here, or here) in the car while driving to church (seemed like a great time) and since the kids couldn't go anywhere for six to eight minutes, I had their undivided attention.

Me - So boys, what do you think of this music?

Jonah (11) - I like it fine. It sounds like stuff on the radio.

Isaac (10) - On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say it's seven . . . ish. Or eight, probably nine.

Isaac - It sounds like Mexican music.

Jonah - It does not!

Isaac - Yes, it does.

Jonah - You don't even know what Mexican music sounds like.

Ethan (16) - It's fine. Hey you know what would be cool? A zip line from our house to Burger King.

So, there you have it. Irrefutable proof that The Up and Down are on the fast track being the go-to band for quinceaneras catered by Burger King. Jump on this band's wagon now and you can say you loved them before everyone else.

(Seriously, if you want to put yourself in an instantly good mood, check out The Up and Down's "Hell of a Time." Did I mention it's available here and here?)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Boy Bathroom Update

When we arranged to have new flooring throughout our house, it seemed like the perfect time to update the boy's bathroom from the juvenile "frog" theme to a more mature decor. We figured it would be a piece of cake to slap on some paint, update the light fixture, and buy some new artwork and coordinating towels.

And then we found black mold. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's a before and after . . .


I started off by covering up the apple green wall paint--which honestly did not look as migraine-inducing in real life--with a couple coats of primer. I then added a coat of "white clay"to create a neutral palate with which to work.

When the mold was discovered, the toilet came out and the floor was pulled up to assess the damage. Two professional opinions later, we found that the mold was limited and treatable, but the wet subfloor required that a rental fan run for about three days straight. That wasn't loud at all.

You might also notice in this picture that I primed the vanity. The doors and drawers had been removed previously and were also being primed for a new color of paint.

Two coats of black paint later, things are starting to come together. My precious light fixture arrived, as well as the toilet paper roll holder and new faucet, all in brushed nickel. My next task: get Robert to install them all.

Lights up, faucet installed . . . and did I mention new hardware for the cupboard doors and drawers? I got new towels and some Doctor Who art for the walls and a shower curtain. 

But my favorite thing has to be the mirror frame. I purchased this on-line at some place that specializes in frames for mirrors. I just entered my measurements, answered a few more questions, paid the small fortune they asked for, and a week to ten days later, a box arrived with all of the parts and instructions for easy assembly and installation. 

At this point in the process, however, I was still waiting for the floor and toilet as well as a few other things.

Today, one month and four days after starting this project, I can say we are 99% done! The toilet appears to not be leaking, the towel hooks are installed and the floor is caulked. The only thing left is to caulk around the toilet and we're in business! We also have to install the toilet paper roll holder. Then we will be in business.

Pretty! I mean, cool.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Are We Not All Homeschoolers?

Have you ever noticed that mothers are constantly questioned about the decisions they make for their children? From what we feed them, how we protect them, the way we discipline them or maybe neglect them (we call it "teaching independence"), it seems everyone has another way to do it. And whether or not they come right out and say it, it's usually implied that they think their way is better than yours.

On the surface, it seems to make perfect sense. I love my kids, ergo, I will make what I think are the best decisions for their upbringing. If my decisions are best, and yours are different than mine, then, by the transitive property, your decisions must be inferior

I think the fallacy we are operating under with this model is that there is one way to raise a child. That is simply not true. I know this. Everyone knows this. Yet the mompetition--if you will--persists and the human tendency to want to win sometimes trumps grace and kindness when it comes to interacting with other moms.

Nowhere is the parenting technique divide wider than in the way we choose to educate our children. Some choose public school, some private, some home school, while others might do none of these things, or a combination of all of them.

I used to feel "less-than" when talking to moms who educated their children differently than I did. Whether I was picking up on non-verbal cues that these mothers really did think I was inferior in my intelligence and lacking in foresight, or my own insecurity was the culprit, it always felt like the education discussion was an attack and I was on the defense.

Until one day.

I was in the produce section of the grocery store with one of my kids. We were buying something and talking about price per pound. We covered estimation, multiplication and measurement just in picking out a few Honey Crisps. And it hit me: This is homeschool. Life is homeschool. I educate my children every single day.

Manners, comportment, social interaction, work ethic were all things I teach my kids just as a matter of fact. I give them religious education at home as well as financial education. I teach math when we make cookies and science when it snows. They pick up computer science, graphic design and music composition from playing video games (this might sound like a stretch, but my 16 year old has started to compose some of his own music based on his interest in video game music). They learn about the natural world around them by exploring outdoors, biology from catching frogs and finding owl pellets. Nutrition from family dinners and helping to cook, health and fitness from bike riding, running, jumping, and hiking. Engineering from fort building and strategy from playing games.

I supplement this homeschooling curriculum with public school, Boy Scouts, church every Sunday, family vacations, and summer camps. I even unschool on days we just need to relax. I do it all!

Regardless of where we send our kids every day from September to June, every mother is at least a part-time homeschooler.

I don't feel threatened anymore when another mother's choices are different than mine. All of the mothers I know are doing the best things for their family they know. Just because their "best" doesn't look like my "best" doesn't make either of our efforts inferior.

We don't need to separate into sub-groups of public schoolers and homeschoolers in order to claim an identity. Rather, let's embrace our shared, greater identity as mothers. Because we need each other, and when it comes to mothering, don't forget: There is more than one way to raise a child.