Broken bowl... and whole parenting

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This morning, my son spilled his bottle of juice all over the table. We were running late and I had to be at a local TV station to promote a charity event; somehow, I kept my cool, tossed him a towel, and helped him clean it up. 

"We all make mistakes," I said. 

And it's a good thing I said that, because not two minutes later, I dropped a bowl and it shattered all over the kitchen floor. What can you do at that point but sweep it up and move on, right? 

I haven't always been patient with him when messes happen, and I certainly haven't ever been a perfect parent. But when there is a small victory like that, when I can stay calm, I can remind myself that I'm doing a good job. With parenting, there is no formal assessment or annual review with a bonus; there is only the small moments day to day. 

Shattered bowl ----> whole parenting. I'll take it.

Glaring Airing: 2018 Television Shows Air Dates (Guest post by Madison Ward)

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Editor's Note: Madison is our entertainment guru, keeping us up to date on the latest books, TV shows, and movies. She loves to cover pop culture and I'm glad to have her voice in this capacity.

{This post written by Madison Ward, Superstar Intern}

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I don’t know what it is about this year--maybe it’s the particular shows I have begun watching or maybe it’s just a busy year on TV--but I have never had to wait so long for all the episodes of a season to come out. Many of the television shows I have been watching have been skipping week after week, creating a very inconsistent viewing base and driving me off a cliff. My favorites, like Lethal Weapon, Supernatural, and The Good Doctor are prime examples. Sundays I go into the week prepared to be disappointed, not knowing if this week the next episode will be on, or if I will have to wait one or two more weeks. And these aren’t even the winter breaks! Winter breaks are one too two months and then the second half of the season is wrapped up. However,  that first half and second half of the airing season has been incredibly inconsistent on it’s own: playing an episode, and another episode, then nothing, episode, nothing, nothing, episode, episode, episode, nothing, nothing, episode.

Some people I know have even had to change the way they watch TV, just to soothe their irate attitudes towards the gaps. Many have resorted to binge watching after the ENTIRE season has aired, waiting even longer because of the hassle of figuring out the complicated schedule of the airing of their favorite shows.

My shows this year that should have taken four months have transformed into six or longer. I have some amount of patience (some might disagree), but I for sure have no patience to wait this long and other viewers agree. Television shows such as Game of Thrones, True Detective, Stranger Things, and Fargo are so intricately made that they take forever to air. Not weekly, but season by season, according to Entertainment Weekly. Because of heavily computer-animated shows and Netflix Originals, some series have taken more than a year before another release. And sometimes, on the very edge of not even being able to air, because the length of the off-season left viewers lacking enthusiasm and drive to get invested in them again.

There is a specific amount of time with movies, TV series, and books with which one must deliver some type of consumption to tide over an audience before they lose interest--just like airing too frequently can easily bore fans with lack of anticipation and suspense. If one steps too far into one of these zones, not finding a happy medium with releases, then there is limited hope that that series will stay successful, no matter how good it is.

In regard to the shows I watch, I do love them enough that I am willing to wait for them, but it is still an inconvenience and an irritation. Others don’t possess the extreme obsession I have with TV entertainment. This year has some promising TV entertainment, but the year has been dreadful in consistency and if it is not careful, will lose audiences interests exponentially.

I am not an expert, but if I were these television series creators, I would set my schedule way in advance to make sure nothing veers off course. There will be always be weird instances of political disaster or weather emergencies that may interrupt a well-laid plan, but at least we have a well-laid plan, because it doesn’t feel that way right now. These rocky releases make the shows seem messy and can affect audience’s interests, and in my opinion, networks should think about that well before and create more routine than is being represented in today’s TV.

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Join me in Buda at the 21st annual wiener dog races!

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Have you ever seen a wiener dog race? Here’s your chance! "Wonder Wieners" is the theme of Buda's annual dachshund race, and every spring, people come to watch from all over the area.

The 21st annual Buda Lions Wiener Dog Races is super-fun family event, and tickets are only $5.00 per person over 12, and FREE For kids 12 and under. The annual races, which are in their 21st year, are April 28 and 29 at Buda City Park. Festivities start at 8 a.m. and end at 6 p.m., while the wiener dog races begin at 10 a.m. All proceeds go toward the Buda Lions Club. Want to enter your very own wiener dog? The entry form can be found on the Buda Lions Club page

The money raised at this event goes right back into the community. The Buda Lions Club supports kids’ vision screening events at the local schools, donating funds towards local school scholarships, and helping out the Texas Lions Camp, which is a camping facility for children with physical disabilities. 

Also at the event, you’ll find Arts & Crafts vendors, an assortment of food vendors, kids games, a BBQ cook-off, and a bake-off. New this year is a separate mixed-breed set of races. 

Firehouse Animal Health Center is the official event vet, and they are a full-service veterinary hospital with five locations in Central Texas. They combine state-of-the-art medical care, innovative design, thoughtful communication, excellent client service and a focus on total wellness to create comfortable, stress-free experiences for people and their pets. Want to give them a try? We have a $55 coupon right here.

You’ll find the full schedule of events here. Mosey on down and park at Cabela’s, which is free, and complimentary shuttles will be provided to Buda City Park. See you there!

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Make someone's day today

 Photo by  Lina Trochez  on  Unsplash

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

I wrote a note to the boss of a member of my son's school staff today to report her... for being awesome. Try it! You'll make someone's day.

"I'm sure you already know this, but I wanted to commend Amanda for being such a wonderful representative of the community in the front office. My mother was a school secretary for an elementary school for 25 years, and I was always in awe of how she knew every kid and teacher and greeted each person with a smile. Seeing Amanda every time I come to the office reminds me of my mom, and it makes me feel good. She has a stellar attitude and energy about her, and I feel lucky to volunteer in the office under her supervision."

 

Talking through the Dinosaur

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This dinosaur speaks with an English accent, kind of like Mrs. Doubtfire, and Sully the monster is her sidekick. We have discovered that if we are at an impasse on a topic, my son is willing to speak to me through the dinosaur, who listens to his concerns and makes suggestions. Tonight, it was an aspect of school that was bothering him, and he and the dinosaur came up with a solution and shook on it.

Parenting requires way more creativity than I ever imagined.

Hope Binge-ing {Guest post by Madison Ward}

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Editor's Note: Madison is our entertainment guru, keeping us up to date on the latest books, TV shows, and movies. She loves to cover pop culture and I'm glad to have her voice in this capacity.

{This post written by Madison Ward, Superstar Intern}

* * * 

Because I have introduced Netflix into the equation, it is only natural that I would reflect on one of the strongest foundations grounding the business.

The Office.

A show that reflects on the pains of the everyday workplace. A show that emulates what it really means to be alive in a world where income, and sustainability, and - most of all - patience is required. A show that breeds futility and overall disbelief, but is filled with heartfelt love and reality that perfectly displays why we do what we do day in and day out and what the little things that keep us going are really worth.

The Office is a comedic, fictional documentary about workers at the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Created by Greg Daniels, Ricky Gervais, and Stephen Merchant, The Office premiered on March 24, 2005 and has lived in millions of hearts ever since.

Painfully awkward and heart-wrenchingly awkward, The Office demonstrates any type of issue we may and will find ourselves in as adults working with other inconsistent adults. The first season may have one halfway covering one’s face with a throw pillow, with some occasional muting, but seeing the dynamic way the show develops and evolves each and every one of the characters, each and every season, is unquestionably remarkable.

It is a show that displays every imperfection, every possible way to screw things up. And it is a show that advocates compassion, and responsibility, and teamwork. It is a show about family that may not be connected by blood, but that is connected by duty (which the show would indubitably make a joke out of).

The Office is so popular, in fact, the internet is flooded with GIFs and memes referencing parts of the show, which I may even call most humorous television show I have ever seen and may ever see. I have a black T-shirt emblazoned with the words“Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica”, at which my English teacher laughed and was impressed people my age are watching it--even now that it has been over for five years. The Office is an example for generations and generations to come. It will never grow old, because it’s struggles are so relate-able--so human--that I venture to guess there will always be an audience trying to escape their own similar stress.

I have watched a lot of things—especially a lot of Netflix things, new and old—but there really is nothing like The Office, and I hope there never is. I have re-watched the show, all nine seasons (really eight though, let’s be honest, the first season is painful), six times so far, and I first finished it last spring. I have almost all Dwight Schrute and Jim Halpert conversations memorized. I cry every time I watch the finale.

It may seem trivial, it may seem aggravating, and some people just may not be into that sort of thing. But this is one of the things you at least have to try, because I promise you… It is worth it.

The Office is about people, about relationships, about just some random, ordinary paper company. But it is more than that. Because it is about overcoming and about renewing, about finding what makes you happy--even working at some random, ordinary paper company.

This television show is about hopelessness. And it is about hope.

In summary: just in case you’re not already, get started on your hope binge-ing!

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It's Iris Awards Season, and it's Time to Nominate Your Favorites!

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Last year, I watched several of my friends take the stage the Mom 2.0 Summit to accept awards for the great work they have done, including Amiyrah Martin, Wendi Aarons, Jennifer Borget, and Amanda Magee. It means so much to know that your creativity is appreciated and applauded, and I was so proud of them. 

If you are a part of the Mom 2.0 community, you can vote for this year's Iris Awards. If you're NOT, you can still nominate for the Iris Awards people's choice! All nominations are due by this FRIDAY, MARCH 16. 

NOMINATE FOR AN IRIS AWARD HERE (open to Mom 2.0 community members)

NOMINATE FOR A PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD HERE (open to anyone)

If you like my work, here is a sampling of things I published this year; I would love to have your support with a nomination, if you're inclined. 

Washington Post: Teaching Kids About Healthy Relationships

TODAY Parents: How to Be the Worst Mother-in-Law Ever

TODAY Parents: The Things Mama Didn't Say

TODAY Parents: Dads Can Too, if We Let Them

TODAY Parents: Don't Be Afraid to Leap and Get Your Hair Wet

Today's Parent: My Son Idolizes Football Players, So We Had a Tough Talk

 

Life After Domestic Abuse: I Want My Son to Know that People Can Thrive After Hard Times

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Sometimes, those voices get stuck in my head that tell me I am not beautiful or smart or worthy. When TODAY Parents wanted to feature me in a video, I was excited but nervous. Who am I? Will I look terrible in the video? Will people judge me? The bottom line is that I am willing to get over all of that in order to help other women know they are not alone.

Please share this message if you can. I want women to know they too can thrive.

Here's to Strong Women #iwd2018

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For #internationalwomensday, here's a high five and a hug for all of the amazing and wonderful women in my life:

My mother, who raised me to be smart, fearless, and resilient. Those traits served me well through some of the toughest points in my life.

My sister, whose loyalty rivals that of the most faithful friend. She has always been the best sister and stellar role model.

A friend from Pakistan, who is raising three kind and sweet boys with her husband, also from Pakistan. They are Muslim and I am proud to have them as friends.

A friend who was blindsided after 17 years of marriage when her husband left her for their nanny. On their daughter's birthday. And she is fierce and brilliant and now thriving.

All of the female writers I know, who work so hard to put words together in meaningful ways to make you think, or laugh, or chance minds.

The mom from my hometown who raised a transgender child to adulthood and is doing a spectacular job of letting her son be who he is with enough love to fill the world.

The stunningly beautiful mom with a son on my son's baseball team who was pregnant with their third child when her husband left her and found the courage to remarry; her son now calls HIM dad and they are incredibly happy.

All of the women who support me, inspire me, love me, and elevate me to be better. And those I don't know yet; I see you. I applaud you. I celebrate every one of you.

[I loved this graphic, Mom 2.0 Summit!]

The Imperfect Perfection that is Netflix

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Introduction: Madison is our entertainment guru, keeping us up to date on the latest books, TV shows, and movies. She loves to cover pop culture and I'm glad to have her voice in this capacity.

{This post written by Madison Ward, Superstar Intern}

Looking back on the energy-absorbing year of 2017, it is easy to reflect on the good times and the bad times of the year. As it is increasingly known, I love entertainment and I have found myself pondering the best and the worst parts of how I do television and how 2017 did television.

Entertainment Magazine’s Best of 2017 Awards is a phenomenal recap of the year and has made me even more grateful for how accessible all of these amazing creations are. Now only having cable television myself, I must resort to watching my shows through channel apps like Amazon, Hulu, and--most definitely--Netflix. But as much as I, like millions of others, have found Netflix a safe haven from all the stress and exhaustion of everyday life, I have also decided Netflix isn’t perfect.

Now, as heartbreaking and soul crushing as it is to admit, Netflix is the equivalent of typical movie Cinderella. I don’t care how expensive your new dress is or your new shoes or your new confidence; I knew you when you were trashy, and that can never fully be scrubbed from my mind. Netflix is a secondary source of television, real television, and real television is a real princess, born and bred and giving scraps to the poor. As much as I would love to fully appreciate everything that Netflix gives me--all the comedies, and action, and romance--I know it came from another source and that that source caved in, and let Netflix borrow it, which inevitably makes me feel like it isn’t making any money besides the rented position on the secondary source, which makes it feel cheap, which makes everything cheap.

Though this is an issue for adopted movies and television shows, Netflix Originals are an unforeseen solution and downfall. Netflix creating their own works was ingenious. This way, the network can provide entertainment from other networks, simultaneously becoming an actual network, producing its own goods, making it just like any of the other channels it derives from. (And they are good! Great even, in most cases.)

Netflix, although it is an inexpensive source of entertainment, makes bank and spends its money extremely wisely on scenic locations and blossoming young, never-seen-before actors/actresses. Their shows are humanely made, stressing emotions most millennial real television shows try to hide from. Unfortunately, Netflix is also very impressed with their new way of providing for the common people of the couch potato variety, and have been popping out Netflix Originals nonstop. Because of this, most of the originals don’t end up making the cut and are done after barely starting off one season. The time limit between cutting off these shows comes way too fast for mine and many others’ opinions, causing at least one show that I am aware of, Sense 8, to be brought back for a finale, because the audience went crazy at it’s untimely demise. Reproducing good television at this rate is unhealthy and the mother of a beast that Netflix is, cannot withstand it--no matter how successful they currently seem to be.

Because of this apparent success, Netflix is becoming inflated with popularity to the point that other extremely famous actors/actresses have also joined the ‘Original’ Game of Unknowns. Will Smith partook in the recently released Netflix Original movie, Bright, and Tim Allen and Dax Shepard can also be seen in the Netflix Original El Camino Christmas. Good for Netflix. Look at them go! The only thing I am worried about, is them actually have to be going after spreading themselves too thin, while also bulking themselves ten thousand sets a day with new, new, and more new. If Netflix keeps cutting everything before they even touch ground, they must have incredibly short contracts for their actors/actresses and if not, those ‘fillers’ won’t be happy for very long. I’m not happy for them! Netflix’s popularity will have people coming back for a while, but like everything, Netflix will one day meet its peak, and I fear that day is approaching faster than expected.

I don’t think all of this will be happening in 2018, but soon enough. And yeah, maybe I’m being over dramatic, maybe I know nothing about directing or financial situations networks may find themselves in, but some of the things I have said must be true (I mean, statistically, I can’t be completely off, can I?... right???).

In the past year of 2017, Netflix has reached new heights, impressive and dangerous. I’m worried those heights will drive them right over the cliff of sustainability and into the network equivalent of cardiac arrest. I still love Netflix and most of everything it provides, but the things you love are not always perfect and I can admit that I think Netflix belongs in that category.

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Short Stories: Working on My Own Changes

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When I met my husband, I was on the comeback trail from divorce after a 10-year relationship that wasn't healthy for me. My self-esteem was in tatters and I bore the scars.

Now, Will and I have been married for 11 years and together for 13. There have been fantastic highs and frustrating lows. We are, above all, committed to each other. But it's not always easy, and I have often said to him, "I know it's hard being married to someone scarred by a bad relationship. I know getting through can be difficult."

What I realized - just this week, in fact - was that I was still holding onto those scars. Gripping them, like a shield against my heart. I couldn't see the tiny fissures on his heart because I was so focused on mine. I haven't given him the leeway to be supported, because *I* was the scarred one. I kind of had this idea that I was the one in the right most of the time and any time I felt threatened, it must be because he was wrong.

I'm opening my eyes to the ways I can be a better spouse, and actively working toward elevating him and not just protecting myself. It's difficult to learn and take a hard look at our own behaviors and biases, because it means we have to change. It's liberating, too. And humbling.

When you find someone worth changing for, it's 100% worthwhile.

The Good Moral and Natural Philosophy of the Afterlife ‘Place’ {Guest Post by Madison Ward}

 PHOTO:  NBC.com

PHOTO:  NBC.com

Introduction: Madison is our entertainment guru, keeping us up to date on the latest books, TV shows, and movies. She loves to cover pop culture and I'm glad to have her voice in this capacity.

{This post written by Madison Ward, Superstar Intern}

I do not recall how my preschool teacher decided to first explain the afterlife, but I remember at that point in time thinking that heaven was a bowl of m&m’s. A big, giant glass bowl of m&m’s on a long wooden table, with me sitting at the head. I am not sure how this image was put in my mind, if my teacher mentioned an m&m’s bowl as an example, or, at that point in time, I was just really feeling m&m’s and felt they represented a satisfying “heaven” for me.

Whatever the reason, my thoughts changed as I grew older. Heaven became less a place, a room, or a table, and more an intangible existence. Many people have tried to understand the possibilities of the afterlife, but as the possibilities are infinite, I have found myself detached from that sort of constant guessing game. I don’t know what the afterlife will bring, I don’t know how we will be judged or if we will be judged, but it is occasionally interesting to study other people’s hypotheses.

A couple months ago, I decided to watch the new show The Good Place, which was an unexpected delight for me and a large bundle of those interesting hypotheses. It looked easy and fun; I wasn’t sure of its quality, but then I wasn’t sure about The Office either before I started that and I constantly rewatch it now.

Not only was The Good Place hilariously charming and undoubtedly creative, it was enlightening and teaches me concepts in very receivable terms every time I watch it.

The cast is amazing. Manny Jacinto, who plays Jianyu/Jason Mendoza has also been in an episode of The Good Doctor and is incredibly good at staying in character, a very stupidly funny character at that. Jameela Jamil, who plays Tahani Al-Jimal, has never acted before in a TV show and has already mastered social gestures and emotional tics as signs of low-key reactions in every episode. William Jackson Harper, who plays Chidi Anagonye, has perfected being a constant irksome, and yet extremely relatable, nerd and continues to surprise with his adaptability handling concepts of moral philosophy and responses to inappropriate humor.

The show, in all, seems like any other late-night comedy on NBC, but has gone further with actually nurturing some key ideas of philosophy and controversial scenarios, similar to The Good Doctor, but in a way that I can actually use as a reference for my AP Literature class for our analysis of the novel Frankenstein.

Romanticism is a big theme of the book and the weight of nature and its inevitable impact can be traced back to Locke, Kant, and other such philosophers, who have also been highlighted throughout episodes of The Good Place. Kristen Bell is the final character of the human quad, Eleanor, and draws on the concept of pushing these natural moral and ethical limits, trying to change after death, and trying to be defined post-judgement.

In the show The Good Place, Heaven isn’t a thing. Not really. Neither is Hell. There is The Good Place and there is The Bad Place and every single act or decision a human makes on earth has a point value like stocks: negative 3.126, positive 7.452, etc., until they ultimately have hundreds or thousands or millions of positive or negative values, or in between, though since this afterlife is strict, the in between is basically negative.

The show does pull from traditional ideas, but is known for tricks and twists that will make you doubt everything you thought you knew. It is a new favorite of all my friends and family who had time to try it out for themselves and a new outlook to an immortal question. What happens when we die?

A bowl of m&m’s will wait for our consumption, if there even is consumption in the afterlife. A neighborhood of positive or negative point-getters will house our souls, socializing for the endless amount of time every death results in. Or a resurrection such as Frankenstein if we are so cursed and evolved by then.

Whatever the case, this show has made me lighter and brighter, literally and mentally. Little brain power is required, but much curiosity and the acknowledgement of potential outcomes nurture our little minds to doubt and to hope, to see the reality of our actions, but also the ability to conquer our predicaments, even if those predicaments may be ourselves.

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