TTMG: iTunes giveaway and a novel winner

So, I was right: people want underwear more than books. Though some mothers don’t have time to read, not one person said they didn’t need new underwear because their kids keep them too busy to shower.

I’m not sure what this means besides grooming being a bigger priority than reading, but I do think John Edwards could’ve learned something from y’all: if he’d only concentrated on wearing underwear at all times instead of reading one too many steamy Harlequin American Political Romances, he might still be on Obama’s VP list.

This week I’m offering a $10 iTunes giftcard to the winner of Things That Must Go. I know ten bucks isn’t much, but I’ve already blown this week’s ad revenue on a Happy Meal for the kids. Plus, iTunes is cool, right? I only ask that you download Lenka’s The Show with part of your winnings. Just kidding. Leaving a comment with your Things That Must Go is the only thing you have to do. Well, really you only have to pay taxes and die. Or go to jail and die, or get signed up as a Conscientious Tax Objector and die. Leaving a comment is sounding better and better, huh?

But first, here’s the winner of the Nora Roberts/Joan Wickersham book giveaway (email me your address and which book you’d like!):

Scarehaircare: Skimpy bikinis. If you are stupid enough to wear them, I am not going to stop my daughter when she points and says loudly “Mom, look at that!” because she sees your bum before you can pull your bikini bottom back up after coming down the water slide. (The same thing goes for jeans that are too low to sit in properly.) I am all for allowing the children to say what we cannot, in all politeness, say.

And two Honorable Mentions, which were in no way influenced by nepotism:

Grampa: One other thing that has to go are popsicle bags that can’t be opened without a lethal weapon (knife, scissors). No clever use of fingernails, teeth, or brute stength can open them. They don’t even leak when the popsickle melts; the sticks float, and the “soup” tastes like Kool-Aid. Such bags have spread to candy bars, cookies, and crackers. Away with such unopenable bags. Yes.

Tom Johnson: -Dryers that sounds like German army tanks.
-Feelings of inadequacy for not keeping your kids 100% reverent during church.
-Leaving your real glasses in the car and instead wearing sunglasses all day and evening in the house, looking like a retard. :) Do I make fun of how you look in your clip-on sunglasses? 🙂
-People who think hacking someone’s site and bringing it down is funny.
-Loud, angry voices in any context — at home, church, in the car. (Well, if you’re driving alone it’s okay.)
-Floam. Sounds like a cool idea, until it’s time to clean it up.

And here are my Things That Must Go for this week:

1. To the Nice Man at the Gym: I know it seems strange that I’ve ventured into your territory of pulleys and benchpresses; I don’t like it any more than you do. But I hope we can learn to share this maze of equipment, which is why I’m asking you to please stop grunting. Please stop grunting. Please. I realize you’re lifting five thousand pounds and sweating and bursting at your muscle seams, but I cannot count to fifteen when you are grunting, grunting, grunting. What’s that? You didn’t catch that? You can’t hear anything, much less your own grunting, because you are listening to Coldplay on your iPod? Well, at least you have good taste in music. Just. Please stop grunting.

2. Fax machines. The Chinese gave us gunpowder and fireworks and smoggy Olympics. I’m sure we could pin the fax machine on them too. Seriously. Why can’t we just email and scan and email some more? Is it just me or are fax machines about as modern as a horse and buggy?

Now it’s your turn: what’s buggin’ this week? iTunes giveaway deadline is midnight Saturday.

Makes-Me-Smile Monday: Some Kind of Wonderful

There are no secrets in my family. Well, there might be one or two, but I have no idea what they are. We talk about everything, especially meaty things some people consider indelicate, like politics and religion and sex and marriage and how do you enjoy raising your kids when they whine all the time?

Sometimes this caused pain, as when Dad compared me to a wasp (because of my sharp tongue, and no, dad, I still haven’t forgotten that, sorry!) or when he asked me if I were on speed (nope, just Mountain Dew, and sorry, haven’t forgotten that one either). Dad was also really candid about his own faults. I know things about my dad that I could really embarrass him with online, but I won’t. Because he knows things about me, too.

When I was 13 and wanting to go swimming during one of my first periods, I couldn’t get the tampon in. Muscles too tight, brain too anxious. There was no way that foreign object was going anywhere inside me. Mom said she could do it if I wanted. Well, that’s just gross. And weird. But I wanted to go swimming. And I trusted, I mean, really trusted, my mom.

I grew up knowing that, whatever else, my dad and mom would never tell me less than the truth. And they expected the truth and nothing but the truth back. Of course I still lied. I lied when I was afraid they just wouldn’t understand. Who could possibly understand? How shocked was I when my sheltered little parents not only understood, but still loved me, and wanted the world to be right for me? Now they, and I, want the world to be right for my sister, and for all of their progeny. That’s all we want, right? For the world to be RIGHT for those we love.

My parents did a lot of things right (and a few wrong, catch me on a less-reminiscing day, and I’ll TELL ALL), but one thing that imprinted on me to the point of inducing salivation at 6 pm sharp is family dinner. Dick used to tease me about my Pavlovian insistence on all five of us being at the table with food of some sort on our plates every. single. night. Basketball? School function? Church activity? Better eat fast.

Then Dick listened to an NPR Bryant Park Project podcast and learned that family dinner is associated with better early reading, even more so than parents’ reading to their kids. Suddenly family dinner is the cool thing to do. But it’s not just the fish sticks and broccoli, it’s the complex conversation, replete with explanations of words and storytelling.

The benefits of showing “genuine concern about each other’s daily activities” even extends to kids with asthma. They’re less likely to end up in the ER if they come from a family “reasonably intact and functional” enough to have family dinner with a side of conversation.

Now, I admit that sometimes I’ve only set my book down long enough to yell at Sally to set her book down. Then Dick says (he doesn’t yell, sigh) “I thought we weren’t going to read at the table anymore.” Sigh.

Then we watched Some Kind of Wonderful in anticipation of the MMSM carnival. And what do they do at least twice in that movie, at some length? They have a family meal. They talk. They hassle each other about school and Keith’s sister teases him about his hot date with Amanda Jones. Dad gets mad at Keith for calling him and Mom by their first names. Mom makes the effort for a solid, if boring, meal. And, for once in cinema-land, they actually sit around the table, instead of along one side of it. They’re a family.

When Keith withdraws all his college money and his dad finds out, there’s a lot of yelling — and the real “F” word, not just the “f” word we’ve banned at our house (fat). But the dad listens. He hears what his crazy, dumb 18-year-old son says. He’s right, Keith’s right. Dad understands, and Keith can finish growing up with his blessing.

As Watts says,

Yeah, well, in comparative terms, it’s probably better to have an old man nagging you about your future, than no old man, not nagging you about nothing.


Link up to the MMSM carnival below! This week we have a giveaway for one lucky participant. I offered one of Shalece’s Fortune Cookie Kits at the UBP and that went well, so we’re excited to offer another one (Shalece is all-entreprenuerial that way). You can see what’s in the kits (and meet Shalece!) in the video at her site. Personalized fortune cookies make great party favors or special thank-you tokens or original surprise-springers (I’m pregnant! or I didn’t forget our anniversary!). You can even dip them in chocolate or just serve them as dessert for that special family dinner I know you’re planning.

A Giveaway, A Giveaway! My Kingdom for a Giveaway!

Or, as the Freakonomists would say, some schwag. Monday, April 7th marks the second edition of the Makes-Me-Smile Monday Carnival this time around. While I was very happy with the quality of the participants last time, the quantity left something to be desired, and, as I said to my higher-minded friend Melinda, sometimes I admit (if only to myself) that I would sell my firstborn (and throw in the other two for free) for a large, lucrative following for my blog. Or enough lucre to purchase a modest house in the country.

So I am happy to bring you a giveaway this Monday as a bribe small token of my appreciation for your making the effort to brighten up the internet with thoughts on one of the best movies ever made. A movie that led to one of my proudest moments: As we watched Some Kind of Wonderful, yet again, my dad got sucked into it, and said, “Wow, this is a lot better than I thought it would be.” Thanks, Dad.

I am also hoping this movie choice will entice some lurkers (you know who you are) who I happen to know LOVE this movie, or at least did when we were young(er). And as the song goes, High School Never Ends (sorry, Melinda).

Some Kind of Wonderful has great characters, characters that might start out stereotypical (it is a John Hughes movie, after all), but who grow and change; the conflict is real and realistically (un)resolved. And the music, oh! But the best part is the dialogue. It sparkles! I think I could recite the entire movie. (I once had a friend who had Alice in Wonderland memorized; SKOW is like that, only better).

Two of my favorite exchanges are:

Keith: You can’t judge a book by its cover.
Watts: No, but you can tell how much it’s gonna cost.
Keith: Wow, I never knew you were so deep.
Watts: You want shallow, call Amanda Jones.


Ray: I know that if you wanted, you could be a girl [snaps fingers] like that.
Watts: Ray, this is 1987. Did you know a girl can be whatever she wants to be?
Ray: I know. My mom’s a plumber.
Watts: That explains a lot about you, Ray.

To qualify for the giveaway, put your thinking cap on (or at least your breathing cap) and figure out what you want to say about (pick ONE): judging by appearance, women in the workforce, maternal influence, identity, high school, John Hughes movies, Eric Stoltz/Mary Stuart Masterson/Lea Thompson, music of the 80s(!), or one of the biggest themes of the movie — socioeconomic class disparity in America. Or about what you did (or wished you’d done) to get detention.

Then link up to the carnival this Monday (or comment substantially, if you’re blogless), and you’ll be eligible for some sweet schwag. (I’ll describe the schwag in detail on Monday; this isn’t quite priceline, people).