May 7th, 2013 — Baseball, Family, Mothers
So… what to do on Mother’s Day. My husband was wondering and I was just shrugging my shoulders at him when I heard from the folks at the Rays. Would we like to attend a Rays game on Mother’s Day?
*Cue high fives all around.*
Um, yes we WOULD!
It’s kind of the perfect idea. Everyone is happy, we all spend time together, some beer is involved, the kids get to run the bases after the game and there are no long waits for a fancy, shmancy over-priced brunch.
Wait. Can we go back to the high fives? Oh, my 9 year old. Going to the Trop literally makes his life. He is beyond pumped for Sunday. He’s been staring down the Rays magnet schedule on the frig.
“Mom, mom, MOM. They need to get through this series with Toronto and then it’s a three day series against the Padres and WE get to see the last game of the series and they have been playing well and Longoria is awesome so I’m thinking it’s a win FOR SURE. Mom. MOM!! Did you hear me? Mom.”
This kid is a freak for baseball. It’s like he was born with this passion.
“Five days until the game, Mom. FIVE days. Mom.”
So, that’s where we’ll be on Sunday. And while my kid is staring down the game, I will be admiring my new Rays flower pot. I’m kind of obsessed with getting one. Isn’t it super cute?
Happy Mother’s Day to all those moms out there who love their kids’ passion for something so much that a day watching them enjoy that passion truly makes your day, too.
The Rays were kind enough to provide my family with four tickets, some food and a parking pass (which we don’t technically need since parking is free for cars with four or more on Sunday anyway). Thank-you, Rays!!
May 6th, 2013 — Exercise, Growing up, Guilt and motherhood
I started running in January. No, really, I did. And I’ve actually managed to consistently squeak in about two or three runs a week, too.
But, so what.
Sure, I’ve never, EVER been an athlete. And it has taken a lot of something deep down inside to set my alarm before anyone gets up, to stumble out the door and get a couple miles in before the day begins. I mean, if you know me, you’d know that’s entirely unexpected and… kind of weird.
But, still. So what.
Maybe it’s some sort of mid-life crisis but I think this running business is simply about me getting off my ass and doing what I probably should have half my lifetime ago. I have one life and one body. My children have one childhood each and these years, and the years to come, and years with their children (maybe, if they have them) are a gift.
How could I, with a clear conscience, keep myself from doing everything I can to maintain my health and TRY to ensure that I am allowed this gift?
I’ve known all of it for a long time — eat your veggies, get off your ass and you’ll beat back all kinds of bad mojo. There are no miracle diets or magic products that will half my muffin top and slow time. Just be healthy and stop with the excuses.
But I do have one little, ahem, excuse. I think part of NOT doing it was also making time for myself. Parents GIVE. Parents make the most efficient use of their time. Parents push self-indulgent crap like, oh, a thirty minute run by myself aside if the kids are vomiting half-digested hot dog, have a baseball game to get to or are coming unhinged over their homework.
So, I guess I’m getting a little better about taking. Oh, and setting my alarm extra early when no one is awake anyway.
I can’t wait for short-term reasons to do this, either. Putting one foot in front of the other can’t only be happening because of some upcoming race or because I am trying to keep up with anyone else. This has to be long-term.
And I can’t put it off because I don’t feel like it. Life is uncomfortable sometimes. It’s a half hour of push. Only a half hour.
But can we talk about endurance? Because sometimes I don’t want to keep going. I get really tired and seriously consider walking. But then I think about that stupid chart they give you in the hospital for pain. Smiley face for no pain, crying face for crazy pain. When I was in labor, they showed me that chart. And I couldn’t make sense of it. I mean, what IS the worst kind of pain? I couldn’t possibly know. Did I deserve a crying face… or was there more to come still? Was there worse than this? Of course there was.
(By the way, I am secretly correcting the grammar on this chart. WTH is that about?)
So, when I’m running, I think about the chart. And I think about my discomfort. And I think about what other discomfort and awful pain and strain and heartbreak there is. (No kidding, I really think this.) And I think that my discomfort must only be at about a semi-smiley face. In the grand scheme of all that we endure (as I jog past palm trees on a sunny afternoon towards my happy home of boys and normal and nice), my pain is actually just peachy. So… SHUT UP.
And I keep going.
I should add that while I promise Nike isn’t paying me to say this, the Nike + Running app is fracking amazing. I’m addicted and in constant competition with myself. Breaking my 5K record pretty much makes my life when it happens.
But, so what.
I can get jazzed about my little accomplishments but no one else should. Because I am only doing what I should be doing. What I should have been doing for years. And it’s simply my choice to do it. Bed or run? Excuses or no excuses? If I choose wrong, that’s on me. If I shut-up and get out there, then I’m just doing what is good for me. That’s all.
It’s giving back to ME. It’s upping my chances of hanging around a little longer. It’s giving my kids the best odds for decades more of my rockstar singing in the car (“Stop Mommy, you’re tooo loooud!”) and lecture-giving (“You be the person YOU want to be, blaze your own trails!”) and shameless question-asking about their body issues. (“Did you wipe… DID YOU? …No, really, DID you? I can TELL you didn’t.”)
But all this smack talk doesn’t amount to much, really. It’s just talk. And all that running has happened, but it’s no guarantee that I will run tomorrow. Or next week. It could end as fast as I started. Because it’s all about choice and whether or not that drive is there.
It is right now. So there we go. No awards. No guarantees. No crying faces. No excuses.
April 4th, 2013 — Baseball, Boys, Florida
When we transplanted our New England family to Tampa eight years ago, I thought our family’s love for the Red Sox would transplant easily, too. Nope. Like something grown from his own sandy garden of Floridian soil, my 9 year old son has tended his love for the Rays for most of his life. He has a poster of The Trop on his wall, Longoria’s T-shirts are stuffed into his drawers and he carries an old, worn Rays backpack everyday to school. The Rays are something he has adopted, watched loyally on TV and emulated in our backyard with wiffle balls, pop flies over the house and whispered replays.
So, when I got an email from the marketing folks at the Rays asking if I would come to Opening Day and watch the game from their Blogger’s Suite, all I could think of was my son. And how perfect this match was, really.
I kept the secret though. I didn’t tell him that I was going to spring him from school on Tuesday afternoon. Dressing him in his favorite Rays t-shirt that morning was nothing new. But finding his mom dressed in her Rays t-shirt, in the school’s front office in the middle of the day, was most definitely something new.
He asked hurried details and reread the day’s itnerary all the way down to the game. We got there 2 hours early, and that was fine by him. We circled the park and laughed at the booming music, the tail-gating, the sea of blue jerseys and smiling faces. Once inside, he wanted to go directly to the suite. So, we did. And, once we were there, my son wanted nothing to do with any socializing. He wanted to watch the game and take in every single detail on the field. Forget the chit-chat. Opening Day? For the Rays? Come on, people. It’s not Spring Training any longer. This is serious business. He sat front and center and ignored everything but the game.
They didn’t win, as much as I hoped that they would. But that was OK. My 9 year old assured
himself me that there were so many more games left in the season. And we would be back (“Right? Right, mom?”) and we would see a win. Because that’s the best part about baseball. There are enough games that there’s time to sit and savor the experience. We can munch our popcorn and watch the flow and appreciate it’s calm process and deliberate order.
Tampa has become a very comfortable spot to raise my family. But, for my son,Tampa is home. And The Trop is a familiar, magical spot that he comes back to every season. A place that he knows and studies on TV and remembers from seasons before. On Opening Day, my son was back in his element. A home I never anticipated–but his home, still.
On our way out the door, the very kind folks at The Trop gave us some fun giveaways that will be available to fans at future games.
The David Prive Cy Young Figurine will be given away on April 6th when the Rays play the Cleveland Indians.
The Astro Bobblehead will be given away on April 21st when the Rays play the Oakland Athletics.
The Joe Maddon Garden Gnome (MY personal favorite, love it!) will be given away on April 24th when the Rays play the Yankees.
All opinions in this blog post are my own. The Rays gave me two tickets to the Opening Day game and a few giveaways but I was not given any paid compensation for my blog post or tweets.
March 4th, 2013 — Panicking, Parenting
My guess is that feeding a child may be one of the most complex processes in parenting. There is so much wrapped up in it, you know? It was the first thing we were instructed to do as parent after all. Feed your baby. Make sure he eats and then poops and thrives. If you can’t make that happen, well, what good are you?
But then they grow up and get notions and opinions about their food. How dare they. And we become crazed with the possibility that they will fail to thrive if they don’t eat their carrots. Oh yes, we are quite sure that their lack of carrot servings, and the resulting cases of scurvy and the rest, will reflect on our abilities to parent.
We insist that they eat.
They want control.
And there you have the ultimate child-parent stand-off. Well, after potty-training and before anything to do with puberty at least.
I am NOT one of those brilliant mothers who has managed to have my child consume foie gras and smoked salmon before he could talk. Some moms can and do this. Yay for them. But this has not been the case in my household. (And I am sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I can’t stand foie gras and smoked salmon, either.)
My six year old started out his toddler years detesting bread. And then he didn’t. He detested meat of all types. And then he could do processed nuggets. And then we banned nuggets and he swallowed down REAL chicken with ginormous swallows of water. Such. Torture. Then he liked chicken.
6 years of this. He always kind of, sort of comes around… after many, many torturous tries.
And tonight, it was Shepherd’s Pie.
HOW DARE I.
Sure, each item (meat, potatoes, simple veggies) are tolerable apart. But together? WOE! DRAMA! TEARS!
“You’re going to make me dead with that food!!!!!” His exact words yelled at me while I stood there, still in rumpled work clothes, pans deep in the makings and hair standing straight out from the steam from the boiling potatoes…
Cue daggers springing from my eyes and muttered prayers to hold me back from putting my child out on the curb with the recycling.
So here we go. Let another stand-off commence. My child’s job tonight was to eat this. (And YES, if he did, he could eat a left-over Valentine’s day treat that I had meant to chuck out weeks ago.)
Oh. The horror.
And then I sat in front of him. Eating my own DELICIOUS serving. And taking pictures of his reaction for you all to enjoy. Consider it my revenge for the hour long whining while I slaved over that hot stove (because I DID, dammit).
So. Guess what? After a little time and numerous attempts… he liked it.
He ate the whole damn thing. THE WHOLE THING.
Ha-HAAAHHHHH!!!!! Mommy SUCCESS!!! Let me enjoy this moment. He did it! He will live and thrive another day!
…while he eats a nasty pack of fun-dip (shudder… the devil’s food… gah) and rots all those new little kid teeth right out of his head. But they rot away with PEAS AND CARROTS IN HIS BELLY.
January 28th, 2013 — Deep thoughts, Hillary Clinton, Women
Do you think being too nice is a sign of weakness?
I wonder about this often.
I have been accused of being too nice. There could be worse things, of course. And I don’t have any beef with being nice. If folks think that I am, well, that’s something to be proud of, right?
Whatever I am, I am that way and rarely succeed at being something I am not. So there it is, right on my sleeve for the world to see. Nice, I guess.
But, do you think nice is taken seriously? Can nice people be effective ball-busters, respected leaders or rising stars? I wonder.
(Not that I really aim to be some flashy rising star, but it helps make my point so let’s go with it.)
I think about this a lot.
When I think of leaders, I think of women like Hillary Clinton. Did you see her testify before the Senate? Well, I saw the comments afterwards. This woman is perceived as a tough bitch. Hands down. And most women I have ever seen at the helm of anything major, well, they are perceived as tough. And as bitches. And, for that, they make no apologies. Nor should they.
Photo credit: Mashable
But how many “nice” women do you see in similar positions?
It’s an old argument. And we could go on for days about how women HAVE to be tougher or perceived as less feminine to get ahead. And I don’t disagree. I’m just not sure where that leaves me.
Ms. “Nice Guy”.
My office mates joke that I need asshole training. I don’t disagree with that, either. It cracks me up when they say that because I am so unable to be a really believable asshole. Being an asshole, for the most part, just isn’t in my make-up.
But is being nice… weak?
There is part of me that hates to see folks unhappy. Groan, right? Who the hell needs a people-pleaser around to get anything done effectively. Honestly. But it’s not as simple as that. Well, maybe when I was younger it was. But now it’s more about taking the time to consider all sides. And, you know what, I don’t think my way is always the right way. AND I think that feelings matter. I do. Respecting the people around you is cool. I am also OK with doing some grunt work and sparing someone else from doing it.
…Eh. Commendable. But weak.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not THAT nice. I say mean things everyday. I could be a hell of a lot nicer to my husband most mornings. There are too many people to list that would get a phone call from me… if I were nicer and far more thoughtful.
Maybe I pick and choose my nice. For instance, if I were to say I was a good leader at anything, I think it’s in the mom department. (If I do say so myself. *shoulder-dust*) I’m nice to my kids. I’m nice until they push it. Then I stop the nice immediately and get serious. We can go from a loud and lively game of Battleship to game-over and time outs for everyone if the kids get into it. And once it’s over and they have earned another round, I’m back and willing to play.
But, you see, I am confident as a mom. It’s the rest of it that I need to gain traction on and trust that my instincts are right, even if they are nice.
I want to play by my rules, really. I don’t want to push another down to get where I want to go. I don’t want to insist that I deserve better than anyone else. I would rather lift those around me up, stand as an example and cheer loudly for the good guys.
(Oh lordy, in an ideal world. Maybe I’m not that nice. I need to work on all of this more.)
Anyway, these are things people like me think about. At almost 40 and looking back at what I’ve really done with what I have and giving some real consideration to my strengths and weaknesses. With Etta James on Pandora and my stretchiest PJ pants no chocolate in the house.
But don’t you dare call me hormonal. Whatever “nice” I have claimed so sweetly will go south fast.
(And if you love me, and know me well, you can stop laughing at that threat, too. I’m trying here.)
December 23rd, 2012 — Parenting, Teaching kids
The Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy left most of this country permanently changed. The possibility of our worst nightmare came to life on a Friday morning, and most us have no idea how to make things right. We can’t, of course. 26 lives were lost. But we can find positive ways to honor their lives and move forward.
Many of us have taken on Ann Curry’s mission to offer #26Acts if Kindness. I adore this idea. It’s positive. It’s good. But for some reason, it also doesn’t seem enough.
So here’s my small attempt. I am writing down 26 lessons I want my children to learn in their lifetimes. Sure, maybe these are things I would have tried to teach them anyway. But, if they look back one day, I want them to know why these lessons meant something. And I want to remind myself why I am a parent and why it is so important to raise good, kind people. So, here we go:
1. Do your best everyday as a way to honor your community and your family, not your ego.
2. Share what you have, because you always have more than someone else. And what you have never makes you better than anyone else.
3. Enjoy and celebrate those around you TODAY. Tomorrows are hopeful but today is real and here and a gift.
4. Don’t be late. When you are, you are telling the other person that your time is worth more than theirs.
5. Ask questions. Knowledge is always more valuable than the perception of knowing.
6. Use your words. We don’t live in a world of mind-readers. Ask for what you want, say what you think.
7. Did everyone make a mess? Don’t just fix your part, help be the solution to the entire problem.
8. “The world owes us nothing, we owe each other the world.” You may earn things in your life, but never act entitled to any of it. Be grateful for what you get, and consider how to give back.
9. Love your brother. No, I mean it. Your sibling (or cousin or family member) is a part of your identity and heritage. Honor it, value it, never ever let it go. No disagreement is ever worth it. I promise.
10. Be patient. There will always be traffic, and people in front of you, and people doing things slower than you can do it, and things that don’t go your way. Breathe. Check yourself and just be patient.
11. Stuff doesn’t matter. Cool toys, fancy clothes, cars, houses, things that make you look like a rock-star… they can be fun. Enjoy it if you can. But, really? Don’t give it unnecessary value and none of it should ever define who you are.
12. Take care of your body. Go to the doctor, eat well, exercise, don’t ignore something that worries you. You have one body and one life, do your best to honor it and take care of it.
13. Love what you do. Really try to find a purpose that you leap out of bed for everyday. Your happiness is important and you will be able to give more when you are happy.
14. Be uncomfortable. Every time you are uncomfortable, you will learn something. You might even gain something. You might even learn to like it. Discomfort is OK, it’s good for you, it’s a challenge — don’t back away from it.
15. Keep learning. The minute you think you have it all figured out, you have closed yourself off from some very important lessons.
16. Don’t let someone else fix your problems. Not me, not your spouse, no one. Face the music, own up to your mistakes, take responsibility.
17. Earn your keep. Do your job to the best of your ability. Do your part. Be an active, hard-working participant in whatever you do.
18. Take initiative. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you. Don’t assume it’s someone else’s job to fix it. Don’t decide someone else has thought it up already. Want something to change? Jump in and make it happen.
19. Listen. I mean it. Listen to what the people around you are saying. Your opinions are no more important than theirs. Listen and consider and learn.
20. I may say you’re “the most amazing person that ever lived” but you still need to prove that to the world. Humility is a critical part of growth.
21. Stubborn? Get over it. 98% of the time it’s just not worth it. I promise.
22. Confidence is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You have to be confident to get confident. Be what you want to be, no one else is going to give it to you.
23. Change is coming. No matter what you do to prevent it, things change. Either embrace and move with the change or shut down and lose the lesson that change brings.
24. Be loyal to the people you care about and respect, even when things change unexpectedly (see #23) or make you uncomfortable (see #14).
25. See the value in every experience, whether it’s positive or negative. Failure is OK. Appreciate the value in every bad date, job interview, basketball practice. Consider, learn, move forward.
26. Love is never a weakness. Love like it’s your job. Love like you have nothing else in the world. Tell those you love about how you feel often. Don’t assume they just know.
The 26 lives lost on December 14th were extraordinarily significant, and I will try to teach these lessons to my children in their honor.
On the day of the shooting, my husband picked the boys up early from school. He then texted me this picture of them goofing off in front of their school, with not a care in the world. I was truly, to-the-core, grateful for their joy, innocence and safety.
December 16th, 2012 — Grief, Panicking, Parenting
When I got home on Friday, and folded my boys into my arms, my youngest wrapped his fingers around one of mine — like an infant would. It felt so unbearably familiar and dear. I have loved them both fiercely since that was the only way they could hold on. It’s instinctive. It’s rooted in our deepest connection. It’s all I know.
I don’t think it was just me. In the restaurant that night, I think every parent clung to their child while waiting for a table. My kids got chocolate milk and coins for those damn machines and anything they wanted on the menu. And then, after dinner, we walked around the Christmas trees and laughed and loved and actually sang Christmas carols and held hands. So did everyone else. I don’t think it was just me.
It’s like they just knew. They both bounded into our bed early on Saturday morning and trailed us to the kitchen. They demanded snuggles. They sat by us. They wanted to play cards and games and wrap presents and do whatever we were doing. At one point, I had both children (6 and 9!) on my lap while I did work. They hugged so hard I had to tell them to stop because it hurt. We kept the news off this entire weekend but it’s like they knew.
The school superintendent called this afternoon. He said the schools were safe. He said there are resources for discussing it with our children. He said we needed to go back to our routines tomorrow. He said guidance counselors would be available all week. He said the school staff will take care of our children. I hung up the phone and watched my boys chase and tackle each other in our backyard on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
I let my oldest watch President Obama make his speech in Newtown tonight. Our president explained how our children are our nation’s dearest treasure. I want my son to know his safety IS valued by our president, by our entire country. He watched and wrapped his arms around me. I think he was trying to comfort me.
I lost nobody on Friday. My children are perfectly here, breathing and complaining and laughing and wonderful. But this stopped me in a way only very few tragedies have. However I can from afar, I am grieving deeply with each of those parents. DEEPLY. This tragedy has rocked me, and just about everyone I know, to the core.
I have nothing to offer here, no lesson learned, or respectful understanding about the laws of nature right now. Nope.
I just know that tomorrow, I will tell my kids it’s just another school day. And I will pack them into the car. And make sure science projects are ready and reindeer ears are in place for holiday activities. And drive onto the school grounds. And get in line with the other cars. And then, I will let them step out of the car and away from me. As they do every single day.
We are doing our very best. I know that. All of us. Parents, educators, first responders.
We are blessed by amazing faculty who don’t know me but would do anything to protect my babies from “the bad guys”. I know that and I find real comfort in that.
What a luxury. All I have to do is let my kids out of the car tomorrow. That’s ALL I have to do. While elsewhere, in Connecticut, dozens of parents will bury their children. So, without question, my kids will get out of the car for every single morning theirs cannot. This is their gift. This is their right. This is their life and routine. Not mine.
December 4th, 2012 — Family, Holidays, Photographs
Raise your hand if your family really IS as angelic and Hallmark-worthy as your carefully ordered Tiny Prints Christmas cards?
OK. Raise your hand if your family will never look anywhere remotely angelic for a Christmas card and you feel the judgey eyes of the world upon you as you can NOT get your kid to smile and remotely fear that this will end up on some “Crappy Christmas Pictures from the 2010s!” website or Tumblr (or whatever’s cool for stuff like that) someday.
I thought so.
Christmas cards are rough. Expectations are high and kids are over it the minute you start shellacking down their hair.
Speaking of hair catastrophes, last year my then 5 year old had a rip-roaring, mind-numbing, temper tantrum rager just minutes before our Christmas picture was to be taken in our backyard. We were all dressed up, my husband had a half hour before he had to leave for some coaching event (and was already pacing), our friend was there ready to shoot and the sale on Christmas card orders ended THAT DAY. However, my kid decided to flip the frock out at that very moment. I found out why later. You won’t believe this.
HE WAS CRYING BECAUSE HE THOUGHT I HAD COMBED HIS HAIR LIKE JUSTIN BIEBER.
But we got one smile. Barely. Blood from a stone, people. Blood from a fricking stone…
This year, we had no one around to take a picture. So, I thought it was time to whip out yee old, traditional camera self-timer. Isn’t that how it used to be done? Everyone lined up in front of the tree with a self-timer blinking madly and your dad screaming at everyone to “SMILE GODDAMMIT!!!”
Yep, that sounded perfect for this year.
So we all lined up in front of our door. My camera on a tripod and everyone’s hair combed. (No Justin Bieber look-alikes this year, I can assure you.) However. Before we got started, I used my super serious eyes and quiet “don’t ‘F’ with me” mom voice to demand a smile. Only true success, I swore coolly, would grant them each a milkshake afterwards.
Now. Here’s the really crazy part… It worked. A couple shots and we were done.
Kind of anti-climactic, really
So. We took some more. And I thought I would share them with you. No filtered, perfectly-posed, matchy-matchy, one-shot-in-a-million Christmas cards from us. Uh-uh. THIS is how my family rolls for Christmas card time. Folks, I think we’ve started a new tradition.
And that was only a few. I think we could have done that ALL day. I recommend you do the same. You’ll get some less than traditional, memory-worthy winners, I promise.
December 3rd, 2012 — Movies, Reviews, Tampa
It feels like every holiday season is another opportunity to make a tradition. Because time is ticking, folks. My wee ones are already rolling their eyes at my Christmas carols, Santa hats and jiggle bell bracelets. I have only a few years remaining to do things that they look back on and say “Remember when we were kids and we used to [insert nostalgic memory here]? That was awesome.” (Because I am sure EVERY family memory of ours will be… “awesome”.)
When I was offered the opportunity to review my movie experience at the Tampa Theatre, I was thrilled to go. You see, they are showing their Holiday Classics and the first was A Muppet Christmas Carol. So off we went, down to the city, with carols blaring and kids trying very hard not to smile about it all in the backseat.
Upcoming “Holiday Classics” being shown the the Tampa Theatre.
The Tampa Theatre is always a treat. This “movie palace”, built in 1926, is nothing like your typical movie complex. There is a fantastic marquee out front and an ornately decorated lobby found just past the ticket booth. It was designed to look much like a Mediterranean square with Tuscan decor and an evening sky above.
Of course my kids thought it looked a little bit like Hogwarts and were about 95% convinced Snape was holding a potions class downstairs, about where the signs pointed to Restrooms. Their imaginations went wild.
Cool water fountain!
The theater itself is just as fantastic with a twinkling night sky above, the same Mediterranean villa theme, gargoyles, various decorative birds and The Mighty Wurlitzer organ which rose out of the stage to play a few Christmas carols before the fun began. The theatre primarily plays movies — in fact, it still plays old 35mm film movies. They are working to install a new digital projection system built uniquely for that theatre.
It was a great program, with Mrs. Claus singing songs and telling stories, an elf to keep with the holiday theme and then the film itself, A Muppet Christmas Carol, which I had actually never seen.
We had a great time but I honestly think my kids were more impressed by the theatre than the movie itself. (HOW could my kids NOT appreciate The Muppets the way I do??) Of course, I kept thinking that a movie night at the Tampa Theatre would make a fantastic date night, too.
Be sure to catch one of the upcoming holiday movies being shown on select weekend days during December.
The Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ
November 20th, 2012 — Bloggers, Holidays, Reviews, Tampa
If you know my family, you know what kind of freaks we are for the movie Elf. I loved it when my first son was only a baby and used to HOPE my children would enjoy it just as much as I did someday.
(Because. You know. “It’s just nice to meet another human that shares my affinity for elf culture.”)
Well, wish granted. My kids have already watched the entire movie start to finish this season and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.
A few weeks ago, I heard that Elf The Musical was coming to town. Imagine my reaction. Can’t? Cue another Elf quote to illustrate my enthusiasm: “SANTA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I KNOW HIM!!!”
(Oh, yeah, the quotes. We rock them constantly during the holidays. I’m not sure any of my family members can burp without adding a “did you HEAR that?” afterwards. But I digress…)
Matt Kopec (Buddy) and Gordon Gray (Santa) in “Elf The Musical.” Photo by Joan Marcus.
I could not believe my luck when The Straz Center very graciously invited a group of Tampa bloggers to watch Elf, The Musical. My 9yo son and I went tonight, armed with our favorite quotes and all kinds of musical Christmas cheer cued up and ready to go.
However. Before I officially launch into my review, I want to set some very clear expectations first. This is particularly important for those of you who are thinking about going and are as much of a fan of the movie as I am. So, listen up.
1) Buddy is fantastic. But he is NOT Will Ferrell. (Who can be?) Don’t go in expecting any hint of a Will Ferrell imitator, either. Buddy isn’t Will, so let that go. THIS Buddy is extraordinarily talented and may even be more earnest and singy and dancy than Will. But it’s a musical and this is theater, so Buddy should be those things. Embrace the new Buddy.
2) Elf The Musical will not copy the movie scene by scene. That would be impossible to do. It does follow the story for the most part, but with a little twist. And the majority of that twist would be original music (but not the tunes from the movie). Like I said, let the movie go a bit and you will be fine.
3) There will be quotes from the movie, for sure. But it won’t cover ALL of them. (Brace yourself, there is no enormous burp and a “Did you hear that?”) And that’s OK. It works out just fine. In fact, this version adds in a few NEW funny quotes of it’s own. Appreciate it as an original piece of musical theater, because it is.
4) Be prepared to get into the Christmas spirit with a whole lot of song and dance.
If you go in with those expectations, you will love it. Honestly, the music was very good and the dancing was fun. It’s a great cast and I ADORED the live orchestra. I think that really adds a lot to the show. The set is great and I was impressed by how they wove the story together on a stage. I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed it, either. It got a standing ovation at the end.
OH, and here’s the most important part. My 9yo loved it. He laughed and recognized it and read the playbill carefully at the intermission and then raced back to his seat. On the way back to the car, he leaped around and rehashed his favorite parts. (“You smell like beef and cheese!” “You sit on a throne of lies!” “Just cool it, Zippy.”)
If you can reign in your Elf movie obsession and refrain from being too literal, and if you are prepared to just ENJOY theater that gets you into the holiday spirit, go. It will make you smile. And after all, isn’t smiling your favorite?
Elf The Musical is playing at The Straz Center in Tampa, November 20-25.