Shakin’ what their mamma’s gave them

I admit it, I watched the MTV Video Music Awards last night. And while I have to say that it was impressive that the girls ruled the evening, I am a bit shell-shocked over how much booty I saw.

It was all about the booty.

All of it.

I always like watching these award shows, as I hear new and emerging artists and inevitably get exposed to different music. It’s great. It’s what I love about music. I also like watching the red carpet, seeing how everyone gets dolled up, who opts for shock value and who opts for the safe or expected ensemble.

Last night I didn’t watch the red carpet, as my kids were up and I wasn’t sure what we’d see. So I tuned in just in time to see Katy Perry’s throwback homage to Brittany and Justin in an all-denim getup.

In hindsight, she rocked that dress. And was one of the most covered up artists of the evening.

As the show began, I was left wondering what all the hype is about this new girl, Ariana Grande. Because I’m going to be honest here and say I don’t get it. I don’t think she has the moves, the looks or the chops to last. But that’s just my opinion.

Nicki Minaj showed us…well, almost everything. I don’t know what the big deal is about Anaconda. Men have been parading half naked women around in their videos for years; decades even. I think the fact that she samples Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s 1992 single, Baby Got Back, is hilarious. You have to keep in mind that Minaj is all about the shock value. Yes, the video is racy and has been getting a lot of feedback because of that. But I think I like the idea of her taking a song that is 22 years old and making it her own. There are no men in the video (except Drake), and yet she sings about all the males that want/like her behind. On the flipside, remember the old school videos where women were on display, and shaking their behinds, for no reason? I think that Minaj took the power back, in an odd way. Can the women who paraded around naked in the Blurred Lines video say they had any power?

I don’t think so.

So yes, while I think it isn’t a video I will be showing my kids, I do think in some way she is taking a bit of that power back. The girl can rap, even if it is grating at times, and there is no doubt she can make fun of herself. But I think she makes fun of men’s ideals too, and the fact that Drake can’t touch her in the video, leaves him looking like a bit of a pervert.

So back to the show and yes, her performance was something. As was Jessie J’s, who I truly believe does have talent. That girl needs to come out from the “featured” spotlight and show off her pipes more!

From there we saw more butts, more booty and more behinds that I would have cared to see. Between the cleavage and the pelvage (really?! Why do I have to look at your pelvic bones?) and body suits, I just feel old. Not to mention all the cut-outs on dresses, a la Jennifer Lopez. I think there were more open areas than fabric! She did look great though!

On the topic of body suits, I don’t understand how these are even cool anymore? Body suits were a staple when I went clubbing, back in the early 90’s, when you wore them with pants! Now they are cut high, worn with boots and bedazzled.

I don’t get it.

The main act, and one that everyone was looking forward to, according to the Twitter feeds I followed, was Beyoncé. And while I will admit that I’m not so familiar with her current album, I have to say she put on a great performance. I did feel a little turned off at all the provocative moves she did on stage the minute they showed her daughter was in the audience. At two years old, she doesn’t understand what she’s seeing, and I’m not sure I liked that she got to see her mommy grind all over a bench on stage.

I’m being honest. This bothered me more than Anaconda.

There were a lot of legs and booties in the air – and on chairs! I understand that I was privy to some strategic camera shots that perhaps that little girl and live audience weren’t, but I didn’t think it was appropriate for her to see that.

So I will remind myself that she is a performer and I am not one to judge. I have no right to judge either the performance, or her parenting choices. She was getting an award after all and it was a sweet moment to share with her family on the world stage. So I’m happy for her.

The landscape of music is definitely changing, but before we all get up in arms about what those artists are wearing (or not wearing), remember that this has been happening for a long time. Please remember Elvis Presley, Freddie Mercury, Ozzy Osbourne, Madonna and last years’ performance by Miley Cyrus. All have had performances that left people talking and even some that solidified their careers. So enjoy the music for what it is.

That’s the point of an award show, right? Well, I guess there are the actual awards too.

In honour of the Video Vanguard Award winner, I’m going to go back a bit and feature Destiny’s Child 1998 hit Bills, Bills, Bills. This is where I first started liking Beyoncé.

Happy Monday!

 

Life skills

Earlier this summer, I scoured the web, and community centre book for activities that the Little Bird could do since we decided to take them out of swimming lessons for a break. I was looking for something that would keep their attention, something fun but that wasn’t just a summer camp.

I don’t need a summer camp, as my lovely sister-in-law so graciously agreed to watch the Little Bird for three days a week. I needed another activity.

Trying to nail something down with her went a little something like this:

 

Me: Little Bird, do you want to play soccer?

Little Bird: No

Me: How about dance?

LB: No

Me: Ballet?

LB: No

Me: Want to try gymnastics again?

LB: No thank you.

Me: How about karate?

LB: No

Me: Great! Karate it is!

 

I researched a couple of karate schools in my area as I needed to hedge my bets and give her some time to warm up to the idea. So I settled on the school that gave me one free class and then a 3-class trial for $19. They also happened to be running a summer special for 2 months, for a very reasonable price.

I talked it up to her, although she continued to tell me that she wasn’t going to go, she wasn’t going to like it, and she didn’t want to try.

So I pulled the parent card and took her anyway!

And miracle of miracle happened. She enjoyed her first class and couldn’t wait to go back! During the second class she was a little shy, but she warmed up and seemed to have fun. By the middle of the third class, I knew I chose the right activity; she was smiling and laughing and most importantly – doing the activities!

 

 

You see, when the Little Bird was three, we signed her up for gymnastics at the local community centre. She has been to a friend’s birthday party at a gymnastics place and loved it. She participated in the first half of the first class and then planted her feet on the ground, crossed her arms and didn’t move for the remainder of that class. No amount of coaxing from students or teachers would get her to move.

During the second class, she did the same thing. Didn’t move, from the minute it started. They had me come into class, leave the viewing area, talk to her, ignore her…it made no difference. She wasn’t having any of it.

By the middle of the third class, I had to take her out and beg the community centre coordinator for my money back, which they don’t normally do. But she had only really taken part of a half of a class, so he made a one-time exception and credited my account.

Since then, we’ve only stuck to swimming.

Until now.

Until I discovered the positive effects of karate; concentration, discipline and respect.  The classes have this amazing influence on her confidence, teaching her important life skills disguised as fun. I think it helps that we can go to as many classes during the week as we’d like, so if she’s having a rough day and I know there is a class that evening, we’ll get her uniform on and off we go. She has walked into the room, head down and arms crossed, (as we’ve seen before, it’s hard to break her out of that funk), however the teachers had a way of cracking a smile on her face in under 10 minutes.

That alone is worth the price of admission!

I’ve seen other kids act out and they are politely asked to step to the side, as to not disrupt the other students, until they are ready to return. Inevitably, they always come back and are more respectful. Luckily she doesn’t do that, she just usually checks out, or downright refuses to participate, however she is slowly coming around.

And ever since they presented her with her white belt, she seems eager to learn more. Excited to earn her stripes, like her classmates have on their belts, and ready to move up the rungs in colour.

 

 

She admitted to me the other day that although she knows the student creed, (and had to recite it in order to receive her white belt) she has stopped saying it. I know she knows I can see she doesn’t recite it at the start of each class, and she shrugs and puts her head down. But she told me that she doesn’t say it because she doesn’t remember all of it anymore. And I told her that if she started staying the parts that she knows each time she goes to class, she would eventually remember all of it. So, she said she would try.

And that’s all I can ask for.

Our two month summer special is quickly coming to an end, but I think we’ll take the next 6 months to see where she can go. My gut tells me that she will only get better!

 

Hello (and thank you) Lionel!

“I’ve been alone with you inside my mind…”

This is the line that captures why there is still so much love for Lionel Richie after all these years. At some point or another, we’ve been alone, a Lionel Richie tune playing in the background, thinking about love. Regardless of if the love was going well or not, the music made an imprint.

That’s how I feel, anyway. And that’s why I absolutely loved seeing Lionel Richie: All The Hits All Night Long Tour as it made a stop  at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto, a few of weeks ago. It was like seeing an old friend; being brought back to my childhood and adolescent years, even sometimes, to exact moments.

Ahhh, the power of music.

You’ll remember how excited I was to get the tickets. That day, I counted down the minutes to leave work, met up with my mom and we made our way downtown.

CeeLo Green opened, and, well let’s just say that I’m not a fan. So we waited patiently for him to get through his cover songs and sing the only two songs I know, which were “Crazy” and “Forget You”. However needless to say, not many people were out of their seats during his act.

That was not the case when Lionel hit the stage. Everyone stood and danced as he took us on a musical journey through all the hits, from the Commodores and through the 80s and onwards. He is one talented 65 year old!

He was very engaging with the crowd, telling stories, dancing, playing the piano. His stories are great, and had everyone laughing. One in particular had him pointing out that we all looked really good. “You all got older and I stayed the same,” he laughed. He broke the crowd into three groups, and asked us to let him know which group we belonged to.

The first group was there from the very beginning. Through the afros and the jumpsuits and loved him from his early days as a Commodore.

[Queue cheers from my mother, amongst many others]

The second group has been with him for a long, long time too. From his jheri curls to the tight pants and we danced on the ceiling with him in the 80s.

[Queue cheers from me and even more people]

And the last group is the group of those that refer to him as “Mr. Richie”. They are the ones who say “Mr. Richie, my mothers, cousins, aunts, friends, grandmothers all listened to your music all the time.”

[Queue the younger girl sitting in front of me]

He went on to say that while he likes all his fans, but asked that these newer fans to really listen to the words. To understand that he was honoured to write songs about love and heat break. That all the mothers, cousins, aunts, friends and grandmothers in the crowd are the ones that turned to his music to help get through those moments in life.

He knew all of us went home after a date (good or bad) and pulled out our 8-tracks, cassette tapes, albums and CDs. He even threw in the downloads for those “Mr. Richie” fans!

And he was so right.

For over an hour and a half, he sang song after song, from Ballerina Girl, Easy, Penny Lover, Running with the Night, to Say You, Say Me, Truly, Stuck on You, Brick House and Still. When he started to talk about recording Endless Love with Diana Ross, he said that he asked her to come, even going so far as implying she was in the dressing room. The crowd went bananas and he laughed and said that he was only telling a story and that she couldn’t make it. We were going to be the Diana Ross to his Lionel Richie. And the crowd sang in unison, while he played the piano and sang.

His grand finale started with a few bars of Hello, and as he said his goodbye, cell phones lit up the Amphitheatre as we sang with him.

A friend asked me if he was the Julio of our time. (Julio Iglesias, for those who don’t know who I mean). And while I think everyone in attendance that night was excited, I don’t know that we necessarily swooned over Lionel, the way I saw women swoon over Julio.

I think it felt good, hearing great songs from long ago. I was amazing to be in a crowd of people, all who know every word to every song. He put it all out there; took us all on a journey and we enjoyed every minute of it. Thanks, Lionel! You were amazing.

Happy Monday! Enjoy the original video of Hello.

 

All About that Bass

I came across this song the other day and it hasn’t left my head. It’s not only because the doo-wop beat is catchy – because it is. But this song has a great message. It is a message that we need to spread, because as a mother of two girls, the idea of my body image and self-worth, scares the crap out of me.

Don’t get me wrong, I know they will look in the mirror and wish something was different, we all do it. But I don’t want them to base their happiness on that change. I don’t want them to be judged, shamed, picked on or discriminated against for the tag on their clothes, the size of their bra or the number on the scale.

I want them to be confident, strong and smart. I want them to be kind, understanding and empathetic. I want them to work hard, stand up for themselves and for others and not be afraid to speak up.

That will make them beautiful.

We need to stop caring what size people are. Big or small. Who cares?! It is so infuriating that the first thing out of somebody’s mouth is, “wow, they gained weight!” or “she’s too skinny”. We are a culture obsessed with weight. We are a society struggling for an image that is unachievable by the majority.

We can easily blame the media, the magazines and so forth, but with social media people have no problems sounding off their opinions. In fact, just this morning, I read about the backlash the Gap received for using a naturally thin model in one of their marketing campaigns, and people were not nice. Of course the veil of a Twitter handle gives people courage to say mean things, but in the end, whether you are calling somebody too fat or too skinny, isn’t it the same thing?

When will it end? I have to hope there will be a shift in priority, and end in judgment, or I may just lock my kids up forever. To protect them from the harsh words that will cut them, and leave them forever changed when they see their reflection.

In the meantime, I hope that there are more songs like this one from Meghan Trainor. All About That Bass is a song about body acceptance and I hope will be the new girl anthem.

You “bring that booty back”, girl. The message, the song and the video is amazing.

Enjoy!

 

Squirrels, Geese & Beaver Tails

I have still barely recovered from our annual trip to the cottage.

For the past three years, we take a trip to Collingwood with my husband’s sister and her family for a fun-filled week of “relaxation”.

I use quotations because anyone in their right mind knows that going anywhere with four kids (aged 3, 5, 6 and 10) is anything but relaxing. They don’t sleep because they are not on their regular routine, or in their regular beds, or they have to share a bed with their sibling. They don’t stop asking to do things, even when we are in the middle of doing things. Not to mention all the stuff we have to pack and bring, unpack and entertain, and re-pack and bring home.

So to say I’m exhausted, would be an understatement. I think that’s why it’s taken me over a week of being back to reality to find some time to write again.

All that being said, the kids had a blast together. It’s so nice that they all get along and can play together – even if it’s on a phone or tablet sitting beside each other on the couch!

We stayed about 10 minutes from Blue Mountain, so we made sure to visit and take a ride on the Ridge Runner, have some ice cream and of course, a famous Beaver Tail. The kids all enjoyed that very much.

We even spent a day at Wasaga Beach, which the kids loved! The Little Mouse loved making sand castles and the Little Bird spent lots of time in the water with the Paxter and GamerBoy.

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Building sandcastles at Wasaga Beach

 

We went to the pool a lot, as all the kids loved to splash around and play and we tried numerous attempts and tactics to get the Little Bird to jump in. None of which were successful.

We had a few nights of eating out, but mostly took turns cooking and while we tried to get them to go to bed at a reasonable time; which didn’t always work. So we had little sleep.

My kids especially like getting up early, and since they slept on an inflatable mattress in our room, they were up even earlier thanks to a couple of uncovered triangular windows that are in the room. In the day, they let in wonderful light and look aesthetically pleasing, however first thing in the morning, I wish they had shades. I had to wear an eye mask, but of course the kids didn’t, so when the sun came up, they were up too. As early as the roosters (or Geese, in our case).

Speaking of Geese, I’m all for nature and wildlife, however the neighbour of this cottage has taken a liking to feeding the Geese, birds, squirrels and chipmunks. So on our first day we woke up to find a squirrel putting on a show on the back deck, hoping for some food. Shortly after that, I saw about 30 or more Geese come out of the pond and right up to the back deck as the neighbour threw out seeds and feed.  Chipmunks quickly sprinted back and forth collecting what they could during all the commotion.

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Just some of the geese waiting for food.

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This little guy showed up every morning, hoping for some food

 

This feeding frenzy continued throughout the week, which meant that the kids were not going outside. There was a big mess – if you know what I mean – out there. And watching the Geese attack each other for food, meant that our little ones were not safe.

So that meant that we had to entertain them, or find ways for them to entertain themselves during those non-pool hours. With four adults and four kids in the house, we had four cell phones, one iPad, one Tablet, a Wii, LeapPad, VTech tablet and iPod. Talk about being connected!

We also had crafts, games, cards, colouring books, reading books and movies.

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Getting a puppet show after the kids decorated their masks

There was always something to do, even if the electronics won every time. In the middle of the week we took a weather-forced break from the pool and beach and went to watch a movie. The Little Mouse fell asleep on my lap, which is what usually happens.

By the weeks’ end we were in full-fledged Elvis Festival mode. Collingwood was buzzing with activity and when thunderstorms threatened to ruin our last day there, we decided to take our chances at the fair, and see what all the commotion was about. The sun peaked out and the kids enjoyed rides and games.

Overall it was a great week for the kids, even if it was exhausting for us. But these are the things we do for our kids right?

 

 

With summer half over, do you have plans to getaway?