Monday, March 8, 2010

Redneck Barbie

Like many parents, I am often guilty of being dismissive of my children when they want my attention. I don't mean to be neglectful, it is just that I am often in the middle of something when they approach me, and sometimes I think that I have given things the proper attention when often I have not.

Sometimes they come to me and say, "Mom, do you like this picture I just drew?" and I say, "It's beautiful!" when I really only spent a few seconds looking at it.

Sometimes they say, "Mom, is this outfit okay?" and I reply, "Yes, it is just fine." And then I often regret giving my approval once they are loaded in the car and I notice that the socks don't match and the shirt is too small. But then I think it is good for them to learn independence, and often independence=mismatched socks.

But the other day I had a reminder that I should try to tune in a little bit more.

I was at the dance studio to pick up Ava and Kiara, the twin daughters of our dear friends Brent and Katie. I was going to be chauffeuring all four girls to a rehearsal for the American Girl Fashion Show that they are going to be in to raise money for Seattle Children's Hospital.

Kiara had a bunch of papers in her hand that she said were pictures of Barbies and Fairies.

"Do you want to see them?" she asked me. I glanced at them for one second.

"How nice, Sweetheart!" I said. "Why don't you go get loaded in the car?"

I went in to give my final wave to Brent and Katie, and a few of the dancers were snickering and said to me, "Heather, did you look at the pictures that the girls have?"

"I saw them . . . "

"You need to go and LOOK at them," they said.

And so I went out to the car and asked Kiara if I could please see her pictures one more time.

And I found the picture that the girls must have been snickering about.

"Hmm. Sweetie, I'm going to take this one." And I went back into the studio with a crooked little smile and asked Brent to look at it.

"Yeah," he said, not wanting to pause, "I know they had some pictures that Aidan printed out for them . . . " (Aidan is our Studio Boy Genius. He is six and often helps us with our electronic issues; he is really good at satellite uplinks.)

"Brent, you need to LOOK at it," I said.

And so he did. And as it came into focus, this is what he saw:

"Wait . . . is that a cigarette? . . . . and she's pregnant? . . . . . is that beer?" Poor Brent was nearly hyperventalating.

It would seem that Barbie isn't always the role model that we would expect her to be . . .

When looking for it later, I discovered that this particular photo is actually called "Redneck Barbie" and our dear sweet Aidan must have found it in Google Images when he searched for Barbie.

Luckily, our kids are still so innocent that they didn't really notice that things weren't quite right. Except for Cora, who did note the cigarette when I confiscated the photo. But she didn't notice the black eye, or understand the implications of the three children who each look very different from the others.

(I also like how Barbie has Mac and Cheese in her basket, mixed in with cigarettes and a bottle of what is either whiskey or salad dressing. This is making me think twice about all the Mac and Cheese I feed my kids . . . what kind of mother am I?)

Brent promptly threw the picture away. And he didn't get it for me later when I texted him and told him I needed it for my blog. I think he was pretty shaken up and wanted to forget all about Redneck Barbie. I am sensitive to that. Not really.

So, another lesson learned: It is always a good idea to pay attention when your kids, and their friends, want to show you stuff. Especially while they are still interested in showing you things. And especially if it has anything to do with Barbie. She can't be trusted.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Va Va Voom

I have just returned from my first trip to the lovely State of Arizona. I went to visit my sister, and she was kind enough to take me on a very nice day trip to Sedona.

Sedona was beautiful--a Warner Brother's road runner cartoon come to life. I loved the tumbleweeds and the red plateaus and the rust colored dirt. We had lunch at the Barking Frog, where I inhaled a mountain of guacamole, and then we were off to our first vortex.

I'd never been to a vortex before. Luckily we picked up a flyer at the local information center that filled me in on what they are all about: "Vortexes are swirling centers of subtle energy coming out from the surface of the earth . . . the subtle energy resonates with and strengthens the Inner Being of each person that comes within about a quarter mile to a half mile of it."

I love this kind of thing. Vortexes. Inner Being. Yoga. Feng Shui. Hot Stone Massages. Raking Sand. I love all of it. I was very excited to experience the vortex energy for myself.

Our first vortex was "Airport Vortex" and, according to the flyer, it strengthens your Masculine Side and gives you strength.

The vortex was basically a huge rock, and the wind interacted with the rock in a way that made it swirl. You can tell where the energy is strongest because there are Juniper trees whose trunks have been all twisted from years of responding to the wind. We climbed to the top and sat in the lotus pose to drink it all in. The view was breathtaking. The energy is hard to explain, except to say that you felt a lot of wind, but the wind didn't blow past you and leave you behind, but it swirled around you and enveloped you. It made you feel as though you had plenty of oxygen and you could breathe deeper than you ever had.

After sitting there for 20 minutes, our masculine sides were definitely stonger, and so we left to do a little shopping.

We went into a little shopping area called Tlaquepaque and wandered into an art gallery called the Navarro Gallery. And who should be hanging out sculpting a clay bison but Chris Navarro himself. The gallery wasn't very big, so it was basically me, my sister, and Mr. Navarro in his cowboy hat. We admired his work for a bit, but I felt rude leaving without complimenting him. I told him I thought that he was a wonderful artist, and before we knew it we were all flipping through his coffee table book together and he was telling us about the life-sized bronze Columbia Mammoth he was working on for someplace in Wyoming. He told us how he got started and the stories behind several of his pieces. I really could have talked to him for much longer because he was very interesting, but we had more vortexes to visit.

I must say, after a masculine vortex and a fun and unexpected interaction with a bull-riding, cowboy artist, the masculine energy was practically beaming out of me.

Which probably explains what happened with the breasts . . .

After a few gift shops, we ended up at another, larger art gallery. This gallery was packed with fabulous paintings and sculptures and I found myself wishing I had a lot of money so that I could adopt several of the pieces and take them home with me. Many of the sculptures celebrated the human form--dancers, mothers holding their babies, couples fused in an embrace--and all sorts of wonderful shapes created from stone and metal and clay.

And there, sitting on a pedastal, was a piece entitled "Va Va Voom." The sculpture was the shape of two ample breasts, formed from polished stone, forever manifesting their simplicity and glory.

I can only imagine what the artist thought to himself (for he was surely a man) when he was creating them: "The stone is telling me what it wants to be; I have no control; this is the shape that the stone wants to take . . . "

And standing there, filled to the brim with masculine energy, I couldn't resist either . . .

"You know," I said, "This piece, it just makes you want to . . . "

"Stop that!!" my sister hissed as she looked around the store to see if anyone was watching.

"What?" I said, my two cupped hands hovering over the sculpture, "I'm just responding to the art."

I didn't actually touch it, because galleries are for looking and not touching. Ah yes, I thought to myself, this must be how men feel.

When I was finished embarassing my sister, we moved on. We looked at more art and then headed to Bell Mountain--a very powerful vortex that strengthens all three parts: the masculine side, the feminine side, and the balance. (Thank heavens for that very enlightening flyer.)

We climbed up to a ledge where we had a lovely view of the valley, and we watched the sun set as the energy swirled around us and through us. It is probably a good thing that I reinforced my feminine side on Bell Mountain before I ended up doing something crazy like going home and watching sports.

Instead, we bought fancy glitter cupcakes and ate them while we watched a Jane Austen movie.

As you can tell, I had a great time in Arizona. Thanks to my sister for being a great hostess. I'll be back again. And next time I intend to chase down a road runner.