Seven “Humbugs” and a “Ho Ho HOLD” on the Snark

I really enjoyed preparing the four posts I submitted to 12Most, such as this one about twelve great vine videos. There was one draft that never came to fruition, though, because every time I started writing it, I began feeling like its negativity would outweigh its informational value and that I may hurt the feelings of people I care about.

Writing about the topic I addressed in that draft on my personal blog seems a little less offensive, though, since I can just say my opinion and not be representing an entire cadre of writers. I am just going to get it out of my system once and move on (with, of course, a segue to a somewhat more positive ending).

The Humbug Part

I believe we have made some life events that are simply that, life events, hyperpublic and over produced. In doing, there is a danger that the personal, unique, cherished nature of these events may be diluted in favor of the public, commonplace, “how-could-I-top-that” qualities. These events include:

Promposals

A promposal is an invitation to the prom that is elaborate enough to be classified as a proposal. There are some examples here. The high school student seen here had her intended date pulled over, had the cop fake an arrest, and waited in the back of the car with a sign that said “prom.”

My humbug about promposals: First of all, what if the intended date says no? Secondly, as much as I love a theme and a fun creative project, I am still just as charmed by a young man who approaches a young woman in person and simply says, “Will you come to prom with me?”

Prom Photo Sessions 

Prom photos have become more and more sophisticated (so click here to see what I mean).

My humbug about elaborate high school dance photo sessions:  If the girl felt beautiful, the guy felt handsome, and the family could afford the dollars, what does it matter? These sessions have an “engagement photo-like” feel that seems out of place for couples who may not be embarking on a long-term romance.

Marriage Proposals 

Maybe it is the ubiquitous nature of YouTube and our ability to create and share video documentation of our lives. Something is happening that has resulted in a proliferation of marriage proposals that goes far beyond one individual getting down on bended knee and asking the other individual to spend a life together.

For example, a sand art proposal whose story can be found here.

marrymekelly

For more “beyond bended knee” proposals, click here.

My humbug: My humbug about this one is a little challenging to define. So many of the ones I have seen are full of love and beautifully done. These people are old enough to be somewhat confident the relationship will “stick,” which differentiates them from the high school students referred to earlier. I think I would distill my opinion down to: make sure you spend as much time clarifying that you feel the same way about money, kids, and sex as you do editing your proposal video.

Pregnancy Announcements 

When I got pregnant in 1995 and 1998, the  news traveled the “old fashioned” way–by word of mouth, phone call, email, and snail mail. This is no longer the case. Pregnancy announcements now fly over cyberspace as quickly as you can press “like” on a Facebook status or retweet someone on Twitter. The graphics behind these shares are pretty darned creative (like these).

My humbug: This is another one where I am blown away by the creativity but simultaneously a little taken aback. Maybe it’s the fact that such rapid shares separate the prospective parent from the recipient of the news. Half the fun of announcing your pregnancy is seeing the expression on the other individual’s face. I’m not sure 50 “likes” can do exactly the same thing.

Gender Reveals 

Putting aside those disciplined people who wait  until their baby is born to find out its gender (I was not one of them), the “gender reveal” process has gotten complicated! Here are three themes on one Pinterest Gender Reveal Board:

Ties or Tutus

Cupcake or Stud Muffin

Boots or Bows

For more including a gender “lottery,” click here.

My humbug: I am pretty sure the first gender reveal party I saw was on television. I can’t remember which celebrity it was, but the event was elaborate. There was a Hollywood party planner, caterer, favors, tents, the entire festivity checklist. Now I see them routinely on social media. Again, nothing is really damaged but having a gender reveal party but it seems easy to lose the exceptionally personal nature of the moment.

Maternity Photo Sessions 

I have seen some gorgeous maternity photos (such as these). What a beautiful way to commemorate that moment in a family’s life.

My humbug: My humbug is with the unduly revealing ones such as these. I am not a prude about the female body, especially the beauty of the pregnant female body but there is something about these photos that makes me feel like an invader (and I know, I can just “not look”).

Using A Baby’s Name Before They’re Born

Perhaps it is because we can now personalize pretty much anything that a baby is often given items with his or her name on them while they are in utero.

My humbug: I don’t know if this is a southern superstition or what, but I have always been leery of applying a child’s name to a product until they have been born. I am sure my feelings are influenced by having lost two pregnancies and by my mom’s having lost a baby, but loss happens. I just feel like it’s tempting fate.

In many of these cases, maybe my issue is green (and not the fun green of Christmas), but the green of envy. Since I couldn’t afford to throw a gender reveal party, for example, does that feed my humbugosity? If so, I own that but don’t think that’s the root of my opinion.

Switching Gears to the Positive

Since it’s Christmas, let’s address the most ubiquitous over-the-top phenomenon this time of the year, the Elf on the Shelf, who is hovering around many homes this season:

Thanksgiving Day Parade

Over the past few years, I have found myself increasingly thankful that the EotS wasn’t a “thing” when my teenagers were little. If it had worked to modify my kids’ behavior, though, maybe I would have bit.

My world, in-person and on social media, is filled with über creative types. These adults have possibly missed their calling in production design for major motion picture houses. For example, toilet fishing:

tumblr_lw1fazz8h51r755nso1_500

Source: www.diycandy.com

Toilet fishing is almost rudimentary compared to the attention to detail of my friend Diary of a Mom (I mean would you look at those little tiny oxygen tubes coming out of “Hazel’s” nasal passages?).

THEN there are the “alternate” EotS folks, who do tableaus like this (this was one of the tamer ones! Visit the Good Time Elf Facebook Page to see the others.):

for-a-good-time-elf

The voices of the Elf on the Shelf detractors are louder than ever this year (at least it seems that way to me). This article, for example, outlines one parent’s view.

I have had the elf skeptic conversation with friends on Facebook about EotS. We all gleefully pile on (yes, me included), smirking our disdain for the effort, the misguidedness, the adult energy, time and effort required for a “children’s” phenomenon.

Here’s my Ho Ho HOLD the snark point: I am through snarking about EotS.  He isn’t for me, but if he had been a “thing” when my kids were little, I may very well have given in and loved every minute of it.

I have had teachers say EotS is a “friend” in the classroom, someone the kids love and enjoy. I see families I care about and respect enjoying the heck out of creating their EotS scenarios. I see kids who *may* be doubting Santa’s existence still looking forward to their elf’s whereabouts in the morning.

It’s not for me, but there’s enough snark this holiday season (and, let us admit, all year long). If EotS is your thing, enjoy! I’ll even send you a Big Green Pen for your elf’s use if you’re running out of ideas!

snark santa

Mother’s Day is May 11: Please Feed Your Mothers

I received a Restaurant.com gift card for the purpose of this review. This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own.

I have a few friends with brand new babies. Seeing these women fall in love with their babies is so sweet, to me.

Holding Hands With a Newborn Baby

Thanks to social media, I feel at times like I am on the journey with them. These filled-to-the-brim-with-potential babies can’t go out and buy their moms gifts for Mother’s Day yet, but those of us with teenagers can encourage a little pooling of allowance or job money to give mom a bit of “thanks for all you do” recognition, right? (And in the case of babies OR teens, there’s no reason that the other parent can’t pitch in as well!) I’ve learned to be direct about this kind of thing so if anyone wants any hints, here you go!

FOOD FIRST

This Mother’s Day, Restaurant.com, the nation’s largest dining deals site and trusted source connecting restaurants and diners nationwide, has handpicked delicious dining experiences and gift ideas for every budget and compiled them into an exclusive Mother’s Day Gift Guide. There’s even an added “What Mom Means To You” sweepstakes bonus! Restaurant.com can help you choose just the right dining experience for your mom. (I’m pretty happy with anything that doesn’t end with me in the kitchen!)

For that “deluxe” Mother’s Day experience, here are a few ideas once the topic of “food” is settled:

Pair any Restaurant.com Gift Card with one of these gift ideas for the ultimate dining experience and Mother’s Day treat:

The Blooming Role Model:

“Mom always taught us that beauty is all around us, and she is our favorite example.”

This is an orchid my mom grew and nurtured. She is that kind of caretaker with children AND with plants!

This is an orchid my mom grew and nurtured. She is that kind of caretaker with children AND with plants!

Vibrant blooms are the perfect way to say “Happy Mother’s Day” to your very special mom. Surprise mom with a whimsical bouquet of flowers and a Restaurant.com Gift Card.

The Spa Lover:

“For the one who always pampers others, now is the time for mom to pamper herself!”

No, this is not someplace I have been. It's a stock photo. But I surely wouldn't mind! Hint Hint Hint!

No, this is not someplace I have been. It’s a stock photo. But I surely wouldn’t mind! Hint Hint Hint!

Help mom discover the serenity and relaxation she needs with a spa treatment, followed by lunch at a tasty new restaurant using her Restaurant.com Gift Card.

The Wine Enthusiast:

“For the mom who deserves her own time out!”

Pair her favorite bottle of wine with a Restaurant.com Gift Card! Treat mom to the ultimate Mom’s Night Out.

This mom loves "taking flight" with wine!

This mom loves “taking flight” with wine!

Make sure to check out Specials by Restaurant.com for more Mother’s Day gift ideas or to create your own memorable gift for mom!

And there's more! Taking bloom now on Pinterest ....

And there’s more! Taking bloom now on Pinterest ….

“WHAT DOES MOM MEAN TO YOU” PINTEREST SWEEPSTAKES:

In celebration of Mother’s Day, Restaurant.com launched the “What Does Mom Mean To You?” Pinterest Sweepstakes being held Monday, April 28- Sunday, May 11.

Five (5) winners will be randomly selected to win a $500 Mom’s Night Out Package.

Sweepstakes Giveaway Details:  Click on this link.

One More "REEL-y" Great Idea!

One More “REEL-y” Great Idea!

Restaurant.com will be running Dinner & A Movie specials starting Wednesday, May 7 – (the link is here: http://rst.cm/w8rOo) – You’ll have to hurry though as this show stopping deal is only available for a limited amount of time!

And if you want to be social with Restaurant.com (and why wouldn’t you?):

On Twitter at Restaurant.com

On Facebook at Restaurant.com

On Google+ at Restaurant.com

At The Dish at Restaurant.com 

restaurant dot com logo

Bon Appétit!

To Recap:

MomsDay_infographic_Final

 I received a Restaurant.com gift card for the purpose of this review. This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own.

The Coincidental Table

Mandarin

“If there’s no coincidence, there won’t be stories*.”
(*If Google Translate is right…..)

I heard the Chinese saying above this afternoon on This American Life. The entire show was about coincidences, and this particular saying (often said in a corny context but not intended that way by me) reflects the fact that a life devoid of funny, uncanny, or otherwise startling coincidences is a life whose stories are muted or nonexistent.

I have been peeling my Camp Gordon Johnston “onion” for several months now. (One of my life goals is to write a book about Camp Gordon Johnston.) After my “30 Days of CGJ” ended, I have kept tweeting daily about Camp Gordon Johnston. I am going through the unit rosters, tweeting the name of one soldier per day and sharing the tweet on Facebook, for example:

AlBassoAt first that felt like a very lazy approach: all I have to do is click on the roster, cut and paste the name, click “tweet” and do a screen capture to have a Facebook post. It’s not the most labor-intensive research that will take place for this book, by a long shot, but the five minutes I spend every morning on Edsel Lucas or Charles J. Smith or Leroy Tedlund (spelled Tidlund some places) bring them alive to me for that moment, and keep the memories of these men who rotated through Camp Gordon Johnston and served in World War II from completely washing out into the Gulf of Mexico.

One day when I added my day’s tweet to my Facebook feed, my friend Lea commented on the post (paraphrasing here): “Did you know our dining room table came from Camp Gordon Johnston?” I asked if there was a story behind it, and she graciously invited me to share lunch on the table and hear the story (side note: this woman makes a mean hummus wrap — she should be a Pinterest poster woman). Was it a coincidence that Lea saw my post and that led to the sharing of a story? Let’s go with “yes”!

I’m going to have to improve my data-gathering techniques as this book development process continues as my tendency to get caught up in the story leads to me neglecting any precision note-taking:

table notesBut the general point is: Lea’s table originated at Camp Gordon Johnston (the family’s beach house also sits on land that was originally CGJ property). There were four of these tables in all that came into the possession of her grandfather’s building supply business. The particular one that she owns came to her via an aunt, a long stint in storage, a close call with Goodwill as that aunt began paring down her belongings, and a frenzied drive to rescue it from a thrift store ending.

Table Green Pen

The Camp Gordon Johnston museum curator said she can’t find any documentation of this table in her database, but surmised that perhaps it was in a mess hall. With 8 leaves per table, I think her educated guess may be correct.

One thing Lea and I discussed over lunch was the fascination of “furniture with a story” (her NASA desk is a whole blog post unto itself!). I can’t help wondering:

  • Did Edsel Lucas reminisce about his hometown at this table?
  • Did Charles (Charlie? Chuck?) Smith brag about a girl waiting on him back at home at this table?
  • Did Leroy Tedlund fight as gargantuan a battle against his fear of the unknown from his seat at this table (or one like it) as he and his fellow soldiers would fight in the amphibious landings that lay ahead?

The number of Camp Gordon Johnston WWII survivors is dwindling, an obvious consequence of time’s refusal to slow down. I may never know from a first-hand account what was said, eaten, promised, joked about at this table.

I am pretty sure that the men who sat around it would be glad that a vibrant, happy, filled-with-life family uses it daily in 2014. This piece of furniture was clearly built to withstand a lot of wear, and seventy years later it may have a few scratches and nicks but it is as solid as they come.

Kind of like these guys…

1057th Engineer Port Construction and Repair

Credit: State Archives of Florida
Second row: Richard Thomas, Edsel Lucas, Wm. Edwards, Richard Mueller, Leroy Tidlund, Peter Hauser, Harris Boatwright.
Third row: Melvin Blackstone, Ray. Murphy, Chs. J. Smith, Edwin Caplinger, Maurice Franceau, Wm. Evans, Wm. Mikita, Warren Kelly.
Front row: Phil. Pritchett, John Gazdik, Chester Maciejewsli, Leonard Werth, John Nye.
Camp Gordon Johnston originally opened as Camp Carrabelle and was later named to honor Colonel Gordon Johnston in January 1943.
Back row: Geo. M. Esser, Phil. Karsted, Gordon Stark, Roy Briar, William Viglianco?, Merle Averill?, Geo. Kubik.

And that’s no coincidence.

Fashionista, SpongeBob, or Princess?

What on earth is Paula talking about you may ask!

I am talking about a frivolous “rivalry” for an undeniably serious cause: saving children’s lives all over the world by vaccinating them.

I am happy to be a champion for Shot @ Life, the United Nations Foundation program that educates, connects, and empowers Americans to help protect children in developing countries from vaccine-preventable diseases*.

Around our world, 1 in 5 children do not have access to life-saving vaccines. Shot @ Life is developing and maintaining the momentum to help save a child’s life every 20 seconds.

I am grateful that Walgreens has partnered with Shot @ Life to donate a vaccine to Shot @ Life for every vaccine administered in their stores between now and October 14. The program is called “Get a Shot, Give a ShotTM.” A few features to note:

  • No appointment is necessary (although you can make an appointment here)
  • Most insurance is accepted
  • You receive 500 Balance Rewards points for every immunization

"The Shades"

Now, back to the frivolous part. I am dedicating next Saturday morning to my flu shot and wrapping a lovely Shot @ Life wrapper around the whole thing. I am going to park at Walgreens, get my hour-long scheduled run in (dedicating the miles to Shot @ Life via Charity Miles), slap on my Shot @ Life shades, wipe a little sweat off my brow so I don’t gross out the pharmacy staff, and get my flu shot.

Here’s where you come in. What type of Band-Aid should I use? We have:Fashionista (Cynthia Rowley to be precise):

fashionista bandaids

Princesses:

Princesses ALL CAPTIONED

And SpongeBob (Glow in the Dark!):

SB ALL CAPTIONED

Over the week I’ll be vetting the choices on social media. In a somewhat unscientific procedure, I’ll figure out which one is most popular and will happily use it post flu-shot and undoubtedly make some pharmacist wonder how all those years of pharmacy school led to having a picture taken with an almost-50-year old in green sunglasses wielding a glow in the dark (or Rapunzel …. or Cynthia Rowley) BandAid.

I’ll be interested in your thoughts about the BandAid choice but most importantly I would LOVE your participation — either through getting your flu shot at Walgreens (and by doing so getting a child vaccinated through Shot @ Life) — or by simply sharing the important message of Shot @ Life: that $20 (what some of us spend per week in coffee) can immunize a child against pneumonia, diarrhea, measles and polio!

**EPILOGUE**

Fashionista (sequins) won the contest! Here is the “evidence”!

Post Flu Shot post flu shot two

For more information:

Shot @ Life website: www.shotatlife.org

Shot @ Life Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shotatlifecampaign

Shot @ Life Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShotAtLife

Shot @ Life YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/shotatlifecampaign

Shot @ Life Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/shotatlife

Walgreens-Joins-ShotAtLife-e1378630405410

*Some verbiage taken from Shot @ Life materials.