by Cheryl on May 22nd, 2013 | Posted in Blog Events
My arms drooped.
Watching Monday night’s DVRed Top 10 show of The Voice Tuesday morning, my limbs went full-out spaghetti – just thinking about how much the audience has to applaud during the show.
See, last week, as a guest of Kia, I got to attend alive taping of The Voice results show. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to actually be there?
They tell you how to clap: with your arms up over your head. On and off for at least an hour. Ouch.
But that was only part of the experience. Which was ah. maz. ing.
Here is what I learned about attending a live taping:
You wait. Our call time was 4 p.m., but since we drove to Los Angeles from The OC, we gave ourselves plenty of time. And arrived an hour early. We spent that time sitting under a large tent, helping ourselves to bottles of water and waiting to be taken to the studio. We sat among guests of the coaches and contestants, and other VIP types. We used the posh port-o-lets. Then drank more water. We were told to wear dark colors, no artwork or logos, and if you watch the show, you’ll notice most people comply with that.
You have to give them your right arm. Did you hear that? YOUR RIGHT ARM! Okay, by right arm I clearly mean cell phone. We were told ABSOLUTELY NO CELL PHONES. Seriously. All caps. Imagine our surprise when we saw just how many people (everyone) went right through the metal detector and kept their phones. I got all twitchy. What was I going to do for hours without my phone? ACTUALLY TALK TO PEOPLE??? So while those around us in the tent were taking selfies, we curled under our chairs in the fetal position.
The studio is heated the temperature of artic igloo. With a strong breeze. The night before, the air conditioning broke and the studio went up to 105 degrees. Eager to overcompensate, it was fuh-reezing. This poor woman in the row in front of us had her hair blowing around all night as she hunched over. By the way, we were all informed that if anyone took a picture with their phone, they’d be thrown out. Hmph.
We got to see the Starbucks stand where the coaches get their drinks, and four directors chairs with a coach’s name on each one on the way to our seats. We were on the left of the stage, on a section called Blake, since we were closest to him.
There’s a guy (The Guy) who tells you what to do. When to stand, how to applaud, how loudly to applaud, when to be quiet, what’s going to happen next. We were like a bunch of trained monkeys. But in the best possible way.
Even live shows are filmed out of order. The coaches were introduced and came out on stage, with Blake flipping Adam the bird. Usher did a little dance. Shakira? Tiny. TINY!! She’s like a little miniature person. (Incidentally, the judges spent most of the commercial breaks texting on their phones while makeup and hair people fussed over them or dashing backstage.) Then Lady Antebellum recorded their performance 30 minutes before the start of the live show. The Guy told us there was a chance they’d have to do the performance twice, but they got it in one take. During the show, if you watched at home, Robin Thicke performed. But we watched it on the monitors: it was recorded some other night.
Adam. Yeah. What you think he’s like on TV? Just as that in person.
The singers don’t sound amazing because of the magic of television. They are amazing. And incredibly talented. I was truly blown away by their voices.
We were told by The Guy not to yell out who we hoped America kept during Carson Daly’s announcements. Then we were told that we should yell. It was all very confusing. Luckily my faves were safe. Have I mentioned I’m a huge fan of the show?
The Guy said there would be a special surprise after the show. A post-show taping. And it would be … Bruno Mars. Now, I’m not a huge Bruno Mars fan. Well, I wasn’t. Until…
Meanwhile, because we had to wait awhile after the end of the live taping and Bruno Mars (usually during this time the coaches tape their thoughts about the eliminations, but for some reason they didn’t do that), ushers brought around food. Not Usher. Though that would’ve been awesome. In fact, the judges and contestants were gone. Some people got boxes from Subway. We got pizza – we were handed the box and told to take a slice and pass the box. We also got Gatorade, fruit, candy and chips. Some people actually complained about the selection. I just thought it was nice of them to feed us. Tough to kvetch about free food.
The setup for Bruno Mars included ginormous disco balls suspended above the stage. The Guy came back out to tell us the taping would start soon. As he spoke, Bruno Mars and his band – all wearing red suits – walked onto the stage. Speaking of tiny, Bruno Mars and Shakira would make a perfect matched pocket set. Carson Daly reappeared and introduced Bruno Mars – and holy. shnikeys. He sang Treasure and totally rocked it. The audience went nuts. Bruno Mars has a ton of energy and put on an amazing show. And then. He had to do it again. Apparently there was a technical glitch of some sort. This time, The Guy told everyone to dance. Which we already were but whatevs. So Bruno Mars sang Treasure again. Nailed it again. Tremendous performance.
That was it. Almost. On the way out, my friend’s 16 year-old daughter touched Adam Levine’s empty directors chair. And sobbed for the next 20 minutes.
Such a great experience, and so fun to get the inside scoop on what goes on during a live taping – and how the idea that Adam Levine’s butt touched a chair can reduce a teenager to hysterics.
Thank you to Kia for providing me with a super-fun Kia Soul to drive for the week and passes to the live taping. All observations (and possible shrieking at Adam Levine) are my own.
by Cheryl on March 10th, 2013 | Posted in Parenting
Even before Xander was born, I started doing the math. It is, I suppose, a byproduct of having a child at 40.
When he was a newborn, I thought how I’d be 80 when he was the age I was then.
Every birthday is a mile marker for us both.
Today Xander is four.
He told me the other day he wants to stay little. I want him to stay little too, small enough so that I can still hold him when he wraps his arms around my neck and his legs around my waist and clings to me. Small enough so that I’m not aging, too, counting down one less year I’ll have to spend with him.
But this post is supposed to be about Xander. Not me.
So let’s discuss Year of Three. We potty trained (yippee!), including a memorable pee in the portable potty – on the bleachers during Sawyer’s baseball practice. Team was confused when all the moms sitting there started cheering.
Xander started preschool. I was excited to have two days of 2 1/2 hours of freedom per week. Xander was less excited to be away from home. I’d like to say his crying tantrums before we leave most mornings (still!) are because he misses me too much, but I really think he misses my iPad.
The boy is an introvert. I KNOW! I don’t know how this is possible. He is extremely shy around adults, even ones he’s met before, clinging to my leg and hiding his face. At school this past week the teacher mentioned that he was the most interactive he’s ever been. Apparently his warm-up period is, oh, about six months. He has made one friend at school and fortunately they’ll be in the same pre-k class next year.
Third child syndrome is alive and well. Sage started reading when she wasn’t much older than Xander, while he can’t recognize letters. Apparently I actually have to work with him or something. I figured he’d learn it through Older Sibling Osmosis (OSO), just like he’s learned the words “fart” and “stupid idiot” and, of course, how to play minecraft. (See fail, parent).
Xander gets to play soccer in the fall. He’s excited, he said, because he gets to “kick people in the face.”
Remember when your first born started kindergarten and came home with all kinds of fun words and phrases? And you sniffed and said it’s because his friend little Johnny has older siblings and learns all that bad stuff that is now polluting your precious child? Yeah. Xander is totally little Johnny. I apologize in advance, future kindergarten classmates of his.
Bye-bye crib - forever!
He’s funny, though. He really is. I wish I could come up with some good examples but they’re location jokes: you have to be there. Let’s just say it’s tough to find a picture in which he’s not winking or doing this scrunchy face.
The truth is, I cannot predict how he’s going to be in a few years, like I could with Sawyer and Sage. And I’m okay with that. He’s been an unbelievably amazing surprise since I took that pregnancy test almost five years ago.
I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Happy birthday, sweet boy. Nobody loves you like Mommy.
by Cheryl on March 1st, 2013 | Posted in Just me, Parenting
I miss snow.
I know. Easy for me to say, considering I haven’t had to step in a snow drift that went up, over and into my boots since 1996.
But. I love it. And I’m sad my kids will never have a snow day, as long as we live in Southern California.
So, if the snow won’t come to us, I decided that this winter, we were going to the snow. And not the kind we can see an hour from our house. I wanted REAL snow. Mountains full of it as far as the eye could see.
Utah. Park City. Canyons Resort.
The trip would also give me the chance to cross something off the kids’ bucket lists. Well, the lists I have for THEM. See, there are certain things I believe kids should know how to do by the time they’re teenagers, or college for sure. Stuff that, when their friends invite them along, they can at least participate. Like throwing a ball correctly. Riding a bike. Swimming. Shooting a basketball. Rollerblading and/or ice skating.
That last one is tough. I’ve only skied twice in my life, both times in my 20s. There is nothing quite as, er, exhilarating as learning to ski when you’re 5-foot-8 and have a healthy fear of hurtling downhill. I wanted my kids to get on skis while they’re young, relatively fearless and have a low center of gravity.
They needed ski school.
I needed ski school.
We headed to Canyons Resort, which is minutes from downtown Park City. We’d heard nothing but great things about the ski school there. And as someone who hadn’t skied in 20 years, I enrolled in the First-time Skiers package. Sawyer and Sage were placed together for their school, Canyons Carvers, with a guaranteed 5:1 ratio for kids to instructor, and then Xander was in a separate program called Canyons Cats, which had a 3:1 ratio. The kids’ schools were full day and included lunch. Lots of attention for my brand-new skiers.
I went into the main equipment rental place to get my rentals. The only bad part was trying on boots. The guys who were helping disregarded complaints from myself and other women trying them on. But we were all persistent. If the boot hurt when we hadn’t even gotten our skis yet, imagine how it’d feel by the end of the day. After rejecting the first pair, I got a pair that fit.
Once I had collected my skis, I tromped back outside in my boots to meet my instructor, Steve, and my classmates, Kathy and Truss. Both women were older than me, but like me, were also apprehensive/paralyzed with fear about what was about to happen. But Steve was awesome. He was incredibly patient and helpful and worked with each of us to our level. We got into a Red Pine gondola and rode up to the lodge area, where all the beginner ski and snowboard schools were located. That’s where I stepped into my skis.
There was no turning back. Fortunately, you cannot see the look of abject terror on my face.
How good was my instructor? Before long, I was going down the bunny hill. And not on my butt.
That’s right. I was skiing. I was just as shocked as you all are. Not that I wasn’t a complete spaz going down the hill, but I remained upright all the way down. Mostly.
I was grateful for the ice skating lessons I took last year, which helped me with balance. I progressed enough that after lunch, Steve moved me to a different group. It was time to get on a chair lift and go down a REAL bunny hill. The only memory I have of riding a chair was back in the early 90s in Sugarbush, Vermont, when the instructor had to tackle me as I flew off the lift and zipped out into the middle of the hill. I was hoping to be a little more in control this time. And despite almost taking down my new instructor, I dismounted relatively okay.
We went down as a group, pausing to watch Juan demonstrate snowplow turns. One of my new classmates and I eventually ended up getting ahead as Juan waited for some slower classmates. We decided we were brave enough to ride the lift and go down on our own. It was awesome. There were other instructors on the hill, and one even called out a tip to me – to stand up straighter – that really helped make my turns a little easier. He also mentioned that shrieking while trying to snowplow would not, in fact, help me stop.
He was very wise.
Everyone, from the workers in the lodge to the chair lift and gondola operators, were friendly and anxious to help.
My instructor Steve and my fave girls
I skiied (!!) over to say thank you to Steve and wish my two classmates luck, then boarded the gondola to ride back down to the rental area to meet David and the kids. I couldn’t wait to hear how they did.
Sawyer was ambivalent. He liked how positive the teacher was and enjoyed the class, but still wasn’t entirely confident. Sage was ski stoked. Tired, but stoked. Xander cried. I think he didn’t like being in a class without his brother and sister. At not quite 4, he might just not have been ready. But David said he saw Xander skiing a little and it looked like he was having fun. We will definitely try again with him.
Without sounding too much like an infomercial, let me just say how beautiful Canyons was. Truly. David is a much better (and much more fearless/more willing to make spectacular crashes) skier than me. He went on more challenging courses and had a blast. There are 182 trails for skiers and snowboarders so there’s something for every ability level. We also had perfect weather. Blue skies and temps in the mid-30s made our visit that much better.
The next day, Sage wanted to ski again. So back she and I went. She rode the lift for the first time. And got knocked down by three grown women who didn’t know how to get off the lift correctly. Sage was scared during her first run – and who could blame her – but after that? She divebombed down the hill and waited for me at the bottom, where she wanted to go up again. So we did. For four hours. She gave me a 20 minute break for lunch. Bless her little skier’s heart.
Spending time with her was amazing. The weather was gorgeous, the snow was perfect, and watching my daredevil daughter flying down the hill with absolutely no fear made me proud. A bit envious, too.
“Mommy? Skiing is my favorite sport!” she announced.
“But what about soccer?”
She’d fallen in love.
Photo courtesy of Steve Pastorino, Canyons Resort
During our time at Canyons Resort, it was tough not to.
My family and I received complimentary ski school and lift tickets from Canyons Resort. The opinions – and my shrieks of fear – are my own. I really cannot say enough what an amazing place Canyons is. We will definitely be back!
by Cheryl on February 8th, 2013 | Posted in Parenting
I am killing my kids’ childhood, one sports practice at a time.
At least, that’s what the self-proclaimed “anti soccer moms” would have me believe. They pat themselves on the back because THEIR kids are going to enjoy drippy popsicles and hours spent building lego castles and letting their imaginations take them where they will. Instead of, you know, consorting with The Devil.
Congratulations. And thank you for the implication that because my kids play sports, and because I am not only a soccer mom but a baseball and softball mom and a swim mom and a sometimes dance mom and a former gymnastics, karate and art class mom, I am somehow depriving my children.
I love mommy wars, don’t you?
I guess it’s cool to be the ASM. Like it’s cool to be the free range mom right now. Giving a big eff you to The Man.
The Man, in this case, being sports.
I take it being a soccer mom means you shove your kid into a sport in which he or she has no interest, drive them all over creation, screw the family dinner, look like a tired mess, never have any down time and leave that child exhausted and pining for his or her, er, iPad.
The only accurate part is the looking like a tired mess. But that’s only because I am also Homework Mom.
My kids like playing sports. Maybe yours don’t, and that’s fine too. Forcing your kids to do something they’re not into doesn’t make you a soccer mom. It makes you a frustrated mom.
Listen. It’s not about making sure your kids don’t fall behind some mythical Keeping of with the Joneses family of elite athletes. It’s about giving your kids the chance to try things that interest them. When my kids ask me to sign them up for a sport, I do it. My job is transportation. Well, that and uniform washing. And, of course, spectating. I sit and watch them practice: baseball, softball, swimming, soccer. I cheer them on at games. I make sure they have water and a snack. And, most days, matching socks. I play catch with them in the street and kick the soccer ball around in the yard until they want to do something else. Or nothing at all.
Sawyer has an entire group of friends from another school across town he met through playing soccer and baseball. These boys come to his birthday parties and he goes to theirs. When they leave their elementary school in a few years for the big mixed stew of four elementary schools that is middle school, Sawyer will already know a ton of kids. David and I are good friends with the parents, from hours spent bonding on concrete bleachers and saggy canvas chairs. There was the time Xander peed on the potty I set up on the bleachers and the other moms cheered so loudly the kids on the field stopped practice to wonder what was going on.
Because we are all moms. Regardless of whether there’s a sport in front of our name or not.
I could go on about the health benefits of active kids. Or that sports teach discipline and how to work as a team and be a good teammate and how to lose and also, how to win graciously. I have watched passion develop. I could tell you about the priceless looks on their faces as my children learn to throw a ball that pops into a glove; when my son hit the ball onto the outfield grass on the fly for the first time or my daughter scored two goals against a team a year older.
But you’ve heard all that kind of stuff.
So let me tell you a secret: My kids stay out on the street playing with the neighbors until dark. Sometimes til after dark. They play basketball and kickball and kick the can. Ride bikes and scooters. Toast marshmallows over a fire pit. Hang out and play video games. They have playdates. Go to birthday parties. Get dirty. Watch TV. Sell Girl Scout cookies. Read. Turn cartwheels. Play Barbies.
They even eat popsicles.
Those memories will be as much a part of their childhood as the moments they spent on fields and in the pool.
Besides, what my kids will remember about playing sports won’t be the practices or a missed dinner or skinned knees.
What they will remember is that I was there for everything.
I was there.
I’m a mom.
I’m a mom.
by Cheryl on December 31st, 2012 | Posted in Just me
Today is my birthday and I should be writing my year in review. I should write about how I looked in the mirror and cried a few days ago because of all the wrinkles and lines around my eyes, the sagging skin under my chin, the final realization that whatever I used to have is gone and will never be again. I should write about how I spent the past year wondering why I couldn’t breathe and how I can no longer lift my left arm parallel with my body and how I’m actually looking forward to the surgery I’ll have to have to fix it because even rolling over at night causes me to cry out in pain. I should write about how I can’t keep weight off anymore, how my jeans pinch and I want to give it up and let it be. I should write about how I add up the years and know when Xander is my age I’ll be 84 and wonder if I’ll be vital enough to take care of his kids so he and his wife can escape for awhile. I should write about how I know when I’m 84 this age will seem so very young to me.
But then there’s the quiet. Sunset walks with only my thoughts and my dog, leading me through the darkening streets as stars silently dot the sky. The hilly, brutal run which, a couple of months ago, I had to walk most of, but now I’m a few steps from running the entire thing. Sawyer wrapping his arms around me, or staying up late reading only to come downstairs triumphantly telling me he’s finished his book. Sage, smearing makeup on her face, talking her father into buying her wedge-heeled, sequined sneakers, yet still sleeping each night with the lovey she got as a baby. Xander’s eyes lighting up when he first sees me coming into his classroom, insisting on holding my hand on the walk through the parking lot.
The writing. Always the writing. The manuscript which undulates and sings and screams and pouts until it can’t anymore. Until I can’t anymore. And then I can. Because I have to.
I am everything I have been and nothing I will be. I am fire and water and love and glory and shame. I have finished but have yet to begin. I am here yet I am unseen, invisible. Inside me I am shouting.
I am sobbing.
I am dancing.
I am 44.
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