Harrowing tales of adventure


I wouldn't necessarily say that it's easier to find things to do with my girls, but they will watch Steel Magnolias with me as many times as I want. And then we quote the movie together -- because we are Southern women and snarky-ness is embedded deep within our souls.

Lately, however, Parker and I have been having a great time watching a new-to-us series on Netflix called I Shouldn't Be Alive.  These human survival stories are all about fighting natural elements, persevering through hardship, and glorying in the triumph of the human spirit. Aside from being an interesting watch, they have sparked a number of conversations about what we would do in similar situations (which is a nice break from how we would prepare for the zombie apocalypse). Recently we've seen "Nightmare on the Mountain," which follows an 18-year-old boy who is attacked by a grizzly bear while hunting, and "Boys Adrift" -- an excruciating story of two teenage boys stuck at sea for six days in a tiny rowboat. The episodes do contain a bit of gore (okay, a lot in the case of the grizzly bear), and one of the boys in the boat contemplates suicide -- so exercise some caution with younger kids. But overall, they are good, clean fun. Well, fun and sorta stressful.

What about you guys? Any boy-ish shows you can recommend?

Parker also was really affected by Blackfish, a documentary on the captivity of killer whales. He swears he will never visit Seaworld (or a zoo) again.

May you build a ladder to the stars

When we first arrived here last year, we came to an empty house. Greg had rented a few pieces to hold us over--a table and chairs, two sofas, and comfy beds--but really we were a bare bones operation. After the rushrushrush of selling the house, packing up, driving across the country, and booking visits with as many friends and family as we could before we left the continent...suddenly all that busy-ness came to a screeching halt and we had absolutely empty calendars and six weeks before school started.

For the first few days, it was novel. We were really tired and spent the time filling up on some rest and getting that fuzzy travel feeling out of our heads. But after that we had to go through a kind of busy detox.  My internal odometer was at odds with our new peaceful pace. It took a while to get it out of my system.  I had this vague feeling I should be somewhere and that we should be doing things, filling our days with errands and motion to justify our existence. The kids seemed to feel it, too, and got cranky and flopped around, sighing about the empty house, empty life.

[After a few days, we got into the rhythm of it, as though we had come out on the other side of a chattering detox. It felt really good. Different things grow in that kind of space--a different kind of listening and creativity, time to really pay attention, think, and look. A different kind of self discipline. It was a lovely change.]

But that's not what this post is about. No, this is more of a fangirl post.


This might sound utterly pathetic (I know it does) but do you know who accompanied us through those weeks? The Bravermans. Yes, the fictional tv clan from the show Parenthood. We watched an episode (or two) every day, starting with the first season and plowing on through until we were caught up. They were our vicarious family friends at a time when we didn't have anyone but ourselves. We were more than a little homesick for those deliciously chaotic Sunday multi-family dinners of our own that we had left behind (oh, the Braverman long outdoor table! Would we ever fill our table that way again?). We even cried cathartic tears along with them. We sang along to the theme song (Bob Dylan's Forever Young) at full volume, an anthem and prayer sung in the midst of this teen-seismic move and all its unknowns:

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young.
May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young

A year later, we have schedules and friends and busyness and lessons and furniture and much less time to just sit around together. It's a case of both see-everything-works-out-just-fine and be-careful-what-you-wish-for. The Bravermans no longer serve as placeholders for future friends and have retreated like all good imaginary friends at the end of their run. Last week found me singing along during the opening credits of the new season of Parenthood with a tiny lump in my throat, a bit nostalgic for those simple, echo-y empty house days when our world boiled down to just each other for six weeks or so. Well, us and the Bravermans.

- I couldn't resist this Forever Young locket as a special gift for Maddy last Christmas. I think it makes a great graduation, birthday, Bat Mitzvah, quinceanera, or Christmas present.

- Parenthood has a terrific soundtrack.  They know their tunes, those folks.

- What shows are you watching this season? Do have a family show you all watch together? Have you had a certain touchstone show/movie/book that came along at the right time?

TV parenting


Entertainment Weekly recently had a March-Madness-style bracket game to determine TV's best couple of all time and it got me thinking. What about television's best parents?  

For your consideration, I submit Tami and Eric Taylor of Friday Night Lights (may it rest in peace & dvd sales). Heck, I'd nominate them both for best couple and best parents. (And look, I think EW staff agree with me.) Their believable, sparky (that's a word, right?), evolved partnership deftly captured the reality of marriage and parenthood in a way that left me feeling both understood and inspired. Spot on, FNL. Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler said that what allowed them to establish that partnership was that the writers told them from the start that they were never going to break them up.

Oh, and my runner up nominees? Adam and Kristina Braverman from Parenthood.
What think you?

p.s. This might seem like a silly exercise (and, okay, it is) but, surprisingly, it's sometimes media parents that make an impact. Once upon a time I helped conduct research on teen parents. When we asked for examples of parents they looked up to most or wanted to emulate, they quite often cited a fictional tv parent or a celebrity. Ever since, I'm always glad when a television couple demonstrates a relationship and parenting that's worth emulating.