Binge-surfing through Netflix

I read an article today that discussed the term “binge watching” being added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Back in the day, I could binge watch with the best of them. I may have watched the first season of 24 in approximately 24 straight hours. I watched the first season of Mad Men on such a binge, that I had to take a break because my stomach hurt from watching them smoke and drink so much. But these days, we don’t have as much time to sit and watch 6 hours of our latest addiction on a Saturday.

Perhaps our recent dedication to Veronica Mars should be considered relative to the amount of time we do have to binge watch programs. Back in the pre-kids day, we would have blown through three seasons and a movie in about 4 days. At this point in our lives, having to balance work, kids, pets and you know, the occasional need for sleep, it took us a little less than 4 months to complete it. I will say, part of that was the desire to stretch out what we knew to be a limited quantity of something we really enjoyed. (I went through some pretty serious withdrawal when the movie ended. I may be reading the books. What can I say, I’m a marshmallow. LoVe 4-eva.)

Having ended our quasi-binge of Veronica Mars and still a few weeks away from the Mon/Thurs/Sat/Sun football season, we’re looking for something to hold our attention. Lately our binge watching has turned into more of a binge search through Netflix for 30 minutes and then settling for something neither of us are really interested in watching. (We are watching an “expose” on NFL cheerleading as I write this. Please. Find us the next Veronica Mars. I’m watching a story on the Buffalo Jills.) So what have you watched and enjoyed? What was the last show that made you lose track of time as you just kept hitting the next button on Amazon Instant Prime? Help us fill up our queue! (No really, help. Now we’re watching something on women’s bodybuilding.)

Back Where We Started From

It is the tenth anniversary of the OC.  You can read more awesome things about that here, here, here and here.

I loved the OC.  It was, still is, a great show. I consider myself a bit of an expert on teenage dramas and this one was a step above the rest.  But it wasn’t just the witty banter, the great music, the eyebrows or the cage fighting that keeps the OC so dear to my heart.  The OC has played an important role in A and my relationship from the start.

A and I met in December 2004.  The OC began in the year earlier and I did not watch. I was in law school, had no time for such silliness.  I heard others talk about it, but I think I was watching important things like “For Love or Money.”  Anyway, we met in December in South BEnd and then I returned to VA for Army training and A went back to OK for the real Army.  We began to email daily and A’s love of the OC became clear.  I don’t remember when I started watching the OC or how many episodes of the second season I saw during that early part of our relationship but I clearly remember watching “Rainy Day Woman.” (More on that later.)  I wanted to like the things he liked and since basketball teams were out of the question, teenage dramas seemed like a good place to start.

As our relationship progressed, I knew A like-liked me when he let me borrow his OC season one DVD set.  He couldn’t break up with me while I had that, right?  He would inquire as to my progress in our nightly chats, sometimes encouraging me to stop talking to him so I could finish an episode and be able to talk to him about it.  He couldn’t wait for me to enjoy this thing that he had enjoyed seeing for the first time and enjoyed (at least I am pretty sure he did) reliving it through my eyes.

Once we were caught up on our OC viewing, but still living states apart, we would have OC dates.  We’d hang out on google chat and watch the episodes together, react and enjoy.  The OC was on Thursday ngihs, so on the great weekends we were able to spend together, that meant we’d save that week’s episode to watch in person.  A true thrill.  I remember sharing the final episode with A, sad that not only were my friends Ryan, Seth and Summer leaving me (Marissa had left a little earlier) but that we wouldn’t have this special time together.  (I believe we replaced it with Lost dates, which were special in a different, smoke monster sort of way.)

Even though the OC ended, our love of it (and all teenage dramas) continued throughout our relationship.  At our wedding celebration, we didn’t have table numbers, but instead tables named after our favorite teen drama characters.  Some of our friends were lucky enough to sit at the Sanford Cohen, Julie Cooper Nichol Bullit Atwood, Caleb Nichol and Pancakes tables.  The time we spent writing the bios that went along with each placard was probably our favorite wedding preparation moment and one that really made our wedding “us”.  Years later when I was on hospitalized bed rest while pregnant with Lila, A brought the DVDs to the hospital so I could pass the time with some old friends.  We made it through two seasons before the three weeks were up and we brought our little girl home.  The song “California” still sings out of my cell phone every time A calls.

And the end of season two brings me back to Rainy Day Woman.  For me, Rainy Day Woman is not just my favorite episode of the OC.  For me it is where the true fans were separated from the pack. You had to really get what the OC was about the enjoy it.  You had to understand their worship of pop culture and Seth’s nerdiness and Ryan’s well, Ryan-ness to make it all work.  You had to see that the kiss wasn’t just a cheap rip off of the summer blockbuster, but really the coming together of what made things great.  (Considering Champagne Supernova one of the greatest songs of all time contributes to the love of this episode as well.) The first time I watched it with friends, many didn’t get it. Some decided it was dumb and they didn’t want to watch, anymore, or that the kiss was out of place.  But A and I saw it the same way.  The OC masterpiece.  The one that said if you don’t get it now, you should totally leave before Ryan starts cage fighting. Perhaps the greatest sign of our compatibility.

So for me, the OC isn’t just a great show and the tenth anniversary isn’t just a nostalgic look at something I once loved. It is something that may seem superficial to some, but that means a lot to the story of “us”.

Sitting at the "Seth and Summer" sweetheart table at our wedding

Sitting at the “Seth and Summer” sweetheart table at our wedding

 

Do Overs

Tonight I was ready to write a post about how great this week of solo parenting had been going.  How we had it under control.  How I was the picture of working mother balanced with solo parent duties perfected.  And then today happened.  Lucy didn’t want to eat on schedule.  Work was a day filled with too many things added to the to do list and not enough time to do any of them.  (Did I mention I fell down in front of a twenty person staff meeting while trying to “sneak” away to the bathroom?  No?  Well that happened too.)  No time to pump, so not enough milk.  The bridge was up when I was already running late to the pediatrician’s appointment.  Lila didn’t nap at school so, well that was a two year old without a nap.

Tonight was not my finest parenting hour as I dealt with hungry children, fussy cats, potty training trials, smelly trash cans and toddler melt downs.  In the end I just had to put Lila to bed as she melted down.  No bedtime routine was soothing her and honestly?  I just couldn’t deal anymore.  I needed her to be asleep.  So I did that.  I tucked her in, I told her I loved her and that she would feel better in the morning and left the room.

It wasn’t my finest parenting hour but no child was injured.  I didn’t hit anyone (or any pets).  I didn’t drive the children while drunk. (Or get drunk at all, even if I really just wanted a very large glass of beer.)  I made a semi-nutritious dinner (which may have been rejected by a toddler).  I washed the bottles for tomorrow.

It wasn’t my finest parenting hour, but tomorrow I will get to try again.  Try again to have more patience.  Try again to cross things off my list.  Try again to write a blog post on our successes this week.  Try again to stay on schedule.  Try again to show the girls how much I love them.  And for tonight, the ability to be able to try again tomorrow is one of the few comforts I have.  (That and American Idol.  Long live Idol.)

Finding Balance

I’ve found that maternity leave can be stressful for me because I have too much unscheduled time.  I know that is the point of maternity leave – taking time to adjust to the new life we’ve entered.  But as one who is used to needing a schedule to make life with a two year old and a full time job and the requirements of daily family life work, entering a lifestyle without a schedule is hard.  Knowing that this caused anxiety for me during LC’s maternity leave, I tried to better prepare for it this time.

Even though I felt like I needed a schedule, I knew I would also need some time to relax.  But this can be a slippery slope – on Wednesday Lucy and I dropped A and LC off at work and day care, then ran errands.  We came home around noon, I made lunch and then climbed into bed to feed Lucy.  She fell asleep and I worked on my laptop in bed.  Two and a half hours later we were still in bed.  Sure the rest and doing nothing was nice, but realizing it was 3:30 and I hadn’t done anything around the house was stressful to think about – not to mention guilt about doing nothing for almost 3 hours.  So I need to find the balance between an unattainable to do list and staying in bed all day.

Today we got up and did our drop offs and then I worked on a few projects around the house.  We took Cal for a walk and I finally finished putting together the birth announcements.  It felt good to have accomplished things.  I’m trying to find one thing to get us out of the house each day – for now we will do Mommy & Baby yoga on Monday, Little Peppers (with LC) on Tuesdays and Weight Watchers on Wednesday (baby fat doesn’t disappear on its own I’ve found).  I’m hoping to find a sitter to come once a week to give me a few hours out of the house without Lucy – for things like hair appointments or actually working out without a baby in a Moby wrap.  Last Friday A and I had a lunch date and it would be nice to continue that trend.

With all these plans and to dos, I know we still need some downtime (if for no other reason than Lucy still gets up twice a night).  With more plans and structure to our day, I hope that climbing back into bed to watch something silly on the DVR (ok, not silly, American Idol which is awesome no matter who the judges are and I do not care what you say.  I love Nikki Minaj) won’t seem so self-indulgent.

Somehow Lucy is already 5 weeks old, which means maternity leave will end before I know it.  I know I’ll miss this time and wish I had more to spend just hanging out and being with her and LC, no matter how we choose to spend that time.

Carrying Extra Baggage

Did you watch the Golden Globes on Sunday?  We watched most of the show, enough to know I am completely out of touch with popular culture, have not seen any of the nominated films and practically none of the television either.  (Except Downton Abbey, but who doesn’t watch Downton Abbey??)  Anyway, one of the many shows I’m out of touch with is Homeland whose lead actor Claire Danes won a Golden Globe this weekend.  Here’s Claire accepting her award. 

 

For those also as out of touch with popular culture as I am, you may not have known that Claire had a baby recently.  December 17 recently.  You may recall that I had a baby on December 27.  For those wondering, I am not 10 days away from looking like Claire Danes.

Clearly, I shouldn’t be comparing myself to Claire Danes – we definitely didn’t look alike (or have similar body types) before either of us became pregnant.  I’m sure I’m eating more Top Pot donuts and fast food since giving birth than she has been.  As one friend pointed out, imagine the pressure she had to squeeze into these dresses for awards season so close to giving birth.  I get it, we are very different people with different lifestyles, etc.  But it still made me feel better flabby and gross.

I wished I had kept a diary when I was pregnant with LC so that I could better compare this pregnancy (and its aftermath) to it.  I can’t remember how long I felt blah and out of shape after LC but I feel like it is lasting longer this time.  Which is probably being a little hard on myself since Lucy isn’t even 3 weeks old yet, so to say that it is “lasting longer” suggests that I was cool and over postpartum stuff in about 2 weeks.  Which I’m sure I wasn’t.  I think this time I jumped back into “life” a lot faster than I did with LC.  Arriving home to a two year old pretty much guarantees that you don’t have time to lounge, or nap or really do much of anything other than keep the house running for two kids, a dog and a cat.  A went away on a week long business trip 10 days after Lucy was born, really thrusting me back into the solo running of the house (though with much grandparent help).  So I guess my life feels a lot less “postpartum” than it did with LC, despite my inability to wear anything but nursing tank tops and yoga pants.  (My maternity pants are too big, my non-maternity pants too small. BLERGH.)

I know I need to cut myself some slack – being a new mom, even the second time around, isn’t easy. I’m tackling large to do lists every day and getting everyone out the door to work, day care, doctor’s appointments, etc almost on time.  I wish the gross pudginess around my middle would magically disappear or that I would feel less blah every time I look in the mirror, but I think we all know that these are not the only ways that Claire Danes’ life and mine differ.  In time, in my lifestyle, I’ll be able to get back to my clothes, my routine (which involves less McDonald’s milkshakes) and hopefully feel more like myself – and worry less about feeling like Claire Danes.

Toddler Obsessions, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Elmo

Whether it was the Pacific NW influences, or just our own parenting style, A and I decided that LC would not watch television.**  But like all hard and fast parenting decisions, you have to make compromises.  As LC’s hair got longer, the getting ready in the morning has gotten more difficult.  She has to have her hair pulled back each day or else it will get in her face and drive her crazy.  While she hates having her hair in her face, she also hates having to sit still to have her hair done.  In a moment of frustration one morning, I pulled out my iPhone and pulled up an Elmo video on YouTube.  I didn’t know if it would work because LC doesn’t watch videos and truly has no idea who Elmo is.  Both to my delight and horror, LC was instantly hooked on Elmo.
It may have taken her three months longer to say Momma than it did Dada, but it took no time at all to learn Elmo.  “Al –mo?” she asks every time she sees my phone (and now iPad after the most recent cross country flight.) Her favorite is Elmo and the Ducks.

The adorable side of this is that she thinks Elmo is a cat and will meow at him.  The other side is that I feel pretty guilty about it.  18 months in and I’ve allowed my child to buy into one of the biggest toddler commercial entity out there.  She hasn’t asked for Elmo sneakers yet, but I can see it coming.  And her 2nd birthday?  Oh, I’m sure I’ll have to seek guidance on this Pinterest board
We still won’t allow LC to watch things (other than the caveated items below) on the television – because just as she freaks out for Al-mo when she sees my phone, we don’t want her to insist that Elmo be put on the television every time she passes by it.  There are definitely worse things that LC could be excited by and in the big scheme of things, it is not surprising that around 18 months Elmo came into our lives.  I just thought we’d avoid the Elmo trend, or at least watch it enter our house because of outside influences like day care – not that we would willingly open our door to watch him boogie on in. 
The good news is that I can get LC to sit still for approximately 2:39 each morning as I struggle to do her pigtails.  The bad news is, I have to listen to this while I do it.

**The caveat to this is of course sports don’t count.  LC was watching NCAA basketball before she left the NICU.  Mostly football and basketball, a little baseball.  She loved the Tour de France (she has a things for bicycles) and dressage in the Olympics blew her mind (horses! on tv!).  Tennis does not seem to interest her much. 

Top of the Food World

While it remains an unconfirmed rumor, it appears that the next season of Top Chef will be filmed in Seattle.  A and I have been Top Chef fans for a while.  I loved the first season almost more for the San Francisco locale than the food (A was attending school in Berkeley at the time), but I soon grew to love the food.  While the past couple of seasons have not been as great as others, I have high hopes for Seattle Top Chef – if for no other reason then they have been filming blocks from my office.
As a long time fan of the show, I have a bit of an idea of how the show works.  Being a Seattleite who likes food, while not try to guess what some of the challenges would be.
– Pike Place Market – the easiest to guess (and basically confirmed that filming has occurred there) is shopping for ingredients at Pike Place. Lots of local favorites, pretty colors and delicious foods – not to mention lots fun shots running through the market and catching some fish.
– Gates Foundation – the Gates Foundation works to help people around the world to live healthy and productive lives.  Their international flair will be the perfect place for an around the world challenge – chefs assigned countries/regions from which their cooking style will come.  Or you could take a more “self-aware” approach and perhaps make the chefs cook with rice – the meal most people around the world eat for dinner each day. 
– Cafeteria challenge – there are many large companies with large corporate cafeterias (Microsoft, Amazon, GroupHealth).  Why not take over a corporate cafeteria – cooking large scale food for people to enjoy.  Perhaps the only issue with this is that these cafeterias are pretty high end to begin with – I’ve eaten at the Amazon Garage more than once and the daily portions of Beecher’s Mac and Cheese is not the only highlight. 
– Sports – Sure, it would be great if Top Chef could herald in the arrival of an NBA team, but short of that, Seattle-ites love their football club.  A Seattle Sounders challenge – park food, soccer foods, I haven’t quite figured out the angle here other than Seattle likes soccer. And scarves. 
– Jet City – home of Boeing, Seattle has been known as the Jet City.  Foods than can fly?  Food that factory workers will love?  Union workers love union food?  (I do not know what union food is.  But go with it.)
– Cardboard box challenge – fans of Amazon.com probably have a living room or recycling bin that looks like ours – filled with the familiar brown box.  I think the chefs could do a Chopped style challenge – finding ingredients in a brown box and then creating a meal from it.
– Restaurant Wars! – though always such a train wreck, Restaurant Wars is always a favorite episode of Top Chef fans.  While the challenge itself always follows the same rules, I propose that dueling Tom Douglas restaurants would be used for the locations.
– Book challenge – Ok, so Amazon is an easy suggestion but it certainly helped to put Seattle on the map.  A literary inspired challenged – food inspired by authors, novels, it is pretty easy to pull one together.
– Grunge – I’m not entirely sure how one pulls food and grunge together, but I think Seattle would be the place to do it.  Music inspired?  Maybe Kurt Cobain had a soft spot for haute cuisine?  A broader music challenge – pulling in Jimmy Hendrix, Nirvana and newer acts like Modest Mouse.  Challenge of course could take place at the EMP.
– Organic – Oregon Tilth sure loves Seattle and is a big deal in the food world up here – sustainable, organic, local – those words are thrown around in just about every restaurant opening announcement.  It would be hard to feature Seattle and not involve the organic movement.
– The obvious choice.  Ok, so Seattle probably is probably known for coffee more than anything.  A Starbucks challenge may be the only thing as sure as the Pikes Place challenge.  Chefs could develop the new bistro box, a new pastry, a new favor combo for drinks – or simply cooking with coffee.

If you stop and think about it for more than a few minutes, there really are endless possibilities.  Seattle is a pretty great city, especially for food and hopefully more than those of us who live here will know that after this season of Top Chef.

Playing Hooky

Last Friday A and I snuck out of work early and went to the “secret” Shins show in downtown Seattle.  A combination music lovers/Starbucks promotion concert by one of our favorite bands was too good to pass up. 

IMG_0906

We were front row (that’s press or something in front of us in the photo) and the concert was fantastic. 

Music is probably the biggest thing A brought to our relationship (for those wondering I brought B-Cat and American Idol.)  A loves music (or what he feels is good music) and wants to share it with me and LC.  I had discovered the Shins as most of America had, in the movie Garden State, shortly before A and I started dating.  On our third “date” we saw The Shins in concert at a roller rink in Oklahoma City.  (Ok, I can’t prove it was a roller rink, but I can’t prove that it wasn’t.) The memories of that concert in Oklahoma are ones that I have always treasured from our early relationship.  This random, perfect Friday afternoon concert when we were able to be two people in love, loving the Shins again, without worrying about babies, beagles or any other responsibilities was pretty wonderful. 

So thanks to Corey the VP of Starbucks Marketing and all the others who let A and I pretend that we were that silly couple in a OK roller rink again, much appreciated by all.

PS – Buy the new Shins album.  It’s pretty fantastic.

My Trip was Just Peachy

I made it – I survived the trip without LC.  By the last day I was ready to leave Atlanta and get home but I made the best of it.  I even threw some education in on the last day and traveled to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library.  (I was *this* close to the Nobel Peace Prize.  Which was kinda awesome.)

A few reflections on Atlanta:

– It is warm.  It was 80 degrees when I landed.  On March 28.  While that was nice, to be outside and have sun and such so early in the year, I imagine come July it is much more than 80.

– You can have too much of a good thing.  I do not think I ate too much in Atlanta, it is more what I ate.  The food was so rich and involved many types of pork.  Delicious?  Yes.  Did it make my belly crave something not made with bacon grease?  Also yes.  But I must say, I may have to re-write my burger post after experiencing Flip Burger.  I wish I could have tried every burger on the menu.  (I had the chorizo with sweet potato tots).  I also wish I had been told that the shakes may be advertised as single serve but that you will live to regret that choice. (Krispy Kreme shake.  A-MAZ-ING.  It was like drinking a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts.)

– Being on the East Coast from the West Coast is a difficult transition.  Everything starts early (one day began with a working breakfast at 7:30am and did not end until 6pm), but you can’t sleep before midnight.  Also, when you end your conference day at 6pm, it is only 3pm back at your office so there is lots of people waiting for you to respond to email.

– Watching tv without a DVR is just uncivilized.  Do people really watch commercials? It makes Idol soooo long.

– It was nice having the time to myself – for about 24 hours.  I traveled, I read, I had dinner by myself, I had a massage. . . and then I was ready to go home.  I missed my family and being in the hotel room was lonely. 

– Every hotel should have a Ham Bar.

Pets Have Idols Too

As I mentioned on Facebook earlier today (wait, you didn’t know we were on Facebook?  You should follow us over there.  Go ahead, we’ll wait.) Anyway, as I mentioned on Facebook and Twitter (what?  Oh yes, we’re on Twitter too.  Lots of adorable photos of LC there too.)  Ok, so we were talking about in a variety of places today that Idol’s theme tonight was The Year You Were Born, a household favorite around here.  Last year we discussed the amazing Idol duet A and I wanted to do from the Year We Were Born.  Even though they are all too young to take part in the American Idol competition, I thought it would be fun to explore what Cal, B-Cat and LC might choose to sing as a song from the year of their birth.

B-Cat – though a lady never reveals her age, I think B-Cat is proud of how good she looks for having been born in 2001.  B-Cat is a complicated individual so it is hard to find one song that best represents who she would be as an artist.  Looking at the choices of top singles of 2001, she might go with Fallin’ by Alicia Keys (B-Cat is fascinated by gravity), Ride Wit Me by Nelly (she is from St. Louis) or Lady Marmalade (she is very into girl power).  Ultimately though, I think she would choose Walk On By by U2.  B-Cat’s cool like that, just walk on by everyone, nothing to see here but enormous vocal talent.

Cal – born in 2008,  Cal is a fun loving dog who knows when it is time to take things seriously.  Pocket Full of Sunshine from Natasha Bedingfield may show off his personality, but I don’t know if it would be a good example of his musical point of view. I think Cal would need something to show off his full range.  Maybe Rihanna’s Take a Bow?  Ultimately I think Taylor Swift’s Teardrops on my Guitar would be a great way for Cal to show his vocal talents and really perform the song so that it represent HIM and no one else.

LC – LC is a happy, easy going baby.  She loves to play with her friends and I think her spirit may be encapsulated in the song Fireworks by Katy Perry.  She always loved a good dance song when she was an inside baby (we’d rock out on our commute home) so she could play to the judges with J.Lo’s On the Floor.  Ultimately, I think she’d choose Born This Way from Lady Gaga because she likes the message and the song.  A lover of humanity that LC.