Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Is Barbie Bad?

I'm not really sure what got me thinking today. But having a very rare quiet moment, I started to wonder about this stigma that is attached to Barbie. Natalie's birthday is right around the corner, and I am back and forth on if she needs a "kids" party. I mean she is only going to be four. Which then led me to think about gifts that a four-year-old would recieve, and I think that is how I arrived here.

Other than her unattaibable proportions, what is so bad about Barbie? If she were size 16 Barbie, would that be a better toy for a young girl? She is beautiful. Is that bad? Or is it just bad becuase she is blonde and beautiful? If Barbie were brunette and beautiful, would it make a difference? She is ambitious. Is there a field that Barbie has yet to conquer? Is that bad? Is being Dr. Barbie, Astronaut Barbie, Lawyer Barbie a bad thing? There is no Real Housewives of Barbieville Barbie, so I guess I am confused why this new generation of moms are so against Barbie.

I had Barbies growing up. In fact, my cousin and I used to play for HOURS with Barbie, and I don't remember our pretend Barbie scenarios being bad. I don't ever remember staring at the sea of perfectly formed plastic blondes thinking, I wish I looked like that. I just remember hours and hours of fun with my cousin. Is fun bad? Is pretend bad? And if so, is it bad to play pretend with other dolls? Natalie has a Melissa and Doug dollhouse that came with little wood people, they too have figures that are unattainable, are they bad? The mom in that set wears an apron. An apron! What does that imply?

Natalie has shown no interest in the Barbies yet, but I feel that they are quickly approaching the horizon and here I am wondering, is that bad?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Tiny Dancer

Last summer, Natalie and I began watching a great kid's show, Little Einsteins. Because Disney controls our brains, we were immediately hooked on these four little kids who excelled in the arts, and went on musical missions to save things that were going awry in famous art pieces. Being the liberal arts minded people we are, we thought this show is great. Classical music and classical artwork that I child is interested in, one more reason she is special.

June, a character from the show is a the dancer. (Annie the singer, Quincy the musician, and Leo the conductor.) Shortly thereafter, Natalie began dancing, twirling, and leaping all throughout the house. The time had come, a fact of a girl's life that I was honestly hoping we would skip, it was time to try dancing classes.

In a moment of craziness, I decided that Saturday at 9:15 was the perfect time to take such class. We're up, what's the big deal? Let me tell you, IF we do it again, it will not be on a Saturday morning.
Regardless, each Saturday we would rush to eat breakfast, tights, leotard, hair up, and out the door to meet up with the ten other three year olds in her class. I remember the first class very clearly. There was my little girl, who would leap and twirl around our house any time she heard music or not, with absolutely no rhythm whatsoever. I had thought, much like everything else that she does, dancing would come as an immediate talent. Not so much. But as the weeks went on, she would come home and not just leap and twirl, but passe and grande chatay (sp?). So, in the end, she was learning something.

June FINALLY arrived for the big recital, which around April was the only pull that was keeping her interest. "I don't want to go to dance class," she would whine. To which I would reply, "But you want to wear your costume in the big recital, right?" Smile, "Yeah, let's go!"
The dress rehearsal was the Thursday before the show and our now little four year olds were taken out of the comfort of the studio and placed on a new stage and expected to perform their tap and ballet routines. It was rough to watch to say the least. I tried to forewarn Dan that is was adorably awful.
However, as with everything that Natalie does, recital day came, costume and make-up on, hair in a bun, and our little dancer took to the stage, and turned it on, performing the routines as perfectly as any four year old could be expected.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I feel that I have abandoned the blog. But for the past two weeks I have been consumed by Stephenie Meyer's saga of Edward and Bella. I have read all four books and have moved onto her website to read Midnight Sun, which, if you have read the series and haven't checked this one out, please do. (Thank you, Jennifer, mi prima favorita) It is Twilight from Edward's perspective. I will also admit(begrudgingly), that I have gone back and am re-reading Twilight. Since I barreled through all of the books because I couldn't help myself, I went back to take it in a little slower and really digest the novel.

When I haven't had my face in a book, I have been proofing and editing some Australian teen survey, which if the 200 page Word document and the 2800 responses in a spreadsheet weren't daunting, the fact that I had to learn a new form of the English language was. I don't know if my "employer" will be pleased, as there were words that I genuinely couldn't tell you if they were misspelled because I didn't even know they were words!

Couple all of this with two kids, a dog, a house(that has been TOTALLY neglected), a husband, and a head cold, and, well, something had to give.

But alas, I am back and have some thoughts up my sleeve, so stay tuned.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Shout Out

I have to say, that having a blog about my day-to-day and random thoughts is really rather indulgent. Some of you may find this hard to believe, but I am actually totally out of my comfort zone and feel very vulnerable and exposed. Yet, I KEEP posting.

In my first post, I mentioned that it was with encouragement from my dear friend, Steve that I was actually able to get over that first hump and just start, but since then there have been people who read this regularly, enjoy it, and comment on it. And, as I mentioned to someone just today, it isn't just my inner circle of friends who are reading, in fact, I think that it is the outer circle who read it with more regularity.

So, I feel that I have to give a shout out to people who read this, Ravi, Anne, Jen R., Carolyn, Kate, Deb - all of whom have gone out of their way to let me know they enjoy this self-indulgence.

Lastly, I have to give a big shout out to my good friend, Alissa, mother of my son's best friend. A long time ago, her husband, Eric, told me and the girls, that we would never want to be another girl trying to work her way into this small group of friends. She is truly a pioneer!

So thank you all for reading and letting me know about it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Daddy Boy

There used to be a Diet Coke commercial, long before kids were even part of my life plan, of a dad and his kids in the super market, flying down the frozen food section, like the cart was a ride. The voice over of the commercial talked about how he had given up going to the gym and a 32 in waist (something like that) to ultimately say that he has no idea how much sexier he is now.

When I see Dan with our kids, I am often reminded of this commercial. He is the best part of everyone's day-- human jungle gym, trampoline, horse, shoulder-ride giver, leg-ride giver, battery replacer, tall block building designer, Cootie Bug player, Where the Sidewalk Ends reader, couch cushion fort builder, nature hike guide, and fixer of broken toys and scraped knees alike.

We love you, Daddy!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Once Bitten

I feel the need to humble myself after outing my mosaic-mad neighbor (which isn't done, by the way, and I have finally got Dan agreeing with me that it IS weird to tile the front of your house.)
But, as usual, that is not really the point of my post.

I am a little late to get on the band wagon, but for the past week I have been consumed my the Twilight saga. I don't know why I am embarrassed by this, because most everyone I know has read it, but I can't do anything but read. In fact, I haven't been quite so preoccupied with something since, Dylan McKay and Brandon Walsh posters were hanging on my bedroom walls. I don't think that the never-ending overcast and rain that is falling upon the coast is helping either.

I have to admit, that it isn't the most well-written book, in the sense that the words don't flow like poetry; they are not particularly filled with color, nonetheless, my heart races when I read it and if I do have to put the book down, which inevitably happens when I have to be parental, I find myself thinking about what I just read. I never really pegged myself, for the fantasy genre type, and since I am laying it out there, I do somehow find the werewolf storyline a little harder to believe than that of vampires...I don't know why. Werewolves are just less sexy than vampires, I guess. After finishing New Moon and eagerly awaiting my borrowed copies of Eclipse and Breaking Dawn to arrive from New Jersey, I scanned my bookshelves for Dracula, with the hope that my irrational reaction to this series is rooted in classic literature, as I do have some faint recollection of being mesmerized by the story in college.

I read one page and closed the book ready for bed, thinking to myself Edward's words, "I guess I am just not impressed with antiquity."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Back Where it Began: A Retrospective

Fifteen years ago, as a high school junior, knowing nothing about college, my "guidance counselor", I use both guidance and counselor VERY loosely, printed out a list of colleges that supposedly fit my wants, which I probably made up. I am sure I was very casual about looking at said list, but when I saw the University of New Hampshire, it just sounded like the school for me. I knew nothing about it, nor did I know a thing about New Hampshire, but somehow, the name of the school shone like a beacon off the page, and I knew that was my school.

I know, had my "guidance counselor" guided or counseled me, she would have told me that a Jersey girl really had no business being in New Hampshire. First of all, it is a state university populated by people from New Hampshire who, for the most part, in my experience, are a special breed. (sorry Iz). Secondly, I thought they tahk funny...well, let me tell you, I tawked funny. Nonetheless, I am an Aries, I am Italian, and I am a Jersey girl-- I was going there.

Fast forward to fall of the following year, a rainy Halloween weekend, which should have turned me off from the campus because little did I know, if it wasn't cold enough to snow in Durham, it was rainy, but I saw Thompson Hall and again, my knowing was reaffirmed. I felt like I was in the movies - this is what a university was supposed to look like, like I was a new character in Gross Anatomy or With Honors. Brick buildings with columns and prestigious names like Hamilton Smith, Kingsbury, Philbrook - ok the last one is a dining hall, but don't you want to eat there?

Since leaving, I have totally glorified college. And this weekend, after Holly and I met up at Rye Beach for the day, we met up with Izzy on Main St., Durham, NH. For Holly and myself, it was the first time returning since we graduated, which according to her was in 1999. You would think that the Class of 2000 would resonate. It's kind of catchy. The school is not the campus that we reminisce about. There are hints of the UNH we knew, which lets us know we haven't completely fabricated our college experience, like Stoke Hall, our abode as sophomores, still looks very much like a Howard Johnson. But, sadly, it is not the campus that we left. In fact, we suggested(told) Izzy to meet us at the Tin Palace, the one bar at UNH that had patio seating. The place that the moment the weather was warm enough, you hoped you were lucky enough to know someone, who could get there earlier enough to get a table outside. And IF you were lucky enough, you didn't leave. Anyway, the point of the rant is that it isn't the Tin Palace anymore.

If it weren't abundantly clear that it had been a long time since we were students there, "Keanu", our waiter, let us know. After checking our IDs (a question which took me by surprise) he nodded his head up and down, gave us a goofy smile, and said, "Nice job ladies, you don't look THAT old." We weren't sure if this was a compliment, insult, or combination of the two. Hasn't anyone told him that 31 is the new 22?

But for all that was different, like the divey bar Libby's being a classy sit down restaurant, there were plenty of things that were the same. Namely, sitting at the Tin Palace, on a sunny Saturday, drinking a beer, with my two best friends, laughing out loud as though we really were 22.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Judgement Day

I have gone back and forth on this post, but I have to get it out.

My neighbor is mosaic-ing the front of her house.  In my head I am plotting how I am going to discreetly get a picture of this because one has to see it to really understand how in depth this mosaic is. But on the other hand, maybe my lone description of it will paint a more creative picture in your head and make my writing about it somewhat less judgemental.  This isn't beautiful Moroccan inspired Alhambra mosaic, but more of I took an after hours class at our local technical school, and sorry if I have decreased the value of all the other houses in the neighborhood mosaic.

It all started about a month ago, in fact, the day that I posted "Blue Skies."  I remember quite clearly seeing Ruth, our neighbor, outside tiling the number 23 above her mailbox; I thought very little of it.  She was simply making a decorative house number.  THEN, some decorative tiles were epoxied around the basement windows- 1x1 burgundy tiles, one of them had a sort of sun designed worked into it.  I started to think, perhaps she had taken a class and thought she would dress up the plain, grey cement foundation of her split-level house.  But it didn't stop there.  Oh no.  Next I noticed that she had started to decorate the chimney, and then to the left of her garage, she mosaiced a tree that has branches that go up and over the garage, with specialty tiles that are leaves and tiny, little three-dimensional terra cotta pots, so she can actually plant things in them.  Now there are checkered flags, and big, white and black 3x3 tiles starting to cover the bottom quarter of her house.  

Ruth is originally from Europe and while I am no expert in exterior European house design, I think this might even be odd there.  I am waiting for HGTV to show up and ask us all, "What's with that house?"   

Even as I write it, I know how catty and petty it must sound, but I am obsessed.  So much so that I have changed the course I drive when leaving and returning home, just so I can see the bizarre progression.  

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fruits of My Labor

My dear friend, Steve, likes to tease that I live in the country.  But the fact of the matter is that I live next to the country.   This allows me to say that I live in Middlesex County, rather than Worcester County, with all the benefits of country living.  My favorite of which is fruit picking season.  There are a number of family owned, seasonal farms just up the road from our house.  While I was pregnant with Natalie, we stumbled upon pick-your-own strawberries.  There is nothing like this, except maybe PYO apples or PYO blueberries, or...okay there are some things like it.  But with the strawberries, they are the most vibrant red color I have ever seen, they make this amazing pop sound when you pick them, akin to the seal of jar breaking, and they literally melt in your mouth.  This is no exaggeration. 

The best part of this year's picking is that Natalie was really into the picking part.  In the past is was just about the eating.  She still came home a red, sticky, juicy mess, but most of the berries ended up in her carton.  She was so pleased with her collection, I think she didn't want to eat any of them. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

Daddy's Girl

For one of my 20something birthdays, (that is actually what he wrote on the card) my father tried to explain to me the bond between a father and daughter. He had given me What a Girl Wants as a birthday present, because after seeing the film, the main character, "wiggling" (his words) her way into her father's heart, made him think of me.  He goes on to write that he "hopes...Dan [has] a daughter like you because you bring me a special joy."  

Natalie is about a month away from turning four, and I see SO much of myself in her, as well,  I see how Dan has become the main man in her life, by which all future suitors should be compared.  I think about my own relationship with my father and can't help but smile as they go off on their "nature walks" and "Daddy and Me adventures."  As I mentioned in an earlier post, there are so many characteristics of mine she has acquired from just spending time with me.  The love of her father, I don't know if it is innate or inherited, but it is, and I love it.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Many Names of Joseph Daniel

This is the token Bro post.  Poor kid.  As mentioned in earlier blogs, he is the second child and, therefore, at the whim of his sister.  We named him after my father, so when we brought him home, in his wrinkly rag doll state, his lack of a personality coupled with the fact that it was my father's name, we didn't really know what to call him.  Now, he has so many nicknames, I would be surprised if he didn't end up with multiple personality disorder.  The woes of being second.
  • Joseph
  • Joey
  • Joey D
  • Joe Joe
  • Joe Joe the Bro Bro
  • Bro
  • Bro Bro
  • Joe Bro
  • Bud
  • Bud Bud
  • Buddy
  • Little Man
  • Tooter McScooter
  • Broseph
  • Broey
  • The picture above earned him Safari Joe

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


One would think with my "ability" to write and to stand in front of a classroom to teach middle schoolers that I am good with a crowd, but there is nothing further from the truth.  The fact of the matter is, I HATE speaking to crowds, mostly those of my peers and elders.  Pre-teens any day because I know, for the most part, that I am smarter, and if for some reason I am unsure, all I have to say is participial phrase.  Yet somehow, people who supposedly consider me their best, closest, dearest friends continue to put me in this position that makes me extremely uncomfortable.  It all started with Karyn and a conversation or conversations where I crowned her godmother to my first born and later I was chosen to be maid of honor at her wedding. Both of which we followed through on.  

Karyn epitomizes the saying, "Friends are the family you choose for yourself."  I imagine she would still be coming to Dattoli family holidays had she not married a christian boy.  Karyn is also, THE best friend.  That is not to belittle any of my other friends, but as I think I said in my wedding speech/toast, Karyn is my soulmate.  I know there was a time when we weren't friends, but it was like one day we didn't know each other and then the next day we were best friends.  I have traveled from New Hampshire to Manhattan, Massachusetts to California, and from  Spain to London to see her.  We speak on a weekly basis AND with the upcoming birth of her son, we are FINALLY in the same place in life, if not in the same state, which during those conversations we also discussed would be part of our future. 

I don't remember much of what I said at their wedding, I know I told her husband I thought he was odd, and I had to put my champagne glass down because I was shaking, but the rest is really a blur.  But today is Karyn's anniversary, and I felt it was time she get her post. 

Happy Anniversary Karyn and David!  xoxo

**please note in the photo above, my monochromatic hair and lotus dress

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cranky Pants

As of late I have been accused of being cranky, which only makes me more cranky.  So today, when asked pointe blank, if I am cranky, I looked my husband in the face and said, very clearly, "Of course I'm cranky."

I am not sure when I last had a full night of sleep.  Between being pregnant with the Bro, Natalie climbing into my bed at the ungodly hour of  4am, and now with the Bro Bro, who has decided it would be fun to wake up every two hours from 10pm to 5am at which point it is just fun to be awake and noisy from 5am to 7am, at which point Dan's strategic snoring kicks in to block out the noise.  It has been well over a year that my sleep has not been interrupted, and this inevitably leads to being cranky.  That's right, my lack of sleep has finally caught up with me, and now I am cranky.

I have made some not so subtle comments about wanting one night of uninterrupted sleep.  Just one - to recharge.  I mentioned that for my birthday I just wanted some sleep; I mentioned for Mother's Day I just wanted some sleep.  And I mean some Tylenol PM induced eight hours.  Needless to say, neither of these wishes have been granted and, therefore, I will continue to be cranky.