Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The She-Ra Resurrgence

When I started pre-school in 1983, a new show called He-Man had hit the daily afternoon cartoons. As one of the only girls of my pre-school class, I was quickly swept up into the make-believe world of He-Man, Master of the Universe. Having never seen the show (I was a 4-year-old girl after all) I stepped into my role as Teela, following the lead of my better informed male classmates.

Two years later She-Ra premiered, and suddenly my after school hours were complete. He-Man didn't really interest me, but his twin sister, that was a different story. She was strong, blond (just like me), and a female superhero I could look up to. I didn't see her as the female version of He-Man. She was She-Ra, Princess of Power, end of story. Every day after school I pushed to make sure we made it home in time for me to watch. This was the 1980s. We didn't have cable, we had four stations that came in over antenna. DVR didn't exist, and setting up the VCR to tape She-Ra every day would have been considered silly. Instead I had to depend on the fates of Detroit traffic to get me home in time. On afternoons when we didn't make it, for a variety of reasons, I was crushed. In first grade I was She-Ra for Halloween. For my seventh birthday I excitedly opened my very own She-Ra and Angella figurines, which have long become lost to the abuses of childhood (I'm pretty sure they took their fair share of baths with me). My metal baton was my sword, and I remember one particular day when my sister and I got into a significant amount of trouble because we were fighting with our "swords" in the dining room. It might not have been much of a problem, but my sister's plastic, glitter filled baton was no match for my solid, shining metal one, and with one single swipe of my "sword," the inferior plastic broke in half, sending water and glitter all over the dining room and into the carpet at our feet. My bike became She-Ra's flying horse Swift Wind (when I wasn't being her alter ego, it was also Adora's horse Spirit). After all, there are very few horses to be found in the middle of Detroit, so I had to improvise. And I insisted on wearing my healed snow boots as I ran around pretending to raise my sword "for the honor of Grayskull." Ah, the innocent memories of childhood.

As parents we look forward to being able to share our childhood loves with our children. Growing up as a little girl with a stay-at-home mom, I became well versed in I Love Lucy reruns and I have memories of a family vacation when I was in high school during which we visited at least one of Laura Ingalls Wilder's childhood homes. I have determined that someday our children will learn to appreciate all six Star Wars films (although I do have my reservations about allowing them to watch the atrocity that is The Phantom Menace), many of the other films of my childhood, and my favorite books, such as Charlotte's Web and Bunnincula. Then last week my husband came home with a $1 DVD of the first season of She-Ra, and now our three-and-a-half year old daughter is hooked. She is just as enthralled as I was, nearly 30 years ago, by the heroine who was determined to save her friends from the evil Horde. I am watching a little-me in action. She runs around with a bumblebee on a stick which serves as her "sword," she acts out the action she has seen in one of the 10 episodes we have that seem to be on constant replay, and yesterday she informed me that when she grows up, she wants to be She-Ra with long yellow hair. Never mind that my daughter is a towhead, the real life version of a cartoon blond. Her hair isn't yellow and only that will do.

It's silly and delightful at the same time. I love that she has connected with something that I connected with when I was a couple years older than her. I love watching her imagination at play. She IS She-Ra once she stars running around with her bumblebee on a stick, and anyone who says that television is killing kids' imaginations hasn't seen my daughter at play. Sure I am concerned that any day now she is going to try to convince her friends at daycare to join her in games about which they are clueless, but if their parents are our age, it shouldn't take long to explain it to them. There are many joys to parenting, and it's moments like this that remind me that in 10 years, when she is screaming that she hates me as she slams her bedroom door shut in my face, I will have these small, sweet moments of connection with my little girl. These sweet memories put a smile on my face now, and I pray that when we hit our most difficult moments in the years to come, these memories will still remain so that I will remember the sweet little girl I fell in love with. In the meantime, remember that "We have the power, so can you."

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A New Year

It's been awhile, and I guess that my initial goal of one post a week was, as my husband likes to call it, a Sarantee (a guarantee made by yours truly in which I will try my hardest to accomplish something, but I allow something else to get in the way). In this case, it was the second half of a busy semester teaching, taking a class, and still trying to make much needed valuable time for my family as we moved into the holiday season. And there was a lot for me to write about. But here I am, putting off the pile of papers that I need to have completely graded by midnight on Sunday (grades are due Monday morning) so that I can finally sit down and write words that are for me. Not for a professor or comments for a student that will most likely be left unread, but a time for reflection on the last year and thoughts moving into 2013.

By all accounts, 2012 was a good year. I got a full time job that I love and now I pretty much have my dream teaching job, I am closer to finishing my Master's, we took take a family vacation to the Smokies with my extended family, the kids are growing and healthy, they are at a great daycare this year where they are learning and thriving, Jeff's job continues to go well, and I can safely say that overall, I'm finally getting to a happy place again. There were rough patches. We ran into several problems in a row with our Indy house, had to put off our house refinancing, and there is never enough time to get everything done. But overall, I think I can safely say that 2012 didn't suck. That doesn't mean that I don't want to make changes, some needed and some desired, but things are looking up.

I don't like to make true resolutions. I believe those are made to be broken. Instead, here are my goals (my Sarantees if you will) for 2013.
  1. I will strive to be a better wife and mother. I will be more patient with my children. I will put down the grading and homework to ensure that they get quality and quantity time with mommy. I will do my best to give my loving husband that monthly date night that he has asked for. In the words of Brad Paisley, I don't want to settle for good, not great. I love my husband, but I also know that after 11 years of marriage it is important for us to remember US before we had our two beautiful children. It has been a rough three years. A move I didn't want, financial struggles as we tried to figure out how to make it on one full-time salary with two house payments and the various problems we kept running into with both houses, another baby (and a ridiculously hormonal pregnancy it was), grad school and finally a new full-time job for me, and a struggle to find our place in a new city. Life is better, but it is only better because of my loving, supportive husband and two adorable children, and I need to be better about giving them my time and letting them know how much I love and appreciate them, because God has truly blessed me through them.
  2. I will work on my spiritual life. The move three years ago was hard for me for many reasons, but it was spiritually challenging for two reasons: 1) I had no idea what God's purpose could possibly be in having me move to Fort Wayne and 2) I had to leave the first church I had felt at home at since my family moved from Riverton, Wyoming when I was 16. In Indy we had a church that was truly home, a church where our closest friends were. In the years when we were struggling to get pregnant we had friends who were in the same place as us and supported us through our journey to become parents. Many of us were the same age and in the same place in our lives, which made our friendships all the more precious. In almost three years we have visited more churches than I care to count and spent year long stints at two. We are on our third, and I would like to say that we are done searching. It's just been a challenge to find a place where we could grow spiritually personally and as a family. Maybe I was being picky, but I don't think so. So for this year I would like to be done and finally involved in our church. To find a church family that will be as supportive as our last church family and to finally feel like this is our home more than this is just the place where we live.
  3. I will get to my pre-baby weight. And no, I'm not disclosing what that is. I've never been happy with my weight. I've always struggled with it, even though for years I was probably perfectly healthy But more than losing weight I want to be in good shape and feel good about myself while also being a good example for my beautiful little girl. I want her to know that it is important to stay active, but that she should also be happy with the looks that God gave her. For years I've cursed some of my inherited traits (wide hips, short, thick legs) but I will get into shape, eat better, and learn to love my post baby body. It just may take some time and the support of a husband who is also on a renewed health kick.
  4. I will continue to work to cultivate new friendships here, and I will be better about communicating with old friends. This is something that has always been hard for me. Growing up I was a great letter writer, but life has gotten in the way of that. Thankfully, Facebook has made communicating with old friends much easier, but I need to do better. More important, for my personal sanity and happiness I need to be better about getting out and cultivating new friendships. I've never been good at that, which might have been made worse by two major moves during important stages of my adolescence. I am a borderline introvert who prefers to have people come to me and invite me to join in as opposed to being the one to invite others to join me, but even with growing work friendships, there are times when I am lonely. My husband likes to remind me that we are all so busy with our little ones that we would probably not see our Indy friends as much as I think we would if we still lived there, but we need to develop those same close friendships that we had there, especially since we don't plan to leave here anytime soon.
  5. I really will try to blog once a week. It was my goal this summer, and it was easy to do over the summer vacation, but even with a writing class this semester (and what better way for me to finish my Master's degree in Rhetoric and Composition than with a writing class) I need to do writing that is only for me. Not for a professor and not for my students, but for me (and anyone else who feels the need to read this).
  6. We will finish the living room and at least one other major house project. Time is a factor here, but we will find the time to do it. It needs to be done. I would like to do the downstairs bathroom next, Jeff wants to do the Man Cave. We'll see who wins. And of course, blog posts will follow whichever one it is.
  7. We will pay off credit cards and pay for things with CASH. House refinance is in the works. Once that goes through, we will be on our way to accomplishing that goal. Maybe we'll even have a real savings account by the end of the year.
  8. And here is the life goal that I will work towards in 2013, but if I don't get it done this year, I will keep working towards it: I will get published. My professional goal is to get published in English Journal, and if that happens this year (which means more writing for me) that happens. If not, I will continue to work towards that until it happens, and then I'll do it again, and again.
So there it is. That's what I want to accomplish this year. We'll reexamine this at the end of December 2013. But before that, I need to finish my grading so I can work on my goal of being a rock star English teacher.