Scary Easter!

I’m just dropping in to wish you marvelous spring holidays, fresh starts, new beginnings, and maybe a few bubbles!

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Stop to smell the flowers…

 

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…and never stop chasing your dreams!

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Hope you find yourself blessed this Easter/Passover.

 

Feel free to stop by Scary Mommy’s place, where I’m extolling some of the (agonizing) virtues of marriage! And what better time than during a holiday weekend? Hope to see you there!

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Listen to Your Mother 2014! I’m In!

I am honored to announce that I will be part of the 2014 cast of Listen to Your Mother at the RISD Auditorium in Providence, Rhode Island on the evening of May 10, 2014.

If you’re not yet acquainted, the Listen to Your Mother Show is a stage show celebrating motherhood in all its forms, with live readings by their authors. The show has grown exponentially since its inception by founder and triple threat Ann Imig, currently taking place in 32 cities around the United States. Listen to Your Mother has garnered national attention by several news outlets, and only seems to be growing.

After auditioning last year and not having been chosen for the show, I was a little trepidatious to pursue it again, but this year’s auditions seemed to assail me from behind, leaving little time to think myself out of it. Most of my journey last year, I believe, was to carry out the actual audition. I teared up during my reading, as a release from all the emotion that led me to that room, where my work and physical body had finally become one.

The last time I stood on a lit, functioning stage was during Classical High School’s spring production of The Wiz (which was pretty excellent, if I do say so myself) my senior year, and the most recent occasion during which I stood in front of a group to teach, conduct a training, or run a group was 2009. My performances since, sadly, have been limited to a finicky audience of unruly toddlers.

Now here’s the meat of this message: I’m petrified.

Truth be told, out there in real life, I can be a bit of a firecracker - outspoken, boisterous, and funny. And though Stephanie-in-Real-Life can hold it down, and the teacher and trainer in me seem to skate right through, Stephanie the Performer has historically had the hardest time gittin’ er done.

So, I’m understandably nervous. And also rusty. But undoubtedly up for the challenge.

If you’re local (or will be), and would like to join us for what I presume will be an unforgettable evening (or at least to collect on that bet about my tripping across the stage), tickets are $18 each and available here.

I’m proud and honored to join the ranks of those who have come before me, and to be part of the ever-growing network of a production that has resonated with so many.

Look out for more updates (be sure to follow my Facebook page for special features, pictures, and videos), and hope to see you there!

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Dear Diary

April 8, 2014

 

Dear Diary:
Diary

Diary (Photo credit: Barnaby)

 

Today began with pouring rain! Not much exciting going on, though I was lucky enough to speak to two people on the phone.

Today has been all about crying. The four-year-old spent most of the morning manufacturing tears. And one of my twins just collapsed into a heap because I “didn’t say goodbye” before walking down the driveway to the mailbox. I worry about that kid.

After feeding the children and cleaning up, I fed them and cleaned up. Of note, I did find some dried tomato sauce on the patio door. I don’t know how long it’s been there. We haven’t had pasta in weeks.

I had a dream last night that I ate dinner in a dirty restaurant. What do you suppose that means?

I can’t believe it was already leg shaving day again! Made my shower go by so quickly!

After my shower, I changed from black pajama pants to blue sweatpants, my husband’s t-shirt, and rubber sandals. Feels so good to be dressed!!

No UPS guy, no FedEx guy, and no large packages today. Bummer. Though I did watch the neighbors pull in and out of their driveway twice.

I prayed to the sweet Angel of Death, but got no answer. I had to settle for Wreck-It Ralph instead.

Anyway, that’s pretty much it. I have to run because the hall bathroom smells like pee, and I haven’t figured out what to cook for dinner yet.

Tomorrow, I get to leave the house!!! Sooooo excited!!! And it’s almost Grocery Day, too! Wheeeeee!!!!

Alright! Gotta go! Later, girrrrl!  xoxoxoxo

 

Me

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Dear Internet: You’ve Lost Your Balance

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Can we talk, Internet? Just you and I? There’s something that’s been bothering me, and I really didn’t want to say anything, but, well, I’ve reached the point where I have no choice.

It’s about the diets. And the cleanses. And the Crossfit.

I know, I know. You don’t have a problem. Everything’s fine. Great, even. But just hear me out.

With every Paleo dish you post on Instagram, every kale smoothie you toast us, every perfectly-balanced, quinoa-rich bento box you pin, I tell you, I worry.

I worry about the way you tell yourself, and me, and your loved ones, that you’re absolutely not okay the way you are.

I read all your posts and articles about not passing your body issues down to your children. I know how hard you try not to insult yourself in front of your kids. I understand the turmoil within. How could I not? I’m a woman.

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Pomegranate close up (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I sat quietly as you blew through your spaghetti squash phase, your portabello mushroom phase, your pomegranate smoothie kick, and your brown rice jag, and though I applaud your diversity and willingness to try new foods, this isn’t really a way to live. These phases were all short-lived, quickly replaced by the next ‘superfoods’, the next fads. And why? Because man cannot live by gluten-free rice chips alone.

Every time I see (because you show me) these food choices, the concoctions, the smoothies, the detox plans, all I really see is your unrelenting pursuit to be someone else, or be a better you, or, honestly, I’m not sure who.

What message are you giving the world, when you continuously jump on and off bandwagons? Who are you, really, when well enough is never, well, well enough?

I heard a woman in line at the grocery store a few weeks ago, telling her mother that with their chosen diet, she could only have one teaspoon of olive oil per week, followed by a complicated set of instructions about other types of oil.

I also, on a different occasion, heard the female of a young couple telling her male counterpart that they couldn’t buy gluten because ‘gluten is bad’.

So, here’s what I’m thinking: I’m thinking we might be making some uninformed decisions here. I think we may just be following the crowd. I’m thinking we may have run slightly off the track.

Not only do I believe that partaking in fad health trends sets the wrong example for our children and families, but I also believe it’s not entirely healthy, and ultimately makes us more susceptible to other trends as they sprout up.

What message are we sending our kids if we partake in fitness plans that ultimately land us in the hospital? What message are we sending our kids when we eliminate entire food groups from our lives? What message, then, are we sending the world about our choices?

This is the message I receive: I’m out of balance. I’m easily influenced. I make decisions without fully incorporating evidence.

Now, don’t get me wrong: If you take up a hobby or sport, have a food allergy, go green or organic, or add more fruit and vegetables to your diet, I’m not talking to you. If you’re damn near killing yourself with exercise, eating foods that end only in the letter ‘p’, and fully documenting that journey, I will reiterate: I’m concerned.

Showing your family that you’re whole and healthy would mean you demonstrate that by making choices that are whole and healthy.

And please know that these fads will fade, and new will rise up, and we know that the Greek yogurt folks became the kale folks, who will someday become the kelp folks, who will ultimately become the shiitake mushroom folks.

It’s all about balance. Work on finding it on the inside, and it will be much easier to demonstrate it on the outside.

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The Smartest Kids in the World: The Smartest Book on Education You Can Read

9781451654424It takes no expert to prove the education system in the United States is broken. Our children consistently graduate high school lacking the skills to keep America competitive in the world market. We’ve slipped in education, respect, and overall mission as a country. Author Amanda Ripley set off on an unprecedented journey to find out why.

Using an aggregate of data, the experiences of high school exchange students, and observation of some of the top-rated countries in the world, the answers became painfully visible.

The book followed three high school students throughout their journeys in top academically-performing countries, Tom, from Pennsylvania to Poland, Kim, from Oklahoma, who traveled to Finland, and Eric from Minnesota, who studied in South Korea.

The differences between the education system in any one of these countries and the US was stark. Most glaring was the countries’ insistence on academic rigor and resilience, rather than placating students and/or parents. Much less emphasis was placed on students’ self-esteem, because it essentially did not translate to increased success as a student or a member of society.

Poland, which overcame significant adversity to become one of the world’s education superpowers, offers a model that neither coddles students nor gives up on them. Finland chooses, educates, and pays its teachers equivalent to highly prestigious careers in the US, and South Korea’s almost unfailing (and anxiety-producing) culture (right or wrong) keeps the focus on education.

This book essentially blows all of our preconceptions about education and success in America out of the water, and almost mocks our emphasis on sports and technology, as neither have been found to positively contribute to learning. In standardized tests administered across the globe, the United States consistently underperforms.

The hypotheses that income, race, or spending per child are positive correlates to learning was proven false, as well as the idea that private education in America is superior to a public one.

Additionally, individuals who choose, or are funneled into, education programs in college are rarely academic top performers. Couple that with America’s dogged insistence on sports and extracurricular activities, and the fact that America’s teachers are woefully underpaid, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for disaster.

This book is eye-opening and should be spark for discussion in any school district. At the very least, this book should be used as a stick of dynamite at the base of this country’s most stolid bureaucracies. For our childrens’ sake.

I will leave you with a quote from  the book that referred to a high school in a western state that had just performed worse than students in 23 countries in math, yet was rated ‘A’ by its home state :

The parents at that school may never know about these results, but the students will find out, one way or another. If not as freshmen in college, when they are placed in remedial math or struggle to follow a basic physics lecture, then in the workforce, when they misinterpret a graph at the bank where they work or miscalculate a drug dosage at a hospital nursing station. This revelation – that they lack tools that have become essential in the modern economy – will in all likelihood arrive privately, a kind of sinking shame that they cannot entirely explain. They may experience it as a personal failing, though I hope they don’t.

I hope they experience it as an outrage instead. Maybe, unlike generations before them, these young Americans will decide that their own children, like children in Finland, deserve to be taught by the best-educated, best-trained professionals in the world. They might realize that if Korean kids can learn to fail and try again before leaving high school, so can their kids. Perhaps they will conclude that Poland is not the only place where change is possible.

 

This book is a must-read for anyone with ties to the education system in America, and that’s all of us. Pick up your copy (or e-copy) at Amazon or Barnes and Noble today.

Learn more about Amanda Ripley and The Smartest Kids in the World at her website and follow her on Twitter.

Please click here to watch a trailer of the book featuring the three exchange students whose journeys were chronicled in the book.

 

Want to win a copy? I am giving away three copies! Please enter using the Giveaway tab by March 31, 2014 at 12:00am ET at the Momma Be Thy Name Facebook page. Entry requires leaving a comment discussing the biggest weakness you see in the US education system. Feel free to leave that comment now! Visit the page for two extra entries!

 

I was provided a copy of The Smartest Kids in the World by Simon & Schuster in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed herein are my own. Please contact me at mommabethyname@gmail.com for further information or questions.

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