Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy 40th Birthday, Sesame Street!

Sesame Street turns 40 today. And I can only hope that, someday, any of my 40 years (and counting) on this planet will have been able to touch even one person as deeply as Sesame Street has touched me and our kids and so many countless others in its first 40 years (and counting) on this planet.

I remember watching Sesame Street when I was growing up, and it influenced much in my life. (In fact, Kermit the Frog is singularly responsible for the beginning of my lifelong love for and collection of frogs.) But Sesame Street had never entwined itself fully around my heart until the many days I spent watching it with both of my kiddos when they were teeny little things.

I remember Lovely Girl sitting spellbound whenever she heard or saw someone sing, I'd Like to Visit the Moon. Her toddler self shortened that title to "Moon Song." And she loved the "Moon Song" from the moment she heard it on Sesame Street. That first night, at bedtime, after we cuddled together in the rocking chair to read some of her favorite books, she snuggled down further in my lap and, with thumb firmly planted in her mouth, she demanded, "Moon Song!"

Talk about mild panic. It took some digging - and some major frustration on Lovely Girl's part - but I finally managed to figure out what she was talking about, and to remember the chorus, and that seemed to satisfy her. But when she asked for it again the next night, and the next, and the next, I realized I had better learn all the words to that song.

So I did. I went online, and I searched and searched until I found the entire lyrics. Then I printed them out, and I practiced. (Mind you, I am not a fantastic singer, nor am I a born performer, and I would not sing for you now if you paid me. But there is nothing I would not do for my kiddos.) By bedtime that night, I was ready, and I sang the "Moon Song" for her, and she wiggled contentedly until she found just the right spot to settle in. Then as soon as I finished singing, she asked for it again. And again. Over and over we did this, and each time her request was just a bit sleepier than the last, until finally her breathing deepened, and her head drooped, and her wrinkled thumb quietly slipped from her mouth. The "Moon Song" remained Lovely Girl's bedtime staple for years after that, and was the only song anyone could sing that would calm her down when she was upset.

Then along came Handsome Boy. And whatever Lovely Girl did, Handsome Boy wanted to do too, including watching Sesame Street. Though he was a busy little guy who would frequently wander away during the show to play with his toys, I remember the lightning speed he summoned as he barreled back to the TV whenever he heard the first strains of Elmo's World warble out of the speakers. Then he would plop down right in front of the TV (and I mean right in front - I was always scootching his little self back to a more respectable viewing distance), with his eyes glued to the screen. He would throw his head back and sing, "La-LA, la-LA! La-LA, la-LA! ELmo's WORRRRRLD," at the top of his tiny lungs. Not one to ever sit still for long, throughout that whole segment he would laugh and sing and dance and grab my face and point it back at the screen if I ever looked away, to be sure I saw it, too.

Learning from Lovely Girl's frustration at my lack of lyric knowledge, I paid better attention this time, and learned all the words to Elmo's World - straight from the Muppet's mouth. And just like Lovely Girl's "Moon Song," singing Elmo's World was not relegated merely to whenever we watched Sesame Street. Though it was not Handsome Boy's bedtime song of choice (that honor was reserved for Dumbo's Baby Mine), we did sing Elmo's World practically everywhere else. Loudly. We sang Elmo's World in the car. We sang Elmo's World while playing outside. We sang Elmo's World in the grocery store. We sang Elmo's World at the doctor's office. We even sang Elmo's World at the library - all the while studiously avoiding the rather annoyed gazes of the library's other patrons.

I will never forget those times with my kiddos as long as I live.

From Frogs to Moons to Furry Red Monsters...

...thank you, Sesame Street.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Will All Kitchen-Challenged Gents Kindly Step Up to the Stove?

Gentlemen, tomorrow is your chance to command the kitchen counters, master the mashed potatoes, and prevail over the pâté. Why? Because the first Thursday in November is National Men Make Dinner Day.

Those of you peered at my Little-Known Holiday sidebar last week probably saw this listed as November 1st. But that was for 2007. (Oops.) The first Thursday in November of 2009 is the 5th. Seriously. But if you celebrated a few days ago, all is not lost. Call it a trial run. And if you saw it too late and thought you missed it...serendipity! Who says there are no second chances?

Wondering whether you qualify?
According to the National Men Make Dinner Day website (yes, there's a website):

"The ideal participant in 'National Men Make Dinner Day' is the man who: helps with household chores; has a sense of humour and is a great all-around guy; loves his wife/girlfriend, kids and pets...BUT NEVER LEARNED HOW TO COOK, and is somewhat afraid of the idea."

Notice it says "the ideal participant," and not "the exclusive participant." As the wife of a man who happens to cook often and well (with an occasional flair for the experimental), might I suggest that those of you who share my husband's More or Less Mastery of Mealtime consider joining the fun, too? After all, one does want to retain one's Sharp Knife in the Drawer kitchen status...

The goal for the day?

"One guaranteed meal cooked by the man of the house one day of the year."

No Experience? No Worries!
The National Men Make Dinner Day website is full of just what you need to make your turn in the kitchen a magnificent culinary success. In addition to a very guy-centric Top Ten list on the main page to motivate you to participate in the day, you'll also find:
  • Easy-to-prepare yet mouthwatering recipes to get you from appetizers all the way through dessert.
  • A list of NoNo foods you cannot use. (Sorry guys - weenies and wings just won't cut it this time.)
  • A smattering of Frequently Asked Questions, useful for both the chefs and their victims diners.
  • A link to contact the day's founder (but just to ask for interviews, not to beg for help)
  • A handy dandy glossary for those who don't know marzipan from a saucepan.
  • And of course, rules. Oh, yes. There are rules. Twelve of 'em. For a challenge as momentous as National Men Make Dinner Day, you can't just throw a hot dog on a plate and call it dinner. There must be appropriate preparatory shopping, proper recipe use, efficient preparation technique, acceptable kitchen decorum, correct table setting, and even pleasant ambience. (And no, bodily noises do not count as ambience. You should have used those back on Bean Day.)
And now, with the first Thursday of November nearly upon us, there's only one thing left to say:

Gentlemen, start your ovens!

(And diners, you may want to may want to steel your stomachs, just in case...)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Musical Fruit and Overused(?) Phrases...Sharing The Spotlight

Little-Known Holidays are so fun to write about. And when those holidays play right into my own Slightly Warped Sense of Humor, they're even more fun to write about.

Case in point: Did you know that today, November 3, is Bean Day? Even if you have a Fairly Mainstream Sense of Humor, beans make you think of, well...flatulence. (I love it when I can find a way to use that word in everyday conversation.)

Today is also Cliché Day. But I'm not gonna write about clichés, because Zebee and the gang over at Zooprise Party/Fiesta Zoorpresa already covered Cliché Day quite well.

What I am gonna do is quote Ms Martha Brockenbrough, from her Encarta article*, In Defense of the Cliché, where she starts right off with this fabulous bit of wisdom:

"Clichés are a bit like flatulence. Figuratively speaking, they can clear a room."

Ms Brockenbrough goes on to (briefly) discuss a bit more about the gaseous Bean Day by-product: quoting Hippocrates' thoughts on this frequently foul bodily emission, as well as mentioning The Fartiste, Joseph Pujol, who learned to use controlled airy expulsions from his backside to entertain surprisingly appreciative crowds at the Moulin Rouge in his day. To be fair, though the beginning of the article seamlessly weaves words and wind (to my eternal delight), the rest of the article is largely about cliches and their use and origins, and it is an enjoyable and enlightening read.

Clichés and flatulence. Words and toots. Who knew you could put those two together?

Yep. It's a Holiday Two-Fer. And in a nod to that upcoming well-known American holiday of Thanksgiving, my Slightly Warped Sense of Humor is very thankful!


*Note: You'll have to trust me, I guess, on how fabulous Ms Brockenbrough's article was, because from the time I posted this originally, and two and a half hours later, the article is gone, and now all you see is an error message that says, "The MSN Encarta page you are trying to visit has been discontinued." Rats!