Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Why I like "Frozen" and Am Not Ashamed to Admit It

I like the movie Frozen.  There, I said it.  I'm not afraid to admit it and I will happily wander around town in my Olaf t-shirt, singing "let it go!" at the top of my lungs.  I know many of my contemporaries are so tired of the songs that they want to rip their hair out every time they hear a note.  The movie was just released on DVD yesterday and already their eyes are bleeding from the repeated viewings their children have made them sit through.

Countless hours have surely been spent by some parents combing through the aisles of Wal-Mart, Target, JCPenneys and the Disney store looking for the latest and greatest toy, and probably even more time hanging around on eBay, waiting to put in a last minute bid on that plush Olaf that everyone seems to want.  Disney seems to have dropped the ball big-time on the merchandising for this one, but we can talk about that later.  Today, it is about me.

Before we even saw the movie, (several weeks before it even came out in theaters) Olaf and Elsa moved into our house.  This is what happens when Daddy takes K to the mall because Mommy and B are at a Girl Scouts event and Daddy doesn't know what to do with K.  A trip to the mall almost always includes a walk through the Disney store and K convinced Daddy to buy her Olaf (the 12" plush version.)  Not wanting B to feel left out, K picked out the plush Elsa for her.  Over the next few weeks, we would hear from our girls how much they wanted to see the movie, every time a trailer came on the Disney channel or we saw a billboard or poster.

Seeing the movie late in November did not dampen the girls' ardor for the movie and I knew as they walked out signing the songs that we were in trouble.  The soundtrack quickly joined our collection and made its way to both Rob and my iPods and various books followed.  For Hanukkah and Christmas, Anna and Elsa dolls appeared, along with an Anna plush to match B's Elsa plush, and of course, the costumes.  I happened to track down the Else costume in B's size at JCPenney's before Hanukkah, along with Anna for K.

In the midst of all of this, the girls were (and still are) singing and smiling and engaged.  They know the words, they know the characters, and they love the story.

As a Mom, I love seeing this, but these are not the only reasons why I am drawn to this movie.  As a child, the Disney movies I was introduced to all included some type of damsel in distress.  That was the mold and model and there did not seem to be anything wrong with that.  (If it ain't broke, don't fix it.)  Forget Dreamworks or Sony or any other animation company.  They did not exist.  Disney was the only game in town at that time and they stuck with what worked.)

You've probably seen the video or pictures or articles that circulate on Facebook, giving the pared down version of the princesses and why we should not be so quick to glorify them.  It is funny and has more than a hint of truth, but this is more personal.  Much of what I saw as a child, was girls who had things that I did not - money, a big house, a pet tiger, beautiful dresses, a fairy godmother, the list goes on.  While I felt I had a certain kindred spirit in Cinderella, especially on those cold days when I was forced to trudge through several feet of snow to haul firewood, I never had a fairy godmother show up and shuffle me off to the ball in a pumpkin.

And the men.  Of course all of the Disney stories I grew up with had a prince, a rescuer, a guy to solve all of a girl's problems.  Although I probably knew somewhere in the back of my mind that I did not really need a man, I always wanted one.  A romantic at heart, those movies fed my need to have someone sweep me off my feet and take all of my cares away.  As a young girl, I doubt I identified with that part of the story as much, but it certainly laid a foundation for that high school girl that I grew into, looking for love in all the wrong places.  I had no idea of my own self worth and really had no concept of how a girl was supposed to function in life without a man by her side.  I think much of this was sub-conscious, but it was there nonetheless.  (It did not help that I lost my dad at 14, so really never had a guy's input into the whole "dating" thing as I got older.)

So what it is about Frozen that speaks to me?  One part is the sisters.  I have 2 and although we fought like cats and dogs sometimes (have I ever told you about the time Candy threw a potato at me?), we still have that bond, which has grown stronger (I think) as we've gotten older, despite living so far apart.  With B and K, I see that bond.  Yes, they fight like cats and dogs, but at the same time, B is very protective of K and K tries everything she can think of to be included in B's world.  I only hope that as they get older, they appreciate each other.

Beyond that, I love what the movie tells my girls.  It is o.k. for a girl to go out and try to save the day.  It is o.k. for the girl to tell the guy "no, it's o.k., I've got this.  You stay here and keep the home fires burning, I'm going to save the world."  I love that my girls have a strong example (besides me, of course), of a girl charging headlong into the fray and slaying dragons (or giant snow marshmallows.)  Because we know that at these ages (3 and 8), they aren't going to listen to a thing Mom says and would rather do what Disney tells them to do.  And as a reformed (not quite) choir geek, I love the music.  I love that my girls walked out of the theater singing the songs and that I find myself singing them even after the kids are out of the car.  I love that the music was good enough to make it seem like a large production and that they are already considering making it into a Broadway show.

So that's my reasoning, in a nutshell.  Just don't ask me how I feel about Disney's merchandising on this one and the efforts to locate more plush Olaf dolls.  (We keep ours hidden sometimes, because we don't trust the world not to try and steal it. He didn't get to go to Disneyland the last time either.)  Come and talk to me in a month or two, when our dvd copy is a little more worn out.  I might be singing a different tune at that point but for now, I still like the movie and I'm not afraid to admit it.

Monday, March 3, 2014

But I used the Backboard!

I wrote this a few months ago and for some reason never posted it.  The season I was writing about ended with us losing our first (or maybe second) playoff game.  The next season started after the first of the year and we are back in the thick of things, still shooting and still fighting with less-than-helpful backboards.

Two days ago I played in my Sunday league basketball game.  By some bit of chance (and a little bit of skill), we made it to the playoffs.  The team we were facing was familiar to us, we had played them several times before.  Depending on the make-up of our team on any given Sunday, we are sometimes tough and scrappy competitors who keep the score close (or win), and other times we are a hodge podge, barely 5 (and many times just 4 of us) who try to at least keep the score respectable.  On this particular day, we were 5 and we played scrappy. 

For those of you who might have seen me play once upon a time, you might recall that although I'm tall, I'm considered "slight" by some.  I have even been known to spend time as a shooting forward, rather than a true "center."  My college coach was convinced that I needed to "put some meat on those bones" and would send me to the weight room after practice to "bulk up."

These days, I'm the tallest on my team and sometimes the tallest on the court.  Depending on who we are playing, I can post up and get a few good moves to the basket.  Not so much for this game.  One of the opposing players is tall - taller than I am, and has a longer reach. Not many people can make me feel short, but she does. I'd guess that she's 6'4" or maybe even 6'5" (or maybe that's just my imagination.) There were a few times when I got position, boxed out and jumped. Only to come up empty handed. It's like they always say, "you can't teach height." 

Despite having an opposing player who was taller, I did manage to get the ball inside a few times (either on passes from my teammates or offensive rebounds.)  But my shots were just not falling.  The rims at the Burbank gym where we play are horrible.  There is no finesse to most shots, and sometimes I can only stare open-mouthed at some of the "junk" that falls.  It really is a crap shoot.   But I had to laugh (to myself) because several times, my teammates thought to offer me advice.  One of my favorites, "just gather yourself and go up strong."  Oh, if I only had a nickel for every time I've heard that one in my life.

There were several others, having to do with my height, or the ability to draw the fouls if I drove to the hoop, and I just smiled and nodded.  I could blame it on the hoop or the other team, but sometimes the shots just didn't fall (and sometimes they were just bad shots - off balance or just tossed up poorly.)  Despite my best efforts, my shots weren't falling.  Much to my frustration, I was using the backboard, as I was taught.  Grrrrrr.

I smiled a bit too though, because I remember hearing some of those very words from my high school coach and the assistants and sometimes even the older players.  Words that were drilled into my head starting in the 8th grade come floating back when I play these days.  And perhaps some of these words are more than just snippets for the court - perhaps some of them are life lessons?

My 7th grade hoops career was less than a blip on the radar screen.  I made the team (if you consider "making" the team being kept with 29 other girls) and managed to get on the Court for about 20 seconds at the end of a game, where I racked up 1 stat - a turnover.  I battled back in the 8th grade and made the team (of 8 or 9 girls), legitimately.  I'm not sure if it helped that I was "Trixie's little sister" (she was well on her way to becoming one of the few freshmen who played varsity), but I made the team. (I worked my butt off, too.) 

During one of our practices, our Coach, Mr. Root, said something that has stuck with me to this day.  "one dribble nowhere."   The next time you watch a game (high school, college, pros - any level), look for the "one dribble nowhere."  It's the player that gets a pass and immediately puts the ball on the floor, bouncing it once and picking it up.  They have now isolated themselves, taking away the ability to move on a dribble or effect any change in the play.  Their only option now is to shoot (if available), or pass.  But if they are out of their range, and have no one to pass to, they are stuck.  He coached us to avoid taking that "one dribble nowhere" and went so far as to suggest that we don't put the ball on the ground unless we know where we are going and are prepared to get there.

Once again, a basketball lesson that can be used in "real life."  How often to we take one bounce and pick up our dribble?  At work, with our kids - in our planning.  Do you take a step in one direction, but then stop? 

That favorite of my teammates recently, "go up strong" can also be used in real life.  How many times do we approach a situation and rush headlong into it, arms flailing about and hoping for the best?  Would we be better off if we paused for a moment, gathered all our strength and then made the shot?  Would it help?  Could it hurt?

Studies have been done to tell us that people who were athletes in high school or college tend to perform better in high stress situations and tend to excel at some positions where non-athletes might struggle. (Yes, someone, somewhere paid someone else money to figure that out.)   The part of those years that I find most helpful sometimes is that voice in my head, screaming the mantra of those long-ago days.  Usually, it is my high school hoops coach, who very rarely raised his voice, (if he got a technical from the bench, you knew something was going horribly wrong), his words still ringing in my ears some 22 years later.  The "Glory Days" are long gone, but the lessons learned on the hardwood can still apply today.  And I will still try to use the backboard, even if it has an odd bounce.