Saturday, April 18, 2015

Mad Men Recap - New Business



Since I was out of town this week I'm woefully behind in giving my little Mad Men updates. I should almost rewatch last week's episode to have a better handle on it, it was a very tightly written episode and after some discussion with Kathryn this episode was saying a lot about Don. Let's hop to it.



This episode entitled "New Business" centres around whether or not Don is ready for new business in his personal life or whether he's going to continue to spin on the merry-go-round of misery he's been on for so long. This episode also has great hints and insights towards psychology -- the jumping off point being Betty's declaration that she's pursuing a masters degree in psychology come fall, because people just love talking to her! All of her visits to the psychologists offices from the first couple of seasons have pushed her into that direction it would seem. Unfortunately, her interest in psychology has failed her in her relationships with Don and her children time and time again, but maybe for Betty this is a case of "If you can't do - teach"?

Either way this hinting at psychology has us looking at Don's actions in this episode and especially his actions towards both Diana and Megan. (As Kathryn pointed out to me!) With one woman he's seeing a reflection of his own attitudes and underlying psychology with how he deals with life, with another woman he's come to the conclusion that the only way he can make up for past marital failings is a million dollar cheque.

As the episode continues Don further pursues Diana, she comes to his apartment, they sleep together again and we begin to hear part of her story. Diana is still giving off that Rachel vibe, and this episode cements the idea of Diana as another Rachel in Don's life. She's left her family in Racine, Wisconsin and as we find out, a daughter who died two years previous. Diana is grieving, looking to start again in New York, but cannot rid herself of her past and now the added shame of leaving her other daughter at home as well. This is eerily similar to Don. Don also ran away from his previous life, he sought out a new identity, and has plunged himself into the self-destructive cycle of searching for love and comfort in sex.




What I saw within this interaction with Diana, and especially as she pushes him away saying she doesn't want anything from Don, is a glimmer of Don realizing that the cycle of searching for comfort and love in random sexual encounters has not given him the intimacy and love that he has been continually searching for his whole life.

In Diana we also see that she's lost her family, her children; through death and in leaving her leaving home. Don has lost his home, twice over now, but his children are still here - will this be the revelation to him that this is where he will find the real love he has been seeking? I found the scene with Don making milkshakes with Bobby and Gene so sweet, yet so painful as he longingly looks at Betty and Francis carrying on as a normal family as he goes to leave. Real family is still within his grasp in his relationship with his children.

As Don is trying to begin again as he claims with Diana, he is also wrapping up the divorce to Megan. I found this storyline with Megan to be the final unmasking of Megan as someone completely opposite of Betty as she has been set up through the past seasons. Megan's career has tanked, she's out of money and dependent on Don financially (I think most of her money must be going to her fake hair!), yet she views their marriage breakdown as something completely Don's fault. Megan's own selfish choices were present at every step of their marriage, which makes their marriage breakdown worse in a way than Betty and Don's marriage. Betty didn't have as many choices and opportunities to pursue her own interests and passions, Betty didn't know the truth about Don from the beginning. Megan has always been very similar to Betty; dependent on Don, yet completely self-serving in their marriage. In her interactions with her mother Megan reveals that she's completely altered her view of her own marriage to conform with outside presumptions of what must surely have happened, which is very similar to Betty's past stubborn ideas regarding Don.

I thought Megan's mom Marie and her clearing out the apartment after Megan left to be hilarious. Although her own attitudes about marriage are obviously very toxic and she's now run out on her children and husband as well by the end of the episode.



What was also interesting about the divorce was the ways in which Roger and Pete talk to Don about it. Roger of course is still dismissive of his past experiences with divorce, claiming that Jane gave up nothing to be married to him and only reaped financial rewards. Pete however is showing a little more insight into his experience with divorce, alluding to the false idea that divorce promises a whole new life when really he's only found "new beginnings" and not a new life since his divorce. Pete's few scenes in these two episodes have been so great, the writing has been impeccable and Pete still figures large within the Mad Men world with only a few important lines.

Meanwhile Peggy and Stan are creating a photo shoot with Pima, a photographer who is known as an "artist" instead of the usual photographers who work in advertising. This storyline is interesting in what becomes a sexual power play as Pima seduces Stan in the dark room, then makes a pass at Peggy. Pima obviously isn't just an "artist" but is someone who is willing to use sex for power and gain in business. It's especially jarring as Peggy instantly recognizes this, but Stan falls hook, line, and sinker. It's a switch up from the usual seduction of women in the workplace that's been with Mad Men since the beginning, and speaks to how far Peggy has come to instantly realize it as such instead of part of normal business practice. I also like how it speaks to the myth that art is simply art or somehow different than the art that is necessary for advertising. It's an interesting comment on how there is no black and white in the business or art world but that they mess much more fluidly than both sides would admit.




I better stop here, but I'd love to hear what you all thought of the Megan fall-out and Diana's rise in importance. I also could have gone into the amazing elevator scene with Don and Diana and Arnold and Sylvia -- it was again a meticulously written scene full of tension and parallels between Don's past encounters and what's currently happening. I really loved it!




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Friday, April 17, 2015

Seven Quick Takes vol. 117 - Road trip!



Joining Kelly and the gang for Friday frivolity!


{one}



Well, this week flew by as we took a little trip to Calgary for a few days. As a testament to how little I leave the house, this was a big deal! Since my husband was taking a week-long course for work there, he thought instead of me languishing, suffering, whining, moaning, at home by myself slowing being taken over by tiny humans who only want to impose there individual wills upon me, that we all go down for a couple of the days. Which in theory sounds fine. It just required some pre-planning, two hotel rooms, and an ample supply of courage for me who had to travel in the car alone with all the kids for about six hours both ways.



{two}



We visited dear friends, enjoyed the fine dining experience that is the continental breakfast with small kids, and partook of city extravagances like ordering pizza directly to the hotel room. It was really great seeing friends I don't get to see nearly enough, and the kids had a great time as we hit up the big science centre and let them go crazy at the hotel pool with waterslide. 



{three}



Since the husband was in his course during the day I handled everything with the kids including breakfast solo. The first morning at breakfast there were chuckles from the whole room as Nora yelled at me for "MO MILK, MOMMEEE!" I brought the little dictator her desired beverage only to find her scooping jam out of the tiny packages with her fingers and promptly applying said jam to every surface within a fifteen square foot area. It was like free breakfast entertainment for the whole hotel!

That night one of my offspring, whom I feel I should protect by not giving his name, ended up puking in the hotel pool. He was swallowing water and well...let's just say our embarrassment was slightly lessened by the fact we were the only ones in the pool...but it's looking like it'll be a family tale told every time we stay at a hotel.

The following morning we journeyed back to the continental breakfast room, but I was half way down the hall from our room when I heard four of my five children yell from the elevator, "Oh no - the door's CLOSING!" By the time Nora and I got to the elevator I could hear them all freaking out and yelling at each other as they descended sans-parent to the lobby. Of course I had to wait about half an hour for the other elevator, and by the time I got down to the lobby they were gone, so I figured they went back up to our room's floor and by the time the elevator slowly opened for me on the second floor I saw four slightly panicked faces hoping really badly it was me in that elevator. Just me and my superb parenting...



{four}



I even made it through the drive home Wednesday, although I felt as if I were run over by a truck by the time we got back at the wee hour of 6 pm. I felt like I was in a nerves of steel contest which made the whole trip home feel as if it were at least 12 hours worth of driving. I swear. I'm not winning any ironman-traveling-with-kids awards, and I'm probably good to not leave the house again until...July. 




{five}



I hope everyone's gotten a chance to listen to the Fountains of Carrots Podcast episode from this week because it's all about my favourite G.K. Chesterton! I think we had a really fun conversation with Michael Lichens about Chesterton without getting too pedantic. The only problem with Chesterton is that his career and writings cover so much that it's hard to cram it all into just one podcast! But we tried!  



{six}



I'm really excited to share that I've contributed to an upcoming book that will be released next month!  It's a book complied by the lovely Michele of My Domestic Monastery and she's brought together some really wonderful writers and mothers to talk about the mysteries of the rosary from a mother's perspective. From what little I've read it's going to be excellent, and I just hope that my contribution isn't bringing the whole thing down. It'll be available in May, and I'll let you know the details when it's released! 



{seven}

I feel as if April is really flying by quickly. We've been lucky to not have any April snowstorms this week or last, and I'm feeling like I can aaallmost pack up the kid's snow clothes. Almost. I'm not going to start packing things up and go and jinx everything now! Or, much more likely, I'm not that organized! But I will feel gloriously lighter when I have those mounds of clothes packed up for a few months and the non-sight of snow boots will not be taken for granted. 

Hope you all have a lovely spring weekend!




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Monday, April 13, 2015

When Easter Feels Harder Than Lent






There is so much talk about Lent. Offering things up, focusing on penance and fasting bringing us closer to God, embracing the difficult alongside Christ's suffering on the cross. And all that talk of Lent is good! As a mom of young kids it's great and hopeful to hear that my small insignificant discomforts, sacrifices, or difficulties are redeemed when offered alongside Jesus. It gives all the miserable and difficult things in daily life with small people a dignity and light that I usually ignore altogether. But what about Easter? It's not just a one day event, it's given 50 days of celebration and observance by the Church each and every year because it is the thing that matters. But what happens when our days don't look like Easter?

I didn't give up anything extreme or take up a rigorous spiritual discipline this Lent. I talked it over with my spiritual director and concluded that I was barely getting through the daily grind of 5 small people in my care, the need to take on more to embrace suffering seemed superfluous at best, and unfair to everyone else at worst. I was supposed to focus more one the little everyday things: like looking to stop snapping at the fiftieth request for water during a 15 minute period, or gracefully living through the meal-time tantrums, or having patience when no one could find their shoes or zip up jackets when we were supposed to be out the door ten minutes ago. As moms we don't have to go to look for sackcloth and ashes because there's always a rogue virus or another ear infection to require constant, unrelenting attention and compassion and unknown hours of lost sleep and the incurring exhaustion. There's not a lot more self-mortifying than dealing with diaper disasters, or the umpteenth bathroom "accident" in your normal day. Lent happens all the time around us in our own homes, provided by our own offspring.

But what happens after Easter Sunday? We're supposed to embrace our new life, rejoice in Christ's triumph over sin, see renewal in our souls and our lives. And yet...our days look identical to Lent. We still deal with, day in and day out, the same small annoyances, the same challenges to embrace love when it's difficult, the same bathroom messes.

I'm trying to find Easter renewal as a mom. But the weariness of the constant life as mom has no room for renewal. There are no "days off" or even time off the mounting laundry or the three meals a day that are always needed. Renewal and new life seem to mean something drastic and changing, or at least some kind of visible change from the days of fasting and penance, don't they? Tell that to the mom who still has sick kids, still wakes up three times a night to nurse her baby, still gets up everyday to face the whining and tantrums.

I believe in Easter. I believe in the miraculous and astounding fact of the Resurrection. I know that this Resurrection and promise of new life completely transforms. I know the miracle of new life as I've held my newborn baby and felt my breath taken away. New life is staggering and marvellous. It changes things.

But that's why Easter is so hard when our outward situation, our outward circumstances have no reflection of our spiritual reality of our liturgical year. We've got to admit it's not even just us moms who have it rough, it's the human condition. It's so much easier for us to see the difficult and sufferings rather than the joys and triumphs.

But we're an Easter people, we all have to figure out how to live the joy of the Resurrection. I don't know how to do that right now to be honest. I'm not sure how I change what I've been seeing for all of Lent (and all my life) as annoyances, frustrations, and sufferings to things that should be taken with joy. I'm not saying that an attitude will change how hard and downright crumby all those things can be. But I do want to find renewal, somehow even in the midst of all this...mothering that never ceases. It might take me more years, my whole mothering career, my whole life. This is one of the reasons why the Church celebrates Easter every single year for 50 days. It takes practice for all of us.






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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Easter, Smeaster




I'm trying hard to get back in the mommy blogger saddle, so I might as well get things off to a bang with massive amounts of photographic evidence of our Easter! Does Easter always go by for you in a pastel hued blur? I feel as if I blink and it's over, but only after a lot of hours worth of forethought and effort put in by myself, of course.




Dying eggs was not Nora's jam...at all.



















Holy Week didn't go off as I'd hoped of course. I feel as if I should just give up the idea of ever getting to every Triduum liturgy until all my kids are out of the house and/or I move. We only had Easter Vigil in our home parish, the other services being about 45 minutes away. But it turned out I couldn't even load myself into a vehicle because last Tuesday I came down with this nasty cold that by Friday I couldn't even get out of bed with. I should have offered up my sufferings, but naturally I threw myself a giant pity party and was just so angry that I had to so sick on the days that I wanted to be healthy or at least attempting to get to places. It felt so anticlimactic after 40 long days of Lent to get hit with another sad bout of sickness on the holiest days of the year.




I figured I had to dress them alike one time in their lives. And I thought it should be sooner rather than later because I don't have long until the boys are going to be bigger than me!




Does every family picture dissolve into multiple children picking their noses? Because it really, really feels like it does.


But with the help of an unknown combination and quantity of cold medication I made it to Easter Vigil. With all the kids.

Don't nominate us for sainthood just yet, because it was our only Easter option and I had already committed myself to doing the music...so the husband got to put up with five kids for two hours far after everyone should have been in bed. They all did pretty well though, we didn't have to take anyone out and only dealt with a couple dozen meltdowns, tantrums, fights, crying episodes. Nora was in full party mode by the end of Mass and walked out with some strangers. We found her...she didn't get too far.








Sunday turned out to be nice and relaxed although the weather was typically horribly cold. My green Easter dream has yet to come true. One year tropical climate...I'll come for Easter! The kids had Easter baskets with books and a few small treats, then an indoor egg hunt, then a frigid outdoor egg hunt in the afternoon because we're Canadian and no weather is going to stop an egg hunt, dammit!





Thankfully I didn't have to worry about any food because we just schlepped a couple steps down the road to my parent's house and everything was taken care of. And yet...I was still pretty exhausted and relished putting the exhausted Easter kids to bed early Sunday night, cracking open some Reese eggs and Riesling (just kidding I never drink white wine by myself!), soak up Mad Men and go to bed by 10:00.

Here's to 50 days of living the Easter season - Alleluia!




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Monday, April 6, 2015

Mad Men's Back!





Oh, I love Mad Men. I can't describe how it's impending ending makes me feel. I'm definitely overly attached. But I thought I'd just leave some thoughts here because what are blogs for, amiright? I wish I could say I have all the answers or understand all the underlying themes and ideas, but I don't have the time of a film student in a master's program, nor the weird mind of Matthew Weiner himself. But I do love talking about it, and warning for spoilers ahead!



Hitting the road running in this episode we're back with philandering Don, splashy swingin' 60's dresses, and Roger's hilarious moustache. The foreshadowing is also strong in this episode as Don dreams about Rachael - Rachael from the first season!! I had to hit pause to scream that Rachael was back just like all the conspiracy theorists had warned. She's modelling fur coats, and leave's with the ever so ominous "I'm supposed to tell you you missed your flight."

The next day Don wants to get in touch with her under the auspices of selling cheap department store pantyhose and dear ditzy Meredith has to break the bad news that she had just died last week. Ominous!! Foreboding!! Death!! Is this the warning that Don's death is approaching?? I can't help but feel that the ultimate ending of this series has to end with his death/possible redemption. It's been headed in that direction since the beginning, but how will it happen and what will it mean is what's killing all of us right now. Will Don figure out what is important in life? What real love is?? I know...we just have six more episodes to go...



On to Ken. I've always loved, loved, loved Ken. He's been my one of my favourites from the very beginning and the seasons where his character is largely ignored alway pain me. In this episode his father in law from Dow is retiring, his wife is imploring him to quit the job he hates and finally write his sad, sweet novel, while Roger is giving him the axe because McCann hates him. I was so routing for his introspective moment in the telephone booth to come to fruition, that he'd leave the torrid world of advertising with a clean break, but in the final scene he ever so perfectly shows up to announce how he's screwing Roger and Pete by becoming head of advertising for Dow. Fairly awesome, but the novel!!

Pete wasn't a major figure in this episode, but the lines he did have were so perfectly Pete that I watched them and laughed with relish. Poor Pete and his apartment building.



Peggy and Joan and their parallel yet disparate rise in the business has always been one of the best story lines of the show and last night's episode played it up perfectly. Peggy and Joan endure a torturous meeting with some McCann asses who say some truly reprehensible things to Joan. I thought she was going to leap across the boardroom table and rip them all new ones, but she makes it through the meeting only to say to Peggy in a perfect elevator scene that she wants to burn the place down. Peggy tries to commiserate but can't help but say what she really thinks: that Joan can't have it both ways. She can't rise in the business because she's a beautiful woman, become a partner and recently extremely wealthy, while not putting up with the catcalls of the piggish men they work with. Peggy also goes on to remind Joan that she's now filthy rich because of the recent takeover, and she doesn't have to do anything now. But it's also fairly obvious that Joan is frustrated and disappointed that her job title and wealth don't even affect the way men treat her, even these things she's long aspired towards don't get her the respect that she deserves.

It's always interesting to see how although Peggy and Joan should be on the same side because they're both extremely smart women, they face the sexist working world in completely different ways. Although Joan is an office and advertising genius, would she have been so valued by the partners if she wasn't beautiful? Would she have had to crawl up the ladder the same as Peggy? Would Peggy have become a wunderkind a la Megan if she had been more curvy? It's another reminder that the world is unfair in a myriad of ways.

And then goes Joan goes shopping. And it was awesome. I hope she's going to use those new boots to walk all over someone in an upcoming episode!

We also got to see Peggy go out on a really weird date. But I have to say that I was so cheered by the fact that Peggy stopped the date when she did. Maybe her smarts about men are finally coming to fruition. Maybe she's finally getting it! Maybe this is a foreshadowing of her happy ending!! (Maybe I'm deluding myself?)

Can someone remind me if Ted Chaugh got divorced while he was in California? He seemed really eager for that Vogue party and those rising hemlines! His moustache was also amazing.

I don't really want to get into the weird waitress situation. I have a feeling that it was yet another weird prophetess sexual encounter for Don. I would really love to read someone flesh out the idea that Don comes to personal realizations through women and some kind of sexual encounter. I'm sure this has to do with his past and his mother, but it's an idea that I'd like to see completely fleshed out in a linear way so I could wrap my head around it a little better. Because it's been seven seasons and it's still really weird.

Other than that I thought it was an almost perfect episode. Crisp, spot-on writing that moved quickly through the office. There is of course much to find out about all those we didn't see in the episode, and Don's empty sad apartment which I'm sure was symbolic of his inner life.

My baby's almost up from her nap, I'm leaving now.







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Friday, March 13, 2015

Seven Quick Takes vol. 116



Clicking with Kelly today for some seven randoms - because what are Fridays for?


{one}



Hello my long lost readers! I feel as if I haven't had any time to think let alone write anything of worth lately because I was dealing with a pox upon my house. We had a weird illness: fevers, coughing, not quite the flu but sufficient to knock everyone out to a whining lethargy, which went on to transform into the bacterial friend of all parents, ear infections. It went through every kid, each one dropping the next day and it almost killed me. I know, I'm being super dramatic but almost two weeks of baby lying on me, too much Netflix, constant needs needing to be attended, and only getting out of the house to go to the doctors was rough. The kids have been better since Monday, of course that was when I went down with sinus headaches for a couple days, but now I think we're in recovery and trying to get back on track!




{two}



It's been over a year and a half since every kid was seriously sick at the same time in our house. Which I think it ridiculously good. But by being really healthy, my kids have had no practice in creating a patient sick-kid mom. So they have to deal with me who pretty much loses patience after two days of lying around. I think I actually did fairly well, but in my head I couldn't stop being tired of having so much sickness in everyone. But we survived? Maybe it was a Lent thing...maybe I grew in holiness somehow? Let's hope so!




{three}



Does anyone else ever experience this weird feeling after all the kids are finally healthy again and feel like you have to re-learn how to make plans and live a normal life? I swear all week I went around double checking myself before making plans for the upcoming weekend, "Can we go swimming next Sunday? Oh, I guess we can...we're not sick anymore...." It felt so strange and bizarre. It was as if when we were all sick I couldn't imagine a time where we wouldn't be sick and able to get out of the house! 

More evidence I'm losing my mind. I get it.





{four}




Other than the sickness and surviving I feel like I have no news. It's like I've been in a bunker. A bunker full of germ makers. While rocking sick kids to sleep I watched more Friday Night Lights - I just want a Southern accent! And I watched a couple episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt which I thought was a cute show, although I haven't been laughing out loud a la 30 Rock yet, but I'm willing to give it more time. 




{five}

Does endless winter make anyone else shop for outrageously priced handbags online? Because I think it's becoming my new hobby. 

Tory Burch, $660.80 CAD

Michael Kors. $531.00

Kate Spade, $298 USD


Le sigh. A bag for the price of half a mortgage payment....





{six}



Dom lost one of his front teeth last week and I swear it gives me physical pains. It just seems impossible that my baby has lost a tooth. Yes, this has happened already, but no, I can't get over the shock it makes me feel. But he's sporting a sweet grin and has developed a bit of a lisp that is really adorable when he starts talking fast. Like when he and Luke rushed over to me yesterday telling me they discovered...MUD!!




{seven}



We had a great time talking to Karen Edmisten this week on the podcast. If you haven't had a chance to listen I really think you'll enjoy it, we talk about just about everything and Karen is such a down to earth but inspiring person. 

Hope you all have a great weekend - if it's above freezing rejoice! 








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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

5 Fave St. Patrick's Day Books for the Littles




I always am woefully lacking in appropriate holiday-ness, but this year I actually have some fun St. Patricks's Day books for the kids and we might even get things together to do something green and Irish next Tuesday! Everyone cross your fingers for me, but until then here's what the little wee ones are reading around here.






Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola

A classic in the holiday/saint category. Really, a great biography for kids about an important saint that doesn't make it boring but exciting. The illustrations are, or course, glorious. I love it!







Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato: An Irish Folktale by Tomie de Paola

A sweet board book of a cute Irish folk tale. I'm not quite sure if my kids "get it" but that's part of the allure for me. And it teaches about laziness.









St. Patrick's Day in the Morning by Eve Bunting

This is a sweet story perfect for young children. The illustrations are by Jan Brett so they're particularly lovely and done in black and white and green which is fitting.







Tim O'Toole and the Wee Folk by Gerald McDermott

This is a sweet fairy tale-like book for young children that brings a little imagination along with good story-telling and colourful illustrations to the whole leprechaun thing. I had to explain all these cartoon leprechaun's appearing in store windows lately and my kids were not getting the connection to St. Patrick at all...so this fairy tale came in handy. (Literal Catholic kids...sheessh.)









A Fine St. Patrick's Day by Susan Wojciechowski

Another fairy tale type story about Ireland and leprechauns. The illustrations are especially beautiful and a feast for young and old eyes alike. I love drawings of sweet little towns too.



That was quick, so drop by Jenna's for more great Faves this Wednesday!





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