Tuesday, December 17, 2013

If I had to be stuck in a snow globe with a bunch of people...it would be these people and at SeaWorld

Disclosure statement: SeaWorld did not commission this post nor did they compensate me for it. However, I did receive free admission to the park.

If I am honest, I do not actually look that forward to December. Oh I try, but I am usually dragged under by endeavoring to make this the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. People can say simplify and say no, which is good advice, but even with a lot of simplification and no-ing, this is still a month that gets to feeling like a 300 pound ape on your chest by oh say December 16.

One thing I have grown to look forward to, though, this time of year, is our family's annual trek to SeaWorld San Antonio. It's cool, the park is decked out to the holiday nines, and there are loads of special events. Before that, though, I get to camp out in the park with some people I really, really like. And this is a story best told in pictures...of all the things we did...

We started with a Polar Plunge. I know, everyone says blah blah blah Polar Plunge in Texas ha ha. It was 28 degrees, people. That's cold, and in the water? Really, really cold! But my friends Kami, Stacy and Alba did it for Special Olympics! So did the SeaWorld Communications team, which includes our intrepid friends Brian, Mason, Jeff and Steve...who went as very cold Richard Simmons.

Afterwards we toured the super cool decorations, which are organized into theme areas. I particularly liked the Have Yourself a Very Texas Christmas, which included a boot tree! We went to see our buddies the seals (Yoga Seal, my personal favorite -- a Harbor Seal, for the record -- was doing Zen meditation.

Here's the ALL TRUE part though you won't believe it: then we went backstage and met the sea lions, who we went on stage with (somewhere, someone has a photo and someday I will have proof. I stood on the stage with a sea lion.). On our way to the stage, we got to see the otters who can make me laugh just by sitting there. I snapped one of the sweet mates and YES I sang Muskrat Love. (If you don't know that song...LMGTFY.)

My favorite otters, the best posing seal, penguins (of course!) and a cactus wreath.

Next big adventure was Snow World. They took a huge space and made it a snowy winter wonderland, complete with sledding hill. In case you wondered, of course I slid down!

Right outside of Snow World was the most amazing snow globe that you could go inside. This is not photoshopped or a trick! We are really inside that snow globe. It's was hilarious and so fun, plus what a great photo.

Then I took a selfie in the snowglobe and oh my gosh it did not suck! So I included it here! Look! A decent photo of me!

Yeah we stole up on another stage and took photos because...STAGE and LIGHTS and CANDY CANES! My buddies who are so fun! 

 Dinner with Santa was a blast! The food was a lot of delicious favorites for the holiday season. Elves danced around, visiting each table. Santa and Mrs. Claus dropped in too, and Santa read The Night Before Christmas to the kids. It was all retro, total flashback to the 1960s, including all the decorations outside. I really do think we had that Santa when I was a little girl, in a smaller window sized form!

 Last but not least, we got to see the newborn baby girl whale! It was magical, a miracle. Watching mother and new baby swim around, learning about their routine of swim and nurse. I snapped about a million photos and half a dozen movies but I'll spare you and only include a few.

 Finally, the campout in the dorms with the traditional pillow fight! At least this time, Mason had an ally in Fred.

As usual, it was so much fun I had to promise to bring my family back during the holidays!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How we teach boys and girls about kissing is all wrong

When my daughter was in kindergarten, a boy friend kissed her. To my mind, both kids were equally a part of the kiss because it was mutual--they were playing Marriage, and had just pretended a wedding. To me, it was play. Nobody grabbed anyone or coerced anyone and nobody felt threatened or worried or bad. They even had a discussion about it in advance and decided cheek would do even if grownups did lips.

But others felt differently. The boy's mom was horrified, or maybe terrified? She imposed a severe consequence on him and had the school do the same. She apologized to me and made the boy apologize to my daughter.

One thing I know: this lady is a fantastic mom with wonderful kids.

One thing I understand: we do have a rape culture and I deeply appreciate boy moms who work hard to teach boys about respect and consideration of girls.

One thing I believe: we have to do something to improve how our boys and girls interact. That means effort with both boys and girls. Preferably in some positive and constructive way.

One thing that perplexes me to this day: why, all facts considered, in my specific case, everyone perceived my daughter as "the victim" and the boy as "the perpetrator." Odds are, my girl chose the game. Either way, she agreed to the kiss. I didn't want the boy punished -- I thought either neither kid or both kids. So everyone compromised and went with a reminder to both children about "okay touches and not okay touches" and how no kissing in class was a rule. That still sort of broke my heart.

One thing I think: I'm not sure that how this situation was handled or how other situations similar to it (as in the news story I'm posting below) do any good at all. The outcome of my case is my daughter never again played Marriage and decided it was not okay to be friends with boys, even though she enjoys boys as friends. I just can't help but wonder if we worsened the problem we were trying to solve.

So now we teach boys that ANY touching of a girl is a criminal act, so how do parents get across okay and not okay in the face of this? Because there is a distinction of okay and not okay. But we're losing it, I think, and I believe that's worsening the problem.

What do you think?

News story: Boy, 6, suspended from school for kissing girl on cheek and hand