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Saturday
May142011

"Away We Go"!

I’ve been working on this blog post since October 2010. For crying in a bucket, it is time I get it OUT!

Away We Go is the most hilarious birthy movie I’ve ever seen. And there’s no actual birth in the movie! It’s star-studded and I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why this Sam Mendes movie become an enormous hit. Too subtle? Nahhh… not subtle at all!

Beginning the introductions into the quirky lives of Burt (John Krasinsky) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) are Burt’s parents, Jerry (Jeff Daniels) and Gloria (Catherine O’Hara). The elder Farlanders abdicate their grandparenthood for a two-year stint in Belgium, leaving right before the baby’s birth. During a family dinner, we get a lovely glimpse into where their son learned to be verbally effusive and picked up his sharp wit.

Because Burt’s parents are leaving the country, the couple feels “untethered” and begin a search for a home by visiting different cities and a wide variety of friends and family along the way. Of course, they have no idea where the trip will really take them and we are so lucky to go along for the ride.

When you think no one could possibly top Burt’s parents, along comes Allison Janney as Lily. Her dead-pan husband Lowell (Jim Gaffigan) is a great straight man for Lily’s insanity. Lily gives one of the most accurate depictions of an upbeat, but terrible mother I’ve ever seen. And how (why?!) do I know women like her? Mean-spirited, mostly to her kids, you can see the chasm of her horrid self-esteem masked by laughter and obnoxiousness. I about spewed water out my nose when she described what her breasts looked like after breastfeeding. Poor Burt, attached to big breasts, was pretty horrified to hear Lily’s caricaturistic depiction, saying, “They look like an old man’s nutsack. They even grow hair on them! A hairy old man’s nutsack.”

While waiting for Verona’s sister Grace (Carmen Ejogo), Burt and Verona watch as a little boy, maybe five years old? is tested by his mother (who they call “Performance Mom” in the script!) who asks him to name this and that object. I’ve always chuckled about parents that did that, wondering if I did the same thing when the kids were his age.

It is in the interactions with Grace that we’re finally able to see some of Verona’s tough exterior melt away.

For the Natural Birth crowd, it is when Burt and Verona head to Madison to see a family friend, LN Fisher-Herrin (Maggie Gyllenhall), that we’re able to recognize the “Natural Birth Nazi” the non-crunchy crowd often sees. I’ve heard others say they didn’t know why LN and her husband Roderick (Josh Hamilton) were in the movie at all… that they identified quite closely with their style of parenting; “Continuum… practicing the 3 S’s… no sugar, no strollers and no separation.” LN gives one of the best NBA lines ever, talking about why she hates strollers (which Verona and Burt bought for her because they thought she was bereft without one): “Verona, I love my babies. Why would I want to push them away from me?” I don’t want to give away too much of this really, really amusing (in a knowing way!) segment. Just know you’ll probably find yourself laughing and nodding all at the same time. Caricature, people… caricatures.

The pinnacle of the movie comes with our crunchy sister LN, then the movie slides downward in mood as the frenetic pace of the beginning saunters gently towards the end.

In Montreal, we meet Munch (Melanie Lynskey) and Tom (Chris Messina), a “normal” family filled with adopted children, the couple offering a glimpse into yet another facet of parenthood.

Finally, in Miami, Burt’s brother Courtney (Paul Schneider) and his daughter show Burt and Verona the potential for one type of tragedy in being parents.

Perhaps not so surprisingly, the wandering couple finally find their home where none of these friends or family even live; they’ve found their own place, really just taking a roundabout trip to get there all along. Such a lovely ending!

Away We Go is on Netflix and running on the Pay Channels (HBO, Showtime, Starz) right now… I do hope you’ll make time to see it this weekend. It’s a movie that’ll stick with you for a long time.

Sunday
Sep092007

The Next Time You're Nursing...

Think of This Story...

My partner Sarah and I co-nursed. Having met in Germany when she was 7-months pregnant and my youngest was 2-days old, by the time we left the guys we were well into co-nursing the two babies. It was really nice, this having four lactating breasts around... I, the stay-at-home mom, nursed during the day, and she, the Army diesel mechanic, nursed during the evening hours while I cooked dinner and had a respite from feeling touched out. We shared the family bed with the babies and both nursed all night long. In our waterbed. With the babies on their stomachs. But that's a story for another time. (Yes, they're still alive.)

Anyway.

So, this one time, Sarah had to go to the Field for a couple of weeks. Going to the Field meant leaving civilization and pretending you were at war, no real food, eating MRE's (Meals, Ready to Eat), pooping in makeshift latrines, drills every day and night, very little sleep... things like that. Stuff that would make me cry, but that made the soldiers have big fun and got to play in the mud and with their guns and hand grenades. (Not making any comments about the un-peaceful aspects here.)

Well, Sarah, who was nursing two kidlets, was certainly not going to stop nursing, pumped while in the field. She being a diesel mechanic on trucks 22.5 tons and larger, was the only female in her company, but the guys were pretty used to her crazy ways by the time she brought her Medela cylinder hand pump (I can't find a picture of one for the life of me) on the trip.

The pump was clear plastic and had one tube inside the other. The inside tube was flared at the top to allow the breast to lay inside and when you pulled the bottom tube, the nipple was pulled deep inside the tube and the milk was expressed. I see nothing like that is made nowadays.

Sarah was really great at keeping her milk supply up for two kids, too. She pumped a lot despite maneuvers. We always joked about carrying around a freezer to store the milk since it really seemed a sadness to pump and dump such liquid gold, but she thought her commander might notice the extention cord.

One night about 9 days into the two-week trip, as she was driving after a terribly busy day where she couldn't pump at all, her breasts were hugely full and she had to pump. She put her knees up to steer the 5 ton Army truck and pumped her breasts under her filthy Army tee shirt and BDU's on top of that. Unable to do anything else, she flung the milk out the window, shoved the pump back under her clothes, pumped more, flung more, pumped and flung for more and more kilometers.

When they finally stopped, the driver of the truck behind angrily ran up screaming at her wanting to know what the hell she was doing throwing milk onto his windshield for! Sarah started to laugh, but he continued, screaming, "Here we are, eating nothing but shitty MRE's and you are getting fresh milk! And when you are done with it, you are throwing it out the fucking window! You aren't even sharing it with us?! Where the hell are you getting it?!"

Sarah just said, "It's mine and you can't have any." He was livid.

"What do you mean it's yours and I can't have any... why won't you share with the rest of us? Don't we deserve fresh food, too?" He was screaming so loudly a huge crowd had gathered and many of them Sarah's own company.

Sarah repeated that it was HERS and touched her boobs this time indicating that it was from her breasts.

He still didn't catch it, of course.

"I want some of that milk!!! Where did you get it!?!"

Sarah put the pump under her shirt, pumped a few times and then dumped the milk at his feet, spilling it all over his boots. Shocked, he finally got it.

The crowd roared with laughter. The guy walked back to his breastmilk-stained truck.

Sarah, nursing Darren (looking at us) and Aimee on the hammock in Frankfurt, Germany.