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We need to talk.  We need to talk about relationships and romance and how beautiful the notion of both can be.  We need to talk about how “The Bachelorette” is stomping on that notion, grinding it under its heel, and washing it down the drain. 

I’d like to introduce my friend Jen Hamilton.  She is fabulous and like my previous “stay tuned” post indicated, she will be helping me with this Bachelorette project.  Hi Jen!

Buckle up, boys! It's going to be an unrealistic and overly dramatic ride!

Jen:  So, somehow I have been coerced into watching this season of “The Bachelorette”.  (E note: Coerced?  Hardly.  You know you wanted to.)  My mother-in-law will be thrilled that I am watching, as this is probably her favorite show on TV next to “Dancing With the Stars”.  I’ve actually watched a handful of past seasons when we’ve been with the family at various times.  Every experience watching has been nausea-inducing, to be honest, and only a really cool, extra awesome friend (E:  I did not even tell her to write that.  Pinky swear.) could possibly lure me into a project like this.  But I have tackled it with the intensity of my college classes, taking notes as I sat at the computer and watched Monday’s episode.  TAKING NOTES.  Yep, you heard that right.  I don’t know what that says about me and my reasons for living, but if I’m going to get all snarky about “The Bachelorette” then darn it, I’m going to do a kick-ass job doing it! 

My very first reaction, honestly?  I was totally pissed off!  From the get-go, as they showed her getting dumped by Brad last season in South Africa, I was like, “this girl gets to go to South Africa all because she’s trying to find a husband???”  And then they show all the amazing places they’ll be traveling this season, and I’m so frustrated!  I want to go all those places!  Not to find a husband but just to GO.  And here I sit, in Laramie Fricken’ Wyoming (E: THE locale for all things cowboy-sexy and home of non-stop winter!), and here are these crazy people getting to live in luxury and travel all over the world for what??  So they can date 25 people and be on TV???  Mad, I was!  As Chris was talking to her about last season, and she says “I misused my time and now I get to go back and do things differently” I thought hmm.  Must be nice to have the opportunity to go back and have a “re-do”.  A well-apportioned, luxurious re-do.  If only the rest of us mortals were so lucky.

Elizabeth:  Here’s how I stumbled upon this season.  After 7 or so years of not watching this trainwreck of a show that proves that we have not come as far as we think we have as a society, I watched the premiere.  What can I say?  I was tired, and I just wanted to zone out.  Mix in a delightfully delicious glass of Moscato and I was watching the most hilarious comedy I’d seen in a long time.  (J:  I am hoping at some point in this season to enjoy watching this insanity actually in the company of my friend Elizabeth, plus some excellent wine.)  “The Bachelorette” has 25 MEN vying for the affections of one “lucky” lady.  When you put a group of men in that situation, we witness them regress to their caveman selves and their true competetive nature.  It’s altogether glorious and horrifying.

Jen:  I could not believe how they dragged this thing out.  I guess that’s the staple of all reality shows, that they make everything take so L-O-O-O-N-G.  I almost choked when I realized this premiere was 2 hours!!  (E: Just take another sip of wine) I confess I’m cheating off of Elizabeth’s notes from the 2nd hour because I just could not bring myself to sit at the computer for another hour (again, what does this say about me???  Not so sure.).  At the same time though, I was wondering (as I often do during the only “reality” show I DO enjoy, the Amazing Race) (E:  WOOOTT!!  Amazing Race!!  We’re gonna apply, right Jen?  Right?) just how long this thing took in real time.  I mean, sitting there and chatting up 25 guys couldn’t have just taken like, an hour, right?  I mean, shoot, she IS looking for her husband, right, so surely she’d take a little time before giving some guy the ax?  Am I expecting too much?  I just pictured them there for like 6 hours with her being like “oh crap, I’ve only talked to 15 people, I still have 10 more to go!!” 

Elizabeth:  That’s precisely how they get those dramatic looks on their faces during the “rose ceremony”!!  They’ve been standing there for 8 hours straight, without food or water.  Or BOOZE!  Good thing Tim was already kicked to the curb by then or else he would have sobered up!  But I’m skipping ahead……

Jen:  Some things that I found entirely amusing–first of all, just how idiotic the guys all acted when they were in the room together without her.  I mean, how stereotypical!  They were total jerks, a lot of them.  Chris tells Ashley “You’re in for the night of your life!”  Yeah, getting pimped out to 25 guys!  Woo-hoo!  Sounds like a treat!  I loved how they all wolf-howled when she walked in the room too, very classy.  I love a good wolf-howl when I walk by, don’t you?  (E:  Who doesn’t?!)  Then she tells them–“Allow yourself to fall in love!”  Yeah, so she can dump you because she’s in love with someone else!  Good times! 

Look, this Ashley is obviously a smart, talented girl.  Why is she acting like such an airhead?  Granted, how many clever and intelligent things can you come up with to say when you’re listening to 25 guys promote themselves and talk themselves up.  I just wonder why she couldn’t just fall in love like the rest of us mere mortals do?  And when did America become suckers for such ridiculous twaddle? (E:  You win for best word usage in this post.  Twaddle!)  There is not a single “real” thing about this reality show.  NO ONE falls in love and meets their husband this way.  How many of us dated even 10 guys before we met our husbands?  I think alot of people  love the idea that there is just one perfect mate out there for us, one Prince Charming.  We set ourselves up for failure because we come into relationships with this “list” in our heads of what we want our mates to be, we expect perfection.  And I feel like that’s what this girl is looking for, the “perfect” guy, and I’m sorry to say, he’s just not out there. (E:  Whaaa????  You mean, Bill isn’t the perfect husband?  I am shocked.  To my core.)  (J:  I know, I know, I’m sure Craig only related all the stories of how awesome Bill was, like Bill has done about Craig!)  (E:  *snork*!!)  I mean, that’s got to be the reason why these “relationships” fail so miserably when the season’s over.  When actual “reality” kicks in, and there’s no fancy house, no glamorous travel, just work and life and bills and headaches, well, it’s a lot harder to make it work if the foundation of your relationship is built on something that is totally fake and flimsy.  (E: Amen, sister!!!) 

Elizabeth:  So here’s the breakdown of the “contestants”, which is such a romantic word, isn’t it?

No, no, Jon. You're supposed to hit her over the head with a club and drag her by the hair! This is why you didn't get a rose!

Ryan P – Not bad. Ashley seemed to like him.  He got better inside and got the 1st impression rose.  Okay.  We don’t disagree.

Jon – Sorry, but his eyes and mouth were untrustworthy looking.  He said, “Let’s just skip straight to the honeymoon” and threw her over his shoulder?  No.  He’s frighteningly intense about this whole thing for being only 26.  

Lucas – totally not a standout at all.  Did he even do anything?

William – Cutie patootie Elizabeth thought.  Dimples, fun smile, looks sort of like Matthew McConaughey.  We’re  just a bit worried about his job.  What does “cellular phone salesman” mean?  Is he wearing a polo at the Sprint store?  Eesh.  Love the impressions he did though, and his kid-at-heart attitude is great…. as long as he can pay the bills.

Mickey – He tried to kiss her, she leaned way back. DENIED!  ’nuff said.

Tim! He chose the fast track for how to NOT get a rose! Yeah Tim!

Tim – He was apparently speechless but instead of it being endearing, it only made him look creepy.  His potty mouth and excessive drinking earned him zero points.  Glad she booted him early.

Ben C – This guy spoke French coming out of the limo.  Okay.  Slightly cheesy, but whatever.  He also did the writing on big cards to get her attention.  Again, slightly cheesy, but he was trying.

Stephen – Meh.  We don’t mind long hair, but his looked greasy.

Chris D – He’s a Chicago dude so Elizabeth wants to like him, but it’s not happening.  He read her a poem that was LAME.  Stop with the cheesy poems, gentlemen.  It’s just awkward.

West – Your name is West?  That was an initial strike against you.  However, his compass with the arrow pointing west in case she got lost she could find her way back to him…..we kind of liked that.  In a horribly cheesy way.  But, we didn’t want to kick him in the teeth.

Anthony – open shirt, chest hair, checking himself out in the limo window, gold chain??  NO.  Men who wear jewelry…just, NO.

Rob – Seemed sweet, but a little too intense, like Jon.

Ames – Why is your name Ames?  That’s weird.  Isn’t there a town in Iowa called Ames?  Anyway, he gave her ballet tickets though, so we can’t deny, that was smooth.

"Why are you wearing that mask, Jeff?" "Well, Ashley, it's because I'm creepy!"

Matt – Sells office supplies?  CALLED HIS MOM with her??  Whoah.  However, he does get the Dundie Award for best secret handshake!

 Jeff – We understand what he was trying to convey, but he was just really creepy about it.  If he was more jovial, it would have been not so weird.  And he’s an “entrepreneur”?  What does that mean?  That could mean he owns a bookstore, or a gas station, or a porn shop.  The lack of explanantion scares us.  It’s just all around shadyness.

Not a great picture of Ben F...but pick him, Ashley!!! Pick Ben!!

Ben F. – Winemaker.  Oh, we liked him.  He looks a bit like Josh Groban.  Loved that he shared some wine with her, and his line, “I brushed my teeth like, 8 times today”.

Frank – Picked her up and danced her around.  It was weird and not cute at all.

Mike – Not too bad, not overly cute, made her think he played guitar then threw it in the pool.  E:  All I could think was, “That dude just ruined a perfectly good guitar”.

Chris – He was oozing Canadian-ness.  He did nothing special coming out of the limo, except showcasing his THICK accent.  Too bad, because Elizabeth digs Canadians. 

Ryan M – This guy is Bachelor SuperFan.  He took photos of her, with her, and wanted a photo with Chris Harrison.  What?  Are you here for autographs or to meet someone?

J.P. – New York contruction manager.  Yup.  Liked him.  Simple.  Sweet.  Let’s see how he does in the future.

Nick – Too tan, too many highlights, too pretty.  Recited a LAME poem. What’s with the lame poems??

Blake – Dentist.  That’s all I got.

"I have a daughter named Cozy." "*sputter! choke!* Cozy?!?!? Uh, I mean...I love that name!"

Bentley – No.  And this is taking out of account the fact that she was pre-warned that he was a douche.  He hardly said anything to her out of the limo, and he already stated he hoped the girl was Emily, whoever that is.

Constantine – I’ll forgive him of his name.  He was not bad.  I liked his move of putting dental floss on her finger so she’d remember him.

So Jon, Tim, Anthony, Rob, Frank, Mike, and Chris M were sent packing.  Jon said stuff like, “What am I doing wrong?  I thought she was the one.  My family fell in love with her”.  Um….whuck?  This dude is straight up crazy.  

Tim was just a drunken idiot.  Good riddance. 

Anthony said, “I’ve been single for seven years.  I don’t know how to feel anymore”.  Seriously?!?!?  Dude, you’re TWENTY-EIGHT.  Yeah?  You ready to give up because you didn’t find your true love on THE BACHELORETTE??  Oy.  

Rob said he was “crushed” and “defeated”.  Again, this dude is 27 and he’s totally ready to throw in the towel?  Why would she want any of you?  And you’re not doing a good job selling yourself to the ladies back home who will now recognize you! 

Elizabeth’s top five are:  Ryan P, William, Ben F, J.P., and Constantine, NOT in order.   Ben F. is the front runner for me at this point.

Jen’s top five are:  Ben F (front runner!), Ryan P, J.P. , Constantine, and I was actually going to pick West because a) I kind of liked the compass thing, and b) the whole widower thing was sort of appealing in an “aww!” kind of way.  That is until I read some thing about how both he AND his late wife were doing drugs at the time of her accidental death!  (E:  I’m sorry, What?!?!?  He said she had a seizure…because she suffered from them!  Okay, readers, what do you know about this??)  True or not, don’t know, but definitely spoils the story!!  William or Ames will take his place I guess for now…have to see more!!

Thus ends the first installment of our Bachelorette review.  The most DRAMATIC of all Bachelorette reviews, ever!

Hi. I don't really respect myself. That's why I'm on this show. Also? What is this dress I'm wearing?

Stay tuned for a new weekly feature, a review of this season’s “The Bachelorette”.  I despise this show and haven’t watched for about 7 years now, but I stumbled upon the season premiere on Monday.  With my glass of Moscato in hand, I just couldn’t look away.  The hubby and I laughed hysterically as we voiced our reactions to the contestants.  Then I got the idea to watch it this time around and do a review on my blog.  I have asked my awesome friend, Jen Hamilton, to help me with this mini-project and she has graciously agreed.  We’re scrambling to put together our first post so have patience. 

I met Jen through my husband.  Her husband was my husband’s roommate in college.  She also went to college with them so they all know each other, but Jen is the kind of person who is so cool that I never felt awkward or left out of conversations when we all got together.  Her daughter shares Craig’s birthday, 30 years apart.  Our oldest son, Cole, has claimed he is in love with her.  Fine by me.  They also have another daughter and a son.  Cole and Jen’s daughter #2 are the same age, but he apparently prefers older women.  What a stud.

Here's Jen! Don't you love her? She's so pretty....

Jen is hilarious and quite a talented writer and I’m excited to do this with her.  She also hates the show and hasn’t watched it so we’re on the same team.  It’s totally for fun and yes, we will be making fun of this show and the people who signed up to be a part of it.  Yes, because you signed up for this, contestants, you are fair game to be ridiculed.  And you will be.  A lot. 

Fun times ahead, folks…….

Over the weekend, I came face to face with my daughter’s very first ballet recital.  It had been looming on my calendar for so long and finally, it came.  I was not looking forward to it for reasons such as, it had the potential to completely strip me of my sanity.  You see, my husband was out of town Wednesday through Saturday for this amazing conference.  One that I couldn’t go to this year because we couldn’t find child care and I didn’t want to bring them and pull them out of school.  Also, due to the dress rehearsal being at 9:30 Saturday morning, getting home to Chicagoland from Louisville would have been crazy in order to make it in time.  I was jealous, I admit.  My jealousy seriously depleted my patience reserves as well, which is always a great situation to be in when caring for three young children on your own for the better part of 4 days.

So Saturday morning, I rose early.  Not early enough apparently, as all three children were awake already.  Nooooo!!!!!  I showered as quickly as possible so as to cut down on the time available for the children to set the house on fire.  I threw some clothes on and headed downstairs to assess whether or not something was indeed on fire, broken, flooded, or worse, and found……Nothing.  Thank you, dear Lord!!!!

So like the SuperMom I am, I somehow managed to feed and dress the two boys, AND feed and put Caroline in full hair, makeup, and costume before 8:30am.  I still don’t know how I accomplished this.  Truly, the Lord works in mysterious ways.  We set off for the high school where the recital would take place and I actually made it in time.  AND I managed to remember to bring things to amuse the boys while they waited for their sister.  I know!  I’m awesome!!  I even remembered to bring my camera so I could take pictures and video of this sure-to-be-adorable event!  Caroline found her friends and I pulled out the camera, turned it on triumphantly and read, “No memory card” on the screen.  Darn it!!!!  I was *so* close!

Oh yes. Adorable. If I do say so myself.

The dress rehearsal went well despite my memory card snafu.  Caroline did so well and looked so incredibly cute that my head nearly exploded.  You can see her dance here, minus the first 5 seconds (I couldn’t get the button on my phone to cooperate).

So later that day Craig returned from the conference all fresh-faced, and filled up spiritually.  I resisted the urge to slap him (jealousy still looming I suppose), and instead just welcomed him, relieved and happy to have him home.

He was happy to see the kids (and me…I think) so I let him have his fill and I went upstairs to our room and passed out.  For four hours.  When I came to, we all went to our friends’ house for a birthday bash for both of their kids.  That was the bright spot in the day.  Next to the awesome nap, that is.

The next morning was official recital day.  Again, full hair, makeup, and costume was accomplished, but this time, I had Craig to take care of the needs of the boys so I didn’t have to threaten horrible consequences if they didn’t stop smacking each other and/or sitting on each others’ heads. 

Off to the recital, present for birthday party after recital at the ready

So off we went.  We had to be there a bit earlier because I was the room mom.  This meant that I had to sit in the cafeteria with Caroline’s class before the show, sit with them in the audience during the show, make sure they were lined up properly backstage to tippy-toe onstage, and then usher them back to their seats for the rest of the show.  At first I was really dreading the responsibility, but I ended up having a great time and I will probably vounteeragain next year.

Eight Little Lovelies

The best part of this day, however, was the absolutely insane schedule.  After her recital, she had to be rushed to a birthday party.  I was hoping that she wouldn’t want to go to this party since she has made comments in the past about how this girl doesn’t share toys.  But mention “party” and she’s on board.  Too much of her Mommy in her I suppose.  I drove right past where the party was and had to waste precious minutes to turn around.  Thankfully, she jumped right into the fun so I was able to leave pretty quickly.  From there, I rushed to church to calm down and prepare for my presentation to the high schoolers who are going to Nicaragua this summer.  I’m doing their cross-cultural training, and let’s just say that it was NOT the perfect day to start what with the running all over the town. 

I got to church literally shaking from the stress and adrenaline.  Now I needed to focus on speaking in front of people.  No.  Speaking in front of teenagers.  I had prepared the material beforehand, but somehow now looking at it, it made no sense.  I sat there thinking, “How in the world am I going to fill 30 minutes with this??!??”.  I went over my notes again and just prayed a very desperate prayer that went something like, “Lord.  Please.  My brain is not working.  Help.”

Somehow I made it through and the feedback was not terrible.  I even had someone say, “Thanks, I loved what you shared.”!  Crazy.  Next time I’ll be mentally present.

So the moral of the story is, I survived my first recital experience EVEN while it happened during one of my craziest days ever.  More importantly, Caroline loved the experience and our evening was filled with more ballet shows performed by our darling ballerina princess.  We are so proud of her!

I’m not a fan of “the mall”.  Oh I used to be, that’s for sure.  I remember back when I was the tender age of 12 and I wanted to go to the mall with my friends…by ourselves.   I also remember thinking that 12 was definitely old enough and mature enough for such an adventure on our own.  I’m hoping that by the time my own children reach that age, technology will have made microchips for kids, fitted with a GPS so that I can keep tabs on where they are at all times.  You know, for safety.

Anyway, I digress.  So this mall adventure was strictly forbidden by my mother and so I told her that Tracey’s mom would be with us, which was a LIE!  Shocking, I know.  But she was happy with that and so we went, all decked out in our jean skirts, big bangs, oversized sweatshirts, double socks and Keds.  We had such a wonderful time because we were so old and mature and awesome for walking around the mall by ourselves.

Back when the mall was a social scene and you could go and check out cute boys and giggle when they look your direction, and pretend you have oodles of sophistication, it was fun.  Now, it is not fun.  It usually involves me unloading the children from the van and reminding them that they would not be getting everything they see and ask for, nor was I going to be persuaded to ride that vomit-inducing carousel.  So, Don’t. Ask. 

Photo booth fun. Yes, I cost way too much.

Recently, however, I did go to the mall to take my daughter out for some girl-only time.  We squealed over princess dresses at the Disney store, we “awww’ed” at the animals in Build-A-Bear, and any other girly thing we could do.  We had our photos taken in those ridiculously overpriced photo booths, with a thorough explanation that this was not an activity we do every time we come to the mall.

I’m digressing again.  While we walked the halls and choked on cologne being pumped out of certain popular clothing stores, I noticed the wide array of formal prom wear in many stores.  There are so many styles in so many bright colors, I nearly burned my retinas just looking at them.  Part of me wishes I had chosen a more colorful dress for my own prom, but alas, mine was ivory.  Yes.  Ivory.  But it was very lovely and feminine and expensive.  Which was a really big deal for my parents because we didn’t have lots of extra money lying around.

My date was the guy I was “dating” at the time.  I put the word in quotation marks because I was horrible at dating.  I was boy crazy, no doubt about that, but when someone I liked showed interest in return, I didn’t know what to do.  Clearly, my undeveloped adolescent brain was…undeveloped.  And adolescent.  Anyway, my date was Nelson S., a very cute Korean (American) boy who I really liked.  Unfortunately, he liked me too.  Cue undeveloped adolescent brain freak out.  But can I share how that adorable boy asked me to prom?  I found a box of Fannie May chocolates in my locker one day and he had written out “Will you go to prom with me?” on the bottom of the paper cups the chocolates were in.  Yes.  Loved it.

Our Prom group. I'm second in from the left. Yep, I look like a bride. Fully aware of that, thanks.

Nelson looked very dapper and handsome in his tuxedo.  I was looking forward to prom, but I was scared to death about what to do with Nelson.  And I was that girl who didn’t even put together the words “prom” and “sex” so that wasn’t even on my mind.  I was just terrified that Nelson liked me and I had no idea how to handle it.  So I’d like to take this time to apologize formally. 

Are we getting married? No, no. It's just prom. He is adorable though, isn't he?

AHEM.  Nelson, you were a wonderful date, completely handsome, extremely courteous and respectful.  I however, was a terrible date.  I was nervous, and my behavior was immature and ridiculous.  *sigh*  Brain.  Undeveloped.  I am truly sorry, for you deserved better than that.  Warm regards, Beth. 

I will say though, that my prom experience had a lot of very entertaining moments.  I remember my friend Kevin (and it  may have been more people than just him) convincing the staff on the boat where we had our post-Prom party, to give him the leftover cheese cubes from the appetizer trays.  He marched onto the bus that would take us back to school with a garbage bag fullof cheese cubes.  On the bus ride home he yelled loudly from his seat to his date, Carrie (they went as friends), “So, when are gonna make out??!!”  The next day our group went out to the Michigan dunes and had a wonderful time running up and falling down those gigantic sand dunes, having a picnic, and passing out with exhaustion on the ride home.  At some point, that gigantic bag of cheese cubes was dumped all over the street in front of my friend Kaitlin’s house.  Soon, most were smooshed by passing cars, and I would venture a guess that there are probably still trace amounts of nasty, smooshed, moldy

On the way home from the dunes. Carrie and Sarah, totally passed out. And yes, friends, that's THE Saturn.

cheese cubes on that road.***

So to those who are attending prom soon, be safe, don’t drink, don’t have sex (your undeveloped adolescent brain can’t handle all of the ramifications), and have fun!  Because yes, you can have a lot of fun without any of the aforementioned stuff.  Hello?  Cheese cubes, sand dunes, and silly friends who keep you laughing?  There’s a recipe for a fantastic prom.

***Soon after posting, I received clarification from Carrie on the cheese cube spreading.  It seems that she and her date, Kevin, were the culprits, dumping it on Mayfair Lane at approximately 5am.  Naughty!