Empty Nester – Extraordinaire

creating, living, loving – all in a long black skirt

Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

Seeing is Believing

1 Comment »

February 16th, 2013 Posted 6:25 am

Out and about in Anderson, we’ll still run into people who recognize us from Wife Swap.  While that surprises me [Teen Mom is also filmed in Anderson and Amber could sit on me and I still couldn’t know her], I’m more surprised that they feel they know us from a 60 minute episode – 15 or so minutes that were devoted to commercials, and 20 or so that were spent with the other family.  This leaves 20-25 minutes of screen time to develop a complete view of total strangers.

Initially I had planned a series of blog posts describing the WS experience in detail, but it became monotonous.  “You saw X; Y is reality. The reason they misled you is Z.” I’ll still write them if there is interest, but I’m afraid it will come off as whiny, begging people to “Don’t judge us.” Truth is, we’re not afraid of being judged. At least for what is true. We do not like – as much as any other person – to be judged over gossip and assumptions.

“But,” you’ll say, “we saw you force your children to dance and we saw your son have long hair because you wouldn’t allow him to cut it.  We saw you drag your kids into situations where they would be made fun of. We saw you sitting on the sofa being lazy while your kids did all the work.”

Did you?


I know you saw Alek say we forced him to go to dance class. But, you didn’t see the discussion about how he didn’t like the alternate class the producers found for him when his real studio chose not to allow cameras inside.  He was concerned that showing him in class with his sisters – both younger and with less skill – would make him look bad. He did not appreciate that waste of time.  And he was very vocal about that on several occasions.

I know you saw Alek’s long hair and you heard his, “yeah!” when Stacy told him he’d be getting it cut.  Did you know he’d been growing it out for several years with the intent of donating it to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths project? Did you know Rule Change  was his first realization that it was officially long enough to cut and donate?  And we’d made the offer to wait to cut it so it could be incorporated into rule change.

You were told we dress up the kids and parade them about town so that people will see them, judge them, and make fun of them and that we don’t care.  Did you know our kids dress how they want, within reason? Did you know we don’t change for other people because we live our lives for us and not for them? I had a great discussion with my swap husband, Ed, about this. It’s one of the things we strongly agreed on. Looks are important to both families. The main difference is that they dress to define themselves based on what other people think of their appearance and we dress to define ourselves based on what we think of our appearance. Did you know that one of the first things the producers did before filming was remove any bit of clothing that did not fit into the got aesthetic as they defined it?

You’ve been told I’m lazy and make my kids clean and feed themselves while I sit on the sofa playing on the computer. You even saw that, right? But you didn’t see the producers and directors scold me for pouring milk and sitting down to eat with my kids.  And it wasn’t made very clear that my job was freelance editing and that I run an at-home business from my laptop. In addition, helping them to be able and prepared is quite the opposite of lazy parenting.  I’d go so far as to suggest that doing everything for your kids is the lazier version of parenting.

No one would know that without talking to us.

And I’ll be honest. I watch Dance Moms and Survivor and I struggle to remember that what I see may be just as cleverly edited as our WS episode.  I know it. I lived it.  This reminds me to be more patient with people who don’t have the background I’ve been exposed to.

If there is something you want to know about, please just ask one of us.

We’d be happy to talk to you.


My Top Ten… TV Characters

No Comments »

February 10th, 2013 Posted 12:56 pm

I noticed the other day that I often refer to something as “one of my favorite xxx ever.” At a certain point, I realized I must have 100 favorite movies and even more favorite songs. So, I challenged myself to make definitive lists of my top tens as an exercise in creative thinking.

Daryl – redneck eye candy


Tonight we welcome back “Walking Dead” after a TOO LONG mid-season break. Yeah… I cannot be the only woman out here who things any separation greater than a week from zombie-killer Daryl Dixon is cruel punishment…

Bit of advice to Carol: Grab him and kiss him.  We need someone to live vicariously through.

With a nod to Daryl [who hasn’t quite made the list yet], I offer you… My Top 10 TV Characters:

  1. The Doctor – Doctor Who
    I have my favorite incarnation; Ravynn has hers. You cannot be a fan without having strong ideas about this.  At the same time,I  kinda love them all.
  2. Hawkeye Pierce – M*A*S*H
    The anti-hero. I suspect this is where it started.  If you haven’t seen M*A*S*H, you really should.
  3. Piper – Charmed
    Functioned as the oldest of three sisters [after we lost Pru]. Super powerful witch. Got the white lighter… What’s not to love?
  4. Leonard Hofstadter – Big Bang Theory
    Leonard is amazing. I won’t pretend much of that is due to his role in his BBT group, but… cute, cool and nerdy.  Squee.
  5. Eric Northman – True Blood
    Yes, I wept a little when he cut his hair.
  6. Gregory House – House, MD
    More anti-hero… And, you know, he needs to be fixed.
  7. Dylan McKay – 90210
    I will always be a 19-year old girl.
  8. McMurphy – China Beach
    Bad ass army nurse with a squishy little heart inside.
  9. John Winchester – Supernatural
    The man is pretty.  And broken. And responsible for Sam & Dean.
  10. Shane – The L Word
    She’s the character that got me hooked on the show. Broken. Anti-hero… you see the theme, right??

No. These are not in any real order.

Yes. They change almost daily.


Tags: ,
Posted in Television

Happy Mothers Day!!

No Comments »

May 13th, 2012 Posted 8:58 pm

I was treated to a lovely breakfast – made especially for me by the two wee princesses – as well as a morning of lounging on the sofa and clearing out the DVR. Relaxation… ahh!  The afternoon will be a little more active – well, at least we have to leave the house.  Alek has a lead role in the HJHS production of Willy Wonka, Jr, so we’re going to head over to watch and embarass him during curtain call.

Several months ago, his English teacher called to get permission for him to audition.  Because he hadn’t mentionned anything about it, I worried that he was just flinging excuses her way to get out of it. Stuck on the phone needing to give an answer while he was at school, I couldn’t check with him.  Crossing my fingers, I deflected back to him.  “If he wants to and is sure he can manage his dance and school schedules, we can make it work.”  As it turned out, he wanted to do the show, but didn’t ask because he thought there was no way to fit it all in.  So… good mama. I hear he’s an amazing Candy Man. I can’t wait to see the performance.

I could hear whispering and giggling coming from the kitchen as the girls worked together to make eggs, toast, sausage, and tea and solve the problems of the universe [or at least of the little girls in the neighborhood]. Breakfast was served with a vase of flowers and a steamy cup of Earl Gray with bergamot.  Cards and homemade pictures = the best!

All of this means I’m doing something right.  That’s not always as evident as it is today, but I did have some really great role models.  My own mother was just short of an angel and her mother was a saint.  I’m sure that’s not entirely true; everyone has their faults, but I don’t have to focus on that if I don’t want to. And I don’t. In addition to Mother and Grandma Rounds, I had lovely aunts, cousins, and sisters who have taught [and continue to teach] me a lot.  I am thankful for them daily.  Aunt Lois, Aunt Margie, Judie, Bindy, Penny, and Aimee: Thank you.

Like most women who grew up in an age when the television was as much a member of the family as the humans, I learned from mothers who weren’t my own. On my personal FB page and on our fan page, I asked friends to tell me who is their favorite TV mom.

Roseanne was the clear favorite [she makes my list too], with me coming in second [although I insist I don’t count since I’m a REAL person]. Tied for third were Peg Bundy and Claire Huxtable. Michelle Duggar [also a real person, so…], Elise Keaton, Kitty Forman, and Sophia Petrillo also pulled in multiple votes. Everyone else on the list drew a single vote. 

The usual suspects appeared: June Cleaver, Caroline Ingalls, Carol Brady, and  Marian Cunningham; yet, no love for Shirley Partridge

The not-so-expected appeared: Morticia AddamsEdith Bunker, Olivia Walton, Ann Romano, and Florida Evans.

The modern appeared: Judy Miller, Jill Taylor, Debra Barone, Lorelai Gilmore, and Meredith [Castle].  Honestly, I had to Google most of them.

My personal Top 5 is uniquely me. 


Lorelei Gilmore//Gilmore Girls:

Love her relationship with her daughter. Love her style. Love her wit.  Not only is she a great mama, she’d be a great bestie too.

Roseanne Connor//Roseanne:

I’m sure she made her kids CRAZY – heck I’m glad she’s not my mom [or my mother-in-law], but as far as doing and saying the right thing she had it.  Plus, Dan Connor = best TV husband EVER.

Lynette Scavo//Desperate Housewives: Love that attitude. She’s always got it under control – even when she doubts herself. She’s not afraid to show her vulnerability, but has amazing power to pick herself up.

Claudia Finnerty//Grounded for Life: Surprise after surprise and she’s still going.  Those kids are difficult; her husband needs a babysitter.  She holds that family together and does it with style and sass.

Cindy Walsh//Beverly Hills 90210: Umm… does this really need an explanation? Perfect.  Just perfect. 

I see these women as parts of the puzzle designing the the kind of mom I want to be. Someday, I may get there. Probably not. Being a good parent is a work in progress – my expectations keep changing. Because they should.


Familiar Faces


August 2nd, 2011 Posted 10:39 pm

“Do I know you?”

That question and other similar comments have been incredibly common this past year – at the park, the grocery, at the bank.  Ever since our family was featured on ABC’s “Wife Swap,” everyone in town seems to recognize us, which can be very interesting.  Most of the time, people are incredibly kind and curious. It’s nothing for us to spend an extra 45 minutes [or more!] in a store we just dropped into for an item or two, talking about the show to a friendly stranger.


One aspect that isn’t nearly as enjoyable is the idea of being KNOWN to strangers.  Strangers who often refuse to consider the difference between fiction and reality where reality TV is concerned.  “But I saw it on TV,” is a common response.  It becomes tiring to explain how not everything was how it appeared.  It becomes tiring to explain, “I did say that, but not in the conversation you think.”  It’s tiring to explain our parenting choices.

Throughout the month, I’ll walk you through my side of the swap. I’ve asked Eric and the kids to offer up their narratives as well. Friends may guest post.

Post your questions and we’ll answer what we can.




Posted in Family, Media, Television

Behold… My Soapbox


April 9th, 2010 Posted 9:59 pm

Every so often, people bug me.  Really really bug me.

Earlier this week, my family was contacted to appear in a commercial for the Indianapolis affiliate of  FOX Broadcasting.  We were happy to accept as Fox 59 runs our favorite morning news show and time in front of the camera is good publicity for Bats! meow…, even if the link isn’t always immediately clear.

I commented to them that our family is goth and has been promoting a business and that we’ve got a story coming up in the local paper because of our style.  At this point, I asked him what were the rules for clothing while working with a green screen and, keeping our look in mind, did he want ‘dressed to the nines’ or ‘everyday’ wear.  I had anticipated a ‘to the nines’ request because it would show diversity and we’d be more recognizable.  At the same time, I could understand if he wanted a more everyday look because you don’t honestly see a lot of people in Indy who look like us.

His response shocked and annoyed me:

No greens or near-greens (we will be shooting against the greenscreen).

I’d say steer clear of the Goth look.  We’re going for middle-of-the-road appeal.  If this is a problem, let me know.



Steer clear? Really??

I responded:

Thanks for the offer to have us in the commercial, but we’ll have to withdraw.  We ARE a goth family and don’t wish to represent ourselves as “characters” for the commercial. I know we told you we’ll be appearing in the Anderson paper and were contacted for that because of our goth lifestyle and to promote the goth clothing company we own.  Showing up looking ‘middle of the road’ would likely discredit us.

If we had been cast as actors in the commercial, fine. But they wanted real viewers to say the real things they like about the station.  We love them; we were ready. But this really turned me off.  The suggestion that all of their viewers look ‘normal’ or that anything off the beaten path won’t have the impact that they’re looking for confused me.

I’m really disappointed.



Posted in Television