10 Things I Learned about Friendship from USA’s Playing House

10 Things I Learned About Friendship From Playing House

I like TV and [some people say] I watch a lot of TV. And I really love talking to people about TV. I like a lot of different types of shows, some dramas and lots of comedies. And, FINE, plenty of procedurals, some that you might consider “old-people shows.” (I only watch one of the NCIS shows, okay?! Just one of them! I’m not old!)

But the show I have raved about more than any other this year is Playing House on USA.

Playing House is a half-hour sitcom about two best friends. Written by the show’s stars (Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham), this show is the best portrayal of friendship I have ever seen. St. Clair and Parham have fantastic chemistry and a solid grasp on what makes female friendships tick. And the rhythm of their banter is so natural that nobody’s ever surprised to learn they are long-time best friends in real life, too.

Also? IT IS HILARIOUS.

What’s it about? In short, one friend is pregnant and finds out her husband is a cheating weirdo. So her best friend quits her fancy job in China, moves back to their small hometown in Connecticut, and moves in to help raise the baby. Strangely enough after a description like that, hijinks ensue. I laugh so hard every time I watch it, but honestly, it really does have a lot to teach us about friendship.

10 Things I Learned about Friendship from Playing House

1. Real friends are well aware of each other’s craziness.
The pilot opens with Emma giving a presentation to her Chinese clients, while a text and phone call from Maggie remind her to wrap it up and get to the airport. Even though they’re separated by miles, they know each other so well that Maggie is well aware that workaholic Emma is running late and Emma knows without a doubt that the sound she heard through the phone was headstrong Maggie using power tools to assemble a crib in the middle of the night.

Then when Emma finds Maggie using power tools in the middle of the night AGAIN, she talks her off the ledge (okay, a ladder) and then rounds up friends to help complete the anxious mama-to-be’s to-do list.

2. Sometimes real friends love you so much it hurts.
Yeah, this is in the show. Face-punching. And hedgehog cupcakes. Are you sold yet?

hedgehog cupcake

3. Real friends are familiar with your comfort zone – and will push you right out of it.
Whether it’s forcing your friend to watch Silence of the Lambs (a funny scene in episode 2, but definitely NOT on my personal list of good friend characteristics!!), encouraging her to stand up to her ex-husband, or helping her through that last push in childbirth, good friends will stretch you.

4. Real friends will get in your space – or your tiny playhouse.
At various times in the first season, Emma and Maggie track down the other one and find her hiding (and crying) in the backyard playhouse. And even though it’s awkward and uncomfortable (and possibly dangerous since raccoons are holed up in the house at one point), the friends climb right in with each other to talk and encourage and listen and comfort. It’s a beautiful metaphor and also a funny visual. Because, you know, big people in a little house…it’s funny!

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5. Real friends will go the extra mile when you need them.
The premise of the show is a big gesture of love, really. Emma quits her job to move across the globe the the hometown she’s successfully avoided for years, just to help Maggie raise her baby. But every episode shows the friends helping each other out, proving that the big gesture was not out of character for these friends at all.

6. Real friends will fight for you.
When Maggie goes to the hospital to deliver the baby, Emma is right beside her. She knows her role as Maggie’s support system, cheerleader and advocate, and she will fight anyone who gets in their way.

And when Maggie decides she wants an epidural after all, Emma is determined to make it happen:

M: Is that okay?
E: Oh, you’re gonna have whatever you want. I don’t care. I’ll go Shirley MacLaine on these people.
M: Shirley MacLaine? From Steele Magnolias?
E: No. Terms of Endearment, honey. Terms! Of! Endearment!

7. Real friends will make you face the truth.
Poor Maggie. Who could be strong in the face of four pounds of delicious cheese, man? Who?

8. Real friends are committed.
Whether that means commitment to being honest about hairstyles, to sharing the burden of raising a newborn, or to a bit, friends will COMMIT. Even if that bit brings out the Bosephus in a girl…

9. Real friends know what you’re capable of – even when you don’t.
You guys. This show is so stinking funny, with two weirdos and their weird families and weird friends acting like crazy people in a way that feels totally real and normal. But in the episode where Maggie finally delivers her baby? I SOBBED LIKE THAT BABY. Seriously. You need to watch it. Now. Go! I’m not even kidding.

playing house baby

10. Real friends make sweet, sweet harmony.
Well, really. Can you honestly resist a little bit of Kenny Loggins? Of course not.

If I still haven’t convinced you that Playing House is “totes kewl” (it makes sense if you’ve watched the show!) and must-see TV, then you probably need to watch the entire first season to get right. Lucky for you, USA is playing all 10 episodes this Saturday before the second season begins on Tuesday, August 4. Or you can watch on the USA website or on Hulu.

Who are your favorite TV best friends?

When You Feel Like Leaping with Joy

When You Feel Like Leaping with Joy | via givinguponperfect.com

We’ve entered a new phase in our house this summer. We’ve graduated from animated Disney movies to live action Disney movies. Which is basically just a fancy way of saying Annalyn and I have watched no less than three – count ‘em! THREE. – High School Musical movies.

You guys, they’re not actually THAT bad. And, thankfully, the same seven-year-old who keeps bugging me to find the fourth High School Musical at a Redbox or the library also not-so-secretly likes watching Elmo with her baby sister.

And, let’s not forget, it gives us gems like this:

You guys. This scene was, by far, the most cheese-tastic one of all! Zac Efron singing (and dancing to) “Bet On It” made me laugh so hard! I mean, it is ridiculous. Right? I’m not alone in this, am I?

But as I tried to contain my giggles (so as not to offend the daughter) and ended up snorting instead (because REALLY. Just watch it!), I wondered why I found it so laughable that a teenage boy might need to dance out his feelings.

Okay, yes, fine. This particular situation might not be so realistic. But haven’t you ever felt emotions so big that you couldn’t contain them? Feelings so strong you want to put them in a song? A situation so intense you just need to dance it out?

Maybe not. Maybe your feelings don’t come with the urge to belt Broadway tunes and flash jazz hands, but maybe they do beg to be shared somehow – in a Facebook post, from the rooftop (or the front porch), with a “Hallelujah!” or a “Yeehaw!”

When that happens – when you have such great news, such relief or pride or gratitude or just plain JOY – don’t play it cool, friends. Shout it out and share it with us! The world could certainly use a little more leaping with joy, couldn’t it?! I promise not to let a single snort escape, no matter how you choose to celebrate.

After all, how could I, when I’m doing leaps of joy of my own today?

Even though the official release of my book is still five months away, I’m excited to reveal the cover to you now! You can actually pre-order the book on Amazon, too. Can you believe it??!!

I’ve been so nervous to show you the cover and reluctant to show my excitement…

…because the actual launch is still so far away
…because it’s not just MY book and I didn’t write THE WHOLE thing myself
…because lots of people write books these days
…because I don’t want to brag
…because because BECAUSE!

But then I thought about young Zac Efron really COMMITTING to that song in High School Musical 2 and his jubilant leaps at the end of the most ridiculous song. And I decided that just maybe I was the one being ridiculous. That just maybe you all would want to celebrate with me. That just maybe it’s time to let the joy, joy, joy that’s down in my heart out to play.

So … YEEHAW and HALLELUJAH! My book has a cover and a home on Amazon!

Choose Joy final cover

Do you have any good news to share today?
How can we celebrate with you today?

Photo source

16 Children’s Books about the Library

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At my house, we love the library. And books. And reading. Basically, we’re pretty big book nerds around here.

But I know that’s not the case for everyone. Okay, actually, it’s not the case for Mark. And while this list of children’s books about the library might not help him, it might help the kids in your life get a little bit more excited to visit the library and find a book to bring home!

I got the idea for a list of books about the library after Annalyn and I happened to check out a couple picture books on this topic. But while I knew books about the library probably existed, I had no idea there would be so many! I found books about how libraries got their starts, about librarians, about animals who love the library or live in the library.

Really, SO MANY books about animals and libraries! Which is strange, you know, considering the fact that libraries don’t typically allow animals inside. (Well, except the one that had a cat. That one’s based on a true story, so I guess it’s possible.)

Anyway. Here’s a list of 16 books about the library. Because the library and books and reading work for me!

16 Books About the Library | via givinguponperfect.com

16 Children’s Books About the Library

What gets your kids excited about the library?

 
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Works for Me Wednesday :: Giving Up on Perfect

It’s time for Works for Me Wednesday. I’m looking forward to your tips, tricks, ideas and inspiration! If this is your first time linking up with WFMW here, PLEASE read the guidelines I shared in this post. Highlights include linking your specific post, not the front page of your blog, and making sure to include a link back to this site in your WFMW. Thank you!!

Why We Care So Much About Celebrity Marriages

Why We Care So Much About Celebrity Couples

Last week a cry was heard ’round the Internet as news broke that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are divorcing. I know, I know. You thought that outrage and anguish was the result of another news report about ISIS or the devastating stories of black churches being burned.

Nope.

Settle down. I’m well aware a person can be upset about all of those things, all at once, because we are complex and compassionate people. But no matter what else is going on in our world and in the news, I am still shocked by our collective reaction to the personal lives of celebrities.

And I say “our” because I’m no different. For example, I’m afraid that no matter how much work she does for the United Nations and starving children (or whatever it is she does for the U.N. I don’t actually know!), I will never stop thinking of Angelina Jolie as The One Who Broke Up Brad and Jen. Even though that was TEN YEARS AGO. And, oh yeah, these are people I DO NOT KNOW.

Yet…I still care. Strangely enough. Why IS that? Why do we care so much about celebrity marriages?

Why We Care So Much About Celebrity Couples

We think we know what’s best for other people.
Just like when I decided that I’d found the perfect job for my best friend the other day (I’m serious. It would be PERFECT for her, and she should apply for it right now. No, I don’t know if they’re hiring. That is beside the point!), we tend to think we know what’s best for celebrities, too. We read tiny nuggets about their lives, see a few strategic photos, watch a late-night interview – and all of a sudden, we’re experts on a celeb’s personality, values and needs.

Obviously if he’d quit traveling so much or if she’d quit working with such handsome actors or if he’d ease up on the self-tanner or she’d stop hogging the camera or — Right? We can figure out exactly what’s going wrong and just how to fix it!

Probably because this is practically make-believe for us. These are real people we’re making assumptions about, but we make up our own realities for them and their lives and their relationships.

Why We Care So Much About Celebrity Couples

We can’t separate fiction from reality.
Which brings me to this. You know you do it, too. You saw them in that movie together, and they were so cute! And then they were interviewed together on Ellen, and oh my gosh, they were hilarious! Of course it’s no surprise that they’re a real-life couple now; it only makes sense. But we forget when our favorite actors meet cute on the set that they’re not actually the characters they portray on screen. And what we see as obvious chemistry and compatibility might just have been excellent writing or savvy marketing.

Why We Care So Much About Celebrity Couples

It’s easier to worry about someone else’s marriage than our own.
A writer for one of the entertainment sites I read is obsessed with Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield. Rumors of a breakup earlier this year sent her into a GIF-filled tailspin. She was simply distraught at the mere mention of trouble in celebrity paradise. I agree Stone and Garfield seem adorable together, and the posts that writer published about her devotion to their relationship success were funny. But I had to wonder – when was the last time I got that worked up about my own marriage?

And that’s really what this comes down to for me. While it is fun to ‘ship characters in our favorite shows (Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt for the win!) or feel certain that you and your spouse would just have the most fun with a celebrity couple (Kristen Bell and Dax Shepherd would TOTALLY be our BFFs…if only they met us.), it’s really not healthy to spend more time and energy focused on other people’s relationships than on your own.

Why We Care So Much About Celebrity Couples

Our addiction to celebrity relationship news isn’t completely removed from our own lives and concerns, though. Because, deep down, I think part of our fascination stems from our desire that fairy tales be true. We look at these beautiful, talented people who have all the advantages the world can offer and can’t imagine that their stories don’t have happy endings. After all, if THEY can’t make it work – with their personal chefs and nannies and maid services and makeup artists and personal shoppers – well, the rest of us might as well give up now.

We pin our hopes for marriage on these people who seem like shinier, prettier, better versions of ourselves – but who are really just as human and flawed as us. We forget that fame and fortune don’t alleviate all the stresses of the world, and they don’t make us immune to temptation or pride or other struggles. We ignore the reality and focus on the illusion and believe these super-humans must have super-marriages, and we build up their shiny pedestals of People magazines and interviews with Fallon.

Why We Care So Much About Celebrity Couples

That’s why, when we hear that another famous couple is getting divorced, our reaction can be extreme – and more what we’d expect to be reserved for bad news about our actual friends and family members. It can feel like a personal blow, a twisted fairy tale – and a valid reason to give up hope that anyone can ever make marriage work.

Yikes.

If there’s one thing many of us need, it’s hope. We are desperate for hope, for a reason to keep believing – in marriage in general and in our own marriages. Marriage is hard, and sometimes it feels like the odds are stacked against us. Money is tight, jobs are stressful, kids are demanding, and dinner always needs to be fixed. We don’t have time for intensive therapy or weekend getaways or even a romantic dinner. So if the pretty people with charmed lives can’t figure this thing out, well, how could our relationships possibly survive?

If you know me at all, then you can probably guess that I don’t think all marriages are doomed now that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are calling it quits. Just the opposite, actually.

Why We Care So Much About Celebrity Couples | via givinguponperfect.com

Despite my commentary about the warped reasons we get so crazy about celebrity couples, I think it’s a good sign for marriage if the end of one breaks our hearts. Even if we are a little starry-eyed and impractical in our longing for “happily ever after,” the importance we place on marriage – both the ones we know personally and the ones we see from afar – is a good thing. It means we care, that we haven’t given up, that we value marriage itself.

It also means we’re longing for role models, for evidence that marriage can last, that happy marriages aren’t fantasy. So instead of peeking at the pictures on the magazines as we stand in line at the grocery store, why not search out an older couple at church? Spend time with them as friends and let them mentor you. Learn from their lives together, from the way they have fought for their marriage over decades.

And maybe, instead of winding down with E! News or your favorite entertainment site tonight, take a few minutes to connect with your spouse. Spend time focusing on your own marriage. Don’t drift apart. Put each other first. Keep learning what makes the other one tick. Dream together. Laugh together. Maybe watch a movie together.

Just…maybe not Daredevil. (You know, the one starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner? Too soon?)

Who’s your favorite celebrity couple?

How Netflix is Ruining My Life

Let's be honest, Netflix. I never, ever want to leave you. #onemoreepisode

A photo posted by Mary Carver (@marycarver) on

I mean, really. Why’s it have to ask me like that, every time? Do I WANT to exit? NO! Of course not! But I am, technically, a grown-up who needs to go to bed at some point. So quit asking me that, okay? Geez, Netflix. Quit being so clingy!

Until a few months ago we rarely used our Netflix account. We don’t have a gaming system or a Roku box thing or whatever it is that people use to get the Netflix on their televisions. [If you’re new here, you should probably get a handle on my slow adoption of new technology situation and read about the day I said goodbye to my VCR. Here’s a hint: It was not that long ago.]

But recently our lives were changed when we switched cable providers and, suddenly, Netflix appeared on our TV. Like magic! OH, THE SHOWS WE CAN WATCH! You know, without getting out that bulky cord and connecting the computer to the TV, like we did before.

It’s been awesome. I have watched A LOT OF THINGS. Not all of them great, fine, yes, this I will admit. But still, I finally watched (and loved. LOVED.) Sherlock, and I’m currently rewatching Chuck — so all is right with the world and my viewing experience.

Except…

Netflix is kind of ruining my life.

I mean, I used to have no problem watching one episode of my favorite shows each week. Unexpected reruns or holidays annoyingly coinciding with my regularly scheduled programming was irritating, sure. But for the most part I was content to watch my shows whenever the powers that be decided to give them to me.

Now, though. Oh, now, I can watch as many episodes IN ONE SITTING as I want. And I. Do. Want! So there’s been a lot of sitting at my house. Even more than usual.

And you know what happens when you watch episode after episode of a show? You get completely sucked into its world sometimes. And if that fictional world you’re watching happens to be a dark one (Hello, stupid Heroes, I’m talking to you!)? Well, good luck, my friends. Maybe go ahead and schedule that therapist appointment for the approximate week you anticipate resurfacing because you are probably going to need it. Holding onto reality is hard – and re-entry can be even worse.

Then – THEN! – there’s what happens when you try to go back. Re-watching old shows and discovering new ones is all well and good, but there ARE still shows on live TV. Right? You remember this? Shows playing today, at this very moment, that you might want to watch before they make it to Netflix? But how?

Sure, sure, you’ll DVR them. But can you really handle watching just one episode at a time? LIKE AN ANIMAL? But what else can you do? Save them up until you have enough for a good, solid binge? But what if you accidentally read or hear a spoiler? How annoying will that be?! WHAT TO DO?!

And speaking of spoilers and talking to other people about TV shows because it’s what we do…the emotional anguish that comes with binge-watching a show on Netflix that EV-ER-Y-ONE else in the WORLD has already watched and then NOT HAVING ANYONE TO TALK TO ABOUT IT? Well, it’s nearly unbearable. Do you know that I went back and read old recaps and reviews of Friday Night Lights when Mark and I watched last year? I may have (DEFINITELY DID) even listened to a couple (MORE THAN THAT) podcasts about it, just so I could pretend like anyone I know cares about a nine-year-old show.

So, you see, Netflix is clearly wrecking my entire life. Everything I hold dear (mainly my sanity and productivity) is at risk. I feel like I could say so much more about this, but you guys, I just got to the fourth season of Chuck when he [SPOILER ALERT - wait, what's the expiration date on this, ANOTHER PROBLEM Netflix causes!?] finds out his mom was a spy, too. So obviously I don’t have time for more blogging.

Am I alone – or has Netflix ruined your life, too?