Why 50 Shades is good for you.

I caved. BIG TIME.

I had heard about it a few months ago, but didn't really buy into the hype.

I mean, it's not like I was a stranger to erotic fiction. I was reading The Story of O and Ann Rice's (writing as Ann Rampling) Sleeping Beauty Trilogy way before women all over North America started googling BDSM and realizing that a full bladder equals a bloody amazing orgasm!

So, YES. I have now read all three of the Shades of Grey books and I am not ashamed to say that I thoroughly devoured and enjoyed all of them.

Today I read a post on the Yummy Mummy Club site by Kat Armstrong, their new Celebritease writer in which she ponders this "mommy porn" phenomenon...

"But there's something about this book.... that keeps drawing women in, but I completely don't get it. I don't understand how poorly written erotic fiction is turning so many of you on in a major way. I don't understand how you're not embarrassed by seeing every other mum wandering around with a copy of this or the other two books in the series. I don't understand why you don't just watch porn.

I just do not understand the appeal."

So I thought I would enlighten her and a few others out there on why I think Ms. James and her irresistible characters have enthralled a whole section of the population.

My first point is a direct answer to her "Why don't you just watch porn?" statement. 

Because we are women. Plain and simple really. For most of us, sex, fantasy, romanticism, erotica, and all of that... it happens in our minds. I realize that this is a generalization, but one that I am fairly confident about. I guarantee you that if my mind is aroused, anticipating what is going to happen, seeing the whole scene in the safe and private screening room that is my imagination, then I am pretty much a sure thing. Whereas watching a perfectly shaved, busty blonde, doing her faked version of a mind-blowing orgasm on the screen of my laptop via YouPorn, meh... it seems to me that this takes all the fun out of it! {Not that I have ever done this of course}. I am no expert on this, but I am pretty sure that for most women our biggest erogenous zone is our mind!

We are not guys. Most women are not hard-wired for sex at any minute the way guys are. Need to test this? Try a little experiment for me...

If you are sitting beside your significant other and reading this right now, stop reading. Tell him you want to have sex RIGHT NOW. It's OK. I will wait till you get back.

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See, they can't really say no and can be ready in an instant. Whereas women need more of a warm up. We need to stretch before we work out! And if reading a few chapters of Christian and Anastasia's latest antics in the playroom serve as a good stretch for your imagination and this is going to make you more ready and willing for a good romp, then I say go for it. You wouldn't want to pull a muscle or something now would  you?

What exactly is the appeal of the Christian/Anasatasia relationship and why do we care?

Okay. Now most of this is just my theory, so don't shoot me if you don't agree. Let's just think of this as Book Club and we are having a discussion about the themes in the book. So here goes...

We all want to be Ana. Smart, sassy, young, pretty, perky boobs (oh, to have perky boobs again!!) and her whole life ahead of her. I don't have these statistics, but I would take a guess that the majority of women reading 50 Shades are not 22-year-old college graduates. They are 35-50 year old women who have kids and careers and husbands and mortgages and car pools and PTA meetings and probably can't remember if they actually had a shower today or not. We escape into Ana for a time and get to pretend that we are all that she is and none of the other stuff. This is not a bad thing and being able to feel what the protagonist is feeling is in my opinion, one of the hallmarks of a good read.

And we all want Christian. I don't care who you are, you can be the hard-core feminist or the devoted housewife (or both really), but no woman among us can resist the tortured soul. It is that ever-present romantic notion that love will conquer all. In 50 Shades, that love just happens to be peppered with a rather decadent dose of what Ana so aptly called "kinky fuckery". And really, who couldn't use a little bit more of that in their love lives?

That is really it on the surface, we all want to be her, we all want to be taken care of by him (in ALL ways) and we all want to FIX him. To be perfectly honest, I am still mulling over the Christian/Ana dynamic and have a few more thoughts on it. I think it could be further delved into and discussed as it applies to a lot of relationship issues, especially those of control, insecurity and trust... food for thought for a future post maybe.

It really is just a love story. And who doesn't root for the girl to get the boy in the end and for everyone to live happily ever after?

The third point I want to make is about the writing itself. 

Now I haven't made a point to read a lot of different reviews about the books themselves, but suffice it to say that the general consensus is that Ms. James' writing is not that great.

Hmmm.... maybe my tastes are not that sophisticated, because I didn't think it was that bad for a first time author. Was it a particularly intricate read? No, it was not. Did I start to roll my eyes a bit at the constant references to Ana's 'Inner Goddess' and 'Subconscious' as if they were characters in the story? Yes, that got a bit tired. But all in all, I didn't put down the book at any time and say to myself, "Oh my god, this writing is atrocious, I can't read anymore of this!"

I would like to say this though. 50 Shades was originally written as fan fiction based on the Twilight series. Twilight, the series written about a high school student and a bunch of vampires that has been read by moms the world over. The Hunger Games trilogy is another young adult series written for teenagers about teenagers forced to fight for the pleasure of others. All of these books are written for a young adult audience, and yet here we are all reading them and we are FAR from the young adult phase of our lives.

Why is this?

Well, I have one theory. I don't know about you, but for the last five and a half years, I have read A LOT of books. Books that rhyme, books that make no sense, books that have farting dogs, and bats that live with birds, and birds wanting to drive buses and dinosaurs paying hockey and silly cats who think they are dogs. I have read books over and over and over again, to the point that I can recite them now without even looking at the pages. Because that is what you do when you have kids, you read to them, you let them use their imaginations and see the words and pictures from their books come alive right in front of them and through you.

And if your first years of parenthood have been anything like mine, you rarely have time to delve into a really good book that is just for you, let alone finish one! So, in comes some YA (young adult) fiction. Are these books easy to read? Yes, they are. Do they take you away and give you an escape from the hum-drum of diapers and midnight feedings and potty training? They sure do. This is not a bad thing Mamas. If reading a book, any book that has more words than pictures in it, and one that can give you a half an hour or if you are really lucky, an hour to yourself, I say go for it. Who cares if it was written for a 17-year-old. If you really think about it, some of the greatest books in history are considered young adult fiction. Consider The Catcher in the Rye, The Outsiders, To Kill a Mockingbird and Great Expectations, just to name a few.

{Disclaimer - the '50 Shades' books are NOT for anyone under the age of 25 in my opinion!}

Now back to 50 Shades of Grey for my final point to explain the appeal.

I was at a dinner party a few weeks ago and the conversation turned to the books. My friend's husband was arguing the 'why don't you just watch porn' angle and also saying that the books where stupid because it is not like all these housewives and moms where going to go out and try all the BDSM stuff that is in the book, so what is the point.

I bit my tongue that night and did not say much in mixed company, but here is the point. Having kids and careers and busy lives sometimes makes for nights when it's an effort just to get to bed at the same time, let alone be awake enough for some sexy time. Add in co-sleeping, night-time parenting and the fear of scarring your children forever if they walk in on you getting busy, well, the time for spontaneity in your sex life often goes out the window and finding and turning on your libido can end up last on your very long to-do list. If reading some erotic fiction gets your blood boiling and lights a fire in the otherwise dry twigs that constitute your loins these days, then READ ON MAMAS!! I am not saying you have to go and get yourself all trussed up on a wheel and whipped with a riding crop, but a blindfold and a few silk scarves could do wonders for any bedroom experience... It is your imagination ladies, spurred on by a few words on paper! Use this and get it on again with those hot men you made babies with and once upon a time couldn't keep your hands off of!!

All I have to say is this...

Don't knock it till you try it {or in this case read it} folks!

You and very likely your partner too will be glad that you did!

Laters baby,

;)

N~

 

 

My week with Big Betty: Review of the King Ranch Ford F-150

It was bound to happen. I am a born and bred, never lived anywhere else Alberta Girl.

I like {free-range, organic} beef and pork products, I enjoy a good rodeo every now and then and the thought of a man in a cowboy hat, on a horse, in a pair of tight Wrangler jeans does hold a certain raw appeal for me....

Hmmmm.

Sorry, what was I saying?

Oh yes!

So, really, it was only a matter of time before I found myself behind the wheel of something like...

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THIS!!

Meet Big Betty. Also known as the 2012 King Ranch F-150 Ford Pick-up Truck.

Now before you get all, "Um? Helloooo, Ms. Natural Urban Mama, what the heck are you doing reviewing a HUGE truck when you live in the middle of the Big City and you claim to be all about the environment?", you have to know that I chose to review this vehicle for a few different reasons.

  1.  I have never driven a truck before and I thought it would be fun.
  2. This particular truck has Ford's innovative EcoBoost™ engine and I wanted to see if it really is all that and a bag of chips.
  3.  I have never really understood the appeal of a really big pick-up truck and wanted to get a feel for it first hand.

So what is the NUM verdict on Big Betty?

When I first pulled out of the lot with her and into traffic, my first thought was, "So this is what it must feel like to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex." BIGGER than anything else around you and suddenly overcome with an overwhelming desire to eat a big ol' piece of meat!

I fully admit that for that first day I was really nervous driving around in the biggest vehicle I have ever been in. But soon enough, the incredible luxury that is the King Ranch's interior and Ford's uncanny attention to detail just kind of put me at ease and if not for the fact that I was a full meter above most other vehicles on the road, I would have forgotten that I was indeed in a TRUCK!

Let's start with the interior.

The King Ranch is a SuperCrew model, which essentially means ROOMY! I am absolutely positive that you can fit 5 six-foot plus full-grown men in this truck without one of them complaining about lack of head or leg room. It also means that you can fit two preschoolers and their car seats in the back seat and they are spaced far enough apart to keep their hands completely to themselves and their little kicking feet and dirty shoes from hitting the back of the front seats too (ask my kids, this is my big car pet peeve)!

Ford really did not skimp on the luxury in this one. There is leather everywhere in this truck! The seats, the centre console, the knob on the floor shifter and yes, even the steering wheel. Add to that the stylish wood grain interior trim accents and Big Betty is one handsome lady! Right down to the fancy King Ranch logo tastefully embossed just about everywhere you can think of. And although we did not have a need for it, the one-touch 60/40 rear seats fold up to reveal a fully flat load floor for whatever you need to haul INSIDE your truck!

Another great thing about Big Betty, it that you don't have to be a 6 foot tall man to fit comfortably in the driver's seat. She has a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals and of course 10-way power-adjustable driver and passenger seats. And these seats can be both heated and cooled! Little ol' 5 foot 3 and 3/4 inch me found a very comfy driver setting and Big Betty memorized it for our week together.

The King Ranch of course comes standard with the Ford's voice-activated SYNC® and Navigation systems and the one essential feature that I would have been lost without, the back up camera. Seriously, I have no idea how people who drive such huge vehicles do so without one. I would have been a lot less confident in backing up and parking had Big Betty not had one of these, let's be honest, life-saving devices. Which is one of the reasons why the US Department of Transportation keeps pushing for back-up cameras to be mandatory on ALL vehicles in the near future.

In terms of Big Betty's driving performance and capabilities, like I said, she was my first truck experience and so I don't really have a good comparison. The King Ranch is equipped with Ford's 3.5L EcoBoost engine. This is what that means in car tech talk...

This direct-injection twin turbo engine delivers a best-in-class mix of torque, capability and fuel efficiency. It tows more than any competitor (up to 11,300 lbs.), hauls more (up to 3100 lbs.), gives you more torque (420 lb.-ft) and delivers best-in-class 9.0L/100 km hwy fuel efficiency. (exert from the 2012 F-150 Brochure)

And with a 136 L fuel tank what this really means is that you can tow and haul a buttload of stuff for a really LONG road trip. Like 1400 kilometers long! So you know, when you get a whim, you can drive from Edmonton to Whitehorse on one tank of gas.

I mainly drove Big Betty around the city and took her on one little road trip to my sister's place an hour outside of the city and managed to get a respectable 15.8L/100Km out of her.  I guess this is pretty good, but again, I have not driven any of the other trucks in the same class to give a fair and full comparison. I did like that I could see just how fuel-efficient I was being right there on my driver's console though, this made the, "Oh My God, I am driving a gas-guzzling beast!" feelings a little bit less front and centre.

 

In terms of hauling and towing and such, well, I can tell you that I do see the appeal of having a truck. You can make as many trips to IKEA as you like and never have to wonder if those damn boxes are going to fit in your car! Never again do you have to call your one friend who actually has a truck and beg him or her to help you pick up something REALLY big! And as you can see, the pickup box was a hit with the littles! And yes, it comes with what I learned from one of my contractors is affectionately called the "sissy step", or as I like to call it, damn smart thinking on Ford's part! The tailgate step along with side box steps make managing your cargo that much easier from all angles.

 

In the end, we were all kind of sad to say good-bye to Big Betty. The kids LOVED her and even my completely citified husband was showing her off to anyone who came by for a visit. She was their favourite review so far and yes, I will admit that it was kind of fun to drive it up to my parent's place and see the look of envy on my dad's face for that split second!

If hauling and towing and being the King of the Ranch is what you need, and you have $50,ooo.00 to spare, then the King Ranch Ford F-150 might just be the truck for you. For this Natural Urban Mama, I think I will just stick to my small, fuel-efficient, herbivore of a car and leave the T.Rex'ing for the big boys!

Happy Driving Y'all,

Natasha~

Disclaimer: Vehicle was provided to me for one week by Ford for review purposes.

 

Mama Music. Review & Giveaway: 'The Full Catastrophe'

We have a WINNER!

 

Zita on May 9, 2012 at 4:43 PM

There is nothing in the world that moves me quite so powerfully as music. I have genres to fit all my moods and get very antsy in ‘silence’. Lately, I’ve been very into lyrics as well- I appreciate a lot of the poetry that’s emerging in new indie music. :) Great review, N!

Congratulations Zita! An email will be sent to you shortly.

Thank you to everyone for entering!

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I have a 3.5-year-old and a 5 year old. I know all the words to the Hello song, the Goodbye song, the Clean-up song, the Ridin' in the Car song, the Playin' in the Kitchen song, the Sleepyhead song and countless more.

The 6 CD-changer in my car has been overtaken by all of the kid's music class CDs, not to mention what is on my iPod, and I am told within 30 seconds of getting into the vehicle which selection they want that day.

This is really not a bad thing. My kids have an appreciation for music and we try to expose them to lots of different genres. They love to sing and make up songs of their own, although I am pretty sure that my poor girl has inherited my lack of anything remotely resembling singing on key and Little C is really so much more of a dancer than a singer. They love 'their' music and I like to keep car rides stress-free and happy!

The one downside to all of this is that I rarely get to listen to music that I want to in the car and often after I drop them off at playschool, there I am a half an hour later humming along to Trot Ol' Joe once again.

Oh how far I have strayed...

I used to be a music junkie! Live bands, concerts, the beer soaked dance floor at the Sidetrack Cafe (man, I miss that place!), Lilith Fair, Edge Fest (is that still around?) and of course the creme de la creme in my town, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival.

You see, I LOVE music. All kinds of music. Some people love to dance, some love to sing, and then there is MOI. I can do neither of these things very well (I used to be able to dance, but then along came my friend JRA), and so I listen. I listen with all of my heart and soul and body. I feel music, I appreciate the artistry that exists in it and in true musicians and music moves me to my core.

So when someone (and by someone, I mean someone really, really cool) emails me one day and asks me if I want to review an advance copy of a CD for a great band they are working with, I immediately say YES!

Because this Mama needs some grown-up music in her life!

And then I listen to said CD and am kind of blown away. Because it is like this amazing band has reached inside this Natural Urban Mama's  head and they are SINGING my thoughts!

So without further ado...

I give you.

Nerissa and Katryna Nields.

Photo Credit: Kristin McCue

 

This sister indie-folk rock duo have been at this music gig for the past 20 years. They have recorded 15 albums, written three books, have a thriving children's music education empire and their own DVD. And they balance all of this precariously while being wives and mothers themselves.

Their sixteenth album is called 'The Full Catastrophe' and it is a testament to every mother's daily joys and struggles. It is funny, poignant, catchy, ethereal and I am thoroughly enjoying it (In fact, I am listening to it right now!). In addition to the melody of a song, what I truly appreciate is the song-writing and lyrics. And the Nields sisters nail it on every song on the CD.

I have listened to the full CD over and over and every time I hear these lyrics from Track 11: 'More than Enough', I tear up. It is THAT good!

"Happily ever after, two kids crawling on the floor

All of our cups are overflowing

Somebody still wants to pour

I get that it’s not about comfort and ease

But uniting when the going gets rough

And to spread it around, to our world, to our town

That's how you get more than enough

I’ll always have more than enough

We’ll always have more than enough."

Like I said, these ladies have literally taken words and feelings about all kinds of aspects of my life as a wife and mother (and likely yours too) and put them brilliantly into song. You will get hooked and want to hear more, I guarantee it!

Here is what the sisters have to say about their newest work;

This CD is an offering to everyone who struggles to balance a home life—with or without kids or partner—with an artistic life, which is to say a work life, for all who labor honorably may choose to do so artistically. The older we get, the more precious both seem to us. Nerissa says, “I could certainly live without friends or family, but I am not sure I would want to. I could let my work go, say goodbye to the muse and my Les Paul, but that would be saying goodbye to joy. We might be happier simplifying our lives, but as Katryna said when we first began this project with the title track, happiness might be overrated. Our cups overfloweth. We choose those cups, and we surrender to the reality that this means many many spills need to be cleaned up.”

And so, in honour of Mother's day coming up and well, because it's nice to pass on great music and give another Mama some grown-up music of her own, I have ONE full copy of the Nields sisters new CD The Full Catastrophe available for a lucky Natural Urban Mamas reader!

All you have to do is comment on this post and tell me what kind of music moves you and why. 

And because it's the right thing to do...

Head on over and follow Nerissa and Katryna Nields on Twitter and Facebook too.

I leave you with this wonderful tribute to mothers that the sisters collaborated on for MotherWoman.org! Go get some tissues.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fd0LsguSlyE[/youtube]

The Full Catastrophe is available now on iTunes and in stores near you!

The Fine Print:

  • Giveaway starts today, May 7th and ends on May 13th. 
  • Winner will be chosen by Random.org and will be contacted by email.
  • I was given a free download of the Nields new CD, The Full Catastophe for review.
  • All opinions are my own and I don't lie. 
  • I also sneak into my kid's snack cupboard and eat Goldfish crackers by the handful!

Good luck Everyone!

Natasha~