My Mom and Dad are Moving Into the 21st Century

My parents have never really been ones to jump on the technology bandwagon. We didn’t get a home computer until my senior year of high school (and dad referred to it as “The Devil’s Tool”). My parents only have cell phones because I wanted to be able to get in touch with them – so I signed ’em both up on my plan and got them phones. Mom still loves her VHS tapes, and dad swears by his flip phone. Until a few weeks ago, they were perfectly content with their ancient tube TV living inside the entertainment center my dad and I built together when I was about eleven. It was time for a change.

They upgraded to some fancy pants smart TV, not unlike the amazing 43″ Sharp Roku TV that Netflix so very generously provided to me for all the hard work (and by hard work, I mean TV watching) I do for them as part of the Stream Team.

my parents got a new TV, so I thought I'd teach them about Netflix

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My brother and I convinced our parents to stop paying for premium cable and instead sign up for Netflix where they can watch movies and TV (including some Netflix originals that you can’t watch anywhere else such as House of Cards, which Mama Bear is dying to watch).

So I though I’d share with you the shows and movies I think my parents are really going to enjoy, separately and together.

My parents just got a smart TV. I thought I'd give them a headstart in the wonderful world of Netflix.Netflix for Mom

She loves reality TV, a good drama without too much violence, solid sitcoms, and nostalgic movies.

  • She’s excited to watch House of Cards, though I think she might be surprised by some of the violence (although I guess not after reading this). Even so, that first season is wicked smart. And Robin Wright’s and Kevin Spacey’s performances are killer.
  • Chef’s Table is likely to be a hit with Mom, as she loves watching cooking shows and chefs at work.
  • Friends was always one of Mom’s favorite shows. So I think she’ll enjoy a commercial-free binge watch.

Netflix for Dad

He loves war movies, sci-fi, strong dramas, John Wayne, and musicals.

  • Men in Black II hits the sci-fi nerve that Dad loves. Plus he’s probably seen it so many times, he can have a cat nap while watching.
  • Coyote Ugly is chock full of romance and country music, which Dad loves and Mom despises (the music not the romance). I recommend he watch this when she’s at poker night.
  • The Walking Dead is likely to be entertaining for dad, for at least the forst couple of seasons. I suspect like Brian and I, he’ll get bored with the plot midway through the series and stop watching.

Netflix for my Parents

They share a love of romantic and laugh-out-loud comedies, adventure and disaster movies and TV, and animated classics.

  • Adams Family Values is one of their absolute favorites. My bestie, Lily and I just watched the original Adams Family movie last month and it was just as fantastic as it was when I was a kid, but this one is pure gold for Mom and Dad.
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is my favorite Netflix original to date. (Fuller House hasn’t started yet, but I’ve got some seriously high expectations for it). I think both my parents will love the cast and the story, particularly Titus Andromedon.
  • The Walt Disney short films collection is sure to be a hit. Mom will appreciate the brevity, and they’ll both love some of these amazing shorts. When watching Feast, there won’t be a dry eye in the room, but it’ll be worth every second.

Well, Mom and Dad, Welcome to the 21st century. I hope you love Netflix as much as we do! Cheers to a winter full of binge TV! Might I suggest a bottle of wine and a big ‘ole tub of cheese balls?

When your parents get their first smart TV, these shows may just make them addicted to Netflix. Click To Tweet

What Netflix shows do you recommend? We’re always looking for more recommendations, especially with hibernation season right around the corner.

Netflix Stream Team

This is a sponsored post for Netflix. I received a year’s subscription and a device on which to binge watch TV shows and movies in return for these monthly posts.

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I’d Like to Raise My Glass to My Parents for Being Hilarious

I grew up in a bar. I don’t say this to shock you; I say this because it’s true. And it’s not a bad thing.

Every summer, Tuesday nights were exciting because my brother and I would pick up cheeseburgers and kiddie cocktails on our way to Dad’s softball games. We’d snack out of Styrofoam containers while Dad threw killer pitches. Then we’d get bored and run off to the playground next to the field.

After the game, we’d head back to the bar where Mom was occasionally serving drinks and Dad was celebrating with the team. The other bar kids and I would jam out to 80’s hair metal on the juke box, hustle grown-ups at pool, race around the back alley, and convince bar patrons to steal a grocery cart from the store across the street. Sometimes, we’d even walk a couple blocks to get Blizzards from DQ or candy and cheap toys from the local drug store.

It was fun.

We knew our parents were drinking alcohol. They didn’t call it “Mommy Juice.” When my brother or I asked our parents what they were drinking, they were honest with us.

“This is beer.”


“This is cognac.”

“This is scotch.”

“This is tequila.”

“This is wine.”

And you know what? My brother and I – we weren’t stupid. We knew what alcohol was. We saw a lot of alcoholics come and go from that bar.

So when one of us would ask, “Can I try?” and our parents said yes, they weren’t stupid either. Before you get all Trolly McTrollerson on me or my amazing parents, let me inform you that the Illinois State Liquor law does not have an age restriction for parents allowing their children alcohol in the safety of their own home. Which was the only place we were allowed to try our parents beverages.

My brother and I tried our fair share of Bud Light tastes and the occasional sip of cognac, and every time we tried something, we would spit it out with a resounding “YUCK.” Because gross. Our child palates weren’t down with alcohol, and we couldn’t understand how on God’s green earth our parents could consume such slop. Give me a 7up and grenadine any day.

Our parents talked to us about alcohol when we were very young. They were honest. And you know what else they were? They were hilarious. They drank. They made jokes. They made jokes about alcohol and parenthood and every other aspect of their lives. Because if you can’t laugh, what’s the point?

Even I, as a young pup, would make my fair share of alcohol jokes. When my sister, Deven, was away at college, she teasingly promised a nine-year old Chrissy that when I came to visit her, she would take me to a party and give me beer. I firmly stated to her, “I prefer cocktails.”

Of course, I was talking about kiddie cocktails, but everyone laughed. I got my sense of humor from my parents. Thank God.

Because right now, Responsibility.org is asking mom bloggers to “refresh their funny” and remove alcohol-related humor from their repertoire. You can watch this video that shows their preferred messaging.


While I’m not a mom blogger or even a mom, I’ve got a few things to say about this.

I respect the Talk Early campaign. I’m all for talking to kids about alcohol. Hands down, talk about it. But you know what? Alcohol is a legal substance for people over the age of 21 in the United States. It’s often younger if you live in another country. Parents aren’t going to stop drinking on behalf of their children, so why should they kill their senses of humor on behalf of those same children?

I’ve heard that parenthood changes you, but I sure as fuck hope that when I have tiny humans, I don’t lose the ability to make a quick joke about vodka. Because…Chrissy Water, as my friends call it here in the Chicago suburbs, isn’t going anywhere.

My parents talked to me about alcohol. They made jokes about alcohol. They still make jokes about alcohol. Shit, my dad and I drink to the forest fire (IT’S A JOKE, PEOPLE). And you know what? I didn’t go out and start drinking like a lush at 12 or think my parents were alcoholics or anything like that. And you know what? Most of my friends didn’t either. The kids who are drinking underage aren’t doing it because their parents made a joke about wine when they were babies or children or even teenagers. They’re doing it to rebel. They’re doing it because their friends are doing it. They’re doing it because they can.

Refresh the target not the punchline. Alcohol jokes are targeted at adults. Let's worry more about what the kids are doing than the parents, eh-

Me? I waited until I was a respectable freshman in college, sneaking booze the proper way. By getting a junior to buy my Boone’s Farm.

Responsibility wants to start a conversation. They’re even offering a fancy monetary prize to three BlogU15 bloggers who write about Refreshing Their Funny. This post is an entry into that contest, and no one paid me to say anything in this piece. Especially considering my whole disagreeing with them thing.

What about you guys? Do you believe parents should stop posting images and jokes with alcohol as the punch line? What are some of your favorite jokes and memes? When did you start drinking?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

10 Things That Made My Childhood Different Because My Parents Owned a Bar

I’m pretty sure childhood in the late 80’s was vastly different than it is today. There are so many things that were okay in school, social circles of parents, and overall society that just aren’t the same. I also have this very unique view on alcohol and bars and children. Not because my parents were alcoholics, because they weren’t. Instead, it was because they owned a bar. My childhood memories often involve the deep-fried, kiddie-cocktail, quarters-for-pinball experiences that are often reserved for comedy movies with a quick jab about kids in country bars.

Flaherty's Bar

You have a baby! In a bar!

Except that I was a baby in a bar. And it wasn’t a bad thing. It gave me some insight into the world that most kids don’t get.

10 things my 80’s childhood wouldn’t have been complete without

1. Bottle caps were a thing

On Day 100, all the kids in the younger grades were charged with bringing in 100…somethings. some kids brought buttons or toothpicks or pennies. I brought in beer bottle caps. (I mean they were washed and shit! No biggie.) This was in the late 80’s, and no one seemed to mind as much back then.

2. My parents knew my teachers…and what they liked to drink

This started in kindergarten and didn’t end until my teachers were professors in Peoria at Bradley. I’ll never forget St. Patrick’s Day my junior year of high school. I was bussing tables and washing dishes to earn my keep, when I looked up and saw my chemistry teacher, his Bud Light and a caramel-colored liquid in a shot glass.  across the bar, a mere two feet from my face. We made eye contact and it was all awkward from there. “Hi Mr. Johnson.” Long pause “Hi Chrissy.” The following day at school was no less weird. It’s not like he didn’t know my parents owned the bar…he just wasn’t expecting to see me behind it.

3. St. Patrick’s Day was like Christmas

We woke up on St. Patrick’s Day morning, and there were often little green presents on the dining room table for us. Little trinkets and fun beer-logoed freebies from the bar so we could blink, sparkle and shine at work. Back then, no one cared in there was a beer advertised on my blinking buttons. By the time I was in high school, everyone and their mother cared. Times, they did a change.

4. We played Bartender instead of House and dreamed of the day we could be waitresses

My best friends and I used to play bartender at the home bar we had in our living room. And we’d practice our mad skills with trays full of drinks while on roller skates for the day we would become Flaherty’s waitresses and roller skates would become a thing. We were mini marketing geniuses. Tell me you wouldn’t want to hang out in a bar with roller skating waitresses. Just try.

5. Quarters were king. And they came for free

There’s something about an adorable gaggle of kids trouncing around a bar that makes grown ups want to give them money. We cashed in on this as much as we could. Sometimes, it was our parents. Sometimes, it was one of the many “aunts” or “uncles.”  And other times, it was a random stranger with a few quarters to spare. They’d play a game of pinball as we watched with awe and admiration…and then they’d leave the remaining credits in the machine, telling us to each take a turn.

6. Few things in life were more exciting than a stolen shopping cart

When you’re a kid at a bar, you can convince patrons to do almost anything your little mind could dream up. We managed to get shopping carts from the grocery store across the street on a somewhat regular basis. We’d race each other around the back alley or the empty part of the parking lot with a freedom that a lot of kids don’t get these days.

7. I learned to hustle grown ups at pool

When I was about 9, my brother and I received our very own pool cues. We’d bet quarters and dollars with some of the local patrons and then pull out our special cues. We’d surprise the hell out of them and kick their butts. I’m pretty sure my pool skills peaked at age 11.

8. I created my own drink and named it. After myself. Obviously.

By the time I was tall enough to reach the pop gun, I was behind the bar mixing my own kiddie cocktails. My favorite concotion was the Chrissy Cocktail:

  • 1 part grenadine
  • 1 part Squirt
  • 2 parts 7up
  • 2parts pineapple juice
    *Add ice and 5 straws; then stir

(Yes, that was a lot of grenadine. I was a kid in control of the cherry juice. Duh.)

(Yes, in college I added 6 parts vodka and the original drink became the Virgin Chrissy Cocktail.)

9. I mastered the jukebox like a boss

Not only was I a pinball wizard and a pool hustler…I was a jukebox hero. We were often given dollars for the jukebox too. We rocked out to Bon Jovi, Guns n’ Roses, Aerosmith, Ugly Kid Joe, Nirvana and more. There were patrons we need would get up and be foolish during certain songs and we owned the shit out of it. We were mini DJs on the dance floor.

10. I learned not to become an alcoholic.

This is the serious part of the list, but I feel it’s important to be said. Because I was able to witness so many different people over the years, I learned the difference between social drinking and alcoholism. I’ve been to more wakes/funerals and known more people who died from alcohol-related diseases than many typical 29(okay fine…31) year olds. My old boss (the one with no filter) once told me “you sure go to a lot of funerals” after a particularly depressing few months of deaths.

I enjoy cocktailing, but I try to avoid drinking to excess.

Now don’t get me wrong. I was never in the bar past 10pm (and that was ONLY on non-school nights after one of my dad’s softball games). My parents didn’t get drunk and drive us home. Usually, Mom was working behind the bar or waiting tables and Dad was holding court (this is what bar owners and their children do when they hang out in their bar. It’s a thing) or vice versa. When things started getting rowdy, we were hustled out of the bar and didn’t witness anything too inappropriate for our young eyes. Nothing your parents and their friends wouldn’t have done at home with a few cocktails, really.

What was your childhood like? Do you think parents were more lax in the 80’s and 90’s than they are now?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Shit I’m Really Glad My Mom DIDN’T Do

There are some things that I see and I think, Seriously?  I look back on my own childhood and thank the world that I had my mom doing things the way she did things.

Sometimes (not always, of course) I feel like my mom’s a little too hard on herself. Even though there are definitely times that my mom drives me or drove me up the wall…I think she did a fucking bad ass job of raising a couple of relatively normal human beings. So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank her for the shit she didn’t do. Because I am a better person for it.

Things My Mom Didn’t Do

Call alcoholic beverages “mommy juice”

Please. Please. Please for the love of God. Stop. Your children will eventually find out that you’re a lush. Calling it “mommy juice” doesn’t make it any better. It makes you sound silly. And drunk.

Now, I grew up surrounded by alcohol, without having alcoholic parents. My parents owned a bar. I knew alcoholics. I knew I didn’t want to be one. So I knew what booze was. I even knew when my parents were drinking it. Big fucking deal. Get over yourself. You aren’t the first parent to need a glass bottle of wine after a rough day. Call it what it is. Wine. Vodka. Beer. Whiskey. Name your poison…It’s okay, I promise. Your kid will thank you one day. Besides, I think I turned out okay.

Make alcohol seem taboo

I was allowed to taste everything, including, but not limited to wine and beer. I hated alcohol. It tasted gross. Children’s taste buds don’t actually LIKE booze (unless you’re drinking the super fruity stuff that tastes like candy. Don’t share that with the kids.) It’s the idea that it’s forbidden that makes so many kids experiment.

Sure I made jokes about drinking when I was a kid… When told I should drink MGD when I grew up, I told my older sister, Deven, that I would “drink Bud Light like my Daddy.” When she later told me that she would take me to a college party (at the age of 9) and get me a beer, I responded with, “I prefer cocktails.” In kindergarten, I drew a picture of a bar for what I wanted to be when I grew up. Instead of playing house or grocery store, we played bartender. But I’m almost 30 years old and I drink MAYBE once a week. So I think I’m alright on that front as well.

Give me a time out

Nope, I was never given a “time out” and asked about my feelings. Instead my parents would slap me on the ass and tell me that what I did was wrong. Seriously. Just like Pavolv’s pup, I knew when I did something bad and when I did something good. I was praised for good behavior, and taught not to be an asshole. I grew up with a healthy fear of punishment. Which is part of the reason I was such a Stepford child.

When I was an education major (twice), all of the books for child development were saying that you need to ask children about their feelings and why they did bad things. This pissed me off to no end. I even wrote a paper for Argumentative Writing in favor of corporal punishment for kids (when combined with a lot of affection.)  Mostly this pissed me off because I know kids who had that kind of parent…and I know kids like me who had parents who actually punished their kids, and you know what? We were the teenagers who didn’t end up drunk off our asses and naked in the middle of a public street…(Yes, this actually happened to someone).

Let Me Run Wild

Whether in a restaurant, the grocery store, or even a kid-friendly locale, my mother had us on strict orders to behave. We weren’t allowed to run around like assholes, we had to ask to leave the table at a restaurant (even to go see the lobster tank at Red Lobster), and we had to stay close to her in stores. In other words, we were well-behaved little assholes. Most of the time.

I remember being pulled out of a restaurant and getting spanked in the parking lot, after which we returned to the table, and I was a silently crying, but sitting and not yelling, little girl. Another time, I remember playing in someone’s basement for 20 minutes, and mom thought we were outside. When she couldn’t find us, we were no longer allowed to go to the pool with our babysitter that day.

Consequences. There were consequences to running wild. I see too many kids who dominate their parents, and the parents look frazzled and unsure of what to do…At which my point my mother would look at us and say, “I am the parent. You are the child. When you’re the parent, you can do what you want. Until then sit down and shut up.”

For the record, my dad’s pretty fucking awesome, too.

My first legal shot with my parents. (Isn't my mom short and adorable?)

My first legal shot with my parents. (Isn’t my mom short and adorable?)

What about you, Blog Friends? What are you glad your mom did or didn’t do? Will you do the same for your kids?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Product Review: PAIRSinPEARS

Yes, it is Monday, and for today’s Memory to Make You Laugh, you can head over to my WordPress blog to read about back pain. But here at Quirky Chrissy, I’ve got an exciting post lined up.

As many of you may remember, I was invited to attend a really spectacular event in Chicago, last month: The Chicago Toy & Game Fair.

At this event, I was invited to meet with game inventors, visit booths, and learn about new and popular games. I was also given a variety of free products to try out, and write about for you, my loyal readers!

One of the games that  I was very excited to play was Pairs in Pears, by the creators of Bananagrams.

If you haven’t heard of Bananagrams, shame on you! It’s the perfect game for word ninjas or word ninjas in training. I first played it when I was student teaching. We used it in the resource room on Fridays. The students loved the break from homework or silent reading, and I loved playing with words. It worked out really well. But this review is about Pairs in Pears, so I will leave Bananagrams for another day.

PAIRSinPEARS® (Suggested Retail Price: $14.95- Ages 3+)

PAIRSinPEARS or PAIRS in PEARS

What an excellent game. Much like its counterpart, Bananagrams, PAIRSinPEARS is a word ninja game. With several play options, this game is absolutely perfect for a variety of ages. The letter tiles are larger than those found in Bananagrams, which makes it easier for younger (and older) eyes.

As some of you may know, I spent the last two summers teaching reading comprehension, a position that I am incredible proud of and humbled by. I worked for a truly amazing company that not only worked with students who were sometimes considered “unteachable,” but we were able to teach them to read, spell, and write. My 5-year-old niece, The Princess, and my 7-year-old godson, Little A (or A, for short), both have some difficulty with the process of reading/writing. Now, they’re relatively young, but with my knowledge of literacy, I know that it’s important to boost their reading skills younger rather than waiting. PAIRSinPEARS is the perfect game to help Auntie Chrissy.

Kids don’t want to feel like learning is a chore. Especially when they’re hanging out with their favorite aunt. A loves games. Loves them. Like me, he developed the love early on, and it was evident that most of the grown ups in his life were not down with playing games. As I once spent many a Life games playing with my dog, I feel that it’s my duty to play with A and teach him about the joys of gaming. So a few weeks ago, I brought PAIRSinPEARS out to play with him.

The beauty of Pairs in Pears is the versatility. There are 8 different formal activities documented in the game rules, and 2 different competitive games (with varying degrees of difficulty for varying ages/reading levels).

A and I played the basic competitive version with my cousin, Rachel (A’s mom). I would be lying if I said we played fair…We definitely let A win, because with him it’s a learning game, and we want him to know he’s doing well (and we want him to have fun…and winning is definitely fun). The basic play for this game involves dividing up the letters equally among players, and racing to see who can build cross words faster. Here were A’s favorite words to use. Cute right?

PAIRSinPEARS Toy Joy

A required a little help, and it took him a while to get the basic idea of the game, but once he was in a groove, he was all over the place. he loved rhyming words because it was easier for him to find the same letters, so we let him play that way for a while…Then we upped the ante, by telling him that all of the letters had to be different. In addition to building his spelling skills, we were working on his vocabulary, too! By the end of the day, A was begging to come back and play more games with us.

PAIRS in PEARS Review

Definitely related to me…

A few days later, I had The Princess over. We were talking about school (she’s in Kindergarten) and she told me it was really hard for her. She said that she could read the letters, but had trouble spelling the words. Of course, I broke out Pairs in Pears to play-after I told her my secret: “Auntie Chrissy is really really good with words. She knows how to teach spelling and reading, so that you can be the smartest girl ever. Do you want me to help you?”

Her eyes got really big and wide before she said yes. (What can I say? I’ve got a magical way with the kiddos.) So we started playing some of the basic skill building activities that are discussed in the PAIRSinPEARS instruction booklet. We played Letter Hunt (in which I tell her what to look for, she finds it and uses it for whatever purpose. She found her name and spelled that. She found the vowels. She found a few other short words that she knew.) It was fun for her. And she was showing me what she knew.

Then we played Sound it Out, where I showed her letters and she sounded them out, telling me words that started with the same letter. She loved that game too. After a little while, she did get tired of letters…I could tell because she looked at me and said, “Auntie Chrissy…I think we should let my brother play with the letters.” He’s 2. You see where this is going. But it’s understandable. Her brain was working super hard! I used to have a student who would like at me with an adorable little lisp and say, “Yoooouuuuu make me so tiiiiiiiwed. Yoooouuuuu make my bwain huwt.”

All in all, PAIRSinPEARS is an AWESOME game. Both The Princess and Little A will be returning to our place to play the fun word game that they just learned. Their parents are thrilled, because it’s helping them learn, and they just think they’re playing games! I’m not sure that I would recommend this for a 3-year-old, but my 5 and 7 y/o niece and nephew think it’s a great game. As an educator, an auntie, and a gamer, I think so too.

You can buy a copy of PAIRSinPEARS for yourself at Barnes & Noble or Target (in stores and online!) With a low price of $14.95, this would make an awesome stocking stuffer for any kid or kid at heart!

**The opinions expressed in this blog post are my own. The fine people at Bananagrams DID give me a free copy of PAIRSinPEARS to sample and review. They DID NOT compensate me for my opinion in any way, shape, or form.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!