so long, Little People, Big World

One of my favorite TV shows is going off the air. Little People, Big World is a reality program that follows the lives of the six members of the Roloff family. The parents, Matt and Amy, are dwarfs who have four children–Zachary, Jeremy, Molly, and Jacob, only one of whom (Zach) is also a dwarf.

I’ve always loved to look into the everyday lives of others–especially other families’–to see how they manage life’s many hurdles. I find it an interesting sociological experiment and a good way to evaluate how I do things in comparison with others, and to reflect on what I could do better. So when I first discovered this show on TLC, I was thrilled that not only does this family have four kids as I do, but their interests and personalities are similar. Despite some physical challenges, they seemed as normal as normal can be.lpbw

At first, the premise of the show revolved around the Roloffs as a dwarf couple fitting into an average-size world. It highlighted some of the struggles they go through–sometimes little things like not being able to reach the higher shelves in a supermarket to bigger issues such as dealing with name calling and needing surgery. After watching the brief first season, I was hooked. It became apparent to me that the Roloffs were a family like no other yet, at the same time, like all the rest of us. I found that my family had so many similarities to this family–from the number of children they have to their everyday routines to the the way they interact with one another. I could relate to their little triumphs (a winning soccer season, a successful family vacation, job changes, managing both a home and a career), their everyday issues (celebrating holidays, struggling to get the kids to do homework, teaching the kids to drive, running the kids around from school to games to home), and their challenges (the death of a dear friend, legal trouble, medical issues).

The Roloffs’ lives paralleled my own and my family’s so much that I felt as if this family and mine were kindred spirits even though we had never been formally introduced. But as the seasons wore on (there eventually were six), the Roloffs’ lives began to change, as all of ours do. The show that at first focused on the family’s struggles–financial as well as physical–turned into a show about a family who was well-off, one with many vehicles, many luxuries, many opportunities the rest of us will never have. The Roloff home transformed from a simple farmhouse to a McMansion and people began commenting on the message boards that this family had definitely overcome the struggles apparent in the first season to something almost unrelatable by the average viewer.

The producers too began focusing on the tension in the family, especially the marital tension between Matt and Amy (perhaps trying to  capitalize on the ratings soar that Jon and Kate Plus Eight experienced after that couple publicly aired their marital problems before splitting up). It appeared that the episodes featuring bickering–scenes that actually played out in real time or were stacked through editing–were the shows causing the most buzz on the Internet, and the producers turned LPBW into a series almost too difficult to watch.

But watch I did, having seen through the production ploy and realizing, as so many message board posters didn’t, that even the healthiest of long-term marriages will have their struggles. Being that the shows were about one full year behind the Roloffs’ actual lives,  they were not a true reflection of what was occurring real time. Following up on the Internet, I could see that the couple was still together, that the family was still intact.

But, even so, the changes in the family were unavoidable. Amy had turned from a stay-at-home mom and part-time preschool teacher to a celebrity running a charity foundation–a position that can only spring from a boost of fame and not at all the career she would have had if the cameras had not made her into a public commodity. Although Matt continued with his original businesses–being a  motivational speaker, making a kit to accommodate dwarfs in hotel rooms, and managing the family pumpkin farm–reality star was also added to the roster.

And even without these career moves that occurred only after the series brought them fame, the family itself was obviously evolving. No longer do the kids need to be chauffeured to soccer games; by season six, three of them could drive themselves. No longer do the kids need to be carefully supervised by a parent; half of them are now adults in college.  No longer can all six find the time to coordinate family vacations, let alone family dinners; they’re on the road or in the air or otherwise engaged. The kids now have lives of their own away from the farm, and so do the parents.  So, the need for LPBW in its original format is no longer there.

For the sake of the kids, it’s apparent that the time has come to drop the show and gain some privacy. But nonetheless, those of us who saw this family as a reflection of our own lives will miss them all. No longer will we be able to pull up a stool at the Roloff kitchen counter while Amy puts together the evening meal or watch Matt cook up another outlandish attraction for the farm. Now we’ll have to try to catch a glimpse of the family on the farm during pumpkin season, if we’re fortunate enough to live within driving distance, or through the many public avenues that they still access (blogs, Facebook pages, weekly coffee chats, You Tube videos). I’ll keep dropping in, wherever I can find them. After all the Roloffs had practically become extended family to me. And it’s too hard to say goodbye completely.

memorable job interview? you ask

My husband has a job interview today. Coincidentally, the topic of the day on involves writing about a memorable job interview. Because I freelance, I have had very few formal interviews. Most of my work since the dawning of the Information Age has come via electronic media. I apply for, have been hired for, and perform work for companies whose employees I’ve never formally met. I have forged many, many work relationships, but have never seen a huge majority of these people in the flesh,  nor have I spoken to most of them over the phone. I have no idea what their voices are like, what style of clothing they wear, what their races or nationalities are. I don’t know if they’re young or old, tall or short, blond or brunet, heavy or skinny. I am a virtual employee working for virtual employers.

However, being in my late forties and having gone through college and post-college job hunting when the only object whose exterior was large and white with big black spots was a Holstein and not a Gateway PC, I do have some experience interviewing. One interview that stands out was not for a particularly flashy job, but rather one I acquired by my own true grit.

I was only about a year out of college and working a couple jobs that didn’t quite match my area of study or ability. While in a bank one day, I picked up a local community newspaper and was shocked to read what was there: No, not the content (although that was bad, too), but poor grammar, unitelligible syntax, misplaced modifiers, misspelled words (yes, this was pre-spell check, too), and a myriad of other errors. I became brave at that moment, took the paper home, and with a red pen made corrections all over that issue. I then sent a letter to the publisher and owner, telling her what I had found and offering my services as a proofreader and copy editor to help improve the readability, accuracy, and reputation (for God’s sake, didn’t she care?), of her paper.

She agreed to meet with me–in a bedroom of her home that served as the newspaper’s office (the New York Times it was not)–and I presented her with my red-inked copy of that week’s issue. It was then and there that she knew as well as I did that I was the missing link to tie that paper together.

I am proud to say that I was able to create a job for myself where need be. It’s an accomplishment I’m still proud of to this day. I know that once my husband’s interviewer realizes what he can do, he too will offer his hand and open up a spot at the office. It’s possible, virtually anywhere.

a stress-less day

It’s a new year, but I am not striving to shed a pound (although that wouldn’t be half bad either), I am instead trying to shed an attitude. I’m trying to become a better, more positive person. I know that it is not all that unusual a resolution, but it’s one that is less superficial than simply wishing to look more slim in jeans, but just as important as gaining a healthy body. Good attitude equals good health, in my opinion, and I believe that if I gradually, on a daily basis, look at things in a more positive light–see the glass as half full instead of half empty–maybe this attitude will spill over (no pun intended) into all areas of my being and become my usual mindset.

Today’s WordPress topic regards stress and I have to say, my positive attitude is giving me less stress. I was able to take a good, long hike with two close friends this morning. We started at 8:30 a.m. and ended around 11:30. We climbed a mountain and we turned around. The air was crisp, the sun was out, and I was in great spirits. Even though nothing has immensely changed from a week ago, or two, or three, my mood was greatly lifted by that brisk hike and upbeat conversation.

It is said that we can’t always change our circumstances, we can only change the attitude we have in looking at them. I intend to change my attitude, increase my prayer time, and do a little something for myself every week, if not every day. A good attitude goes a long way. I’m hoping at least until January 2012.