Saturday, September 20, 2014

I Miss Tennis


1. Any regular reader of my blog (all 5 of you) will be familiar with the summer sparseness of my writing. The kids are always underfoot and I never have a moment to think for myself. And then school starts up again and I have to readjust to that every day 6 am alarm, and the rush of keeping everyone on schedule and fed and clothed and making coffee for my husband (a fact which he rejoices over). So, here we are, September 20th, with a moment or two to take stock of the last weeks.

As many of you know, I follow the writing of Anne Kennedy, starting with her previous blog, An Undercurrent of Hostility, and her new one, Preventing Grace. I was catching up on her last half dozen posts this morning when I read one that perfectly describes my attitude. Read it here: Wordy Wednesday. You should also read everything else she writes.

2. The professional tennis season is winding down. The US Open is the last major tournament and while there is more tennis to watch if you have the Tennis Channel, since I do not, I have to make do with checking the scores and news on the internet. In a few weeks, the women will have their end of the year tournament in Singapore with only the top eight players qualifying. The men have theirs in November in London.

In the last week, I realized, in the absence of any tennis to watch, how much of an anxiety soother watching tennis is for me. Something about the patter of the commentators and the regular rhythms of the game calms me. In previous years, I've watched the post season of baseball quite happily but it doesn't seem to interest me this year. Maybe soccer would work.

3. Anxiety is definitely the flavor of the house. Most of the time, Miranda moves along blithely without acknowledging it, but the rest of us are regularly crippled by it. My number one prayer at the moment is that God would ease Alex's anxiety which would ease the rest of the house.

We spent the last year chasing doctors and medical answers to anxiety. This year, I'm trying a different tack, while maintaining the medical solutions. Alex has started swim lessons on Thursday nights and we may end up with a family Y membership so that every other night, someone can just take him swimming. Being in the water cheers him, both the sensation and the pressure. It used to be that I jealously protected my evenings as my own time but the pain of watching him fall apart and be unable to calm himself has made me desperate enough to willingly dismantle my own life to make his more comfortable.

4. One of the best things about September is all of my peer groups start up again. Wednesday morning Bible study started with week as well as the Friday group for moms of school age kids called Raising Hope. And Youth Group kicks off tomorrow night, which I am very excited about. I have transitioned from being a small group leader for the HS girls to a prayer support person, which fits much better into what I'm good at. For your reference, the church calendar is here.

5. This week I finally started watching season 6 of Castle (season 7 will premiere soon). I am fond of the show but saw the bad writing coming from a mile off and tried to avoid it, for more than a year. But the completist in me has to watch a show in order, so I suffered through the cliff hanging transitions from season 5 to 6 and now that nearly all the changes have been erased, I'm hoping it will go back to being a show I'm fond of. There was a great Doctor Who-esque episode that is my favorite so far, "Time Will Tell," that was almost as good as "The Final Frontier" from season 5.

Speaking of Doctor Who, we are enjoying the new doctor although last week's episode was a head scratcher. I'm wondering if Clara just fit better with Matt Smith so it will be good that the Christmas episode will be her last.

6. My mother and I are taking the kids to the Mt. Laurel Fall Fest at Laurel Acres park this afternoon, an event none of us have ever attended. If nothing else, face painting and the playground structures will make the trip worthwhile.

7. My mother has had some adventures in publishing. Long time readers will remember that she published her book, Bathsheba's Lament, several years ago. Well, then the publishing company went out of business and she nearly lost her copyright. Ugh.

Now there is a new edition with a new title (Bathsheba's Journey) and cover and it just became available for purchase, both in paperback and Kindle formats. Find it here.

And here's Jen.

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Real Blog Post?


1. If you haven't seen her on Facebook, this is Smootch:


We are dog sitting for friends from church who are away on vacation. She's a nearly 8 year old bulldog with a bad hip so she spends most of the day and night sleeping. Seriously. 10 minutes of play every 12 hours. Very sweet tempered. Easiest dog sitting gig ever.


Miranda and I bought her a squeaky toy on Tuesday and she had so much fun with it she hardly moved all day Wednesday.

It's been fun having a dog around again, temporarily. We would like to be dog owners again, someday. We need that perfect dog for Alex that the rest of us like as well. But first we need to fix the fences. It's on the list.

2. Alex's anxiety seems to be at the same level as always. We spent the last year chasing new doctors and changed all the meds and seem to be exactly in the same place as before. He is going to keep the same teacher as last year, which is good because we love her, but any mainstreaming opportunities will depend upon his behavior. One more week of summer school and then we're off until September 4th. Lots of trips to the pool and a few to the beach in the plans.

3. For some reason, I've spent the last week watching Law & Order reruns, which are available on 3 different cable channels. I have seen most of the 20 years of episodes and actually remember many of them.

My honey and I finally finished the second season of Elementary and we were both disappointed with the way Mycroft was used. I don't think we've given up on the series because we like the actors but I want to send the writers to the Joss Whedon school of planning a season-long story arc. I know, I know, Dollhouse had problems, but I still hold up the second season of Buffy as perfection in story arcing and some of my favorite television quotes ever.

From Lie to Me, SO2E07
Giles: You mean life?
Buffy: Yeah. Does it get easy?
Giles: What do you want me to say?
Buffy: Lie to me.
Giles: Yes, it's terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after.
Buffy: Liar.


From Innocence, S02E14:
Cordelia: (hops onto a crate to sit) So, does looking at guns really make girls wanna have sex? That's scary. Xander: Yeah, I guess.
Cordelia: Well, does looking at guns make you wanna have sex?
Xander: I'm seventeen. Looking at linoleum makes me wanna have sex.

Speaking of television writing, Alex dipped back into the world of Phineas & Ferb, which I really enjoy, and one of his favorite episodes is "The Best Lazy Day Ever" which has an excellent quote from Candace:

Well, if they really are doing nothing, I guess I've got some time to go about my personal business. Let's see, what do I usually do? I know! I'll call Stacy and tell her how I'm busting Phineas and Ferb for... Yeah. Can't do that 'cause they're not doing anything. Wait a minute! I know! [runs off and comes back with a camera] I'll put this camera in just the right spot so when Phineas and Ferb are... Ugh! [setting up a rope trap] And then when Phineas and Ferb will bite off... Doh! [putting on lipstick] Well, if there's one thing I know, I'm gonna look so good when I bust them for... Auugh! Face it. You can't do anything unless you're trying to bust them for doing something! And if they're doing nothing, then... who is Candace??

Somehow, as charming as Phineas and Ferb are, I love Candace. In her life, hardly anything ever goes according to plan.

4. Tomorrow, we have a babysitter so Marshall and I are going to see Guardians of the Galaxy and then go to dinner, just the two of us. The grandparents are in California, just on their way back from Catalina Island to the mainland and won't be back until mid-week.

5. My summer flowers haven't had a lot of attention from me, but I did have some success. The sun flowers bloomed,


the butterfly bushes recovered from a late freeze


the marigolds from last summer came back, which isn't supposed to happen


the cannas aren't as plentiful as last year, but they're still here


and I bought a bunch of mums to plant, one of these days.


6. Somehow, this got left off of the list last week:


7. My mother has had some adventures in publishing. Long time readers will remember that she published her book, Bathsheba's Lament, several years ago. Well, then the publishing company went out of business and she nearly lost her copyright. Ugh.

Now there is a new edition with a new title (Bathsheba's Journey) and cover and it just became available for purchase, both in paperback and Kindle formats. Find it here.

And here's Jen.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Late to the Party


Too tired this morning to write a real post. We recently discovered Pentatonix, several years after most of the rest of the world, but better late than never. Here are the household favorites:

1. Say Something


2. Somebody That I Used to Know


3. Little Drummer Boy


4. Evolution of Music


5. Happy



6.  Daft Punk



7. Can't Hold Us



8. Bonus: Radioactive


Jen's away this week. Hosting by her friend Caroline this week.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The House of Suicidal Bees


1. The House of Suicidal Bees is what I call my aunt's house in San Diego because so many bees try to drown themselves in the pool while getting a drink. I am constantly fishing them out, alive or dead, when the kids are swimming. And, usually, someone gets stung at least once. This time it was Alex but his finger did not swell because we flooded his system with antihistamines moments after the stinger was pulled out which seemed to do the trick.

I did not take many pictures while we were on vacation. I will need to get photos from my sister in law or my mother to share.

This is from a rose bush in front of my cousin's rented house. Absolutely the prettiest rose bushes I can remember seeing in a long time.


2. Yes, we returned last Wednesday and it's now Monday and I've been fairly silent, blog and FB-wise. Well, our transition to our regular space-time continuum was rather rocky (our plane out of Chicago-Midway was delayed so we didn't walk in the door until almost 1 am local time); Thursday we kinda sleep-walked through life. Friday was a little better but I still have whatever illness or condition that is limited my energy to about 1/3 normal so I move slowly through every day and only left the house for the first time today. Big thanks to my parents for doing some grocery shopping for me on Friday.


This is from those same rose bushes. The color variation of flowers on the same stem was amazing. These pictures just do not do it justice.

3. For some reason, I thought this week would be a good week for doctor's appointments, so we have 4 on the schedule. Alex had one today at the Chung Institute and then tomorrow Miranda has one and I have two. We should be able to finally visit the Larchmont pool for the first time on Wednesday after Alex gets home at lunch time from summer school. When I bought the pool pass in April, I wasn't expecting to be weighed down by fatigue.

My doctor ran extensive blood work in June and it showed how perfectly healthy I am. I'm seeing him again tomorrow to see what we can do next. Both my aunt and uncle in San Diego are medical professionals and they looked at the six page printout and didn't have a whole lot of suggestions, so I'm a bit discouraged. I may try an allergist next.


This is the best picture I have of my niece with my daughter. They played together really well.

4. Only a few movies viewed in the recent past. Watched The Grand Budapest Hotel with my brothers, watched 300: Rise of an Empire and the new Robocop with my honey. The first one was curious, the second one was at least visually interesting and the last had a lot more nuance to it than I expected.

Now that The World Cup and Wimbledon are over and the Phillies keep losing, I may go back to the server and see what's been waiting to be watched. Lots of British television, that's for sure. New Tricks Series 9, Wallander Series 3, I only remember watching the first story of Case Histories, I have 7 unwatched episodes of Endeavour, the last episode of Poirot, and the last 6 episodes of Lewis



My niece and nephew playing with the "drive thru" window.

5. My cousin and her husband introduced us to a couple of new authors. I read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern on the plane from San Diego to Chicago (it was excellent, especially for a first novel) while my honey started The City & The City by China Mieville. The latter has a passel of interesting books that I may get from the library.


Here's Miranda reading Tiger Can't Sleep to her cousin before nap time. Why has this wonderful book gone out of print?!

6. If you're not following Mike Rowe on Facebook, you are missing out on some hilarious and eloquent writing. I can't wait for his new television show.


I forgot I had yellow lilies until they bloomed, right before we left.

7. Here is my family, all together. It was not perhaps the most restful vacation all crammed into my aunt's house but it was wonderful to have lots of time with my niece and nephew and catch up with my brothers and their delightful wives.


From the left, Colin, Stephanie & Jonathan; then Marshall, myself and Alex; then my parents; then Miranda; then Madelynn, Brandon & Piper.

Bonus 8. If you have somehow been living under a rock and missed this video which has my children laughing like fools at least once a day, here you go:



And, randomly, Miranda's new favorite song:


And here's Jen.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Quick Week


1. So, Saturday morning at 7 am we fly out to San Diego for our 11 day California vacation. Last day of school is Wednesday and it's a half day. My parents fly to San Diego Wednesday evening. And I've been sick for the last two weeks with what we're guessing is some mosquito-borne virus (blood work results pending). Of course, when you don't have energy to do anything, you do get a lot of World Cup games watched. But Wimbledon started this morning and there will now be 4 World Cup games every day. The great news is that my aunt will be recording World Cup games in San Diego so I can catch up there. And watch some key tennis games.

My callas are blooming.


2. That was an amazing game last night, USA-Portugal. I wanted to cry at the end. But the US is not out yet.


3. I have diligently been working through my goal of "finishing" all those television series that have been lingering on the DVR for months or years:

  • I watched the last 4 episodes of Justified last week and gasped in dismay at least once per episode. And the set up for the final season is amazing. These writers are expert at managing a season-long story arc with each episode an ever growing disaster. No decision yet whether Raylan will survive the show. Wow.
  • In the last few weeks, my honey and I have finished the seasons of Grimm and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and then over the weekend we binged on the last four episodes of Sherlock. All of them taking to heart Joss Whedon's motto, "Why go for the kill when you can go for the pain?" 
  • I also picked up a new series, Motive. In two days, I watched the first 15 episodes. Things to do when you're sick. 


4. Unfortunately, I have not had the energy for a trip to the movies, but that's what vacation is for. 

 
5. One of the wonderful things about June is that fresh cherries are in season. I eat almost a pound of them a day. No joke. 

This is an amaryllis, blooming in my flower bed. My mother-in-law got the great idea of planting them outside after they have finished blooming and seeing if they come up again the following year. This one did.


6. Only a few more sentences and then I can fold laundry and take my morning nap. 

I have Asiatic lilies, too. Mostly pale pink but some red, a few orange, and one white.


7. If you missed my Saturday post about my father's gift to us of painting two room and a hallway, scroll down. 

Pray for us this week. Pray that my body would heal. Pray that we transition to California with a modicum of ease. Pray that our time with my family is full of joy and rest. Give thanks for good school years and awesome teachers. 

Jen's on vacation. Hosted by Team Whitaker this week. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Long Overdue

Two weeks ago, when my mother was in California, my father spent 4 days painting the kids' rooms and the hallway.

Here's a bunch of pictures, before and after, to show off all his hard work.


























Everything is beautiful and clean again. Much like this, 11 summers ago, when my father last painted the room (that is now Miranda's) for a new little person we were expecting.


My, how time flies.