Friday, July 30, 2010

The Friday Before My Parents Arrive - Thank God!

1. Miranda has gone completely bonkers again, like last summer, when we have to wrap her up in a blanket and hold her legs down so she doesn't bruise us by kicking and hitting us. Yesterday she and I fought about putting on a new pull-up for an hour, after which she fell asleep on the bathroom floor naked except for her towel wrapped around her. She slept for an hour and then woke up, ready to fight for another 90 minutes. Then Daddy came home and she decided to get dressed and come out and play. Like nothing was the matter. I went to bed with a headache while my amazing husband put the kids to bed. I need my mother. Who will be here on Monday before lunch. God is gracious.

2. The weather is cooler today so we went to a park this morning and both kids played happily and well for 90 minutes. For the first time, I didn't play over-protective mommy, following them around the park. I just kept an eye on them and made sure I could see them every couple of minutes. I even sent Alex into the men's room by himself instead of dragging him into the little girl's room. I guess they do grow up, eventually. Me, too.

3. My birthday was Tuesday--I am now 35 years old! Ugh!--and we had an absolutely perfect day at the beach in Surf City with Mimi, Aunt Leah and the cousins, until it was time to leave. Neither of my children will stop to eat so they play and swim until their blood sugars drop precipitously and we leave by way of McDonald's. Aunt Leah carried Miranda to the car after she collapsed on the sand, too tired to walk (maybe) or too upset to leave (likely).

I was so proud of Alex for going out on his new boogie board (thank you, Mimi & Pop Pop) and swimming out as far as he could all by myself. And I was proud of myself for letting him without worrying too much. Miranda, for the first time, felt comfortable enough in the water to actually swim. We are planning to go back week with Grandma and Grandpa.

4. Thanks to Ashley and Ben (babysitters extraordinaire), Marshall and I were able to go out Tuesday night, have a nice dinner together and see Inception. I highly recommend the film. I'm thinking of sneaking out tonight and seeing Salt. I really should stay home and clean, though. We'll see how bedtime goes.

5. Yesterday, Julia was free, so she came over at 11 am so that I could drive into the city and have a nice lunch with Marshall. Besides, it was Qdoba day at SIG. I got all spiffied up so that I could impress his friends and co-workers. I try to do this at least once a year. I used to take Miranda with me but she's not so much fun in cubicle-land anymore.

6. Continuing to watch lots of British television shows to comfort myself after Miranda goes to bed. Lots of Poirot, something called Whitechapel that was more about politics in the CID than a gore-fest, and am prepping to watch Blackpool and something called Lost in Austen. Jersey Shore fans can just bite me!

7. Our High School students and adults are leaving for NC for their Mission Trip early Sunday morning. I will be spending the week, while enjoying my parents' company and preparing to leave for my vacation with Marshall next Saturday night, praying for their safety and spiritual growth.

Here's Jen. And you must read Anne Kennedy's post from earlier this week--it's hilarious!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Drowsy Friday

1. Perhaps it is that we've spent most of the week at home or that anytime I take Miranda somewhere (like a trip to play at Aunt Leah's house yesterday) she has to be strapped into her carseat screaming as we leave or maybe it's the heat. Anyway, I just feel drowsy and unwilling to do much of anything.

2. Of course, since my cleaning lady came Wednesday afternoon and saved the house from our slovenly ways, I haven't had to rush around, picking up every single moment.

3. My cousin Laura gave me the photo she took of mine and Stephanie's hair from the wedding:

Don't we look fabulous?

4. I have of late developed a strange passion for the television movies of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot. There was a wonderful new film of Murder on the Orient Express on PBS two weeks ago that was engrossing. So I've been picking them up, here and there, and watching them every day. I probably will not watch all 65, but I don't expect to get tired for at least a few weeks. I've probably fixated on this happy escape because...

5. I've hit rather a wall with my new book, A Few Bloody Noses, because, well, his prose is still very readable, but it a little startling to have my long-held myths about the origins of my home country shattered so easily. And, the children have not been swimming in the afternoons because the weather is so hot and so then is the water. It is more comfortable to swim in the evening. So I haven't needed a book to read in the backyard while they swim for a few days. They have been playing together a lot better, though, which is lovely for a change.

6. Marshall helped me to pick out a new phone, the ENV3, and turned it on for me last night. And downloaded all my contacts. He is a clever boy. He is presently upgrading our home network from Verizon back to Comcast. We have put this off for months, but Verizon has not upgraded their lines while Comcast has, so he'll be installing a new cable modem this weekend. Fun, fun, fun for my love. Still, it will be good to have reliable service again. And we can stop stealing from our neighbors every time our Internet connection crashes.

7. My sister-in-law is leaving her kids here tonight for dinner and a swim and I'm delighted to have them. My children think they are the best people in the whole world. We should have a good time.

Bonus: Movie Update
March 12
Green Zone (never managed to see it-we were too sick to go out when my folks were visiting for Easter; waiting for video)
April 2
Clash of the Titans (poor reviews; may see it on video)
April 23
The Losers (saw it by myself and really liked it)
May 7
Iron Man 2 (loved it!)
May 14
Robin Hood (it has received poor reviews so we do not plan to see it)
May 28
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (went to see it by myself and enjoyed it more than I expected to)
June 11
The A-Team (we saw it together and while I liked it, I think I liked The Losers better)
June 18
Toy Story 3 (we liked it but since we were older when the series started, we've rather identified with Andy's mother rather than him, so it did not effect us so much)
June 23
Knight & Day (I still want to see this, on one of my sneak out after the children go to bed nights)
July 14
The Sorcerer's Apprentice (I saw this last Friday night and it was fun)

Here's my up and coming list of movies to plan for:
July 16
Inception (We plan to see this Tuesday night, on my birthday)
July 23
Salt (this is getting decent reviews; I think I might enjoy it, even though I'm not a huge fan of Jolie)
November 19
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (Part 1) (saw a new, awesome trailer before Sorcerer's Apprentice)
December 10
The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
December 17
Tron: Legacy (new trailer available as of yesterday)

And here's Jen.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer Reading

I know, I know, I usually only post on Fridays but I wanted to write about what I've been reading. If you read my blog regularly, you'll know my big vacation book was The War of Wars: The Epic Struggle Between Britain and France: 1789-1815 by Robert Harvey. You'll also know that as hectic as my life is these days, I don't read a whole lot beyond a few blogs and online news sites. I just haven't had the brain cells to spare or the ability to focus on written above a 5th grade reading level. Or, I didn't think I could until I started reading Harvey's books. I liked War of Wars so much that before I got home, I ordered A Few Bloody Noses: The Realities and Mythologies of the American Revolution, which arrived on Saturday, which meant I had a go a whole week without a book to read. In order to prevent that from happening again, yesterday I ordered American Shogun: A Tale of Two Cultures, even though I'm only 65 pages into the American Revolution.

(The First thing I checked when Bloody arrived was how many pages it is and was surprised at how disappointed I was that it's only 456 pages; War of Wars was a glorious 923 pages and I enjoyed nearly every page of it. And, by the way, I am ordering these books from Amazon used book sellers so the most I've paid for a book was about $7.00, including shipping. I really miss my ability to use the Inter-Library Loan System at my local, wonderful, Mt. Laurel library. Thank you, Governor Christie. However, that means the books all belong to me and y'all can borrow them.)

Since I am no longer on vacation, I do not expect to speed my way through the books like I did in California, but time watching the children swim or play around the house during the day can now be spent with a book in my hand instead of surfing celebrity news sites.

Robert Harvey writes with such an accessible tone that, even though he assumes all of his readers have detailed maps in front of them as well as an acute knowledge of which person was in charge of which country when and for how long, I find his prose a joy to read. Of course, sometimes he makes passing comments in his tomes that perplex me, especially when he doesn't return to discuss them further, like the fact that the War of 1812 was mentioned in one sentence ONLY in War of Wars. Or how, in the introduction to Bloody, he mentions that if the American ruling classes had not aligned with those at the bottom of the social structure during the process of the American Revolution, the US Revolution would have looked a lot more like the French Terror than the history we currently recognize. I hope he talks more about that in the coming pages.

The other good news is that Harvey has written a pile of books. It might keep me happy until Christmas.

Going back to my book now.

Friday, July 16, 2010

First Friday Home

1. This is the 5th day since my return from California about midnight Sunday and the children have expressed their joy at my safe return in rather peculiar ways. Miranda was very difficult on Monday and went to bed crying and Alex had a bad night Tuesday-Wednesday in that he woke up at 1 am Wednesday and never went back to sleep. Miranda was particularly difficult for Marshall during the last few days before I came home; we think this was her way of expressing her displeasure at my absence without having the emotional maturity to say, "I miss Mommy."

I was gone for 8 days and nights, a much longer separation than ever before. This was also an experiment for August, when Marshall and I were supposed to leave the children with my parents for a week. What we will probably do now is have my parents bring the children to join us on Wednesday afternoon of that week in hopes of avoiding Miranda-meltdowns.

2. Alex has no summer school sessions on Fridays (he's gone 8 am - 12 noon Monday - Thursday) so I'm trying to plan fun things to do together on Fridays. For example, this morning we went to the zoo. I probably should have checked the weather forecast before I promised a zoo trip since it was steaming hot and humid and we were all tired and sweaty after only an hour. And even though I had packed extra drinks, I had left them in the car, forgetting to bring the backpack with us into the zoo. As we were making out way back to the car, I broke down and bought Miranda a lemonade; I hope it doesn't make her sick (her tummy gets a little funny sometimes with the sugar in drinks).

3. Tomorrow should be Day # 14 of being dry overnight for Alex and should he make his goal, he will get another trip to the bookstore for a book of his choice. He's pretty excited. So are we. It's the longest stretch he's ever made. Next week, I think we'll start counting to 21 days.

4. The house is in it's general state of clutteredness, although it wouldn't take too much effort to get things completely put away. I'm keeping up with the laundry and dishes, and yesterday I finally got a large amount of groceries to replace much of the food the family ate while I was away, but I don't seem to have my usual big bursts of energy to race around and get things done. I have even been going to bed early and have hardly done any stitching since I got home. I think I'm still adjusting emotionally to being home. My vacation was wonderful--a week without many responsibilities, spending most of my time talking with other adults and sleeping A LOT--so it's always a bit of a let down to resume my usual responsibilities.

5. Hopefully, my cleaning lady will call early next week which should initiate in me a flurry of activity to get everything picked up so she can clean. Yes, I clean before she cleans because while she is willing to pick up all of our clutter, I prefer to do it myself so I know where it all is. It also gives me a chance to return toys to their correct rooms and sort through Alex's piles of papers to move most of those to the recycling bins.

6. The heat wave in my absence was not good for my plants. Even though Marshall faithfully ran the drip system in my front flower bed, my hydrangeas look peaked and the dogwood, which looked sickly before I left, is covered in brown leaves. Dang.

7. And instead of sticking around tonight to help Marshall with his projects to fix our internet connection, find a new cell phone for me, or find a place to stash the huge pile of wood that will be our new shed when he and my father put it together in August, I'm going to run off and see a movie by myself after the children go to bed. The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Nice, happy, fluffy fun. I love summer movie season.

And here's Jen. After you read her 7 Quick Takes, read her next post about Yaya and St. Anthony. It's hilarious!

Monday, July 12, 2010

10 Things I Loved about my California Vacation

1. If Bran and Piper's wedding isn't number one on my list, someone will certainly lynch me, but the whole reason I went West and spent a week in Southern California was, essentially, to celebrate their nuptials. So we'll just put them at the top of the list. Besides, I would sound like a lousy sister if I said I preferred sitting around reading my history of the Napoleonic wars rather than attending their wedding. Or, at least, a lazy one. It was a great vacation in that I was able to happily do both.

2. My family really doesn't have reunions, we have weddings and (occasionally) funerals. So, this family wedding was a great time to catch up with cousins and the children of cousins I hadn't seen since my last tour through California when Alex was 20 months old. In fact, I'm holding a contest for who can come up with the best speech bubbles for this picture my mother took of me and my cousin Tim:

To see more pictures of the trip, click here.

3. My grandmother, usually a generous gift-giver, surprised me with a mink coat for my birthday. Apparently, she had purchased it several years ago and really didn't have occasion to wear it in San Diego while I will certainly wear it during the cold winters here in NJ, probably to Sunday church. I was glad to have it with me on the trip, however, since the wedding and reception were outside, and it did get chilly in Camarillo when the sun went down.

It's reversible: mink on one side and leather on the other. Very comfy and very warm. Now all I have to do is avoid the PETA people.

4. Stephanie and I went to Piper's hairdresser to have our hair all fancified for the wedding so we would look extra smashing. Here's a good picture of her hair (and the rest of her, too):

Our cousin Laura took a picture of the two of us from the back so you can both of our fabulous hairstyles but I haven't tracked it down yet. I'll post it with an update later in the week.

5. A little black cocktail dress was what we found for me to wear to the wedding. And then the wrap, the shoes, and all the other accessories. We shopped until we dropped, but it was successfully done all in one afternoon. If you ever need help shopping, I suggest you call on my mom and sister-in-law, Stephanie. They are amazing!

6. I need to stop hitching rides with my parents to weddings. I always want to leave at least an hour before they do. Serious party animals, my mom and dad.

7. I did read Julia Quinn's new book on the plane ride from Philly to Minneapolis and do highly recommend it, but I spent the rest of my vacation reading War of Wars and liked it so much I have since ordered his book about the American Revolution. I didn't finish up with Napoleon and friends until we were descending into Philadelphia last night. Perfect timing. Well, it was 927 pages long. Still, great book. And not a bit of it ever talked about autism. Now that's a real vacation.

8. Marshall had an exhausting week with the children, especially since there was an extreme heat advisory for most of the time I was away, but, with help, he was able to generally keep up with household going-ons. Well done, dear husband.

9. The most highly-sought out person at the reception, after the bride and groom, was my cousin Meghan's infant son, Dashiell. Aunt Katie wins the award for the most minutes in her arms; here she is, cradling him, in a picture with her brothers:

10. It was a lovely vacation. I spent easily 1/3 of my time sleeping. Another 1/3 was visiting with extended family or hanging out with my parents. I got in plenty of reading and a few World Cup games. Hardly any stitching, though, and no movies, but I can do those things in NJ.

About the cross stitch, which is a gift for Stephanie, and something Jonathan and I have been planning for a while. The thing is, I showed it to her, thinking he had already discussed it with her, when he had not. I'm really terrible at keeping secrets and well, she doesn't seem to mind that it's not a surprise any longer.

If you missed out on Jen's 7 Quick Takes from last Friday, it's here.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sorry, no Quick Takes today

I am dressing for my brother's wedding in a few hours. I have been in southern CA since last Saturday, visiting with family and old friends, and having a wonderful time. More news next week! I will be home late Sunday.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Friday Countdown - Counting the Hours Now

I'm actually writing this on Thursday evening because I expect to be absolutely bonkers crazy tomorrow. My flight departs the Philadelphia airport Saturday morning at 8 am for San Diego for my California vacation with family and, on Friday, my brother's wedding. I'm sure I should be doing a dozen other things right now but I have a headache and sitting, blogging and watching King George & the Ducky with my children seems to be easier on my head.

1. I wouldn't have survived this week or been able to complete half as many things on my To Do Before I Leave List without having Our Favorite Babysitter Julia for 20 hours this week. I mean, I am paying her and pretty well, but some days, when my children are making me particularly crazy, I don't see how it could be enough. And, in an effort to be kind to my husband, I have engaged her for another 20 hours next week.

2. This being the only full week of vacation Alex has between the end of the school year and the start of summer school (or, as it is officially known, Extended School Year), I have endeavored to show the kids a good time. Not only did they have Julia every day this week, we went to the beach with their cousins on Tuesday and to the zoo on with Mimi on Thursday. I think, tomorrow, though, our fun trip will be to Costco to buy groceries. But maybe we'll go to Chick-Fil-A afterwards; they have a great play area.

Here's a great picture of Alex on Tuesday in Surf City:

3. On Tuesday, since the children and I spent the day at the beach, Julia came after dinner so that Marshall and I could go see Toy Story 3 together. I liked it, but it's not my favorite Pixar movie. Although, thinking about it, I would have a hard time ranking those 11 movies from favorite to least favorite except that I think A Bug's Life will always be at the bottom.

**************** Insert Break*****************
So I was working on this last night but then Miranda fell asleep on the couch at 6:15 pm which meant she got up at 5 this morning (which meant I also got up at 5 this morning) and so I've been running around since 7 (I let myself doze on the couch until then while Miranda watched tv) feeding the children and doing laundry and trying not to panic about my trip tomorrow. I have managed to do something awful to my iPod after Marshall was so nice to load more audio books on it last night and I'm afraid he'll have to start from scratch. Poor man. Some days I feel like all I do is cause more technology problems for him to clean up later, but then, that's what the children do for me. Well, they make messes in general. Sometimes they make technology messes, like when Alex chews up the power cords for laptops. He hasn't managed to shock himself yet, but that may be coming. Anyway, I am going to finish this list!

4. I am taking a variety of things to amuse myself on the long airplane rides to California (I change planes in Minneapolis/St. Paul), including Julia Quinn's new book Ten Things I Love About You and a history of the Napoleaonic Wars called War of Wars by Robert Harvey. I read a review of Harvey's book by Walter Russel Mead (see the link on the right for his blog) and it sounded like fun. If not, I'll leave it to gather dust at my aunt's house. I expect to be spending a good deal of my time on the flights back writing postcards, but we'll see. I am checking my cross stitch in my luggage because it's just too hard to work without scissors.

I hate the day before travel!

Moving on. Wait, I think the dryer stopped. Must go change out the clothes.

5. Alex was successfully dry for a number of nights and so earned the right to a brand new book of his choice from an actual bookstore (which he'd never been in before because he's rather destructive towards books; I usually order books for him online or pick them up at yard sales). So we stopped at Barnes & Noble yesterday on the way home from the zoo and he picked out his own copy of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. For the boy who taught himself to read at age 4, it's a little below his ability, but he's lazy.

6. While Julia is here this afternoon I need to finish the grocery shopping and start laying out my clothes. For the most part, the house is clean and the laundry is done. I should probably water my house plants so Marshall doesn't have to bother with them. But I've printed my boarding passes so I must actually be leaving tomorrow.

7. Pray for my trip. I hate flying, even without my children along for the fun. I hated it before 9/11 and hate it even more now.

Here's Jen. She just returned home from a peaceful vacation, so I'm sure she's a lot more relaxed than I am.