Friday, December 31, 2010

Halfway Through the Dark

1. The Christmas episode of Doctor Who was called A Christmas Carol and it was really good. It was loosely based on Dickens' story but the major theme was this is the time to celebrate because we are halfway through the dark: winter is half-over. As I was driving around town yesterday running my usual errands (while my children played with two of their favorite baby-sitters), I realized the sun was waiting just a little bit before it started to set, later than last week. These are the things that encourage me, deep in the dark of winter. 

2. This has been the best Christmas vacation I can remember when we have stayed home. The children and I have done a few things (we spent Tuesday cleaning house; yes, I did most of the work but they helped some) but mostly we've sat around and relaxed. They've played on their computers, they've played in the snow, and Alex has gone through a whole ton of paper drawing his "books" (creating his own versions of his favorite books; his artistic abilities are definitely progressing) which is why I buy 50% recycled paper and recycle all his scraps when he's done. I was certainly sad to miss Christmas in San Diego with the rest of my family, but with the foot of snow we got here on Sunday, it would have been difficult to fly back with so many airports in uproar. I must admit I am enjoying the peace and quiet. 

3. We spent Christmas Eve at Leah's house and had the best time with her family and the Alfords. Ben Alford is a few months older than Miranda and they play really well together, and, of course, there is the puppy for Alex to play with. Then we turned on the Wii and Alex absolutely killed everyone else in bowling. I ate too much and we stayed up way too late, but it was wonderful. 

4. Because the children didn't get to bed until 9:30 pm on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day was a little dicey. Miranda crashed for a nap about 3 and Alex was grumpy all afternoon, but we enjoyed a great morning watching them open all their presents and Marshall's parents came over to help us eat an excellent roast beast (a la Seuss' The Grinch) with amazing gravy. And real mashed potatoes, fresh broccoli and amazing lemon pie. Yum!

5. Last week I was making my way through Buffy, the Vampire Slayer's Season 4. Well, about 2/3 of the way through the season, I suddenly felt nostalgic for the first and second seasons, so I went back to the beginning and am now halfway through Season 2. I don't know if I'll make it through all 7 seasons, but it is excellent to stitch by. Here's my progress:

6. Last movie update for 2010:

March 12
Green Zone
(never managed to see it-we were too sick to go out when my folks were visiting for Easter; just got the DVD from the library and now it is waiting on the server to be watched)
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 received poor reviews so we did not 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 would echo Ebert's review of this film)
July 14
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
(I enjoyed it)
July 16
(We both enjoyed it)
July 23
(sitting on the server and waiting to be watched)
August 13
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
(a very strange movie; I think I liked it)
October 15
(It was fun but there was a very high body count. The casting was excellent, though.)
November 19
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (Part 1)
(good but sad, like the book)
December 10
The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader 
(I liked it but wasn't bowled over)
December 17
Tron: Legacy (We saw it in 3D and liked it; would like to see it again)

But, as I was recently telling my brother, I haven't seen a film since Star Trek that I absolutely loved. Even just listening to the soundtrack makes me happy. 

Speaking (writing) of movies, my favorite show on our local NPR station is Radio Times with Mary Moss-Coane and yesterday she did her annual end of the year movie wrap-up, which I always enjoy. I rarely see all of the "best" movies of the year, but I still enjoy the reviews.

And, just in case you wanted to see my list for 2011, here it is in it's preliminary state:

January 14
Green Hornet
April 1
Source Code (Duncan Jones' new movie; we loved Moon)
April 29
Fast Five (I have this strange weakness for Vin Diesel)
May 6
Thor (Who doesn't want to see Kenneth Branagh do a super-hero movie?)
June 3
X-Men: First Class (It could be good, like X-2 was)
June 17
Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds was very compelling in The Proposal so I want to give him a chance)
June 24
Cars 2 (Cars is my favorite Pixar Film so I have high hopes for the next one; it also may be the first movie our kids actually see in the theatre)
July 1
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (My husband has already announced I will be seeing this alone; he hated the other two while I kinda liked them)
July 15
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
July 22
Captain America: The First Avenger (Chris Evans was one of the best things in The Losers and Scott Pilgrim and I'm interested to see if he can pull this off)
July 29
Cowboys & Aliens (Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in a western with aliens and all the early buzz is good!)

7. A few other links for you, in case you've missed them:
And here's Jen. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

1. Jen isn't posting today (hence the different picture at the top, which for those not in the know, shows my children with my father right after Thanksgiving) but certain family members (also pictured at the top) get a little snippy when I skip a week, so here's your 7 things. Also, I realized when I skipped the day after Thanksgiving, I had serious difficulties the following Friday trying to sum up two weeks in one post.

2. I think I miss my family. I've been down all week, drowning my sorrows in Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, Season 4. (I picked Season 4 as it's the least angsty of them all. And Knight and Day reminded me how appealing Marc Blucas is.) And I was reminded again how much I love the show. But I still miss my family, who are celebrating together in San Diego.

That isn't to say that Marshall's family isn't wonderful, because they are. When some of my girlfriends complain about conflicts with their mothers-in-law, I simply say, "I have the best mother-in-law in the world." And I do. We will be joining them at Leah's house tonight to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and share cake together and then tomorrow, Marshall's parents will come over to enjoy a roast beast with us.

It doesn't help, though, that my favorite Christmas music is still the 3 albums First Call made in 1985, 1987, and 1995. They are my father's favorites, too. So I've switched to the Webber family favorite, which is a little cheerier. At least it's been sunny every morning, so I can get started on the day well. It's just that when the sun starts setting at 3 pm, all my energy for the day goes with it and I huddle with my laptop and watch Buffy. At least I know, in Buffy-speak, why I'm all bad moody.

3. Speaking of huddling over laptops, we've been kinda a technology obsessed crew lately. Marshall's been out late a lot of nights (working or helping at church) so in the hours before the kids go to bed and after we've all had dinner, Alex, Miranda and I have all been sitting in front of a computer all by ourselves. Unplugging the TV for all these weeks was a good idea, really.

4. I already have a pile of thank you's to write and really want to get them out into the mail today, since tomorrow will double the amount that need doing. As always, our friends and family have been really generous. I just need to get started on acknowledging it.

5. If you missed the link earlier, here's our family 2010 Christmas letter.

6. And if you've yet to order a copy of my mother's new book, here is your regular reminder. :) I still have 4 copies of my mother's book available for purchase, if you are a local fan. 

Or, if you are a long-distance fan, you can find it here.

7.  All of my fudge is made and almost completely distributed, but I haven't wrapped any presents for the kids yet. I guess that's what we'll be doing tonight after they fall asleep. I hope I can find all of them. Because my children cannot leave any present left out in the open alone, they have been hidden all over my room and especially in the closet. And all of Mimi and Pop-Pop's gifts, delivered yesterday, are in the shed. I actually had to stop myself from buying them more gifts this year. They are so cute and happy when opening presents. This is the first year that Christmas has really been something both children have looked forward to. It almost feels normal.

Hopefully, next year we will be able to do it with the extended family in San Diego. Then we really will be passing for normal.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's Up! It's Up!

Our annual Christmas letter is finally done and posted. Find it here. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

One Week Before Christmas? Seriously?

1. I really should write these things on Thursdays, when I have all this free time, instead of Friday mornings, when I'm all in a rush. One of these days I will plan ahead, really. :)

2. Last weekend went really well, in spite of all our activity. Our fabulous babysitter was able to bring her equally fabulous fiance along, which thrilled both kids. When all their teachers, aides, child care workers, etc. are female, a cool and loving male who wants to spend time with them is simply awesome.

3. Brief movie update:
Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader: It was good, but not fabulous. I recommend it, but it just doesn't have the same emotional impact of the first film. But, then, I suppose it is difficult to top the resurrection of Christ.
Knight and Day and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: I was in the mood for fluffy films earlier this week. I would echo Ebert's review of the first one; the second one I watched to see Shane West, who I've really been enjoying in Nikita.
Le Pact des Loups: I remember when it first came out, I had wanted to see it but was a little afraid of the gore-factor. Well, it is an excellent film that reminds me, once again, of my second favorite line from Buffy: "It's not about right; it's not about wrong. It's about power." Also, there were some plot similarities to The Ghost and the Darkness (which scared me terribly when I saw it in 1997; I would classify that film in the category of one of the scariest movies I've ever seen) but that may be simply because they are both "hunting the beast" type movies.
Tron: Legacy: While it has received middling reviews, we are still off to see it tonight in 3D.

4. It snowed only a very slight amount yesterday (quarter of an inch?), but it was enough to snarl up the roads all over the Delaware Valley for hours. My dear husband was stuck in his car for hours, inching along on roads laced with black ice.

But for my children, it was a wonderful excuse to get out the new snow boots, find their gloves and mittens, and play in the backyard for the first time in weeks.

5. Page 8 is nearing completion. I won't have time tonight, but I hope to be moving on to page 9 before Christmas. Here is a reminder of what the finished product looks like.

6. My parents arrived safely in Southern California yesterday to attend the wedding of a friend and then celebrate Christmas with assorted family and friends. I do wish we could join them but am relieved not to be flying this year.

7. And if you've yet to order a copy of my mother's new book, here is your regular reminder. :) I still have 4 copies of my mother's book available for purchase, if you are a local fan. 

Or, if you are a long-distance fan, you can find it here.

Bonus 8. I know I promised to post our Christmas letter days ago. Well, once again, life happened and we got a little behind. We should have it done over the weekend so keep your eyes on this space!

And here's Jen.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Very Busy Friday

1. It's not even 11:30 am and I've already blitzed around town: dropped off my nephew's birthday present, shopped at Wegman's, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco & Shop Rite. Somehow, I lolly-gag around on Thursdays, going back to bed after the buses pick up the children, sitting around all afternoon playing on Facebook, instead of working though my To Do list so that Friday won't be such a full day. Ah, well, it was an efficient morning.

2. My mother helped me to make fudge and find containers for it before she left so I have already dispensed it to all of Alex & Miranda's teachers, aides and therapists at school. His total was 9 people and hers was 12. But in the name of Christ, I bless them all! A small box of fudge is only a token gift to acknowledge all they do for us.

3. We have a busy weekend planned. Tonight we have a sitter for the kids so we can attend the Youth Ministry Christmas party (the only event all year I make my husband attend and socialize with all of my peeps and their spouses from Youth Ministry) even though he's already a little partied out since the SIG Christmas party was last night (staff only). Saturday night, our sitter is coming back (after spending her week mired in finals--bless her!) so we can go out, just the two of us, have a nice dinner and see The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader. So far it's getting middling reviews, but we haven't decided whether or not to see it in 3D. Ebert advises against it.

4. My parents returned safely to Madison, WI, last weekend and we miss them already, but it was a great visit. They leave for southern CA in a few days to attend the wedding of the daughter of a good friend, spend time with my brothers and their wives (perhaps there will be some tiling of a kitchen floor involved--stay tuned for pictures of another of my father's tiling masterpieces!), and then head down to San Diego to settle in with my Aunt Katie and her family for a great Christmas together. We are sorry to miss it but have no regrets about declining to fly with Miranda.

5. Both kids were fighting off colds this week but, praise God, they never got sick enough to miss a day of school. Neither of them have been absent a day yet this school year, which is a miracle. God is good! Now if I can just convince Miranda that noses should be wiped with tissues (instead of blankets, towels, sleeves, floors, etc.) life would be a little easier. Silly woozle.

6. I still have 4 copies of my mother's book available for purchase, if you are a local fan. 

Or, if you are a long-distance fan, you can find it here.

7. Our Christmas letter is written and should be posted sometime in the next few days. I will have a link here as well as on Facebook early next week. We have so much to be thankful for this year, especially when it was a tough year for much of our family and many of our friends. But God continues to answer our prayers, small and large, and we are delighted when our experiences bless others. Say it with me: God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good!

And here's Jen.

Friday, December 3, 2010

First Friday of Advent

1. So Jen took last Friday off and so did I because ever since my parents arrived on November 20th, we have been running around like crazy people. We celebrated Thanksgiving at Marshall's sister's house and enjoyed a wonderful family time, giving thanks for Marshall's mom's recovery from heart surgery and that we could all be together again. Then on Sunday night we celebrated Alex & Miranda's birthdays late (their birthdays are October 4 and 30 respectively) so that both sets of Grandparents could be here to sing our kids into their new years. You can see pictures here.

2. I have been promising a new progress picture of my cross stitch for weeks and finally have one for you. I finished page 7 and started page 8.

I continue to be impressed with how beautifully the pattern turns into art.

3. My mother is still here but my father has been in Toronto since Monday night. So we decided to put the tree up on Sunday night, after the birthday party, since the children were still jazzed up from playing with their cousins (and dark chocolate cupcakes) and both children, for the first time, helped to decorate the tree. Now, this means all the nice and breakable ornaments are still safely in their boxes in the closet, but the tree is still beautiful. You can see pictures of that here.

4. Last Friday we left both kids at Aunt Leah's house and the four of us adults went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. We went to the 10 am showing, first of the day, and then Marshall and my father continued to work on the living room remodel. The room is inhabitable, including new furniture, but the bookshelves are still in the process of being built. Life keeps intervening in my husband's project; for example, right now he's home in bed with a bad chest cold. Still, our life is not boring.

5. Last week we had our conference with Miranda's teacher and yesterday I met with Alex's to learn that both children are doing well. Miranda has come so far in speech therapy that we now have to teach her when NOT to talk. Alex continues to excel academically but still has behavioral quirks to get under control. They both need to work on reading comprehension, but we can do that together.

6. Alex is completely enamoured of Brian and Leah's new puppy, Ruby. His favorite thing to say about her is "She likes to lick me."

She is a very sweet tempered dog; I enjoy her company as well.

7. Now I understand why Jen does these posts every Friday. Trying to sum up two weeks of events is difficult.

Bonus 8. My mother did her first large group event to introduce her book to my women's Bible study group on Wednesday morning and it was just awesome to hear her speak about Bathsheba, reference the scriptures from 2nd Samuel, and share her writing process with my friends.

If you haven't already ordered a copy for yourself, do so now! You can find it available here. I still have 10 copies available for sale leftover from her talk on Wednesday. If you're local, let me know if you are interested.

And here's Jen.