Friday, September 30, 2011

Heidi Heifer's Hoedown Hootenanny!

1. And I thought last week was exciting. Miranda had a relapse of croup and for the last two days, Alex has had a fever (the boy who almost never gets sick and hasn't run a fever this long in I can't remember how long) for two days and all he wants to do is sleep. He slept yesterday from 7 am to 2 pm and then went to bed last night about 9 pm and then crawled into bed with us at 3 am and, after more Tylenol, went back to sleep until 10 am. I can't remember him ever sleeping like this. So I'll be back at the pediatrician's this afternoon, for the third time in 8 days. And I can't remember when I last had a good night's sleep. Ugh.

2. For some reason, while being sick, all Miranda wants to watch is The Upside Down Show. Since they only ever made 13 episodes, we've been watching them over and over again. And, since I can't figure out how to imbed a video, here's the link to our favorite scene, including Heidi Heifer's Hoedown Hootenanny. (Here's the beginning of that episode, in case you get confused.) And here's the one that makes my children roll on the ground laughing every time. And this has to be my second favorite scene, very interesting yoga. The show isn't available on DVD in the states but it does still play on Nick Jr's schedule every night from 11 pm to 12 am. I could not recommend it more highly.

3. And all Alex wants to watch are his favorite Pixar movies, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, The Incredibles & Finding Nemo. Although, last night he had a strange moment and requested A Bug's Life.

4. Obviously, since Miranda was sick last weekend, we didn't go see Moneyball. And, since Alex is now sick, we won't be going anywhere this weekend either. However, the Phillies made the playoffs, so I can console myself by watching baseball.

5. What with all the rain and household illness, my Seasonal Affect Disorder has really hit me bad this fall. I feel constantly distracted and have difficultly focusing on anything for longer than a few minutes. Needless to say, I haven't touched my cross stitch all week. I keep thinking, all I need is a good night's sleep, and then someone wakes up at 3 in the morning, and the cycle continues.

6. Of the new tv series that started this week or last, surprisingly to me, the one I really like is Hart of Dixie, mostly because I'm interested in what Scott Porter might do next. I am still watch Ringer, as a huge Buffy fan, but I really don't like it; I'm mostly just watching for Ioan Gruffudd. Person of Interest and Unforgettable are nice procedurals with a twist that pass the time. Revenge's pilot was intriguing in a guilty pleasure sort of way and Terra Nova is still sitting on the DVR, waiting to be watched. Along with 300 gigs of other videos. A big drive for our DVR is a good thing, sometimes, and sometimes, it's just a place for me to collect things I'll get around to watching, someday.

7. My mother is coming to visit in 9 days and I wish it were sooner. I'm so glad she'll be living nearby soon, because I need help. Or a nap. Or something. Actually, Marshall's mother did my grocery shopping on Tuesday, which was a huge help!

And here's Jen.

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's going to be a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

1. I have never actually read this book, but the title seemed appropriate. The day started at 12:30 am when Miranda woke up crying because she couldn't breathe. She had her seasonal flumist yesterday and, apparently, experienced a bad reaction. But this is why we keep a nebulizer and steroids in the closet, right? I am waiting for the call back from our doctor because I'm sure we will be seeing him again, today.

2. It's raining, again. In fact, there is a flood watch in place for our area. I am so sorry, Texas, that New Jersey keeps getting your rain. I would send it your way instantly, if I could.

3. I spent several hours on Tuesday night moving my sewing stand and light back to the living room, reminding myself where I'd hid the actual project (at the top of my closet), and even did a few stitches. Here is what it looked like before I started:

Here is what the final project is supposed to look like:

After finishing the few stitches I was able to do, I remembered why I had put the project down in the first place (extreme level of difficulty!). But it's so pretty! Maybe I'll actually get to work on it this week since all it's going to do is rain.

This is a gift for my husband, who very patiently let me set it aside to do White Lilies on Red for my sister-in-law.

4. Since all I want to do is complain about how horrible my life feels right now but don't want to alienate all my readers with incessant whining, I think the best way to finish this update is with a series of funny links or videos, like this fascinating survey of good movies or this article about super heroes I meant to share earlier in the summer.

5. I found this on EW's site this morning, and even though I don't watch any of the shows Elmo and Cookie Monster are re-enacting, it's still hilarious.

6. And, speaking of Muppets, if you haven't seen this yet, you must. It's even funnier.

7. I have not managed to see Columbiana. I think it will just have to wait until DVD. But, we do have plans to see Moneyball tomorrow night with our baseball-fanatic friend. And Thor just came out and I need to decide that if I'm going to watch it more than once, I should just buy a copy. And I think I'm going to buy Tangled for Alex for his birthday since he liked the movie and Miranda did not. And the Phillies just lost their last 6 games, even though they won the pennant race. Too weird. And, this is really cool, too.

And here's Jen.

Friday, September 16, 2011

I Can Adjust to Change. Really, I Can.

1. This must be an amazingly strong cold virus, because while I haven't become worse since last weekend, I am only somewhat better. I am grateful to have strong, over-the-counter cold medicines to keep me up and functioning during the day and sleeping at night (although my dreams are a lot more vivid and weirder than my usual weird dreams) but I'm so ready to be done with this bug. Ah, well; this is why I buy expensive tissues, because I've already used up one whole box worth. I am also thankful that no one else in the house seems to be sharing my germs. But the virus has really put a dent in my abilities to keep up with the flow hereabouts, and certainly curtailed my ability to make adjustments to my regular schedule. Or what was regular last year.

2. Wednesday night was Back to School Night for Alex's school and since Marshall doesn't often have the opportunity to be on site with Larchmont School staff, I usually send him as our family representative. And, since none of the other parents showed up, Marshall had a wonderfully long and informative session with Alex's teacher and case manager. Alex's prognosis for the year is wonderfully positive. Over the summer, he seems to have made the next developmental leap and so his conversation skills are improving weekly. He has started mainstreaming in a regular 2nd grade class first thing in the morning and then transitioning back to his self-contained class later in the day. We couldn't be happier. Many of you, my readers, have been praying for this little boy for more than 5 years since his diagnosis and not a one of them in vain. God is good.

3. Miranda is continuing to do well back with our preferred teacher in a larger class with more requirements to sit still and pay attention. So far, so good. Although both she and I are struggling with this school in the afternoon instead of the morning thing. It means I've been dragging her along with me everywhere I usually go in the mornings. On my MOPS mornings (usually, two Tuesdays a month), it should be fine because she will be in a class with her peers doing age-appropriate activities. But Wednesday mornings I have my beloved Bible study and she is in the nursery with mostly younger kids. I am waiting to see how this is going to work and hoping for the best.

4. All my activities are kicking back into high gear. Bible Study started this week, MOPS starts next week, Youth Group had its 6th/9th grade Kickoff last Sunday and starts back with everyone this Sunday night. The great thing about the specific study chosen for this fall by my Wednesday morning group is that it's light on homework, which is good because I've taken on new responsibilities for both MOPS (I'm a DGL, which just means I will be leading a table) and YG (more data collection, my own access to the database and developing a new process for birthday and welcome cards). I usually love keeping busy with my groups but it's been an effort to keep up this week while simultaneously fighting a cold. I plan to spend a lot of time next week in the afternoons working on cards for YG so I can have the process down before the drop dead date of October 1st, when my supply from the old process runs out and I have to make good on my promises for "new and improved."

5. I feel almost untethered not to have a current cross stitch project. I wander around in the evenings, reading books and watching Phillies baseball games. I was honestly, seriously disappointed to sit down last night and realize the game being played across the river was not being broadcast on network television. Anyone who knows me knows this is a very strange thing. I blame the rabid Phillies fans at church for infecting me. Hopefully, this week, I will be able to dig out Celestial Dragon and get her all set up again for regular stitching.

6. I have exhausted my supply of Patricia Briggs novels written in the urban fantasy world, including all her short stories but one (I'm on the waiting list for it at the library). I now have to wait for her to write something new. Whine, whine. I am still working through Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden books, though, so it's not the end of the world, yet. And the new Richard Castle novel will be out soon, anyway. :)

7. Our prayers have been answered and my parents have been approved by my father's employer to relocate to Southern New Jersey, to be close to us. My father's job already requires a great deal of travel, which will be easier to do from Philadelphia, rather than Madison, WI. And after last winter, they really didn't want to spend another snowy season in Wisconsin. They hope to move out later this fall, but there are a lot of details that need to come together before we can actually start doing all our grocery shopping together. Or go to church together. Or go to school together. Ah, the fun times are coming!

And here's Jen.

Friday, September 9, 2011

7 Grumpy Takes

1. I have a cold. It's not the flu, it's not going to kill me, it's just really annoying. I had forgot that a week's worth of not sleeping through the night = a cold for me. It's made me really grumpy to be around. Actually, today is better than yesterday. Yesterday was my Pierre day: I didn't care that the house was trashed, I didn't care about making myself a real dinner (Marshall had a meeting at church so he went straight there from work) so I had a hot fudge sundae, I was going to sit in my room and watch slightly-trashy television on Hulu. Today I am feeling a little better and have the house half-cleaned and after I drop Miranda at school, I am meeting my mother-in-law for lunch at Panera's. The sun is shining, which helps.

2. My copy of River Marked came in the mail on Wednesday and I read it all the way through in one sitting, even while cooking dinner for the children. Eventually, I'm going to run out of Patricia Briggs books to read.

3. I also started Storm Front on audio book and continue to be impressed by Jim Butcher's writing. The slightly-trashy TV programs I was watching last night were the first 5 episodes of The Dresden Files. The problem with the show, which is loosely based on the novels, is that they filed off all the sharp edges from Butcher's characters, so they're not very interesting. And everyone's too pretty. And Bob is a person instead of just a skull. Still, it passes the time.

4. I finished The Armada on Friday night and read another hundred pages in Von Braun over the weekend. But I am starting to get the itch to start stitching again. Maybe I'll get it all set up again in the living room next week, stand and everything.

5. Miranda's soccer season starts tomorrow morning, if it's not raining. She's pretty excited. Chance of rain looks 50/50, though.

6. I think the whole saga with the bed bugs this summer finally broke my love affair with laundry. I just don't have the desire to wash everything in sight right this moment like I used to. Stupid bugs.

7. So, if you haven't read my mother's book yet, Bathsheba's Lament for any of you not paying attention for the last year, won't you tell me why? Everyone needs to be challenged to be reexamine how they feel about forgiveness. Even me.

Bonus 8. Sorry, for those who didn't get the news via FB, Miranda was transferred back to her original school on Tuesday afternoon, so all is going well there. We could have made it work at our sending school, but I feel so much more comfortable having Miranda where she is now. But I'm sure the stress of the situation contributed to my insomnia which in turn led to the cold. Ugh.

And here's Jen.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

To Review (Again): 2011 films

I was discussing movies with a friend today and decided it was high time to update my 2011 film to watch list:

January 14
Green Hornet (I actually tried to watch this on DVD, but it was so horrible, I turned it off. I made the horrific mistake of watching the original series in its entirety first, which is decent if a little campy. Like The Avengers movie made years ago, this film seems to miss the point entirely. Ugh.)
April 1
Source Code (Marshall and I were able to go out and see this while my parents were here in April--free babysitting!--and we really liked it. Not as amazing as Moon, but still very good.)
April 29
Fast Five (So much fun! Ridiculous fun, even Rotten Tomatoes gave it an excellent rating. However, you should still listen to the people at How Did This Get Made make fun of it here.)
May 6
Thor (I enjoyed it, but mostly for the actors themselves, especially Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, and, of course, Idris Elba. I did not like Natalie Portman as Jane. I have watched all of Wallander and while he is one of the main characters, Hiddleston didn't seem like anything special in it. But in this, he was fascinating. And, after seeing Cappy and the preview for Avengers, I want to see Thor  again. Coming to DVD on September 13!)
June 3
X-Men: First Class (I enjoyed this, mostly because of Michael Fassbender.)
June 10
Super 8 (We were supposed to see this to celebrate Marshall's birthday, but we both got sick. Waiting for DVD.)
June 17
Green Lantern (I went to see it the weekend Harry opened. While I did like it, I think this review clearly lays out all of the film's problems.)
June 24
Cars 2 (I still have not managed to see it. Sigh. Another for DVD. We considered taking the children to this film as their first film in the theatre experience, but the reviews said the plot was more complicated than the original film, so we decided to wait.)
July 1
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (I saw it opening weekend and while I liked it, the movie was too long!)
July 15
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (We saw it while in San Diego on vacation and it was awesome and I did cry when Harry saw his parents in the woods and cheered for Neville, because he was awesome! I also liked several parts where the film departed from the novel, like when Harry confronted Snape in the Hogwarts main hall.)
July 20
Another Earth (This just looks interesting, but it might be on my "too sad to see" list. Since my home life with special needs children is rather involving, I rarely watch serious or sad movies. I just don't have the emotional energy to spare.)
July 22
Captain America: The First Avenger (It was a fun movie and Chris Evans was awesome, as I knew he would be after seeing him in The Losers and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. But the movie was too short; I wanted more and didn't want to wait until next summer.)
July 29
Cowboys & Aliens (James Bond and Indiana Jones on horseback, fighting aliens. What's not to like?!)

Still Up coming:
August 26
Colombiana (I am planning to see it this weekend.)
August 31
The Debt (I would like to see this, but it probably falls under the "too sad to see" label, as well.)
September 16
Drive (Maybe. It looks interesting. I'll wait for the reviews.)
September 23
Moneyball (We are planning to see it with our baseball-crazed friend.)
Abduction (This looks fun and brainless, just my cup of tea.)
Killer Elite (Ditto.)
October 7
Real Steel (Maybe. I am a Jackman fan.)
The Ides of March (Occasionally, I do watch a serious movie, although I've yet to see Michael Clayton, even though I've heard it's excellent.)
October 21
The Three Musketeers (I know the story's been done to death, but this one looks rather steam punk, which would be an interesting twist to go along with the cool cast.)
October 28
Anonymous (As a fan of Shakespeare, although I turned off Shakespeare in Love after half an hour because I couldn't stand it, I might see this, if it's good enough.)
November 11
Immortals (Fun for fans of Greek Mythology everywhere!)
November 23
The Muppets (Are there any bad Muppet movies? Actually, I haven't seen them all. The Great Muppet Caper is still my favorite, though.
December 16
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (the first one was fun, so perhaps this one will be, as well, though not as good as Sherlock.)
December 21
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (directed by Brad Bird; end of story.)
December 23
The Adventures of Tintin (directed by Steven Spielberg and based on famous comics that I've never read; still, could be fun)

And that's all, folks!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Can the Next Crisis Please Take a Number?!

1. This summer, no, this year has felt like one crisis after another and reminded me this morning of the lines from Hamlet when Gertrude says "One woe doth tread upon another’s heel, / So fast they follow" (IV.vii.159-60); she then proceeds to tell Laertes that his sister, Ophelia, has in her madness, drowned. No, there have been no untimely deaths here; the only dead things have been bed bugs and their deaths are never untimely, just over due. But I am having a very difficult time keeping my chin up and my grateful attitude abounding. (And the bed bugs did not magically starve to death while we were in California, so the spraying of toxic chemicals will continue until morale improves.)

2. Yes, we returned home safely and without incident, although the flights were a little bumpy. If you don't already, fly Southwest. They made traveling with special needs children as painless as possible in this nervous climate and we are very thankful to have been so well cared for by 4 different cabin crews. Even the TSA people were courteous so I didn't mind their extra caution with all my juice boxes and medicines. I still hate flying, but we made it without serious injury or seriously annoying the people sitting around us, the latter of which has to be a miracle unto itself. And Alex and Miranda now know how to do the whole airplane travel process.

3. Yes, it was a lovely vacation in San Diego and the best part was being with family who graciously and enthusiastically helped keep Alex and Miranda fed and entertained. If you haven't seen the pictures, here's another chance.

Oh, alright, I'll post some here.

Having fun at the zoo.

Post-swimming sunning with Daddy.

Best bud Ballou.

Basketball with Mason, cousin Aaron's best friend.

Snuggling and playing with Uncle Brandon.

Snuggling and playing with Uncle Jonathan.

Swimming with Grandma.

Swimming with Grandpa.

You know, I have really adorable children. :) I'm so glad there are only 2 of them.

4. So, on Wednesday, after getting all my thank you's into the mail, I heard through the grapevine that Miranda had been moved from the school she's been attending for the past 2 years back to our sending school. Naturally, this provoked a great deal of upset. Our mail was never delivered upon our return, for no apparent reason; I did go pick it up yesterday morning and all I got in answer to my queries from the Post Office was a dumb look. So the formal notice of the change, which was postmarked Aug. 18, was not formally received until yesterday. I was able to talk to her case manager and Marshall and I quickly wrote a polite but detailed appeal to have her moved back to the classroom where she's been so happily ensconced for the previous 2 years. And since the school administrative offices are closed today and Monday and school starts Tuesday, it was a bit of a rush job and we'll have to wait until next week to discover the result. The programs at either school are equivalent so the CST was well within its right to move her, and if we'd discovered this on Aug. 20th instead of the 31st, I think I could have approached it with more equanimity. But as it is now, it is the source of a great deal of stress. This was so not the way I wanted to return to NJ.

5. I don't quite know what to do with my evenings now that I'm not cross stitching like mad. Well, I could read a book!

Summer Vacation Reading List:

  • Moon Called by Patricia Briggs - 336 pages
  • Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs - 352 pages
  • Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs - 304 pages
  • Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs - 304 pages 
  • Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs - 304 pages (I am now waiting for book 6 to come in the mail)
  • Dead Beat by Jim Butcher - 528 pages
  • Fool Moon by Jim Butcher - 352 pages (yes, I realize I started in the wrong order; I plan to start the complete Dresden Files from the beginning, next week)
I'm also part-way through several other books:
Grand Total: 3,301 pages
Quite satisfactory. Now if I can only finish what I've started....
What I really wanted to find in all those books stores was a copy of Pride & Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith. Can anyone loan me a copy?

6. Our house seemed to weather Hurricane Irene without much trouble. Marshall's mother came by to make sure all the hatches were battened down (or, at least, put the garbage cans in the garage so they couldn't blow away) so all that we noticed when we got home were a few branches down in the back yard. Our neighbors were looking out for us, so if anything had gone terribly wrong, I'm sure they would have called. 

7. Okay, people, if you haven't yet purchased a copy of my mother's book, Bathsheba's Lament, what is the matter with you? Get with the program! Amazon delivers overnight and so do I. Call me. Email me. Click your way through on Amazon's helpful website. I want to hear those pages turning all over the country! Today, people, Today! :)

And here's Jen