Friday, March 30, 2012

Sunny & Bleary

1. In order to celebrate my planned trip to Longwood Gardens with my mother-in-law tomorrow (we are watching the forecasted rain very closely but we should miss everything but a few sprinkles), I am sharing 7 pictures from last year's trip.

2. It was a very busy week, with hardly a moment to rest in between rushing off to the next thing. I realized last Saturday that all of Miranda's re-evaluation paperwork/Kindergarten Roundup stuff was overdue and so I spent most of that day working my way through the significant pile of paper. Then, Tuesday morning I dragged Miranda off to the pediatrician for a well-visit so our doctor could fill out her portion of the paperwork. The Mount Laurel School District has always been good to us, but the paperwork required for two classified kids is often overwhelming.

3. This week I started watching the Ken Burns documentary on World War II, called simply, The War. I've made it through episode 4, which ends soon after D-Day. I still have the last 3 episodes of Band of Brothers to watch and then I plan to watch The Pacific. But I wanted to have a better understanding of the course of the war as a whole and Burns and his team provide this. And it was available for check-out at my local library.

4. I am a hundred pages into Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary, which, I have to say, starts off with a bang and doesn't really let up. But I've been tired enough at night to be able to put it down.

5. I did get a good start on my Easter cards, most of which will go into the mail on Monday, but I really need to buckle down and finish them up today. Of course, part of the reason my days have been so busy is because I'm taking tomorrow off to visit Longwood. And when my husband is gracious enough to let me off for the day, I don't want to leave him in a messy house with no food in the fridge.

6. I should have a brand-new nephew today, some way or another. My brother, Jonathan, and his wife plan to welcome their son into the world today. Since there have been a few complications, it will be an organized affair, so please be praying for them.

7. Physical Therapy continues, although with Spring Break starting on Friday for the kids, I will probably only be able to get there once a week for the next few weeks. I am healing, I can measure the progress, but it is slow.

I think that's all. Back to my Easter cards.

And here's Jen.

Friday, March 23, 2012

From the Land of Phineas & Ferb - UPDATED

1. Every time I close my eyes, this is all I hear:

We did want to move on from preschool shows (good-bye Max & Ruby and Pocoyo) to other that require our kids to follow more complex plot lines. But it would be nice for Alex and Miranda to become fond of something instead of acquiring a new obsession. Ah, well. I enjoy the show as well.

2. So I'm almost all caught up on Justified. But I made the mistake of reading Raylan last week (thanks to my local library) which uses a lot of the same characters and plot lines, but mixes them up, much to my confusion. I like the novel and I love the show but to experience them in the same week is not recommended.

Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins are fascinating and with supporting players like Nick Searcy, Mykelti Williamson, and Neal McDonough, you keep watching, regardless of the body count or casual cruelty. It's amazing, but painful to watch.

3. Not interested in seeing The Hunger Games this weekend; hated the book. Sometimes, I'm just not like everyone else. I'd love to go to the movies this weekend, but I'm sure I will be too tired. I'd be happy to see 21 Jump Street or Safe House or even John Carter again. And Wrath of the Titans and Mirror, Mirror open next week. Speaking of John Carter, read this article of defense. Then go out and see the movie!

4. I finished Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague this week and am looking forward to picking up Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary from this library this afternoon. Did I mention how much I love the Mount Laurel Public Library?

5. Physical Therapy is dragging on and on. I was ready to be done weeks ago. I would rather be out gardening or exercising or something than going to my appointments. Pray that I will graduate soon.

6. Miranda had a much better week this week, and was a complete angel for the school psychologist who came to observe her two afternoons this week. Figures. Not last week, when Miranda wasn't allowed to sit at the table for snack time with her classmates because her teacher was afraid Miranda would injure someone else (she is taller and stronger than anyone else in the class, barring the adults, of course). No, this week, when everything is hunky dory. Dang.

7. A new version of Angry Birds released this week. Marshall has learned, to his distress, that it won't run on the old iPhone Alex uses as a gaming platform. I'm my darling husband will be spending time this evening outfitting an old laptop for Alex to use instead. The things we do to keep Alex happy, at least, for a few hours. Of course, being a clever boy, he knows how to erase the game, reinstall it and beat the levels all over again. That's my boy!

Bonus 8. Oops! I only just remembered my darling husband took me to the theatre on Wednesday night to see a local production of Jean Anouilh's Antigone, which was amazing! Go see it yourself, right here! And here's a review.

And here's Jen.

Friday, March 16, 2012

All-Entertainment Edition

1. We've had a bad week here. Insomnia has plagued the whole household, which turns Marshall and I into zombies, Miranda into a sniveling wreck and Alex just gets more hyper and easily irritated. So, instead of rehashing all the things that went wrong, I've decided to focus on something more positive: other fun ways to spend (waste) your time.

John Carter (of Mars) was an excellent movie--so much fun! We enjoyed it, so you should go see it too!

2. My cousin Theresa, with whom I had a lovely visit on Saturday in North Jersey, recommended a new book series for me, Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull. I read book one over the weekend, picked up book 2 from the library on Tuesday and finished that Wednesday night and now book three (also from the library) is on the table waiting for me to read it tonight. Mull isn't as good as Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson is my hero), but I am really enjoying the series.

3. Patricia Briggs' new book, Fair Game, arrived from Amazon last Friday. I didn't stay up all night reading it, just until midnight. I finished it on Sunday. I don't like her Alpha & Omega series as much as the stories about Mercy Thompson, but they are still worth reading.

4. While my mother and I were away on Saturday, visiting with family in North Jersey, Marshall took the children to play with their cousins, who introduced us to the world of Phineas and Ferb. Miranda is now good and obsessed, and Alex and I aren't far behind.

5. On Tuesday, my mother graciously took charge of Miranda so my mother-in-law and I could spend the day at the Philadelphia Art Museum. We spent a long portion of our time visiting the Van Gogh Up Close exhibit, which is excellent! If you live in the area, you must visit! I liked it so much, I changed the decor in my kitchen.

For many years, I have been displaying the works of one of my favorite watercolor artist, Steve Hanks.

Here's a close up of the frames on the right:

And here's the left. You'll forgive me if I don't take the time to look up the actual names of the paintings.

Well, here is the same wall and frames with a Van Gogh make-over.

Clockwise, starting on the right: Crown Imperial (Frititllaria) in a Copper Vase, 1887; Road Menders at Saint-Remy, 1889; Iris, 1889.

On the top, my favorite from the exhibit, Almond Blossom, 1890. And then Sunflowers, 1887.

You, too, can do this with stationary reproductions of the paintings and a few cheap frames. My thanks to my husband and my mother for the artistic arrangement.

6. Marshall is planning to spend the weekend putting in the rest of the laminate in the front room and the hallway. Prepare yourself for impressive pictures in next week's blog.

7. My favorite Steve Hanks painting, Finding Yourself in the World, is still one I would like to hang in my house. Here it is:

Ones that I presently own are Coastline and Reflecting (which hangs in my powder room, so as to not make any casual visitor uncomfortable).

And here's Jen.

Friday, March 9, 2012

No Pithy Title Comes to Mind

1. This week has been so full of business alternating with complete exhaustion that I feel almost dazed here on Friday morning. The complicating factors were:

  • Alex's cheek injury was exacerbated on Saturday night (he re-bit it and it bled all over again, much to his dismay) so I kept him home from school on Monday so I could take him to our pediatrician for examination and antibiotics. It is looking much better today, when he took his final dose of medication.
  • Teacher conferences were scheduled for the school district on Wednesday and Thursday which meant Miranda had no school and Alex had early dismissal for both days. 
  • I had MOPS on Tuesday morning and Bible Study Wednesday morning.
  • My mother has been working to pull up the carpet in the hallway and front room to help Marshall in his effort towards laying the new laminate flooring, which has been really helpful, but kicked off my dust allergies with a vengeance. So I've been wandering around vaguely for several days on my prescription allergy medicine, but it's better than sneezing constantly. 
2. Perhaps it was not the most helpful thing, but in the evenings I've been watching Band of Brothers and catching up on the third season of Justified. I've made it through the first 7 episodes of the former, which means I've just watch some of Easy Company survive the Battle of Bastogne, and all I can think of is how can anyone who knows about this awful battle still want to declare war on anyone? But then I watch Justified (through episode 4, so far) and am reminded just how cruel and vicious humanity can be and pray for God's mercy on us all.

Justified had a killer second season last year, in more ways than one, and while season 3 so far is good and I am loving Neal McDonough and Mykelti Williamson as this year's villains, it mostly makes me want to watch Boomtown again, in which they were absolutely brilliant! But Timothy Olyphant, Walton Goggins and Nick Searcy are still as awesome as advertised.

3. My mother and I took the children to the movies for the first time ever yesterday afternoon, to see The Lorax. Alex's teacher made me promise to take him since he's addicted to Dr. Seuss books and Despicable Me is one of our favorite movies. Of course, being me, we arrived early, so the kids had to sit for a few minutes before everything started and then there were 20 minutes of trailers and commercials before the actual movie started, so Alex was pretty much done half-way through the 86 minute film. Poor sweetie. He just wasn't that interested in the story and wanted to be able to move around the theatre; sitting still is hard for him. Miranda followed the movie much more easily and her behavior was more typical, per usual. But since the theatre was mostly empty and the other patrons were families with small children, we didn't bug anyone.

4. My reward for surviving the week is going to see John Carter tonight with Marshall and my mother. I had to get a little creative in finding a babysitter since most of my usual sitters are taking the SAT's on Saturday or out of town, but it's going to be a lot of fun. Ignore the mainstream reviews and the serious lack of advertising; go see this movie!

5. Tomorrow my mother and I are driving to Morris Plains to see family and attend the bridal shower of a cousin. It should be a lovely time to visit with family I haven't seen since my brother's wedding 2 years ago. But Morris Plains is a little further afield than I had realized previously. Ah, North Jersey, a world unto itself.

6. I have been trying to go back to all of my normal activities to put additional stress on my ankle to get a serious evaluation of my healing progress and am happy to report it is doing far better than I expected. I am pleased to be able to go back to PT this afternoon (I had to cancel my appointment for Monday because of Alex's trip to the doctor) and tell them how much better I am feeling.

7. Some pictures of our changing house for you:

Marshall spent most of Sunday slaving over the new floor in Alex's room, but it looks pretty awesome now...

as you can see when compared to the hallway.

Here's the front room with the carpet torn up and lots of leftover padding to be scrubbed or sanded off. Miranda helped me Monday afternoon to do a small section, but after half an hour of serious scrubbing, I was wiped out. I'm really grateful I don't depend on this kind of activity for my livelihood. The rest of the progress pictures are here.

My first daffodil opened yesterday; so pretty!

Bonus 8. Marshall was able to fulfill a long-standing desire to buy a 1977 Volkswagon bus on Monday. You can see the first pictures here. The car isn't on our property yet, but we do have a title. He will be blogging about this on his own, so more details to follow.

And here's Jen.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Is March Really Here Already?

1. It's been a very full week and I'm having difficulty summing everything up in a few short paragraphs. Perhaps I should work through the week day by day, but I'm going to start with yesterday, since that is the freshest in my mind.

Marshall took Thursday off of work to put in a new laminate floor in Miranda's room. It really looks lovely even though it took him longer than anticipated and he would tell you it's not perfect. I can't tell; it looks great to me. You can see some progress pictures here but I'll post some finished pictures here:

Doesn't it look wonderful!

So, since we had everything out of Miranda's room to put the floor in, I spent some time sorting through Miranda's toys and books and throwing away anything broken or unused, which meant I dumped her toy boxes on the floor in the front room. I didn't get it all finished, though, because by 6 pm I was tired (I spent the afternoon running around with my mother doing errands and buying groceries), which meant I left this mess on the floor:

Miranda came stomping in to me a little while later announcing that since I'd made the mess, I had to clean it up and do it right now! (Apparently, she listens to me when I tell her this, even if she rarely follows my edict.) I gave her back her usual response: I'll do it later.

2. Wednesday was our big dentist adventure. Alex had an appointment with our family dentist two weeks ago that went badly and she recommended we make appointments with Children's Dental Care Associates. They were able to book the children back to back, starting at 11 am. (To give our children the best care, they clear out the office of other patients, just in case.) Miranda went first and sailed through with flying colors: x-rays, teeth cleaned, no cavities, adult teeth visible and should be popping up soon. Alex was a different matter.

We knew from our other visit that Alex had a cavity in one of his back molars that would need filling and he had another adult tooth moving up in the front of his mouth that would probably necessitate at least one baby tooth being pulled. (Poor boy, he seems to have my problem of baby teeth falling out later than usual.) Well, they were able to do these things (after the usual x-rays and cleaning) but when it was all done, he didn't know what to do when he felt his cheek numb and so he chomped on it and it bled everywhere. And he howled and we were distressed. It's still swollen but healing. He still looks chipmunk-like, though.

My car is still at the shop, so my mother-in-law graciously came and played chauffeur, driving us to and from and dropping Miranda off at school after we were all done. In recompense for his trauma, Alex got the whole day off of school and a white Angry Bird plush toy (from the Tooth Fairy, officially).

2. Tuesday my mother came over so that I could take her car to my PT appointment while she stayed and put Miranda on the bus at the appropriate time. Last Friday, when my ankle was examined, my therapist estimated I should need only about 3 more weeks of therapy and devised a whole new, more difficult exercise program for me to complete during my office visits. So I was very stiff and sore last Friday after my new program but on Tuesday I didn't feel quite so worn out, in terms of muscle use, so I must be getting better! The thing that hurts the most, strangely, is not walking or driving but sitting with my legs down, so when I sit, I'm still sitting around the house with my foot up.

3. Monday is rather blurry in my memory because I was recovering from the HS Winter Retreat from the past weekend. I shuffled the children along to their regular things, did a little laundry, tried to take a nap and took a long shower. And, I'm sure, played Words with Friends.

4. Sunday was rather full. Since, as I am reminded every year, HS students don't sleep much at these events, I didn't get much sleep the night before, but was able to get up and function for our last large group session and get all packed up again for our trip home. We left right after lunch and arrived back at the church, as Dave promised, at 2:30. Since my car was in the shop, I hitched a ride home with a friend to her house (halfway between our house and the church) where Marshall picked me up to bring me home to a lovely family dinner with my parents and visiting aunt and uncle. (I'm not sure I was very gracious at the table, however, since all I wanted was to sleep or shower or both at the same time.) But my children were happy to see me and everyone did eventually go to bed. I was so grateful for my soft, warm, fluffy bed, as the bunk beds at the retreat center were rather hard and stacked so close together you couldn't sit up while in the actual bed. Since I had the bottom bunk, though, I could just roll out onto the floor, and did so.

5. Saturday I was up early to breakfast with our students and then we had a morning session together, and then after lunch, I took a long, leisurely nap, the kind that only get interrupted by dinner, which never happens at home. I know the students ran around outside, played with the outdoor cats at the facility, played soccer in the gym, played card games and banana-grams in our rec. room, but I stayed in bed. That's my idea of free time! Then we had dinner, games (where the boys actually won 4 on a couch!) and another large group session, followed by Smores at a campfire and more games before we finally sent the students to bed, after midnight, and turned the lights out even later than that! Man, hanging out with youths is not for the faint of heart.

6. Friday was spent writing last week's blog post, running around the house trying to have everything ready for Marshall to be home alone with the kids and then to my PT appointment, after which I was understandably sore. And then off to the retreat! It was a very full day.

7. Life is very full right now, keeping everyone moving forward with everything that needs doing. We're going to try to prep the front room for its new floor this weekend, which will mean finding all the packing boxes for the china (somewhere in the attic, I think) so that we can carefully put all that stuff away before ripping up that ugly, awful carpet. If only my brain can keep up and remember all this stuff that needs doing. Marshall actually writes it all down but I'm afraid to; the list would be too long.

And here's Jen!