Monday, August 19, 2013

7 Things To Do When Your Kids Are Sick

1. Catch up on laundry, and not just the clothes that Alex threw up on earlier this morning. Wash the sheets on all the beds, but only strip them one at a time. If, at the end of the day you have 3 bare mattresses and 3 piles of clean sheets, you are going to be sorry.

2. Read a few books and not just the book that currently overdue at the library (Midnight in Mexico). After seeing the new Percy Jackson movie last Tuesday, which was decent, I read The Lightning Thief and Sea of Monsters on Tuesday, The Titan's Curse and half of Battle of the Labyrinth on Wednesday, the rest of Labyrinth and the first half of The Last Olympian on Thursday and finished up Friday afternoon. Then I spent the rest of the weekend taking care of sickies and watching tennis. Only one more week until the US Open!

3. Binge on some British television. I've decided to try Luther again because, well, Idris Elba is brilliant. And all my husband wanted to watch all weekend was Doctor Who (since he was also ill with whatever bug Alex is sharing). So we watched the Pertwee series Terror of the Autons and The Daemons.

4 Cross stitch. You know, that project I was so excited about a few weeks ago. Yeah, that one. Get back to it, slacker!

5. Continue to clear off the DVR. Make a decision about Continuum and Defiance. Either watch 'em or dump 'em.

6. Get Alex to stop watching the first half of The Incredibles every day. I realized this weekend that if Mr. Incredible had just let Bomb Voyage kill Buddy in the opening scene, most of his problems would have disappeared. Of course, he'd be immoral and guilty of some version of murder, but still, no Syndrome.

7. Mow the back yard, if the grass will dry before the sun goes down. It's the only way I'm going to find all the piles left by the visiting dog.

And here's Jen. Although her post from this morning is funnier.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Life Needs to be Simpler, Like Just Smash the Aliens

1. No one's using my laptop, so I really should do a blog post tonight because tomorrow's going to be busy. I'm watching a delayed replay of the Phillies game but since they're on a 10 game losing streak, I don't have a lot of hope for them. While channel surfing on Friday, I found a tennis tournament in Canada to watch which made the weekend a lot more fun. The semi-final matches were a lot more interesting than the finals; Serena Williams and Raphael Nadal just steamrolled their poor opponents in their respective final matches. Only 2 weeks until the US Open! Maybe I should get the tennis channel, although, then I wouldn't have time to watch baseball.

2. Speaking (writing) about smashing the aliens, my honey and I went to see Pacific Rim on Wednesday night and it was just as good as the first time, only it went by faster, as it always does, the second time through a film. Then I came home and downloaded the soundtrack and Amazon suckered me into the movie novelization by Alexander Irvine by putting at least 20 pages up on the site for free and by then I was hooked and had to buy the Kindle version and finish reading it on my phone. I made it 3/4 of the way through when my battery died at 1 am. I finished it later and napped a bit while Alex was at school and Miranda was watching television. It's a remarkably good novelization; sometimes they are just corny, but not this one. However, Miranda definitely watched too much tv this week. Tomorrow I'm dragging her on a whole series of errands so I'm sure she'll be begging for relief by lunch time.

3. Tuesday, Miranda has a play date with her best friend, Jason, so I think my mother and I are going to sneak off and see Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. Which reminds me of my favorite quote from 10 Things I Hate About You:

Bianca: There's a difference between like and love. Because, I like my Skechers, but I love my Prada backpack. 
Chastity: But I love my Skechers. 
Bianca: That's because you don't have a Prada backpack. 

You see, I like Harry Potter, but I love Percy Jackson. At least, in the books. And for all of you Potter fans who've never read Rick Riordan, you are missing out. And if you've never seen 10 Things I Hate About You, what is wrong with you?

4. Other books I'm trying to read this week:

5. In my mission to clean off the DVR, I went through 8 episodes of Graceland in 2 days, a new series from USA Networks. The pilot was weak but Aaron Tviet, who was so appealing in last year's Les Miz, is worth watching, and by the second and third episodes, the twisty plots had pulled me in.

My other surprise new favorite it Crossing Lines, a French/American co-production filmed in Europe. All the characters are so wonderfully flawed (Farscape-flawed is how I described it to my honey) that I'm interested to see if they manage to catch the bad guys before they are caught. Perhaps it could be considered Spooks-lite; I never managed to finish the second series of that show, and I tried twice. I only made it through 5 episodes of each of the first seasons of The Wire and Luther, even as brilliant as Idris Elba is; too heavy. Life needs to be simpler.

6. The dog days of August are about to begin: Alex finishes summer school on Thursday and both children do not return to school until Monday, September 9. Hoping to find fun things to do. Cheap fun things to do.

7. Marshall's company picnic will be at the Philadelphia Zoo on Wednesday night and we're looking forward to that. And the weather forecast is partly cloudy and not too hot. Should be fun!

And here's Jen.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

2013 Movies, So Far

For the first half of 2013, I was looking forward to Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing. I thought it would be my favorite film of 2013 and it is an excellent film. If you missed my extensive review, read it here. But on a visceral level, I think I like Pacific Rim better. Maybe that's because I only got to see Much Ado once (but I did just pre-order the BluRay!) and I'm thrilled to be able to go see Pacific Rim for the second time tonight, this time with my husband. Maybe it's the difference between brain-food and gut-food. Maybe I just need to watch both of them 5 times each and then decide. We don't buy a lot of BluRays, but I think we'll have both of these by Halloween.

In other movie news, if you know me, you know I watch a lot of movies and read movie reviews, for every film opening, every Friday. Rotten Tomatoes is my friend; I even have the app on my phone. I almost always read Roger Ebert's reviews before seeing a film, even though we only agreed about half the time (he was a huge Scorcese fan and I've never managed to find a Scorcese film I like or even admire). It was very difficult for me this spring and summer to know that Roger was gone, that there would be no more reviews from his pen. I have yet to find another reviewer that I like as well.

Okay, now the list:

January 11
Zero Dark Thirty (I went to see this with my father, at his suggestion, and was so impressed, even though I expected Kathryn Bigelow's film to be good because I am a fan of The Hurt Locker. And Jessica Chastain is as good as advertised.)

January 18
The Last Stand (I tried to watch it on DVD but only made it half an hour in before the excessive body count turned me off. Sorry, Arnold.)
Broken City (I would still like to see this because Russell Crowe's performance is supposed to be better than his Les Miz embarrassment. And I've always liked Wahlberg.)

January 25
Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters (I know, it looks awful, but it does have Jeremy Renner. I keep thinking Renner might be worth it, but I have yet to check out the DVD.)
Parker (Saw it on DVD. Jason Statham and J-Lo were interesting together, but it was very bloody. Not my favorite Statham film.)

February 1
Warm Bodies (This is an amazingly charming take take on Romeo & Juliet. We saw it on DVD and highly recommend it, although the zombie stuff was a little gross for me.)

February 15
A Good Day To Die Hard (The reviews were so bad I never went to see it. I only made it through the first half hour of Live Free or Die Hard before I got bored and turned it off, Timothy Olyphant notwithstanding.)

March 1
Jack the Giant Slayer (I never saw this but still want to; Nicholas Hoult is a new favorite of mine after Warm Bodies.)

March 8
Dead Man Down (I watched this recently on DVD. It reminded me of Spartan in that its plot was, well, spartan, and difficult to follow. I never realized, through the whole film, that it takes place in NYC. I thought it was just a large city in Europe. Farrell and Rapace are good, but I already like them.)
Oz the Great & Powerful (I saw this in the theatre with my mother-in-law and we liked it. Visually stunning, to be sure.)
Emperor (Never managed to see this; still want to.)

March 22
Olympus Has Fallen (Never managed to see this; still want to.)

March 29
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (I liked it. Byung-hun Lee and Ray Park were amazing.)

April 12
42 (Never managed to see this; still want to.)

April 19
Oblivion (Never managed to see this; still want to.)

May 3
Iron Man 3 (Really enjoyed this. Robert Downey Jr. just keeps getting better.)

May 10
The Great Gatsby (Did not see it. Might still.)

May 17
Star Trek Into Darkness (Totally awesome! Benedict Cumberbatch was so good I might actually watch him as Julian Assange just to see what he'll do.)

May 24
Fast & Furious 6 (I enjoyed it, but I still think Fast Five was better.)
Epic (Never managed to see this; still want to.)

May 31
Now You See Me (I saw this at the recommendation of friends and really liked it. Mark Ruffalo was excellent.

June 7
Much Ado About Nothing (See above.)

June 14
Man of Steel (I enjoyed it and still want to see it again.)

June 21
Monsters University (Never managed to see this; still want to.)

June 28
White House Down (Never managed to see this; still want to.)

July 5
Despicable Me 2 (It was delightful.)
The Lone Ranger (Never managed to see this; still want to.)

July 12
Pacific Rim (Awesome! See above.)

July 19
Red 2 (Never managed to see this; still want to.)
R.I.P.D. (Saw it with my parents and it was okay. Ryan Reynolds is good, but he was much better in Safe House.)

July 26
The Wolverine (I liked it; Jackman is always good.)

August 2
2 Guns (This is getting interesting reviews. I might get my dad to go see it with me.)
Europa Report (My husband is interested in this; we may try to see it VOD.)

August 9
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (I'm hoping to see this Friday because I love Percy Jackson, even if the first film wasn't perfect.)
Planes (Since Cars is one of our favorite Pixar films, I'm sure this will be date film for us.)

August 16
The Butler (Looks fascinating.)
Paranoia (Looks fun and twisty.)

August 23
Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (I read the first 2 books and was really disappointed with their quality, but the film might be pretty. Or pretty awful.)
The World's End (Not my usual fare but the trailer makes it look hilarious.)

September 6
Riddick (I was going to pass until I saw Katee Sackoff is in it. But I'm not seeing it alone!)

September 27
Rush (Very appealing trailer.)

October 11
The Fifth Estate (Just interested because of Cumberbatch.)

November 1
Ender's Game (I read the book for the first time last fall and found the kid-on-kid violence pretty hard to take, but it is a compelling story.)

November 8
Thor: The Dark World (More Tom Hiddleston as Loki? Sign me up!)

December 13
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (I liked the first Hobbit movie; it just wasn't as breathtaking as The Fellowship of the Ring. But few films are.)

December 20
Saving Mr. Banks (Mary Poppins is still one of my favorite movies, even if my children refuse to watch it.)

December 27
Jack Ryan (I loved the books when I was much younger, but disliked every film adaptation after the first one. However, I love Kenneth Branagh's films, so I will probably give him the benefit of the doubt.)

And that's the list, as of August 7, 2013.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Pain is an Excellent Teacher

1. I haven't really blogged much this summer (No, really?!). Since we returned from California, I've been focused on finishing a bunch of other, energy draining projects like Physical Therapy for my ankle (graduated from Strive Physical Therapy for the second time in 2 years) or my laptop, which I share with both children, has been regularly occupied by one of them. My phone can do a lot of things, but blogging isn't one of them. Not practically, anyway.

So I've finished the PT that was ordered after my car accident in December and have a pretty poor opinion of the Procura Healthcare System (Moral of the story is: Never get in a car accident.) which was responsible for paying (Ha!) for the care I received as a result of my injuries. I do have pain free moments, but to maintain them requires lots of stretching and exercise. Daily. This is a new thing for me. I'd rather sit on the couch and read a book or watch a movie than do anything else. But if I don't, my lower back and my ankle ache interminably. So I am trying to rearrange my life to accommodate daily exercise which, while the children were in school, was a lot simpler. Put the kids on their buses, go for a walk. But Miranda's last day of summer school was yesterday. I'm going to have to be a lot more creative in the upcoming weeks. Today that might mean mowing the back yard, because it's something I can do with the kids in the house that counts as exercise.

2. I've had other persistent, annoying health issues recently. My IBS flared up in April which has caused me to drastically change my diet, taking out as much sugar as possible, as well as anything acidic (which includes most fruits and, sadly, tea.) Since the result of ingesting any of these substances is almost instant pain (the acid burns while the sugar makes it feel like balloons are being inflated in my gut), it has been easy to refuse foods I would have previously fallen upon with a ravenous appetite. One happy result is gradual weight loss, but I still miss my tea.

Right before we left for San Diego, I had a sore throat for about a week. Then half-way through our vacation, the soreness went away and I developed laryngitis, which I still have. 2 weeks ago, I went to my doctor who ran a huge pile of blood tests to check for happy things like mononucleosis. All the blood work came back clean, so I'm chalking it up to stress and moving on.

3. I haven't stitched in months, mostly because Celestial Dragon is such a large undertaking, that it's difficult to pick up for a casual moment of stitching. So, several weeks ago I kitted up Day Lily from the Connections series by John Clayton of Heritage Stitchcraft. Here's what the finished product will look like:

Here's attempt number one:

This is 6-7 hours of stitching that then had to be frogged because I had the material (which is rectangular because of the patterns dimensions) turned the wrong way. Sigh. Using scissors and a seam ripper, it took nearly two hours to pull out. Ugh.

Here's where I am now:

I love Heritage Stitchcrafts designs because, for the most part, they are small and elegant and only take a few months of dedicated stitching to finish. Of course, this is part of a 4 panel series I've wanted to make for myself for about 10 years now. You can see them here. I let Miranda choose which one to start first; I myself might have chosen the tulip. Or not. I also love Clayton's International series; I've previously stitched Greek Steps and Venice.

4. I went to my first Phillies game last night. It was a rather ho hum game until the last inning, when the Phillies lost dramatically to the Giants, 2-1. Still, the tickets were great (gift from a friend) and the scoreboard was so beautiful it was hard not to stare at it incessantly. I don't think I want to know how many pixels is shows.

Picture by Marshall:

Even though thunderstorms were in the forecast, all we had were a few sprinkles.

5. I haven't managed to see all the movies I wanted lately, but I saw a few:

  • Pacific Rim was awesome. I took my mother and even she liked it. Marshall and I will see it again on Wednesday.
  • Despicable Me 2 was really cute. Miranda and I went with the cousins and grandma's and had a good time. 
  • R.I.P.D. was okay. Ryan Reynolds is always good though, even in a bad movie. 
  • Wolverine was good, as Jackman is always good, but I found the competing loyalties and plot twists a little confusing. 
Yes, I know, I need to update my 2013 movies list.

6. I am making strides in watching what I call "Autism Television" in that I've been watching The Big Bang Theory this summer, which is easy since it's all over the television schedule and my DVR currently has 14 episodes for me to watch. Of course, this means I'm watching it all out of order, but it is funny enough to stand the disorder. I'm also enjoying King & Maxwell, which also has a main character with ASD, although, like Sheldon, he's a savant. The savantism helps with the plot because it allows the character to be extremely useful in certain situations but there's enough that's familiar to strike a chord with me, like this:

Well, I can't manage to insert the video, so here's the link.

By the way, "Autism Television" is what I call any show with an element of ASD. I have previously avoided them all because it was too painful to watch.

7. Okay, it's time for lunch and Alex wants to use my computer, so I guess I'm done.

Here's Jen.