Monday, January 31, 2011

January 2011 Round Up

Click mosaic to biggify. Created using Big Huge Labs Mosaic Maker.

What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
I thought I was going to finish The Imagineering Field Guide to the Magic Kingdom, but I didn't quite make it. I'm about 80% done, I guess. Very interesting so far. And yes, I do have the other three in the series!

What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
* TV Time: We tried The Cape. It's fine; not good, not bad. We like Summer Glau, so we'll stick it out for a few weeks. Also tried Harry's Law, but we didn't care for it, which is a shame because I love Kathy Bates. There has only been one David E. Kelley program we've liked, but that was over 20 years ago and one of his earliest series. His signature style (which was not part of the series I liked) just isn't something we care for. We have also started letting Luke watch Phineas and Ferb. It's... interesting. It is also further proof that Luke does not need a sibling, because that is *exactly* how things would play out! LOL
* New Films: The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (remake; good, but a bit unsatisfying; can't really recommend it)
* Old Favorites: Dave, That Thing You Do!, The Emperor's New Groove, The Lion King, A League of Their Own, Chicago, Finding Nemo, The Sword in the Stone

What special days did I celebrate and how?
New Year's Day was quiet, as usual. We kissed at midnight and went to bed not long after. We sent MIL a small gift and called her on her birthday. We also attended Riley Z's birthday party, which was great fun.

What gifts did I give and/or receive?
I had a giveaway on my blog! That was fun. (I haven't forgotten you! It took much longer than I expected for it to arrive. Should be mailed this week.) Riley's parents actually requested no gifts at his party, since many of the other children come from homes without much extra money, which I thought was very generous. And we abided by their wishes by not bringing a gift to the party. Didn't stop me from sending something to his house afterward, though. :-) (I had to make sure he didn't already have it.)

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
It took me much longer to get over whatever it was that I came down with over Christmas than I expected. It was past the middle of the month before I was fully over it. Other than that, I think we did pretty well. (And I waited until February started to type that sentence, so as not to jinx it!)

What fun things did I do with my friends and/or family?
Visiting the 57th Fighter restaurant and going antique shopping with Mom were both fun. Most of the rest of the month was... decidedly not fun.

What new foods, recipes or restaurants did I try this month?
Tried two new restaurants, actually. Napoleon's Pub and Grill, and the 57th Fighting Restaurant.

What special or unusual purchases did I make?
I made my first ever purchase from any of the "daily deal" type sites that are out there now. This one in particular was a $20 Amazon gift card for $10 from Living Social. Most of their deals don't interest me, but that one was too good to pass up!

What were this month's disappointments or frustrations?
Luke's behavior, work, and taking so long to finally feel well again.

What were my accomplishments this month?
Less than 25% of the time remains for my 101 Things in 1001 days. I did knock off another one from the list (as well as contributing to a few others):

36. Eat Japanese Hibachi once a year. Eating there in January means I can mark this item as complete. I believe it is the first of my "counting" items and the first of my "periodic" items to complete from this version of the list.

I officially achieved 1000 movies on my "seen it" list. I cheated a bit by thinking of 5 I'd already seen to round me out to 1000 by January 1, but it's still 1000 movies. Didn't do so hot on that the rest of this month, though; just one new film. Oh well. I also taught a young woman how to use chopsticks when we ate at our Japanese restaurant (right before the Snowpocalypse). Made me feel pretty good that she could pick up her shrimp and get them to her mouth after just a few minutes.

What were Luke's accomplishments this month?

Not sure getting everything but books and crayons taken away from him counts as an accomplishment. Perhaps surviving a week without those things does. And he did finally try (and decided he likes!) peanut butter, which makes me feel much better about his lunches (which had been protein free since he burned out on pepperoni around October). Both his reading and his writing have improved greatly in the past few weeks. Still not quite to "reading on his own" yet, but much closer than he was even as recently as December.

Anything else noteworthy to record?
John Barry died this month. The soaring violins of his film scores will be truly missed.

Monthly Round Up courtesy of Katie the Scrapbook Lady.

Currently feeling: rounded

Saturday, January 29, 2011

57th Fighter Group Restaurant

I've been intrigued by whispers of a restaurant facing the runways at PDK ever since the air show in June. What could be better for Luke? But for some reason, I never got around to researching it. So when a vendor took us all to lunch on Thursday at the 57th Fighter Group restaurant, I was thrilled at the opportunity to check it out in person.

I had no idea until I arrived that it is actually a themed restaurant, similar to what you might find at Disney. The sides of the driveway are sprinkled with vintage military vehicles. You must pass through a small gate with an arm labeled "Checkpoint Charlie" to get to the parking lot. The exterior looks like a bombed out French farmhouse, with more vehicles and a replica airplane out front. (Photos of those to come.) Theming continues inside with vintage photographs and radio clips from the famous fireside chats.

The main draw for the restaurant, though, is the windows facing the runways. As you can see from the interior shot above, the restaurant actually has three levels of tables so that everyone has a good view. We arrived early, before the lunchtime crowds, so they were kind enough to put us directly in front of one of the huge windows. Everyone was enchanted, including my parents! We hadn't even been there 5 minutes when this "drove" up and parked right in front of our window.

Wow. We thought maybe the pilot was coming in for some lunch himself, but that was not the case. He was picking up a passenger! We got to watch them get in, do their pre-flight check, taxi out to the runway, take off, and land. It was so much fun!

There was plenty of other "traffic" at the airport, including other planes and some helicopters. You may recognize the CHOA helicopter as the same one Luke posed with in June.

Our meals were all quite good, though I think Mom's salmon was the stand out. Luke agreed to humor us after we ate and pose for some pictures. This is the plane they have mounted out front:

And some of the other vehicles. I love the texture in the detail shot of the ambulance red cross symbol. At first, I wondered why they didn't work to keep the paint nice and fresh, but I actually think it contributes to the dilapidated ambiance.

I think Luke had the most fun "driving" this big truck.

The restaurant was definitely a big hit with everyone. I envision many return visits in our future.

Currently feeling: elated

Friday, January 28, 2011

Basking In The Glow

The first or second day of the Atlanta Snowpocalypse, the overhead lights in our den would not come on. We thought we had tripped a breaker somehow, but when we tried to flip the switch back to "on," it would just buzz angrily and turn itself off again. No matter what we tried, no matter what we did or did not plug in, we couldn't get it to come on.

This house is older (1960s) and is wired very strangely. Items on this same circuit were: overhead den lights (but not den outlets), overhead hall lights (but not hall outlets), overhead foyer light *and* foyer outlets, outlets in Luke's room on the same wall as the foyer (but not other outlets in Luke's room), and all outside outlets and lights (front porch, back porch, corner floods) *except* the carport light. So strange. There was nothing we could do during the Hothlanta week, so we decided to look at it over the weekend to see if it was something we could fix. Everyone kept saying we must have blown a fuse, but my friend Bill explained that if you have breakers, you *don't* have fuses. We decided that the breaker itself must be bad, since that one did appear original to the house (others had clearly been changed), so DH swapped it out. No joy. It still wouldn't come on. Bill recommended that we get one of those outlet checkers that can show you if the outlet is wired correctly and potentially what the problem was. It was just a few dollars; worth a shot. "Open Hot" was the answer. We had a short somewhere.

Okay, enough amateur attempts at repairs. We have exhausted our tiny bit of knowledge. Time to call the professionals. We are *not* going to try to find and fix a short ourselves, particularly with so many overhead and outside lights involved. I am also genuinely baffled as to how it could have happened, since it's not like we had plugged in anything new or been messing with any of the outlets. Plus, wouldn't we have noticed when it happened?

As it turns out, not necessarily. They started with our overhead hall light. Not quite sure why, other than it seemed the easiest to remove.

Looks precarious to me, but okay. They quickly seemed satisfied that it was not something in the ceiling causing the problem, so they moved on to the outlets. Nothing there either. Next up: wall switches. I have to say, I was a bit unnerved to walk into my foyer and see this:

Sure hope they know how to put that back together! LOL And our hall switch looked like this:

Notice anything? Look closely:

See the scorch marks? If I had known what to look for when I took that photo, I would have gotten a close up with the camera (instead of having to crop). Actually, there were scorch marks at both the foyer and hall switches, so they aren't exactly sure which one caused the short. The foyer switch had a metal box which might have caused a spark to jump. The hall switch, as you can see, had wires actually poking through the wire nut. One spark there, and out it goes. Either way, it was probably me who actually caused the short, since I would have been the last to turn off each set of lights.

Thank goodness someone figured it out! We have thermal curtains up in our den for winter, trying to keep some of the terrible cold from seeping in. Being thermal, they also act as blackout curtains, and it is *so* dark in our den, even with a couple of lamps. It was like living in a cave for nearly 3 weeks! When they got the den lights to come back on, both DH and I just stood there, basking in the glow. It was like the sun had returned after a long absence. Aaaaahhhhhh!

And an overhead light bulb promptly blew this evening, leaving an entire corner of the den dark once again. Do we have any replacements on hand? Nope. That will have to wait until we can pick some up tomorrow. ::sigh:: Such is life.

Currently feeling: brighter

Thursday, January 27, 2011

100th Day of School - Kindergarten

Friday is the 100th Day of School for Luke. Apparently, they treat this as a milestone in Kindergarten (not sure about other grades). I have no idea if they bumped it out a week to account for our 5 snow days, but I'm sure it is primarily symbolic. Luke has been talking about it for a couple of weeks, and he came home Monday of this week with his assignment: count 100 items and place them into a (small) ziplock bag. Simple enough, right? Yeah, is anything with Luke ever simple?

Luke wanted to do Star Wars Galactic Heroes figures (and yes, I'm quite sure he has over 100 of them), but A) we don't take toys to school, B) even if taking toys to school was allowed, we'd have said no so none of them "wander off," and C) they wouldn't fit in the bag. Then he wanted to take Cheerios or Goldfish crackers. Okay, well, whatever he takes has to survive the bus trip in his backpack. There would be no way to prove he had completed the assignment if the items he counted turned to crumbs during transit. LEGOs would have been perfect, but again, we didn't want any to go missing or for them to cause trouble at school.

How about pennies? He loves playing with coins, so that was a winner. I thought he might have trouble with the assignment once he got much above 30-something, but other than a couple of brief glances up at me for reassurance that he was doing it right (like transitioning from 69 to 70), he counted all the way up without hesitation. He was so proud of himself! (And we're proud of him, too.) Then he looked at the 100 pennies in the bag and said "is that all?!" He couldn't believe that 100 of anything took up so little room. Maybe we'll have him count 100 figures this weekend!

Currently feeling: rich

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - January 26, 2011

Currently feeling: witnessing another kitten first

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Return of The Wii

Luke did an excellent job of behaving this past week. He got green stars for behavior every day, and the director of his after school care even commented to us how helpful he has been and the marked increase in "yes ma'am" and "thank you." (She did say that he has always said those things much more than the other kids, but he was using them practically *all* the time last week, which is unusual even for him.) We thought he was all set to start getting things back on Saturday.

Well, yeah, not so much. It is a well established "Law of Luke" that several days of remarkably good behavior *must* be followed by a meltdown. It's like he bottles up all of his "badness" until the bottle bursts. The more days we go without incident, the worse it will be when it happens. (Almost makes you wonder if small meltdowns daily would be better than really bad ones every few days.) Anyway, we knew it was coming, but it was worse than even we expected. The deal was that if he could behave all morning, we would go out to eat at his choice of restaurant, then he could have the Wii back after rest time. Within an hour of waking up and getting some toys back, they were taken away again. He did get them back again after morning snack, but he had a bad hour or so which nixed both lunch out and Wii for Saturday. He even had to take a nap Saturday afternoon, after which he seemed much better. I've suspected that tiredness is a contributing factor to his recent issues, but other than putting him to bed at 6PM (which doesn't leave time for both homework and dinner), I don't really know what else to do.

Today has been much better. He seemed rested when he woke up, and while not perfect (we're not asking for perfect; we are asking for "better"), he has done an excellent job, so much so that he did get to play on the Wii this afternoon. That alone has helped his mood tremendously. If he can keep up this kind of behavior next week, I see the return of more toys in his future. I sure hope it lasts for a while.

Currently feeling: hopeful the worst is over for now

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Star of the Week

Luke will be Star of the Week for his class next week. I'm sure each kid gets to do it one week, but I think it is a great way to spotlight each child and have classmates learn more about each other. He had to fill out this form:

His answers (with help on spelling) were:

My birthday is October 7.
I was born in ***, Georgia.
Doyou have any brothers or sisters or pets? Tigger, Cleo, Star, Bengal
My favorite food is pizza.
My favorite color is red.
My favorite book is Super Hero Squad.
My favorite TV show is Pink Panther.
I like to play swords.
When I grow up, I want to be engineer.
What I like best about school is my teacher.

He came up with "my teacher" all by himself. I'm sure many of you think that he said engineer because of his parents, but not really. He originally wanted to put Iron Man, and maybe we should have let him. We tried to get him to go with a "real" occupation, so then he wanted to know what Iron Man's job was. Engineer or businessman was about the best we could come up with, and of those two, he chose engineer.

He also had to take in some photos. It suggested baby pictures, family and vacation pictures, sports team pictures, etc. I thought this was a nice little cross section. I think all of these were posted previously on the blog. (And can I just say that it is terribly hard to take a picture of photographs!)

Currently feeling: stellar

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bragging on Little Brother, Ph.D.

Just had to brag on my brother for a minute. Check out this article. (link to campus news at Georgia Southern University) I know it sounds like the university did everything and then brought in the co-directors mentioned in the bottom paragraph (one of whom is my brother), but I'm sure we all realize that is not exactly the case. It was really the concept, vision, and hard work of those co-directors (and many others, I'm sure) that made this happen. Congratulations to them! Well done.

(I so wanted those last words to be "Well done, _nickname_", but I won't embarrass him by putting that on my blog. I would like to still be on speaking terms with him in the future! LOL)

Currently feeling: thrilled for my little brother!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Mythical Box of Books Appears

You may recall the missing box of books that the post office said they delivered. I figured I would wait for the thaw and the MLK holiday to pass, just to make sure they didn't get delivered over the weekend, and I would call them first thing Tuesday morning to see what needed to be done. Friday came and went, Saturday came and went. We got mail both days, but still no box. My husband spent Saturday evening with several other men on our street manually clearing the street of the finally thawing ice so an older gentleman who lives at the bottom of the hill would be able to leave his house for the first time in a week. I went out to check on them, and we both came back into the house through the front door 5:15 PM Saturday. No box.

So you can imagine my surprise when I opened the door Sunday afternoon to take a picture of the mostly-gone snow and there is a box sitting there! The USPS does not deliver on Sundays. How did it get there? All I can figure is that the box was delivered to the wrong house, and the recipient was kind enough to deliver it to the correct address sometime Sunday morning. They didn't have to do that. They could have kept the box and its contents, or they could have sent it back via the post office as an incorrect delivery and who knows how long it would have take to get back to me. Instead, they took the time and effort to personally bring it here. I wish they had knocked on the door. I'd have liked to thank them.

Currently feeling: the goodness of others

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cube Timer Giveaway - Winner!

And the random number is:

Which means SilverLotus is the winner. Congratulations! I've sent you an email (please check your spam folder).

Thanks for playing, everyone! I had a lot of fun. I hope you did, too.

Someone asked where to find these timers. I know they can be purchased from Amazon or Wind and Weather. I believe it is officially called the "The Miracle Cube Timer by Datexx," if you want to Google it.

I'm considering a crafty 12 Days of Christmas, if I can get my crafting mojo working in time to crank out 12 handmade somethings by then. I would probably do it the first 12 days of December. Still pondering.

Currently feeling: congratulatory

Sunday, January 16, 2011

New Blog Look for 2011

(I've rearranged some posts. If you missed the snow pictures, scroll down a bit. Some may have rolled over to the second page by now.)

Funny how being trapped in your home for a week makes you suddenly want to redecorate. So much easier to redecorate the blog than the living room, especially with the city shut down due to snow. I've been tinkering with it for almost a week now, and I think I'm happy with this one. Guess we'll see. Looking back through my archives, I seem to redecorate every 12-18 months. I really wish I had taken screen shots of my old layouts! It would be a nice trip down memory lane.

So, how does it look? Is it working for everyone? If anything looks funny or doesn't seem to be working properly, please let me know.

To clarify, I didn't design anything! I used a pre-made template that I found at Btemplates. It is basically "plug and play"; just download the file and upload it to Blogger. I did tweak the side color (outside the main blog space) and the link color, but that's about it. My coding skills are not anywhere near capable of something like this, and I am grateful to those who have that talent and share it freely with others.

Currently feeling: brighter

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Reminder: Cube Timer Giveaway Closes Mon, Jan 17

Just a quick reminder that the Cube Timer Giveaway is still open. Just leave a comment on that post and you're entered. You can also post about the giveaway on your blog for a second entry into the contest; just leave a second comment on that post stating that you have done so. I will stop accepting new entries for the contest on Monday, January 17, at 5PM Eastern USA time. Remember, your comment(s) must be left over here on this blog entry to count. I have closed comments on this post here to (hopefully) avoid confusion. If you haven't entered because you are concerned about leaving your email address in the comment itself, go ahead and comment and we'll try to work something out. I don't want that to be a hindrance.

Someone asked if they could post about the giveaway on Facebook instead of a blog for a second entry. I will give a conditional yes, the condition being that if you could limit who sees the post (using your friend lists), I would appreciate it. I know, that doesn't seem fair, but I'd really rather it go to a faithful reader of my blog or a faithful reader of your blog (or actual personal friends on Facebook), not that kid from 3rd grade that you don't really remember but you didn't want to deny the friend request. Am I making any sense? I guess what I'm saying is to use some judgment around where you post about the giveaway if you are doing it somewhere other than your blog. Thanks!

(I couldn't even decide whether or not to type, let alone post, that last paragraph, but it really is how I feel, so I'll put it out there. Hope you don't now think I'm an awful person!)

Currently feeling: hoping this goes well