Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 2009 Round Up

Created using Big Huge Labs Mosaic Maker.
Click mosaic to biggify, or see my May 2009 Project 365 Posts.

What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
Check me out! I read not one, but TWO books this month!! Finally finished The Eight, by Katherine Neville. I've started and stopped that book at least 3 times. Enjoyable. Also read My Word is My Bond, by Sir Roger Moore (yes, the former James Bond, thus the title). Interesting; good not great. But still, I read, I read!

What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
Well, I think all of our "usual" shows are over. The Closer starts again in June. Law & Order: Criminal Intent and In Plain Sight are currently running, and Mythbusters is new for now. I don't think we have any thing else on tap for this summer. Guess it's back to Netflix, which has been woefully neglected for the past several months. Did better with them this month, though.

New: From the Earth to the Moon (mini-series; finished 3 of 4 discs, with #4 on its way now), Star Trek (awesome!), Up (good, but not for Luke)

And as promised, here are the movies that we watched more than an hour of at some point during the month. Some are Luke "rest time" movies that we watch in the afternoons on weekend while he rests on the couch (since he no longer naps), some are old favorites that we caught on Starz/Encore when they were already in progress and didn't mind coming into the middle. I flip on movies during the day to keep me company sometimes, particularly while I eat lunch. And I will admit, we watched more this month than usual. Old Favorites: Little Women (1994), Sneakers, Star Wars (THE original), Star Wars Episode I, Noises Off, Mystery Alaska, French Kiss, Back to the Future, The Abyss, Ice Age, The Princess Bride, WALL-E, Outbreak, Stargate, Peter Pan, Field of Dreams, That Thing You Do!.

What special days did I celebrate and how?
I got to spend Mother's Day Saturday with my mom and her mom. Spent Memorial Day at my parents' house and visited my grandfather and my MIL while we were down there.

What gifts did I give and/or receive?
I sent out several small digitally scrapped prints to various friends. For Mother's Day, I gave my mom a "Nana" photo frame and gave snapshot prints to Mom and my grandmother. I received a new camera from my parents (thank you!) and The Princess Bride on Blu-ray from Luke and DH.

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
I felt pretty bad for a couple of days in the middle of the month. Fine otherwise. My doctor changed my blood pressure meds last month, and all of the little headaches that I had attributed to stress and fatigue have vanished! It's awesome, except that now when I do get a headache, it is much more annoying than it used to be because I am no longer accustomed to them. And my back is nearly 100% better (I'd say 98%, with just the very occasional twinge now and then).

What fun things did I do with my friends and/or family?
Took Luke to his first baseball game at Turner Field. Did the usual beach and bubbles at my parents' house.

What new foods, recipes or restaurants did I try this month?
Tried a "no cook" pizza sauce recipe. It was okay. I think it needs some tinkering, but I'm not sure exactly how or what. Also tried a few new recipes that Mom found: pot roast (good, but still a touch dry; will tinker), bacon cheeseburger meatloaf (very yummy), bacon and swiss quiche (fabulous; even DH loved it). Also tinkered with some baked bean additives (doctoring up canned baked beans; not sure that counts as a recipe, yet).

What special or unusual purchases did I make?
Did we even buy anything this month (besides groceries and the like)? I can't think of anything unusual. I think we're all just waiting for the new Guitar Hero to come out. Oh wait, we got Luke his first pair of flip-flops (for beach outings only, thus they live at my parents' house).

What were this month's disappointments?
Had another project wait until the last minute to fall apart. Was supposed to complete May 29; will probably be at least 2 weeks late, maybe more.

What were my accomplishments this month?
I had another work project (that has been a total PITA to now) finally finish, on time even, despite some last minute setbacks. The vendor can't get paid yet, due to the missing part, but it is not a piece that prohibits the equipment from functioning (just from passing inspection), so it still counts as done from a service (read: billing) perspective because it can start being sold to customers. Woo-hoo!

Every Day in May - Days read: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, missed 15 and 16, 17 (read 90 minutes as penance), 18, 19, missed 20, 21 (read an hour), missed 22-26 (did not read on vacation; bad me), 27, 28, 29, 30, 31

Okay, so I didn't do so great on that one. Still, much better than I had been doing, and I finished two books! In one month!! It's like a miracle. And I even think I want to read another one. I'm trying to make it a habit to read while DH put Luke to bed (they're reading, why shouldn't I?), which I think will do well.

101 List Status: Not too bad. 15% of the time has elapsed (850 days remaining, as of right now), and I've completed 13% of the items. I'll take it! There are also another 10 that are currently in progress (which I started tracking just so I wouldn't forget, like Netflix DVDs watched and books read).

53. Take Luke on MARTA.
54. Take Luke to a MLB game at Turner Field.

I will admit that I had every intention of doing these two items on the same outing when I put them on the list, but I still feel they deserve to be separate items. When I was making the list, I had no idea when DH would feel Luke was "ready" for a game. I also knew that it was entirely possible we would have reason to take MARTA before actually going to a game with Luke, so I felt it was okay to list them separately. They really serve two different purposes, to expose Luke to live baseball, and to actually get the train-happy child *on* a train. So, two separate entries are justified, IMO.

71. Start using curbside recycling.
Our feeble attempts to be greener. We are not very green people, I will admit (though we do drive cars, not SUVs, despite everyone insisting that we should have one with a (just one!) child). I suppose every little bit helps, though, and especially now that the cats are getting wet cat food in aluminum cans, I simply could not bear the thought of generating that much trash for the landfills. This makes me feel a tiny less bit guilty.

95. Label/relabel all blog posts.
I'm sure I didn't do as thorough a job as I should/could have, but I think I hit the main highlights of getting each post in the correct major category, should anyone have the desire to flip through them some day. (It's really more for me when I am looking for something!)

Still doing well on Project 365. Managed not to miss a day in May.

What were Luke's accomplishments this month?

Luke is still testing boundaries (lying, sticking out tongue, asking "why" every time we ask him to do something, etc), but either it isn't as bad this month, or I'm learning to cope better. I know, I know, everyone keeps saying it is a phase. I'm trying to keep that in mind. "This, too, shall pass," right? It had better, or he may not pass to age 5. His teachers at school all think he is wonderful, though, and expect him to excel in pre-K next year.

His imagination is really starting to run wild, something I worried about early on (seemed to take a long time to manifest fully, like other kids), but I no longer fret about it. (I guess that goes hand in hand with the lying, to a certain extent.) I swear, the child thinks in Tinkertoys and Legos. And my brother, who hadn't seen him since Christmas, commented that his speech has improved. Being with him every day, we just don't notice the small improvements that much, so that was nice to hear. I still think he sounds younger/behind the other kids in his class, but maybe I'm just sensitive to it.

Anything else noteworthy to record?
Luke is no longer saying "motor-sy-kickle." I don't know how it got corrected, but it is now motorcycle. I miss it, though. We do have a few new verbal cute-ness statements. Binoculars are "noculators" and it is "ready, set, action" (not "lights, camera, action", nor "ready, set, go"). But I think my new favorite is when he wants to play something that involves one group attacking another (Star Wars, Transformers, etc). Think about how that is usually explained in a show. "We're under attack" or "they're under attack." Right? So now, when he is instructing one of us on how to play, it usually goes something like this: "Okay, now, I the good guy and you the bad guy, and you need to under attack me." LOL!

Monthly Round Up courtesy of Katie the Scrapbook Lady.

Currently feeling: amused

Friday, May 29, 2009

Salsa: A Conversation with Luke

Luke: Daddy, what's that?
DH: It's called salsa.
Luke: Ew, I don't like salsa!
DH: How do you know? You've never tried it. Do you know what is in salsa?
Luke: I don't know.
DH: What do you think it's made of? What makes it red?
Luke: Strawberries!
DH: Well, yes, strawberries are red, but there are no strawberries in salsa. What else could it be?
Me: What makes spaghetti red?
Luke: Meatballs!

Currently feeling: amused with the child

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Excessive comments?

I'm wondering if this is just me, or if other people do it, too. If you already see that someone's blog post has a ton of comments (I'm talking several hundred), do you still go ahead and comment or no? Usually, I won't. I mean, I'm not (usually) going to sit there and read all 400+ comments, and what is the likelyhood that I will have something unique to say? Does the person who wrote the entry actually *read* all 400+ comments? And do they really care? Most of them say they do, but that is hard for me to imagine. (I care, but I think the most comments I've ever gotten was about 20.) If I *really* feel like I have something to say, I will go on and post to a heavily commented thread, but it is rare. So what about you? Do you have some sort of "limit" on whether or not you will comment based on how many are there already?

Currently feeling: like I have nothing worthwhile to say

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

RIP Wayne Allwine

You may not know his name, but I can virtually guarantee you know his voice. Have you heard Mickey Mouse speak any time in the last 30+ years? Then you know his voice, too. Wayne Allwine has voiced the famous mouse since 1977. That includes my personal favorite, Mickey's Christmas Carol. Luke knows his voice well, too. We've heard it many a morning for the past 2 years on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, including this morning. In a sweet twist of irony, he is married to Russi Taylor, who voices Minnie Mouse. He will be greatly missed!

Currently feeling: missing Mickey

Monday, May 18, 2009

Book learning vs application

Okay, maybe it's just me, but I think knowing how to apply what you have learned to the real world is a whole lot more important than "how much math is learned in school." Learning it in school does you NO GOOD if you can't do anything with it!!

Obama also delivered this dismal news: "Another assessment shows American 15-year-olds ranked 25th in math and 21st in science when compared to nations around the world."

Bill Gates Sr., co-chairman and trustee of his son's Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, used similar figures in a National Public Radio interview last month when he said, "The condition of our public education is very, very poor."

At issue is the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, which is given to 15-year-olds in 30 developed countries.

Obama's numbers are correct, but perhaps misleading. PISA is not designed to measure what children have learned in school. Instead, it measures how well kids apply math to real-world problems, which could be learned in school, but also at home or elsewhere.

Link to quoted article

This is not about politics. This is about the fact that someone thinks it is more important to measure what was learned in school than it is to measure whether kids can actually use what they learned and actually *think.*

Currently feeling: more and more terrified for my child

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hat Trick for the Browncoats!

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, all three shows relating to former Firefly personnel that were up for renewal have been picked up. (Sarah Connor has already been cancelled; sorry Summer.) Congrats to Joss, Nathan, and Adam! Dollhouse, Castle, and Chuck have all been officially renewed for 2009-2010. And there was much rejoicing in the land!! I think that means that every new show we tried and liked this year got a second season. Truly a miracle, since we can kill almost any new show, especially if we get any family members hooked on it.

Now, that doesn't mean there isn't a down side. I do believe that all three were only picked up for 13 episodes (that would be a half-season, generally speaking), so there is no telling when they might come back. Don't know if they will start the fall season, start the spring season, or be held in reserve as mid-season replacements for other shows that don't make it. I also hear that, for Dollhouse especially, the per episode price had to be dramatically reduced, which may affect quality. Time will tell. But still, it is a chance! I hope it isn't squandered.

Currently feeling: ready for next season!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Movie Musings: Star Trek


In a Nutshell: Loved it. Accept it for what it is, and see it. May not be awesome Trek, but it is an awesome movie!

Quick Plot: Um, well, see, I really can't tell you because most anything about the plot is a spoiler. How about this: a group of seemingly familiar cadets save Starfleet from a crazed man seeking revenge. That's about the best I can offer you.

In Detail: As a summer popcorn action flick, I truly loved it. Other than one picky science bit at the end, I was totally engrossed. As a Star Trek film, I am less certain. I think almost all of the actors did a great job with at least embodying the essence of their predecessors. I will single out Karl Urban for being the most spot on with really working to capture the speech patterns and mannerisms of the late DeForest Kelley. Truly excellent! Yes, the physical resemblance of Zachary Quinto (totally love him) to Leonard Nimoy is truly uncanny (particularly in profile, wow!), but as far as making me *believe* he was Spock (as opposed to Zachary Quinto (or Sylar, though I will admit I never "saw" Sylar in his performance)), Quinto didn't always manage. Mostly, but not always. But I never for a moment doubted that Karl Urban was Bones. In the other direction, I will have to disagree with my BB friends; I did not care for the physical embodiment or the attitude of Scotty's "younger self." He just didn't seem dignified enough to be Scotty. As for canon, I give kudos to the writers and creators for coming up with a very "trekkie" way to get around it that I feel really works within the existing Trek universe. I see it opening up innumerable possibilities for future familiar-yet-not scenarios. There were plenty of "little things" thrown in there for hard core fans as well. (Listen for the Archer reference; we missed it!) They did miss one golden opportunity to include one of the most memorable "Old Trek" lines in an appropriate place: instead of "I implied," the response should have been "I exaggerated." :-) There were two things I think should have been cut out completely, as they were totally unnecessary: the ice monsters and the water tubes. Waste of film and time, IMO. I also have some issues with Uhura in the turbolift scene, not so much with the implications of what she is doing (trying not to spoil it here), but it was just too much (too intense?) to me. I think a little less would have been better. (I can be more specific if you want to email me.) So, overall, a great summer movie! And a nice shift in the direction of Trek. I'm just afraid some of what Gene Roddenberry really wanted to demonstrate - peace and exploration in the galaxy, diplomacy, thinking through your problems instead of fighting about them - may get lost in the amped-up movie format. The most loved episodes of Trek are usually the "thinking" episodes, and I don't want that aspect of Star Trek to get lost in this new, slick, action-packed universe.

Will I Buy It? Oh yeah!

Currently feeling: hopes the franchise will live long and prosper once again

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A quiet April and May (so far)

I was looking at my post totals for this year, and they are way down for April and May. No particular reason, just haven't felt very chatty and not a lot happening right now. I also think that Twitter is causing that a little bit. Previously, things that might sit and eat at me until I blogged about it now get tossed off to Twitter and it is out of my system. Project 365 is also getting some of the small happenings that would probably have previously made my main blog (I hate to duplicate for those following both). April isn't quite as spartan as it seems, since at least 2 (maybe 3) of the Disney recaps were done in April. Once May arrived, I back dated them so that they will all show up under the March archives (easier for anyone trying to follow the story, I think), but even taking that into account, April was way down. I've already posted almost as much in May as I did in April, and we're only half way done, so there is time. In the meantime, here is a quick recap of some of May's happenings. You already know about the baseball game (that was the big May event).

We had a swarm of termites appear in our foyer. Had two assessments/estimates done. Work will be done June 1. Apparently, we caught it early and damage is minimal. Whew!

Luke got his first "real" LEGO set (meaning the small traditional size pieces) and put it together all by himself. DH only helped with making sure he followed the steps in order. Still need to get a pic of him with the finished product.

This lovely Mother's Day card and flower came home from school with Luke the Friday before Mother's Day.

Mother's Day Saturday was spent with my three mom-related people (plus my father and husband). This is my son (who made me a mom), my mom, and her mom.

We went to a local pizza place out near my grandmother's house, and Luke was fascinated by the stand-up video game units. He was desperate to play some, so we let him. I always think of him as being so tall (and he is for a 4-year-old), but he still had to stand on tiptoe to be able to play. Too cute!

I also got a new camera for Mother's Day, courtesy of my parents. The gift is not totally altruistic; they expect lots of grandchild photos in return (gee, twist my arm!).

This is Tigger in her mummified "prepped for pill insertion" state. I don't know who is more unhappy about the arrangement, the annoyed cat, or the very grumpy and annoyed owner who has to get up at 5 AM with her husband to give the cat the @#$% pill!

That is a little souvenir from another of our cats. I don't know why he took exception to me petting his leg, but he did. You can't even see all of it here. It runs all the way almost to the inside "flat" of my wrist. It's not deep, but it was just deep enough to make it bleed, and it stung like a paper cut for 2 days. Owie! And me being me, with no clotting ability whatsoever, it took me a good 10 minutes to stop oozing. It is a lot fainter now (3 days later), but still easily visible.

And last but not least, I finished a book! I know, I can't remember the last time that happened, and it is all thanks to Every Day in May, which is going very well so far.

So that's it, your quick May recap so far. If anything blog-able comes up, I promise I'll write. But right now, I'm enjoying the temporary slowdown. (Who wants to bet that I'm about to be punished for that?)

Currently feeling: and the world keeps turning

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Home of the Braves

We took Luke to his first Braves game at Turner Field the first weekend in May. It was not his first baseball game or his first Braves game. He's been to several Braves spring training games during our annual Disney trips. It was not his first visit to Turner Field, either. We went to "Fan Day" in March of 2005 when they opened Turner Field to show off their (at the time) brand new hi def outfield screen. We watched the Florida spring training game on the big screen and sat in the expensive seats for free! LOL Luke was 5 months old.

This time, we did it right. We took Luke on MARTA for the first time:

And took the bus from Five Points to the station (I *hate* that they are making you go through Underground again; I thought they had stopped that nonsense). We took a quick group shot upon arriving:

Then headed to our upper deck seats. I went all the way to the stadium a few weeks ago so that I could specify where we sat. I wanted seats that were not on the very top row of the center section (Ticketmaster's idea of "best available"). I wanted something much lower down, even if that meant being more towards one of the bases, plus I didn't think my dad (who had knee surgery not too long ago) wanted to hike all those stairs. I chatted with the ticket window lady and got section 410 (5 sections from center), row 8. Awesome!

We were playing the Astros.

We got to watch a whole 10 minutes of the game. And then it started raining. And then they covered the field and officially declared a rain delay. That's not a blurry or noisy picture, BTW, it was raining that hard!

We all hiked up to the top to the few covered rows (why did I bother getting the lower seats?! we could have sat up that high right behind home plate via Ticketmaster) and waited.

And waited....

And waited.

May as well eat while we wait, seeing as it is now nearing 5 PM (game started at 3:20, so we could do lunch and rest time at home, and still make the game, but not be out past bedtime).

Those are two separate pieces of pizza! He ate all of the first one (first picture, except the crust; takes after DH there), and you can see from the second picture how much of the second piece he ate. The poor child was starving. Finally, the game restarted,

but our original seats were too wet to sit in, and we had forgotten to bring towels, so we stayed up top (boo). The sun did peek out briefly,

And we did finally get him to "do the chop" correctly (mostly):

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

but by then, it was time to go. We had been there for nearly 2.5 hours, an hour and 37 minutes of which were spend in rain delay. So, not a great day, but okay. I seem to recall that it rained the majority of his first Braves game in Florida, too. Guess we're just keeping with tradition.

Currently feeling: tired of baseball rain

Monday, May 04, 2009

Stone Mountain - April 2009

Stone Mountain, GA, the largest piece of exposed granite in the world and quite well known in the southeast, and we are privileged to live only about 10 minutes away. Stone Mountain is one of the few things I remember about living in Atlanta as a very young child. We don't go as often as perhaps we should, living so close, but that may change. One of the most popular things to do there is to see the Laser Show. We actually took Luke to see it last year in June on a day when he had an unusually long nap. He was still pretty tired when it started, and it took us nearly 2 hours to get home after it was over (remember, we live 10 minutes away!). He really enjoyed the Laser Show, so we hated not to take him again, but it was such a hassle.

Then my husband had a brilliant idea: why not get a room at the Stone Mountain Inn, which is literally right across the street from the green where you watch the show? We stayed there for our first or second anniversary (I can't remember now), and we really enjoyed it. We had a picnic and saw the Laser Show and July 4th fireworks. It somehow seemed appropriate to take our son for a similar experience. He has been to Stone Mountain park, but never to the top of the mountain. I also realized he had never been on a picnic. I think it is time to fix all of that.

I can't take any credit for the muffin tin idea; I got it from someone else's blog, but I loved it. Luke thought it was all kinds of fun until he realized there were bugs outside, and in his defense, the ants were longer than a centimeter (nearly half an inch). We decided to try and have a little outdoor fun as well, like blowing bubbles.

Okay, so trying to blow bubbles. I don't think he ever got a single bubble blown from the wand, but he had fun trying, and I got some great pictures. Then we switched to the beach ball, something he had never seen before.

Of course, deflating it was nearly as much fun as playing with it.

And sometime during all of this, our shady picnic spot became not so shady.

But it was gradual, so I didn't really notice, and I ended up sunburned on my legs (put it on my face, neck, and arms, but not my legs). I wasn't that red, and I thankfully didn't peel, but it hurt for a couple of days. Then it was time to scale the mountain. He wasn't too sure about going up in the gondola:

But once he got to the top, he *loved* it!

I found another one of these, which I think is pretty cool.

And this was my best attempt at an artsy shot. Not too bad, I don't think, and I wasn't even looking at the screen!

Then we checked into the hotel. Our room was cavernous! I tried to capture it in a picture, but you still don't quite grasp how huge this room is. I would guess at least 20x30 (feet). Luke thought it was wonderful. So much open room to play! LOL

Back across the street to the green to claim a spot. I took pictures while we waited.

Luke and I each got a treat while we waited: he got a light sword (which really is pretty cool; it can be blue, green, or red (Jedi fans know why that is awesome), or a combination of the three):

And I got a funnel cake, which eluded me more than once while we were at Disney. If you ask either one of us, we will both tell you that we got the better prize! LOL I took a couple of photos during the show. This is the best one of the actual show (long exposures plus moving lasers equals mostly blurry pictures), and then one of Luke lit only by the light of the show. He was still fascinated.

We all greatly enjoyed the show, but we enjoyed walking across the street and going to bed instead of sitting in traffic for hours even more! We had hit our three primary targets for the weekend: picnic, mountain top, and laser show. So what to do on Sunday? How about knock off one of my 101 Things in 1001 Days list items?

Every time we saw or walked past the Duck Boats (right next to the parking lot we had parked in before checking in), Luke was *begging* to ride them. We promised him that if he behaved on Saturday, we would try to do it on Sunday. He kept up his part of the bargain, and we kept ours.

Children 9 and under have to wear a life jacket, per state law. I was afraid he would balk about it, since the adults weren't wearing them (ours were overhead), but he didn't. I think he would have done just about anything to ride. He was an expert quacker, with the help of Captain Bob, a.k.a. The Poet. Now, take careful note of the pictures above. See the relationship of the "splash" graphic to the ground? Here is a view over the side:

Just keep that in your mind. We drove around the mountain, and Luke seemed to be enjoying himself.

Then came splashdown, and suddenly it was the greatest thing ever!

This is a shot from the middle of the lake, looking back on where we entered. The kids actually got to steer while out there, but Luke didn't want to do it. And remember that splash picture I showed you, with ground clearly visible beneath? Check out the same splash, nearly covered by water:

Yes, it is an extremely odd feeling! But a good one. We had a great time, and Luke is already asking when we will go back. We'll see!

Currently feeling: quack quack