Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June 2009 Round Up

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

What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
Um, uh, er.... I am ashamed!

What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
At the Theater: We managed two movies in June. Up (full review here) which was quite good, but not a good movie for Luke. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (not reviewed yet; it's coming!) was just eh. It was okay, but almost bordering on boring, if you can imagine. Needs to be seen on the big screen, because it is visually amazing, but the rest (story? what story? and don't even think about logic) is pretty blah. Definitely NOT for children.

Other New Stuff: Mythbusters was new for most of this month on Wednesdays. The Closer has started back on Mondays. Finished From the Earth to the Moon (last disc). Night at the Museum was just there (full review coming). Not bad, not good, but no laughs or smiles, which is not a good thing to say about a supposed comedy. A Knight's Tale was okay (full review coming); cute, kinda fun, not deep, Heath Ledger. What more do you want?

Old Favorites: Holiday Inn, Disney's Hercules, Toy Story, Firefly, Ratatouille, Bolt, The Other Sister, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, WALL-E

What special days did I celebrate and how?
Sent cards for Mom's birthday and Father's Day. Not much else going on.

What gifts did I give and/or receive?
I bought clothes for a bunch of bears! LOL See full story here.

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
Luke has been tripping over his own feet a bit, which is unusual. I can't say he's the most graceful kid, but he's not overly clumsy either. Seems to have worked itself out in the last couple of days, though. He's also been sleeping later than average. I hope it's just a growth spurt. I was very concerned that swimming would cause him ear problems (like it always did, and still does, for me), but he's done just fine.

What fun things did I do with my friends and/or family?
Well, been pretty busy with the whole swimming thing. That consumes 1/4-1/3 of our weekend right there.

What new foods, recipes or restaurants did I try this month?
Maddio's Pizza Joint (fine) and The Flying Biscuit Cafe (good; I'm obsessed with their grits!). Also tried a Golden Caramel Cake recipe, which was fine, but not worth the time and effort.

What special or unusual purchases did I make?
DH was in a spendy mood this month. He has purchased several new Transformers for Luke (one of which L has received, the rest of which are in the closet for his birthday and Christmas). There were also at least 4 unplanned new Wii game purchases: Guitar Hero Aerosmith (found it cheap), Tiger Woods 2010 with Motion Plus, Grand Slam Tennis (a Motion Plus game), and Boom Blox (which Luke loves, just as I suspected).

What were this month's disappointments?
Nothing really springs to mind. Pretty good and quiet month.

What were my accomplishments this month?
101 List Status:

62. Enroll Luke in a physical class (gymnastics, swimming, etc). (See next question.)

98. Decide on a better way to archive Movie Musings.
I didn't have much choice about doing this, since Geocities has decided to shut down. I want my own domain name, but any of the variations I am interested in are currently owned. Someone is just sitting on moviemuse.com with nothing there. They keep renewing it every year. I'll pay you for it, just let me have it! Anyway, in order to get them back up online as quickly as possible, I just started another blog. http://erinsmoviemusings.blogspot.com Boring, I know, but it is the best I could do. All old musings are now archived, and new ones will be posted to the blog in addition to being emailed out, so feel free to subscribe to the feed.

Doing just fine on Project 365, too. I can't believe it's half over already!

Not a whole lot else going on with me. Finished two projects at work, and received two new projects at work (yay for new work!).

What were Luke's accomplishments this month?

Luke started swimming lessons! That is really the major thing for the month. Found out lessons were offered on Monday, started him on Saturday. He is doing very well, and as mentioned previously, he isn't having any ear problems at all, which was a real fear. He was the first one to swim with a small floatation device but without assistance from the instructor. Yay! He really loves it, and I love watching him.

Anything else noteworthy to record?
Not for the family, no. Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died on the same day, something I am unlikely to forget any time soon. Not sure I'll remember that 5 years from now, though.

Monthly Round Up courtesy of Katie the Scrapbook Lady.

Currently feeling: enjoying a great summer so far

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Luke swim update - 4 classes down, 2 to go

I wanted to give you a quick up date on Luke's progress in swimming class. He is doing very well! I realized after his second class that he would most likely *not* be able to actually swim once his 6 weekly classes were over, which is a little disappointing. I do think he will be able to after the next level of class, though. The big question now is: do they offer the next class in the fall? I hope so.

The big news this week is that he swam one length of the pool by himself using only the marshmallow stick (thin plastic stick with foam cylinders on the end, about the size of toilet paper rolls), with no assistance from the instructor other than the occasional tug on the stick to adjust his heading (he's not so good at steering yet). He was the only student in his class who was able to do it so far. Go Luke! She was so proud of him, and so are we!

There are still several things to work on, though. He still sputters when he goes under water. I think he forgets to close his eyes, and I also think he forgets to keep his mouth closed. Then there's floating. He can float just fine on his back, as long as she keeps her hand on his back. She's not holding him up at all once he gets into position, it's just barely touching his back. "Relax and let the water hold you," she says. But as soon as she moves her hand away so that it's not touching him, he freaks out and sinks. We'll work on it. It's still nice to see such good progress!

Currently feeling: well on our way to having a little fish

Friday, June 26, 2009

License for a reality check

I renewed my driver's license by mail a couple of weeks ago, and it arrived today. I don't know why it shocked me so much to see "Expires 2019" on there, but it did. I mean, I knew I was renewing for 10 years, and obviously 2009+10=2019, but I guess I hadn't consciously done the math. I can't say that it bothers me over much to know that I will be 43 when this thing expires. So what is bothering me? That my son will be on the verge of getting his learner's permit when it expires! That will be the summer before he turns 15!!! I don't think I'm ready for this.
Currently feeling: what just happened here?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The King is Dead, Long Live the King

Michael Jackson died today at the age of 50. I have to admit, it is a bit of a shock. He was the self-proclaimed King of Pop. I even remember when he was called that. Seems like ages ago. There is no doubt that Michael Jackson left us a musical legacy unlikely to be rivaled for many years. He *still* has the #1 selling album of all time, and that was 25 years ago. (And I still have my vinyl copy somewhere.) But in recent years, he was much more well known for bizarre behavior. I've often wondered what my son will know of him. Is it his music or his life that will be remembered 25 years from now? I hope his music. Whatever else he may or may not have been, he was a good musician and a fantastic performer. I hope he has finally found peace.

Currently feeling: long live the king

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Secret Father's Day: A Conversation with Luke

DH was in the kitchen making Luke's lunch (long story, don't ask). I was in the living room. Luke was playing. I quietly call Luke over to me.

Me, whispering: Luke, take these cards into the kitchen and tell daddy Happy Father's Day!
[Luke runs into the kitchen]
Luke, whispering: Here Daddy, Happy Father's Day!

Currently feeling: too funny!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Playing Fairy Godmother

Every Tuesday is field trip day for the 4 year olds at Luke's daycare. We paid a small "activity fee" at the beginning of the summer to cover the cost of the outings, but there was one activity that would require additional funds: Build A Bear. I asked about this one a week or so ago, since I really didn't want him coming home with an $80 bear! They said that the activity fee covers the cost of the bear itself, so everyone gets a bear. They then ask parents to contribute $20 for accessories, and the staff would help guide the choices to make sure it stayed under the $20 limit. They also said that there were a few free decorative items (like ribbons) that could be used for children who could not afford other bear adornments.

This has been eating at me every day since, just the unfairness of it all. My father has always said, "I teach my children that life isn't fair. That said, I try to make sure it is as fair as possible." $20 to us at this moment in time is nothing. How fortunate are we to be able to think of it that way! There was a time that it wasn't nothing, and I also know that $20 is *not* nothing to a lot of people, especially now. How much would it hurt, as a child, to see your friends all getting bear accessories, and you being left with just a ribbon or something? And how much more would it hurt, as a parent, to have to explain to your child that while the other kids are getting fun stuff for their bears, they cannot? Especially when these are the same parents who have already had to say over and over that they can't get something else because they don't have the money. It is just so unfair!

So, yesterday afternoon, without even consulting my husband (who I knew would agree with me), I decided to ask how many kids they thought would not be able to afford bear accessories. I was given an estimate, did the math, and volunteered to sponsor any child whose parents could not afford the $20. I also told her to "bump" any child who had less than $20, so that everyone had an equal amount to spend (unless their parents had provided more). I think everyone was crying by this point except me, mainly because I was just so happy to be doing it! When I explained to DH what I had done, he whole-heartedly agreed that it was the right thing to do. "It will be fun to play fairy godmother," he said. I dropped off the estimated amount plus some (just in case) this morning.

The director called this afternoon. She had receipts for all of the money that was spent, the leftover change, plus the remaining unneeded $20 bills. She said that all of the parents had requested that she pass on their thanks (we asked not to be identified), and most had gotten teary when she explained that their child would still get to participate. I've been walking around with the biggest grin on my face all day, just knowing that we totally made the day of several children (and parents). Is this what Santa Claus feels like? That must be the best job in the world!

I'm sure I could have done something "better" or "more worthwhile" with the money. I could have donated it to cancer research. I could have spent it on food for the food bank. But this opportunity presented itself to me, and I felt called to do it. No one asked for money for the other kids, it is just something small that I realized we could do for them. I'm not writing this to brag on us. I just want to share how much fun we had today, and how much joy we got from this small gesture. I hope it will encourage you to give when you can, where you see a need, whether you give money or time or something else. "Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty," as the bumper sticker says. It thrills my soul to know that there are several more children with smiles (and bears) like these tonight:

Go out and try some spontaneous charity, if you can. It feels awesome!

Currently feeling: bibidi-bobidi-boo

Friday, June 12, 2009

Movie Musings on Up, and a New Website

Greetings movie fans! LOL Sorry, I couldn't help it. That's how I start all of my Movie Musings newsletters. As most of you know, I write my own movie reviews. I realized this week that I have officially been sending them out to friends and family for 7 years now. I know, I couldn't believe it either!! As mentioned in my last news letter (but not on my blog, I don't think), Geocities is shutting down sometime this year. I haven't seen a firm date yet, but I figured I had better get all of my archived reviews off of there before they disappeared. I've been thinking for a while now that I needed a better way to archive them, preferably something with a search function. You know, something more like a blog where each one is stored as its own entry. I even made it one of my 101 Things, and that was before I knew about the Geocities shutdown that forced my hand.

So this week, I finally bit the bullet and created a blog here on Blogspot to hold all of my old musings, and the new ones of course. The very original URL for this new site is: http://erinsmoviemusings.blogspot.com All previous entries (all 155 of them!) are now on the site. An additional advantage of having them on a blog is that you can now get new musings via RSS feed. I will still send out the email newsletter (drop me an email if you want to start receiving them: moviemusings AT yahoo DOT com), which does sometimes include some extra tidbits of information, but the actual reviews will also be on the new site. Please check it out and let me know what you think. http://erinsmoviemusings.blogspot.com Thanks!

And if you would like a direct link to the latest musing on the Disney/Pixar film Up, just click!

Currently feeling: like flying

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Quit, don't quit? Noodles, don't noodles?

That's a quote from Kung Fu Panda, by the way. I thought I would update you on the continuing drama that is now dinnertime. As you may recall, Saturday was bad, but Monday went pretty well. I suspected Wednesday may not go well, and it didn't, but there was an interesting development. On Monday, I reported that when he tried the parmesan noodles, I thought I heard him say "mmm" without even realizing it. Turns out, I was correct. When he sat down and saw his plate (salisbury steak with cheesy julienne potatoes; I think he may not like beef, like my brother), he started crying. "Don't want cheese [meaning the potatoes], want noodles!" Well, okay then. I had not eaten my leftovers from Monday, so there happened to still be noodles left in the refrigerator. He was welcome to them, as soon as he had a bite of meat and a bite of potatoes. Much crying and whining followed that statement, but he did eventually have one bite of each, and he did get the noodles. He only ate 6-8 bites of noodles, but still, we'll take any improvement and acceptance of new foods that we can get!

Currently feeling: already tired of the drama

Monday, June 08, 2009

Taste Testing

For the past 18 months or so, we have been eating out almost exclusively. I would cook 1-2 times a week (usually soup or something, rarely real "cooking"), we might throw something frozen in the oven 2-3 times a week (which I don't really consider cooking), and the other 5-8 meals were eaten either at a restaurant or at home with take-out. We had a rotation perfected and everything. DH and I were equally guilty for why it was happening: I didn't want to cook, and he didn't want to do the dishes after! Recently, though, we've all been getting tired of the same old places. I can't believe I am going to admit this in public, but lately Luke has been asking if we can please eat at home. How many kids have to request eating at home?!

The problem with eating at home more, though, is that Luke doesn't eat anything we eat, which to this point has meant making two separate meals, something I swore I wouldn't do when I had kids. But it's just so hard to watch them not eat, especially when they're young. We have also been thinking for a while that he is now old enough to understand (that we aren't trying to torture or poison him), and we needed to start putting our foot down and making him try more stuff. Seems logical to start now! Instead of having to try to get him to sample stuff at a restaurant where he is already programmed to eat a certain thing, he can start trying the foods we grown-ups like at home. That's not to say we won't still eat out, and probably more than average folks, but surely 2-3 meals out per week has to be better than 8, right? I am also hoping it will help me lose some weight, simply by being at home with more portion control. Not really a diet (yet) or even a "lifestyle change," it's simply about being more aware of what I'm putting in my mouth! Hey, it's a start.

So we started this great experiment Saturday night. He had eaten a good lunch (frozen pizza), so we took a risk and went with something I don't think he's ever had before: pigs in blankets (hot dogs wrapped in refrigerator crescent rolls) and baked beans. All he had to do was try a single bite of each. You would have thought we asked him to chop off his own fingers! Sheesh, all the whining and crying. Took us nearly 30 minutes to get him to try a bite of either, with the threat of "if you have not tried a bite of each by the time Mommy and Daddy have finished eating, you will go to bed." I think he realized right at the last minute that we were serious. He wouldn't even swallow the bite of hot dog; he chewed it about 3 times, did "baby shivers" (a sure sign that he really and truly does not like it), and cried until we let him spit it out (something we don't usually let him do, but he really did look like he would be sick). We suspected he might not like it, but we didn't think it would go *that* badly. Then he tried a bite of baked beans, which went much better. He said he liked it, but he also didn't want to eat any more and wanted to go play, so I have no idea if he really did like them, or if he was just telling us what he thought we wanted to hear. Guess we'll find out the next time we have baked beans. We were not looking forward to the next experiment. Sunday, we chickened out and did oven shrimp for lunch and Artuzzi's (out) for dinner. We were all still too traumatized. (I guess we're easing into it! LOL) We decided we would try again for dinner Monday.

Well, tonight went better than I ever could have dreamed! Not that he ate much, really, but there was no crying, and only a minimal amount of fussing. We did panko chicken with parmesan noodles (keep in mind that the child does not like mac and cheese!). We told him that he needed a bite of each before he could leave the table. "But I don't like it." You still have to try it. He started with noodles, and I think a small involuntary "mmm" may have snuck out. "I finished." Nope, you need a bite of chicken. "Okay." And he popped a bite of chicken in his mouth. No baby shivers or anything! Did you like it? "Yes I sure." (I don't know why he leaves off the do/did.) Do you want some more? "No, thank you." Since he clearly didn't mind it, even if it wasn't his favorite, we told him that he needed 4 more bites of either chicken or noodles (one bite per year of age, an old rule of my parents). I suspected he would choose noodles, and he did, but for right now, that's okay. We'll work on taking more bites of each thing as they come back around in the rotation and figure out what he really does and does not like.

So, the current score on new foods is 2 likely new food items, 1 okay item, and 1 no (hot dogs, which is fine, since we only eat them a couple times a year anyway). It will be interesting to see how the rest of the week goes. We have soup of some sort (not sure if it will be potato cheese or taco soup), pancakes (which we already know he eats, even at home), and salisbury steak with julienne potatoes and green beans still to come. Wish us luck!

Currently feeling: looking for some new Luke foods

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Luke the Starfish - Class 1

Monday afternoon, DH came home from work and announced that Georgia Tech is offering swim classes for kids. "I saw the sign this morning. They start Saturday. I think we should sign Luke up." Um, uh, really? We had talked about it, but I thought we had decided to wait another year or two. I didn't take lessons until age 8, but apparently that is no longer the norm. This class was the Starfish class for kids age 2-6 with no real swim experience. There is also a Goldfish class, also for 2-6 year olds, who have already mastered the Starfish objectives. I was concerned about how well he would pay attention and listen (not currently strengths of his), but everyone assured me that he would be fine. He has always loved the water, and though he has never been to a pool, he has never shown any fear of the ocean on our numerous beach trips. (I'll admit, the ocean scares me pretty good, but I'm fine at the pool.) So we signed him up. If you need us on Saturday mornings between now and mid-July, we're probably at the Georgia Tech athletic center! Here's Luke, waiting for them to open the doors to the pool (Daddy, can we go in yet?).

There are 3 other kids in the class besides Luke: a little girl who is 2.5, and a brother and sister who I would guess are around 3 and 4.5, respectively. DH was the only dad there, which I found interesting. I was under the impression that the class was only for the kids, not a "kids and parents" class, but all of the other parents came in swimsuits. DH had his in the gym bag, but he didn't want to wear his suit and then Luke be upset that DH wasn't getting in the water. We thought Luke might pay attention better if we weren't right there beside him on the ledge. We explained to Miss Sabrina that DH could go change if parents were supposed to participate, but she said no. She then announced to the group that she didn't mind parents being in the water for the first class while the kids got used to her and she assessed each child's current abilities, but for all future classes, she wanted just the kids in the water. The other two moms looked rather unsure about that idea. I can't believe that *I* was the most chill mother of the group.

(The girl from the brother/sister pair was down the lane with Sabrina. I didn't manage a photo of all 4 of them.)

I really didn't know what to expect from Luke. Again, he has never been to a swimming pool, so I didn't know if he would suddenly be afraid when faced with the large expanse of the pool. Nope! In fact, he was anything but. There is the concrete around the perimeter, several inches above water height, then there is a plastic ledge right at water level. Luke sat down first (the other three kids were a little hesitant to get in at first), then he put his hand down and shoved his whole body into the water. Whoa!! The water was probably 4 feet deep, give or take (1.2 meters), and he sank like a stone, which I don't think he expected at all. Sabrina immediately fished him out. He couldn't have been under for more than 1-2 seconds, and he was sputtering pretty good, but he was fine. I don't think he inhaled any water (he wasn't coughing), but he likely swallowed some. I think he was just surprised more than anything! He's at swim class, so of course he can automatically swim, right? LOL It's funny now; it was minorly heart-stopping at the time. Even Sabrina said she had *never* had a kid just jump right in like that.

I was afraid that experience might make him a little more timid (nearly drowning the first 10 seconds he's in the pool), but nope. He did great! He had the briefest of hesitations when she picked him to go first (see above picture), but once he realized she wouldn't let him sink (which took about 3 seconds), he showed no fear. He was not afraid to blow bubbles in the water or to get his ears wet, something Sabrina said is often the hardest thing to overcome, even with adults. (I just pray he doesn't end up with an ear infection, like I do every time I get even a *drop* of water in my ears, even in the shower.) The only thing he is having trouble grasping is sticking his rear end up so that his legs stick out *behind* him, not underneath him like a bicycle. He did better with that when using the kick board. I'm sure it will come. I suspect he is going to ask us every day between now and next Saturday when we're going back to the pool!

Here are some more pictures:

And a video (that I shot in portrait mode, like an idiot, so there was a good bit of quality loss when it was rotated, sorry):

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

Currently feeling: amazed at my little starfish

Friday, June 05, 2009

Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

This is the recipe a few of you have asked about. The ground beef we used was quite lean, and we baked it in an 8x8 pyrex dish, so we made a bit more of the mustard/ketchup mix for the top, since we increased the surface area by half. And yes, we really did cook and crumble real bacon, though I think it wasn't quite 10 slices (had already used part of the package for something else). It was way yummy!

Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf by Paula Deen

1 pound ground chuck
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 (8-ounce) package sharp Cheddar, grated
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs, toasted
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 (3-ounce) can French fried onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, bacon, cheese, beaten eggs, bread crumbs, mayo, Worchestershire, salt, and pepper, mixing well. In a small bowl, combine the ketchup and mustard. Stir 1/4 cup ketchup mixture into meat mixture, reserving remaining ketchup mixture. Press meat mixture into a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan, or shape into a loaf and place on a rack in a broiler pan. Spread remaining ketchup mixture over loaf. Bake 40 minutes. Top with French fried onions; bake another 10 to 15 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink.

Currently feeling: suddenly hungry

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

2009 Memorial Day Doings

I should have written this up right after we got back, but I didn't, and now I'm having trouble remembering (of course). Here is what I have so far (apologies for the bulleted list):

* Luke did not sleep at all the entire way from Atlanta to Brunswick.
* We got our first official "are we there?" from the back seat.
* We discovered Luke cannot tell a joke to save his life, not even a knock-knock joke.
* Luke made his first pound cake (with Nana).
* Papa had a new set of toys for Luke to play with, called Wedgits. Luke really liked them! (So did DH and Nana.)
* We bought Luke his first ever pair of flip-flops (for beach use only).
* Luke walked right into the handle of the shopping cart while at Wal-Mart, which struck him just below the orbital of his eye, hard enough that it puffed up instantly. Immediate application of ice and a ride in the buggy cart (which he has never before been allowed to do) so that he could hold the ice on his face while we shopped seems to have prevented most of the bruising. You could barely even see it after a few hours (I would have had a black eye for days).
* We went to the beach, where we saw dolphins and found sizable seashells (not only bigger than a dime, but some were 2+ inches across) for the first time in ages, thanks to a storm that was churning several miles off the coast.
* I managed to get sunburned at the beach, despite the fact that it was sprinkling while we were there. It wasn't a bad burn, but really, who gets a sunburn in the rain??!! (Apparently I do. I now have a great farmer's tan. Note to self: sunscreen even when raining.)
* We visited MIL and my grandfather.
* We tried several new recipes, including the yummy Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf and the truly excellent Bacon and Swiss Quiche (with cream cheese, which I wasn't sure I would like; I didn't, I loved it!).
* Luke played bubbles and shot bathroom-cup pyramids with mini super-soakers.
* We got to see Jacob for a few hours. He even tried out the drums on Guitar Hero (and is already better than me, in his whole 5 minutes of playing; very disheartening).
* We played hours of Guitar Hero, including downloading some new songs and each of us moving up a level on some of our favorites.

That's everything I can think of right now! I'm sure my parents can probably contribute a few others.

Currently feeling: hard to remember