Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 2011 Round Up

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

What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
Though I didn't get through the entire book, I really studied The Rough Guide to Boston before we went on our trip. Took another book with me on the plane but didn't read much of it.

What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
* TV Time: Not much left, since it is summer. In Plain Sight and Law & Order: Criminal Intent (which just had its series finale), and Mythbusters. Also giving Suits a try. The commercials looked interesting, then we watched the pilot and found out Gina Torres is in it. It's pretty cute, so we'll give it a couple more weeks.
* New Films: Super 8 (pretty good, nice homage to 70s/80s Spielberg), X-Men: First Class (very very good! greatly enjoyed it and highly recommend it), The Green Lantern (okay, actually a bit too serious for its own good, better than Thor), Cars 2 (okay; too much Mater, not enough Lightning, missing the quiet charm and heart of the original; very much a Bond spoof (as intended), but not necessarily good for little kids), The Scarlet Letter (1926, my first Lillian Gish film; I think I've only seen one or two other silent films, and they were comedies; not bad for a silent drama, I guess), Mansfield Park (it was fine; pretty typical of similar films, doesn't really stand out)
* Old Favorites: Monsters Inc., Little Women, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Ladyhawke, Hercules, Disney's Robin Hood, Sweet Home Alabama, The Philadelphia Experiment

What special days did I celebrate and how?
Sent cards to Mom for her birthday. Intended to send her a baking stone after we got back from Boston (didn't want it to arrive while we were away), but losing my job pretty much killed that idea. I'll put it on the back burner for either Christmas or whenever I get a new job, whichever comes first. Also managed to sneak some Father's Day cards into my mom's suitcase while we were in Boston; she had them on hand to give to him Sunday after we got back. Had cards for DH, too, which we gave him at lunch at Sonny's while we waited for the electricity to be restored to our house.

What gifts did I give and/or receive?
Mom and Dad covered a lot of the expenses in Boston. Seems like there was something else, but it is escaping me at the moment.

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
Luke came home 3 of his first 6 days at summer camp with newly acquired bandaged wounds. I wasn't very happy, but apparently, he was just warming up. He fell off a tricycle the week after Boston and reacted just the way he did when he broke his arm 4 years ago. I had to take him to the ER, as much as I didn't want to. He was fine, just bruised his elbow pretty good. He was perfectly fine 2 days later. In other news, my eyesight improved again, just as it did 4 years ago, the last time I went to the eye doctor. Must get better about that.

What fun things did I do with my friends and/or family?
Boston, of course! Also went with friends to take the kids to see Kung Fu Panda 2. It was her son's first trip to the theater, and both boys really seemed to enjoy it.

What new foods, recipes or restaurants did I try this month?
Boston introduced us to all sorts of new restaurants: The Parker House, Finagle A Bagel (twice!), Border Cafe, Umberto's, and The Bleacher Bar. And actually, the one that I would recommend the least is The Parker House (though they did have truly the best clam chowder I've ever tasted, ever, anywhere, in Boston or elsewhere; a big tureen of that and a basket of Parker House Rolls, and our family would be perfectly happy!). All of the others were very good to excellent, and I would recommend them to anyone without hesitation.

What special or unusual purchases did I make?
Honestly, most things even for Boston were pretty straight forward in terms of travel things. Nothing exceptionally out of the ordinary that I can recall. As far as home goes, I did finally purchase a dough blade/bench scraper for the kitchen (technically think I did that in May, but still). Where has that been all my life, and how have I lived so long without one?! Best $4 I've spent in a long time. I also got new glasses. And an arm sling was definitely unusual, and I hope it stays that way!

What were this month's disappointments or frustrations?
Being laid off was terribly disappointing *and* frustrating. Having the power go out right after getting back and losing everything in the refrigerator was terribly frustrating, as was having to sleep in a hotel our first night back rather than in our own beds. I also woke up crying from a dream for the first time in *years*, which was not fun and very frustrating (and that was *before* I was laid off).

What were my accomplishments this month?
Actually knocked out a couple 101 Things in 1001 Days items this month instead of simply "making progress" like I've been doing recently.

1. Plan and implement "Operation Wellington." Finally, I can talk about this one! Operation Wellington was the original "code name" for Dad's 60th Birthday trip. Wellington is one of the former names for the giant sequoia trees in California, so when we originally thought the trip would be to Yosemite, that's what I decided to call it. That way we could email about it without Dad getting wind of it. As you know, Yosemite morphed into Boston, and we very successfully "implemented" the operation this month.

97. Revamp my website (change graphics, update template). After much pondering and debating, I finally decided to just shut it down. I still own the domain, and I still use it to host my images and a few miscellaneous pages (like my 101 Things progress page), but I don't really have a need for a "website" per se at the moment. I've considered moving my blog over there, but I don't have the mental energy for now. Maybe later. But I did update the index page with new graphics and a new template, and it does have links to this blog and my email address, in case anyone is "looking" for me.

As far as the rest of them go, well, that remains to be seen. I have 6 that I should make for sure, 8 that are solid maybes if I just step it up and make some effort, and another 8 that I have stashed in my "if I suddenly get the urge to overachieve" pile. The rest are either definite nos (about 35) or *highly* unlikely (however many are left). I completed 46 items during my first round. I absolutely want to finish at least as many as last time, and I'm really hoping I can get to 50. Only 93 days left!

In laid off/job search world, I've taken a couple of webinars, I'm spiffing up my resume with a consultant (paid for by my former employer), and I've started hunting for jobs. With my "downtime" of late, I've managed to see 5 movies this month in the theater, and I'm currently caught up on summer films. (There was actually someone *smoking* in the theater during Super 8! Never had that happen before.) I'm trying to get back on track with the meal planning, for all the reasons that I should be doing it, plus to stop eating out so much and (hopefully) save some money. I've also started going through photos and writing up some of our Boston trip. With over 3800 photos to pick from, it's going to take forever!

What were Luke's accomplishments this month?

Does managing to *not* break his arm count as an accomplishment? He also lost both of his top center teeth about a week apart from each other. The missing tooth lisp is terribly cute. Won't last long though; those top teeth are coming in fast! And for the most part, he was extremely well behaved during our entire Boston trip (except for one egregious incident).

Anything else noteworthy to record?
Nothing particularly comes to mind.

Monthly Round Up courtesy of Katie the Scrapbook Lady.

Currently feeling: rounded

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Elbow Update: All Is Well

Wanted to give a quick update that Luke's elbow is fine. He hasn't complained of any pain at all today, and he is moving it like nothing ever happened. As I mentioned to a friend via email, if it hadn't been for a nearly identical injury where he did break his arm, and his nearly identical behavior, I wouldn't have taken him unless it was still bothering him the next day. But it was like having a flashback to that moment almost 4 years ago, and I just couldn't risk it, especially knowing it could have fractured through a growth plate and affected the bone growth in his right arm for the rest of his life. Definitely worth the money to know it is okay. Going to the pediatrician wouldn't have helped; they can't do x-rays there. When I called them last time, they said if I even think it might be broken, I should go straight to the ER, so that's what I did. Possibly an overreaction, but one grounded in previous experience. But he's fine today, and that should be the end of it. Thank you all for your love and concern!

P.S. Where the heck did June go?! How is it the 25th already?

Currently feeling: glad it wasn't any worse

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Skeletal Scare

I took one look at Luke when picking him up from daycare today, and my heart sank. He was sporting a new bandaid on his elbow, which is sadly not abnormal. What concerned me was the fact that he was holding his right wrist with his left hand, his shoulders were all hunched up, and he was looking very sad (not upset or in pain, just sad and pouty). I remember the last time I had seen him look that way, almost exactly 4 years ago when he broke his arm.

I checked him out as best I could before we left. He had tipped over the tricycle at daycare and landed on his elbow. (Sound familiar? Last time, he fell off the top of a (very short) slide and landed on his elbow.) "It hurts when I move it." I squeezed on it, and he didn't react, but the amount of pain he was reporting just didn't make any sense with the tiny scrape on his elbow. I was concerned, but not alarmed. I decided to keep an eye on him and see how things went.

Water play day is tomorrow, so he needed water shoes. Target is not all that far from the house, so we headed there before dinner. When we left daycare, it was "it hurts a little when I straighten it." In transit, it was "my arm hurts and I'm tired." By the time we arrived at Target, it was "my arm very hurts" along with some whimpering. It was also much more swollen than when we left. I called my mom, but I already knew what she was going to say. "Take him." So I did.

DH was playing basketball at Georgia Tech and not answering his phone. I sent him a text message saying to please call me, hoping I would get to speak with him quickly. I went by Wendy's to grab some food so we weren't starving while we waited, but he still hadn't called by the time we pulled into the parking deck at 5:30. I finally had no choice but to leave him a text message stating that I had taken Luke to the ER for a possible broken arm. Not the way you want to find out something like that, but I wanted him to know in case I couldn't answer when he called. Good move, since the doctor had just walked in when my phone rang.

Luke was still quite pouty and holding his arm. They decided to do x-rays, which was not a surprise, especially given the previous fracture. X-ray took forever to come get us, to the point that the doctor called them again and said "come get these people now!" (Things were not very busy.) We had the first round of x-rays done at 7. Radiology came back and said they wanted an x-ray of the left arm for comparison. Translation: s/he sees something that might or might not be a fracture, but they are not accustomed to reading x-rays of children (immature bones), so they wanted to see the "normal" arm to be sure.

Left and right elbows matched, so it was diagnosed as a contusion with swelling. He is in a sling, but no cast or brace or anything. If he's still in pain Monday, we should see an orthopedist. By the time we left, the swelling was much better, and he was acting much better (besides being exhausted; it was nearly 8:30). I got him an ice cream cone on the way home because he was so very good while we were there. He is, however, very unhappy about possibly having to miss water play tomorrow. If he is acting okay in the morning, I may send him to daycare in the sling, but let him take it off and do water play, then put it back on, and then rest it the remainder of the weekend. I figure he will be fine by Monday.

As we left, the computer kept saying that Luke was not covered under DH's insurance. "It says coverage ended in 2009." No, our *old* coverage ended in 2009. We've had this coverage since then. Are you sure you are submitting to Company B, not Company A? Not sure if the computer was glitching or what, but she finally just wiped out what had been entered earlier that evening and redid it herself, and it came back confirming Luke's coverage. The copay was painful enough; not sure what would have happened if we'd been handed the full bill, (other than someone at the insurance company getting an earful tomorrow). Then I got out to the car and realized I had accidentally left on both map lights inside the car from when we were eating. Thankfully the car started anyway. We got home just before 9 and had the child in bed by 9:30. I am so ready for bed! I just want this week to be over.

Is that our three? Lost job, ruined all food in refrigerator, and now an ER visit. If bad things come in threes, that means we're done, right? RIGHT?!!

Currently feeling: ready for things to go right for a while

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Boston 2011 Preview

I tried to get it down to just 10 photos for the preview, but I simply couldn't. So here's 18 for you. More to come, of course, as I get things written up over the coming days.

Currently feeling: exhausted

Unpleaseant Return from Boston (Updated)

We are back from our week in Boston. Other than being weary to the bone from walking at least 3-ish miles every day, I think everyone had a good time. Saw some great stuff, ate some great food, and had plenty of fun. We even got to be in town for the NHL Championship parade, albeit watching on televisions at the airport while waiting to return home. We really pushed ourselves physically, though, and we were all grateful to be going home. We got our bags, hopped in the car (first time driving in a week!), and picked up dinner on the way home. We even pulled into the carport just before the thunderstorm hit. Perfect! We were greeted by four cats who were simultaneously angry with our absence and thrilled with our return. We chowed down on dinner, turned the child loose on the Wii, and started gathering clothes baskets to sort clothes for Sunday's planned washing marathon.

Forty-five minutes after walking in the door to our home after being gone for a week, the power went out. Normally, it is out for a few seconds. If it is going to be out more than that, it is usually 1-2 hours. By 8PM, the house was over 80 degrees inside, and we were all crashing. We *had* to get some sleep. With just enough clean clothes left from our trip (everyone's "just in case" outfit) to make it one more day, we headed for a hotel. We toured the neighborhood before we left and found the source of the trouble: a tree down across the power lines at the entrance to the neighborhood. The fire department was on the scene and the area was taped off. It had only taken down 1 or 2 of the 6-ish lines on the pole, so looks like less than 50 houses were affected, not even the whole neighborhood. We knew we would not be at the top of the priority list, but we fully expected the power to be back on by Sunday morning.

As of this writing, 10:30 AM on Sunday, we still have no power at the house. The fire department has cleared the tree and debris off the road, but there is still a branch laying on the lines. (I'm still so tired, I didn't even take a picture, if that tells you anything.) Georgia Power still has no estimate for when power should be restored at our residence. So after a great week with lots of fun, but also with lots of walking, we come home wanting only to sleep in our own beds and snuggle with our kitties. Instead, we could either smother in the heat or sleep in yet another hotel. We chose cool air and strange beds. (I did, however, get to sleep on my own pillow!) We very intentionally scheduled our return flight home on Saturday so that we would have all of Sunday to relax and wash clothes and just sit and be for a day, and let the child (who has been deprived of video games and television for a week) play on the Wii to his heart's content. Instead, we get to wander the city trying to find inside (air conditioned! high today is 95F/35C) stuff to do until the power is back on, maybe even spending another night in a hotel if it isn't back on by this evening. And, having been laid off Thursday before leaving on this trip, the budget was really not set up to handle 1-2 nights in a hotel plus replacing the entire contents of our refrigerator and freezer. I'm starting to wonder if we should just go back to Boston! Some "welcome home" this turned out to be.

(Just FYI, between 3 people carrying 5 cameras, we took over 3800 photos. It's going to take a while to sort and prep and blog!)

UPDATED: We got power back around 1PM on Sunday. Lost everything in the refrigerator, but freezer stuff still frozen solid. Whew!

Currently feeling: *not* a happy camper

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer 2011 Movie Musings Shorts - Part 1

Since we have actually managed to stay current (so far) on summer movies, I thought I'd give a quick recap of the movies we have seen to date.

Thor: Okay. A bit silly in places, but still had some good moments. Go expecting super-cheesy, and you should be okay. The worst part, to me, was switching from at least semi-serious on Earth to way far beyond cheesy in Asgard. Would have been less eye rolling if whole movie had been same cheese level. Still, it had some fun stuff. If only seeing a few films in the theater this summer, don't put this at the top of your list.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: I liked it, more than DH did. Better than 3, equal to or better than 2 (depending on which of us you ask). Nothing will ever come close to 1. In terms of a "reboot" or a redirect of the series, I think they did a very good job. Good blend of old and new characters. There were small nods to the previous films, which were nice, but this film stands by itself. No need to see any others to fully get this one.

Kung Fu Panda 2: Not as funny as the first, but still good. DreamWorks has upped their game in terms of visuals; it was *beautiful* to watch. Story is darker and more serious, definitely fewer laughs, but still worth seeing.

Super 8: Pretty good. Some nice tension without being too scary (for me; you know I'm a scary movie wimp). Definitely a love note from J.J. Abrams to Steven Spielberg films of the 70s and 80s, in a good way. Put Close Encounters, Jaws, E.T., and Goonies in a blender (note Spielberg directed 3 of those and wrote the 4th!), and you get Super 8. Not a kids' movie, IMO.

X-Men: First Class: By far the best movie we have seen this summer, and one of the bests in the last few years. I had high hopes for it, but I genuinely had no idea what to actually expect from it, and it was excellent. At least on par with the original X-Men film, and even better in some respects. A wonderfully pleasant surprise! Would definitely put this at the top of the "to see" pile so far this summer.

Currently feeling: cinematic

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Unextreme Makeover

I've made two changes to my appearance in the last month. Someone stop me or I'll be unrecognizable soon! For quite a few years now, I've had my hair all one length and parted in the center. My hair is really starting to get thin on top and in the middle (it's hereditary, from both parents!), and I felt like the center part was just drawing more attention to the thinning. Even the change in thickness just from this photo taken in September 2010 is rather dramatic.

I know I mentioned in the post regarding someone else wash my hair that the stylist showed me where my natural part falls. I had actually been fiddling with an alternate part a few weeks prior, but I couldn't find one I was happy with. I think I was trying to move it too far from the center, so it looked odd. Funny that my natural part is pretty much exactly where I parted my hair in middle and high school! I'm trying hard not to think of it as the world's biggest comb over. As long as I don't look like Donald Trump or Mr. Lopart (from Handy Manny), I think I'll be okay. The only thing I don't like is that I feel it draws attention to my one and only gray streak. (Not my one and only gray/white hair; I have several. It is just the only true streak I have at the moment.) With my hair parted in the center, it pretty much blended in like a natural highlight and wasn't all that noticeable, but with the part right at it, I feel like it really shows. I know it's not quite as "fashionable" as Stacy London's from What Not To Wear or as cool as Rogue's from X-Men. Oh well. I earned those gray hairs; may as well flaunt them! LOL

(Sorry for not wearing makeup, but this is the "everyday" me.)

You may or may not also notice that I got new glasses. Shame on me! I went four *years* without visiting the eye doctor. I could see fine for most of that time, so I didn't really see the point, but I know it is one of those things that should be done annually. Unfortunately, this visit was prompted by me suddenly having a lot of trouble seeing. My vision really took a nose dive since Christmas, including recent issues needing lots more light to read fine print and such. Thinking my vision must have gotten worse or that I was going to get yet another of this year's themed "you're getting older" speeches, I made an appointment.

Turns out that I couldn't see because my vision improved! It happened last time, too, but this time it was by half a diopter in each eye. No wonder I couldn't see anything, particularly close up. My glasses were way over-corrected. When she put in my new prescription and did the "do you need bifocals" test, I passed with flying colors! I can tell you that just this evening, reading on the computer has been much less of a strain without the excess correction. It was one of those things I hadn't even realized was a problem until it was gone (though the recent uptick in headaches were probably a clue). Yay for being able to see!

I picked some new frames, since after four years, my others were really the worse for wear, with the gold finish starting to come off in several places. Given my funky family skin chemistry, I have to get either plastic frames (which I don't really like) or the expensive metals (usually titanium or stainless steel). Regular metal rims will just corrode and turn my skin green. Not a good look, generally speaking. We might be the only family who shops for glasses by what they're made of instead of what they look like!

I ended up trying to decide between 3 pair, but I finally went with these "gunmetal" half-rim stainless frames from Polo Ralph Lauren. I tried to pick a pair of completely rimless ones, I really did. The woman helping me really likes the rimless and says they work for nearly everyone, but even she said she liked these better on me. They even have some decoration on the arms. As an added bonus, these could be ready the same day, as opposed to having to order the rimless and waiting 3-4 weeks for them.

There was, of course, a small snag (isn't there always?). I prefer the higher end (read: clearer, thinner, lighter, more expensive) lenses as opposed to just the standard plastic, and because of the half-rim design, they had to be ordered. Now, lenses only take 10-ish days to come in, so not too bad, *and* she offered me "loaner lenses" made from the standard plastic. I could get my new glasses with my new prescription that day with the loaner lenses, then bring them back when the new lenses come in and they will swap them out, all free of charge! Sounds like a win-win to me.

So that's my "wild and crazy" makeover. Sad, I know, but baby steps! I think that's enough change for now.

Currently feeling: who is that in the mirror?

Friday, June 10, 2011

All I Want For Christmas Is....

I sure *hope* they come in before Christmas! LOL Though the "toothless lisp" is awfully cute. FYI, pizza is a great tooth extractor if they're already loose.

Currently feeling: the tooth fairy may soon be broke

Thanks For the Love

I wanted to say thanks to all of you who have left comments or emailed me or left a message on Facebook about the "reduction in force" at work. I feel truly loved, thank you. There are some options being explored both by my actual employer and by the company that I did most of my work for. No one can make any promises, of course, but there are lots of people working on my behalf to keep me in the fold somehow, which I genuinely appreciate. We'll see how things develop next week.

I have a few blog posts that I had already typed up early last week when I had some time. They were supposed to be posted over the course of there rest of this week and this weekend, but they seem sort of silly and frivolous now. It's only been a day, and I'm still processing things. We'll see how I feel about them later.

Currently feeling: still spinning from recent events

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - June 8, 2011

Currently feeling: super kitty

Laid Off

I was laid off today. Nothing like losing your job when you've already bought nonrefundable plane tickets for a summer vacation. I'll be on payroll for the next 30 days, during which time I can look for other positions inside the company and the company can recall me if "business needs change" (i.e. they change their minds). If neither of those things happen, then I will get a severance package at the end of the 30 days. I'll also be making calls tomorrow to various folks I know within the business to see if anyone knows of something. Or if you need a project manager or an Excel data cruncher, let me know!

Currently feeling: not happy

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Kung Fu Panda With Friends

We invited our friends the Z family to go to the movies with us last Sunday. We were taking Luke to see Kung Fu Panda 2, and we thought R might like it, too. Turns out that R had never been to the movie theater before, so we were honored to go with him for his first big screen adventure. Everyone really seemed to enjoy it. We just saw the 2D version, which is fine with me; we thought 3D might be too much for a first movie for a 3 year old. I think each boy ate his own weight in popcorn, a sure sign of a successful movie outing!

Currently feeling: cinematic