Friday, January 31, 2014

January 2014 Round Up

From the 2011 Year of Memories Brag Book by Dani Mogstad

What books, magazines, and/or articles did I read this month?

I finished up the Evelina Cooper series I was reading. It is essentially a steampunk version of Sherlock Holmes, told from his niece's point of view. (Yes, I am aware that he does not have a niece, according to canon; this is the daughter of his sister, who I'm reasonably certain does not exist in the Conan-Doyle world.) Holmes does appear here and there, as done Watson, and there are brief brushes with the stories you know. An interesting series, to be sure, but it took some getting used to. It's hard to (convincingly) mix magic and Sherlock Holmes!

What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
* TV Time: Mythbusters is back, and we are really enjoying Almost Human! It hasn't been picked up for more than 13 episodes, though, and I know it is an expensive show to make. The ratings aren't bad, but I'm not sure they're enough for Fox to keep the show going. Keep your fingers crossed.
* New Films: Quite a few this month.
- Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle - Relatively speaking, I thought the first one was much better. Neither is great, though.
- A Christmas Carol - Yes, I watched this in January. Just never got to it in December. And yes, it was the Alastair Sim version (in the original black and white). No, I had never seen it before! Yes, I see why people really like it, but I'm not sure it is my favorite version (that would be a very tough choice among several excellent ones). But I did like it very much!
- The Valley of Gwangi - The intro by Ben Mankowitz about this film on TCM included the following phrase: "While this is not the first movie to have cowboys fighting dinosaurs...." Wait, what?! I mainly watched this because the effects were by Ray Harryhausen, and for stop motion effects, they were very impressive. The rest of the movie? Eh.
- Prometheus - I was already a little irritated with this film before I even saw it. Dear Ridley Scott, if you're going to go there, then GO THERE! Don't do it half-way by saying it's not really a prequel but it does tie in. Either it does or it doesn't. An okay film, certainly interesting.
- Anastasia - It doesn't get much better than Ingrid Bergman and Yul Brynner!
- Hitchcock - We thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It was quite delightful! Much more humor to it than I ever expected, though it is not a comedy. Brilliantly cast and acted. Highly recommended for any Hitchcock or Psycho fan.
- Go West - This was my first full length silent Buster Keaton film, and I quite enjoyed it. Much of the humor still plays very easily today, though I'm sure there are a few things lost on modern audiences. It did confirm something for me, though. I am more of a Buster Keaton fan than a Charlie Chaplin fan. Not that I don't like Chaplin, mind you, I just prefer Keaton's style and sense of humor.
- Oz the Great and Powerful - In spite of its stunning beauty, this movie was disappointing. The tone was uneven, and it had the problem of some of he actors not fully believing in what they were doing at times. It just didn't come together fully for me, certainly not with anything approaching the charm and magic of the original.
- By Your Leave - I mainly watched this because of the very early (and brief) appearance of Betty Grable, but the movie itself was fine. It also featured a pre-Wizard of Oz Frank Morgan (the wizard) and Margaret Hamilton (the witch). Fun to see them in different roles, though similar in general demeanor to their most famous characters. They are called character actors for a reason!
- The Magnificent Seven - Honestly, this may have been my first classic western. I've seen plenty of take-offs and spoofs of classic westerns, but other than A Fist Full of Dollars (which isn't quite the same thing, since it's a spaghetti western), I hadn't ever seen a "real" one. I know this was a little later in the Western lifespan, so I'm not sure if it was doing cliched things because they were expected, or if it is movies like this one that caused them to become cliche. Still, in context, they were wonderful to see and worked really well. And well, it had Yul Brynner in it, so there's only so bad it could be.
- The Bourne Legacy - Oh my goodness, what a HUGE disappointment! We liked the other movies fine, though we did prefer the earlier ones to the later ones. Some interesting information, sure, but the movie as a whole took a very long time to do not very much, and it wasn't that exciting in the process. Frenetic is not the same as exciting! Largely nonsensical in places, not a whole lot of chemistry between the two leads. It wasn't bad, but it was just there, which is a sin for an action movie. It should at least be exciting in its action-y parts! This one was just blah.
* Old Favorites: The only movies I noted that I watched this month that I had already seen were Ladyhawke and the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer film.

What fun things did I do with my family and/or friends?

This month's Cub Scout Pack Meeting featured a couple of raptors from the Chattahoochee Nature Center. They were absolutely beautiful, and the boys (mostly) did a very good job of sitting still and paying attention.

What gifts did I give and/or receive? What special or unusual purchases did I make?

This is going to sound completely crazy, but I am very exited that Toffee Nut Cookies are back at Panera, and we purchased, um, a few this month. I love those cookies, they are so yummy, and they pulled them off the regular menu almost a year ago. They are now only an occasional favorite, as I was told, and this is the first time (that I am aware of) they have been back on the menu since they were pulled. YUM!!

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
Stupid kidney stones! And multiple stones in each kidneys; not good. They will run some more tests in February (when they're sure all the stones I currently have have passed) to see if anything else can be done. I had a runny nose the last day or two of the month, but it never turned into anything (thank goodness).

What new things and Pinterest pins I try this month?
Tried a new recipe from Pinterest: Taco Meatloaf (recipe here, pin here). It was quite good. Needs a little tweaking, but definitely worth keeping.

We also tried yet another new Mexican restaurant near our house, and yet again, it fails to live up to our regular place where we've been eating for about 15 years now. We'd love to find a closer restaurant, but none can compare, and it is worth the drive. This one was the best of the three close ones, though, by far.

What were my accomplishments this month?

Click to biggify.

I didn't do what I was supposed to do and make notes as I went, so three weeks into February with a ton of things still on my to do list leftover from January, I don't feel like I accomplished much. Trying to get the cooking back on track after the holiday, but it's hard. I did tweet 29 out of 31 days, and the two days I missed I was on major pain meds, so I did fairly well there. Really need to increase the fluids, both just because I do and because of the kidney stonesSurviving the Snow-pocalypse was noteworthy, I suppose. Oh, and I did wear my new red shoes. I was afraid when I bought them that I wouldn't have anything to wear them with, but I've actually worn them twice. I'm stretching beyond my comfort zone; go me!

What were Luke's accomplishments this month?

Luke is studying for his whittling chip at Cub Scouts. He did have to miss one day of practice due to forgetting about an assignment until the night before it was due. No amount of insisting he write it down seems to be making a difference. "But she didn't tell us to write it down." I don't see how that is relevant. If you were told you have an assignment, write it down, whether or not you are expressly told to! ::headdesk:: He also learned to fold clothes this month; mainly because he lost a bet, but still. (And when did he start taking up so much room on the sofa?) He did earn extra points this month for asking if we could start watching Star Trek (TNG) again. There might be hope for him yet.

What were this month's disappointments or frustrations?
The return of the kidney stones was a huge disappointment and frustration, as is the new medical insurance. High deductibles are awful.

Anything else noteworthy to record?
Can't think of anything.

Monthly Round Up concept courtesy of Katie the Scrapbook Lady, tweaked by me.

Currently feeling: late but rounded

Lunchtime: A Conversation With Luke

Original image Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos, modified by me

Today was his third snow day, and the first of the three without Daddy at home to keep him company. I had a 10 AM conference call, but Luke came in three times between 10:30 and 10:40, complaining that he was hungry. I told him I would be off the phone around 11. Naturally, my call ran over by a few minutes. When I hung up, I needed to send a quick email before I could stop for lunch....

Luke: Mommy, it's after 11 o'clock.
Me: Okay, give me 5 to 10 minutes. Remember, even though I'm at home, I'm still working, so I can't make lunch right now.
Luke (horrified): You don't get to eat lunch at work?!
Me (chuckling): I do, but I can't just drop what I'm doing when the clock says it's 11. I have to find a good place to stop. Give me 10 more minutes, okay?
Luke (disappointed): Oh. Okay. But I'm hungry.

I'm sure he didn't understand, since they do drop what they're doing and go eat at exactly the same time every day. (I chose not to mention that yes, there have been days that I didn't have time to eat.)

Currently feeling: hungry

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - January 29, 2014

Currently feeling: played with the macro setting in the 2.5 hours I spent in the car yesterday

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Atlanta Snow-Pocalypse 2014

Thanks, everyone, for checking on us! Things have indeed been absolutely CRAZY here with the snow. It came in sooner and much heavier than any of the predictions had indicated. Let's not discuss the debacle that was the school system waiting until the last minute to decide to close early. The only reason we even found out is because his teacher called me at work using her personal cell phone!

I know all of my northern friends are rolling their eyes right now, but in the two hours between when the snow started falling and my husband came to pick me up, the (major!) road next to my office was so slushy that the public transit bus in front of us (and thus we) almost didn't make it up the hill! (And the hill really isn't that steep.) We watched it spin its wheels and slide backwards with only one car between it and us. Thankfully, that one city block was by far the worst part of our drive.

DH left his office around 1:40. It took him 30 minutes to drive 3 city blocks to pick me up. That made it 2:10. From there, using the Google maps traffic overlay and some knowledge of the area roads, we were able to take back roads and stick to the mainly yellow and red paths (as opposed to crimson/black ones).

In doing so, we managed to make the 14.6 mile journey to Luke's daycare in a mere 2 hours and 40 minutes. We picked him up at 4:20, which ironically is about the time we usually get him.

The roads closer to our house were not as busy or as icy, so we went out to eat for our last hurrah before being trapped at our house for at least a day (maybe more). Red Lobster was closed, but the Maddio's Pizza next to it was open, so we ate there.

(That's about 1.5 inches/3-4 cm)

We got back home around 5:30 without incident, until we tried to pull into our carport. The carport is on the back of the house, so you drive past it, turn around, and then pull in. We got stuck on point one of our three point turn; the wheels did nothing but spin when we put it in reverse. Joy.

We unleashed Luke on the snow while DH shoveled the driveway in front of the carport and around the tires. After that, we were able to back it up and successfully park in the carport.

By then, I was freezing (had given Luke my gloves), so I came in, but Luke stayed out to have a snowball fight with Daddy. They were out until well after dark, so forgive our sad baby snowman pictures. Each snowman segment is about softball size.

We are so grateful that we left when we did and it "only" took us about 3 hours to get home. Some friends took 6-8 hours, some are still on the road trying to get home (at 9:30-ish PM), and some have already had to pull off to stay at a hotel or a friend's house. One friend only made it because some residents whose homes bordered the road she was on were spreading sand by hand and helping to push cars up the hills. Thank you to all of the special angels out there today! And everyone, please stay safe!!
Currently feeling: grateful to be home safe!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dona Nobis Pacem

Image Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
Apparently, there is this thing going around called "Throwback Thursday." On Facebook, it typically manifests itself as people posting old pictures they have. It's been really fun to see, though I've only done it once. I doubt it will become a regular thing for me (I usually forget) on Facebook or here, but I couldn't resist this one when it struck me.

A friend posted this YouTube video on her Facebook feed today.

Talk about a throwback! I haven't sung that song since I was in the 7th grade; that was 25+ years ago. We used it as one of our warm up pieces in chorus. There were separate 7th and 8th grade chorus teachers, so it was only for that one school year, but I did sing it nearly every single day during those 9-ish months. Even after all this time, every note immediately came flooding back as if I'd sung it every single day since then. It really made me smile. It also made me realize how little I sing anymore. Maybe I should change that....

Currently feeling: warm and fuzzy, and like singing

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Tigger is Fading

I've been avoiding posting this for several weeks now, but it is probably time to mention it. Tigger is starting to fade. She is losing weight rapidly, which is never a good thing. She doesn't seem to be hurting, so we haven't bothered taking her to the vet yet (she's due for her regular checkup in a few weeks), but the end is probably not too far away.

I also think she is deaf. I accidentally discovered this last week sometime. I walked into our bathroom to find her head down in our toilet, drinking water from the bowl. Sadly, this is not unusual. I shouted her name from the doorway, which is 6-8 feet from the toilet, and she didn't even budge. Now, at this point, I didn't really think much of it; I just thought she was ignoring me. I called her name again, with still no reaction. Then, I reached out and touched her. I didn't push her down or shoo her away; all I did was touch her. And she freaked out! I had clearly scared her to death. Which should not have been possible, since I had just shouted her name twice.

We've done a few "tests" since then, and I genuinely think she just can't hear us. She doesn't come when we snap or click our tongues anymore (those are both food signals). Nothing wrong with her sense of smell, though; she still comes running when I start cooking! We've tried snapping our fingers right behind her head, with absolutely no reaction. Her ears almost never move anymore, even with both of the other cats are swiveling theirs and clearly hearing something. She sleeps really well, though, so I guess there are a few perks. The most interesting side effect, though, is that she now wants to lay on people, which is very odd for the former queen of no-touchy. I think she likes that because she can feel the vibrations when we talk. It must be really strange for her for everything to visually seem the same, but to no longer be able to hear us. Maybe "feeling" us talk reassures her. It has gotten so bad that she will even voluntarily lay on Luke!

Again, we're sure it's pretty much just an old age thing, and there really isn't anything that can be done about it. She's still eating fine, and again, she's not acting like she's hurting. She's getting weak, though. She can't jump up on the counters anymore, and getting onto the sofa and recliners is much more difficult than it used to be. Combine all of that with the weight loss, and there's only so long that can last. She will be 15 years old in March, and I'd like to think she will make it that far, but there's no way to know.

Currently feeling: trying to prepare, though you really can't

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - January 15, 2014

Currently feeling: they're not blue suede, but I like them!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Kidney Stones: Double or Nothing

Image Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

On Wednesday, for the second time in six months, I went to the ER with kidney stones. Last time was back in August, but it was my usual "single stone every 2-3 years," so I didn't think much of it. This time, for the first time since before Luke was born, the CT scan showed multiple stones in both kidneys. Not cool!

To try and see if there is some new development causing multiple stones to occur more frequently, I finally went back to a urologist for the first time in probably 12-13 years. I even went to the same practice, though I saw a different doctor (previous one couldn't see me for another 3 weeks). Apparently, "chronic stone formers" (that would be me) tend to have a peak in their stone production between age 40-50. I'll be 38 this year. So yes, the increase is normal, and it will only continue to get worse from here. Joy.

They are going to run some tests to see if there are some things I can do (in addition to the low oxalate diet I already follow). I also think that part of my problem was dehydration. Both back in August and now, the episode of passing a stone occurred within about 3 weeks of getting seriously dehydrated. The first thing they tell you when you have a stone is to drink more. Tons more! So remember that "resolution" I had to drink more water? Yeah, will definitely be following through on that one. And hopefully, in a month or so, we'll have a few other strategies to put in place to prevent this from happening again. I hope!

Currently feeling: ready to be done with stones

Sunday, January 12, 2014

One Bet, Three Life Lessons

Last week, DH bet Luke that all of his homework problems were not right, before my husband had even looked at them. If Luke lost, he had to wash a load of his own clothes. Luke insisted they were all correct. DH offered him a chance to check his work, but Luke declined. Luke has now learned three important life lessons:
  1. Don't gamble.
  2. Check your work.
  3. How to wash clothes.

Currently feeling: my husband is so smart!

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Monday, January 06, 2014

2013 Weight Loss Recap

So, the above graph shows my weight loss progress for 2013. You can see two things towards the end: 1) I started weighing most every day, thus things get a bit more erratic, and 2) I didn't make much progress at the end. (That straight line patch in the spring is when I was down with my ankle and couldn't stand on two feet, much less step on a scale.) It has been a bunch of two steps forward and two steps back since August. Life happene, I got rather depressed, and the old eating habits and the weight came right back. Not all of it, so I'll take that as a small victory, but I probably could have made 50 lbs lost by the end of the year instead of just 40 if I hadn't done so much back-sliding.

I can't change it now; all I can do is move forward and continue to work on it. I know I've done well, and I should be proud, and I am, but I'm also frustrated that I didn't do better, and the only person to be frustrated with is me. It was important to me to show this, though, so that everyone who struggles knows that I struggle, too, even when there has been success. We just have to keep trying! "Fall down seven times, get up eight." Here's to getting up again.

Currently feeling: hoping to see a continued downward trend in 2014