Monday, March 31, 2008

M Takes Over

G has foolishly left town for a week with me still listed as a contributing author and no oversight!

Look forward to a week of lusting after rear wheel drive cars and complaints about how the passat factory manual won't tell me where the connector is to recharge our AC system. No, really I'll try to stick to stuff that may be of remote interest to the regular readers of the blog :)

Todays nugget of joy:

If you have a child who rarely eats anything but pancakes it may be a little cruel to suddenly pull a pork chop dinner on them. Scott had a bit of a fit yesterday when he realized the slab of meat on my plate was not in any way related to a light quick bread. Such is life. At least he eats pancakes right?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I am going out of town. Very out of town. This is my excuse for not posting for the next week and a half. But don't get excited, all you burglars out there who read my blog and who have somehow deduced where I live. I'm the only one leaving. (That's right, I'm going sans offspring.) M will still be here working his butt off and my mom has kindly agreed to come and watch my kids.

So long, suckers!
(Can I say that about my mom? Oh well, I just did...)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Does This Count as a Man-Made Beach?

We could have gone on a tropical vacation, but instead we dropped $7 on a kiddie pool to go with the sandbox. Isn't this how everyone's mid-March evenings are?
Maybe it's just a Texas thing...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Movie Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

So you may have noticed that I only review books and movies long after they have been released. I would love for you to believe that I do so only because I care so much about writing quality reviews that I need to see/read it multiple times, or think about it for a while before I write about it.

But those things wouldn't be true, would they? The truth is G and I haven't seen anything that resembles a new release in years. I suppose we saw Enchanted while it was on the tail end of its run at the dollar theater. We have such a backlog of books and movies to consume we probably won't see anything "new" for a few more years yet (unless the screen writers guild gets upitty again).

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (6 out of 7 stars)

Lets get The Bad out of the way first.

The special effects. I'm usually blind to bad special effects but the green screens in this movie just grated on me. After the second time G and I had to stop and stare at a few stills to figure out what made it so patently obvious the actors were not in fact standing in front of the background. We tried to think through color, focus, depth of field, film grain, and lighting (can you tell G likes cameras?). We both think the most obvious problem was the lighting. The act(or/resse)s all looked like they had a spotlight about 2 feet from their faces and the trees behind them looked like they were filmed in the haze immediately following Mount Saint Helens. The lion looked cool though

The witch was just creepy. Not in an evil witch way. More like in the "What are you trying to pretend you're an evil witch or something?" way. G kept wondering whether she was a football player or a Rastafarian or what? No seriously, we both suspect that the actress just couldn't muster the "presence" the role demanded so they tried to patch it up with weird hairdos, odd dresses, and bizarre makeup.

Now on to the Good Stuff.

The story. I mean come on. If you thought I was on to something with the convenient platform for a story about good and evil in my post on Harry Potter you'll probably pee you pants when you think about this one. It's got it all, good and evil, talking lions, ice witches, traitors, long prophisied kings and queens, royal destiny of humans, epic battles, sacrifice, loyalty you name it. There's even some plucky comic relief from the Beavers.

Great character development, mostly about Edmund

The first scene during the bombing Edmund is running off to grab a picture of his dad, forcing Peter to risk himself to come save him. He is always making other people take risks for him, that' just how he rolls. Of course in the next scene, Peter and Susan are playing "I pick a word out of the dictionary and you guess what it means!". Pretty awesome game huh? Edmund thought so too but that's just how Peter and Susan roll.

When Lucy gets up in the middle of the night to try and go back to Narnia, there is a great shot of her putting on her shoes. We see a pair of feet sliding out of bed next to slippers and boots. Then into the boots. Thats because Lucy really believes she will be wandering in snow as soon as she gets down the hall. That's just how she rolls.

When Edmund meets the witch I thought it was telling how casually Edmund treats her. He's British. He should know not to just beg the nearest royalty for candy, but that's just how he rolls.

When Edmund runs off from the beaver's house to find the witch he leaves his coat and freezes all the way there. I suppose because it's a girls coat and Peter suggested he wear it. When he gets there he amuses himself drawing stupid faces on the "statues" because he likes to have control over other people even if they are made of rocks. That's just how he rolls.

If he's British enough to know not to go begging local royalty for candy Edmund should really know not to sit down on other people's thrones, but he likes to feel powerful so he does anyway. When Tumnus points out he's Lucy's sister he responds in perfect Edumund fashion by saying he is Edmund instead of confirming that he is in fact Lucy's brother because being his own man is just how he rolls.

When Susan and Lucy are up in the tree hiding from the wolves, Peter comes to save them and kills the wolf. Aslan knights him, clearly preparatory to the coming battle. Immediately we cut to the witch's camp where they are making all kinds of crazy weapons. It's a really cool parallel. Aslan is preparing people, the witch is preparing things. That's just how the two of them roll.

Other little touches I thought were cool.

When Lucy finds the room with the wardrobe in it there is a dying fly in one of the windowsills. I suppose it's reminiscent of the fact that you can't always get out of this room easily.

When Edmund is eating on the witches sleigh the cup he hands back to the dwarf turns back to ice as he throws it at a tree. Neat visual touch emphasizing the transient nature of what the witch can give. Also, it's really cool the way the witch talks about how she could see Edmund becoming a prince of Narnia since that is exactly what she is thinking, just in a different way from what Edmund is thinking.

When the four of them find Tumnus's house burnt out Edmund steps on the same picture of Tumnus's father Lucy was looking at when she was there. Now it is clawed and broken. I think it means Tumnus has gone to war like his father did. G thinks it reminds the viewer of the fact that Tumnus was suffering the effects of war and he has now brought them on himself and others. Or maybe it's just to drive home to the viewer that Edmund has really messed stuff up. I don't know but it's a cool touch somehow.

It's in the book but the fact that Edmund doesn't get anything from Father Christmas is cool. It's nice to see someone walk that "you can come back but you might have missed something while you were gone" line. Along the same line I like that one of the tigers at the coronation still has the mustache Edmund drew on him when he was a statue. It's nice to see that your actions can also have lasting effects on others.

There were a bunch of other ones too but I'm too tired to put those all here. All in all, cool movie.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Sandman

For Scott's birthday we got a sandbox in the back yard. The kids love it and I love that they'll actually play in the backyard now. Of course, the mess is significant.

I know, I know. I brought this upon myself. But please indulge my whining for just a moment. Claire is no big deal, but Scott. Oh, Scott. I have to make sure I empty Scott's pockets before he comes inside since he dumps sand over his head and it fills them up. The front pockets on his shirts sag under the load. The sand is nearly impossible to get out of his hair, so I've practically stopped trying. I'm sure people think my two year old has a severe dandruff problem. The kids' bathtub perpetually has a thin layer of sand in it. The other day when I changed Scott's diaper after a little romp in the sand, I felt like I should go check the sandbox. I wanted to make sure there was any sand left in it because it looked like he'd smuggled it all inside in his diaper. Trying to wipe him off was more like sanding his behind. I felt like telling him that while his crotch is not antique furniture, it was ready for a coat of polyurethane. (Hmmm. That might make future diaper changes easier...)

Okay, I'm done complaining. They love it and I have all tile floors downstairs. It's all good.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Woo-Woo Cay-Kay

We had a very small combined birthday party for the kids on Saturday. They requested a fire engine birthday cake. Or if you speak Scottlish, a "woo-woo cay-kay." "Woo-woo" is the siren noise that is his word for ALL emergency vehicles. Anything that has the word cake in it (cake, cupcake, pancake, etc) is a "cay-kay."

(Scott, if you're reading this: You know, at this age your sister was giving lengthy soliloquies with perfect diction. Perhaps you might consider stepping things up a notch in the verbal department? I really would like to know what you're crying talking about most of the time. Thanks! Love, Mom)

In one day I believe we all ingested more red dye than is safe to consume in a whole year. I kept wiping Scott up fairly well and then he kept climbing back up to the table and digging in again when I turned my back. He got it on his scalp and I couldn't get it off. He went to church looking like he leads a double life as a pink haired punk rocker. If I die suddenly, tell them it's probably Red #40 poisoning...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Eyeball Searing Green

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, a very green post:

For Claire's fourth birthday, we finally painted and decorated her room. Her favorite color is green (That's my girl!) and we've been promising her ever since we moved into the house that we could paint her room green. My mom did the bedding, my sister got her the lights, and I did the small white pillow. Oh yah, and all the painting. Now, when you look at her window from outside at night, it glows an eerie green and makes you think of alien abductions. It's just an accent wall, but it's more than enough. Maybe someday we'll have more furniture in there than just her bed. But until then, bright as it is, I LOVE IT!

A Whole Lotta Lovin'

I love the smell of wet asphalt after rain. I love a cool breeze on warm sunny day. I love being barefoot. Barring that, I love wearing sandals. I love that glamorous, mysterious, and summery feeling of wearing sunglasses, even if it's cold out. I love the toasty smell of someone's fireplace on an autumn day. I love the song of birds in the trees as the sun comes up. I love the tranquility of a quiet jog in the morning on the hike and bike trail by my house. I love the quiet of a snow covered mountainside broken by the sound of my snowboard carving the snow. I love the whoosh sound the net makes when I make a shot in basketball. I love food. Shall I elaborate? Gladly. I love Thai food. I love the spicy sour flavor of yum nua as the warm beef contrasts with the crisp lettuce. I love Indian food. I love the tangy creamy spiciness of chicken tikka masala. I love Vietnamese food. I love a steaming hot bowl of Pho, with lots of bean sprouts, cilantro, fresh basil, lime juice, hoisin sauce and rooster sauce. I love making Japanese food at home. I love a grilled medium rare New York strip steak with lots of salt. I love fries, but only when they're dipped in ketchup mixed with Tabasco sauce. I love Chili's Buffalo chicken salad. I love fresh, crisp Cameo apples. I love fresh blueberries. I love sauteed fresh green beans. I love chilled blanched asparagus. I love artichoke dipped in lemon butter. I love Bufalo chipotle hot sauce. I love my mom's apple pie and none others. I love sparkling water. I especially love to sip sparkling water or shorle out of nice stemware and how it feels so cultured. I love chocolate. I love cocoa covered truffles that melt in your mouth. I love eating warm (chocolate) baked goods that you haven't let cool as long as you're "supposed" to. I love semi-sweet chocolate chips and not being disappointed because someone used milk chocolate ones in a dessert. I love See's candy dark chocolate truffles. I love driving too fast and cornering too hard. I love listening to rock music turned up too loud. I love closing my eyes and listening to classical music. I love playing Christmas music on my classical guitar. I love the slippery rough feeling of moving my fingers across steel wrapped nylon guitar strings. I love the band CAKE. I love sitting outside and reading poetry. I love looking through a camera lens. I love watercoloring. I love making greeting cards. I love writing things by hand with nice ball point pens. I love sending snail mail. I love watching movies with the subtitles on. I love when you have a long straight seam and you can get your sewing machine going fast enough to roar. I love putting pins through the holes in buttons. I love measuring tapes. I love poking a hole with the spindle on my sewing machine into a new spool of thread. I love solving math problems. I love integrals and derivatives. I love using power tools. I love Allen wrenches, needle nose pliers, and drill bits. I love machined metal. I love stainless steel. I love white dishes. I love glass serving pieces. I love glass pitchers. I love huge white bath sheets. I love hot showers when I don't need to wash my hair or shave my legs. I love wearing new contacts. I love choker necklaces and stud earrings. I love fugly green clothes. I love black shoes. I love skater shoes. I love dark lipstick. I love my wedding ring. I love the feeling of my fingernails when I finally trim them short. I love painting my toenails, but never in reds or pinks. I love the feeling of my teeth right after I've been to the dentist for a cleaning. I love speaking in public. I love speaking. I love big words. I love Trivial Pursuit. I love using a reading lamp. I love sharp pencils and big erasers. I love clear grid rulers. I love using the computer. I love figuring out new software. I love changing computer code. I love figuring out new programming languages. I love blogging.


I better stop now even though I feel like I could go on and on...
I thought I'd try my hand at She Likes Purple's "Love List." My friends have been doing it, so I hopped on the bandwagon. The rules said I couldn't list anything about people I know.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

C'mon Down!

Officially unveiling the new look for my blog. This was WAY overdue in my book. I mean, you can only use a preset Blogger template for so long before you're laughed out of the blogsphere, right? I'd stuck with it so long I was definitely becoming that one lame kid in junior high who wore sweat pants that were WAY too short. With a wolf shirt. You know the kid I'm talking about...

Anyway, hope you like it. And even if you don't, oh well. It took so much kid-neglect as it is that it will have to do for quite some time.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Gumdrop Art

You would eat this cake, wouldn't you?

I made this cake for a church event for the "birthday" of Relief Society. I rolled out gumdrops (leftover from Christmas, gasp!) and cut them out with tiny cookie cutters. Apparently it was too pretty to eat. At least that's what I'll tell myself. I mean, I know I'm no pro cake decorator. That would be my friend Alison. But I still thought a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting was pretty tempting. The masses seemed to disagree. At the end of the event, less than a quarter of it was gone even though the other cakes were mostly demolished. And I had taken one of the two or three missing slices. I take solace in the fact that the part that was missing was where there weren't any flowers, so that fits with my self-serving hypothesis. In the end, I convinced a lot of women to take some of it home to their hu'bands. When all was said and done, I was a successful cake pusher and there was only about a quarter of it left. This is very good because M doesn't eat sugar. As much as I would enjoy eating most of a chocolate cake by myself (with some token help from the kids, of course), it's probably not in my best interest.

Friday, March 7, 2008


Claire is actually asleep in this photo. She was "eating breakfast." Apparently the Tylenol finally kicked in. Her legs had been aching (and her mouth crying) most of the morning before this.

Today's game plan: KEEP EVERYONE ALIVE

Secondary objectives:
1 - Prevent the spread of disease
2 - Try not to wake up Claire who is sleeping on the couch
3 - Fold the clean laundry on the couch that she's threatening to contaminate (see #1)

Monday, March 3, 2008

A HUGE Accomplishment

We've done it at last! It took a lot of effort on my part, but we've finally accomplished my our goal.

We have read all the Berenstain Bear First Time Books pictured on the back of the old-school covers. (You can read a little background on this endeavor here.) Trouble with Money held out on us for a long time, but I tracked it down. I'm glad I didn't have to explain to the librarian why I was coming to the front desk to hunt this book down. It's a relief really. It coincides nicely with Claire's burgeoning interest in other books at the library. I'm happy to spend more time reveling in Mo Willems books. Seriously, if you haven't already, go check his stuff out. Possibly my new favorite children's author.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Yum! and Kitchen Chemistry

Commence drooling.... NOW!

My sister pointed me to a fabulous recipe from ATK for Yum Nua (or Nuer or whatever Romanization sounds good to you). This spicy beef salad is my favorite food in the whole entire world. (Or at least the parts of it that I've eaten the food from, which is, if I do say so myself, quite a few.) It's hard to find a Thai restaurant around here that even serves this (but, hallelujah, I have found one). The recipe turned out so much better than I expected for being made at home. I should have trusted the sister. She knows her food. The main downfall is that it cost almost as much to make as ordering it at a restaurant, but we probably did get twice as much meat out of it. Like we needed that much food when cucumber doesn't exactly keep that well. (Because seriously, my kids won't touch this with a 10 foot pole - remember this story?)

In the end, I paid dearly for the fabulosity. I diced quite a few serranos for this little number and at the end of the night, I was really feeling the burn. Not from eating it, just on my hands from cutting the raw chiles. Pitiful. Weak AND I ought to know better. I'd never had it hit me quite like this before.

Call me weak, but the point is, my hands were dying and I was desperate to try and find something, ANYTHING to alleviate the pain. After much Googling and various failed substances, I stooped to dipping my hands in slightly diluted bleach solution. Can you blame me too much? I know scientific sources say it supposedly doesn't work, but as I stood there with my hands in the big bowl o' bleach for a minute, I actually felt better!

But it gets interesting now, I promise. I looked down and my hands were covered in little bubbles. Little bubbles were slowly streaming out from under my nails and coming off my fingers, slowly collecting at the surface and clinging around the edges of where my fingers entered the bleach. Wha? I yelled in to M, "Hey, I'm making GAS!" (Heh, heh, heh! Seriously, I still think like a 10 year old...) We both got a good laugh out of my apparent ability to make hydrogen gas with my hands and some Clorox. (No, we didn't actually test if it was really hydrogen gas. I'd like to keep my house, thankyouverymuch. But it seems like a safe guess. I suppose it could have been chlorine gas, but please don't ruin my fun and point that out. Toxic sure, but I prefer the flammable H2 possibility.) Was it some previous substance I had tried to alleviate the pain that was reacting? Was it really the capsaicin reacting? Was it my effervescent personality? (HA! I wish...) The world may never know. All I know is, my hands felt much better after a couple dips in that bleach bliss and it was good for a laugh, hazardous chemicals be darned.