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Thursday, September 30, 2010

My deep thought today...

I love being a mom.

But there are times,

Like right now,

That I really hate being a parent.


Anyone else?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

Friday was a long awaited day in our house.

A movie opened that had been anticipated with great excitement:

The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

If you don't know anything about this, it might sound a little weird. Owls? Really? To give you some background, the movie is based on a series of children's books written by Kathryn Lasky. I was completely unaware of these books until this spring when someone mentioned them on Twitter, I think in response to my looking for books that might interest Sarah and her voracious appetite for reading.

I began to look for them and had no luck at my local Half Price Books. But when we took our big ol' long trip this summer, we packed her dad's Kindle and decided to download a couple for the road.

This is a lot of what I saw in the car over that 3,000 miles...

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And this...

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That’s her Webkinz owl that has since earned the name “Twilight.” He was flying like she imagined him doing in the book.

So, needless to say, the books were a hit. And when we found out the release date of the movie, it went on our calendar and she and I planned to go. The movie was a delight. "Way different from the books," according to Sarah, but a delight to both of us all the same.

Two brothers. One chooses to believe in and have faith in what he has never seen. The other believes only in himself and what he can gain. It is a story of heroes and the battle between good versus evil both on a corporate and an individual level. I came away from it with a strong Star Wars vibe which the director talks about briefly in this series of interviews.


It is very well done and here are just some of my thoughts:

It is a bit intense at times. I'd say it's not something I would take a child younger than 8 to see. I know my 5 year old would have been pretty freaked out at times. Two things that I noticed that added to the intensity:

  • Because owls are nocturnal, most of the scenes are at night and therefore generally just dark. Which kind of mirrors some of the weighty material in this battle of good versus evil.
  • Because of the director’s style (mentioned in the video above) many of the battle scenes are not graphic, but are done in a tight, close-up style.

The story tellers did a wonderful job of incorporating some humorous moments and characters into the plot to lighten the mood from time to time.

I've grown a bit weary of everything being in 3D lately, but this movie done in 3D was amazing. Breathtaking, actually. I thought, “This is 3D done right.”

I only realized later how distinguished the list of actors was that did all the voices. I love that I couldn’t really tell who any of the voices were. It allowed me to really engage in the characters of the owls instead of picturing the person that goes with the voice.

I liked most of the sound-track during the movie. It added to the action without being obtrusive. However, the contemporary song thrown in the middle of the movie just didn't work for me. However, the tune was catchy and if said sound-track produces some decent safe music my daughter can listen to, I'll be okay with that.

From what I understand, this movie covers the first three books of Kathryn Lasky’s series. I do hope they do well enough with this one to make more.

If you'd like to see some more professional family reviews of this film:

Pluggedin Online
(I find it funny that an owlet coughing up an owl pellet was a negative element in this reviewers eyes. Sarah has brought them home before from science camp. See this post and this post. Nothing negative about that, in my opinion.)

Parent Previews

Monday, September 27, 2010

Things I love about fall

Cool, crisp mornings.

Coffee in my cup.

Honeycrisp apples.

Chili.

Football.

Sweatshirts.

Open windows.

Lower electricity bills.

Apple pie.

Thanksgiving.

Christmas is coming.

Knowing that leaves will eventually fall.

Change.



What about you? What do you love about fall?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Kitchen face-lift {part two} - The Can of Worms that keeps on giving

So do you remember me talking about home improvement projects really just being a can of worms just waiting to be opened?  If not, see “Part One” here.

Well, as the old, weird and actually quite disturbing song from my childhood goes,

The worms crawl in,

The worms crawl out,

The worms play pinochle on your snout…

Needless to say, our project now exceeds the term “face-lift.”  And yet, I’m not sure what else to call it.  Kitchen rehabilitation?  Ridiculous kitchen project?  The kitchen project that never ends???

And a busier season of work for Mike (no complaining here!) and school plus extra-curricular activities for the kids has left us with little time to work on the project.  But we have made some progress.  Just not all of it is in areas that we expected.

So far, we have removed the wood paneling and the fluorescent lights from the ceiling and installed can lights.

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We have painted our eating area… with a little help.

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We have also scraped all the popcorn texture off the ceiling in the hallway.

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All of these items were totally on our list of things to accomplish.

However our attention from this part of the project got diverted when I convinced Mike that it was okay to hire out the drywall and texture work.  As we talked through what all we would hire someone to do that phrase that strikes fear into any home improvement project participant came up, “Well, if we’re doing that, doesn’t it make sense to go ahead and do this while we’re at it?”

You see, we have these cabinets in the hallway that we use as a secondary pantry and mostly some random storage.  The cabinets, however, are not all that useful since they are far too deep (deeper than arm-length) for anyone to be able to find the things that inevitably get shoved to the back.

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And the pantry in our kitchen is really not terribly functional.  The shelves are very shallow and not tall enough to fit much of anything.  It has always been a jumbled mess because nothing fits.

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For a couple of years now we have talked about tearing out the hallway cabinets and making it into a step-in pantry and getting rid of the useless one in the kitchen.

Picture it with me:

We are standing in the kitchen late one night after the kids are in bed and we’re talking through what we are doing.  Finally Mike says, “Well, if we’re going to pay someone to come in and do the texture on the walls anyway, then doesn’t it make sense to go ahead and build out that pantry in the hallway like we’ve talked about for years since I’ll have to put in a new door and some new drywall around it?”

“Well,” I said, “it certainly doesn’t make sense to go and do all of this only to tear it back up later to do another project.”

And so, the pantry project was born.

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At this writing we’ve actually finished with converting those hallway cabinets into a step-in pantry that also includes a place for my big KitchenAid stand mixer to be stored on a rolling cart.  All that’s left is to install the door (with contact light switch – awesome!), one more piece of drywall and the floor.

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Now that everything from the old pantry is moved over to the new one, we will tear it out and begin prepping that space for some display shelves for cookbooks and a sort-of kitchen office area.  I’m having to design this part from scratch because I can find no pictures or anything like what I imagine in this space.

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The drawing will probably not make a whole lot of sense right now, but those are built in shelves to the right (for cookbooks and a small storage space for kitchen office and computer things), a flat screen tv in the middle and open shelves to the left for some decorative / display items.  This is just a concept right now, so I’d love any feedback you have on the design.

Now, if you look back at my first post, there was a list of what would go and what had to stay.  I have mentioned several things in this post that were totally on our list and a few additions to the list.

But, you know how I said that the floor had to stay?  Remember how I said that there was no way that my husband was going to let me replace it right now?  Well, first think of all the twists and turns this project has taken so far and then let me just leave you with three words:

Can. Of. Worms.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Stop. Remember. Pray.

 

100B8350 Taken at the DFW National Cemetery on Memorial Day 2010.

The fact that 9/11 was today had been on my mind all week, but when it came down to it, I got up and started some baking for a family gathering later on in the day.  The significance of the actual day escaped me. 

I felt bad.

I realized this morning that I was just going about my business as usual.  It dawned on me that while the events that day rocked all of our worlds and changed a lot in our country and world forever, many of us simply go about our lives and business much as we did prior to 9/11/01.  Things are different, but not such that they change our normal daily lives.  Here we are, 9 years later, and I would guess that for most of us in the country, things are back to normal. 

However, it dawns on me that there are many for whom this day simply stops.  While we all pause to remember on 9/11 each year, those people stop dead in their tracks on this day.  Those who survived.  Those who had loved ones, innocent lives just going about their daily business that day, who perished.  The wife and child of the first responder who gave his life trying to save as many caught in the buildings as possible. 

My heart aches for those people.  And if you happen to be one of them reading this, I am praying peace and comfort over you today. 

While we all need to stop, remember and honor those who died 9 years ago, we also need to pray for those who are just trying to go on in life.  While the world is different, their very lives can never go back to what they were.

Stop. Remember. Pray.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Audiobooks (Or what doesn’t work for me: Reading)

I may have mentioned before that I’m not much of a reader.  I do read when I have to and I like the benefit I gain from what I read.  But the act of reading, itself, is actually quite a chore for me and not one that I at all enjoy.  So reading for pleasure and as a leisure activity… well, it just doesn’t happen.

However, I am a non-reader who has recently developed an interest in some of the more classic literature.  Like Jane Austen, for example.

I had seen the movies of Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Sense & Sensibility (Emma Thompson) quite a long time ago, enjoying each of them.  I even bought a copy of Emma and began to read it because I loved the story in the movie so much.  It still sits on my bedside table with a bookmark in it about halfway through.  I find it a little difficult to make much progress when I have to start back over at the beginning of a chapter (or even the previous chapter) every time I pick it up just to remember what is going on because it has been so long since the last time I was able to read any of it.

Until a couple of months ago, however, I had not, seen the movie of Pride & Prejudice.  It was on television one day recently so I stopped and watched it.  All the good folks on the Twitter told me that the BBC/Colin Firth version was so much better than the Kiera Knightly version, which is what I was watching at the time.  Something about this whole exchange made me interested to actually read the book itself.  And yet Emma still remains on my bedside table.  Taunting me.  Laughing at me. “You’ll never finish Pride & Prejudice.  You can’t even finish me!!”

And then I remembered, I recently came across a site called Librivox where audio books of many classic novels and books, all in the public domain, are recorded and made available for free.  I knew I was about to go on a lengthy car trip with my daughter, and I needed to load up my iPod.  So I figured why not load some audio books on there to give me something different to listen to while we drove.

It was great.  While Sarah read or watched a movie, I’d just put in an ear-bud and listen to the story.

I didn’t finish the book while on the trip.  I have found, though, that I do love to just put in my earbuds while at work and I can do some things while listening to the story in the background.  In fact, it helps keep me focused on the task at hand and keeps me from averting my attention to, “Oh look, something shiny.”

After finishing the Pride & Prejudice audiobook a couple of weeks ago, I checked out the BBC version of the movie from our local library.  It really did track so closely to the book, which I enjoyed very much.  And I never would have finished it where it not for Librivox and their wonderful audio books.

I was going to include some thoughts on the book and movie themselves in this post, but that will have to wait for another day.

By the way, I’m currently listening to Emma.  I will finish it.  I am determined.

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Just a few notes on using Librivox:

  1. You can download it to iTunes and it shows up under podcasts, not as an audio book.
  2. The chapters are each separate or in groups of 2 or 3 chapters at a time.
  3. Once downloaded to your iPod, for me at least, the chapters end up in reverse order.  I have yet to figure out a way to have them in an order so that I can just hit play and not mess with it again.  As it is, I have to hit the “rewide/skip back” button to go to the next chapter.

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This post has been added to Works for Me Wednesday over at We Are That Family.  Go visit Kristen’s blog for more helpful hints.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A new venture: A Martha’s Heart

I have a friend named Holly.  I have met her one time, briefly, in real life.  But we are sisters.  Bound together by the love and grace of Jesus Christ and by the ties of Aggieland and Texas.  Although she does live in Colorado now. 

But I digress.

My friend Holly and her friend Trish had a vision for an online community and it has finally come to fruition.  A Martha’s Heart is based on the story of Mary and Martha from Bethany (see Luke 10:38-42 & John 11:1-44).  Holly wrote all about  it here.

And you know what?  They asked me to contribute once in a while.  The site officially launched yesterday with a tour of the whole site that will unfold over the next couple of weeks.

Today, we are introducing the Kitchen where I will be primarily hanging out.  As if that’s any surprise.  And here is a snippet from my first article over there…

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Teaching Yourself to Cook.  Just Do It.

People often say something to me like “Oh I wish I could cook like that,” or “Could you teach me to cook?”

Honestly, there’s no big secret to it. But I thought I’d share with you a little of how I came to where I am now.

If there was a secret to teaching yourself how to cook it would be this: Just do it!

I know that sounds very “Nike” but it’s the truth. You’ll never learn until you just get in there and get your proverbial hands dirty.

Read more…

 

I hope to see you over at A Martha’s Heart in the coming weeks and months.  We are all very excited about it.