Thursday, January 31, 2008

...up a hill, both ways!

at snack time, this morning...

eating leftover biscuits from dinner last night...

Leah - "Back in the old days, when I was littler, we used to have biscuits all the time!"

Aaron & I - "Say WHAAAT?" (Not actually spoken, but our body language was clear.)

Piggy-back maneuvers

Ben is obsessed with piggy-backs. This is part of his highly advanced miming technique, since his only regular spoken language is "eh, eh, eh..." ad nauseam. He leads us by hand to the steps, then gets behind us, reaching up. Yeah, we get it, buddy. You want a ride.

Recently he has also started tucking his hands between his chest and my back, just like he does sometimes when we carry him. This is clearly not acceptable form for a piggy-back ride, and I certainly wouldn't want it to lead to bullying at school, so I try to correct it - "no, you have to hold on..."

Tonight a little more strategery was needed on Ben's part, since he had a sippy cup of water in his hand. I offered to carry it for him, but was refused with a hearty "NAH!". Okkkay.

But he still has to hold on. I could almost see the gears turning in his little head, underneath that mop of hair. He was determined. Even after the ride had started, he was still trying to figure out how to hold the cup and me at the same time. It ended up wedged under his chin, with his thumb holding it in place, and maybe his other fingers grazing my shirt. Don't think that was going to break your fall much, kid, but whatever floats your boat.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Did you know it's cold?

It was cold yesterday. COLD. But the day before? A lovely 40 degrees. A day to catch our breaths and bear down for the rest of the artic weather headed our way. Which we did. I ran some errands with Leah, and then took the van through the car wash. Leah used to be terrified of them, but now she suggests it frequently - so we went, Monday at about 4:45pm.

How many times do you think about your vehicle between dinner and breakfast the next day? It's not really something you spend a lot of time on, right? Especially if you have a garage to shelter the poor thing. You would assume that on a morning of trying to get a three year old and almost-2 year old fed, cleaned up, dressed and out the door by 8:40am, the van will be ONE factor not causing a headache. AND YOU WOULD BE WRONG. Oh, it started, thankfully. The problem came a bit later.

When I tried to open the side door to get Leah in. You saw this coming, didn't you?

The doors were frozen solid. I could get the driver's and passenger side doors open, but not the sliding ones. Both children were hoisted into the back through the passenger side - Leah the most miserable cause she has the longest legs to get banged around. Ben thought it was all rather amusing. Ha ha.

I was hoping that the 10 minute drive to church would unthaw the doors. Nope. So out they go, over the console in the middle and out the side door. And 2 hours later? All over again. Then again at home...once more with the climbing over the seats. Of course by the time we actually did get home, both of them were dozing off, making it SO MUCH MORE FUN.

Also, before leaving church, Leah told me that her forehead hurt, and she had that sick look around her eyes. So after everyone was in the house and stripped of winter gear, I gave her some Tylenol and took her temperature...did I mention that Ben's speech therapist was due at any minute? Her temp - 101.4 degrees. Into our bed she went, and slept for an hour.

N the therapist comes in then - perfect timing! Ben had a great session, and then ate a decent lunch...at 12:30 he woke Leah up, who then ate a good lunch, also....AND THEN I TURNED THE VAN OFF. The doors finally opened! I had checked them after therapy, so I know it took more than half an hour.

However, earlier the doors did had cracked enough to keep the interior lights on, and I didn't check it after driving again in the afternoon, so I'm a little concerned it won't start at all...Oh well. We are spending the day at home anyway!

Leah is better this morning after lots of Tylenol and several hours extra sleep.
Current status: Preparing for another 3 days of negative temps. Yay, winter. Moms love it.
By the way, there's no way you'd get me up to take this photo when it's -18 outside Some sucker at National Geographic took it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Just one more, I swear.

Which Jane Austen character are you?

This is a fun one! Brush up on your mythology beforehand.

Hmm. I don't think I like this result as much as the previous quiz's:

You're Mariane Dashwood from Sense & Sensibility! You are the romantic youngster, also found in Jane Austen's work as Catherine of Northanger Abbey and possibly Georgiana Darcy of Pride and Prejudice. You wander through life like Red Riding Hood in the forest, picking wildflowers and humming a happy song... and you can't see the wolf right in front of you! Ruled by heart and not by head, you are best advised to to learn a little caution, before you are forced into a better acquaintance with the ways of the world.2030 other people got this result!This quiz has been taken 31736 times.12% of people had this result.

Joys of the Internet

So many quizzes out there - so little time! I spared a couple minutes for this one...not as long as the warning would have you think.

Which Jane Austen Character are You? (For Females) Long Quiz!!!

My Results:
You scored as a Emma Woodhouse
Emma is possibly one of the most loyal characters of Austen, always wanting better for those around her and doing all she possibly can to make it happen. Her motives sometimes get in the way of her good intentions and her own opinions can end up ruling her actions, but she has a good heart. She loves to be social and is welcoming to most, unless they are too silly to tolerate. While she sometimes changes her behavior to make others feel comfortable, she knows who she is and is always bettering herself.

Emma Woodhouse 72%
Elizabeth Bennet 66%
Marianne Dashwood 59%
Jane Bennet 53%
Elinor Dashwood 50%
Charlotte Lucas 50%
Lady Catherine 13%

I'd like to know what the options were... there were questions that I swear were targeted at Catherine from NA and Fanny from MP.

Movie: Mansfield Park

First, what I liked: the ending. Not being facetious here...they did a really good job with the ending! I got TWO SEPARATE sets of shivers. That good. I also liked Aunt Bertram - so lazy! And the pug dog was very cute. Also, the men were cast well - I liked them all! I mean, I HATED HENRY, of course. And could the set be more gorgeous?

Now then. Here are my rules for the movie adaptation of books, and very few exceptions are known to me. Nearly always, the book is better than the movie. This will be expanded into a separate post at a later date - FUN! If you have rules to add, let me know!

1) There is no room for character subtlety. Bad people must be established as Bad, and Good as Good. Bad Henry in photo at right.

2) Any characters not necessary to the central plot are eradicated. Ditto locations.

3)Time is shrunk considerably.

For example. Last night my buddy C and I watched Mansfield Park together. I'm fairly sure it's the last time she'll tolerate it, because I am one of those horrible people who can't stop themselves from saying, "In the book, this and THIS happened..."(Clever Mary Crawford at right)
Just a few of my observations:
At entrance of Crawford siblings, as Henry says to Mary, "And aren't we much more likely to deceive..."....not me:"Well, I guess we know if they are Bad or Good." Of course, it isn't quite so clear in the book.
15 min into movie: "We are now half way through the book."
"How can these guys see so much boobs and still get excited about an ankle?" Seriously. I highly doubt that the meek and mild, not too mention very moral, Fanny from the book would have dared to show her girls as much as the costume design for the movie did. Catherine from Northanger Abbey was more modestly dressed, so why couldn't they have done the same for Miss Price? Maria Bertram (Mariah?!) shows off her source of power in the photo to the right. Also known as the Bionic Woman.

Okay, I know. A lot of this is nit-picky. Since I know the Rules of Book Adaptations, I can expect it. However, I don't like it when entire personalities are changed, as Fanny's was. I know she's a wallflower heroine in the book, but I like her for the variety...that the good, quiet girls can also get her Dream Dude, not just the smart, sassy ones like Miss Crawford. And Billie Piper has a modern look - maybe it's her dark brows with blond hair... I don't like her casting. I expected someone a little more gentle-looking. By the way, you may recognize her from Dr. Who.

Thanks to Noel's comment, I was able to totally understand why JK Rowling named Filch's cat Mrs. Norris. The woman is truly nasty, and the movie was barely able to touch on it. Too bad. Also, poor Sir Thomas was practically a villain, with only one scene of kindness. The book made him more as a misguided loving father...and uncle, even though he was unable to show Fanny that affection until after he returns from Antigua.
On the other hand, the book was a lot to get through for a plot that was summed up in an hour and a half - without too many shortcuts that I really objected to. Except for it was so much less of Austen's superior storytelling. But for that, you'll have to read the books! After watching the movies. I think that will be my future plan!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Yes, the kids are still around. No, I haven't ignored them right out the house with my tight reading schedule (have to finish another by Sat. nite for book club, by the way.)

I helped in Leah's Sunday School today - eleven 3 year olds - or 3 and a half, as many of them are quick to say! Today, as Leah was handing out napkins for snack (and doing a very good job of it, too!) one kid started the song, and most of the others joined in. And what was this rousing tune that can totally engage a room full of busyness? "Jesus Loves Me"? "This Little Light of Mine"? Nope.

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".

Don't know where it came from, but it had immediate impact.

Later, at home, she told Daddy that she was going to make up her OWN Bible song. And you don't pass up a chance like that, so he said, "Oh really? How does is go?"


And she replies, very tunefully,: "Jesus is the Son....Praise God...be nice to everyone...eat all your dinner so you can get candy..."
Bribery, folks. IT WORKS.

Ben is back to his normal self after having a temp for the last couple of days. It's weird how when you are a mom, you can tell without even touching them that your kid's sick. This morning, I could tell before I got him out of crib that he was feeling better. PLUS, his eyes didn't look sick anymore...I'm a mom, NOT A SCIENTIST. DON'T ASK ME FOR FACTS.
Ben has this thing with a specific corner of our living room. He enjoys climbing underneath the end table to get up on the ottoman, usually bumping his head about 24 times. This afternoon he just stood there, enjoying the fact that it was possible for him to bump his head on the table, wall, and couch without so much as moving his feet. HAPPINESS.

He's almost two, my baby. His vocabulary has increased to saying "Nah!" for no (close, oh so close...) and, reportedly, (it was to Aaron, so I can't be sure of it actually happening...) "Dow!" for downstairs. There are more sounds in his repertoire, but these are the closest we are coming to words. Leah has been claiming to be teaching him how to say her name, which must be "Mine!" if frequency is any proof.


So there they are. Eat your hearts out.




Saturday, January 26, 2008

Number Six

I did it! I just finished Mansfield Park. And just so you know...IT'S NOT AS SHORT AS NORTHANGER ABBEY. It's definitely a more involved story, so I'm very excited to see how it is interpreted as a 1 1/2 - 2 hour movie.

And although PBS has a site on the Men of Austen, I haven't found anything yet on the ladies, and I am most anxious (can you tell I've been reading too much Austen?) to see who they've cast as the model of morality, Miss Fanny Price.

One thing I love about Jane Austen's novels... Okay, two.

One - her lead lady characters almost always reference their faith in God, although sometimes without using His actual Name...but it seems to be important to her that her heroines (and heroes, by default) have an actual faith, not just routine and knowledge. In MP especially, since the lead lad, Edmund, is to be/becomes a clergyman, faith and the nobleness of his profession are a large factor in the plot.

Two - Did any of you ladies ever read (probably in junior high or high school) the historical fiction romance novels that were titled simply with a girl's name? Each took place in some unique point of America's history...Titanic sinking, Oregon trail, post-civil war, etc. I especially remember Elizabeth, who was a Puritan girl in Salem, MA. In each book, a girl would have to choose between ...The Good One, who was her family's favorite, had money, and was a rule follower, etc. or The Bad One, who of course wasn't TOO bad, but didn't have the big bucks and/or was a rebel. Guess which she always chose? Ladies, I don't even need to say, do I? Leather jackets and motorcycles always have a more immediate, if not longer lasting, appeal than a nice Honda Civic.

Back to Austen. What I like about her novels is that the ladies always do choose The Good One. I like it because all of these romance novels (usually by extremely prolific authoresses - I read my share of Barbara Cartland! Or Danielle Steel, anyone? Come on, you know you did too!) seem to make being Good about as interesting as boiled potatoes. Which is just plain unfair. Being dependable as well as dedicated is NOT A BAD THING. And there is passion to be found there, as well. Austen's ladies know this to be true. I love that.
Another thing that I love: NEXT week is the Jane Austen biopic, and then is Pride & Prejudice, which means I'll have at least a couple weeks (more actually - I think P & P is in 3 installments)to read Emma and Sense & Sensibility. So maybe I'll start using language from the 21st Century again.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Good Mommy moment


Tonight, about 10 minutes before bed time, Leah looks at me and says, "How about a little Chutes & Ladders?" aka the game that never ends. And instead of saying, Nope, it's time for bed, I said "Sure!" I did cheat and zoom us both up to the end after having been sent to the very bottom again. In playing, I gave up about 20 minutes of reading Mansfield Park. Sometimes I am SOOO unselfish.

There's nothing...really, nothing....on TV

Did you know there's this thing called a Writer's Strike on right now? If you've turned on the Tube one evening, expecting to watch your favorite clever comedy (I'm partial to 30 Rock and The Office) and found instead Celebrity Apprentice or the new Gladiators, you've noticed. Big time.

I'm not going to write my opinion about it (except for this....in the name of everything that is good & funny, BRING BACK THE WRITERS!). What I want to know is, what have you been doing instead? Entertainment Weekly did a survey which, among other things, asked how we've been spending our time.

Watching less TV and reading more books came in at #1 & #2. I've been doing those, too. I keep a book journal, recording on one page each book I read. And because I am a bit Type A, I also keep track of how many books I read in a year. 'Cause that kind of self-achievement makes me feel good, THAT'S WHY.

I've read five books this month. So far. FIVE. Did I mention the two little monsters/sweeties that share most of my time?

What have you been doing? Listening to more music? (To me, that's something you do WHILE ALSO DOING SOMETHING ELSE) Spending more time online? Talking more with your spouse/kids? Cleaning your house? Clipping your toenails?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Because moms need MORE guilt.

This article. Maybe you've heard about this study? That drinking coffee while pregnant may increase the risk of a miscarrage? This article ticks me off. Let me tell you all the reasons why.

One of the tidbits include is that, "The nausea and vomiting of morning sickness, caused by elevated hormones, is generally a sign of a reduced risk of miscarriage" Right away, those of us who were lucky enough NOT to be sick immediately...REGRET it? What? We should be concerned if we're not puking?

Although the study the article is reporting on did seem to indicate that drinking 200ml of caffine a day (2 cups of coffee or the equivalent) or more doubled the risk of miscarriage, it also said, "Overall though, caffeine is not a major cause of miscarriage, which occurs in up to 20 percent of known pregnancies. More than 60 percent of these faulty pregnancies are due to chromosomal defects in the fetus that are beyond the mother's control." That DOES NOT mean that 40% of miscarriages are due to something within the mother's control. Included in that 40% are all issues not chromosomal - including age & previous miscarriage.

Then there is this statement, "It's too early to sound the alarm though," of course conveniently placed towards the end of the article. I would say that the national (& probably international) release of an article titled 2-cup coffee habit may double miscarriage risk is probably an alarm. How many moms/other people are going to actually read the article and get to that disclaimer? Maybe half? And the rest are ready to blame/feel guilty for any caffeine consumed.

And do moms really need that? I get so frustrated by all these studies on prenatal nutrition and its effects. The last one I remember is that eating citrus will make your baby smarter. Don't get me wrong - I'm not promoting total negligence. It's just that there are so many issues to worry about with pregnancy, I don't think the stress of worrying about everything you eat is really necessary. Can't we just encourage women to eat a healthy balanced diet and keep taking their prenatal vitamins?

If you think I'm overreacting on the guilt issue, the article wraps up with this lovely little story:
Although there's no way to know if her 3 to 4 cups of coffee habit per day played a role in the miscarriage, she said she decided to eliminate her intake during her next three pregnancies as part of her overall health plan and each one resulted in a successful birth.
Plotkin-Oren missed the social aspect of meeting friends for coffee and developed headaches from caffeine withdrawal, but overall she found it easy to kick the habit. “It wasn't that hard because I was committed to doing everything I could to ensure a successful pregnancy,” she said.

Kudos. And moms, be prepared for the advice/lecture from total strangers and family/friends alike the next time you want to enjoy your favorite caffinated beverage. Because if you DO drink that coffee or soda, of course, the logical conclusion is that YOU are NOT committed to your baby's health. Great.








Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Attention Getter

Leah is sitting next to me, babbling away while I'm fiddling on the computer. All of a sudden she looks up at me and whispers, "Don't listen to me."

Best Article Title...possibly ever.

Wait...Are you implying that I need to read this article?

How to deal with and avoid becoming a Highly Defensive Person. Also includes great reptile and dinosaur analogies.

And makes me feel much better about my own level of defensiveness. I don't even come CLOSE to these examples.

I swear, we DO know how to catch a plane

For the second time ON TWO CONSECUTIVE TRIPS Aaron and I managed to miss a flight. The differences being that this time:

1) We didn't have our luggage
2) We also didn't have our kids
3) It wasn't our fault
4)We actually got vouchers from the airline for hotel & food
5) Aaron had already taken an extra day off after our trip
6) I had an emotional meltdown

Let me also add that the missed flight was the ONLY United flight on our itinerary that left on time. And it was the last flight into Fargo for the night. Our flight leaving Vegas was delayed, so we landed with about 10 minutes until our departure time. Have you been to the Denver airport? Literally, it was about a half mile between our gates. Aaron ran the whole way, but the crazy older lady with us and I weren't able to keep up. (I did beat her, though...don't think I'm THAT out of shape!)

When we got to the gate, the poor agent got the full brunt of 3 people's frustration. Especially the crazy lady's. I just started crying.

I think it was mostly because I have a really hard time adjusting my schedule in my head (I'm a little Type A - no kidding) and I'd really planned on seeing my kids that night, albeit asleep. Instead we had to take a 30 minute shuttle to a Radission that had seen better days. And we had to wear our same clothes the next day, of course.

What really burned me up is that if our flight attendant (who was talking to passengers around us about being from ND herself!) had called our connecting flight and told them we were on our way, it all could have been avoided. ONE PHONE CALL. Aaron thinks they gave away our seats, so they were full anyway. Whatever.

That lady must have really made an impression on the gate agent, cause he pulled her out of the voucher line to get her the Radission. Then, very nicely, she insisted that we go with her. She also grabbed a couple extra toiletry kits provided for us - so now I have some nice cosmetic bags!

Our flight left the next morning at 10am, and we were in Fargo at 1pm local time. We got the big welcome at the airport from the kids - Leah was practically giddy! She did tell me right away that Grandma had cut her sandwiches into little triangles instead of BIG ones. Important stuff first.

Lesson learned: pack AT LEAST a pair of clean underwear in carry on. We each had a carry on, but they were filled with useless things like books and electronics. Also, the toiletry kits did not include a contact case or saline. So I'll be putting those in my quart-sized resealable bag.

Also - Vegas's airport security is a well-oiled machine. Not only did it move at a fairly good clip, but they had actually amusing security videos playing - with like, a fully armed Klingon trying to get through the metal detectors. And lots of other fictional characters, as well. Not bad! In Denver, we were left to our own amusements, which included Aaron doing a fine cow impression. And me imagining people dressed in 19th century outfits (would she still be pretty with her hair in a bun and no makeup or plucking? And a floor-length dress?)


Have a similar experience? What did you learn? (There has to be SOMETHING, right?)



Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey on PBS

Yes! That is the answer to your question, "Did she remember to watch it? Will she EVER post about it?"

I watched it with my two sister in laws Stephanie and Erica, and tried desperately to explain all the "who's that?" and "is HE the one she likes?" to Aaron and BIL Josh when they came in after half an hour. Josh actually stuck it out, to his credit.
I liked it! The movie might actually have improved upon the book, in that it condensed a lot of the socializing in Bath (a city, folks...) except that it makes it appear that Catherine falls for Henry after about a week, instead of two months. Also, the director added all the scenes of Catherine's Gothic fantasies - a tad bit overly-sexual, I thought, but probably not too inaccurate!

This review from the Boston Globe says it could have been longer and explored more of how John Thorpe affects her, and more of her growth of character. Sounds good. I could always use more scenes between the two lovers, but those are just "I wish...".

What did you think? Remember, next Sunday is Mansfield Park. Which I haven't read. Oh dear.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Loudspeaker at Vegas Airport Terminal

"Attention....to the Gentleman who left his false teeth and hearing aid in the restroom.....if you can hear me, please go to customer service."

In-laws with the outlaws



Okay, my in-laws aren't exactly the outlaw type. Unless it's getting a free round of golf or something. Since Erica & I were the only in-laws attending the big event, we were official photographers.


Lisa got us all motivated for a "desert hike" which had an inauspicious start at a culvert. We ended up climbing a good sized hill with crumbly rocks and cactus. SOME of the siblings stayed on the road below and got heckled by those of us who were more adventurous. Aaron insisted on jumping off of and climbing rocks, convincing his sisters that he was asking for an injury. I was a TAD bit concerned, also!
After a fancy dinner at the country club, Erica and I tried to corral the whole fam for a photo - we'll probably use a different one than this, but it's a good backup:


Quite the group! I am so lucky to have married into this family. They are all intelligent, good humored folks who know how to relax - with lots of food!
Congrats on your 50 years together, Bobbie and Clarence!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Lake Havasu

We are in the sunny south enjoying time with Aaron's family, celebrating his parents' 50th anniversary. What a joy to travel WITHOUT small children - especially when you've been doing so for several years. Suddenly we are admiring all the cute, happy children in the airports...and SO happy that we don't have to change diapers or entertain when our flight is delayed.

Havasu is a lovely 60 degrees - perfect. Still cool enough for jeans to cover my white legs, but warm enough to skip the jacket. And I believe that Fargo is having its coldest cold spell of the winter. Yay!

Yesterday we gorged ourselves at IHOP, and then took a "hike" in the hills - I'll post photos later - but my legs were NOT happy. It was fun, though, and reminded me of climbing the hills on our farm as kids. A couple of us ended up at a VW bus gathering - very cool. And then we had dinner at the country club and tried to take a nice group photo of the family - yikes. Lots of people, and several who like to make faces, JUST TO KEEP THINGS INTERESTING.

Today? Today it is the "visitor" day. Relatives are coming this evening - and I'm still hoping to get away to watch Northanger Abbey! Fortunately, I've gained some supporters. SIL Korina "loves those kinds of movies" and SIL Lisa reads JA's books- all of them- every year.

"The boys" are out golfing this morning - at 8:30am, to Aaron's chagrin. Oh, the sacrifices we make.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Love is All We Need

The kids really do play nicely with each other a majority of the time. Of course, a little licorice helps the way!

They love to chase each other down the hallway, and Ben is quickly learning the ropes of Hide & Seek, although it's easier if he always helps the Seeker, since he giggles the whole time he's hiding. And Leah yelling, "I'm hiding HERRREE" is enough of a give away.

Dancing is another favorite activity, and the preferred CD at this time is our Vacation Bible School soundtrack from last summer. Yes, oh yes, it is the music that after hearing for five days nonstop, I was hoping to never hear again. AND MY KIDS LOVE IT. Ben goes whacko dancing on the ottoman like it's a trampoline. Leah SINGS ALONG.

My ears are crying for rescue. Maybe I should try the Beatles instead?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Book: Northanger Abbey

I've had this HUGE book on my shelf for years. Like, 15 years. It's the Complete Works of Jane Austen, and I cracked it for the first time yesterday. I figured I'd better read Northanger Abbey before it's on Sunday night, and it had to be short if they're doing it in one night, right? Thankfully I did get it finished this morning, because that is NOT a copy to take on a plane, as I will be doing with an Anita Shreve novel this weekend.

It doesn't hold a candle to Persuasion, of course. What really can? But it is a totally different style of novel - a parody of the obsession with gothic novels. If it was remade, it could be a parody of CSI/Law & Order type TV shows - laden with cliches, sinister implications, every alibi questioned, etc. Our heroine, Catherine, lets her imagination get the best of her, but this is not really the entire moral of the story. There are also the necessary Austen characters: airhead aunts, false friends, loyal lovers, and men after money.

It's a cute, quick story, and I'm eager to see how MP Theater handles it. I'll be in Lake Havasu helping celebrate my parents-in-law's 50th Anniversary, so I hope I can still catch it. If not, I'll have to trust finding a recorded copy!

I just hope I don't feel compelled to read the rest of Austen's novels at the pace PBS is setting.

Truly enraptured with Austen's men? Try this!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Price of Gas

Here are some interesting accounts of those who have an excess of gas in their lives. Should make you feel better about your own situation.

Deadly Mastiff

Racquetball

Vigilanty

Just in case you thought I was getting too intellectual.

Why blog?

A few of my dear friends who are "not into this blogging thing" have graciously read mine, and this morning I had a discussion with a couple of them before Bible study. G said that it was weird because by her reading my thoughts about Persuasion, we were interacting without me really knowing about it. L said she was curious as to why anyone would want a "journal" to be read by everyone on the internet.

Of course, I told them immediately my reasons, but I'll explain again, because I think it's interesting to know the motivation behind actions in general.

On this blog, I am trying to not offend or hurt those I care about, so I'm holding back my opinions a bit. But Aaron recently cited that as a benefit of me blogging - I have a place to voice those opinions, and can't really be interrupted in my train of thought. How nice!

I do love the interaction of comments. So if you agree, disagree, or have another point of view, comment away! And, I could never do an anonymous blog without that "real life" feedback - extrinsic reward has a high value for me!

Also, as an English major (dangerous to admit, as it opens me up to all sorts of criticism!) my strength was interpretation and analyzing literature. Not writing. Since I've decided to accept and be happy that I am not pursuing my formal education, this blog is kind of an extended writing exercise.

Other bloggers have different reasons. My SIL Kate is an artist (printmaking) and knows that in her work, people want to know the artists more personally. It is instrumental to her business that she puts herself out "there". Why do YOU blog?

Diet Aide

Last night I made Taco Noodle skillet for dinner. Admittedly, it didn't turn out the best...the fine egg noodles blended in with the meat, mushrooms & olives too well...wide ones would have been better. But you know what? TOUGH.

Leah does not like her food mixed together. I know this. I also ignore it. She refused to eat more than two tiny nibbles, and then wanted the piece of candy she'd requested earlier. And that was NOT going to happen. All parties involved agreed that dinner would be eaten before bed, and if she ate it all, she could have the candy. At 7:45 we started the process. Finally, at 8:30pm she was done. After nearly making herself gag several times, and coughing a spray of partially chewed dinner over the immediate vicinity. I was having a hard time holding my own stomach contents down, while Daddy was luckily watching fools get greedy on Deal or No Deal.

And Oh, DID SHE WANT THAT CANDY. Because I'm not mean, folks. After a couple bites, she got some yogurt, of which she ate all. I said she'd had enough to eat and could quit, but no candy. She could have some tomorrow if she ate all her dinner. But, NO DEAL. She forced herself to eat every bite, and forced me to sit there and chant, "Just CHEW and SWALLOW!" over and over. She did get the candy, stubborn girl. And Daddy got to put her to bed, because I was trying to gather any enthusiasm for eating ever again.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Another Persuasion

After thinking about last night's Austen installment further, I realized it was not the same version as I had seen years ago - duh. The Captain Wentworths are totally different, and I liked the older version better, as this excerpt from The Boston Globe aptly explains:
As Anne, Hawkins is right enough. She musters dignity in the face of regret and spinsterhood, never making Anne pathetic. But Penry-Jones is far too pretty to be Wentworth. He doesn't have wisdom and pain written into the lines of his face, as did CiarĂ¡n Hinds as Wentworth in the 1995 version - indeed, he has no lines in his face.

Here's a photo of Anne & Wentworth from the '95 version, just to drive home the point:


It bothered me last night that Wentworth was too pretty. I like my Austen heroes to be a little worn by life. Except for Colin Firth, of course. He's perfect as his pretty self!

Here's a larger photo of last night's couple...now tell me, which pair looks more like an 27 yr. old lady and her over-30 lover?


Masterpiece Theater's Persuasion had a few other faults: The kiss? Austen really milks her kisses for all they're worth by saving them for the end...so let us enjoy it, and not be distracted by the spittle on Anne's lips! ACK! Move the camera back a bit! And it really does appear that Wentworth would rather not be kissing her at that moment. So, so wrong.
It was good, though...just maybe not as good as the 1995 version. Which of course I'll have to rent...just to be sure. If you want to critique with me, let me know! *Warning* I can be a bit of a movie talker...so if you like complete silence, watch it on your own!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Did you watch it?

It's only my FAVORITE Jane Austen novel, Persuasion, which was the first of her novels to be on Masterpiece Theater on PBS. Wonderful. I saw it several years ago and sat down & read the novel immediately after. Nothing like a good unrequited love gone requited.PBS also has an interview with the leading lady Sally Hawkins. Check it out!

All About Ben


Ben is probably feeling left out, since I talk so much about Leah on here, but...well...she TALKS, too! Ben is being stubborn about talking, although he makes a "rrrr" sound for cars (I think that is attached to the Y chromosome - why do boys do it, and not girls?) and is making an occasional consanant sound. This is improvement, folks, believe it or not. He's about 10 months behind in his language development.
But his motor skills are right on target, if not advanced! He has started to climb on the arm of the couch (ours are about 2 1/2 ft. off the ground!) and straddle it like a pony. Also, he bolts down the hallway as fast as his short legs can carry him, and I just hold my breath that he doesn't careen into a door frame. If you chase him, he turns around and laughs his head off.
He also dances like a maniac. I will post a video of it one of these days, cause it's truly hilarious. When he hugs Leah, he tries to pull her over. If she's laying on the ground, he'll either throw himself on her in a big hug, or sit on top of her. She digs it. And then throws him off. He only outweighs her by 10 pounds, after all!
He is a non-stop amusing boy, and like Auntie Erica said yesterday...we dont' really ever have a dull moment around here.

I'm an Old Navy kind of girl

Give me disposable fashion and bottom prices, and I'm a happy camper!



I got word from friend Stacie that our fav store was having their 50%-off-clearance-prices sale, not too be missed. Last year I went and bought stuff for the kids for this fall/winter, so I went back for a repeat.


SIL/Auntie Erica went with and helped me make the most of the time. And spent almost every penny of her $20 allotment. Five bags later, we made it home. FOUR bags were mine. I spent more than $20.
Here's the tally:


For me (not pictured!):
1 pant
1 purse (to add to my near-obsessive collection)
3 headbands
6 tops

For Leah:
16 tops
7 bottoms
1 skirt
4 dresses
2 pj sets
2 pair of socks

Leah took this photo of me "working" and displaying my receipt!




For Ben:
1 winter coat
1 pair of socks
4 pants
10 tops

plus 2 baby gifts

Let me also bemoan the fact that Old Navy carries for baby/toddler boys a FRACTION of what they carry for girls. It's really discouraging to us moms of male kiddos. I don't know if girls need THAT many more items of clothing! Do people really like to shop that much more for them? Personally, I love dressing little boys, cause you can dress them like miniature men and they don't look skanky. But that's a whole other post/rant!

Estrogen Bonanza

My good friend Christina had Estrogen Fest parties when we lived in Rochester, and since we've moved to Fargo, I've started hosting them about twice a year. No, guys, it isn't about lingerie and pillow fights! They way I do it, there is a quick mixer, eating (everyone brings a dessert or appetizer), and then a white elephant gift exchange game.
This party was Fabulous. 15 of my friends & family came, and we had such a gorgeous pink & brown polka dot theme. Mom made her fantastic sour cream cut-out cookies, and even decorated them to match my party! I think everyone was afraid to eat them. Not Leah! She even had one reserved to eat later.
Here's our most-traded item: hand-cut Chinese note cards. Mom finally won them - then gave them to me! SCORE!! I'm thinking of framing them, since I have an Asian motif in our living room. Most Obnoxious gift: baby bobble-head photo frame - with no photo. Real baby curtousy of attendee friend Angie!
The mixer was People bingo - the board is full of items like, "was born out of state" and you have people sign a box that fits them. So anyway. Auntie Erica was, ahem, CHEATING by having Leah sign a box, "loves to bake", on her card. They were trying to find another one for her and couldn't, so Leah suggested that they add one that said, "favorite color is pink". Clever girl! She was NOT present for the whole party!
Fun was had by all, and I'm so glad! Thanks for coming, ladies, and extra thanks to Tara who kept me company & helped clean up! See you next time!


Friday, January 11, 2008

It's the STUFF

The other day, while Leah was playing on the computer, I amused myself by opening 2 packs of scrapbooking paper and 3 envelopes of stickers and putting them away. Just for the heck of it. And I enjoyed every second. I can't decide if it's because I am enjoying the fruits of being hyper-organized, since I just recently went through EVERY scrap of paper and strip of stickers in my files, sorted, & reorganized them, or if it's just because I like to look at the colors and touch the materials.



And as I briefly described this scene to Mom, she was giving me this LOOK. That look that says, "Who ARE you?" Until I reminded her of her stacks of boxes of quilting fabric. THEN she got it!

I think part of the appeal of scrapbooking for me is the materials themselves. I know that I will never catch on to online scrapbooking, cause "point & click" is just not as much fun as "snip & tape". It's tactile. And real. And doesn't involve a computer.

Quilters get it. They don't just buy fabric for one quilt. They buy fabric they love and hope to make a quilt...someday...that will use it. I don't really know about other crafts or hobbies. And this may just be a girl thing...I don't know if guys stock up on wood or car parts...wait. YES. They DO! Or at least the guys I'M related to.

So tell me, do you stockpile? What is it? Where is it? How do you justify it? Sometimes I think I shouldn't buy any more paper or stickers until I use up everything I already have. But that's just SILLY. What if that next pack has the PERFECT thing for this page?

Arts & Sciences

My SIL Kate contributed the Chromium print to this periodic table made with work by artists using a variety of mediums. I think it is an incredibly cool project, and immediatly thought that any science or art teacher should have one in their classroom. Yes, it's been 4 years since I've had my OWN classroom, but I can't stop thinking about them!



So far, I haven't seen any info on prints being for sale...Kate, can you enlighten us?
Click here to see the web page of the project.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

All About Leah

The other day I was taking some pictures of the kids, which Leah took as her cue to whine about wanting to take photos HERSELF. I said, "Okay, only 3, though," and then left to put Ben down for his nap. It took a bit longer than expected, and when I came back, Leah was still snapping away. We went through them together, and I marveled privately at what a 3 year old can find to take photos of when no one is in the room. There were FIVE photos of the afghan from about a foot away. FIVE. And this afghan was just lying there. Not posing, or doing anything exceptionally cute. All told, I deleted thirty photos. Not this one, though.

Thought it was pretty cute, actually.
At lunch yesterday, Leah told my mom,
"I want to be a firefighter, a doctor, a princess,
and a photographer when I grow up."

Leah also invented sign language for taco:
Her little finger is tucked under the others, if you don't have microscopic vision.
Here's the story she told everyone at church about her coat: "Grandma Bobbie made it for me, but first all my girl cousins wore it." What she DIDN'T say is that her oldest girl cousin is 26 years old. It's a family heirloom.
Yesterday we thought Leah seemed extra tired, but chalked it up to waking early and having gymnastics start again. This morning, Aaron woke me up (after generously getting up with the kids) saying, "Leah has pink-eye." We made an early appointment with our pediatrician, quickly showered and bathed, and were off - and now Leah has her FIRST presciption. You read right. Well, the first that we'll actually use, anyway.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Not MY house anymore....

Before I get into my topic anymore...dinner last night was stir fry, with questionable mushrooms. I mean, they were slimy a bit, not that I picked them myself out yonder. Thanks for your concern!


Now then:
Since we've had our two kids, there have been a couple instances when it really sinks in that this is OUR house, not MINE. Or Aaron's, for that matter. Things happen that I'm rather confident neither of us did. It's like a fairy visits for a moment then disappears, because the culprit is nowhere near the scene. And these are not really NAUGHTY moments, either.

For instance:
Can you see that? That is a Pooh bear laying on the handle under our kitchen sink. How did it get there? Fairies, I believe.

Or the other distinct visit from fairies, which happened coincidentally just when Leah was old enough for me to leave her in the family room downstairs unattended. On this occasion, I was trying to fit a book in its drawer, where USUALLY it would fit just fine. This time it didn't. I thought, "something must be back there..." and proceeded to pull out a stuffed puppy. A PUPPY. Why? Fairies.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Dinner?

What do you do for dinner when you forgot to plug in the crock-pot? And you already were halving the cooking time by using high instead of low temp? Ummm......

Rant: Space Aliens restaurant

First of all, let me say something positive: I am having a blast with this blog, and it makes it so much MORE fun when you read it and tell me you enjoyed it! So please do!:)




On to the subject of this rant.


Where: Space Aliens, apparently a kid mecca on level with Chucky Cheese.

When: today (kids eat free AND get free tokens for the rip-off games)

Who: 12 moms plus an average of 1.5 kids per mom. Lots. All moving. Nonstop.



I was the first to arrive. I've never been here before, and so was a bit disoriented. It might have had something to do with the decor and that Ben kept escaping to watch the big screen TV in the bar. (Warning for the future, I guess.) The "host" asked if he could help me, and we had the following conversation:




Me: Um, I'm meeting some others here...from MOMS club...I don't know if any are here...

Him: (blank look)



Him: How many will there be?

Me: I don't really know...a lot..

Him: (blank stare)

Him: Do you know how many?

Me: No - is there a party room or something we could use?

Me, after talking to another MOM: About 10 moms, plus kids?

Him: Okay. (then leaves for 10 minutes.)



Okay, so I wasn't exactly helpful, but come ON! You work at a kids restaurant, on a kids-eat-free day - help a mom OUT, here! Suggest something! ANYTHING! Halfway thro I was ready to leave.


So, we did get the party room. Our waitress did a pretty darn good job, considering the circus milling about. However, it took about 45 min. for us to get our food. On free pizza day. Shouldn't they have about 40 of those ready to go at opening?


While we waited (have you ever waited with a 20month old for food?!) we went to the game room with our coupons for free tokens. The machine wouldn't take them. The same "host" had to come redeem them for my friend and I, and every time he got one to work, he'd look up like, "See, isn't this easy? Aren't I SMART?" I just want the tokens, buddy, so I can quiet the whining for a few seconds. (I'm aware that I sound a lot like a druggie here...it's not a bad comparison, actually.)


The food was good, the kids ate well, and the rest was okay. I got home TWO HOURS later.

No, honey, this was most definitely NOT a party.


Did I mention that Leah and her best friend M had an arguement about whether or not Leah was a big girl? That had Leah in tears? M is taller, but Leah is older by DAYS. Leah's closing statement: "And MY mommy calls me the OLDEST." Take that!


Monday, January 7, 2008

Princesses


Daddy: "I told some people today at work that you liked princesses."

Leah: (totally unimpressed with the fact that she got mentioned at work) "Did you tell them that I like Sleeping Beauty best?"

Daddy: "I said that I thought you might like Belle best."

Leah: "Next time, tell them that I like Sleeping Beauty best, cause she has a pink dress. That's the BEST way to tell them."


Bedtime Prayer

At Auntie Ruth's request - more Leah-isms:


Leah's prayer at bedtime tonight: "Dear God, thank you for this wonderful day. And thank you for letting mommy let me play on the computer. Amen."



As a helper in Leah's 3 year old's Sunday School class I have watched her turn down Mrs. Hellevang TWICE when asked to pray over the snack. So she started praying at bedtime, just to get used to it. However, just recently she has been asking to pray on her own, and not repeat after me. They are very interesting, but always start with "Thank you for this wonderful day..." and I love that she's able to think of every day as wonderful!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Movie: Juno

Saw this movie over Christmas with my sister Ruth and SIL Kate. I think we left with different impressions, although Really, I DID like the move, girls! Enough to NOT like this lady in our local paper who wrote these odd things in an opinion article titled Juno’ more comedic fairytale than coming-of-age narrative :

Discount her pregnancy and the movie character, Juno MacGuff is the girl every teenager wants to be. A junior in high school who is pretty and precocious, sardonic and superior, clever and oh-so-cutely crude, she is one kid who not only knows the score but also knows herself.

Let me add also that she dresses in a very cute thrift-store style, wears a ponytail throughout the ENTIRE movie, no makeup, and has apparently exactly two friends, one of which impregnated her. Sounds like exactly the kind of life every girl wants...oh wait, what's that you say? Princesses are still the thing? Yes, she is everything quoted above also...so terrible, I'm sure.

With Juno’s experience as a bench mark, teenage girls could be excused for thinking that pregnancy is a little tough, but everyone important in your life – dad, step mom, best friend, boyfriend – loves you all the more because of it. They are there for you every step of the way, and if they fall short once or twice, they feel doggone bad about it.

Um, is this really THAT unrealistic? And is this supposedly conservative writer trying to DISSUADE girls from maintaining their pregnancies? Yes, yes, not every pregnant teen has a support system- but surely some of them might.

Unlike most pregnant teenagers, Juno’s the one in the driver’s seat. She even picks the adoptive parents for her baby from a “penny-saver ad” and her parents seem to think that’s fine.

I think the point of movies is to present characters that aren't necessarily average. Also, maybe that's one of the points of the movie, that she did take control, and that's what helps her deal with it. AND, her folks did go with and make sure everything was legit!

Her boyfriend... Michael Cera who manages to give personality to the role of a darned-near perfect teenage boy. (He’s a great student, a track star, and the only one who thinks sex was his idea. Oh, and he loves her through it all.)

As a fan of adolescents, I don't think this is shocking description.

Adoption takes care of the baby, and back to normal again, Juno puts her guitar over her shoulder, jumps on her bike, and rides over to Paulie’s house where the two of them jam the day away, just like before. (Fade to the credits.)

Isn't this the selling point of adoption - that afterwards you can "get back to normal"? The movie doesn't exactly show every minute of that summer, and I thought the point of that scene was their relationship, not the adoption.


Here's the rest of the article if you want your own rant.

In Christ Alone

This is one of my favorite hymns, and we sang it in church this morning! It basically summarizes the gospel message, and then wraps it up with this verse, which always makes me choke up with thankfullness.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

More more lyrics and a bit of the tune, click here.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Name Confusion

From brother-in-law Mike: Liz or Lyz? Jane Austin? or Aaron Tarzan you Jane- Calamity Jane- Dick & Jane? I'm confused......

I named my blog "Jane" because: 1)I didn't want to use our family name in the title and 2) Mike, HELLO! did you read the subtitle? Yes, it's for Jane Austen - not that I really think of myself as a second J.A., but more because her character Elizabeth from Pride & Prejudice reminds me of myself -stubborn, and talks before thinking sometimes. And, I also love Jane Eyre, who had an amazing faith (for a fictional character!) and didn't make any apologies for it.


I use Lyz & Liz interchangeably. Here's why.

In high school I felt like I had a split personality. At school I was super quiet and pretty much your typical bookworm/nerd. But outside of school, I had a lot of friends in 4-H (don't laugh! I loved it!) and from different churches, who I'd see at retreats and summer camp. So I was a big letter-writer. My sister recently told me that if I had been a teenager now, I would have been big on IMing...very true.

So, I finally acknowledged that it was okay that I had two different "personalities" and decided to signify it by spelling my name "Lyz" when writing my friends. I went to college, and my more outgoing side stuck, and I continued to use it. Then I got used to typing it, and my dad likes it, so I held on to it. Friends get concerned that they are spelling it wrong, but really, I don't have a preference.

Army Men
















Leah says, "I know one thing about soldiers - that some of them are holding corn and dancing!"

Thanks for the gift, Uncle Dave!


Mini Golfer

Ben is a gifted golfer. All fans are advised to sit in the gallery. Anyone lounging on the course should be aware that the child has a mighty follow-through.

His father should be happy now - I've posted proof that Ben follows the family of fanatic golfers.

Friday, January 4, 2008

New Birth

Dear friends and family, I have a new baby. It's the sweetest little thing, and although a bit underweight as of yet, my hope is that it grows plumper every day, and that it will also allow me plenty of time to sleep, eat, and play with its older siblings. Its father also expects attention (and a hot meal) occasionally.

I love to show it off, so please just drop by any old time - don't bother to call first. Really, you won't be interrupting.

Hereby Decided

The 2008 inaugural meeting of the Salem Secular book club (or whatever we call ourselves) hereby has established:

A. The next meeting to be February 2nd (Ilene's birthday) at Carol's house.
1. Book is Three Cups of Tea, about an Afghani who builds either roads or schools, or both...
2. We will have another book exchange, and hobbit-style, give presents to each other on someone's birthday. Wrap a book (new or used) that you think someone else might enjoy.
3. Carol will make creme brulee.

B. March's meeting will be Saturday the 15th, at an unestablished location... Kim's. :)
1. Book is Imperial Woman, by Pearl S. Buck, and takes place in China. Will discuss in anticipation of our fellow members' trip to East Asia at the end of the month.

C. The next books after that shall be, with dates as yet unassigned:
April - Wicked by Gregory Maguire (book on which the hit Broadway musical is based - backstory of the witches from Oz)
May - Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier - same author as The Girl with the Pearl Earring
June - The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon (a Pulitzer winning author, although we're not sure if it's for this book or not)

D. Also recommended/discussed:
1. If you liked Girl with a Pearl Earring (or even if you didn't), check out the youth book Chasing Vermeer (rec. by Star) that has a DaVinci Code style without all that bothersome heresy. Or, The Girl in Hyacinth Blue (rec. by Liz) which traces the history of a fictional Vermeer painting.

2. Good movies for kids - Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson & the dreamy Colin Firth), Ratatouille (a slug of CGI-animated rats), The Water Horse (boy befriends the Lochness Monster)

3. Not good for kids - Monster House (deceptive animated movie -the house REALLY DOES eat people.)

4. There may be actual medical reasons for the prevalence of certain old wives' tales.

5. Liz will host a showing of Becoming Jane at some point in the near future.

6. PBS will be showing ALL of Jane Austen's books as movies during Masterpiece Theater Sunday nights starting very soon. Darell R. will be recording.

Meeting adjourned.