Monday, October 30, 2006

The lame walk, the blind see, and the deaf hear

In this case, those are all the same person: me. I received 3 phone calls today, the first 2 within 30 minutes of each other. The first was from the local Fleet Feet store to let me know the shoes I ordered about a month ago had come in. My current pair of tennis shoes fit very poorly and were actually a bit too big; plus I have been having a lot of heel pain on one foot (basically plantar fasciitis). The folks there were able to fit me with a good orthotic insert to help with the heel pain, plus a shoe that is suited to my particular walking style. The difference in how these shoes feel on my feet as compared to my old ones is like night and day.

Call number 2 was from the optical store. My replacement contact lens arrived this morning. My peripheral vision has returned!

The final call was about an hour or so later… this one was from the local hearing center. I was recently approved for hearing aids to treat a hearing loss that I’ve actually had since I was a child. So as of this afternoon, I am hearing sounds I may have never heard before, or at least ones I haven’t heard in a long time. I’ll be wearing them for a week and then going back to see if we need to make any adjustments to the program. These hearing aids are high-tech… they are basically mini-computers. We can hook them up to a computer while they are in my ears in order to figure out what the best settings will be. After that, I don’t have to mess with them at all… they automatically adjust to all different kinds of noise situations. Cool, huh?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Falling back

The kids are all bathed and in bed for the night. It should be pretty easy to wake them up in the morning, since they'll be getting an extra hour of rest. I'm really looking forward to that hour (if my automatic body alarm will let me have it).

We had a good day today. I took the younger kids to see Flicka, and they all enjoyed it. Most reviewers didn't care for it, so of course, I liked it. I guess when it comes to movies, I'm just not too hard to please. I liked seeing Tim McGraw... since I never saw Friday Night Lights, this was my first time seeing him on the big screen. I just hated that we didn't get to hear him sing until the movie was over. My Little Girl is the neatest song.

Noah spent a good part of the evening at the piano; he is starting to take an interest in it. I guess it's time to look for a teacher. One more thing to add to our schedule! Hopefully I can find one that does daytime lessons... maybe even one that comes to us. That would be ideal. Halle is asking for lessons as well. I think it will be neat to have kids playing the piano again (Emily took 3 years of lessons and then quit.)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Straight Up

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for agreeing to review it here on my blog.

Straight Up is a book about 2 women (cousins) dealing with the losses life has handled them in very different ways. Georgia is a musician, the daughter of a deceased jazz pianist; her cousin Fairly is an interior designer whose parents were killed in a car crash while she was in college. The book is told in first-person narrative throughout most of it, jumping back and forth between Fairly and Georgia, with occasional third-person prose about characters named Clarissa and Mary Margaret.

I had high hopes for this book. After all, one of the main characters was a musician, and I love music. It really wasn't one of those books that grabs a person right away. By the author's own admission she shies "away from the 'bang out of the starting gate' formula," feeling that it gives the reader a "chance to get to know the character a bit more." I'll have to admit that the first person narrative does enable a person to see the characters perhaps more deeply than in a book written in the omniscient third person. One of my favorite parts of the book was a very simple 2-line statement by one of the characters:

People see me as a birdbath.
I am a well.
Maybe it was because I related to that particular characterization. But that was about all I could relate to. I couldn't connect with much else in the characters' lives.

I did have a hard time getting into the book, but by about 1/3 of the way through, I knew I had to finish it. However, this isn't a book with a neat and tidy ending, where all your questions get answered. I probably had as many questions after I finished as I had when I started. I can't say I hated the book, but it also didn't leave me wanting to tell all my friends to read it.

Apparently, I am in the minority. The bulk of the reviews I read at Amazon are full of accolades and high praise. This isn't one I'll be rereading, as I am often prone to doing with favorite reads.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

TGIF (almost)

Can I say I am really glad the weekend is almost here? Even though it will be a weekend with no hubby (the one moonlighting weekend he does a month), I am looking forward to having at least one day where there are no *have to* things to do. No driving to school, no school at home, some easy no-fuss meals, time to read some books or play games with the kids....

Tomorrow we were going to go see the tall ships, but the 2 other families who were going to go with us can't make it any longer, so we probably aren't going to go now. Unless I wake up feeling quite different about it, anyhow.

It has been an incredibly long week. Brian had some majorly long days at work, not even getting home until 7pm or later on several of them (that is pretty late, considering he gets there before 6am). Lots of stressful things going on there. Then I went and lost a contact lens yesterday morning. So now I'm wearing my glasses and wishing mightily that I could just have LASIK done on my badly near-sighted eyes. I hate my peripheral vision being nothing but a blur.

Oh, I did get to see The Prestige this week... now there's a movie that has you scratching your head a bit! I love Christian Bales; he was great. Hugh Jackman wasn't half bad, either. And Michael Caine rarely disappoints. Two unexpected pleasures: David Bowie in a totally un-Ziggy Stardust role and Andy Serkis, decidedly un-Gollumlike.

Here's some stuff I've come across in the last week or so:

Monday, October 23, 2006

Moving on up

We just got back from Halle and Joel's gymnastics class, where Halle was given her "promotion certificate" to the next level class. We were both very excited, because we had no clue she was that close to moving up. Honestly, had she had her usual instructor tonight, she probably wouldn't have; but tonight's fill-in coach was 100% better in terms of really working with her in the areas that she'd been struggling with. Her regular instructor just tended to move on to other skills without really helping Halle out. I'm not sure who her new instructor will be, but I hope she's more like the one she had tonight. The other great thing about moving up is that it reunites her with a classmate who had moved into the new level tonight. The girls are quite thrilled at getting to be together again.

Backing up a bit to Saturday.... I know I've already blogged about Halle's party, but I forgot to mention one gift. One of the neighbor kids gave her a Happy Bunny shirt. Anyone familiar with Happy Bunny knows he is known for rather insulting comments. This one said, "It's not my fault your icky." A fairly mild insult as Happy Bunny insults go... what had me gaping in shock was the fact that this shirt was mass-produced with such a glaring spelling error! Yeah, I tend to be a stickler for that kind of stuff. Like the shirt I saw at Mervyn's last Christmastime that said, "Santa's disapointed in me." Wow. I am just amazed at how spelling has deteriorated. I guess newspapers don't even rely on spell-check these days... a headline last week mentioned "Tukey Day." So now you know one of my pet peeves.

Big news here is that we may get to go tour a "tall ship" later this week. There will be a couple of them docked in Rio Vista later this week and part of next. One of them was used as The Interceptor in Pirates of the Caribbean. The kids are looking forward to it.

Time to do a little picking up before getting the kids in bed. Then I can settle in to watch my favorite new show of the season, Heroes. Sorry Lost fans, but Heroes beats your show all to pieces. If you haven't had a chance to see it yet, there are "2-minute replays" at the website to bring you up to speed; plus the latest episode is available in its entirety.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Another Saturday night

But I guess I should back up a bit, since I haven't posted since Wednesday.

Before I knew it, it was Friday. The younger kids were looking for something fun to do after school, so Brian was going to take them to the "jump house." Unfortunately, it was closed, so they opted for bowling. Meanwhile, I picked up Emily from school and made a stop at PetSmart to get food and bedding for the rat. While I was in the store, she was making phone calls to her friends in Antioch, arranging a night at the movies. So Friday night found Brian and the 3 youngest going out for pizza and getting movies/games at Blockbuster, while I drove about an hour to Antioch so Emily could watch The Grudge 2 with Sam and Dan (Samantha and Daniella). Thankfully, there was something I wanted to see starting just 5 minutes before their movie. I got to watch Man of the Year. It was pretty fun. Robin Williams' character really was likeable, despite some of his liberal leanings. The whole message about how politics and government representation has become more about owing favors to special interest groups and less about doing what those being represented need is certainly one I can agree with.

I spent the first part of this morning folding a couple of baskets of laundry. As I folded, I watched The Lake House. Good movie... I figured out part of the puzzle before it was revealed, but that didn't take away from the enjoyment. After the laundry was done, I had just enough time to shower and take Emily shopping for a costume for "Costume Day" for Spirit Week at school next week. From there, we headed to the gymnastics gym for Halle's birthday party. None of Halle's friends from church made the drive over, but we did have 4 kids from our street, a friend from her gymnastics class, and a brother and sister pair we have gotten to know recently through meeting online and at bowling. That made for a total of 10 kids running and playing in the gym. They all had a great time and I felt good for Halle that she had such a nice turnout.

Later in the evening, Halle and Noah accompanied me and Brian to the duck pond on base to feed the ducks and geese and take a walk around it. We came home and ate leftovers for dinner and then managed to hang a few pictures in the family room before time to help the little ones with their Saturday night baths.

I'm ready to take it easy for the rest of the night.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Where has it gone?

I can’t believe I haven’t been back to write since the weekend. Guess that’s some indication of how time has been flying around here. Between running here and there, I haven’t had much time for more than the basics: school, laundry, church (not necessarily in that order).

Math is the big hit here this week. All of the kids are diving into new lessons with eagerness. We’re still in the ancient Middle East (Assyrians and Babylonians) this week in history. The boys were quite interested in the bloodthirsty Assyrian kings and liked the story of Sennacherib’s and his army dying mysteriously in their sleep. We finished up a study of birds and began mammals today, with our first lesson on apes. Everyone now knows how to tell the difference between a monkey and an ape. Our read-aloud book is about an English missionary to China named Gladys Aylward. Of course, the boys’ favorite parts so far have been the beheadings. Boys.

Tuesday night I attended another Parent Information Night held by Emily’s English teacher. I’d love to join a book club with this lady. She would be so much fun, not to mention a fount of knowledge. The kids have just begun reading William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies. I remember reading it my senior year in high school. It rather surprises me that the kids are reading it as freshmen, but from all I learned last night, they will get so much more out of it than I ever did (and I *loved* lit class). Because she can teach from a Christian perspective, there is just so much more her students will get to discuss and process.

Tonight was praise team rehearsal. Now that we are short a tenor, I have been filling in that spot. Some songs are a bit tough for me, as they are just a tad low. I’m missing singing alto, but all this low singing is actually helping out my higher range. I should be able to sub for just about any part but bass now.

Meanwhile, when I get a chance, I try to read a few pages (or more of some books I got in the mail over the weekend: The Sisters Grimm: Fairytale Detectives (actually, I already finished this one), The Sisters Grimm: The Unusual Suspects, The Lambkins (finished), and Contagious Joy (that one is one I got as part of my membership in the Women of Faith Association).

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Feels like old times

The kids and I had a good day yesterday. Emily had an early out day (11:30 a.m.) and we drove thru Burger King on the way home. Once we finished lunch, the kids and I got the main floor of the house picked up and vacuumed, and cleaned the kitchen table and counters. This was all stuff I needed to do during the week, but just didn’t get done because of all the other running around we were doing. Seems like all I could manage to keep up this week was laundry.

Brian was having a really long day at work, so we had to leave for the Country Fair at Em’s school before he got home. It was very windy and chilly, but the kids didn’t complain. Emily was working a shift at the arm wrestling booth; I didn’t get a chance to see her do her thing. The kids played a few games, including a basketball shooting game where they each walked off with a goldfish prize. Guess we’ll be headed to PetSmart later for some food and a bowl. Right now, they are in one of my Southern Living hurricanes. (I imagine my friend Martha, who sells Southern Living at Home, would be somewhat amused at that.) Brian met us there shortly after 6 and I had to leave by 6:30, as I was going to a Mary Kay gathering on base at 7.

Now this is the fun part. The whole reason I was going to this Mary Kay thing is that a friend from back home in Omaha was here for it. She is a sales director and has consultants all over the place, including a brand new one here on base. She called me earlier this week to tell me she was coming out to California this weekend and wondered if I was anywhere near where she was going to be. Needless to say, we were both pretty thrilled to find out she was going to be just 15 minutes from my house! I was able to bring her back to our house after the evening was over to visit for a bit, and then took her back to her hotel. Now Robin has earned the title of first Omaha guest in our home. It was so much fun to see her; I felt like I was my old self around her and had a ball chatting and laughing. It was the first time I felt like that while being here in California.

Brian and the 2 big kids have already left for their day at Six Flags Marine World with the church youth group. I’ll be taking the younger 2 to the movies later. We’ll grab the fish food and accessories on our way home.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Is it Friday yet?

It has been one hectic week; I’m ready for the weekend. Brian is going to Six Flags with the 2 older kids on Saturday, while I’ll be looking for something fun to occupy the younger ones. They’re asking to see Open Season again; for lack of anything else, we might just do that.

Had a nice dinner at Benihana tonight. It was a little disappointing, coming just 2 months after a great meal at Kobe Japanese Steakhouse when we were in Omaha. The food wasn’t quite as flavorful. Joel was looking for the “fire”… the chef told him they aren’t allowed to do that at this restaurant; they have to remodel before they can make flames on the grill.

For your weekend enjoyment:

YouTube is still a source of humor and amazement. What do you want to be when you grow up? And how about Pachelbel’s Canon in D…. on the electric guitar, no less.

While we’re on the subject of music, check out this “Young Person’s Guide to the Chorus.” Hat tip to Clarissa for this one.

From the food files: Philip posts that “anything’s good when you deep fry it.” Does that really apply to Coca-Cola? And at the Dark M&M website, a fun game that involves using pictorial clues to identify 50 “dark” movies. I found 48 on my own and had to Google for the last 2.

I’m still scratching my head at this “outreach” idea. Thanks to Mike the EyeGuy.

Seen at A Room of My Own, a nifty art education and appreciation game. I’ve been looking for one of these; thanks for mentioning it.

VeryMom is just organizing her stuff with JOYS (Just Organize Your Stuff). Looks very interesting. Now who will come and do it for me?

And last, but not least: With the new regulations on liquids and gels, what’s the final word on what you can take in your carryon luggage when you’re flying the friendly skies?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Happy Hump Day

Sorry I haven't posted since the weekend. We've been going 90-to-nothing here.... running Em to school, coming home and doing school here, going to playzones and parks, heading off to gymnastics classes...

So tomorrow is Halle's birthday. We are having a small family celebration tomorrow night, going to Concord to the Benihana there. Then next weekend, Halle is having a party at the gymnastics gym. Hopefully she'll have a good turnout for that. I know it will be more fun for her than if only a very few are able to come. I still haven't wrapped the gifts for tomorrow night; I guess I will get started on that before I go to bed tonight.


Every now and then, I think to look at my blog stats to see where people are visiting from and what kind of search strings have led unsuspecting searchers to my site. I think this string I found the other day (from Sunday, Oct. 8) has to be the best one yet: "how to unstick mating dogs." Whoever the poor soul in Cleveland, Ohio, was.... I sure hope they solved that problem. Sorry I wasn't much help. I'm still trying to figure out just why that search landed you here to begin with!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Weekend recap

It's been a nice weekend. I got most of the shopping for Halle done yesterday; there may be one more thing left to get before Thursday. While I was out (or in the house working on other stuff) Brian and the 3 younger kids worked out in the backyard. Incredibly, they were able to get the entire yard covered with the mulch. They even left a small space for a flower garden. They may work on it tomorrow.

Today we welcomed 2 new shepherds and 5 deacons to our church. I believe each of these men will serve wholeheartedly and welcome the chance to learn from them.

We changed things up a bit tonight and I got to take Emily to youth group while Brian stayed home with the others. I used the time alone to go to Barnes & Noble and read a bit. I read almost all of Velvet Elvis, but stopped just a few chapters from the end. I'm supposed to be borrowing this book from a friend and want to take notes as I read it the next time. Then I picked out a couple of books for Halle (Judy Moody, M.D.) and Noah (Harry Houdini, Master of Magic) before heading out to pick up Emily.

Tomorrow the kids and I are meeting up with our old backyard neighbors at a "jump house" (place with a bunch of inflatable bounce houses) and to lunch. We'll pick Em up from school on our way home from all that. Then we'll have gymnastics in the evening. Mondays are always a little hectic.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday night lights

Emily is at her first high school football game tonight. I'll be picking her up in a little while. She's bringing a friend from school home to spend the night, and then tomorrow I'll be taking them to the mall. I'll probably do some shopping for Halle's birthday while I'm out. We've only managed to find one thing for her so far.

We had 12 yards of bark/mulch delivered to the driveway today. That will be the other big weekend chore. Thankfully it is a long weekend for Brian. He has Monday off, so he can work on the yard then if he still needs to. I have no idea how long it will take to move that much bark from the driveway to the back yard.

I've discovered that we aren't getting all the emails from Emily's school. I don't know why, but they aren't making it to us and we're missing out on a lot of information. Case in point: the Annual Fund dinner that is being held in a month. We knew it was coming up, but didn't know when tickets went on sale. Apparently, they have been on sale for a while already and today was the last day for the $10/couple discount. This was in a weekly bulletin email sent out last Thursday... one we didn't get, but that Emily's friend's mom forwarded to me this evening. I know the emails aren't going to our spam folders. I'm not sure what's up, but I will be checking into it next week.

Time to go pick up Emily.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

It takes a little rain

Yesterday marked the first rainfall since May. It was nice... it wasn't a downpour, but a very light rain. Just enough to get things a little wet. I sure am glad we're getting some bark to cover the back yard this weekend, though. We need to get it done before the big rains hit and we wind up with a gigantic mud-wrestling pit in the back. Brian's bonus pay came through this week and we'll be using some of it to cover that expense. The rest is earmarked for debt reduction.

Tomorrow an a/c repair company is coming to look at our a/c units. Apparently there is a drain that comes out one side of the house that was/is leaking rusty-colored water. It has stained the outside wall of the house and the concrete walk directly underneath that drainspout. Thankfully, we don't have to pay for this visit/repair. I am interested in finding out the cause, though.

Hoping to find time for something fun this weekend. Brian has Monday off because of Columbus Day. It will be nice to have him around.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Spare me

The kids and I went bowling this afternoon after school. We met another homeschooling mom and her 3 kids at the base bowling alley. This was our first time meeting and the kids seemed to hit it off well. I only bowled 1 game, while the kids bowled 2. I am definitely out of practice! I did manage to get a couple of strikes and a spare, but also threw several gutter balls. If there's one thing I am, it's consistently inconsistent. Anyhow, hopefully we'll be able to get together once a week or so with them for the kids to hang out together, even if it's just to play at the park.

I did get the dog from this morning returned to his owner. It turns out he isn't new after all. The only reason we didn't know he existed before the last few days is that he is usually in some kind of cage outside. His owner thinks he has figured out a way out of it. We'll be fortifying our side of the fence in case this continues.

Mending fences

Well, I guess it's not really a fence that needs to be mended... more like the ground beneath it. When I went out in the backyard with Campbell this morning, we had a "guest" waiting for us. Apparently some neighbors behind us got a new pet recently and yesterday he and Campbell were trying to get to know each other under the fence. We filled in an area with rock/boulders where the dogs had been digging to get to each other. I'm guessing these folks must have left their guy out last night, which gave him lots of uninterrupted time to create a new way over here. He's a tiny fellow.... looks to be a Miniature Pinscher. It wasn't light out enough for me to see where he could have gotten in at and lights aren't on in that house, so I don't feel like I can go over to their house yet. He won't let me pick him up (well, he did once, but then starting yelping and biting at my hands). So Campbell has to stay out of the backyard until I can find a way to return this guy to his family.

It's always something.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Busy, birthdays, boring....

It's been a busy few days. Sundays are always full because of church and youth group; Mondays are busy due to Brian's lay counselor class and Halle & Joel's gymnastics classes. Today was less busy as far as "things" go, but still plenty of stuff to do once we finished with school for the day. I got a load of laundry folded and put away, plus made lunch for everyone, cleaned the kitchen, and vacuumed the downstairs carpet. Got all that done before 2:30, when we left to pick Emily up from school.

Halle's birthday is coming up in a little over a week. We still need to shop for her. Thoughtful child that she is, she has provided us with a list. Most prominent on the list are assorted Pixel Chix items. Hopefully we'll be able to attend to this matter by this weekend.

You can wake up and go back to what you were doing now.

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