Friday, February 5, 2016

Blogkeeping -- Spring 2015

No big deal, I've only been putting this off for like six months...

Movies watched from December 2014 (bottom) to July 2015 (top).  Verdict:  Catching up with DreamWorks animation like I do for some reason, and LOTS of Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock!

Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast *** 1/2 • Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return *** • Oz the Great and Powerful [r] *** 1/2 • My Best Friend's Wedding [r] *** 1/2 • My Big Fat Greek Wedding [r] *** 1/2 • The Muppets' Wizard of Oz *** • Return To Oz [r] **** • Dorothy In the Land of Oz [r] ** 1/2 • The Wiz [r] *** 1/2 • Journey Back to Oz [r?] *** • The Wizard of Oz [r] ***** • A Deadly Adoption * 1/2 • Far From the Madding Crowd (2015) ***** • The Prestige [r] ***** • Inside Out ***** • Jurassic World ***** • 30 Rock (Season 7) *** • Sherlock (Season 3) ***** • 30 Rock (Season 6) *** 1/2 • Live Free Or Die Hard ** 1/2 • 30 Rock (Season 5) *** 1/2 • The Professional ** 1/2 • Daredevil (Season1) *** 1/2 • Unbroken *** 1/2 • Big Eyes **** • Tomorrowland *** 1/2 • Survivor: Worlds Apart (Season 30) *** 1/2 • Grimm (Season 4) *** • The Amazing Race (Season 26) **** • The Big Year **** • Gotham (Season 1) *** • Bates Motel (Season 3) *** 1/2 • 30 Rock (Season 4) *** 1/2 • Veronica Mars [r] **** • Argo *** 1/2 • Song of the Sea **** • 30 Rock (Season 3) *** 1/2 • Middlemarch ** 1/2 • Zero Dark Thirty *** 1/2 • Broadchurch (Series 2) ** 1/2 • Romy and Michele's High School Reunion *** • 30 Rock (Season 2) *** 1/2 • Into the Woods (Regent's Park) **** • Never Let Me Go *** 1/2 • 30 Rock (Season 1) *** • Into the Woods [r] **** 1/2 • Parks and Recreation (Season 7) ***** • Parks and Recreation (Season 6) **** 1/2 • Parks and Recreation (Season 5) **** • Parks and Recreation (Season 4) **** • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 [r] **** • Parks and Recreation (Season 3) **** 1/2 • Parks and Recreation (Season 2) **** • Parks and Recreation (Season 1) *** 1/2 • The Book of Life ** 1/1 • The BoxTrolls *** 1/2 • X-Men: Days of Future Past [r] **** • Big Hero 6 [r] **** • Mr. Peabody and Sherman *** 1/2 • Turbo ** 1/2 • The Croods *** • Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted ** 1/2 • Puss In Boots *** • Shrek: The Musical *** 1/2 • Agent Carter (Season 1) *** • Tangled [r] **** 1/2 • Looper *** • Project Runway: All Stars (Season 4) *** • Luther (Season 3) **** • The Last Five Years (x2) **** 1/2 • Luther (Season 2) **** • Luther (Season 1) **** • The Amazing Race (Season 16) ** • Magic In the Moonlight ** 1/2 • No Good Deed *** 1/2 • Galavant (Season 1) *** • Resurrection (Season 2) *** 1/2 • Shakespeare Retold **** 1/2 • The Hobbit (Funny Puzzle edit) **** • The Amazing Race (Season 15) *** • Romeo & Juliet (2013) ** 1/2 • Little Dorrit [r] **** • The Amazing Race (Season 14) **** • Oliver! [r] *** 1/2 • Oliver Twist (2007) *** • What's Eating Gilbert Grape? [r] *** • Oliver Twist (1998) **** • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ** • The Guardians of the Galaxy [r] *** • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King [r] ***** • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers [r] ***** • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring [r] ***** • Prometheus ** 1/2 • Click [r] **** • It Could Happen To You [r] *** 1/2 • If I Stay ** 1/2 • Frozen [r] *** 1/2 • Into the Woods (1990) **** 1/2 • The Cabin In the Woods ** 1/2 • Into the Woods **** 1/2

And these 50 books were read from February to July 2015.  Welcome to the list, Stroud.

The Housekeeper's Dog (Jerry Smath) **** • But No Elephants (Jerry Smath) **** • Under Construction (Paula Hannigan) **** • Otis Loves To Play (Loren Long) *** • Otis (Loren Long) **** • Bill Peet: An Autobiography (Bill Peet) ***** • Piggies (Don and Audrey Wood) ** 1/2 • But Not the Hippopotamus (Sandra Boynton) ***** • Dinosaur's Binkit (Sandra Boynton) **** • Son of a Witch (Gregory Maguire) ** • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Gregory Maguire) *** • Ozma of Oz (L. Frank Baum) **** • The Marvelous Land of Oz (L. Frank Baum) *** 1/2 • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (L. Frank Baum) **** 1/2 • How Do Dinosaurs Go Up and Down? (Jane Yolen and Mark Teague) *** • Kittens (Laura Ellen Anderson) **** • Sector 7 (David Wiesner) *** 1/2 • Art & Max (David Wiesner) **** • The Ring of Solomon (Jonathan Stroud) *** 1/2 • Beatrice & Virgil (Yann Martel) *** 1/2 • Belly Button Book! (Sandra Boynton) **** • Happy Birthday, Little Pookie (Sandra Boynton) *** 1/2 • Little Pookie (Sandra Boynton) ***** • Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach To Punctuation (Lynne Truss) ***** • Hippopposites (Janik Coat) ** 1/2 • BooBoo (Olivier Dunrea) ** • Crocodaddy (Kim Norman) **** • You Are My Cupcake (Joyce Wan) **** • How Do Dinosaurs Count To Ten? (Jane Yolen & Mark Teague) **** • The Romance of the Forest (Ann Radcliffe) *** • The Royal Road to Romance (Richard Halliburton) **** • The Farmer and the Clown (Marla Frazee) ***** • The Book With No Pictures (B.J. Novak) *** 1/2 • Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (Kate DiCamillo) **** • It Looked Like Spilt Milk (Charles G. Shaw) *** 1/2 • The Borrowers (Mary Norton) *** • A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett) ***** • The Devil In the White City (Erik Larson) **** • Guess How Much I Love You (Sam McBratney) ***** • The House In the Night (Susan Marie Swanson) *** • How Do Dinosaurs Learn Their Colors? (Jane Yolen & Mark Teague) *** • The Great Greene Heist (Varian Johnson) *** 1/2 • Ptolemy's Gate (Jonathan Stroud) ***** • The Golem's Eye (Jonathan Stroud) **** • The Amulet of Samarkand (Jonathan Stroud) **** 1/2 • BabyLit: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Jennifer Adams, ill. by Allison Oliver) *** • BabyLit: Frankenstein (Jennifer Adams, ill. by Allison Oliver) **** • Mr. Wuffles! (David Wiesner) **** 1/2 • Flotsam (David Wiesner) ***** • How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms? (Jane Yolen and Mark Teague) ****

(Also, why haven't I been using the • all this time?  It reads so much clearer than all those /s floating around.)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Tenth

Our girl is in the double digits.  On the one hand I can't believe she's already almost a year old but on the other hand I can't believe she was born only last year.  She's just such a part of our family now it's hard to imagine it without her (luckily, since she's not going anywhere).

She had a really fun first Christmas and seemed to quite enjoy everything about it (especially the bottom third of the tree), though she's still getting used to the idea of snow, of which we had a blessed abundance this year.  As predicted, she was pretty interested in wrapping paper, though she also really enjoyed her new toys and books.  She has a hearty appetite these days, when it's something she's interested in, though she sometimes prefers to be held while eating.  She's super active and loves to follow people around and discover them when they've gone to another part of the room or behind a door.  She seems to like it when I sing to her (more than I remember her brother liking it), and she can often be heard giggling heartily or sighing wistfully, which are both completely charming in their own way.  The other day we left her with Mom and Dad while we went to Star Wars and dinner and she was perfectly fine the whole time.  Yay!  It's just nice to know she's okay with being left places for a few hours (though we were quite glad to squish her again when we came back) (thanks as always, by the way, Mom and Dad).

As ever, The Wife's update is here, but here are a few Insta/phonepictures:
Sometimes I just want to stare at them and remember every single little thing.
Fun li'l Santa pile.
Yes, maybe these presents were more for our amusement, but they liked them too.
Just being happy with her new octopus
New fleecy hoodie from Grandma!  I think she likes it.
Baby, what are you doing to me?!?
I guess she wasn't really interested in sitting up any more.
She's such a smooch I can hardly stand it, and even though she's been having an issue or two with sleeping (most of the brunt of which falls on The Wife since it's mostly to do with naps... sorry, Wife), and she is starting to act a little more independent and willful (the dramatic dodges at mealtimes), she is usually pretty easygoing and sweet and funny, and she and The Boy love to talk and play and giggle together.  Sometimes I'm blown away by how beautiful and clever and sweet this girl of ours is.

As a preview for month 11, just last night she kept me up to the wee-ish hours, when she was mostly happy in her second wind but not really interested in sleep, and making it known whenever I tried to put her down, but I was eventually able to sort of trick her into nodding off and then crawled ever so slowly and quietly out of the room before she could protest, but really (though I was tired and a little frustrated at the time) I think she might have been saying "Da!" in that sweet little voice of hers, and she was quite snuggly, and I don't always get these opportunities since most of the time she prefers Mommy, so I guess I better step back and be grateful for it all.  All too soon she'll be where her brother is and we'll be wondering where our baby girl went.

P.S. Again I feel like The Wife needs some props.  It's hard these frigid days to be inside for most of the time, and the cabin fever can start to affect all parties involved, so I'm amazed as always at what she can do, even when it's challenging. :*

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

We Wish You a Merry... and a Happy... (2015-2016)

Just a quick post with more details about Christmas before I forget them all...

What a wonderful Christmastime was this last!  It was busy and crazy but fun and snowy and all the things that Christmas should be.
We thought this tree looked like a Weasley.  Pigwidgeon it is.  (I will also say that I felt really bad throwing our tree out a couple weeks ago... It stood tall and strong and beautiful without being watered for days on the back patio and even after I put it on the curb.  Well done, Costco.)

Let's make a little list:

I was... recruited to sing with a fun community choir, which ended up being a lot more of a commitment than I expected, but also really enjoyable.  We had a handful of concerts in various venues (Temple Square was fun but a drive, and the AF library atrium is interesting for a chance, and a high school auditorium always brings back memories, though the Alpine Tabernacle is probably the best overall), and it gave me a chance to wear a sparkly bow-tie and cummerbund, so there is that.
 Our family Christmas portraits turned out beautifully and arrived just in time to put on display:
Thanks, Kami!
At work we had a white elephant exchange party, and in true white elephant fashion I found whatever I had on hand (not that I forgot until I arrived at work or anything...), and it turned out my gift was pretty popular and was traded around a few times.
If you think that I just found something in my car and put it in a gift bag... well, you're right, but I also embellished with a couple of wintertime accoutrements.
I didn't end up with this remarkable piece, but it was enough for me to know that it even exists (it's a musical box that plays The Entertainer).

We also had a team building activity building "gingerbread" houses. Mine is a miserable failure, but hey, I went out on a limb and tried to tie it to HP.
Sorry, Hagrid.
Then of course Star Wars was a thing going on, so we went to that eventually (we didn't plan on seeing it right away, but the threat of spoilers grew too great).  This was a Sunday morning art activity, which ended up featuring a certain young Jedi.
Wife, Rey and Baby Jesus.
 For Primary we had our 2nd annual Primary Christmas Concert, where each class takes a turn singing one song in front of the rest of the group and it turned out to be really great.  Some classes went above and beyond in preparing visual aids or learning sign language.
While I was at my Temple Square concert I took a few minutes to walk around and look at the lights in the rain.
 Then it was Christmas Eve and the kids were in bed and Santa was on the way and we realized that we haven't watched this in a while:
And then it was Christmas morning!  It's been interesting with two kids, one getting older and realizing what Christmas morning means, and trying to find a good balance of gift giving, and I really felt great about what we gave and how much.  It's hard because there are soooo many fun things and I feel like I said, "oh, he/she would totally love that" like a hundred times, but in the end they would love quite a lot of things, but that doesn't mean they NEED all the things.  As it is it's been almost a month and he's still not tired on that train or those tools.
We love Santa!  (But we love Jesus more.)
As for us, we treated each other to fun and great things, from literary adaptations (Jonathan Strange!  Far From the Madding Crowd!) to books (art and HP music and AG!) and some great supplies for my cubicle, and some unique touches as well.  That Hogwarts sweater quite becomes our favorite Gryffindor.
I'm kind of thinking he doesn't quite grasp the concept of stockings?  Or maybe he does and we're the ones who don't.
And then I decided I better take an extra day off work to spend the day with these three beloveds:

(The inclusion of the train was a coincidence in the first two, but totally planned in the third.)
We spent plenty of time with family and having the usual fun and foods (fondue) (pullaparrrrts...) (little buffet at home), and webcamming with our family in the Midwest and generally having a nice time, enjoying being home together, and watching the snow fall off and on.
My top Instaposts of the year.  Is it surprising that every single one features Poopsie?
New Year's Eve was fun with family goings-on and then, well, watching the ball drop on YouTube at around 10:37 and calling it a night.  Then of course it was time for the annual shave-and-a-haircut, which this year evidently meant going full-on buzzer without even the shortest attachment.  Brr.
Don't be deceived by her puzzled expression, she knew her daddy.
This middle step we like to call the 24601.
This was a really interesting year, from a lot of highs (a certain arrival in mid-March, lots of family visits, actual road trips) to a few lows (lost job, insane societal issues, new sleeping schedules), but we're the four of us standing tall.

I really think it was the merriest Christmas yet, at least for me, and there were many times when I just sat and observed and it was like Christmastime was all brand new again for me, whether sitting back watching my little ones just doing their thing on Christmas morning or learning some new Christmas songs or snuggling with my darling girl.  It's always sad when it's over, but hey, we're already 2/3 through January, right?

Bring it, 2016.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas 2015

It was our merriest yet.  I hope yours was too.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Annual Christmas Eve Journal Write 2015

Every time I told The Boy today that tomorrow is Christmas it's just blown my mind that it's already here.  But here it is, and it feels marvelous.  I'm so glad to have snow on the ground and kids asleep in bed (at last -- their sleeping habits have taken a turn lately, but they were tired enough that they eventually crashed) and to be sitting with The Wife enjoying these deliciouses:
The overtired children are reluctantly nestled all snug in their beds, which means it's time for this. Ah, Jack. It's been too long.
I feel like Christmas has really sneaked up on me this year, even more than it usually does.  It seems like we've been really busy the last few weeks but we've managed to get it all done and have been trying to keep the focus on the reason for the season, especially for our little ones (though of course he somehow has grasped the concept of Santa Claus quickly and handily).  There have been a lot of things lately that have made it even more important to keep Christ in our hearts and minds, and I'm always grateful for a special occasion to bring Him back to the forefront where He belongs.
I took a second (almost literally) after a concert at Temple Square to stop and smell the Christmas.
Last night I finished reading A Christmas Carol and Other Stories (which included The Chimes and The Cricket On the Hearth), and as always it was a great reminder to do the right things for the right reasons.  I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.

And now... as soon as this movie is over I'm totally going to take a leaf out of the kiddos' book and crash in my delicious bed.  Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Nine Is Fine

Baby!  She's 3/4 of a year old.  She is getting bigger and smoochier and funnier and showing more personality every day.  It's amazing to be able to see her thinking and processing and learning and making decisions.  (Yes, I remember when this happened with The Boy too, but it seems all fresh and new all over again this time around.)  She's currently a little picky with what she likes (accompanied by very amusing facial expressions), she sleeps great through the night (not so well during naps), and she is definitely up on her hands and knees for crawling purposes (getting more and more independent, which makes me especially glad I finally put that baby gate up).  She's starting to get over stranger danger, at least with aunts and uncles and definitely Nana and Papa, and she seems particularly snuggly lately, especially when she's a bit sleepy.  (This is something I don't seem to recall being the case with The Boy.)  The Wife wrote her update here, and so without further ado here are some Instapictures:

This seems to be more a showcase for BB, but LS looks super cute too, and it seems fairly timely.  Insert joke prompt about Yoda and a Tiger walking into an H&M here.
What happened to our tiny helpless baby??
Just practicing her flexibility one morning.
Hanging out with Daddy while Mommy and BB sleep in a little.
Mommy's really liking the dress-over-jeans look these days.
Epic bedhead.  Gorgeous face.
We like our variation of Elf On the Shelf best of all.
We're looking forward to spoiling her on Christmas morning later this week!  (And by spoiling her I mean giving her just a few age-appropriate presents, because let's face it, she'll be much more interested in the wrapping paper than what's inside of it.)  This smoochface!  I can hardly stand it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Day of Giving Thanks 2015

Something I have noticed lately is that holidays and time off mean a lot more when you actually have to leave your house to go to work, and this year Thanksgiving break was just the thing.  It was so nice to (sleep in and) spend more time with my peeps and eat together and be thankful for each other.

There were various festivities this year.  First, of course we had the T-Gives treatment in Thanksgiving, which was a big hit.  I try to pick songs the kids might not know that well (or at all) totally on purpose, because there are so many songs we just don't get to ever sing.  Not on my watch!
We said if the feathers were all plucked he would get eaten.  Lucky thing, we ran out of time both times.
Next was a fun potluck lunch at work, which was a big success.  Everyone signed up for things and some went above and beyond to make the real deal (I will say that my gravy was worth the wait).  It's fun to work in an office so I can finally participate in these sorts of things that I heretofore had only heard about afterward.  We all ate too much (of course), but we were glad it was two full days before actual Thanksgiving so we wouldn't be burned out, as if.
It was amazing!  A full Thanksgiving spread.
Don't forget the pie!  I can personally attest that at least 2/3 of this was delicious.
Maybe I collected this plate of seconds just to take this picture, and then again, maybe I didn't.
Then came the actual day!  It was bright and clear and cold and very nice.  In years past my sister has organized a Turkey Trot event, but as time has gone by things have been busier or we've opted for other happenings, so when I asked and found out there wasn't anything planned this year, I decided to plan my own!  I like a T-Gives morning run, so even if it ended up being a couple of people or even just myself it would be fun.  Despite the cold, a great group of family (including out-of-towner visitors Emily and the trips!) met at the trailhead and took more or less my usual run along the trail and back.  It ended up being just about 3.5 miles, and Katy (who insists she's not much of a runner) pulled ahead in the end to beat me and Little Miss.  Some walked, some ran, some biked, some went the whole length and some turned around whenever they felt like it, and there were treats and overall I think it was really fun for all.  (Not to mention FREE.)  New tradish?!?  I'll bring the Costco pumpkin streusel muffins again...
Baby's first 5K!
Not a bad turnout!  Thanks for coming, everyone!  Same time, next year?
She's thrilled as you can see.
(And yes, I did just write that on the path with sidewalk chalk, along with the mile markers as I went along.)
Then of course dinner!  I actually took a few pictures this year, amazingly.  Everything tasted delicious and I tried to remember to take a minute to be especially grateful for my kith and kin and foodstuffs.
Interesting groupings!  The Boy loves seeing his cousins, but he especially loves Uncle Matt.
This one is so cute it deserves to be posted all on its own. 
This is just about all The Boy was interested in during Thanksgiving dinner (and of course in a different cup every time).  He will learn.  I put my foot down when it came to the Sprite Zero.
And then we had a quick photoshoot with Cami!

Then to round things out with a churchish bookend, I did a musical number of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, and decided to callback to Appleton and rock this nice touch of bling, gifted from some of my dear elder buddies as I was heading home some seven (!!!) years ago.

And that's about it.  It's a very nice season, the one in between Halloween and Christmas.

There's so much to be thankful for.