Archive | March, 2010

Movie review: How to train your dragon

30 Mar

We made a family outing to “How to train your dragon” on Sunday, and it was a hit.  Even my 3-year-old son enjoyed it (or maybe it was the popcorn). 

Fire-breathing dragons, Scottish accented Vikings, misunderstood teen angst, and a tough girl with a big axe — this is the stuff of a good animated flick. 

Dreamworks (mostly) bypasses the hip comic modern references, and has gone for the classic tale of boys and dragons. The story is simple, the scenery is beautiful, and the characters — especially the dragons — are endearing.

Hiccup, our young lad and son of the head Viking, wants more than anything to be accepted by his village and his father.  He is determined to become a dragon killer like his comrades, but instead realizes the dragons are even more misunderstood than him. 

Teeming with great action scenes involving dragons, shields, swords and axes, young boys (and adventurous girls) will love this film.  During a couple of the battle scenes, my son announced “this is scary” but did not leap from his chair in fear. The fantasy / fairy tale style of the movie seemed to keep the “scary” factor in check. 

Entertaining, with a good story and a good message.  I think that gives this movie two thumbs up from me.

One question though:  why do adult Vikings have Scottish accents and teen Vikings have American accents?  Very strange.  Very strange indeed.


Wordless Wednesday: Aftermath of a tantrum

28 Mar
And why I can’t stay angry long.

Save the playground

23 Mar

The scene:  two dads and I were pushing our kids in swings at the playground.  All three of us watched as a group of 9 to 12-year olds played a game of “grounders” on the playscape.

NOTE: This game appears to involve one kid closing his eyes and occasionally yelling “grounders!” Meanwhile, the other kids climb all over the playscape.  I have no idea if there are winners, if someone is “it”, or if points are scored.  However, I have seen it played many times at the playground by my house, and most kids seem to walk away happy and exhausted.

Dad #1:  “You are thinking the same thing as me, huh?”  He is thinking that one of those kids is going to slip and fall off the slick plastic playscape roof.  They keep climbing on top and dangling off the side.  Game strategy?

Me:  “Yep. Kids will always find a way to play on something as it was NOT intended.  But, let’s not take pictures. Somebody might decide the playscape is unsafe and remove it.”

Dad #1:  “Right. Some over-protective mom might decide it’s too dangerous.”

Dad #2:  “Man, we did way more dangerous stuff when we were kids.”

After our short parental conversation, I thought that this chat could have gone another way — we could have decided to tell those kids to get down from the playscape roof.  We could have told them that they were not allowed to play that way.  We might have prevented a 9-year-old from taking a bad fall. Maybe 8 feet down. Onto wood chips.   

We could have done that.  But that would have ruined all the fun they were having.

Meme time

21 Mar

When was the last time you did a meme? 

The last time someone sent one to me and I felt like wasting time.  Why start with the dumb question?

What type of day are you having?

Fine.  My taxes are done.  And you?

Was there anyone who “made your day”?

My daughter ate the tails off her shrimp at lunch.  I thought only her father did that.

Are you liking how you look today?

Frumpy.  Stuffy from the latest cold.  No, I guess I could be better.

Do you have anyone crushing on you?

Am I in the 5th grade?

Have you ever eaten a bug?

I’m sure.  But not on purpose.

Are you vegetarian?

I was in college, but my husband talked me out of it. I still can’t eat beef.

When was the last time you kissed someone?

I kissed my husband and my 3-year-old today.  These questions are mild….

Have you ever had something stuck between your teeth, but no one decided to tell you?

Oh!  The embarrassement!  Nearly cost me my spot on the 9th grade cheerleading squad!

Are you a mother or a father?

Is this an either/or question or a yes/no question? I’m so confused.

When was your last paycheck?

I’m still employed. Yay! I don’t like last paychecks.  I like next ones.

How many pets do you have?


What kind of toothpaste do you use?

Sensodyne.  My teeth are very sensitive. 

Are you closer to being rich or poor?

Well, we are not poor by any stretch.  But I don’t know how you can feel rich while being underwater on your mortgage, paying for daycare/preschool, and saving for retirement and the kids’ college.  Where did it all go?

Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?

Only if one of my children (and their lovey animal) has joined us in bed.

What was the last gift someone gave you?

Husband brought me roses from Costco yesterday.  Yay hubby!

Do you appreciate that person?

How about cannot live without?

Did you talk to anyone you didn’t like today?

Does support emails to whiny users count?  I can’t say I don’t like them, but GEEZ people — if you want help, then don’t berate a volunteer website administrator!

Do you like picnics?

Really?  No, I HATE picnics.  Picnics are evil.  I hate picnic baskets, watermelon, and sundresses.  And don’t get me started on checkered tableclothes…

What book are you currently reading?

The Art of Happiness by the Dalia Lama (and a psychologist — I can’t remember his name).  Amazing.  I’m truly moved by this book.

What song did you last listen to?

The Caillou theme song.  Well, you asked. 

What movie is in your DVD player?

Spy kids.  My daughter is a HUGE Robert Rodriguez fan.

How many windows are open in your computer?

16.  Is this supposed to say something about me?  I’m a multitasker?  I’m distracted?  I don’t close windows?

Are you a very stressed out person?

I think this is a trick question for me.  Stuff that stresses the “average joe” out, I’m as cool as a cucumber.  At the same time, I have a few anxiety triggers that “should not be crossed.”  And we’ll just leave it at that.  It’s just a meme.

Is that granite?

19 Mar

I’ve realized there are many status symbols here in suburbia — our cars, our electronic gadgets, our children’s most recent abilities. One of those status symbols has become particularly peculiar to me, especially with the recent house crisis.

Granite countertops.

Women in suburbia have some sort of obsession with having large, flat, extremely expensive polished rocks in our kitchens. I’m not sure when this trend began, but now everyone seems to want them. No — NEED them.

When we picked out our kitchen “amenities” a few years back, I went for the Corian (OK — fake Corian) countertops. After all — they provide basically the same utilitarian purpose as granite, and were half the price. OK — there is one fall back: I can’t put a boiling hot pot on my fake Corian countertop — I need to put my $2 potholder under it.

And yet, after visiting many neighbors, I see granite, granite, granite. I even hear about foreclosed homes, now abandoned, still with their granite countertops. After all, granite is too heavy to move or steal.

“Are these granite?”

“Your countertops are BEAUTIFUL!”

“Your husband let you get these?”

And I admit, a little envy — or maybe inadequacy– creeps in. I don’t even know why. So strange that suburbia.

I’ve been poisoned!

15 Mar

Sunday night we had a nice family dinner out, came home and put the kids to bed. I was rudely awoken at about 2 in the morning by that unpleasant quease in my stomache. After a dash to the bathroom, I began debating — flu? migraine? do I have a fever? In my half-asleep sick stupor, I had not determined the cause. I laid back down on my bed. I was not feeling much better.

Within 10 minutes, John and I heard unpleasant noises coming from our daughter’s bedroom. As I was now incapacitated, John went into super-dad mode, and took care of bedding, clothing, and a very unhappy 6-year-old.

We’ve been poisoned! Food poisoning, that is.

Upon this realization, and going through our dinner choices quickly, Amelia and I only had one food item in common — ice cream. After a quick Google, I found that ice cream is a major food poisoning culprit — it contains EGGS. Who knew?

Then a second realization — Ryan had ice cream, too. Well, actually, he picked at his ice cream; Mom helped him finish it off because we knew we would be at the restaurant for another hour if we let him finish it on his own.

Between my trips to the bathroom, I waited for the other (third) shoe to fall. Ryan to join our unhappy bunch. But, he never did.

By 2 p. m. in the afternoon, I was alive enough to call the infamous chain restaurant and let them know about their double assassination attempt.
I must say — I was impressed by the manager’s professional manner. He took me very seriously, wanted to know exactly what foods we ate, looked up our receipt, and was filing an incident report. He also said their insurance company would be calling me back this week. I realize that this was probably all “standard procedure” but it was good to know that the procedure existed, and that the manager quickly switched into this “procedure” mode and did not qucstion my sincerity.

Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double beetloaf. I hate meatloaf!

8 Mar

Like most mothers of this age, I’m concerned about childhood obesity. I’m concerned that my kids eat too many snacks, don’t get enough healthy choices, or don’t get enough exercise.

However, I didn’t think I’d end up with a Randy — the kid from A Christmas Story:

Every family has a kid who won’t eat. My kid brother had not eaten voluntarily in over three years.”

I loved this movie since I was a kid, but I always thought this scene was odd — a kid that won’t eat? Really??? They have to EAT!

An odd scene… until I had a kid who won’t eat. Now I have a Randy.

My son has not voluntarily eaten dinner in months. Every night it’s… “How many bites?” “I don’t like it” “I’m done.” “I’m not done!” “I DID eat it!” Every third night he stuffs too much in his mouth — on purpose — and chokes on it. I have that “finger sweep” down. I’ve caught half-chewed food in my hand more times than I would like to count. I’ve smacked my son on the neck/back enough times that the boy doesn’t even react to it.

Now, don’t think that my son is starving; I call him the snack monster. Fruit bars, bananas, milk and raisins — apparently this is the food of the gods. I have restricted his snack intake (no snacks before meals) but this seems to have no affect on mealtime. One evening, he really, really, really wanted these baked Cheetos. We made a deal: you eat everything on your plate, you can have the Cheetos. He even placed the Cheetos right in front of him as motivation. He had a 1/2 cup of pasta, one hot dog, and a 1/4 cup of corn — a preschooler’s DREAM meal. He couldn’t do it; he didn’t even get close. No Cheetos for you, young man.

Well, let’s hope it’s just a phase.

Who the frick is ringing my doorbell at 1 a. m.???

5 Mar

Oh, the police.

Yep, last night at 1 a. m., John and I were rudely awakened to the doorbell ringing and fist pounding at the front door. After my brain registered “oh, that’s the doorbell”, I kicked (oh so gently!) my husband and mumbled something about seeing who is at the door.

A few minutes later, I hear John say something like “you need to come down here.” That doesn’t sound good. I’m not sure what I responded, but I’m betting it was a half-asleep “why???” I get myself to the top of the stairs and I definitely hear my husband say “police.”

OK. Now I’m half awake.

As I stumble to the door, John is trying to explain that the police have the wrong address, but they still have to confirm that I’m not being beat up. Apparently two different addresses were called into 911 about a domestic disturbance (a woman being assaulted), one number difference. It’s either our house, or a condo a few doors down.

I guess my sleepy stupor responses were convincing enough to the police because they did not stay long, and they were headed off to the other address.

This small event reminded me (this morning after I regained full consciousness) that our little Utopian suburban village is not immune to the darker side of humanity. I generally think that my neighbors are all “good people” but clearly I don’t see everything that happens behind closed doors. This doesn’t mean I’m going to change the way I interact with my neighbors; I like to take people at face value and treat people the way that I want to be treated. And maybe this 911 call was a neighbor looking out for another neighbor. It would be nice to think that someone was looking out for me.

Vain side note: As I went back to bed after talking to the police, I had a silly thought — “I’m so glad I bought these new pajamas this week!” You have to understand — my husband has been teasing me about my 15-year-old nightgowns. But they are SOOO comfy! I finally threw away the mid-90’s flower flannel one that had the shoulder torn away, and was paper thin. I hope those police appreciated my new outfit.

She wins a bronze!

4 Mar
A. was so excited when she won 3rd place at the egg race at our Annual village picnic.

What a beautiful man!

3 Mar

As with most of the world, I became addicted to the Olympics in the past few weeks. I also had a few “favorites” that I cheered a little louder for. One was Apolo Anton Ohno — the 8-time medalist for short track speed skating.

YUM. What a beautiful man!

I’ve been addicted to Apolo since his first Olympics. In fact, I briefly tried to convince my husband to name our son Apolo (he was having NONE of it — probably a wise choice!). As a mother of white/Asian young boy, I see my son growing up to be just as handsome. At least he will be in my eyes.

I also found another Olympian to follow this time around — Johnny Weir. The ever-flamboyant figure skater who placed 6th, even though the crowd and his fans gave him the Bronze medal. I’m no expert in figure skating or the new “judging system”, so I will not debate his placement and scores. I’ll leave that to Scott Hamilton and the French judge.

However, I was extremely impressed with how this young man — known for his controversial and outlandish statements — responded to homophobic remarks (in French) from a couple of French-Canadian sports reporters. Johnny Weir did not asked for an apology — instead he asked for these men to think about the children watching the Olympics, and how it might affect them.

“I want [their remarks] to be public because I don’t want 50 years from now more young boys and girls to have to go through this sort of thing and to have their whole life basically questioned for no reason other than to make a joke and to make people watch their television program.”

“I hope more kids can grow up the same way that I did and more kids can feel the freedom that I feel to be themselves and to express themselves.”

Johnny praised his parents and his upbringing. He knows he is a role-model and needs to the kids watching the Olympics to know he is not ashamed of who he is. He is proud, and has a loving family supporting him. He also understands and respects having freedom of expression and freedom of speech means some people are going to say things you don’t like. He responded to ridicule with compassion.

What a beautiful man!


Propos homophobes: Mailhot et Goldberg 19/02/2010 (in French)
Johnny Weir responds to commentators who questioned his gender, example he sets