Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures

My sister and I like to get our kids' pictures taken for our mother's birthday. We don't make it every year but we try to make it fairly often. Here are the results from this years' efforts. I also had the photographer take individual pictures of my kids for my living room.

Click for the full size.

Baseball Drama

I'm trying to decide if drama just follows me where ever I go or if I somehow unconsciously cause all this drama in my life. Either way, here's the latest installment...

Tuesday afternoon I had a phone message from a couple I know from school and baseball. Turns out the husband part of this couple is going to be coaching baseball this year and they're having a last-minute practice Tuesday night. They'd like to know if S3 is going to make it.

I started thinking about this couple and their children and I became very confused. See, they have three sons. One child is a good year or two younger than S3. Their next son is Ty's age and the youngest is somewhere around G's age. I thought S3 had just barely made the age limit for the older group - the "junior" team - so I couldn't figure out how the oldest son of this couple could possibly be on the same team as S3. I assumed they actually had Ty on their roster and just misspoke for the message. I prepared both boys for practice just in case.

Once there I quickly found out that they did indeed mean S3. Instead of putting him on the "junior" team, they'd put him down a level on the "A" team. I spoke to the head of the summer baseball and he said it was because of S3's birthdate. The cutoff is May. His birthday is June. So they bumped him down.

Here's why this is ridiculous:
1. Every single one of the boys on the "junior" team are classmates of S3. All the boys on the "A" team are at least one to two years (and grades) younger. So all his classmates bumped up but he did not.
2. It's ONE month people, not a year, not even a half a year. ONE month.
3. S3 is one of the best players in their league. If they're going to bump someone down, bump down a worse player, not one of your best.

Frankly I think the guy who is in charge of the league saw that the "A" team would only have 10 players if he didn't keep S3 down. You need nine on a field so that only gives them one substitute. If more than one kid is unable to make a game, they'd have to forfeit (ok technically I think they can play one man down but you get the idea). I think that guy is using this as a way to fill the roster. Steve says I always want to think the worst of people I don't like and maybe that's what I'm doing but I think this guy is being foolish and unreasonable no matter what. And frankly no matter what the outcome is, he's ruined the beginning of the season for us. This is supposed to be fun and instead I'm so mad I could spit.

I talked to S3 and now he's waffling over whether or not he wants to play for HP this year at all. It's not that he won't play baseball; he's signed up for a much more serious league that starts it's season later in the year. This was supposed to be his secondary league, the fun league, the league where he can hang out with his buddies from school and have fun. He's not only not with his buddies but he's playing on a team that (and this is going to be mean so take a big gasp of breath now before you read it) is going to lose because the roster is full of kids who either can't play or who have never played before at all. And he's my kid so he's also mad about the whole one stinkin' month conspiracy.

He's weighing that against the fact that he will be, hands down, the best player on that "A" team. He will absolutely get playing time and probably in any position he wants. Yes they're probably going to lose every single game but at least he'll be playing. It would keep him warmed up for his more serious team. Also he does feel bad for them that they've only got 10 kids if he backs out. And I'm trying to encourage him that he shouldn't step out of the program just because he's mad at the head of the league, although I'm having trouble with that one because I'm feeling like yanking him out for exactly that reason.

So anyway, he slept on it and he's going to talk to his buddies - you know, the guys on the "junior" team - and see what they think and I guess he'll make his decision later. He's a softie. I wouldn't be surprised to see him play anyway, even though he's mad.

Oh the drama.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Happy Fifty Years!

My husband's mother celebrated her fiftieth year of life this weekend. Her actual birth date was Friday and we (by we I mean Steve, his sister Stacey and his father. BIL John and I stayed out of it LOL) planned a surprise party for her on Saturday. Steve's dad hired a caterer, I bought decorations, Steve picked up the drinks and Stacey gathered old photos and made awesome collages. All of MIL's sisters and brothers showed up and she was well and truly surprised.

Unfortunately there was a mix up with the caterer. He was supposed to be there at 4. Guests were due to arrive at 4:30 and MIL was coming at 5. By quarter of five there was still no sign of the caterer and no one was answering the phone. Steve started calling local grocery stores to see if they had some hot food in the deli and Stacey and I were trying to think of where we could get some veggies for a tray or what else we could buy, prepare and serve in a very short amount of time. MIL pulled up to the building and about thirty seconds after that the caterer showed up. My FIL was happily moving around the kitchen saying, "Right on time" and because I was irritated with the caterer and feeling a little snarky I mumbled, "Yeah right on time... an hour later." I guess I mumbled it a little louder than I thought because as we were hustling to get the food set out the caterer said something about a 5PM delivery time. That's the point where my FIL admitted he'd been the one to mix up the timing. I guess he kept thinking MIL would be there at five and that's what came out of his mouth when he called. Oh well, it worked, we had food and very fresh, hot food at that.

For Christmas I had given MIL some earrings with a leverback finding. I didn't realize how much she likes that kind of finding but since I gave her the earrings she's mentioned it almost every time I see her. So I knew I had to get some more leverbacks and make more earrings for her.

These were S3's favorite of the bunch. He thought they suited his grandmother the most. They're made with brass beads, vermeil findings and faceted smoky quartz coins.

These are Swarovski crystals - a rondell with clear and 4mm Pacific Opal AB bicones. Findings and round beads are sterling.

These are blue goldstone (imitation) and 4mm Swarovski Shadow Crystal AB bicones. The findings and round beads are sterling. I wish you could see the depth to the blue goldstone. It's impossible to photograph but if you look closely at the left earring or you click here you can get somewhat of a feel for the sparkle.

These last pair are my favorites. I've had the pink faceted teardrops since the very first beadshow I attended all those years ago so I'm not sure exactly what they are. I paired them with 4mm Swarovski pink bicones and sterling round beads. The findings are all sterling as well. I didn't want to give her this pair LOL!

Uniforms, Laundry and Prepubescence

G came downstairs in her bathrobe this morning looking for clean clothes in the laundry. I do the wash on Mondays so the only clothes in the laundry right now are dirty. I said to Steve as she passed, "I wonder what she thinks she's going to find down there?" Sure enough a few minutes later she came up with her hands empty and in a very snotty tone of voice she said, "I don't have any clean uniforms because you didn't do the wash!"

Now I know for a fact:
(1) I have been doing laundry every Monday for the past six months or more.
(2) She has enough uniforms to last her nearly three weeks without me doing the laundry.

For her to say that she has zero clean uniforms because I didn't do the wash yet means she either hasn't been bringing me her dirty uniforms to be washed or she can't find where she put all the rest of her clean uniforms. But the tone of voice she used with me... I told Steve he needed to deal with her. He didn't handle her quite the way I wanted him to handle her so I went upstairs and I pulled open her drawer. It was stuffed with clean uniforms. I pulled one out and I told her to put it on and I came back downstairs. About ten minutes later she followed, wearing the uniform and bawling her eyes out. The uniform I picked out is brown and nobody in her class likes the brown uniforms. She and another girl have a contest to see who can be the prettiest every week and now she's going to lose because she looks awful.

I had to leave the room. I don't want her to feel bad about the way she looks and if she'd approached me in a different way, I'd have done whatever I could to make sure she had a blue uniform to wear but I'm not going to tolerate this finger-pointing, you-never-do-anything-for-me attitude. I told her I'm not doing her wash this week. She can do it herself or she can wear the brown uniforms in her drawer.

So much for school uniforms taking the drama out of getting dressed in the morning.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

WIP: Basket of Poppies & Bookmark (pt.2)

I got my hands on the DMC Perle 8 and Perle 12 that I needed to finish this project and so other than using the fabric stiffener on it, it is complete. I stitched it on an opalacent fabric because the patterns calls for beads which adds bling but since I was planning to make it into a bookmark, I thought the beads might pose a problem. I wish you could see it shimmer. My kids were impressed with the "holes" I made LOL!

Now this WIP pic was one I meant to post last week. I haven't had a chance to work on it since last week so this is what I managed to do after only one week's worth of stitching. I've taken to wearing magnifying glasses while I'm working on this piece. Steve laughs on the days that I don't put my contacts in. He calls me "Six Eyes."

The Man My Sister Married

Jer has been torturing my sister for nearly 12 (I think) years but this time he filmed the entire thing and posted it on YouTube for our enjoyment. I laughed so hard I cried. I'm so glad I get to call him brother. BTW, his mom is just as fantastic (after all she did raise Jer!) and she has a blog too.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Mass Movie Review 4

Finally I picked a bunch of winners in one weekend!

Kinky Boots
I thought this movie was fantastic! It was laugh out loud funny in places and left me feeling so happy afterward. The premise is this: A shoe factory has been in the Price family for generations. Charlie Price does not want to run the factory but when his father unexpectedly dies he finds himself in the position of having to save it from financial ruin. He finds an unexpected ally in drag queen and cabaret singer, Lola. Lola designs shoes and boots for other drag queens and clubbers all the while fighting to change the prejudices of the conservative staff at Price Shoe Factory among other things. Throw in a little romance for Charlie (not Lola!) and a Milan fashion show and you have all the makings for a silly, fun movie!

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Sarah-Jane Potts

Gridiron Gang

Here's another feel-good movie if that's what you're in the mood for. It was very predictable but it didn't lessen the story's emotional impact. Sean Porter (played by The Rock) is a counselor at a juvenile detention center in California where gang activity is high. He sees the teens coming and going and with a reincarceration rate of 75% he feels there is more that can be done to rehabilitate the teens. He and another counselor, Malcolm Moore (played by Xzibit) put together a football team. The boys must then decide whether the football team is their new "gang" or whether they will hang onto their original gang affiliations. I believe this is based on a true story and it is very inspirational. I have a bad memory so don't quote me on this but I think the first year of running the football program had only two or three boys return to their original gang affiliations while the rest went on to have jobs and families and finish school. Highly recommend this one and while it deals with some really heavy subjects (abusive boyfriends, murder, gang wars, etc.) and there is some language, I thought it was ok for my boys to watch with me. The overwhelming message was one of hope and rehabilitation.

Starring: The Rock and Xzibit

The Relic

This movie is based on the novel bearing the same title by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child which I devoured in a day but was then afraid to go in my creepy basement to do the laundry. I'm only slightly kidding. It is one of the Pendergast novels - in fact it is the first Pendergast novel - but Pendergast does not appear in the movie. I was really skeptical about watching the movie because frankly, how do you have the same story and yet cut out the main character? Some of the movie's other characters, Vincent D'Agosta and Margo Green, took some of the characteristics and actions of the novel's Pendergast and it was ok. I would have liked to have seen Pendergast but the movie version of the story was still pretty good. Now I didn't think it was all that scary but I did know most of what was coming. I felt Steve jump a couple of times but he'd never admit it if you asked him. It was very gory.

Here's the movie's premise: A scientist (don't ask me his name because I can't remember) goes into the jungle to study a tribe. He collects a relic and some plant material and sends it back to the States. In the movie you see him get onto the ship with the cargo he's sent and the next scene has the ship, empty of all crew and the professor. Eventually D'Agosta (the police lt. in charge) opens the bilge and finds a bunch of corpses with their heads and brains removed. The crates are shipped onto the original destination - the museum - where similar murders begin occurring. It turns out that there is a fungus or spore or something on that plant material that has a lot of the same characteristics as the human hypothalamus located in the brain and the beast that has followed the crates uses that as its food. It's up to Margo Green and Lt. D'Agosta to figure out what the beast is and how to stop it from killing.

Starring: Penelope Ann Miller and Tom Sizemore

Never Say Never

You would have thought by the ripe age of 30 that I would have learned this lesson. Apparently not. I said my child would not be one of those annoying tweens with a cell phone pasted to his (or her) ear. I shoulda kept my mouth shut. The very moment I say, "No way Josè," is the very moment that my son is out at some math thing at school, ready and needing to be picked up and yet I'm sitting in a doctor's office waiting to get a cast removed and with no way to communicate with the kid. Add that to a long list of similar moments involving soccer games and basketball practices and the knowledge that baseball season is starting soon and the result is....

One annoying tween with a cell phone pasted to his ear.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Big News About Miss G

First of all her cast came off yesterday. What a hullabaloo that was. I picked up G from school and ran her to the doc and we were even early. Then we sat for 40 minutes. Finally at about 3:30 and I knew Ty was going to be getting off the bus at any minute and S3 had stayed out at the school for a math thing and needed to be picked up at 4:00. It takes a half hour to get out to the school so I needed to leave the office right then. So I went up to the front desk and even though I was really upset I managed to hold it together and explain my problem. The girl at the desk said, "Oh well she's next but we're waiting for a cast room and there's no way to tell how long it'll be. Besides they want to re-xray the thumb after the cast comes off." Between us, we decided I'd better reschedule. I was disappointed because G had soccer later and it's a pain in the rear to wrap up that cast for every game. I knew G was ready to get rid of the dumb thing anyway and I wasn't looking forward to that pout either.

So she pulls open her scheduling thing on the computer and asks me how next Tuesday works for me. I squeaked, "A WHOLE WEEK???" That was their first opening. I couldn't put G through another week of this dreadful thing on her arm but I couldn't think of what to do so I stood there and stared at the wall for a good thirty seconds trying to make my brain work. Finally I decided I'd see if Mel was around and if she could pick S3 up (I figured Ty would be ok for a half an hour or so. He is going to be ten in a couple of months). Mel didn't answer so I called my friend J who lives near the school. She didn't answer so finally I called Amy the Pampered Chef Lady. It turns out her daughter was out at the math thing too - she's in S3's class - and her friend was going to be bringing the kids home. She quick called with her other phone and S3 had a ride to Amy's house. Phew, crisis averted.

In the mean time the doctor's office really pulled for me. While I was frantically making phone calls, the front desk girl got a regular exam room set up with a saw and G got her cast cut off. We jumped right into the xray room and then right back to the exam room. The doc didn't take two minutes to come in and go over everything and we were out the door. They really hustled for us and I couldn't have appreciated it more.

So if you have an orthopedic problem I can highly recommend Commonwealth Orthopedic Associates. No doubt they're busy but they gave excellent service.

Onto big news number two.... G has been asked to play on a premier team! And not just a premier team but up a level on a U10 team! The coach of G's U9 indoor team said his daughter is playing and they were looking for two more. Of all the girls on the team, they felt there were only three who had the motivation and drive to be in the league and one of them was my Gracie. It's pricey and they travel and it's during baseball season (of which we have two kids on three teams) and since it's up a level she'll be playing with 9 and 10 year olds even though she just turned 8 so I know it's crazy but how could I say no? She loves to play and I love to watch her play. The coach's wife said if we had a big conflict with baseball schedules she would be able to cart G back and forth to games or whatever and while it's more expensive than club soccer it's not out of our reach. We're going to a practice on Sunday to see if this is really something we want to do but I already talked to the coach of the premier team and she wants G for sure. Even if we decide this is not for us right now, I'm extraordinarily proud that my girl was even asked. Being a girl rocks!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dear Canadian Friends,

Have you ever wondered what those of us in Pennsylvania think about Canadians? Well you know I think the milk in a bag thing is, um... interesting... but if you were curious about what other Pennsylvanians think click here.

And before some random person comes reading my blog and gets their panties in a twist, the milk thing is an inside joke with my Canadaian friends.

It's a Spiegel Crock Pot!

(Bonus points if you got the title of this post)

The rest of my week is going to be crazy. I'm running here and there and I'm working on top of everything else. Weeks like this I like to pull out my crock pot and let someone else do the cooking for me. To that end, this morning I was Googling some chicken recipes and came across a fantastic site. It's called "That's My Home" and besides having sections on conversions and substitutions, they have a big section of recipes. Tonight we're going to have Crock Pot Chicken Italian and Potatoes. I'll let you know how it goes.

Crock Pot Italian Chicken and Potatoes
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

  • 1 C. Italian salad dressing

  • 2 t. Italian seasoning

  • 1 C. grated parmesan cheese
5 to 6 potatoes; peeled, cut into wedges

Place chicken in bottom of crock pot. Sprinkle with half Italian dressing, spices, and the grated cheese. Place potatoes over chicken. Sprinkle with remaining ingredients.

Cover; cook on low 6-8 hours.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Little Mermaid

We finally made it over to the pottery place to pick up G's mermaid. Never mind that it's been a month since it's been fired. I was totally impressed with the way it came out. I know I've glazed some pottery in my day but it never came out this nicely. Ty says he's going to teach her calligraphy since she's an artist now. Apparently she needs to learn how to sign her name prettier. Gotta love Bullwinkle.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

That Apple Sure Didn't Fall Far

Tonight S3 handed me a paper he'd had to write for his comp. class about our family's Christmas traditions. He wrote a really nice little essay about waking up and having a fantastic breakfast at a beautifully decorated table before opening gifts and then traveling on to grandparents' homes to continue the festivities. He wrote it in such a way that it sounds magical, wonderful and oh so very Martha Stewart-ish. It's all made up.

I asked him if it was supposed to be a story or if it was supposed to be factual. He said, "Well the teacher said it's supposed to be our real traditions but how is she going to know?"

That's my boy!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Way In the Wilderness

Ty had his fourth grade Chapel program today and I managed to not sleep through it this time (poor Grace). They did a little skit of Moses being placed in the Nile as a baby and then they did a second skit of Moses after he'd led the Israelites out of Egypt. Ty was in the second skit as an Israelite. I did film the entire second skit and it is available to watch - all seven minutes of it - on and it is rather funny at times but I clipped just a small piece of it for you guys.

First a couple of pictures. The pillar of fire was awesome; it glowed from within. Ty is off to the far right.

Afterward I took a pic of Ty (left) and two of his buddies. When I looked closer at the pic I had to laugh at the kid in the background beating the papier-mâché rock the minute the show was over.

Ok, ok so here's the video.

WIP: Basket of Poppies & Bookmark

I am making this hardanger freebie pattern into a bookmark but I don't have all the required threads so while I wait for those to make an appearance, I started a petit point by Gitta's that I bought at the Hershey CATS show last autumn. It's on 40 count silk gauze and although it's hard to tell from a photograph on the internet, the total fabric size is only 5x7. The piece I have stitched is about the size of a half-dollar.

When complete, it'll look like the picture on the right. My work-in-progress (WIP) pictures are below.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Mass Movie Reviews 3

The following two movies I have watched before but it's been many years and I re-watched them just this weekend so I thought I would review them for you. The third movie I happened to catch on AMC this afternoon.

The Fisher King
Shock jock Jack Lucas makes a comment to a disturbed listener of his radio show who then goes to a bar and opens fire on a group of unarmed, innocent bystanders. One of the people killed in the barrage of gunfire was Parry's wife. Parry sinks into a catatonic state and Jack sinks into a depression. Years later Parry wakes and is released to become a charming homeless man who teaches Jack the real meaning of love and life.

It wasn't bad - not awesome but not lousy either. How can you not like a movie that has both Robin Williams and Michael Jeter? There was also a small role for David Hyde Pierce of Frasier fame.

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams, and Mercedes Ruehl.

The Four Feathers
Jack Durrance has everything going for him. He's recently engaged to a beautiful woman who is madly in love with him and he is rising up the ranks of the British army all the while surrounded by his four closest friends. When the announcement comes that his regiment will be shipped off to war in the Sudan, Jack resigns his commission. When three of his friends and his fiancé learn what he has done, they each send him a white feather to symbolize what they see as his cowardice. He tortures himself with self-doubt and eventually makes his way to the Sudan and joins up with the British army but this time in disguise. He then attempts to redeem himself in the eyes of his four friends and fiancée.

I really liked this movie. I liked it as much this time as when I'd watched it before. I had read somewhere that Kate Hudson had turned down the lead role of Mary Jane in Spider-Man in order to take the role of the fiancé, Ethne and the comment was made that she must surely be regretting that decision. I don't know why the critics and commenters on Netflix didn't like this movie but I recommend it. There are some battle scenes and some tense moments but mostly it's more of a love story than anything else.

Starring: Heath Ledger, Kate Hudson and Djimon Hounsou

Anatomy of a Murder
When Lt. Frederick Manion's wife Laura was raped he took a gun to the bar where the rapist worked and shot the man to death. He confessed to the murder and now it is the job of lawyer Paul Biegler (played by James Stewart) to help exonerate Lt. Manion. He uses a temporary insanity excuse for a plea of not guilty but is it true or has Lt. Manion tricked everyone, even his own defense lawyer?

I really enjoyed this movie. Shot in 1959, it is a black and white but don't let that dissuade you from watching this movie. The courtroom arguments were as compelling as any Law & Order episode or John Grisham novel of modern times. Excellent movie!

Starring: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara and Arthur O'Connell

House of Pestilence

I swear sometimes it feels like we just can not shake being sick. First Ty and S3 had these random fevers. Ty's turned into strep. Then S3 had the ear infection; the first he's had in nearly ten years. Then when I got home from work the other day E had a fever of 104.8 and was puking for poor Steve all night who also then started puking. He missed an important meeting and I ran her to the doc. They xrayed her for pneumonia (we waited for that xray so long that I fell asleep in the waiting room chair with E asleep on my lap. The xray tech didn't know my name so she kept calling, "E's mother! E's mother!" LOL!) but she was clear. She's still puking three days later but not as frequently so I'm able to keep Tylenol in her. G has been feverish the whole time also but with no other real symptom.

And now I think I'm getting sick. And I don't want to risk taking whatever this random fever thing is that we've had for three weeks into the nursing home so when work comes my way I'm going to have to say no. I scrubbed the whole house down on Saturday with Pine-Sol but I think I might do it again today. Ugh.

We had a spur-of-the-moment trip planned with another couple for DC this weekend that we've had to back out of and I missed my dearest friend's daughter's sweet sixteenth birthday party. Being sick stinks.