Thursday, July 30, 2009

I'm still here...

I can't believe its been so long since I actually published a blog post (meaning I have started many and never got back to them). This is past month has been nuts and busy but all good and once August hits, I'm done for. School will creep up on us so fast.

So here is a summary of what we have been up to:
1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Leading up to the July 15th premiere, books were read and movies were watched. I did not head to the theater at midnight but did catch a morning show the next day. In short, see it and on the big screen. It is satisfying for those who have read the book and easy to follow for those who have not (but I recommend seeing the previous movies first). I don't know what is in store for the last two films so I won't complain yet about any omissions.

2. Finally painted pre-teen's room
She picked the colors and she did most of the work. She picked a bright green with pink accents. It looks nice. She spent hours cleaning out all of her 'kid' stuff in order to transform it into a teenager's hang out. A few sleepovers later, I think she succeeded.

3. Twilight
The daughter is way into the series and her walls are covered in posters. She waivers between Team Edward and Team Jacob. I am happy to know that she does not like Bella and thinks she makes stupid decisions! I haven't decided whether or not to allow her to read Breaking Dawn.

4. So You Think You Can Dance
The talent this season is fabulous. No one really stands out because they are all so amazing. My week is planned around the show. And the Top 10 can coming to the Assembly Hall (affectionately referred to as the Ass around here) in October!

5. Playdates, Pools, and Parties...lots of days spend with friends and family

6. Camp Family
We shipped the kids up to Chicagoland for some time (ok, we actually drove them and hand delivered them to responsible adults). So each kids got some time with several different family members. Our oldest got to spend time away from the little brothers and pick some more grown up things to do. She went on a segway tour of downtown Chicago and saw a couple museums and shows. The boys got to play with new things and people and not have to clean up after themselves. And my hubby and I got some quiet time.

7. Adult Play Time (we only wish it was as seedy as that sounds)
So we had some time with no kids so we hung out in CU for awhile doing things we have wanted to do for awhile (eating out, shopping in Tuscola, sleeping). We headed up to Chicagoland and drove around and stopped whenever we saw something interesting (Lake Michigan, Bahai Temple, Chicago Botanical Gardens). We love to drive around and look at houses we will never be able to afford. We stayed in a hotel. Went to a museum without kids (Museum of Science and Industry and saw the Harry Potter exhibit). We had whole conversations and meals without interruption.

8. Reading
The daughter and I have read so many books this summer! And the boys have too but have also discovered the Xbox. I re-read part of Harry Potter and am still working through the Sookie Stackhouse series (and watching True Blood). I also picked up a couple random new mysteries at the library. I plan to catch up on the Percy Jackson series I can fit in with the middle schoolers.

9. Family Dinner
Once the movie project was done we have tried hard to re-establish family meals. The daughter and the 5yo really love to cook so its been nice creating and eating meals together. The favorite recipe so far has been Ice Cream Mud Pie.

10. Work
I have been teaching so many fitness classes, my body will be so thankful to go back to being abused by preschoolers. But I have had a great time meeting new members and developing new classes. I really love exercise and sharing my love for it with others. Two more weeks before I switch back into school mode.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Frugal Friday

Especially after my last two posts involved spending money...and they involved movies....

I love going to the movies and so do my kids. But we all know, it is crazy expensive.

Here are some tips....
*Many local theaters offer free or reduced family movies. Check your local theaters for details.
(In CU, over the summer, both theaters offer $1 movies M-F mornings)

*Many theaters have reduced concessions on a slower weeknight...often Tues or Wed.
(In CU, the Bev has $1 night on Tues and the Savoy offers a bucket program and punch-card system)

*Many theaters offer a frequent movie-goer programs (e.g. see 10 movies, 11th is free)

*Always see movies before 6pm! Matinees are always cheaper and some theaters offer Twilight fares between 4-6pm.

*Try to eat before you go. (and sneak in a granola bar)

*Avoid movies in 3D...there are more expensive and usually don't offer kid's or reduced prices.

*Read reviews ahead of time and make sure you are making the most of your movie time. Even with movies I thought I really wanted to see, I make sure they are either really good or really fun. (So sorry, Mr. Depp Public Enemies will have to wait for DVD).

*Over the summer, check out your local park districts, pools, parks, libraries, community organizations for movies outside! They usually don't start until at least 830pm but they are almost always free.

*Read local blogs, online magazines, event sites, newspapers for movies being shown. The university shows lots of movies on campus for a couple bucks or free. This is also a great way to see some independent films and documentaries.

*Of course....check out DVD's from the library and have your own home movie night.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I really got swept UP

Movie Review: Up (PG, 96min)

First of all, my 3yo finally sat through an entire feature film in the theater! We did miss the short film before the movie since, despite repetitive inquiries, he decided he had to go to the bathroom then. Secondly, I LOVE Pixar films. They are, by far, my favorite family films over the past 15 years. Many of them top my overall favorite film list.

So, get your kids to go to the bathroom before the movie and get to your seats on time because the first 10mins of the film are so amazingly sweet, I had a smile plastered on my face the entire time. Additionally, grab a couple extra napkins at the concession stand because this is a tear-jerker (I heard audible sobbing in the theater (and not from me this time)).

I don't even know what to tell you about the story without ruining any of it for you....let's see. It follows a man's discovery into the next journey of his life, Carl Fredricksen. Along the way, we meet a scout named Russell who it trying to complete his Assisting the Elderly badge. We also come across a rare bird, later named Kevin, and a technologically-assisted talking dog, Doug. Overall, it is a story about moving on through your life when challenges arise whether it be getting older, learning new things, finding safety, or breaking free from the pack.

Of course, the animation is spectacular. The overall visual effect of the film was soothing to me. I absolutely loved the look of Mr. Fredricksen. I think he reminded me of my grandpa. The voice talents are perfect. And, again, there were moments that would break your heart, make you laugh, and get you to the end of your seat.

I highly recommend it to all ages. It was fantastic on the big screen but I am sure we will love it on DVD as well. I don't think I missed anything watching it in 2D but it is available (at a greater price in 3D in many theaters).

Fun for the Whole Family

If you are looking for something fun to do this Thurday, head over to your local Goodrich theater (in CU, Savoy 16) and experience Forever Plaid's 20th Anniversary. Complete with introduction by the actors and sing-a-long! Great for all ages!
For details, see here.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The love the book

I recently told my daughter that I was not going to allow her to see the newest Harry Potter film until she read the book. So, she plowed through it. I waited patiently for her to finish to see what she thought. I won't ruin it for those of you who haven't read it but there are some major twists and turns in the book. "So, were you surprised by the ending?" "Are you sad about it?" (of course I sobbed while I read it the day it was released) "No." "No." What?! "Did you know what happened?" "Ya."

How awful! To ruin one of the most exciting book series by knowing the ending....I feel horrible for her. I so remember the excitement of getting my brand new copy of HP after waiting so long and secluding myself from the world until I turned the last page. And that excitement is not there for her.

The excitement of newly released stories has been happening for centuries. Did people wait expectantly for William Shakespeare's newest play to be debuted? Did JRR Tolkien get letter after letter asking to leak out the destiny of Frodo? Did libraries have year-long waiting lists to see what chaos Ramona would get into next? Did kids huddle in their rooms without outside communication until they read the latest Box Car Children book? To some degree, I'm sure.

And if you wait long enough, people stop talking about the books and you can enjoy them untainted by media. By the time my 3yo is ready to read Harry Potter, the stories will be preserved once again.

What has changed is that information was disseminated so slowly before the past 10 years. Most people still have no idea what happens at the end of Hamlet. But now, all the great books and plays are quickly swept up into the movie business. The first thing that happens when a book becomes a sensation...the movie rights are sold. Very few read book reviews but lots of people read movie spoilers (I don't even know of book spoiler sites, although I'm sure they exist). And with the internet, one can quickly find out what happens in a story.

On the flip side, I LOVE watching movie and play versions of books. I often read books that I know are being made into movies. I guess my high school English and film teacher ingrained the Venn diagram on my brain.

My hope is that our new found need for quick and simple information does not ruin the amazing journey of reading a book. That people will understand the excitement and satisfaction does not mean finding out the plot in the final chapter but in the engrossment that grows with every page turned. One of the best feelings in life is having that strong desire for the book to continue even after it is over.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Fitness Friday

Personal training is a great way to learn how to exercise, push yourself, and focus your fitness. If you have the time and the money, go do it! Add it to your normal fitness routine (or use it as a jump start!).

However, there is another option. Many places are offering small group training. You train with a personal training with 3-5 other people with similar goals. It is fun and more economical. The Fitness Center in Champaign offers Pod Training for groups at about $15/session/person (which is half the individual rate).

Think about getting a couple friends together and working out together...motivating each other, laughing with each other, getting in shape together. If you are getting married, round up your bridesmaids or groomsmen! If you are in a weight-loss group, get together to work on your goals!