Thursday, September 08, 2011

Time flies...

I can't believe that I haven't blogged since, so much has gone on. Here are some highlights...

*Mother-in-law got remarried on a yacht on Lake Michigan. It was super-duper hot but lovely and I didn't throw up off the side of the boat (score one for Sea Bands! they are great and they help with morning sickness (not that I have than anymore)).

*Huge family reunion at Starved Rock. Gorgeous location and so much fun with 73 of my closest relatives. Not long enough.

*School started for all. Hubby is taking a couple classes to prepare for his next big career move into nursing. The daughter started high school...really. The boys are in first and second grade. And the baby is with me at preschool.

*Made a fun Lego Indiana Jones birthday cake for the newly-turned 6yo.

*Did my first training session for the local child care resource service on gross motor development and integrating physical activity into the classroom. I think it was successful and realized that I am really a good teacher and it is really what I should be doing in carry on.

*Baby got some teeth and has begun to crawl and stand up. He also loves food a lot...we can't really give him enough. He eats everything (so he might be related to my big brother after all!).

*My dad and gram visited and I just love grocery shopping with them! My grandma should probably have her own reality show...Shopping with a Polish Woman. I also got to eat at two of my favorite restaurants in the same day!

*Read The Help and saw the movie...recommend them both.

*I started watching Mad me some Don Draper.

*Finally lost some baby weight! Only about 6 pounds to go...but not ready to try on my pre-baby jeans (just bought some new ones instead).

*In case you were wondering, the boys still maintain farting as a major point of conversation and activity.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Baby Weight Be Gone Already....Really, now is the time

So, little baby boy is 5 1/2 months old...growing well and is a truly delightful child. And here I am sitting with almost 15 extra pounds on my little frame of a body. I haven't really lost anything since my six week check up.

To say this is frustrating would be an understatement. I exercised up until I delivered and I am extremely active now. I exercise 5hrs a week plus about three days with some fabulous kids in addition to the normal mother-running. I eat fairly well and drink plenty of water. And I am nursing a baby who eats a lot...a lot. So why?!!

I'm trying to stay patient but its annoying. I really didn't want to buy new pants for the fall (I hate clothes shopping, hate it). I don't like how my body looks and jiggles. I really want my muscular, athletic body back, and now would be great.

I have seen my arms and legs toning up again and my cardiovascular endurance has improved. But as much as that number shouldn't mean anything, it does.

I asked my dr when I was there last and she was sympathetic but said that if I hadn't lost any by now nothing will probably happen until I stop nursing, or at least until he is sleeping at night a bit more. Well, I plan on nursing for another two years....

So, I know that this is a short-term issue and eventually I can sculpt my body to however I like but it doesn't stop my frustration and longing to fit into my pre-baby jeans.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Healthy Kids

Here is a fun and surprisingly active game to play with your kids (or even other adults!).

Pick 3-4 positions (e.g. standing up, sitting down, laying down) or activities (e.g. run, jump, hop, push ups).
One person is the leader and calls out different positions/activities (quickly, if possible).
The rest of the group gets into the position or does the activity.
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
*change leaders when you like

Position ideas
Laying down
Superman (lay on tummy with arms out like flying)
Banana (lay on back with arms extended above your head)
Ball (tuck body into ball (on back or feet)
Tiger (on hands and knees)
Snake (cobra yoga pose)
Letters (T, Y, R, E....)
Sideways (lay on side)
One leg up
Side plank
Front plank

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Happy Healthy Kids

So I have finally found the time, kind of, and convinced my employer to let me teach some kids' this summer the Fitness Center in Champaign began Healthy Kids. Its 30mins a day, Monday thru Friday for kids ages 3-12.

So many of the things I do in class, you can do at home with your kids. Simple, short, fun things.

Over the next couple weeks, I will share some ideas with you.

*Red, Yellow, Green Light
Take 3 pieces of construction paper (red, yellow, and green). One person stands on one side of the room/yard and holds up a paper...the others move towards to the person according to the color (red=stop, yellow=slow motion, green=run). Take turns being 'the light'.

*Building and Knocking Things Over
Make towers out of things (at the gym we use yoga blocks, at home empty boxes). Then take turns running, punching, and kicking the tower over. Rebuild and repeat.

*Paper Planes
Make lots of paper airplanes together. Then toss them around the room/yard. Run to get them and throw them again.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Speeding through Summer

The month of June is speeding by us so fast, I really can't believe it. The summer has proved to be far more busy than the school year...and we had a busy school year!

I spend a lot of time driving children and myself to various places for an hour or two...then driving home or somewhere else. I have been teaching 4-5 days per week...which I love! but I think my car automatically drives itself down Prospect Ave. I am overjoyed to be able to teach kids over the summer, which I normally don't do. I don't feel like we overscheduled the kids but with added playdates, pool time, park play, walks, and a big increase in grocery store visits--some swim lessons, softball, and marching band thrown in....we are always moving!

We have been fortunate to be spending lots of time together and with friends. I spent a particularly lovely time with some girlfriends at our local cupcake cafe last night...watching the rain, people, and chatting. The kids have spent time with friends. And the 14yo is babysitting up a storm...and not for us. I have also spent a lot of time enjoying the baby develop....he's exploring the world around him with such pleasure...its hard not to enjoy it with him.

We also get to dogsit this weekend, which gives us all another pet to play with...but not keep! (although he is a delightful doggie....we'll watch him anytime!). Our own pets (that of which I brought all three to vet the same day) are on a new reduced-food plan which they are not happy about so its nice to have a pet around that appreciates us a bit.

I think my husband still lives here....I see signs (like a lot of empty Mike's Hard Lemonades!) but we haven't exactly found time to sit and look at each other too long. Soon, I hope...we have plans to see a movie--they still make those, right?

July brings lots of weddings and celebrations. So, here we go...

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Baby Weight Be Gone Already

I haven't forgotten my decision to publicly share my weight loss journey but honestly I haven't had much to report. I was sitting at the same weight for several weeks. But I finally broke through a bit.

It probably had something to do with the craziness of May...I think I was in constant motion since we had a lot of special events and meals filled with lots of yummy but not so healthy foods. But I also felt more like my former self physically. Something happened that I felt stronger and thinner, for a lack of a better word. This allowed me to be more active in my house, classroom, and at the gym.

Week 8 Weight: 143
Week 16: 136

The plan this month is to find healthy sweet options and exercise a bit more, which will be easy since I am teaching more fitness classes again. And water, water, water!!

Monday, May 30, 2011


Something has happened to my sweet little boys....they have turned into dirty little rugrats. Apparently something happens around age 7, younger if they have an older brother....suddenly bodily functions and body parts are extremely important!

I know they have not learned it from me and my husband doesn't like to talk about it either...but I have never heard the word fart so many times! (and I grew up with two brothers!). or wiener. or butt.

My favorite moment has to be when my 7yo was sitting next to me on the couch just letting them fly and giggling.

Then there is the time before bath time when they dance around naked, trying to circle their penises around in circles.

Or the comic book being created called Iron Fart (inspired by the baby).

Fart jokes and poop songs...not exactly what I thought parenting would entail.

Monday, May 16, 2011

the Joyful Mom

With all the stress and chaos of my life, I have tried hard to find joy in all that I do. Especially since we only have a few days left of school, I am trying hard to truly enjoy my students before they move on...they are challenging me on this goal. My daughter has had many end-of-the-year activities that have allowed us to really enjoy her talent, leadership, and overall amazing kidness. And although I don't play video games, I am trying to find activities with the boys to hang out with...I am partial to Uno.

And finally, the baby. I just love to watch this little guy. It is such a joy to see him explore the world and discover things. He is fascinated with water and is trying to figure out why he can't grab a hold of it like everything else. It is so amazing....and this is coming from a early childhood person who has interacted with lots and lots of babies.

And really, what is more full of joy than seeing a child smile, I mean, really?!

So go out and enjoy.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Diary of a tired mom

Whenever anyone asks how I am, I feel bad, but I almost always respond with 'tired'. Of course, I am tired. I have four kids, two jobs, three cats, a toad, I volunteer myself to both my kids' schools, plus I like to keep up with family and friends, I like to cook and eat which requires some shopping, and I don't think the laundry will ever be done. There is always something I could be doing.

Like now, I am blogging...when I should probably be making a healthy dinner for my family or even taking a nap before my husband heads to work. I have a list of lots of things I need to do by Friday that runs through my head.

But what could I eliminate? I really enjoy almost every activity I feel necessary. I love my students at work...even when they are feeling summer approaching through their bones. I love my members at the gym who keep my smiling. I love being a part of my kids' school communities. I want to give back as much as I can for their amazing free educations. I wish I could see my family more so its really important to arrange special times. Eating and bathing seems a little required. And the baby must eat about every 2hrs. And sleep is least the minimum I seem to manage.

But I don't always do 'something'. Sometimes, I do nothing. I try to watch as least one mindless television show each day and read something not related to work. Today I read OK Magazine while waiting through my son's therapy session as the 5yo played on the floor (I was waiting for our epic Uno game to commence). My magazine reading led me to some funny youtube videos later in the day. I've been so consumed in family life, reading a magazine from March was all news to me.

Doing nothing is just as important as doing something.

I think I have found some balance in my life. I am able to say no to projects and volunteer requests. I am fine with dishes in the sink. I can stop myself and take a nap. We can always have scrambled eggs for dinner. I always find time for exercise. I can always find a piece of dark chocolate in the house.

So I am tired but happily so.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Books Recommendations

I read a lot. Lately I have read some parenting/education/child development/interesting books.

Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
This book examines a variety of topics such as self-control, gifted-education, early childhood curriculum, sleep, language development, praise, and lying through careful evaluation of current practices and research. For example, it talks about if saying things like 'good job' or 'you're really smart' is actually helping your child or not. I think every parent and educator should read this book. Well-written and easy to read.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein
This book discusses the intense girly-girl culture in the US including the evolution of it (e.g. Disney Princesses, American Girls, Bratz) and a mother's struggle to find the line in the sand for her daughter. It reads like a dialogue with yourself as you stand in the pink section of the toy store as you debate picking up that barbie doll for that young girl in your life. It is very interesting for both women and men to read and helps start evaluating your own thoughts and policies of parenting.

Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys
by James Stephen and David Thomas
I think I have mentioned this book before but I have to recommend it again. Anyone who interacts with male humans should read this book, especially those who are raising little men. This book helps expose the secrets of how boys work and what we can do to help them develop. It also helps you gain some perspective as a parent or teacher and prevent boys' actions from driving you crazy. Read This Book!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Baby Weight Update

So, I can't lie and say that I haven't hope to loose some of this baby weight quickly and effortlessly. I was pretty sure that my busy lifestyle and relatively good eating habits, not to mention breastfeeding a lot would do it. Well, not the case. In fact, I have gained weight. And it bothers me. It does. I would be ok without loosing anything, but adding numbers to the scale is not the goal.

It has been very frustrating actually. I have added three days per week of exercise (2 cardio and 1 strength) to my weekly routine. I am still taking it easy and listening to my body...which isn't ready for my usual workout load. I am literally doing something almost all day, so I am very active. I am eating well...lots of whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and veggies. I have even limited my sweets (I didn't have any chocolate a couple days!).

But I think I just have to accept it and continue on. I cannot do anything crazy...or even moderately nutty. I have myself, kids, and life to take care of. So the focus this coming week is on good eating habits (which will be hard saying Tuesday is my birthday and Easter is on the weekend). And drink more water (which every nursing mother needs to).

Week 6 Weight: 138.5
Week 9 Weight: 143

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Mas Amigos...still a family favorite

I've written about Mas Amigos Restaurant in Champaign before but I feel the need to reaffirm my love for this place. There was a time when we were there once a week but we have held back a bit (alternating with Black Dog in Urbana for our lunch dates).

The food is great. My favorite item has to be the mole sauce. Our 5yo actually orders 1 chicken enchilada with mole sauce as his favorite dinner since the summer. It is just spicy enough and rich with that perfect hint of chocolate...perfect. The guacamole is fantastic which goes with the hot, fresh chips and salsa so well. My husband orders the exact same thing every time....steak burrito and chorizo taco combo with lots of the special green sauce. Our 14yo favors the fajitas...steak or veggie with corn tortillas. And the 7yo orders crispy chicken taco with cheese and just rice, no beans. I also enjoy the tamales.

The service is delightful. They know us well...laughing when I came in alone, 8mons pregnant and probably ate enough chips for a small family. It is fast and accurate. The prices are very reasonable...most items between $5-10.

So, go people!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Back to real life.

So my days of watching bad movies and napping are put on hold while I started back to work this week.

I was more than ready to get out of the house regularly and see all my friends, students, parents, and gym peeps again. And my easy-going 7-week-old was ready for some action too--ok, he slept through most of anything. I am fortunate to work in two extremely family-oriented places--on-site childcare and lots of eager hands to snuggle him.

Everyone has asked me all are you? did it go ok? how is he? Everything is fine. I get to see the little bundle whenever I need to and he gets to see me whenever he needs me. And really, I only work 4 hrs a day and teach fitness for 55 mins per week. I absolutely love my jobs, so I was so happy to be back.

Unfortunately, the rest of my life continued as well...driving kids around, newsletters to write, tutoring to do, lots of laundry and dishes to wash, books to read, report cards to enjoy, grocery shopping, big kids to chat with.... That, combined with the fact the little one found the need to eat continually from midnight to 6am each night...was exhausting. Seeing my husband nap or hearing him snore was a bit irritating, to say the least.

So we're hanging in least until summer.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Break Run Down

Spring is always a practice for what is to come in the summer. Our kids were busy. This is what they did.

*Rollerskating and Laser Tag at Skateland
*Forts with cushions and blankets
*Magic show (best $10 spent at Barnes and Noble ever)
*A special date with a parent (shoe shopping, ice cream, bookstore)
*Bike riding and neighborhood walks
*Lots of outside play...until it snowed
*Xbox and DS
*Family movie times and lots of popcorn
*Half-Birthday celebrations
*Dress up---there was a Fairy Revolution, Ninja fight, and Star Wars recreation
*Playdates with friends
*Lots of reading

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fitness Friday!!! the Comeback!

Obviously, my body has undergone lots of changes in the past year. I gained about 35lbs during my pregnancy, reaching my all-time high weight.

Every woman feels pressure to lose that baby weight. If you watch the tabloids, Hollywood moms make it look way to easy to drop all that weight in a ridiculous about of time. They make us, normal people, think it should all melt away. But ladies, it doesn't. When I was 18, yes, the weight disappeared. But when I was in my twenties, I decided just to have another baby instead of trying to get rid of the rest of the pounds. And with #3, it wasn't until I was done nursing (after 2 1/2 years) that I finally finished up that last 5lbs. And honestly, my pre-pregnancy-regular weight is 10lbs higher than my wedding weight.

So we'll see what happens this time. I was in the best shape of my life before I got pregnant (which really helped my surgical recovery!) and I am nursing all the time and taking care of 3 other kids, not to mention teaching the best 24 preschoolers in town....let's just say I'm very active. But I love junk food and sitting around watching a lot of tv while I rock and nap isn't good for anything.

My goal is to have my body back to being strong (lifting those big weights again), active, and fit (e.g. running up the stairs and breathing at the same time) in 9 months. I want to be able to keep up with my students, young and old, and my own kids.

It took me 9mons to get up there, it will take about 9mons to get back down.

I'll track my progress here and we'll see what happens!

Height: 4ft 11in
End of pregnancy weight: 162
Today's weight:138.5

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Children are the Future

I am a strong believer in play-based learning for children (and hands-on learning for adults!). Kids should be encouraged to think for themselves, explore, experiment, ask questions, and take risks. This will allow them to think critically about what they are doing, find ways to solve the world's problems, think outside the box to create new and better things for us.

Here is an article about some research that encourages this type of learning.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I love playdough...who doesn't?! We make our own at home and school (I've also been known to make batches for the kids' classes). Playdough-making takes practice.

Here is my favorite recipe.

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 envelop gelatin (plain or flavored (but sugar-free))
2 cups water

In medium pot, combine ingredients and whisk well. Put over medium heat. Stir often with spoon or rubber spatula. Once mixture is thick and forms soft ball (about 5-10min), remove from heat and turn out onto lightly floored surface. Allow to cool 10min then knead a few times until smooth. Allow to cool completely. Store in air-tight container.

Add food coloring
Jello OR Kool Aid packets
Extracts or scented oils
Replace 1/4 cup of flour with cocoa
Tea or coffee grounds
Herbs or spices (pie spice is nice around the holidays)

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Life as we know it

Just to recap...

We have a 14yo who is trying to get us to teach her to drive (yes, drive....reminding us she is only 18mon away from 16!), registered for high school, and we are having to teach her to responsibility of a cell phone and the evil interweb. She is also nutty busy with school and church activities, not to mention her social life.

A 7yo who is reading everything, eliminating the once-effective mute/closed captioning button (hey, what does mean? should I google it? look they said it again!). He is also become an expert chess player way above my ability and tries to out logic us to get out of chores. He is inquisitive about everything and is insistent on looking up lots of facts.

A 5yo who has quickly figured out how to take advantage of a tired and always nursing mother. He has decided he is a real big kid now and wants to watch big kid shows, make up very mean comebacks, avoid homework at all costs. At least he still needs some cuddle time each day.

A 4week old who nurses, poops, and sleeps continually. He is trying hard to control his neck and head.

A little bit of everything...just the way we like it.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Netflix Newbie

As I am on maternity leave and ordered to do as little as possible...the first three weeks I was told to do hubby decided to get the free trial of Netflix. And we love did we function before?!

We do get DVD's in the mail but the part that we love is the instant streaming onto our laptop and xbox. Anytime we can watch tons of movies and tv shows. So I've watched a lot. I especially like documentaries, so I have watched a lot (and learned a lot about the movie rating system, french pastry competitions, vaccinations, natural gas, Joan Rivers). The kids love that they can watch Spongebob at any moment (for the hour it is not on tv). My only wish would be that Netflix monitors when I fall asleep while watching and starts the movie again when I wake up.

So, now my hubby wants to get rid of the satellite. I'm not ready for that move...I like to watch current tv shows and the local news. But lots of people are doing this...any of you?

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Expect the Unexpected while Expecting

While pregnant with our fourth baby, I knew that each pregnancy is different and each delivery is different. But I am a planner and like to be in control. We scheduled a c-section for Thursday, Feb 10th and after a couple weeks of worrying that I was going to go into labor (especially during the big snow storm), I decided that he's waited this long, he is going to wait until our scheduled date.

Of course, that didn't happen. On Monday, I was napping when pop! (literally) my water broke. This has never happened to me before. After panicking for a moment, I went into full mom-mode. Woke the hubby, called the mom, called the kids' schools, had contraction, called neighbors, packed a bag, calmed hubby down, had contraction, called doctor, cleaned up the house, facebooked our new status, emailed important family members, washed up. Sure I had thought about packing a bag ahead of time, but didn't. I did think about what to do with out existing children beforehand but with the snow, we changed it a bit.

So, we finally get to the hospital (yes, hello hubby's co-workers, would love to chat but have to have a baby now) and just hang out for awhile. Since I ate lunch, not expecting to have major surgery, I had to wait 6hrs for my c-section. Well, my water broke, setting my body into labor...meaning contractions....and contractions are painful at times. This was not part of the plan. But I was surprisingly calm and I breathe very well. I felt a little bad that I didn't do anything exciting for the nursing students (it was their first day, they were hoping for a baby right away).

So there I am, watching Seinfeld and the clock, knowing that although it kind of sucked that I had to labor, it would all end at 7pm. Tick, tock, tick, tock.

Magic time....spinal in, contractions stop. In about 15mins...BABY!!! I got to see him right away...and then it went downhill. Short story...vomiting while having abdominal surgery...horrible. So, I didn't get to really see or pay any attention to the baby while in surgery. Finally, after about an hour in recovery, I stopped throwing up and got to nurse and nuzzle the little one.

After was blissful.

So, he just wanted to make sure his arrival was eventful and would be remembered. All in all, although not what we expected, it was the result we planned on...a healthy, happy baby boy.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Boy Noise

Boys and girls are different, they just are. One major difference is noise. My boys make noise all the time...they don't even know they are doing it! Today, they spent the snow day rolling in laughter while watching Home Alone, talking through their Valentine decorations, video game sounds, lots and lots of gun noises and pretend walkie talkies, and, my favorite, singing loudly while sitting the echoy cabinet.

Its the shooting and ship noises that annoy me the most and are the ones that I don't think they even realize they are making. And they make them all the time.

All I want is a moment of quiet. With three boys in the house, I suppose it is unlikely for the next ten years, at least.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Baby Prep

We've had some interesting things happen over the past month as we finish preparing for the newest addition to the family.

I, of course, have been nesting. Washing, sorting, folding. Everything is pretty set in the house. Diapers ready to go. Nursing items ready. Clothes put away (in a new shelf I bought and assembled). Bassinet and cradle up and waiting. Phone lists are updated. Schedules printed. Game plans done. Pantry stocked, freezer full, Valentine's stuff purchased. I'm actually trying to take it easy...resting, eating, made it through the Bears' playoff game...

For awhile my husband was driving me nuts but not doing anything I asked him please find this and that and organize this, etc. But then after chatting, I realized he was nesting in his own considering whether or not to build an addition on to the house before Feb 10th (just kidding but not by much!). He has all these 'projects' he wants to get done before the baby arrives. And since I don't see these projects as a priority (unless they are actually completed), I didn't get it. But I do nest on Loverbuns!

And then there are the kids.
*The 5yo is just fascinated by the baby and whole process. He is asking lots of fabulous questions and can't wait to be a big brother. He also knows that the baby will bring lots of fun visitors to the house that he can play with.
*The 7y0 is in great denial that the baby is even coming. He is anxious and a bit terrified about this unknown. So, we'll see how this goes.
*The 14yo is pretty indifferent. I think she is excited but she's done it before, so no big deal...especially when I told her there was no reason to take off school the day he is born.
*The cats....I really want to be able to listen to their conversations (that I am sure they are having). Our older cats have been through the baby thing twice before so I want to know what wisdom they are sharing with the look at all these cool things that will be in the house! Be nice to the baby and the humans will let you do anything. Two of the cats have become very protective of of them sleeping on or as near as possible to my belly.

They are all selecting a gift for the baby and writing him a little one to welcome him to the family.

And then there is the name game...everyone has their opinion which doesn't match with anyone else's. He'll have a name, we just don't know what it will be.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Royal Time

The King's Speech (R, 118mins)

This movie is nominated for 12 Academy Awards and has a rating of 95% Fresh on Rotten everyone says its great. Everyone says Black Swan is great too, I strongly disagree. But the King's Speech really is fantastic. What I really like about this movie is how it is an acting movie and the excellent acting is what makes the movie.

Set in England between 1920-40, we follow the Duke of York as he ascends to the throne of England, just as WWII is getting underway. In addition to all the family and political drama, one of his biggest struggles is a stutter he has had since he was 4 years old. So, we see in through his therapy, which helps target not only his speech but his heart.

Colin Firth is just amazing as the Duke and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, the speech therapist, is wonderful. And it is so refreshing to see Helena Bonham Carter portray a normal person. These performances and the relationships their characters form carry the film, although I found the story very interesting as well. The production is beautiful as well, from the many royal homes to Logue's crumbling office.

I recommend this to all. I don't think people under 18 will find it particularly interesting but it is appropriate (there are some swears but that is about all on the R-rated front). Big screen or little, I would check it out. It is sure to win some golden statues next month.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Is it criminal?

I have one huge interest in my life...crime dramas, in books, movies, and tv. Lately, since I've made myself sit down and chill out from time to time and some pregnancy insomnia, I've become addicted to Criminal Minds. Did you know its on all the time...and if I can't find an episode, Law and Order or CSI usually satisfies. Even a 48hrs Mystery will do it (although I almost always fall asleep before the conclusion...better than a sleeping pill!). I decided I should balance it out with a book or so now and again.... so Robert Parker, James Patterson, Sue Grafton.

My husbands hates these shows so he never watches with me...honestly we don't watch tv together much, we can rarely agree on options. He hates more that our 14yo daughter has succumbed to my addiction as well (I do monitor what she watches and reads).

He always asks me...why do you watch these shows?! I don't know but I am drawn to them. Does this mean that I have some dark and sinister side? Does it make me feel smart if I figure it out before the end? Does it make me feel better that I am safe and alive in my home? Who knows. But should I be concerned that I like this stuff so much?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Fighter

In my quest to see lots of movies before baby....

The Fighter (R, 115min)

This film is based on the real life boxing brothers Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and Dick Eklund (Christian Bale). We follow Micky's rise to boxing fame and Dick's struggle. Along the way, we meet their seven sisters and one crazy momma...all with fabulous 1990's hair and clothing (wow, did we really dress like that?).

The story is compelling. I didn't know anything about the story going in, so I was engaged and interested in what the outcome would be. The production design was it was filmed in the actual town it is set including the boxing gym. I can't say that I like watching boxing but the fight scenes are filmed well and tastefully.

But the highlight of the film is the acting. Christian Bale is amazing. His physical transformation into his character is stunning and allows the rest of the character to flow out seemingly effortlessly (he has this talent in all his roles). Mark Walhberg is Mark Walhberg, nothing out of the ordinary for him but it fits the role well. Amy Adams, playing Micky's love interest, is outstanding as well. She plays and feels like a real person. Finally, Melissa Leo as the managerial mother is fantastic.

I would recommend is not something that you have to see on the big screen but it is a good one.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Diapers....Round 4!

As we prepare for the newest baby here, we had to return to the world of diapers. This time around we are going green and doing cloth diapers. Interestingly, it never presented itself as choice before (although, of course, it always was).

Why we are doing it....
1) Expense--up front, it is more expensive to set up your diapering system than stocking for a month of disposables however in the long run (2-3 years of diapers), it is way, way, way cheaper. No comparison.

2) Environment--it is clearly better for the environment to use reusable items than sending things to fill up landfills. Although it will add a laundry load or two to our week, it will not add anything to our garbage load (which we like to keep light---recycling and composting keep us to a bag or two per week).

This is a very big trend and lots of families are choosing to use cloth diapers, at least in some degree. So the products available are abundant.

If you are considering cloth diapers, you do need to educate yourself a bit. There are a few ways to do this.

*Ask around (I put a question to my friends on facebook and asked people who I know do it)
*You Tube (there are tons of videos on how to...)
*The Interweb (again lots of sources, Cotton Babies is a good start)
*Your local green store. Ours, B.Lime Baby, offers classes, rentals, products, etc.

So, I'm sure you will hear from us on how this new adventure goes.

Friday, January 07, 2011

WW Update: the Financial Times

So, we knew that 2011 would be an exciting year for us. A new baby! Our oldest will be entering high school! I have expanded my fitness career with personal training! The 7yo is reading and learning to tie his shoes! The 5yo just might sleep in his own bed one day this year! My husband tested through college algebra and straight into statistics (this was our miracle moment!)!

We also knew that since I will be on maternity leave for a bit, that money would be a bit tight until school starts again in the fall. But we have planned for it and we are no strangers to frugal living.

Enter further complications.....significant cut-backs with my husband's job and changes in health insurance (e.g. increased costs for us) and proposed Illinois tax increases...just put me in a bit of a panic this week.

You just can't plan for such things. However, we are happy to have jobs and health care, healthy and happy kids, friends and family, and a house to live in (which we will be living in for at least another year or two...the baby can sleep in the dining room, right?). And we have done this before when my husband went back to school a few years ago. We can live on a smaller income, pull our resources, and use some assistance (whatever the state doesn't end up cutting later this month).

We can do it, it just sucks that we have to.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

I must have blacked out during Black Swan

Black Swan (R, 108mins)

I think of myself as a pretty intelligent and somewhat 'cultured' person, but I missed something important in this film.

This very dark, psychological thriller starring Natalie Portman seems to follow the story of a ballerina as she prepares for her big principle role as the Swan Queen in Swan Lake for a major ballet company (aka ABT or the like). This I am sure of. What I am so confident is the rest of the movie...what is really happening and not happening, why or why not, and who really exists.

The reviews are overall very positive for this film so I was very optimistic about seeing it (and it has lots of Oscar buzz). I kept waiting for a big twist, a big shock...even holding off a bathroom run as long as possible....nothing came (well, I did make it to the bathroom). I left the theater confused, unsatisfied, and disappointed.

I then tried to read about it as much as I could so I didn't feel so stupid. But it isn't that I missed something, the something really isn't there. The film intentionally presents an open case for the viewer to unravel on her own but too much so, in my opinion. I won't reveal much here since the film wants you to do it on your own. But I would recommend brushing up on your Swan Lake storylines (even stated briefly in the film, I didn't make the connections on my own).

As for the rest of the film, I found Portman's performance, like her character, on one note. All of the characters and their actors are much of the same, very one dimensional and archetypal. The production design is nothing special either.

So, I wouldn't really recommend this film, definitely not spending a night at the theater with it. But it will be nominated for Academy Awards, so if you like to see those films..... I would wait for the free library DVD (with commentary to help explain the film).