Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Boston Legal - Seaon 3 - What Happened?

So, any other Boston Legal fans out there? I know there is at least one of you who lurks. What the heck happened with Season 3? After two sharp, tight, witty seasons, the first couple of episodes of Season 3 feel almost like a different show. My first guess is a new set of writers. There are two new characters which I hope I grow fond of because right now, I only kind of like the woman, but not so much the man. I don't expect this tv show to provide the secrets of the universe, or even an acne cure, but I do
want my old, familiar characters, challenging situations and witty banter, thank you very much.

We will continue Season 3 tonight and hope it gets better.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Guilty Pleasures

This summer we discovered Boston Legal. Oh, I know we were not the first to discover it, but like our ancestors before us, things are not truly relevant until we are involved. We are now involved. Deeply, passionately involved.

I love the relationship between Denny Crane and Alan Shore. Denny is so wonderfully unpredictable and does not hesitate to use his money and power in inappropriate ways. His republican stances are ridiculous enough, though played completely straight, that there can be no mistaking where the writers' political preferences lie. Alan is pure brilliance in human form. Wife was in love with him from nearly the beginning, wanting to somehow heal his wounds. I enjoyed his boldness, but was not a true devotee until season 2 episode 6, "Witches of Mass Destruction." In this episode, Denny is very angry with Alan for taking a case that calls into question governmental activities in the war. Denny believes that good Americans always support their government in times of war. Alan says some profound things to Denny including that as loyal Americans, we have to start talking about the war, even if we don't agree, we must not remain silent.

This show is filled with social and political commentary, but in such a way that it is blended in perfectly with what is really a character-driven series. It is smart, sexy and very funny.

Being a William Shatner and Candace Bergen fan, I always figured I'd enjoy Boston Legal. Wife has friends that have told her we should watch it. Still, we just never made the time, plus, it is hard to start a show mid-season. Thanks to Netflix, this summer we've made it most of the way though the first two seasons, and hope to have watched season 3 by the time I start back to school at the end of August. Good times!

Friday, July 18, 2008

I Love Al Gore

I just watched a video of an amazing speech given by Al Gore. In it, he poses a challenge to the American people:

When JFK challenged America to put a man on the moon in a decade, many called it impossible, but we did it. Today's challenge: power our nation on clean energy in 10 years.

The devastation being caused by climate change, by our economy, by our reliance upon carbon based fuel sources is bleak, and only getting worse. Al Gore addresses the harsh reality head on, but then also proposes a solution and his reasoning for why it will work. Moving to clean energy NOW is our chance to save our environment, bring good jobs into our economy and become a true world leader again. Check out the video.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Camping Adventure Games

This past weekend we set up the tent and had a camping adventure right in our own backyard. While we did not manage to sleep outside as a family, we still had loads of fun! (Night #1: Boy Wonder could not sleep with the neighborhood noises still happening, so he and I went in while Wife and the Princess slept outside. Night #2: Neither child could calm down enough to sleep outside, but were out within minutes once we retreated to their own bedrooms.)

As a fun thing to do, I bought a bunch of inexpensive party prizes, plus a few large water blasters as "end of the game" bonus prizes, and set up a bunch of "camping" games. We had an adventure trail, complete with a stop where we saw a snake and had to balance on one foot for the count of 10 before proceeding, an obstacle course, a river crossing that looked remarkably like a slip-n-slide, two fishing holes and a treasure dig (prizes in the sandbox). We also did a 3-legged race (I agreed to hop on one foot so they would have someone to compete with), a potato sack race, a knock the cups down with a ball game, and a game I made up called "Bugs and Bats" (Boy Wonder wanted to be able to imitate a bat...so I went with it.) that allowed the kids to move forward a certain number of spaces based on whether the bug named crawls or flies, with bats thrown in occassionally for fun.

Below are a few pictures of the fun. If you check out Wife's blog, she is likely to post more about this within the next few days. (The first picture is their adventure map of where all the games were located.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mid-summer scramble for plans

Wife and I have realized we've reached mid-summer, and though we'd not planned on any significant vacation are both desperate for an escape from our normal routines. I've been scanning all travel and other web sites for great deals both near and far and though I've found some crazy airline prices, ads for cheap Phentermine and ways to lose 10 lbs in 10 days (Why is it that diet ads are everywhere?), I've found nothing that we feel good about spending too much money on. While Disneyland is the preferred destination, it is also quite costly. Park Hopper tickets alone for a family of four, for five days runs over $700! Ouch. Maybe something that won't require driving for 14 hours with two kids is a better bet.....So, now I am seeking a closer destination with a view and maybe a hot tub. Might settle for two beds anywhere far away from the household responsibilities and within easy driving distance of shops and parks to explore. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

New TV!

We went out and purchased a 26" LCD HD TV last night. Name brand for $424 including tax; beat the Costco price by $75. I don't want to do any research on the exact model in case there are bad reviews. Wife made me promise not to be so uptight about checking reviews before buying since we've had great luck in the past with both name brand and never-heard-of brands. I really wanted to get a name brand though, which worked out well, since the best sale we found was on a name brand.

Our previous TV was a 19" tube TV, so this is quite a change for us. So far, we are enjoying it, though we've not gotten to watch it much, yet. Our Princess fell asleep while in the car last night shopping for TVs, stayed asleep in her stroller while in Costco, and then was good to go until 10:00 last night, when we insisted she go to sleep with us because it was Mommys' bedtime. Picture is crisp with good color, as long as you are not sitting too close. Good clarity from the side angles, too. I can't wait to try a movie on it :)

We can't really take advantage of the HD TV capability yet, since our Dish Network receiver is not HD. I guess if it ever becomes terribly important to us, we will do something about it. I can't really see that happening though. It just isn't a priority for either of us.

So, there is one task taken care of - and we did it before the other TV totally stopped working. Yippeee!

Personalized Books

I wrote the other day about our weekend trip to the bookstore and how much our kids love books. We have read our Little Princess both of her new books several times each day, as well as reading her this week's new library books many times. Each child is part of our library's summer reading program where they get a prize for each 5 hours of reading completed. We can read to them, or them to us, or them to each other. Is is a fun program and the kids like the prizes. I think they have just about earned their second prize. We can probably get it this weekend - even though they just picked up a prize last weekend. Yes - we do a lot of reading!

This week I came across a web site with personalized children's books. These are the ones that are printed with the child's name, hometown, best friend and such throughout the book. They have quite a good selection of books with characters children will know, like Dora, Barney and Spiderman, plus generic things like dinosaurs. For a customized, hard back book, the prices are not bad - in the $15 range. They also have customized CDs and DVDs. The DVDs are a bit pricey at $30-45, but I have to admit, would make a great present. These are ones that they put the child's information and picture into the music or movie. There is a Christmas one about a child saving the holiday from Jack Frost's attempt to ruin it that I am sure Boy Wonder would LOVE! The technology is like the dancing elves website that gets passed around at Christmas - where you paste your photo onto a body, so it may be a little disturbing for adults, but I am positive our kids would go nuts over it. Surely these are not everyday kinds of items, but as special presents, I think they would be big hits!

More demands for clean air?

Is the allergen level really higher than before? Seems like more people are talking about their allergies bothering them this year than previous years. I'd say it started around spring and is still happening. Certainly it could be true; I've not looked up any data. Maybe our mild winter combined with a late start to the hot summer weather increased and expanded the normal spring allergies for people. Lots of stuffiness, red eyes and drippiness (I know, "gross".) with speculation of cold vs. allergies.

Is an increase in allergy symptoms the reasons more people are investing in indoor air filters, like Blueair, or is it just that we are more aware that our air could be cleaner? With the technology available, and somewhat affordable do we NEED cleaner air to breathe as we sleep or mostly just want it "in case" it helps? Certainly there are those with medical conditions that need it, but what about everyone else? (I guess it depends on where you live.)

More folks are putting in hard wood or tile floors and giving up the cushy carpet - mostly a designing trend or mostly that carpets hold in dirt, dust mites, mold and assorted other nastiness? I personally prefer the look and feel of carpets so choose to not think too much about them.

How about it? Are we worse off or just more aware? Probably both.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

"Just Moms" Seek More

As I've mentioned, we had friends visiting from out of town this past weekend. It was really nice to have so much interaction with other adults. On the rare occasion that Wife and I see other adults together, it is usually only for a couple hours at a family event, and doesn't resemble daily life since we are together to "do" something - like celebrate a birthday. These friends just came to our home to hang out - we sat, we talked, we interacted with the kids, we ate, we sat and talked some more. Low pressure - no expectations (Thanks D & L!) - just like daily life - only better because we didn't have to do our regular chores since we were entertaining guests :)

Wife and I noted that we barely have real friends anymore - she has play group and mom friends (and computer friends) and I have work and school friends, but they are really context specific, and not people we just hang out with on a Friday night. There are a lot of reasons for this, I suspect - partly, the kid factor, partly the lesbian factor, partly the being exhausted at the end of the week factor and partly the being social sounds like a lot of hassle factor (even though it is so well worth it). Besides, I suspect once we know people well enough, neither of us would mind if the house was not spotless and we didn't have proper food and beverage to offer. (OK, OK, so our house has not been spotless since....uh...probably 2002, before we moved in!)

We are a couple who has slipped into being "just moms," operating mostly on a functional basis that involves child care, dog care, house care....but guess what? We are actually well-rounded adult human beings! I know - crazy right? We have interests, thoughts, are capable of reading books, partaking in computer rentals, playing a rousing, drunken game of Pictionary or Cranium, and interacting with other adults. I think we have decided we should try out the whole well-rounded adult thing, which includes getting together with friends, more often. Heck, it might even be fun!

The TV Blues

I fear the sad day is approaching when we must say goodbye to our current television. It is a big 19" screen TV that we bought to watch the summer Olympics on in 1996. Yes, I know 19" is not big, but it was a significant leap from the 13" screen we had at the time. Our picture is disappearing more and more frequently, caused most likely by some simple loose part, juggled loose from the kids jumping around so much in the living room.

There was a time, mostly during my childhood and before, when it was worthwhile to have things like televisions repaired. Not so much anymore. It would probably cost us at least a third of the cost of a new TV just to have someone look at it. So not worth it for a 12-year old set that will probably have other things giving out on it soon.

So now, we must consider our next move. Sometimes, I really like doing research before a big purchase, but right now, I am just not that interested in finding out about LCD HDTV, flat screens, resolution, warranties, reviews..blah, blah, blah. I just want a good TV for a really low price that is easy to use. I want it to magically appear in my house, connected to all the crazy cables upon which our happiness depends, and with a sleek remote control waiting on the coffee table strategically placed next to an icy, cold margarita.


Oh, sorry, I was gone for a moment there.

Guess I should start doing some research...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Books and More Books

Our family loves bookstores :) Not such a bad thing to be encouraging in our kids, really, other than it can get expensive. (We use the library a lot, too!) This weekend, while some friends were visiting us, Boy Wonder convinced us that it would be a good idea to go to a bookstore to buy him some more beginning reader books. Well, what parent can argue with that? We all headed to the local Borders since our friends were also interested in getting a book on CD for their RV trip home.

The Princess immediately found the two books she wanted to take home - one called I Wear My Tutu Everywhere and another that is a Dora book about visiting the dentist. Boy Wonder went through many wants - including some dog and dinosaur books that were not age-appropriate - and finally was happy with Invisible Stanley and a series of easy readers called Animal Antics - 10 small books in one pack. Our friends ended up indulging each child with a gift as well, finger puppets for the Princess and a Coloring Book/sticker/ penguin set for Boy Wonder. The kids really made out during that trip!

Moms did not manage to purchase anything for themselves, passing by the books on pop stars, politicians, meditation, natural acne treatment
, castles, and various paperbacks that appeared to be light summer reading. Oh, well, we're each already working on previously purchased books, and have both been enjoying the kids' books - some of them over, and over, and over.

Did I really just say that?

Crazy the stuff that just comes up in conversation, isn't it? When talking with adults without kids it might be about a kitchen gadget or politics or a sale or the best diet pills that work, but when the focus turns to kids, the conversations are really odd. I am often amazed by the things I have heard myself say (note I have not included the ones that include reference to bodily fluids or body parts):

"Don't lick the grass."
"Yes, his underwear is on backwards, but at least it is on."
"Don't paint your face with ice cream."
"Did you say your face is blue because you colored it with chalk?"
"No, use your napkin, not the dog's tongue."
"You need to believe me when I say that big rock will hurt if you drop it on your foot."
"How did you get yourself in there? Maybe if you straighten your leg and twist your head this way...No, that's not going to work."
"I don't care if she did start it - stop licking the dog!"

Ah, kids, a constant source of amusement...

Brief Weekend Update

Our nice long weekend was enjoyed by all, with somewhat less enthusism shown by the dogs than the humans. Loud fireworks - oh, heck, even quiet fireworks- are not something either of our dogs apppreciates. Maddie did not bark at them until Jordan started, but then it turned into a regular barkfest with neither dog pleased about the noise at all. I finally figured out I could distrct them by feeding them popcorn. Hey, whatever works :)

I am sure Wife will go into more details about the adventures over the past few days, but I will say the blow up pool, sandbox, swingset, colorful golf bags and assorted other kid toys were big fun for our kids, their cousins, and the family and friends who enjoyed watching them play. We did have some rain, which cut down on a few hours of outdoor time, but afternoons generally ended up sunny. As a bonus, the rain did mean less chance of fires from the fireworks, and no need to water the lawn. Good all around!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Ready for the 4th?

Is everyone ready for the three-day weekend? I know I am! While I am looking forward to spending some extra time with the family, and catching up with some old friends that will be visiting, I am not looking forward to the neighborhood sounding like some sort of battle zone. On the 4th of July itself, I get it. I really do. I even enjoy the pretty fireworks in our neighborhood at night. What I do not get, nor enjoy, is that our neighborhood has already been "celebrating" for a week. Last night was already so loud and constant that we had trouble getting the dogs to go out to do their thing before bed. All that noise makes them nervous. So far, Maddie only barks at them if Jordan starts it. She is a good dog, but she is easily led astray. He has already taught her to howl when we leave the house, and bark at the neighbor's dog at our back fence. Nice. Perhaps he should use his powers for good :)

We'll just be keeping it low key, hanging out in our backyard, having a few family members over for some food, and watching fireworks from our own backyard, probably long after everyone leaves. Hmmm....maybe I should have made up a nice gift basket for us all to enjoy as the evening winds down....some dessert, a bottle of wine, toys for the kids...Yes, that would have been nice. Maybe I will do that as a surprise some Friday night, and include a new movie! What a great idea!


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Beach Test

Thanks to Lynilu for this fun one:

What the Beach Test Says About You

You like people, but you're careful about who you get close to. Friendship is important to you... so important that you aren't just friends with anyone.

You fall in love with ease and confidence. Even if you've had bad experiences in the past, each new love is a reason to start completely over.

You are a passionate person. You are free wheeling, fun loving, and ruled by your emotions.

Your sense of humor is very physical. Your facial expressions or spot on imitations of people are hilarious.

Just Hangin' Out

We had a really nice weekend just hanging out at home. After the grocery shopping was done, we had no more "have to-s," which was really nice. We filled the blow up pools for the kids. Yes, pools, plural. There are two since they are both small and this allows them to play together, or separately. It is important to have lots of room if you are practicing your surf board moves, you know!

In between supervising pool play, computer games and reading lots of princess stories, Wife and I actually got to read a little bit of our own books while sitting on the back patio. That was nice. Wife got in a bit of rest time since she was not feeling well much of Saturday, but on the mend by late morning on Sunday. By Sunday afternoon, we were all tired, but content. It wasn't exactly the stuff of Orlando vacations, but a good time was had by all none-the-less!