Sunday, February 28, 2016

40 x 40: Oscar Best Picture Nominees

One of my goals was to see all of the nominees for Best Picture at the Oscars before my friend Kerry's annual party. Spoiler alert: I did it this year! It was a good excuse to get out of the house, although I did watch a few at home. I know there was controversy surrounding the Oscar nominees this year, and these films were indeed all very white. I hope Hollywood can find a way to incorporate more minorities and women into their films as leading roles. I never understand why people are always surprised when female fronted movies open well. Hello, women go to movies, too! And so do black people, Hispanics, etc.

I will now step off of my soap box. Here is my brief review of each film, in order from my least favorite to favorite.

8. "Mad Max: Fury Road":  What? Why? No.

7. "Bridge of Spies": The acting was good, but what should have been a gripping story was just boring.

6. "The Revenant": Beautiful scenery interspersed with graphic violence. I was engaged, but ugh. I will not be watching this one again.

5. "The Martian": Funny and entertaining, but I am not sure it deserves a Best Picture nomination.

4. "Brooklyn": Very sweet and well acted.

3. "Room": Super intense. I read the book and was still very nervous during pivotal scenes. Brie Larson absolutely deserves Best Actress.

2. "Spotlight": As someone who was raised Catholic, I found this especially hard to watch. It made me incredibly sad all over again. It is really well done, though. I like Michael Keaton, and he is great here. I know some people think Mark Ruffalo could be the upset win for Oscar for this, but I thought he was just okay. I found him distracting. His mannerisms actually pulled me out of the story a bit.

1. "The Big Short": So good. It made me realize I should have been a lot angrier in 2008, and that things still haven't changed. I dragged Ben with me to this one, and he really liked it, too.

And, as so many magazines and entertainment websites like to do:

Should Win: "The Big Short"
Will Win: "Spotlight"

Sunday, February 7, 2016


Clare had a small surgery on Thursday. She had a tube put in her left ear, as well as an adenoidectomy.  The adenoids are tissue located behind the nasal passages.  She had that tissue removed. It was done at a same day surgery center, and we were only there for a few hours total. It was still stressful, though. I was with her in the operating room when she went under, which was a little disconcerting to see. I didn't want to go back with her, but I knew she wanted me to. I even got to wear a snazzy jumpsuit and hat and boots.

Clare was a champ. She didn't complain (much) about not being able to eat or drink anything that morning. She willingly changed into her hospital gown and walked back to the operating room. She obediently "blew up the balloon" through the gas mask. And then she went to sleep. When we went to see her in recovery, I could hear her little voice before I saw her. The nurse said Clare informed her that she was in pre-k, NOT preschool, and that she had a little brother at home. Clare was calm. No tears. Her recovery has been great. On Friday, she was bouncing off the walls. You would never have guessed she had surgery the day before.

The reason for all of this is that Clare has hearing loss in her left ear. The ear drum in that ear is retracted, and the swollen adenoids were resting on her eustachian tube. We have been dealing with this for awhile, and it became clear that things were not going to correct on their own. Her doctor is confident that her hearing will be fully restored. Time will tell.

Last week, Clare turned to me and said, "Mommy, I love you more than anything in the world. Even more than JOSIE." High praise. I'll try to keep sweet comments like that in mind when I am wrestling her to the floor to administer her ear drops. You would think those would be easier than eye drops, right? I thought so, too. I was wrong.  Despite that, I am proud of how well Clare handled what could have been a pretty scary situation for a little girl.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Bits and Pieces: January

When I was a kid, I actually liked getting pink eye. It was the best! You got to stay home from school and you didn't feel sick at all. Well, now hate is not a strong enough word for how I feel about pink eye. Yes, you guessed it, both kids were infected over the past few weeks. And actually, Christopher did fine with the eye drops. He barely flinched. Clare, on the other hand, acted as though I was sawing off her arm with a dull blade. My mom says it is payback from when I was a kid. Apparently I acted the same way. Conveniently, I don't remember that.

Other than pink eye, January was okay. The first week was spent in Florida, so I can't complain about that. We are now hitting my least favorite part of the year, but I am trying to stay positive. If there is even a hint of sun, or if the temperature is above 15, I am shooing the kids into the backyard. Clare loves the snow. In fact, we were leaving for school a few weeks ago in that frigid cold, and she said "I love winter!" It was negative 10. Christopher is less enthusiastic, but I am hoping he'll like it better next year when he can join Clare at the skating rink. We are going to try sledding next weekend, too. Christopher probably won't like it, but I am going to encourage him to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible.

Clare is still enjoying school. We went to the winter carnival last weekend, and she actually rode on a pony. This is huge for Clare, who normally runs away in terror from any animal, except for our decrepit cat (RIP).  She still challenging me constantly - if I tell her to do something she has a million reasons why she can't or won't. She is so good at getting under my skin that every piece of advice I've received or tips I've read fly right out of my head in the heat of the moment. I am working on it, though. I am trying really hard to ""engage, don't enrage" and "connect and redirect." Yes, I am reading a book about discipline. My take so far: nothing I do works.

It is not all bad, though, and we have a lot of fun together. Clare has been making valentine's for her family and friends, and she is super into it. She is much more crafty than I am. (She is bringing "Frozen" valentine's to school, because of course.) She has officially given up naps. She still does quiet time, but we usually play a few games in the afternoon while Josie and Christopher are sleeping. My favorite is house, because I am the baby and she puts me to bed. I get to lay on the couch with my eyes closed. She gets mad if I open them. Who am I to argue?

Christopher has a huge vocabulary now, and speaks in multi-word sentences. He is very generous and polite, constantly saying thank you. He also likes to hit, so we are working on putting an end to that. While Clare is at school, he sneaks up to her room to play. (She generally forbids him from entering when she is home.) I let him get away with it because I know he is not hurting anything. He loves music. He nods his head to the beat and frequently requests that we have dance parties at home.  He requests several "friends" to accompany him to bed. Currently, he has blankie, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Super Grover, tiger, lamb, fox, baby, doggie, school bus, giraffe, space ship, bear, star light, and I think one or two toys more in bed with him. There is barely room for him.

Over the holidays, Christopher discovered that he loves chocolate. Clare is more of an equal opportunity sweets consumer, but Christopher will choose chocolate every time.

Christopher and I have watched a few football games together over the past month. I like his analysis of the game. "Run around! Fall down! Bonk head!" Yep, that about sums it up.

Pony rides a the winter carnival! Yes, she is wearing her Christmas dress.

Ready to watch the Packers. They lost, but Christopher and Cookie Monster didn't seem to care.

Snow monsters.

We might be going a little stir crazy.