Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Bits and Pieces: February

This has been a busy, yet long, month. We were all sick at the beginning of the month. Christopher had the dreaded pinkeye, while Ben and I both suffered from horrible colds. Clare escaped with just a minor cold, and no pinkeye, thank goodness.

Clare has been busy with swimming and ice skating. She loves ice skating for fun, but did not love her lessons. I made her stay with it until the end of the session, but she will not be taking lessons again. She says she wants to take gymnastics and ballet again, so we will probably do that this summer. She loves her swimming lessons, though. She still will not go under the water, but I am happy that she seems to be getting more and more comfortable with swimming. Her school just completed their biggest fundraiser of the year. It is a fun run where the kids collect pledges for laps. Clare ended up running 44 laps around the gym, which I thought was pretty good. School is going well - we have conferences next month, so we'll find out more then. She is doing well with reading and math. We have been reading "The Little House in the Big Woods." It is so fun to share books from my childhood with her.

Christopher is busy being his funny, charming self. He is very much into imaginative play, and it is fun to see what he comes up with. The afternoons get long, sometimes, because he doesn't nap most days, but it is fun to watch his little brain working. He still loves to snuggle, and one of his favorite games is to play kangaroo and joey, where we sit under a blanket and he hides in his pouch. He also pretends to be asleep whenever we arrive home from our daily outings so I'll carry him into the house. (I don't know if this is laziness or a desire for closeness, but I don't really mind either way.) His favorite TV show right now is Peppa Pig, and he has picked up a lot of British-isms from the show. (He mends his toys, rides the lift, plays in the garden and wants to know what we are doing "at the weekend".) He'll fit right in the next time we visit his aunt, uncle and cousin in England.

Christopher has developed a fear of the dark. He'll wake up crying in the night. Luckily (?) there is a light in our alley right behind our house, so we can just open his curtains and his room is flooded with light.

Josie and Christopher both love to play "I spy" in the car, but neither understand the rules. (Christopher: "I spy, with my little eye, something white! Snow!" Josie: "I spy with my little eye something blue!" I take a few guesses. Josie: "It's Lightening McQueen's eyes!" Lightening McQueen is not actually visible or even in the car, etc.)

We went to my parents' house over the long President's Day weekend. We were supposed to leave that Friday, but I was too sick to make the drive that day. Ben stayed home and built shelves for the basement. Our basement is finally coming together and looking organized, which is really nice. The kids and I had a nice time with my parents. The weather was beautiful, so the kids spent a lot of time running around outside. We went to the zoo and to a few restaurants. The kids baked cookies with my mom. Unfortunately, I couldn't taste them due to my cold. On Monday we drove back through La Crosse and had lunch with my grandmother. I am always happy when I get a chance to do that, and the kids love seeing her. This is such a little thing, but the best part was that my sense of smell had just come back on the drive there - and walking into her house I could smell her freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Heaven. (And yes, my 93-year-old grandmother still bakes cookies.)

I have been staying off Facebook lately. I think I've only checked it once in the last month. I have to say, I don't miss it at all. I am probably missing some news from friends, but if it is something I need to know I am sure I'll find out some other way.  It was just making me way too crazy, and I don't need that. I am still following the news closely, just not on Facebook.

Now it is almost March. I always remember the first time Ben and I hung out together, because it was on my friend Chelsea's birthday, which is coming up this week. It will be 16 years since we first met. How do these numbers keep getting bigger?? I guess we do have two kids to show for it. Speaking of whom, here they are!

Ben convinced Clare to cut her hair short again.

Clare playing at the park near Aunt Katie's house.

Not at all excited to be on Baba's shoulders.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Oscars: 2017

Last year, I accomplished my 40 x 40 goal of seeing all of the Best Picture nominees before my friend Kerry's Oscar party. I almost did it again this year. Although many of the films were sad, it was a great distraction from the real world. And it got me out of the house, something I desperately need to do more of this time of year. Here is my sort of thought out review of each movie, in order of my least favorite to my favorite.

9. Hell or High Water: This movie was both intense and boring. It was very violent, and I didn't particularly care about any of the main characters. Even Chris Pine's baby blues couldn't save this one for me. So yeah. Not my favorite.

8. Hacksaw Ridge: I watched Moana instead. No regrets.

7. Manchester by the Sea: Whoa, this one is hard to watch. Casey Affleck grimaces a lot. He is good, but I don't like him, so that may be clouding my opinion of this movie.

6. Arrival: Interesting premise, but I had many questions.  Ben liked it a lot more than I did, so maybe I was just feeling too cynical on the day I saw it. And Amy Adams should have been nominated for Best Actress. She deserved it more than Meryl, as much as I love Meryl and her award show speeches. (And yes, I did see Florence Foster Jenkins.)

5. Hidden Figures: This movie was really good. I can't wait to show it to Clare some day as an example of what strong, smart women can accomplish. (And so she can see how poorly people are treated based on the color of their skin.)

4. Fences: This movie is a master class in acting. Viola Davis will win for Best Supporting Actress, and she deserves to. I also think Denzel should win over Casey Affleck. (See above note about bias against Affleck.) I will say, though, that I almost fell asleep. The guy sitting next to me did fall asleep. In my defense, we were at one of those theaters with the reclining arm chair-type seats. They are so comfortable! And this movie isn't exactly action-packed. It is very well done, though.

3. La La Land: I really liked this movie. It is so different in tone than most of the other films, and I did take issue with the ending, but it is a great homage to classic movies as well as a great showcase for Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Great singers, they are not, but they are both extremely likable in this movie. I hope Emma wins Best Actress.

2. Lion: If you see this movie, make sure you have lots of tissues on hand. Lots. If I had been watching it at home, I would have been ugly crying. Because I was at the theater, I held it in somewhat. Not totally. This movie is so good. And Dev Patel is so cute. If you are only going to see one of the nominees, this one should be it.

1. Moonlight: How do I describe this movie? It is excellent, for one. Watching it, I couldn't help but thinking about people in similar situations in real life, and why they might choose not to vote. (This movie is not political at all, but because of current events politics are on my mind at all times.) It really is eye opening and definitely worth seeing.

Last year I cleaned up with my picks at my friend's party. I need to defend my title this year.

Should win: Moonlight
Will win: La La Land