Monday, December 29, 2008

December Nephews (Part 1, the Older)

Dude, I love my nephews.

The big guy (who turns 4 in May) amused us during our Eve of Christmas Eve celebration by:

--Playing imaginary Star Wars games almost constantly. After he finished eating and was excused, he figured out how to turn off the dining room light. So the rest of the family ate silently in the dark for a minute or so. Until the little man, sitting to my right, decided that would be a perfect time to touch my arm with his moist little hand. The noise I made was somewhere between a screech and a giggle. The big guy thought that was hilarious and repeated the on/off lights experiment several more times in hopes of eliciting another funny noise.

--Wanting to hand out all the gifts, even though he can't read the recipent's names. I had color-coded the packages I wrapped according to family member (umm, yeah. . .I prefer to call it organized) and could amaze him by correctly guessing which gift went to whom.

--Opening a box of clothes, saying "Wow!" and flinging them into the air. Proceeds to ignore them for the rest of the evening. (Repeat performances available on Christmas Evening.)

--Thinking Han Solo and Luke Skywalker are the same person. When the person has brown hair, he is Han Solo. And when he has blonde hair, he is Luke Skywalker. Does not understand attempts to convince him that they are two guys who can be differentiated by level of cuteness or friendship with Wookies.

--Deciding that sometimes it is okay to wear things on his head, especially if his little brother is getting attention for wearing, say, a headband with felt reindeer antlers attached. Although the headwear barely lasts long enough for a photo, and then most are blurry because he is busy trying to poke his dad's eyes out with said antlers.

--Loving some song my brother has on his cell phone, which the kid refers to as the "rock out song." When the song is played, he starts dancing, and busts out some moves my bro has taught him. These moves include the robot and breakdancing. Believe me when I tell you that one of the most hilarious things you'll ever see is an almost four year old trying to do the robot and breakdance. If I'd had a video camera, I am certain I could win money on tv with a recording of those shenanigans.

--Standing by my chair on Christmas evening, as the rest of the group admired his little brother in his pajamas and robe. I said, "Everybody thinks that little robe is pretty cute on your brother. What do you think?" He answered, "My brother is so awesome!" Seriously. If I didn't know better, I would swear I ovulated right then due to the sheer force of child cuteness around me.


I'm behind in updates, so I'll go ahead and add possibly the most boring update first: books I've read recently.

My book club read The Chosen as our December selection. I thought the book was interesting, I did learn more about that time in history (1940s) and also Judaism. But, I found the overall style unsettling. I kept waiting for something very bad to happen, and it never did. I got a little bit bogged down in some of the intricate explanations of what different religious readings (might) mean. I think I gave this book three stars on Goodreads, but I wish I could've given it 2.5.

Over the Christmas holidays, I read Dead Until Dark. I'd seen glowing reviews for the book (and series), and had seen ads for the HBO show True Blood, so I wanted to give it a try. My main complaint was that the author sporadically uses poor grammar to indicate a character's southern accent. I find that incredibly irritating when I'm reading. I know where the book is set (small Louisiana town), I know many of the characters probably have some sort of accent, but throwing in a couple of instances of poor grammar to convey a "southern" accent? Bleah! I will admit that I will probably never watch the show because I can't stand Anna Paquin's fake southern accent, but at least I can imagine an actual accent in my head when I'm reading. . .without a random "don't got no"s (for example). I imagine the main character quite a bit like one of my cousins, actually, though she grew up in fairly rural Alabama, rather than Louisiana. I was honestly surprised to read that the author was raised in Mississippi and currently lives in Arkansas. If the poor grammar had at least been consistent, it wouldn't have bothered me. Anyway, I did still like the story enough to want to read the next one in the series, and I'm interested to check out her other series, which begins with Grave Sight.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One Hundred Minus One

I can almost never resist a good meme, and as usual, Joyco does not disappoint!

Items on the list that I've done are in bold:

1. Started your own blog: Umm, yeah.
2. Slept under the stars: Yep, although I am not a huge camping fan.
3. Played in a band: Two, actually. I played the clarinet in the sixth grade band. I played the tamborine one night in college at the Black Cat for a band whose name I can't for the life of me remember. Ahh, good times.
4. Visited Hawaii: Maui, on my honeymoon. Would love, LOVE, to go back.
5. Watched a meteor shower: From the roof of the house I lived in with three girlfriends after college.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world: Multiple times; my aunt/godmother has lived in Florida for 20+ years now, and one of their homes is in Orlando.
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo: Once, in church, I kept on singing even though the song had ended. Surprise solo!
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning: Ugh, yes, and it's the worst!
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables: Used to grow tomatoes. My thumb has turned brown since.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight: Yeah, I have a brother!
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill: And usually ended up working a little from home anyway.
24. Built a snow fort: When I was in the sixth grade, it snowed in Austin. The neighbors a few houses down and across the street instructed all of us younger kinds to collect up snow from yards up and down the street and they built an igloo. It was AWESOME.
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping: More than once. At least two of those instances are pretty good stories.
27. Run a Marathon: I try to only run when chased.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice: somday!
29. Seen a total eclipse: Pretty sure I watched one in a box "camera" in elementary school. Remember those?
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset: I haven't seen a sunrise in a while--I used to see them from staying up all night!
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors: someday!
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language3
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied: I feel comfortable, but one day I'd love to have enough money to not worry so much about budgeting.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke: No, and I consider that I public service.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight: Once right before/after doing something else on this list. hee!
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted: A friend of our family had my brother's & my portrait painted from a photo. Didn't look like us at all!
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling: Snorkeled in Maui. That ocean is cold!
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie: MrMonkey has!
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class: if Krav Maga counts, then yes. (Could also check off "accidentally punched self in face" after that class.)
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason: MrMonkey likes to surprise me from time to time.
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter: In the 3rd grade. It nearly crashed, but I never knew that until years later.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy: I have a whole toy chest full of favorites at my mom's house.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square: Love NYC, don't love Times Square. Too crowded!
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle: If I was the passenger, how would I know if we were speeding? Any speed felt too fast!
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car: On the list for 2009! So far I've only owned used cars.
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper: When I was a kid, the Austin American-Statesman had a Cooking for Kids club where they published recipes for families to cook together. Somehow, my family was chosen for an interview & they took pics of us making BBQ chicken.
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House: I haven't been inside, does posing in front count?
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating: I have eaten a fish that I caught, but I didn't clean it (though I had to watch), so I don't think this counts.
88. Had chickenpox: Jr. High. No fun.
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous: Met several someones famous. I acted like the biggest dork when meeting Jason Patric. He's so handsome! I got flustered.
92. Joined a book club: I think it's been three years since I joined.
93. Lost a loved one: More than one. :o(
94. Had a baby: 2009 will be my year.
95. Seen the Alamo in person: Seen it, toured it. Own a flag that flew over it. Have a husband who was in the movie.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit: Sortof. Car accident-related. I was a passenger in the car of the person who was involved in the lawsuit.
98. Owned a cell phone: Not 'til after college!
99. Been stung by a bee: ouchie.

I think I need to get out more.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

November Nephew Time & Other Updates

Thanksgiving Day, K and I had dinner with my parents, brother, SIL and their boys.

The big guy (already 3 and a half!) was feeling a little overwhelmed from his lunch w/ SIL's family. Evidently, he is not fond of crowds right now, and there is certainly a crowd there. Poor kid. After we ate, he wanted dessert and my mom offered him a choice between pie, ice cream, and popcorn. He picked popcorn, so she popped a bag and split it into two bowls--planning to eat the second bowl herself later. I noticed him slip into the dining room (everyone else had moved on to the den) by himself and sit down in his chair to eat his popcorn and play with some star wars lego guys. I went in to sit with him and hang out. He told me the popcorn he was eating was going into the Death Star. I asked him if that was his mouth, but he said no, and pointed to his stomach. His preferred method of eating popcorn is to stuff his mouth full and then chew for a little while so he can have his hands free to play. He asked me to help switch around the heads on his star wars guys, so I did. (After laughing to myself about his question: "Can you take his head off for me?") He finished his bowl of popcorn quickly and said he wanted more. I told him he had to ask my mom if he could have the other bowl, and he did--of course she agreed. He decided it would be fun to make a weird screamy noise while he was eating, and then laugh like crazy. Naturally, I decided to join him in laughing like crazy. SIL heard the ruckus and actually came to check on us. We had a good time.

The little fella is approaching 2 (in March). He'd been feeling puny, but he rallied during dinner. Right after we ate, I was hanging out at the table with him, while my brother sat on the other side with the big guy. Little fella got a little fussy, and started to tug at his shirt around the arms and neck. My brother told me I could take the kid's shirt off, so I did. Immediately, the little guy started, uh, pinching the crap out of certain sensitive areas on his chest. Oookay! He seemed so pleased with himself, I couldn't help but laugh. My brother told me that's a new favorite for him. For some reason, this struck me as so funny that I couldn't stop laughing and had to leave the table. That little man is such a crack-up for me. Even though he doesn't look like my brother, he totally has my brother's personality. I just want to squeeeze that little guy!

I almost forgot. . .when they were leaving, I asked the big guy if I could have a hug. Sometimes he's a little shy and doesn't want to hug, but he came over and let me hug him! Yeah, he didn't actually hug me, he just stood there and let me hug him. Eh, I'll take it.

In other news, I ended up being released from my responsibility to cater desserts at my friend's office holiday party. I had asked if her boss would make selections from my dessert menu, so I could give them a price quote and contract. The next day, her boss decided she'd rather order cakes from a bakery--cakes are not on my list. Whatev. It would've been fun to have that experience, but it's not like I have a ton of free time these days. In fact, K and I met with a realtor last week and not only hired her that night, but also agreed to list our house on January 1. Yikes! Hooray! I had some reservations about her before our meeting, but K was on board with her almost immediately. Our mortgage guy recommended her, and we didn't interview anyone else, but I am fairly confident in our decision. I think she will be a good asset in staging our house, and I hope that plus our willingness to price the house on the cheap side will be the key to a quick sale. I'm proud to say that I have managed to stay off since our meeting. I wouldn't want to find the perfect house too soon, right? Especially since I already found a house I loved, only to have K see the pics and shoot it down almost immediately. Cathedral ceilings (which we have now) are NOT on his list. Boo!