Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paul Newman

One Christmas when I was little, my cousins and I all received music boxes from my grandparents.  My music box played Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.  I was probably only six or seven years old but I loved that music box because I had big crushes on Paul Newman and Robert Redford after seeing part of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on TV (I'd have ridden my bike with either of them.)  Seriously, Paul Newman was the very definition of the term "Movie Star."  Now there's one less person with a soul and a conscience in Hollywood. 

Do yourself a favor and go watch Hud, or Coolhand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Hustler or even Cars (he was the voice of "Doc.")  Honestly, there are just too many great Paul Newman performances to name them all.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Biggest Loser.

So I am totally fascinated with this television program, The Biggest Loser (yes, thank you, I'm aware that I'm like four years behind the rest of the country.)  I'm not a huge TV watcher, and to be honest I've never watched a reality show aside from four episodes of the one where they were trying to find a new band member for INXS (I loved Jordis Unga then lost interest.)

I'm kind of working through my own theory of how some of the contestants on this show got to the point in their lives where they'd qualify for something like The Biggest Loser.  I mean, on the most basic level they're just eating too much and not exercising enough.  But there are some pretty intense family stories - divorce which found the mother taking two of her kids with her and the daughter that was left behind with the father felt she'd somehow done something wrong so she pretty much ate herself numb.  Or the woman who admitted that before her son was diagnosed with autism she weighed 135 but had fallen into a pattern of taking care of him then ending the day collapsing on the couch and eating whatever she could find.

Story after story, I just started thinking that for these people it happens to be eating.  And that eating brings about a very obvious result - gaining weight.  But many of them eat to deal with other issues, just like many alcoholics drink to forget their problems and many drug addicts are looking for escape.  Only for alcoholics and drug addicts it's easier to hide the tell-tale signs when they're not in action.  For people who eat, you can't "hide" the weight.  And no matter what you say, there is a certain shame to being seriously overweight in our culture.  

So I'm sitting here watching my laptop and crying like an idiot for these people who are so desperate for someone to help them.  The weight loss part is great.  But the connections they make with each other just shows how desperate many of them are to be accepted regardless of their weights.  

After two episodes I'm finding this show to be more a social experiment than a reality game show.  Though I did enjoy the slip 'n slide challenge they did (dude.  That just looked fun.)  I'm cheering for the pink team and the daughter Michelle specifically.  She's a beautiful girl but also seems to be really grounded and willing to figure out how to work her way out of the physical and emotional mess she's in.  Though being level-headed and calm probably means you'll get the boot for not generating more drama, eh?

And the two trainers make me laugh.  They're so mean when they yell at their teams but they almost seem apologetic when the talk about it later, explaining their motivation and feelings behind it.  No matter what she says, I'd probably pee myself if I ran into Jillian while eating a piece of cheesecake in a dark alley (me eating the cheesecake.  She apparently only eats steel and rocks.)(And not that I eat cheesecake in dark alleys.  I'm just sayin'.)

So that's my TV endorsement for the week.  Oh!  That and last week's Myth Busters where they put the phone books together page by page and it took two tanks to tear them apart (does that count as reality TV?) 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The hills are alive with the sound of generators (and chain saws!)

Wow!  Been a while since you've heard from me?  Blame Ike.  That's Tropical Storm Ike, to you.  Ike, who has no respect for the fact that Ohio is land-locked.  Ike, who blew through Cincinnati Sunday afternoon causing chaos and destruction in his wake.  Chaos!  Destruction!  Dogs and cats... living together... mass hysteria!  Also, we seemed to have lost our trampoline... oh, wait!  There it is!  In the neighbor's yard, sideways, stuck up against their playset (not sure that's the best position for maximum jumping enjoyment.)  Unfortunately, the trampoline frame was bent beyond repair.  RIP, poor trampoline*.  We hardly knew ye (we only had it a month!)

On Sunday we saw incredible acts of neighborly kindness, including neighbors helping Rusty taking apart said trampoline and getting into the garage before it was blown somewhere north of Middletown.  And we witnessed incredible acts of stupidity.  Including a neighbor on his roof in 40 mph sustained winds (with gusts up to 75 mph!)  


We also lost a neighborhood landmark: the "Bus Stop Tree."  The tree in our neighbor's yard where the kids stand to get on the bus.  The tree that sheltered them during light rain (never thunderstorms, though!) and from whose branches the kindergarteners swung while their moms chatted nearby.  The winds were so strong that they started to carry the broken tree down the street so at one point it had to be anchored with chains to keep it out of the road.

While I helped my neighbor rake up the smaller branches a few kids road by on their bikes and shared their condolences.  RIP, Bus Stop Tree.  Yet another victim of Ike's senseless violence.  Boo, senseless violence.

So Monday morning, still no power.  No problem, we have a grill.  We have coffee.  We'll make due (thank God for that camp coffee pot!)

And we listened to the battery-powered, early 90's radio as they read off school after school as closed for the day.  

Liam and Sean's school lost five or six trees, some siding off the portables, the roof off one of the baseball dugouts and a port-a-potty.  


Fast forward a few hours... here is my fridge.  Or more accurately, here is my fridge on Ike.  Late Monday morning and things started to get a little stenchy:

This?  This is my freezer on Monday night.  Twenty-eight hours or so after Ike knocked our power:

It was overcast Monday so we couldn't see much inside without the flashlights.  So we spent a lot of time outside.  Rusty was home from work and he and the boys took advantage of the down-time:

Monday night, still no power.  But see how pretty my condiments look by candlelight? 

The radio tells us that our county has declared a state of emergency, they're asking people to conserve water (and boil in places) and not be on the roads if possible.  Traffic lights are either not working correctly or are out altogether.  Power lines are hanging across some roads.  And a large group of our energy company's workers are out of town, in Texas, trying to help them get back online. 

I get word that my sister and my parents have power.  Our house, as well as my other sister and brother do not.  I live twenty minutes north of my sister and twenty minutes or so south of my brother, if that gives some sort of indication of how wide-spread the blackout was/is.

Then, Tuesday morning, 5:27 AM: the security system starts beeping... we have power!  Which is great.  Until you realize the power went off Sunday afternoon and everything that was on at that time is now on again.  Including Liam's bedroom lamp shining right in his face as he sleeps (as I quickly realized the possibility and raced in to shut it off before it woke him up!)  So I spent ten minutes or so going around the house turning off random lamps and ceiling fans.  I check the radio, school is once again closed, and I go back to bed.  I wake up to find Liam reading and Sean playing in his room.  Not bad.

Later Tuesday morning I decide to brave the possibility of crowds and head down to Kroger to see what I can find.  I figure if we have power back then they too must be back in business.  What I find is a grocery store that had to get rid of every frozen and refrigerated item in the store after a day on generator power.  I find empty coolers and shelves being disinfected by tired-looking employees.  I see shoppers looking dazed and rumpled.  It's kind of eerie to see all the empty shelves.

Rusty works from home... until early afternoon when the internet/phone goes out again.  We find something open for lunch and try to go to Target to pick up a prescription.  I mean, Target looks open.  And they are... but only in the most technical sense of the word.  They have emergency lights on (translation: every tenth light is lit.)  So if you can make your way around the store and find what you need in the semi-dark you can stand in one of two lines and buy something.  

Home again and our phone and internet are still out.  We hear from friends that their power is out and we invite them over to do laundry and be able to take showers.  We play lots of euchre and Texas Hold'em.  We find out school is again closed on Wednesday (today.) Friends and sister still without power as of an hour or so ago today.

So that's the latest.  No word yet on school tomorrow.  School districts across the area are having to cope with freezers and refrigerators full of spoiled food and milk, downed trees and blown off roofs and beat up portables.  Some bus routes are still blocked by trees and power lines and playgrounds have broken limbs and entire trees scattered across them.  Some districts have scattered power from building to building.  So we'll see.

We didn't mind the loss of TV or cable, actually.  We played games, read, and went to bed earlier than usual.  But we could have gone without the loss of an entire fridge and freezer full of food that will have to be replaced.  We're glad we can provide a place for friends to do laundry and hang out, but feel for them as they try to work their way through day three with no power.  For my sister, who has a two year old and a two month old, it's lost its novelty.  Gas stations are still randomly either not able to pump or out of gas.  And though things are still up in the air I think a lot of people have been able to keep perspective.  While it's frustrating, we realize we didn't bear the brunt of Ike and there are those who's lives have been much more deeply affected.  If anything, this has give us a deeper perspective on what it means when you hear "half a million people are without power tonight" on CNN.  

*We announce that trampoline will be replaced.  And there was much rejoicing.  Ye, verily.

Monday, September 08, 2008

School Recap: Week One

The boys are exhausted and cranky.  The end.

Ok, so today didn't start out so great and I'll be waiting to hear from Liam, especially, how his day went.  He meets with the school psychologist today for the first of his weekly get-togethers (this is the one replacing the woman he met with last year who is currently on maternity leave.)  I have to talk with her after to discuss his language processing stuff.  Specifically the fact that just in the last week he's gotten a lot worse in his starting a sentence then stopping, starting over, pausing and eventually getting really frustrated because he can't get his thoughts into words the way he wants to.  

We talked with his therapist last spring about this.  The problem is figuring out what kind of testing and/or therapy would address his needs.  The school offers speech therapy, but his speech is fine.  He can pronounce his words and sounds with no problem.  It's getting the thoughts into words... there seem to be some overlapping therapies that may address some of those issues but we're having a hard time finding something to address that specific issue; how to help his brain better connect to his mouth.

For my teacher and counseling friends, feel free to offer any ideas.  This is something we've been trying to work on for a few years now and as he gets older it gets more and more noticable that the other kids his age and in his class have a much easier time with their words.  And that bothers him.  

Please know, this is not a "crisis."  This is the nature of the stuff he deals with.  We figure out a way to adapt and move on to the next challenge.  Some things are not a challenge at all so it's not like his identity is wrapped up in having these issues.  But the flip side of that is that we want to help him continue to adapt so other people don't start to identify him strictly by his issues.  Liam is such a phenominal kid.  I refuse to let anyone slap a label on him and think they've got him figured out.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Because I said I would post them for you...

Dear Colin, Maggie and Denim,

Here are some of the beach pictures.  You can click on the link at the bottom to see the rest!



That's my crabby face.


The pier at right before sunset

Sean was having smiley issues.  Liam was fixing it for him.

The rest of the pictures are here: Ocean City, Maryland pictures

Real life mom stuff.

Can I just vent a minute, please?  Don't take this as some sort of sign that I'm falling apart.  I just need a moment and I'll be fine.

Ok, so, the boys started school on Tuesday.  We did all of our meetings for Liam's intervention plan last year so we weren't going to have to meet right away this year.  Yay, right?  Yeah, well, while we were at the beach last week I got a message from the school that the vice principal (a.k.a. the person who handles the intervention plans) had been replaced.  Gah.  I hate... I mean seriously loathe these meetings.  I hate going in and telling someone what's "wrong" with Liam.  Someone who's never met him and has to document his issues.  Anyone who has met Liam can tell you that for the most part he handles his stuff pretty well and in between specific incidents you can't really tell he has any issues at all.  So I pouted about that for five minutes and got over it (being at the beach helps one get over quite a few things pretty quickly.)

So we get home from Maryland, go to open house the next day to find out that the school psychologist whom Liam meets with once a week during the school year?  Is going on maternity leave.  Immediately.  So Liam meets the replacement, whom he genuinely seems to like but again... will be starting over the process of getting aquainted with him and his brain.  We finish open house and we get home only to have Liam randomly crying and whining about totally ridiculous stuff.  Things he wouldn't have whimpered about in July are causing him total mental anguish now. 

Of course, by Monday night, I was a wreck.  Where other mothers might be crying because their kids are growing up so fast, I'm on the verge of tears because I'm losing Liam once again to the OCD and anxiety that school and all its institutional rules bring on.  It's like I get the real Liam for three months of the year and the other nine months part of him is tucked away while the stress and anxiety battle the little defenses he uses to deal with it (the crying, the repetitive behaviors, etc.) 

It's been only two days of school now and I already miss the kid I had all summer.  I don't know if he exists during the school year and if he does, how I can help him stay.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

It begins.

Tuesday, September 2 = first day of school at Woodland Elementary/Lakota

That's two fingers for second grade, not world peace.

Sean's a little anxious.

Still anxious.

Liam is a pro at first day of school stuff.

Fourth grade, baby.

The bus stop is across the street from our house

Monday, September 01, 2008

Old school Kings Island.

So YouTube really does have everything.  For your consideration: a slideshow of the original Enchanted Voyage ride complete with the music.  Now, this is a few years before I remember riding as the "scary" part by the time I was riding it had been switched out from skeletons to Scooby Doo and the gang hanging onto an old tree limb over crocodiles that swam around in a circle underneath.

And if you're too young to remember that?  Maybe this was what you remember (and I'm so sad for you):

As if that weren't enough, if you grew up in Cincinnati in the mid-late 70's and 80's then this will bring back tons of memories... the Flying Shoes, Beastie, Screamin' Demon, The Bat, and vintage Beast footage (The Bat is the last ride featured in the video):

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