Sunday, July 27, 2008

Summer Books & Movies

Time for an update of books I've been reading & good movies we've watched this summer!

I have continued with my "nonfiction" theme this summer. However, I haven't read a lot of books because the four I started with took me a while to get into. The material was heavy and I couldn't read long portions of them at a time. But, they were excellent reads & I highly recommend them. I also got hung up early in the summer reading 2 young adult fiction books that were just awful--boring stories, bad dialogue, but I couldn't put them down because I had to know how they ended. That ate up some of my summer reading time.

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch I wouldn't recommend this to pregnant women--I cried through most of it, but it was an excellent read. The book is about one man's struggle with pancreatic cancer. He was a professor at Carnegie-Mellon University and gave his "Last Lecture" about life and living up to your dreams. Unfortunately, he passed away last Friday.

Princess Trilogy by Jean Sasson This is a series of three books (Princess, Princess Sultana's Daughters and Princess Sultana's Circle) about life for women in Saudi Arabia in the 20th century. They were recommended by a friend living in this area of the world and they were excellent. A warning: they are not for the faint of heart. They would be rated R or more for sexual content because the stories she tells are graphic. But, the books gave me a greater understanding of the culture, Muslim religion and the human rights atrocities that people face, even today.

Currently I'm reading The Big Year by Mark Obmasmcik. This was recommended to me by my sister. It's about the sport of birding and it is actually very interesting. In birding, the great achievement is to have a "big year"--or to spend one year trying to see as many birds as possible across the US and Canada. This book is about 3 men who try to break the record in 1998.

I've also read a number of baby books this summer, but I won't bore you with those details. I will say my favorite has been The Baby Whisperer.

Other books on my list right now are:
How Soccer Explains the World
My Father's Secret War
A Walk in the Woods
On My Own Swedish Island
Mother Without a Mask
Beyond Band of Brothers

We'll see how reading goes once the baby comes...

Joel and I have had LOTS of time to watch movies this summer. We love Netflix and have gotten our money's worth in the past few months. We also went to a few movies at the movie theater in May/June, which is unusual for us. Here are a few we've watched:

Indiana Jones: For the most part, it was pretty typical Indiana Jones, but I wasn't too sold on the whole alien bit. Can't wait to see if they start a new series with his son.

Prince Caspian: Great interpretation of the CS Lewis book. I thought The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe followed closer to the book in keeping to a kid-friendly version. Caspian the movie is more for older kids (Lewis wrote the book for kids of all ages), but still kept true to the spirit and story of the book.

Get Smart: Great movie, very fun. Entertaining. Joel wrote an article about this movie on his blog.

Iron Man: We saw this one by coincidence with a friend and I am glad that we did. It was a great movie--lots of action without being too gory and very limited sexual content. I don't think there was any questionable language either, which is a plus in a movie like this. The best part? The soundtrack. I loved it.

Pride: A lesser-known movie in the same line as Coach Carter or Remember the Titans. Excellent movie about a black man who inspires some kids in his community to start a swim team. Joel also wrote about blog about this movie.

Live Free or Die Hard: You get exactly what you expect from this movie--lots of action, big explosions and a bit of dialogue. It was a fun action movie.

PS I Love You: WARNING: Not for pregnant or emotional women. I cried from START to FINISH during this movie. I was a mess! But, I would give it 5 stars. An excellent movie that takes the viewer through the grieving process.

Fool's Gold: Fun, entertaining, silly and totally unrealistic movie. But, I enjoyed it. We also like Sahara, which is in the same category as this movie.

Bella: Like Pride, this was a lesser-known movie to come out a year or so ago. It is a beautiful movie about a woman who gets pregnant and can't decide what to do with the baby. A man from work befriends her and the movie goes from there. I'm not usually one for the "low budget" films, but this was a must-see.

Blood Diamond: Typically I do not watch movies that are so full of blatant violence, but this one came recommended to me from my mom. The movie is set in Sierra Leone and they recently had some pastors visit their retreat center from that country. While they were visiting, they watched this movie and narrated about how accurate parts of it are. Obviously, the overall story line is fiction, but the violence in that country was real. For a toned-down version of this similar story, I recommend reading A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah.

Transformers: I missed seeing this movie in the theater last summer. It was another great action movie and very fun to watch. Can't wait for the sequel--coming next summer!

The Bourne Trilogy
: Obviously I had seen all of these movies before--they are my all-time favorite. But watching them all in a 24 hour period was the highlight of my summer movie watching experience. I LOVE this guy. I would love to know if they are going to make #4. I would be the first one in line. We'll have to find a babysitter first...

Movies to see in the near future:
Mamma Mia!
Batman (Joel only--I'm not so interested at this point)
And I'm sure there are others...we have a long list on Netflix just waiting to be watched.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Truth

The truth is I'm not the real writer in the family. Although I do love the format of posting blogs, I don't do much other kinds of writing--unless you call creating forms and documents at work "writing". And I'm almost positive that the little journaling I do in scrapbooks doesn't count either.

The real writer in the family is Joel. Most people know that because he teaches High School English and his pride and joy is teaching Creative Writing. But very few people really see how much he enjoys writing and even fewer really, truly get to experience his creative expressions.

One of his outlets is his own blog--A Poetic Matter, but that's just one of many. He keeps writing ideas around the house, journals of his poetry and I'm sure his brain is full of many more ideas just waiting to spill out.

His writing is a bit edgy and oftentimes I need a bit of explanation, which I'm sure makes him crazy. I just wasn't gifted with that type of mind. But, he is very creative, interesting and innovative. I can't wait to see what he'll write about next.

So, when you have a chance, check out his blog. And maybe some day, the book he's working on, too.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Leveling the Floor

As I mentioned in my blog, Nursery Construction 101, we had some work to do on the floor of the was not level (but 4-5 inches) on one end.

Well, today was the day to begin work on this project. Our friend, Lee, came over this morning to help Joel tackle it. For you construction workers out there, please do not hold me to all of the terms used below--it's just my female interpretation fo the project!

The first part of the project was to start laying the subfloor (the large square pieces of plywood with plastic on the bottom). They are held in place with industrial adhesive. Joel worked on this while Lee cut down boards (like shims) to level the floor.

As they worked across the room, the subfloor pieces went right over the shims.

They then placed heavy objects (like our file cabinet) on the floor to press it down into place. The glue they used will dry and hold it all together!

They are currently at Home Depot getting some more supplies. Checklist for the completion of the nursery:

1. Finish flooring
2. Carpet
3. Install baseboards
4. Install trim around doors/closet
5. Install window sills
6. Install trim around window sills
7. Paint, caulk all trim and baseboards
8. Move in baby stuff!!!


I have been doing quite a bit of scrapbooking lately. I'm really on a roll before Baby J comes. I hear things get pretty crazy once the kid shows up, so I don't know if I'll have much time to spend on luxuries like scrapbooking. We'll see.

Joel & I got married in May, so my books go from May of one year to May of the next, and I just finished the 07-08 book. I'm inspired by my sister-in-law, Beverly, to post a few of my favorite pages. She has a blog called "208 in 2008" devoted to scrapbooking.

So, I decided I would put a few of my favorite pages from the past year on my blog...

This one is from our Alaskan cruise last summer...we celebrated anniversaries & birthdays. Mom & Dad's were the big ones--they turned 60 in 2007. What a great celebration.

The other big trip we took last summer was to Boston and I really like how this page turned out. Usually I do my books in a very chronological order. On a trip I do "Day 1", "Day 2", etc... But, I broke from that format this year. I did more of an overall page from our trip--just the landmarks on this page. I really like how it turned out.

Every summer I go to Wisconsin (Joel usually comes, too) for a family vacation while my sister & her family are there. One of the things we do a lot is spend time in the water. There's not much else to do in the hot & muggy Midwest in July/August. So, every year, I make a "water page" in my scrapbook. I got this idea from a book--to turn the pictures to the side. So, I do my "water page" the same every year. You can fit a lot of pictures on one page this way!

I love how this one turned out--it's from our Hagen Family Christmas in Colorado. Faith & Avery (my nieces) hadn't really spent much time in snow and boy did it snow on Christmas last year! They were so cute in their pink snowsuits!

So, now that I have the pictures posted, they didn't turn out very well. But, oh well. My point was more to show format rather than the details...projects never look as great as the amount of work it took to complete them, right?

The REAL Best Day of the Year

I lied. But it was really a lie of ignorance, so does it count?

TODAY is really the best day of the year, especially for a pregnant woman in week #35 1/2, not the slowest day in sports, as I previously reported.

July 20, but decree of the President (Reagan, to be exact), is National Ice Cream Day. And, actually, July is National Ice Cream Month. How great is that?

It will be 100+ here today. I'll be celebrating today (and probably every day in July), that's for sure, with a bowl. Or two.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Nursery Construction 101

As some of you may know, we needed to do some major construction to the nursery this summer in preparation for Baby J's arrival. Not just a coat of paint and some furniture. Some major construction.

So, here is what we've done so far...and as always, pictures never show the real amount of work it takes to do a project like this.

Step 1: Clear the room of all furniture and odds and ends stored in it for 2 years. We did this back in April. It has now spilled into the other parts of our basement.

Step 2: Fix, replace and repair vents (see picture above). The vent on the far end is the fan from our bathroom that had to be re-routed outside. The vent in the middle is our dryer vent that had been leaking small bits of lint all over the room for about 2 years. And the final part was installing a new heat vent into the room.
Step 3: Gather friends and hang dry wall on the ceiling. Not an easy task. Then tape, mud and sand seams (and repeat 2-3 times). Then, texture the ceiling with a paint roller.

So far, Joel has completed most of Steps 1-3 either on his own or with great help from friends. We couldn't have done it without help!

Step 4: Gather friends and paint, paint, paint. I had some great friends who came and busted through a bunch of painting projects in one morning. It was really amazing! They painted the ceiling and the walls (a nice tan color) and a number of other odds and ends--shelves, baseboards, etc...

Then Joel was able to install the light fixture and vent cover. I put on all the outlet covers & it's really starting to look like a real room!

Step 5: (To be worked on this Sunday) Level the floor. Somewhere in the last 30 years, the floor in the this room has cracked and one end has sunk about 4-5 inches. It wasn't a problem when we were just using the room for storage, but it is pretty noticable now that we want to use it as an actual bedroom. So, a friend of Joel's is coming over to help him level it out on Sunday using 2"x4"s and subflooring. I'm not exactally sure how it will work, but I have full confidence they will do a great job!

You can kind of see in this picture how far the cement has sunk down from the bottom of the drywall. The drywall is level, the floor is not!

Step 6 & Beyond: To be completed ASAP. We will have carpet installed (also on our stairs, in our bedroom, etc...) I am really looking forward to that! We'll need to install baseboards, some trim & window sills. But, all of that can be done post-baby if we have to. I already have curtains, decor and everything else ready to be moved in!

I am anxious to get it all completed, but I know that sometimes I just have to be a bit more patient. Joel has worked on this project very hard all summer while trying to manage vacations, grad school and a pregnant wife. He has been a great husband!

I'll let you know when we get some more of it done. (and by "we" I really mean Joel!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Best Day of the Year

Women everywhere should be rejoicing. It's the best day of the year for us.

Officially, it's the slowest day in sports out of the entire year.

It's the day after the All Star Game for Baseball, there isn't much going on in basketball, football isn't in full swing yet and there just isn't much to report about today.

What a great day.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Saga of the Ring

I wish that I had a good story to tell. Better yet, I wish it was an epic like Lord of the Rings. And even beyond that, I wish I had a happy ending. But I don't. It's just a regular story with a predictable ending. The title of the blog is probably the best part. So, with that encouragement, read on!

Back in late May I added to my list of things to do "get ring cleaned". The jeweler where Joel bought my engagement & wedding rings cleans them and checks them for damage, etc... every 6 months. That way if I lose my diamond or something, they will replace it for free.

But, the weeks went by and I never made it up to the jewlery store--it's on the north end of town. Finally, I realized that even if I didn't make it to the store, I should probably get my rings off my finger.

My rings are sized appropriately to my finger for the seasons of spring & fall. This is when the temperature stays the same and my hands do not shrink (like in the winter) or swell (like in the summer). I think my fingers vary by at least a ring size over the year.

Usually, I can get my rings off in the summer with a bit of work. This time I was able to get my engagement ring off. However, my wedding ring was no match for the swelling brought about by pregnancy. There was no hope. I tried everything. Even Windex. My mom said it worked for her, so I tried it. I tried hot water, cold water, raising my hand above my head for over an hour...I tried everything. No luck.

In late June, my mom suggested I wait until our family reunion over the 4th of July in hopes that my uncle, a great chiropractor, might be able to help. He tried. He gave it a valiant effort. He tried adjusting my finger and when that didn't work, he suggested a bowl of ice water.

Have you tried submerging your entire hand in a bowl of ice water? I mean water with ICE in it? It was excrutiatingly painful. The worst part? It didn't work. Not even close.

The verdict? Cut it off.

The ring, not my finger.

So, I did. I finally made it to the jewelry store. Turns out, they see this kind of thing all the time and even have a neat little tool for doing it. The ring is off my finger and it's a good thing I'm not superstitious about things, because it would be easy to be about this. "The circle of our love is broken" or something like that.

Not so much.

My rings will just have to stay in a nice little box--my wedding band still cut--until this fall. Thankfully they will put it back together again and resize it for free.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Top 10

Since I began blogging in April 2006, I have posted 138 blogs about a variety of topics, this will be #139. The blog began mostly as updates about our house projects and has since then morphed into random blogs about a variety of topics. Half the time I just enjoy blogging about something so that I will remember that event...kind of like a journal.

I thought I would dedicate this entry to my top 10 favorite blogs. Some are my favorite because they are funny or sentimental...there's really no rhyme or reason as to why they are my favorite, but they are in order, starting with my top choice.


1. 3 Hole Punch
2. Happy Birthday!
3. I Like Baseball!
4. Reflections on a Teacher Conference
5. My Geeky Husband
6. LM's & NLM'S
7. Crying Doesn't Always=Tears
8. Compliment
9. Haiku Surprise!
10. 0-50,000