Archive for August, 2008

PRAYERS PLEASE

Posted in Uncategorized on August 30th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , ,

My husband and I are worried sick.  It started about a week ago, when he began experiencing a terrible stomach ache.  In the past week, we’ve been to the ER and several doctors, and they’ve run various tests, but we haven’t gotten any results back yet, in part because it’s a darn holiday weekend.  So meanwhile, we are both worried SICK, which is an understatement.  The internet is acting as both a blessing and a curse, with us obsessing over his symptoms and making ourselves crazy with thoughts of one horrible diagnosis (mainly involving colon cancer) after another.  So I’m writing this quick post as a way of hopefully using the internet as a blessing rather than a curse and putting out this call for prayer.  Please, please pray for our family that my husband’s illness is nothing serious, and that we will be able to find the cause and the cure in a timely fashion.  We have 4 little children, and it’s been really difficult to function as a family with one of us sick and both of us so worried and terrified.  It’s probably nothing, but I thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers. 

Tropic Thunder

Posted in Movies on August 29th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As I’m sure you’ve heard, the movie Tropic Thunder received much hype in the media because of several controversies.  Part of this hype is a normal side effect of a movie’s release – spin doctors go to work; sometimes even people who are associated with the movie spread their own rumors because there’s a saying that goes, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”.  Tropic Thunder is under scrutiny for two reasons:  Robert Downey Jr., a white actor, plays a white man in the movie who undergoes pigment infusion in order to portray an African-American man in the movie within a movie.  I guess I should go back and give a summary of the plot so that my explanation of the controversies of Tropic Thunder make more sense.

A group of quirky actors are filming a big budget war movie in Vietnam, and they get stuck there – that’s basically the plot and explains why we have a movie within a movie.  Before seeing the movie, I was under the impression that the actors didn’t know they were on their own in Vietnam and that’s when the hilarity would ensue.  But I was wrong on both accounts.  The actors knew they were no longer filming the movie pretty much right off the bat, and Tropic Thunder is not funny.  It is violent and crude; two things I could handle if the movie had other appealing qualities, but this one does not.  I do not recommend Tropic Thunder to anyone.  I can’t see who would like this film since it’s not funny nor is it really an action film – it just seems like a poor excuse for total crudeness and senseless violence.  I’m surprised about this because of its major star power: it was directed by Ben Stiller who also stars in the movie, along with Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Matthew McConaughey (who has a difficult name to spell, by the way!), Nick Nolte, and Tom Cruise, who makes a “special” appearance.  Turns out what is so special about Cruise’s appearance is the audience getting to see an A-list actor spewing out apallingly crude lines.  I have to admit though, they do a good job of disguising Mr. Cruise, and since I hadn’t heard he’d be in the film, I only recognized him because his voice was familiar and my husband leaned over and asked me, “Isn’t that Tom Cruise?”  Seeing Tom Cruise as a middle-aged bald jerk barking out insults and orders was probably the only entertaining thing in the whole movie but still not nearly enough to make it worth seeing.  Not quite so bad as to be put on my famous movie stinkers list, but it was a close call!

And that was going to be the end of my post until I realized that I forgot to go back and write more about the controversies surrounding this movie.  There was the one about Robert Downey Jr. portraying an African-American; I guess the feeling was why couldn’t they hire someone who was really African-American to play the role.  And then there was the controversy about the use of the word (and please forgive me if I offend you, I’m just repeating what I heard in the media) “retard”.  I can see how people would be offended by both circumstances; mostly I’m all for people lightening up about being politically correct and those kind of things, but perhaps these complaints have merit, especially the latter.  The movie’s portrayal of a “special” person and use of the word “retard” was quite condescending and like the rest of the movie, not the least bit funny.  But what I would say to the people who were offended is don’t waste your time because this movie’s not worth it, especially if the “no such thing as bad publicity” theory pans out – why give this bad movie any more press than it’s already gotten?  Waste of money.  Period.  Not a waste of time, however, but only because I saw it in good company 🙂

Train, Train, Go Away

Posted in Uncategorized on August 29th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , ,

There are some really busy railroad tracks that run along the north border of the town where I live.  There are basically 3 roads that go out of town to the north; only one of which has an overpass for the tracks so cars don’t have to stop for every train that passes by.  This morning on our way back into town, we got stuck by a train.  Taking the route with the overpass is not an option right now because the other road we would need for that route is currently under construction and closed.  So we were stuck by the train, and it was a lengthy freighter (aren’t they all when you live in the country?), and it decided to stop – it was at a standstill on the tracks.  Not knowing how long the train was going to be stopped and because we were running low on gas, our only option was to turn around and try the third route.  Thank goodness it wasn’t being blocked by the stopped train also, which could have very well happened given the way these roads are laid out.  And talk about timing – right as we were going over the tracks, the bells and whistles on the gates sounded because yet another train was coming!  So if we had waited just a few more seconds to turn around, we would have gotten stuck by another train and probably run out of gas.  I didn’t realize we were so low on gas – I think there’s something wrong with our gas gauge because it fluctuates a lot.  But anyway, the point of this story is not to keep a full tank of gas – at today’s gas prices, who could afford that?  But I really hope they finish the construction soon so we can go back to taking the route where you don’t have to bother with the train crossings – I’m so not used to sitting in traffic, even if it is just waiting for a train to pass!

*UPDATE* – This afternoon as I traveled toward the north edge of town, the construction seemed to have been completed, thus opening the route that goes under the railroad tracks!  Maybe ODOT read my blog…

That Darn Cat

Posted in Pets on August 27th, 2008 and tagged , , , ,

I love animals…  all animals, even ones I’m afraid of like frogs.  I can honestly say I would not want to see harm come to a frog even though I don’t like them.  I really love cats, even though I’m allergic to them.  When I was growing up, I always wanted a cat, so as soon as I moved out of my parents’ house I got one.  I had her for over 10 years, her name was Mally, and she was a sweetheart.  She passed away last January, and I miss her very much.  While she was alive, I couldn’t pet her as much as I wanted to because of my allergies, and that’s the only reason why I haven’t gotten another cat – I really like them.  Except for my neighbor’s cat.

When we moved in 2 years ago, we saw Phoebe the neighbor’s cat roaming around and we thought it was kind of cool to have a neighborhood cat.  That was before we saw how mischievous she can be.  Phoebe likes to sit on our window sill because she knows it makes the dogs crazy.  She also sits on the kids’ slide in the backyard which is just out of the dogs reach, further aggravating them.  One day, our dog Charity got loose and treed the cat.  I felt a little badly although part of me enjoyed the surprised (and pissed) look on that cat’s face when she was in the tree because she wasn’t expecting the dog to get loose and chase her.  One time, I noticed the front door was open and she was peeking in our house!  Don’t know how she managed that one; maybe one of the kids left the door open or something.  I used to have a bird house and a bird feeder in the tree in our side yard.  I would go out there and sprinkle seed, and we had a nice menagerie of creatures that would visit, giving our parrot some friends to look at out his window.  But then I saw Phoebe out there stalking the squirrels and birds that frequented the tree, and I stopped putting seed out because I no longer wanted to lure animals into her lair.  One day, I saw her playing with a baby bunny.  The bunny was alive, but not moving, so we scooped it up and took it to this lady who rehabs wildlife nearby.  Her place is really neat; she has raccoons, bandicoots, squirrels, rabbits, geese, ducks, and even a few bears!  Anyway, she said the bunny looked to be in bad shape and she didn’t expect it to survive.  Hopefully it defied the odds…

Being an animal lover, I was really sad when Phoebe hurt the baby bunny.  I was even more sad when I saw what she did the other day.  I was outside with my daughter, and Phoebe started to climb the tree in the front of our house.  I thought it was really cute, so I pointed to her and showed my daughter the cat.  But then I saw what she was doing – there were 2 doves sitting silently in the tree, and she was stalking them.  Suddenly one of the doves flew off the branch or at least tried to.  He flapped to the ground; I don’t know if he hit his wing on a branch or if he was hurt before he tried to fly away, but he landed on the ground, and Phoebe chased him.  He got lift a few more times, but he couldn’t fly.  Phoebe was chasing him until they both disappeared around the side of the neighbor’s house.  I grabbed my daughter and followed them, but I didn’t see anything.  When I got back to the front of the house, I saw the other dove in the tree, just sitting there waiting for her mate to come back.  She was there all day, just waiting, and it was the saddest thing because I didn’t think he’d be coming back.  The next day, she was gone, so I don’t know if she just gave up or what.  Maybe he survived the cat attack and they found each other again…  doubtful, but I am hopeful that’s the case because I don’t know what happened.  What I do know is that I don’t like Phoebe the cat.  She’s not even friendly; she never lets my kids pet her.  I’ve considered leaving a note on the neighbor’s door asking them to please corral their cat a little better…  but I don’t want to be one of those people.  For now, I just hold onto the hope the neighbors will move and take Phoebe with them, and when that day comes, I will promptly set up my wildlife area once again.

Kids Write the Darndest Email Forwards

Posted in Kids on August 27th, 2008 and tagged , , , ,

I haven’t put any of the email forwards I’ve been getting on my blog lately, and this one seemed worthy.  It’s a list of cute responses kids gave when asked certain questions.  They’re really adorable, that is of course, if it’s really kids saying these things.  Sometimes I’m skeptical of things like this; it could just be a bored adult with nothing better to do than circulate a made-up email.  Most of these responses seem like something kids would say, although I’m wondering a little about the first one – would a kid really say “keep the chips and dip coming”?  I don’t know if kids talk like that…  but even so, the responses are cute if you imagine that kids said them, which they probably did for the most part.  I do wonder why they worded one of the questions so strangely: What would you do on a first date that’s turning sour?  Turning sour?  Would a kid know that “turning sour” can mean something besides talking about candy?  Anyway, here they are…  oh yeah, and some forwarder was nice enough to add their commentary for our enjoyment.

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHO TO MARRY?
You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like
sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the
chips and dip coming.
— Alan, age 10

No person really decides before they grow up who they’re going to marry.
God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you’re
stuck with.
— Kristen, age 10
 
WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE TO GET MARRIED?
Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by
then.
— Camille, age 10
 
HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED?
 You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the
same kids.
— Derrick, age 8
 
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MOM AND DAD HAVE IN COMMON?
 Both don’t want any more kids.
— Lori, age 8
 
WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE?
 Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each
other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.
— Lynnette, age 8 (isn’t she a treasure)
 On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that Usually gets
them interested enough to go for a second date.
— Martin, age 10
 
WHAT WOULD YOU DO ON A FIRST DATE THAT WAS TURNING SOUR?
 I’d run home and play dead. The next day I would call all the newspapers
and make sure they wrote about me in all the dead columns.
— Craig, age 9
 
WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?
 When they’re rich.
— Pam, age 7
 The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn’t want to mess with
that.
– – Curt, age 7
 The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them
and have kids with them. It’s the right thing to do.
— Howard, age 8
 
IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED?
 It’s better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone
to clean up after them.
— Anita, age 9 (bless you child)
 
 HOW WOULD THE WORLD BE DIFFERENT IF PEOPLE DIDN’T GET MARRIED?
There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn’t there?
— Kelvin, age 8
 And the #1 Favorite is……..
 
HOW WOULD YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK?
Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump
truck.
— Ricky, age 10

DOA Disposal

Posted in Uncategorized on August 27th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , ,

Sunday I had some dishes full of dip to clean that had been left sitting out from our game night Saturday night.  I began to rinse them out in the sink, flipped the switch for the garbage disposal, and – nothing.  Not a peep.  My husband looked at it and found there’s a little switch underneath the sink that turns it on, so he flipped that, and it now makes a little bit of noise at least, but it still doesn’t work.  A call to the plumber found that they charge $300 to put in a new disposal.  That’s not really an option right now since we’re trying to save money to be able to take the kids to Disney World before baby Christopher is old enough to add to the trouble in our already crowded car.  So if anyone reading this knows anything about disposals or how to fix them, please, please tell me how and hurry – the dishes of dip are starting to smell!

I Know One Business That Isn’t Suffering In This Economy

Posted in Uncategorized on August 26th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We had to go to the ER yesterday, and it was bustling!  Since this is our second visit in a month, I can tell you that unfortunately, yesterday’s busyness was not any different from the norm.  Seeing as how we’re talking about a hospital as a business that’s doing well in this awful economy, that is not a good thing.

Here’s what happened, and it’s not a matter of life or death (at least for us), so don’t be alarmed about the ER visit.  My husband had been having severe stomach pain since Sunday afternoon that was getting worse, so that’s why we went to the ER.  Turns out to be a virus, so that’s great of course!  We were thinking kidney stone or something worse, so we’re very thankful.  While we were in the ER, some interesting events unfolded regarding some of the other patients.  First, there was the girl who left her contacts in for 2 weeks out of “laziness”.  She finally took them out, and the next morning, her eyes hurt, they were all swollen, and she couldn’t see.  The doctor speculated that the contacts had become fused to her eyeball and actually tore the top layer off when she removed them.  They sent her to an eye specialist.

Next was the couple who came in with the woman (girl actually – they were probably in their late teens or early twenties) complaining of burning during urination.  My husband overheard the doctor ask the girl how many sexual partners she’s had in the last 60 days.  She answered, “just my boyfriend.”  Then they asked the boyfriend the same question, but they did it while the girlfriend was in the bathroom, and he said he didn’t know – yikes.  More than 10, they asked, and he said, “yeah.”  I wonder if they waited to ask the boyfriend until the girlfriend was out of the room on purpose.  I wonder if they’re going to tell the girlfriend.  Makes an interesting moral argument…  there’s something someone should know, yet there’s doctor-patient confidentiality…  but then again, the boyfriend wasn’t a patient, his girlfriend was the patient.  Maybe the doctor’s job dictates whether or not he would have to tell the girlfriend.  What if her symptoms are indicitive of an STD, then the doctor would have to tell her that of course…  wonder if he’d mention her boyfriend’s infidelity as well.  Well, that’s enough time on that story – onto the third ER story, which is sad…

The doctors and nurses started rushing around even more than they were before, and they all kept talking about how they were about to get much busier.  “Something’s coming in…” they were saying.  I started overhearing snippets of conversation including something about calling the state fire marshall and an autopsy…  Turns out someone had been found dead in their basement after their house was on fire.  That is not a usual occurance around here; this was a big deal at the ER.  There was a sheriff walking around, and a body bag was wheeled down the hall.  A sad event, no doubt, but something that would seem like just another day at work to doctors and nurses working at an urban hospital.  I wonder what the circumstances of the fire are; I read in the newspaper that when firefighters arrived, there was only a little smoke showing on the roof.  The man was found dead in the basement, so that seems a little suspicious.  The state fire marshall is conducting a joint investigation with the sheriff’s office, so maybe when they’re done the story will be back in the newspaper.  Well, anyway, I’m just relieved that all is well with my husband.  I hope not to have to see if the ER remains busy any time soon! 

The Orphanage

Posted in Movies on August 26th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Wow.  What a good movie.  The Orphanage is an eerily spooky ghost story, and I don’t really know what else to say about it because I want to make sure not to spoil anything.  They must have felt the same way when they wrote the summary on the back of the dvd’s box because it was very general and even incorrect in some aspects.  The movie is in Spanish, and I’ll admit that scared us away from watching it for awhile.  We got to go out to see a movie together while we were in Florida last January, and we went to buy tickets for The Orphanage, but the worker told us it had subtitles.  So we saw One Missed Call instead, and that wasn’t nearly as good, not even the same kind of movie.  Our movie rental place has a satisfaction guarrantee, so when we told them how unhappy we were with The Fun Park, we got a free rental.  My husband was trying to be quick again – that’s what got us into trouble with The Fun Park in the first place though – so he just grabbed The Orphanage, remembering that we had wanted to see it after reading the glowing reviews from critics.  Pretty soon, it was Sunday already and we hadn’t watched the movie and it was due by 11 pm that evening, so we quickly watched it while the kids were all napping from our big weekend.  It didn’t take long to forget we were reading subtitles rather than watching people talk in the movie; it was that good.  The critics were actually right for once.  Like I said, I really don’t want to give any of the plot because it’d be difficult to explain anything without giving away spoilers.  So I’ll just say, if you like spooky movies, this one is a must-see.  It’s not even really a horror movie; it’s supernaturally suspenseful.  The story draws you in and doesn’t let go…  you may not speak the same language as the characters, but you idenify with them, feel their pain, and genuinely care about what happens to them as the story unfolds.  SEE IT!  It’s a totally different movie experience between the subtitles and just the kind of movie it is – I HIGHLY recommend it! 

18 Kids – Are They Crazy?

Posted in Kids on August 24th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

They don’t seem to be, they just like kids, I guess.  You might have heard of the Duggar family from Arkansas.  They are kind of like celebrites.  Their claim to fame?  Having 18 natural children.  No adoptees or fosters.  The 18 includes 2 sets of twins and one on the way; there are 7 girls and 11 boys – they don’t know the gender of the new baby yet.  Their story interests me because with 4 kids myself, I thought I had a lot of kids.  It’s interesting to me to see how they go about their daily lives with 20 people living in their house.  Their house is custom built, they actually built it themselves as a family project.  They have lots of things in their house that help organize their lives and make everything run more smoothly, for instance, they have 4 washers and 4 dryers in their laundry room and one communal family clothes closet where the clothes are sorted by size.  Their kitchen has 2 convection ovens, 2 microwaves, 2 warming drawers, 2 dishwashers, 2 sinks, and a fridge/freezer.  And that’s the small kitchen.  The industrial kitchen is outfitted with 4 ovens, 2 griddles, 4 freezers, 2 refrigerators, 2 sinks, a pizza oven, a deep fryer, and a popcorn machine.  They even have their own buffet line; that’s how they serve their food.  Each kid goes through the line and gets their own food, well, the ones who are old enough, anyway.   They also have a drink counter in their dining room with a fountain pop machine.

Even though they have all these things in their house that help to accomodate such a large family, it’s amazing to me that they can still function with all those kids.  The kids are home schooled and also take piano, violin, and harp lessons.  I think the key here is scheduling.  The family has a daily schedule that they follow which is supplemented with reward charts and checklists for each family member.  Each person has a jurisdiction within the house that they are responsible for cleaning during family cleaning time.  It sounds like a well-oiled machine, but I’m sure they run into their share of snags.  I just have so many questions about their situation, though, like how can a woman want to go through the birthing process 16 times (remember, 2 sets of twins)?  How is her body even able to carry and give birth to 18 children?  Is she addicted to pregnancy?  Do they have a money tree in their yard?  What is their grocery bill?  When do they have time for grocery shopping and who does it?  Do they have a vehicle that fits them all, or do they have to travel everywhere in a caravan?  Does Jim-Bob (the dad) work outside the home?  It’s kind of funny, isn’t it, that his name is Jim-Bob, he’s from the south, and he has 18 kids.  Talk about illustrating stereotypes. 

But seriously, they must be rich, or at least were rich before they had all those kids.  Not only would their grocery bill be outrageous, but they built their own large home and they need furniture to accomodate 20 people – that’s 19 beds alone!  Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that all the children’s names start with the letter j.  Well, anyway, I just thought I’d write a little about the lives of this interesting family.  If you want more information about them or want to look at pictures of them or their cool house, they have a pretty nice website.  They also make appearances on news shows frequently and had a reality show on the Discovery Channel that followed them as they built their house.  I wonder if they plan on sending all 18 kids to college?  And if all 18 share their parents’ views of contraception, they are going to have hundreds of grandchildren!

Moving The Choo-Choo

Posted in Current Events, Kids, Travel on August 23rd, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

If you’ve grown up in Chicagoland as I have, then you’ll know what I’m talking about when I describe a few staples of a typical suburban 1980’s Chicago childhood.  #1 – You’ve attended a taping of the Bozo show.  As I’ve stated before, the girl I went to the show with was put on the waiting list for tickets when she was a fetus.  We went to the show taping when we were 9 – that’s how long it took for her name to come up, thus illustrating how popular the experience was.  #2 – If you had perfect attendance in school, you won tickets to a White Sox baseball game.  Even I, a true-blue Chicago Cubs fan, ventured over to the south side as a youth to cheer on the men in black as a reward for not missing any days in a school year.  Don’t tell anyone though; it’s not something I’m proud of.  #3 – You got your grilled cheese served to you by a miniature train at the Choo-Choo restaurant in Des Plaines.

Now that it’s 2008, I doubt they give away major league baseball tickets for perfect attendance in school anymore.  I know for a fact that the Bozo show is no longer around, but I also know that the Choo-Choo restaurant is alive and well – for now anyway.  The Choo-Choo is a small diner that serves typical american fare – hot dogs, grilled cheese, burgers, and the like.  If you sit at the counter, your food is delivered by a miniature train that circles the dining room and disappears into the kitchen.  It seems they are thinking of moving the Choo-Choo to build a new police department.  Not putting it out of business, thank goodness, but they are considering moving it.  I hope this does not happen because I’m not one to favor change, and I can’t help but feel that if the restaurant is moved, it will suffer loss of business which will eventually lead to its demise.  I don’t understand why the proposal involves moving the entire building; from what I remember it is a very small crowded space, and the magic is in the train serving your food, not in the building itself.  Since 1951, this little diner has been there, and many generations have enjoyed it.  I think it would be a shame to move it as it would lose at least a little bit of its nostalgia for some people if it were in a different location.  Leave it there in its tiny building.  Let people stand in lines that often run out the door in order to get a counter seat where the train runs as they’ve done for decades.  People are more likely to return with their children and later on, their grandchildren if it’s left exactly the way they remember it.  

My husband and I had very different upbringings; his was a life of “privilege”, getting every material item he could ever want, although his parents were never home.  Mine was the opposite, a loving family always together although we had to stretch the already tight budget just to be able to afford such luxuries as an occasional happy meal from McDonalds.  But we are both products of Chicagoland, therefore we share the memories of the Sox tickets perfect attendance prize (not that my husband ever won any; this is no surprise if you know anything about his school years), being at the Bozo show tapings, and our visits to the Choo-Choo restaurant.  My kids have been to the restaurant also, and I hope it’s still there for them to visit with my grandchildren someday.