Entertainment

My British accent is more like Jennifer Coolidge’s in Austenland but maybe if I watch this video a few more times I’ll get the hang of it. Which accent is your favorite?

I am a very visual person. If I want to understand or remember something I have to see it. I have never cared for being read to (at least not since I was a kid) because hearing something means so much less to me than reading something. Also, it takes about a million years longer to listen to a book than to read it yourself.

This summer during our Confederate Car Trip we brought along four Harry Potter books. My friend Connie assured me that these would make all the difference between murdering my children and coexisting with them peacefully for two weeks. So I took them, rolling my eyes, but by the time we hit Waco I had put on the first CD. We listened to them for most of the trip and were a very captive–but very willing–audience. We really loved listening to them. I read the first Harry Potter book when it had barely come out and nobody had the vaguest idea how to pronounce Hermione (but I did, being full of trivial, pointless knowledge as I am.)  I enjoyed it but then the books became horrendously popular and I didn’t want to read the rest solely because who wants to wait in line all night to buy a stupid book? I tend to not like things anymore once they’re popular; ditto for the movies. (I did see the very last movie but I had no idea what was happening or why it was a big deal.) The older kids were completely familiar with the entire Harry Potter oeuvre, but the younger ones weren’t.

Listening to the Harry Potter books was wonderful for me because I was completely new to them. All the kids are at a great age to listen to them and Connie was right; they made the 4000 miles fly by.

But still I like to have real live books in my hands.

Last week I saw a copy of the Lonesome Dove miniseries on my husbands shelf of DVDs and he reminded me again how it’s super good and that I really should watch it. But I hate, hate watching TV while my kids are at school because I can’t multitask while I do it (our only TV being in the playroom, away from the dirty floors that should be mopped or the bathrooms than need scrubbing). TV and movies are such a time suck. But maybe I could read the book Lonesome Dove (since reading is easier to do than watching a movie when you’re waiting for carpool kids or in a doctor’s office). But for some reason I ended up downloading the audio book. When am I going to listen to this? I thought. I barely am in the car for more than ten minutes at a time. Then it hit me–I can listen to this while I clean my house.

I know what you guys are thinking: you are the biggest dummy ever! How has this never occurred to you?

I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes, friends. But now that I’m about ten hours into Lonesome Dove, let me tell you that cleaning while you listen to an audiobook is the best. Although if you have little kids bugging you I imagine that it would put you in a mighty foul mood to be interrupted constantly (maybe during nap time?). I actually try to think of more things to clean so that I can keep listening. How crazy is that?

Due to the fact that there is an occasional swear and that prostitutes come up pretty often in the story, Lonesome Dove is not exactly kid-friendly. But I’m enjoying it heartily.*

I still have 25 hours to go before I finish this book, but I’m already thinking about my next read listen.  Do you listen while you putter around the house too? What are your favorite audio books? Anything I must listen to next? A book can be completely ruined by a bad narrator, so what are some good recommendations?

 

*To make things even better, I got the book from Audible.com and they have an app that makes each book the size of a couple of songs. It won’t take up your iTunes space like a bunch of CDs will. And if you go to www.audible.com/npr they’ll let you try a book for free. Also, our library also has a couple of audio-books-for-free services. Yours probably does too.

I really, really love Instagram (you can find me @heyhildie). I used to fight it because I hated the idea that all my pictures have to be square. Now I accept square-ness (and I know how to get past that if I need to). Instagram is kind of like Facebook but without all the ads and weird stuff. And, of course, you always have to use a picture (or video!). That’s the whole point.

If you’re on Instagram or are thinking about it, let me give you a few hints. These might sound a little bratty, but I’m just trying to help you out. If you want people to like your stuff (and obviously you do or you wouldn’t be putting your pictures up for public approval on Instagram), you need to follow a few guidelines:

1. Don’t be a Private User. There is nothing more annoying than having someone comment on one of your photos, only to click over to their info and this is what you see:

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There is pretty much no info on your Instagram account unless you put it there. Meaning that there is no way people can figure out your name and address and kidnap your kids unless you put it on Instagram on purpose. Facebook is way more scary in that respect.

 2. Keep the pics of your kids to a minimum (I’d say 50% or less). Yes, I know you have the cutest toddler ever and your teenage daughter is simply gorgeous, but unless your mom is your only follower the rest of us don’t want to see endless photos of your kids. It’s boring. Sorry. It also makes you look lame and one-dimensional. Certainly there is more to your life than your children (please say yes). I know that Christmas and Halloween are kid-heavy holidays and we’re all guilty of putting up lots of pics on Instagram during that time of year. Just try to expand your horizons a little and find interesting/pretty/funny things that don’t revolve around your offspring.

 

3. Limit pictures of your animals. Pets are even more boring than kids. At least kids have different facial expressions. Unless your pet is doing something really hilarious, or it’s a particularly gorgeous shot, don’t post it. A cat lying on a bed is not interesting unless you’re a ten-year-old girl. If that’s who follows you on Instagram, then knock yourself out. I have one friend whom I had to unfollow because all she ever posted were pictures of her Afghan Hound sleeping. It just looked like a brownish mop laying on the floor. You can only give a person so many sympathy “likes” before you just unfollow them.

 

4. Do not even think of posting a shot looking down at your shoes! We’ve all taken one, which is what makes it so boring and overdone. I don’t care how great of a filter you use. If you want to show that you are about to go running, wrack your brain for some other way to illustrate this.

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5. Don’t go overboard with hashtags. This is a tricky area. I like a hashtag if it’s funny or clever. Or if I actually want to be able to search for the topic of the picture. Please don’t go crazy with the “funny” hashtags. It can get really, really annoying. Like an eight-year-old who won’t quit with the knock-knock jokes.

 

Yes, you can put whatever you want on Intagram. But if you want people to like your pictures and follow you, you need to keep things interesting.

 

This is one of my most popular posts and I like to repost it every year in case you’ve got a houseful of bored (hence, annoying) kids and need to know how to keep them occupied without relying on TVs/vieogames/ipads to babysit them. This is a great way to keep everyone in the house quiet and entertained. It’s really the best thing that’s happened to our summers! We’ve added a few changes to the system as our kids have gotten older. I’ll mention those at the end of the post.

My kids started driving me crazy the day after school got out. There was the constant squabbling, playfighting, and watching each other play video games for hours on end ( I loathe that, but it’s just so peaceful while they do it, that it’s hard to crack down and turn it off). Some people go cold turkey and turn off all screens during the summer, but I think it should still be a fun time of year (especially since we really limit TV and video games during the school year). I just needed to figure out some sort of system.

My friend Amy and I escaped for lunch a few weeks ago. She told me about the system she uses in her house and a giant light bulb went off over my head. I took her idea and ran with it, expanding on it to fit our family’s needs.

This is how it works:

–Our house is divided into six stations (Art, Reading, Computer, Puzzles, Academics, and TV).

–Each station is in a different part of the house (or in separate parts of the same room) so there is very little annoying and teasing of siblings going on.

–Stations last for 45 minutes each (sometimes if we have other plans for the day we’ll only do stations for 20-30 minutes a piece). Then the kids rotate to the next station. Each child goes to all of the six stations every day, Monday through Friday. We usually begin in the late morning after everyone has done their chores. Since we live in Texas which is HOT in the summer, we usually spend the mornings playing outside (after chores!) and don’t waste precious cool time indoors.

–Everyone gets a chance to choose which station they would like to start with. Yes, they will all have a chance at every station, but you know how much siblings like to compete with each other. Currently we are picking popsicle sticks labelled with the kids’ names. I draw one and that child picks where they’d like to begin.

–It’s helpful to have a list of activities available at Academics and art. We have things listed like “work on handwriting”. The kids all tell me they want to improve their handwriting but they forget. Their are workbooks for the littles but the older kids can do it on their own; they just need a reminder. Some of the art things we have are kept in my craft closet and the kids tend to forget about them. Having all the choices on a list makes a good reminder.

Here are the details:

Art (at the kitchen table):
Everyone has a sketch book, so there are minimal amounts of loose paper floating around. All coloring and watercolor go on sketchbook pages. We also have Shrinky Dinks, pipe cleaners, Sculpey clay (for the older kids), Play-Doh (for the younger ones), and brand new sets of watercolors, crayons and markers. I stocked up on the fabulous coloring books that Dover Publishing carries. We also have an assortment of drawing “how-to” books and creativity-building exercises.

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Puzzles (on a card table set up in the Mudroom): I bought ten new puzzles of all different skill levels. I also got one of those roll-up puzzle savers so the older kids can work on the same puzzle day after day. We also have Sudoko, crossword, and word-search books of different skill levels. My friend Amy and I will be swapping puzzles after a while to keep things fresh.

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Academics (on the coffee table in the family room):
There is a real variety here since Jasper barely knows his letters and India is taking AP classes. Probably our favorite item is the Flashmaster. It’s a fantastic gizmo that quizzes kids on their addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. They can be timed or not timed, and the computer remembers which problems they got wrong. It’s been wonderful since my younger kids have never been required to learn their math facts very well. You can get Flashmaster on Amazon for $50.

We also have a Geography Globe from Oregon Scientific, the Phonics Firefly (perfect for helping the younger kids learn their letters and sounds), and some educational Leap Pad sets.

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In this category we also have workbooks (the great kind sold at Costco that are full of worksheets), handwriting practice sheets and spelling word quizzes. I try to get items that the kids can do on their own so I don’t have to sit there all day. The older kids are working on assignments they were given at school to complete over the summer.

 


Reading
(in the Living Room which is where our bookcases are):
This is read-alone time. Every few days I rotate the supply of kids’ books so they always have something new to look at. Library books stay in here too. The older kids usually have a novel they’re reading. This is a perfect time for teens to work on their summer reading assignments for school.


Computer
(playroom):
The kids can play whatever they want without someone claiming that “she took my turn!”; I don’t really care what it is, whether it’s Webkinz or something educational (Finn has been doing a teach-yourself-German program). This is their entire computer time for the day. This would probably include Nintendo DS time, if you have those at your house.

TV (in the playroom where our only TV is):
This includes video games and DVDs. Whatever takes place on a TV, this is the time to do it. The best part of this system is that you don’t have children sitting around watching their siblings play games (one of my major pet peeves). Occasionally we’ll watch a movie as a family in the evening, but for the most part this is their entire allotment of video games and shows.

You could tailor the stations to suit your family better. If you all play instruments, you could do music time, for example. Or you could do an outdoor station. With our blazing summer temps, though, the kids stay indoors most of the day but we spend evenings playing outside or swimming. This system would work with a smaller family, too. For the last week India and York have been visiting their grandparents in Oregon and we’ve been rotating four kids around the six stations. It’s been fine.

We have been doing Stations for a couple of weeks now and it has been phenomenal! The kids never complain about being bored and they bug each other so much less. My house is actually quiet during the day! It’s a miracle!

Jasper doing summer stations

UPDATE: now that our kids are getting older, we’ve made a few changes. We’ve combined academics with spiritual stuff. The kids all have goal programs that they’ve been working on at church and this is a great time to accomplish the tasks they’ve set for themselves. We’ve also made a reading plan to for the scriptures this summer and having time during a station for this works a lot better than expecting tired kids to read at night.

We are accumulating a lot of instruments around our house, my new harp being the most popular. So now along with puzzles, we have the option to play an instrument during that station. Not all of the kids are interested in this, though, which is why I didn’t just add another station. My children are finally old enough to use the instruments unsupervised. I would never have done this when I had preschoolers. It would have caused way too much trouble.

School just ended for us on Friday and this last week was a killer. I barely had time to catch my breath. My favorite part of the end-of-the-year festivities was going to see the silent movies made by Ada’s second grade Theatre Arts class. They learned about silent films and got to make several  of their own. Since I know you’re dying to see Adelaide’s, here it is in all it’s old-timey glory. (It’s the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. Ada plays Jack’s mother.) It’s a whole lot more creative than just acting out a silly old play.

 

 

Mister finally bought a Prius after thinking about it for about five years. Now he needs a new license plate. Here in Texas we have about a jillion different plate designs and I had fun looking for one. I also found out that the name Hildie is available! I should totally get a personalized plate, shouldn’t I? They’re $150 per year so I doubt I will, but I had fun trying out some designs. This one is my favorite. I do love a good cheeseburger.

 

Mister is a big Dr. Pepper fan. Me, notsomuch but this would certainly be a unique plate. In case you’re thinking that it’s a totally random license plate design, Dr. Pepper was invented in Waco, TX.

 

Of course, Texans love Jesus too. You’d better be a nice driver if you commit to this license plate. If you feel like your Jesus fish on the back of your car isn’t hardcore enough, consider this one.(Or you could just let your kind Christian behavior speak for itself.)

 

Say you’re really into NASCAR. Texas has not one, not two, but four NASCAR designs.  Why does that not surprise me.

 

And let’s not forget the hunters. If you are super into killing wild Turkeys, now you can inform everyone behind you at the stoplight. You wouldn’t want people to think you kill deer or boar or something. Make sure you let everyone know that shooting turkeys is where it’s at. And you don’t kill those tame turkeys either; only crazy wild ones. Hey, there’s is an actual federation dedicated to them! I’ll bet those are some rootin-tootin conventions.

 

This one just plain confused me. BYU is in Utah. But I can have a Texas plate with a Utah school on it? That’s like ordering a Steak Gordita at McDonalds. Weird.

 

If you have a tribal tattoo you’d probably like this plate as well. That way people know you’re a badass even though you’re driving a Corolla.

 

This design is my favorite but I have to say I was a little disconcerted with the way they split up my name:

 

Suddenly Texas is telling me they want me dead? Although I have to say I love the tagline, “Texas 4 Ever”. Did you guys watch Friday Night Lights? Did you see the show’s finale when Tim is looking over his property and says, “Texas Forever”, just like in the very first episode? Man, I was doing the ugly cry. Texas forever, indeed.

Let’s talk about fashion first: Watching the Oscars is a bit lame when you don’t have cable. You can’t switch between four channels to make sure you don’t miss a single dress on the red carpet. Instead I had to sort through pictures on the internet this morning to see if there were some stunners I missed.  There weren’t. My opinion is that color is good. Neutral tones really don’t flatter many people. I mean, some of those grey/white/bronze dresses looked nice but think how much prettier they would have looked in a nice peacock blue. Especially that knock-out Jessica Chastain (At least she had some bright lips to perk things up). And Amy Adams hair? It looks Nanny and the Professor. Ew.


I guess I should amend the above statement to say that white girls shouldn’t wear neutrals. My favorite dress of the night was on Zoe Saldana who is one of the most gorgeous women ever. It’s a pearly grey but it doesn’t look washed out since Zoe has that lovely cappuccino skin. Love the layers at the hem and the flowers up top. LOVE!

 

Normally I hate everything about Jennifer Aniston but she looks 100% gorgeous.

I thought everyone looked pretty decent. This isn’t like the Oscars of the 80′s when everyone looked ridiculous. But there were a few things that caused me to raise my eyebrows:

Oh Anne, the satin and the darts combine to create the perfect storm. I’m sure your nipples are lovely but we really don’t all need to know. Her diamond necklace is adorable but I hope the “necklace on backwards’ trend ends quickly. It’s weird.

And then there are a couple of ladies taking a footnote from the 80′s. Halle Berry gets all Alexis Carrington while Jane looks like she’s on her way to the Captain’s table on The Love Boat.

 

But enough about clothes. Let’s talk about movies. I haven’t seen most of them. Although Mister and I did catch a screening last weekend of all the live action and animated shorts. It was three hours long but completely enjoyable.

I’m still not sure who Seth MacFarlane is but I quite enjoyed him. And what a nice singer. I loved the stage set. So bright and pretty. But I’d have to give the broadcast a thumbs down. Why? Too much singing! This isn’t the Tony’s! It’s like the producers said, “Oh look how popular Les Mis is. People must like singing. Let’s have lots of singing!”

No, people just want to see the awards. And who could possible agree that Chicago is the best musical of the last 10 years? I hate Chicago! And that lady singing Goldfinger? She rocked the last note but what a waste of five minutes. Same with Barbra Streisand. I was like, “I’m going to go make some cookies. Tell me when the singing’s done.”

I love that Jennifer Lawrence tripped on the stairs. She is such a funny, honest person. She recovered beautifully. I’m sure if it had been a prima donna like Catherine Zeta-Jones she would have promptly committed suicide.

Daniel Day Lewis is the best actor ever. Anyone who could give us Abraham Lincoln, Cristy from My Left Foot, Hawkeye from The last of the Mohicans and Cecil from A Room With a View is completely brilliant. Tommy Lee Jones, on the other hand, was nominated for an award despite playing the exact same grumpy jerk that he plays in every single movie he’s ever been in. How is that even acting?

I was really hoping Ben Affleck would win because I really feel for him because of all his struggles. And I love Jennifer Garner. His acceptance speech was so humble and touching.

And the whole Michelle Obama thing? Odd. Especially with that passel of footmen (and footwomen?) surrounding her. Although it makes sense considering the love affair that Hollywood and the Obamas have with each other. That relationship also explains how Obama can blame everything and everyone for the violence that is exploding in our society EXCEPT for blaming Hollywood. People like Quentin Tarantino aren’t chastised for making horrendously violent films that glorify murder, torture, anger and revenge –they’re celebrated and honored for it. It really sickens me.

OK, sorry for the outburst.

Let’s lighten the mood by discussing the ubiquitous aging European men with flowing blond hair. In case you were wondering what Legolas would look like as a middle-aged man:

 

Even more bizarre? The mystery of Renee Zelweger’s scrunched up face. Maybe she needed a Claritin? And Kristin Stewart? How does this person have a career? She is peevish, sullen and thoroughly detestable. She couldn’t even pretend to be charming for three minutes while presenting an Oscar. I think I hate K. Stew more than any other actress.

What were your highlights and bombs of the Oscars this year?

Are you on Instagram? Do you wonder how people get all those cool effects onto their photos? (In case you aren’t familiar with Instagram, it’s kind of like Facebook or Twitter but you use pictures for your updates.) I really resisted instagram for a long time. Mostly because it offended my artistic sensibilities that all photos have to be square. But I’ve made my peace with that and now I’m having endless fun. (Want to follow me on Instagram? I’ll follow you back! Look for @heyhildie).

Whether you’re a fan of Instagram or just want to upload pictures to Facebook or message to friends, it’s terribly useful to be able to make your iphone pictures look tip-top without having to export them to a computer. There are piles of apps that will make your pictures look fantastic and are incredibly fun to play with. The big problem with editing pictures directly in your camera is that each app usually just performs a couple of functions. If you want your photo to have all the bells and whistles (labels, a font, some cool effects), you’re going to have to run it though several different apps. This sounds like a chore but really it’s super fun. Let those creative juices flow!  These are my favorites apps:

(Not sure how much of this applies to other smartphones. We only have iphones around here).

Instagram has a few filters you can apply and a tool to crop your photos to be square but I like the flexibility of an editing app. In an editing app you can adjust lighting and exposure and sometimes do some color correction too. You can also add frames and sometimes special effects. My favorite app is PhotoToaster  (99¢) There are lots of different filters but unlike other apps, you can adjust saturation, color, softness, vignette size and other sorts of things. It has way more control than other photo editing apps and I really like it. I’m also a fan of Camera+ (99¢). This is probably the easiest to use of the apps–once you figure out how to import the photos. That took me a while–Each filter is adjustable so if you like your pictures to have an Instamatic look to them, you can make them look just a little bit Instamatic or get the full effect. I LOVE this feature. PhotoToaster doesn’t have that. PicFx  ($2.99) is another good editing program, although it specializes more in fun effects rather than improving the quality of your photo. PicFX requires you to make all photos square whereas the other two apps will let you keep them rectangular. It has tons of cool filters and also some nice bokeh features.

TouchRetouch. The best 99¢ you will ever spend! (Don’t even bother with the free version. It’s no good.) This is a pretty amazing app that lets you remove unwanted items from your picture. It takes a while to get the hang of (fortunately it has some very helpful in-app tutorials), but once you do you’ll love it. It can take anything out of your photo, from a zit to a car in the background. Pretty incredible considering it’s a tiny screen and you’re using your fingertip. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t have transparency settings so it’s not going to look so good if you’re trying to remove wrinkles or undereye circles. Here are two shots before TouchReTouch (on the left) and after (on the right). I removed some stray floaties in the background and a dead tree limb on the left side.

Phonto is another app I could never live without.  Phonto is simply the best app for putting words onto pictures. Not only are there a ton of fonts to choose from, you can upload your own fonts from your computer! It’s incredibly easy to resize them, change the colors, add shadows, change the spacing and pretty much anything you’d ever want to do with words. Best of all it’s free!

Diptic  (99¢) is my preferred app for making collages. It’s incredibly intuitive and easy to use. You can make the edges of pictures rounded or squared. You can make the entire collage rounded too. Like super rounded. As in a circle! Fun!

 

Making Tape (99¢) is another app that will keep you occupied for hours. It makes it look like you’ve stuck really cute washi tape (which is sort of like fancy masking tape) on your pictures. Perfect for labelling! There are hundreds of tape designs to choose from. There are fonts available too but as the app is Japanese, most are not-so-interesting English fonts. I love this app but occasionally it can be difficult to figure out.

Another cool labelling app is called LabelBox. It is a little more polished than Masking Tape (since it isn’t supposed to look like masking tape. Duh). Some of the fonts I like and some I don’t (you can’t pick which font you use in Label Box). Whether I use Making Tape or Label Box I usually add the label with no words on it, save the picture, then run it through Phonto to add words in a font I like better.

LensLight (99¢) has every sort of light, bokeh or lighting effect you could possibly want. Need a sun flare? Shooting stars? Streams of sunshine? Heart-shaped bokeh? (Bokeh, by the way refers to unfocused areas around the background/edge of photos. Usually they look like blobs of light.) This is the app for you. Less is more with this app, but you can get some really cool lighting effects with this app. P.S. I spent about half an hour trying to figure out how to “undo” in this program. There is no undo because each effect that you like must be saved (“rendered”) if you want to add another. I am not a very intuitive person.

 Bubbleframe (99¢) is right up your alley if you’re at all scrapbook-y. It’s a super girly app for one thing. But it reminds me of really easy digital scrapbook layouts. Except for the background, though, everything is in circles. Cute backgrounds and fonts make this very-intuitive app very easy to use. This took me about 90 seconds to create:

I hope you have fun using some of these apps. Just try not to ignore everyone for too long while you’re editing and uploading a picture during dinner/at the zoo/hanging out with friends.

Y’all, I still don’t have a computer. I can fight the kids to use the playroom computer, but mostly I’m limited to using my iphone. Blogging on an iphone is somewhere between maddening and suicide-inducing.

I can’t believe I’m not blogging about the Olympics! It’s been a frustrating ten days because not only do I not have a computer, we only have a TV that gets NBC and PBS. So I can’t watch anything. I shall not address the fact that the jerks at NBC have made it impossible for me to watch any of my favorite sports. You might think that the Olympics are an event for the world to come together but you would so very foolish. They are en event for only the people with cable to come together. But let’s discuss anyway.

I’m a huge fan of the lesser-known sports. (Although how things like Archery count as a sport, I have no idea.)  It infuriates me that NBC has decided that all I am interested in is swimming, gymnastics and running.  Don’t get me wrong, I like backflips as much as the next person. But I find the whole hair issue of female gymnast baffling to the point of distraction. Why are they wearing scrunchies? Do you know that their leotards cost around $500 each? And what do they think will compliment these pricey leotards? A scrunchie!  But who can see the scrunchie when there are approximately 17 hair clippies surrounding it? Gymnasts, please have a chat with some ballerinas. They have figured out how to keep their hair in place without looking like an elementary schooler who’s gone crazy at Claire’s.

Also, having painted nails is against the rules for gymnasts. Outlandish eye makeup is not (especially if you’re Russian). The fact that our poor Olympic girls can not have amazingly patriotic toenails is downright criminal!

The male gymnastics are a lot more interesting. Not just because I have a weakness for muscle-y arms and there are all these fantastic feats of strength (that pommel horse is cool!), but because there are contestants like these:


Nope, it’s not Napoleon and Kip Dynamite’s other brother. It’s Tomas Gonzales from Chile. And if that mustache doesn’t make you want to start singing YMCA then I don’t know what’s wrong with you.


You might think you’ve seen this Uchimura guy before. And you have if you watch Yu-Gi-Oh. I mean he looks like he walked right out of some Japanese animé cartoon. That kooky hair just makes me smile.

Enough about gymnastics; let’s move on to swimming. I personally have no feelings for or against Michael Phelps. I never root for him. I am a lover of the underdog. And Michael Phelps is the opposite of the underdog. All I know about M.P. is that his swimsuit always looks like it’s about 1 centimeter from falling off. He must use that tape to keep it in place like beauty pageant contestants. It makes me very uncomfortable.

Also swimming-related: I have a hard time supporting a sport where the women look just like the men. When they’ve got unitards and bathing caps on, they could be either one. Call me old-fashioned but women look better with breasts. My husband assures me that he believes this too.

My mother made me take swimming lessons at an indoor pool when I was very young. Swimming across the pool terrified me to no end. I was sure that I would drown right in the middle, being a very weak swimmer. To this day, walking into an indoor pool–hearing the echoes, getting a huge whiff of the chlorine–makes me have some sort of PTSD. (Also, I don’t like getting wet to start with.)  Thus, I cannot fully enjoy swimming.

I have so much more to say about the Olympics. I think I’ll try to chase my kids off the computer and blog again soon. What have you liked or hated most so far? At the end of it all I plan on having a beauty pageant and voting for the best looking athletes, so mark your choices down and let’s discuss.

 

 

I’ve got a bunch of miscellaneous tutorials stacking up (making jam! And tablecloths! And doing a facial!) but I just don’t have the time to get them done what with all the parties and end-of-the-school-year shenanigans going on. Let’s just say that I have probably been to more choir/band/piano recitals and concerts than you have. And hey, how about that teacher appreciation week? That was fun. And let’s not forget Field Day. And the 100 water balloons they asked me to donate. What I’m trying to say is that I’m busy. So get off my back, OK?

But I have made some room in my schedule for movies. Because Mister and I do love the picture show.  We saw three good films this last month. I love when that happens!

Salmon Fishing in The Yemen.  It will take you half of the movie to wrap your brain around the idea that the country is not called Yemen but The Yemen. Once you’ve moved past that you will be rewarded with a great little romantic comedy. Well, a little more highbrow and thoughtful than your typical Rom Com. But it’s a super date movie. Ewan McGregor sounds all Scottish and dreamy and Emily Blunt is adorable too. Mister and I were both pleasantly surprised. In our town it’s only playing at the artsy-fartsy theatre. I have no idea why. Everyone would like this movie.

 

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Loved this! But I have to tell you that we were the youngest people in the theatre by far. The cast is so phenomenal. Maggie Smith and Judy Dench have been two of my favorites since A Room With A View and here they are together again. Also the hilarious and super underrated Bill Nighy. Cousin Isabel from Downton Abbey is here too. Mostly this film was shot in India–MARVELOUS (obviously I’m a big fan of India since I named my daughter after it). Marigold Hotel is really funny and poignant and thought-provoking. It’s a gem.

 

Bernie.  This one stars Matthew Maccaughnehey (too tired to google the correct spelling of his name) and Jack Black (who is really superb and not an over-the-top goofball as he usually is). This movie might not be too popular around the country yet but keep your eyes out because I think it’s going to get a lot of noteriety. It was filmed right here in Central Texas and is perhaps the most Texas-y movie ever made.  The characters in it are hilarious and I laughed through the entire thing. But the movie gets kind of serious at the end and by the time the credits roll I was going “no way!”  I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t tell you more. It’s better just to go into this movie not knowing anything. I give it my highest praise by saying that I just can’t stop thinking about it.

All these movies are PG-13. There are some swears so consider yourself forewarned.