Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Scary movie for Halloween

I am not a big fan of being scared. I hate gory movies and am a pretty big scaredy cat. I would never go into an abandoned building, would never investigate a strange sound in the night (isn't that what husbands are for?) and I doubt I would ever be the one to volunteer to kill the monsters if our world were taken over by aliens. I get paralyzed when I am scared. What a wimp. That said, my movie recommendation may be scarier to me than to you, but it really freaked me out. The movie "1408" was freaky. John Cusak is in it, which is one of its perks, in my opinion. Bil rented it and I had to leave the room a few times because I was so scared. Here's the thing, it was more the suspense that scared me than actual scary stuff. Does that make sense?

The movie is about an author who reviews supposedly haunted hotels and such in his books. Basically, he doesn't believe in ghosts or the paranormal, but is intrigued when he hears about room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel. No one is allowed to check into this room, so of course, Mike becomes hell-bent on staying the night in the room. According to all the stories, no one lasts more than an hour in the room and some really crazy stuff has happened to people who stayed there. I won't give it away, but it was scary, I think. It left some questions unresolved (like why is the room so evil?) but overall was pretty interesting. Anyway, I found myself ruminating over the movie for several days afterwards, so I can definitely say it intrigued me. So, if you are in the mood for a scary movie that is not rated R and has very little gore, check it out. And let me know what you think of it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I'm Losing My Hair (and my mind)!

I think I am going bald. No, my hair does not seem unusually thinned out, but it does seem to be falling out a lot more than usual. Maybe it is just that I am noticing it more, but it amazes me lately how much I find in the sink after washing it. Or in my hands after running my fingers through my hair. How much hair is normal to lose in one day? Is is cyclical? Do you lose more hair in certain seasons than others?

A friend asked if I was under stress, because that can cause hair loss. Um, yes. I do have some stress in my life right now. I mean, crap, I have two kids under 5. Not to mention, one of them has some special needs. And let's not even get started on my mom's cancer, my parents' separation, and all the other more common worries I have. You know the ones: is Danny getting enough vegetables? Am I paying enough attention to the kids? Did they just hear that swear word that slipped out, and more importantly, are they going to repeat it in front of someone really embarrassing, like say, my bishop?

And if that weren't enough, I am potty training Danny. I mean, holy cow, that alone is giving me enough stress to probably take 10 years off my life! (Although surely, it is paving my way to Heaven, right? I mean shouldn't you get brownie points every time you clean poop off of walls, floors, and small butts, not to mention all the very strange places the poop often ends up?)

And now, I get to be stressed out by the fact that my stress levels may be making me bald. Yikes!!! Maybe I should just go out and buy some hats now and be comforted that if I do indeed lose my hair, I will save time on hair styling in the morning.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

You Want a Piece of Me?!?!?!

I am not very good at dealing with stress. I get overwhelmed at times and often take it out on my family. I had a really bad night last night; after spending over an hour in a committee meeting last (and let's not even mention the Primary presidency meeting I had in the morning) I came home tired, only to be awakened around 1AM by my son. Hec limbed into bed with us and then proceeded to toss and turn and kick and flail. Finally, out of desperation, I left the comfort of my large, warm bed (with pillow top mattress and nice down comforter) to sleep in Danny's vacant single bed. Well, apparently Danny was not interested in sharing a bed with his dad. Instead, his mission was to torment me and insure that I would get no more than 5 consecutive minutes of sleep. Finally, after hours of lying in his cramped bed with his smelly blanket in my face and Danny snoring in my ears, I got up and returned to my bed, where Bil promptly began his own, very loud snoring. If I hadn't been so tired, I might have seen the humor in the situation, but as it was, I felt like the entire universe was conspiring to keep me sleep-deprived.

Then, this morning, Danny decided to refuse to get dressed for school. This is the second day in a row that he has been late because he wouldn't cooperate. I think it is because he is coming down with a cold and is tired, but I was completely at my wits' end. I didn't know what to do, and to be honest, in my sleep-deprived and PMS-induced hysteria, I was not at my best.

After finally getting Danny to school an hour late, Charlotte and I went grocery shopping, where I ran into a woman from church who is moving soon. She asked me to come over soon to help her organize and declutter her house. I have helped her declutter in the past, and she has asked me to help her on other occasions, as well. I know it is not very charitable, but I can't help resenting the request for help.

On top of that request, I am babysitting three times in the next week for friends. Also, I have Meals on Wheels next Wed, as well as a whole bunch of preparation I have to do for church on Sunday. Then, this afternoon the branch president calls to ask me to speak on Sunday. By the time 7:00 rolled around this evening, I was totally frazzled and exhausted. The kids have been crabby (did I mention Charlotte refused to nap today and that I completely scorched a pan of rice?), I have been crabby, and of course, Bil had to leave immediately after dinner for the youth group activity that happens every Wed. night. I found myself envying him and his opportunity to escape all this domestic bliss.

Anyway, so when the Red Cross called this evening, I felt it was appropros. With all the demands for my time and energy, it only seems fitting that I be asked to donate some blood, too.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Franz, not Frank!

I have just made a major discovery about my grandpa, a man who I love dearly, but who passed away when I was in high school. I really miss him a lot, so when my sister-in-law offered to do a little research about him, I was excited. You see, Betsy is really into genealogy and has been lobbying me to join her in her passion for years. I would love to, but until now, have been reluctant because I have no idea where to start. Who knew all it would take to motivate me was one little discovery. My grandpa's name was really Franz, not Frank.

He came to the US from Austria during the Depression and was quite reticent about his past. He never spoke German, and typically spoke very little about his home country. He believed that once you came here, you were an American and should learn English and do your best to fit in. Admirable attitude, but it has left a dearth of information about our heritage. I so wish I had been wiser in my youth and had asked more questions. Anyway, when Betsy actually found my grandpa's immigration records, I was so excited I could barely sleep. And finding out that his name was not actually Frank (I know some of you may wonder how I could possibly NOT have guessed that his name would have been Franz in German. I don't know why I never thought of it. Perhaps because aside from his bull-headedness and German accent, he was 100% American...I don't know) has made me more determined to find out more about him and my other ancestors...with the help of Betsy of course, because I still really don't know what I am doing. But, really if anyone can learn how to do research, it should be a girl with an English Lit. degree, right?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Food is not for eating....

If you have toddlers, you may be familiar with the books "Teeth Are Not For Biting" and "Hands Are Not For Hitting." We own the teeth book and have read it so many times to our kids that Bil and I have it memorized. Not an astounding accomplishment, with all its repetitions, but really not bad for someone like me, who could not for the life of me remember my phone number last year when I was opening up a bank account for Char (seriously, they have the wrong number on record, because of my unexplainable memory loss). Anyway, I digress.

OK, sorry, I have one more digression. I think the book "Teeth Are Not For Biting" is really pretty misleading. I mean teeth really ARE for biting, aren't they? Every time I read it, I feel dishonest, but I suppose for the purpose of indoctrinating our kids I will have to deal with it. I just keep waiting for the day when one of them says, "Yeah, right, mom. Whatever. What else are you supposed to do with teeth except bite?!?!" I know they will someday, because they are much cleverer than I am, that's for sure.

Alright, the point of this blog is that I had an idea awhile back of writing a companion book called, "Food is Not For Eating." The idea came after searching the Internet for low-cal dessert recipes. I found a glut of supposedly healthy recipes that were filled with all kinds of chemicals, including artificial colors and sweeteners. In fact, on the Weight Watchers website people give their tips for losing weight and it amazes me how many of them regularly consume what I call "fake" food. You know, like fake butter, fake sugar, etc. I even read an article in some fitness magazine in which the writer decided to not eat any "fake" diet food for a period of time. Apparently, she had been entirely subsisting on diet sodas, diet protein bars, etc. and rarely eating anything that even closely resembled food. She actually enjoyed the break from diet foods and did not gain any weight as she had feared.

Now, it's not that I have anything against processed foods. I mean, consume my fair share of Diet Coke and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, but I wonder about diet programs that purport to be healthy, but still promote eating artificial sweeteners, colors, etc. (Don't even get me started on artificial colors. They are in EVERYTHING, which makes it difficult for me because red food coloring can give me migraines. Plus, people are claiming that it makes some kids more hyperactive, etc. There is red food coloring in just about everything, including chocolate pudding. Why, why, why would they need red coloring in pudding??? Riddle me that!)

OK, I will get off my soapbox. It is just something I have been thinking about lately. I wonder, too, if indulging in all these chemicals actually sabotages my weight loss efforts. Some researchers think so. Apparently, it makes us crave more. More sugar, more salt, more everything. It makes me rethink that Diet Coke I was craving....

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The P List

Yes, I am having delusions of grandeur and comparing myself to Oprah. Have you ever seen her "O List"? It is typically a list of obscenely overpriced, but beautiful doodads that would never last a day in my house. (We often call the kids "the Angels of Destruction," if that tells you anything.) Anyway, I do have some favorite things that are much more affordable than Oprah's and thought I would share.

**"Woman in White" by Wilkie Collins

I know I regularly give book recommendations, but they truly are my favorite things! I am only about a third of the way through this tome, and I am enjoying it immensely. It was written in the 19th century and was a huge success at the time. Somewhere along the line, it seems to have lost some of its popularity, and I can't figure out why, because it is so good. It is full of suspense and really interesting, complicated characters. And the writing. Oh, the writing! The language is beautiful and makes it so pleasurable to read that even if the plot weren't as mysterious and exciting as it is, it would still be a good read.

**Flat-Out Wraps
These wraps are so yummy and made with whole grains, so they have tons of fiber. I have been eating them like crazy, typically with turkey, sprouts and other veggies, spread with Alouette spreadable herbs and garlic cheese. They are so good. And it doesn't hurt that they are healthy!

**Edy's Limited Edition Mango ice cream
Bil just bought this for me, so I have not yet tried it, but it has chunks of real mango in it, so it has to be good. Mango is far and away my favorite fruit. In fact, I have a secret theory that the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was actually a mango. That would have been tempting!

**The music from "Wicked," a broadway musical about the wicked witch of
the west
I know not everyone shares my enjoyment of musicals, but this soundtrack is actually really funny and endearing. I especially like the song "What is this feeling?" sung by Glynda and Alphaba (the name of the wicked witch of the west) who happen to be roommates at boarding school. My favorite lines go something like this, "Loathing, unadulterated loathing, for your face, your voice, your clothing, Let's just say I loathe it all. Every little trait however small makes my very flesh begin to crawl with simple utter loathing. There's a strange exhilaration in such total detestation." I mean, how can you not love a song with lyrics like those?

**Melvil Poupaud
I just rented Zoe Cassavetes' latest movie "Broken English" with Parker Posey starring as a 30-something single woman in New York who is very unlucky in love. It was really an enjoyable movie, especially because of Posey's French love interest Julien played by Melvil Poupaud. Wow, he is so captivating; the way he looks at Posey with these big serious brown eyes is really seductive. I can't explain the allure, but I really liked his character and thought that he was quite convincing. Check it out next time you are at Blockbuster.

Monday, October 8, 2007

My son, the bruiser

Poor Danny has had a really rough weekend. He started it by falling off my bed while rough housing (is that one word, or two?) with Bil. When he fell, he somehow managed to scrape the entire bridge of his nose up pretty badly. He now has an enormous scab on his nose, which he likes to pick at. Saturday, while playing in the ball pit that Bil constructed out of PVC pipe and netting, Danny managed to, in Bil's words, "rack himself" on the ball pit. That one was pretty painful for the poor kid: it seemed like it took hours before he could go to the bathroom again. Now, today Danny was hit in the nose by a friend from Church with an enormous crab apple. His nose bled for what seemed like hours and he really cried, which is somewhat unusual for him in terms of getting hurt. He just doesn't quite feel pain like the average human. So, I knew this hurt a lot.

It just so happens that things like this always seem to occur right before a visit from my mom. She will be here Wed. and will probably ask immediately upon seeing poor Danny's beaten up face, "What have you done to my grandson?!?" The last time she saw the kids, Charlotte had managed to scrape up a section right under her eye on the sidewalk. I think my mom is seriously wondering what we do to these kids.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Some book recommendations

I have read a couple of really good books lately that I thought I would pass on.

** The 13th Tale by Diane Setterfield
This book is so good I had a really hard time putting it down. Although it was written this year, it has the feel of an 1800's gothic novel. It reminded me a lot of "Wuthering Heights" and "Jane Eyre," which are both referred to in the book. The story is about a famous author who is dying. She has given interviews to many people, but has never been honest about the story of her life--no one knows who she really is. Now that she is ill, she has decided to finally have her biography written. The book is about her life and how she reveals her secrets to her biographer. I am not at all doing it justice. All I can say, is it is a great read, especially on a really gloomy afternoon when you can curl up on the couch with some hot chocolate.

**The Painted Veil by William Somerset Maugham
I know I already wrote a blog about this movie, but here is a recommendation for the book. I actually think I prefer the movie to the book, as far as plot goes, but the book is a very good read. The language is beautiful and the characters are developed in ways different from the book. If you read it, let me know what you think about the line, "The dog it was who died." I have my ideas, but would love to hear yours.

**Mozart and the Whale by Mary and Jerry Newport
This is a memoir of two people who have Asperger's syndrome, which is a high functioning version of autism. If you have ever wondered about the way the brain works, especially in those who suffer from neurological disorders, this book might interest you. Jerry and Mary write very sincerely, succintly and are very upfront about their difficulties, gifts and talents. My favorite part about the book is how both Mary and Jerry (who are husband and wife) finally learn to love themselves and embrace their differences.

Let me know if you read any of these. I would love to know what you think of them.