Murders and Tigers and Snowgirls, oh my!

Dear Erin,

You are just moving right along, aren’t you? You have until Wednesday, so I expect to see everything else done by the next time you post! (Just kidding.)

You know how we had been working on Little Mister’s bedtime. He’s pretty much got it down now, I’m happy to say, or else he’s resigned to his lot – that he’s going to have to go to sleep sooner or later. Tonight Charles got him down in twenty minutes, which is much faster than I ever have. He still cries when we leave the room, but he usually gives up quickly and soon goes to sleep.

However, the week or so before this milestone was reached was a little rough for all of us. I consider it an achievement that it took less than one bottle of wine for me to make it through. I also got some good reading time in while listening to the boy cry during each ten minutes between my comforting visits to him. Which means that there is actual progress this month on this:

Shelf August

The post-its add up to 483 pages not physically represented here.

I believe the three closest books are all new since the last time I updated you on this shelf. I enjoyed each one, and I’m guessing that at least one you probably haven’t read before, so let me tell you a little about each.

Sad Cypress – One of my favorite Agatha Christie mysteries, this is her homage to Dorothy L. Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. Well, maybe homage is the wrong word. Sidelong glance at, maybe? A woman, much misunderstood, is on trial for a poisoning murder she didn’t commit. A young man named Peter Lord has fallen hopelessly in love with her, and is determined to get her exonerated. However, in this version, he can’t do it himself and must enlist the help of Hercule Poirot, of course. Sound familiar? Like Strong Poison, just a little? It’s your standard Christie (which is not a bad thing if that’s what you’re in the mood for), although I think sparking off of one of her colleagues helped her elevate her game a bit, as this is a more coherent, solid story than she sometimes produces.

Life of Pi – I know I’m late to the game on this one. What can I say; when it came out I was reading books from 500 years ago. And I’ll admit – to you, not to anyone else – that I picked it up for the tiger. I’m a big fan of tigers these days. Anyway, it turns out there was more of interest in the story than just the tiger. The extended digressions on zoos and Parisian public pools and religion and food were, for the most part, engaging. (Oh, the plot before I forget: Indian boy survives ridiculous amount of time in a lifeboat after the ship carrying his family and its zoo animals sinks.) The majority of the book was so realistic and detailed that it seemed believable enough to actually be real, until the boat got to the carnivorous island. The reason this novel will stay in my mind, though, is the very interesting question that’s raised at the end. When faced with multiple possible explanations for a particular outcome, and when none of those explanations can be verified, do you choose the better story or the more believable (ie, less transcendent, more mundane) story? I’ll choose the tiger every time, thank you.

The Snow Child – This book was part of a local library reading program, which is how it got on the radar of a friend of mine, who then passed it on to me when she had finished it. And I’m so glad she did, because this is a very good novel. It’s not perfect, so I don’t want to say it’s great, but it’s the first book in quite awhile that has tempted me to stay up until three am to finish it, even though I knew that was a bad idea. The Snow Child seems like the kind of book that would result if Laura Ingalls Wilder lived today and had written an extended fairy tale. In 1920, a childless couple decide to homestead in Alaska, escaping too much family and heartache back on the East Coast. The wilderness has almost broken them when they build a little snow girl who seems to come to life and brings with her hope, life, and healing. I can tell you from experience that the pain the couple experiences in the beginning is very realistic, and the healing they eventually receive is a beautiful thing. So, the story itself is enjoyable, and the descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness make me want to live there – even in the winter, so that’s quite a creative accomplishment. I think you might like this one; once you get finished with the house and can sit down and rest for a bit, consider picking it up.

So, there’s still plenty of room on the shelf, but I’m making progress again, which makes me feel good. Hopefully there will be more time to read this weekend.

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Phase 2: Prep and Paint

Dear Kristen,

LM is the cutest!  I love his expressions – you can almost feel his giggles from across the country!  I’m glad you had such a fun time with family, and those Tardis cookies are awesome. We enjoyed the premiere of the 12th Doctor ourselves, but not in such high fashion and festiveness.  Instead, we took a break from the house projects and sat down together to watch.

And then I went to bed – very exciting, I know.

So, here’s an update on Munchkin’s Peter Pan room.  We are done with Phase 2: Prepping and Painting.  Hooray!

This summer marked our 8th anniversary, our daughter’s 3rd birthday, and the end of our 6th year in this house.  In all that time, there has been one room (the future home of Munchkin) that we really haven’t done anything to.  We knew we wanted to do something to it – make it into a chic guest room, or a full-on office or craft room, or…SOMETHING.  But, in my normal indecisiveness, we never settled on anything.  So it became ALL of those things.  Except, not chic.

It was a hodgepodge of furniture and art; it was stashed with fabric and craft materials; and if you looked in random places you’d probably wonder, “What is this room for?” An antique non-working .22 rifle, a massage chair, and baby flannel make for an odd combination, to be sure.  But that’s how it was.

Now, however, its on the verge of housing the Munchkin, so CHANGE IS NEEDED!  We cleaned out the room (aka made 4 trips to Goodwill, put some things in the attic, gave furniture away, and took one trip to the emergency room.)   All the furniture that was going to be in there long term moved to the middle and was covered. Then we prepped the walls.  The previous owners placed groupings of shelves in random places, so there was definitely prepping required.

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The next step was to paint the walls and touch up the trim.  We went with Sherwin Williams Light French Gray, which we had seen in a Pottery Barn display in Florida.  I love it!

We also went with a different color, “Airy” by Behr for the closet.  It was left over paint from a different room in the house, and it was perfect – especially with the closet serving as more than a clothes hangout!

Not the best picture - it was a cloudy day...

Not the best picture – it was a cloudy day…

So, there you go – Phase 2 = complete!  Here’s an updated room list.

Munchkin’s Peter Pan Room:

  1. Clear out room: give extra furniture away, donate what we don’t need, etc.
  2. Paint room a light grey
  3. Touch-up white on trim
  4. Settle on a color and paint inside of closet a different color
  5. Remove accordion doors on closet and replace with curtains
  6. Clean and arrange furniture
  7. Paint mural on wall
  8. Replace outlets and light switch covers
  9. Build/install window seat and toy storage area complete with seat cushion
  10. Build shelves for books in the closet
  11. Set up reading nook in closet
  12. Buy a bed
  13. Find a kids table and chairs
  14. Hang art
  15. Make any extra decorations/art we need for the room: star garland, picture of Captain Hook, etc.
  16. Update lighting in the room
  17. Install curtains for the window
  18. Add any extra decorations (i.e. the giant Crocodile downstairs) to the room
  19. Applique anchor and stars on duvet cover
  20. Make shams and throw pillows
  21. Move-in!

There you have it!  In other news, yesterday Munchkin found a bathing suit that only sorta fits, put it on and refused to change all day long.  She kept saying she was going to either the pool or beach (which we weren’t).  We weren’t going ANYWHERE, so I just rolled with it.

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When I showed her this picture she said, “I see my BELLY!” Yes, sweetheart, you can.  Don’t get used to it.  Modest is hottest.

TGIMonday

Dear Erin,

I’m excited to see how the room is coming along and looking forward to stealing borrowing ideas for when LM is big enough to care what his room looks like. I’m sorry this post is a little late. It was a big weekend, and we’re all a little worn out around here.

We’ve had family visiting for the past week; did I tell you that? So we’ve been splitting a busy work week with family time and sightseeing. Of course we went up to the city one day, and Little Mister had his first boat ride, under the bridge and twice around Alcatraz.

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The boy’s got an iron stomach, I’m glad to say. He even had a bottle while we were out there. No seasickness for him. By the way, I don’t recommend circling slowly around Alcatraz in a boat close to the shore. Not because of waves or anything; it just smells terrible! But the bridge was fantastic as always.

Saturday we went hiking in Big Basin:

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20140823_134133-EFFECTSWhere the big trees are. Then we came home and had a party to watch the premiere of Doctor Who:

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Tardis cookies, “fish fingers” (aka pound cake) and custard, “blue” (really green) caramel corn, virgin sonic screwdrivers with Dalek and Tardis ice cubes, and the-closest-approximation-to-jelly-babies-I-could-find-on-short-notice (aka gummy bears). The flowers, which you can’t see in the picture, were sunflowers. Good food, good company, and a very good opening for the new Doctor. So, other than the fact that we got the time of the show entirely wrong and had to wait an extra hour, a success.

After bed, an earthquake:

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which we all slept right through, so not very dramatic around here. Sunday, our visitors flew home, and in the afternoon we took the light rail downtown to the Italian Family Festa

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where we had a little picnic and visited with some friends before heading home ourselves. Whew!

And in the midst of all this, LM had his 5-month birthday.

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It was all so exciting we had to recover this morning!

 

 

Phase 1: The Plan

Dear Kristen,

I love The Goonies!  I’ve seen it probably way too many times and know I can quote sections – so I wouldn’t have been allowed to watch it for your series, according to your rules.

Here, the work has started on Munchkin’s Big Girl Room and is moving apace.  I will be sharing various stages of completion as we go, so today I’d thought I give the full plan.

Munchkin’s Peter Pan Room:

  1. Clear out room: give extra furniture away, donate what we don’t need, etc.
  2. Paint room a light grey
  3. Touch-up white on trim
  4. Settle on a color and paint inside of closet a different color
  5. Remove accordion doors on closet and replace with curtains
  6. Clean and arrange furniture
  7. Paint mural on wall
  8. Replace outlets and light switch covers
  9. Build/install window seat and toy storage area complete with seat cushion
  10. Build shelves for books in the closet
  11. Set up reading nook in closet
  12. Buy a bed
  13. Find a kids table and chairs
  14. Hang art
  15. Make any extra decorations/art we need for the room: star garland, picture of Captain Hook, etc.
  16. Update lighting in the room
  17. Install curtains for the window
  18. Add any extra decorations (i.e. the giant Crocodile downstairs) to the room
  19. Applique anchor and stars on duvet cover
  20. Make shams and throw pillows
  21. Move-in!

Now, at the rate things are moving, which isn’t too slowly, compared to the excitement of the Munchkin about the room in general, #21 might happen before everything else is crossed off the list!  She asks every night if she can sleep in her Peter Pan room, to which we have no problem saying “No, not tonight.”  It also helps to be able to say there is no bed to actually sleep on, but there’s a good chance that will be remedied this weekend.  So, we’ll see!  Munchkin might be sleeping in her new room and small updates will be made daily.

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I’m glad that things are going well so far, as we needed something to go right in the house right now.  If only we also had a back door….

“The Goonies”

Dear Erin,

Thanks for doing the 200th post. It’s kind of amazing that we’ve already written that many, but then again, we’ve been doing this for over a year and a half. Also kind of unbelievable. But a lot has happened, more than just bonks and bruises, and I’m glad we’ve been able to document it.

This week is my last post in the summer series, and I think I’m going out on a high note: The Goonies.

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This was one of the two movies I had seen before starting this series (the other being Say Anything), and I had really liked it as a kid, so I figured it was a pretty safe bet. It turns out I kind of broke my own rules for this series with the very last movie, though, because I remembered a lot about this movie. I couldn’t quite quote it from end to end, but there were a disturbing number of lines that were familiar, and as each scene ended, I knew what was coming up next.

Goonies is a cross between Raiders of the Lost Ark, an Errol Flynn movie, and a Warner Bros. cartoon, and the ending is so corny that it’s straight out of Wayne’s World (“mega happy”). But my inner eight-year-old was just as pleased with the movie as ever, because is this ever a movie for eight-year-olds. The kids go seeking buried pirate treasure, through sheer moxie survive booby traps and bad guys, and end up saving the town from the evil developer and his evil son. What’s not to love for a kid? There’s even a (rather extended) water slide scene. Ah, the 80’s. It’s nice to know that not all the kids’ movies from that decade were either stupid or psycho. This is an old-fashioned, solidly crafted adventure, like the first Pirates of the Caribbean, only more sincere and starring kids, instead of Johnny Depp. Good stuff.

Here at the end of the series, I find that I’m really glad to have done it. Each movie was worth watching for one reason or another. Say Anything and The Big Chill both shifted my perceptions of youth and aging, what is important, what is self-delusion, and how important it is to love and forgive the people in your life. Hoosiers and The Goonies have entered my list of movies I’m looking forward to sharing with LM when he’s older. Seeing This is Spinal Tap filled a significant hole in my own movie education. And, for me, An American Werewolf in London was just an unexpectedly fun, intelligent, and poignant entertainment. If I were teaching a class on classic monster movie tropes, I would absolutely look for a way to include that movie.

Besides, I’m left with a pleasant sense of having accomplished something. Maybe it’s an illusory feeling, but I’m enjoying it nonetheless. I might just do it again sometime, a la Filmspotting‘s Top 5 lists.

And now we’re back into the fall. Kids are going back to school, and one of these days it should start to cool down. My reading has picked up again, so there’s some progress on that dratted bookshelf, which is good because I was starting to seriously consider the many suggestions to just fill it up with kids’ books.