Sunday, March 25, 2012

KJ and the Deere

Let's start off with a couple of facts:

  1. My lawnmower hates me.  I am quite sure that my neighbors stare and laugh as I spend 20 minutes trying to get it started, barely keeping myself from kicking it and then finally doing a happy dance when it sputters to life.  
  2. It does not behave that way for my husband.
  3. My husband is in India for business.
  4. It has been a bizarre spring and the grass is thick and luscious and really needs to be cut.  It is March 25, 2012, for the record.

Before JJ left for his trip, I asked him is he thought there was any way the mower would run.  He looked at me like, "Not a snowball's chance in hell," but humored me by spending 30 minutes working on it before he did the other three thousand things he had to do before he left.  It did not start.  No big surprise.

Cue this beautiful Sunday and my lawn is out of control.  Rather than buy a new mower, which is what I really want to do, I instead went to my neighbor to borrow one.  My neighbors are awesome.  And sitting in the driveway is a little green John Deere riding mower.  Now, my yard is approximately 10 square feet and takes my son 20 minutes to mow it with our push-mower.  A riding mower is overkill.  But, my neighbor only had the riding mower, and was more than happy to let KJ use it.  Mind you, KJ has never driven a riding mower before.  He's really good at Mario Kart though, so this was bound to be successful.

My neighbor gave KJ a quick lesson on how to drive the thing, taught him how to turn the blades on and off and away he went.


I could not stop giggling.  First of all, I told you the lawn was thick and luscious.  Look at that grass fly!


Secondly, the mower uses two levers, not a steering wheel.  KJ drove it, not in a straight line, but more like he was testing its turning radius by weaving in and out of cones.  At top speed. At this point in time, I am howling as he tried to navigate the tiny front lawn with this lawn mower that was way too big for the job.  Start.  Stop. Back Up.  Knock over some landscaping blocks.  Turn again.  Weave across the yard.  Try not to fall off of the driveway.

As we were walking home from DQ tonight, he told me the front lawn looked like ocean waves.  I tend to agree.

ocean waves

One of the lessons my neighbor gave him was to pay attention to the direction the grass is coming out of the mower and try to blow it back into the yard.  That obviously worked.


Now KJ wants a riding mower so he can get the yard done in 4 minutes rather than 20.  Well, that's not bloody likely.  He did a good job for his first time, but he does need some more practice.  There are several tufts in my front yard, and my garden did not escape the wrath of KJ and the Deere. But, all in all, it was a good experience for KJ.  Now he knows the joy of choosing a tool that is way too big/powerful/fancy for a particular job.  He's on his way to manhood.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Hunger Games!

Let me preface this by saying, yes, I read the books. In fact my entire book club read all three books in one month. (We're crazy like that.) Because I discussed the books with my book club, I know them fairly well. I am not completely obsessed though. I have not read them multiple times, I do not write fan fiction, I did not wear a Team Gale or Team Peeta shirt to the premiere and I certainly did not put my hair up in a Katniss-style braid.

 It's not long enough.

 Without any further ado (but probably many more side-comments,) here are my thoughts about The Hunger Games.

 Oh, yeah. There are probably spoilers. Don't read if you are just going to get mad at me about it.

 1. I felt differently about the three main characters after watching the movie. Peeta has always been my favorite. He is protective, strong, kind, big-hearted and has great people-skills. I felt like the movie portrayed him as wimpier than he was in the book. I have never seen Peeta's self-sacrifice as wimpiness. (I know others disagree. Feel free to tell me I am wrong in the comments.) When I read the book, I didn't really care for Gale. He seemed a little too self-serving for my taste. I really felt for him in the movie. I was never a fan of Katniss in the books. Wait, let me re-word that. I admired her grit, but never actually liked her in the books. She never seemed to be herself. I felt like she was both manipulated and manipulative and only did and said things if they benefited her. I realize this is a survival skill, but it bothered me. She felt more complete to me in the movie.

2. I must be getting old, because that shaky hand-held camera work about pushed me over the edge. There were times when it was effective in showing the absolute chaos, but damn. Sometimes I just wanted to FOCUS on something. On the other hand, I LOVED how at times the outside noises would be overpowered by the noises in Katniss' head and we could really know how overwhelmed she was feeling.

3. Ceasar Flickerman is one smarmy S.O.B. Great job with that character!

4. I loved Woody Harrelson as Haymitch. I had pictured Haymitch as a little softer and bald, but I like this casting choice.

5. It was really neat to see how the Gamemakers controlled the games.

6. I did expect the Capitol fashions to be more over-the-top. The Capitol felt a little bit like The Emerald City.

7. I would love to have Lenny Kravitz be my designer, you know, if I had a designer.

8. I was disappointed in the Chariots/Tribute Parade. I had imagined way more stylized costumes showcasing the different districts. They just looked like different colored gladiator costumes to me. Peeta and Katniss' costumes looked like something out of Star Trek. That being said, Katniss' "Girl on Fire" dress was pretty awesome. I'll take one of those.

 9. I had imagined President Snow much frailer and ickier...Donald Sutherland's version was much more complex. We got to hear his thoughts about Katniss. I liked that. Nothing in this world is black and white.

10. I would give it 4/5. I enjoyed the hell out of it. I was on the edge of my seat (and completely jumped out of my skin at one point in time.) When Katniss was ascending in the tube, my heart was pounding. I laughed. I cried. Is it out of the park? No, but it's definitely a triple. See it in the theater.

 For those of you who want to know if you should take your kids: I took KJ and three of his 6th grade friends. They had all read it (that was my rule) and they knew what to expect. Between the four of them, they gave it an average of 9.5/5 stars. (4/5, 4/5, 5/5 and 25/5.) I would not take my 4th grade daughter. I have not let her read it either. The subject matter is just plain dark. The scenes are not too gory, but it is intense. The scenes between Katniss and Peeta are chaste...crap, all of the ED commercials on TV are way worse than this. Some of the scenes are quite emotionally wrenching.

 Bottom line: You need to know your kid. Can they handle a story about kids being forced to kill other kids on live TV?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ruining my children, one crummy movie at a time.

I have always known that I am an older-kid-type-person.  I taught high school biology back in the day.  I loved my freshmen.  They were awkward and squirrely, still malleable and adorable. They were uncool enough to be able to talk to.  They were fun.
I have also always been a little mystified by babies.  Don't get me wrong, I love them, but I can't for the life of me understand why people just want to keep having them.  I love to hold them, and pat their little diaper-covered bottoms, smell them after a bath.  But that not sleeping part is sheer torture for me.  I remember the nights of tucking my kids in, and as soon as they would hit that crib mattress, they started crying again, and then I'd be crying again and I'd be sure that I was never ever ever going to sleep again, boo hoo hoo, boo hoo hoo.
Believe me, I harbor serious mom-guilt that I was not better at handling those first six months. I wish I could do it all over again and be less stressed, be more Zen, but I can't so, yeah.  Moving on.
The older my kids get, the more I enjoy them.  There is this sick, twisted part of me that looks forward to the junior high and high school years.  I know we will have some bumps in the road, but I'll be able to talk to them. They will be people, with personalities and brains that can process more than "Elmo loves you!" or "Why?  But Why?"
I really do have a point.  As the kids got older, I started to introduce them to some of my favorite movies as a way to keep myself sane. In hindsight, this may not have been the wisest choice.  JJ let KJ watch Army of Darkness when KJ was 3 or 4.  (In JJ's defense, he only let KJ see parts, but when your three-year-old is walking around saying, "This is my BOOMstick!" you get some strange looks).  KJ was an early and fantastic talker.
Not long after Keebles was born, I was at Wal-Mart with the kids getting some retail therapy, perhaps looking for other adults to talk to.  Remember, I willingly admit that the early years were not my best as a mom.  One of my favorite things to do was to fish in the $5 bin for old movies.  Lo and behold, one day I came across Ghostbusters.  I probably hadn't seen it in 20 years, and I remembered it as funny and harmless, so I bought it and watched it with KJ.  In my defense, he was only mildly terrified of Slimer.
Not long after that, KJ got Men in Black as a gift.  He was probably 5 or 6.  Of course, I let him watch it.  It's hilarious.
We added the Star Wars six-ology to the repertoire.  I would not allow KJ to watch the end of Revenge of the Sith because he loved Anakin so much.  I was worried about how seeing his hero become Darth Vader would affect his psyche. See? I do have limits.  Then we added in the Indiana Jones Trilogy.  I made them cover their eyes when the faces melted off at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, and when the heart got ripped out in Temple of Doom.  But they needed to see these movies on order to be culturally literate elementary students.  How else would they ever understand the meaning of, "You cheat, Dr. Jones!"
As time went on, the movies they liked got to be ones I could watch without stabbing myself in the eye.  We replaced Elmo and The Wiggles with Pixar movies and other computer-animated movies.  We had reached an equilibrium.
Now they are older (12 and almost 10.)  A few months ago, they saw the edited-for-TV version of Happy Gilmore. They walked around quoting it, saying, "The Price is Wrong, Bobby."  And they laughed.  I was dying though: they were quoting it wrong.  So, I broke down and let them watch the real version, because I couldn't let them be the only two kids in North America who didn't know what Happy really says, "The Price is Wrong, Bitch."  Not that they understand the reference, but still.
Tonight, I let Keebles watch The Cutting Edge.  It's only PG, so I felt pretty safe.  Now I am fairly certain I have ruined her idea of romance for the rest of her life.  She's going to have to take up figure skating so she can fall in love with some washed up hockey player turned figure skater.  That's going to be costly.
Before you think I am the worst mom ever, I still won't let them watch anything R-rated.  KJ's friends can't believe he hasn't see Wedding Crashers or Bridesmaids or The Hangover.  I don't let him play any rated M games.  It affects him socially.  His buddies have all seen the movies and play the games.  They laugh and talk about them and he is left out.  But I won't budge.  Not while he's still a pre-teen.
We will see how this all turns out.  I never ever brag about my kids.  I feel like it is in poor taste.  That's something for grandparents to do. I will say this.  I am proud of them and how they have turned out so far.

But I suppose I could always end up paying for therapy later.

P.S.  Because I hate having posts without's another way I am ruining them.  I served root beer floats in real beer mugs.  Gasp!

Root beer floats