Saturday, February 20, 2010

Percy Jackson and the Olympics

It's been awhile, again. Apologies. The kids have been home pretty much non-stop for the past 3 weeks, stuck in the house, bored, getting on my nerves and basically sucking away any and all time to myself when I'd normally write a blog entry. Thursday this week was the first time I'd had any quiet Me Time, and that was filled by an attempt to catch up on homework. How I'm looking forward to Monday when there are no more snow days and no more 2-hour delays. Right? The Farmer's Almanac had better be wrong. My mom mentioned it claims March will be our snowiest month this year.

The first day we could really get out without too much worry over roads, parking lots, etc., we went to Potomac Mills and saw "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief." I won't spoil it, but it is not the book. Major characters are missing, the main characters act differently than expected, and the storyline is changed. Aside from the general theme - lightning bolt is stolen, Percy must return it - the details are 80-90% different than the books, not just cut for time but different. Now, I do have to say that the movie is good, if you take it on its own. Katherine was the only one of our group who hadn't read the book first and she liked it. We all enjoyed it, and it was worth going to see at the theater, but it's hard to get past the disappointment that it wasn't what the story we enjoyed reading together.
The Winter Olympics hasn't disappointed at all. Our viewing of "Fringe" from Netflix has been put on hold as we watch skiing and luging and hockey and speed skating and snowboarding and all the rest of the death-defying sports that winter holds so dear. It's so much more fun than most of the Summer Olympics, and I far preferred Canada's Opening Ceremony to China's. Show of hands who thought the whales were amazing and the circus kid was awesome. If you missed it you can read about it on wikipedia or EW's best/worst blog. I wish there was an on-line video of Thomas Saulgrain's aerial performance but I can't find one on youtube or This is the first time I've really paid attention to the Winter games, beyond the ice skating, in fact this year we've hardly watched any pairs or singles skating at all. I've finally begun to enjoy (from far, far, afar) the craziness that winter sports entail. Aside from curling, every winter game has an element of danger you just don't always get in summer games of running and swimming and biking and throwing stuff. Even cross-country skiing, an exhausting but comparatively harmless sport, can get paired with shooting a gun. Skiiers plunge off a mountain top. Lugers and skeletons shoot down a tube of ice at 90 mph with blades under them. Ice hockey with blades, big sticks, speed, and a puck that can crush bones with the force slapped into it. What's not to enjoy? And to think there's only another week of midnight excitement.
Once the Olympics are done we'll go back to our normal programming. "Amazing Race" is back on Sundays, yay! "Lost" is back on Tuesdays, yay! Katherine and Rebecca have started "Lost" from the beginning this week and pepper us with questions after each episode, which of course we won't (or can't) answer. We'll continue with "Fringe" though I'm not that invested in it, and Ian bought the first season of "Glee" for Valentine's Day so we'll give that a whirl. What are you all watching nowadays? And what are you reading? Aside from my texts, I picked up Vampire Diaries and Vampire Academy. Vampire Diaries was far too similar to Twilight for me to care to continue past the first portion, The Awakening. Vampire Academy seems to have a different slant, so we'll see how that progresses. Out loud we're reading The Hunger Games and then we're on to book 3 of the Percy Jackson series. My plan to go go through all the Harry Potter books this year got waylaid.
All the kids are above grade level in Reading. That seems odd to me somehow. Nicholas is working his way through the Lloyd Alexander books, Jonathon hops around to everything from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Spiderwick to Harry Potter. For a kid who can't write well or spell hardly at all, it's amazing how quickly he reads. Report cards finally came home and everything was either at or above expectations. Katherine pulled out 5 As and 2 Bs for the semester, Rebecca got straight As again, Nicholas got all As and one B+ for 2nd quarter, Jonathon is in the solid B zone. I'm pleased with their grades, but it does cause me some concern that they won't be ready to reintegrate to our next American/International School. Because guess what, we bid this year. Crazy. We'd better start packing in the fun U.S. stuff.
So, I have to mention a couple tidbits.
Last week we took the kids to KFC for a break from home cooking. It took us 45 minutes to get our food and for waiting patiently we got a free chocolate cake. Nifty.
As I was checking out at the grocery store, a lady came into the line behind me who knew the cashier. They started chatting when the cashier asked where person X was. Lady behind me said X was in the hospital, and she looked on the verge of tears. Cashier asked why so Lady said "Cancer." *uncomfortable silence as I'm still standing there getting checked out* Cashier breaks the silence by saying "Was it the drinking?" *um, I don't want to stand here anymore* Lady says it was. Cashier asks what stage he's in, Lady says they don't know he just went to the hospital on Friday and they're still running tests. Cashier asks what symptoms he had, Lady says he was having pain. They continue and I finally get to pay and gather my bags as Cashier starts checking out Lady and her 3 items. As I pick up bags Cashier asks Lady if there's anything else she needs.
Lady asks for 2 cartons of cigarettes.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Just because we got a ton of snow doesn't mean global warming isn't real.

We're not exactly in permafrost or a new ice age. Snow is a result of moisture, excessive moisture in our case this winter. Do as many people doubt that something is up when massive hurricanes hit? When our latest blizzard finally made it offshore the satellite images captured a Category 2 strength hurricane shaped storm. Just because it happened in winter and took on the form of snow actually continues to display how crazy the weather has become. Don't get caught up in semantics that global warming means everywhere around the world has to be roasting all at once. Our poles are melting, our jet streams are off line, our weather is getting harsher in all climates during all seasons.

Look at Vancouver... the Winter Games are starting up and Canada is having a too-warm no-snow kind of winter. They are trucking in snow from mountains hours away so the skiers have something to ski on. Wow.

Here's what Repower America has to say about it. And The Daily Show clip is well worth watching.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Now I'm just angry.

Yeah. I hate winter. Live with it. But I'll suffer in relative silence as long as winter just sucks. But when winter gets mean, I get angry.

Yesterday was Katherine's birthday. She's 14. It's her favorite number, she says, and she's acting more and more like a young lady. Oh she has her moments, believe me, but on the whole there are now more days when I like her than want to toss her out the window. But you know, no matter how difficult a year might be (and this has been an easy one by far), birthdays are special. You want your child, your spouse, your friend, to feel loved and appreciated and, well, special.

Then winter and snow hit.
Katherine's birthday fell on Friday, February 5th, a great way to have a complete birthday weekend. She was supposed to go to school, have Happy Birthdays tossed at her from every direction and her locker decorated. She was supposed to stay after school for an SCA sponsored Activity Day dance/games/snacks deal. Basically, a party on her birthday. My mom (who shares a birthday with her, so her day was messed up too), was supposed to come down to our house and celebrate with cake and presents. My mom was supposed to bring Katherine back up with her and to a metro stop so Katherine could train downtown and meet up with Ian for a Caps/Thrashers hockey game at the Verizon center. She opened her gifts which included ice skating lessons starting next Saturday for a month, along with passes for open skate times.
Want to know what happened? Winter happened. Snow happened. The threat of snow was enough that school was canceled on Friday even though we had barely a dusting stick by 5 p.m. No locker decorations, no SCA party. My mom couldn't come down for fear she'd get stuck here for days. Snow picked up at sundown and was gathering quickly, Ian (who had worked from home, just in case) knew it was too dangerous to make the 50 minute trip downtown because who knew what weather conditions would really be like 4 hours later. But... the game wasn't canceled, so the tickets are lost. They watched it on TV. A huge bummer. At least the skate lessons were still on, right?
Then today we read this: Prince William Ice Center Collapses. I kid you not, the center for her lessons collapsed. Thankfully no one was hurt, they were having speed skating races but when the roof started groaning they evacuated everyone.
[And my dad was supposed to get back in town last night to at least see my mom on her birthday. He's stuck in Chicago.]
Katherine is taking it well. She went sledding with her friends today, and played Rock Band with them too. I don't see school opening on Monday, so I'm guessing she'll do a sleep-over tomorrow night.
I'm just done with winter. I'm done with it interfering with life. We haven't lost power, which is a total blessing, because you know we don't have generators here.
If we do lose power, I'm moving back to Chennai. OK, don't hold me to that, but right this very second it's awfully tempting.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The search for a sled (or four)

Can't be done. They don't exist anymore. I've looked everywhere and kicked myself for not buying the 2-pack from Costco a few weeks ago. I checked Costco, ToysRUs (sign in the window: no sleds), Target, Wal-Mart. I decided rather than traipsing around to more places I'd look it up on-line. Sold out, everywhere, unless I want to wait a couple weeks. Snow is coming tomorrow, can't wait a couple weeks.

Today I figured it was time to get creative so I went to Lowes. I looked at heavy duty floor mats. I looked for large round flower pot bottom things (you know, so water doesn't run all over the ground), I looked at metal tubing to see if it could be cut to something useful, I looked at rubbermaid box tops, I looked at trash can lids and found something that I figured would work pretty well but I didn't need the $17 trash can that went with the lid. Up and down aisles, seeing bathroom things I'd like (oooh, a rounded shower door! French doors for the deck! a storm door for the front! and this way cool stuff for the kitchen counters, a do-it-yourself kit to resurface countertops).

And then I found this. What do you think, will it work?


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Oh look, snow.

3 February - sun's coming out, from the house to the left

And guess what, more snow.
3 February - I do like how the house seems to have some privacy
I'm tired of winter and cold and snow. More snow is expected Friday to Saturday, possibly another 12-20 inches. Don't believe me? Check out Enough already, this is Virginia, this is the SOUTH. Did the weather systems not get the memo? Ugh. We didn't make it to church on Sunday because we were digging out from the 6-inches that fell Saturday night. Yesterday all afterschool activities were canceled which were drama and flute, and included Katherine's R.E. class at church in the evening.
And to make it all worse Katherine's birthday is Friday, she has an SCA-sponsored afterschool activity day scheduled, and then was supposed to celebrate at our house with my mom who shares the same birthdate before hopping a metro to go downtown and attend a Caps game with her dad. Everything is completely up in the air now, and looks more and more like it won't happen. This is so not fair. I'd better make a really great cake tomorrow.
Of course with family home all weekend, then kids home Monday for a teacher in-service, today Ian worked from home and the kids had a snow day, when am I supposed to get all my school work done? Tomorrow I have to return library books (can't renew them, arg), go to Costco, and bake a cake, it all really eats into my study time while the kids are in school. But it has to be done. I guess I'll try to finish studying tonight so I can take a quiz first thing tomorrow and log into my second class (which started on Monday and I just haven't gotten around to it). I'm really trying to exercise each day too, shoveling snow counted for me today, and follow my calories for a bit with to see what I'm really eating. Wow, the sugars are off the scale!
There aren't enough hours in the day.
Last Friday I did spend the early part of the day with my parents and the latter half with Ian at FSI for Flag Day. I didn't know anyone getting their flags, but it was fun to hear where all these folks new to the FS will be spending the next few years. Tajikistan anyone?
Oh, and has anyone seen my watch?