Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kids at the Movies

Neil and I went to the movies this past Saturday night. I'm not sure what we were thinking going to a movie on a Saturday. And Thanksgiving weekend, no less. Needless to say, the place was jam packed. Luckily, Harry Potter 7 was not sold out and after purchasing our tickets, we made our way into the theater. Because we had arrived without a lot of extra time, the theater was mostly full when we walked in. There were a few pairs of seats in the middle but our reluctance to climb over other patrons led us to take seats in the floor area closer to the screen. If we knew then what we know now, we would have braved the stadium seating area.

Within minutes of sitting down, we noticed a family enter the theater and approach the row behind us. At first, I didn't notice the composition of the family because I was taken by the fact that one of the members was an infant in a bucket car seat. Probably 6 months old, the baby was wide awake and cooing. I watched as they situated the baby next to the father. It was then that I noticed the other kids as they took their seats directly behind me. Three of them. All under five. The youngest was about 3.

At first, they were quiet and I thought, well maybe these kids could handle a 2.5 hour long non-kids movie. But within 20 minutes, the infant began fussing. And that was the noise that broke the seal for the other kids. Mom and dad took turns with the infant in the hall, but that left only one parent to monitor the other three pre-school age children, who, no surprise here, were extremely fidgety. There was mock whispering, bouncing, running back and forth in the row and OF COURSE, chair kicking. MY CHAIR.

I know about wanting to get out and see a movie with your spouse. I know that for many people finding someone to watch their kids while they do so is complicated and pricey. However. This movie was clearly not appropriate for young children. It's rated PG-13, meaning children under 13 are probably not a good fit. There were definitely some VERY scary scenes. I can't imagine how those scenes would affect a small child. Beyond that, it's a 2.5 hour movie. NO kid that age can sit still for 2.5 hours. There's a reason Disney movies are all 90 minutes long. Finally, this was a 6:40 movie. My 3 year old goes to bed at 8. Adding in the expected twenty minutes of previews, that means the movie isn't getting out until 9:30. Now I can't speak for all kids, but mine does not improve when kept up after her bedtime. In fact, saying she goes into cranky, manic kid mode would be most accurate.

I'm just stunned that these people thought it was appropriate to bring their kids to this movie. Beyond that it showed ridiculously bad parenting, it was inconsiderate. They did a humdinger on our movie-going experience. We were distracted and irritated throughout the movie. And I'm sure we weren't the only ones. We have only taken Sophie to one movie, Toy Story 3, and we went to an early afternoon showing. Fortunately for us, our experience was good, but had she acted up, I would have left with her in a heartbeat. Had this been a matinee, I would likely be more forgiving. My expectations are different at day movies. But it wasn't. It was a full price evening movie, and that ain't cheap these days.

I feel like I can't be surprised anymore by how thoughtless people can be, and then I am. It makes me sad.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Music is gonna get ya

I love music. I love the way it makes me feel. It inspires emotion. Raises me up or brings me down. At home, I almost always have music on. I dance. I sing.

Of course, I don't just listen at home. I have Lucille loaded with music. I take her with me everywhere so I can get my fix any time, any place. She is ALWAYS with me at the gym. When I get going on the treadmill, the music becomes a part of me. I can feel the beat moving through my body and I find myself stepping to the rhythm.

It makes me wish I could sing at the gym. Top of my lungs, fist pumping singing. I want to shout out my exuberance. Throw my arms into the air like Rocky at the top of the stairs.

Maybe my gym should have soundproof rooms.

I think I'm going to put that in the suggestion box.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Would You Look At THAT

A great big thank you to all of my wonderful friends and family who voted for me in the Baltimore Sun Mobbies! Thanks to your perseverance day after day with a real pain in the patootie site, I eked out the win in the Family Category. AND! I came in 9th in Best Overall. Considering there were several hundred blogs nominated, I'm pleased as punch with a top 10 showing.

I attended the awards party last night with my dear friend Katie, where I accepted the handsome 8.5x11 commemorative sheet of paper announcing my win. I'll frame it and hang it on the wall next to last year's. The party was meh. Too loud. Too crowded. Food was gone by the time we got there. And we couldn't bribe our way into a drink. But I loved spending some rare non-kid time with Katie; talking sex, laundry and everything in between. And we shared a few laughs with fellow award-winning blogger Elizabeth of Strawberries in Paris who I met earlier this year at the LoveFeast Table BlogLove event. Despite a parking ticket (stupid head in only parking), it was good times. My heartfelt thanks again to all who voted!

I colored my hair a couple of weeks ago. It's about five shades darker than my hair naturally and much darker than the last color. Exactly TWO people have noticed. TWO. Change FAIL.

Monday, November 15, 2010

They Don't Call It Practice For Nothing

We have taken Sophie to the same pediatrician since she was born. Her doctor was affiliated with a very large, very well respected local medical entity (hint: it rhymes with Sean's Bobbkins) and at first that was very appealing to us. We liked the security of having a doctor attached to an organization with a century long reputation for medical excellence, not to mention the world of specialists at our fingertips.

But I would be lying if I said that I was delighted with our experiences, really from the very beginning. There was the time they sent us to the emergency room, where we sat for four hours with a mildly sick two month old only to be told we were overreacting to a normal condition. There were the layers we had to go through to actually speak to a medical professional on the phone. There was the complete lack of personal engagement. We were a number. Sophie's doctor never remembered her from one visit to the next. Ultimately, I just never felt a chemistry with her. We tried other doctors in the practice but didn't feel any better about them.

Meanwhile, Neil and I have been going to a family practice for a couple of years now and we have loved our experiences there. It was our plan to take Sophie there as soon as she completed the two year study that she was a part of through her old doctor. I had scheduled a well child check up, but unfortunately illness struck first. So her first visit was a couple of weeks ago when we had a chicken pox scare. It turns out it was some other chicken pox-y rash that had us on lockdown for a week, and it completely sucked, but it gave us an intro to the pediatric side of our now truly family practice. I was overwhelmed by what a positive experience it was.

The doctor was engaging and friendly. He sat and talked with us. More importantly, he listened. We had a real conversation. I didn't feel as though he was just playing the role of concerned doctor like I typically did with the last one. It was so refreshing. So when we brought her back in for a follow-up/well child, I was nervous that we would be seeing one of the other doctors in the practice. But if it is possible, I love her even more. I felt a real connection from the minute she walked in to the exam room. She's not much older than me, and unlike our last pediatrician, she has her own children. It even turns out that we had similar pregnancies and deliveries. When I expressed my concerns about the flu vaccine, she was very understanding. Our last pediatrician practically accused me of child abuse for not wanting to vaccinate my daughter. And not once did she refer to the growth chart! Sweet baby cheese, was that a breath of fresh air on a hot day.

I knew that I didn't like Sophie's old doctor, but I didn't realize how bad it was until I saw how good it could be. I think we forget sometimes that there is more to medicine than fancy diplomas and big names on the door. I'll take the small practice where the nurses play with my daughter and give her a lollipop any day of the week.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Last Day

For my poor Facebook and twitter friends, I apologize for the daily requests for your vote in the Baltimore Sun Mobbies. But I have good news! Today is the last day and the very last time (this year) that I will hound you for your vote. Voting ends at 5pm Baltimore time, so there are just a few short hours to help me retain the spot as Best Family blog and maybe inch my way up on the Best Overall list. I really, really, really appreciate your votes!

Click here to vote for my blog ... early and often

Monday, November 8, 2010

Across the miles...

I'm just going to come right out and say that while I put on a good front, I'm actually a bit of a chicken. This won't come as any surprise to the folks that know me really well, ie anyone who has ever slept in the same room as me (hello nightlight!). Despite this, I have a penchant for scary movies. Not often and not of the torture horror variety, but occasionally one will come along that grabs my fancy. The Blair Witch Project was one of these. Most recently, it was Paranormal Activity. A low budget, independent film that concentrated on psychological suspense rather than blood and gore, I saw it last year during a girls' weekend in Tennessee and it absolutely scared the cuss out of me. A year later and I still have night terrors about it.

When they announced they were making another one, I was not initially enthused. Rarely, in fact almost never, do sequels of these kinds of movies turn out to be any good. But reports came in that the filmmakers were doing everything they could to avoid the pitfalls that have plagued so many other doomed sequels. And then  early reviews were positive and it looked like there was cause for optimism.

A couple of months ago, Lula, Brandy and I half joked about getting together to see Paranormal Activity 2. It was the three of us (in addition to our friend Heather) that saw the first Paranormal Activity last year and it seemed natural that we would come together again for the second one. Distance and responsibilities being what they are, though, it seemed about as likely to happen as Lindsay Lohan successfully completing rehab.

But then a couple of weeks ago, we took a serious look at our calendars and decided that we were going to make it work. We landed on a date and began plotting. It took a little coordination on our parts, both Lula and I had to arrange child care so we could leave early enough from our respective homes to make it to Brandy's house (4.5 hour drive for me, 3 for Lula) in time for dinner and the movie, but we made it work.

Finally, the day arrived and I hit the open road. It was a long drive, but my excitement (and a trough of Dr. Pepper) made the time pass quickly. The laughs didn't stop from the moment I arrived until I left the next afternoon. There were times I was laughing so hard, I could barely breath. We had a fabulously fattening dinner where we introduced Brandy to red wine, unsuccessfully; we saw the movie, which wasn't quite as good as the first but definitely had some chills; we stayed up until all hours talking; and after sleeping in, we hit Cracker Barrel for a breakfast lunch.

A couple days before I left, Neil commented to me that it was an awfully long way to go for a movie. And he's not wrong. But the truth is that while I did want to see the movie, I didn't really drive all that way just for that. I drove 280 miles to see friends that I haven't seen in person in a year. To sit across from them. To give them great big hugs because I miss their faces. The internet is an amazing thing. If it weren't for this ability to connect over the miles, I never would have met these great ladies, and it is a wonderful tool for maintaining these relationships. But it is no substitute for sitting down at the kitchen table with a great glass of wine (or four) and making lewd drawings at 3am with friends.

Miss you girls. Can't wait for Paranormal Activity 3.

By the way, have you voted for me today in the Baltimore Sun Mobbies? I'm nominated under the Family category and don't forget to select Land of Bean for Best Overall! You can vote once a day until November 12. Thank you!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Civic Duty

It's a big day. It's our time to make our voices heard. I'm an ardent believer in our obligation to do our civic duty. Despite a sick kid, I plan to do mine. And of course, I ask that you do yours as well. Today we exercise our right to vote.

Of course, I'm talking about the annual Baltimore Sun Maryland Outstanding Blogs Awards (MOBBIES)! The Land of Bean has been nominated in the Family category. My fellow nominees are an amazing group of bloggers, many of whom I feel privileged to consider friends. So it pains me to say that I want to kick their asses, but I do, I really do. It is an honor to be nominated but it's freaking awesome to win. So I kindly request that you take just a couple of minutes and pop on over to the Baltimore Sun website to vote. You will have to register but it's little more than your email and a password.

Voting will take place between now and November 12 at 5pm. You can vote once in every 24 hour period, so please vote as often as you can! Don't forget to also click Land of Bean for Best Overall Blog! Note: You do not have to reside in Maryland to vote. (Mom, I'm talking to you.) Sadly, I do think you have to be in the United States, so my international friends can not take part.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Click here to vote for my blog ... early and often

Oh yeah, and for all of my American readers, don't forget to vote in our mid-term elections today! It's kinda important.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Souper Easy Recipe: French Onion

It is that time of year again. Soup season! There is just nothing like a steaming bowl on a chilly fall day. It warms you from the inside out. One of my forever favorites is French Onion. Ironically, I actually don't care much for onions, but something about this soup just works for me. For years and years, if I were enjoying a bowl at home, I bought a can of Campbell's and threw it in the microwave. But once I tried making this for myself and saw how easy it is, and how fantastic it tastes, I don't think it's possible to go back to my old college-y ways.

4 - Tablespoons Butter (I suppose you could use margarine but I don't recommend it. Ever.)
2 - Onions (I use one red and one white but you can use whatever combination strikes your fancy.)
1 - Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 - Teaspoon Sugar
1 - Tablespoon Flour
4 - Cans (10.5 oz) Beef Broth
1/2 - Cup Red Wine (Use good stuff. Never cook with something you wouldn't drink.)
1/2 - Teaspoon Garlic Salt (or to taste)
1/2 - Teaspoon Salt (or to taste)
1/2 - Teaspoon Black Pepper (or to taste)
Sliced Provolone or Swiss Cheese
French Bread

1. Melt the butter in a medium soup pan. Thinly slice the onions and saute in the butter at medium heat until soft. Add the Worcestershire sauce and sugar. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes.

2. Stir in the flour and mix well with onions and pan sauce. Add broth, wine, garlic salt, salt and pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Slice 3/4 inch pieces of French Bread. I toast mine in our toaster oven, but you can also cook in the oven at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes.

4. Fill oven-safe bowls 3/4 full with soup. Add the toasted bread and a slice of provolone or swiss cheese. Return to toaster oven or oven, 425 degrees, for about 10 minutes until cheese is melted. (You can also hollow out bread bowls. And that is a VERY tasty way to go, but the extra 400 calories kill me.)