Tuesday, February 25, 2014

January Wrap-Up

Blatantly stealing this idea from our daughter (with some modifications). It'll be a bit of a trick to remember what I did in January since we're already halfway through February (Edit: I wrote most of this 5 days ago and am only now getting around to posting it), but I'm going to try. This looks like a fun way to track things throughout the year and I love reading hers, so here goes . . .

Books I've Read 

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell


I absolutely LOVE this author and everything she touches. This is her first novel. My favorite by her is her second book, Eleanor & Park, for its beautiful simplicity and the way she handled some *really* tough topics that some teens face - BIG kudos to her for having that kind of bravery and for not whitewashing it. This book had a simple premise and addressed relationships and ethics. I loved it. The ending was kind of not quite what I expected and felt a bit jolting at times, but truth be told, I wasn't sure what I expected would happen given the storyline. I love how she makes her characters come to life. She excels at making things feel so real.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein


I absolutely loved every minute of reading this book with the kids. It's full of puzzles and riddles and fun characters. It is a ton of fun to read. Great books for kids and families. Bonus that we'd met the author at a literature festival and he had brought the story even more to life with his fun stories and great personality. Get this book and read it with your kids - you will NOT be disappointed. In fact, you'll have so much fun.

The Giver by Lois Lowry


I read this one with the kids, too. This book definitely makes you think and tackles some really deep concepts. She explores what it would be like to live in a society that is guarded and regulated in such a way that no one feels any kind of pain. Sounds great, right? Read the book and then tell me what you think. Great book. I love that she felt kids could handle it. She handled it expertly. The movie comes out this year, too.

Movies/TV Shows I've Watched

A little note here that Mother Nature was hell bent on making sure that Mark and I could NOT get to the movies we wanted to see while they were in the theaters. Our schedules are crazy enough that even trying to get to a movie is a trick and a half. Add snowstorm after snowstorm after snowstorm and you have mountains of snow and a list of missed movies, including "August: Osage County" and "American Hustle." 

"Apollo 13"


Got it from the library and watched it as a family because it is a classic film to watch and went really well with our study of the 1960s. Plus, Modern Family had an episode that spoofed a classic scene in the movie, so that prompted us to watch it even more and catch the pop culture reference. We love spoofs! It's a suspenseful, interesting movie and we all enjoyed it, even if it felt a bit long at times. Bonus that we caught an editing goof - at one point in the movie, you see a cameraman near the feet of the astronauts while they're on the shuttle. HOW did that not get caught before and how much must that have sucked for the director and actors and editors to see that during its premiere!?

"Saving Mr. Banks"


Saw this one as a family at our great little indie theater in our small town. We all enjoyed it. It was quite emotional. A beautiful story of redemption. Great characters, great actors. I love Emma Thompson and Paul Giamatti. Sad irony - after the movie, I commented on how much I love both Paul Giamatti and Phillip Seymour Hoffman and how I often think of both of them whenever I think of either of them, as they both play so beautifully such conflicted characters, and when I got home, I learned that Phillip Seymour Hoffman had died. Very sad.

"Stuck in Love"


Saw this one on our Netflix, read the premise, and was intrigued, so I watched it while I was laid up with my hurt neck. It is about a family of writers who all struggle in one way or another, due to family dynamics and being human. It has a great cast and I had no idea I was finding such a gem of a movie. I love when you watch something you've not heard of before and it's such a great find! The music/soundtrack was incredible. I told a friend about it (he loves Kristen Bell) and he watched it THAT day and texted me to say how much he enjoyed it and agreed that the music was great. Very much my kind of movie and one of the best I've seen in a while.



Mark and I are marathon watching this show and enjoying it very much. It's highly addictive! We had caught an episode a while back and had decided not to watch it as it seemed kind of heavy (and I tend to avoid stuff that's too heavy), but we tried it again and I'm really glad we did. It's not as heavy as I feared and yet they tackle some pretty heavy, real issues (Asperger's, infidelity, racism, infertility, adoption, veterans, job stress, etc.). I think the teens are all awful, though (so are some of the parents!) and I hate to see all that cliche teenage angst, as if they ALL have attitudes and are lippy. Bah!

I love the characters in this series (I love to hate some of them!) and the family dynamics fascinate me. I mean, the Bravermans are pretty enmeshed and it begs the question - which is better, an enmeshed family that's there for you when push comes to shove or a distant family without closeness? Most of the time, we vote enmeshed. Sure, there's probably a healthy balance somewhere in the middle, but on the enmeshed-distant spectrum, for all the drama and meddling, you know they love and care about you.

I love when they get the fever - there should be more dancing in the world in our living rooms and yards! We love Crosby and Jake, but boy oh boy do we hate Adam Braverman - what a jerk! I know people like him and think he's so responsible and upright, but someone please remove the stick up his butt, because he's so freaking uptight!! Do. Not. Like. I like Kristina, but I hate their parenting style with Haddie. They clearly have control issues and love to be dictatorial. Blech. Mutual respect, anyone? Wow, I clearly have a lot to say about this show . . .

Games I've played

Our family LOVES games. I wish I had thought to keep track better and I'm probably forgetting some, but here goes:

Candamir - we got this one for Christmas from Mark's parents and we really enjoy playing it a lot! Probably one of my new favorites for sure.
Settlers of Catan - one of my favorites, especially the Cities and Knights edition
Pit - a discovery of an old classic! So fun with friends!
Trivial Pursuit, Family Edition - So. Much. Fun. to play as a family
Order of the Stick - long, but fun game as a family; based on spoofs of D&D games everywhere!
Ticket to Ride - another favorite
What's it Gonna Take? - a game we got from the Johnsons for Christmas, fun game where you answer interesting questions and get to know one another's limits
Livingstone - the Johnsons got it for Christmas and brought it over and we all played and had deep conversations
Carcassonne - We own this one and the Johnsons got it for themselves for Christmas and we played this together
Chess - a classic, especially fun when you're trying to beat Ivan the computer!
Othello -  I play this with Max now and then
Dungeon Dice - We got this for Max for his birthday. It's an old game on eBay but it's a lot of fun!
D&D Clue - Fun variation of Clue, great pieces and characters. Another Max birthday gift.
Laser Maze -Another Max birthday gift. He LOVES logic games and is crazy good at them. It blows my mind to watch him play this.
Pizza Dice - an easy, quick, fun game where you try to roll the pizza toppings dice and make a pizza first. A fun game!
Story Wars - a story telling game sort of like Snake Oil or Apples to Apples, but way more fun and creative. A perfect game for our family - creating, debating, and laughing.
Smallworld - I play this with Max a lot when Kate volunteers at the library; it is a game that has really grown on me. I like it a lot! Another European Tabletop game that is so much better than typical American games (sorry, USA).
Mario Kart - a great standby that we all enjoy playing together
Zumba Wii - a fun, family game that gets us moving and laughing
Just Dance 4 - ditto the above

Other Things I've done, Places I've visited, etc.

* Rang in the new year with 2 straight days of fun and games Folson-style
* Threw a really fun "Amazing Race" all-over-town party for our son's 11th birthday
* Celebrated my daughter getting her braces off . . . eating wings right off the bone! Her BFF joined us, too.
* Complained about the stupid polar vortex cold
* Thing 1 and I had lunch with a local author
* Started an effective chore chart with the kids - and they're cooking more. :)
* We celebrated Thing 1 getting published with a sushi boat dinner!
* Celebrated my good friend Linda's 60th birthday with a surprise lunch party
* Celebrated Dave's birthday with a group of great friends - Indian food, cheesecake, and lots of laughs
* Dealt with a neck spasm that had me unable to move my neck for 2 days - very scary and painful
* Was disappointed with the Grammys this year - Ed Sheeran should have won.
* Had lots of kids over, particularly Thing 1's BFF and Dave's boys during Dave's hospital stay
* Happy Hour appetizer feast at Houlihan's with the Dick and Linda and family
* Mark and the kids attended another silent movie at our local theater - this time with our good, empty-nester friends who are simply awesome with our kids (I was unable to go due to hurt neck and stupid cold making neck worse)

Pictures from the Month
A boy and his dog

"I'm not amused."

Braces off! Let's eat wings!

The Intrepid Amazing Racers

Such a fun birthday adventure all over town!

He's 11!

Celebrating being published with a sushi boat!

She keeps getting taller and taller . . .

Siblings and friends :)

The author signing a copy of her book for us!

A girl and her dog

Wow, I often worry that we're not doing enough fun stuff or school stuff or reading, but holy moly, writing that out sure puts things in perspective! I think that's a pretty great list.
How was your January?


Emily Foley said...

Are you kidding me that you just saw Apollo 13?! That movie is epic in our family. My dad worked on some of the things on the Apollo spaceships so it was fun to see in the theater with him.

I love watching parenthood with Dave because we talk through the whole thing, about what we like and dislike. I can't handle Haddie and Amber's hair but it does get better. I'm glad I didn't ruin the current season for you but just wait. I'm going to need a therapist before this season ends!

January sounds like a pretty great month, whoa! Busy.

Emily Foley said...

Oh, and I read the Giver years ago and just recently found out it's a trilogy. But I'll have to go back and read the giver again because I don't remember it very well. I liked it though.

The Magic Violinist said...

I REALLY want to watch "Parenthood!" :) Lauren Graham is awesome.

I had to put Attachments down to finish reading an ARC for Fivestone, but I really want to keep reading it! 30 pages in and I'm already intrigued.

The Magic Violinist said...

Love that picture of Max and me. What a goofball!

Anonymous said...

Candamir sounds like a character in LotR. xD Like Boromir, Faramir, Haldir...

@ Emily Foley: The Giver is actually... well, I don't know what it would be called. A quartet? It has three sequels now.

The Magic Violinist said...

@nevillegirl I've read a lot of four book series, and they've all been called quartets, so I think that's the name for them.

Dr. Mark said...

Great wrap-up! I still need to see "Crazy in Love," but that will have to wait while we power watch the rest of "Parenthood." I'm a little nervous about where some of the story lines could head. We'll see what happens.

I don't remember the rest of the books after "The Giver" being so tied in that you couldn't just pick up book two and go from there, but I get wanting to start from the beginning. It's not that long anyway. I love how the publishers approached the five-book Hitchhiker's Guide "trilogy." They just said "book five in the increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker's Trilogy."

Great pictures. We have some very photogenic and happy kids!

Dr. Mark said...

Great wrap-up! I still need to see "Crazy in Love," but that will have to wait while we power watch the rest of "Parenthood." I'm a little nervous about where some of the story lines could head. We'll see what happens.

I don't remember the rest of the books after "The Giver" being so tied in that you couldn't just pick up book two and go from there, but I get wanting to start from the beginning. It's not that long anyway. I love how the publishers approached the five-book Hitchhiker's Guide "trilogy." They just said "book five in the increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker's Trilogy."

Great pictures. We have some very photogenic and happy kids!

Dr. Mark said...

And could we PLAY any more games?!

Anonymous said...

A month of fun! Wouldn't expect anything less. I so want to play Trivial Pursuit Family Edition. Love that Thing 2 is reading Calvin and Hobbes.

Jimmy said...

You worry that you're not doing enough fun stuff? Seriously, you'd die of boredom at our home. I don't know how you keep up with it all.

Great pictures! Someday I hope to get Kate to sign my copy of the book!

Boquinha said...

Emily, Mark and I have seen Apollo 13 before. This is the first time for our kids. :) That is so cool about your dad!

We do that, too! Now that we're caught up, I have to say - HOLY MOLY!! ROUGH story line and I have many, MANY opinions on it and some others!! SPOILER ALERT FOR ANYONE NOT CAUGHT UP ON PARENTHOOD: I don't think they're being true to Joel's character. It's too extreme of a reaction and it is seemingly out of the blue - like very little lead up to such a drastic change. Also, starting a school?!? So over the top. That storyline seems absurd. Amber running into her father COMPLETELY by accident? Ridiculously far fetched. And the thing that has bugged me more than ANYTHING so far in the entire show is when they blatantly lied to Haddie about her mother's health. That was so completely disrespectful, I could've spit. I was livid! (Yes, I get very into this stuff! :P). If they truly wanted to treat her like an adult, they would've told her the truth and let her decide and respected her decision. It doesn't matter if they thought they knew best - that was so incredibly wrong and disrespectful of them. Such a huge violation of trust. Why should she EVER trust them again?!? LIVID. And Amber gets on my nerves. I don't know why. I think the way Amber and Haddie talk is so "bleh" and monotone and uninteresting. Like you want to shake them up and say, "Wake UP." Okay, that's all for now. I love love love Crosby and love how he often diffuses tense situations with humor while also stating his case. Okay, really stopping now . . . :P

TMV, let's watch that next after Freaks and Geeks! I love that picture, too. You guys are so cute. I love you. This morning, when we were reading together wrapped up in blankets, I looked over at the two of you and got weepy I love you both so much.

Nevillegirl, you're right! It does!

And it does have 4 parts and the 4th one just came out, what, like a year ago? It's very recent! She wrote them all over a long span of time. You guys should check out her bio and story on her website. Lois Lowry sounds like an amazing woman.

Boquinha said...

Mark, you mean Stuck in Love? ;) That's funny about the Hitchhiker's Guide Trilogy. :P And, yes, we do. I love that we play so many games!!

Sherri, let's do it! We love that game!! And me, too. :)

Jimmy, I don't know how we keep up either. It's crazy to see it in writing! Kate very much wants to sign your book! Thank you so much for buying a copy!! Let's get together again and she can sign it. :)