Tuesday, July 27, 2010

For Hire

Big Boy #1 has his eye on this:

He really, really, really wants it. (Frankly, all of his enthusiasm for the the IPod Touch has been a bit contagious. He's got me wanting one too!) Anyway, with a price tag of $300 or so, we recommended that he figure out a way to earn some serious money.

He started with chores around the house, but since we pay worse than a nineteenth century sweatshop, he needed to consider other options. An almost 12 year old boy who wants to earn decent money in the summer has one good shot: mowing lawns.

He started with our own lawn. Then he moved onto Grandpa's to get some more practice. Tonight he mowed the neighbor's grass. His skills are improving and he has managed to save some decent money.

Before long he'll have earned enough to purchase that coveted gadget. I'm very proud of how hard he has worked towards his goal. At the rate he's going he'll have that IPod before me. Maybe I should come and mow your lawn? Nah, too sweaty. But if you're in the market, BB#1 is ready and willing.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Entertainment Value

I'm throwing these guys overboard.

And using my powers of parental control to block these guys out.

Frankly, I'm pretty much over the Disney channel. All the back-talking, the rudeness, the selfish and egocentric behaviors of these characters are the absolute opposite of what I want my kids to behave like.
And, unfortunately, it seems like my boys are acting more and more like Zach and Cody every day.

While I'm the first one to mock the way the Beaver would say things like "Golly Dad!" I'm kinda wishing my kids could have something a bit more tame to entertain them.

Diamond has talked about getting rid of satellite all together. We compromised by blocking Disney and Nickelodeon.

It's been a few days and I'm seeing an improvement in my kids already.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Birdman

The Caboose got a hold of a stamp and an ink pad and did this:

When I asked him why he put so many stamps on his arms, he told me that he was Birdman. As in, THIS guy:


Umm, so I'm thinking we need to watch a whole lot LESS basketball.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Fab One

I think everyone has their favorite of the Fab Four. (Probably everyone but Vern, who disparages any music created before 1985.)

My favorite was Paul. And last night Paul McCartney and I spent three hours together. (OK, technically, Paul, me and 20,000 other people.)

Diamond was able to land last-minute tickets to his Up and Coming Tour from a guy at work. We started out with these seats, five rows from the very top, which would have provided us with a lovely view of a pole and Paul's backside.

Then, through some crazy twist of fortune we were upgraded from section 352 to section 106; these seats:

We were SO excited!

The thing with Paul McCartney is that his music is transcendent. For every sixty year old bald guy singing there was a twenty-something playing air guitar. His music is bigger than any one age group or decade. He is so much more than a rock star. He is a musician. An icon. I have written papers about his music and the cultural influence of the Beatles.

Paul started with a bunch of his personal songs before settling into the Beatles hits. He sang Hey Jude, Back in the USSR, Paperback Writer, All My Loving, Live or Let Die, Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby, etc. He played the piano, a million different guitars and even a ukulele. He sang with a band, but also had a few numbers with nothing more than him and his guitar. It was an experience of a lifetime. Here is a sample of Let It Be.

video

It was A.MAZ.ING. I love, love, loved it! I saw Paul McCartney! Live! I heard him sing Beatles Music! I sang along, danced and screamed until I was hoarse. I love you PAUL!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Reading Recommendations

I haven't done any book evaluations for awhile, but since reading outside is one of my favorite things about this time of year, here are some books to consider:

I loved Gilbert's humorous voice in Eat, Pray, Love and that same tone comes through in her latest book Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage. Part autobiography, part sociology, Gilbert delves into history, culture and religion to determine what, exactly, marriage is all about. As a sociologist/historian, I found her observations to be fascinating, and I had a hard time putting the book down. That said, it's not for everyone. She makes a strong argument for same-sex marriage that conservatives may want to skip over and she calls into question several marital traditions. In the end, she does come down in favor of marriage. I found it hopeful, insightful and downright funny.

I'm not a fan of science-fiction, but I really, really enjoyed Ender's Game. A very young Ender is pushed through militaristic training to prepare him to combat the "buggers" who threaten to destroy humankind. What I enjoyed was the emphasis on the mental aspects of his training. It was first published in 1977, but don't let that deter you. I would highly recommend this one. The book is certainly self-contained, but there are two other books that star Ender as the main character. I've already ordered them.

If Twilight were to merge with Bewitched and take place in the deep South, you would have Beautiful Creatures. It's the same type of star-crossed, young love, chock-full of angst. That said, I liked Beautiful Creatures better than Twilight. Less silliness and less hype. This certainly isn't great literature, but if you liked Twilight, I'm pretty sure you'll really enjoy Beautiful Creatures. It's a great, light, summer read.

I have always enjoyed Mitch Albom's books. They may be a bit folksy, but I really love the warmth and wisdom that permeates his stories. Have a Little Faith compares two religious men: a rabbi and a reformed drug dealer, turned inner-city minister. The best part about Faith was being exposed to a different spin on the religious ideals and stories I have heard my whole life. I liked it so much I'm hosting it for Book Club next month.

My nephew has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism. House Rules follows a teenage boy with Asperger's who is accused of murder. The plot was fine enough (although I figured out the "twist" pretty early on,) but what I found riveting was Picoult's description of what it's like to be in a family dominated by autism. I learned a lot. I have much more respect and empathy for my brother, his wife and their children.

Another Picoult book, Plain Truth follows the investigation of an infant's murder in Amish Pennsylvania. It was an insightful look at the Amish community and the story pulled me along. It's a quick, lighter read - typical Picoult.

Hailed as a book of philosophy, the Alchemist is a simple story full of symbolism. A shepherd, Santiago, goes on a quest to learn wisdom from the famous Alchemist. It's not long, and has been purported to change lives. I found The Alchemist not exactly captivating, but interesting enough with some great tidbits.

This autobiography is by a woman who lived during China's Cultural Revolution. As a wealthy, educated woman she was quickly targeted by the revolutionaries. It was crazy to learn about what happened to her and her family. It was good, but I found Red Scarf Girl to provide comparable insight in a quicker and more captivating way.

A woman in our book club knows the author of Return to Honor, so we read it last month. It tells the story of a young German solider during World War II. It was published independently, so it might be hard to find.

I just finished The Warrior Heir. It's pretty much Harry Potter meets Hunger Games. A teenager finds out he's magic, goes into training, and ends up in a fight to the death which takes place for the amusement/politics of the wizard community. I'm getting a little bored with all the magic/vampire/otherworldly teenagers, but it wasn't a bad read. I took it on vacation with me, and it was great for that kind of thing. That said, I'm really starting to crave something meatier. Any suggestions?

So, my favorites from this batch? Committed, Ender's Game and Beautiful Creatures. Enjoy!

Monday, July 12, 2010

4th of July in Utah

We recently returned from our annual journey to Utah. It was, as expected, filled with lots of quality family fun, tasty food and a good amount of time in the water.

The first day we were there Grandma treated everyone to a day at the Lindon Community Pool. The boys loved the Flow Rider where they tried their hands on the boogie board. Below is Big Boy #2.

Dave's brother Craig and his wife Jill bought a condo-type thing at this resort in Midway, UT. They let us spend the night where we enjoyed the Swiss architecture nestled in the mountains.

The Swiss theme for the resort came complete with goats. The boys quickly picked their favorites and fed them lots of grass.

Of course the boys wanted to spend every minute with their cousins, so we brought them along for the fun.

The boys loved the indoor/outdoor pool at the resort.

Our family at Zurmatt

We often head to Utah for the 4th of July, and it's a tradition to go to the parade.

A parade in Utah Valley is a bit of an experience. All things Mormon dominate. And though I consider myself to be a faithful, involved Mormon it was just too much for me. Waaaay too much. A TEMPLE on a float? Sponsored by an LDS STAKE? Surrounded in people dressed as MISSIONARIES??? And I'm not even including pictures of the pioneers, or Captain Moroni, or the giant Book of Mormon...

But Utah certainly has it's upsides. And Training Table's Bacon Swiss burger is high on that list. Mmmmm...

After several days of tons of activity and very little sleep we headed back home to find this outside our front door.


There really IS no place like home!
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UPDATE: Thanks for all the votes for the Ugliest Picture contest. I won in a landslide! ('Course I'm sure if I should be thrilled or mortified.) Either way, I'll be thinking of you all as I enjoy my yummy Olive Garden bread sticks.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Who's the Ugliest of Them All?

My BFF, Vern, is having an ugliest picture contest on her blog. The winner will receive a $10 Olive Garden gift certificate - perfect for a lunch.

While I'm pretty sure this picture makes me a shoe-in, please stop by here and cast your vote for me. 'Cause I pretty much live for Olive Garden bread sticks. (No joke - when Diamond proposed, he put my ring in an Olive Garden "to go" box.)

I think the real question we need to ask is, why my mom ordered this in an 8x10?