Month: May 2013

  • Friday Funkiness

    It’s PAYDAY!!!!  How awesome… money!  And also not awesome, because it’s the payday after vacation, which means it’s Payday: Intensive Version.  Because I need to sit down and get to color-coding my check register orange for everything vacation-related, and tying all of that to the income tax transfer designated ‘vacation’.  I know that’s anal, but I like to code things, so it’s easier to figure what we spent on vacation, what we did with the income tax.  Brian bought new tires for his truck this morning, too, so that’s another transfer from income tax, with color-coding in green, since it’s a single-time purchase, not a week-long incursion on the income tax $$.  And yes, why yes, my check register is very colorful… because all ATM/POS purchases are coded blue.  Balancing the checkbook is intensive, at my house.  In case you wondered.  Which I’m sure you didn’t, but there’s a little more insight into my particular level of psychosis.

    PS:  Speaking of psychosis… I thought I’d share with you how wack I am:  when we discovered the basement was an inch underwater on Wednesday, I called Brian’s work – I thought he might have a suggestion for me to try to get the sump working, again.  Brian’s boss (read: THE OWNER) answered the phone, “Workplace Industries, this is Mike.”  And I’m used to getting Very-Uninterested Front-Desk Patty on the phone, so that threw me off.  I don’t TALK to big bosses… ever.  Sometimes not-gay Gary (who sounds gay, and wears sweaters with animals on them, but is happy married with children) answers the phone in his high-pitched voice, but I’m good with him, like Patty … but I’m NOT good with Mike-the Boss.  He’s the BOSS, hello! 

    So I put on my Anna-Is-Professional tone (which sounds like Office Barbie), and said, “Yes, may I speak to Brian, please?”  (which, to be fair, is what I always say when I call, even when I get V.U.F.DPatty on the phone, just not with the same, stiff posture).  Anyhow, Mike-the-Boss says, “Certainly… who may I ask is speaking?“  And… and… that was IT.  First of all, neither Patty nor Gary ever question me, they just say, “One moment, please.” and page Brian.  I did not CALL to be interrogated, not even one question’s worth.  I’m already on tinterhooks, having to converse with Mike-the-Boss, and now he’s QUESTIONING me?  Should I tell him that it’s Brian’s ball-n-chain, and I realize that it’s not lunch or break, but in my defense, it truly is an emergency, my basement is wall to wall water, and I’m in crisis?  Does he even need to KNOW this?  He shouldn’t even be asking me who I am!!!  In spite of this HUGE internal discourse, I answer, “This is Brian’s wife.” in my most pleasant voice, hiding my complete hackles-up, totally on-edge true condition… and his voice gets pleased/pleasant (?!?!??!) and he says, “Ah!  Just a moment.” 

    And meanwhile, I’m all shades of bristles on the other end of the line, thinking, “You should NOT be asking me questions.  I don’t like questions.  I don’t like bosses.  I don’t want to explain anything to you – who I am is not relevant.  I called to speak to Brian, not you.  I don’t like this.  I’m feeling defensive, and it’s YOUR fault!“  Of course he knows none of this.  He thinks I’m a little, happy, blonde housewife with a Barbie voice and plastic manners, on hold.  But I was SERIOUSLY traumatized… because of my own personal, unique level of psychosis.  ((This is why I mostly avoid phones, at ALL costs.))  And Brian laughed his HINEY off as I went into this whole rant on the way to dance class, later that night, trying to convey my anxiety and the situation there.  I got over this… it took about three days, and… well, okay.  I wasn’t completely over this.

      But as I was writing my payday FB status here, today, Brian called (his daily noon call).  He says his workplace is sponsoring the Grand Rapids Whitecaps (baseball) a night in August, and the whole shop and their families are invited, and there’ll be a BBQ on the deck.  Thing is, everyone else is signing up 2-4 people… we have SEVENYikes.  I initially told him to ask them if there’s a limit to the number of people an employee brings (because I could stay home with the littler kids)… but he seems to think we should ALL go.  Okay… but then the gravity of the situation hit me.  ALL of his co-workers (and bosses) and their WIVES are going to be there.  With anti-social Anna and her herd of noisy, crazy, BBQ-dripping children. 

    I… no longer think this is a good idea.  I don’t like people, or BBQs, or sports.  Or co-workers, or bosses, or their wives.  We won’t be able to pull off good behavior for THAT long, with THAT many kidlets.  We shouldn’t go.  It’s a bad idea.  Brian just laughed and told me not to even THINK about starting to talk myself out of it, because we’re going.  He’s tickled as all get-out over the fact that – by the end of our phone conversation (HATE phones!!) – I was a complete train wreck. I think my psychosis may kill me, with this one.  If I’m dead by August, you’ll know what got me.  I may be sick today… just finding out about this.

    And now you have something to laugh at.   The little blue update is now massive and green and… crazy as hell.  But then, look who’s writing it.  Anyhow… I gots t’go.  There’s a checkbook register needing some colors and numbers.  So… talk to you later.  If I don’t die of a self-induced aneurysm over all of this.

  • Got the hay/feed storage and the chicken coop cleaned out from the winter.  ‘Nother job done… just the goat barn and compost pile left.  But today was it’s OWN level of stink… so let’s think about the rest another day.

  • Faerie Tale-ing

    This year we’re doing Faerie Tales for school.  They’re actually a Year 1 thing, but because Lydia’s Year 1 was seven years ago, half of my kids aren’t familiar with the stories.  So we’re trying to work our way thru them all.  Quite the undertaking, let me tell you!  There are a LOT of faerie tales out there, and a lot of different spins on them!

    ((NoTe:  Next year I want to do musicals… a la “My Fair Lady”, “Sound of Music”, “Oklahoma”, “Phantom of the Opera” et al.  The next year the plan is to alternate Shakespeare with Opera.  Yes, why yes, I’m ambitious.))

    But I wanted to do a faerie tale post, for my homeschool archive, so that I’ve at least told about what we’re doing.  So this is how it goes: we read the story (from Grimm’s, H.C. Anderson, etc.), then we watch the movies, as many versions as I can find… and discuss what’s different/same about them, and if/why we like them.  Then we do our artwork – this year we’re doing charcoals – of whatever faerie tale we’re doing.  That’s a new thing – we did “T’was the Night before Christmas” for the first half of the semester, and so we’re finishing the year with the faerie tales, playing a little catch-up.  And that’s okay, because sometimes we’re several WEEKS on a faerie tale.  For example, there are something like TEN movie versions to watch of ‘Cinderella’.  It’s crazy, out there!

    Here are the ones that we’ve done… mostly using the library video collection, Blockbuster on-line, and my home collection, as well.  And I’ll add to this list as I go along.  But in case you wondered about the different versions:

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~  Snow White  ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    All three of these are quirky and cute, in their own ways.  We liked them very much.  The middle one is our favorite – the kids like Bubba (African-American dwarf), although Lydia has trouble with the witch’s nose-hairs… LoL!  Lily Collins was THE best snow white, but the movie was over-the-top twinky.

    Personally, I thought these were too adult, but… THOR and BELLA, hello!  They actually liked it… and so did I, even though it was kind of a sinister version.  So they got to see the first one, but Brian and I watched the second two… and said NO to them for the kids.  Some of these versions are kind of skeery, FYI!  ((Although I did like that she ended up with a ‘dwarf’ in the last one… the love story was beautiful, even though the zombies were icky, icky, icky and it seems just wrong to kill off dwarves.))

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Cinderella~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I actually own both of these, the Brandy version being my favorite.  I love the multiculturalism, the songs, the magic of it.  And homigosh, Jack Bristow as the King?  And Jason Alexander, dancing?  How can you not love the Whitney Houston version!?  And the prince can SING.

    In their day, these were HUGE… both the same versions as Brandy (with the same songs, same characters), but they’re all done differently.  These two just… got overshadowed, in time…

     These two are painful to watch – kind of like watching someone pick a scab.  The first one had NO redeeming qualities, but the second… but I’m a Drew Seely fan.  The dance sequences were fun, and the idea was cute – a rock star (prince of the pop scene) decides to have a ‘normal’ school year, but hosts a contest to find his date for the prom… r’something.  But the execution of that idea was BADLY done.

    More favorites that we own… my kids love the Matthew Broderick version best of ALL – personally I like his father (he was on ‘Benson’, years ago, and he’s a hoot).  Besides… the girl from ‘Fame’ and they have the principle from ‘Grease’ as the stepmother… and a southern Faerie godmother?  It was perfect.  The middle one with Drew Barrymore is VERY well done, too… but more grounded in realism, which is special in its own right.  And it has Leonardo Da Vinci as the fairy godmother… a great twist.  The scenery and medieval aspects were spot on.

    Yes, this IS a Cinderella story.  And Voldemort with JLo…!!!  Very fun – a maid and a politician (america’s royalty), and some Simon & Garfunkel and Bread thrown in?  Oh, SO me!  And the Hilary Duff one is… okay cheesy, but the kids liked it, and I own both of these, and… well, it’s kind of fun.  I like Zorro… and how instead of a slipper, she loses her cellphone (“I don’t know who this belongs to, but she gets weird messages… like ‘come fix fryer’.”)

    In hindsight, I found THREE more – one with Katerina Witt on ice, and… a musical version starring Richard Chamberlain, done beautifully (with the BEST faerie godmother), and a ballet starring Leslie Caron and Keenan Wynn, in which Elsa Lancaster is the stepmother.  Can you believe it?!

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Beauty & the Beast ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    All of which were *wonderful!*  I was shocked that Rebecca De Mornay could pull off such a good Belle (and it’s a musical, and she sings well!)… and we’d never seen Penelope (which is a reversal on the story), but we fell in LOVE with it – watched it THREE times, and will have to buy it, in the end, I suspect!

    A little more ‘grown up’, but we enjoyed them both, just not as much.  Personally I liked Beastly because of Neil Patrick Harris (but the book is better by miles, fwiw).  But the Faerie Tale Theater version is very dark and scary.  Even if Speed Racer’s mom is Beauty.  It bothered my kids.  It’s not ‘scary’, just disturbing.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Sleeping Beauty~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Only three, here… but Christopher Reeves was *stellar* in BOTH of his roles.  I have to tell you… it’s his best part, EVER… not as Prince Charming, but as the icky Spanish Prince that screams when a poodle chases him and speaks in a nasally British accent.  Riotous!  And of course there’s a twist to the Sesame Street version you probably already see coming…

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Rumplestiltskin~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Only three versions of this, too… one with the little guy from ‘Love Boat’, and the other with Billy Barty and Amy Irving… which was the cutest one.  Then the Kermit version, which… I don’t get.  Bruce??  Anyhow… in general, Rumple is kind of disturbing.  Unless you read this version.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Little Mermaid ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Disney’s is hands-down the best.  But ONLY in this instance… mostly we find others that we like better, which is amazing, in hindsight.  The Faerie Tale Theatre version?  Not so wonderful.  But closest to the original.  Which is actually a major downer, where stories are concerned.

    Aquamarine was cute, in a teenie-bopper kind of a way, but it was shallow (haha, punny) for a mermaid movie.  And of COURSE you have to include Splash.  My kids liked Splash.  My mother HATED John Candy in it when I was growing up, I remember it being a HUGE gasp factor, but in hindsight, he really wasn’t as bad as I remember.  Or is it we’re desensitized compared to what we were in the 80s?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Frog Prince~~~~~~~~~~~~

    All three had their cute/dumb parts.  We liked the first one, for all of her air-headedness.  The Disney version is a leap… and we fast forwarded the Shadow Man.  Not so big on that one, but I got it for a buck at the library book sale, so… how could I not buy it?  But  Kermit’s was great, though.  My kids loved poor, hungry Sweetums, and I liked the princess who can only beak spackwards.  It was a twun fist on the story.  And in order to break the spell, you have to figure out what they have to do:  Bake the hall in the candle of her brain.  What do YOU think it means?

    My kids LOVE Robin Williams as the frog (NoTe:  he does call the princess a bitch and later flips her off with his flipper, though… warning to sensitive parents).  The middle one is more modern, and has GREAT animated frogs… it’s Brian’s favorite, with Martin Short as the sidekick and Christina Applegate as his true love.  And the last one, you won’t find.  Trust me.  My copy is rare… and yes, she was the original movie “Annie”.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Red Riding Hood ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The first one is done by the Twilight producer, and has Bella’s Dad (and the black wolf from New Moon) on it.  I thought it might be too scary for the kids, but it was hands down ALL of our favorite versions.  The second is a musical version with Joey from NSync as the wolf.  It’s funny, but hokey.  The third is another musical version, with the dude from ‘Coach’ and Isabella Rosellini.  It was very well done.

    Hoodwinked is… animated.  That should tell you it’s 100% charicature, and deviates a LOT from the story.  But it was a fun watch.  The Faerie Tale Theatre’s version was clever and the wolf and Granny were quirky and fun (and Mary Steenburgen is always lovely).  Hoodwinked Too?  Not so good, in spite of Glenn Close, David Ogden Steirs, and Joan Cusack.  It was ‘meh’.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Three Little Pigs ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The Faerie Tale Theatre version has Billy Crystal & Jeff Goldblum, but it’s… meh.  The Blues Clues version is cute, but simple (and at the end of a LONG line of stories).  The puppet show one is actually very, very cute.

    Disney did two – the ‘Who’s afraid of the big, bad, Wolf’ one, and then
    also about a decade later, ‘Practical Pig’ – which was a return of the wolf (and his sons).

    The Looney Tunes version is slapstick-y (as always), but Sesame Street’s is my personal favorite.  It’s actually on our VHS tape, “Big Bird’s Story Time”, but you can see it on YouTube here.  And then, a surprise favorite of ALL of us is this comedian’s version of the story!

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Still to Do ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Rapunzel, Thumbelina, Snow Queen, Aladdin,
    Twelve Dancing Princesses, Jack/Beanstalk, Three Bears,
    Puss in Boots, Pied Piper, The Nightengale, Emperor’s New Clothes,
    Princess/Pea, Rip van Winkle, Hansel/Gretel

    So as you can see, there are a LOT of options out there, and we’ve been having a ball watching them, comparing/contrasting, and laughing at the different takes on them.  It’s been a fun year… and we’ve still got a long way to go!

  • Our basement is an inch underwater.  Again.
    That is all… since I forgot I’m making personal posts protected.

  • I’m hopelessly, HOPELESSLY behind, today.  In case anyone is wondering.  This is it for the post, cuz… w.h.a.!!  That’s all I’m sayin’.  Other than to add that it’s another year with no flouride and NO CAVITIES, the library – the third of four that we went to today (including a drive to Spring Lake that locked us down on the expressway for an extra hour) had WONDERFUL books on their sale, and my mother is coming over in THREE MINUTES and I got the place vacuumed, BUT…!!!!   …….w.h.a…….

  • Signs in the Skies

    Last night, Venus, Jupiter and Mercury converged to form a bright triangle in the sunset sky. “It was an absolutely amazing sunset planet show,” says Marek Nikodem, who photographed the apparition from Szubin, Poland:

    At closest approach, the three planets fit inside a circle less than 3o wide. It was a rare event. There won’t be another triple conjunction this tight until 2026.

    …The triangle will stretch and eventually break apart in the nights ahead–and the contortions are worth watching. Keep an eye on the sunset sky all week long.

    … The triangle begins to disperse on May 27th, but even then the show is not over.  On May 28th, Venus passes Jupiter at a distance of 1 degree, forming a truly spectacular pair.  NASA

  • 12:33am.  The kids are finally tucked in, the water is turned back on, the heat playing catch-up in the house, and for the first time since Tuesday morning, I’m going to sleep in our own bed.  After 1300 miles, it’s good to be home!  And when we all finally wake up this morning (much, much, MUCH later)?  We’ll be busy unloading the car, taking hundreds of pictures off the camera, putting everything back in place in the house, and getting back to the swing of things.

    It was a long, fun-filled, satisfying vacation, last week!
    But, oh, is it good to be HOME.

  • V V V V V V V  Read that one.  V V V V V V V

  • Three Supermoons!

    Full moon lovers will be in for a treat this summer as the coming months bring not just one, but three full super moons in a row. A supermoon occurs when the Moon is at least 90% of the way to its closest approach to the Earth at the same time it is full or new. Supermoons are caused by the shape of the Moon’s orbit, which is not a perfect circle, but an ellipse, or oval, shape. …There are usually about four or five supermoon events each year, only about half of which tend to be full supermoons. This year is somewhat unusual in that there are only three supermoons, and all three are full.

    May’s full Moon falls on the 25th, one day before the lunar perigee on the 26th. The May supermoon also coincides with a very minor partial lunar eclipse. The largest of this year’s supermoons will occur on June 23, within 22 minutes of the Moon’s perigee on the same day. June’s supermoon coincides with the Moon’s closest approach to Earth until August 10, 2014. Finally, July’s full Moon will rise on July 22, one day after that month’s lunar perigee.

    aNNa’S NoTe:  Okay, so… this is crazy and significant and… I am going to have to think on what it means, for a while.  But here’s what we got:

    1.  Three supermoons this year (unusual).
    2.  They’re in a row, even more unusual.
    3.  They’re all three full supermoons (also unusual).
    4.  They’re in the three months between the spring/fall feasts!
    5.  Three being a HUGELY significant # in Biblical numerology.
    6.  The first is the day before, the second is the day of, and the
             one is the day after perigee.  Come on… that’s crazy!!
    7.  And then August is Elul, and September the Feasts.

    I’m just sayin’.  When I saw this, a whole bunch of green lights went off for me.  It’s… pretty incredible.  But what does it signify?  I’m not sure.  I’ll be brainstorming today… but please help me with it, and throw out any ideas that you might have!