Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Meine Bruder

When I was in junior high, my brother's high school soccer coach approached my parents about a German exchange student named Jens. (Pronunciation is like "Yence.") He was staying with a different family but things weren't working out and he needed a new place to stay. I'm pretty sure we had a family meeting about it and eventually decided to invite him to live with us.

I really feel like all of us hit the Exchange Student Situation Jackpot here. While he didn't get what I'm sure all foreign exchange students wanted (a high rise in New York or a beach-front billionaire family in Los Angeles), he moved into our family home near Seattle. He became very close friends with JP, our dog Einstein took a particular liking to him, and we took him on family vacations to Las Vegas. We were the lucky ones too. Even though he annoyed me sometimes (don't all older brothers?) by telling me the endings of movies, he fit into our family. He was respectful and kind and followed the house rules. He was a great soccer player and even participated in the home movies my brother and his friends would produce.

After he went back to Germany, he learned to sail and joined the German military and otherwise became a very accomplished individual. He got married and had a baby one month before June was born, an adorable boy named Linus.

This past Sunday Jens was in Phoenix! He is currently stationed in Florida for training and he flew to Phoenix on a training exercise. My brother coordinated a lunch between all us kids (my parents weren't in town) and our kids.

I suggested we eat at Haus Murphy's, a local joint in Glendale that was featured on the Food Network and has authentic German food. To be even more authentic, we each had a beer to go with it.
I still can't believe that it's been over ten years since he lived in our extra bedroom on 140th Way, and that we each now have children. It was so nice to catch up and laugh like old times.
He said he'll pick the restaurant next time we visit Germany. :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Chandler BBQ Festival

If you know nothing else about me, you must know that I love some BBQ.

So our family discussion of what we were doing this weekend went something like the following:

"Chandler is having their BBQ festival this weekend."

No more needed to be said. We were going.

So we packed up the Bug and our appetites and headed for old town Chandler.
The problem with a place like this is that there are just SO.MANY.VENDORS that you want to try them all. They solved this issue by having each stall provide a sample that you could buy for $2 or $3. Because of this, we got to try the food from 5 or 6 different places.

It was a big weekend: June got her first exposure to BBQ.
At one point we sat on the grass and enjoyed our food and let June walk around on the grass. She kept walking over to a dog at the next group over so eventually we introduced ourselves.
Can I just get a close-up on that face for a minute?
She kills me. But apparently we wear her out so I guess we're even?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Hunger Games Movie

First of all, this is my 500th post! Wow! Who knew I'd have this much to say? (Actually, probably everyone who has heard me prattle on and on...)

Anyway, I SAW THE HUNGER GAMES LAST NIGHT!

Click here to read my blog post about when I read the book and a short synopsis of the story. This is one of those rare times when I feel like I read something before it became really popular. But unlike many (insert some kind of art/music here) elitists, I'm really glad that something I loved went mainstream. Although the thought of watching kids kill kids didn't originally cause me to give jumping high-fives to strangers, I have to say that I was psyched to see the movie. After my plans to see it with a friend fell through, I went to see it with two people from work.

Loved. It.

Where to begin? It had the right feel, do you know what I mean? It was dark, athletic, quiet, tense, things that I felt while reading the book. One thing that I was worried about was the explanation of the main character's actions. Since she is alone throughout much of the book, we get to experience her thoughts, fears and hardships through narration. Were they going to have her say out loud, "I'm very thirsty and can't find water!" Or "What's Peeta's deal...is he with me or against me?" I'm glad to say that they handled this well. I think they relied on the audience's ability to intuitively know how she must be feeling instead of telling us. I think part of this comes from the author's large input on the creation of the movie.

I loved that we got glimpses of things happening outside of the arena while the Games were happening, such as into the gamemakers' headquarters and District 12. I loved what a stark contrast they painted between the Districts and the Capitol - one place where people are literally starving in the streets and picking at chicken bones, and another place with such disgusting over-indulgence and opulence. They laid this out perfectly without being obvious.

A couple thoughts on casting. I thought Jennifer Lawrence was perfect...she looked young enough but had the angsty quietness that I liked in Katniss. Josh Hutcherson made Peeta even more likable...for some reason I never pictured Peeta as particularly attractive in the book but Josh's interpretaion made him desirable. Stanley Tucci blew me out of the water with his strange and over-the-top portrayal of over-the-top Ceasar Flickerman (his insane smiling got me every time).

Yes, they showed the kids dying. In a way, this was even gorier than the book because Katniss doesn't see the bloodbath at the Cornucopia in the book...she's too busy running away. We see it in the movie, and I'm not sure if I'm a psychopath because I'm kind of glad they did? I mean, I had wondered just what exactly happens there, you know? There's a lot of blurry, shaking shots so you don't see detail. A lot of quick editing and panning away. They show blood, but it's more like the blood left over on a knife or splattered on a wall than actual wounds.

That last paragraph was pretty macabre.

I really recommend it, if you have or even if you haven't read the books.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sick

It has been a tough month for one Miss June the Bug.

As you might remember, she got sick on and around my birthday at the beginning of the month. It was Diagnosis: Ear Infection and the wrestling of the sidebar symptoms that came along with it.

There was some tooth-cutting and refusing to eat and refusing to nurse and refusing to sleep.

Then last Saturday night marked the start of a new episode of feeling crappy. We took her to the doctor on Monday where we found ANOTHER ear infection. (It was the other ear so it's a new infection, bringing the June Ear Infection count to 5 so far.)

But even with the meds she didn't get better. There was night waking, coughing that led to gagging, fever, congestion, wheezing and rattling breath. Drowsiness, fatigue, irritability. Those things all suck big time. But what really gives me anxiety is not knowing what's the matter with her. Is it just side effects of the ear infection? Is it some additional medical problem? Teething? An allergic reaction? Teething? Am I doing something wrong?

I made an appointment again today and Michael took her in. The doctor thinks that she has RSV, a common respiratory virus. Sometimes an oxygen treatment improves breathing for the baby, so they tried it out:

It blew puffs of vapor at June while Michael tried to distract her with books. It didn't help her enough to justify us doing the treatment at home, so at this point time is the prescription.


There's not much else to be done but wait it out. We hope the worst has passed with this particular strain and she'll be back on the path of not-coughing-til-you-puke soon. And the path of sleeping through the night again.


In other news, June showed the doctor all of her new moves, including waving enthusiastically and walking all around the office. Upon seeing it, Doc exclaimed, "You're a toddler now!" When Michael relayed this news to me, I managed to keep my tears inside until later when I was feeding June while that "You'll Be in My Heart" song played in the background on Pandora. Then I didn't try to keep them inside anymore.

St. Patrick's Day Ball Game

On Saturday we went to the new Salt River Fields for the first time to see a spring training game between the Rockies and the Dodgers.
I haven't been to a ton of spring training games, but even I could see that this new stadium is nice.
We were invited through some of Michael's work acquaintances and we got to sit in their suite! We grabbed some seats on the front row and June loved being able to look out/down on the game and the people milling about.

I was pleasantly surprised to see just how much of the crowd dressed in green for St. Patrick's Day.


It was so fun. June was so friendly with the other people in the suite and was so happy to hang out at our feet and on our laps. I don't know if it would work out as well in the regular seats (less room for her to move around) but this experience was great!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patty Pancakes

On St. Patrick's Day I had the notion that I wanted green shamrock pancakes. You know, I had the cookie cutter and it being her first Patty's Day and trying to be active in holidays, etc. So while Michael and June were on an early-morning grocery run, I made some.
Then it turned out that my green food coloring had dried out. I made due with the green sugar sprinkles I had on hand but unfortunately they caused strange abscesses to form in the cakes.
Still, I gave them to June with confidence because she loved the little bites of flapjack she got the other day at a restaurant.
Not a hit.
She was not interested in the pancakes. Maybe I'll have better luck with Easter Eggs Benedict?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

June Walking!

As I mentioned the other day, June has started walking. This little video was taken the day after we caught her taking some independent steps.
Since then she's been a walking fiend. She walked all the way across our living room the other day and when she's focused on something else (like her Mom or Dad) she can walk a good 5 yards or so!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

High Flyer

Guysguysguysguys.

A few weeks ago I briefly mentioned to Michael how I had this fixation/fantasy about being on a trapeze. I don't know...it's just something that flits across my mind every once in awhile. So it was SUCH an exciting surprise when he got me a session at Trapeze U for my birthday!

It was a 2-hour class on Sunday afternoon at a little site out in Gilbert. While my mom stayed home with June, Michael came with me to watch, take pictures and generally try to catch me if I fell and missed the net.

IT WAS SO AWESOME.

There were four other people in my group. We had a brief (5 minutes?) safety talk about how to jump off the platform and then it was "Up you get!" I loved this because I get antsy when I want to just do something and have to sit through a long how-to.
You want to know the toughest part of the whole thing? CLIMBING THAT LADDER.
First of all, it's scary because it's really high and narrow and you aren't connected to any safety lines at that point. I probably got around 15 tries on the trapeze that day and I really feel like that ladder was really what took it out of me.
The first thing we did was a little routine that ends with a backflip! We relied heavily on listening to the instructor who gave us guidance on what to do when. It reminded me of my dad - how he compares everything to soccer. But this was just like soccer...you have half of your mind on what you're doing and the other half is listening to the calls of your teammates. You automatically do what they say because you trust that they have a better perspective than you do.
You end each "go" by falling/flipping to the net below. While you do a little tummy flip off the net to the pad below, the instructor would give you little tips. For example, I was being over-enthusiastic with throwing my hands back and needed to make it a more fluid movement to encourage momentum.
The next part was THE COOLEST. I couldn't believe that after a five or so rounds of the routine we moved up to...being caught by another instructor! DJ would be swinging on the far trapeze and we were to reach out and lock hands-to-forearms with him! I was the first one to nail it!
It was such a crazy moment, flying back with my knees over the bar, arms outstretched...I couldn't even see DJ until the very last moment. I don't remember searching for his hands or looking any particular place, but I do remember an awesome moment when my hands locked on his and he said, "Gotcha!" It was so exhilarating.

After I managed to land a catch with DJ, the instructor had me try the next step up. I would catch with DJ, swing back and forth once and then release with him and try to make it back to the bar. I think this next picture is one of the coolest of the night:
I didn't make it...I hit the bar but didn't grab it. So close!

The last thing we tried was another little combination that ended with us soaring off the bar. I think the idea was that we could be caught from this position as well.
It was so very fun and exciting but it was tiring. One of the women in my group quit after an hour because she was so exhausted. Once she sat out I felt like I was constantly going up and down, which was good but I got tired and a little queasy!

Here is my group with DJ in the middle and Bentley the dog in front. We got diplomas to document our graduation from class.
I'm not going to lie, I've thought seriously about enrolling in their 8 week class (complete with a show for family and friends at the end!). Anyone want to go with me?!


If you're interested in attending Trapeze U, I have some tips for you!
  1. Go at a time when you think there will be a small group. Smaller group means more attempts on the bar!
  2. Wear tight-fitting clothes that end above or around the ankle. Some of the others were complaining that their yoga pants were getting caught up when they were trying to pull their legs over the bar.
  3. A certain amount of athleticism is great because it certainly does take some muscle. However, it doesn't require you to be completely in shape. I'm not! I said something in the beginning about not having much upper body strength. The instructor said that you rely much more on momentum than upper body strength. Plus, you can always sit a round or two out to conserve energy!
  4. Do not eat a big meal beforehand!
  5. Go with a friend! Preferably one with great photo-taking skills and timing. Michael is available for rent.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

11 Months!

Well, shoot, award for most forgetful mom goes to me!

This post is over a week late – her 11 month pictures were taken over a week late – but I wanted to include it. The last monthly picture before the big birthday!
June’s 11th month has been full of highs and lows. On the low side, she has gotten sick and gotten an ear infection. She lost her appetite for over a week and pretty much refused to eat solids, which alarmed me. We didn’t know if she’d had an allergic reaction to something, if she was just going through a phase or if her little bulging top tooth was hurting her too much. This past week she hasn’t wanted to nurse either, which pains me. She’s also gone through this weird spells of inconsolable crying which is very out of character for her. Yes, we’ve been to the doctor and yes I’ve spoken with my old lactation consultant guru ("My baby is trying to wean me!").
Moving on from the negative, I’d like to crow about my little one’s accomplishments this month!
She has taken her first unassisted steps! I caught her standing unsupported holding a toy in her hand next to her toy box. She took 3 or 4 shaky steps toward me and dove into my arms. Michael and I shouted and clapped and kissed her and she looked so proud. Since then we’ve had her practicing a lot and even got it on video!

June can say: Mama, Dada, Papa, book (“booh”), hi (always while waving), more (“mooh” – while doing her interpretation of the sign for ‘more’) and her most recent addition, “Puppy.” On Sunday my mom came over to babysit and she brought Einstein along. June loves dogs and we always refer to them as 'puppies' to her. Well she was sitting in her seat at the table, looking over the edge at Einstein and we said something like, “Do you see the puppy?” She pointed at him and clearly said, “Puh-pee.” Michael, Mom and I stared at each other for a minute before erupting into applause! It was so funny.

She waves and says “Hi” to the phone when it is on speakerphone.

She gives hugs. On Monday morning when Michael got home from the gym, he crouched next to the bed where June was sitting. She crawled over and pulled herself up on him so she could wrap her arms around his neck and rest her head on his shoulder.


To close off this post, just a few more pictures that I can't not post.

Being casual:
And this one, which really reminds me of my Grandma Mickie:
Less than a month until she's one!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Wicked

To end my eventful birthday weekend, Michael got us tickets to see the musical Wicked!
I've seen Wicked once before - in the nosebleed section - and it became one of my new favorites by the end of the third song. I listened to the soundtrack over and over again when I was pregnant, so June is familiar with the songs as well. If you're not familiar with it, Wicked is the back story of the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz.
If it's even possible, I enjoyed this performance even more than the first time I saw it. We had awesome seats in the center section of the 13th row. I loved the lead actresses - compared to the first time I saw it, the girl who played Elphaba was dorkier and the girl who played Glinda was sillier. Dorkiness and silliness are qualities I can appreciate in ingenues.

Let me tell you why I love Wicked so much... First, the music feels current. So while the Phantom of the Opera will likely always be my Ain True Love of musicals, Wicked is now king of the contemporary stage in my heart. And also: Wicked takes over the stage. When you have a traveling cast, it is often smaller and portraying large groups becomes difficult. I saw this especially with Beauty and the Beast. They had scenes with the villagers and with all of the castle dwellers (think "Be Our Guest") and the small cast just didn't fill out those songs enough. Even though Wicked might only have had 12-16 people in their chorus, they seemed to just overflow off the stage. The stage could barely contain them.

Thanks for reading my rambling! Off to listen to "For Good" and then rewind and sing again so I can attempt both the melody and the harmony!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Force is Strong in June

Have a peek at the video linked HERE.

I know I made it so I'm a little biased, but I think it's pretty funny.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Birthday Dinner: What Did and Didn't Happen

Anticipated: Get June up from her nap and get her ready to go to dinner with the family.
Happened: Got June up from her nap and she barfed all over her dad. She was acting totally happy and fine so we still made for the dinner plans.

Anticipated: Relaxing drive to the restaurant while holding Michael’s hand and June babbling happily in the back seat.
Happened: June fussed and then barfed repeatedly, forcing us to pull into a parking lot near Washington and Priest.

Anticipated: June being cute and also snuggly in a long-sleeved shirt and overalls because we were eating outside.
Happened: Peeling soiled outfit from her body then wrapping her up in a fleece blanket while we consider what to do now.

Anticipated: Spending quality time and sharing some laughs with my parents and brother.
Happened: Spending some quality with a man who was either on serious drugs or else clinically insane and being terrified until he finally left us alone.

Anticipated: Gently pulling June out of the car so we can easily transition her into bed.
Happened: Pull June out of the car while trying not to get too much yuck on me and taking her straight to the shower.

Anticipated: Eating dinner and sipping a margarita at one of my favorite restaurants, The Old Tortilla Factory.
Happened: Eating Old Tortilla Factory food that my folks brought to our house for us while sitting on the living room floor in yoga pants.

My great thanks to my parents and brother for driving so far out of their way to bring us food. If not for you, Michael and I might have had a birthday dinner of cereal and yogurt instead of delicious steak, chicken and shrimp tacos on specialty tortillas. And thanks threefold to Michael: for being the one who was puked on, for doing the laundry so swiftly (thank goodness the smell came out) and for remaining cool and collected with the crazy.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Kai's 5th Birthday

On Saturday afternoon we had the distinct pleasure of having absolutely perfect weather and a 5th birthday party for one nephew, the Kai Man.

Kids' birthday parties are so great because all those kids are so stinking cute and innocent. Kai went around and hugged each of his friends for their gifts and it made me wish that we could be as kind to each other as adults. That we could get along just because we all love playing soccer or watch the same TV shows.

There were tons of people at this party! Kai has more friends than I do, I've decided, and I don't know how to feel about that.
June couldn't play any of the games yet, but we did put her in the swings. She loved it so much and wailed desperately when we had to stop for the singing of "Happy Birthday."
Sometimes when I see JP with Kai, my head sort of reels because just yesterday I was five and he was eight and we were playing the floor-is-lava game in the living room.

Last year Kai only ate the icing of his cake but this year he eventually ate the cake also, to which I say "MATURING PALATE."
I can't believe he's 5 already!