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4.30.2014

Disney Project - The Reluctant Dragon

The next movie in my Disney Project (background here) is The Reluctant Dragon, which is part live action documentary and part animated story.
As the film states in the very beginning, this film was made in response to all the requests Walt Disney was getting for a behind the scenes look at how their cartoons are made.  Basically, you follow this bumbling buffoon around the Walt Disney Studios; as he is trying to find Walt Disney, to pitch him a story idea, he basically goes through all the various departments within the studios (story boards, paint, sound effects, musics, etc) showing you how a cartoon gets made.  There are a few short cartoons along the way, but it all leads up to the maybe 15 minute long cartoon, The Reluctant Dragon at the end.

I remember this cartoon from my childhood, so it was fun to see again.  The documentary part of the movie had its moments, but got a little long.  I mostly liked seeing the glimpses of them working on Dumbo and Bambi throughout.  For the little ones, I'd recommend skipping the documentary portion and just watching The Reluctant Dragon cartoon at the end.

4.28.2014

Let's Go To The Movies - Draft Day, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and The Other Woman

I've been on a bit of a movie kick lately. Here are my quick thoughts on three I've seen recently.

Bill and I had planned to go see The Grand Budapest Hotel, but it was sold out; so we ended up seeing Draft Day instead. I was not expecting much from it, but was actually pleasantly surprised. Kevin Costner is good in roles like this, and it was a really fun movie. If you're looking for a good date movie, this one fits the bill.

Next up, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. As far as big budget Marvel superhero movies go...I've seen better. To be honest, I think Chris Evans as Captain America is kind of boring. It wasn't a bad movie by any means, but he just doesn't have the kind of charisma that really draws you in. Basically, he is no Robert Downey, Jr., you know what I'm saying?

Finally, I went with some girlfriends to see The Other Woman starring Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, and Kate Upton. This movie is just a fun chick flick. Leslie Mann was the real star of the show for me. She is hilarious. Go with girlfriends to see this one, or just wait for it on DVD.

Have you seen anything good lately. I saw all these, but still the only one I really want to see is The Grand Budapest Hotel. I am a huge Wes Anderson fan, so hopefully soon.

4.25.2014

Toys for Boys

I'm continually looking for cool toys for Seamus. The primary objective is always for them to be fun, but I also like aesthetically pleasing toys too. I'm primarily drawn to wooden toys, but not opposed to plastic. Case in point, First Friends Dinosaurs by Tolo Toys.

I discovered Tolo Toys during a random internet surf session, and was drawn to the cute figures and bright colors. You can't order from their website, but you can look up local retailers there. You can order them from Amazon.com although they seem pretty expensive there. With no easy or inexpensive option to purchase them I mentally filed away the company name to remember for some other time.

Some other time came not too long afterward when Tolo Toys was featured on Zulily, a site I check daily. They had the entire dinosaur set on sale, so I picked it up to give to Seamus for his first birthday.
This is such a cute set of figurines that I am loving for a multiple of reasons. First, they're huge. I was expecting figures about the size of Fisher Price Little People, but these are double that size.
Second, the quality is really good. They're well made and will last a long time. They actually seem pretty indestructible to me. Finally, they move. Every figure can be posed all sorts of different ways, and when you do move them they make a fun clicking noise.
Seamus seems to like them so far, and Madeleine really enjoys them too. If I can find it for a descent price I may pick up the Polar set for her.

4.23.2014

My 5-Year Plan

I just recently celebrated my 35th birthday, which seems like a bit of a milestone - at least to me.  These past five years have flown by.  I've gone from a newlywed to a mother of two; from a small apartment to two houses later; and from Wisconsin to Arizona.  In some ways I feel so young still, and in others I feel like I should have way more of my shit together.  So, in honor of my birthday I compiled a list (you know I love 'em) of 35 things I'd like to do in the next five years.

1 - Write a Novel.
I've started a number of "stories", but never completed any of them.  I don't care if it never gets published, I just want to finish something I've started.

2 - Learn Hair and Make-up.
I have about three hairstyles and have done my make-up the exact same way for probably 10 years now.  I need to learn some new tricks.

3 - Be Musical.
I brag a lot about knowing how to play a variety of instruments, but the truth is I haven't really "played" music in years.  I love it though, and I want to be able to pick up the violin, guitar, or piano and just play something.  
4 - Save Some Cash.
I have a good job and a nice chunk of change in the 401(k), but I'm not very good at saving money.  I really want to build up the old emergency fund and be done with debt too.

5 - Learn Photography.
I want to learn how to use my camera properly, and how to edit photos.  

6 - Finish Decorating My Bedroom.
There's so much I want to do in the house in the next five years, but I've never had that relaxing and romantic grown up bedroom, so I want to make sure I make our bedroom a priority.

7 - Expand My Vocabulary.
Really, I want to improve my speech in general.  I'm good at writing, but I always get tripped up speaking. I can never think of the right word on the spot, so I figure knowing more words will help with this problem.

8 -  Date My Husband.
I want to make sure this is a priority.  We need more one on one time.  Even if we can't always go out on an actual date our evenings after the kids go to bed should be more about connecting as individuals, and less about parenting and housework.

9 - Read More.
I love reading, but the only time I seem to do it anymore is right before bed.  The days of curling up with a book on the weekend for a couple hours are long gone, but I'm going to reign them back in.

10 - Visit Paris.
I haven't been since I was a senior in high school.  I'd like to go again, preferably alone with Bill.  It is the city of love after all.

11 - Learn Flower Design.
Every time I see an ad for a flower design school I want to sign right up.  I love bouquets, and I think I would actually love making my own.

12 - Join a Club or Charity.
I'd like to make some friends, and I'd also like to help people.  I want to have a cause that I can champion.

13 - Get Back to Nature.
Arizona is such a great place for hiking and being outside.  I would love to start taking family camping trips here and all over the country.  S'mores anyone?

14 - Be Pretty.
I want to make sure I occasionally indulge myself on frivolous girly beauty stuff - manicures, facials, massages or blow-outs. I've had a "put myself last" mentality for too long now.

15 - Bake Madeleines.
I bought some Madeleine baking trays years ago with the intent of making them all the time for my little Madeleine.  It was going to be her signature cookie.  I have never done it once.

16 - Dress Awesome.
I've seriously lost my sense of style over the past five years.  I want to have fun with clothes again.

17 - Be Active.
I was an avid tennis player in my youth, and I like the idea of golf.  I'd like to do more of both of them.  I think I would also enjoy biking (if I had a bike).

18 - Get to Know My Children.
I really want to have a good relationship with my children.  I want to spend one-on-one time with each of them more, and get to know who they really are.  I want to make sure I'm parenting who my child is, not what I think or hope they might be.

19 - Go to Hawaii.
There are so many places I want to visit as a family, but the kids are so small right now - would they even remember?  I figure Hawaii would be a great place to start back our big vacations.  It's slightly exotic, but still part of the US.  It's a big enough vacation to seem grand, but not so big where the kids would be disappointed if they don't remember.

20 - Lose Weight.
So, cliché I know, but the truth is I've gained about 40 pounds in the last 10 years.  I'd like to feel better about the way I look. I'd want to set a good example of a healthy lifestyle for my children.

21 - Learn French.
I've sort of accepted that I probably will never be fluent in French, but I still want to be better at it.  I just love the language so much.

22 - Have Dinner/Cocktail Parties.
I love the idea of entertaining - creating a table-scape and menu, cloth napkins; maybe even dressing up.  It's such a great way to make a random weeknight more special.  I need to make some friends first though.

23 - Keep in Touch.
Now that we're on the other side of the country far from family and most of our friends, I want to make sure I don't neglect the relationships of those people I hold dear.

24 - Establish Routines.
There are a lot of repetitive chores around the house that should be on autopilot, but aren't.  I want to get meal planning, laundry, and cleaning on weekly routines so I know exactly what I'm doing everyday.

25 -  Get My Craft On.
I used to love to cross stitch, and I miss it.  I want to learn how to crochet and sew, and even paint.  I feel like I used to be a creative person, and I'd like to be that way again.

26 - Memorize a Poem.
I love the idea of being able to recite a poem or snippet of literature by heart and on demand. I would love our family dinners to occasionally have a salon type feel.

27 - Learn to Make Sushi
I came late to the sushi bandwagon, but now that I'm on it I'm not getting off.  The more sushi I try, the more I like it.  It seems like it would be a fun dinner to make that gets the whole family involved.  I want to learn how.

28 - Research the Family Tree.
I've always wanted to learn more about my family and Bill's.  It's so fun to look at old photographs and hear stories, but I'd like to make it a little more formal and create a nice genealogy for everyone to enjoy.

29 - Get My Estate in Order.
I've been meaning to put my affairs in order for some time now - who gets the kids, where are all the accounts, passwords, trusts, life insurance, etc.  We've done bits and pieces, but I need to fill in the gaps and make sure it is all readily accessible if anything should happen to one or both of us.

30 - Get Organized and Purge.
I know we just moved, but I'm constantly looking for stuff in the new house.  I want everything to have a place, and know where that place is. I want to love everything in my home, not just collect stuff.

31 - Bring Back a Little Culture.
I love the ballet, symphony (or any live music event), museums, and theater.  It's been far too long since I've gone to any of these.  I want to make them a regular part of my life, as well as my children's.  

32 - Grow Something.
I would love to have a little vegetable garden somewhere on our lot.  I also want to have a citrus or avocado tree.  I have an extreme black thumb, so this one will be a challenge.  Maybe I'll start with a cactus.

33 - Keep Up with Technology.
I love blogging, but I don't know much about the tech side of it.  I'm also heavily dependent on my IT Professional husband at home if anything isn't working.  I don't want technology to pass me by.  I want to know how to work all our electronics as well as learn more about the behind the scenes of blogging.

34 - Give Experiences.
I'd like to give less things and more experiences to Bill and the kids.  We have plenty of stuff.  I'd rather give them memories.

35 - Be Happy.
Having a list is great, but more than anything I just want to love myself, be loved, and enjoy life.

So, there's my list.  Reading it back I'm pretty sure I live in the wrong decade - possibly even the wrong century. I don't care though, it's who I am or at least who I want to be. What do you think?  It actually took me a long time to compile this list. Do you have a 5-year plan? Is it specific, or more broad concept like mine?

4.21.2014

Happy Easter!

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend. We were back in the Midwest celebrating with family. Seamus was only a few weeks old his first Easter, so I think he enjoyed this one much better.
You know, since it involved candy.

4.18.2014

Thirty-Five

This is how you celebrate turning thirty-five.
In the kitchen of the house you grew up in with your parents, husband, two kids, and the same white cake and pink frosting you always had as your birthday cake growing up.  

That's how I roll.

4.16.2014

Overdue

I've been in Phoenix 4 months now and have not found a hair stylist yet, so while in Milwaukee this week I made sure to go to my old stylist, Amber at Executive Edge (on E Mason St, downtown Milwaukee).
As I was long overdue, I did the whole shebang...color, cut, and blow-out.

I love how she styles my hair with the dryer afterwards. I can never do it myself, and it always makes me feel so pretty. There's a blow-out bar right near my office. I'm very tempted to try it some time. Maybe the next time I have an event to go to.

Have you ever gone to a blow-out bar? Was it worth it? Would you go again? Isn't it hard to change stylists? I think finding a good stylist is probably harder than finding a good doctor.


4.14.2014

Disney Project - Pinocchio & Fantasia

I mentioned here I was planning on watching all the Disney movies (both animated and not) in chronological order for no other reason than I thought it would be fun.  We watched Snow White, but then progress came to a halt as I waited forever for Pinocchio to be delivered from Netflix.  I moved it to number one on my list, but it kept getting passed over - they must not have a lot of copies.  Well, we were back at my parents in Illinois last week, and thanks to my little sisters' DVD collection were able to knock out Pinocchio and the next movie on the list too, Fantasia (both released in 1940).
Photo Source here.
I remember Pinocchio being scary, and thought for sure Madeleine would too, but she didn't seem to mind the boys being turned into donkeys or the whale.  So, all in all this one was a success.  The funnest thing about watching these old ones are the snapshot of the times they provide.  I doubt the word "jackass" would be used in any movies nowadays, and there was quite a lot of smoking and drinking displayed as well.  If you're looking for a non-princess cartoon for your little one I'd recommend Pinocchio (or just nocchio as Madeleine called it), although I still think it might be a little scary for the under 3 crowd.
Photo Source here.
Moving onto Fantasia.  I remember this film being kind of boring, and you know what, it still is.  If you don't remember, Fantasia is a bunch of short cartoons set to classical music - no words, just music.  I enjoy classical music a lot, so I thought I'd like it more as an adult, but it still didn't do it for me.  Madeleine's attention span could not sit through all the non-cartoon narration either (nor the 2 hour running time).  She (and I) enjoyed some of the individual shorts - Mickey as the Sorcerer's Apprentice and the dancing hippos and crocodiles were both our favorites.  We watched it in bits and pieces, and if you're going to watch it I'd recommend it that way again.  Do not make this your family movie night movie - the whole family will be sorely disappointed.

Have you guys seen these movies lately?  What did you think of them?  I'd watch Pinocchio again, but not Fantasia.  What about current Disney movies aka FROZEN!!  We watched that not too long ago, and all really liked it.  Madeleine has seen it multiple times.  It is her go to movie for long car rides.

4.11.2014

Wiggly Worms

We're in Illinois this week visiting my family. My dad put Madeleine to work digging in the flower bed while we were all chatting on the back porch. A few minutes later, she comes up to me (and I am totally not paying attention) and says, "Look Mom!" then shoves a worm in my face. I screamed because I was not expecting it at all. I'm not squirmish about worms, it just surprised me. She thought it was the coolest thing ever and spent the rest of our time outside digging for worms.
Ahhh, to be a child.

4.09.2014

Coming Soon - Maleficent

I'm pretty excited for Angelina Jolie's new movie, Maleficent. What a perfect movie for her, right? I can't wait to see it, especially since it has been so long since she's been on screen (the last was 2010's The Tourist).

I pretty much think Angelina Jolie is the most beautiful woman in the world, and I love her as an actress and person. Basically, she can do no wrong in my book.

4.07.2014

My New Jam - Fancy

I'm loving Iggy Azalea and her new song Fancy. I blast it in my car and pretend I am a cool white rapper chic - which I am so not in any way other than in my own head.

I love the video too. It's practically a shot for shot homage to CluelessI one of my favorite movies. So fun!

Can you believe Clueless came out in 1995?!? That was 19 years ago!! I remember vividly going to the theater in high school to see it and laughing hysterically at the scene where Dionne accidentally gets on the freeway. We were all just getting our drivers licenses at that time, so it was just so relevant to what we were all going through.

Now I'm feeling old.

To hell with it though. This almost 35 year old is going to keep on rapping.

Oh, man am I going to embarrass my kids some day.

4.04.2014

I'm A Big Boy Now

It's Seamus' first time sitting in the grocery cart!! I don't know why this always seems like a big moment for me. It's just one more ordinary thing that becomes just that much easier. No more car seat taking up the entire cart so there is hardly even room for the groceries. He can sit up, look around, and interact. He was so happy!
Just for fun, here's Madeleine's first time riding solo in the cart. I was wondering why she was so much younger than Seamus (only 8 months compared to Seamus' 12 months), but it's because she's usually with us when we shop and sits up front instead. This was a rare solo trip with me, so he finally got to ride.
What are some of your out of the norm firsts for your kids that you've celebrated?

4.02.2014

The Girl's Got Style

Bill and Madeleine went hiking the other day, and he snapped these gems. This picture is just so perfectly Madeleine. She has such confidence in all that she does. I hope she never loses that.
I'm loving the Arizona foothills/mountains more and more each day. These are right near our house, and it makes an ordinary walk feel like an event. I see a lot of hiking in our future. It's just so much fun.