Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Charly: 12 and 13 Months (Random Pictures Galore)

We've been terribly lazy bloggers lately. We posted about Charly's birthday party but never about her accomplishments and habits at one year. And now she's 13 months old!

Some of our favorite things to post are pictures of Charly and when we only average one post a week (if we're lucky), pictures pile up quickly. In some ways, these pictures all show her personality better than we could describe it in words.

We swear this girl is destined to be a future Food Network Star. She loves being in the kitchen. Whether it's helping unload dishes, preparing food, rummaging through our cupboards, or inhaling anything edible standing in her path, she's always happy in the kitchen! Some of her favorites: fresh strawberries (not frozen), mandarin oranges, mixed vegetables (especially carrots and green beans), and empty pop cans.

Charly loves going outside. Over Spring Break the temperatures finally rose, the snow finally melted, and we finally got to give Charly a ride in her Radio Flyer! She loved running up and down the driveway in her squeaky shoes (thanks Aunt Megan), and squinting up into the sun. She stands at the door now, pounding at the glass and whining, wanting to go outside. Just like a dog.

Charly used to love bath time. That is, when bath time took place inside her whale tub. In the last few months she has outgrown it and began taking big girl baths! She looks so tiny in the full tub. She loves to play with her toys and splash around but when it comes time to wash and rinse her hair, she throws a fit. She refuses to tilt her head back so its impossible to keep water out of her eyes while rinsing her hair. She hates it and often, screams bloody murder!

She does love playing in the bathroom sink though.

She's quite the comedian lately. There's times she just bursts out laughing at herself. Anytime there's laughter around she immediately assumes it's because of something she's done. So she plays it up. She's very proud of herself and claps all the time, like when she finishes a book or when she successfully escapes from a high chair in a restaurant and stands up inside it.

She jabbers and roams around in circles waving her arms, stomping her feet wildly, marching to the beat of her own drum. She nods her head from side to side and grins from ear to ear whenever men are around. Mostly family members: her grandpas, her uncles, her cousins, but really, any men! Kelli's janitor. Student teachers. Mulligans bartenders. HyVee checkout men. I'm a little worried . . .

She's developed a soft side for her stuffed animals, especially her two favorite dolls and her puppy. The dolls were both gifts from her Grandma Henrichs and the puppy was a gift from her cousin Cooper (or was it Brooks?). Anymore she needs one of them in her arms to fall asleep and she loves inspecting all their parts. Eyes, ears, nose. She rocks them lovingly and pats them and carries them all over the house with her.

At 20.6 pounds she's earned the right to sit facing front in the backseat of the car. That is, until stupid Tara Thomas reported that research is recommending rear-facing until the age of two now! Whatever . . .

Here she is modeling her denim jacket . . .

And here she is taking her bat and going home . . .

Here she is loving her mommy (sort of) . . .

And here she is after getting scolded for whining to go downstairs . . .

She's a lover. She's a cuddler. She gives kisses on command. She rubs her hands softly on ours to ease herself to sleep and she loves backing into us on the floor and falling into our laps. She still likes to be held before she goes to sleep and Kelli won't be giving that up for a long time. She's transitioned into a toddler seemingly overnight and it's been a lot of fun to witness.

Movies of the Month

Kelli and I love going to the theater to see movies. We always have. However, since Charly has entered our life, our movie watching has resorted to Bluray discs from Netflix. And usually, it takes us multiple nights of starts and stops to complete one viewing.

Since Christmas break we've devoured some 20+ Blurays though. We've rented some great flicks (Easy A, Inception, The Town, and Life as We Know It), and some not-so-great flicks (MacGruber, The Other Guys, and The Switch). Over Christmas break we also decided that we really missed going out to movies and wanted to make it a part of our nonexistent social life once again. So we hatched a plan we like to call Movie of the Month. Each month, we will pick one movie to see in the theater while someone (probably a family member or two) takes Charly off our hands.

In January we saw Unstoppable starring Denzel Washington. It's about these two morons who accidentally send a huge freight train carrying dangerous chemicals, hurling down the tracks unmanned. Denzel Washington and some newbie (Chris Pine from Star Trek) are riding on another train and think they can save the day and be heroes by meeting the runaway train and bringing it to a stop.

I swear, the movie Speed in 1994, set the bar for action movies of this nature. Since then, it feels like a ton of movies have been made trying to cash in on the same formula. High octane, edge-of-your-seat, race to the end, type of action. Like Speed, the plot behind Unstoppable is rather simple (even loosely based on a true story). Maybe it's simplicity is what makes it work. It's only an hour and a half long and it doesn't try and be something it's not. With Tony Scott at the helm (Top Gun, Days of Thunder, Enemy of the State, Man on Fire) there's going to be an at-times unnecessary focus on the flair but he's a consistent director who approaches his films with the intent to entertain and sell popcorn. He sold us. We liked it!

In February we went to see Just Go With It, staring Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, and Brooklyn Decker. One movie that Kelli could watch over and over is 50 First Dates and one actress she loves is Jennifer Aniston (although I'm not so much of a fan). Adam Sandler, dumb as he may be, is someone I always seem to be entertained by and with the beautiful Brooklyn Decker alongside, this was an easy choice for us!

In the movie, Sandler plays a plastic surgeon who loves his life as a bachelor. His receptionist, played by Jennifer Aniston, is the only person who truly knows him and the chemistry between them is great. When Sandler meets school teacher Brooklyn Decker, he falls head over heels in love and gets wrapped up in a lie as a divorced man with two children. He gets Jennifer Aniston and her children to play along and the result is pretty funny.

The thing with Adam Sandler's Happy Madison produced movies is that you always feel like you're eavesdropping in on one big inside joke. It feels like only half of the lines could actually be scripted and his buddies always seem to find cameos somewhere, whether they're the best men for the job or not (Dave Matthews is my favorite in this one). Some may find it annoying. Some may call it lazy filmmaking. Kelli and I love it. We loved Big Daddy. We loved The Wedding Singer. We loved Anger Management (despite not loving Marisa Tomei). We loved 50 First Dates. We loved Click. We loved Grown Ups. Why would we not love this?

Which brings us to March. At first glance there appeared to be no movies we were really dying to see. No matter how hard I tried to get Kelli to wait until this coming weekend to see Sucker Punch with me, she refused. Once we scanned the showtimes a little closer, a decision between Hall Pass, The Lincoln Lawyer, The Adjustment Bureau, Paul, and Limitless seemed more difficult than we first thought.

We settled on The Adjustment Bureau. Kelli and I both like Matt Damon and the reviews were solid. Matt Damon plays a politician with a shaky past vying for a New York senate seat. Upon meeting Emily Blunt's character, his world is turned upside down. He loses the election. And soon, he accidentally stumbles upon a strange group of men, calling themselves The Adjustment Bureau, who can change and alter the universe as they see fit. The Adjustment Bureau will stop at nothing to keep Matt Damon and Emily Blunt apart and the duo set out to solve the mystery of why they supposedly cannot be together.

This movie was not at all what Kelli or I were expecting. It's a movie about free will and fate. We were both expecting a suspenseful mystery but instead, I would almost classify this as romance and drama. That doesn't mean it was a bad movie though. There are suspenseful, mysterious elements to the plot but the reveal of why these two characters can't be together was rather obvious and not at all surprising. The love they felt for each other was definitely the focus of this film and in the end, we both felt it was a good movie, but not great.

Looking forward to whatever we choose in April. Maybe we'll even spring for dinner!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

He Got Game

Disclaimer: This is way old news, but something I wanted to write about so I can better remember it in the future.

On Tuesday, February 22, I was part of a team of Cedar Falls teachers and local personalities, taking part in a fundraiser for North Cedar school. Their enrollment is significantly smaller than the other 5 elementary schools in town thus their parent organization is smaller as well. When it comes to raising money, they need to think outside the box.

So this year they put together a team of Incredibles and brought the Harlem Wizards to town! The idea was brilliant! 12 of my 28 fifth grade students, and even some of their parents came to the game. Mom and Grandma came to keep Kelli company with Charly in the crowd too! That's at least 15 tickets sold just by me being on the team! A team of 25 teachers, including KWWL anchor Ron Steele and weatherman Mark Schnackenberg, Saturday Night Live vet Gary Kroeger, and radio DJ Brett Manion were sure to bring in plenty of spectators. The packed gym was proof of the event's success.

The entire game was scripted. We knew exactly what minute of what quarter we were going to play and how long we would be on the court. With 25 players, playing time was stretched thin. My only playing time would come in starting the third quarter, which I took as somewhat of an honor because the third quarter was the only quarter in which the Wizards played competitively. In quarters one, two, and four, the Wizards got the crowd involved and directed our team on the court as to where to stand (and where to be out of the way!) while they performed some of their tricks.

Throughout the night the Wizrds' announcer gave members of our team nicknames ("She-wears-short-shorts", "He-wears-short-shorts", "Everybody loves Raymond", "John McCain", "Barbra Streisand", etc). As the first and second quarters played out I became nervous about stepping on the court for a few reasons. One, what nickname was I going to get ("The Missing Member of the Backstreet Boys")? And two, did they only tell us the third quarter would be competitive to get us to try really hard so we could be the entertainment while they embarrassed us (Kind of)?

After halftime our Cedar Falls team trailed by 12 points. The announcer told the score keeper to tie the score, shouting "The home town crowd didn't come out to see their team lose!" Once the score was tied, the announcer told the scorekeeper to spot us 20 points! Now I knew we were going to be embarrassed, but in a totally different way. The Wizards had one 8-minute quarter to get those points back!

My 4 minutes of playing time went by in the blink of an eye. I had a few assists, snagged a few steals I was proud of, and before I knew it the clock was approaching the 4-minute mark and I hadn't even gotten a shot off. With my playing time dwindling by the second, I pulled up on a fast break and drained a three-pointer! I was happy to be done as it couldn't have gone any better. Our group of five scored 10 points to the Wizards' 20. So we only gave up 10 of the 20 points spotted to us!

We ended up losing by 30+ points! But the night was a lot of fun. Charly got a good nap in during the first half of the game but woke up just in time to see her daddy play. North Cedar raised a lot of money and my fifth-grade students were pleasantly surprised by what remaining basketball skills their teacher still had!

Note about the competition: The Harlem Wizards are not the Harlem Globetrotters! But they are close. The Wizards were formed in 1962 (the Globetrotters in 1926) along with many other traveling show basketball teams. The Wizards and the Globetrotters, both out of Harlem, are the only two remaining show basketball teams today! All of the Wizards are college stars that just missed out on the NBA and decided to keep basketball a part of their life by helping raise money for organizations and entertaining fans.