Monday, August 30, 2010

Movie Monday: Sin Nombre

Sin Nombre: This wasn't on the list of of 151 movies you need to see, but I think it should be. This is a beautiful movie for so many reasons. With out giving you to much information, this movie follows two different stories, until they eventually merge about halfway through the movie. The literal backbone of this movie is the rail system within Mexico, which is used by Central Americans as a way to get to the US border and by Mexican gangs as a way of taxing/bullying these travelers to support the gang both in and out of prison. The most striking part of this movie, to me, was the variety and beauty of Mexico as seen from the top of a moving train.

The storyline is very tight, and doesn't deviate often or for very long from the main story. The story actually mirrors the experience of riding on the train, on a fixed course and when there are deviations, they are just quick stop overs before hopping back on to the story before getting left behind. There aren't any surprises, but the inevitability doesn't take anything away from the outcome. Much like riding on the train, you know where you are going to end up with this movie, but like the characters of this story, you also realize the course as already been set.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Stop Thinking and Just Parent

Amidst all of the potty training (2 yr old), crawling (twin 8 month olds), job changes (Mrs. B), and another school year starting (me), finding the time to enjoy the small joys of parenting has been even more elusive. Our summer consisted of three busy months, June where we traveled to see family, July where everybody was sick, and August where everything is always crazy with school starting up. By all accounts "the Boy" and Twin-kies did a great job dealing with all of the changes, and don't seem any worse for the wear. Through all of this "the Boy" did pick up one rather irritating habit. At about 5am every morning he would wake up, pop the child protector lock on his door and proceed down the hallway to our bedroom. He would then come in and want to converse. I know that some parents are completely okay with this arrangement, because they themselves are morning people. Mrs. B and I aren't those people.

Let me paint a little picture to show you how much we are NOT those people. For one whole school year, Mrs. B and I worked at the same campus and would often commute to work together in the morning. On most days, the most talking we did was to say goodbye when we got to school.....literally, just the words "Goodbye, I love you". People would ask Mrs. B what it was like to spend all that extra quality time with her husband, her response...."Quite, we don't talk". So needless to say, neither one of us is jumping out of bed to spend a little quality time with a child at 5am.

We tried all kinds of things to make this situation work:
  1. Bring "the Boy" into bed and let him finish sleeping with us---Outcome: Nobody sleeps, and I get kicked in the face 3 or 4 times an hour. FAIL
  2. "The Boy" sleeps on the floor---Outcome: "The boy" gets really comfortable sleeping on the decorative pillows, so comfortable in fact, he starts to show up earlier each night to sleep on the floor. FAIL
  3. SOOOOOO, we hide the pillows-----Outcome: "the Boy" comes into the room and can't find his pillows to make a comfortable bed on the floor, and proceeds to wake up parents to locate the missing pillow......FAIL
  4. Bribery - he would receive a play car if he stayed in bed until we came and got him----Outcome - at 5am he doesn't give two flips about a stupid car. FAIL
  5. Reason - we talking to him about being a big boy, and staying in his bed, he agrees that he is a big boy and that big boys stay in bed.....Outcome: I am having a discussion about being a big boy at 5am, at which time he doesn't really care about being a big boy. FAIL
Figuring I have presumably run through all of my possible options, outside of tying him the bed, I give up, for a night. The next day, whether from lack of sleep or a stroke of brilliance, I come up with one crazy idea that sounds completely stupid idea....but really how much worse could it get.

What if we moved him into the same room as his brothers, so that all three boys sleep in the same room.

The voice in the back of my head is screaming "now you will have 3 kids awake at 5am stupid" but why the heck not is my motto.

I proceed to explain to "the Boy" what the new plan is going to be, and he agreed (just like every other time) to stay in bed. And what do you know....he actually did. In fact the next night, when one of the Twin-kies woke up in the middle of the night and started crying, "the Boy" got out of bed and reached through the crib to pat his brother on the back, and then they both went back to sleep (this was all witnessed in the monitor, and confirmed the next morning when I went to get everybody up). It was a very proud moment as a father, I had conquered this little sleeping problem and the big brother was looking out for his little brother. When it comes to raising kids, sometime the dumbest idea has the sweetest result.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Potty Party

Two weeks ago we decided we were done changing full-on man-poops on The Boy and we embarked on our first potty training adventure. As I expect many of you with boys will attest, The Boy has the ability to use the potty, but actually taking the time away from playing to use the facilities just wasn't high on the ol' priority list. Through a hearty amount of bribery (2 candies for pee, and 1 Cars car for each successful poop) we are almost completely potty trained.

The pee thing took about 2 seconds, and I think outside of the first or second day, we haven't had an pee accident. The Deuce was a completely different story. From a parents perspective, it appeared that we were dealing with poop commando's who snuck up on The Boy without warning and sprung their attack. Mrs B and I just assumed that he was struggling to identify that feeling indicating he needed to do some business. That may have been a part of it, but last night I think we may have stumbled across the real issue.

The Boy was afraid that the poop was going to come out his penis....once Mrs B explained that the poop was actually going to come out his bum-bum, he settled right down and proceeded to successfully use the bathroom, on his own (wiping excluded) for the rest of the day. Holy Crap, was all I had to say, I would be freaking out if I thought that was actually possible. I guess it goes to show you shouldn't assume anything when it comes to potty training. The Boy no longer runs through the house proclaiming his bathroom intentions such as "The poop is coming out mama" or "I pee in the potty, now I get candddddyyyyyy," instead we know he has used the potty when we find him running around the house with both legs sticking out one leg hole of his underwear, that is if he actually has taken the time to put the underwear back on.

One down and two to soon is too soon to start with the Twin-kies? And this question for all those parents out there with potty training long am I going to be wiping butts?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Movie Monday: Despicable Me

Only had a chance to watch one movie this week, I had better step it up if I have any hope of getting through over 140 of these movies that I haven't seen. However, I do have a good excuse, we had friends in town, season finale of Friday Night Lights, and Starz great miniseries "Pillars of the Earth" (available on Netflix streaming). I do promise to step it up this week and watch at least two movies for next weeks review.

On to the one movie that I did actually see this week:

Despicable Me: We have never had a chance to take the Hays family to Austin's beloved Alamo Drafthouse for dinner and a movie. We rectified that problem on their visit this week. Since we were going to be taking the kids we went with Despicable Me (in 3D). Mrs B made all of the plans to make sure we could leave the Twin-kies at home and that The Boy would be able to attend the movie. I didn't see why this was such a big deal but apparently the Drafthouse had a very strict policy against kids (which I fully understand and embrace for the evening hours). Mrs B went ahead and made all of the arrangements and confirmed that we could in fact bring The Boy to an afternoon showing of Despicable Me. In my usual bung-headedness I found a way to screw that up. When we went early to order tickets I said two kids, which was fine, but asked if there was a different price for kids under 3 (i.e. The Boy), big no no.... Apparently Mrs B had talked to somebody else about bringing The Boy and didn't think it would be a problem. You would have thought that I was trying to smuggle in a pet monkey, because there was absolutely no movement on the no kid thing. Mrs B was only able to get free passes out of the deal, but no admittance for The Boy. Free passes in hand we just went to another Drafthouse in town, and I didn't tell them he was not three, and we got right in.

Now on to the actual movie. It was cute, but there really wasn't anything special about it. Not even the voice of Steve Carell could make this riveting stuff, don't get me wrong it wasn't bad, and there were some entertaining moments, but this would be just as funny on your home TV.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Movie Monday: Girl Who Played with Fire and Dinner for Schmucks

Just a little late getting this out this week, but thanks to the wonders of Google, I am able to make it look like I posted this story on time. It was a very busy week last week (more about that in another post), but I did get a chance to head out and see a couple of movies.

Girl Who Played with Fire - This is the second of three from Stieg Larsonn's Millennium Series. When we were in MN over the summer I had a chance to go and see the first one with Auntie E, who I got hooked on the books the previous Christmas. As luck would have it, Auntie E was in town to help install some damaged wood floors, and so we got the chance to see the second movie together as well. While waiting for the movie to start, we also checked with the third installment was going to be released in the US, and were very pleased to discover it would be release at Thanksgiving, now if we could just find a way to get Auntie E to come to paradise again around Thanksgiving.

The actual movie was just as satisfying as the first, and without doing any additional research, I would guess that the first and second (and possibly the third) movies were all filmed relatively close together. Both movies don't take anything away from the quality of the books they were based on, and do a great job of telling the story. Sure, there are some parts of the book that are left out entirely, but overall, the most important parts are all there.

One of the things Auntie E and I have appreciated about both movies, is the fact that the actors are all normal looking. You can guarantee when a US studio gets a hold of this, everybody will be pretty, and the acting will be average. There currently is a very disturbing rumor going around that Miley Cyrus is being considered for the lead character of Lizbeth.....are you kidding me....I guess all of those years being Hannah Montana have prepared her to be a bisexual, anti-social, violent Gothic chick who also happens to be brilliant. Where is Mystery Science Theater 3000 when you need them? Who is going to play Mikael, Howie Mandell?

Dinner for Schmucks: Funny, and I expect it only gets funnier if you watch it multiple times. I am sure I missed quite a few of the jokes. Steve Carell,as is commonly becoming the case, is genius . It is really weird when guy who looks like an accountant can elevate an entire movie they way he does again and again (40 Year Old Virgin, Date Night, Dan in Real Life). I don't believe The Office has much of a chance to be as funny without him, but I give it a shot next year.

Back to the movie, I really didn't have many expectations for the movie. I figured there would be funny parts, but also quite a bit of schlock. I am glad that I was wrong, because like a great thriller can make your heart race, a great comedy should make you peed your pants laughing or make you feel so uncomfortable for the characters you actually hate yourself for laughing. Dinner for Schmucks was definitely the second, although there were definitely a couple of moments weak bladders would worry about. In an interesting side note, the French movie that this movie was based upon is actually on that list of 151 Movies You Should See, so sometime this year, I will sit down and watch that one as well. It isn't often I would say this, but I really think the American version is going to be very difficult to beat (see above).