Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The Princess and the Frog (a review?)

As Disney Princess films go, I was pleased with the contemporaneity and twist on an old fairytale. The girls were largely enchanted - but of course, speaking of Enchanted, any Disney Princess film has that gem to live up to these days, and can't help but suffer by comparison. Add to that too many points where belief needed to be suspended in terms of social realism - would a rich southern white girl really be best friends with the poor black daughter of the woman who makes her dresses, for example? - and even the mouth-watering selection of New Orleans dishes featured in the movie couldn't save it falling a little flat.

But my main concern is the heavily featured presence of frogs in the film. Don't panic, I'm not frog-ist. But I'd hope I'm not racist, either. And I'm confused as to why, after all the (positive?) publicity about the film featuring Disney's first African-American princess reduces her to a green-skinned cipher, so that the audience's screen time looking at those African-American features is remarkably short compared to all the Disney heroines that have gone before.

And finally, like others have noted, the soundtrack could have done with an Alan Menken vibe - soaring ballads & more hooks - or even something even more jazzier; the Randy Newman music just wasn't great.

Oh. And what was all that gubbins about the star Evangeline & Ray the firefly's devotion to her? Pure hokum designed to wring every last bit of trite sentiment possible from an otherwise thin story - and yes, it brought a tear to my eye but I'm a crazy hormonal woman right now.

And - I'm presuming New Orleans wasn't ever actually like that, even pre-hurricane devastation. A pretty good advert for it, all the same, even if the race issues were ridiculously downplayed.

I think I'm done! Might I also just add, that we viewed the film in a faded, small movie theatre in a tired seaside resort. There was no blaring speakers, no overcharging for snacks, the kids were provided with special red cushions so they could see above the seatbacks in front, and best of all, they could play on the amusement arcade before and after. And a good time was had by all :-)

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The mouths of babes....

It's a good job a) I'm pregnant, and b) I'm pretty confident in my body image anyway...I just had to share this gem

Sophie (5): "Mummy, your breasts are getting BIGGER!"
Imogen (3 and a half): "Yes, Mummy, they're as big as Katy's now!"

Perhaps I should add that Katy presents a kids' TV show called 'I Can Cook' that we regularly have to pretend to enact, and Imogen has previously observed that my breasts aren't as big as hers. (Or is this too much information...)

Just a rant

Just a quick one, as I'm going to try & cut down on unnecessary internet witterings & focus on other things. But REALLY. 'The Suspicious of Mr Whicher aka The Road Hill House Murders' - how did it garner so many amazing reviews?? It's basically a PHd thesis woven into a novel. Which wouldn't be too bad if it actually had a completely conclusive ending, which is doesn't. And, by the way, the first time I viewed a family tree I clued onto the syphilictic connection. Clues - the one good thing was the etymology the author presented to the reader- eg a 'clew' being a ball of yarn unwound by Theseus in the Labyrinth. Best thing about the book.

I guess I'm angry at my myself. I thought it would make me feel better, take my mind off my illness. I should know by now not to impulsively purchase something critically (over) hyped and (over) praised.

Speaking of giving up entrenched habits, Lent has already kicked in at our house. Husband isn't socially networking, but working, at his computer. Sophie thinks that she is not having pancakes next year, because poor people wouldn't be able to eat them so why should she. Imogen is looking forward to drawing her favourite foods on her Lent worksheet - strawberries, ice cream and vitamins!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Happy Valentines Day

At the moment, I'm waking early (or one of the kids is waking me early) while my husband slumbers...and by the time the children are in bed, I'm ready to crash out too. During our busy days, sometimes it's all my husband and I can do to sit and have a cup of tea together, or grab lunch on the go as we shop for a vehicle big enough to contain our expanding family (oh - and our camping gear.) Togetherness can be elusive; romance is not dead in our marriage, but at the moment spending time in each other's company is enough to be treasured. There's a line in the film Before Sunset (when Jesse, the guy played by Ethan Hawke is leaving his wife for his former, lost love): "I feel like I'm running a small nursery with someone I used to date." This can sometimes sum up our family life for me. Only by instilling date nights & days hanging out into our schedules have we managed to redress the balance, I think - and even though I'm now into the allegedly blooming, energised second trimester, these are still on the backburner.

I still don't know what my husband bought me for Valentines' Day this year - we usually only exchange a small token (and the heart-shaped box containing a truffle from the famed chocolatiers Charbonnel & Walker I purchased for him is truly, hormonally, lost somewhere in a 'safe' place. Not my stomach.) I had mentioned my desire for a something floral, he had placed an order, and muttered that something might be delivered - which never turned up. Perhaps someone else was accidentally gifted the present, or it was sent astray. I don't know - and strangely, I don't care.

I don't want to sound like I'm rejecting a romantic gesture. (Although, I guess a romantic gesture it wasn't - more a romantic response to the expectations of one woman in today's commercialised, Valentines society.) I would (and will - if it turns up!) be enamoured of whatever gift I was sent; be touched; have tears; be pleased; feel love. But, these days, I have this response towards the devoted actions of the man I love, and who shows his love for me (and others) in mundane domestic chores, management of a troublesome family meal, entertaining two small (and demanding) children and bringing me a fresh glass of water to my bedside table every single night. That's romance to me. And as well as a store-bought Valentine card professing love, I already had the greatest gift today - someone helping me take the children to Church for the family service, which would otherwise render me exhausted for the rest of Sunday. (Although I have to admit I still had a short afternoon snooze.) And this evening, I am happy just being in my husband's company, in the same room, while our children doze upstairs, all having spent another busy day together, which happened to be dedicated to St Valentine.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Thinking about Lent

Now that hormones are causing less interference between me & the Spirit, I'm finding my best starts in the morning are courtesy of opening up the Bible.

I carried an adult Bible through to the lounge this morning, to sit quietly with my early-rising 5 year old (she slept until 6.30am this morning, which is a minor miracle in itself.) "I want a story," she asked. I'm doing New Testament study at the moment, so we had the first chapter of Mark. It has only a small reference to Jesus being in the wilderness, but also stuff about John the Baptist eating only wild honey locusts there. ("Was he HUMAN?!" Sophie asked.)

So we got talking about time in the wilderness, Lent, and what we know people are giving up. (I believe their Daddy is going to spend less time on social networking sites, something I try to do every day, and is tricky when you have a blog, especially one that has finally got comments up an running.) I explained it's not all about giving up - you can start doing something. We sponsor a girl in Guatemala from a family less well off materially than us; the kids have some understanding of the devastation in Haiti. We give them token pocket money for them to spend, save, and give to charity - during Lent I think we're going to direct this money to a pot for a cause or causes we feel is right. Coupled with some sort of project where we get the world map out and start talking more about the world and others in it. Because asking them to give up chocolate or sweeties isn't going to cut it for me; it's not going to increase their understanding of blessings, sacrifice and helping others like a 40-day focus on the developing world (and parts of our own country) will. The children are just beginning to get their heads around the fact that Jesus made the biggest sacrifice he could in order that the world's people would just love, help and be kind to one another. I figure that giving them examples of that is something that would benefit the whole family at this time.

PS - I might blog about my own personal project for Lent at a later date. Again, it's about putting in, not giving up. As I don't booze, I pretty much avoid chocolate, cakes and biscuits, and pregnancy doesn't call for much caffeine, those things are pretty much covered (although, coincidentally, I WILL be commencing my pregnancy exercise routine next week...)

PPS - No sooner had I started to mull Lent over in my mind than I came across Christian Aid's focus on counting our blessings & thinking of those less fortunate - seems perfect for our family!

Friday, 5 February 2010

What next?!

Urinary tract infection, that's what's now.

For the nth time - thank God for toasted teacakes, I literally don't know what I would do without them.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Reactions from people who have been told I'm pregnant.

  • Oh no!
  • Was it planned?
  • Congratulations!
  • But I thought you weren't going to have any more.
  • But weren't you poorly with your other pregnancies?
  • So are you going to have to move house now?
  • Do the girls know?
  • Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
  • Do you want a boy next time/is it because you want a boy?
So, world, let me spill. Yes, the girls have known from quite early on, mainly because we wanted to explain why Mummy kept spewing in a bucket. Yes, I have had bad pregnancy sickness and pelvic girdle pain previously, but we didn't go into this lightly - I have children who can load the washer and dishwasher after all. It was planned as in, we weren't using contraception, but as I think these things are part of God's plan anyway, I don't take much credit. (We're not great at conceiving to order.) We are going to put the girls in a bunkbed when Baby joins them in the second bedroom, although we won't rule out moving to a bigger house in the future, because our adjoining neighbours aren't very nice to us (another reason to bring a screaming newborn into the house!) So yes, we are thrilled skinny, and feel extremely blessed, and don't mind at all whether it's pink or blue (except, someone will have to teach me how to deal with a boy baby's nappy.)

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

A change of pace....

Too many times, I'm dashing to get the kids to school on time - even get to pre-school on time, which doesn't matter so much. I rush the girls out of the door, frogmarch, even. Some days I feel like Captain Von Trapp. That if I don't run it all with military precision, the house of cards will collapse (mixed metaphors, I know.)

But you need time to enjoy your family. You need to make time. Well, I know I do. Otherwise you miss the moments. The silly questions you get asked. The problems they'll voice. Just a look, or a smile.

At the moment, I'm frustrated. I'm having to change pace. I'm slowed down by fatigue, headaches, nosebleeds. We can't do a lot. But I'm trying to make the most of snuggling in front of a trite Barbie movie. Celebrating when I manage to roast a chicken, even though I didn't get to the veggies. (We never did vitamin tablets before this time.) And I do think it's God-given. Frequently, I try and guess the world I'm in. What's going to come next. What the future holds. I'm lousy at living in the moment. But I'm being forced to slow down. Put even my plans for developing a ministry outside my family on hold. Do what I can, and don't sweat the small stuff.

We're bringing new life into the world, and we already have two live treasures to take care of. So my husband and I are managing the load between us, I don't quite know how. (It helps that we have a special set of employment circumstances, and I have a hero of a husband.) But it's a lesson to learn, or a reminder of one. Rushing from extra-curricular this to scheduled that; worrying the world will end if something doesn't get done for someone; losing it when one of those bottom-layer cards starts to wobble (OK, I've done some major hormonal losing it, but I figure that's allowed!) There's an Eric Carle book about a sloth which questions why he's so slow. For the sloth, it's not slowness - it's his pace. We all have to find the right pace. I'm being forced into mine. I'm trying not to complain.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Technologically challenged...

OK, I've had the pregnancy sickness and nosebleeds. My sinuses have been clogged. I'm still permanently tired. And I'm sick of the headaches! But I suspect this one is tension-caused. I had the bright idea of swapping my PC & monitor set-up for a laptop. And guess what? I don't like the screen, the keyboard, the position, the operating system, the programs, or anything. I have been driving my Dear Husband mad. At first I thought it was my deep-rooted aversion to change (improved somewhat by 2 kids and counting) but now, it just sucks. Even tweeting hurts. My neck aches, and my head pounds.

On the plus side, I ate curry for lunch. Yippee! And after picking the little one up from pre-school, and the bigger one up from school, I do not have to enter the Ballet Room of Doom (more on that later) but can instead come home and - well, I was going to say relax, but more like go through the well-practised motions of unpacking lunchbags, bookbags, prepping dinner and fielding questions from two small girls. Hey, it's an improvement. Especially on a headache....