Thursday, August 27, 2009

A year of the King

We have spent the last year watching Elvis movies on Wednesday nights with some friends. We did take weeks off for various reasons - holidays, vacations, illness, etc - so it took us just under a year to complete the series. Wil loves Elvis and recognizes him on the radio or in movies now. He likes to play guitar and wiggle his hips.
As we watched, I made notes about the movies - which are the best, which should be avoided at all costs. So here is the list from most recent to the first we watched.
• This is Elvis (1981) *** interesting documentary
• Aloha From Hawaii (1973) **** good concert
• Elvis on Tour (1972) **** good concert
• That's the Way It Is (1970) **** a little drawn out getting to the concert
• Change of Habit (1969) .... Dr. John Carpenter **** essential
• The Trouble with Girls (1969) .... Walter Hale *** average • Charro! (1969) .... Jess Wade *** average, but only title song
• Elvis ('68 Comeback Special) (1968) ***** essential, Elvis at his absolute best! • Live a Little, Love a Little (1968) .... Greg Nolan **** essential • Speedway (1968) .... Steve Grayson **** Entertaining • Stay Away, Joe (1968) .... Joe Lightcloud ** worst. Elvis. movie. ever. • Clambake (1967) .... Scott Hayward/'Tom Wilson' **** average • Double Trouble (1967) .... Guy Lambert **** very entertaining, one of the better movies • Easy Come, Easy Go (1967) .... Lt. (j.g.) Ted Jackson **** entertaining with trippy yoga song • Spinout (1966) .... Mike McCoy **** entertaining • Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966) .... Rick Richards *** Blue Hawaii wanna be • Frankie and Johnny (1966) .... Johnny *** average • Harum Scarum (1965) .... Johnny Tyronne ** one of the worst • Tickle Me (1965) .... Lonnie Beale/Panhandle Kid ***** surprising, highly entertaining, maybe essential • Girl Happy (1965) .... Rusty Wells **** average • Roustabout (1964) .... Charlie Rogers **** average, but entertaining • Viva Las Vegas (1964) .... Lucky Jackson **** essential • Kissin' Cousins (1964) .... Josh Morgan / Jodie Tatum ** 2nd worst Elvis movie • Fun in Acapulco (1963) .... Mike Windgren **** average, but entertaining • It Happened at the World's Fair (1963) .... Mike Edwards *** boring • Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962) .... Ross Carpenter **** average • Kid Galahad (1962) .... Walter Gulick **** hanging plot line • Follow That Dream (1962) .... Toby Kwimper **** average • Blue Hawaii (1961) .... Chad Gates ***** essential, master of formula • Wild in the Country (1961) .... Glenn Tyler **** average • Flaming Star (1960) .... Pacer Burton **** Elvis in a western • G.I. Blues (1960) .... Tulsa McLean **** 1st formulaic • King Creole (1958) .... Danny Fisher ***** essential • Jailhouse Rock (1957) .... Vince Everett ***** essential • Loving You (1957) .... Jimmy Tompkins (Deke Rivers) ***** essential • Love Me Tender (1956) .... Clint Reno *** essential

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Preschool begins

Wil started preschool today. He had a great time. We took lots of pictures when we dropped him off (they are on the boys' site). He walked into his classroom, started playing and didn't look back. I think he was ready.
His preschool (Noah's Ark) runs from 9-2, which is a long day, but he did well. He ate half his lunch, which is impressive for him. When I got to the school just before 2 to pick him up, I got to see him walking back to his room with his class. They hold a rope to make a chain. He was smiling and holding on and seemed to be enjoying himself.
His class and the other 2 year old class get together a few times during the day for music, movie and play times. That's good, because one of his friends is in the other class. Today they watched Dora and Boots (according to Wil). More information reveals it was a Dora episode about blueberries. That ties in with the color they learned today, blue.
In his backpack were the things he did today: a coloring sheet about the color blue, a coloring sheet about the Bible story "Jesus loves the children," a bear he colored and then his teacher pasted together on a sheet of construction paper (his class is the Bouncing Bears), and a sheet with the names of all the kids in his class written in balloons.
There was also a letter to the parents letting us know that his teacher is leaving - Thursday is her last day. I met his new teacher at pick-up. In the brief moment we spoke, she seems fine. Hopefully she will send a letter of introduction home.
Wil was ready to go home but not anxiously waiting when I picked him up. I think he's ready to go back on Thursday. This has been a positive first day, which is what we wanted.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Let's pretend!

Wil is at an age where he is really starting to pretend. I find it highly entertaining to listen to him play with his cars, dolls, stuffed animals, whatever, and find out what he is thinking. This is such a fun age! Here are a few things he likes to pretend:
He role-plays that he is Caillou, Sam is Rosy (Sam has no clue!) and one of our cats is Gilbert. Sometimes Mommy and Daddy get to play the roles of Mommy and Daddy too.
With my old Barbie and Ken dolls, he plays house. One particular Ken is Daddy doll and usually Ekaterina (doll based on figure skater Ekaterina Gordeeva) is Mommy doll. Sometimes his Little People get to be the kids. We're flattered that I'm Katya and Chris is Ken.
He loves giraffes. He has lots of giraffes and has made a family with Mommy, Daddy and several baby giraffes.
He re-enacts scenes or makes up his own with his Cars and Nemo and other characters. He even substitutes other cars or critters to fill in the gaps for characters he doesn't have. Currently, he is also obsessed with Elmo, Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh. He has Mickey (Sam's, but Sam let's him play with it) and Goofy; Elmo, Zoey (Mommy's), Cookie Monster (Sam's), Grover (Mommy's); Pooh and Tigger. The others he makes up with Raffe (a giraffe, what else) and other stuffed animals role-playing.
I love that he not only pretends and makes up stories, but he is able to imagine a toy is something or someone else.
Of course, the 'dark' side is that he sometimes passes blame. I don't think he understands what he's doing, because he seems to think it's all just part of pretend, but he will blame Daddy, while Daddy is at work, for something happening. When I remind him that Daddy isn't home, he corrects himself and tells me Wil did whatever.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Stop, look and listen!

That's Elvis's philosophy in the song Rubberneckin'.
Wil loves Elvis, so we're using that when we cross streets. He seems to like it. When we get to a street, I ask him what Elvis says and then remind him to 'stop, look and listen.' He's starting to get the idea, although he thinks parking lots are a fun place to run off. It's a trial getting from car to building and back with both boys, especially if I have to carry anything.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Healthy, wealthy and wise

I honestly tried to read the House healthcare reform bill. It is huge and written in such legalese that I couldn't understand the bit I was reading. (Maybe once the current financial crisis and healthcare reform are taken care of, we can work on simplification of more legal documents, including legislation, into plain English.) So, I found a video on "Healthcare for Dummies" from FOX News (not my most trusted source, but this was actually pretty straightforward.)
Here are my thoughts on this whole debacle:
1) Things aren't working now. Costs are increasing way faster than the rate of inflation. A lot of people are losing insurance coverage because costs keep going up and it is unaffordable. People without insurance or with poor insurance tend not to be able to afford preventive care and end up in the ER with a major health issue, often not being able to pay those bills and declaring bankruptcy, which leads to whole other issues. So we all pay more to cover the losses.
2) We are so lucky to have pretty good health insurance. If we didn't, we would be in big trouble. We paid roughly $2000 for each pregnancy/delivery for me, plus about $500 per child for pediatric care within the first few months. The hospital and doctor bills added up to well over $20,000. Yeah, not pocket change.
3) Market forces are obviously not the solution since they haven't worked so far. The current bill may not be perfect, but we need to do something.
4) There are many functioning government run programs around the world. Those countries have better healthcare at less expense than we do. Can we look at what works there and try to implement it? Why is everyone so against "socialized" medicine? Seriously, if we did have a single-payer, government solution like Canada or the UK, all doctors would accept payment so your doctor wouldn't change. They actually seem to get pretty good results, despite the few bad stories you hear. There will always be someone who has problems. Can we determine if something works for 99% of the population? Because that would be a heck of a lot better than the current system.
5) The current bill doesn't have socialized medicine. It doesn't change anything for people who currently have employer-provided coverage. What it does is provide an option for people who don't have coverage. I'm no economist, so I can't explain how this is supposed to make healthcare overall less expensive other than surmising that by more people having insurance and getting primary, preventive care, there will hopefully be fewer expenses for catastrophic illnesses. And by the government getting into the game with a healthier population than just Medicare recipients (generally the elderly who generally have more health issues), the government can maybe provide a little competition to drive down costs. And the bill actually makes it harder for companies to stop providing insurance if they currently do, so maybe fewer people would suddenly lose their coverage.
Things I'd like to see:
1) Incentives for more med students to choose primary care and ways to reduce med school debt so that isn't an excuse for the huge bills. (I'm not saying that is the only reason for a large salary for a doctor, just that it shouldn't be part of the equation.)
2) Less restrictions on who can provide primary care - PA's, CNP's, midwives. I really think that would help reduce expenses because a lot of things do not require a doctor and doctors are more expensive than other practitioners.
3) Figure out a way to cut the cost of medical malpractice insurance. I really think this is a HUGE part of why some care is so expensive. Our lawsuit-happy society has kind of done this to ourselves, but can we cut the lawsuits to when they are really needed? Bob Cringely actually had an interesting idea regarding malpractice insurance.
4) Maybe there needs to be some sort of health insurance co-op, like a credit union where the insured are the owners. That way, they have say over CEO pay (no multimillion dollar bonuses!) and no stockholders to be beholden to so any profits go back into making premiums smaller. Hey, that might have actually been a brilliant idea! Now if only someone can figure out how to make it work...
On that note, I will close by saying I hope something gets done because not to act is worse than to act right now. And may we all end up, yes, healthy, wealthy (however you define wealth) and wise.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Great responsibility

Anytime anything breaks, Wil immediately says, "Daddy fix." Ok, sometimes it's, "Mommy fix." But mostly Daddy.
He has such confidence that we can fix everything. It's a nice feeling, but also comes with great responsibility to actually fix everything. And a slight bit of dread for the day when something can't be fixed. And that day came today.
The back of his garbage truck broke off and it can't be put back on because one of the little plastic tabs broke off. He was devastated. At 2 1/2 he has learned a tough lesson: sometimes things just can't be fixed. He seems to have moved on for now, but I'm waiting to see if he will ask again now that Daddy is up.
At least this lesson came with something small. What if the first disappointment had come with something big like one of the cats dying? I shudder to think of that conversation. Hopefully he will return to his confidence in Daddy's abilities because it is really very sweet and exactly what we want in a 2 1/2 year old. He should be able to trust that Mommy and Daddy will make things right at this age.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Proud parenting moments

There are some things our kids do that just make us extremely proud. Here are a few of Wil's:
This evening, we had friends over for pizza. The boys all played very nicely and when they were getting ready to leave, Wil told their son, "Thank you for playing cars." Unprompted.
A week or so ago, Sam wanted to play cars with Wil. Wil has several Lightening McQueens so I asked if he would let Sam have one. He did. The next day, when cleaning up his cars, I put that McQueen in Wil's bucket. He saw and corrected me, putting it in Sam's and telling me it was Sam's car. He really can share!
I know there are others, but those are ones I can remember. Despite all the fights over toys, I have hope that he is learning some good manners.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

When a politician becomes a statesman

Chris and I were listening to an interview with Gavin Newsom on NPR. That interview is unimportant to this post. What is important is the discussion that followed.
What we both would like to see is a politician who wanted to win, but not at all costs. Where an election wasn't life or death. I bet that politician, if he or she did the job right, would get reelected.
Following opinion polls isn't a bad thing for a politician since they are elected to represent the interests of their constituents. But a politician who can balance following what their constituents want with what their conscience says is in the best interest of that constituency is probably a rare thing at the higher levels of government.
There are few statesmen left these days, and most of those are retired from politics. Once the need to win elections is gone, it seems our leaders can actually find the greatness within. And that's why I'd like to find more politicians who weren't driven by the need to win and could embrace that inner statesman while in a position to really enact change.
Will politics change? We'll see. It doesn't appear so. Some of that is the nature of the beast and the unwieldy system that has developed over the last 200+ years. Some is pragmatism at its worst. But if I ever run for office, you can be sure I will look at both sides of an issue and try to balance what is right and what is necessary, just as I hope my elected representatives do.

Part of being a mom

There are lots of challenges to raising kids, but I've been thinking lately about a couple of things, so here goes.
There is so much concern right now about childhood obesity, but having a child at the opposite end is also hard. I don't think people appreciate the difficulty of a child who doesn't like to eat and prefers liquid calories. He's consistently below the 3rd percentile and we have him in for weight checks every 3 months or so. I can't force him to eat.
I can offer food until I'm blue in the face, but he'll eat when he wants. So when he had 2 bites of a Wendy's hamburger yesterday for lunch, I was thrilled! Four bites is a lot for him, actually more than he eats in an entire day sometimes. He had a couple of bites of peanut butter and jelly today and told me it was yummy! This is a good streak and I hope it continues, because we get worried about him.
The other thing I've been thinking about is c-sections. I never went into labor with Wil. We chose a c-section when we discovered at 39 weeks that he was breech, knowing that it was likely given my circumstances that we would end up having one. With Sam, I went into labor the day before his scheduled c-section. While all babies are different, I wonder if anyone has done research on c-sections after labor. Would planned c-sections be less controversial if they were not pre-scheduled but waited until labor began? Does it make a difference? While I can't change things, it just makes me wonder if Wil would be different if I had gone into labor.
Wondering and trying to do the best you can are part of being a mom. Or dad. Chris gets just as worried about the boys.