Archive for July 2008

Tease Me with the Half-Blood Prince

July 31, 2008

Well, the teaser trailer for the movie version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has just been released.  I don’t know what movie it was attached to in the theaters; there was some debate about that over at the Leaky Cauldron.  But in this advanced age of the internet, there’s no need go to the theater just to see the trailer for much anticipated movies.

I have mixed feeling about the teaser.  I think it is really Gothic and creepy (which is good); I can definitely see the artistry.  I especially like the dialogue once the screen goes dark at the end.  I was a little disappointed with Dumbledore, though, and it wasn’t just because I don’t like Michael Gambon as the new Dumbledore.  (Like many HP fans I feel that the late Richard Harris did better at portraying the more silly side of Dumbledore.)  Once I realized what scene from the book the teaser was about to show, I wanted to see younger Dumbledore with long auburn hair and a bright magenta suit.  Alas, I got a gray-haired Dumbledore with shorter facial hair and a nondescript suit.  This is obviously a directorial issue rather than an acting issue.

I’m really hoping that in the scene leading up to Dumbledore knocking on the orphanage door the magenta suit is more vibrant, but I have a feeling that all of the pensieve scenes are going to have a kind of black and white thing going on to make them extra creepy.  Which I guess is ok from an artistic point of view, but from a rabid HP fan point of view, it sucks!!  I also really hope that they just truncated that scene for the teaser, because a lot of important information comes from that scene.  (Please see my pet peeve post about Bad Adaptations.)

So, here’s the teaser for the next Harry Potter movie which is due out November 21st.  That means I have about four and a half months to get the baby eating enough solids, so that I can sneak out to see the movie without her going hungry in Granny’s care.

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Pet Peeve #8: Girls with Glasses

July 29, 2008

I’m not really hatin’ on girls with glasses. I’m hatin’ that girls with glasses are always portrayed as freaks of nature, especially in teen movies. I love the part in Not Another Teen Movie when they are mocking the scene from She’s All That where they are picking the loser for the guy to make-over into the prom queen. They pass up very mutated girls for the “hideous” girl with long unkempt hair, frumpy clothes, and (ew!!) glasses.

I think it all started with She’s Out of Control when Amy Dolenz’s character breaks onto the high school social scene when she ditches her braces and glasses. That was just about the time that contact lens were becoming more mainstream. For Eliza Doolittle it was her accent. For Jo (also played by Audrey Hepburn) in Funny Face, it was her shyness and her beatnik ways. Now the message is: “If you want to be beautiful and popular you have to ditch the glasses.”

What prompted this latest rant? The answer is a new movie on ABC Family starring Disney starlet Ashley Tisdale. I kind of have a weakness for teen movies, and this one had two actresses from “Degrassi, The Next Generation” which I used to watch when we still had The N in our cable package. Well, Tisdale’s character goes from zero to hero-ine simply by getting a fancy cell phone and ditching her glasses. That’s all it took for the most popular boy in school to notice her.

That got me thinking about the general lack of television and movie characters who regularly wear glasses. And whenever there is a character who wears glasses it’s so they can later be morphed from a nerd into a beauty/hunk. I know this is not a new phenomenon. Even before the invention of contact lens, there were very few four-eyed characters on any screen. The only other reason, besides Pygmalion intentions, for putting a character in glasses is to have their glasses be lost or broken so the character will be blind and prone to comical things. (Even though, most people who wear glasses can still see what’s going on around them, just with less detail.)

Well, as a real woman who wears glasses every waking hour and eschews contacts (my eyes are sensitive enough as it without intentionally sticking something in them), I say enough is enough. True, my first pair of glasses, which I keep for posterity, were something out of a teen movie (really big lenses and blue rims). Since those were replaced, I don’t feel that my glasses have detracted from my appearance. And let’s be honest, once your bust line comes in most guys could care less about your glasses.

Now I know I have never watched “Ugly Betty”, even though I have been a fan of America Ferrera ever since the Disney Channel movie Kick It Up. For the past few years, I’ve been avoiding getting sucked into any new shows, even though I would probably really like that one. But again, the reason she is ugly is partly due to her glasses. (Actually, if you take this picture of Betty and imagine her as really tall, skinny, and pale wearing baggy t-shirts and high-water sweat pants, it would basically look like me in high school.)

Maybe that’s one reason I like Harry Potter. Through seven books and eight movies he never trades in his glasses for contacts or some other magical solution (like wizards LASIK). Everyone at school thinks he’s cool (except for when they worry that he’s the Heir of Slytherin or a pathological liar.) He doesn’t let his glasses interfere with his ability to play quidditch or save the day. I must admit that it probably helps to have those handy spells to repair them if they break and keep them from fogging up, but still. At least there is one hero who is unashamed of his visual impairment. Too bad he’s not a chick.

Necessity of the Ultrasound

July 28, 2008

In light of our recent fertility/birth control issues around here, I’ve been thinking a lot about ultrasounds. With my first pregnancy I had two: the internal to see how far along I was at the beginning and the standard at 20 weeks. With my second, I had three ultrasounds; there was some concern around 30 weeks or so that the baby wasn’t growing enough because my uterus was measuring small. She was fine. With my most recent pregnancy, I had four. I had to have two extra ones at 26 and 32 weeks to keep track of Choroid Plexus cysts on our baby’s brain and excess fluid in the tubes connecting her kidneys to her bladder.

Looking back I know that these were minor issues that were being monitored, especially since they both cleared up on their own. But when they first told us about this at our 20-week ultrasound they also used words like Downs Syndrome and Trisomy 18. It was very scary. Even though the chances of our baby having either one of these issues was extremely small the doctor had to make us aware and offer us the opportunity to have an abortion or an amniocentesis to cover his own ass.

I knew an abortion was completely out of the question. Before the maternal-fetal specialist came into to conduct the second part of our ultrasound and give us the “bad news”, we had spent at least fifteen minutes with the ultrasound technician looking over our baby’s body, laughing at her slightly larger than normal head (just like her sisters), and finding out that she was a girl. Then suddenly they are saying that I can kill my baby because she has a less than 1% chance of not being completely healthy. Even though at the time I didn’t have a total grasp on how minor the issues they were monitoring were, I knew I was not aborting my baby. I was not going to have an amnio at that point, either, because it might cause premature labor from which my baby might not survive.

Since then I have wondered how many women have been scared into doing just that, though. I mean when they first come in and tell you that there may be a problem with your baby the shock can be very overwhelming. I am more of a visual than an auditory person anyway, and by the time we left the office, I couldn’t remember all the terminology that was used to describe the issues. It wasn’t until the first follow-up ultrasound that I really started to grasp what the doctor was really concerned about, because the doctor didn’t really think that our baby had Downs or Trisomy 18. He was more concerned about relatively minor kidney issues.  They really should give you some notes or pamphlets or something to look over once your brain has calmed down.

While at one time in our marriage my husband suggested having four kids while I thought two was enough, the whole experience of worry with this last one was just too much for him. He’s adamantly in the “No More Babies” camp. I’m not saying that I am particularly desiring to go through the whole pregnancy and childbirth thing again, but if I ever did get pregnant I can’t help thinking that I would delay getting an ultrasound until later in my pregnancy.

For one thing, many fetuses have the same issues that ours did and they often resolve themselves by around 30 weeks. Doctors are not even sure if these are necessarily indicators of a big problem or a normal part of fetal development that just resolves itself later for some fetuses. And if you know that you are not going to abort no matter what, why go through all of the stress if you don’t have to do so? If we had waited until week 32 to have the standard ultrasound (which is when our second follow-up was), we would have just been told that she looks like a perfectly healthy baby. We would have been spared 12 weeks of needless worrying.

I know that there are some women out there who forgo having the standard ultrasound at all. Sometimes this is for financial reasons or concerns about perceived medical risks from ultrasounds. Personally, I can see an advantage of having some sort of ultrasound, because if there is a problem doctors and pediatricians can know to be prepared to treat the baby or the mother immediately at birth. Plus, as a parent, I could be emotionally and mentally prepared and aware of what needs to be done. I am also someone who sees the ultrasound as a bonding experience, and I am such a nerd that I like trying to identify as many bones as I can remember the name for. (There’s the radius! Check out that femur!)

Sometimes at night when I am snuggled in the bed nursing my new baby girl, I think about our pregnancy worries and how the doctor offered us the option of an abortion. I just hold her tighter in my arms, kiss her sweet cheeks, and offer a prayer of thanks to God for her.

Hi, my name is Barbara and…

July 25, 2008

I am an internet addict. As with most addicts, I am having a problem finding moderation in my use of the internet. It is starting to interfere with my relationships and my quality of life. I probably should really see if I could go a whole week without using the internet for anything other than balancing my checkbook (which I have been neglecting to do since my recreational habit of using the internet really kicked in), but like most addicts I have convinced myself that I can get my addiction under control without giving up the internet entirely.

I have just finished all of my big home projects that my late nesting inspired: patching holes in the wall, getting a new couch (thanks, honey), cleaning out the garage, and decluttering. I also instituted a new rule about eating in the living room. But I realize that now it is time to work on myself. I think I have been allowing this new baby to allow me to be even more lazy than is more natural inclination. I think I need to find a better balance between getting my rest and getting things done.

Like the title of the book I just read, I am having a hard-time “surrendering to motherhood“. Even stay-at-home moms sometimes have a hard time giving themselves completely to the needs of their families. It’s easy to get distracted by other things, like the internet.

Like many homeschooling families I am making my preparations for the new school year. We do not necessarily follow a school year plan, but due to my husband’s job we really live our lives in semesters. When he starts back is usually a good point to implement a new routine to meet our new goals.

One item on the list of current goals is to put my internet usage in its proper place. I am not going to quit my blog, like so many blogging homeschooling moms feel compelled to do from time to time. But I am going to try not to let consume so much of my time. I am going to try to make it something I work on after my chores are done and after I’ve worked towards our goals some each day. I’m going to resist the urge to check all my favorite blogs 15 times a day instead of balancing the checkbook or reading a book to one of my kids.

One true thing that I come across again and again in my reading is that a lack of discipline in children often reflects a lack of discipline in the parents. So I am going to try to re-discipline myself to do the important things for my family before the pleasurable things for myself. And to do the things that I don’t enjoy with less griping and grumping. And maybe I can even have the patience to incorporate the children more into my housework so that they can start learning valuable life-skills and we can spend more time interacting with each other.

While I don’t expect to really start a new routine until August 25th, this is one thing I am going to start working on now….getting my butt out of this computer chair.

TMI: Micronor

July 24, 2008

This may be too much information for some people, but I thought I better post about this because of the scarcity of information I found about the subject. So, my lochia (post-partum bleeding) was still lingering until a few days before my post-partum check-up. It would fade in and out with light spotting. This was a new experience because my lochia was pretty much over by three weeks after giving birth of the previous two babies.

At a six-week check-up I had my midwife write out a prescription for Micronor, aka the mini-pill, which I had used to prevent pregnancy while nursing my older two children. I went to my local Walgreens to get it filled, and I was a little disconcerted when they gave me a generic called Jolivette. I had previously used the generic form Errin, but I figured it shouldn’t matter. But about two days after I started on Jolivette I started spotting again. By day five, I was having bleeding like the heaviest day of my period. I also had a really bad headache during that time.

So, I quit taking the Jolivette, talked to my insurance company about paying for another refill, and had my mother-in-law order some Errin through her pharmacy. Forty-eight hours (almost to the minute) after I stopped taking the Jolivette, my bleeding decreased immediately. Within a few days it was completely gone. Then I started on the Errin. When I had taken Errin previously I did not have any bleeding the entire thirteen months or so I was on it. Within four days of taking it this time, though, I started spotting again. Then it started getting a little heavier. My husband and I talked it over and decided to give up on the pill.

Now, at first with the Jolivette I thought it might just be that my lochia was still lingering until the bleeding got so heavy. When the spotting started with the Errin, I started looking for more information on the internet. The most informative site I found that discussed Jewish niddah guide site which said that 88% of women had bleeding issues with Micronor. So apparently what I experienced was fairly common, although I am not sure it was particularly healthy.

To be honest I have had concerns about how healthy it is to pump so many extra hormones in my body for awhile. After my first baby was weened at 15 months, it was time to switch from the Micronor which is a progesterone pill to a regular estrogen pill. Well, the rapid change of hormone levels sent me into an emotional tail-spin. It was at this time that I first seriously looked into Fertility Awareness Method/Natural Family Planning to prevent pregnancy. Using this sympto-thermal charting method, I successfully prevented pregnancy for about seven months. And when we decided to have a second baby I used it to get pregnant on the first try.

Now some of you may know that our most recent baby was a surprise. (I always liked how it was described on Roseanne as a surprise instead of an accident “A surprise is something that you didn’t know you wanted until you got it.”) At the time I was not very conscientious about charting my basal temperatures, but I was watching my mucus. I could tell that I was entering my fertile period, so we used a barrier method as back-up. The back-up didn’t work, though, so now we have our new lovely baby daughter. Just call me Fertile Myrtle.

Once I started studying FAM/NFP I also started studying the Catholic teachings on the use of birth control. Since then my understanding and respect for the Church’s teachings has grown, but I must admit that even now my fear outweighs my faith on this one. At the same time, I can’t help wondering if all these problems I’ve been having trying to go back on the pill (especially since I used it twice without problem during my less informed period) may be God’s way of trying to get my attention.

Right now my husband and I have no plans to have anymore children. If anything, though, this last pregnancy from start to finish as taught me some humility about the difference between our plans and God’s. One major objection to hormonal contraceptives by the Catholic Church is that they can cause abortions by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. The Church holds that life begins at fertilization. While we may not be completely open to life, I will not be using anymore hormonal contraceptives (unless necessary as a medical treatment for a medical problem).

So, I know this has segued into my moral and health-conscience quandary over using birth control pills. But I wanted to have my experience documented out there in cyberspace for any other woman who is concerned about having a similar experience on Micronor and its various generics.

Things that Don’t Make Sense to Me

July 23, 2008

I found this gem written by Jeana on the blog Days to Come.  I could just link you to it, but I wanted to reprint it so that I could look back on it again and again throughout my life even if Jeana dissolves her blog someday.  I am tempted to print it out and tape it up somewhere.  It’s like reading an examination of conscience.

Things that Don’t Make Sense to Me:

  1. How having four children quadrupled the love I have for my kids instead of dividing it into four.
  2. How focusing on meeting my husband’s needs results in my own needs being met.
  3. Why having a lot of “me” time tends to make me more self-centered, not less.
  4. Why serving others makes me more content, not less.
  5. How spending time with God usually results in me accomplishing more that day, not less.
  6. Why exercising gives me more energy, and not exercising makes me more tired.
  7. How submitting to God’s will brings freedom rather than confinement.
  8. Why things that taste good often are not good for me.
  9. Why having fewer things makes me enjoy them more–and vice versa.
  10. How I can know all of these things are true and too often behave as though they are not.

Dr. Horrible and The Guild

July 22, 2008

This morning my friend Kelly made me aware of Joss Whedon’s latest project Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along  Blog.  She knows that I am a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I have written a few post or two on the subject).  I can’t believe that I haven’t been keeping tabs on Joss, but I am looking forward to my husband downloading Dr. Horrible for me when he gets home from work.  I mean it’s Joss Whedon,and Neil Patrick Harris sings.  (I had a total crush on Doogie Howser, so I wasn’t that surprised to learn that Neil is gay.  It seems to be a theme in my life.)

Anywho, so I was looking over the clips and cast list for Dr. Horrible and found an interesting note about Felicia Day, the lead actress.  I remember her as Vi, one of the potential slayers on Buffy.  So Felicia Day writes, produces, and stars in a little web series called The Guild.  I decided to check it out on YouTube, where all 10 four-minute episodes are available and got hooked.  It probably helps that the guy who plays Zaboo reminds me of an old acquaintance.

I should warn that The Guild does have some profanity and sexual innuendo, but I think the overall story is interesting in a warped and quirky kind of way.  And did I mention that Felicia Day was homeschooled because her family moved a lot with the Air Force.  According to her Wiki page and IMDb, she’s a professional-level violinist and she has a degree in Mathematics from the University of Texas.  And she seems to have a pretty thick acting resume.  Not bad for one of those homeschooled weirdo kids.

So, I now present Episode 1 of The Guild: