Thursday, August 14, 2008

iLove my iPod

I am not necessarily a music-lover. I tend to get stuck on songs that I feel relate to my season of life. My iPod was a gift to me from my dh, and I didn't realize, since I'm not a music-lover, how much I would grow to love it.

I had my daughter at the doctor's office this week. My doctor's office is notorious for long waits. My kids are notorious for hating long waits. Before I left, I booted up iTunes, searched for Dora and Backyardigans episodes, purchased, and downloaded, within five minutes. When we were settled in the waiting room, I whipped out the iPod, handed it to my daughter, and she waited contentedly while watching her own private cartoons. She watched in the waiting room, the smaller waiting room (a la Seinfeld), the pharmacy, and the lab. Easy. iLove my iPod.

I am the emotional music listener. I get stuck on songs that I feel relate to my season of life. My profile song on myspace is constantly changing to reflect my daily life. Right now, I'm in the midst of a hellish summer, so Bananarama is belting out "Cruel Summer" while you read my blog. My iPod is the same way. Before I go anywhere alone, for a mom that is RARE, I make sure I have my signature songs ready to go with me, or I download some new one. I was going for coffee last week with my girlfriend, I downloaded some Prince and Nehneh Cherry to set the mood. My iPod is a reflection of my desired mental state.

I'm also the emotional exerciser. When I am stressed out, or dealing with some ridiculous drama, I must get on the treadmill and work it out. My iPod is my running partner. With the Playlist, I can arrange, delete, download, all the songs I need to pound out the drama. Lately it's been an opening of MJB "Grown Woman" and a closing of Simply Red's "Sunrise". All my exercise songs are waiting in that awesome little machine. My iPod inspires me to move.

Not only do I have "grown-up" music on my iPod, I have all the kids' favorites, too. Recently, I realized the car kit cord will reach to my older son's seat behind me in the van. Great! No more trying to find their requested tunes while I'm driving. That iPod is so easy to use, I hand it to my 6yo, and he's our deejay, playing requests and turning it up. My iPod is teaching him to figure things out and to enjoy making people happy by playing their song. How far will this take him in life? Who knows, but heLoves my iPod.

But, my iPod is not just about music. I can go into iTunes U and browse hundreds of lectures and talks about endless topics. I've downloaded subjects like early childhood learning, the life of Thoreau, how Starbucks changed the coffee industry, and the problems of airplane travel, all to listen to in bits and pieces while I wait for things to happen. Usually I'm at church, early for a meeting, or simply wanting to avoid conversation. I stick in the ear buds and I'm in college. It's awesome.

I've downloaded TV shows, interviews, and books. When I was leaving town for the weekend, my dh made a song with the kids and downloaded it secretly onto my iPod. While I was on the road, there was my family, suddenly on the playlist, reminding me they love me and to have a great time. I'm constantly browsing iTunes to see what's new, what's hot, what's free. That place is chock full of interesting items, and so, therefore, is my iPod. iLove my iPod.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Random Thoughts Tonight

Today was a beautiful day, especially in Lakewood. I don't know what it is, but the parks there have a lovely breeze that never fails. It was right about noon, and as I lugged my chair, lunch, and the kids' sand toys across the grass to "my spot", I wondered, considering how hot I felt, if I would be comfortable sitting there for a while. Thank you, Lord, Keeper of the Wind, the cool breeze in the shade made me almost cold.

We hit the playground, then followed up with a long walk over all the hills and grassy areas amongst the trees. At one point, the trees were in a perfect circle around us, so I called the kids close to me, and we made a family pact with a pinkie promise right in the center of the tree circle. What did we say? whisper? yell? Oh, sorry, that's a Medina Family secret. I made them stop and take deep breaths of the air filled with freshly mown grass smell, feel the breeze in their hair, and let them run barefoot with no boundaries for once.
Here are a couple highlights of conversation.

Prof X: "Man, the sidewalk is hot over there!" (we all had shoes off)
Mom: "Really?"
Prof X: "Yeah, it feels like you're in Hell!"
Mom: "Wow, that IS really hot."

I should mention that a group of daycare kids were there, adding to the potential drama of the day. I love seeing a big group of kids, because I know my kids have fun making new friends, but this group seemed to include more than one troublemaker. Prof X came over to me, after I had tracked down Princess O's purple shovel that a little daycare girl was trying to pilfer, and his face was half-covered with sand. I asked him what happened, expecting a story of sand-throwing or pushing, but no, he fell on his face from the monkey bars. I took the opportunity to ask him if his new buddies were playing nice.

Professor X: "No, they're not very nice."
Mom: "Okay, well, tell me if you have any problems."
Prof X: "What will you say to them?"
Now, usually, I don't say much to the other kids. I tell my own kids to play somewhere else, or explain that some families allow things that our family doesn't. Today, I could see Prof X needed some back-up. This was my response,
Mom: "How about I tell those kids to get out of here or I'm going to whip their butts?"
Prof X: looks up at me grinning hugely, "YEAH!"

Thankfully, there was no need for that, but I think it was good for him to hear old mom bring some fire power to the park for once.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

This weekend has been a good time for us. On Saturday, we headed to the Belmont Shore Sand Castle Competition. There weren't as many entries as I had anticipated. We saw some creative sculptures, some typical sculptures, and some creative sculptures. My favorite was the stack of pancakes, and the kids preferred the Wall-e and Eve sculpture. The day was sunny and warm, a tad too windy for me, but what do expect at the beach? Here are the pics. Keep reading for further beach observations, things I wished I could have taken a picture of, and something no one should have had to see.

This was the group of sculptures that greeted everyone entering the beach area to see the competition. We saw these, and expected great things. I saw the guy who made these and he looked like a beach dude, with very sandy knees. Wouldn't you love to be paid to make something on the beach all day?

These were our personal favorites. The kids loved sand Wall-e, and I loved the sand pancakes. I was hungry, what can I say. No, really, they're so cool! See the pat of butter and the syrup? There was also a sand plate of eggs and bacon with a sand mug of coffee. The pics didn't come out that great, though.

This pirate was really cool. Next to him is a treasure chest with seaweed on top. The contestants could use anything they found on the beach that morning.While this armadillo was definitely the ugliest entry. See the seashell toenails? Ugh. The caption said, "Arkansas House Pet". Enough said, I will never live in Arkansas.
The thing that no one should have had to see? A three-year-old playing naked in the waves. Every time we go to the beach, I see a small child naked on the beach. With as many perverts and pedophiles that we KNOW of, and all the people on the beach with cameras, I don't understand why parents would EVER let their child be naked there.
What I wish I could have taken a picture of? The woman trying to light a cigarette on such a windy day. I guess she wanted to stroll along the picturesque coastline, puffing her cancer-stick, and having her moment. This woman hid behind her friend, cupped her hand around the lighter, shook the lighter, turned her back to every angle possible, and eventually, got the thing lit. Since I was sitting near her, I got a full face of smoke from her first drag. What a shame.
The beach is a wonderful place for a family day. We swam, played in the waves, ate snacks in the sunshine, made our own sand sculptures (they got wiped out by waves), and even tried to fly a kite (that's another blog). We made a memory, and that is a great day.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Netflix - Why I Love It

Netflix, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
Okay, but seriously, I do love Netflix. This is why.
The selection of movies on Netflix is so extensive I feel like I will never really see everything they offer. One of my favorite things to do is just browse Netflix. There is new, old, classic, all categorized, and all rated for me personally based on my ratings of what I've already seen. My queue is a wide variety of mainstream, independent, documentary, children and family. Whatever I'm in the mood for, Netflix has it. I have over 200 movies in my queue.
One of the best features is the automatic movie info window that pops up when the cursor hovers for a few seconds over the movie title. I have some obscure Bollywood movies in my queue, and in a few seconds I can see what the heck the name means, and the storyline. Then, as if that wasn't enough, when I add a movie to my queue, a new window pops up, telling me the movie was successfully added, and suggesting some other movies I might enjoy based on that selection. I can spend hours, I can spend days, browsing Netflix and never seeing it all.
And not only do they have it, but it's available NOW! I'm constantly in my queue, moving things around, knowing that whatever I stick at the top, most likely, I'll have it in my hot little hands in a day or so. Oh, but wait, now the Watch Instantly feature works on my PC, and that has opened a whole new window of options. (I had a Mac before, just bought my Compaq laptop.)
The other night, we put on a documentary, "Darkon", that we just couldn't get into. It was about the lifestyle of adults who role-play war in the country of Darkon. Most of the people grew up playing D&D and can't seem to let it go. We didn't want to waste a couple hours watching a boring doc, so we turned it off. But I was in the mood for a good documentary. I mean, come on, I had a fresh cup of coffee! As I went into my queue to move my next picks around, I planned to ship "Darkon" back as soon as it was light, I realized I could Watch Instantly! Yes! From my queue, which shows what movies are ready to watch NOW, I found a documentary that looked intersting. I plugged in my headphones and happily settled into "The Business of Being Born", Ricki Lake's doc comparing maternity and birth experiences at a hospital to those at home with a midwife. I was totally immersed in maternity wards, racing around with the midwife, and I even got to see Ricki Lake have her baby in her own bathtub! All this while I sat on my couch, cradling my laptop. When it was over, I went back to Netflix, rated the doc (5 stars), removed it from my queue, and noted that my dh seemed very relieved he hadn't had to watch it with me.
On Sunday nights, my family likes to watch Nature on PBS. Sometimes it's a rerun, or something we don't find that interesting. Netflix has a variety of educational nature offerings. We can plan our homeschool lessons around videos we get, or the kids can watch instantly on the pc if they see a movie that interests them. The other day, they were in the mood for some Charlie Brown. We booted up, and there was the Peanuts gang waiting for us at Netflix. The kids were happy, and so was I because I got to make dinner uninterrupted.
Netflix is amazing. In case you don't know, the company was started by a very wealthy man who didn't want to pay late fees at Blockbuster. He eventually wanted to sell-out to Blockbuster, but they refused, instead setting their star upon Enron and some dvd rental mail/pc scheme they had cooked up. We all know what happened to Enron (if you don't, watch "The Smartest Guys in the Room", Netflix has it.) Now, Blockbuster has attempted a Netflix-esque program, and I once had an account with them. It totally sucked. Movies were never available, we waited an eternity for movies in the mail, got reminders for movies we had already returned, that kind of nonsense.
Netflix is far above and beyond any other company for movie-watchers who want to see everything available as soon as possible. That's me, and that's why I love Netflix.