The Finish Line

Day 61 of walking

This Saturday is academic decathlon, which means Catholic school children all across the state of California currently hate life. On Sunday they will love decathlon and proclaim it the best experience ever. It’s a lot like pregnancy and child birth, only in this case it lasts 6 months and the prize at the end is a picnic full of junk food and maybe a medal.

Mikey lost all motivation to study this final week. He’s tired, he’ll never memorize everything, he hates the plant life cycle and Phoebus Levene and flash cards. I told him he’s made it this far, so he can’t drop to a crawl 10 feet from the finish line. It’s sprint time, so stop whining and start running. (You know, encouraging stuff.) Then we blasted the Rocky (Main Theme) song at full blast on repeat because we are, above all things, geeks. An hour later he had his headphones on and was humming the theme to Rocky so loudly as he pounded the keys on Quizlet that I thought the walls were going to crumble down around us in an inspiring and heroic fashion.

Not Bunco

Day 60

Years ago, when Mikey was still a toddler, I started a Bunco night. I put together a group of friends and acquaintances and made pizza from scratch. One woman brought a bottle of champagne. We mingled, ate and drank, and played. People left reluctantly, long after the last game ended. It was a success! I knew, as I watched the last car drive down the street, that I was right to step out of my comfort zone and form this group.

Three months later we disbanded the group before we murdered each other.

On Saturday I went to the inaugural meeting of a book club that started after I mentioned to two friends on Facebook that I would love to get together. They held me to it, and I’m so glad they did. I had an amazing time. Fingers crossed I still like them by August.

Today was my 60th walk of 2017. I’m back to my daily walking/taking pictures of feet routine. There’s no place like home.

Crap TV

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School is starting a a few short weeks, so I’ve reached the Impending Sense of Doom portionofmylibrary project. I’m at the libraryevery day and bringing work home when I leave. I sound all Super DedicatedLibrarian, but it’s been hard for me to work from home. Once I goback home tothe land of air conditioning, I don’t want to work (the library shares an a/c unit with another classroom andit can’t keep both rooms coolonce the temperature exceeds 95–it’s been 101-114). All I want to do is hydrate and lie downon my bed under the ceiling fan with a good book curling in the grip of my sweaty, sweaty hands.

But! Good news!I have new motivation in the form oftwo volunteers coming on Monday.I have to enter a fair number of books so they can turn around and label them with barcodes and spine labels. I debated having them enter books with me, but that requires a few hours of training. No one wants to do that, least of all me, the person whose epitaph will read,You know what? I’ll just do it myself. They have very young children and they want service hours they can do at night in front of the TV when the kids are in bed. Sticking labels on books is, like, dream service hours.

But to get those dream service hours, I have to enter a lot of books and be reasonably entertained while I do it.

Which is how on Tuesday I entered over 50 books while watching Teen Wolf. Not to brag, or anything.

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I heard about Teen Wolf a few years ago from the 7th grade girls (now sophomores in high school). I watched the first 10 seconds of the trailer and decided to look for something else to talk to them about because Teen Wolf, or anything on MTV, for that matter, isnot a show for someone who pants over Lutherand other men of dubious moral integrity.

On MondayI was on Goodreads or Tumblr or somewhere teens recommend books, and a book popped up I’d never heard about. It was Teen Wolf fan fiction; obviously a dead end. But that reminded me of those sweet girls trying to get me to watch Teen Wolf, whichgot me thinking that I could never watch Teen Wolf unless I had it on as background while Idid something else, which made me sit up and say wait a minute

An hour later the Mister and I had the first episodestreaming on Amazon Prime. Thirty minutes later he shook his head and said, “What was…that was…that was awful! Really, really awful, Jules.”

“I know,” I said, already planning my Tuesday. “It’s freaking perfect.”

I told the Mister when he got home that I entered 50 books into the system while watching Teen Wolf. Once he managed to smooththe look of horror from his face he asked, “And how was that for you?”

“Fantastic,” I replied. “Teen Wolf is exactly what I was looking for because the show is muchbetter when you’re not actually watching it.”

“And there you go,” he said.

You guys, entering books while watching lousy TV is the best thing ever for my productivity. I need more Crap TV* recommendations just in case I can’t get past the first season or two of Teen Wolf. We don’t have cable, so the showhas to be available on Netflix, HULU, or Amazon Prime.

Here are some shows I’ve tried and just can’t do.

  • Vampire Diaries:I started watching for the kids a few years ago. I made it several seasons in before I just couldn’t anymore. The death-knell momentwas this awkward scene ofElena and Damian dancing at a fratparty under the thrall of bloodlust. To this day, I cringe in embarrassment when I hear that song.
  • Once Upon a Time: I tried.
  • Gilmore Girls: The mom seriously bugged me, which I think I’ve mentioned before in the comments of a TV post.
  • Real Housewives of ANYWHERE: I am looking for a show that will amuse me, not fill me with rage. Most reality TV shows are a no-go for me as they make me want to hurt people.

Here are twofun shows I enjoy, so they won’t work for entering books. I’ll start watching the show instead of entering the books. Two shows! That’s it! Looks like I need some more fun shows.

*Crap TV is a lazy way to label a show that doesn’t require a ton of attention to enjoy. I’m not saying it’s bad, nor am I judging you for watching said show. Hahaha! YES I AM.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter | Universal Studios, Hollywood

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Mikey and I went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Hollywood, last Wednesday! He, along with another huge Harry Potter fan, asked to visit the park for their birthdays. So, that’s what we did! We did a combined birthday celebration sort of thing, except we didn’t invite any friends and we left the siblings at home.áHah!

That may sound weird to some, but it actually worked out perfectly. The kidsáwanted to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWoHP) with aáhardcore fan who wouldn’t tease them for being so crazy about a book series, soátheyáonly wanted to go to the park with someone who had finishedáthe series, too. This was the key to the kingdom, so to speak, which meant the siblings had to stay home.*áThey also wanted to go with someone who hadn’t already been to the park, to avoid spoilers. This eliminated a number of friends who went when the park opened in March,áor went to the one in Orlando. Then, there was the number of people. Three kids wasn’t enough when it came to rides and group dynamics, but four kids was too many. Letting them experience WWoHP, just the two of them, made the most sense. Also, those tickets aren’t cheap. They wereá$105 per person, purchased in advance at a discount.

*Nico completely understood the reasoning behind this decision and is now super motivated to finish the series. He’s on Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. When he finishes the series, he’s getting his own Harry Potter day. Mikey did pick out a few gifts for him at the park but has not shared with him an iota of his experience because he wants it to be a surprise for Nico.

Some notes of the day for myself and anyone interested in going. Spoilers below!

When you walk into Universal Studios, you’ll get a map of the park and a separate guide for WWoHP. The Wizarding guide will tell you to visit in the afternoon to avoid the crowds and long lines. We ignored this and are so glad we did! Purchasing your tickets online allows you to enter the park one hour before it opens, so when we entered WWoHP, the shops were just opening. Our wait times before the park opened were minimal. By afternoon, the line for a simple butterbeer was over 40 minutes! WWoHP gets very, very, very crowded. I’m talking wall-to-wall people, and sometimes it’s difficult to even turn around in a shop. You really are like a fish swimming up stream. Because of this, I’d say to skip WWoHPáor wait until the excitement dies down if áyou’re not a hardcore fan of the series.

Ollivander’s

There were three main goals Mikey had for the day, and getting a wand from Ollivander’sáwas one of them. The wands will operate storefront windows with special movements and work at the WWoHP ináOrlando, Hollywood and, Japan. The experience was amazing. You walk into a small room, similar to the small room in the Haunted House ride at Disneyland. There, you meet Ollivander’s assistant. They ask all the kids in the audience (about 20 people) to stand in front. They pull one of the kids out of the crowd and fit them foráa new wand. They essentially recreate Harry’s experience when he gets his wand. Guess what? Mikey was the kid chosen! He was so nervous. Here’s a very poor video of him getting fitted for his wand.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

This ride was amazing! The wait is long, but you walk throughout Hogwart’sácastle and grounds. We visited Professor Sprout’s greenhouse, the Slytherin dungeons and the Defense Against the Dark Art’s classroom, Professor Dumbledore’s office, and various classrooms and hallways. We were so entranced with all the details that we often held up the line–but no one noticed because they were also caught up in the details!

The ride simulates a broom ride through the forbidden forest, the castle grounds, and a quidditch match. We loved it!

Flight of the Hippogriff

I read a sign right outside the ride that asked if we lost or forgot something. “Yes,” I quipped. “Forty five minutes of our lives.” This ride is really for little kids, but not. It’s a roller coaster, but it last no more than 30 seconds. The wait is long and outside. Hagrid’s hut and motorbike aren’t exciting enough to make up for such a long wait in the heat with little to no shade.

Frog Choir

This is a live performance of Hogwarts students and singing frogs. I thought we should try it, but Mikey said no. We walked by when they were performing. It was awkward.

Triwizard Spirit Rally

Mikey and his friend weren’t interested, so we skipped it. It’s another live performance.

Three Broomsticks/The Hog’s Headá

Three Broomsticks is restaurant where you eat, The Hog’s Head is the bar where you drink–just like in the books. Earlier in the day, the kidsáwalked up to “the bar” and ordered butterbeers. They are very sweet cream sodas with a hint of butterscotch, and have a super thick, creamy head.áThey were a bit too sweet for me, but everyone else loved them.

I wanted to eat at Three Broomsticks for lunch, but it was English pub food. Mikey and his friend were in the mood for burgers. It was their day, so we went into the larger park and had burgers which, admittedly, were pretty delicious.

Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods

You walk out of theáHarry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride and straight into Filch’s Emporium, which is a gift shop. They have the best selection of t-shirts and movie memorabilia.

Butterbeer Cart / Magic Neep Cart

There are butterbeer carts where you can buy snacks and butterbeer, though I liked buying two pints at The Hog’s Head and sitting outside under a canopy. The Magic Neep cart is a cart where you can buy pumpkin juice, fresh fruit, and snacks. Pumpkin juice is also very sweet, and tastes a bit like pumpkin pie flavored apple juice. Mikey and his friend loved it, but couldn’t finish their bottles.

Honeydukes /áZonko’s Joke Shop

Mikey’sáother two goals were to buy Chocolate Frogs at Honeydukes and a prank from Zonko’s. The Chocolate Frogs are beautifully packagedáand solid chocolate, but expensive at $9.95 each. Zonko’s joke shop is more like an alcove in Honeydukes and sellsátoys for younger kids. Mikey’s friend “adopted” a pygmy puff.

Derwish andáBanges

Mikey really wanted to go in here since they sell quidditch supplies, but nothing really struck his fancy. The brooms were either really expensive ($300 for a “real” one) or $35 for a plastic toy broom that a little kidáwould love. It was also very crowded.

Wiseacres Wizarding Equipment

We somehow skipped this shop. They sell wizarding supplies, obviously. Think telescopes, crystal balls, compasses, and the like.

Gladrags Wizardwear

This shop sellsárefined wizard wear. Haha! I can’t believe I just typed that. Wool sweaters, silk Hogwarts house ties, and high quality Hogwarts robes. Seriously.áThey’reáheavy, lined, and come with wand pockets. At $110, you wouldn’t think people would buy them, but there were some true fans out there wearing their Gladrags robes. I have a picture of Mikey and his friend wearing Hogwarts/Gryffindor robes. They look very sweet. Then we put the robes back on the rack.

Final Thoughts

My friend told me that we would spend at least 3 hours in WWoHP. I didn’t believe her. Well, we ended up spending 6 hours there, so that goes to show you how much I know! Much of that was walking through the shops and waiting because of the insane lines and crowds. It was way too hot to visit the rest of the park after we were done, and I was worried about getting home in LA traffic. I would go again and can’t wait for Nico to finish the series, but we’ll go in the winter when it’s cooler and the crowds are smaller. The attention to detail throughout is outstanding. Those who read the books will feel rewarded. BUT! If you watchedáthe movies once and thought they were good but never read the books, I wouldn’t go. It’d be a total waste of money. You go to WWoHP because you’re a fan of the books, have watched the movies, and want to buy merchandise. WWoHP isáa very well done Harry Potter-themed mall. There’s only one ride worth going on, and the rest of it is shopping and eating.

Definitely worth going, but with caveats.

 

10 Minutes and Two Glass Front Cabinets

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Thank you for all the support, here and on Facebook and Instagram, regarding Nico’s allergy appointment. Related: remember when the only way to replyáto someone online was to leave a comment on the blog post?

I have walked past this entry table and shuddered every day of the last week. Yesterday, I gave in and set aside a couple of hours to tackle it. It took me 10 minutes and I texted with a friend while I did it. My projected completion timeáwas off by about 110 minutes.

Small projectsánever, ever, ever take as long as youáthink theyáwill. I bet telling ourselvesáwe don’t have time to clean something up is a mind trick weáplay to excuse procrastination. Well, I shouldn’t speak for everyone. It’s a mind trick I play with myself and, let’s be honest, will most likely keep playing.

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Two days of mail, two bags from my mom (shoes and office supplies, don’t ask), the Benadryl I bought for Nico, a gift from a student, two thermometers, my Weight Watcher’s pouch, and Nico’s case for his retainer. I spent as much time on the flowers as I did clearing off the table.

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I wish ten minutes was all it took for me to figure out what to do with these glass front corner cabinets. I had to have those two glass frontácabinets when we remodeled the kitchen 11áyears ago, back whenáMikey was a baby and Nico was way off in the horizon. For display, I said! We’ll turnáthe lights on at night, and they’ll be all glow-y and sparkle-y and pretty, I said!

LIES! Only an amateur áwould take away useable cabinet space from a small kitchen and use it for display. They are caverns of grease and dust and, oddly enough, sports bottles on the right. Oh, and I think one of the lights burned out years ago, which is fine because we never turnáthe lights on.

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Sometimes, when I’m not in the mood to gaze at my navel, I’ll walk into the kitchen and contemplate my two glass front corner cabinets. I imagine how I can rework them to make them useable. What does one put in cabinets that are too large to hold na´vetÚ, but too small to fitáhubris? Here are some options I’ve considered. Suggestions welcome.

  • Cookbooks on the bottom, no idea what on top (glass shelves may not hold heavy cookbooks)
  • Glasses
  • Baskets filled with seasonal items
  • Tea and coffee canisters
    • must start makingátea and coffee at home for maximum effectiveness
  • Medicine and vitamins, but in cute containers and stuff
    • because decanting zinc is a fantastic use of time
  • Some sort of kitchen-y collection
    • must start collection for maximum effectiveness

 

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