Friday, January 31, 2014

Family : Circling the Wagons

I have four kids. That gives me a lot of free passes for stuff:
“You can’t make a cake for the PTA bake sale? Honey, totally don’t worry about it. I don’t know how you manage getting anything done with four kids…”

“You’re late? That’s alright. I’m sure just getting out the door with four kids is a feat in and of itself…”

“You’re going to go run some race half way across the country? I don’t blame you. Sometimes a mama just needs to get away from her four kids.”

So yeah, a lot of times the four kids thing works in my favor. 

But it also means, with six people living in my house – 3 girls, 3 boys – that statistically, somebody’s eventually gonna go crazy. Especially as my four kids are inching up on teenagerism.

The statistics were right: one of my middle school aged kids, done lost her mind this past November and December. It was pretty vicious – the choices she was making, the way she was thinking about herself & others – and I was left wondering how I didn’t see it coming. At all.

But let me make one thing clear: it is an absolutely brutal time to be a teenage girl in our society. 

Issues of health, self-esteem, beauty, attraction, belonging and self-worth have always plagued young girls. But now it plagues them with a running commentary from everyone they know (and some they don’t) when these girls put their feelings out into cyberspace for all to see. 

I’m not saying anything new here, that hasn’t been already been said much better by other people. And believe it or not, it’s not even my point.

My point is what happened after my daughter had the mind-losing experience.

This happened:

Okay not just that. 
When my parents found out about the struggles my daughter was going through, they dropped everything at their home in Georgia, and came and stayed with us for six-weeks.  
They didn’t come up here to tell my husband and I what we were doing wrong as parents (although I’m sure the list was long) or to be voices of criticism to our daughter.   
Instead, they came up and cooked meals and did chores so I could spend much needed one-on-one time with my daughter and not have to worry about what the rest of the family would eat or if the laundry would ever get done.  
They played games and watched movies with my other three kids so they wouldn’t feel left out, as mom and dad had to spend more time with their sibling. 
They went and ate lunch with my kids at their school sometimes 2-3 times a week. Bringing – much to the kids’ delight – fast food or sub sandwiches for them to eat, rather than the cafeteria food.  
They sat with my troubled daughter some evenings and told funny stories of the mischief my brother and I got into as kids.  And helped us pry my daughter’s smart phone out of her hands so she could learn to reset and live without it.
But most of all, they came in and spoke life and encouragement to me and my husband and our kids and our house. They hugged and prayed and smiled and loved. Day in and day out, over and over, for six weeks. 
My parents left today – having done, I think, what they set out to do: help me and my family get back on course. And I already see a positive change in my daughter that I want to continue to foster. 
Most importantly, my parents proved to my daughter, without ever having to say the words, that nothing was more important to them than her.  That when family needs your help, you stop what you’re doing and give the help that’s needed.  
Circling the wagons. To protect what’s precious within.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Right Now I'm Loving...

Right now I'm loving... Harrison Ford.

But honestly, I've been loving Harrison Ford since 1977, when I was the grand ol' age of three. Still love him all these um... 26 years later.

I went to see the new Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit movie a few days ago (I liked it -- it was okay. Not fabulous, but kept my attention).  I wonder if Chris Pine has enough onscreen charisma to be the next Harrison Ford. I have to admit, I like Chris Pine quite a bit. Pine has got that cocky, let-me-wink-at-you-baby-it'll-make-everything-okay-promise bit going on pretty well.

Who's scruffy-looking?

Maybe it's because of the Jack Ryan movie, maybe it's because it's cold as Hoth in Virginia this week. But I started thinking about the original scoundrel. This was going around the Interwebs today:

Which is awesome. As Harrison Ford is.

But here's the real question. How many of the Harrison Ford characters/movies can you name based on the pictures below? Answers (and my score) are at the bottom of the page.

One last quote from the man himself:

I, sadly, was only able to get 27 out of the 40 of the Ford movies, and most of those were only movie titles, not full name of the characters. Obviously I need to spend a little time on my Harrison Ford movies this year.  How many could you get?

Row 1: Lieutenant Shaffer (A Time for Killing), Willie Bill Bearden (Journey To Shiloh), Jake (Getting Straight), Bob Falfa (American Graffiti), Martin Stett (The Conversation)

Row 2: Han Solo (Star Wars: A New Hope), Ken Boyd (Heroes), Barnsby (Force 10 from Navarone), Colonel Lucas (Apocalypse Now), Lieutenant David Halloran (Hanover Street)

Row 3: Tommy Lilard (The Frisco Kid), Han Solo (Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back), Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Rick Deckard (Blade Runner), Han Solo (Star Wars: Return of the Jedi)

Row 4: Indiana Jones (Temple of Doom), John Book (Witness), Allie Fox (Mosquito Coast), Dr. Richard Walker (Frantic), Jack Trainer (Working Girl)

Row 5: Indiana Jones (Last Crusade), Rozat Sabich (Presumed Innocent), Henry Turner (Regarding Henry), Jack Ryan (Patriot Games), Dr. Richard Kimble (The Fugitive)

Row 6: Jack Ryan (Clear and Present Danger), Linus Larrabee (Sabrina), Tom O’Meara (The Devil’s Own), President James Marshall (Air Force One), Quinn Harris (6 days 7 nights)

Row 7: Dutch Van Den Broek (Random Hearts), Norman Spencer (What Lies Beneath), Captain Alexei Vostrikov (K-19: the Widow Maker), Sergeant Joe Gavilan (Hollywood Homicide), Jack Stanfield (Firewall)

Row 8: Indiana Jones (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), Max Brogan (Crossing Over), Dr. Robert Stonehill (Extraordinary Measures), Mike Pomeroy (Morning Glory), Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde (Cowboys & Aliens)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Geek Fest 2013: My Movie List

My blog has had to take a back to seat to my real writing deadlines, so sorry. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like that's going to change any time soon. But before we got too far into 2014, I wanted to share my 2013 movie list. 

Every year for the past four years I've kept a list of all the movies I've watched during that year. It all started because a friend mentioned he did it, so I had jump on that bandwagon, of course. In 2013, I watched 150 movies. (2012's list also had 150, 2011's list had 175; 2010's list had 331 -- let's not even talk about that).

There's no big revelation about me in these lists, except probably that I watch too many movies.

If a movie is on the list more than once, that's because I watched it more than once during 2013. Unlike some of my movie buff friends (you know who you are) I did not consider watching a double episode of a television show, or an hour-long comedy special, a movie.

(Although I almost considered listing the BBC Sherlock episodes as movies, since those are each 1.5 hours long, but decided against it. Television is not movies. But just FYI -- WATCH THOSE if you haven't. They are fabulous)

* denotes that I was seeing it for the first time
# denotes that it was part of the Sunday Showdown Challenge

Movies that are highlighted are ones I most enjoyed and would most recommend. My top three recommendations from what I saw in 2013 would be: The Intouchables, All About Eve and Safety Not Guaranteed. Although seriously, you can't go wrong with any of the ones that were highlighted.

And yes, I am keeping a list for 2014. Right now it has a big, fat NOTHING on it. But it will have The Way, Way Back, as soon as I can find the time.

2013 Movie List

1 Taxi Driver*#
2 Man on a Ledge*
3 Ted*
4 Safety Not Guaranteed*
5 Pitch Perfect*
6 Spirited Away*#
7 The Maltese Falcon#
8 Beasts of the Southern Wild*
9 On the Waterfront*#
10 Life of Pi*
11 Lincoln*
12 Zero Dark Thirty*
13 Silver Linings Playbook*
14 Beasts of the Southern Wild*
15 Django Unchained*
16 Les Miserables*
17 Argo*
18 A Good Day to Die Hard*
19 Burning Man: Beyond Black Rock*
20 Lawrence of Arabia#*
21 Rear Window#
22 WALL-E*#
23 The Shining#
24 The Intouchables*
25 A Streetcar Named Desire#
26 Premium Rush*
27 Alien*
28 The Perks of Being a Wallflower*
29 The Mummy
30 The Bourne Legacy
31 8 Years of Burning Man*
32 It Happened One Night*#
33 Ruby Sparks*
34 Step Up: Revolution*
35 Confessions of a Burning Man*
36 Trouble with the Curve*
37 Amelie#
38 To Rome With Love*
39 The Journey of Natty Gann
40 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
41 This Means War
42 GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
43 GI Joe: Retaliation*
44 21 Jump Street*
45 Vertigo#
46 Iron Man 3*
47 The Philadelphia Story#
48 Looper*
49 Taken 2*
50 Bonnie and Clyde*#
51 Step Up*
52 2 Fast 2 Furious
53 Fast and Furious
54 King Kong#
55 Oblivion*
56 American Beauty#
57 American History X*#
58 Apocalypse Now*#
59 Fast Five
60 The Fast and the Furious 6*
61 Star Trek Into Darkness*
62 Argo
63 Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift
64 The Best Years Of Our Lives*#
65 Chasing Mavericks*
66 Citizen Kane#
67 Pitch Perfect
68 Annie Hall#*
69 Leon: The Professional#
70 Mao’s Last Dancer*
71 Snow White and the Seven Dwarves#
72 Source Code
73 Iron Man 3
74 The Great Gatsby*
75 Star Trek Into Darkness
76 The Mummy
77 The Mummy Returns
78 The Sound of Music#
79 Hot Fuzz
80 Oz The Great and Powerful*
81 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest#
82 The Godfather#
83 Sunset Boulevard*#
84 The Godfather Part II #
85 Sex and the City The Movie
86 GI:Joe –Retaliation
87 It’s a Wonderful Life#
88 Matrix
89 Matrix Reloaded
90 Matrix Revolutions
91 Se7en#
92 High Noon*#
93 Star Trek Into Darkness
94 Thor
95 Sex & the City 2
96 All About Eve#
97 Elysium*
98 Mr. & Mrs. Smith
99 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington#
100 Eraser
101 Now You See Me*
102 E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial#
103 Limitless
104 Toy Story 3*#
105 Déjà vu
106 The Bodyguard
107 Mud*
108 The Graduate#
109 Monsters University*
110 Seven Samurai#*
111 The General#*
112 The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly#*
113 Casablanca#
114 Heathers
115 The Heat*
116 2001: A Space Odyssey#
117 Goodfellas#
118 Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters*
119 Frequency
120 Love Potion #9
121 Cloud Atlas*
122 Here Comes the Boom*
123 Much Ado About Nothing*
124 Star Wars#
125 Psycho#
126 The Empire Strikes Back#
127 A Good Day to Die Hard
128 Romeo + Juliet
129 Pacific Rim*
130 Rock of Ages
131 Gone with the Wind#
132 Inception#
133 The Kings of Summer*
134. World War Z*
135 Thor 2*
136 Jack Reacher
137 World War Z
138 The Internship*
139 Skyfall
140 Man of Steel*
141 Men in Black 3
142 White House Down*
143 Singin’ In the Rain#
144 Secretary
145 Moneyball
146 Top Gun
147 Red
148 Red 2*
149 Chicago

Friday, January 3, 2014

Triathlon Tuesday: Ironman Triathlon Updates

 Time for my every-once-in-a-while link to my other blog: Full-On Stupid: A Journey to Ironman. Training for Ironman Florida on November 1, 2014: 2.6-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run.

My Ironman Triathlon training, although not in full speed yet (that begins mid-February), has begun. I'm taking this adventure with two of my best friends Princess Megan & Hippie Shelby. The race is in Panama City FL on November 1, 2014.

Here are some training highlights from the past couple of weeks on my Ironman Training Blog if you're interested:

The Post Where Janie Becomes Intimately Acquainted with Shane West  (Something is going to have to get me through all those miles on the bike!)

The Post With the Ironman Christmas Presents (It's amazing how I'm incapable of surviving for one minute without music while training -- even in the pool. Plus cool other stuff, like not being able to count) 

And, just so you can really call me stupid, here's a picture my friend Princess Megan shared earlier this week of an Ironman Florida Swim start from a few years ago:

Praying the Gulf will not be like this in 2014.

Yeah, nothing to be afraid of there.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

"Focusing" on a New Year

I was trying to find FB posts today from my friends and family on their New Year Resolutions and was shocked to find that almost everyone has come out and said that  they are against making New Years Resolutions.

How everybody pretty much feels about New Years Resolutions:

I hear ya. It's pretty easy to start listing all the things we're going to do, but with no real plan of action of how to accomplish them. So we begin the year all gung-ho and make it for about five weeks on sheer determination before real life becomes too hard and we putter out. It's happened to me many times.

So it seems that since New Year Resolutions have become synonymous with starting a goal only to quit a few weeks later, people have decided not to make goals at all.

I'm not sure that's really a good thing... but that's for another post.

I too am not making any real New Years Resolutions this year. But a friend of mine, Delores Fossen, a highly successful (USA Today bestselling) author for Intrigue, and mentor to many of us Intrigue newbies, mentioned that although she doesn't make New Years Resolutions, she does try to pick a word that she uses to guide her year. Here's what she said:
Last year my word was ENJOY, as in taking time to smell the roses. This year, it's FEARLESS because I want to try some things with traveling and writing that I don't usually try.
She encouraged us to come up with a word of our own. I think that idea is fabulous. So what's my word?  


I can already see, based on it having been 2014 for fifteen hours already, that this year is going to be crazy for me.

Part of the craziness:
Writing and editing four books in eight months - check.
Training for an Ironman triathlon - check.
Raising four kids, one of whom has become a teenager, and is already wanting a tattoo - check and #@$%!.

Just to get through 2014 successfully -- based on commitments I've already made, I'm going to need to have a great deal of focus (and probably Xanax). There's not going to be as much time available for non-essential activities and people as there has been in the past.

And that's okay.

I'm ready to make better (and sometimes harder) choices about where to put my time and energy this year. I'm choosing to give my undivided time and attention to the people and activities that I know are important. And cutting the rest loose, at least for a while.

Focusing on the good, not the bad. Focusing on strengths, not on weaknesses. Focusing on who and what is important. And letting the rest go.

It's kind of like this:
(Which, by the way, was not said by the Greek philosopher Socrates but by a gas attendant named Socrates in the 1980 book Way of the Peaceful Warrior. But whatever, it's still true.)

New year. New focus. I'm ready.