Friday, October 31, 2008

1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D.

Kile was a sweet boy until Danny was born and then he suddenly was in his terrible twos. We especially have a hard time with him when either company is over or we are out in public. I noticed that our local hospital has a class that teaches 1-2-3 Magic - but it wasn't until December. I checked out this book and the DVD with the same name from the library. Both Ben and I have found it to be very helpful. So helpful in fact that we plan to purchase a copy so that we can refer back to it and reread as needed.

1-2-3 Magic has three concepts; stop bad behavior, start good behavior, and strengthening the parent child relationship. The stop bad behavior is where the 1-2-3 comes in. You count to your child when they start to do something bad and they have to sit in a chair/go to their room at 3. The hardest part is that the parent is not suppose to talk or show emotion. I have trobule with this. Kile was a child that had to test the concept, but it has been two weeks since we started doing it - and it has been working great.

The second part - starting good behavior - doesn't work as well for a two year old. Most concepts in the book would work better on an older child. Ben has been using the timer concept (You have five minutes, but when the timer goes off, you must go to bed) and it has been working. Kile is a boy that likes things on his schedule and that works for him. I wish the book had more concepts on how to start good behavior in small children as I could use some help!

Overall though - this is an excellent book. I highly recommend it to parents who are looking for ways to effectively discipline their children.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

I finally got Breaking Dawn from the library and finished up the Twilight Saga. Breaking Dawn was a good book and kept me riveted at the end with the adventure and final showdown, but overall I thought it was the weakest of the set.

I felt this way mostly because after the tension has built up between Bella and Edward for three books, it was a let down for them to be suddenly married and for Bella to be in the midst of a horrific pregnancy. It was strange for Jacob to be the narrator for much of the first half of the book. The pregnancy details were terrible and could have been toned down. I liked the second half of the book one this first part of over. I didn't feel at the end though that the saga was finished - I want to know more about what will happen to Nessie.

So what was the overall plot of this book? Bella and Edward finally marry, but Bella becomes pregnant on her honeymoon. The pregnancy does not go well with a half vampire baby. Nessie is born and is perfect, but the vampire world is thrown into upheavel at her birth. Bella and Edward and all of the Cullens must find a way to protect her and keep their family together.

Fancy Pants by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

I read Fancy Pants a couple of weeks ago for my Lakeshore Mom's Club bookclub pick for October. This book was okay, but mainly had the problem of being stuck in the 1980's and not having a very likeable hero.

Francesca is a spoiled English heiress down on her luck. She has led a life of leasure, but after her mother's death, she finds out there is no money left. She tries to make money, but ends up stranded in America. Dallas, or Dally, a second rate handsome golf player finds her and helps her out . . . sort of. Sparks fly between the two, but they can't seem to keep it together.

I liked Francesca's story. I didn't like her at first as she seemed a lot like a Paris Hilton. After she loses it all though and has to work her way back up to the top, I really liked and admired her. Dallas on the other hand, I never liked. He used violance against women when it suited him and seemed to think he should be able to coast through life on his good looks. He does a variety of bad things in the book (like not telling Francesca that his is married), but we are supposed to feel sorry for him. I never did. If he would have been a more likeable hero, this would have been a much better book.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I liked this latest installment of the Indiana Jones Saga, but I did not love it. I thought it was better than Temple of Doom, but not as good as Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Last Crusade.

In this adventure, Indiana Jones finds himself older and wiser in the 1950's. I loved that they acknowledged the passage of time and didn't try to pretend that Harrison Ford hasn't grown older. I also liked how the 1950's was used as part of the story - from having Russians as the villians to having Roswell, atomic testing, bikers, etc. it made the story fun. I also loved that Marian, Indy's love interest from Raiders of the Lost Ark, returned. She was always my favorite heroine.

The overall plot was that Indiana had to help out an old friend by helping to find a mysterious Crystal Skull in South America. The Russians are after it too.

I didn't find this movie to be the best Indiana Jones ever for several reasons. For starters, I thought the Crystal Skull story was interesting, but not riveting. The villians were not as evil and scary as villians in past movies. Cate Blancett did a good job, but she just wasn't menancing. Indiana's side kick that turned into a Russian spy, that turned back, that turned back again just wasn't that interesting. I had no interest in him as I did sidekicks of the past. It just all seemed mediocre.

Overall, I did like the movie and recommend watching it if you are a fan of the series. Just don't expect to be blown away.

Iron Man

I watched Iron Man the weekend of the 18th and enjoyed it. I think I'm getting old and jaded though - I thought ti was a good movie, but not excellent. It was interesting seeing the superhero tale set in the present day world full of terrorist intrigue.

The movie was the story of Tony Stark and his transformation from a playboy inventor and head of a weapons manufacturer to the Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr. did an excellent and believable job as Tony. The capture by terrorists was horrible. I liked how he used his intellegence to make his escape. I also liked how he used his inventiveness to become his own superhero. I loved the growth of his character throughout the movie and I loved his love interest - Pepper Potts. Pepper is always there for him, but he doesn't realize her true excellence at first.

I guess the few reasons I had for not thinking of the movie as excellent were that I figured out who the "surprise" bad guy was going to be at the very beginning of the movie when it was telling Tony's back story. It was too easy to figure out. Also I felt disconnected to the character whenever he was in the suit.

Otherwise this movie was great and I would recommend it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

I had read many good reviews of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski and had been waiting for it from my local library for two months when Oprah picked it for her book club. I was glad I was able to get it at that time! If you get this novel, prepare to spend some time reading it. It was a good book, but took me almost two weeks to read. I'm a fast reader, but this 600 page novel is not a fast reading book.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a tale of Hamlet set in the Wisconsin northwoods, somewhere near Ashland. Edgar is a mute boy who lives on a farm with his father Gar, and mother, Trudy. Together, the family continues on Edgar's grandfather's tradition of raising and training a unique breed of dog known as the Sawtelle dogs. Life is idyllic until Edgar's until Claude arrives back in town. Claude and Gar fight constantly and one day Gar mysteriously dies. Claude begins to insuinate himself into Trudy's affections and Edgar becomes crazed. Eventually after a desperate act, Edgar and three of his yearling dogs departs for a voyage through the Wisconsin northwoods toward Canada and freedom.

I found myself loving all of similarities to Hamlet until I neared the end and remembered how Hamlet ended. Also the book talks about The Jungle Book, which is one of my favorite books. I thought there were some similarities there. I thought this was a good book and I really would like to discuss it with someone. I hope one of my friends reads it soon. Why did I love it? I think the overall human nature story with themes of greed and jealousy was engaging, but being a dog lover I also loved the dogs and their almost human characteristics. I especially loved Almondine. The supernatural elements of the story and the on the run adventure were my favorite parts. I loved how Edgar had to fight for survival in the woods.

What didn't I like? The reason that Edgar had to go on the run was guessed by me early on. Also the ending. SPOILER ALERT. I know it's a tale of Hamlet set in the northwoods, but did the stage really have to be littered with corpses? Couldn't Edgar had survived? What do you think? I'm usually all about sad endings, but to have a 14-year old mute boy whom I'd grown to love over 600 pags bit it at the end, upset me. I did like the ambigious ending to the dogs. What will happen to them? It's fun to ponder.

Sex and the City - The Movie

I often lament that I didn't get anything done during maternity leave that I wanted to get done, but one thing I did get done was to watch all six seasons of Sex and the City on TBS (only while Kile was napping and Danny was nursing). I found the show to be wildly entertaining. It had fantastic writing and original storylines. It made me want to live in NYC!

I've anxiously been waiting for the movie to come out on DVD at the library and was very excited to receive it the week it came out. I watched it that weekend and thought it was great. The movie started with a brief recap of what had happened in the lives of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha during the series. It is now three years later and Big and Carrie are dating, Miranda and Steve are still in the Bronx, Charlotte and Harry have adopted a little girl, and Samantha has moved to LA with Smith.

Now for some plot spoilers. Carrie and Big get engaged, but Big experiences cold feet at the altar. I liked this storyline - it seemed like something that would happen to the characters. Steve cheats on Miranda after an extended period of no sex. I thought this was not something that Steve would do and was diappointed in him. I liked watching him and Miranda work it out. Charlotte finds out she is expecting a baby and laments about having a perfect life. I thought her storyline was too sparce. Samantha fights the urge to want other men, but eventually breaks up with Smith. I was disappointed. While it made sense for the character -- I love Smith!!! He is good looking and loves Samantha so much.

I must admit I am an old prude. I always saw the TBS versions of the show so I was quite shocked by all of the sex in the movie. Not that it was bad - it just was different as I wasn't actually used to seeing it when I watch the show!!

I really liked this movie and hope that they make another quality movie about these ladies! It's about time to see a major motion picture with women in their 40's in the leads.