Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I am crazy! Or maybe I'm a genius. You decide.

It all started a while back when Nick and I began discussing what we're going to do when C is ready to be moved into the bedroom with his two older brothers (he currently resides in ours).

A little bit of factual information: We live in a two-bedroom one-bath condo. The images below will give you some rough visuals (which might or might not be useful):

The back half of our living room. To the right is where we keep coats, boots, a desk, and C's diaper-changing "station"--

The front half of our living room. Between the piano and the wall with the window is a medium-sized chest freezer. As you can sort of see, the chest freezer and piano are more often than not covered in junk-- there's just nowhere else to put it!

The boys' room. Along the wall you can't see is a set of bookshelves and some toy storage. There is also a walk-in closet to the left, along the same wall as the bunkbeds. The dresser holds the clothes of the two older boys, and the "armoire" holds C's clothes, and has some room in the top half for hanging clothes for all three boys.

The "master bedroom." There's about a foot and a half of space between the foot of the bed and the loveseat (bottom right corner). Along the right wall is my dresser and C's pack-n-play. We pretty much use the p-n-p for naps only, though he also starts the nights out in there (but doesn't last very long before joining us in our bed). Along the left wall is a closet spanning most of the length of the wall. To the right of the picture is a second walk-in closet used for storage of various things.

There, you have a basic visual now.

So, challenges we currently face:

A. With the baby (almost a toddler!) in our room, Nick pretty much has to dress in the dark every morning (sometimes I do, too). Once in a while, Z is even in there sleeping, having joined us partway through the night (he's a light sleeper like his mom).
B. With a younger brother sleeping in his room (eventually two younger brothers), when G gets up in the morning to get ready for school, we have to quietly get his clothes and bring them out to the living room for him to get dressed.
C. With the pack-n-play in the back corner of our bedroom, it's just not a very handy daytime playpen anymore. And there are definitely times on a daily basis when I really miss it during the day to keep C out of trouble; but he's not keen (and I can't blame him) on being left alone in our room to play while we're all out in the living room or kitchen.
D. Once C moves in with his brothers, he's going to need his own bed. How are we going to fit another bed in that room and still be able to fit the clothing storage?
E. Ummm, we have really noisy neighbors next door. Just last night, they kept us awake past midnight.
F. Our neighbors also have to hear our baby crying in the middle of the night when he's having trouble sleeping due to teething or illness or general discomfort.

So, what would moving our king-sized bed accomplish?

1. With no-one sleeping in the master bedroom anymore, it will be much easier for all of us to get dressed in the morning without waking each other (we'd move the boys' clothing into the master bedroom, too).
2. The pack-n-play would be easier to move around. We could have it in the living room near our bed at night; and during the day, we could either have it in the living room, or move it to the master bedroom for naptime, or for when I'm working in there (because I intend to have a sewing/craft station where our bed used to be).
3. With ALL clothing storage moved into the master bedroom, making space in the boys' room for a double bed for C to eventually sleep in (and either Nick or I could join him briefly in the middle of the night if he got fussy), and also for a guest bed.
4. We wouldn't have to listen to our noisy neighbors in the middle of the night, making noises we have no business hearing (but currently can't help it). And they would no longer have to listen to our baby scream in the middle of the night.

Challenges of having the king bed in the living room:

a. It would take up a lot of space (obviously). We'd have to figure out what to do with our big couch. Also, there would be just barely enough space for someone to sit at the computer desk.
b. Entertaining company would be a bit of a challenge (though we'd still have a little space in the front half of the living room for some folding furniture, and we could maybe turn part of the bed into daytime seating).
c. Privacy and presentability (you mean I'd actually have to make my bed every single day? haha). This could be addressed, though, by hanging curtains from the ceiling to conceal the bed (and also shut out light).

So, weighing the pros and cons, I think it's at least worth a try! What do you think?

Anyway, I might be able to talk Nick into trying it, at least for a little while, since we'll have to move the bed out anyway in order to paint the walls in the master bedroom. So, stay tuned! You may be hearing more about this little adventure in the future...

It's fortunate for Nick I can't move the bed all by myself...

Monday, January 7, 2013

Movie Review: Les Miserables

I looked forward to this movie with much anticipation. I was introduced to the "Les Miserables the Musical 10th Anniversary Concert" as a young teen and have loved it ever since. I've watched the concert video numerous times, as well as listened to the CD recording and also the Original Broadway Cast recording. But for years, I desired to see the actual play/musical and never had the opportunity.

When I heard it was going to be made into a movie at last, I was thrilled. And on Christmas Day, I finally got to see it with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law.

It wasn't all I'd expected. Some parts were disappointing, though overall I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed it, though there were a few minor issues that I had a hard time getting over. Yesterday, I took Nick to see it. I wanted to see it a second time, to see if it improved upon second impression (I was so used to the Broadway and Concert recordings, maybe I was just being biased). I have to say though that my enjoyment was about the same the second time around. Nick enjoyed it thoroughly, and it managed to bring tears to his eyes (as it had to me the first time I saw it).


Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean. This was the biggest obstacle I had to get over and it was not easy. He did fine with his acting, and the emotionality he put into his part was incredible. To fully appreciate all that, though, I first had to get over his singing voice. He was too nasal throughout, and I got the impression in many instances that the pitch was too high for his natural register-- like he was being forced to sing in "head voice." It's not really his fault; I'm sure he did the best he could. But the folks casting the role should have made certain before they casted him that he would be able to sing the part well. He never would have been given the role on Broadway. Also, I couldn't help noticing his tendency to cut off the ending consonants at the ends of phrases; makes me wonder if those not already familiar with the lyrics might have been left in the dark a few times as to what he had just said/sung.

If Valjean had been a more minor character, all of the above wouldn't have been such a big deal. But I think the whole opening sequence of the movie rather suffered due to Jackman's weak vocal performance, and that is unfortunate as it has such a powerful musical score.

Russell Crowe as Javert. I have similar complaints here as I did with Hugh Jackman, only to a lesser degree. Overall, I liked Russell Crowe's performance ("Stars" was one of the highlight scenes for me); only it was pretty apparent to me that he hadn't done much (if any) professional singing before this movie, and his vocal immaturity shone through in several spots. But he has a good voice in general, and all-in-all I'd say he did quite a good job portraying the straight man who just doesn't realize until the end that he happens to be on the wrong side.

Enjolras' voice was also on the weak side; they should have found someone with a more powerful voice to lead the band of "school boys" to the barricade.


Gavroche was incredibly endearing; I think his was probably my favorite character through the whole movie. Daniel Huttlestone's acting was superb, and I just couldn't help but fall in love :) He was just so cute!

I was really happy with Eponine. She's my favorite character from the novel and I was glad they found someone good to fill the part. I understand Samantha Barks has played Eponine on stage, and it was obvious her vocal training had been extensive. In addition, her acting/facial expressions were right on; I teared up several times over what her character was going through.

The ensemble cast was amazing! I absolutely loved every single chorus number. The chorus really carried the whole show, in my opinion. In fact, it makes me recall what one of my high school theatre teachers said once (to paraphrase), that the chorus in a musical can make or break the performance; that it doesn't matter how good the leads are if the chorus is bad. In the case of Les Miserables, the chous most definitely made the show.

My Favorite Moments (and there were several):

Fantine's reaction as Valjean is carrying her to the hospital and promises to send for her daughter.

Valjean and Javert sparring in the hospital; I always love a good "sword fight." :D

Seeing Young Cosette with her rag doll, her only and her most prized possession. Poingnant.

Valjean requesting to help Cosette with her bucket of water :)

One song that I think Hugh Jackman performed beautifully was "Suddenly," during his flight with Cosette from the Thenardiers' inn.


Seeing the "White Elephant" statue for the first time brought a thrill, as that is something that is taken straight from the novel: Gavroche and his urchins live in that statue.

One of my favorite, most tear-jerking scenes from the novel is when Marius has enlisted Eponine's help to find Cosette and promises her anything she wants in return (assuming she'll want money since her family is dirt poor, not realizing what Eponine really wants is his love), then once Eponine has followed through Marius places a coin into her hand and Eponine lets it fall to the ground and simply says "I don't want your money." So it was also thrilling to witness her saying this in the movie, realizing all the unspoken feelings behind that simple statement.

"On My Own." This song will always hold a special place in my heart; I well-appreciated Samantha Barks' performance of it (and relieved they didn't cut it short like they did "A Little Fall of Rain" later on).

I loved the moment when Valjean reads Marius' letter to Cosette and realizes-- as all fathers of daughters must someday-- that she no longer belongs to him. Both times watching this movie in the theatre, when this happened I could hear chuckling from many of the audience members. A very relatable moment in general.

I felt deeply impressed by the scene where Enjolras is finally left alone facing all the rifles aimed to kill him, and Grantaire climbs up the stairs and walks through the soldiers to join his comrade in a final stand. I think it takes having read the novel to realize what an incredible gesture that really is on Grantaire's part.

Another scene which brought tears to my eyes was Javert's gesture of placing his badge of valor on the dead Gavroche's lapel. This is probably the first time Javert acknowledges to himself that there is something more to life than upholding the law of the land; I also imagine maybe Gavroche reminds Javert a little of himself as a boy.

I loved seeing the Bishop standing there at the end to welcome Valjean into Heaven.

So, yes. Overall, loved the movie. Definitely glad I went to see it-- twice! Probably will not be investing in the DVD, though, at least not for a long time (maybe someday I'll feel like watching it again). For now, I'll go back to my old favorite Tenth Anniversary Concert edition with the more superior vocal performances. But it was nice to finally see the whole musical, since I've never had the privilege of watching it on stage.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Ten Months

To quote my husband, "It's like having a puppy!"

C is standing up to all kinds of things now on a regular basis. He especially likes to stand up to a desk or table and reach as far as he can to grab whatever he can get his hands on-- boy! that kid can reach!

And still, everything goes straight to the mouth. I know I've said it pretty much every update, but it's so so different from our experience with our first two babies who rarely put anything besides food or a pacifier into their mouths. Our first two babies really spoiled us that way, and now we're still getting used to having to keep stuff like paper and books out of reach. All our top shelves are cluttered with stuff as we've had to move it up higher from where it originally sat.

We have two baby gates-- one to keep C out of the kitchen (because the floor is-- more often than not-- dirty), and another that can be moved among doorways to keep him out of the bathroom, our room, or the boys' room (when they are playing with their Legos). It's funny, though, because whenever C perceives that the gate is not there and the door is open, he makes an immediate beeline to get into the room (especially the bathroom) before we can block it. I think he thinks it's a game now :)

He especially loves the bathroom because he loves to take baths. He'll have Nick pick him up, point to the bathroom, then once he's in the bathroom point to the bathtub. Sometimes we will just put him in the bathtub fully clothed without any water and he has fun with that for a while.

I am so so so ready to get him out of our bed, and am working on finding a good mattress to put in the pack-n-play that will be comfortable enough for a baby used to sleeping on a pillow top. Hopefully we'll have it all figured out in the next couple months. The biggest question is where to put up the pack-n-play at night: putting him in the boys' room is out while school is in session because G would have too much trouble falling asleep with a still-awake and potentially fussy baby in there; he'd be all alone out in the living room; but in our room there's just so little space, though that's probably what we'll end up doing anyway.

He's eating solids now 2-3 times a day. He loves it. But he's at the point now where he's not content to just let us feed him purees, but will fight us to hold the spoon and feed himself even though he's not really coordinated enough yet. So I need to find some more good, healthy finger-foods for him to try. We've tried bananas, but he's more interested in squishing them between his fingers :) He likes bread. Last night I gave him a few bites of my bean burrito; at first he reacted by sticking out his tongue, but then he kept taking more bites so Iguess he liked it.

He has his two bottom front teeth now. And he likes to bite. Yesterday, he kept trying to bite me-- not while nursing so much, but on my leg as I was resting on the couch, on my back as I was helping the boys clean up their toys, on my belly while we were playing on the floor. I've never had a biter like this before, either...

He still gets so excited when Nick comes home from work, and wants to be held by him all the time whenever he's home, except when he wants to nurse. When he's ready to be handed to me, he will make the "milk" sign to Nick and Nick will hand him to me. We're not sure, though, if he uses the sign to say "milk" specifically, though, or if it's just his way of asking for me, because sometimes I will start to nurse him after he does this and he doesn't seem that interested. I really need to start doing more signs with him, I just keep forgetting.