AFI Movie Meme

These are the AFI's top 100 movies. Here's what you do:
- Bold those that you think belong on the list
- Italicize those that you think don't belong on the list
- Leave those you haven't seen unmarked

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I've seen a lot of these movies because when the list originally came out, I made it a point to work my way through it. Now I'm down to those that are very hard to find, or those that I really don't have any interest in seeing. Of the ones I haven't seen, the only films I still intend to get around to someday are: Lawrence of Arabia, On The Waterfront, Bonnie and Clyde, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, All Quiet on the Western Front, Network, and maybe Unforgiven.

(I know, I know, you're all saying, "But, Goodfellas!" I tried to watch it once, I really did, I made it about an hour in before I fell asleep. So seems to me it's just not my thing.)

Fait Accompli

Well, it's done and over with, I guess.

I have a new blog over at Wordpress. Yay!

The standard designs are AWFUL, so very very ugly. I've slapped one up there but I'm already working on learning CSS so I can make something prettier.

Anyone who wants to make a CSS for me, leap forward!

Anyway, starting nowish I'll be trying the new blog on for size, when it comes to writing at least.

Feel free to leave comments on my newest post regarding suggestions for layout and workability.

See you over at TurtleHead the second!

Teaching A New Dog

I don't know if it's springtime, or that soccer has started, or that we've taken him completely off milk products, but man, has Captain Jelly Belly ever had an excess of energy lately. He's always been kind of a low-key kid, and when I see other five-year-old boys bouncing off the walls and throwing things and wrestling each other to the ground, I notice that the Captain isn't like that.


For the past three weeks or so he's been jumping off of furniture and randomly smacking his sisters around and getting down from his chair at dinner so he can run a few laps around the table between bites. He goes to soccer and runs and runs and runs for an hour and a half straight, then he comes home and wants to go for a bike ride. It's exhausting just watching him.

On one hand, it's fabulous so see him being so exuberant and full of life. He's happy and bouncy as a Tigger, and that kind of energy tells us that he is also feeling really healthy, which is great because we always have the nagging doubt that something in his diet is making him feel sick.

On the other hand, it would be good if he would stop smacking his sisters around.

I think what we have here is a very typical five-year-old boy, and I'm noticing that they are a bit more of a challenge than a typical four-year-old boy. Because now we have eye-rolling when he gets sent to the naughty step, instead of hysterical tears and vows to never do anything wrong again, ever. Now we have bleep-bloop robot sounds drowning out the sounds of lecturing and rule-making, instead of rapt, wide-eyed attention. Now we have A Series Of Crazy Death-Mask Faces: A Performance Art Piece By Captain Jelly Belly over every meal, instead of focused, polite eating.

In short, it's discipline time, and I think both sirmonkeypants and I are feeling a little lost in the woods. What do we do now that all our usual punishments are being laughed off? How do we raise him to be a person that can live in society without annoying or offending everyone he meets, yet keep his spirit and personality intact? How do we find constructive outlets for his energy and creativity?

I feel like I don't have a lot of answers to these questions right now. It's a new frontier and it's time to learn some new tricks. Hopefully I'm not too much of an old dog.

W is for Who

We just picked up the new Barenaked Ladies CD for kids, called Snack Time. It's totally adorable. My favourite song on it is called "Crazy ABCs," in which Ed goes through the alphabet saying unusual words for each letter -- "aisle" for A, "czar" for C, "psychosis" for P, that sort of thing.

The best one is X:

Ed: X is for Xian, an ancient Chinese City.
Steve: Ancient Chinese City, eh? My guitar player, some hotshot.

Referencing, of course, the famous Calgon ad that I totally blogged about not two months ago. Ha! I am totally still on the cutting edge of pop culture!

Or else, the Barenaked Ladies are as old and decrepit as I am.

Also good from the song:

Steve: By Zed, for the benefit of our American friends, you mean Zee, right?
Ed: No, I mean Zed, as in Zed Zed Top.

I've heard that before, but it still made me chuckle.

Speaking of Zed Zed Top, I finally got around to watching the finale of American Idol on the PVR yesterday. I've been watching AI for the past four weeks or so; this is the first time I've ever actually watched the show since it started. I blame Neil Diamond for getting me engrossed.

Since this was my first AI finale, I must ask...do they always have such grotesque product endorsements during the show? I'd guess that at least half the show was basically commercials. Thank goodness I was watching it on the PVR, so I could skip over the whole Love Guru extended bit. Even a few seconds of that was more than enough to make me want to stick my head in the oven. I am not without goodwill towards Mike Myers but damn, that looks like a bad movie. And not bad in a "so bad it's good," Evil Dead kind of way, either.

Of course, I was watching the finale while making muffins and standing two feet away from a running dishwasher, so maybe I missed out on some of the subtler points of humour.

Funny story about the AI finale. AI always runs a few minutes late, but I've been too lazy to get around to setting the PVR timer to record for a few extra minutes each week. While watching the finale I noticed the timer on the show getting down to less than two minutes left, and they still had not announced the winner.

Uh oh.

With about 20 seconds left of recorded time, Ryan Seacrest finally gets around to..."And the winner is...David..."

Three seconds left...two...one...


CHUNK. End of recorded time.

Whew. It would have been pretty funny if I had avoided the internet for a whole day in order to avoid the spoiler, only to have to turn to the internet to find out who actually won. Ha ha ha. Hilarious.

At least this way I was spared the AI Big Ballad, which I understand is something the AI winner is expected to record and release right away. Right? It doesn't matter, I've already completely lost interest. It must be tough to be an AI finalist, and have to do all these crappy show numbers and sing and dance to the tune of the producers for weeks, causing mass hysteria and total fan devotion, only to find yourself forgotten and unwanted like, three weeks later. Crazy.

Watching the AI finale kept me from working on moving the blog last night. I think I've decided for sure on Wordpress, but now I am at an impasse. I can't decide if I should continue to call my blog "TurtleHead" -- in which case, I need to find a non-TurtleHead URL -- or if I should just rename it to something else. Last year I actually wanted to rename the blog, but now I find I am all sentimental about TurtleHead and I want to keep it. But what for a URL? Something like, "IHaveATurtleHead"? Or "IAmTurtleHead"? Or "RockOnWithYourBadSelfTurtleHead"?

Any ideas, anyone?

Alternately I could rebrand, but I had a ton of trouble coming up with a new name last year, hence we still have TurtleHead today. Here are some of my new name ideas this time around:

Unmade Beds And Dirty Dishes (a nod to my mother)
My Fun With Words Dictionary (in which case I will post words from this fabulous book on a regular basis)
Bowl Of Cherries (a nod to the great Erma Bombeck)
Bear Sheep Monkey (my kids' special stuffed animals -- I've already decided to name my company this, should I ever start a company)
Canadian Tired (because I love the pun)
Cereal Fetish (because I have a cereal fetish, and it has a nice domestic flavour to it)
Crispy Flakes Of Bran (because Bran Flakes are the greatest food ever)
Three Brunettes (because I have three brunette babies)

Any other ideas? Anyone?

Wow, did this post meander. I blame the head cold. Maybe that should be my new blog name! "I Blame The Head Cold!"

I need some rest.
turtlehead tshirt

It's Not You, It's Me

Dear LiveJournal...

We have to talk. I think it's time I moved on.

We've had some great times, you and I. I still love my layout and I love my friends page. You've been good to me, but I don't want to get into that too much because I promised myself I wouldn't cry.

The thing is, I don't like the way you handle comments. Not everyone who reads my blog wants to create an LJ userid and log in to leave me a message. I want other people to be able to leave me links to their blogs, so I can go and read them. And you just aren't meeting my needs in this area.

So I've decided. It's for sure. I need to find a new home.

But we'll always be friends. I'll be back for commenting. I hope things won't be awkward between us.

I'll be moving out as soon as I find a new place.


Dear Wordpress...

You're cute and you have a nice package. I like the fact that I can import my old LJ posts. I like the fact that I could buy my own URL someday and have it redirect to you. I like the fact that I can create stand alone pages to go with my blog, like an "about" page and an "I love turtles!" page. I think you've been responsive to my flirting and we could really click.

But sadly, you won't let me have TurtleHead as a blog name, even though no one currently has that blog name -- someone is just using "turtlehead" as their log-in name, so you've reserved it. And you don't allow dashes or underscores or anything, so I can't even have Turtle-Head or Turtle_Head or anything like that.

I am annoyed.

I'm going to take your offer of a second date under consideration.


Dear Blogger...

Seems like everyone is partying over at your place and I could really pick up some swinging cool buddies over there. But again, you won't let me have TurtleHead, even though it is owned by some guy who made ONE test post, back in two thousand and THREE. Which SUCKS.

Plus, you want to tie my blog to my gmail account, which means I either have to publish and reveal the gmail account that is my own first and last name -- meaning my mother will find this blog -- or I have to use my SnowBelly account, which is troublesome because when I log in as SnowBelly I can no longer view my Google calendar in a different tab, which I update about 20 times a day, so I'll constantly be logging out and logging in and hell, if I wanted to log in all the time I may as well stay with LJ.

So I'm thinking it over, but don't wait up for me.


Dear TypePad...

Why oh why would I spend $150, US, per year to have a blog, when I can have one for free on several other sites?

What's that? You say I could have...TurtleHead?

Interesting. Let's meet for coffee.



Last night we had pancakes for dinner, as we do every other Tuesday.

(I was going to use the word "biweekly" in there but I'm never sure -- does "biweekly" mean once every other week, or twice a week? English is so hard.)

When it's pancake night, we always have a wide variety of fruit on the side. I like to have at least four or five different fruits, even in winter. I like to have at least one fruit that is unusual and new and challenges the kids to expand their food horizons.

They always stick exclusively to the apples and grapes, though. Sometimes the pineapple will go. But watermelon and mango and kiwi are just too weird. And strawberries? Just try getting that crap past them. They're on to you! They can tell just by looking that strawberries are like to rat poo!

Nice try, Mom.

At last night's meal we had bananas, grapes, strawberries, mango, and raspberries. The older two were having...grapes.

Meanwhile I had a nice fruit assortment on my own plate and had just tucked in when I heard a little "Ah, ah, ah" sort of cooing from the high chair.

The Wee One was looking at me with an expectant look like, "Excuse me, but what is that bit of deliciousness that you thought you were going to keep all to yourself?"

And I said, "This is a raspberry. RAZZZZZZZberry. Do you want one?"

And she was all, "Do I look adorable in a teeny yellow raincoat and jeans? YOU KNOW IT."

So I gave her a raspberry, and she bit into it, and squealed with joy. She also apparently loves mango. And bananas.

Oh, and strawberries. Yummiest food ever.

Where did we get this one? If she didn't look exactly like the other two, I'd be worried about a hospital switcheroo.
turtlehead flower

Don't Be Sad If You Lose Something

Last week in the blogosphere there was a minor uproar about blogging about your kids. Heather Armstrong ("The Dooce Lady", as she is known in our house) was on the Today show, and Kathie Lee Gifford implied that Heather's writing about her daughter Leta was perhaps dangerous and perhaps exploitative and perhaps an invasion of privacy. Heather did not get any chance at all to defend herself due to time constraints and Kathie's blathering, and so Mommy Bloggers Of The World got mad, and blogged about it.

I swore I wasn't going to write about it because I thought it was a whole lot of fuss about nothing. Who cares what Kathie Lee -- self-proclaimed computer hater -- thinks?

But this week I found myself thinking about the whole privacy thing a lot more, because Captain Jelly Belly wrote a book.

His very own book. The front cover says right on it, "Written by Captain Jelly Belly, Illustrated by Captain Jelly Belly."

The Captain is extremely proud of his book. He even gave up his traditional pre-bed round of Mario Party to work on it the other night. Once it was finished he read it to me, then to sirmonkeypants. Then he put it in his backpack so he could take it to school and read it to his teacher.

I really, really wanted to blog about this book. I was so crazy proud of him and happy for him, to see him feel so excited about a project and so accomplished (he thought maybe they would want his book for the library, but I told him I could never part with it). I love him so much and seeing his eyes shine with joy that his teacher gave him a sticker for his good work on his book made my heart just about burst.

But in there with the pride and the joy and the overwhelming love...there is also hilarity. Oh yes. And there's no way I could include page-by-page photos of the book -- entitled, "Don't Be Sad If You Lose Something" -- without getting a giggle or two out of you. Admit it, you'd just love to see a drawing of me, trapped in a tornado with a microwave, wouldn't you? And that's not even rock bottom for the protagonist, not by a long shot.

The more I thought about blogging the book, however -- the more I wrote a humorous page-by-page commentary in my head -- the more I worried about the possible effects on the Captain. It would really make for a great post, but I just could not stand the idea that he would ever, ever, EVER think that I was laughing at him. ESPECIALLY about something so incredibly important to him. ESPECIALLY about something that I love, too, that I really, honestly feel so proud of him for producing.

I want him to know that I'll always be a completely supportive and proud audience for his endeavors. That I'm always in his corner. And it killed me to think that someday, he'd read this blog and be so hurt that I made light of something so meaningful for him.

So I won't be writing about it in detail here, I don't think.

I always imagined that this blog would be a fun thing for my kids to read in the future. That one day, they'd be adults and they'd stumble upon it and they'd be curious to read my thoughts on being their mom. That they'd enjoy reading funny little stories about them as children. That they'd be happy that I had recorded our every day lives with such detail.

This book incident, combined with the Kathie Lee incident, was the first time I'd ever stopped to think that maybe one day they'll just feel bitter and angry that I told the world about that time that they had trouble learning to poop in the potty.

Imagine how mad they're going to be when I pull out the best of my blog posts to read at their weddings.

Anyway, I don't intend to stop blogging or anything like that. More than anything else, I want to preserve certain magical and amusing and endearing things about my kids for my own memory, so I can look back with fondness and love and sentimentality. Already, if I have to look back in the archives to link to an old post, I find myself engrossed in reading about them, unable to stop, chuckling and getting a little teary eyed and desperately wanting to find them and hug them tight wherever they are or whatever they are doing. So it's a good thing, this blog.

But I guess I've discovered that there is a limit, a boundary that I'll be keeping. Because I love my kids, but I also respect them, and I want them to know it.

Future Captain Jelly Belly, who can read? I hope you know how much Mommy loves you. And your book. I'd definitely be sad if I ever lost you.

TV Slaves

Andrea at QuietFish made an innocent little post yesterday about possibly getting rid of their extended cable TV, because it's very expensive. Lots of people commented, almost universally to say that they either do not have cable and are living fuller, deeper lives for it, or that they have cable but meh, could totally live without it.

I was going to comment to say that we are slaves to our TV, but I felt myself getting INSANE, so I had to delete it. I thought I'd rant over here instead.

I recognise that TV is my personal hot-button issue, as a mom. I've noticed over the years -- here's a piece of wisdom for you soon-to-be moms -- that it is so, so easy to offend another mother with a seemingly innocuous remark. Mothers have a real need to feel that they are doing a good job of raising their kids, that they are making the right choices, and anything that remotely smells of criticism will get you kicked out of playgroup with lightning speed. Every mom has their own little thing that will get their back up against the wall right away. For me, it's TV. There's nothing that pisses me off more, makes me feel more like a crap mom, makes me want to punch something and then run away to Jamaica, than other mother saying smugly, "We don't let our kids watch TV."


We get well over a hundred channels, on satelite. I'm not always proud of this, but our kids watch plenty of TV. Probably in the range of two hours per day, I'd say. I don't think I could maintain my sanity without it. A half-hour TV show gives my older two kids a half-hour of quiet time, calm time, time to stop hitting each other and to stop jumping on the couch. It gives me a half-hour to care for the baby or get ready for us to go out and do another activity or just to make dinner in peace.

At Christmas this year, we had dinner with some friends we don't see very often. They were in Ottawa to visit their parents and their kids were glued to the TV which was showing...the news. I thought that was weird but my friend explained that her kids don't get to watch TV at home, so they are excited when they go somewhere else that has a television.

I felt bad until further conversation revealed that they actually do have a TV, just no cable. And that her kids are allowed to watch DVDs. DVDs of shows like Lunar Jim and Wonderpets and Go Diego Do.

And I ask you, what the hell is the difference between that, and my kids watching those exact same shows on Treehouse? Treehouse -- along with PBS, CBC, and TV-Ontario -- offers hours of commercial-free, semi-educational programming for preschoolers all day long. My kids have a few favourite shows and that's what they watch. We collect a few episodes of their favourites on our PVR so any time they want, they can sit down for a new Go Diego Go, or Wonderpets, or Lunar Jim. So the difference between their TV and other kids watching a video is...what, exactly?

We do try to use the TV responsibly. The kids watch mostly commercial free preschool programming (especially since the great failed American Gladiators experiment). They never turn on the TV by themselves -- they don't even know how to work the remote, except to pause the show so they can go to the bathroom. They're only allowed to watch shows that I know, usually with me in the room. There's a limit to how much they can watch in one sitting before they have to turn it off and get outside, or run around the house a bit.

I also try to use the TV they watch as a jumping off point for discussions and activities. The other day we were watching Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman -- a science experiments show -- and the kids on the show were testing various items to see which would float, and which would sink. That lead to a whole afternoon's worth of at-home experimentation that made me feel pretty damn virtuous.

But I do not want to imply that I am all perfect mother all the time, so I will admit here that there are days when the Wee One has not slept, when I'm trying to make dinner with one hand while comforting a baby with the other, and Gal Smiley and Captain Jelly Belly are hungry and getting tired and thus are pushing and shoving and hating on one another...and on those days, the TV goes on and they watch whatever is on Treehouse for as long as they can stand it.

Those aren't A+ days.

But we do survive them.

Before we had kids I thought I'd never use the TV as a babysitter, but I have to admit, there are times when it has done just that. Our days here are very long -- especially in winter -- and sometimes, there just isn't anything left to do. We need a break from each other, the kids really need a break from each other, and watching a show gives us a nice, quiet, parallel activity during which we can all calm down and refocus and not strangle each other.

As for myself, I'd love to be able to say that I spend my evenings knitting booties for premature babies or raising money for the Third World or finding a cure for cancer. But I have three small children, and I still get up anywhere from once to four times a night, and I'm tired. So very tired. At the end of the day it's all I can do to give the kitchen a half-hearted tidy, come up with a blog post, then collapse in front of some mindless entertainment for an hour before bed. I was a pop culture junkie before we ever had kids, and now that it's so much harder to get out to movies and concerts and other events, the TV is my big excitement, my new hobby. It sounds sad I guess. But dammit, Lost is a good show. Watching Pushing Daisies filled me with delight. I love Don't Forget The Lyrics (don't judge me!).

There's no way I could live without the TV, I know. So I'll just sit over here, noisily grinding my teeth, standing up for all moms who deign to subscribe to Treehouse. Represent!