Catching Fire

Saturday was busier than usual. Started out with my last Saturday Zumba class of the year at Evergreen Recreation Center. After that it was off to Chipotle for a quick lunch before our dental appointment.



We arrived at the dental office early hoping that they could get us in earlier than our scheduled appointment. No such luck. Instead we ended up going to Pier 1 to pass the time. But it worked out because I got to pick up some new Christmas decorations.

Lucky for us the dentist was running on schedule so we were both able to get out of there shortly after two o’clock, which meant I was able to make it to the Zumbathon at Bishop Carroll High School on time. That was a lot of fun.

After that Brian and I had to shower and get ready quickly so we could head to Cheddar’s and put our group on the waiting list. They don’t take reservations or call ahead. They are strictly first come, first served. The hostess I spoke with on the phone on Friday night was pretty adamant about that. LOL.


We had to wait at the bar for our table because of the 40-minute wait. And, Cheddar’s isn’t able to accommodate large groups so we were actually seated in three different booths. Thankfully, the booths were pretty close to one another so at least we weren’t in opposite sides of the restaurant.


I took some pictures while we were waiting because that’s what I do.



I had two of these yummy concoctions that night.


Booth number one…


Booth number two…


Cheddars on Urbanspoon

Cheddar’s does pretty well for a restaurant that just serves okay food. I think the one thing they’ve got going for them is their proximity to the movie theater. I bet they do extremely well whenever there’s a big movie out.

Their croissants are pretty good too. Brian and I always order some when we’re there. So there is that. The food prices are pretty reasonable also so you can’t really go wrong there. It’s an easy choice for a pre-movie dinner. I just wouldn’t recommend them for large groups like ours. We had a total of 17 people that night at the restaurant, with 16 going to the movie.


The movie was great. I definitely felt my two Maui margaritas during a couple of parts, but I managed to stay awake.


I think everyone enjoyed the movie and had a great time. Thanks to Andrea and Carla for hatching the plan to go to the movies together.

We’ll definitely need to do this again soon!


I showed Brian this TED talk today…

And then tonight when his parents came over for dinner they brought Now You See Me for us to watch. What are the odds of that? It’s like the universe is trying to tell us something. I bet something magical is about to happen.

Christmas Day 2012

Just some highlights from Christmas Day…












We opened presents after breakfast. We had no idea that Aunt Sandy and Cousin Tracy had sent us gifts so that was a wonderful surprise. Aunt Sandy sent us a beautiful angel ornament that now adorns our tree.


Cousin Tracy and Jeff sent us a combination wine stopper/pourer and a wine decanter. Thank you so much for the thoughtful gift.

We got lots of goodies from Mom and Dad B that I can’t even name them all. Even though it was just us, it took hours to open presents. When we were finally done, it was time for lunch. Donna prepared a delicious feast. Brian and I ate so much that we didn’t have room for any food when we got to the movie theater.

We selected Les Misérables as our Christmas movie this year, which worked out great because it was what was showing in the balcony and I’m not sure that I could have convinced Brian to go otherwise. Brian despises waiting in line at the theater. Anyway, I absolutely adore the musical specially since Lea Salonga has been a part of it. She played Éponine in the 10th Anniversary Concert (The Dream Cast in concert at Royal Albert Hall) and Fantine in the 25th Anniversary Concert (at the O2). She isn’t in the movie, but she’s the main reason that I’m familiar with the musical. If you are not familiar with the musical or the novel, just follow the links for more information. I also linked to the full concerts in YouTube above for your musical enjoyment.

I thought the movie was pretty good. They told the story pretty well. I was really impressed with the big name actors in the movie. I had no idea they could all sing. Well, except for Amanda Seyfried because I had seen her sing in Mama Mia! I’m glad they kept Samantha Barks as Éponine. She played Éponine in the 25th Anniversary Concert and is amazing.

The two songs that always get me are “I Dreamed a Dream” sung by Fantine and then “On My Own” by Éponine. These solos never fail to make me cry. Of course, you guys know I’m a crier so there were several parts of the movie that moved me. Hugh Jackman is a skilled actor who was quite convincing as Jean Valjean.

Speaking of songs, “One Day More” is another really good one. I cued it to that part in the embedded video above. They did a good job of it in the movie, but it doesn’t compare to the rendition in either of the two live concerts I posted above. Be sure to check it out if you want to see some fantastic singing. These performers are truly talented. I get goose bumps listening to their beautiful voices.

I highly recommend catching Les Mis if you haven’t seen it yet. If you’re a fan of the musical, it may not live up to your expectations. I still found it enjoyable though. Plus, I’m glad they made a movie because it brings the musical to people who wouldn’t otherwise know about it.

Anyway, I was grateful that we caught a matinée because the theater was completely packed when we got out of the movie around 6 pm. It was complete and utter mayhem both inside the theater and outside in the parking lot. There were hardly any parking spots available. It wasn’t that bad when we got there in the afternoon. Brian and I actually got a good parking spot.

Thank you to Mom and Dad B for watching the movie with us and for a wonderful Christmas Day celebration from start to finish. I really hope we get to celebrate together again next year.

Here’s Something to Make You Feel Old



When did this happen? I feel like I’m 60 all of a sudden. In case you’re curious, Machete Kills comes out in 2013.

Logan at the Movies

I posted about taking Logan to the movies on Facebook the other day, but I wanted to share some of the photos we took with you guys.

Upon arriving at Warren Theater, the three of us — Brian, Logan and I — get out of the car and Logan proceeds to walk to the door. Here’s a picture that I took of him because he was way ahead of us.

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ME: Wait up Logan!
LOGAN: Okay.

But instead of coming back towards us, he just stands there.

ME: Look, the sign says “No Loitering.”
LOGAN: I am not loitering!

Brian tries to explain to Logan what loitering means and argues that he is, in fact, at the moment, loitering.

LOGAN: I’m waiting for you guys! You’re making me loiter!

Children are so adorable. LOL. Here’s Brian and Logan in the auditorium.

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And playing games in the game room after the movie.

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I wanted to go bowling and ride go karts at the Alley afterwards too, but it was time to take Logan home. Maybe we can do it next time and then we can take Eli with us also.

BTW, we went to see The Dark Knight Rises. It’s really good. I was glued to the screen and loved the plot twists at the end. Logan seemed to enjoy the movie also. You all should go see it.

Pool Time with the Dills

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Jay and Becca hung out at the pool with us on Saturday night. There’s never anyone at our pool on Friday and Saturday nights so we pretty much had the pool to ourselves.

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We had a good ol’ time frolicking in and out of the water.

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Afterwards it was time for flaming quesaDILLas.

Chicken QuesaDILLas

Okay, so they weren’t really flaming. But they were delicious. Good job, Jay and Brian. We all agreed this was the best batch of quesadillas the boys ever made.

Then it was time for The Vow, which made me cry but that doesn’t really say much. Almost every movie makes me cry. It starts out really rough and hokey. I mean, what was up with Rachel McAdams’ hair in the beginning of the movie? She looked like she was wearing a wig. The movie does get better towards the end. About the same time that Rachel’s hair starts looking normal. LOL. I don’t know if you guys saw Serendipity with Kate Beckinsdale and John Cusack a few years back, but how The Vow ends kind of reminds me of that movie.

Anyway, Becca is completely enamored with Channing Tatum. He’s got a nice body and everything, but he just doesn’t seem that attractive to me. It could be that he’s too young. I mean, if I had a choice between Jason Statham and Channing Tatum, I’d pick JS every time. Now, that’s one sexy man.

Speaking of, Brian and I hung out at the pool again today and saw a guy who resembled a young JS. I think it might have been the shaved head and the aviator glasses he was wearing. I told Brian we needed to get him some of those. LOL. Although, I think Brian will look more like Bruce Willis than JS when the time comes. Either way works for me. I think BW is sexy too.

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Who wants to go swimming with us next weekend?

Brian’s Birthday Movie

Earlier this year Brian said that he wanted to see Prometheus for his birthday movie. Yes, so even though I took him to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, I still had to take him to the movies on the weekend of his birthday. Brian is a spoiled brat. That is all I have to say about that. At least we compromised on a 3:45 pm showing, so I didn’t have to miss my workout. Ever since I started teaching Zumba, I only get to see Amie on Sundays. I hate missing Sundays because it’s my favorite workout day. We do an hour of intense, high impact Zumba, followed by 15 minutes of gut-wrenching abs. I’m not exaggerating either. Amie’s ab workout is so tough that the times when we do just plain, ol’ crunches feel like a break.

Anyway, the compromise (attending Amie’s Sunday Zumba class at the West Central Genesis) meant having to go straight from the gym to the theater since we were coming from way out West to way East where 13th Avenue Warren is… Don’t worry. We showered at the gym. LOL.

Brian’s mom and dad joined us for the movie. It was good, but not great. The positives and negatives stemmed from the same thing. I thought it was good that the movie could stand alone, meaning you don’t really have to be familiar with the Alien movie franchise to understand what’s going on. At the same time, I don’t think there were enough references to the other movies in the series for the hardcore Alien geeks. The movie was just okay for me. Plus, how do you put someone like Charlize Theron in a movie and not show her in her underwear? That was so disappointing!

[CORRECTION] They did show her in underwear, but it was brief and they weren’t the sexy kind. LOL. [/CORRECTION]

Kidding aside, Philly D was right when he mentioned there were lots of random outbursts of emotion. I liked Noomi Rapace in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series and she did a good job in this movie, but she would have these random emotional outbursts that sometimes seemed out of place. I’m sure she was just following the director’s instructions, though. [spoiler alert] In one scene, she and her boyfriend got into an emotional conversation about her being infertile and not being able to bear children. I was like, “Is she sure that she’s not pregnant because she’s been very emotional since the beginning of the movie?” LOL. She does end up getting impregnated with this alien thing, but I won’t say any more in case you actually want to see the film. [/spoiler alert]

Anyway, Brian decided to take a vacation day today to celebrate his birthday. As if we haven’t celebrated enough already. LOL. Because I’m a fantastic wife, I took a vacation day as well to keep him company. Brian is a hardcore movie geek so, naturally, we’re going to the movies again. This time we’re going to go see Snow White and the Huntsman. Charlize happens to be in this movie also. Maybe I’ll get to see her half-naked in this one. LOL.

The Hunger Games at the IMAX

Brian and I went to see The Hunger Games at the IMAX last night with the Dills and the Phelpi. Great choice. Nothing beats the IMAX movie watching experience. Everything else just seems like you might as well watch the movie in your own living room. Although, when we got to the theater a little after 9 pm for our 10:15 pm movie showing, the line was already around the building.

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We thought that getting there an hour prior to our movie would be enough. As Brian and I walked to the end of the line, I quickly realized that we should have gotten there at 8 pm or even earlier. It was wild!


By the time we got inside, getting seats in the middle section was out of the question. Several people had already gotten there ahead of us. Between the folks already there and the saved seats, we didn’t have a choice but to sit in the right section. Even then, it was a miracle that April found six seats together.

2012-03-23 19.30.19.jpgI normally prefer sitting smack dab in the middle of the auditorium and that is usually always the case because Brian and I always get first pick because we are typically at the theater with plenty of time to be the first ones there, so I really didn’t know what to expect being in the section we were in. It wasn’t too bad, though. Now when people say there are no bad seats at the IMAX, I can believe them. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the film, despite having to watch it from the side and not my usual middle spot.

I suppose we should have known it would be packed when we saw this on Friday night when Brian and I went to purchase our movie tickets. We were not quite nerdy enough to have dinner, in line, outside the theater, but I think that was the only way I could have gotten my middle seats. Now we know what to expect for when we go to the IMAX for The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises later this year.

The Hunger Games was really good, by the way. I highly recommend watching it. I’m not sure if Brian and I would have enjoyed the movie more or less if we read the books prior to watching the film adaptation, but it’s definitely made me want to read the books — all of them. If anyone owns it (or the book trilogy) and doesn’t mind parting with it for a few weeks, please message me.

Our Quick Getaway


Brian and I recently returned from Jeff and cousin Tracy’s destination wedding. It was a quick (we arrived in Jamaica on Friday and we were back in Wichita by Tuesday night) but fun-filled trip. We didn’t really get to sleep in because our room faced East and there was no way to keep the sun out each morning as it rose. It was all good, though. We got plenty of naps in hammocks (there were several throughout the property) and at the beach (thus, the terrible case of sunburn).





What I liked best about the trip was being able to spend some quality time with Brian. We have both been so busy lately that we rarely got to spend quality time together. This trip allowed us to do that.

My favorite part of the day was in the evening when I read to Brian before bed. He’s currently reading Ender’s Game. I’m not a huge fan of science fiction novels but, the more I read to him, the more I got into the book also. Although, not enough to read it from the beginning. I’m a bit lazy and would rather just watch the movie.

I got curious about it one night so I looked at the book’s copyright information. The book was actually written in 1977, the year that I was born. “This book has been around for years,” I asked Brian. “Why are you just now reading it?” I can’t remember what he said, but I remember also asking him why there hasn’t been a movie made about the book. If the book is so good, surely someone would have bought the movie rights. He didn’t have the answer that night, but guess what. We found out yesterday that production has already begun and the movie is set to be released next year. How cool is that?! If I wait a few more months, I won’t have to read the book. LOL.

You never know if things are real or if it’s all just hype so I looked up Ender’s Game on IMDB. They had additional information about the movie, such as a list of the actors and their roles. Excitedly, I was like “Harrison Ford is going to be in it!” Brian was like, “He’s got to be playing Colonel Graff.” He guessed right. Other than Abigail Breslin who is playing Valentine and Ben Kingsley who is playing Mazer Rackham, I didn’t really recognize any of the other actors. It looks like they’re using older kids to play the characters, which I figured they would have to do. I was telling Brian about that. They always do that sort of thing in Hollywood. Heck, they had 30 year olds playing teenagers in 90210. =P

But I digress.. Brian and I had a blast with his mom and dad, Jeff, Tracy, and all of their friends on this recent trip to Jamaica. I feel like Brian and I really connected and we both got to meet some wonderful people. I will tell you guys more about our trip as time permits. In the meantime, enjoy the Shutterfly photo book I made of our trip photos below.

Click here to view this photo book larger.

Start your own Shutterfly Photo Book today.

Ching is on a Foreign Films Kick

As you can recall, I got into some Swedish films a while back around the time that the American adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo came out. I watched all three Swedish films in the series pretty much back to back right before we saw Daniel Craig’s film. These days I’m into Spanish language films. I figured that it’s a great way to practice Spanish.

I recently watched Guillermo Del Toro’s El Orfanato (the regular DVD version is actually only $5 on Amazon) based on a friend’s recommendation and thoroughly enjoyed it. I noticed that I could follow along pretty well even without the English subtitles. That’s what got me the idea of watching Spanish language films for practice. I got several really good recommendations from friends on Facebook and have added most of them to my Netflix queue. I’m really excited.

A couple of titles were mentioned that I had already seen before, but I wouldn’t mind watching them over and over again so I went ahead and bought them. One is my absolute favorite Guillermo Del Toro film, El Laberinto del Fauno. The other is Volver, which is Jenni’s favorite. I’m really looking forward to watching both movies again, as it has been a while since I’ve seen them.

The other day I watched Silent Light, which I thought was really great for learning to speak Spanish because it had Spanish subtitles. It helps to read the words and see the action. The movie was pretty good, but I wouldn’t really care to watch it again. I didn’t really care for the director’s style, which was to drag out all of the scenes. It made the movie progress very slowly. I think other people would have been bored and given up. Were it not for my desire to learn Spanish, I probably would have gotten bored as well. Brian probably would have complained the entire time if he were watching it with me, so I’m kind of glad he wasn’t.

Don’t get me wrong. The movie had a pretty profound message and it was filmed beautifully. I just didn’t care for the style. I also thought it was kind of weird. There was a sex scene between Johan and his mistress Marianne that left me wondering if people really had intercourse that way or just the Mennonites. Then there was the scene at the end where Marianne kisses Esther’s corpse on the lips and the dead body slowly comes back to life (because all the scenes drag out for several minutes). I was like, “She did not just kiss that dead body!” I know it’s a metaphor. I get it! But understanding the movie’s message doesn’t make it any less weird. LOL.

The Motorcycle Diaries came highly recommended, so I guess I’m watching that next. IF you guys have other Spanish language films that you think I should see, please be sure to post them in the comments. I always love getting movie suggestions.

By the way, now that I’ve found this web page I’ll probably start blogging in Spanish for practice. I’ve already started posting Spanish status updates on Facebook, but without putting the proper symbols above the letters. So far the response from my Spanish-speaking amigos has been quite positive and has given me the confidence to take the plunge and start blogging in Spanish occasionally. Thank you so much to you, dear reader, for your support, encouragement, and patience as I try to learn this new language. ¡Hasta luego!

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