Her orange Crocs won't be forgotten

*The entry below was written by a very special guest blogger -- my husband (a.k.a. Superman)*

Alice loved "Animal Planet." She'd watch for hours, now and again commenting on the size and speed of the creature on the screen.

Alice rocked orange Croc sandals with an orange-and-white checkered button-up shirt, as well as a straw visor — yes, orange in color. Three guesses regarding her favorite hue.

Alice loved Magnolias, even though she rarely could remember what they were called.

Alice enjoyed smiling, laughing, looking out her large window at the trees outside, being read to and going for strolls — more like rolls.

Alice loved her bunny rabbit figurines. She even offered me one of them, for my pending baby. I politely declined.

Alice didn't take any guff. We shared that trait.

Alice's eyes shone brightly, as did her smile. She used these to her benefit while telling me vivid stories about life on the farm, things she'd heard somewhere — she couldn't recall where, which frustrated her — and the joy of raising children.

Alice cherished the story of Ruth and Naomi. She only remembered bits and pieces, so when I read the passage to her, she was overjoyed.

Alice often proclaimed her appreciation for God and his sweet, sweet love.

Alice lived 87-plus years before succumbing to various health problems a little more than a week ago. I only knew her from our several weekly visits together at the assisted-living facility where she resided. I wished I'd known her longer. Our short friendship meant the world — to me.

I will never, ever forget those orange Crocs.

Snippets o' fun

• Here is my song de jour: "Love is the Protest" by Jars of Clay (click on it in the player after you scroll down a little)

"American Idol" voters finally get it right (I don't vote, but I still appreciate a choice well made)

• More eloquent than mine, a review that captures what's missing from the movie "Prince Caspian"

So you think you can...improve on Lewis

Turns out you needn't be jealous of my opening-night "Prince Caspian" viewing. The movie was a letdown.

I had such high hopes after the release of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" -- it was so beautifully done and true to the book. On the other hand, "Prince Caspian" the story is frequently unrecognizable in this film, and sometimes even laughable. It starts promisingly enough with professor Cornelius abruptly waking Caspian and putting him to flight. But as the minutes pass, any keen-eyed Narnia fan begins to see C.S. Lewis' quite capable story dissolve.

It seems strange to post a *SPOILER ALERT* for a movie based on a book, but if you are interested in seeing it and wish to be surprised by its ineptitude, by all means stop reading now (though I'll try not to give away the farm).

• Aslan barely makes an appearance 'til the end.
• The High King Peter is reduced to an angsty, insecure teenage boy always looking for a fight.
• Peter and Caspian are caught up in a fierce and jealous rivalry.
• There are two (very) long battle sequences, which not only aren't in the book, but only serve to take up time.
• There is no atmospheric "feel" of a magical world.
• In favor of an invented all-out war near the end, they left out any lovely imagery of the girls riding with Aslan to reawaken Narnia.
• Much of Lewis' sharp banter has been replaced by George Lucas-esque dialogue.
• Caspian and Susan kiss.

Yes, I left the real zinger for last. Let's just say if I were Douglas Gresham (Lewis' adopted son), I'd want my name removed from the credits as producer. The very barest bones of the story are intact -- Caspian is the true king of Telemarine descent who must rally old Narnians in hiding to his cause. But with all the added teenage drama, manufactured conflict and a script I could have written in 7th grade, how worthwhile is what remains of the story?

Do yourself a favor and read the original, beautiful tale by one of the most prolific authors of the 20th century. These books have millions of fans all over the world for a reason: They're good. And unlike "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, they are short and concise enough to be left pretty much alone (as was "LWW"). The authentic story of "Prince Caspian" is about faith, courage and breathing new life into a land that had all but lost its magic. I'm not going to let filmmakers reduce it to a dumbed-down Disney channel special about getting over jealousy and learning to work together. Blah. That's what "High School Musical" is for.

Friday potpourri

First, some news that's good:
American Red Cross Vindicated in J&J Lawsuit

Second, I'm going tonight. Jealous?

Just for "kicks"

It's seems a little narrow-minded to describe in-utero baby movements simply as "kicks," when it's clear there's a lot more going on in there. So from my pregnancy experience in the last couple months, I've put together a list of baby moves -- as I see/feel them. My little bean has a lot of restless energy:

• The classic soccer kick
• The conga line
• The morning calisthenics
• The bend-and-snap (think "Legally Blond")
• The Chorus Line high kick
• The Cowardly Lion fisticuffs threat ("Put 'em up, put 'em up")
• The rolling-down-a-hill simulation
• The drum roll

These moves and more have earned my child the nickname "Restless Energy Baby" by his/her Marmee. No doubt I will be adding more to the repertoire as the big day draws closer.

Stranger days

I have been a little on edge lately. A couple weeks back, I saw a movie preview that really creeped me out -- and it was just a preview. Even so, I couldn't get some of the images out of my head and found myself sleeping that much closer to Superman at night and keeping the apartment more shut up than usual.

Then a funny thing happened.

Yesterday afternoon I made the rookie mistake of opening my door to someone I didn't know. I have no idea why I did this. All my years of common-sense training failed me and I turned the knob even though I had no idea who the person in the peep hole was. It turned out to be a kid selling magazine subscriptions. He was non-threatening enough, but still taller than me. Not my smartest moment.

Then later in the evening I had to make a run over to Walgreen's. As I was walking back to my car two teenage girls, who had been smoking outside on a bench, asked if I would give them a ride home (actually only one of them asked -- the other one looked shocked and embarrassed by her friend). I said "sure" without hesitating. So they hopped in my car and I drove them down the road a bit as we made small talk. They were very nice and expressed their gratitude.

It was only on the way back to my own home that the two incidences struck me as funny. I talk to strangers all the time at grocery stores and what not. But it's different to open your front door to them or to give them a ride home. But I did both. In one day. And you know what? No more weird thoughts about that stupid movie! It's almost as if God used the strange circumstances to help me conquer my fear.

Do I condone doing things like this when you're all alone? Absolutely not. But please believe that I'm a firm believer in intuition -- the "gift of fear" -- and would have done neither of these things if I felt the slightest hesitation in my gut. I didn't feel the gut thing, though, which is why I view the whole thing as providencial in a way. So there you have it. My strange day with strangers took away my fear (for now) of strangers in strange movies.

Dark cloud over a sunny day

Poor Eight Belles. These stories are so sad. There's interesting coverage of it here.

And so begins the parade of "I'll Nevers"

They tell you never to make absolute declarations because it invariably locks you into doing the thing you just swore never to do. Mothers-to-be I'm sure are a tragic yet shining example of this truth...

"I'll never let my child speak to me like that."
"I'll never give in that easily to my child's demands."

So I try to avoid statements such as this in the company of current moms -- not for fear or sealing my hypocritical doom, but mainly because I get sick of jaded mommies snapping back, "That's what you say now. Just wait 'til you have your own!"

OK, I get that you should not pretentiously vow to never make mistakes. We all make mistakes. And even the best-intentioned parents mess up and do the thing they never wanted to do -- you will at some point let your child speak to you like that and you will at some point give in that easily to his or her demands. But does that mean we moms-to-be can't have some semblance of standards? Should we throw the baby out with the bath water and forsake lifestyle declarations altogether simply because not all of them stick? Sounds a lot like the sex-ed argument to me.

But I still proceed with caution. Even though I was tempted two weeks ago at church to remark, "I'll never let my kid hit me with string cheese just because he's ready to have it opened for him," I had to rein myself in. Because I might be so distracted and fed up one day that I let it slide when my son thwaps me with a dairy product. Yet there are a few "I'll nevers" I'd like to see through:

• I'll never allow my children to have a TV in their bedroom(s).

• I'll never force my children to speak to or wave at someone they're unfamiliar with, even if I know them well.

• I'll never go back on a threat of discipline.

• I'll never accept the word "whatever" as a complete sentence.

• I'll never make excuses to the babysitter for my children's bad behavior, but will instead simply apologize.

• I'll never let my children get away with deflecting a compliment in the name of humility; I'll teach them to simply say "thank you."

• I'll never tolerate whining.

There you have it. Not too lofty, Lord willing. What about other mommies? What sorts of "I'll nevers" did/do you have?