Life is Like a Hurricane...

Ok. Let's start out by saying that I was skeptically nervous when they first announced that they were rebooting one of my all-time-favorite television shows as a child: DuckTales.

I mean, I loved this show. I own t-shirts from it. I used to have stuffed versions of Huey, Dewey and Louie that I carried with me around the house and called them "my boys." Cause apparently at 5 I wanted a posse. Yes, I may even have an old Scrooge toy from my childhood that sits on my desk at work. I still have/play the NES version of the video game... OK. You get the point. I loved DuckTales.

As the first glimmer of the reboot began to circulate (see above), i was worried. The art style, at first glance, looked like the new Mickey cartoons. Which, while I initially enjoyed, grew to hate as I watch them. Reminded me of Ren & Stimpy. Let's just say, those cartoons disappoint me. So was this what was to become of my beloved show? More content, and I was started to feel better. Even excited. On Saturday, it finally debuted. Here are my thoughts.

Design Style

Like I said before, I was nervous about this. Not anymore. I LOVE IT. No, it's not exactly like stepping back into the 90s cartoon, but it is like stepping back into the 1950s comics with a 2017 twist. You can see this in the new opening, as characters jump in and out of comic book panels. Watch as the camera pans and you see the 50s comic art, including the halftone dots that appear as shadowing. I sat back and just drank in the beauty of it. Where the old version used the faux 3D style, our reboot embraces the 2D and says "this is what a Carl Barks comic looks like animated." So, as a graphic designer: I'm in love with the choices they made.

Characters

The characters are not a perfect translation of the ones we grew up on. Webby isn't the token girl. She's an adventurer. The nephews aren't completely interchangeable. They have personalities, desires, and different goals. This will make for a much better show, and I'll elaborate on that soon. The inclusion of Donald hearkens back to the original comics, not the show, but I don't mind this. What I like is that Donald is DISTINCTLY Donald. Not some modern version. He's angry. He's almost down right inaudible. I've read some complain about this, and I can understand why. However, I feel like it's the same way he was in the shorts I watched as a kid, his minor appearances in the original show, and even Mickey's Christmas Carol. Launchpad isn't.... nope... he's still exactly as Launchpad should be. Beakley in the most interesting development, as she's gone from an hysteric maid to a BA Bodygaurd type character. I'm not sure how I feel about this, and only time will tell.

Story

It parallels the original well. Donald hands the nephews off to a reluctant Scrooge. Scrooge is kind of a jerk. Boys are stuck in a crummy room and want to know/impress Scrooge. Soon Scrooge softens to them, discovers an adventure, and takes his nephews along. Originally they go for the the Treasure of the Golden Sun in a 5 part miniseries. Here we have an extended 1-hour episode hunting for Atlantis. It's similar enough, but not a carbon copy. We have a new origin story. We see how the nephews really affect Scrooge, and why his heart softens for them. In reality, it's a much more intricate origin despite being 90 minutes shorter, and because the characters have more depth, it's much more engaging.

Nostalgia vs New

This is the big one. Will it work for the 90s kid? Will it work for my kids? Short answer: Yes. I believe so.

Here's why:

  • Already we see some hidden nostalgia gems. Probably too many for me to have caught with my first viewing. Almost right away we hear a reference to Cape Suzette, our beloved city from Talespin. Appearances in the garage for both the magic lamp and the head of Armstrong gives me a wink that says "Yes, this show is meant for you." I can't wait to see what other bits they throw our way.
  • There's enough of the original triplets, mainly their mischievous nature, to feel like the original, while providing unique personalities that I'd want from characters from any show I'd watch as an adult. These updates to the nephews & webby allow for interactions, humor, and character growth that a nostalgic adult will understand, while still remaining silly enough to make my kids laugh. Sure, we often laughed at different moments, but we both laughed. Now, this isn't the low-brow adult humor that I refer to as "Dreamworks" humor. We didn't "adultify" Ducktales. Think more "Phineas & Ferb." It doesn't rely on hidden dirty innuendo, but rather clever wit and timing: "You're here because you're the cheapest of the best."
  • Launchpad is Launchpad. He didn't need to change. He shouldn't have changed. So I'm glad he didn't. He's the same absolutely lovable and bumbling idiot he was before. Slapstick for the kids. Slapstick for me. He's summed up in the line from the show: "You know, family really is the greatest adven... OH NO THE GROUND!!" The delivery is perfect. I laugh every time I've seen that clip. Every. Time.
  • After it was finished I was ready for more.
  • After it was finished, my kids asked "Can we watch more?.

And there it is. I wanted more. My kids wanted more. In a world where reboots have been pretty terrible, DuckTales KNOCKS IT OUT OF THE PARK. It felt like it took a lesson from Girl Meets World (which I also thought was a pretty decent reboot), but also figured out how to improve upon that formula. Because it's hard for me to criticize this at all. I wanna re-watch it. I wanna see more. I want to watch every episode with my kids.

Conclusion: WATCH IT NOW!

Whole30

SUBJECTS:

Honestly, I don't remember how I discovered the Whole30 at this point. I know I got the book from the library (then wound up buying it), read it cover to cover, and something (probably the promises it made) just made me inspired and determined that I was going to do this!

What is the Whole30?

The Whole30 was created by Melissa & Dallas Hartwig. I would consider the Whole30 an experiment. The creators emphasize, it is NOT a diet (and it's not). Diets are about losing weight, and you typically do them until you reach a set goal or fall off the wagon. The Whole30 is done for a predetermined amount of time, and the ultimate goal is to figure out how different foods may affect you, with the added benefit of breaking food addictions.

You cut out the following food groups:

  • Dairy
  • Legumes/Soy
  • Grains
  • Sugar

At this point you might be thinking sheesh, what CAN I eat?

  • Meat & Seafood
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Nuts & Seeds

And you can eat until you're satisfied! No counting - carbs, calories, or anything else! As they'd say on Whose Line Is It Anyway - the points don't matter!

I cannot recommend enough to read the book for yourself. I cannot tell you how many times I've been browsing Pinterest and seen recipes for "Whole 30 approved xyz" (Fries, Pudding, Waffles - you name it!), that are NOT Whole30 approved at all! But you wouldn't necessarily know that if you didn't read the book for yourself. This is where the idea of food addiction comes in. If you can use whole foods to recreate a food that is more commonly known as "junk" food (including the list I just mentioned, think pancakes, ice cream, etc.), it's still not allowed. This is basically an effort to rewire your brain so that you don't see food as some sort of a reward, as that can lead to serious eating problems.

After 30 days of eating this way, you then reintroduce the food groups you eliminated, one at a time, and take a couple of days to see how your body reacts to having the food back in your system. While they reintroduce the foods in an order that is supposed to have the least effect to the greatest effect (legumes, whole grains, dairy, gluten), it was actually the opposite for me; and hey, that's okay! That's what this program is all about! Legumes wreaked havoc on my stomach and whole grains made me an emotional mess.

While it is recommended that you take measurements and weigh yourself before and after doing the Whole30 to see visible results, what the creators really want you to pay attention to are your "non-scale victories". For me, this included things like: MUCH clearer complexion, clothes fitting better, leaner appearance (I didn't necessarily notice this, but people at work kept asking what I was doing, so someone noticed it!), not needing (or feeling like I needed) an afternoon nap, control over cravings, and in my children: improved behavior!

It's a serious program (if you cheat, you have to start from the beginning!), but it also yields serious results!

Why not give it a try? What do you have to lose?

The End of a Journey. The Start of Something New.

Sometimes the greatest miracle in your life... takes time. -- Todd Mullins.

I've been having posts pop up in my Facebook timeline from last year. Posts about seeing our trial getting moved the third or fourth time (I lost count). I referenced it to Baymax chasing the soccer ball or Charlie Brown & Lucy with the football.

Right now, our church has been going through a series on miracles: seeing God move in our lives and accomplish great things. As part of my weekly schedule, I volunteer each week pulling out quotes to make graphics for our church's social media. Last Sunday, the quote above came out of our pastor's mouth and I almost began to cry.

See, in September 2014, we were told the boys were coming back into care and would be placed into our home for the third time. We were also told that this would be an "Expedited TPR" -- which made it sound like this would be quick, considering permanency is supposed to happen within a year when a case isn't "expedited."

Well, whatever my expectations... they were wrong. VERY wrong.

For those who know us well, for those who have heard us rant and vent... you know this path has not been easy. Our journey has been incredibly rough. Some who have heard the stories asked "why? or "are you sure you want to do this?" I can't blame them. They've seen us cry. They've seen me shove my face while stress eating. They've watched us beg and plead for help when no one believed just how bad some of it was. But these are our boys. These are our sons. They have been since the first time they were placed in our home. Recently, Elisabeth and I stood back and simply watched the boys. A smile crossed our faces as we said to each other "they've come so far." You see, these boys are our miracles.

1050 days. That's how long it took. This does not even include the back and forth that happened with them coming and going in and out of our home. Like I stated earlier, it felt like us that it took forever. Court dates set. Court dates cancelled. Court dates set. Court dates delayed. Then, FINALLY, a trial... and an appeal. Ambiguity as to when we'd ever ever hear the words: "You can adopt them." So often it felt like we were living in a state of limbo. Would this ever happen? When the boys came to us they were 2. Now they're 6. 4 years. 1050 days in our home. 3 or 4 trial delays. An appeal process. Lots... and lots... of time.

So here we stand today. 5.15.17. Proud to finally announce Jacob & Anthony Neumann. Four years ago, as we took the Orientation, I never imagined we'd be here today. But, as Pastor Todd said: Sometimes the greatest miracles in your live... take time.