Category Archives: movies

Entertainment I Loved…or Didn’t


1.  Les Miserables.  This was so highly anticipated I was worried it wouldn’t live up to my expectations.  But no, it just might just be the very best movie I’ve ever seen.  And that’s saying a lot.  I mean, Top Gun has held first place since I was 12!  All of the actors and actresses hit their part perfectly, even Russell Crowe can sing!  Forgiveness, hope, redemption, justice, mercy, honor….it’s all there and it’s SO good.  Cope has been riding the high ever since.

2.  Lincoln.  After I read the Time cover story on Daniel Day-Lewis’ genius as an actor, I had to see the movie.  I loved the tidbit of him having to stay in character while on set and texting Sally Field with limericks and signing them, “A.”  This brought back all the memories of Day-Lewis in Last of the Mohicans….let’s pause a moment and think about that movie…sigh…Lincoln required concentration, and I loved it.  

3.  Downton Abbey

Yes, like everyone else, I’m obsessed.  I love it so.  Whenever Cope and I hear the Downton music begin or reviewed on the radio, we look at each other and squeal.  No one is allowed to speak or interrupt during the watching of Downton!  It’s as good now as the first season.

4.  Forever Strong.  I saw this movie a few years ago, but we watched it again for a youth activity with Cope and Nelson.  Love it.  It has so many great lessons.  I knew a boy in college who played for the Highland Rugby team.  It was a life-changing experience for him.  This movie is based on the true story of Highland and the real-life and life-changing relationship between a coach and his players.  It’s different and always reminds me of my youngest brother.  Sports, redemption, forgiveness.  It’s there and it’s good.

5.  Nashville.  I love Connie Britton and I like country music, so this is a fun show to watch during the week.

6.  Parenthood.  Emotional, happy, and sometimes sad, this is my favorite show in television right now.

7.  The Piano Guys.  We got this CD for Nelson for Christmas, to inspire him to play the piano.  It’s inspired us all! Downloaded onto my ipod, it’s not only good listening music, it’s fabulous running music.

8.  League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  I know this is an old movie, but we taped it over Christmas break and eagerly began to watch it one evening.  All of sudden I remembered how bad it was the first time.  I’m sorry if you enjoyed it, but I could not stand the thought of wasting two hours of my life watching it again. 

We’re back in the thick of things.  Christmas break is over.  Who knows when we’ll have a chance to watch another movie.  We’ve been so busy we even cancelled Netflix…boo hoo!  But when we get another moment, what do you recommend?  Skyfall?  Impossible?  Smash?

P.S.  Did you see Beyonce sing the national anthem at the inaugeration?  Doesn’t it make you want to just belt it out? That’s good entertainment!


Hunger Games

The coveted mockingjay pin.  The envy of the seventh grade girls.  Oh, Cope wears that pin with pride, every day.  And a braid down her back.
Gregor and I just got home from The Hunger Games.  We took Nelson for his birthday.  Because it was his birthday present, I did not outwardly gasp at the $29 it took to get three of us in.  And I did not make a scene when we were charged $13.25 for popcorn and a soda.  Outwardly.  Only because it was his birthday.  
I read the book a few years ago, before it was all the rage.  The movie was good, it stayed true to the book and Katniss Everdeen was perfectly cast.  The book and movie are horrible too.  The premise, of children killing other children for sport and entertainment, is horrible.  It is such a commentary on our society.  The way we slab on costumes and paint, cheer and clap for those in the arena, turn a blind eye to what is really happening around us.  I felt sickened with realization.  We can’t be those people.
But Katniss, she of course, emerges as the hero.  Not only is she your average girl, but she’s the underdog.  The underdog, I recently heard on NPR is not really the underdog.  They may seem down, but buried deep down, is our belief that they really aren’t out.  Deep down, we truly believe that they can win.  
Katniss is not the underdog, she’s the girl on fire.  We love her for her beauty, her defiance of the capitol, and the way she can shoot that arrow like nobody’s business.  But we love her most of all because of her sacrifice for her little sister, Prim, who would never survive in The Hunger Games.  We love her for the way she sees things the way they really are, in life and in death.
It’s good, and it’s horrible.  
And now I must go because someone is throwing up and the Easter bunny needs help filling baskets.
My last thought:  I still like Gale better.


The Special Handling of "No."

The other day one of my children had to do the dishes.  One of the duties of dishes is cleaning out the sink.  It’s a gross job, after all the dishes have been rinsed and loaded, and all that’s left in the sink is the slop pooling in the dish drainer.  

“Don’t forget to clean the sink,” I said.  We were hurrying to get out of the house to go somewhere.  We did not have extra time to talk or do anything other than hustle.  Well, this child looked into the sink and said, “No!  I can’t do it, Mom.  I’ll do everything else, but I will not stick my hand in there.”

“It’s part of the job, now get it done,” I said as I helped tie some shoes and scurried to get the car bag packed.

Child shook her head, looked down at the sink and said, “No, I’m not doing it!”  Then she turned around and folded her arms in a most resolved fashion.

Well, what do you do with that?  Too often, my response depends on my mood.  Which I don’t like, but there it is.  Sometimes I am instantly enraged.  I snap and speak louder, sometimes I order it done, sometimes I take the bait and begin arguing and negotiating.  I can guarantee, the child might do it, but the situation will escalate.  Then there is crying, raised voices, and hurt feelings.  And it makes me feel pretty lousy when I reflect on it later.

So, there she stood, arms folded.  A defiant “NO!” was right in front of me.  No is actually a rare thing for my children to say.  They are pretty obedient, but there are occasions like this where I think, Oh crap, now what am I supposed to do???!  I decided to apply some John Rosemond parenting style (Author of two of my favorite parenting books, The Six Point Plan to Raising Happy, Healthy Children and Making the Terrible Twos Terrific.)

I decided to say nothing.  We left the house and by the look on my child’s face, she was pretty sure she had gotten out of cleaning the sink.  I kept thinking, please let an opportunity present itself quickly.

An teaching opportunity came that very night.  (Of course it did.  There is always something our children want.)  We ran into our wonderful Grandma and my daughter excitedly asked, “Can I ride home with Grandma, please, please, please?”  Riding home with Grandma, getting her undivided attention, and maybe a shamrock shake on the way home…well, it’s a pretty special thing!  Bingo.  The opportunity had come.

“Sorry,” I said.  “You didn’t clean your sink.”

What followed after that was wailing, crying, begging.  The worst thing I could have done was say, “Okay, go ahead but next time…” No, no, no.  I had to follow-through!  I wanted to say yes.  Frankly, our car ride would have been much more peaceful.  But I had to be strong even though she was very sincere, quite repentant, and used some very convincing bartering.  

Child drove home with us, sniffling the entire way in the back seat.  I did feel bad, but mostly I felt triumphant.  That sounds smug.  But I was happy because I had not yelled or argued.  I did not hurt our relationship and she didn’t even think I was mean.  What I hoped was happening was a child seeing that there is agency and there are consequences for every single choice.

What happened when we got home?  She went right to the sink and cleaned it without one word from me.  And the next time she had the dishes?  She did the sink too.  She got it and she got it quickly.

I’ve thought about this several times since it happened.  Especially as our children get older, we cannot “make” them do anything.  If we try to force, we are going to do damage.  But there has to be consequences. Permissiveness can hurt our children just as much as being overly harsh. 

But maybe, I thought, I just need to shut my yap and let the natural consequence present itself.  Didn’t clean your room?  Bummer.  Now there isn’t movie night.  You didn’t eat your dinner?  That’s too bad, we made brownies for dessert.  A tantrum in the supermarket?  Drat.  Guess we’ll just have to go sit in the car until you are done.  I vow to do better.

This situation was followed up with Gregor and I watching the documentary, Buck.  Oh, it’s such great stuff!  Buck is what the late psychologist, Carlfred Broderick, would call a “a transitional character.”  Instead of passing on the abuse he endured as a child, he rejected it.  

Buck is the original Horse Whisperer, the inspiration behind the bestselling book that I must now read.

I was very taken with this whole concept.  He works magic in minutes with horses, using nothing but some flags, body language, and a very soft voice.  It is immediate, how this transcends to how we work with people, especially our children.

There is no bribery (it doesn’t work in any long-term scenario, he says), no manipulation, no hurting, hitting, no yelling or even the hint of a raised voice.  I’m sure Buck gets frustrated and annoyed, but he always approaches from a place of humility and compassion.  He’s no pushover.  He’s firm and he’s strict and he means business.  The horse knows it!  The horse learns to follow, respect, and love the guy.  Buck is teaching horses with people problems.  He’s also teaching people with people problems.  He sure taught me.

The inspiration for the book, The Horse Whisperer, Buck helped Robert Redford nail his Hollywood movie role.  See the Buck trailer Here.  

And yeah, I’ve always had a soft spot for the cowboy.

Buck Brannaman says, “Your horse is a mirror to your soul, and sometimes you may not like what you see… Sometimes, you will.” 
It’s like that with our children, don’t you think?


The Best of…

It’s almost time to say farewell to the great year of 2011.  I’ve had a good reading year.  I wish I had time to read more as the books on my nightstand and bookshelves grow in larger piles than I can keep up with.  However I plan to do lots of reading in 2012.

Since the New York Times publishes their 10 Best Books of 2011, and 2011 Notable Books of 2011, I thought I’d include mine.  Of course, their list is all books published in 2011.  One of my favorites was written in the 60’s, but these are the books I enjoyed most this year.  Oh yes, I love making lists.

2011 Book Favorites:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (read how many times?)
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
Room by Emma Donaghue
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
Innocent  by Scott Turow
Eat, Pray, Love by Gilbert

What I can’t wait to get my hands on for 2012:
11-22-64 by Stephen King
My Reading Life by Pat Conroy (under the tree!)
The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
Belong to Me by Marisa do los Santos
The Power of Moms, Essays on Motherhood (guess who got an essay published?!)

Movies I Enjoyed:
Toy Story 3
Downton Abbey, Season I (season premiere of season II on January 8th!)
Little Dorrit
The King’s Speech
500 Days of Summer
Slumdog Millionaire
Tangled (love!)
The Tourist
Chronicles of Narnia:  Prince Caspian
Robin Hood (scarily, I have no recollection of watching this, but my Netflix says I rated it 4 stars)
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Water for Elephants
Soul Surfer

Movies I Didn’t Enjoy:
Knight and Day (really Tom?  still excited to see you in Mission Impossible)
Crazy, Stupid, Love (great cast, but all the yucky…!)

Friday Night Lights (the hit of my year! and oh I miss you.)

Ok really, I’m almost done, but since I’m making lists, here’s a list of:

Products I discovered in 2011: 

Seriously, I’ve got to stop eating these.

Thank you Scott and Lindsey for introducing me to this:

I drink this after every morning run.  Chocolate milk is a great snack/nutrition for a runner or athlete.  Mmm, it tastes great too.

I’m not picky about my hot chocolate, but this one is gooood.  I also like Swiss Miss and Land O’Lakes Raspberry.  And Mint.

This is not something I would have ever picked up on my own.  My husband has introduced to the world of spice.  So good.

Getting sick?  My go-to product:

It has come slowly, but time is teaching me to embrace what I’ve got.  Great for curly hair without the crunch.

And now that that is complete, I can say hello to all the good things 2012 will bring my way.  Time to start making fresh lists.


Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Just discovered Regal theatre in Hooksett NH – all movies are $3.50 all the time.  (Thank you Becky!)

We just got home from a great movie, the adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  I was never able to get into his books as child.  Perhaps I lacked imagination, but I was always drawn to the real-life drama, like Judy Blume, instead of the make-believe world.

Now though, I want to discover Narnia.  Many years ago I discovered C.S. Lewis.  Sometimes referred to as “the 13th apostle,” because of the continual use of references by Christian leaders, I was intrigued – I only knew him as a children’s writer.  Then I saw the movie Shadowlands and was blown away.  I knew I had to get to know this man.  What is absolutely remarkable is that C.S. Lewis was such an intellectual.  Have you ever picked up one of his texts?  Geez.  It’s not light reading.  But then he was able to write these enduring children’s books that are so loved by children all over the world with these deep messages of Christianity.  Parables.

S. Michael Wilcox, having spent three years studying C.S. Lewis at the University of Colorado, wrote a fantastic article HERE on What We Can Learn From a Lion.  The movie is not faithful to the book, but still, you understand a deeper message when complaining Eustace is changed into a dragon (the natural man who seeks wealth and riches) and the only way to shed the dragon is for the Lion (Christ) to help rip the dragon skin off.

And again, a deeper message when Lucy begins to cry; she understands that she has grown-up and this will be her last trip to Narnia.  Will she ever see her beloved lion again?

Quoting from the book:
…’It isn’t Narnia, you know,’ sobbed Lucy. ‘It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?’ ‘But you shall meet me, dear one,’ said Aslan. ‘Are — are you there too, Sir?’ said Edmund. ‘I am,’ said Aslan, ‘But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.'”

I love when I’m sitting in front of a movie and it takes me somewhere better.  I love that transformative effect.  If I can love a mouse – if I want to become a mouse?  You, my friend, have done a job well. 

So, the point it is, go see the movie.  Discover C.S. Lewis.  Become as a child – find the message in the books.


Hoiday Entertainment

We watched a ton of movies over the holidays.  We hardly went out at all, just hung out with family, cooked a lot, ate too much, stayed up too late.  We were given some great movies we had to get in before our lovely vacation ended.
My kids had never seen this classic and I was surprised how much they loved it!  I was working on a project but sat in the same room and remembered how much I loved it too.  Even Nelson got into it – strong boys fighting, dancing, kidnapping girls.  Great stuff.

It’s become a holiday staple

The original trilogy.  Tell me, who doesn’t love Harrison?

It’s a Wonderful Life.  So. Good.  I can’t remember ever watching this from start to finish.  I never realized how much a sacrifice was made in this movie.  The kids moaned about the “black and white,” then promptly got into it.  Great movie.

“Miracle on 34th Street.” I like this original better than the remake.

And we finally own our very own copy of “The Pirates of Penzance” by Gilbert and Sullivan.  A family favorite for many years, one cannot help singing the lyrics that will suddenly come crashing through your mind, “Oh……I am a pirate king!” at odd times, day or night.  My kids LOVE. LOVE. LOVE this movie. Kevin Kline?  Delicioso.

More singing and dancing for the whole family!  Kids love.

Another classic.  Gregor likes the Jim Carrey one.  Great message.
Not a movie, but a CD.
I was given a mix at Thanksgiving by my brother-in-law, Seth.
Michael Buble.  I know, I’m really behind here, but all I can say is
Get in your convertible right now and hit the road for a romantic wind-swept ride along the ocean’s coast.  That’s what this Buble reminds me of.  Songs, Georgia, The Way You Look Tonight, Crazy Love…oh so many I love.  I’m telling you, grab your lover and GO.
Gregor wrinkled his brow and said his name reminded him of a frozen pizza.  One must choose to ignore such comments.
Buble.  Divine.

The "Big ‘un"

The rodeo in Oakley Utah was one of my favorite nights.  I loved the whole thing!  The last time I was at a rodeo was in Rexburg Idaho with my roommates and I wish my scanner was working to upload that picture!  Cowboy hats, cowgirl boots…

But first a little pre-rodeo texting.  Internet wasn’t working out at the campsite so the boys had to get their fix when they could.
The announcer was hilarious.  When a rider was thrown off he’d say, “Whoa big’un!”
The rodeo attracts all types
These guys were the real deal.  They had the formidable job of getting the cowboy off the bull before he was stomped on, maimed, killed, ya know, regular stuff like that.

Baby Ava with her daddy Patrick, my baby brother.

Ain’t no rodeo without no rodeo queen.  Not only can this girl (Jamie) ride but she’s got some smarts.  Going to college to eventually become a doctor, specializing in pediatric craniofacial deformities.  Uh-huh, go on girl!

This rodeo we were at was a big ‘un.  Competitors were nationally ranked bull-riders hoping to place and win some money.   I was trying to imagine what my parents would have said if I brought Gregor home and told them he was a bull-rider on the rodeo circuit.
Gregor and Eric like that idea.
After a darn good rodeo we spent the night in our tents and headed out.
We got home on Saturday afternoon and went out on the town Saturday night with Herb and Laurine.  Party animals.
It was almost the 4th of July!  I love the 4th.  The kids stayed home and the adults went to Holiday and listened to really loud music with gigantic fireworks bursting overhead.  Great show!
The crowd was huge but Eric was feelin’ it and wasn’t embarrassed to show it.  Such patriotism!

The best song of the night was Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America.”  Allison couldn’t contain herself either.  Love it!!!
Hey, the night was young.  How about a midnight showing of “Eclipse”?  First some ice-cream.
I debated whether or not I should go but decided vacation was all about late nights and too much ice-cream.  Eric and Patrick weren’t allowed into the girl’s night (and they refused to go) but Gregor came out with the girls and rooted for Jacob.  Still have not seen the 2nd one but I really liked this movie!  Sorry Edward, you just don’t do it for me.  I’m a wolf fan now.


Last night we watched the movie, “Fireproof.”  I had heard it was a great family film.  It was – and an even better couples movie.  I was shocked that this movie had even been in the theatre.  Faith?  God?  Jesus?  Salvation?  In the movie theatre?  Amazing.  At times having the innocence and hokiness of a church movie, overall Kirk Cameron and cast did a superb job.  The acting was very good and the message was great:  Never Leave Your Partner Behind.  I recommend it!  Happy Valentine’s!