Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Movie Review: Gimme Shelter

A few weeks ago I was asked if I would watch an upcoming movie and write up a review on my blog. Since I like nothing more than sitting back to empty my head and take in a movie, I was quick to accept.

I actually had the option of getting a "press pass" to see it on the big screen the night before it premiered, but my schedule put its foot down and said no way, Jose, you can't fit a movie in on a Thursday night! So instead I watched it on my laptop from the comfort of my couch. I Just followed the link they sent me and voila, movie time.

I'm fancy.

I'm high falootin'.

Anyway, the movie is Gimme Shelter. It stars none other than High School Musical's own Vanessa Hudgens. When I told my friend that Vanessa was in it, she said, "Who?" And I just stared at her and said, "Uh, High School Musical....? DUH?" She continued to stare at me blankly while I stared at her like she was an idiot until it dawned on me. She's no idiot. Just the mother of two sons.

But I digress. Here is the official two sentence synopsis of the movie:

Based on a true story, Gimme Shelter centers on pregnant teenager Agnes "Apple" Bailey (Vanessa Hudgens) who flees her drug-ridden mother (Rosario Dawson) in search of a better life of her own. Turned away by her Wall Street father (Brendan Fraser), Apple is forced into the streets on a desperate journey of survival.

Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, Brendan Fraser and James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones didn't have a large part, nonetheless, he was amazing. Don't you just love James Earl Jones? Is there anyone who doesn't love James Earl Jones in anything he does? I even love to say his name.
James Earl Jones.
James Earl Jones.
James Earl Jones.
Say it with me,
James Earl Jones.

Ok enough of that.

As for Vanessa Hudgens, she was wonderful. As you may or may not know, it is generally true that an actress's talent in a movie is indirectly proportional to her attractiveness. Vanessa uglied herself up pretty good for this role, and as a result, her performance was stellar.

The story line was a bit predictable, but since it is based on a true story, I guess that's not much of a factor upon which to weigh the merits of the movie.

Because the protagonist is a traumatized, abused, foster kid with attachment problems, I kept a watchful eye as to how they would portray this angle, and I have to say kudos. Job well done.

With a very minimal soundtrack, the movie had a bit of a documentary feel to it. Id didn't seem very "movie-ey". That's a word, isn't it? Can fancy high falootin' movie reviewers say "movie-ey"? I say yes.

Even so, I enjoyed the movie. I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me.

Well, hold on. I don't think I laughed. I did cry. I cheered a little. I smiled. I related. I rooted.

Would you like to see the trailer? Here it is for your viewing pleasure:

Gimme Shelter.
Check it out!


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Friday, January 24, 2014

Mommy's Little Helpers

I'd been going through a dinner-cooking slump the past few months.

Partly due to everyone's schedules pulling us a million directions.
Partly due to the fact that I. Hate. Cooking.

Actually, mostly due to that.

So new year, new optimism, new resolutions and all that, I decided I was going to do something about it.

Did you decide to cook more, you ask....?




Sigh (wipes tear from cheek).

Yeah.... NO.

I decided I would have my KIDS cook more.

Yes. I am a genius. You can say it. Gen.Ius.

There now.

Anyway, here's what I did. I wrote a list of all the meals we typically eat, then passed it around a table of very morose looking teenagers. They were each to pick four meals: one that was "challenging", one no-brainer, and two middle of the road meals. They were not allowed to pick the same dishes. That gave us 24 meals with no repeats. Plus room in the month for Friday night pizza as well as a few leftover/scrounge nights. Shoot, maybe I would even cook a meal now and again.

So then I wrote it all out on chalkboard paint next to my fridge.

On Sunday I look at the calendar and see who will be out on which nights, and then I plan who will be cooking what on which nights. For those "challenging" meals that were selected, I make sure I will be home so that I can walk the child through it, though I keep hands off. That way when they try it again a month later, they should know how to make it all by themselves.  "Should" being the operative word.

Once they've made a meal, I place a little checkmark next to it so I can keep track of which meals we've had. Otherwise they might try to convince me that we haven't already eaten macaroni and cheese 17 times in one month and I might just believe them.

So far, so good. We've been doing this for a couple weeks now. We have had no repeat dinners. I have still been in the kitchen a good bit helping kids learn how to make quesadillas and chili dip and baked ham, but there have also been several nights that I could either be out and about playing chauffeur or home sitting on my haunches and eating the proverbial bon-bons. Plus, they will each know how to prepare four things well. Just think of the life skills lessons here! I am doing these children of mine a service, I tell you, a service. They will thank me.

And for those of you sane people out there with only two or three kids, this could work just as well for you. Two kids could still cook two dinners a week for you, which is two fewer than YOU have to cook. That is a good thing. A very good thing. Or if you're not afraid of being reported to the authorities for child abuse, you could even have them each cook TWO meals a week. GASP!

Anyway, hope this helps those of you that are wondering how you can be at home getting a hot meal on the table while you are across town sitting in an overheated gymnastics studio waiting area enduring the smell of sweaty feet and the sound of overbearing helicopter parents bragging on their daughter's perfect back handspring.

Now fist bump with me and say "Parent Powers ACTIVATE!"


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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Two Cents Worth of RAD Parenting Advice

Lately my 18 year old "RADish" (my son with Reactive Attachment Disorder) has been going through some rough times.

And I have a perspective that has been of great help to me when dealing with his "issues" (nice word for often not-so-nice behaviors).

Because it's easy to tell yourself to keep emotions out of things and not get drawn into the drama, but it can be pretty difficult to put that into practice when you're in the thick of things; when you have gone through years and years of stress and love and angst and hurt and worry and uncertainty and highs and lows of every kind.

What I do when he's being hurtful, is to remind myself that when I brought my babies home from the hospital so many years ago, they didn't love me. I loved them, cared about them, was able to gladly provide for all of their needs. I did not need for them to love me or show me love in any way in order for me to meet their needs.

So I just remind myself that it's no different now. I can provide for his needs because I am his parent. It is not conditional on whether or not he loves me. Just as with my babies, there is no price he has to pay in order to receive my parenting "services". Love came with my babies in their time. Love will most likely come in his time, though the two timelines bear absolutely no resemblance to one another. But even if it never does, it should not affect my ability to be a parent.

There. That's my two cents of RAD parenting for you.


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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Out of the Mouths of ......

Out of the mouths of babes husbands:

Fred (trying to give me a compliment): You like nice. Did you frizz your hair?

Love that man....

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mommy 911

I recently received an email about a new app called Mommy 911.  Looks like something I would have loved to have had when my kids were little and always in tow. 

I thought many of you with younger kids would appreciate it, so with Sarah's permission, here is the info for you:

I wanted to share an app with you, Mommy911App, that can alleviate a lot of stress. Mommy911App provides activities for those long trips to visit family, games to play when you're stuck inside because of the weather, jokes for the whole family and kid-friendly mealtime ideas for those days where everyone is staring at you to come up with a way to feed them. There's also a little something for moms too: inspirational quotes, creative discipline techniques, stories any mom can appreciate, and more.

The app is being offered at $0.99 for Apple and Android devices so it won't come near to breaking the bank. Links to the app can be found at or you can click on the links below.

Sarah Foote
Rescuing Moms One App at a Time
Download from the App Store
Download from Google Play

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Eenie at one month old.

(Now she's)Lilly at eight months.

A cutie then, a cutie now.


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Monday, January 6, 2014

Memory Box

I'd like to share with you one of our family traditions.

The Memory Box.

It's pretty simple. I just keep a box in the kitchen, and throughout the year, we fill it up with mementos. Things like movie and concert tickets, playbills, graduation and recital programs, local maps from vacation spots. When the kids were younger, it often held things like special rocks or twigs from hikes, drawings, locks of hair.

The box itself is one of those photo storage boxes you can pick up at craft stores. Years ago, the kids would decorate it, and we would write the year on the top, and into the closet they would go at the end of the year.

I began to run out of storage space about the time the kids bored of decorating the boxes, so now I've been using the same box for the past few years, and I just put the contents into a gallon zip bag at the end of the year.

New Year's Eve, or sometime in the days following, we sit around the table and dissect the box. We reminisce and we laugh and if I'm being honest, we whine and ask when we can leave the table. But a good time is had by all most. We also get to read our resolutions from the previous year (which were placed in the box), and set ones for the new.

How do you all keep special remembrances from the year?


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Friday, January 3, 2014


I don't mean to be a bully to 2013 or anything, but it really sucked.

Oh, it did some things right, to be sure, like a magical family vacation in the Outer Banks, our oldest graduating from high school, our first licensed driver, a visit from Paw Paw and Granny Caggy from Kentucky, a loss of 35 pounds, a change in jobs closer to home, the miracle of birth and the cuteness of the five darling kitties from the stray we took in. Patrick got to go to Italy with a school trip, and Rosie got the travel bug again, going to Bethany Beach, North Carolina, and Hawaii all in one summer, and had a spectacular sweet 16 birthday surprise.

But for the most part it was a big jerk. Kicking us again and again till we were bleeding and crying.

A few of the highlights of what you did to us:
We Came home from vacation to find our beloved little dog Sophie dead. Our older dog Blue was nearly killed when he got hit by a car. He's still left with spinal damage and a dead leg that will remain with him the rest of his life. You gave my laptop a virus not once but twice. The first time, I lost every story I had ever written. Gone. Poof. Three family members were hospitalized. Yes, three. My daughter Julie in August, Fred on Thanksgiving morning through the following Monday, James the day after Thanksgiving though the following Wednesday. Acute renal failure for Fred that required weeks of dialysis. Weeks that seemed like months as he dealt with crippling nausea, headaches, fatigue. Mental health issues that have brought me to my knees. Meetings after meetings after meetings that in the end don't seem to make any real meaningful difference.

I was so fed up, there were times I didn't even cut the box-tops off the cereal boxes. Dimes for the school be damned!

Just to throw one final blow by kicking me when I was down, 2013 decided to give me a cold on New Year's Eve. A parting gift.

Well, 2013, I'm done with you. You are a washed-up has-been. I am turning all ninja on your ass. I will punch you in the throat and kick you in the teeth and you won't even see it coming. I will sit safely in the branches of my 2014 tree, hidden from your view, and I will pelt you with iceballs, guerrilla warfare style.

Adios, 2013.

Dontchou be comin' round no mo.
That's my cajun coming out.
And cajun trumps ninja, so watch out.

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