A Smurfin’ Good Time

Posted in Movies on August 1st, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was so pleasantly surprised by how much my family liked the new Smurf movie that I was inspired to write a short review.  Going in, I thought I would hate the movie because it didn’t look funny.  And I was a fan of the Smurfs as a kid, so not only did the movie look stupid, but I couldn’t figure out why it took place in our realm rather than the Smurf’s realm – wouldn’t fans of the little blue mystical creatures, kids, and everyone else want to see Smurf village on the big screen?

Don’t worry, we get to see Smurf village, and it’s pretty cool.  Especially the scene where Gargamel breaks in!!  Ok, so I guess that’s kind of a spoiler, sorry about that…  but this is a kid’s movie we’re talking about.  And kid’s movie it is – my kids all really liked it (ages 11, 7, 4 and 3).  The Smurfs have screen time for pretty much 100% of the movie, and there aren’t any boring scenes with a lot of dialogue – these tend to lose the attention of kids.  There are some Smurfy jokes – in this case I’m using “Smurfy” to describe inside jokes written for fans of the Smurfs from decades ago.  Much like the Brady Bunch movies are actually enjoyable parodies of the hit tv show and poke fun at it,  The Smurfs movie has gags about such shout-outs to the 80s cartoon as their names reflecting their personalities (a hilarious joke in the movie that I’m still chuckling about), cracks about how Smurfette always wears the same dress (although more than one joke about this was overdoing it and took the humor away), and multiple references to creator Peyo.

(the Smurfs as I knew and loved them)

From the previews, I thought Gargamel was going to be a bumbling bafoon, one of these over-the-top characters who might be ruined by the actor portraying him as he flailed around aimlessly in a ridiculous looking costume.  But Gargamel as a live person in today’s New York City was actually quite entertaining and even hilarious at times (If you grew up watching the Smurf cartoon like I did, watch for the way Hank Azaria runs as he portrays Gargamel – he imitates the cartoon character so well that it made me laugh out loud!).  I especially liked the inclusion of the little details from the cartoon – like seeing the Smurf cages that Gargamel always had lying in wait for when he finally caught the little guys.  There was backstory explained; everyone knows by now that Smurfette was actually created by Gargamel as Smurf bait, right?  The story line was cheesy but not unbearable even while it made several futile attempts at teaching positive life lessons to kids in the audience.  I could have done without the Katy Perry song reference (is “I Kissed a Girl really a song for kids?  I’ve never heard the song and don’t want to know), and Katy Perry as Smurfette’s voice didn’t really give any personality to the character anyhow – she was just a girl Smurf and nothing like her character in the cartoon.  Clumsy Smurf on the other hand, was a perfect 3d replica of his cartoon counterpart – both in voice and graphics.  I did stop watching the Smurfs sometime after the Smurf cousins (Smurflings) came in, so I have no idea where Gutsy Smurf came from (seems to be a brave Scottish Smurf complete with red sideburns and a kilt?).  I would have liked to see my personal favorite Smurf, Jokey, get more screen time in the movie.  On that subject, I don’t understand why the group of 6 Smurfs with the most screen time (the ones who get to go to NY) did not include such series regulars as Jokey, Greedy, Handy, Vanity or Hefty.  Actually, I didn’t see those Smurfs at all, but then again, we arrived late to the movie so maybe I missed their appearances.  The production staff also did an excellent job of utilizing aspects of modern technology to make funny jokes involving the Smurfs.  Case in point: see the wikipedia reference.

(My favorite Smurf, Jokey)

Overall, Smurfs was an entertaining film for the entire family – and there was a huge gap between my low expectations and my high level of enjoyment of this cute movie!  A must-see for anyone who has kids to take to a movie – bonus if you are a Smurf fan!

One more note – here is a list of characters I would like to see in the sequel:
Hogatha, Johan and Peewit, Clockwork Smurf, and Baby Smurf.  But please, NO SMURFLINGS!!

And oh yeah…   I did a search on my own blog to see if I had written about the I’m a Pink Toothbrush song from the Smurf’s 1979 album.  Turns out, I did include it in a blog post that I had written in March 2010, and my kids (and me still!) are big fans of this adorable tune.  It was really fun to read about my speculations on the Smurf movie in this blog post given the limited info I had that time on this “in production” project!  (if you read it, you should know that Quentin Tarentino was oringally cast as Brainy Smurf, but both actor and studio are quiet on why the pairing did not work out…)  So apparently I HAD heard of Gutsy Smurf – and wrote about it in my own blog a year and a half ago!

(modern Smurfs from the 2011 movie)

July 2011 (part 1)

Posted in family fun, Travel on July 30th, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The July 2011 page on my calendar has been filled since spring, so I knew we had a busy month ahead.  Organizing everything I had jammed into those little squares on the calender was going to be challenging enough, but then we were even able to add a few family mini-vacations to the mix!  It’s been a great summer so far despite the challenges of sometimes trying to be in 2 places at once, and I wanted to chronicle everything to enhance the wonderful memories we made as a family this summer – but be prepared; this will be quite the manifest when I’m finished!

June 30 and July 1 – We began the month with a last-minute trip to an indoor water park that’s an hour away.  After a sudden burst of cabin fever, my husband found a super internet deal that afforded us some much-loved family time.  The kids loved the indoor water park, and Christopher was old enough this time to go on some water slides which he found to be a blast!

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Best of all, the constant lower back pain that had been making me short of patience, irritable and tired all the time seemed to be remedied by my getting to sit in water for 2 days.  I should note for future reference also how interesting it was to pack different people for 3 different trips at the same time.  Simultaneously, I was packing 6 people for an overnight stay (with a separate bag for changing into street clothes from bathing suits, I might add), 1 little girl for a 4 day stay at camp, and also for a 3 day trip for 6 people.  It felt hectic at the time, but not unmanageable – due to the fact that my wonderful family did much of the work for and with me.  And you know what?  I don’t think we forgot anything!!

July 2, 3 – After the water park, we got a day of rest (and unpacking, re-packing, laundry) before we set out Sunday for the 4-hour drive to Nashville Indiana – with one small glitch:  Hubby had food poisoning.  He had to miss church to rejuvenate, and then we were off – well, after packing up the car and some other in-town odds n ends.

July 3-6 – We spent the 4th of July in Nashville – a yearly trip Hubby and I take with our 4 kids, my parents, my uncle, and my sister, her husband and their 2 kids – there were 13 of us staying in a large house in the middle of the Brown County woods.  It was a beautiful place, and we’re torn on where to choose to have next year’s gathering.  Last year, we had a beautiful house where each family had their own bedroom and bathroom.  The few downsides to this house (called The Oaks) was the large steep hill that led down to the pond and fire pit – it proved to be dangerous last year when someone took a nasty spill (but was uninjured), so we didn’t want to gamble with it this year when we have an adult who is practically incapacitated (me being 5.5 mos. pregnant).  Also, the kids have to be watched constantly down by that pond, so it was a nice break for the adults this year to not have to worry about who was going to take them down there.  Also, there wasn’t really any yard for the kids to play in at The Oaks.  There was a swingset, but really only the two 3-year-old boys were of the age to enjoy a swing set this year, and that leaves 4 other kids with no yard to run around in.  Both houses had pool tables inside and hot tubs outside (which became little swimming pools for the kids since we didn’t want to turn on the heat in 90° weather), and The Oaks had tons of dvds,  board games, and a foosball table, but then again, this year we brought our own dvds and games and the kids had TONS to do and were never bored.  Another plus to this year’s cabin vs. The Oaks: the large dining room table that fit almost everyone at the same time so we could enjoy meals together.  The Oaks had only a small breakfast nook that seated 4 people or about 6 kids, so the adults had to eat elsewhere.  Given these pros and cons of each cabin, it’s going to be a tough decision next year on where to stay!!
The kids’ favorite thing to do this year was to go down to the creek that ran around the property (this cabin was called “Ginley’s Gulch” for future reference).  There they would walk the creek, hunting for crawdads, geodes, and minnows, and they found quite a few of all of the above.  As I said, this property had a larger yard, and also 85 acres of forest, and in the future I would like to explore the gorgeous property more since I wasn’t quite feeling up to that this year.  I did enjoy walking down the cleared path into the forest though – there were many beautifiul butterflies, cool looking insects, and birds to see and hear.  And oh yeah!  I forgot to mention another huge plus of Ginley’s Gulch – the screened-in porch!  It had a ceiling fan, so it was a wonderful, mosquito-free place to spend our Brown County evenings together.  A great trip!!

July 6 – We arose at the crack of dawn to pack up the car and get the kids roused for the 4+ hour drive to Michigan to drop daughter #2 at camp.  We were all exhausted, and the kids slept much of the way.  We did stop in Fort Wayne for something to eat, and we finally tried a little cafe where we had always wanted to try their eggs benedict since reading an ad for them years ago.  The eggs benedict was a bust – sauce from a packet, don’t you know, but they did have one of my seasonal favorites that’s very hard to find in the northern part of the country where I live: fried green tomatoes.  And they were yummy!  We dropped Sammie off at camp just a little late, and we were excited for her after seeing what a great place Camp Selah is (Camp Selah is a Christian camp in Reading Michigan, and both of our kids who went had a SUPER time!)

July 7-9 – These next few days were a bit quiet without the whole brood together, and we fit in another family min-vacation: since Sammie had to be picked up in the morning in Michigan, we took the other 3 kids to the drive-in in Coldwater Michigan and spent the night there – lots of fun!  Saturday the 9th we picked up Sammie, and she said she had a good week during her first ever time at camp.

July 11 was the 3rd birthday of a very special little guy, and we took him out to dinner at the local Mexican restaurant where they sang to him, put a sombrero on him, and dabbed his nose with dessert.  I of course forgot my camera 🙁  but he liked it all the same.  It reminded me of last year when the staff at Bob Evans sang to him, and he dove into my shirt to hide – the year of experience helped him to enjoy the attention more this year.  And in the morning of little dude’s birthday, I had to drive Taylor to camp in one of the nastiest storms of the year.  We made it there without a problem, but the ride home was dicey with driving rain and wind.  I was glad I didn’t have any kids with me which would have made me nervous, and as you can tell I made it just fine – even if I did arrive sopping wet and very late to Bible study.  In the newspaper the next day, I saw a picture of a power line that fell into the road which turned out to be the same road I had been driving down during that storm.  Just goes to show you what kinds of things to look out for when driving during inclement weather in the middle of desolate farm country, and I feel blessed to have made it safely.

July 11-14 – So with our eldest away at camp, the week flew by…  even though we missed her (I especially missed having someone old enough to have a normal conversation with me during the day).  We had 3 days of doctor appointments (me and our youngest-for-now had his 3-year-checkup) and meetings, and then… freedom!

July 15 – Hubby and I met my mom in South Bend, and she took “the littles” (our family name for the younger kids in our family; in this case it meant our 3-year-old, 4-year-old, and 7-year-olds) to Grandma’s for a vacation – which left Hubby and I kidless for a whole day!  So Hubby took me to the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, and the amount of walking and the weather was perfect for me even while pregnant since it was just the two of us.  What a great idea as I was just starting to get zoo withdrawl!  After the zoo, we decided to take the scenic route home from South Bend and fell upon a perfect date purely by accident:  in Middlebury Indiana, there is an excellent Amish-style restaurant called Das Dutchman Essenhaus.  We were driving by on a day when they had a buffet, so we could sample many varieties of their very delicious food.  Even better, there were some Amish men offering carriage rides in the parking lot, so we took one!  It was so romantic, the grounds of the mini-resort were beautiful, the weather was perfect, and hearing the history of the grounds as told my our Amish guide was wonderful – best date day ever!!

(below is a picture of a horse and buggy like the one we drove in (ours was more of a carriage than a buggy).  I had to take the picture on the way home since I had forgotten my camera and couldn’t take any pictures while on the buggy ride!)

July 16 – This was the day we picked up our oldest from camp, and we got to hear every detail about her awesome week while driving from Michigan to Fort Wayne to see…  the new Harry Potter movie ON IMAX IN 3D!!  Yes, it was as cool as it sounds, and it was fun to take Taylor out for a fun day with only parents and no younger siblings – dinner was at Golden Corral, one of her favorite places since she loves steak.  I’m thankful that the awful nausea I felt earlier in the day did not persist through the movie, and the cause of it that day still perplexes me…  such is a mystery of pregnancy, I guess.

July 17-18 – The 3 of us tackled the huge project of cleaning out our spare room – what a mess!  I wish we had taken some “before” pictures, but the most important thing is that it got done, even if I felt like I was going to fall over in exhaustion by the end of it.  I’m so proud of Hubby for all the hard work he did for this project, and especially that it was his idea to tackle it earlier than we had scheduled – we began Saturday night after Fort Wayne rather than Sunday after church as we had planned.  But it looks GREAT, and as I’m writing this at the end of July, our family has gotten so much use out of it already.  We made it into a craft / hobby / school room, and it has a computer, Taylor’s new sewing machine (a present from Grandma), all kinds of paper, crayons, glue, etc, and all the many, many arts and crafts kits and supplies we had been saving (and losing) for the past 5 years.

(July manifest to be continued – need to give your eyes a break!  But first, here is a pic of a creative, cute fire hydrant in downtown South Bend Indiana I snapped while sitting at a stoplight – look for it near the silver van’s rear bumper)


The Informant!

Posted in Movies on September 22nd, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

I haven’t reviewed a movie on my blog in awhile – mostly because movie-watching was a favorite summer activity this year, so I saw too many to mention.  I don’t think I’m going to start reviewing them now, but today’s experience at the movie theater (saw The Informant! with Matt Damon) is worthy of mentioning.  Not for the movie itself – it seemed to be an interesting enough plot line, but I couldn’t follow the entire trail of corporate deception and greed, so I dozed a little.  And I wasn’t the only one.  The guy two rows behind us began snoring very loudly in the middle of the movie!  It was distracting, and he began by breathing heavily, so first we were worried about him (seeing a man drop dead at a Chinese buffet will make you a little paranoid).  But then he started the snoring, so we knew he was ok; but then it became obnoxious.  So we tolerated that for the rest of the movie, and then he woke up during the last scene with a loud “BURP!”.  Well.

We go to the movies almost every week and I’ve never heard someone so full of rude noises, including teenagers!  I feel badly for the guy, but mostly, I just want to know why he paid $6.50 to take a nap  – the movie theater seats aren’t that comfy!  As for my dozing, it wasn’t really a nap, and I was (mostly) entertained during two hours of The Informant.  I don’t know that I would recommend it – if you like to  unravel these kinds of movies, then go for it.  But I sometimes find myself zoning out, and by the time I’m back to the movie, something has happened or there are two many characters who look alike  for me to be able to follow the plot, as both were the cases here.  I did find Damon’s character, Mark Whitacre, quite entertaining, as was the narrative style of the movie.  It kind of reminded me of a Coen brothers movie – you know, greed gets the best of people, a plot to gain money unravels, and people get killed, except The Informant was decidedly less violent – rated R only for language, in fact.  An entertaining two hours for some, but apparently not for all!

Rehabbing

Posted in Everyday Life on May 9th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Where have I been all week, you ask?  Ok, maybe you didn’t ask (actually Mare Mare asked in her blog, but ironically, that was after I had started this post!), so I’m going to tell you anyway.  My husband and I have embarked on our first major self-done home improvement project!  We are now almost finished, and I think it’s safe to say that it went well!

We had a spare room on the first floor that we made into a craft room.  We put a bunch of arts and crafts in there for the kids, along with a big table.  They used it a lot, almost every day, but they would never clean up after themselves.  So, it became a storage room; which really means a place to toss junk and clutter.  Complicating the problem was the fact that our elderly dog was having accidents in there, so it smelled so bad no one even wanted to go in there.  So we ripped out the carpet, got on our hands and knees to pull out the nails the carpet left behind, scrubbed the floor, primed it and painted it.  Viola!  No more stench!  It was a lot of hard work, but it was fun, and now we have a brand new room for our family!  What to do with the new room?  We began with the idea that it was going to be a playroom for the kids, but then we realized that they don’t really need a play room – all their toys fit in their bedrooms or in the living room.  Plus, after all that work, we kind of want the room to ourselves.

So now the idea is to reward ourselves by repo-ing the room (we did save ourselves over $700 by avoiding the carpet installation!), and we’re thinking we’re going to make it a theater room.  We got some theater chairs last week on clearance from  our Kmart going out of business, and my husband is going to see about getting a projector and screen.  I think we’ll also have room for a table and our storage bins so the kids can still have their place for crafts and homework.  And, the room has a huge closet – so the plan is to move our famous game closet over to that room since our game collecting addiction has outgrown its current home.  All this means more work ahead, of course, but nothing can be as bad as crawling around on our hands and knees on the cruddy old floor – everything from here on out is the fun part!  Before and after:

east-room-rehab-001east-room-rehab-003

Bowling Obsessed

Posted in Movies, Sports on April 30th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

For date night this week, our movie options were limited.  We are lucky enough to live nearby cheap movie theaters that allow us to go to the movies weekly, so we see almost everything that comes out.  Well, everything we have an interest in  seeing, anyway.  There are movies such as Krank 2 that you couldn’t PAY me to see – I would rather just skip the movie altogether – same with the upcoming Star Trek (no offense to you Trekkies – just not my kind of movie!).  So this week we were left to choose between Obsessed, a stalker-thriller with Beyonce Knowles and the new boss Charles (who already left) from the Office or a movie called The Soloist, which is about a Julliard-trained musician who ends up homeless because his schitzophrenia stands in the way of his success.  The Soloist actually seemed to have some substance, but it also seemed like the kind of movie that could wind up being a tear-jerker or just plain boring.  So we went with Obsessed, despite its 4.0 rating on imdb.com (which had slipped to a 3.8 as of today – ouch).  Obsessed is a movie about a successful business man who had a beautiful wife (Beyonce) and child – essentially the perfect life – until an obsessed temp gets in the picture.  This woman is truly psycho, and I really enjoyed watching how she made this poor man’s life unravel.  The movie wasn’t bad until a few clues shed the light on the movie’s secret – Beyonce can’t act.  Add in bad character development and a weak script, and I can definitely see where the 4.0, er, 3.8 came in.  There was one line near the end of the movie that was one of the stupidest lines I’ve ever heard in any movie.  I won’t spoil it for you, but let’s just say that my husband and I got dirty looks for laughing out loud at its absurdity.  On top of all of that, the movie was completely predictable – it must have been based upon (copied) every popular stalker movie ever made – The Crush, The Temp, Hand That Rocks the Cradle…  Would I recommend it?  To the right person, maybe…  you have to like thrillers; so much so that you’d want to see one that is almost a thriller parody.  You have to go to this one in a cynical mood, looking for stuff to make fun of  – and you won’t be disappointed.

After the movie, we decided to mix it up a little and go bowling –  something we haven’t done in a LONG time (I blame my 4 pregnancies – bowling is NOT a recommended sport for expecting women, and I’ve been pregnant for about one tenth of my life!)  So anyway, for my first game, I’m embarrassed to say that I got a measly 99 – not very good for someone who used to bowl in a weekly league for years.  My second game was back on par with a 137 – but I was still surprised at how quickly I got the sore muscles of bowler’s fatigue.  I guess picking up 10 lbs with three fingers uses muscles that haven’t been thought about for years.  While I’m happy to report that I wasn’t sore at all the next day, I do have to say that my first attempt at bowling as a 30-year-old wasn’t pretty.  I guess I have to practice, especially if I’m ever going to go ahead and join that league I’ve been talking about doing for years.  I just hope I don’t hurt myself too badly.

Out of respect for my wonderful hubby, I will not disclose his bowling scores.  Let’s just say that he didn’t stand a chance against the former high school ‘Female Intramural Bowler of the Year’.  😉

Busiest Weekend EVER! Part Two

Posted in Everyday Life on April 19th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

(continued from a previous blog post)

So here’s a recap of Sunday – church, brunch, Hannah Montana movie – and that is where I left off.

So we get to the Hannah Montana movie, and of course our 9-month-old son wakes up from his nap just in time for the movie (couldn’t be awake to play at church, couldn’t be awake to indulge in brunch, alas – that’s always the way when you have kids – they sleep thru everything good, and I swear it’s a rule – they always wake when the irony is thick!)  But, because the Hannah Montana movie is a musical, our 3 youngest were kept too busy to perform their usual awful antics at the movie theater.  It was a girly movie, especially with a double love story plot, but our little boy is only 9-months-old, so he didn’t notice the girlishness.  Instead he loved the musical interludes, and he clapped to each one enthusiastically.  For some reason, and I’ve written about this before, the movie theater turns our normally sweet 2-year-old into a little stripper.  Luckily, by the time the idea to take her clothes off occurred to her today, it was near the end of the movie, so she only got as far as taking off her socks and shoes – although she did make sure to note (yell) while doing so, “Don’t look at me – I take clothes off!”  Ok, Disney, if you don’t want people looking, why are you taking your clothes off?  Such is the logic of a 2-year-old, I guess.
We had no major spills this time ( I’m referring to our last experience when we saw Monsters Vs. Aliens and we somehow dumped an entire soft drink into the lady’s purse who was sitting behind us – major oops!), and today our baby was on his best behavior as well because of all the music in the movie – something that I think saved us as far as our 3 youngest kids’ behavior at the movies today.  As for the movie itself, I enjoyed it more than I did Monsters Vs. Aliens, probably because I actually got to watch this one.  But an extra nice surprise for me was the country music add-ins – surprise performances from Taylor Swift and my favorite group, Rascall Flatts.  They sang one of their best songs acoustically as if they were relatives just sitting around jamming at a family get-together (can this be MY family get-together?), and it was thoroughly enjoyable.  Miley Cyrus even  showed her country roots in a song which attempts to revive line-dancing; I guess kids these days (now I sound like I’m 80 – GREAT, when did THAT happen?!?) have a dance they do to this song, but whatever, I kind of liked the song.  Overall, I truly enjoyed the country theme that was abundant in this movie – groovin’ country music, gorgeous farm fields, cowboys ropin’ horses…  what’s not to like?  There was also a surprise (for me) appearance by Jan Levinson Gould from the tv show, The Office.  Of course in this movie, she wasn’t Jan – she was some southern belle who played Miley’s dad’s love interest – almost as far away from Jan as one could be, but I still enjoyed the Office reference.  Also, keep in mind that this is a Disney film, so there are LOTS of prat-fallish types of humor, as well as recurring movie themes.  For example, ‘lobster trouble’ (ala Splash, circa 1984), ‘switching identities for different dinner dates’ (ala Mrs. Doubtfire, circa 1993), ‘major celebrity comes in to save a town’ (ala Wayne’s World 2, circa 1993 or ala Mystery, Alaska circa 1999), it’s always best to be yourself’ (ala…  wow, WAY TOO MANY TO MENTION – take your pick…)

So anyway, I have to (reluctantly) admit that I was pleasantly surprised with the Hannah Montana movie – plenty of stuff in this one for the parents as well as the tweens and even the stripping two-year-olds.  But the movie wasn’t as plot-less as I had hoped –  in other words, we didn’t get home until 2:55 – just 20 short minutes before we had to leave for a class we had signed up for through church.  So for the next 20 minutes we scrambled around – letting dogs out, repacking diaper bags, changing diapers, etc.  We arrived at our class pretty much on time, though a bit exhausted, thank you very much!

The class was great!  We learned a lot about our church – their beliefs, their history, as well as their foundations for building a relationship with Christ – a very well-spent 3 hours.  And we got to meet other couples at our table too – which is memorable for me because they were surprised to learn we had 4 kids – and I quote, “You don’t look old enough to have 4 kids!”  NICE!

Following the class was a great dinner of homemade pasta provided by a local chef.  Following the delicious dinner was a tour of the north campus of our church – we worship in the south campus, so it was nice to learn the ins and outs of the north campus – so awesome!  Our oldest daughter was so excited to show us where her Sunday school was held, and their rooms for youth were VERY impressive!  There was a room with a stage for youth productions, and it even  had backstage areas, which is almost more than I can say for one of our community theater’s stages, haha!  Also, there was a game room with multiple foosball tables and ‘carpet ball’ – something new to me, but a game I’d definitely like to try!  One of the youth rooms had state-of-the-art stage lights and restaurant-style booths for kids to ‘hang out’ in…  Overall, it was a fun evening, and I learned a lot.  But, as became common for today, we had to rush from the church class in order to be home in time for the community theater’s play reading committee meeting and my much anticipated Cubs game.  I was looking forward to this game for days.  It was a long series (most are 3 game, some are 2 game, this one was 4 game) against the Cubs rival – the St. Louis Cardinals, with whom the Cubs are vying for first place.  The game was at night, which is rare for a Sunday, so I was VERY excited about rounding out my weekend with such a game.  But alas, the darn rain had its way, and the game was postponed.  So only play reading meeting to look forward to for me – at least I didn’t have to rush the meeting and kick people too hard to leave my house since there was no Cub’s game!  And for once, I think we actually achieved a lot at the play reading committee meeting.  Probably because of the fact that there were only 4 of us in attendance – but hey, maybe that ‘s what needs to be done in order to achieve something…  too many people get in each others way, I guess.  It will be interesting to see what the absent members think of the decisions the four of us made while they were absent – I hope the decisions stick!

In summary, a great, if extremely exhausting weekend.  Come on now, would I have it any other way?

Busiest Weekend EVER!

Posted in Everyday Life on April 19th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Whew!!!  It’s Sunday night – the finale of what just might be our busiest weekend ever!

Friday night we stayed up late to tie up loose ends and organize our film shoot scheduled for Saturday.  Christopher,  our 9-month-old, has decided to start waking up in the middle of the night again, so despite our best efforts (and going to bed early didn’t work out either since there was SO much work to do for the film shoot), we did not achieve the much-needed good night’s sleep on Friday night after not getting very much sleep Thursday night either.  Saturday we were up bright and early to take the kids 20 miles into the country to their new babysitter – our regular babysitter had stopped doing weekends some time ago, and it finally became time to find a weekend babysitter.  I know what you’re thinking –  a new babysitter in a different town = scary!  But of course we had met with her beforehand, and we liked what we saw.  Not only that, but she lives in a very small town, and her husband’s a teacher (so he had an established reputation, and also would need to protect it) AND she is a friend of a very good friend – ie, she had awesome references that checked out, and when it was all said and done, the kids had a GREAT time over there.  As for us, we had a VERY busy day trying to shoot our “short” film.  I put ‘short’ into quotes because the short film took so LONG to film – at least in some of the cast members’ opinions.  I actually thought the shoot went quite well, considering certain factors.  But the bottom line is, it was a heck of a lot different than doing live theater (how didn’t some of us see THAT coming – it seems obvious that film and stage would be like comparing apples and oranges), and we did not wrap all of the scenes in one day.  So guess what we’re doing next Saturday?  No complaints out of me,  as long as attitudes stay positive…

Saturday night after the shoot we were exhausted.  We were going to take the kids to the park, but it started to sprinkle, and so we were able to catch an AWESOME Cubs game on tv instead.  This entire series with the St. Louis Cardinals has been  so great to watch, even though I’ve actually only caught parts of two of the games – more on that later.  Saturday night saw us staying up too late again because it took awhile to settle down the kids after their big day.  And, lo and behold, Christopher was up all night again.  Right when we flopped into bed, he sat up in his crib.  I pretended like I was sleeping for a few minutes so I could be a fly on the wall and see what he did to entertain himself.  I almost giggled as he sat up and clapped his hands to himself – it was adorable!  I must have fallen asleep though because the next thing I knew (after a few hazy awakenings throughout the night when kids were crying), it was morning and time to get up and get ready for church.

Church this morning was entertaining (I always find it entertaining and enlightening, but I really do need to get some more sleep – I SO don’t want to be known as the lady who dozes in church!) as always, although our usual pastor did not give the sermon.  I liked the sermon, but not as much as when our usual pastor does it… oh well.  After church, we went to our usual brunch and there we decided to take the kids to the Hannah Montana movie.  Except that once we decided, we had only 20 minutes to finish eating, get to the theater, and find a row of seats – what it takes to hold our family at the movie theater nowadays.

Come to think of it, it was such a busy weekend,  and Sunday was busiest of all, so I think I’ll end the post here and make it a two-parter.  My regular readers can  consider this a cliff-hanger because they know that any time we take all 4 kids to the movie theater, it’s nothing short of an adventure…  Until part two…

The Haunting In Connecticut

Posted in Movies on March 31st, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

We saw The Haunting in Connecticut at the movie theater for date night (after refusing pizza from “Carlos Zambrano” at the mall pizza shop – seriously, the guy looks just like the famously hot-headed Chicago Cubs pitcher!) and the movie made for a pretty good ghost story.  I had heard it was based upon a true story, but after seeing it, here is my guess on what about the movie is true:  a teenage boy has cancer, his family rents a house (a former mortuary) near the hospital where he is receiving treatments, and they had strange happenings while staying there; probably due to stress or lack of sleep or even just plain exaggerations but not hauntings, is my guess.  This is the basic plot of the movie, but I left out many events that could not have possibly happened in real life and would also be considered spoilers, so I will not go into details.  I will say that the movie opens with all kinds of vintage photographs of deceased people – I know this because of my friend who attended a lecture on the subject.  I had wanted to go with her, but we found out about it last minute and I relunctantly had to pass.  But my friend went and came back with all kinds of interesting info which is how I knew what the pictures were that opened the movie.  For instance, many people back then (the movie takes place in the 80’s, but the pictures were from the early 1900’s) didn’t have their photograph taken often, so when a loved one passed away, they would get their family portrait taken with the deceased – better late than never, I guess?  Not only that, sometimes they would pose as if the person was still alive – kind of morbid by our standards today, but then again, things are very different and taking pictures is so much more common; it’s difficult to imagine past attitudes about this.

But The Haunting in Connecticut is a very entertaining, edge-of-your seat nailbiter with plenty of startles.  To its credit, it’s scary and creepy without the gore.  Worth checking out, if you like that sort of thing, but not one of my favorites – it did give me some ideas for a haunted house though…  Now if I can just remember them until 2010 when we actually have the time to DO the haunted house…

Monsters VS Aliens

Posted in Movies on March 31st, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

We took the kids to see the Pixar movie Monsters VS Aliens last Sunday after church.  The good news is, we didn’t end up with any nude children running around the theater (see a previous post of mine; I forget which one, but I think this happened more than once so take your pick – we haven’t been to the movies in months, and now you know why!).  The bad news is that I didn’t think this movie lived up to the hype.  But I couldn’t be sure; I didn’t get to see much of it.  It seemed to me like they showed all the funny parts in the previews, but then again, once you read what I was doing instead of watching the movie, you’ll see why I could be wrong…

Our family now takes up an entire row at the movie theater.  Our oldest starting pouting because she was stuck on the inside and complained that she couldn’t see.  To her credit, she got over it right away and ended up being the one kid of the four who actually stayed awake for the entire movie.  The movie was about to start, and I felt something pelt my back – HARD.  I turned to my husband and said, “I think someone just threw something at me, intentionally because it was hard and it hurt!”.  He said, “It probably was intentional – turn  around and see who it is!”  Duh – why didn’t I think of that?  I’m not the type to want to draw attention, so I figured it was some poor kid who was going to get in trouble if I turned around or something…  so I turned around and saw some game-nighters grinning at us.  “Good thing you finally turned around, ” they said, “we were almost out of Junior Mints!”  Haha –  that was funny, and I learned my lesson, if you get pelted in the back at the movie theater, you should turn around to see who would actually throw candy at the movie theater – you might be surprised to find out it’s NOT  kids!

The lights dimmed, the previews came on, and my son dirtied his diaper.  By the time I got back from changing him, I had already missed a preview – my husband and I love the previews.  Oh well, better than missing the movie, I thought…  little did I know we would be missing that too.  So my son, who is 8 months old and just starting to crawl, didn’t want to sit still for a movie.  He was happy munching on things, but he was pretty rambunctious when I was holding him.  So I spent most of the movie trying to calm him down and keep him busy.  My 2-year-old daughter, who is usually the problem (and the nudist) at the movies, actually fell asleep.  My husband went to put her in her seat to sleep so we could enjoy the movie, and there was a horrible gushing sound followed by gasps from the people behind us.  Apparently, my husband’s pop had gotten knocked over, and wouldn’t you know it, it was almost full and of course it poured directly into the lady’s purse who was sitting behind us.  OOPS!  How can you possibly apologize for something like that, especially while trying to be quiet so others can watch the movie?  All the commotion of course woke up my daughter, so now we had her to deal with again.  Not more than 20 minutes later, my son made a lightening-fast grab for my drink, and I didn’t catch him in time, so SPLOSH – another one bites the dust.  At least this time it was in MY diaper bag and not the woman’s behind me again – that would have been lawsuit-worthy!  But now we were drinkless, had 2 rambunctious kids, and were only about halfway through the movie!

Well, we made it through, my 2 youngest daughters fell asleep before the movie was over, and my son was out about 10 minutes before it ended – he waited long enough to keep me from seeing the movie, and long enough to wake up when we left and screw up his nap cycle.  But I guess I  learned yet again that my kids are too little to go to the movies – at least all 4 at one time.  And the lady behind us didn’t say anything when she left, thank goodness.  But I wouldn’t take my word for it that Monsters VS Aliens isn’t anything special – I didn’t see most of it!

Knowing I Love You Man

Posted in Movies on March 30th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

I’m going to take a break  from my New York Trip Diary to write up a few movies.  All I have left is the World Trade Center site post anyway, so that’s just one thing on a trip of hundreds!  Besides, writing up these 2 movies should be easy, since I don’t have much to say about either one…

Last week for date night, we saw Knowing, a movie we had been looking forward to.  Not that we’re Nicolas Cage fans (quite the opposite actually); the movie just looked intriguing.  It’s about a guy whose son gets a piece of paper with hundreds of numbers on it which was buried in a time capsule for fifty years.  After some investigation (and A LOT of liquor!), Nicholas Cage discovers that the numbers correspond to the dates, places, and the number of fatalities that would occur during certain calamities – they have all occurred already; except for the 3 left on the list.  And that’s about it.  Cage’s acting was no better than usual (why did I think this would be one of his better movies?  Can you tell he is Francis Ford Coppola’s nephew?), and I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, but I found it cheesy and actually kind of dumb.  I was entertained, but barely, and I did doze a tad during this one, although the action sequences awoke me with a start.  Feeling unsatisfied after this movie, we decided to make it a double feature and sneaked into I Love You Man – no, I’m kidding, we went back to the cashier and paid for the movie legitimately – besides, we needed a refill on our pop and popcorn, though the latter was quite regretful.

I Love You Man looked like kind of a dumb comedy, but we’ve been appreciating the actor Paul Rudd lately (he is SO funny in Role Models and Friends reruns), so we decided to check it out.  What we got was kind of a dumb comedy, but actually not as bad as I thought.  It wasn’t entirely predictable, and there were some funny moments that they actually hadn’t spoiled in the movie’s trailers.  If you like silly comedies and Paul Rudd, check it out.  It’s not nearly as funny as Role Models, but it is much less crude.