14 January 2011

Estate Sale scores (and a FAIL)

Well, that's it. I'm never showing up to estate sales after the first 30 minutes ever again. Today was the first time I'd hit one up right when it opened, and I found FIVE things I'd been planning to buy.

[A new large, good quality cutting mat]

[The book Once-a-Month Cooking. Note: Not my freezer. Yet.]

[A mandoline slicer -- Pampered Chef, no less!]

Also a vintage Scrabble game and a snap setter. Score, score, score.

The mandoline, however, is where I got into trouble. I just had to try it out with a carrot right when I got home. I got a little over-excited (along with not using the little attached thingy that's supposed to hold onto whatever you're slicing) and... sliced off a large portion of the pad of my right thumb. OW. But mostly, annoying! The thing won't stop bleeding without tightly-taped gauze all over it. Can't wash dishes, can't change diapers, and Norman had to make the turkey burgers tonight. Also won't be using scissors or craft knives for awhile. And I can't really use the new Wii -- any exercise makes it bleed more.

Moral of the story -- estate sales are awesome, but be careful not to get too excited about your scores.

07 January 2011

Children's Entertainment Center of Virtues

I was thinking the other day that there are some really good movies and TV shows out there. ("Duh, Jessie.") No, I mean really good -- like morally good. Not the stuff they sell at Mardel. Real, secular movies, that happen to contain fabulous lessons. Lessons I want my daughter to learn. But they're not kids movies. ("But Ratatouille is a kids...") No, it's not. Pixar movies are not kids movies, are they? Are they? ("....No.") Okay then.

1.) Ratatouille (2007)
This might be my favorite Pixar movie. I'm the only one, aren't I? Of course it's very hard to pick a favorite Pixar movie, but this one really touched me. Remy (the rat) wants be a chef, even though no one thinks rats can be chefs. Linguini's mother (as I recall?) wants him to be a chef, even though it's clear that's not where his talents lie. Anton Ego (the food critic) is a jerk because he has forgotten the simple pleasures of his youth. And somehow, like magic, food pulls everything together and works everything out. Remy achieves his dream, Anton mellows out, and Linguini finds his true calling. I feel like that's a really overlooked part of the movie, but it's my favorite part. Linguini is good at being a waiter. He is a genuinely talented waiter, and he loves being one. I want Lucy to know that that's okay.

2.) 50 First Dates (2004)
This is an Adam Sandler movie. It is, therefore, full of ridiculous, inappropriate humor. Visual gags, bodily function jokes -- the works. But beneath all that? It's a story about true love. For those of you who haven't seen the movie, Adam Sandler plays a guy who meets Drew Barrymore's character and falls for her immediately. Only one problem -- the next time they meet, she doesn't remember him. Turns out her memory was damaged in an accident, and she essentially resets at the end of every day. Adam Sandler can't shake her, though; he's in love. But by the end of the movie, it's clear that he's not just in love -- he chooses an entire lifetime of real, sacrificial love, day in and day out. The last scene of this movie makes me cry every time. It's beautiful. Go watch it.

3.) Accepted (2006)
So you thought 50 First Dates was inappropriate? You might want to skip Accepted. It's a teen boy comedy, along the lines of American Pie (which I haven't actually seen...). But beneath that layer of gunk (although I will admit that some of it is hilarious), lies the truth about college: it's not for everyone, and it doesn't make you better than the non-college people. There are lots of ways to learn what you need/want to know. Sometimes that means college, sometimes it doesn't. And regardless of the path you choose, do make sure you're choosing. Decide what you want to know, and go learn it! (And despite the layer of gunk, this is one of my go-to feel-good movies. Really.)

4.) Hairspray (2007)
Oh, where do I even start here? This movie has probably recently replaced You've Got Mail as my favorite movie. In fact, let's just go ahead and make that official. Hairspray the musical is my favorite movie. There. This movie has so many great morals that it needs its own list.

Awesome things about Hairspray (2007):

a.) Tracy starts the movie with a wonderful attitude and it doesn't let up. She's not the typical "ugly" girl who is actually a hot girl in disguise, nor does she need help feeling good about herself. It's a given. She loves herself and she loves to dance. Marvelous!

b.) Mr. and Mrs. Turnblad are soooo in love. It should be noted here, for those who have not seen it, that Mr. Turnblad is played by Christopher Walken and Mrs. Turnblad is played by John Travolta in a fat suit. Yep. And they are soooo in love. Mrs. Turnblad has low self-esteem when the movie starts, but it's clear that Mr. Turnblad is not to blame. Their song "(You're) Timeless to Me" is just so sweet!

c.) Penny and Seaweed's relationship. The movie is set in 1962, but this interracial couple doesn't seem to notice.

d.) Overall body image awesomeness. Tracy knows she can dance just as well as the skinny girls. Miss Maybelle gets to sing the song "Big, Blonde and Beautiful". And Mrs. Turnblad, although initially unsure of herself, learns to triumphantly declare in the final song, "So if you don't like the way I look, well I just don't give a damn!"

e.) ...which brings us to the finale -- the final song, "You Can't Stop the Beat". This is on Lucy's YouTube playlist, and I always stop what I'm doing to watch it when it comes on. Tracy gets to dance, Penny and Seaweed declare their love to the world, Mrs. Turnblad lets us know that she does indeed love herself (and gets to do a shimmy-shake in a sparkly dress), black kids and white kids are dancing side by side, and all is right with the world. I know this is going to sound crazy, but the finale makes me think about heaven and Jesus. Eventually, everything will be right. It's already started, and you can't stop it!

(I'm about to start crying -- again -- so let me stop here and compose myself. .... Okay.)

Honorable mentions go to:

1.) Home Alone 1 & 2 (1990, 1992)
I have unabashed love for these movies. I watch them every Christmas season. But as I was growing up, I was always acutely aware that Kevin (the main character kid) was a horrible brat who really shouldn't be encouraged. Or so I thought my parents thought. But as I was watching these again this last year, with the perspective of someone who has a toddler, I thought, you know what? That's completely wrong. Kevin is awesome. He is extremely resourceful. He's brave, even in the face of fear and danger. He's kind (ready to give to strangers). He's willing to confront his fears and ignorance in order to get to know the "scary" adults in both movies. And he has a strong sense of justice, which is where the back-talking comes in. His parents really aren't very fair to him -- each time he mouths off to them, he's right! It's only his delivery that's undesirable. So I say, carry on, Kevin McCallister! May many more generations of children learn from your excellent example!

2.) Once (2006)
I didn't enjoy this movie as much as I expected to, or as much as my husband did, but it's still very good. The thing about this movie that I find so beautiful and perfect is how sometimes you find a soulmate, but you still have to walk away. The two main characters are drawn to each other, and the music they make together is amazing. But circumstances aren't perfect -- after a weekend of musical collaboration, they must go their separate ways. A good lesson to keep in mind.

3.) Doctor Who (1963-present)
And Doctor Who gets an honorable mention for teaching us that intellect and romance will always triumph over brute force and cynicism. Also, I love how the Doctor loves humans. He pretty much always has something positive to say about humanity in general. It's good to remind ourselves of our good traits, I think.

Anyone have anything to add? Any obscure and/or not-really-for-kids movies and/or TV with fabulous moral compasses that I need to know about?

[Edit: See this post for a long, heartfelt review of the one I knew I was forgetting.]

01 January 2011


I don't really believe in New Year's resolutions. That's probably partly because, generally speaking, I don't like to do things that everyone else likes to do. (Let's not mention that stretch of Backstreet Boys fandom back in the 10th grade, mmkay?) But I think it's mostly because the difference between December 31st and January 1st just isn't that big. It's so arbitrary. For as long as I can remember, that has fallen in the middle of Christmas break, in the middle of a school year.

There are much better times of the year (or your life) to decide to change something. The beginning of the school year is a good place to start for most young people. One's birthday seems like a natural choice -- you're reminded that another year of your own life has passed, you get contemplative, you want to make some changes. I made a "bucket list" of sorts in October 2009 when I realized that our time for moving away was coming up soon (it was 20 or so months away at the time). I wrote down all the things I wanted to do before we move, and it's going pretty well.

MadnessOnWheels | Three
[Hopefully we'll have a van.]

I guess January 1st is a good time to try to give up alcohol, or to start a diet or workout program, but that's only because we all spend the month and a half before January 1st eating and drinking ourselves silly.

Need diet
[Stormtroopers will keep you on track.]

I suppose I also look at diets with an extremely skeptical eye. From what I saw growing up (and this is not uncommon), a diet is when you buy a bunch of stuff that's meant to keep you from eating fun things and make you skinny. Then after some number of months, you get fed up, you eat a bunch of whatever it is they told you you couldn't, and then you're off the diet until you find another program to spend money on. (Yes, I'm talking about my mother, but I'm not picking on her. Lots of Americans around the country do the exact same thing every year.) So that seems silly.

I do have one New Year's resolution this year. It's the same as the last two New Years as well. But the timing is due to a limitation of the technology. BibleGateway.com has this really cool feature where you can subscribe to an RSS feed of a read-the-Bible-in-a-year plan. You pick which plan you want (from the beginning, Old/New Testament, Chronological, and some others) and which translation you want. Then you subscribe to the feed and it shows up in your Google Reader (or whatever) every day! So that's cool. But the plans always start on January 1, of course. The last two years I gave up in the middle of the year after falling so terribly far behind that I couldn't possibly hope to catch up.

through bible in a year
[Old school]

Which means I'm not so different from everyone else. Three years with the same resolution, two years of failure. But a friend of mine likes to say, "Never stop starting." I think that's good advice. So whether you're making a change today or some other time this year, good luck, and if it's really important to you, don't stop starting!