Thursday, December 26, 2013

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon Day 23: "[The Office] Christmas Party"

**I lifted this from my former blog.

Tonight, since My Love was awake when I was going to watch my Christmas selection, I allowed him to choose what we watched.

I said, "What Christmas show or movie would you like to watch tonight?"
And he said, "You want to watch a Christmas show or movie tonight?"
"YES! At least one a day until Christmas!"
"Um, I don't think there are that many worth watching to make it to Christmas."
"You are forgetting that I am home during the day without you, and you don't have to watch everything I watch. I can watch some of them while you're at work."


So, his pick tonight was The Office's "Christmas Party" (Season Two).

What can I say? The Office, season's 1-3, and most of 4, is just great television. Hilarious, awkward, and original. I miss the old days. Jim and Pam are still adorable not-so-secret admirers, Dwight is so bizarre and entertaining. It was just so...good!

It's not my favorite Office Christmas episode, but it's fun :)

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon Day 22: Elf

**I lifted this from my former blog. At this time, I was rating the shows/movies I was watching by assigning them lumps of coal or sugar plums, haha!

Here's another film toward which I might have a bias.
Okay. There is no might. I am biased.

I love this movie. It's adorable. I'm trying to remember who I know that doesn't like it...

Ugh! I love Zooey Deschanel's voice! "Baby It's Cold Outside" is one of my favorite Christmas songs. Well, of the non-religious variety. I would love to sing like her. Or, truth be told, Kelly Clarkson.

I liked seeing Lite-Brites again. I didn't think they existed anymore.

"You disgust me, how can you live with yourself?!? You sit on a throne of lies. You stink. You smell like beef and don't smell like Santa. HE'S AN IMPOSTER! HE'S A FAKE, HE'S A FAKE!" - hahahahahahahahhahahahhahahahahhahahahaha!

So, rather than give a play-by-play, I love this movie. Especially the snowball fight, and the message is pretty good. I give it a 4.5 out of 5 sugar plums. It's fun, whimsical, doesn't take itself too seriously, and is endearing. Definitely one of my favorites!

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon Day 21: The Christmas Card

**I lifted this from my former blog. At this time, I was rating the shows/movies I was watching by assigning them lumps of coal or sugar plums, haha!

The Christmas Card was suggested by my sister-in-law:

As I'm not watching it right this second, I won't be able to be quite as thorough...or, really, have a sort of running commentary as I watch it.

The basic summary is that a woman in a quaint logging town writes letters to soldiers overseas at the holidays. Our leading man gets one, and through a set of circumstances ends up visiting her hometown. They meet, and sparks fly, but she's in a relationship. A lovable ensemble cast play the woman's family. I enjoyed her uncle in particular. But I did not like her boyfriend (though, I don't believe you're supposed to).

Overall, this was a very cute movie with a good message. I give it 3 sugar plums out of 5. It had a lot of cute, quirky humor, and a lot of heart. I would have been happier if there hadn't been that awful boyfriend...but I guess they had to have an obstacle to overcome. It had some cheese, but I tend to like cheese. I think watching it with my family made it more enjoyable than if I had just come across it on TV.

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon Day 20: Prancer

**I lifted this from my former blog. At this time, I was rating the shows/movies I was watching by assigning them lumps of coal or sugar plums, haha!

Against the wishes of my best friend, I am about to watch Prancer.

Oh my goodness, these hairstyles are atrocious.

But I totally remember this opening scene! It's been over a decade since I've seen this, and I totally remember this!

Oh! It's that girl from Jurassic Park!

Ohhh, I loved the way they had the reindeer over the street that were symbolic of the real reindeer. Forgot about that.

Hahahahahaha!!! This guy just had one line, and it was worth watching the whole movie already just to hear him talk! The line wasn't witty, but his voice was hilarious!

OOoooooh, I forgot all about her daddy in this, and how grumpy he is!

Ah, yes, the sledding incident. If you can't stop or control your sled, you probably have no business sledding.

And heeeeeerrrrre's Prancer! I love him! (c'mon, Linz, he can't help it if one of his magical Christmas powers is knowing what little children are eating at the holidays..."Christmas cookies" - hahahahaha!) Ugh, I do not like it when he cries, though :(

:*( I forgot about the backstory with her momma who is dead. So sad.

OH NO! Hunters! Pretty sure that's the same gun used to kill Bambi's mother. Sounds the same, at any rate.

Awww, sweet Prancer. Poor him...his leg got hurt :/

Oh, heavens...I never noticed how close her face got to his antlers when she tries to put on a harness. That freaked me out a bit. One wrong move, Prancer gets spooked, and things don't end well for Jessica. Probably would ruin Prancer's Christmas reputation.

HAHAHAHA! I just heard the line "It's a Christmas cookie!"
Which, in and of itself isn't funny, but yeah...
Okay, so here's the backstory: my friend sent me a message on facebook pleading that I not watch Prancer. I asked her why not, not knowing at all what to expect. She messaged me back telling me that, when she was little, she was eating Christmas cookies while someone turned the channel, and Prancer came on. She asked, regarding the show on TV, "What is this?" and it just so happened that they had come in the middle of this scene. So, right after she asked what the show was, Jessica said, "It's a Christmas cookie!" Which made her freak out that the TV knew what she had in her hand. So, my poor friend is convinced that Prancer is a conduit for evil, since they spied on her when she was a child :) Isn't that funny?

Okay, so I think this reindeer is adorable. I love watching him run, especially on ice, and he just seems to have a lot of personality. However, he makes this groaning sound that I am not sure real reindeer make. I mean, do they? I've never met a reindeer that I'm aware of.
(rabbit trail: the sound reminds me of an old TaleSpin episode. I actually found the episode online! It's called "Mommy for a Day," and Prancer sounds just like the little pink creature when he gets bigger.)

This little girl is so melodramatic and sad looking. She has that basset hound expression throughout most of the movie. Poor kid. She's not obnoxious, but just...well...sad.

Haha! I do like the scene between Jessica and the fake Santa. The Polaroid picture of Prancer is too cute!

Attention children: It is ill-advised to volunteer your services to the scary old woman down the street...or really anyone...without letting your parents know what you're doing. Since I've seen it before, I know it ends alright, but really?

The cleaning of any room in a house, from top to bottom, for $5?!?!? What a deal!
...or child slave labor...take your pick.

Aw, the poor creepy lady has some unexplained baggage with Christmas.
...which is resolved in .5 seconds when she realizes that she can con the little girl into putting the lights up for her substantially below minimum wage. (I know, I know, I'm such a cynic)

:sigh: I absolutely love the sound of a typewriter!

I wonder what my neighbors would say if I went to get my mail in my long-johns? Perhaps I should get a pair and give it a try?

Tee-hee, the scene where the dad is reading the paper and completely missing the fact that there's a reindeer wandering around in his yard is pretty cute. But uh-oh, now Prancer's in the house, inadvertently destroying everything in sight, and devouring the baked goods which he has such an affinity for. Jessica is in big trouble now.

Good grief, this is a mean daddy. I feel badly for him, but he is cranky, and sad, and takes it out on his kids...well, on everyone, really.

Aww, siblings bond over springing Prancer from his prison!

The town came out to support Jessica in her time of need! She believed when they didn't, and they believed for her when she gave up hope.
And now she's melting her daddy's cranky heart.

I love the part where her and her dad are up on Antler Ridge, and Prancer rejoins Santa and his team as it crosses the moon. :)

I still don't understand why they didn't make that the end of the movie. They do some sort of weird pan across a miniature town, and it ends with a bright light coming out of the little girl's room...with no explanation. I guess they were trying to distract us from the fact that there was no real ending to the movie. My theory is that they spent a lot of time making a town in miniature, and didn't want to upset someone or waste that shot, so they just threw it in at the end. I could be wrong...but that at least makes sense.

I give this movie 3 out of 5 sugar plums. It is sweet, and something I'll probably watch with my children someday, and I have fond memories of it from my childhood still. There were just soooo many facets to it. They didn't have time to dig deep with any of them, really. Everything was tied up nicely at the end, but some of the plot lines were just kind of filler, you know? Again, I'll watch this probably time and time again, but it's just not up to snuff with the other "classics."

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon Day 19: Home Alone 2

**I lifted this from my former blog. At this time, I was rating the shows/movies I was watching by assigning them lumps of coal or sugar plums, haha!

:contented sigh: Tonight, it's time for Home Alone 2: Lost in New York! :)

I'm still really impressed by how well these movies have stood up over time.

This family is just ghastly. Buzz is a nightmare, and really needs to be punished.
Uncle Frank irritates the snot out of me.

I love the Talkboy! My brother and I got one when we were kids, and had so much fun with it! Not nearly as much fun as Kevin did, as we weren't quite as mischievous or inventive, but we enjoyed ourselves.

All of this is so classic and believable. If you're like me at all, you might watch this movie and wonder what kind of mother could leave her child behind two years in a row...and yet, I can also easily look at my life and see some things that seem to keep happening, no matter how hard I feel I try to avoid them.

All this screaming is hilarious! I would have loved to see all the audition tapes for these movies.

I'd love to go visit New York, ride in a vintage taxi, and stay in that same hotel. That bath tub looks amazing! Yep, sign me up for that vacation!

Too convenient that the now "sticky bandits" have landed in the same city. Poor Kevin can't seem to catch a break. I love the lines about smelling freedom vs. smelling fish :D

The scene where he borrows his dad's swimming trunks and asks politely if anyone would mind if he worked on his cannon ball is too cute!

The casting of the three hotel staff members was absolutely brilliant. They are all perfect together: Mrs. Stone, Cedric, and Mr. Hector.

Awww, Duncan's Toy Chest! I always wanted one of those ginormous stuffed unicorns. Dunno what I would have done with it, but I definitely remember wanting one :)

Can I just say, I really enjoy the way Kevin seems to anticipate what adults will think and say in order to use their own logic against them :)

Ah, the turtle doves. I remember spending years looking for those ornaments. I don't recall if we ever found them.

They meet again...the bad guys and the young master of boobie-traps.

One of my favorite scenes is where the hotel staff and police escort are having a conversation with the movie. Sooooo funny! :)

Aw, the bird lady! Her little hovel above the orchestra is amazing! I wouldn't particularly enjoy all the birds everywhere, but it would be fun to have your own secret viewing/listening nook in a place like that.

Kevin's "blueprints" are so clever and fun to look at. Such a creative little boy ;)

Again, credit must be given to the cast of the hotel staff:
"What kind of idiots do you have working here?"
"The finest in New York!"

Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are such fantastic physical comedians. Their voices, expressions, and general mannerisms really just make this movie phenomenal.

Hahahahahahahaha! The green slime jig by Marv is classic! Followed shortly by the amazing scene where he screams as he's electrocuted, then turns into a skeleton with a fro. There aren't many movies that can get away with that. I remember when that happened in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and I was quite weirded out by it.

These guys are just hilarious!

Overall, HA2 is enjoyable, endearing, comical, and also heartfelt. Like HA1, there's a valuable principle to be learned, bad guys to be punished, and countless laughs in store for the audience. I like different things about each of the films. However, I think they will end up the same rating. I give this film 4.5 sugar plums out of 5. It's hilarious, enjoyable, and overall marvelous.
As I watch it, I'm surprised to realize how many lines from the movie became commonplace in my brother's and my speech growing up. Excellent movie :)

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon Day 18: Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas (Community)

**I lifted this from my former blog. At this time, I was rating the shows/movies I was watching by assigning them lumps of coal or sugar plums, haha!

Oh, goodness...against my better judgment, I feel compelled to review this episode of the show, "Community."

After we got home last night from seeing TRON Legacy (which was AMAZING, by the way), My Love put this in as our evening entertainment. The episode is called "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas." And did I mention that the whole thing is in clay-mation?

Before I continue, there are a few things that you should know:
1) I do not usually enjoy the show "Community."
2) The show has all the elements of other shows that I like, but the way it fits together just doesn't work for me, and I don't find it entertaining enough to warrant watching most of the time.
3) My hubby really likes it. So, sometimes, when he comes across a particularly good episode, we will watch it together. The only episode I really enjoyed (though I have seen a couple decent ones) was "Modern Warfare."
4) This is essentially a play-by-play plot synopsis review, and therefore will contain spoilers. I just typed it up as I watched the show, and responded to what I was seeing.

With all that in mind, I did make an effort to set aside my bias for this review.

The episode opens up with the Dean speaking over the intercom, saying, "It's that very special time of year, Greendale; a time for me to remind you that your school acknowledges no specialness to this time of year. You do, of course, have a constitutional right to lend this season the significance of your choosing in any of our designated holiday zones."

"And this is the most important Christmas in the history of the universe; at least, I think it is because we're all in stop-motion-animation."

Ahh, here we go - the first song and dance number, ending with Abed being tazered.

And here, the one who started it all, is Abed:

We get to join the cast of the show as they journey into a group therapy session to determine why Abed is visualizing everything in clay-mation. From Abed's perspective, everyone has transformed into Christmas versions of themselves:

Annie is now ballarannie

Britta became Brittabot

Senor Chan was the snowman. The whole introductory scene with him was more than a little disturbing. He is my least favorite character on the show.

Professor Ian Duncan served as the tour-guide on this mystical journey. He's a "Christmas wizard."

Jeff was Jeff-in-the-box

Pierce is Teddy Pierce

Shirley is Baby-doll Shirley

Troy was Troy Soldier

I enjoyed the little conversation about how each person was turned into their Christmas identities. Some snarky comment was made about Britta being a robot because she was "heartless and godless," and then Annie was told she was a ballerina because she was "fragile and tightly wound." Quite clever.

Baby-doll Shirley got ejected from the search for the true meaning of Christmas because she almost gave the game away that they were in therapy. She was frozen into an ice cube, and then spirited away by a Christmas pterodactyl (who was summoned by remote).

Hum-bugs!!! Hahahahaha! They're attracted to sarcasm :) Of course, the hum-bugs ate Jeff.

Next, they lost the Christmas Wizard who inadvertently made his group therapy work on himself, freaked out, and exited from the magical journey.

Britta was expelled from finding the meaning of Christmas because she lied to Abed to get him into counseling.

Pierce left because he had to go to the bathroom, and they were out of Christmas cookies.

Ah, the Christmas Wizard has returned. Hmm, his return was short-lived, as Ballerannie and Troy Soldier sabotaged him in order to let Abed continue on to find the meaning of Christmas.

Pierce returned.

Hahahaha! I love the way they're playing along with this creation of the Christmas adventure. They're just making it up as they go, completely altering their reality as they see fit. They're teleporting, creating remote-controlled-Christmas-pterodactyls, and whatever else strikes their fancy.

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! The meaning of Christmas is the first season of LOST? ("It's symbolic for a lack of payoff") Sheer brilliance.

Uh-oh. The Christmas Wizard has revealed the real reason Abed is coping by putting people in stop-animation (which is that his mother is not coming to visit him, as is his Christmas custom), and Abed has been frozen into a block of ice.
But now, the whole cast has returned to support Abed, and are about to shoot up the Christmas Wizard for making poor Abed freeze. Awww, they're going to sing about the true meaning of Christmas :) As they sing, the ice around Abed slowly begins to melt away.

And, as is fitting, Ballerannie activates the Christmas Pterodactyl to come carry away the Christmas Wizard...and then self-destructs.

Wow. What a show. In general, I quite enjoyed this show. It was very politically correct in the way that it was not politically correct. It's kind of hard to rate a show vs. a Christmas movie, but I think I'd give this one 4 sugar plums out of 5. I really did think it was clever, the animation was great, the concept of combining various Christmas specials, song and dance, and Willy Wonka was genius.

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon Day 17: White Christmas

This season, needing a girl's afternoon, and knowing my husband would likely never agree to sit down and watch this with me, a wonderful friend came over (bearing Mexican food, yum!), and we watched White Christmas.

I think, honestly, this was only the second time that I've ever watched the film. I'm not sure if it was just because it was already on my mind, or maybe people were just more vocal about their affection for this movie this year, but I feel like my Facebook feed was filled with love and adoration for White Christmas.

So, we watched it. We had a lovely, pleasant afternoon, and had fun watching the movie. It's cute, and well done, but I don't think it's one of my favorites. I don't dislike it...I just don't think it makes the cut for "favorite" Christmas movies.

It does make me wish I could dance and sing...even a fraction as well as the cast of this movie. Man, they can move! I guess the cheese factor is a little high for me. I don't know if that's actually fair, as I certainly love me some cheese...maybe this isn't just my type of cheese? Perhaps it's Limburger, and I like Gouda? Hahahaha...that doesn't even make sense.

I do, certainly, appreciate the production of it all...and I will absolutely watch it again -- it's a classic.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon Day 16: Meet Me in St. Louis

**I lifted this from my former blog. At this time, I was rating the shows/movies I was watching by assigning them lumps of coal or sugar plums, haha!

I watched a movie during the day today. Today, I watched Meet Me in St. Louis, which is one of my favorite older movies.

Technically, it's not a Christmas movie. However, it sort of takes you through all the seasons, and the film ends following a Christmas scene. Also, a little trivia here, "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" was originally written for this film. I figured, if anything, that alone qualified it as a Christmas movie. So, if you've ever enjoyed that song, you have this movie to thank, in a way.

Truth be told, I watched this film as I was cleaning the house this afternoon, so it wasn't an all-attention-on-the-movie sort of viewing experience, but I still love it. This evening, once I had gotten home, I started a fire, settled on my cushy couch, and started it again, with the intent of writing a more thorough review of it. However, My Love came home right at that time, took one glance at the screen, and grimaced. Minutes later, as the cast is introduced through a montage of them singing "Meet Me in St. Louis," he said, "This looks like the worst movie ever," and promptly took it out of the XBox. :sigh: So, no full review.

However, I've seen it enough times to know that it's just great. To be fair, the dialogue from one of the child actors is a little disturbing. Her dolls are constantly plagued with fatal diseases, and she buries them in the backyard. There's a lot of sister-sister-pep-talks, where the oldest sisters bolster each other up to pursue men so they can snag one, which sort of reminds me of Pride and Prejudice. It's not as witty or clever as P&P, nor as timeless, but just the whole bent on catching a man theme. There's a fair amount of cheese in this movie, but cheese I like.

If you like classic movies, with a hint of musical mixed in for good measure, you'll probably like this one :) Judy Garland is brilliant in this one. Another trivia tidbit: the film was directed by Vincente Minnelli, and it was where he and Judy fell in love. :)
(It's post those links, I went to imdb, where I read Judy's biography. Now her romance with Vincente doesn't seem as romantic as it did...I had no idea she had so many lovers!)

As far as rating, I'll give this movie 4 sugar plums out of 5. It's really well done and fun, but I know it won't be as accessible to as many people or age groups as some other classics.

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon Day 15: Jingle All the Way

**I lifted this from my former blog. At this time, I was rating the shows/movies I was watching by assigning them lumps of coal or sugar plums, haha!

Oh, goodness...I'm so unbelievably tired. As much as I love this challenge, I really really really didn't want to watch a Christmas movie tonight -- I just wanted to crawl into bed and sleep as long as possible.

However, I'm going to give it a go.

Tonight, I've chosen to watch Jingle All the Way.

I have to say, I literally went "Ugh," as soon as I realized that Jake Lloyd was in this movie.
I'm actually quite surprised that he landed the role as Anakin, taking into account his performance in this movie. I know, I know, he's just a kid...but it's still super cheesy.

However, I was pleased to see Phil Hartman again. He was such a funny guy.
(it is too bad that his character hits on a married woman this whole film!)

I like that giant Captain America mural on Jamie's wall...that would be fun to paint in real life.

Wow, their house is HUGE. Having just looked at a whole bunch of houses the last few days, I'm a little more aware of that sort of thing than usual. :sigh: I'm super grateful that we sold our house, but house-hunting is exhausting. Not to mention I haven't even started packing up our house yet. I'm going to have to get to work on that. Thankfully, I located our storage unit key today, so that ought to help ;)

Awww, the reindeer is super cute! Well, he's so ugly he's cute :D

This plot is so sad. And, unfortunately, probably a decent reflection of the insanity that overtakes the US population around Christmas. I know I feel the pressure to give family and friends presents, even if it isn't financially viable for me at the time. Obviously, that means I need to start planning for Christmas and holidays in advance, so that's not a problem, but it's astounding to me what we justify to ourselves in the name of "Christmas." Which, ironically, is not "the reason for the season."

I didn't realize that Sinbad's name wasn't Sinbad.

Ahhh! I love James Belushi! I didn't remember that he was in this movie! I loved him so much in Return to Me.

"Look, we got one chance a year to prove that we're not screw-ups, and what do we do? We screw it up." -- so not true...but so often the defeatist sort of attitude I take on various subjects.

Can I just say that I kind of love watching this movie and realizing that this guy is governor of California? It just tickles me :)

As a side-note, if that kid didn't recognize his dad because of his thick accent, he's not very bright :/

This is a fun, albeit somewhat annoying movie. It has a good message, though it takes quite a while to get to the point, and actually spends so much time on what not to do, it's hard to narrow down the moral of the story. I think it's pretty much a movie that I'll watch every Christmas season, though. Not quite a classic or staple, but definitely worth watching. I rate it a reasonable 3 sugar plums.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon Day 14: The Santa ClausE

**I lifted this from my former blog. At this time, I was rating the shows/movies I was watching by assigning them lumps of coal or sugar plums, haha!

Yep, it's that time again! Tonight, we will be watching The Santa Clause.

This is another one I like a lot. I'm trying to remember the last time I watched it.

I forgot Peter Boyle was in this. I'm sad he's dead :(

Hahahaha, Tim Allen is great. "You wouldn't believe this traffic!"

Neil!!!! He's such a dork! Love his crazy sweaters.

I'm having a really hard time not commenting constantly on this movie! It's hilarious! And Charlie is so adorable!

Aw, I'm disappointed to realize that the CGI isn't standing the test of time. I used to think the effects in this movie were so amazing. Not that they're terrible, but you can just tell they're a bit dated.

This dialogue is brilliant. So funny!

Hahahahahahahaha! I love the part where Scott is changing into his pajamas, and as soon as he drops his drawers, the puppets scream. I laughed sooo hard ^_^

This movie is excellent. And so hilarious. I'm greatly pleased to have gotten to see it again.
I give it 4.5 sugar plums out of 5. Because, once again, I think it's brilliant, but am trying not to hit my highest ranking so early into this challenge. As previously stated, I am reserving the right to come back and alter ratings as I see fit. :)

Look for Love

Yesterday was my seven year wedding anniversary.

It blows my mind that I am old enough to have been married for seven years.

As often happens when anniversaries come around, I spent most of yesterday reflecting on what led me to today...marveling at all the memories we've accumulated: joyful ones, sad ones, ugly ones, mundane ones, funny know...all's a package deal.

This morning, I was awoken by our sweet son, who was crying. I got up, made him a bottle in the dark dawn, and soothed him back to sleep. No sooner had my head touched my own pillow than I was hit with an intense, unpleasant heartburn (it might be helpful to note that I am eight months pregnant). I mean, seriously, folks...OUCH. I could barely breathe, and could barely move.
I whispered, "Sean?"
He groggily murmured a response.
"I'm so sorry to ask you, but I need a favor. I need my purse (where the antacids were), and a drink."
"Weren't you just up?" he asked. But, even as he asked, he was getting up. He shuffled around, got what I needed, brought them to me, and went back to sleep.

Now, this wasn't a grand, sweeping, romantic gesture...but it was, without a doubt, an act of service that showed me love.

Love is and can be all those things they seem to shove into holiday commercials this time of year to make lonely people feel lonelier, and people with someone feel like they'll be content, or even closer if only they get this one more thing. Love is courtship, romance, surprises, gifts, thoughtful actions, and so much more...but I find myself grateful today the most for subtle love...steady love. Sometimes, you just have to remember to look for it.

I remember, before we were dating...on the road trip that My Love claims started it all...we stopped to get food at a Waffle House. A seasoned road warrior I was, but I know I was looking rough. I can't remember how long we had been driving at that point, but you can only be stuck in a car so long before you start to feel a little stale. Have you ever been to a Waffle House? I'm not hating on them, but everything is so...fluorescent...and yellow. [Random tidbit: they actually make them that way on purpose! I'm not sure why, but they do. They built a brand new Waffle House down the road from our first apartment. When it was completed, it looked like it had been there for 30 years! But, I digress.] My face was broken out, I was disheveled and tired...and I remember being self-conscious...worried that this person I didn't know very well would see me, not at my best, and judge or reject me. As my eyes met his in conversation, he just met my gaze. He listened to what I was saying. He wasn't cringing at my imperfections, or awkwardly trying to ignore them; I don't know quite how to explain it, but I just knew that he was looking at me, who I was, and not what I looked like at the time. We didn't even know that we liked each other yet, but that is a moment I won't forget.

I struggle with the concept of love and marriage that is sold today. I work with teenagers on a regular basis, and I fear the impact society's interpretation of love will have on them and their future relationships.
Love is finding someone who challenges you...whose strengths compliment your weaknesses and sharpen your strengths. It's making the decision daily to rediscover who they are becoming, and love that person where they are. It's knock-down-drag-out arguments that wreck you both...but it's also knowing that you're committed to putting the pieces back together together. It's struggling through hard, emotional times...being strong when you are tired of being strong...feeling safe enough to be weak when you have to be. It's pet-peeves: empty toilet paper rolls, a full trash can, laundry being dried again because it needs to be "fluffed" before it's folded, endless to do lists...
It's knowing that your story together is more than just boy-meets-girl, and they live happily ever after. Knowing that you're in this together, that you're working toward a better version of yourself, that you're helping them be a better version of themselves, that you're doing it because it reflects the love and commitment of Christ to His pressure ;)
Love is so many, many, many things. After seven years, sometimes it's not as shiny and obvious as it was in the beginning...but shiny and obvious aren't always best.

I feel a little awkward posting this...but hopefully it will be encouraging to someone...even if it's just My Love. I'm grateful for the reminder that came this morning, in the shape of antacids and a drink...and am looking forward to many more years of learning different ways to love and serve one another. Here's to that!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon Day 13: Four Christmases

**I lifted this from my former blog. At this time, I was rating the shows/movies I was watching by assigning them lumps of coal or sugar plums, haha!

:sigh: Now to watch Four Christmases.

I really do like Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon. Both separate and together.

The opening scene is not one to watch with the little ones though, I have to admit, it makes me laugh.

Part of why I probably like this movie is the music. I'm wondering if I could download the soundtrack and drift into a Christmas music-induced stupor? ^_^

Love the reference to The Most Dangerous Game.

I really enjoy the natural dialogue and bantering that happens in this movie. A lot.

HAHAHAHA! I love that Kevin is in this, and he's talking differently.

Also have to give a nod to Little Ralphie from A Christmas Story, who is featured as a ticket agent.

I want to know what these two do for a living in this movie to be able to afford such amazing presents. It's quite impressive.

Hahahaha! Love Denver and Dallas! "We're named after the cities in which we were conceived."
Oh my goodness, Jon Favreau and Tim McGraw are hilarious!

Heavens, the first family experience is stressful, hilarious, and as painful as possible.

The cougar den! Hahahahaha! Oh my goodness! It's Kristin Chenoweth again...playing the same role...again. But she's still flawless in the role...guess there's a reason she's typecast.
I forgot how many stars are in this movie - check out the cast list!

Ugh, it is horrific when you have people over and your family shares all your deepest, darkest, most embarrassing secrets.

UGH!!! I forgot about the baby spitting up all over her! That's soooo gross!

Ah, more witty banter :)

Oy...this church is painful...gaudy...and I'm terrified that it might be accurate of some...which is really scary.

Love this scene where they're playing the game as a family! Hilarious! Awkward, but hilarious!

And here we have the stereotypical wrench in the works.

And now it's been resolved, and all is happy.

Um, I'm kind of thinking that all this "live TV" coverage would be illegal...or at least something that would require consent. But hey, this is a movie.

Okay, so I like this one. It's not really a family movie, as there is some adult humor, but I think it's cute. Not really a timeless classic or anything, but one I will watch more than once over the coming years. I think I'll give this 4 sugar plums out of 5.

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon Day 12: Deck the Halls

**I lifted this from my former blog. At this time, I was rating the shows/movies I was watching by assigning them lumps of coal or sugar plums, haha!

Well, I can't even remember where I saw this, but I saw Deck the Halls on someone's blog recently, and decided I wanted to watch it.

So, I rented it.

Oh my goodness! I can't believe the amazing assortment of cast members in this movie!

Matthew Broderick, Danny DeVito, Kristin Davis, Kristin Chenoweth, Alia Shawkat, and Jorge Garcia are all in this movie!

Uh-oh, "How bad could it be?" is NEVER a good thing to say. Especially if you're in a movie.

Hahahahaha! "I especially like the way you've duct-taped the antlers to the horses' heads."

I love the holiday cards!

So, this was a funny movie, and I enjoyed it, but there was a thick layer of cheese, sprinkled with some lame acting that really made the movie a little less magical. Chenowith is someone I love, but kind of only because she was in Wicked. Everything else I've seen her in, she has played the same role: high-maintenance, exaggeratedly blond, scantily clad, and ditzy, though well-meaning. She plays it well, but I like to imagine her with more depth, and it's hard when she's in these roles. I guess, despite the shortcomings of her characters, she manages to endear herself slightly, so that's skill. As for DeVito, how many times will he play a sleazy, aging man with a smokin' hot bimbo wife? Broderick and Davis are horrible, in my opinion. Neither one of them seem to actually have a soul, or a personality. I don't believe their marriage, parenting, pet peeves, or passions. The only thing Broderick has been good in that I've seen was Ferris Bueller's Day Off. And I haven't seen that in years to know if that's an accurate appraisal of the movie. Maybe he has had some plastic surgery? I don't feel like his face moved much. Anyone else feel that way?

Other than the above (which I realize can sound scathing), I enjoyed the concept of the movie. It felt like it had many of the makings of a Christmas movie classic. I think, perhaps, if they had just cast someone other than Broderick and Davis, the movie could have been salvaged. But, when your main character and his wife don't actually appear to have a heart, it's hard to get attached, or to feel like they've changed at all at the end of the movie, if they've been robots the whole film.

Wow. Reading this, it's strange because it sounds like I hated the movie. Oddly enough, I didn't. Some of the jokes were hilarious, and, as I said, the plot was promising albeit poorly executed (IMO). Personally, I have to rate this film 2.5 sugar plums out of 5, with 1 lump of coal thrown in for good measure.

I'm glad I watched it, but it's not "classic" status.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon Day 11: Home Alone

**I lifted this from my former blog. At this time, I was rating the shows/movies I was watching by assigning them lumps of coal or sugar plums, haha!

I have to admit, I'm a little biased on this one. Definitely one of my favorites.
However, upon watching it with "fresh" eyes, I have to say that the McCallisters are the worst family ever. Some of the things the mom said to Kevin the night before they left were terrible.

Kevin: Everybody in this family hates me!
Kate: Then maybe you should ask Santa for a new family.
Kevin: I don't want another family. I don't want any family. Families suck!
Kate: Just stay up there. I don't want to see you again for the rest of the night.

Not that any family is perfect, and I think the lines in this film are pretty funny...but that's just some crazy stuff to say to an 8 year old, if you ask me.

"A lovely cheese pizza, just for me." - my brother and I used to say that all. the. time.
Come to think of it, there are lots of things in this movie that my brother and I used to say a lot.

I do have to say that the appearance of John Candy was much more meaningful to me this time around, now that I've seen Planes, Trains, & Automobiles.

Of course, the best part of the movie are the traps Kevin sets for the "wet burglars." Pure brilliance, if impractical and unlikely. They still make me laugh :D

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I completely forgot that "Marv" could scream like that! I love the whole sketch with the tarantula -- genius!

Overall, I'm not sure what I'd rate this film. It definitely earns mad props for having a child actor as its star and it not being unbearably irritating and cheesy. I sort of hate to hit the 5 sugar plum level already, but I really like this film. The music is excellent too. Let's give it a solid 4.5 sugar plums out of 5, so as to have a higher goal to aim for ;)
(though I reserve the right to come back and change the rating as I see fit)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon Day 10: Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

**I lifted this from my former blog. At this time, I was rating the shows/movies I was watching by assigning them lumps of coal or sugar plums, haha!

Tonight, I noticed that hulu had just added Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. I don't believe I've ever seen this Christmas special. From the introduction, I believe it's going to be "special" indeed.

(these are all a bit of "stream of consciousness" comments - I just wrote things as I watched)

First off, I was relieved to see that the introduction was just a strange way to introduce a "play within a play" sort of set-up for this movie.

Can I just say something? I really miss "old school" animation. I mean, of course, digital images and animations are quite impressive...but there's just something magical about the old way. I'm loving just watching the snow drift across the screen. Brings back my childhood ambition of becoming an animator.

So far, I'm greatly enjoying the dialogue in this film. I find myself giggling quite a bit.

Okay, so I'm at the part of the movie with the Ghost of Christmas Past, and I have to be an evil, heartless, terrible excuse for a girl: I cannot stand these children singing. Or, more likely, these adults trying to sound like children singing. I would imagine, if I knew the "children" singing, I would think it was endearing and adorable. However, I do not know these people...and the singing is grating on my nerves.

Um, as usual, the Ghost of Christmas Future is very creepy. I remember watching the Mickey Christmas Carol, and freaking out about the whole Ghost of Christmas Future segment.

The "despicables" who sing a song about stealing Scrooge's things are rather disturbing, but their song has a surprisingly strong vocabulary (as in intellectual, not as in offensive).

Hmm...that was interesting. Right after the most disturbing bits, where it's revealed that Tiny Tim is dead, Scrooge is dead, and he (Scrooge) is left alone in the graveyard, they cut to a sort of intermission in the play within the movie. It was a really great way to cut from the despair of the scene and remind the audience that it wasn't real. I liked that a lot.
Granted, as a child, I had very many issues and fears about death and dying (still have some to this day), so those scenes were the most disturbing to me. So, it was nice to be able to "step out" of the morbidity of that particular sequence.

HAHAHAHAHA! I love Scrooge's wardrobe solution! ^_^

Overall, I think I would rate that at 3 sugar plums out of 5. It was pleasant, enjoyable, had that old-school classic charm to it, but it didn't have quite the same impact on me as other cult favorites. I often wonder if things become our favorites because we saw them as children, or if they're our favorites because they're better. Who knows?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon Day 9: The Holiday

Seriously, the music in this movie is phenomenal. There are lame parts in the movie, and maybe some bad acting moments, but the music is beautiful.

It is called The Holiday because it's both about a vacation that two people take, and it takes place during the holidays. The main holiday their getaway spans is Christmas...thus, a "Christmas movie." Yet again, however, Christmas is more of a backdrop than an actual theme.

Basically, the movie follows two women: an uptight, successful LA Hollywood business woman whose relationship just ended (Cameron Diaz), and an English journalist whose love life never really existed (Kate Winslet). Neither one were risk takers, and uncharacteristically opt for a vacation where they swap homes for the holidays. While not what they had planned, both ended up finding what they needed.

It's a super cute romantic comedy, complete with adorable children, sweet and fascinating old it's not so saturated with romance that it neglects other aspects of life.
I watch it on occasion, whether it's Christmas time or not.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon Day 8: Justice League - Comfort and Joy

Please forgive me while I geek out -- I love Justice League, Season 2, episode 23, Comfort and Joy. Flipping love it.
This "review" is completely biased. I love this episode more each time that I watch it. I don't know if I could analyze it, I'm not even going to try.

I love that Martian Manhunter is invited home to the Kent's home for Christmas. I love the way they mess with my emotions...making me feel safe and at home with the Kents- nostalgic for Christmas, making me pity Martian Manhunter as he struggles to participate in and acclimate to the holiday, and I love when he is given a sweater as a Christmas present. Classic!

I also really enjoy the montage of MM traveling around, watching others "do" Christmas...I especially appreciate when he catches Clark trying to peek into his presents, only to find them lined with lead. Bahahaha!
I love that Michael Rosenbaum is The Flash, I love that he does a little speech that inspires Ultra-Humanite to help the children. I do not like the farting duck toy, however. It will be, unfortunately, a factor in my deciding when Little Man should see this episode. I do, however, have to say that I thoroughly enjoy that Ultra-Humanite rewires the horrible toy, and he speaks in his glorious accent to the orphans <3
I'm not a huge fan of the weird planet that Hawkgirl visits with Green Lantern. I appreciate all the fun things done with the GL ring in the snow, but my enjoyment of that plot line pretty much ends there.

Despite not really being a cat person, it makes my heart happy that Martian Manhunter closes out the episode in his actual form, petting the cat that used to despise him, and singing in his native language...while the Kents eavesdrop outside the door.

:sigh of contentment:

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon Day 7: Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas

Extra, extra, read all about it: watched a Christmas movie with Little Man, we finished it, and I really enjoyed it! This is, I think, the first one we've watched that I hadn't seen before that I actually have something positive to say about!

The movie is Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas.

I don't want to talk it up too much, and create a hype that it can't live up to -- maybe it's just that the other Christmas specials I've watched until this point haven't been so special. This movie is really three mini stories:

"Donald Duck: Stuck on Christmas"
This was a Groundhog Day-esque story of Huey, Duey, and Louie getting stuck with every day as Christmas. It was a sweet story about how Christmas isn't just about presents, food, and other things, but was about love and sharing that with your family and friends.

"A Very Goofy Christmas"
I thought this was a bold direction to take a kids' Christmas special -- it told the story of a father and son, and their journey to deciding whether or not Santa existed. It, too, was sweet, and focused quite a bit on bringing other people joy.

"Mickey & Minnie's Gift of the Magi"
This was a Mickey twist on the traditional story. I felt like this was the saddest in tone of the three stories. It made the point stick a little more, I suppose, but I was really glad that they had a little recap at the end of the "movie" to lighten the mood.

Did I mention that the narrator was Kelsey Grammer? Awesome.

So far, this was definitely my favorite new-to-us Christmas special, and I expect we'll watch it again...maybe even this season!

Crock Pot Baby Back Ribs?

I am no great cook. Fortunately, the way to My Love's heart was not through his stomach, so I landed him anyway, haha! However, the longer we're married, the more pride I feel when I know I can make a meal that makes him happy happy happy.

I made one such meal last night, for the third time, and it was a hit AGAIN! If you're looking for an easy recipe that will win you some points, give this one, from my friend Katie, a try!

Baby Back Ribs - Crock Pot Recipe!

(the above picture is not a picture of the ribs I made, though they looked similar -- credit for the photo goes to these folks)

*One random thing -- the second time I made these, I doubled the recipe. Because it was bigger, I opted to use my roaster oven instead of my crock pot. This did not work very well. I do not suggest doing this. While they still turned out alright, they were appreciated more when I made them in the crock pot. Katie said she has doubled the recipe with no issues in her crock pot. Should I double the recipe again, I would use the crock pot. Don't use a roaster oven.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Days of December Christmas Watch-a-thon Day 5 & 6

I don't even want to count these...I really don't. But, I'm a mommy now, so we're going to go ahead and include them, since they're Christmas themed, and I watched them.

Day 5: Dragons- Gift of the Night Fury

I still haven't shown Little Man How to Train Your Dragon, because I think he is a little young yet. Although, when the time comes, I know he's just going to love Toothless...he reminds me so much of our Sadie (even though she's a girl...and a dog, not a dragon). Anyway, we started to watch this holiday episode...we didn't finish it. It wasn't particularly bad or anything, it just didn't hold LM's attention, and it wasn't particularly Christmas-y. They had a holiday they were celebrating: Snoggletog. Come to think of it, though, I'm not even sure why they celebrated that. Perhaps I would have found out if we'd stuck around to watch the whole thing, haha. Oh well.

Day 6: Curious George- A Very Monkey Christmas

Now, this one, this one we watched in its entirety. Or, at least, it played out to the end. I don't believe LM was actively watching it by the end. I liked the bit where George didn't understand the concept of how many days there were left until Christmas...that felt very real to me, and was a bit of a look at my not-too-distant-future.
I felt like this was a little less typical-George, and I liked that. A little less of the trouble-making-with-no-consequences. A little more just random fun stuff. Even still, it didn't leave a lasting impression on me. It's not a "classic," to be sure.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon - Day 4: The Polar Express

I am now restarting the movie where I left off, as we had to stop it because it was scaring Little Man. I'm still quite taken aback that it did scare him...perhaps startle is a better word?

We made it to a scene where the main boy is on top of the Polar Express, and runs into a hermit of some sort. The part that really disturbed LM was when there was this scene where a train ticket was blowing about in the wind, kind of quietly past wild animals, through woods, etc., and then it landed on the snow. All of a sudden, the Polar Express steamed by, and LM jumped and started to quiver! It was so sad.

Oh  my word, I'm so glad we stopped the movie when we did -- there is a terrifying marionette screaming right now. Sheesh!

Okay, so, I was a huge fan of The Polar Express when I was a kid. I don't remember when I started reading it, or really any of the details surrounding my reading it, other than that I remember it, and I remembered enjoying it.

I remember when they said they were coming out with The Polar Express, the movie. I thought that was a terrible idea. How were they going to turn my beautiful story into a feature-length film?
By adding a whole bunch of weird stuff, contrived plots, and strange twists, that's how. I'm not saying it's the worst movie ever, but it will be a while before we watch it again, and not just because it freaked out LM.

Speaking of, CGI people freak me out pretty badly. There are a lot of those in this movie. The pace of the film is really slow in lots of places. To make up for it, they throw in really dramatic scenes that don't add a lot to the actual story. They also have this very sad little boy character who makes me want to cry just by looking at him. Aside from that, I didn't really "bond" with any of the characters in the movie. I basically felt like everyone was a caricature of a character...if that makes any sense.

I don't know...I hate to give a "bad review," but I just really didn't like the movie. I have to confess that I largely feel that I disliked the movie because of how it varied so drastically from the book. Whether that's fair or not, you can be the judge. I just can't seem to separate the two in my mind. The book is phenomenal and, I'm sure, inspired a bunch of creative ideas...I just prefer the simpler, original, book-version.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon - Day 3: Die Hard

So, as a direct result of my posting about my Days of December Christmas Watch-a-thon plans, a friend informed me that Die Hard was playing at one of our local movie theaters! So, My Love and I got a fabulous opportunity to have a date night (our second this week -- how insane is that?!?!?), and see Die Hard on the big screen!

It was so much fun! I don't know if it was the big screen, if it was the way it all panned out with our life right now (it was such a nice, much-needed distraction), or that it is a "cult classic," and everyone watching already knew and loved the film, but I had a great time. Oh, and the fact that they serve real food at this particular, chips and queso, and pizza...that probably had something to do with it too.

As for the movie itself, it's not really a Christmas movie. If I'm going to pick on poor Thomas for not having Christmas themes, only Christmas elements, then I have to be fair and acknowledge that Die Hard is a film that takes place during Christmas time. At best, Christmas is a backdrop or minor character in the film -- but, for some reason, it still makes my "Christmas movie" list.

The movie is about a New York City cop, who is visiting his wife (from whom he is separated) in Los Angeles for Christmas. He meets her at her office building, which is besieged by terrorists. He slips away, unnoticed, and spends the remainder of the film thwarting their plans with true 80's action bravado.

It is rather crass, with quite a bit of blood (albeit bright pinkish red), violence, and plenty of swearing. But, really, who couldn't love a good action movie with Bruce Willis as the hero? Ooooh, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention Alan Rickman as the dastardly villain! (I do confess that, upon his entrance to the film, I started singing in my head, "Snape, Snape, Severus Snape...")
Again, it's not technically a Christmas movie, but it's going to remain on my list.

Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon - Days 1 & 2: Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales, and Merry Christmas, Thomas!

Well, Little Man and I decided to start our holiday movie watching today, since it's day three, and I haven't officially started yet ;)

What did we watch, you ask? Excellent question. Honestly, we didn't finish either. They didn't hold Little Man's attention for the duration of the productions. But, we watched Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales and Thomas & Friends: Merry Christmas Thomas!

Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales
This was a short collection of mini-cartoons. The whole thing was only 17 minutes long, and I think Little Man and I only made it like 7 minutes. All the classic characters were back, and some new ones -- when on earth did Lucy and Linus get a brother named Rerun?!?!? While all the old favorites were back, pretty much none of the old charm was. The mini-segments made it feel sort of disjointed, though I don't know that there's much they could have done about that. I felt like the characters were more hostile and whiny than before...not as witty or ironic...which is kind of crucial to Peanuts being Peanuts. It said "written by Charles Shulz" at the beginning - I'm wondering if they just took his actual comic strips and turned them into shorts; that's what it feels like, at any rate. I love Peanuts...I really do, but I wasn't really a fan of this Christmas special.

Thomas & Friends: Merry Christmas, Thomas!
I know this is really cheesy, but I really appreciate the proper usage of the comma in the title of the movie :) That being said, I should also probably mention that I have had my fair share of Thomas the Train as of late. The introduction song is enough to make me twitch at this point. Anyway, we made it almost all the way to the end of this one. Little Man has been enjoying Thomas lately. This, too, is broken up into smaller segments/episodes, but that is standard format for Thomas, and wasn't a surprise. I suppose I didn't feel like it was very Christmas-esque. I mean, there were Christmas elements added in, but it largely felt like a "normal" Thomas series of episodes to me. The lessons were all typical of the show, and weren't related to the Christmas season, other than there were Christmas items included. It's not something I specifically disliked, but it didn't have any sort of "classic" appeal. We will very likely watch it again in the future, but it doesn't have the makings of a Christmas classic.

I am looking forward to continuing the Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon! Keep an eye out for my post on what we won't be watching this year!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Annual-ish Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon!

Well, it would appear that this has become a tradition after all. My hubby has been asking me if I was going to do my Days of December Christmas Movie Watch-a-thon, so here I am!

I'm struggling to decide what movies to watch, and in what order. It's particularly tricky since I have a son who is old enough to watch them (or, some of them, at any rate) with us.

I know we'll have to have Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Jingle All the Way, Elf, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Garfield Christmas, Four Christmases, Prancer, While You Were Sleeping, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Santa Clause, The Holiday, White Christmas, The Polar Express, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, The Christmas List, A Christmas Story, It's a Wonderful Life, Die Hard, Justice League: Comfort & Joy...that's 22. I'll supplement the rest of the list with Christmas episodes from TV shows, as well as some other movies I just didn't put down yet. I might even have to do more than 25, who knows?

I think I'll also repost some of my posts from previous years of the movies/shows that I will definitely NOT be watching this year. There are several "lumps of coal," as I called them...just dreadful.

How about you? Any Christmas movies that are annual must-sees for you that I should add?