beautiful, creative, entertainment, family, gifts, gratitude, holiday, home, journey, parenting

My first Christmas Gift, of the season…

My heart is all a flutter these days as darkness blankets the world earlier and twinkly Christmas decorations span the city streets. Part of my adult heart still feels a bit surprised when evening brings such Christmas magic to life. Isn’t adulthood kind of like that? Each holiday season seeming to approach sooner, and never seeming to hold quite enough of those peaceful, magic-filled moments we crave… Maybe it’s just me. (It isn’t though, right???)

Being a movie lover, and a Christmas lover (Christmas itself and not the consumer induced frenzy of chaos and clutter that seems to misrepresent the season, anyway) I find that movies really do act as the glue which binds my season together. For roughly forty-six weeks of the year I am a pretty critical film watcher, with fairly high standards, but come early November I melt into that girl who loves nothing more than spending a snowy afternoon or at-home-evening in front of the fireplace with a Hallmark Christmas Movie on TV and a cup of something deliciously warm and comforting in hand. Sure, its cliche. I’m pretty ok with that. These are among the rare moments I have ever shared with my mother. This is the very description of many a Christmas season moments in our home, once my motherhood was the route of my journey. Of course though, Hallmark is not the only source of Christmas movies which hold my heart… I love so many, from the really funny ones (Christmas Vacation, Elf, Surviving Christmas, A Christmas Story) to the heart-layered-lovely ones (Step Mom, The Family Stone, The Holiday) and so many beautiful classics (Miracle on 34th st, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Bishop’s Wife)… Many of these fall on my must watch every year list, which naturally inspires one to wonder: does this girl do anything other than watch Christmas movies in November/December??? The answer to this, naturally, is sort of… They are almost always on, in the background. Sometimes I focus on them, sometimes they simply go about their two-hour time period bringing comfort, like an old friend, while I go about a work project, gift wrapping, card signing, baking, or mundane household chores.

If I am being honest though, I’d have to admit that my all time favorite Christmas movie is It’s a Wonderful Life. This Christmas is finding me at 41 years old. For as long as I can remember, my holiday seasons have held this movie as a part of life’s festivities. It never grows old and I somehow still manage to cry and draw kernels of wisdom and truth from George’s story, despite the fact that every inch of it is already stitched into my heart. Though Michigan may not be my favorite leg of this life’s journey, one thing I truly love is at Christmas time when we bundle up (because the weather here is usually pretty rocky on this day, and Ann Arbor seems to intensify the rockiness of the weather) and head to the Historic Michigan Theater for a Sunday December afternoon showing of It’s a Wonderful Life. The seats are snug and tiny, and every inch of our surroundings are rich with history and family sharing millions of moments just life the one we’re partaking in. The theater has both warm popcorn and beverages, and proceeding the film there is a jolly man playing the best of all fun Holiday jingles on a larger-than-life pipe organ. When ever I think of Christmas and the bits I truly love, this one always illuminates my mind first. The entire afternoon is sheer perfection.

I love my old school, time-honored favorites. I am a sucker for the new Christmas movies too. There are already two out, and I’ve seen them both. (Like I said, I am pretty die-hard about this whole Christmas movie thing. Speaking of Die Hard– ALSO a Christmas movie I love! ) The movie I am REALLY looking forward to this season is The Man Who Invented Christmas. (Fun fact sidenote: I also read A Christmas Carol every December)

The Man Who Invented Christmas tells the magical journey that led to the creation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer), Tiny Tim and other classic characters from A Christmas Carol. Directed by Bharat Nalluri (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day), the film shows how Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) mixed real life inspirations with his vivid imagination to conjure up unforgettable characters and a timeless tale, forever changing the holiday season into the celebration we know today.


THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS releases in theaters on November 22.

As if it isn’t exciting enough, I also have a behind the scenes featurette to share!

So tell me, are you feeling in the mood for Christmas yet? Well… I have a little Christmas giveaway to add to the spirit. I would love to give one of you a Christmas movie DVD pack. I’m leaving the title’s a secret, BUT to make it fun- I will tell you that each of the three films has some significant tie to this movie The Man Who Invented Christmas! Intriguing, right? Entries end at Midnight Thanksgiving day!

To enter to win this awesome little package all you have to do is leave a comment RIGHT HERE, about your favorite Christmas movie. That’s it. (and yes, Hallmark movies COUNT! They totally do!)

entertainment, family, parenting

Goodbye, Christopher Robin…

Many who frequent here are aware that I spent the better part of a decade as a film critic. It was really an amazing experience and awarded me many really cool opportunities. Criticizing for a living also has this way of leaving one jaded. I walked away from the job when I realized I had lost my ability to simply enjoy a movie. Some habits die-hard, but I believe I am a lot more tolerable to watch movies with now, than I had become at one time. You’d have to ask my husband to know for sure…

It’s pretty rare that I step up, when asked, to review a film. I’ve found that, for me personally, I go into it with a certain level of expectation. I have a list of things to look for, this white glove test is an intense one, I’m afraid.

I have been waiting a really long time to see Goodbye, Christopher Robin. Like every other girl of the early 90’s time frame, I have a strong affinity for Classic Pooh. (yes I did spend my 23rd birthday in a Disney Store issues Classic Pooh denim jumper, and no, it was not my only type of Classic Pooh clothing.  shut up…) The trailers sold this film as so heartwarming, at least that is how I perceived it. And maybe, maybe I’m not really the most impartial person to criticize this movie. The truth is, there were things I genuinely LOVED about this movie…

And there were things I absolutely detested.

I loved that, as that Classic Pooh loving place in my heart would swell and sigh, this film is visually stunning! There are so many images taken straight out of the beloved illustrations. (Perhaps I would be much more in favor of this visually beautiful film if it were silent, minus some gorgeous music playing over the course of these images.) There are some genuinely comical moments and, for the most part, the acting is good. Nearly everything else, for me, would be a negative. I feel as though my love of such an ironically classic childhood treasure has been unknowingly a supportive party to something tragically dark and terrible. It is, in this way, that the title of the film haunts me all the more. Goodbye, Christopher Robin. Goodbye, innocent love of the beloved characters and the hundred acre wood.

Alan “Blue” Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) is a fairly successful play write, returning from the war zone known as WWI. Suffering with immense PTSD, it seems as though some amount of pressure falls upon his wife Daphne, (Margo Robbie) to pull him out of the dark places and make him successful once again. It is in this way that the two come to be parents of Billy Moon, whose Christian name is Christopher Robin. It is all lovely and beautiful until around this point. Soon enough, the beloved nanny, (played impeccably by Kelly Macdonald) arrives on the scene. It is, sadly, only thanks to her that sweet little Billy/Christopher Robin grows up knowing any love at all. As an adoptive parent of kids who have been deeply wounded by the self-centered abuses and negligence of birth parents, I find myself very sensitive to such themes. While our sweet boy is never actually abused, he is beyond neglected by his parents. His mother, from my perspective, only ever seems interested in the fun bits of motherhood spotlighting her, while her real focus is on position, fame, glamour, money and attention. His father, for one brief and beautiful season, allows himself to surrender and lose himself in the enjoyment of time and adventure with his son. It is from this very incredible time that our stories are born. Sadly, his effort at Fatherhood ends here, and no one realizes any of this until our sweet boy is a man gone off to fight a war against Hitler. This interim, for Christopher Robin is, often times, nothing short of hellish and isolating.

As I sit here, however, I have to admit that although this story is tragic, depressing and has potentially robbed me of something sweet and precious, it is not the film’s fault. This movie simply depicts the true story of a damaged man, his selfish wife, and how these things affected their son. And maybe that is where the magic potentially lives. Not one of us are a perfect spouse or parent. Not one of us hasn’t been responsible for a wound in the life of a child. As terribly sad and ugly as this background is, the happiness and love that stems from the pages of A.A. Milne’s beloved Pooh bear, and the very reaching effects it has had must count for something.

Did I love this movie? I did.

Did I hate it? I did.

It is complicated and confusing. It is a beautiful and thoughtfully filmed piece of art about a tragically sad and little known story.

It is honest.


beautiful, chronic illness, confession, entertainment, fibro, gratitude, journey, Lately, list, Uncategorized

It’s Friday, I’m in Love…

Before the sun sets this evening, I will be jet-setting my way to the Pacific Northwest, likely with the biggest smile I’ve worn in a while. (This is my optimistic point of view, in reality I am pretty anxiety riddled over the whole flying part…) In an effort to think of happy thoughts, let’s get to the top five of this week, shall we?

1.) My oldest niece delivered an incredibly handsome and captivating baby boy. Though I am yet to hold him, or breathe him in, the photos have confirmed that I am already head over heals for this little man!

2.) Before my husband headed back to Australia, we were fortunate to catch an early screening, (it’s out officially now) of Only The Brave. You guys, even if you do not like movies, please consider seeing this one. Films like this, stories like this, are why movies exist. It is incredible…

3.) Serenity Gel caps. I am a big fan of the Serenity blend of Essential Oil, but I was not 100% about these capsules. In the past week I have come to the full realization about how much they help my sleep, and I saw my husband rock star his way through pretty severe jet lag with their help. BIG WINNERS!

4.) My awesome friend had the opportunity to catch a Dreamcar show, in L.A. awhile back. She kept the awesomeness that is their music, to herself, until about a week ago. Honestly, I am OBSESSED. Incredible. What do you get when you combine the male members of No Doubt, the lead singer of AFI and a sound reminiscent of every great new wave song found in the great John Hughes films of the 80’s??? You get DREAMCAR!

5.) This both barely made my list AND was an absolute addition. (I know, I make no sense sometimes.) Here is my review of Goodbye Christopher Robin.


I already did a music link, so I didn’t want to add another one but I just couldn’t share. I am OBSESSED with this song!

So, what’s up with you?

chronic illness, confession, fibro, food, gratitude, home, journey, Lately, list, marriage

This RX weekend…

I am a pretty big fan of RX bars. I have to be honest though, if someone had offered me one and told me it was awesome, I would probably have hated them and considered ending the friendship with said-person. Why? They are pretty different. And sticky. And stick to teeth, and that is annoying.

BUT… They are pretty awesome really. Weird, stickiness aside, they are honest and healthy. They do not taste like cardboard, and they aren’t painful to digest. All in all, they are pretty tasty, easy to tuck in a handbag and nothing to nutritionally feel terrible about.

The other thing I love about them in their simplicity. Right there, on the front of their packaging is their ingredient list. Not only is this brilliant marketing, but it is respectful to the consumer because it says “Don’t waste your precious, already overwhelmed time reading our tiny print list, HERE.” And honestly, I really like that too.

I am going to treat my weekend like an RX Bar. Why? Because I don’t feel like carefully crafting some post which might feel better, or worse, than it actually was.

-Alone. My husband left early friday for another near month of apart-ness, so naturally, my weekend hasn’t been a ray of sunshine. On the other hand, it has felt pretty natural because he was already gone for a month and I developed a series of routines. The 8 days he was home kinked those and it was good to have a feeling of normal.

-I do not (at all) like that it feels more normal when Chw is gone.

-chiropractor appointment. It was awesome.

-Dog Park. Also awesome, especially for our Emma. She’s really weird though.

-Seven Coke Zero Sugars. (SEVEN)

-massive headache that came and went, until it came and stayed.

-terribly painful hip x-ray, with not the best results, sad to say.

-a good chunk of day where my heating pad and DVR were my very best friends.

-meals like Taquitos and Kahiki sticks, because I’m the only one around.

-Planned: a relaxing bath with essential oils and salts. Reality: stumbling into bed, exhausted, because I fell down a Scientology hole, on the internet, waiting for my husband to arrive in Melbourne and call me. This journey may or may not have included a brief stint of me contemplating how I could single-handedly rescue John Travolta from this hell. (Tom Cruise is both crazy and a lost cause so I wasted no imagination on this.) Also, as a side note- Leah Remini’s nails drive me INSANE.

-Six Oreo Lemon thins.

-Renting a movie and watching it ALONE, only to excitedly tell my husband about it and him to say “Oh yeah, I saw that. Hilarious!” What? When? Oh… On a plane? Gotcha. (If we were to pie chart his time, the largest piece would be Australia, second to Delta, third to his office and fourth to home. I’m trying so hard to have a good attitude about this.)

-my neighbors quickly and quietly moved out. I am sad as they were really great.

-fourteen piles of dog poop picked up through about 4,478 various dog walks.

-two chapters of homework.

-one Hallmark movie.

-two loads of laundry.

-one suitcase, mostly packed.

-The last of what may be our sunshine, for a good long while.

How about your weekend?


entertainment, family, friendship, gifts, gratitude, journey, list, self care, Uncategorized

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

You guys, I apologize (sort of) about how quiet it has been here these past weeks. My husband came home, after a month long business trip in Australia AND my best friend came out, from Boise, for about five glorious days. I had to accept that my time was better spent away from the internet for awhile. :)

ASIDE from those two beautiful people and the days we had, here are five highlights to my week:

1.) Before Chw had left for AU, he had gotten something weird on my passenger upholstery. Water didn’t clean it up and every time I got in the car, it bugged me. So, I finally took the risk of wetting a Magic Eraser, and trying that. I had never used it on anything fabric before, but had heard rumors it sometimes helped. This was truly magic! The stain is gone and sadly I feel like I am on the verge of becoming the Windex loving dad from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, only with Magic Erasers…

2.) The second night Kozzette was here, and the first night Chw was home, we had crazy weather. What started as a light rain turned to ominous skies, which turned to funnel clouds, tornado sirens and the three of us sitting in our second floor rental puzzled wondering what came next, since we have no basement. It was a little scary, kind of funny and overall totally ok. The next morning though, I was reminded (as I am every morning following a storm) How simply beautiful the air is. The sky was blossoming and ethereal, the birds were singing 10 times their normal amount. It was truly beautiful, like grace following the terrifying moments in my own life. Just beautiful!

3.) I recently picked this up at my pharmacy. I’m not sure if it is super awesome, or the timing is coincidence, as I’ve only used it a couple of times, BUT I really love the smell and am hopeful it works for those health things which, sadly, a Magic Eraser cannot tackle.

4.) While Kozzette was here we did a spa day. It was here that I was introduced to Himalayan Sea Salt Massage Stones. If you deal with tension at all, and have the opportunity for such a treat- TAKE IT! Seriously… Phenomenal. I could feel the tension stringing out of me. Sounds Hokey, but it was amazing…

5.) I am so excited about the film Goodbye Christopher Robin, there aren’t even words! It is such a beautiful story, with a beautiful purpose and it looks, well, incredibly beautifully done!