Monthly Archives: May 2015

Movie Monday: Tomorrowland Review

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http://www.tomorrowland-movie.com/

Tomorrowland is the latest Disney release and a movie that exceeded my expectations. This film is a family friendly movie filled with wonder and magic. The special effects are flawless and stunning. The storyline is one that will get you thinking about your own impact on our world and what direction we as a civilization are headed.

The film begins with the story of a determined teenage girl who has a rebellious side and a tendency to look at the world through possibilities, instead of reality. When everyone around her accepts fate and how things simply ARE, she is the one asking “What can we DO about it to make a change?” She is targetted by a young girl with a mission to save the world in extraordinary ways and thus begins a crazy adventure as they make their way to a future world filled with things we now only know in our imagination. A simple pin opens a gateway and she soon discovers she may be the only thing capable of saving her world from utter destruction. And she doesn’t have much time to do so.

This movie has scenes that will make you laugh out loud, and scenes that will make you feel a tug in your heart. It ends with a mission statement of sorts, to all of the dreamers and doers. A cinematic experience for all ages, although I think ages 8 and up would be most able to follow the story line. I went to see this one with Justin and we both adored it. So, it’s definitly not dull for adults to go see without the children. I would say this movie is comparitive in theme and plot to Big Fish and Jupiter Ascending. Another bravo for Disney.

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The Skin We’re In

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In 2000, when I got pregnant with my first son I weighed 98 pounds.

I got back down to that weight with ease after each of my first 4 children were born.

I was a size zero.

But I was not happy with my body.

I was healthy, fit, in shape, active, toned. But in MY mind, my ass was not round enough, my breasts were too pointy, not shaped right. (Ah, false beauty standards.) I wished I was taller. A little curvier. Maybe blonde Barbie doll was what I longed to be. Whatever it was, it wasn’t what I was. I was not happy with the skin I was in.

It got a little more difficult to lose the weight after my 5th and 6th child. I plateaued at 115 pounds with both. It drove me mad. Turns out a little extra padding didn’t make me any more content with who I was. I hated the extra weight on my thighs, on my hips. I berated myself in the mirror. 115 sounds like nothing but at 5 feet tall and being used to having a very petite body your entire life, it’s a transition.

Then in 2014 I birthed my seventh child. A daughter. This baby had me craving sweets throughout the entire pregnancy. I could eat 6 doughnuts in one sitting. I was up in the middle of the night shoving cheesecake in my mouth. I ate and ate. And gained. To make it worse, I dealt with horrible pain from a torn groin ligament durin the last trimester that made it impossible to roll over in bed or walk without being in extreme pain. So I became sedentary, and kept eating. I weighed close to 170 when I gave birth.

It took almost  a year of dieting and exercise to get down to 150. Then 145. Then 151. Then 148. Then 150. Around and around I went. I ate strict diets, being careful to not eat too little, to balance my nutrients properly. No fatty junk no starches, no meats. I sacrificed. I worked out. Wore ankle weights all day every day. Walked miles on my treadmill. Did Insanity workouts, yoga, cardio, kickboxing, tae bo, weight lifting. Nothing helped. Finally I discovered what postpartum-induced hypothyroidism was. I began to take supplements and it helped. But not a lot. Justin bought me a bike. I started biking. I started doing squats. A hundred a night.

Despite all of my best efforts, the scale still informed me I was teetering at the brink of obesity. 150 doesn’t sound like much, but at only 5 feet tall, every pound shows. I would stand naked in front of my mirror ad berate my own flesh. The love handled. My round full thighs. The flabby looking mom tummy that my children once lived within. My breasts, no longer perky after feeding seven babies into toddlerhood. After a year of pumping for my youngest. After pumping to donate milk to two precious babies.

Wait.

What was I DOING?

Look at these hips They have balanced babies and children on them for years now. Not only my own , but all of the kids I taught in preschool before I became a mother. My younger siblings. Children I nannied for. These hips are a safe place to be, they are soft and strong. Speaking of strong, look at these thighs. Thick and solid. I pedal my bike with my baby on my back, I kick a soccer ball to one of my sons, I climb stairs while holding a toddlers hand, I squat down in the middle of a contraction, pushing a baby from within my body out past these thighs.

My breasts are not perfect round silicone. They are soft from all of the love they have given away. They are familiar. They are made up of skin and sinew and blood vessels and milk duct. Intricate milk ducts that flowed life to my children and to other peoples children  when needed. I am deeply grateful for my breasts. Even now when they refuse to make more milk , we are in this together.

My mom tummy. As if the words mom tummy are something to be sneered at, grimaced about. Come on now. I still recall exactly what it felt like the very first time I felt my very first child kick within me. Three solid bumps. I  used to love watching my whole stomach morph and roll as a full term , healthy baby moved within me. I was in awe of my body. I still am. I just forget sometimes. This soft, fuller belly grew life beneath its flesh. LIFE. LIFE! And I am concerning myself with a bit of extra loose skin?

Where do my standards COME from? Why do I let the magazines and movies tell me that all of what my body did means nothing unless I am toned and tight and taut? And a size zero

Newsflash, beauty standards: being a  size zero and toned doesn’t bring any more contentment than being a size 20. I know. I have been there.

One day, I was at the beach with my daughter, feeling awkward in my bathing suit, my cellulite thighs and soft tummy on display. I was adoring my one year old daughters body though. Her fat little toes in the sand. Her kissable chins. Her gorgeous plump thighs. . And then I noticed it.

We have the same thighs. The exact same thighs. Why are they perfect and wonderful on her, but disgusting and embarrassing on me? Why does the difference of 3 and a half decades make the very same thing perfect on one and a flaw on another? Who made up these rules?

In that moment, I made a decision. I would begin to embrace my body and LOVE my body  no matter what size I was. I still am striving to be my healthiest. I still eat healthy and work out every day. I aim to be strong, fit, healthy. But if I never get to be skinny again, so be it. If I do, then so be that. This body of mine is amazing. I am grateful. I am finding so much peace in the acceptance of curves and softness. I am a woman. Perfect..

How can I tell my daughter that at age 1 her curves and edges are perfection but then inform her that in  15 or 20 years her body will be riddled with flaws? How can I reassure her she is beautiful…but not  up to par? Why would I? Why do I do it to myself?

Love the skin you’re in. Every inch of it. It’s the only body you will ever get. Take care of it, be healthy. And fall deeply madly in LOVE with your skin And everything beneath it. .

Soul Sister

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My social life is on Facebook.

And before you say “Oh, that’s so sad.”, let me explain.

I have seven children. It’s not exactly easy going out and making friends while hanging out with seven little people. Nor is it much of a priority, frankly. I love being a mother. I don’t mind being home every day with them. I find true fulfillment in raising them, teaching them, keeping a clean home, gardening comforting, etc… And I HAVE tried the social gig a few times but have always found I had not much in common with other women in my area. I would join a bible study group through our church or would go out to eat with my husbands co workers and their wives and all of the women would be standing around talking about mortgages and in ground pools and their own careers and I would be over here all “I made a new body scrub today out of brown sugar and breast milk!”

I’m weird.

And for the longest time I thought I was the only one.

It was lonely.

Most of the time I was too busy being fulfilled to notice but once in awhile I noticed.

Then, in 2011 a Facebook friend of mine posted a documentary that you can find on YouTube all about the Rainbow Family. I watched the entire thing in awe and I remember thinking “Oh , my god, that’s MY family.” I had always joked I was a hippie born in the wrong era. I had not realized hippies still existed! I was over the moon. I had found my tribe.

I began searching and finding. Joined a dreadlocks group online and made friends. Made friends with their friends. Found a whole bunch of weirdos like like me.

Pixie is one of those weirdos.

Was it Dr Seuss who said that thing about finding a mutual weirdo and enjoying your mutual weirdness and calling it love? Well, we did. We were separated at birth or some crazy shiznit and one day we saw each other across a crowded room and got all excited and ran to eachother and hugged and never let go.

Figuratively.

Because Pixie and I have never actually met face to face.

But when she lost babies and was grieving, I was there. When I lost my marriage and was scared  she was there. When she began looking at potential children to add to her family, her and her hubby unsure if they could ever conceive and wanting so desperately to share their love with future children, she would send me links to kids online who needed to be adopted and I could see her mothering them all. She had that way. Broken children in need of much love would fare well in Pixies home. I was pregnant at that time, a mother of 5 lost babies and terrified I might lose this one. We were there for each other. When I was a single mom and depressed, she was there for me. From all the way across the country she was there for me. Truly. When she went into the hospital for health issues I worried like a mother hen about her for days. When she messaged me to tell me she had conceived I cried tears of joy for her. I thought sadly about all of those kids who would miss out on having Pixie for a mom but I was happy so happy for the fact she carried a child beneath her heart. And then this year when I asked her to be my matron of honor, she told me she was expecting once again. Pixie has some health issues but in my humble opinion, Pixie should have ALL the babies. I know a lot of great moms but she is the best.

Pixie is my soul sister. We are two weirdo extraordinaires cut from the very same fabric from the very same starry sky and destiny handed us each half of a golden medallion and urged us to find each other so we jumped on our mutual unicorns and so help me Flying Spaghetti Monster but we did it. We found each other. And in one month I get to hug her for real for the very first time.

Today Pixie turns 347. Or maybe 12. It depends on how she happens to be feeling today. I have a hunch that she has been here on this planet enough times to fill a thousand lifetimes. And I am so glad she came back to meet me in my lifetime. And I am sending her all of the love I have today plus buttloads of Happy Birthday wishes and sparkly confetti and jazz hands and a groovy dance and this:

Pixie, you are my most favorite human. Ever. You are my smiles and my heart and I am more than certain that I have been looking for you my whole life. I believe in soul mates. Not in the Hollywood way, but in the way that tells me you and I were meant to be. You are an incredible mom, a phenomenal woman, a fantabulous human. I love you.

Happy Birthday, sis.

On Being A Mother

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20.

I was 20 years old when the first one came to reside beneath my heart.

My fiancé and I were naïve. Clueless. Excited. Over-the-moon thrilled. We knew we wanted you The rest would work itself out. I dove headlong into parenthood, assuming it would be a piece of cake. The ultrasound said boy I hemmed and hawed and worried myself over that for a bit. A BOY???? How would I handle that? I was a girl. I knew girl things. Would I know how to bond with a boy? Would he WANT to bond with me? Motherhood became a little scary that day. I felt his first flutters. Then his first kicks at 20 weeks. bump-bump-bump. A solid knock below my rib cage 3 times. The earth screeched to a halt and colors grew brighter. This was for real. The day I fell in the parking lot and then spotted into my underwear bright red blood, lay on the bed in the ER and held my breath for the entire ten million minutes it took the doctor to find the heartbeat. The whooshwooshwoosh filled my ears like the most amazing crescendo of orchestra I had ever heard in all of my life and I cried. He was born 10 weeks later. They tried to stop my pre term labor and when that didn’t work they broke my water, pumped up the Pitocin and gave me my very first catheter. 48 hours of labor. Out he slid so fast I was afraid the midwife was going to drop him.  He was tiny. Pink-purple. Perfect. I yearned to touch him in the NICU. He was a mess of tubes ad wires. He grimaced when he would try to move his head towards me and the tube in his throat tugged. I stood under the hot steam of the shower at the Ronald Mcdonald House and cried. That first time I held him….the universe faded away. he fit like this tiny puzzle piece I hadn’t even realized had been missing.

He was fire. Bold. Brave. We went on walks around the block everyday and I would show him beetles and ants and the way the leaves changed colors and the shapes of clouds. He was the first one I potty trained. the first one I bought a toddler bed for. The first one I watched grow up into a young man.

I don’t recall the last time I picked him up to hold him close to me. I recall the first time, but I cannot recall the last. One day I scooped him up casually and snuggled him. Maybe to say goodnight to, maybe to soothe a boo boo, maybe to tickle and hear him giggle. All I know is, that day, whenever it was, I put him back down and never picked him up again.

And five more came after him. Despite the fact I told God back in 2000 that I didn’t KNOW boys, and therefore what was he thinking giving me a boy? He went on to give me six. Six marvelous boys.

The second one came in his stubborn way. Head tilted up, chin thrust forward, refusing to be born on any terms but his. he was born with a dent in his forehead from my pelvic bone from that stubbornness. The dent went away. The stubborn nature stayed. He has a fiery nature. Always adamantly defending the little guy, always ready to defend his point. He is smart and he knows it. Reminds me of his father. Determined. Bull headed. Brave. Leader.

The third boy arrived quietly. I reached down as he emerged, felt his hot, wet orb of a skull emerge and I laughed out loud right in the middle of my push. Laughed with an overwhelming wave of bliss. Here he was. The undercurrent to the second ones tidal wave. The sit-in-a-chair-and-read to every one else’s run out to play. He sees the good in people. He is sensitive to the world. He feels strongly. Loves loyally. Seeks out animals. Has a smile that melts the coldest of hearts. A sparkle in his eyes.

The fourth boy. I was a single mama when he was born. Held him close in the hospital room after the nurses all left and cried to be doing this alone but swore to him with all that was in me that I would never leave, that he and I ….we were in this together. I vowed to be his #1 fan. Gave him a name that meant promise and love and God hears. Because I did, I do and He does. Number four has so many thoughts in his head that they spill out of his head through his mouth from sun up to sun down. He is inquisitive, ponderer, thoughtful. he cannot always control his actions but he will love you something fierce and make syou bust out laughing at his clever wit.

Number five. Number five was born and when the nurse brought him over to me, all wrapped up like a burrito, he threw his arm out of the blanket, grabbed a hold of my finger and clung to it for dear life. When the nurse tried to pull him back he yelled out a disgruntled whine, let go for a brief second to smack at her hand and then grabbed back on to my finger. This is his favorite story.He has been a mamas boy since. Determined to be independent from birth on one hand, but always seeking me out. To chat with, to laugh with, to snuggle with. He shared a bed with me for 5 years before one day climbing in his own bed and just never needing to sleep by my side again. When he gets scolded or lectured he does headstands. When he is proud of himself he will drag you across the house to show you what he has accomplished and demand applause. He shines.

Number six has been a spitfire since birth. He came out yelling and letting the world know he was here damnit. He spends his days singing. Sings himself to sleep, sings himself awake, sings when he is mad or sad or silly or happy. His world has a heartbeat that sounds like a drum. He loves to dance. Loves to run. Gets this look on his face of utter glee and pure euphoria when he is being chased by his brothers or Mommy or Daddy. Hates clothes. Loves being free. Loves duckies and buggies but is terrified of the Tiger blanket because it might bite him so the sheet has ducks and the pillow has bumble bees but the tiger blankey sits folded on the shelf. he is my firecracker with the very best giggle.

Then came seven.

Not a boy.

My princess in a universe of princes.

Oye.

Poor girl.

But not so much. Because she is spoiled rotten. They fight over who picks out her cloths, who will take her on a walk, who will play with her. They fight over who will hold her and Mommy and Daddy hold her too and I swear her feet might never touch the ground.

Except they do. She takes tentative determined steps with a big grin on her face. She holds her own sippy cup. She throws her head back to laugh. She loves egg rolls and yogurt and cheesy puffs. She can crawl faster than a race car. She has 6 tiny teeth.  She loves her Hello Kitty night light and her Hello Kitty back pack the very best. She kisses her Sunshine Bear. She kisses her Mommy and her Daddy and her biggest brother.

They are an amazing crew. A fabulous clan. An incredible medley of awe inspiring love and laughter and everything is holy holy holy and  wonderful. I am richly blessed. And grateful. So grateful.

They have made me who I am today. Discerning. Patient. Humble. Smarter. Thankful. Mother.

Every single day is Mothers Day in my world.

I wake up and they have made me coffee. They want to help make breakfast. He is singing in his bed. She is smiling around a corner. They are reading. They are laughing. They are building a house for a monkey from a box and can they please use a kitchen towel for a blanket for the monkey because he is sick probably. They are learning new things. They are teaching me new things. They are eating watermelon on the front porch and spitting seeds. They are using my rolling pin to make pizza with play dough. He needs me to tie his shoe but refuses to learn how. She toddles over to me and grabs my skirt. I am laughing and loving. Wondering and worrying. Hoping and praying. Every single day I am growing right alongside them.

Someday. Someday they will grow up. And I will miss this. So much.

Today I will enjoy it.

 

Movie Monday: Review of Monkey Kingdom

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My 8 year old son Creed has had a monkey obsession since he was a baby. So, when we caught the trailer for DisneyNature’s latest documentary Monkey Kingdom we knew right away we would be sitting through the film.

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That’s right. I said sitting through. As in: Bored-outta-my-skull-because-I-don’t-really-care-much-one-way-or-another-about-monkeys. But you do what you gotta do as a parent. So we went and bought the tickets and the icees and the popcorn and the nachos and settled in.

And discovered within about two minutes flat that this is no ordinary documentary.

It is the type of film that catches your intrigue right away. Tina Fey narrates in a lighthearted manner and keeps you interested. The cinematography is stunning at times. Some of the shots the camera men managed to catch are incredible and the fact they spent months upon months with due diligence out in the wilderness of Sri Lanka (and a bit in a village when the monkeys get a little brazen in their naughtiness) is not lost on the viewer.

This movie actually has a story line, sharing the journey of a lowly single mom monkey who is bottom-of-the-barrel in her tribe. (There is a hierarchy, apparently, in Monkey Kingdom.)

maya

The movie follows Maya as she fights to care for and raise her son, battle rival money tribes, defend against predator, even sneak into a childs birthday party when the goodies are left unattended. There is a love story. And blended into that is the powerful love of Maya for her son. Without giving away the ending, I will just say that Mayas determination and sheer love for her son leads her to places in her life she never imagined. A monkey rags-to-riches story if you will.

Disneynature has been giving back to our planet for 11 years now. Producing documentaries and then taking a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales and giving back to causes and organizations that help the areas where those films are filmed. Proceeds from Monkey Kingdom go to Conservation International through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to help with clean drinking water for the residents of Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka as well as continued protection and conservation of the toque macaque monkeys and other wildlife in that area.

My consensus: Monkey Kingdom is a fabulous family film that will interest all ages and educated while also allowing you to do some good with the money you spend.