Monday, December 16, 2013

Movie Reviews - Fall 2013

I've watched some unique movies on Netflix lately and some of them were really great so I wanted to share my reviews!
Product Details
Populaire with Romain Duris and Déborah François. This movie was delightful! Just like a classic from the 1950's (also the time frame it's set in) a young awkward secretary first impresses her boss with her typing skills and then of course they fall in love all while she is training for a world typing competition. If you love the romantic comedies from the 50's & 60's, you'll love this one! Warning: this film is french and does contain subtitles.

Product DetailsBe My Baby with Lacey Chabert, Brody Hutzler, and Julia Duffy. Rylee dupes married men into thinking they had a one night stand, that results in a baby, for the lump sum child support payment. But she meets her match when one of her victims is actually unmarried and wants to keep the fake baby. 

Product DetailsPretty Ugly People with Missi Pyle, Melissa McCarthy, and Josh Hopkins. What happens with you meet up with your college friends a decade later for an unplanned hiking trip? Some people have changed, some people think they have changed and some still want to change. I liked that this movie could delve into the decisions we make, and some that others make for us, and still be a comedy with a serious side.

Product DetailsSassy Pants with Anna Gunn, Ashley Rickards, and Haley Joel Osment. While this movie was awkward, both in acting and in premise, I had to cheer as Bethany figured out adulthood for herself. After living with an over-protective mother who home-schooled her through graduation, she is not satisfied with also home-schooling her way through college. She longs for relationships and to have a career of her own choosing. When she goes to live with her dad and his lover, she finds that relationships are complicated and the only person she has to count on is herself until her mom finally steps up and does what is right for her daughter and not herself.

Product DetailsThe Hot Flashes with Brooke Shields, Daryl Hannah, Virginia Madsen, Camryn Manheim, Wanda Sykes, and Eric Roberts. What happens when former high school basketball champs, now middle aged women, form a team that challenges the current all-star high school girls basketball team in an attempt to raise money for breast cancer prevention? Oh so many laughs! At the same time they are overcoming old rivalries and forming new bonds because they realize the power of support.

Product DetailsThe Lake Effect with Kay Panabaker, Tara Summers and Ross Partridge. This movie had me at the "Welcome to Michigan" sign in the first 5 minutes! Filmed and set in Grand Haven, this movie takes places at the family beach house when Celia shows up on her father's doorstep 9 months pregnant at age 18. She challenges the relationship they've had and the one they will continue to have once the baby is born.

Product DetailsUnion Square with Mira Sorvino and Tammy Blanchard. This movie is not for the faint of heart. It's a very deep look into the lives of two sisters who had a troubled childhood. One sought to escape this by avoiding her family while the other was drawn into the chaos and lives that out in her personal life. While you are never quite sure who's recollection is correct, this movie does have resolution in the end as the sisters come to terms with their past and how it has defined their present.

Product DetailsThe Lifeguard with Kristen Bell, Mamie Gummer and Martin Starr. I don't recommend this movie at all. I was so disappointed. I love Kristen Bell as an actress, but this movie had a spoiled end-of-20's woman who decided life wasn't what she thought it was, so she moved back in with her parents and takes up her high school job lifeguarding at a pool and ends up in an affair with an under-age boy. I think this movie was disrespectful to all the wonderful people I know in the 20's trying to make life work without having a "crisis" that is made-up. And the under-age affair? If it was the other way around "pedophile" would be yelled. Her friends also have similar "crisis-es" that are also stupid. People figure things out in real life without having sex with minors and doing drug/drinking alcohol with them.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I Am A Woman

So, here are the two Facebook posts that start off this blog entry:

"Mom, there have been no women presidents."
"Why do you think that is?"
"Men are for menkind, girls are all Barbies and Hello Kitty."
Oh my...where to even begin.
(Btw, this coversation was with my 7 year old while my 10 year old was yelling at him not to go down that path).


Okay, so this is the theme of my day:
As I was on the exercise bike I saw a high schooler tweet about an ideal wedding dress, and I couldn't help thinking what a downer Pintrest, etc, was because I did not plan my wedding until I was actually engaged.
Then at work I read a report on the status of women in Louisiana and page 38 is how many thousands of dollars less women make than men in the same industries.
Then I am asked if my husband and sons want to go to a hockey game. WHAT ABOUT ME? I like hockey more than my kids do.
Then, the whole women president conversation.
I'm feeling bummed, because you know what - women can't have it all, but the worst part is the assumptions everyone makes about you.

First I want to say that I did not intend to be antagonistic. I realize now that my post may have offended the offerers of the hockey tickets. I assumed there were only 3 tickets available and that's why the offer was first made to the males of my house. This was not a criticism of you, but rather an observation that my whole day had had a gender slant on how I viewed things. 

But just as I made assumptions, others make assumptions too and when they are made along the lines on gender, they cannot always be applied to individuals. I prefer hockey over pedicures and whiskey over wine. Yes, you can probably make the argument that women on the whole prefer the opposite of me. And the problem doesn't occur on the hockey or pedicure level, but it does occur when someone assumes that a woman in her 20's would not be a good hire because she will probably want maternity leave. It occurs when we don't consider a woman running for office and there is no one to encourage her in the first place. 

I feel like I've been witnessing a silent backlash to women lately. I think it's being perpetuated covertly by media sources, but to a point where we're not really aware that it's happening. Take Pintrest for example. I love Pintrest, I love finding new recipes for all the local veggies we've been eating lately. But what I don't like is when younger women (high school and college age) have boards devoted to the perfect body. While men feel that pressure too, it is much more emphasized to women. The "wedding" boards of the unengaged bug me too. Now, I know it's nothing new for women to have a fantasy wedding planned out , but it's much more thought consuming when when you have the virtual tools laid out for you. While I spent a lot of time in high school and college thinking about guys, I spent more time thinking about my college and career choices. I worry that those are being downplayed to the younger generations. While I love "teen dramas" like Gossip Girl, I look at those shows as satire and I worry that those newer to this world will look at them as a guidebook. 

And the reality of women in politics? In the 2010 elections (from Women in politics stats)
For the first time since 1987, the United States made no progress in electing more women to Congress.
Women are still under-represented at all levels of government.
  • Women hold only 17% of the seats in Congress. (Source)
  • Only 22% of all statewide elective executive office positions are currently held by women. (Source)
  • State Legislatures are only 24% women. (Source)
  • Only 6 out of 50 states have a female governor. (Source)
  • The United States trails behind much of the world—ranking 90th in the number of women in our national legislature. (*Note: The U.S. is listed as 73rd, but after accounting for tied rankings of other countries, the ranking for the U.S. is 90th. Source)
  • On average, male cabinet appointees outnumber women cabinet appointees in our states by a ratio of 2 to 1.  (Source)
  • 50% less women than men consider of running for office. Of those, 30% less actually run, with only a fraction seeking higher office. (Lawless, Jennifer and Richard L Fox. It Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don’t Run for Office. New York: Cambridge UP, 2005.)
  • Women constituted 54% of voters in the 2008 elections, but only 24% of state legislators. (Source)
  • Women of color represent only 4% of Congress and 23% of women Members of Congress. (Source)
I am not saying that everyone is against women. What I am saying is that assumptions we all make affect so many different levels of our lives. I think we constantly need to be in dialog about the assumptions we make about women, race, economics and every level where there is disparity. I think we all need to advocate for choices for everyone. I read an article this morning on computer coding for girls that made the point that most schools do not even offer this to any students. I would love to see more programs for all students while encouraging those (girls or other minorities) to go into underrepresented areas. I am very vigilant, as the only woman in my house, as to what views my kids are acquiring outside the house as to what girls and women are. I have nothing against Barbie and Hello Kitty, but I have yet to make the connection with my 7 year old about what that has to do with being president? I think we all need to be alert as to the messages we are sending and receiving.  

Most of all, I think we need to get to know people as individuals. I really believe that when we learn more about each other and truly care about each other - change happens. For us and for others. Its our connectedness that makes us strong.

30 Days of Thankfulness: 2013

1. I'm thankful for my home, because that's where my family lives. Together.

2. I'm thankful for my dirty dishes, because we are well fed. I'm thankful for my messy house, because I have a house to clean and I'm thankful for my pile of laundry because we have so many clothes to wear.

3. I'm thankful for everything Alex and I share. Our lives for the last 20 years, our children, our tough times and our easier times...and like tonight, our ice cream!

4. I am so thankful for Greyson. He tries so hard to be helpful and I have depended on that at times! He is so much more patient than I am and makes friends wherever he goes. He is always thinking up a plan or scheme and I can't wait to see how all of these play out in his life. <3 that kid! 

5. I'm thankful for Grant! My physical kid gives the best hugs! His comedic timing is usually perfect. I love how he has my hair and Alex's eyes. He notices things that others miss. <3 this kid too! 

6. I'm thankful I've gotten to work part-time this past year and I've been able to be there for the kids like I hadn't been in a while. SO thankful not to be a single parent any more! Even though those 3 years showed me what great friends I had!
7. I'm thankful for 3-day weekends spent with my kids and Alex - Feel free to ask me Sunday if I still feel the same ;)

8. Tonight I'm thankful for pee on the bathroom floor. Yep, the same pee I complained about earlier. Because this means I got to spend another day with my kids. There are far too many parents missing a child, and too many children missing a parent. So, if the trade-off for midnight messes is hearing my kids laugh hysterically at 80's movies, I'll take that deal every time.

9. I'm thankful that for the first time in 6 years I have a sibling closer than 4 hours away!

10. I'm thankful my kids LOVE Sunday school! They also love the other extras like camping and volunteering...but not so much the services :)   I'm thankful that they think of church as a place of possibilities rather than limitations. I am also thankful that they know they have a whole community of people who care about them.   

11. I'm thankful for all the Veterans in my family. My Grandpa Laskos, my dad Stanley J Laskos Jr, and my brother Stanley Michael Laskos. And the MANY cousins on both sides of my family. Thanks! 

12. I was so busy last night communicating with my friends, that I forgot to say how thankful I am for them! You truly are a great group of people. I am thankful to have lived in the midwest where people are so nice and friendly and caring, because it does not come as naturally to other locales! I am especially thankful for those that have supported me through the recent stress of single parenting and relocating. I feel very thankful when I think about my friends! 

13. I'm thankful for all the things I took for granted today. As I dropped my kids off at school, I took for granted our public education system and that my kids would be safe. As we went shopping for dinner and dessert items, I took for granted that the shelves of the store would be completely stocked and that I could afford to buy what was there. As I cooked dinner I took for granted the the electricity and gas would work. And as we stepped out the door after dinner, I took for granted that I could take a breath outside without thinking of the air quality. I am so very thankful for all the things I take for granted. 

14. I feel like I rocked today and I am THANKFUL for that! You can only take so many days where you know life doesn't suck, but you're feeling like you suck at life.

15. As we get ready to go camping tomorrow, I am so thankful for the role United Methodist Camps have had in my life. I'm thankful for the lessons I've learned, the jobs I've had, the people I've met and the connections I've made. 

16. I'm thankful for family days! My heart always swells two sizes whenever my kids say they want to do something with me because I can't believe they want to do something with their mom! Loved canoeing with them today and watching them fish. So glad Alex is with us.

17. I'm thankful for my own bed! Its always so much more appreciated after being gone!

18. I am thankful for a night out, because it was needed!

19. I am thankful for hope. Hope that tells us things can be different and hope that inspires change.

20. I am thankful that for the first time ever both my kids' teachers recognize that they get bored, or start disturbing others, when they aren't challenged enough! And we are on the same pages as to where they need to improve (handwriting and explaining). Thankful that they will be pushed to improve and to go beyond their current strengths. 

21. I'm thankful the kids & I still read stories together every night, its usually my favorite part of the day.

22. Today was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. And yet, I'm thankful for everything that made it terrible, horrible and no good: I had to work Fridays and I don't usually work Fridays, but I'm thankful for my job and that its been so flexible for me to work around the kids schedule. I had to go grocery shopping and got soaked putting the groceries in the car during a downpour, but I can't stay wet long when I have heat and air conditioning on demand at my house. No one in my family wanted to hear me read at B&N, but I am thankful that I could leave the kids with Alex, instead of having to drag them along. So I am thankful that even bad days show me how much I have to be thankful for.

23. I'm really thankful for today. I normally don't like Saturdays, not enough structure...yep, I know I'm weird, but I had such a great time taking Grant to the movies, shopping and just hanging out. Love that little guy and our time today!

24. I'm thankful for my parents - they just took the kids for the night! Seriously, I'm thankful for the foundation they gave me and the support that still continues. They are now on their 3rd 1,000 mile trip to see us in the last year & a half. They helped me out so much when Alex was down here before us. And I'm so thankful they helped me get through college with no loans! Looking forward to Thanksgiving & the week with them.

25. Today I'm thankful for our utilities. Today our electricity went out for a little while and I'm thankful that I usually don't have to worry about that!

26. I'm thankful for my life experiences. Even the hard ones which have taught me just as much about other people as they have about myself.

27. I'm thankful for opposites. I'm thankful that spring follows winter, that day follows night and that light follows darkness.

28. To steal a line from the childrens book This is the Turkey, "This is the thanks for all that's good: home and family and friends and food."

29. I'm thankful my husband is willing to spend so much time with my family 

30.  am most thankful for the last day of November, when both of my best friends were born! Happy Birthday Marie Laskos and Alex Jimenez! I hope your day is filled with love & laughter...and maybe a few other gifts