Tuesday, March 24, 2009 | By: Slacker Mom


Howdy learned about Lent in his Sunday bible class and decided that he should give up desserts for Lent. I was very impressed that he would choose this voluntarily especially since it hadn't even crossed my mind to observe Lent. It hasn't been easy for him. He's used to having dessert every day (a habit that I am more than happy to see being put on hold). After about Day 3 he was having second thoughts. He said, "I think I picked the wrong thing." When that means he's given up precisely the right thing.

In a show of support for his struggle, I decided to give up something as well. I have given up reading novels for Lent. This, of course, means that I am not reading my usual 5 or 6 vampire books each week. It hasn't been too difficult until these last few days. It helps that I haven't had any new books around to read but still I'm going stir crazy without my books. I took the kids to the library today and I thought that I would just look at the paperbacks so that I could see what I've been missing. They didn't have a single book that I would have checked out. I think that's supposed to be a good thing.

I've never observed Lent before and I know I'm not doing it properly now. The idea isn't just that you give up something important. I believe you're also supposed to pair that with setting your mind on God now that you've removed this desire that is usually in the way. To be honest, I don't think it's actually considered observing Lent if it's not done with the right mindset. What I'm doing is really only moral support for my son. I'm not teaching him any valuable lessons here, just that he can live without sugar longer than he thought.

I have close friends who go through Lent with it's full meaning close to heart. As I think about what it means to replace those "priorities" in your life with thoughts and focus on God, I am convicted that I need to do this more on a daily, hour to hour basis, as opposed to a yearly, dictated event. I am aware of God's presence in my life. It's His will that opens my eyelids in the mornings, not my own. But that's not enough. That's like saying, "I'm aware that I have children but I'll get to them when it's convenient." If my children had to wait to be taken care of until I got around to it or when I was "in the mood", they would have starved to death years ago!

I spend almost every waking minute immersed in my childrens' lives. I can tell you what they will ask for at breakfast, lunch and dinner. I can flip through the TV and tell you which kid will want to watch which shows. I could even tell you what they would say in their bedtime prayers most nights. I know what they like and what they don't and I try to give them what they like. I can tell you who's tackling whom just by the muffled voices drifting down from their bedrooms. I am not just "aware" of them, I live and breathe them. My children, children who were given to me by God and ultimately belong to Him alone.

Our call is to be completely immersed in God, to live Him, breathe Him. We need to know where He is in our lives even when it seems like His voice is muffled. It's not enough to know of Him, I should be intimately involved with Him, His word, His teaching.

But still, I find a complete sacrifice of spirit and will to be much more difficult than any physical sacrifice. Nothing I give up will compare to giving up my own selfish wants and desires and replacing them with His words and deeds. I'm not sure I can do that completely in 40 days.
Thursday, March 19, 2009 | By: Slacker Mom

The Wedding Date

PLOT: A woman hires an escort to be her date at her sister's wedding, where the best man is her ex-fiance.
STARS: Debra Messing, Dermot Mulroney
There is nothing surprising in this cute little rom-com. It's very predictable. Debra Messing is cute as the single sister with issues. Holland Taylor plays the mother (as she does in almost every movie she's in). I just love her. I love romantic movies so I can handle the predictability. What bothers me is Dermot Mulroney. Yes, he has a great voice and yes, he's good looking. But where did anyone get the idea that he would make a great romantic lead? He was horrible in My Best Friend's Wedding and only marginally better in this. Who do I want for a romantic lead? How about Mark Ruffalo, Matthew McConaghey, Aidan Quinn, or (oooh) Clive Owen. If these guys are the steak of romantic movies, Dermot Mulroney is a hamburger. Yeah, it's good, but there's no comparison. And I'll buy into the love at first sight concept in movies but we're really not shown any reason why they would fall in love with each other. (Side note: that's why I don't like Two Weeks Notice. Fun movie, terrible romance story. These two would never fall in love.) So if you're a hard core rom-com addict like I am, it's a fun little (and I do mean little--only 79 minutes) movie. Enjoy.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009 | By: Slacker Mom


PLOT: A TV superhero dog thinks he really has powers and has to face reality when he runs off to save his person.
STARS: the voices of John Travolta, Miley Cyrus
I saw this with my kids and my nephew last night and I thought it was so funny! I laughed throughout the whole movie. I'm a little leary of any animated movie that isn't from Pixar, even Disney movies. I hate how so many of these "kids" movies aim their humor for adults. It's so inappropriate. I don't want to take my kids to a movie only to have to spend an hour explaining all the things they heard from the movie that they'd better not repeat. I was pleasantly surprised with this one. Once I found out that John Lasseter was the executive producer it made sense. He is the head honcho at Pixar, which is owned by Disney. He is very careful to make movies that you could take small children to. He's very family oriented. It shows. We all had a good time and enjoyed the movie. There wasn't any bathroom humor and the only word I had a problem with was "moron". John Travolta was perfectly cast as Bolt. He was so sweet. (Maybe he should stick to animated movies instead of the hammy, overacted roles he's been taking.)All the sidekicks were great, too. My favorite part of the evening happened during a scene where Bolt is getting a pep talk from a hamster. Logan (my middle child) turned to me in an excited voice and said, "You have to believe in yourself! That's what the movie's about! You have to believe in yourself!" He then proceeded to shout it down the aisle to the rest of our crew. Love that kid. So go see Bolt, it has a great message.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009 | By: Slacker Mom

The Usual Suspects, Etc.

I watched The Usual Suspects recently. Yes, I know it's been out for years but I hadn't seen it yet. I thought it was pretty good. Kevin Spacey does more than his fair share of scenery chewing but I still enjoyed it. Here's the thing. I knew the twist at the end before going in. No one told me what it was, but I've done enough reading about movies to have figured it out on my own. That happens. It was the same thing with The Sixth Sense. I read several articles about the movie ahead of time that kind of pointed out the big plot secret. It never bothers me to see a movie knowing how it ends, it doesn't spoil it for me. What's fun for me is to watch a movie, knowing how it will end, with someone who doesn't. Obviously, when I know, I see the little clues sprinkled throughout the movie that usually you have to go back and catch during a second viewing. It's fun to see how everything leads up to a climax that (in theory) you didn't see coming.

I have to admit, I'm the same way with books. After I've read the first few chapters and am invested in the characters, I jump ahead and read the last chapter. I'm not exactly sure why I do it, but I can't help it. I have to know who's still with me in the end.

I'm curious. Have you ever watched a movie knowing how it ended and wished you hadn't known?


Want a really fun way to spend an evening? Gather a bunch of your friends together, huddle around a computer, and pull up all the old MTV videos you used to watch when you were growing up. It's great! We just did this on Sunday night with some friends of ours. We had so much fun. It's amazing how it takes you back. We all sang along at the top of our lungs, even when we didn't remember all the words.

The best part was listening to all the kids saying things like, "Why are they dressed so funny?" "He has weird hair." Ahhh, the good old days!!
Monday, March 9, 2009 | By: Slacker Mom


Overwhelmed. There's no better word to describe what I'm feeling right now. I've been a little stressed lately. Imagine that. Actually, it doesn't happen quite as frequently anymore. But it's been weighing on me lately. That's why I've been reading 6-7 books a week and getting nothing done. It all came to a head Sunday and I dumped it all on my husband as usual.

I suffer from the same guilt that I'm sure all parents experience. You know that feeling of never doing enough for your children? There's always more that could be done, should be done. It's just a fact of life. But the problem with me is, I truly am not doing enough. I'm not just being hard on myself. I'm not teaching the kids everything they're supposed to be learning in school. I haven't been studying the bible with them or reading them verses or stories. They don't know how to bathe themselves or ride bikes or other things that independent kids their age know how to do. They are not playing sports or taking lessons. (Well, they take piano lessons but I never remember to have them practice.)

I love that I have been entrusted to love and care for and guide my three children. But when I think about all that entails I'm overwhelmed. It's my job to make sure they hear about God and know the bible, I have to teach them respect and decency and manners. I have to make sure they know how to care for themselves and the world around them. It's my job to teach them games, read with them, show them how to pursue their interests and make friends. And that doesn't include all the 13 state required homeschool subjects or the quirks of Austism that I have to help them deal with. In some respects, I can see why so many kids grow up with no values and no sense of respect or responsibility. It's so much easier to stick them in front of the TV or video games. It's a lot harder to be a constant presence and really know what's being planted in their minds, not to mention trying to combat it all.

The truth is, I'm lazy. I know, no surprise there. But I know my kids, I know how they learn best and what they need. They do best when our day is run by the clock. They have to have specific deadlines or nothing will ever get done. Most children do better with structure but I think mine take it a little deeper. The problem is, I hate it. I resent having to plan out every minute of every day. I hate living by the clock. I would much rather just have a general idea of what the day should look like and hope that it comes close to that. I like to stay up until midnight or 1am and sleep in until 9am. I prefer to eat when I'm hungry and run off to do errands whenever I get around to it. But this is not the way my kids function. I have to have our routine posted up where they can see it. They need to know what to expect. And they don't do well with unstructured time. Of course they get it every day, but it usually culminates in wrestling, fighting and crying, in that order.

It's hard knowing that the best thing for my kids is completely contrary to the way I would prefer to live and my natural tendencies. I am not a great housekeeper. I wouldn't even consider myself a good one. But how can I expect my kids to get themselves dressed when they don't have clean clothes in their dressers? How can I expect them to try new foods and get over their food issues when I don't cook a healthy dinner introducing new foods? How can I expect them to get in the habit of cleaning up after themselves when they're used to living among the clutter? I want them to show respect but I've never explained why or taught them on a consistent, day-to-day basis. It's not ingrained into them so of course it doesn't come naturally.

I love my children and I am so grateful that I get to be home with them. I want a whole house full, busting at the seams. But I can't even run this one smoothly with only three. I think this is a challenge that God is presenting to me. This life isn't about me and what I want. My task, my most important job at this period in my life is to nurture and mold these children. I am to provide a warm, safe, stable home for them to grow up in. I am to be the example of the kind of life God wants them to live. What kind of example am I? Am I the kind of person who starts each day thanking God for all that He's given me? Or do I start each day grumbling about all that I've been given to do? If I truly believe that God has given me these children, that I have been honored with the task of raising them, I need my life to reflect that. I need to be doing what I can to be that example for them. I am their guide in this part of their lives. I should be preparing them and directing them on the right path. Whether or not they choose to take that path is up to them. But I need to make sure they are equipped to deal with their choice.

Please help me to remember that it all comes down to you. You are the most important thing that I am supposed to be teaching my children. So often I get bogged down in the details and forget the bigger picture. I pray that I can always keep in mind that I am to be preparing them for life with you, not just life in this world. I pray that I will be an example to them of what it means to live for you and not for myself. Help me to have patience, wisdom, and plenty of rest. You are so good. I pray that I will keep my focus on that and not on the things that overwhelm me. I thank you for all your love and blessings. Amen.

27 Dresses

PLOT: A woman has been a bridesmaid 27 times all the while dreaming of her own wedding, hopefully to her boss that she is secretly in love with.
STARS: Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Ed Burns, Malin Ackerman, Judy Greer
Katherine is Jane, the self-sacrificing bridesmaid. She does everything for the bride. She says that she has a lot of close friends, but really, she's just addicted to weddings and taking care of everyone. Her sister comes to town and falls for Jane's boss and they get engaged. This, of course, means Jane has to (help) plan the wedding. James Marsden is a reporter doing an article on the perpetual bridemaid unbeknowst to her (ala The Runaway Bride). She's always so concerned with other people's happiness that she never gives a thought to her own. It's fun seeing her model all of her bridesmaid dresses, some of them are really out there. And you can never go wrong with Judy Greer. She's hysterical. It's a cute movie. It's a very reliable, predictable chick flick. But those are some of my favorites.

Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins

PLOT: A successful, well-to-do talk show host returns home to see his family who do their best to bring him down a notch or two.
STARS: Martin Lawrence, Michael Clarke Duncan, James Earl Jones, Joy Bryant, Nicole Ari Parker, Cedric the Entertainer
Here's the thing, I think Martin Lawrence is hysterical. I have to pass on his comedy though, he's too raunchy. But I love his movies. He cracks me up. In this movie, he heads home to Georgia to see his family. They are not impressed by his lifestyle and they all spend the whole movie treating him like family, meaning they are not nice to him. The whole movie is him trying to figure out who he is and what's really important. Mo'Nique stars as his sister and she's a little over the top. There's a funny scene where she beats him up...that's a real family! Cedric the Entertainer is perfectly cast. He has a great scene with Martin where they go through an obstacle course. It's a culmination of 20 years of resentment and competition and they shove kids out of the way in order to beat the other. It's just plain funny!
Thursday, March 5, 2009 | By: Slacker Mom

Righteous Kill

PLOT: Someone is going around killing bad guys who've gotten away with their crimes.
STARS: Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Carla Gugino, Donnie Wahlberg, John Leguizamo, Brian Dennehy
Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino are long time cop partners trying to figure out who's taking the law into his own hands. It's soon determined that it must be a cop and then we have to figure out which one. Someone actually confesses to it early on but it wasn't until later that I realized that he wasn't confessing for himself. There's a twist that if you don't see it coming with the confessional, you'll catch on about 2/3 of the way into it. This is the first movie that DeNiro and Pacino have had any extended screen time together. (Doesn't it seem like they've already done lots of movies together? They haven't.) There's lot of language, not surprising given the cast and subject matter. It keeps you hooked though. I liked seeing Donnie Wahlberg. He needs to walk away from any more talk of a New Kids reunion and stick to acting. That's where his talent lies.

Angela's Ashes

PLOT: A boy grows up in impoverished Ireland. Based on a true story.
STARS: Emily Watson, Robert Carlyle, a bunch of different actors that I don't know
As with most movies based on books, the book is SO much better. It's the true story of Frank McCourt who grew up in Depression-era Ireland. The movie is gorgeously dreary but that's the problem--it's too gorgeous. This man's whole life is just one tragedy after another. He grew up in unbelievable poverty, most of the time having nothing to eat but lard and bread. He was sickly looking, not adorably handsome like the boys who play him in the film. You don't get a sense of how hard his life really was, how hard it was just to survive day to day. And you don't realize how much his father shaped his life even though he ends up being absent for a lot of it. Don't bother with the movie but DO read the book.

Fred Claus

PLOT: Santa's estranged brother agrees to help out at the North Pole in exchange for $50,000 to invest in a casino.
STARS: Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Kevin Spacey
Vince Vaughn is one of those people that you either love or hate. He is the same in every movie so if you like one Vince Vaughn movie, you'll probably like them all. I happen to like him. That being said, this movie was your typical holiday redemption movie. Brothers have always been at odds with each other, major crisis brings them together to save Christmas, all is well in the end. Kevin Spacey is the bad guy threatening to shut down Christmas. And we all know the only reason anyone would ever want to do that is because one year as a child he didn't get want he asked Santa for. Hasn't Santa learned by now that that only serves in creating mean people who hate Santa? Paul Giamatti makes a good Santa, though and Ludacris is a strangely cute elf. Here's my bit of useless movie trivia for you. Paul Giamatti and Kevin Spacey were in The Negotiator together and Vince Vaughn and John Michael Higgins (the head elf) were both in The Break Up. Now you know.

House Bunny

PLOT: A Playboy bunny gets kicked out of the mansion and gets a job as a house mom for a dying sorority.
STARS: Anna Faris, Emma Stone, Colin Hanks
This is kind of a cute movie. Anna Faris is the "bunny" and she's sweet. Well, sweet in a stereotypical dumb blonde kind of way. All the girls of the sorority are social rejects who have to get more pledges or they lose their house. So little miss bunny sexes them up until everyone's pounding on the door to get in. They learn to balance who they really are with the stuff that they learn from bunny and all live happily ever after. The only thing I didn't really like was the guy that Emma Stone (the leader of the sorority) is in love with. He wants nothing to do with her when she's a complete nerd but once she looks great, he's all over her. And she makes sure to act dumb so she won't intimidate him. The whole point is to be who you really are. Not act like an idiot to score some stupid frat guy.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 | By: Slacker Mom


PLOT: Two men are hired to bring peace to a western town after a man and his gang murder the sheriff.
STARS: Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Renee Zellweger, Jeremy Irons
If you like modern westerns, you'll like this movie. I'm not a big fan of Renee Zellweger and her character drove me crazy. She falls in love with Ed Harris but then spends the rest of the movie falling into bed with any man who looks at her sideways. I love the unspoken communication between Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen. They really make you believe that they've been together for years. Jeremy Irons can always be counted on to bring the slime and he does it well as always. However, I was a little distracted by his accent. It's hard to do cowboy when you sound like he does. But overall, good movie.


PLOT: A teenage girl is kidnapped while in Europe and her ex-spy dad has to track her down.
STARS: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Jenssen
I actually saw this in the theater! The scene in which she's actually taken is so good. I was gripping my husband's hand the whole time. As with most movies nowadays, credibility is strained in several parts but it keeps you on the edge of your seat most of the time. The movie made me a little sad. The girl is sold into the sex trade and you see scenes of what happens to these girls (nothing terribly graphic). Part of me says there's no way anything that horrible could really happen but the truth is that what happens is so much worse. Despite minor plot issues, I enjoyed it.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

PLOT: Indy is recruited by Marion's son to save her and find the legendary crystal skull.
STARS: Harrison Ford, Shia LeBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen
Indiana meets Marion's son who, it turns out, is actually his son. It's a typical Indiana Jones movie. Bad guys want to take over the world, Indiana has to find a lost artifact in order to stop them. It's fun to watch Indiana realize that he has a son. Great casting in Shia LeBeouf, love him. Karen Allen picks up as if she never left the series. I wasn't sure about the whole alien thing but it works. There's always a bit of mythical or otherworldly-ness in these movies so in that sense, it fit. If you liked the other movies, you'll like this one, too.


PLOT: A hitman is shot up with some kind of chemical cocktail that will stop his heart--revenge for someone he took out. He has to keep his adreniline up until he can get his doctor friend to help him.
STARS: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Dwight Yoakum(sp?), a bunch of Chinese bad guys
This is kind of a teenage boy movie. It's completely unbelievable; it's just a vehicle for car chases and stunts and shoot outs. But I thought it was fun. It has no redeeming qualities other than it's just fun to watch Jason Statham run around town hyped up on Red Bull, picking fights and getting hit with a defibrillator to keep his heart pumping. Honestly, I've decided that anything with Jason Statham is worth watching. He'll never be nominated for an acting award but he's just so...pretty! Sometimes that's enough for me (well, the accent helps, too.) It really strains credibility through most of it, and especially at the end, but it's a fun ride.

Gone Baby Gone

PLOT: The child of a druggie mom goes missing and the aunt hires a local private investigator to find her.
STARS: Casey Affleck, Amy Ryan, Ed Harris, Bridget Moynahan, Morgan Freeman
I've been dying to see this one since it came out. For several reasons, actually. First, it's Ben Affleck's directorial debut. Second, the whole movie rests on Casey Affleck, the baby faced younger brother and typical tag along to Ben's movie characters. And third, there was so much critical hype when it came out. For once, the hype was well deserved. The movie has so many twists and turns, sometimes it's hard to keep up but it's worth sticking with it. Casey Affleck is so good and his baby face actually plays into the plot of the movie. It asks very difficult questions about what's right and wrong in a very twisted world. Do you do the right thing when it seems so wrong? Would doing something that's wrong be okay if a child's life will forever benefit? Ed Harris co-stars and is great as always. Amy Ryan is the child's mother and she was nominated for and won all kinds of acting awards. It's no surprise to me. She did such a great job I wanted to reach through the TV and smack her upside the head. Watch it and let me know what you think about Casey's character's decision.

American Psycho

PLOT: A Wall Street stockbroker goes around killing people. End of Story.
STARS: Christian Bale
This movie came out quite a few years ago, but with Christian Bale being such a hot topic lately, I thought I had to see it. Don't bother. As the title suggests, he is Psycho, a serial killer actually. It's all very 80s/Gordon Gekko/Wall Street and he does that part well. But it's just too bizarre for me. He's a great actor but he falls into that category of Hollywood actor that would consider himself an Actor, very Method (see The Machinist). I've seen better serial killer movies (Mr. Brooks, for example) and better movies period. He waxes poetic about his CDs and murders people in very odd fashion (is there a normal way to murder people?) and I could just never get into the movie. And really, the whole point of any movie is just to be entertained. This one just didn't do it.
Monday, March 2, 2009 | By: Slacker Mom

Counting My Blessings

A friend of mine just left the country. He and his family are moving to Belgium. I know, who moves to Belgium, right? But he just retired from the military and got a great job offer. And, honestly, if I had a chance to live in Europe, I'd do it in a heartbeat. His wife and her kids will be joining them at the end of the school year but he had to fly out on Sunday.

Have you ever had any of your friends move away? Most of the time I'm the one who's moving but not always. As soon as I found out they were heading to Europe, I felt like crying. Why is it that I don't take advantage of the people around me until I find out they are leaving? Do you know what I mean? We attend homegroup at their house and she teaches piano to my kids. We see each other and have a great time when we do. But upon learning they were leaving, I was so angry with myself for never having made more of an effort to spend one on one time with them.

These aren't people that are sort of "peripheral" friends. You know, the kind that you say hi to at church but don't really make any effort to get together with. I love to be around them. They are so funny and so much fun to be with. They have a great dynamic. I have a habit of intensely observing other couples and how they interact with each other. I love to watch these two. They have absolute respect for one another and aren't afraid to get completely goofy.

I've felt like some kind of leech or something since their moving announcement. I'm desperate to spend time with them. He just left as I said, but it just makes me that much more insistent to spend time around her and soak her all in. No, I'm not obsessed with these people. I'm not some kind of Kathy Bates/Misery/I'm-your-number-one-fan psycho. But I've learned the hard way that I don't appreciate the people around me until they're gone.

Last year, a couple at church moved to Texas suddenly. Well, sort of suddenly. They'd been trying to move for well over a year but they had to wait for their house to sell. I had plenty of notice that they would be leaving and my husband and I kept telling ourselves that we should spend more time with them before they left. We enjoyed their company and knew we would miss them when they were gone. Weeks went by and then months and finally more than a year. We never did invite them over or do anything with them. It was just talking to them on Sundays or at the occasional church function. When their house sold, they were gone within a week and we had no idea. We never got a chance to tell them how much they would be missed.

Now it's happening again. Such is the way of life when you're an adult. People move, things change. I know this is the best for their family and I'm happy they have such an amazing opportunity. But my selfish side (which is the bigger side of me) wants to keep them here. I will miss their sense of humor and their conversation. I will also miss the two little ones. Her son has the most contagious laugh and her daughter speaks my language. I love them both fiercely.

One good thing is that with the internet, it's easy to keep in touch with everyone. And she will still be here for the next few months. I intend to take advantage of that time as much as possible until she leaves or gets really sick of me, whichever comes first!

Take a bit of advice from me and count your blessings while they are still in front of you. Dont' wait until they're gone.