July 22, 2011

Must see movie!! "The Tree of Life"

***Two VERY important things must be addressed before I go on.....
  1. You MUST see this movie!  It is amazing! 
  2. You MUST be prepared or you might walk out and/or not be in the right frame of mind and completely miss out.
So to start, Robert and I had a lot to celebrate yesterday. First and foremost he got his passport!!  We were really worried since Robert changed his last name to mine at the time of our marriage and they were really balking at that.  But, they obviously accepted all of his paperwork and we are good to go! 

Robert also returned from So. California yesterday morning and his job interview at a Long Beach area police department went very well.  I wish the location was closer but we both feel strongly that with the current economy and being in the middle of the adoption that we need to be grateful for what he can find.

So, in order to celebrate, we decided that we wanted to go on a date night to the movies.  We brought food with us so that we could save the money and headed to Sacramento with mustard flavored pretzels, cheese, and a jug of crystal light.  Hmmm, I guess that is our version of a loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou.......

We happily munched on the drive while I prepared Robert for the movie we were about to see.   http://www.foxsearchlight.com/thetreeoflife/

So I mentioned having to "prepare" my husband.  This is NOT a movie where you plop down in the seat and watch over-stimulating flashes of action and simple predictable mind numbing plots.  It is more of an "artsy" film and neither of us tend towards that genre. 

I decided to go based on this article in LDS Living:

This film is not a Mormon film though, and I think that it could be enjoyed by those of all faiths.  Even those that aren't religious at all could enjoy it (although I will warn you that it may make you begin to ponder your spiritual beliefs)

Since I knew that the movie used symbolism, I felt a bit of anxiety leftover from highschool/college literature class and imagined that I would be lost.  I told Robert as we were walking towards the theatre that I was afraid that I wouldn't "get it" or that I just wouldn't be deep or spiritual enough.  Robert just laughed at me until we got inside......

There was a sign on the counter that stated there were NO refunds on this particular movie if you walked out.  It stated that if you weren't familiar with Terrence Malick movies that you might prefer choosing a different film but that once you paid for the tickets, they would not refund them or listen to the complaints.  Then, after purchasing the tickets, we turned a corner to see the cardboard advertisement for the film.  It just raved and raved about Malick spending 30 years to make the movie and how amazing and genius it was!

Sooooo.....which was it?!?!?

What a mix of confusion I was in while going inside that theatre!!

It is an odd movie....and there was a couple that walked out after only about a half an hour. 

But, please, please, please, give it more of a chance!

Once I decided that I didn't need to think so hard or worry that I wasn't immediately finding a plot, I was able to just relax and enjoy the extraordinary cinematography and music.  And, there IS a plot or rather, there is meaning....and you will find it if you just decide to enjoy the movie for what it is rather than what you expect or want it to be. 

Also, for anyone who has lost a child.....there is an amazing message and pivotal part in the movie that could provide a much needed release.  I won't say anymore so that I don't ruin it....

Here are a couple of beautiful quotes from the film that really stuck in my mind:

"The only way to be happy is to love. Unless you love, your life will flash by."

"Help each other. Love everyone. Every leaf. Every ray of light. Forgive."

I was absolutely crying in several parts of the film.....not because it was necessarily sad as it is definitely not a "Steel Magnolias" or "Terms of Endearment" type of cry fest.  It just really touched my spirit.  I felt that I understood it more on a spiritual level than I did on a logical and understanding level.  Here are a few reviews that might explain it better:

"I saw this movie twice in the cinema and was moved each time. What a beautiful and inspiring piece of art. Like anything spiritual and inspiring you want to share it with everyone but, not everyone is ready to hear it or understand it. I just feel blessed for the experience. "

"The Tree of Life is a prayer, a requiem, a memory, or series of memories, impressions, glimpses, visions of light and shadow, a poem, a reverence for life and love. Most truly great works of art are not created to be popular, or understood by everyone all the time. Rather, they require from us patience, understanding, perception, sensitivity, meditation, transcendence, and yes, even spirituality. They are multi-layered, filled with meaning, symbolism, and insight into the human experience in all its complexity. And they often defy contemporary conventions and models. They sometimes jar, push, force, disturb, purge, sift. But they also teach, impress, awe-inspire, invigorate, exalt, even heal. And they endure, as surely this film will. We may judge this film; but, as with all creative masterpieces, it will now and forever always judge us. "
"A movie for the imagination and wonder of life and the universe. It is slow, meandering and ponderous. Such is life. Amazing visuals. Can't wait for the blu-ray. Bring a positive frame of mind, and let your body and soul be enraptured."
There are also many many people who didn't like the film at all and had the absolute opposite reaction:
"I like Sean Penn and can like Brad Pitt, I also decide on which movies I see by the ratings given here...This film for me was indeed pretentious and boring, to me there are NO redeeming features!"
"Forget about being pretentious, this film is simply not engaging in any way. Several people left early on, presumably to take up the offer of a refund - they were the lucky ones. We decided to stay and sit through over two hours of disjointed ramblings on the American family unit and it's relationship to the greater universe. By no means am I claiming to fully understand what this film was about, however I do know that I was bored to tears."
Here is one in the middle:
"Loved and hated it. Its the kind of film that provokes excessive reactions - which are interesting. It may divide audiences, but the division for me was internal. There were moments of cinema in this film that are almost too beautiful. Then there are heavy cliches (cue masks floating through water, stepping through door frames). Unlike Thin Red Line - the monologues become trite and representative of one deindividualised voice. There is also a feminist critique to be made here. It has to be seen but very flawed genius. Wanted more and less at the same time."
If you go see it....please post a comment and let me know what you think!  Sorry, no refunds! :-)


July 17, 2011

Exploding tires and family dinner

I had an episode last week that I haven't had the energy to blog about but it's a bit funny and even more I must express my appreciation to another angel that came in the form of a Cal Trans worker. 

I was driving home from volunteering.  Oh, this picture was taken later by my wonderful husband who decided that I needed to have this picture in order to tell my story. LOL! 

As you can see, my window is down because we have no air conditioning in the van right now.  The compressor seemingly blew up with black smoke pouring into the van.  I am currently debating whether or not to get it fixed because I am not convinced that it is a true "need" when we are trying so hard to be able to afford to bring home the twins.  It has been a mild summer though, so if we have very many 100+ degree days my resolve may change. 

Okay, so as I said I was driving down the road when all of a sudden I heard a loud explosion and the van began to careen sideways as I struggled to keep control and steer it over to the side of the road.  Thankfully, there was minimal traffic and I was successful at getting to the roadside.  With a brief glance in the rear view mirror, I saw chunks of of my tire flying down the road behind me.

As my heart pounded, I sat for a second in stunned disbelief. Absent mindedly, I reached up to smooth my hair that was in all states of craziness from driving with the window down.  I went straight back into panic mode once again as I felt that there was something in my hair....was it a bug.....a HUGE bug?!?  I snatched whatever it was and threw it!  Any ideas on what it was? 

A chunk of the blown up tire!  The children and I have a joke now about the new fashion trend that I could start!

It would make a great hair accessory....it is bendable and definitely sticks to the hair.  The wires that were poking out could even be bent into a flower shape.  I could really be on to something!

So my tire was beyond flat and was beyond destroyed.  I could literally see the cloth or whatever it is that is under the rubber!
There was a Cal-Trans worker who was mowing the grass at the side of the freeway that stopped and came over.  He offered to help change my tire if we had a spare.  I was so relieved because I knew that it would take an hour or longer for either Robert or AAA to get there. 

He was not only willing to help but he also joked around to make me feel better.  He lifted up his foot to show his shoe which had the sole literally hanging off.  He told me that his shoe and my tire looked about the same! LOL!  I took this pic hoping to illustrate this point but unfortunately I got the wrong shoe!
So, as he worked to change my tire in the heat of the sun and at the side of a dangerous freeway with cars whizzing closely by, I began to feel horrible that he was working so hard and I had no idea what I could do for him.  I racked my brain....money...no, I was sure he couldn't take it and I never carry any cash anyway......should I get his email and then I could send him a thank you....no, way too creepy!

So, he finished and I meekly offered him the only thing I had in the van. 
"Ummm, I bet you are thirsty, would you like some apple juice?" (It was unopened, I promise!) 
He laughed and said that he already had something to drink.  Then he said that the way he looked at it was that someday his wife might be stranded somewhere with a flat tire, and that maybe my husband would be willing to help her out.  I thanked him heartily for his help and headed back on my way.  Yet another angel placed in my path that literally helped me continue on.
So, are we going to market the exploded tire hair accessories?  Well, considering we nearly had to cut it out of Mary's hair.....I think the idea would need a little more work!
Before closing this post I wanted to mention a link that I read about on someone else's blog.  It talks about the importance of and the hope that we will all have a renewed focus on family dinner.

I love family dinners and agree that it is so important that we take the time to eat together as a family.  We get off course every time I am pregnant and end up on bed rest.  We all end up eating upstairs in our bedroom because the children want to be with me *and* they like to watch tv while they are eating.  It gets to be a hard habit to break since it is also more convenient with a frequently nursing and sleeping baby.  But, Eleanor is two and I am glad to be back at the table and having lively conversations rather than glazed over expressions staring at the tv. 

I hope to talk about this further because it also suggested some good ideas for ways to do family dinner on college campuses as well.  Great website and very inspirational....check it out!

July 13, 2011

In celebration of cousinhood......and the shaving cream ice skating activity

Our homestudy is complete and we are waiting for the first draft to come back from the agency supervisor.    We are currently working on the dossier autobiography and other paperwork.  We are STILL waiting for Robert's passport because of the fact that he changed his last name to mine when we were married.  What seemed like a simple decision at the young age of 20 has sure created problems!

This past week has been full of family and lots and lots of COUSINS!  Just the word being mentioned will bring smiles to my children's faces.  I am so glad that my children have had this opportunity to enjoy extended family because my sister and I did not have a single cousin.  Nor did we have an uncle or an aunt.  My mother is an only child and my father's sister was severely disabled and died at a young age.  So, I am thrilled to watch the children light up and beam from ear to ear when they have the chance to see their cousins.  It is as though they are getting to meet with a celebrity!

So, the fourth of July started with a trip to their uncle's house and reuniting with the pool and their cousins!!!!!

Here is Emily with her cousin that is only two weeks younger!
                        This picture inspired me to find and post their very first picture together!

My sister in law and I were obviously pregnant at the same time and we enjoyed each other's company immensely.

 We also attended each other's birth.  So, they have literally known each other from the very beginning!

So then I decided that I just had to walk down memory lane.......which can be a very long road as you all shall see!!

Here they are at around 5 years

Here they are at age seven
Here they are at 10 years
So, I got to this point in the blog and was touched by how fast the children have all grown up and so the rest of this blog is dedicated to our extended family and in true celebration of what is "cousinhood".
 It is a beautiful thing!


Cousins are:

Cousins are funny when they put on make-up!

E. and Corinna 2001

 Cousins are great to have at birthday parties!

Mary and E. 2004

 Cousins are fun to do plays with!

 Cousins are so fun to be around when they are older and you have no brothers!
Robertson and E 2011

Cousins are interesting to look at when you discover them for the first time!
Robertson and A. 2004

  Cousins are soooo cute and fun to hold and cuddle!

Mary and A. 2004

Cousins are funny when they try to hug you!

Robertson and A. 2006

 Cousins are very fun to hug back!
Robertson and A. 2006

 Cousins are also fun to bop in the face with sock'em boppers
 Robertson and A 2009

Cousins are special when they are similar to you in behavior and facial expressions! 

Amelia and A 2011

Cousins are great when they ponder quietly together

Lauren and H.-my sister's daughter 1995

 Cousins are huggy and love big squeezes

Cousins are fun to laugh and talk with

Cousins are so great that you just have to give them a big kiss

Cousins are the best addition to cotton candy!
Lauren and H. 1996

Cousins are best in groups of three, especially at Easter!
Lauren, H., and Corinna-just after Corinna came to live with us in 1997

Cousins are always bubbly
Corinna, Lauren, and H. 2002

Cousins are as beautiful as the music they make together

Lauren and H 2008?

Cousins are nurturing and fun!
Cousins are fun to play dolls with
Mary and A.(my sister's 2nd daughter) 2003

Cousins are the best of friends

A. and Mary 2005

Cousins are not afraid to ride the roller coaster of life right by your side
Mary and A. 2007

Cousins are the best people ever to camp with
A. and Mary 2007?

Cousins are not worried about your table manners!
Mary and A 2008

Cousins are HYSTERICALLY funny!!!!!
A. and Mary 2011

                Cousins are cute and cuddly

Mary, J., and A(my sister's 2nd and 3rd daughters) 1999

 Cousins are helpful in keeping you up!
Emily and J. 1999

Cousins are caring and entertaining
Robertson and J. 2004

Robertson and J. 2004

Cousins are bathing buddies
Mary, J., and A 2003

Cousins are toothless together
Emily and J. 2004

Cousins are the best Easter egg finders

Cousins are a source of love and strength
J. and Emily 2008

Cousins are an endless source of fun
J., Emily, and Amelia 2011

Cousins are the best!
Amelia and J. 2011

Cousins are the very best in large groups

Washington-at the beach 2002
Robert's parents and granchildren at their renewal of vows 2001

Thanksgiving 2007


Christmas at the mall 2001


**Extra fun activity for cousins: Shaving cream ice skating party

I promised that I would write up this activity quite awhile ago but couldn't find the pictures.  With all of the digging that I did to find all of the cousin pics, I found it! 

The idea is overall very simple but needs A LOT of adult supervision!  Take a very large piece of clear plastic sheeting and a few cans of shaving cream.  Voila!  You have your own indoor "ice" skating rink! 

 The children had so much fun and still talk about it!  Do be careful though, the little ones will need someone to hold on to.  They will fall....just like a new skater would on ice.  I have thought about spreading the plastic out on the grass where it would be more cushioned but haven't tried it yet. 
It is a definite memory making and cousin bonding activity!

A sincere thank you to all of my children's cousins!  We love each and every one of you so much and are so grateful for all of the love, laughter, and memories!