Tag Archive: family


Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Over the weekend, I gathered a bunch of friends to see the movie Wonder.

WonderI was certain that hardly anyone would be there because this movie has been out in theaters for the last six weeks. But the theater was filled to capacity at 44 people.

Starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as the parents, it is one of those movies that makes you like a kid who had a genetic deformity that has required several surgeries just to do those things we think of as normal occurrences. You know, like breathing, hearing, and seeing.

Auggie, played by Jacob Trembley, is both scared and excited about going to school for the first time in fifth grade. He is afraid of being picked on for being different because he is different. His mom tries to give him the usual “leave them alone” speech while dad whispers to him fight when the situation arises.

Slowly but surely Auggie makes one friend. He hits a roadblock, loses a friend, gains a friend. He also has to deal with a bully that is unrelenting month after month.

Wonder Auggie and jackNow this movie could have been a saccharine sugar fest, all about anti-bullying and making the victim too good to be true while the villains are pure evil.

Except its not. It is done factually and in language that sounds like 5th grade kids.

We even get to see some of the family dynamics with Via feeling left out in some ways because she appears to be able to handle all of the complications that Auggie’s condition brings to the family.

One of the blessings is that we begin to see the story from others’ point of view. Auggie’s sister Via, his friend Jack, Via’s former best friend, and back to Auggie. By seeing these different points of view, we see how different characters think and feel, even when they blow it and make mistakes.

Which is another thing I love about this movie. Everyone messes up or tries to fix things that seem right to them although wrong to others. There are ways to make a family movie that really appeals to families and this movie does it. I kept waiting for the worst to happen that never did and I was so glad of that.

Perks of being a wallflowerI have always been impressed with Walden production company, their movies tend to be good with less treacly sweetness. They understand that any old crap is not OK just because this is a family movie. It also helps that Stephen Chbowsky directed. He made the fine The Perks of Being a Wallflower which was perfectly fitted for a late teenage audience.

When it comes to family movies, I want something that all family members can watch, quality writing, and characters that are people you would actually know.

What makes Wonder a wonder is not the story but how it is told. Easy criers will get teary, you will laugh, and get mad at injustice. And, chances are, you will really like this movie.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.


Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Lately, I have been reading books and watching movies about the Holocaust. What saddens me the most about this time period is the absolute hatred for Jews that seemed to go beyond hating Jewish Bolsheviks, it went beyond the desire to have a pure Aryan race. It was an evil that went beyond the need to be right no matter what.

I saw this in The Book Thief, I read about it in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. In the Gabriel Allon series by Daniel Silva I see the long term effects of being a Holocaust survivor – whether it is you or a family member.

XMen Days of Future PastHowever, this past weekend the husband and I went to see X-Men: Days of Future Past. Suddenly, we were right back in a holocaust of those who are different. I know the title sounds like some horrible grammar rule gone crazy but the story requires that you suspend disbelief at all costs.

As the movie starts, we see a world in which mutants are hunted down by giant robots called Sentinals. But as with any campaign to eradicate one group, it stops being about only those creatures and includs anyone who aids them or are related. We see piles and piles of bodies and bones in a darkened world in which Sentinals have the ability to use any skill from any mutant.

They were created by a scientist named Trask who used DNA and other tissue from Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). It is at this point that Professor X/Charles (Patrick Stewart), Magneto/Erik (Ian McKellan), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), and Storm (Halle Berry) find a lone surviving group of mutants who can escape the Sentinals on a regular basis using a form of time travel.

That is when Charles and Erik come up with a crazy plan to send Charles back in time to talk to his younger self. When it is deemed that Charles would not make the trip, Wolverine goes in his stead. This is when things get really strange as Wolverine eventually meets up with a younger Charles and Beast, plan to break Erik out of prison (it’s complicated), and stop Mystique.

I found this to be an interesting movie, slow only in a few parts, and yet able to laugh at itself. The acting is top tier by the key players of Jackman, Stewart, McKellan, Michaeal Fassbander, James McAvoy and Lawrence. The special effects for this movie are outstanding. My favorite moment has to be when Quicksilver stops an attack during the prison break scene to the soundtrack of Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce. That might be the last time we have a good laugh but it is a fascinating scene.

It is a dark movie that I would not recommend for kids under the age of ten because I don’t think they are going to understand the total context of this movie. We live in an age where scary things happen but not like this in which neighbors and family members might turn you in for being ‘different.’

Nazi Germany would have never happened without the fear of wondering if you would be next to disappear, to be marched to death camps, or killed before your family’s eyes. Especially if you had spent the last several years watching this happen to neighbors and friends or anyone who disagreed with the powers that be.

The X-Men have always had the Holocaust as an undercurrent, that those dark times could and will return. It is that fear which permeates the movie, making it compelling and terrifying all at the same time.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Dear Family, Friends, and Readers,


You may have noticed that I have been AWOL for some time. You might have seen that I have not posted for a while.

It is not because I am bored or lost my column or having a bout of depression. But I have been busy. Busy with kids, busy with extra work hours, busy with the novel. I took on some extra roles that require more time than I originally thought. I have a novel that is near completion. I have piles of sewing  and craft projects as well as some cleaning projects that require my attention.

Image by Patuska

Image by Patuska

So something needs to give and that something is this blog. Oh, I will start posting my column on a regular basis once more. But sadly, I am not visiting your blogs or replying to your comments as I should. My focus will be on finishing that novel, taking care of the craft and sewing pile, cleaning up some of the piles that have built up around my house.

My plan is to return on the new year and get back to regular posts and visiting of all of you who have supported this blog for so long. There have been many new visitors and, believe me, I plan to visit you as well.

Please wave if you see me speed by. Soon, very soon, I will have time to visit once more.



Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

During this time of year it is easy to find various religious movies. Or at least it used to be.

Oh, the memories.

Charleton Heston as Moses in "The Ten Commandments," picture from IMDb.com

 The Ten Commandments and Samson and Delilah.  

There are also the movies that weren’t exactly religious but set in the same time period.

Spartacus and Ben Hur


Then there are those set in different time periods.

Sidney Poitier in "Lilies of the Field," picture from IMDb.com

Lilies of the Field and Song of Bernadette


While we love these, what is called for this time of year are the movies about Easter.

The Robe and The Greatest Story Ever Told.


However, in our modern times realism must take precedence.

Jim Caviezel as Jesus in "the Passion of the Christ," picture from IMDb.com

We watch every grisly detail with The Passion of the Christ starring Jim Caviezel and directed by Mel Gibson. This is not a movie I recommend for children under the age of 10 as the violent scenes are intense. You feel every jarring bit and wonder how any man could have taken this. Perhaps that was Gibson’s point while making the most gruesome religious movie I have ever seen.

On the other hand, there are moments of stunning beauty as Gibson recreates well-known artistic tableaux. Not sure that is enough to make me want to watch this movie again.

The Last Temptation of the Christ has also seen its share of controversy.

Daniel DaFoe in "The Last Temptation of the Christ," picture from IMDb.com.

In this movie, we see what might have happened if Jesus came off the cross to live with women and have a family. But we are also given food for thought that Judas might have been in on the plan to betray Jesus. And that the two men might have been the best of  friends.

It is a movie I watch, despite Harvey Keitel’s Brooklyn accent, for the idea that Christ might have been tempted but in the end he still did as he was foretold to do.

Finally, the movie that has become a must see at Easter in Jesus Christ Superstar.  

Ted Neeley as Jesus in "Jesus Christ Superstar," picture from IMDb.com

I was a little girl at the time the movie came out and I remember how it was considered sinful just to sing those songs out loud. Maybe it was the spectacle, the fact that Jesus dies on the cross and doesn’t have a resurrection, that Judas lives and Mary Magdalene is not a vilified persona.

What I love about the movie is the strong character of Jesus who admits sometimes he is scared or get angry at what is happening around him. That he knows what must happen and yet can’t do damage control with the crowds or the disciples.

None of these movies ever seem to get the whole story right. But how could they?  There is so much to cover and the crucifixion must be one-third of your story. They can never get in all of the parables and the beatitudes, all of the intrigue that happened in front of Jesus or behind closed doors. Do any of these movies contain the episode with Zacchius?

Still, it make me wonder if in hearing only a small part of the story does that lead some to find out the rest of it in the most popular book on the planet. 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.

Reading Lorna in the Winter

Several years ago, the book group I used to be in read the wonderful Angry Housewives Eating Bon-Bons by Lorna Landvik. We loved the book that many of the women in the group could identify with as they were the same age of the protagonists.

Picture from Borders.com

They had lived through the 50s and Vietnam in the 60s. They understood how a child leaving could break your heart and how someone might pretend to be totally different to hide an unsavory background.

As a younger member of the group, I understood how these women connected over children and books, babies and delicious desserts. I remember lines at the oddest moments whether it is about Grant, an openly gay man at a time that was dangerous to be so, or Merit who bravely leaves her abusive husband and finds true love elsewhere.

So imagine my delight that my birthday gift from my mother included two books from Landvik. I was ecstatic.  Here were two new books right at a time that I was in a book rut.

Picture from Borders.com

I started on Patty Jane’s House of Curl and found myself all over the map, emotionally. The story is about two sisters who survived alcoholic parents and buried them before Patty Jane was 20. The oldest sister, she makes a great leap in her life when she marries Thor Rolvaag, a young man who is more handsome than anyone in town.

Her sister, Harriet, meets the love of her life who turns out to be the heir to a cereal company. And he is willing to help Harriet realize her dreams of being a truly learned musician. Can it get any better than this?

Then, tragedy comes about. Their bond with Patty Jane’s mother-in-law is forged through tough times and the start of a business and the raising of a beautiful girl. I enjoyed this story and could read it again and again as soon as I find where I left the book! Hate it when they turn up missing.

Picture from Borders.com

The other book was The View from Mount Joy. I had enjoyed the other two and was ready to sink my teeth into this book.

The story is about Joe, a man who is one of those great guys with not much ambition or get up and go. As a teen he gets a job at a grocery store, ends up owning the place after the original owner dies and goes on to create a franchise. But first he flounders through life, especially whenever Kristi is around.

She is the Queen Bee cheerleader when they first meet and she fascinates Joe. Later, he is both fascinated and disgusted by her. Years go by and she becomes a Christian radio show host. Yet Joe wonders what she is really like under all of that. Once his life becomes directed, he doesn’t need her so much but he seems to be the only friend she has ever had.

The problem I had with this book is that I did not like the ‘powerhouse’ character of Kristi. Could not understand why Joe liked her, could not understand why even at the end he held her secrets. Plus, I might have been comparing it too much to Angry Housewives. That book was much richer, characters were more in-depth, the action more tantalizing.

Do you have a favorite author to marathon read?

Get a Little Speed Up

Family Movie Night

One of the frustrating things about winter is you cannot drive fast on the roads.

 Just when you think you can, another driver is scared by the ice and the snow and the slickness of it all. There they are, driving maybe 25 mph in the center of the road, with you unable to pass them.

There are ways of getting around. Be patient and safely pass (ha!), turning on the next road when the car in front goes straight, run the other car off the road (not my personal suggestion as I may be that driver going 20 mph). Or you can plan your movie viewing for those flicks that show maximum amount of speed and daring. 

The Mach 5 from Speed Racer; Picture from IMDb.com

  Let’s start with a suggestion best for all family members. Remember when Speed Racer came out a few years ago. I loved watching the colors as the cars fly by on one of the most original race tracks I have ever seen. Emile Hirsch stars as the grown-up Speed who dreams of being the best driver ever who will win The Crucible, a race that killed his brother several years ago.

 I love the brightly colored sets, John Goodman and Susan Sarandon as Speed’s parents, and the roar of the cars. It is rated PG and has only one mildly questionable scene that quickly becomes OK when little brother Spritle shows up. Maybe this is not what you thought of as compared to your memories of the 70s’ cartoon but I think the Wachowski Brothers did a great job.

Anthony Hopkins with his modified Indian motorcycle; Picture from IMDb.com

 This movie is a few years old and may be hard to find but I absolutely adored The World’s Fastest Indian starring Anthony Hopkins. This biography, better suited for adults, is about Burt Monro, a New Zealander who built the fast Indian motorcycle ever. And he wants to test it on the Bonneville Salt Flats in the U.S. So Monro gets a mortgage on his home and makes the trip.

 Here is the problem. The Indian has no brakes, skimpy tires and lacks a chute. Can he get around these obstacles just to see how fast the Indian can go? Will you get caught up in the story? Absolutely.

Movie Poster; Picture from IMDb.com

 Which leads me to my next and final selection. Gone in 60 Seconds puts Nicholas Cage in a sticky situation. In order to save his brother’s life, the retired car thief must steal 50 specific exotic cars in a four-day period. To do so, he brings back several of his old team members, including Angelina Jolie.

This movie is rated PG-13 for violence, sexuality and language which makes it inappropriate for the youngest members of the house. It is a slick movie about fast cars, full of adrenaline rushes that come from great car chase scenes. When you want speed, this is the place to go.

 Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

 Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.

The Smells of Life

Picture by Click

It was a wintry afternoon and I was walking the dog. There was snow on the ground, no breeze, just the right amount of light when I smelled it.

A sweet fresh clean smell. Not too flowery, not too perfume-y but welcoming. I felt as if I was being wrapped in something wonderful.

 Then it hit me – dryer sheets. Someone was running their dryer and the exhaust was sweetening the air outside. If you are not a fan of perfumes or have allergies to various scents, I can see how the scent might be offensive. But for that moment I was enjoying the lightness of the perfume, the sweetness that was not overwhelming and the memories of home it brings out.

It is similar to when I recognize an older lotion from Mary Kay. It is as if I am back in my grandmother’s bathroom and I can smell her favorite cream. I get the feeling she is nearby and that if I turn around at the right moment I can talk to her once more.

Picture by MNP

I feel happy and comforted all at once in the same way I do when I smell pipe smoke. It can be one of those rich, woodsy-sweet smelling varieties and I am in my grandparent’s living room while Grandpa is enjoying his pipe. Maybe we are playing war or slap jack. He could be explaining how two bits equals a quarter and making us better mathematicians than fate had allowed.

Smells take us to the past and new smells imbed themselves, creating future memories. When we make a new dish, I love smelling the new smell. I am trying to recognize it and place it.

Last night I did that as I was making Chicken Riggies. I found the recipe at Happy When Not Hungry’s blog. It is Chicken in a tomato-cream sauce mixed with Rigatoni. Apparently, the dish is a favorite in the Ithaca area of Upstate New York. I had to make some adjustments as I do not keep Vermouth at the house.

 When I would take the lid off of the sauce pan to smell everything, I could not recognize it. Slowly, the tomato sauce furled out as did the onion. The cream did not come to me straight away. I was not sure if it smelled good and asked my husband for his opinion.

He thought it was tremendous. I had him pour the Rigatoni into the pasta bowl and then I poured in the sauce with the chicken. I began noticing the interplay of flavors as I mixed it all together with a bit of mozzarella cheese. In our excitement and hunger, we did not take a picture of the dish. There is none left to do so after the fact.

Picture by Mimiliz

Perhaps what my kids will remember is not a specific smell but simply the smell of something cooking that will make them feel at home and comforted. The smell of life all around them. Or maybe what they will remember is my perfume as they cuddled to me at the end of the day.

 Once I pass and can no longer give soothing words, perhaps this will remind them of me and wonder if they turn at the right moment they can talk to me once more.

Do you have a smell that transport you to a memory?

Are You Dreaming?

Family Movie Night

This summer the movie Inception caused a big stir because it is a mystery.

Michael Caine and Leonardo DiCaprio in "Inception." Picture from IMDb.com

The story is about a man who steals things after gleaning information from people’s dreams. It has come at a cost. But then he is given an opportunity to reverse it all and find redemption. It is not easy and there are times that it seems the obstacles are too large and too conveniently placed.

It is a movie of such skill in storytelling and confusing clue-giving that no one is really sure what the story is about or how it ends. People had to see this movie over and over in attempts to understand the movie and figure out just how the story resolves itself.

"Inception" director Christopher Nolan; Picture from IMDb.com

Christopher Nolan directed this movie and recently gave an interview in Wired magazine that gave no clue about the ending. He put forth impressive non-answers that would make the CIA proud. His point is to let the audience think about the story and come up with their own suppositions.

I have not seen this movie which is why I am looking forward to its release on DVD. I am looking forward to watching it and re-watching it so I can figure out the storyline, what is a dream and what is not. Granted I will have to watch Leonardo Di Caprio a lot but it is a sacrifice I am willing to make. It is rated at PG-13 and would be best suited for those in junior high and older.

It is a movie that may be in one of the ten nominated for best film when Oscar season rolls around. I am willing to bet it will receive honors in the technical aspects. Please let me know what you think of this movie which has been called the thinking man’s blockbuster.

Ralphie talks to Santa in "A Christmas Story"; Picture from IMDb.com

As the Christmas season rolls along, it seems as if there are so many movies to watch. One of my favorites for the season is A Christmas Story starring Peter Billingsley as Ralphie. Set in the early 1940s, it is a slice of life picture about a young boy’s desire for the perfect Christmas gift – a red rider bb gun.

There is so much about this movie that I love. Every scene is a treasure trove of memories and joy. Who can forget the scenes of the tongue on the pole, the flat tire, meeting Santa and the dogs on Christmas day?

The Infamous Leg Lamp; Picture from IMDb.com

There are so many things to love about this movie that is perfection in the casting in every principle player. Plus it is a movie the whole family can watch together.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.

After the Feast…

Family Movie Night

Thanksgiving is done.

The turkey on the table was surrounded by the favorite side dishes. Stuffing, cranberry sauce, potatoes or sweet potatoes, deviled eggs and a relish tray. Then there were desserts.


Pumpkin pie, mince meat pie, apple pie, Key Lime Pie Cheesecake.

Ok, maybe it doesn’t happen that way at your house. Maybe the deviled eggs are replaced with something else. Stuffing is made with sage and onion instead of oysters and onion.

No matter, we gathered together to give thanks and dig in to a great feast. But now it is the day after and people with the day off are looking around. The kids might be looking for something to do .

Edmund Gween as Kris Kringle in "Miracle on 34th Street." Picture from IMDb.com

That is when you dip into the bag of classic movies. My favorite movie to watch is Miracle On 34th Street (1947). Yes, it is black and white. It was made during the post war era when the feeling of hope was palatable. Then there is Edmund Gwenn, who may have been the most perfect Santa ever. We meet him as he is walking down a street in Manhattan on Thanksgiving Day.

He is telling a shop keeper how to arrange the reindeer in proper order when he sees a drunken Santa on the Macy’s float. That is when Gwenn meets Maureen O’Hara and she asks him to be the Macy’s Santa. Maureen O’Hara represents the bitterness of the era who is secretly seeking hope without knowing if she will ever find it. Meanwhile, attractive bachelor corporate lawyer John Payne, the personification of optimism and populist idealism, is trying to attract the beautiful O’Hara.

You do not have to watch the movie for all of the deeper meanings. It is a lovely film that epitomizes the spirit of the Christmas season, reminding us to believe in faith alone and to be grateful for what we have in this world.  This is one movie that all members of the family can watch and enjoy together.

Home for the Holidays, picture from IMDb.com

Another movie that is better for adult-only viewing is Home For The Holidays starring Holly Hunter as an artistic restorer who is going home to Baltimore for Thanksgiving. She has just been fired, her daughter tells her this is the weekend she is staying with her boyfriend and her stylish coat has been lost at O’Hare Airport.

But wait it gets better. Her priggish sister insists on making a whole separate meal that is ‘healthier’ while looking down her nose at their gay brother. The gay brother brings along a friend who may be interested in Hunter.

Why I like this movie has to do with moments of hope and understanding as adult children learn to understand their parents, siblings and maybe themselves. While parents, siblings and kids might drive each other crazy, for most there is a reservoir of love that keeps you coming back.

Picture from IMDb.com

Last, but not least, is perhaps what I think may be one of the funniest and sweetest Thanksgiving movies ever made. I was visiting Emjayandthem’s blog when I saw the reminder of what a great movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles really is. It may not be appropriate for every member in the house, although I think kids 13 and up can watch this one.

John Candy and Steve Martin charm in this movie as two travelers who are trying to get home when getting home for Thanksgiving is just not working out. I love it from start to finish. Cabbie race scene, uncomfortable train ride, car burning, confrontation and realizing you are an ass – all of it is great movie making.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below. Become my friend on Facebook.

Newest Family Flicks

Family Movie Night 

When it comes to picking out a great movie for the family, right now is really a great time.

There are three movies that have been released in the last three weeks that are fun and watch-able.

Picture by Alvimann

 Too many times I have heard reviewers and movie fans say “It’s a family movie, what did you expect?”

I, personally, expect greatness as I do from any movie that is made. I don’t care if it is made for kids or for the whole family or a specific genre. I want every movie that I am paying money to see in a theater with popcorn and a ridiculously large drink to be worth all of that.

Want an example of a great family movie? How about The Incredibles, Toy Story, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Millions, or The Secret Garden. I am sure I am forgetting a few but these are the one in recent memory that proved a family movie does not have to be boring or rely on fart jokes to carry the movie.

Selena Gomez and Joey King in "Ramona and Beezus," picture from IMDb.com

So last night I am looking at the rack of rentals in my little store and I get excited because I see Ramona and Beezus has been put out on DVD. This is a fun little G-rated movie about a little girl with a lot of imagination and low impulse control. But like all good movies there are a number of things happening.

Dad (John Corbett) has lost his job, Aunt (Ginnifer Goodwin) is dealing with the reappearance of lost love (Josh Duhamel) and big sister, Beezus (Selena Gomez) doesn’t always appreciate her little sister’s exuberance. Following the books by Beverly Cleary somewhat, the movie dares to give us a slice of life in a family where everything is not peaches and cream but we love them anyway.

Hiccup and Night Fury in "How To Train Your Dragon," picture from IMDb.com.

I looked down the rack and saw the movie we watched last week, How To Train Your Dragon. The story is about a young Viking boy looking to find approval from his father by learning to be the greatest dragon killer. But then he captures one of the fiercest of dragons and learns to respect the creatures.

This will of course cause conflict. Changing the viewpoints held for several generations tends to do it. But our hero continues with courage and intelligence. It is a fun movie with some spectacular flying sequences.

Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan in "The Karate Kid," Picture from IMDb.com

The last movie I would suggest for this week is The Karate Kid starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan. This is a remake from the 80’s classic about a young teen who learns karate and to believe in himself thanks to a man in his neighborhood. The lessons will prove beneficial in the great final battle of the movie.

Now the story is about a young boy who moves to China for his mother’s job. Bullies have singled him out. But when the school’s handyman, Mr. Han, begins to teach him Karate, the boy gains the ability and confidence to confront the bullies. It is a solid movie that tells a familiar story with actors who are taking a few steps outside of where we have seen them before. That is what makes for a good, watch-able movie worth the price of the ticket, popcorn and the unbelievably large drink.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

 Let the world, or at least St. Anne, know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note to P.O. Box 306, St. Anne, IL 60964 or become my friend on Facebook.