10 Movies About Adoption No. 3: Lilo and Stitch

WallpaperIf you Google a list of adoption movies, Lilo and Stitch isn’t likely to be there. True, it was overlooked by many since it came out durring Disney’s sub-par years, but it’s actually a little gem wedged between the direct-to-video Cinderella II and the deplorable Country Bears. So because of Disney’s track-record the studio was setting for itself at the time, it’s easy to see why many opted out of watching this movie about a destructive alien invading Hawaii.

But it’s good. It’s not a masterpiece, or unforgettable, but it’s a good flick to pop in while the kids are still up and about.

In it, the alien Stitch ends up being adopted by Lilo’s older sister (sorry – spoiler alert). But I think it’s a good reminder that families can be made up of many different nationalities and cultures. And besides that, people outside the world of adoption often can’t imagine adopting a “destructive” or “wild” child, which is essentially what Stich is.

Our seven-month-old is going through a very grouchy stage right now. She’s frustrated that she can’t move on her own from point A to point B. So she cries all day long. Toys don’t make her happy, pacifiers don’t pacify, and don’t even bother trying to put her to sleep – you might as well try taming a rabid zombie.

But still, that doesn’t matter. We love her even when she’s kicking and screaming and blowing bubbles so forcefully that it sprays all over the spinning ceiling fan. And so what if she’s a little loud because she’s teething (or not teething)?

But there’s a line in Lilo and Stitch that we often use in our family, as I’m sure most other fans of the movie use as well:

“Ohana” means “Family” and “Family” means no one gets left behind.

I’m sure our little girl will cause us some headaches and give us ulcers in the coming years, but she’s still our family, and once she is adopted, always will be.

Some foster parents are amazing enough to take in older kids – kids that society has deemed as “troubled” or “a nuisance” – like Stitch. But they’re still worthy of our love and care. They’re still as valuable as anyone else. And they still need a family just like anyone else.

And they’ll probably require a lot more love and attention than other kids, but I think in the end, it can be worth the effort.

This is my family. I found it, all on my own. Is little and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good.

Hugs

Shel Silversteen penned a poem called “Hug-O-War.” You’d probably remember it if I started it off for you:

I will not play tug-o-war.mar15

I’d rather play hug-o-war.

Where everyone hugs

Instead of tugs,

Where everyone giggles

and rolls on the rug…

I don’t do hugs. They’re just not my thing.

dtv-tommyboyKids hug parents. Girls hug puppies. Heavy-set people give bear hugs. Women hug women. Tommy Boy hugs.

But I, Andrew, do not hug. I’ll shake your hand, or even better, I’ll high-five or fist-bump you. (“Knucks!”) But the best of all is a head nod. “Hey. What’s up?”

“Nothing. You?”

“Not much. See ya.”

“See ya.”

But there’s a problem with all of this. I don’t like hugs, but

I’m married.

And my spouse is a woman.

And women hug.

My wife likes hugs.

The first time Sarabeth and I hung out together as a couple, we could have hugged when I said good night.handshake

But we didn’t. I shook her hand. No joke.

But here’s the thing. Sarabeth knows me and my needs. She knows that I need affirmation and compliments. And she doesn’t give out compliments freely. But she gives them generously to me because she knows I need them.

So it’s only fair that I hug her more than once a week.

Because I love her.

What does your spouse love? What do they need every day?

My wife needs hugs.

10 Movies About Adoption No. 2: Punky Brewster

Screen-Shot-2014-04-05-at-15.55.02No, this isn’t a movie, but you probably remember this show from the ’80s, about an orphaned girl with mismatched socks and her dog Brandon who were adopted by the old, grouchy, set-in-his-ways Henry Warnimont.

Punky Brewster’s mom ditched her in a grocery store. The eight-year-old was suddenly and unexpectadly abandoned with no one but her dog to comfort her. She and Brandon find themselves living in an empty apartment when the landlord, Henry, finds them occupying the space.

After a series of mishaps, Henry decides to make Punky his foster daughter. At the end of two seasons Henry then proceeds to adopt Punky Brewster to maker her his daughter forever.

True, it’s no Office or Big Bang Theory. Humor-wise it’s proabably closer to Full House than Home Improvement, but it does embody the themes that we are living out in our household with Baby A. being our foster daughter. And it’s a show I plan on using as a tool to help educate our little girl about the journey her mom and me are on in trying to secure her officially as our daughter.

I’m taking the time to point this show out because in an emotional 5-part strand of episodes, entitled “Changes,” in season 2, the show walks viewers through the process of moving from foster care to adoption.

If you haven’t lived out the process, it can be difficult separating foster care from adoption and foster-to-adopt from adoption and all the terms can get kind of jumbled and confusing. You can Youtube “Punky Brewster – Changes” and a list of the five episodes will come up.

If you have an adopted child, sometimes it can be comforting to know that they’re not alone and that there’s nothing wrong or weird about being adopted. Punky never shows resentment toward her foster dad or spends her time hashing out the what-could-have-beens in her life – not that there’s not an appropriate time to do that – but instead, she looks toward the future with hope and optimism with her new father and she recognizes that he loves her just as if she were his biological daughter.

After all, even though Baby A. wasn’t born to us, it’s impossible not to see her as one of our own. And hopefully she’ll always feel that way toward us.

10 Movies About Adoption No. 1: 101 Dalmatians

101dalmatians2lgIt’s very likely that we will be adopting our foster daughter soon, unless something unexpected comes up. So Sarabeth and I are now shifting our focus from Baby A. being in our house for a short time to her being our permanent daughter. And that means that one day, we’ll be explaining to her that she was adopted.

One way for big ideas like that to make a little more sense are through stories. Jesus told parables to make big ideas relatable, or somewhat understandable, and I plan to do the same for Baby A. when she’s older. One story I plan on sharing with her is 101 Dalmatians.

Whether we read the excellent book by Dottie Smith or watch the movie, I’ll share with her that she is like one of the 84 orphaned dalmatian puppies who were on death row. (Except she wasn’t on death row.) But they had no parents. They were lost and alone in a cruel, cold world.

But when Pongo and Perdita were brought to the DeVille Mansion, they hardly had a second thought about taking their 15 biological puppies, along with the 84 others, with them back home.

Just like when we met Baby A. in the hospital, we had no reservations about taking her home to live with us as one of our own.

And to take it a step further, all of us were on death row once, in a cold, dark cell (and many still are), where Satan was feeding us luscious treats and tempting sins to fatten us up, readying us for the slaughter. Until Jesus Christ broke in and rescued us by His death on the cross. He extended His hand for all of us to come home with Him, but only a few of us went with Him, and those few became God’s children through adoption.

The purpose of this series is to point out the adoption themes in some of our most cherished stories so that we can share them with our kids to better help them understand the concept of adoption and the beauty of its life-altering power.

I’ll hope you’ll check back for nine other movies that can be used as a wonderful tool to help explain adoption to our kids.

Bad Neighbor?

Every summer our neighbor – we’ll call her Paddington – tries to grow tomatoes on herIMG_8378 front porch. And every summer she only gets about two or three successful tomatoes because slugs and worms and critters vandalize her efforts.

Throughout the years you can see the evolution of her defensive tactics. One year she put a ring of salt around her pots. The next year she put eggshells in her soil. Then she started putting plastic bags of vinegar water in her pots.

But this year, she’s taking her tomato-preserving strategies to a whole new level.

havahartezsetracoonShe’s taken to setting up animal traps.

Now, if anybody is an advocate for more tomatoes in this world, it’s me. In fact, I say we don’t need any other fruit or root but tomatoes. Tomatoes are like cheese – they make everything better. (I think I inherited my unusual love of tomatoes from my father: he was a successful tomato planter and he would bring his own tomatoes with him when we went out to restaurants. I can’t blame him, to this day I’ve never had better tomatoes.)

Do you see this picture of the tomato? Just looking at it makes me salivate, and it’s only 8:40 in the morning!tumblr_mfsxqiD18k1re461do1_500

So my love of tomatoes is clear. But, thought I’m no tree hugger, I also love animals. Not in the way a twelve-year-old girl does. I don’t doodle glittery ponies on my notebooks or anything, but I get a sense of sadness if I see them in trouble.

I always pull my car over to check for tags if I see a lost dog. If it wouldn’t be so dangerous, I’d shoo deer off the side of the road so they don’t get hit.

But anyway, our neighbor, Paddington, set these traps out and every day since I’ve found squirrels trapped in the cages. They just look so scared and helpless; they just wanted a bite of that darn Fig Newton.

I don’t know. Maybe I still feel guilty for hitting a baby squirrel with my car a while ago, or shooting suirells with my BB gun in the backyard when I was a kid…

So I look all around to make sure the coast is clear and release the squirrels . Sarabeth told me that they’re going to see me as their savior now. (Maybe I’ll grow some tomatoes and they’ll leave them alone as a thank you, then I can give some to Paddington as a peace offering.)

PussInBoots1Today I went outside with the dogs and it wasn’t a squirrel, but a raccoon. The poor guy wasn’t even struggling, probably because he was exhausted from panicking all night. He didn’t even flinch when I approached. He just looked up at me with those big tear-filled eyes…

So of course I let the big guy out.

This probably makes me an incredibly bad neighbor, but there’s no proof that the squirrels and raccoons are the ones destroying Paddington’s tomato plants. Innocent until proven guilty, right?

So what do you think? Bad neighbor or rodent savior? Is growing a few tomatoes worth trapping animals for? You be the jury. You decide.

In the meantime, I’m going to run to the grocery store and pick up some produce.

 

Movies as Good as Pixar Movies

It doesn’t take much browsing on my blog to figure out that I’m a devout Pixar enthusiast (Disney included). But there are some movies made by competitors that come awfully close, if not hit right on target, to Pixar’s standards of excellence. Here are my favorite non-Pixar/Disney animated movies that you’re sure to have a good time with.

Shrek-2-card-2004-12Shrek 2 (Dreamworks)

I love the second installment of the Shrek movies. It’s hip, it’s fun, and the soundtrack is awesome. It’s a fairytale within a fairytale, and it doesn’t bash all the other fairytales like its predecessor does. And the pouty Prince Charming is just hilarious.

surfs_up_620x348_0Surf’s Up (Sony Pictures Animation/Columbia)

This one didn’t sit too well with critics and audiences far as I know, and I can’t understand why. It’s a very original animated flick told in the style of a documentary. Sarabeth says you’ve got to have a love for the beach and surfing to enjoy this movie, so she might be right. At any rate, I’ve always said it’s as good as a Pixar movie, if for anything, its originality.

1_0_2008_07_09_05_16_25_65625Horton Hears a Who (Blue Sky Studios/Fox)

This is a fun little movie based off of the Dr. Seuss classic storybook, which I hadn’t read before seeing it. It’s not as sophisticated as other movies, but it’s big, bright, and colorful. Definitely pulls out the child in me, and it’s no chore to sit down and watch it on a rainy weekend.

despicable-me-2-22543-1280x800Despicable Me (Illumination Entertainment/Universal)

There’s nothing truly awe-inspiring about this movie, but it’s fun – just flat-out fun, with a few quotable moments throughout. Another good one for rainy weekends. I think what draws me in so much is the adoption theme. That’ll get me every time.

81AjuXCw9UL._SL1500_How to Train Your Dragon (Dreamworks)

This one probably comes the closest to being on par with Pixar standards. It’s got everything you need to make an animated movie go from really good to exceptional – fast action, witty dialogue, no potty humor, emotional content, and the protagonists lose something dear in the end. I haven’t seen the sequel yet, but I’m sure excited to whenever we get around to it.

What are your favorite non-Pixar/Disney animated movies? 

Summer Smoothies! (Guest Post from My Wife)

SmoothiesIt’s summertime and that means smoothies and fruit drinks! We love blending things at our house when it’s 90+ degrees out and our dinners are usually fresh salads with fancy dressings.

Anyway, my wife was kind enough to write a guest post for you all today about some of our favorite homemade smoothies. Feel free to share your own recipes below in the comments section so we can all have some new drinks to try this summer! Oh, and don’t forget to follow my wife’s awesome blog while you’re at it (you might find some more recipes from her later on): From Flats to Lofts.

I lived on Jamba Juice for about two months once. My wisdom teeth were coming in sideways,JambaLogo-PDFX-Prime-CMYK but I had to wait until I could take a week off of work to have them removed. (Plus I may have procrastinated going to the dentist for a couple of weeks after they started hurting because I’m a chicken.) It was cold, and didn’t require chewing, so it was the perfect lunch option – day after day after day…

But, then I didn’t eat for a week, and couldn’t drink out of a straw anyway, so I sort of stopped my daily trip to Jamba Juice. I was now $25 richer at the end of each work week. And really, once the pain went away I was pretty much grossed out by the thought of another smoothie. This lasted for several months, and when I finally wanted one again we were about to move from Seattle (Jamba Juice everywhere) to Louisville (Jamba Juice nowhere to be found).

So, I started to make my own. It is simple enough – just fruit and liquid. The two we make the most are blueberry and peanut butter.

 

Blueberry:SONY DSC

1 frozen banana (slice it before you freeze it)

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1/2 milk

Blend ingredients together until smooth and enjoy!

 

Peanut butter:peanut butter

1 frozen banana (slice it before you freeze it)

½ – 1 cup chocolate soy milk

1 large scoop of peanut butter

Blend together – adding more banana or milk if needed until you get the consistency you want.

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