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.

Baby A. and Up

carl and ellieIn The Art of Up, Tim Hauser makes this thought-provoking observation:

Taken as a whole, Pixar’s films can be viewed as serialized chapters in a single life: from sibling rivalry, early attachment (Toy Story), and socialization (A Bug’s Life), to maturation (Monter’s Inc.), separation, and parenthood (Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo); from protecting the nuclear family (The Incredibles), shifting out of the fast lane (Cars), and rekindling passion (Ratatouille), to planning for future generations (WALL-E), and, finally, accepting death (Up). 

In the movie Up, Carl has his life set to a certain standard, and his goals are fixed without much room for interruption. But interruption knocks on his door (2,000 feet in the air) and presents itself. Throughout the story, Russell the boy slowly but surely wedges his  way into Carl’s heart. And slowly we begin to see the ideology of an adoption form. We learn that Russell is fatherless and Carl steps in as his surrogate father. But the only way for him to do that is by letting go of what’s closest to him.

I’m not like Carl in the sense that I always keep my word (or will die trying), but I do have many of his negative qualities. I’m stubborn and like to have things go my way. But with the arrival of our foster daughter a few months ago, I’ve had to rearrange my comfortable lifestyle a bit.

But I’m not the only one; anyone who’s a parent has had to do this. Parents learn how to watch less TV, get less sleep, and drop everything to assist the needs of the afflicted (or hungry).

And you know, giving all that up is worth it to see my little girl smile with satisfaction or joy just to see me.

I love stories like Up, because it reminds us what we’re living for. Not comfy chairs or waterfalls or prunes, but relationships, and love, and extending our family circle.

We’re so thankful for our rolling, laughing, giggling little girl. Her parents have been MIA these past several months so it looks like transitioning into the official adoption phase is inevitable and very near at hand.

Obviously Sarabeth and I are thrilled and can’t imagine a single a day without Baby A. in our lives. So yeah, she’s worth less sleep and dirty diapers. To us, she’s worth everything in the whole world.

A Boy and His Tiger

squeezitIf you were a child of the 80s or 90s, many different things sum up your childhood.

Things like pigs and slammers, Squeezits, Raven’s Revenge, Rugrats, and Steve Urkel’s cloning machine.

To know these things is to be a part of a club, a very special and inclusive club. I say inclusive because most of us are now trying to introduce our won kids to dumbour generation’s favorites. The 80s and 90s are hard to let go of. Just look at all the reboots in Hollywood: the anticipated Dumb and Dumber To, to name one.

And on TV: Girl Meets World, Fargo, an upcoming Saved by the Bell movie.

Judy Bloom and Goosebumps are constantly getting makeovers. Ariel goosebumpsis still the most idolized princess in the Disney realm, and I would bet most kids could sing the Fresh Prince theme song.

But there’s one piece of nostalgic lore that holds a special place in all of our hearts. They were a couple of misfits, one a figment of the other’s imagination. They both had stripes, one with two feet, the other with four and a tail. They both loved adventure and sledding in the snow and building fortresses and people-eating snowmen.

Do the words Get Rid OSlimy Girlbring back any memories?

What about the adventures of Stupendous Man?

Or the third-grade teacher, who was everyone’s teacher, Mrs. Wormwood?

When you opened the newspaper on Sunday mornings you could find yourself in outer space SpacemanSpiff_Smallwith Spaceman Spiff or be caught up in a game of Calvinball. Or you might be turning a cardboard box into a “Cerebral Enhance 0-Tron.”

The possibilities were always endless with Calvin and Hobbes, the comic strip about a young boy and his stuffed tiger.

I remember the day it was announced that Bill Watterson would be drawing his last comic strip, and it was devastating, like the day John candyCandy died or I first heard the word “terrorist” in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Everyone had to have their dosage of Calvin and Hobbes. And if you return to them today, they’re just as endearing, hysterical, and thought-provoking as they were then.

There’s a documentary on Netflix instant watch called Dear Mr. Watterson posterwhere the filmmaker attempts to track down the beloved creator and mastermind of the comic strip.

My favorite thing about the film is that it showcases the impact Calvin and Hobbes had on the world, and continues to today. Our generation of readers are faithfully passing down Watterson’s legacy to our own kids, and I’ll certainly be sharing my collection with our daughter when she’s older.

What kind of impact did Calvin and Hobbes have on you as a kid?

 

o-GROWN-UP-CALVIN-AND-HOBBES-facebook

pyre0

HowItShouldBeCalvinGrowsUpAndHobbesIsStillAwesome-57931

calvin_and_hobbes-yawn[1]

Calvin and Hobbes in Snow

 

Baby Music

If you have a baby or have raised one, you know the importance of music. And in this day and age, the importance of apps designed to lull your fussy babies to sleep.

We play a lot of Disney music for Baby A., but that can get kind of old after a while.

Neither Sarabeth nor I are into VeggieTales, and I like all the old hokey country children’s songs like “Big Rock Candy Mountain” and “You Are My Sunshine,” but Sarabeth doesn’t, so I can only play that sparingly.

Anyway, I want to start a discussion where you all share your favorite children’s songs and music. Please indicate whether they’re songs for playtime or for bedtime. Also, some good Bible songs would be good, too.

Here’s a few of my favorites so far.

For Playtime

Raffi_-_Baby_Beluga_cover_artRaffi – Far as I can tell, this guy wrote “Baby Beluga” (come on, who doesn’t like that song?). He’s got a couple of CDs up on iTunes and I’ve picked a few songs to go on Baby A.’s playlist.

Disney Pixar CD SOundtrack createstDisney/Pixar’s Greatest Hits – The great thing about this CD is that it’s just plain awesome for everyone. Plus, most of it is Randy Newman music, and you can’t go wrong, there!

julie-fowlis-1Julie Fowlis – I don’t speak Scottish, and most likely Baby A. isn’t going to either, but she’s certainly going to have an appreciation for foreign music. Julie Fowlis isn’t a children’s singer, but she sang all those enchanting songs in Brave, and it turns out, the rest of her CD’s are just gorgeous and very soothing. A great play/sleep transition.

For Bedtime

sound sleeperSound Sleeper app – This app has been a lifesaver for us and I believe has gained us a few extra minutes of sleep. You can set the sound to play “Rain” or “Ocean waves” or a few other soothing settings. And yes, including “Womb.”

A_Beautiful_Mind_cdA Beautiful Mind soundtrack – If you can only handle so much Baby Einstein, the great composer Howard Shore is the way to go.

finding neverlandFinding Neverland soundtrack – The only soundtrack that’s better than A Beautiful Mind

shireShire music – Because I want to prepare her for the greatest epic adventure of her life. And really, our little girl is still in the Shire of her own life.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 13,321 other followers