My Zero Waste Journey

My Zero Waste Journey

I love nothing more than to read a self-help book.  If I’m inspired by it I will flip my life, and my family’s, upside down and try a new way of living.  We lived without bread for a year on the Wheat Belly diet.  Marie Kondo put our lives in rainbow order.  And there are a whole lot more candles burning in my house thanks to, The Little Book of Hygge.

Last August, 2017, I had first seen Lauren Singer’s Ted Talk, she managed to only produce one jar of trash for a whole year.  I was intrigued.  I looked for a book on the subject and found, Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson.  I read it once and then the very next week, while on an 8 hour train ride from VA to NYC, I read it again, this time taking notes.

Over the years I have done what I could to reduce my environmental impact: using cloth bags, shopping locally, and eating in season.  So, this seemed to me to be the gradual next step.  But this next step didn’t feel gradual.  It felt like a giant leap.

I coerced butchers to put my meat in glass containers.  I completely stopped buying cheese.  And I stumped cashiers when trying to buy bulk items in a jar.

Going grocery shopping became a nightmare.  It literally gave me panic attacks.  I would reward myself with baked goods just to make life more bearable.  After about 3 months something had to give.  My wits and my family’s patience were waning.

So, I learned what I could do that works for my family and how much we’re willing to change our lives to accommodate the health of our earth.  We’ve come a long way and we’re always looking for new ways to step more softly on this beautiful life-giving planet of ours.  And I am so grateful that my husband and two sons are 100% on board.

Follow my plastic-free July Instagram posts to see how we do it and hopefully find a little inspiration of your own… but take it slow so you don’t pass out in the grocery store when you see that you’re surrounded by more plastic than food.  Every little bit helps!

 

Find me on instagram at familypictureshow

Native American Movies

Native American Movies

Every November all around the US kids are taught the story of the pilgrims setting sail for the new world, but all too often the people that were already living in this country are viewed as just wild natives that taught the pilgrims to grow corn.  Native Americans have such a rich and beautiful culture that many of us know little about.  This past month I watched many great films with Native American characters, here are a few that your family is sure to enjoy this Thanksgiving season.

For Families with Young Children

Brother Bear 2 follows the journey of Nita and her childhood friend that has turned into a bear.  They must break their bond so Nita can please the gods and proceed with her arranged marriage.  This movie is light and fun with very little scary elements.  It deals with themes of love, friendship, and responsibility and has a very strong female protagonist. Available on Netfilx watch instantly.

 

I waivered on whether or not I wanted to add Pocahontas to the list.  Why did Disney decide to change history and have John Smith and Pocahontas fall in love, we’ll never know.  But for the most part this is a great film about Europeans coming to the New World in search of gold and silver and their struggle with the natives.  It also has some beautiful music and silly animals that will keep your little ones giggling.  Available on Netflix watch instantly.

 

For Families with School Age Children

Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale was one Disney movie that snuck by me.  I’m not sure how I missed it, but I’m so glad I’ve seen it now.  Squanto is tricked into going onto a European ship only to be kidnapped and forced to be the slave of an English noble.  He is put on display for the entertainment of the people of England.  Squanto quickly escapes and is hidden by monks in a cloister.  This wonderful tale of bravery and adventure is sure to entertain your kids.  It even ends back in the New World just in time for Thanksgiving dinner with the pilgrims.

 

The Education of Little Tree deals with a period of time of Native American history that not many films have touched on.  Little Tree, a young boy that lives with his grandfather and Native American grandmother is forced to go to a school far from his family to be “Americanized”.  He is critized and laughed at when he uses his deep knowledge of the land in his new school.  This film deals with themes of family, death, and culture.

 

For Families with Older Children

I did not see Dances with Wolves in 1990 when it first came out.  I only just watched it today.  Kevin Costner plays a Lieutenant in the army and is stationed alone in the west.  He is fascinated by the Native Americans and patiently befriends them and learns their language.  They accept them as one of their own tribe.  This film is beautifully done and gives you a nice idea of what it might have been like to live in a Native American village.  Be aware that there are battle scenes, dead buffalo, and one mild sex scene.

 

Smoke Signals is the only film I found that takes place in modern day.  Two boys that are complete opposites are set on a journey off the reservation to learn about their past.  This is a small film that is made by and acted by Native Americans.

 

Monster Movies

Monster Movies

Coming home on Sunday mornings I remember casting aside my tights and dress for a comfy sweat suit.  My sister and I would sprawl out on my parent’s bed with Newsday’s comics section while watching black and white monster movies, Abbott and Costello, and The Three Stooges.  This past month while watching lots and lots of monster movies to prepare this list, made me long for the those relaxing Sunday afternoons.

This month’s list is packed with all your favorite monsters; Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Mummy, and Werewolf.  I’ve found movies to fit every family’s fright factor.

 

Mildly Scary – For Families with Young Children

For the younger crowd that may not be familiar with our favorite movie monsters, Hotel Translyvania is a great introduction.  The movie introduces all the classic monsters when they are on vacation getting a little R&R from their monster lives at Dracula’s hotel.  The hotel is turned upside down when a human stumbles upon the scene, only to fall in love with Dracula’s daughter. This is a great movie that can easily be watched every Halloween.

 

Tim Burton’s was at his best when he created this stop motion animated masterpiece, The Nightmare Before Christmas. I fell in love with this movie when I was in high school and my son, at age 3, fell in love with Halloween when he saw it.  Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween town, is bored with only scaring people one day of the year.  Jack sets out to find something new when he stumbles on Christmas Town.  But what would Christmas look like if monsters and ghouls were is charge?

 

 

One Jump Scary – For Families with School Age Children

For a long time my youngest son would not watch anything that wasn’t animated.  It was too intense to see real people in peril.  Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is a baby step toward a real monster movie.  Instead of being terrified that a monster is going to jump out at you, you can laugh along and watch Costello be terrified, while Abbot is oblivious.  This movie is filled with all your favorite monsters, they move at the speed of molasses so Costello can get away just in the nick of time.

 

For families that are ready to see real monsters being hunted down by a mob, The Bride of Frankenstein is a great start.  Lonely Frankenstein needs a companion that doesn’t go screaming from the room every time he enters it, so the doctor, in his mad scientist laboratory filled with sparks and buzzing generators, sets out to create him a mate.  In this movie, rather than the original Frankenstein movie, you don’t wait half the movie for Frankenstein to be created, he is running around wreaking havoc the whole time.

 

Hide Under Your Covers Scary – For Families with Older Children

What could be more fun than creating something cute and cuddlely, mutiplying it, and then turning it evil.  For most kids of my generation Gremlins was the first scary movie we saw.  It still holds up today, your kids will fall in love with these adorable creatures and yet might have a hard time going to sleep that night. One requirement of this film is to be aware that the existence of Santa Claus is questioned.




There were lots of mummy movies to choose from for this list.  Starting with the 1932 version where the mummy barely moves through the movie and he looks more like a guy than a mummy.  The 1999 Brendan Fraser version of The Mummy is the most fun for this age category.  This version is a cross between Indiana Jones and a monster movie.  An archeologist discovers a map of the treasures of Egypt.  When they go to find those treasures they wake up – The Mummy.

 

What are your family’s favorite monster movies?

Aliyah is watching…

Aliyah is watching…

10 year-old Aliyah watches movies with her mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, and 16 year-old sister.  One of her favorite family movies is Zootopia.  On family movie night sometimes Aliyah’s family has popcorn or ice cream.  The last fun movie Aliyah watched with her family happened to be, Zootopia.  Aliyah said, “We really liked the part where the sloths were being super slow.”

What is your family watching?  Send me a picture of yourself or a family member and let me know what your family movie night looks like.

Just answer a few questions.  What is your first name and age? (If you’re a mom, dad, grandma, etc. you dont need to give me your age.)  What does family movie night look like at your house?  What is one of your favorite family movies?  What is the last movie you enjoyed with your family, and what was your favorite part?

 

Please e-mail me your answers and a picture to familypictureshow at gmail.com.  Thanks so much!

Henry is watching…

Henry is watching…

 

10 year-old Henry watches movies with his mom and dad and 13 year-old brother.  One of his favorite family movies is My NeighborTotoro.  On family movie night Henry eats pepperoni pizza while watching a fun family movie.  The last fun movie Henry watched with his family was Jurassic Park.  Henry said , “Jurassic Park was very exciting.  I liked the molecule guy in the video (Mr. DNA).”

 

What is your family watching?  Send me a picture of yourself or a family member and let me know what your family movie night looks like.

Just answer a few questions.  What is your first name and age? (If you’re a mom, dad, grandma, etc. you dont need to give me your age.)  What does family movie night look like at your house?  What is one of your favorite family movies?  What is the last movie you enjoyed with your family, and what was your favorite part?

 

Please e-mail me your answers and a picture to familypictureshow at gmail.com.  Thanks so much!

 

Frances is watching…

Frances is watching…

9 year-old Frances watches movies with her mom and dad and 12 year-old brother.  One of her favorite family movies is Despicible Me.  On family movie night her and her brother sit on either ends of the couch and hold a favorite pillow.  They usually eat take-out and sometimes they make a fire.  The last fun movie Frances watched with her family was A Town Called Panic.  Frances liked, “when they were playing cards when they were on a ledge near a lava pit.”

 
What is your family watching?

Hispanic and Latino Family Movie List

Hispanic and Latino Family Movie List

In observation of Hispanic National Heritage Month, I thought I’d share with you some great Hispanic/Latino movies you can watch with your whole family!  It’s been so much fun to look for films that may be out of the mainstream limelight, but truly deserve your time on family movie night.

For Families With Younger Children

In 2014 Book of Life was my family’s favorite animation of the year.  It’s the story of a love triangle that brings the characters straight into the underworld.  The main character, Manolo, learns that the only way to live is to follow his heart.  The visuals of this animation are truly spectacular.

Rio is about a bird named Blu, a domesticated macaw living in Minnesota, he leaves for Rio de Janeiro to follow the love of his dreams.  This silly and fun movie will have your family laughing with all of Blu’s clumsy antics in this fish-out-of-water story.

For Families with School Age Children

Underdogs, originally named Metegol, is an animated movie from Argentina.  Wikipedia notes that it was the most expensive animated movie ever made in Latin America at the time.  This will be a fun movie for all the soccer playing fans in your life.  After watching the movie my boys immediately went outside and started kicking around the ball.  It lacks some substance in its story line but the funny antics of the fooseball players that come to life will keep the whole family entertained.  You can watch this movie on Netflix watch instantly dubbed into English or listen in Spanish with English subtitles.

The Perfect Game is based on a true story of young boys in Monterey, Mexico that form a little league team and compete in America.  This underdog tale has a strong sense of religion and touches on themes of poverty, segregation and loss.  It is also uplifting,  inspiring, exciting and very sweet.  I highly recommend this film.

For Families with Older Children

Based on a true story, McFarland, USA follows a down-on-his-luck teacher that moves his family to themostly immigrant town of McFarland, California.   There he recognizes that some of the students at McFarland High School are fast.  He starts a cross-country team that lifts up the lives of the students and the community while becoming a part of the community himself.

 

Underwater Dreams.  When two teachers at Carl Hayden High School tried to recruit students for an underwater robotics team, the students were hesitant, but with the help of wonderful teachers and hard-working and intelligent students, they go on to compete with the likes of MIT.  This documentary is more that just a story about competition, it also focuses on the hope and determination all illegal immigrants need to change our broken system when it comes to enabling Mexicans and South Americans to become legal Americans.  This film will give you a lot of ideas to discuss with the teens in your family.

 

 

This November we can look forward to Pixar’s new movie, Coco, that takes place in Mexico.  Take a peek.

 

 

What Hispanic or Latino movies does your family love?

 

The Breadwinner: Reading the book before the movie

The Breadwinner: Reading the book before the movie

When a movie is based on a book I always prefer to read the book first.  I will hold off on seeing the movie until I’ve read the book.  Back in the day I remember reading, The Firm.  I saw the movie before I read the last seven pages and to this day I have never read those last pages.  I have since learned that the movie ended quite different from the book.

So, when I found out that Cartoon Saloon has made Deborah Ellis’, The Breadwinner, I downloaded the book on my library Overdrive account to listen to it with my kids.  The story is about Parvana, a prepubescent girl living in Taliban controlled Afghanistan.  After Parvana’s father is arrested she decides to dress as a boy so she can still freely go outside and make a living for her family.  The book has strong themes of doing what’s good for your family, sticking up for what you believe in, and being courageous.

My kids and I are really looking forward to seeing this movie.  We have loved Cartoon Saloon’s last two films; Song of the Sea and The Secret of Kells.  Both of which I highly recommend.  We have chatted about how we think the movie will differ from the book. (Take a look at my post here comparing books and movies.)

If you have a chance to read the book and see the movie, let us know what you think!  There is no set release date for this film yet, other than it will be release this year.

 

The Court Jester

The Court Jester

The first Christmas I spent with my husband’s family I was introduced to the incomparable, White Christmas. Bob Hope and Rosemary Clooney sang wonderfully, but for us, Danny Kaye stole the show. We had always meant to look up other Danny Kaye movies. After having seen the ‘poison’ scene on You Tube and cracking up we decided to watch Danny Kaye in the Court Jester.
The movie begins with Danny Kaye, a retired circus star, posing as a court jester in order to get the rightful king on the throne. The film is filled with double talk, amazing physical comedy, singing and dancing and the ever hilarious mistaken identity.
My whole family had a lot of fun watching the film unfold. The entire experience seemed very interactive. We were amazed at Danny Kaye’s rope swinging abilities and enjoyed the complex and yet hilarious sword fights. And the finale is not to be missed.
It is an old movie, 1956, so all families may not be comfortable to outright enjoy the hokey humor. But if you let your guard down and let the movie do its thing, I’m sure you’ll be delighted!

 

“Your Name” Review

“Your Name” Review

Your Name is a Japanese animated film made by Makoto Shinkai.  It’s the story of two teenagers and how their lives intertwine.  That’s all I can give you.  This movie has such fun twists and turns, every time you figure out one layer, another is added.  It would be a disservice if I told you much more.  I’m not even sure I should have said that much.  This film is like a beautiful piece of origami unfolding itself.

I highly recommend seeing this movie in the theater with your older kids.  This would be a fun movie to discuss with teens and adults alike.  The only drawback is that the theatrical version is subtitled.  I didn’t want to peel my eyes away from the beautiful images, but I needed to keep my eyes on the bottom of the screen to keep up with the ornate story.  I will also look forward to watching a dubbed copy when it comes out on DVD.