Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Have YOU seen Breaking Dawn yet? Let's talk about it.

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to go see the new Twilight movie.

I admit, I am a Twilight fan. I've read all of the books. I've seen all of the movies...some of them at midnight, on a school night, wearing 'team Jacob' apparel.

I was one of the giggling girls who gasped aloud when Jacob ripped his shirt off in New Moon. I even have a little scrapbook about my Twilight adventures, with ticket stubs, sound track CD jackets, and photos with Twilight-loving friends.

I loved the books. And I believe that if you love something, you should just go for it...and unabashedly proclaim your love for it.

Before the movie, I made a quick stop at the drugstore for some candy. Peanut m&ms and sour skittles.

At the register, my total was less than $3.....I had about $10 in cash.....'darn....I have to save this to pay for a movie ticket...guess I will have to use my debit card for this,' I told the attendant.

The cashier, whom I've always thought looks a little like DJ Qualls, the nerdy guy in Road Trip (a side note that is neither here or there and has no relevance to this blog post, but is worth noting because if you go to the Mays Drugstore near my house, I hope you will look for him and tell me your thoughts about this random unimportant doppleganger sighting). Anyway, the cashier, asked me 'What movie?"

"Um, what else, the new TWILIGHT movie!" I exclaimed.

"Twilight? Seriously?" Another  male cashier behind me chimed in. They both  made some rude comment referring to how nerdy/dorky/lame I was for wanting to see movie.

I just laughed, turning the other cheek at the haters, and said thank you on my way out, as I tried to stuff my snacks in my tiny purse.

Driving to the theater, I thought of all of those Signfieldesque 'The Jerk store, called' come backs I should've said to those boys.

"Yeah, the Twilight movie! Its one of the few movie franchises that is actually made for women! You guys get all sorts of movies like the Transformers, Star Wars, and there are millions of superhero movies with midnight premiers, like Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Green Lantern, et cetera, et cetera. Now, I am going to the movies, where I will squeal and giggle and swoon as much as I want over vampires and werewolves. Haters quit hating, thank you, and good night!" (At the end of my speech, the drugstore cashiers are bowing and clapping, proud that I have impressed them with my ferocious snarky response)

Proud of my little fictional comeback speech, I pulled into the theater in my over-sized sweatshirt, sweatpants, and met up with my girl friend. We bought some popcorn and settled in for 30-minutes of previews before the movie started. (Totally excited for the Hunger Games movie, BTW)

If you have not seen the Breaking Dawn, quit reading now. There are some spoilers below. Also, I am a true fan, so that gives me the right to be disappointed with something that doesn't live up to my expectations.....or whatever, I really don't care, I just want to talk about this movie!

When the movie starts, we get an immediate swoon-worthy shot of Jacob's abs when he rips his shirt off before morphing into a wolf....and then we don't really see much of him without his shirt on for the rest of the movie, sadly.

Before I go on I would just like to say that the wedding of Edward and Bella was truly beautiful!! It was my favorite part of the movie. The woods and the flowers and her dress, WOW!

The soundtrack was also amazing. Really great use of music.

The scene with the family giving little toasts at the reception, was hilarious!

However, there were some other parts of the movie that were also really funny/weird.....reminding faithful readers what a WEIRD book this was...making me wonder, should this have been made into a movie?

Don't get me wrong, I loved the book, I even bought the t-shirt and made a scrapbook about it...but....as a movie, some of the thing that were necessary to the plot, were just CREEPY on film.

#1 The scene where the werewolves are having a discussion on the wood pile about whether or not to kill Bell and her abomination-baby. In the book, it explains that the wolves can communicate via 'thoughts'...but in the movie.....my friend Tracy said it best:   

'Ok I'm just gonna say it. Disappointed with the "Power of Gray Skull" wolf scene in Breaking Dawn'

The Power of Gray Skull is from the He-Man cartoon from the 80s.

The wolf voices are SO strange and cartoonish I remember looking around the theater, like 'Okay, is anyone else just weirded out by this shiz?"  It is just a very weird scene.

#2 The part where Bella dies and has a baby. Okay, if you have read the book, you know that she dies. She is pregnant with a monster, and she dies giving birth. Edward has to chew the baby out of of her belly because it is breaking her bones and apparently no surgical utensils will penetrate the uterus. 

They don't really show him chewing her belly....but they do show his face afterwards, covered with blood and chunks of something... her ladyparts, I guess??? I was completely creeped out by him going down on her in this way, even though he was trying to use his fangless-vampire-jaws to remove a creature from her womb, it was disgusting and dirty.

The baby itself is SO covered bloody jelly, but the area around the eyes look like its been wearing those sun-tanning goggles while gestating in Bella's belly. Totally necessary to keep the baby-actor safe, but a noticeable flaw in the makeup.

After Bella takes a look at creepy little baby Renesmee, she dies. Edward freaks. He stabs her in the chest with a huge syringe of his VENOM....making me wonder exactly where the clear-ish-white-ish liquid came from? When did he harvest so much Venom and how? And why did they need so much of it? And where in the heck do vampires excrete such a venom?

Then he starts trying to do CPR on her skinny, rubbery, dead looking body, while she lays there staring up at the ceiling turning into a vampire, but paralyzed and lifeless. He starts fanglessly-vampire-biting her all over...(S&M scene?) to 'turn/save' her. 

#3 Bella shaves her legs the first night of her honeymoon, before the bed-breaking sex scene....um, why didn't she do that the morning before her wedding? Weirdo.  

#4 Poor-hot-Jacob is now a pedophile. Jacob imprinted on a new-born. Ew. I understand imprinting, and I understand how the book explained everything somewhat perfectly, but him flash-forwarding through her life as if he is watching her grow up and seeing his fantasy of her, while she is in swaddling gear is just creepy and weird.

#5 Inconsistancies: When Edward and Bella left the woods of Oregon after the wedding, it was dark...and when they arrived in Rio, it was still night....did he run them all the way there? Did they take a private jet? I guess they took a private-super-fast jet and it only took a few hours....but seriously, that would've been a long flight...it would've at least been breaking dawn when they landed. 

Edward does not sparkle in this movie. Even on their honeymoon, on a sunny island south of Rio, he doesn't glitter anymore. 

Also, Bella's bruises are pathetic and fast disappearing....she should've been very black-and-blue after the romp they had and the bruises should've lingered and turned every shade from purple to yellow, like mine do.

Bella doesn't eat any eggs. In the book, she ate tons of eggs, and it made me hungry for scrambled, fried, boiled, sunny-side-up eggcellent eggs...but in the movie, she puked after one chicken leg and didn't eat or drink anything else except for a couple of O- blood-milk shakes through a straw, which kool-aid stained her teeth and lips, can I get an "OH YEAH!"

Okay, so these are the things that stick out in my mind after seeing the movie one time in the theater. I am sure if I saw it again (and i had a chance to go with some of my friends on Monday, but I turned it down because it is not worth the money to watch it again, I would rather not see it again unless someone else owns it and we are having a marathon during a crafting event), I am sure there would be tons more to discuss.

Maybe I was too blinded by the super hot Jacob abs in the last two movies to notice the poor acting and even poorer dialog, but I didn't care, it was visual eye candy and a fun fantasy.

In this movie, I laughed at the wrong parts and I tried, TRIED really hard to believe in the fictional rant I had unleashed on the cashiers just an hour before...but maybe they were right....this movie sort of sucked. But I am okay with that.

Will I be going to see Breaking Dawn Part Deux?...Yes, yes I will. #teamjacob #twihard4life

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Eagle Bluff

My dad called me Friday night to tell me about some eagles he had spotted on the bluff near his house. I grew up traveling this one particular highway....
It starts at 5-mile corner, the driveway in the photo above leads to an empty lot. Before it was an empty lot, there stood a burned-down trailer house. Before the trailer burned down, my mom had a boyfriend that lived there...many years ago.

Highway E continues past a white building/barn with sunflowers painted on it. Just past the little white building is a crumbling house, it used to have sheep wandering the surrounding pastures, and a 'crazy' hitch-hiker lady who would always be found on street corners around town. She was nice enough, but if you picked her up, she was like the hitch-hiker missionary, telling you about Jesus and the bible. I don't know if she still lives there, or if anyone does....the house is practically falling down now and the sheep are gone.

Just after that, you drive through an intersection, turn east and you head out into the country, to a secret spot where we used to drive through an old tree farm and go swimming on our own private creek beach. I remember the stinging nettle and the crawdads. 

Turn right, you will drive over Wagon Bridge, the old version of highway E, where the Granby was built, near Shoal before it got flooded and the whole town moved to higher ground. I have many memories of wagon bridge...of taking pictures, going swimming, digging worms, and fishing.

Past that intersection, sits a beautiful mansion with a pond and fountain, and a copper awning over a massive front door. 

Just beyond the mansion is a bridge that connects two bluffs. The bridge goes over a scenic valley, with grazing cows, a babbling river, and a train track. The familiar sound of the late night train whistle in the distance is one of my favorite sounds. The valley and the bluff together is a picturesque scene, especially in the fall.

Highway E is a very familiar place. The bluff that my dad referred to as 'our bluff' is most definitely ours. When I was a kid, I would hike up the dirt road behind our house to the bluff to pick flowers, look over the edge at the water below and pick blackberries. My first kiss was on the rocks overlooking shoal creek. It is a very special spot to me.

 So when  he told he he had seen some eagles in the trees, I wasn't sure if I believed him...

When he said, 'Nellie, you have got to get down here and see these eagles before the leaves blow off the trees, they  are amazing! With their white heads, and the orange leave. Get down here and bring your camera with your biggest lens because these are National Geographic images!'....

I figured it was just dad code for: "You need to come see me soon, before the leaves fall off the trees."

I decided to squeeze his request into a very busy Saturday and drive down to Granby around 3:00pm, since he had seen the eagles on his way home for several days in a row. 

Saturday was one of the windiest days EVER! 

When I first got to the bridge going up to the bluff, and saw the eagles perched in the tree, my first response was, "Those are FAKE eagles......those aren't real.'

Seriously, the eagles were absolutely beautiful! And huge! They looked like fake eagle statues someone had hung up in the trees. Who would climb up in a dead tree under a bridge and hang up some eagle statues? No one. The eagles were real. Hooked beak and all!

I was fiddling with the settings on my camera, trying to get them just right. I was using my biggest lens, and the AUTO feature just doesn't work with my camera, so I have to manual focus and make sure the exposure is right on each picture. 

When I say that it was windy...I mean that it was insanely windy. I had my camera mounted on a monopod....and the wind kept blowing the big lens, just when I had it focused perfectly, a lot of my images came out blurry.

I only had a few second to adjust my camera before the eagles started flying around. I am so mad. I wish I would have had my camera ready BEFORE I got out of the car, crossed the bridge, and pointed it at them...then I would've had more time. 

The pictures of the eagles aren't the greatest. I know that. But it was amazing to see them....they were so beautiful amongst the orange trees. I am so glad my dad convinced me to drive down and try to spot them with my camera.

 Sort of looks like a Monet painting...all blurry and dotted.
 So I know that if you want to see some good eagle pictures, just google EAGLES...and some REALLY amazing images will pop up. But if you want to see a landscape that is familiar to me, newly dubbed 'Eagle Bluff'....you can only see the images right here.
 It is so beautiful this time of year! I'm really glad I took this little drive down memory lane.
 I love the Ozarks!
This is one of my favorite times of the year. In just a few weeks, it will be Thanksgiving. I am thankful for my family and my memories.

Morgan's English Tea Party Bridal Shower

Today, I had the fun pleasure of helping host tea party bridal shower! It was SO much fun!


For the theme, we used Morgan's wedding colors....which is basically champagne....we added some silver and gold and since she loves peacocks, we used feathers throughout the decor.
A white peackcock lives near the home where I grew up and my aunt saved a bunch of his feathers for a few years. They are WAY prettier than any white peacock feathers I found online, so I asked her to borrow them for a centerpiece. (Thanks Auntie Robyn!!) The giant champagne class is a left over from a friend's wedding. I painted a big gold and champagne peacock eye feather on it.

We used a handmade lace table cloth, real and paper doilies and lots of fancy real china for the decorations and for the food.
 We wanted it to feel like a really fancy tea party!

 Mint chocolate diamond rings. The mold is from Hobby Lobby, really fun...my first time using a candy mold!
Stormi had these beautiful petit fours made, and they were so delicious!
I made these little cucumber tea sandwiches. SO yummy! Recipe here. There are many recipes online...I just used this one because it said FANCY in the title!

 We had a bunch of tea flavors.....
And lots of things to add in...like real sugar cubes, honey, and lemon.
There was SO much yummy food. Stormi made some delicious scones, and Lindsay made some delicious chicken salad sandwiches.
Morgan and her mom admiring the spread!
The Party Planning Committee.... Stormi, Me and Lindsay. (Also Julie....but she had a baby 3 days ago, welcome to the world Emily Grace!)  You can see here how dramatic the peacock feathers were!

We requested that everyone wear 'elegant tea party attire'.....I was hoping people would wear hats....but I knew that since I didn't specify, it probably wouldn't happen...so I made these little hair combs. So easy and cute! Just took some hair combs, added some feathers, and a little bit of glittery tulle and viola! (BTW, I spray painted the non-white hair combs gold, easy transformation!)

Here you can sort of see the punch....I borrowed Julie's dispenser, made an ice ring with fruit in it and used this punch recipe. Thanks, Pinterest!

At the shower, we played All About the Bride. Guests answered questions about Morgan, and they got a point if they wrote down what she said...and a bonus point if the groom also guessed the same answer.

Guests were also asked to make a little Magnetic Poetry poem for the bride.

I made a single sheet of words, using some from the Magnetic Poetry and some added words that related to the bride and groom and everyone cut out their own little poem and glued them to black paper for Morgan to take home.

SO CUTE! Morgan texted me a couple of them.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures of Morgan with the party guests!



The nieces.

English tea party!!! SO ADORABLE!! 

My gift to Morgan....toasting glasses for the wedding, matching the big one from the table. She found some on Etsy that she loved, but they were super expensive ($75!!)

Wow, what a great day!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Smallest Act of Caring

I need to share this story so that I will never forget it.

Although I would not normally share a personal story about a student, (and details have been changed to keep his identity secret), this is one of those stories that is a HUGE reminder that what I do is important and special.

Usually, students mature over the summer and naughty kids grow up a little bit. One year, a boy named Tommy, had been  acting completely different than he acted the previous year. This boy was so sweet and smart the year before, but on this particular year, I started to dread his class before I even saw them coming down the hall. I didn't want to be mean to the kid, but he was just so disruptive that I could hardly get through the lesson without getting frustrated with his behavior. I even mentioned it to his classroom teacher from the year before, and she said that other teachers have commented on how wild Tommy had become.

One day, the class was coming down the hall and I realized that they had a substitute. "Oh, great," I thought...generally, whenever a class has a substitute, bad behaviors are intensified and the normally well-behaved students are a little wiry from the lack of structured daily routines normally enforced by classroom teachers.

As soon as he walked up, Tommy said, "What happened to your hair?" as the class passed through the doorway. Immediately, I snapped (without thinking), "What happened to your face?" and then I looked at the substitute and cringed...hoping she had heard him be so rude, but somehow she didn't hear my completely unprofessional retort. I don't actually think Tommy heard me say it, because he didn't respond, but kept bee-bopping through the doorway as if it is completely normal to insult a teacher and get away with it.

I walked into class, closed the door, and got on with the lesson. I don't remember if Tommy was his usual interrupting self after that...I just tried to teach about mixing paint to create tints and shades.

About halfway through class, the principal came in and wanted to take Tommy out. Tommy left his painting sitting on the table.

Near the very end of art, with only about 6 or 7 minutes left, (everyone else was cleaning up and we were about to conclude) the principal brought Tommy back to art. He took me aside and said that Tommy had been in his office, meeting with family services. 'Could Tommy finish his painting? He really wanted to get back down here to art, so that he could finish it."

I don't know why Tommy was talking to a social worker, or whomever it was in the principal's office...I never asked....but students don't just meet with family services for fun....it was an immediate sign that something was going on in Tommy's home life. I had seen the signs all year. His behavior was drastically different than the year before.

Instead of showing Tommy a little more love, or given him opportunities for more attention, I had started to dread even being in the same room with him.

There he was, in the office, meeting with some stranger, about some situation at home, and all he wanted to do was be with me, in art, working on his painting.

I was mortified and embarrassed and ashamed that I had lashed out at the poor kid with "What happened to your face?!" when he is dealing with some pretty terrible stuff at home.

Being an art teacher, I can usually sense when something is going on with a child. It isn't necessarily that stuff comes out in their artwork, usually I notice a huge shift in behavior.

If a student suddenly starts acting oddly or misbehaving, I can tell that something is going on...perhaps the child is going to dad's for the weekend...or stayed up too late because parents were fighting....maybe the kid is living at Children's Haven or in foster care.

Rarely do I ever know the details about what is going on at home.  If I notice major changes, I will mention it to the classroom teacher and the counselor.

As I said before, I honestly never knew what was going on with poor Tommy...but his behavior started to improve after that. Or maybe, I started treating him a little differently because I had a little insight into the fact that something had changed at home and it was affecting his behavior. In any case, it is a huge reminder that no matter what, so you should always treat others with compassion because you never know what burdens they might be carrying.

Here are a few great quotes:

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong.  Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.  ~George Washington Carver

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.  ~Leo Buscaglia