Monday, November 26, 2012


I have seen a few movies that I have been dying to write about, but I wasn't sure if movie reviews was a good thing for my blog. Just like books, I only watch certain types of movies, and I don't want people to read this and expect me to review genres that I never watch. Besides, my opinion is only my opinion, and the little bit of insecurity I have always tells me my opinion is not good enough.

So to review the final installment of a blockbuster beast is waaaaaaaaaaay out of my element.

But then again, this is my blog.

And I feel like talking about it. Because it was a blockbuster beast. And what good is a blockbuster without it being talk-worthy afterwards, right?

So forget you, insecurity. I'm gonna write a movie review!

*     *     *     *     *


I have to put this out there. I've watched all the movies, and I've read all the books. I hate the books. The movies are only a little bit better. I don't really want to get into why I don't like the books, because I get pretty heated about it--which is weird, since I don't get heated about many things. The main argument I have against the series is that the author forgets so many rules of creative writing that I was constantly distracted and couldn't fully immerse myself in the series. (read:annoyed.) The saving grace of Meyer's story in my eyes was her take on the legends of vampires and werewolves. How the vampires turn, how they glow in the sunlight, the Quileutes and how Meyer's werewolves operate in their packs, even the Volturi... all were imaginative and artistic. I loved her fresh approach to classic mythology (and like I said before, the vampire/werewolf stories never get old.) That alone was the reason I couldn't put the books down. I could care less for the love triangle, and I especially couldn't stand Bella. I'm going to stop there, because nothing good will come of me continuing, and this post is about a movie, after all.

The other three movies were about as good as the books. Better, actually, since the movies stayed out of Bella's head. The actors were fine, not incredible, but they didn't have to be; the vampire makeup looked cakey and subpar; the story arc flowed well; the graphics, camera work, and music were phenomenal. I was waiting for this Twilight hype to be over, though, and wasn't expecting much with this last movie. All I remember about this part in the book was that I was even more over reading Twilight, so to say I was skeptical is an understatement.

I know. I'm a hypocrite. How could someone say they hate something so much and still read all the books and watch all the movies? Yeah, I ask myself that, too.


Whatever the movies lacked before, they sure figured out and fixed them for Breaking Dawn 2, because I loved it! Yes, ladies and gentlemen -- I finally can say I loved a Twilight movie. The opening credits reel itself was both haunting and enchanting. Who says that about opening credits? The graphics, the camera shots, the edits, the song choice... I would not be surprised if that opening sequence alone got an award somewhere. It. was. spectacular!

Then once that was over, the screen cut straight to where we left off in the first half: seeing newborn vampire Bella's red eyes. Can someone in the movie industry thank the makeup, hair, and costume people? Bella was GORGEOUS! (And so was everyone else.) Kristen Stewart's looks always had potential, but in every movie I've ever seen her in (which were only these and the Snow White one), her looks hadn't really come together. But not in this one. She was radiant. Her acting was much better, too. It was bold, nurturing, confident, and strong. All traits of her book character, but traits that I wasn't convinced Bella really had until Stewart's on-screen performance. She made a great mother and an excellent vampire.

The scene where she sees her dad for the first time since the wedding was surprisingly moving. The two did not exchange a lot of dialogue there (very much like their characters), but their interaction was all the dialogue you really needed. I'm having a hard time describing it, but basically I could see what both Bella and the dad wanted to say to each other, and I could feel their pain in not being able to say it. The actors did a brilliant job. You'll just have to watch it and see for yourself.

But my absolute-most-all-time-favorite part of the movie was the action scene. If you've seen the trailers, you'll notice there is one; if you've read the books, you'll notice there is not one. That was what I had most looked forward to, seeing how they pulled that off. Well, they pulled it off magnificently. The action itself was incredible, as easily as exciting to watch as in any other battle scene in Hollywood. That surprised me, because any action in the other movies was lame. And the sequence of events during the action scene both amazed and shocked me. [Spoiler Alert: in this scene, people die. People we love die.] But how the battle unfolded made the resolution (the one that really happened in the book) that much more plausible, and therefore more powerful. I was stunned, and then I was satisfied.

I forgot to mention the movie was funny. Not all the time, but enough to make you smile when you needed it the most. Look out for scenes with Bella and Jacob. Those were my favorite. [Spoiler Alert: you can't go wrong with the lines "You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness monster?"] I can't remember if that line was in the book, but Stewart did it justice no matter what.


Because my expectations of this movie were so incredibly low before watching it, I don't really have anything to complain about. Yay for that. I'm pretty sure the final scene and closing credit sequence was solely for the Twihard fans, because by the end reel I suddenly felt like pulling out my "I Like My Werewolves Hot" tee and wearing it with pride. (I'm NOT Team Jacob, by the way. I'm Team Peeta! lol)

I could've gone without the graphics of Renesmee, though. Most other movies (minus Benjamin Button and the like) just use different child actors to portray characters in different stages of their lives. I wish they did that with Renesmee: have a real baby with a real face, and a real 3-year-old with a real face, and so on. The girl they cast was amazing (and passed for Bella and Edward's daughter with flying colors), but I don't see anything wrong with casting other girls to play her as well. Maybe they did. Maybe it was a production or casting issue. Maybe it was politics. Or maybe they wanted to try their hand at CGI'ing a baby. Either way, CGI Renesmee looked like she belonged in "The Polar Express" movie, and I didn't care for that.


If you've ever mocked Kristen Stewart on her acting abilities, you may be eating your words after this. If you were a Twihard fan before, you may just leave the theater in tears. If you are a dude trying to get other dudes to go watch it with you, you still need to take a chick or two so you don't look stupid. But you dudes will not be disappointed. If you are hesitant about forking over the money, let me help: watch the movie -- don't buy the popcorn. Breaking Dawn 2 was a better series ending than Deathly Hallows 2 was to the Harry Potter series, which is saying a lot since I'm loyal to all things HP.

Bottom line: my favorite of the movies. And if it is MY favorite, I'm sure it will be your favorite, too.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Homemade Is My New Favorite Thing

Halloween costumes for the kids
I must think I'm Martha Stewart or something. After making the girls' costumes last Halloween and decorating our home for last Christmas, I'm all about doing holidays homemade now. This Halloween was no different, and I'm super proud of my costumes I made for the kids.

Almonds was the only one who chose her costume. She wanted to be a butterfly. Then someone said to just make them all different insects, which I thought was brilliant. So then Blondie became a ladybug, and Chip was a honeybee. Thank goodness for us living here, because I had much better resources (in the form of my artistic sisters who had paints and twine, and an Ace store that was only a 2-minute walk away) to make cuter costumes. And the only one that actually took money was Chip's, because I had no yellow or black onesie to work with, and our sewing machine was down. I bought spray paint from Ace. Not the best idea, just so you know. I sprayed the stripes early in the morning and let it dry outside in the wind all day, and it still had smelled like paint fumes. Chip kept rubbing his face the whole time he wore it, and since I was a bit bothered by the paint fumes myself, I knew it wasn't worth it. Thank goodness I made it a whole week before Halloween, for our church party. But before the real trick-or-treating, I soaked and handwashed it. The paint started wearing off, but at least the smell was gone. So yay for that.

Halloween for me growing up was all about making our costumes. I remember only one costume I wore that was purchased (a bunny rabbit at 4 years old), but it was fun coming up with ideas for costumes and then seeing them created before my eyes. My mom was exceptional at making things from scratch. I remember in second grade on Halloween morning I didn't have a costume to wear to school. She told me to put on a dress and shoes, and by the time I was done getting dressed, she had sewn me a beautiful red cloak out of an old bed sheet. (Is that amazing or what? I swear, our mothers are the best!) If there is any tradition that I would like to pass down regarding Halloween, it is wearing homemade costumes. I absolutely love it!

But I better end by saying that I am NO Martha Stewart. I'm sure she never made anything by stapling fabric to cardboard, or spray painting a onesie, or making the kids wear their wings with pajamas. I doubt I'll even be as good as my mother

Oh, and if you must know, I dressed up as a wild insect photographer. It didn't look that believable because I had no safari hat or boots. But I had the camera. That should count for something, right?

Potty-Training Blondie

image via momlot

As I'm writing this, I am hidden in a corner of the house, typing furiously to get as many words down as I can before it's too late. And when I say "it's too late," I mean "Chip wakes up."

I am going to argue that there is NEVER a right time to potty-train your kid. I thought last week was the right time for Blondie -- nothing on our calendar from Thursday to Sunday, showing "signs of readiness," and running low on diapers for her anyway. Now, exactly 8 days later, I am dancing on the line between zombie and maniac. So apologies ahead of time if this post is another one that makes no sense...

A friend sent me the 3-day Potty Training ebook, and I decided to pick a weekend and potty train Blondie once and for all. This is Attempt #3. It took 3 tries with Almonds too, so maybe three times really is a charm. (Of course, the third time Almonds was potty-trained was with a professional...) I thought I picked a good 3-day period of time, one where nothing was going on. Where I could focus all my effort and energy on Blondie and still have enough to spare for everything else. Instead, this is what happened:

Day 1 didn't happen; Blondie and Chip were sick.
Day 2 became the new Day 1, which was fine, except they were still sick.
Day 3/Day 2 I remembered I had to make snacks for Nursery the following day. Which was fine, except Blondie was still getting potty-trained that day and wasn't supposed to go anywhere.
Day 4/3 was the Nursery snack thing, and it was also the day before...
Day 5/4 ALMONDS' 4th BIRTHDAY!!! 
(and party... man, was it a party...)
Day 6/5, etc. -- did I mention that Chip is SICK?!?

There is also another eating shindig and Jobi leaving for 3 days thrown in there, too.

It's honestly a miracle that after 9 days we're still plugging away at this thing. The last 2 times failed because she's very sensitive, and potty training was traumatic for her. I'm not even kidding. The only thing that I liked about the 3-day Potty Training method that this Lora Jensen lady advocates is that accidents are welcome, because they'll get it. So I knew this was the right method for my Blondie. Of course, it also said the trainer needs to be completely focused and keep the kid by your side at ALL times -- not the right method for me. (Beggars can't be choosers, right?) So how I got through the entire week planning 2 parties, caring for 2 sick babies, helping my mister out with his ROTC stuff, AND still potty training is really beyond me.

Actually, it is beyond me. The real reason I am still kicking is because I'm not doing any of this alone. This is a time where the blessings of living with family are truly manifested. I have had nonstop help and support from my sisters along the way, from making decorations to switching off when one child really needed me to cleaning up my messes without complaint. Each day is a struggle, but at least I have sisters who love me enough to not let me struggle on my own.

I also have a pretty awesome husband. But that is for another post.

In the meantime, wish me luck that Blondie will be fully potty trained very soon. And that Chip won't be sick anymore. And that I won't have gone absolutely bonkers. (Name that movie!)