Star studded Christmas Eve 

What better way to enjoy Christmas Eve than stargazing with my kids? We were lucky because there were very few moviegoers at the IMAX theater where we saw Star Wars, The Force Awakens. I’m not into huge crowds, so I was happy to find the viewing was so lightly attended. Note to self: Christmas Eve is an awesome time to take in a blockbuster movie!

Seeing Star Wars with my kids was a very different experience than seeing the original Star Wars in 1977. Wow, can you believe it? George Lucas’s space western saga has thrived these 38+ years. There have been highs, for example Ewoks, wicked-cool and imaginative creatures, and Jedi Masters, to name a few, and lows, dare I mention Jar Jar Binks? The story of good triumphing over evil remains an enormous draw to audiences of all ages.

StarWarsPosterForceAwakensThere were things I noticed while watching the movie, in particular, I enjoyed seeing a more-inclusive supporting cast. I saw people of color, which makes total sense, doesn’t it? I noticed women who were fighter pilots, generals, and business owners. Not only did I notice and applaud the efforts the film makers made to create a realistic representation of people, I felt hopeful because we’re seeing evidence of the drive for inter-sectional and multi-gendered representation in the stories we’re queuing up in record-breaking numbers to view.

I noticed there was one, maybe two scenes where two named female characters held a conversation about something other than a man. Maz Kanata and Rey spoke of the vision or memory Rey’s touching a light sabre invoked. Yes, Luke Skywalker was mentioned in their exchange, but he wasn’t the primary focus of their discussion, which revolved around Rey embracing her destiny, and the courage required for her to do so. It might be argued that the conversation between General Leia and Rey was one-sided, but you can’t deny the words spoken “may the force be with you,” were said with sincerity and well received, nor did they contain a reference to a man. Does it sound like I am juxtaposing this movie against the Bechdel rule? You bet I am!

Another theme I noticed was that in which a character’s inner struggle was made evident in the actions he took and the language he used, or at times, didn’t. Despite being thoroughly subjugated into his life’s purpose as a Stormtrooper since birth, Finn, formerly known as FN-2187, made a conscious choice to be a better person, heroically walking away from everything he had ever known because that philosophy didn’t jive with his inner compass.

Did I applaud like a fan girl when iconic figures of my childhood appeared on the screen? Did I cheer the good guys and jeer the bad? You bet I did (much to my children’s embarrassment)! One thing that struck me was how we were watching the children of these complex and interesting characters we had met nearly 40 years ago struggling with the same issues their parents had, and perhaps still are. Maybe there’s more to this circle of life than meets the eye.

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Yarn of yore

20150206_064525My youngest daughter is gearing up for her sleepover on the Californian, the field trip for a cool history unit her class is studying. Last week, her blue eyes dripping with wistfulness, she asked me to knit her a hat. Well, yeah! What color?

She chose this gorgeous hand spun, hand dyed, yarn I bought a couple of years ago. I didn’t use a pattern, but how hard is it to make a hat, right? I wanted it to be slouchy, and I guessed at how wide to make the band, and when to increase and decrease stitches to give it that slouchy shape, but I think it came out okay. Not bad for my third hat (and no pattern).

I’m positive that she’s pleased with it, as she slept in it last night, wore it to the breakfast table, and occasionally reaches up to run her fingers over the stitches. It’s quite satisfying when someone shows such pleasure in a gift you’ve made for them.

 

Winter wonderland

SoCal winters are not at all white. I’m20141207_123154 amused at how our seasonal decor reflects snow and that my kids have never actually seen snow, let alone see it snow. I gotta fix that one of these days.

I kept to the role of Christmas decor subject matter expert as much as possible, and let the kids run with the actual decorating design and implementation this year. My son wore the mantle of Chief Executive Designer, my youngest daughter became the lead elf, and my oldest daughter decked the halls out of the house to attend a holiday party. That’s okay, as one of her friends helped to decorate the tree.

I am particularly fond of the way they did things, with joy and enthusiasm and not worrying about precision. I took pleasure in listening to them discuss options and hearing my son’s reasoning behind his decisions.

20141208_132340My youngest was given charge of the Nutcracker collection, and she took her time arranging and re-positioning each one in the window seat next to the tree until she was satisfied with it’s placement. She told stories about several of the “princes” as she went along. I enjoyed a treasured peek into her fertile imagine.

20141207_155032-1Busy with the lights and pearl garland, my son gave his youngest sister the job of arranging the Teddy bear collection next, where she was directed to arrange them in the dining room. She did a good job, until she got bored and asked me to finish. I added a touch of holiday spirit to the antique mirror while I was at it.

20141208_133350Next came the Christmas village on the ledge between the dining room and the kitchen.

(You can see my Post-it To Do list. It’s where I ask everyone to post what they need, wish, desire, and things of which we’re close to running out. It’s low-tech, but it works.)

As decorating, in the children’s minds, doesn’t necessarily include putting away all the storage bins, I suppose that becomes my job. Maybe I’ll bribe ask them to help me out…

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Happy Holidays!

Comic relief

20141129_165902There are times in one’s youth when money burns a hole in your pocket. When you’re a teen boy with such a condition, you might simply be compelled to encourage your mom to drive you to the cool comic book store. Heck, you might as well make an adventure out of it, wrestle your sister and her friends out of their cozy chat corner, and make them go with you.

Yup, that’s exactly what you do. Look through large tables stuffed with comic books of all kinds. What happens when you find exactly what you’re looking for? Well, herd everyone together who have wandered off in different directions, load them in the car, and wait patiently until you can climb onto your bed and read the aforementioned comic books to your heart’s content.

Zippy the wonder girl

20141128_163237Zip lining… I personally don’t understand the appeal. I mean, why jump off a perfectly good tower? For that matter, why climb the tower in the first place? Not that I have an issue with heights, exactly.

When my adventure-bound youngest daughter decided that she really wanted to give it a try, I was a little nervous. Only a little nervous, mind you, as I wasn’t the one climbing and jumping off a tower. How could I refuse the excitement emanating from her?

I said yes, and off we went to gear up. Ahem, for her to gear up.20141128_171213 She was so excited, she could hardly stand still. 20141128_163930Finally, it was her turn to climb the stairs, oh, wait, “Hey mom, this is a great photo op!” Where does she get this from? No, don’t answer.

With great enthusiasm, she zipped across the park to the landing tower. See for yourself how she enjoyed the trip.

 

Enchanted Oasis

Earlier this summer, my youngest daughter began planning her Halloween costume. One can’t start too soon with concepts and reminders to mom, because what if mom forgets? Constant an continual reminders are a must! She showed me pictures and videos of what she envisioned, and we talked about what mediums we’d use to accomplish this forest nymph- or sprite-like creature.

EnchantedCompositThe mom in me thought the outfit a bit skimpy for a 10-year old. Yet the idea that my daughter wanted to create a costume rather than buy something pleased me greatly.

Shopping day arrived, and we visited a local craft shop for inspiration and DIY tips. She took charge of the shopping expedition, explaining in great detail to the staff her vision. The ladies who help us were quite charmed by my daughter’s enthusiasm, and within thirty minutes we had everything we needed to assemble a no-sew costume. (Woot! ‘cuz I can’t sew.)

The following day she help prep the tulle but took command of the antlers. Together we added tulle, bits of silk leaves, and a few more pipe cleaners. But wait! “Mom, I need butterfly wings!” The following week I scored butterfly wings at the dollar store.

The morning of her school fall festival dawns bright yet cool. We had volunteered to help set up the event. My youngest daughter, son, and his friend helped me set up the graveyard. My oldest daughter and her friend worked on the haunted house. Their father filled in where ever he was needed. My soon-to-be-tree-nymph and I skipped out to grab lunch and get her ready to debut her costume.

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FFtreeShe is quite please with her costume and couldn’t wait to show it off.  Her delight clearly showed in her face and spoken in terms of “awesome,” “epic,” and “amazing.”

I love it when a plan comes together.

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Hand check

Last night my oldest daughter went to her school’s homecoming dance. She regaled me with tales about guys who “grabbed my hips and started grinding against me.” She decided to employ her power of body autonomy.

school2First, she spoke her displeasure, telling them that she didn’t dance that way, and then she showed her displeasure at their actions. I believe she mentioned that she walked away from one boy, slapped one, and did the grab-squeeze-twist move on another. My daughter is not only a character (she’s charming and funny), she has strength of character.

I wonder what would have happened if the boys had practiced consent. You know, asking if she wanted to dance with them instead of just grabbing her and assuming that she would gladly be the object of their desire.