Birthday Bonding with my Boys

Today, on my birthday, I received the best gift ever.  My boys wrote lovely and thoughtful notes in my card.  I know my boys love me and we have a great relationship but they are typical guys who don’t like to talk about feelings and definitely don’t want to write about them.  They just say ‘you know I love you and you’re the best’.  And while it’s true that I do know they love me, I’m a sap and I like to hear about the hows and whys.

I love my boys but can’t say I’m not a little envious of the moms of girls who come home and tell them all about their days.  I remember telling my mom all kinds of stories in detail.  She knew all about my friends and what was going on at school.  My guys do talk but it takes a lot to get them started.  They don’t seem to respond to ‘what did you do today?’.  That gets a response of ‘nothing’ or ‘I don’t remember’.  It takes a lot of creative questions to get them in a comfortable zone where they will start chatting.  Sometimes, then they keep talking more than I expected.

These are my favorite memories with them because I want to feel connected to them.  That is not always easy when you’re interested in different things and spend most of the day apart.  One night, my older son wasn’t feeling well and had insomnia, so I told him he could hang out in my room until he felt sleepy.  That night, while the others slept, we talked for over an hour about all kinds of random things.  We discussed sports and girls and books and life.  I even got to give him advice without getting an eye roll!

They are growing up and cuddling isn’t enough.  We have to communicate to connect and that’s not always easy.  But I’m loving the little men they are becoming and enjoying their minds and thoughts.  They gave me the best birthday with their very personal notes and their fun gifts.  Wonder Woman earrings and a Lord of the Rings necklace…gifts based on things we enjoyed together and talk about often.  I’m so grateful to be able to parent these loving kids!

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The Mummy- Quick Review

mummyWe watched The Mummy movie that just came out this weekend.  I wasn’t encouraged by the critic reviews but it seemed interesting from the previews and user reviews.  We also generally enjoy Tom Cruise movies so we went.  It was better than the reviews I read but definitely not a great movie.  I liked the first couple of movies in the Mummy series but they were pretty bad later on.  This one goes somewhere in the middle.  There was no Brendan Fraser so that made it different as well.  It was less campy and humorous than the old movies.  The action and effects were good and Tom was good to watch.  However, I thought it was much more gross and gory than the others.  In fact, one of the gross scenes was completely gratuitous. There were also a lot of zombies which I did not expect and I’m not a fan of those.  That being said, it was still a good big screen watch if you’ve already seen Wonder Woman and want to go to the movies.  This movie also seemed like it was setting the stage for a franchise of Dark Universe movies with other monsters.  It had Russell Crowe in an interesting and unexpected role as well.  Maybe the future movies will be better!

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The Wonder Woman Movie- a Mom Review

wwThis past weekend my family went to see the long-awaited Wonder Woman movie and we were not disappointed.  We are a family of comic/sci-fi/superhero buffs so we were all excited and not happy that life interfered and made us wait until Sunday to watch it.  I remember watching the Wonder Woman TV show as a child and playing her with my friends.  I was and still am amazed by Lynda Carter so I had my doubts about Gal Gadot.  I think she’s beautiful but I couldn’t imagine her in this role from what I’d seen of her in Fast and Furious. Luckily, I changed my mind after her cameo in Batman v Superman.  She did a great job and I was impressed at how she portrayed the strength and innocence of the character.

I know there was a lot of excitement over the movie because it was nice for all the young girls out there to have a hero.  However, it was nice for any gender I believe.  My boys loved the movie and didn’t think about whether the hero was a man or woman.  They just saw the strength and humor and cool action scenes.  They know enough about DC Comics to know that Wonder Woman can fight alongside Batman and Superman with no problem.

For me, it was a thrill to watch since she has been my hero from my earliest childhood memories.  She was strong, smart, fair, and gorgeous.  It was great that the movie and the actors didn’t ruin those feelings for me and others.

As for how appropriate this was for younger kids.  It was definitely a PG-13 movie.  If your kids are a few years younger but have been exposed to other action movies with violence and some gore then I think it would be fine.  However, I would not take a very young child or one who is sensitive to the violence.  There is also a partial nude scene of a man.  There is some adult conversation about sex that may go over a younger kid’s head or may be awkward to watch depending on your child.  Also keep in mind that it is set during WWI so there are scenes of wounded soldiers in pain.

I think this was a very good movie and was impressed with the chemistry between Gal Gadot and Chris Pine.  It had well-developed characters and a good story line.  I think it would appeal to any gender and parents and kids alike.  Hope you get to watch.  Enjoy!

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Connecting with my Teen Boy

mom and son, teen boys, parenting teensMy son is in his early teens and it has been a challenge much like every other stage in his growth.  No more infant sleepless nights, no more toddler tantrums or potty training or tween rage, but now this.  Now he’s at an age where he’s starting to be more mature but yet he’s still a kid mostly.  I miss the cute little kid he used to be but am enjoying this new young man.  Now, we can talk about so many things.  He knows what’s going on in the world and is more aware of people’s feelings too.  We can watch more than just cartoons together and bond over our love for superheroes.  He can help his little brother with homework or stick up for him at school.  He can open a tight jar for me and reach the higher shelves.  I watch him hang out with his buddies as they joke around and roast each other.  He’s happy and it makes me smile.

There are times it isn’t so much fun or as easy to connect too.  He still just wants fun and is not happy about chores and responsibilities.  He gets angry and irrational and we have big arguments.  He fights with his brother and wants everything his way.  He’s also at an age where school is getting harder and more stressful and social interactions are more complex.  I don’t always know what is going on in his head.

I keep trying though… not to be his friend, but a parent he can talk to and learn from.  He still needs structure and guidance and most of all love.  Some days that is not easy at all and I get worried that I’m losing the closeness we’ve always had.  Other days, he cuddles with me on the sofa and shares stories of school or jokes from social media.  It’s not always easy to get a boy to talk and share and even harder with a teen but I keep trying.  I guess trying and being available is key.  I’ve also realized that I need to show interest in the things he likes.  Sharing fun activities with him leads to conversation or just good memories.  I’m not athletic at all but I still go shoot hoops or play ping-pong for this reason.  He teases me for my skills but still keeps asking me to play so I guess it’s a good sign.  One day I will master the art of raising a teen boy and when that day comes…he will have moved on to young adulthood!

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Logan -A Mom’s Review

Logan, Wolverine, movie, ok for kids

This weekend we went to watch Logan, the new Wolverine movie.  This was the first movie that I dared to take my 12 and 14-year-old sons to so I thought I’d share my experience.  It was partly a selfish move because I wanted to go and not wait for a babysitter but it is also my older son’s favorite Marvel character.  We read some reviews and ratings and eventually took the chance after my 12-year-old informed me that all his other friends have seen R-rated movies. (no peer pressure…)

The movie itself was great and the acting was wonderful.  We got to see the Oscar nominated Hugh Jackman show us the depth of his character in addition to his muscles and rage.  Patrick Stewart played the ninety year old Professor Xavier beautifully and showed humor and vulnerability.  The young mutant with adamantium claws, played by Dafne Keen was intense and impressive despite remaining silent most of the movie.  This wasn’t a typical superhero movie.  It had the action but it was more about the aging mutants hiding out in a world where most people like them are no longer.  It’s about Wolverine helping Professor X now that his control over his dangerous and powerful mind has deteriorated.  At the professor’s request, he also ends up helping a young mutant with abilities similar to his own.  Even though there is blood and violence, there is also a lot of focus on family and relationships.

As for the R-rating, I think it was necessary in order to show a Wolverine who is more true to the comics, raw and full of rage.  He curses a lot and the F-bomb is thrown around a lot.  There is one topless scene of a woman that lasts a second.  It wasn’t very relevant to the story but I guess they already had the R-rating so why not.  As for the violence, it is definitely more.  In the other movies they show him slashing and stabbing people but then the camera pans away.  Here the camera would show the claws through the bodies and the severed body parts.  It wasn’t extremely gory in my opinion.  It’s all relative to what your kids have been exposed to though.  I think if they’ve seen tv shows like Gotham and various PG-13 superhero movies, then the violence was not too much more.  It was also not gratuitous gore and violence and everything flowed with the story.  They didn’t zoom in on anything gross just to be shocking.

This movie was more mature than the average superhero flick and it had a mature rating.  I think it was something that people who are not into comic heroes could enjoy and elements anyone could relate to.  It has its emotional scenes and its moments of subtle humor.  I don’t think it is appropriate for a young child but I don’t feel bad about taking my boys to this particular R-rated movie.  I just have to make sure they know not to copy Logan’s potty-mouth.

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2017 Academy Awards

oscarThose who know me know that I get very excited about Oscar night every year since I’m a huge movie buff.  Last night’s event had me glued to the television as well and here are my thoughts.  First, I may as well talk about the biggest shocker…the award mix-up.  Moonlight won the Best picture award but Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced La La Land as the winner instead.  Sadly, a few speeches were given before it was corrected and then the Moonlight group was brought on stage to accept.  Everyone handled it pretty well considering this is not something that has happened before.  People were looking for answers and had things to say about the presenters.  However, it seems that PWC who handles the award tallying, keeps two sets of cards for each category and the presenters received a card for Emma Stone who won Best actress for La La Land.  Beatty did look confused but then Dunaway saw the movie name and just announced it.  Oh well…it all worked out and I think Moonlight deserved it.  I enjoyed La La Land and haven’t yet seen Moonlight but from what I’ve seen and heard, it seems like Moonlight was a more powerful movie.

I was also happy to see Viola Davis win and give a beautiful speech.  She seems to do everything well, and even looked great in her red gown.  I thought most of the awards were well deserved and didn’t have any major disagreement with the choices.  The only one I wasn’t sure about was Casey Affleck.  I heard he did a great job in Manchester by the Sea but there’s a scandal looming over him sexually harassing women.  I don’t know to what level this was proven but if it is true then I don’t think he deserved the recognition.

As for hosting, Jimmy Kimmel did a good job.  He was funny and even his political jabs were pretty light and funny.  He used some of his traditional shtick, like the Mean Tweets as well as his ongoing feud with Matt Damon.  The only part I wasn’t crazy about was when he brought in some tourists and surprised them.  It was a cute idea but went on too long as the tourists took their time meeting the stars.  It was already a long show and we could have done without that whole part.

As for the fashion, there was good and bad as always.  I won’t go into details but overall I don’t think it was the best year for Oscar fashion.  I did like that many of the men donned blue or white tuxedos and there was even some velvet.  It was a nice change while still looking dressy and appropriate.  Many of the ladies wore gorgeous diamond jewelry.  I really loved Taraji’s necklace!

It was a fun night overall and now I’ll have to catch up on some of the nominated movies that I missed.  It’s hard to make time to watch the serious dramas when you have kids though.  Now I know which movies to prioritize.  I wish the awards were not on a Sunday so I could do Oscar parties more often.  It’s fun to celebrate the event with some friends, drinks, glitz and glamour but not when you have to get to work the next morning.  Til next year…

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Me and My Teen

Parenting a teen, teenagers, growing pains

I’ve been parenting a teen boy now for a year and it’s been quite interesting.  It’s often a challenge because the struggles seem to make no logical sense.  However, it isn’t all bad.  During the calm hormonal spells, we are able to have provocative discussions and have a friendly relationship.  However when the tide is high, I’m the enemy and all bets are off.

I tried to explain to my younger son why his teen brother behaves the way he does by comparing it to Bruce Banner and the Hulk.  I told him that when his teen hormones kick in, he can turn into a rage monster and even he can’t control it.  That helped a little with the sibling issues it was creating.  It also helped me to accept some of the crazy arguments we were having, such as why he needs a coat in sub-freezing weather or why sweats aren’t appropriate party wear.  It’s very hard not to take the fights personally when you feel you’ve been the most loving and understanding parent you could be.  But, you have to step back and realize it’s all part of growing and testing their boundaries.  They want to be independent but still want to be catered to when it suits them.  That makes me crazy since Mr. Know-it-all should certainly be able to remember his chores or give himself a snack.  However, that is not what happens.  It’s a constant tug-of-war between the things I feel he is mature enough to handle and the things he feels he is mature enough to handle.  I want to equip him with life skills and the ability to take responsibility but I also know he’s still a child and needs more guidance than he realizes.

Though these years often leave me missing and romanticizing the sleepless baby and toddler years, it’s not all bad.  Though I can’t completely control my teen or drag him around in a stroller to where I want to go, I’m finding new ways to compromise with him.  Now, I have to reason with him and maybe bargain about going to a store he likes if he comes to the mall with me.  We’re in a new frontier.  As much as the love and trust we gave in the early years was critical, this new ability to communicate and compromise will build an important foundation.  This will help define our relationship as adults one day. No pressure!

I’m nervously laughing to myself as I write because this is all still a work in progress for me and I could very well fail.  But, I think it will be okay.  When he’s not in a defiant mood swing, he will cuddle with me and watch movies or ask for a favorite food.  We will laugh together at our silliness or he will help his brother with homework.  I will hear from his teachers how he is such a wonderful and thoughtful kid.  He will open up to me about his thoughts on politics – within the family or the world.  He teaches me to throw a football and tries to control his laughter when I can’t get a spin on it.  These things give me hope that my wonderful child hasn’t changed but is just going through some growing pains.  Though these pains are painful for me as well, these too shall pass.

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