A Civilization In Need Of a New Home Relocates The People Already Living There – – And It’s Not a History Lesson

“Home”

Home (2015) Poster

Release Date: March 27th, 2015

Runtime: 94 Minutes

Cast: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez

In the future that is the setting of “Home”, an alien race called the Boov, on the run from their enemies, have invaded earth and relocate humanity to other parts of the planet, taking the homes of those that they relocated.   One of the Boov, Oh (voiced by Jim Parsons) finds himself on the run from his own people and eventually befriends a precocious human named Tip (voiced by Rihanna).  The two share an adventure and learn the meaning of home.

It’s a post-apocalyptic alien invasion buddy comedy, and it’s adorable.

In the post Pixar world, there are two kinds of animated movies: those (like the early Pixar movies) that mix in more sophisticated jokes and plot to achieve a more universal appeal and those that mainly appeal to kids.  “Home” is firmly in the latter category, and that’s ok.  I thought it was cute, but I recognize it was not made for me.  It was made for my 4 year old daughter, and she absolutely loved it. She sat through the entire thing (not always a sure thing) and continues to talk about how much she loved it.

The humor is mainly fueled by the enthusiastic voice performance by Parsons. Steve Martin, who admittedly can do no wrong in my eyes, also does a great job as the voice of Captain Smek, the leader of the Boov.

Older kids will probably be bored by a relative lack of tension and predictable plot, but for kids under 10, “Home” is cute and captivating and teaches positive lessons about overcoming fears and understanding the perspective of outsiders

On the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale from one to ten where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “Home” a 3.624324362541989213 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of “awwwwwww”.

The Truth Behind Sean Penn’s Philanthropy Revealed On The Big Screen. Hint: He’s A Badass.

There are many reasons to love Sean Penn. From the diversity of his roles in “Fast Times At Ridgemont High”, “I Am Sam”, “Milk”, and “Mystic River” to his devotion to giving back to philanthropic organizations such as Cinema For Peace and UNICEF, Penn’s presence has made an impact on the World around him. In his latest role, “The Gunman”, Penn unveils what some* have thought to be his true identity in life: Undeniable badass.

The Gunman

Release Date: Friday March 20th, 2015

Running Time: 115 Minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated “R” for strong violence, language, and some sexuality.

In “The Gunman”, Sean Penn plays Terrier, a mercenary assassin disguised as a non-profit aid worker on a mission to assassinate the Minister of Mines in the Congo with one shot. That single shot created a ripple effect that triggered civil unrest and chaos in the Congo leaving Terrier with no means of re-entry into the country for several years. Unfortunately his orders also meant abandoning the love of his life, Annie which prompted Terrier to leave the world of violence behind…or so he thought.

Fast forward several years when Terrier finds himself, once again, working in the Congo for a (legit, no jokes this time) non-governmental organization providing relief and support to the people in the area. Having moved on from his time hunting others for profit, Terrier discovers that he, himself, has become the hunted.

In an attempt to protect his life, and the lives of his former colleagues, Terrier sets out on a mission to discover who is behind the bounty on his head. He reconnects with Annie (awww), has some pretty hard-core hand-to-hand combat scenes, and ultimately figures it all out (duh).

The film, like many others in its genre, isn’t without its flaws but, taken at face value, it’s a winner. “The Gunman” is an entertaining depiction of a far fetched version of what mercenary life is all about. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the film is witnessing Sean Penn in that type of role – total badass.

Overall, on my It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “The Gunman” a 3.349830498340394809 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of “You get ‘em, tiger!”.

*By some, I mean me. Just me. I think Sean Penn is a badass.

It’s Been A Couple of Months…Let’s Talk.

Hello, Everyone.

As I sit here, trying to find the right words for this post (please bear with me as I stumble my way through this) I am deeply humbled. It’s been a few months since I last spent time writing this blog and I feel like I’ve been a tremendous let down…and yet, you’re still coming here to read. For that, I thank you. I also feel like I owe you an explanation and I’m finally ready to address the elephant in the room.

I’ve been sitting on posts from December. Posts that highlight an amazing trip I took with my family where we spent a couple of weeks enjoying beautiful, sunny Florida. We enjoyed the stunning beaches in Sarasota, spent a few days at a fabulous hotel in Orlando, took our daughter to Disney World for the first time, and witnessed the beauty of marine life at Sea World. You might be wondering why, given all of that, I’ve been unable to finish documenting my journey. Why I haven’t mustered up the courage to hit “publish” on those posts? 

On our last day in Florida, tragedy struck in my family. My grandmother had been rushed to the emergency room and wasn’t expected to live. She’d gone in for a knee replacement surgery and had a series of complications that ultimately led to her untimely death. It just doesn’t feel right sharing the details about a fun trip knowing how it ended and I haven’t been ready to share my feelings with all of you until now.

Karen Isabell was a lively spirit. She was funny, she was strong, she cared deeply for others, and now she’s gone. Death is a concept that I struggle with a lot and my grandmother’s passing was (and is) particularly difficult for me to deal with.

The funny thing about life is that we always think that we have more time. More time for hugs, laughter, memories, and love. Those are things I long for more of with my grandma. I wish I could have her back, even if it’s just for a few minutes, to tell her that I love her. I wish I’d had more time so that she could’ve known my daughter more – so that my daughter could have known her. I wish I’d made more of an effort to call on a regular basis. I wish I’d had more time to visit with her. I wish…I wish. I wish she could still be with us.

My grandma and I had a somewhat distant relationship for several years while I was in college. It wasn’t after my daughter was born, when we went back East for a family reunion, that Grandma and I started to get closer. We really bonded on that trip – we had some deep discussions – and for that, I will always be grateful. That was a turning point for us and, from that point on, our relationship was pretty good.

We missed the opportunity to spend time with my grandparents in October since I’d just attended a conference in Atlanta and so we had been talking about the possibility of them coming out to see us this Spring. I was really looking forward to that trip. I was looking forward to spending some quality time with my grandmother, showing her around Kansas City, creating memories, and having the chance for my daughter to get to know her better.

The hardest thing about the finality of death, especially when it’s unexpected like this, is the agonizing desire for more time. I know the only thing I can do is to look back on the memories that I do have and cherish them and so that’s what I’m really trying to do.

If death teaches us anything (which I believe that it does), it’s that love is all that matters. We ought to spend less time in this life worried about trivial matters and more time loving on those around us – because we never know when the opportunity to do so will be gone.

Thanks for sticking with me through this. XoXo

Film About A Love Affair Turned Bad Hits Big Screen & It Feels Like You’ve Seen It Before (Because You Have)

The Boy Next Door

The Boy Next Door

Release Date: Friday January 23, 2015

Running Time: 1 Hour, 31 Minutes

CastJennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Kristin Chenoweth

MPAA Rating: Rated “R” for violence, sexual content/nudity and language

Fans of stalker-thrillers looking for their next fix will likely be flocking to the theater late at night to see the latest film which hit the big screen nationwide today.

But does “The Boy Next Door” hit the spot?! 

In the midst of a separation following the infidelity of her husband, Claire Peterson (played by Jennifer Lopez) is emotionally vulnerable when she first meets Noah Sandborn (played by Ryan Guzman), the sexy eye-candy who moves in next door. Noah who is oddly still just a high school senior a few months shy of his 20th birthday (an age, perhaps, that makes the cougars feel a little bit better) is, at first glance, the perfect guy. He’s attractive, smart, kind, helpful, and strong so it’s easy to see how Claire is so easily seduced by him that fateful night when her entire world was turned upside down.

After sleeping with Noah, Claire tries to move on with her life. She emerses herself in her work, attempts to patch things up with her estranged husband, and vows never to make the same mistake again but Noah doesn’t share the same desire to let go of their one-time fling. Noah’s infatuation with Claire becomes alarming, things get pretty awkward, and I think we can all guess how the remainder of the story goes…because we’ve seen it before.

Following in the footsteps of predecessors like “Fatal Attraction” and “Swimfan”, “The Boy Next Door” follows a very formulaic script that is highly predictable and leaves you wanting more…of a plot, better acting, and perhaps something new. No matter how attractive the cast is and how steamy the one-time love affair might be, it just doesn’t make up for the lack luster storyline which was this film’s downfall.

Overall, on the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again, I give “The Boy Next Door” a 9.350943132095 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of: “Woah, Ryan Guzman is HOT!”

Man With No Friends Has Wedding: Hilarity Ensues

The Wedding Ringer

Wedding Ringer

Release Date: Friday January 16th, 2015

Cast: Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting

Running Time: 101 Minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated R for crude and sexual content, language throughout, some drug use and brief graphic nudity

Josh Gad has no friends.

From “Bridesmaids” to “The Hangover”, audiences have seen their fair share of wedding related comedies depicting the lengths some will go in the name of friendship. “The Wedding Ringer”, which hit theaters nationwide yesterday, isn’t exactly like those other movies…

“The Wedding Ringer” tells the story of Doug Harris (played by Josh Gad), a workaholic groom-to-be who, at the behest of his fiancee (played by Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) , is forced to locate and recruit seven of his closest male friends for the wedding party. The only problem is that he doesn’t have seven close male friends. He doesn’t even have three. He doesn’t have one. He doesn’t have any friends. He’s also out of time. With just about a week until he ties the knot, Doug is out of options. Or is he?!

That’s where Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart) comes into play. Jimmy is a professional best man – someone who rents himself out for faux-best friendship for weddings (and, apparently, funerals). Doug meets Jimmy, Jimmy meets the future in-laws, someone catches on fire, and hilarity ensues. Josh Gad and Kevin Hart have a great bromantic chemistry that enables them to deliver a dynamite performance in a silly, funny movie (emphasis on silly).

Although I don’t see any awards being handed out for this film, I thought (for what it was) it was pretty good. It’s funny and it doesn’t take itself too seriously – which is something that I happen to really enjoy.  Overall, on the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “The Wedding Ringer” a 6.89803498304981098 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of “hahaha ahhhhhhhhhh”.

Story Of The Aftermath Of War Comes To Life On the Big Screen

American Sniper

AmericanSniper

Release Date: Friday January 16, 2015

Director: Clint Eastwood

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner

Running Time: 132 Minutes

In what is, perhaps, one of the most important roles of his career thus far, Bradley Cooper portrays a Texan cowboy who feels the call to serve God & country in “American Sniper”. 

Deeply impacted by the terror attacks on the United States of America, thirty-something Chris Kyle knew he needed to make a difference and so he left his home and life as a traveling bull rider to join the Navy SEALs where he became one of the greatest snipers in US History.

In this true story, audiences watch as Kyle (played by Bradley Cooper), serves in four tours during Operation Iraqi Freedom helping to protect countless soldiers and complete his mission overseas. Director Clint Eastwood excels in bringing the gravity of war to the big screen reminding us all of the sacrifice the men and women in uniform make on a daily basis during combat. More so, Eastwood (along with the entire cast) depicts the impact that war can have when our soldiers come home.

Struggling with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) in the aftermath of war, Kyle finds that he can’t let go of Iraq in between deployments, impacting his home life and family. It isn’t until his fourth tour down range that Kyle recognizes his need to come home. Upon his return to the states, Kyle begins to seek help for his disorder and connects with other veterans to promote mental health.

This true story captures the difficulties of our soldiers and brings to light a topic that is often brushed under the rug. It’s rare to sit in a full, silent theater as the credits roll at the close of a movie but that’s exactly what happened with “American Sniper”. I believe that’s a testament to how impactful this film really is.

Overall, on the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “American Sniper” a 4.3498293892 with an emoticon-based sub-ranking of “Wow.”

Joaquin Phoenix Does Drugs: Strange Events Ensue. Randomly, Reese Witherspoon Shows Up – It’s Nothing Like “Walk The Line”

Inherent Vice

inherentvice

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon
Runtime: 148 minutes
MPAA Rating: Rated R for drug use throughout, sexual content, graphic nudity, language and some violence (mostly drug use, a whole lot of drug use)

Set in sunny Los Angeles, California in the 1970’s, “Inherent Vice” tells the story of Doc (played by Joaquin Phoenix), a constantly doped up private detective (not actually a real doctor, at least probably not) who’s set up shop in a medical office (hence the name Doc?). Doc unexpectedly finds himself amidst illegal activity, police corruption, and general bizarre activity after a visit from his ex-girlfriend Shasta.

Shasta tells Doc about her new boyfriend, Mickey, a billionaire real estate developer. Shasta asks Doc to help prevent a plot by Mickey’s wife to have have Mickey abducted and put in an insane asylum. Lot’s of other things happen. There are drugs, characters come and go with little explanation, there’s drugs, paranoia abounds, and there are drugs.

I’m still not entirely sure about everything I saw, but it was entertaining, which is ultimately what matters. Joaquin Phoenix delivered a great performance for which he will likely earn an oscar nomination; however the incoherence of the plot does make it difficult to really care about any of the other characters.

It’s hard to convince people that the movie was enjoyable because, honestly, it’s hard to describe but I promise you this: in all of the confusion and disarray, you’ll find a pretty good movie that inspires laughs throughout. It’s the kind of weird that is oddly attractive – like PeopleOfWalmart.com or polka dancing.

Overall, on the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again, I give “Inherent Vice” a 3.56623423
with an emoticon based sub-ranking of: “uuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhh, what?!”

It’s An Ordinary Blog On Vacation! Part 1: Sarasota, Florida #IAOBVacation2014

Sarasota

At some point after my daughter was born in 2011, my life focus started to gradually change. I started to realize that life is all about the memories we have, the love we share, and the people that we share them with. I started to value moments more than things and my love for travel reached an all time high.

Vacation [vey-key-shun]

noun: a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used forrest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday

Recreation, travel, recess, or holiday…what’s not to love about vacation?!

Kansas City to Sarasota

At some point early on in 2014 (I can’t remember exactly when this plan happened), my husband and I decided that we would take a few weeks in December to travel to the South-Eastern seaboard of the United States to visit family, friends, and for a few days in Orlando.

Don’t let that map fool you – I did NOT spend $446 each way for plane tickets (Google, no.). What I did do, however, was follow the sales. I’m a big fan of flying Southwest and I regularly follow their sales for good travel deals. In early June, flights from Kansas City, Missouri to Tampa, Florida went on sale for a little under $140 each way – if you’re planning to travel and you know far enough in advance, I definitely suggest watching the sales and getting your tickets when the fares are low.

Plane

With our bags packed and excitement bursting at the seams, we left for the airport. As we were boarding the aircraft, the captain pulled us aside for a special tour of the cockpit. In all my years of travel, I’d actually never seen the inside of the cockpit up close and so it was an unexpected surprise not only for my three year old (pictured above) but also for me. C loved it. She got a real kick out of pushing the buttons (only the ones that she was told she could) and hearing the plane “talk” to her. Future pilot?! Perhaps!

We flew from MCI (Kansas City) to TPA (Tampa) direct and the ride was smooth and easy. After landing, we made the short drive down to Sarasota for the first few days of our vacation.

Sarasota

Sarasota was warm, sunny, and beautiful…the quintessential Florida destination. While we were there, we trekked through local parks and eventually made our way over to The Mall At University Town Center (UTC). The mall has a great display up for the holidays where children can visit Queen Elsa’s Frozen Ice Palace before chatting with Santa (he’s there!). You can take a peek at some of my pictures from our time at the mall over on the It’s An Ordinary Blog Facebook page.

As wonderful as the indoor shopping center is (and I imagine it’s GREAT during the heat of the summer), our favorite spot in Sarasota was, by and far, the ocean. Living in the heartland, we don’t get to see the shore very often and the beaches in Florida are truly beautiful. We spent an entire afternoon in Siesta Key, enjoying lunch and splashing around in the water.

Sarasota

Please note that the Bead Shack in Siesta Key, Florida sells GLasses, not “asses”. Sorry ’bout that, folks…

There’s a little place in Siesta Key called Daiquiri Deck that offers fresh seafood and drinks at reasonable prices. When in Florida, I think it’s important to get fresh fish so I ordered their Lobster Wrap New England Style for lunch and it was really, really good (like super good, delicious). You can find pictures of that (warning: your mouth might water, mine is just thinking about it) here.

Sarasota

We couldn’t have asked for a better afternoon at the beach. The temperatures were ideal for playing out on the sand and, although the water was chilly, splashing around in the ocean was really enjoyable.

The beaches there are stunning. One thing that I was most impressed with was the fact that I was able to walk out into the ocean pretty far (you can see the picture below) and the water was still only up to my knees. I felt really comfortable letting C play in the water without having to worry about riptides or the water getting deep too quickly.

Sarasota

Our few days in Sarasota were absolutely relaxing and enjoyable. My husband’s sister and her family live in the area and so we were able to spend time with them, letting the cousins play, and just appreciating our time together. I can’t wait to go back!

Sarasota

Next up on the blog: Our visit to Orlando! Stay tuned…

Gifts That Give Hope Blog Series: PuraVida Bracelets

Hello, Friends!

It’s December and the cold(ish) weather has started to settle in here in the area (just in time for our upcoming trip to Florida!).  There’s something about cold weather that really helps me get into the Christmas spirit (and not in a Grinchy kind of way – I genuinely enjoy it).

Make A Difference With Your Gifts

You know what else gets me in the Christmas spirit?! Doing Christmasy things…like shopping for the people I love and giving back to the World. That’s exactly why I really enjoy intentional gift giving – which I discussed in great detail (#sorrynotsorry) a couple of weeks ago on the blog. If you missed my Heart of Haiti post, you can find it here. Today, I wanted to share about another great company that gives back to the community with every purchase: PuraVida Bracelets.

CH-story

PuraVida, which literally means “Pure Life” is an awesome organization that my friend Sarah over at The House of Boys & A Girl introduced me to when she gave me one of their bracelets as a gift (thanks again, Sarah!). Not only is their primary goal to employ artisans in Costa Rica but they also donate to over 190 charitable organizations when you purchase from their site. Take a peek:

I’ve got the 1% for the Planet bracelet and am planning to order a few more for myself (gasp!) and some to give away to friends and family as well. I, personally, think that these are great little gifts that are not only affordable but also have a purpose and I’m excited to share them with all of you.

If you know of a charitable organization that could use some fundraising, they can apply to become a charitable partner with PuraVida and benefit from your purchases.

Gifts That Give Hope Blog Series: Heart Of Haiti

Make A Difference With Your Gifts

I woke up this morning and it was November 24th (how did that happen?!). I woke up this morning and I realized that it’s the week of Thanksgiving. I woke up this morning and realized that Christmas is coming and it’s coming fast. I woke up this morning thankful.

I’m thankful because I’m lucky. I’m lucky to live in a place that isn’t stricken by disaster, a place that is generally safe. I’m lucky because the basic needs of my family are met. I am lucky and my guess is, if you’re sitting at home (or on your phone) reading this right now, so are you. Not everyone on this beautiful planet is fortunate enough to, by mere happenstance, be so lucky.

I woke up this morning thinking about how I can make a difference not only within my own community but also in the World. What can I do to enact positive change for others?

I woke up this morning with Haiti on my heart.

Heart of Haiti is a beautiful project that was started by Willa Shalit, a social entrepreneur, and the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund after the earthquake that left more than 250,000 Haitians dead and more than a million homeless in 2010. Their efforts, combined with Macy’s department stores, provide an income to the estimated 400,000 Haitian artisans who rely solely on their handcrafted items as a source of income for their families. Participants in the Heart of Haiti program are paid 50% of the wholesale price for each item, which can all be purchased at Macys.com (search for “Haiti”).

Metal Tray From Heart Of Haiti

I recently had the distinct privilege (and I truly, genuinely mean it when I say it’s an absolute privilege to work with the Everywhere Society) to receive my very own handcrafted metal tray from a Haitian artisan in Croix-des-Bouquets (just outside Port-au-Prince).

HeartOfHaitiMetalTray

Like many of the items available at Macy’s from Heart of Haiti, this metal tray is made from sustainable materials (recycled oil drums) and has been hammered, chiseled, and sculpted to create an amazing piece. The talented metal work of the Haitian artisans make for beautiful gifts for your loved ones this holiday season.

Metal Tray Heart Of Haiti

I made the decision about a year ago to be more intentional in my gift giving. I love when gifts have meaning and are impactful. The pieces that are available through the Heart of Haiti program provide that opportunity of enacting change and giving back with each gift that you purchase. When you employ just one artist with a sustainable income (through your purchase), the entire Haitian community benefits helping to rebuild this sector of Haiti’s fragile economy.

HeartOfHaitiTray

I truly believe that purchasing gifts that give hope for your loved ones is a simple way to enact a positive change in the World and I am so excited about the extensive line of beautiful pieces that are available right now at Macy’s. The best part about it is that many of my favorite items (hint, hint to my friends and family) are on SALE right now.

For additional information about how Heart of Haiti is helping the community through trade-not-aid, please visit this webpage.

*I am a member of the Everywhere Society and they provided me with this product for review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.*