Dedicated to you: 6 songs for your long weekend

Remember Casey Kasem and his song dedications that went out over the airwaves every weekend?  Oh, man, I loved all the possibilities that involved. Would my name pop up in the local dedications? Should I phone one in? On top of that, I love the idea that a certain song, carefully selected, could be exactly suited to someone's sentiments and current mood. (I feel the same way about books, too, remember?)

Photo  via

Photo via

In that spirit, here are a few songs that you might like to add to your playlist for this upcoming President's Day weekend. 

For all you cool, alternative, New-Wave-music-loving 80s kids, this reminds me of that vibe:

For road trips, harmonizing, and longing to learn to play the guitar:

For during a soulful solo walk (or for gazing out the window of a train/plane/car)

For if your weekend doesn't go as planned and you need to wallow:

For dancing in the kitchen with your darlin':

For while you make dinner, do the dishes, make the bed:

Do you have songs you love for certain situations? And did you ever call in a song dedication to your local radio?

One second, every day

I'm probably late to the party on this one but one of my favorite apps lately is 1 Second Everyday*, a phone app that helps you take little video snippets of your life and stitch them together chronologically to make a movie. (If you saw the movie Chef, the son used this app in making the movie of his dad's food truck.) 

You might be thinking that the last thing you need is another app or reason to take more photos/movies but I promise this one is easy peasy. No need to think up cleverly worded posts, no fiddling with things at the time you're filming, no need to pose or think about likes or followers. Just take a few frames of video now and then (the more candid and random the better) and later (you don't even have to do it that day) you choose which clip to represent the day and upload it to the app. There's something magical about capturing the lovely, mundane everyday moments as they fly by--and then seeing them in one cohesive movie.

You can also create other projects not based on the one-a-day format. When we went away this long Easter weekend (Australia takes a four-day holiday), I decided to do one to remember our time together:

*not a sponsored post, I just love to spread the joy

My latest movie fix

It was one of those staying-in weekend nights and I was doing a Goldilocks-like search for something to watch, not too this, not too that--something new-to-me and a little different than the seasonal blockbusters and reruns--when I chanced upon a movie I think you might like: Before We Go.  Jake (a very likeable Chris Evans, who also directed the film) is a trumpet player playing in Grand Central Station at closing when Brooke (Alice Eve) dashes past him, dropping her phone. She has missed her train home to Boston and has lost her purse (these are all part of the set up details in the first few minutes) but she desperately needs to get home by 7 a.m. The movie follows the two characters through a night in NYC trying to get her back in Boston in time.

If I had to compare it to other films, I'd say it's kind of like Once or Begin Again (that kind of love story) + a little Before Sunrise (two new acquaintances walking around a city at night) + a dash of Roman Holiday (I don't know, it's just a sweet movie about two people roaming around a city) + a splash of Lost in Translation (it has that kind of sleepy insomnia middle of the night feel).  How's that for an odd and sundry list of movie ingredients?! 

I'm going to guess that this is one of those films that I like better than the critics will. Does it break new ground? No. Do you have to suspend belief a little with the plot? Sure. But I liked it--a lot. It's a different kind of love story and it's smart, lovely, funny, sweet. Maybe I just like sweet, relationshippy movies; if that's not your cup of tea, you might not like this one. But so far three generations in my family (me, my parents, my three kids and Greg) have seen it and genuinely liked it. So there you go.

Rated PG13 (I'd say this is right; I'm suggesting this as a movie for YOU but older teens will "get it" more than younger ones--there's some language and some discussions about fidelity/infidelity and other relationship talk).

It's available On Demand now so if you like to be an early adopter, you can download the movie NOW via iTunes  and others (though I have US iTunes so I'm not sure if it's available in other countries, sorry!)  Otherwise, it comes out in early September in the US and other places or put it on your list for your someday Netflix enjoyment. 

In the last couple of months I've also really liked Far from the Madding Crowd (I know, not a big surprise--I do love me a good period drama)  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (not for your young ones, though, I don't think), Inside Out (of course), and Tracks

p.s. Other Nest & Launch movie recommendations here.

Now it's your turn. What movies have you loved lately?

A few good gems

Take a bow, everyone, and pat yourselves on the back: we've made it through another M-F and the weekend is upon us. What's on your docket? My family's scattered around a bit this weekend. Maddy's in Sydney for a debate tournament so it's just the boys and me until Sunday night. Sam's taking the PSAT tomorrow morning and I'm hoping to take a nice long walk around the lake by our house. We may end up seeing a movie, too. Have you seen any movies lately that you loved?

A few gems to take you into the weekend:

An innovative German afterschool game/program featuring a time-traveling professor is redefining play and learning and bringing lesson plans to life as well as teaching empathy. LOVE it.

Looking ahead to Halloween? How about three years' worth of couples costume ideas from Say YesCamp counselors, Dirty Dancing couple, acroBATS, lumberjacks, punk rockers, Mary Poppins and Bert, motorcyclers, magician and rabbit, and couples from Singing in the Rain, Moonrise Kingdom, and James Bond.

Given that it's springtime here and that the imported pumpkins at Costco are more than $30 each, we may take a cue from a Subtle Revelry and carve pineapple jack o'lanterns this year! Or oranges?

Divine caramel sauce and easy 10-minute caramel sauce. Because apples. And caramel. (Also--after being in Australia for two years now, I've started to say car-a-mel instead of car-mel. I just felt like I should confess that to someone.)

15 not-so-scary Halloween movies for wimps

Interesting: interpreting the motifs on turkish rugs

Friends, I've made this homemade kettle corn recipe three times in the last week or two (and wanted to make it at least eight more times). So easy and so so good in that sweet salty delicious way.

via Artisan Sweets

via Artisan Sweets

Illustrated mugshots of characters from famous banned books.

Gavin (at Zen Pencils) illustrates quotes from inspiring speeches in a cool, accessible way. I especially love his installments for John Green (advice for a writer), Amy Poehler (great people do things before they're ready), and Ira Glass (advice for beginners). 

Loving the Brave Women poster that Ashley Mae Hoiland recently created. It would make a great gift for a girl or teen (or grownup) in your life. She's also a wonderful writer.

via   Ashmae

via Ashmae

The art of slowing down in a museum (in case you missed it). I'm going to take this approach the next time we go museuming.

Make owl library cards from a free printable at love vs. design.

Have a fabulous weekend! Oh, and are you looking for your next good read? We've started posting what we're reading in the sidebar---> 

The Movie List: 100+ Movies for Mid-stage Families

We're always on the lookout for movies we can watch as a family of parents + teens + older kids, anything from feel-good happily-ever-afters to comedies to thought-provoking dramas that are more complex than a Disney movie but still geared for our ages and stages. Are you in the same boat? Well,  this is for you, fellow mid-stage families!

We've been haphazardly jotting down random movie suggestions for years--on an old envelope in my wallet, an index card in the kitchen, our Netflix queue online, and an electronic list on my phone. Lately several friends have asked for our movie list so last week I finally gathered the random jottings into one big list of 100+ movies we've either watched already or want to watch together.

A couple of notes: Keep in mind that my kids are in the older teen range so not every movie on our list will necessarily work for you. I've starred the ones that I think might warrant closer supervision or previewing by a parent. But starred or not, it's always good to take a look at a website like Common Sense Media or Kids in Mind (or even IMDB or Wikipedia) to see if a movie sounds right for you and your family.

You might notice that I've not listed superhero movies or Star Potters of the Lost Ark of the Ring or other blockbusters because, well, of course we're going to see those. These are more off-the-beaten-path selections or forgotten gems from other decades. If it contributes to our movie/cultural/historical literacy, all the better! 

The Funny & The Fun 
O Brother Where Art Thou*
The Philadelphia Story
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
The Sandlot
His Girl Friday
You’ve Got Mail
That Thing You Do
Mrs. Doubtfire
Sleepless in Seattle
Groundhog Day
A Hard Day's Night
Princess Bride
Pink Panther movies*
Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)
Funny Girl
Raising Arizona*
The Fairy Tale Theatre series
Adam’s Rib
Bringing Up Baby
Better Off Dead*
The Brothers Bloom*
Robot & Frank
The Decoy Bride
Follow Me, Boys
Fly Away Home

. . .

The Feel Goods & The Dramas
Mr. Holland’s Opus
An Affair to Remember
Rabbit-Proof Fence
Roman Holiday
The Red Shoes
Heaven Can Wait
The Fugitive*
The Bishop’s Wife
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
It’s a Wonderful Life
An American in Paris
Rear Window*
The Shop Around the Corner
12 Angry Men
Wait Until Dark*
The Shawshank Redemption
Ten Things I Hate About You
Not Without my Daughter
Get Low
Shall We Dance?
Storm Boy
The Help
The Secret Life of Bees

. . .

The Challenges & Triumphs
Field of Dreams
Apollo 13
The Dish
A League of Their Own*
Chariots of Fire
The Karate Kid (the 80s one)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
October Sky*
Pursuit of Happyness
Akeelah and the Bee
Brian's Song
Whale Rider*
Taking Chance
A Song For Marion
The Astronaut Farmer
Take Shelter
Walk the Line
Rebel Without a Cause
The Blindside*
Life of Pi

. . .

The Literary & The Historical
A Passage to India
All the President’s Men*
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Finding Neverland
Sense and Sensibility
Becoming Jane
The Lion in Winter
Henry V*
Ever After
Quiz Show
Thirteen Days*
Lawrence of Arabia
Young Mr. Lincoln
2000 Leagues Under the Sea
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Gone with the Wind
How Green was My Valley
Our Mutual Friend
Ben Hur
Wizard of Oz
Doctor Zhivago*
The Slipper and the Rose
Hans Christian Andersen
Carrie's War
The Robe
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid*
Empire of the Sun*
Out of Africa*
The Pride of the Yankees
Pride & Prejudice
The Glenn Miller Story
The Outsiders*
The Dead Poets Society*
Bright Star*
Young Victoria
Little Women (several versions)
To Kill a Mockingbird*
Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day
Miss Potter
East of Eden
Amazing Grace
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas*

. . .

The Musicals:
The King and I
My Fair Lady
Singing in the Rain
West Side Story
Meet Me in St. Louis
Les Mis
Sound of Music
One Night The Moon*

. . .

The Documentaries:
First Position
Being Elmo
Up documentary series*
Mad Hot Ballroom
Tim’s Vermeer*
The Pixar Story
Fame High
To Be and To Have (Etre et Avoir)
March of the Penguins
Winged Migration
Searching for Sugarman*
Hoop Dreams*
A State of Mind
Anything by Michael Mosley
Redesign My Brain

. . .

The Foreign Films:
Children of Heaven
Les Choristes

Opal Dream
The Red Balloon
Cinema Paradiso*
The Mission
Jean de Florette
Kiki's Delivery Service
My Neighbor Totoro
The Gilded Cage*
The Finishers
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon*
Life is Beautiful*
The Intouchables
Monsoon Wedding

*= might need some closer supervision or pre-viewing by a parent

Okay, your turn! Any suggestions? Go ahead and add your picks in the comments and I'll add them (those additions to the list are in italics). Happy watching!


Don't you forget about me

Recently This American Life aired a segment featuring Molly Ringwald's experience watching The Breakfast Club with her daughter for the first time. It was an interesting and surprisingly poignant conversation with her daughter (and, later, with Ira Glass) about seeing things differently years later through mama eyes, subjective memory, expectations, and the sometimes surprising messages and moments that kids internalize.

A snippet from the interview: 

Ira Glass: So this is the first time that you saw the film as a parent. Did you see it differently?

Molly Ringwald: Absolutely. I really did. I really kind of felt for the parents.

Ira Glass: For people who haven't seen The Breakfast Club, a lot of it is about the kids being disappointed in the parents.

Molly Ringwald: Yeah. And how alone and isolated and frustrated you feel with your parents. And now I see the movie and I just think, oh, their poor parents. And I think that when it was pointed out to me that the movie just talks about how all parents suck, you know, then I thought in my mind, well, actually that might be kind of good because then she can see that she doesn't have parents like that. And then she can, you know, appreciate us. [Laughs.]

. . .

What actually happens when she discusses the movie with her daughter unfolds both in the way she wanted and in a way she didn't expect. You can read the full This American Life transcript here, in segment three. Or have a listen (starting at 38:48):

Alt cinema for big kids: The Finishers

Julian is a 17-year-old boy born with cerebral palsy and living with his family in the mountains of France. Over the years his father, an under-employed former triathlete, has become woefully distant and disconnected from his son. Inspired by media coverage of a father-son team in the US, Julian hatches a plan to sign up (and convince his dad) to compete in the Ironman France competition together.

The title gives a pretty big clue to the unfolding of the plot but don't let the seemingly formulaic story turn you away. Is it sentimental? Yes it is. And inspiring. The cinematography is stunning and the movie has so much heart; it's a Rocky-esque plot enlivened with the themes of independence, dependence, connection, and the dynamics of father-son and mother-son relationships. We all loved it. (And I couldn't help but think of the real-life Hoyt father-son marathon team back in our hometown Boston; in fact I'm certain it's their photo that flashes on the screen when Julian is researching this idea.) This film has had limited release so far but keep your eyes open for it and catch it if/when you can. In the meantime, here's a little taste:

  • Here's a Variety review of The Finishers
  • And the Sydney Morning Herald review
  • Received 86% on Rotten Tomatoes 
  • Rated: PG in Australia
  • Recommended for families with older kids and teens. Mild language and little swearing.
  • You should know: French dialogue, subtitled in English. The concluding scenes of the movie were filmed during the Ironman France competition in Nice.