I developed an obsessive compulsive ritual at a very young age. I started checking to see if my family was breathing while they slept. In the middle of the night was when I felt we were at our most vulnerable. I’d creep into my parent’s bedroom and stare over them until I heard a sigh, snore or could see their chests moving up and down. I don’t exactly know why I became obsessed with making sure my loved ones were still breathing throughout their slumber, but I think it could have something to do with my dad’s incessant fear that one day a gas leak would kill everyone in our home. This was his biggest fear. His fear manifested in the form of me regularly waking up to make sure that our gas stovetop was turned off. My nose led me throughout the house hoping and praying that I didn’t pick up the slightest scent of our toxic nemesis.
My brother was a sleepwalker, which made it easier for me to tell if he was breathing. We’d regularly wake up to find him sleeping near the backdoor of our home. And sometimes what he thought was the toilet was actually the doorway to my parent’s bedroom. There he stood taking a leak on the horrific green shag carpeting. Carpet so ugly that the piss made it more attractive. And because of that and the fact that I knew for certain he was breathing, I am forever grateful for sleepwalking.
In 2010, my boyfriend moved into my Scottsdale, Arizona apartment. Everything was going great. We were happy and enjoying doing that thing that couples do when they first move in with one another, nesting. And soon after we realized that we had the exact opposite taste in home decor. I couldn’t believe he wasn’t a fan of the “Dream A Little Dream” movie poster I hung in our dining area. Did he not know that this 1989 classic was the BEST movie the Corey’s had ever starred in together? For those of you who may be unaware, the two Corey’s consisted of the late, great Corey Haim and the still rocking in this free world, Corey Feldman. I adored them. Especially Corey Haim. And this movie defined my childhood. Everything I learned about being a teenager in high school, I learned from this movie. In my obsessive compulsive nature, I memorized every line in the movie and acted out each scene in my bedroom hoping no one would walk in on me and expose my passion for living in cinema.
My childhood bedroom was an alternate reality where I was a famous singer/actress/tap dancer. I spent most of my time singing and reciting monologues to the large collage of pictures of teen heart throbs, actors, bands and pop singers that I cut out of magazines and taped upon my walls. I’d sing Mariah Carey to a picture of Mariah Carey, and let me tell you, she loved it. My rendition of, “Make it Happen” always made her smile. Granted she was always smiling, but I had this feeling that when I left the room her smile turned upside down. In my bedroom I was safe to be as delusional as I wanted to be. It was where I concocted the story that Corey Haim and I were married in a previous life. It was loosely based on the Beetlejuice death scene.
Basically, we were happily married and then one day, BAM, we ran our car off a beautiful country road and into a pound where we drowned together. Romantic, I know. Then we were reincarnated. Me as an aspiring attention-whore living in St. Paul, Minnesota and Corey as a successful, yet tormented child star turned teen heartthrob turned drug addict. Unfortunately, I was the only one who remembered our previous life. I wrote countless letters to his fan club hoping it would remind him of the love we once shared, but sadly I received no response. After a year of writing letters, the fan club did send me a wallet-size autographed picture of him, which I took as a sign that he remembered. After spending many years in my pocket and fanny packs and then taking a couple of trips in the washing machine, the picture wore so thin that all of the color faded from it. His once crooked grin and head full of mouse was now just an unrecognizable white blob, which coincidentally is what I often resemble when someone takes a picture of me while I’m on stage. More proof of our love or as Mariah Carey would say, “we belong together.”
Soon after moving in with my boyfriend, I began waking up numerous times a night in order to make sure that he was still breathing. Sometimes I would put my finger under his nose and other times I would just stare at him until I could see his chest move. And on occasion, just to be sure, I’d put the tip of my finger inside one of his nostrils until he swatted his hand against his face. For the first couple of months, he had no idea that I was checking his breathing while he slept. I was in the clear. I could maintain my image as a somewhat sane girlfriend, but then it happened. He caught me.
There I was face to face with him. My eyes were perched wide open staring intensely at him waiting for that sign of life. Then as if out of a horror film, his eyes popped open. He appeared startled. “What are you doing?” he asked. “Oh nothing,” I replied hoping he’d believe this was a dream and fall back asleep. “Why are you staring at me like that?” I paused and then replied, “I just can’t stop looking at you.” At the time, I thought this was a better answer than, “Oh, nothing. Just making sure you’re not dead.” It wasn’t. It made me seem very creepy. “How often do watch me while I’m sleeping?” I didn’t know how to answer that, but before my brain could string together a good answer I said, “Four to six times a night.” I then spent the next hour trying to convince him that I wasn’t planning to murder him.
The next day I decided to come clean. I explained that I wasn’t watching him sleep because I was obsessed with him, but rather I was obsessed with my fear of waking up next to a lifeless boyfriend. Surprisingly, he seemed relieved. That following week I asked my psychiatrist to increase the dosage of my anxiety medication. It helped. Sometimes I do still watch him, but please don’t tell him that.
The term “Sandwich Generation” refers to a generation of people who support their own children, while caring for their aging parents. According to the Pew Research Center, just about 1 out of every 8 Americans between 40-60 years of age is raising a child and caring for a parent at the same time. Also, between 7-10 million adults are caring for their parents from a long distance.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, older Americans ages 65 and up will double by the year 2030 to over 70 million. This indicates that more families will be caught in a Sandwich Generation. The term Sandwich Generation was coined by Dorothy A. Miller in 1981.
Carol Abaya M.A., an expert on the Sandwich Generation, described 3 scenarios of this definition:
- Traditional: Those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and or help as well as caring for their own children.
- Club Sandwich: These are people between the ages of 50-60 with aging parents, adult children, and grandchildren or those in their 30s and 40s with young children, aging parents and grandparents.
- Open faced: Refers to anyone else involved in elder care.
It can be very difficult to save for your own retirement and pay your own bills during an economic downturn. It is even more difficult to juggle responsibilities in providing for your own financial future while helping your elderly parents and children simultaneously. Americans 55 and older say they expect to provide for aging relatives for their adult children (according to the Retirement Reset Study by Sun America Financial group and Age wave). If you choose to take time off to care for an elderly family member, then you risk lost wages and 401(k) match benefits and health insurance. This can be a quandary.
Our seniors are struggling to cope with long term care, expenses, and medical costs. Our children, who attend college or grad school, tuition also may need extra financial support. This can also affect one’s own nesting egg, stress level, and emotional well-being. Sometimes you are in a cross road between keeping a full time job and caring for your family.
There are many emotional issues involved in caring for an elderly parent and your own child.
Often times the adult or primary caregiver is trying so desperately to find solutions to both generations’ needs that it can be very difficult when we lose sight of our own personal needs. We need the support to juggle all the different balls in the air. Becoming knowledgeable about elderly care and the resources available can be beneficial in problem solving. Also, guiding our own children throughout the teen years by attending parenting workshops and educating one’s self can get us through the roller coaster times.
If you are feeling overwhelmed in making these critical decisions in your life, consider speaking to a financial adviser, as well as a counselor in family therapy. This can help you decipher what path to take. Attend a group therapy session that can help you in not feeling alone since millions of Americans are struggling with the same issue.
If you are searching for more information on this topic or solutions/strategies, visit Carol Abaya’s website at www.sandwichgeneration.com . This may be very helpful to hear from an expert on the subject.
Rich and Karie Dozer are the loving parents committed to creating something better for families afflicted with cerebral palsy who want an alternative to institutionalizing their children.
The United Cerebral Palsy Laura Dozer Center opened in June of 2003 thanks to the generosity of the Dozer’s and their community supporters. During the last 10 years the facility has set their main focus on maintaining a family unit and has assisted hundreds of children. The center also hosts services for children with disabilities such as autism, down syndrome and others.
Recently I had the pleasure of a personal tour of this facility. The center is beautifully decorated and houses a first rate daycare center which is well staffed, state of the art, and open to the public.
The idea that integrating children without disabilities with handicapped children at an early age is beneficial to both as it fosters compassion, understanding, and lessens the problem of bullying in the future.
To say that I was impressed with the staff and facility of the Laura Dozer Center would be a serious understatement. There are four buildings at the center appropriately named Hope, Nature, Imagine and Believe, which aptly represent the fabulous center.
In addition to children there is an increasing need for adult programs. United Cerebral Palsy expanded its facilities in 2007 so they could provide life and employment skills to the ever growing population of adults with disabilities.
United Cerebral Palsy of Arizona has grown so much from its inception and is serving over 2,500 families on an annual basis. Please donate your time and dollars to this worthy organization which does so much for so many.
I can tell you that I had a smile permanently affixed on my face for the entire day after seeing all those happy little faces at the Laura Dozer Center.
Up until I was lifted out of my mother via C-section, I was supposed to be a boy.
My name was to be Joseph Paul Lunzer. Paul after my dad’s first name and Joseph after his middle name. So clearly my dad was thrilled to be having a son. A son just made sense to a guy like my dad, who is the definition of a Midwestern “guy’s guy.” He built himself a man-cave in the basement of his home equipped with a bar (stocked full of whiskey, vodka, bourbon and a “fine” Arbor Hill Mrs. Brahm’s Very Blueberry Wine that he purchased one Christmas to add a touch of class; however, I just don’t think my family was ready for that much class in a glass). My dad’s man-cave also has a tiny bathroom with just a toilet so that he is freed from the social pressures of putting down the toilet seat and washing his hands. My dad believes that fancy couches consist of two reclining seats connected together by storage-type unit in the middle that holds his sacred remote control, a half-eaten bag of chips and empty peanut shells. And let us not forget the importance of cup holders on said fancy couch. Without cup holders my dad would be expected to actually hold his beverage…with his own hands!
Mounted on the walls of his man-cave are several award-winning fish he caught in various Minnesota, Wisconsin and Canadian lakes. These prized fish hang upon the walls with their mouths open and shock in their eyes. As if their last thoughts were, “Damn! I promised myself that I wouldn’t fall for that minnow on a hook again.” My dad has an array of plastered and molded dead Walleye, Bass and Northern fish for all of his friends to marvel at when they visit. “That’s a nice looking bass you got there, Paul.” Once his friend Hokey had a few too many shots of whiskey and forgot to pronounce the B in bass while giving my dad this compliment, which I think only made their friendship stronger. My dad’s just the kind of guy who only has friends named Hokey, Corky, The Old Indian Guide and Peterson. In the Midwest there’s always a Peterson.
So on that cold day in February of 1980 while waiting for his son’s arrival, my dad sat with my mom while she powered through contractions with no epidural. Instead she chose to play the songs of Diana Ross and The Supremes in her hospital room to get her through the pain. Several hours into her labor, the doctor made the announcement that I had gone breech, which was the first indication of my stubborn nature. When I could have easily rewarded my mother for her hours of hard labor by finally exiting her body, I chose to instead do somersaults in her belly as I attempted to come out butt first. Because of this, they rushed my mother into the operating room for an emergency C-section. My mom was pretty doped up during the surgical procedure, which she remembers fondly. “That was one of the best highs ever.” So when then the doctor lifted me up and announced, “It’s a girl!” My dad was the first to hold me. “Are you sure it’s a girl?” I imagine he asked over and over and over again. But there I was in all my female glory. The scariest thing my dad had ever seen, a baby girl whom he had no idea what to do with.
After the initial shock wore off, my dad devised a plan to raise me as if I were born a boy. He taught me how to fight, spit, successfully slide into third base, play hockey and do push-ups. “Not the girly way,” he’d say as I did push-ups for allowance. I could even do one-handed push-ups and the kind where you clap your hands together on the way up. I was the only 10-year-old girl at my elementary school with biceps. I dominated the presidential physical fitness tests and could flex arm hang until the dismissal bell rang. My dad couldn’t have been prouder of his daught-son creation.
However, once I turned 14, an even bigger fear of his came knocking, boys. Not many boys, but a few and his advice on dating was more terrifying than helpful. “Remember Jo, if one of these guys gets too close, just count down the buttons on his shirt. One, two, three buttons down and then BAM! Hit him in his chest. It’ll knock the wind right out of him.” And then once I started high school he’d say things like, “Sure you can have sex in high school, but then you’ll be forced to move to an island far away with the rest of the people who have leprosy.” What? I didn’t even know what leprosy was until I looked it up in the set of Encyclopedia Britannica’s that my dad purchased as a gift to the family in 1990. For those unfamiliar with an Encyclopedia Britannica, it was the paper predecessor to Google. They were giant books you’d open and look stuff up in. If it wasn’t in the EB, it didn’t exist.
I was an emotional teen girl going through drama and he had few solutions to my problems besides, “Just punch ‘em in the face, but never throw the first punch,” or “Calm down. It’s not like it’s the second coming of Christ.” He said this after coming home from work only to find me in a fit of hysterics on the floor after my first “love” had broken up with me. However, my father’s piece de resistance was what he said when I came home crying (again) after being picked on by two 14-year-old boys at the local rec center. “Dad, they kept saying ‘you’re ugly’ and pointing at me in front of everyone. Why do I have to be so ugly?”
My dad just looked at me confused. Rather than advising me to knock the wind out of them, he said, “What are you talking about Jo? You got such a strong neck.” I didn’t know what to say. A strong neck!?! That is not what a ninth grade girl wants to hear about her body. Then he cupped his hand around the back of my neck and looked at me with sincerity in his eyes. “And you got that strong Lunzer chin,” which only meant that there were more chins coming.
The boys who called me ugly didn’t stop once I informed them of the beauty of my “strong neck.” Instead they said I had a hump on my back and laughed in my face, but I never told my dad. Instead I kept him happy by continuing my push-up regime and prepping for my “one, two, three buttons down” moment. It made my dad proud to instill a physical strength in me and I didn’t want to let him down. I was reminded of this on Father’s Day when I inadvertently gave my dad the best present ever, I carried a one-hundred pound rock from my brother’s backyard to the backseat of his Nissan Sentra that was parked in the driveway. “You’ve still got it,” he said with a huge smile on his face.
Something mothers can really appreciate on Mother’s Day is time away from the usual house chores, cooking and cleaning. However our families can make it happen, we long for a day where there are no dishes or clothes to wash, hand prints on the stainless steel appliances, toothpaste smudged on the counter tops and backpacks dropped in the walkways. Dads are often charged with making something happen on Mother’s Day especially when the children are young. Cookies, flowers, candies and cards will be flying off the shelves this week in preparation for Mother’s Day this coming Sunday, May 12th. But, if you are anything like me, a day at the spa is nice and so are flowers but homemade gifts and sharing special times with the children are even more desirable. I’d like to spend quality time having fun with my kids and make a mess that is not in my kitchen or my house that I will later clean up.
In light of our Mother’s Day wish that messes will magically disappear that day, I thought I’d share a few events around Phoenix where kids can make homemade gifts or share time in the kitchen with no mess for mom to clean up. Here is a list of some activities scheduled in Phoenix that kids can enjoy one on one with mom or the entire family.
Mother’s Day may not be the only day you are looking for something to do with your children either, Although, it is an important one. It is difficult when everyone has their own lives and such busy schedules to make one on one time together. Another site worth visiting that has suggestions on all sorts of activities for kids, in Phoenix, or wherever you may be is Kid Pep. Kid Pep lists a variety of activities for families with children and it’s not just limited to the Phoenix area. It’s a resource you can refer to if you are traveling or perhaps we’ve captured a reader that is out of state.
From all of us at SmartFem.com, we wish you a beautiful, loving and relaxing Mother’s Day 2013.
Locations throughout Phoenix Valley
AJ’s through-out the valley will be holding their Little Chefs Club event on Saturday, May 12th. Each AJ’s will coordinate its own activity so you will need to check with your local store for times and the specific activity. In the past, Little Chefs Club has decorated Mother’s Day cookies and made tiered cookie cakes. There have also been events where children made heart shaped pizzas and cute homemade cards.
Scottsdale Fashion Center and Kierland locations
Sur La Table in Scottsdale Fashion Square and Kierland offer cooking classes all month long. On Sunday, May 12th, both stores will be holding a Mommy & Me Bake: Cupcakes class beginning at 11:00 am. The cost is $35 per person and children ages 5 and up can attend the event. This is well worth it as your little chef can frost to his heart’s content and the mess stays behind. Space is still available and you can register for the event on line at the Sur La Table website.
35 N Robson, Mesa
Children ages 6-12 are invited to make a unique recipe holder and a lovespoon for their mother. The class is scheduled for one hour and begins at 10:30 am on Sunday, May 12th. General admission to the museum is required and this special class is an additional $13. Following the class, families can spend the remainder of the morning and afternoon in the museum.
Locations throughout Phoenix valley
On Mother’s Day, As You Wish Pottery is holding a special event where mothers and toddlers can paint together and create a ceramic plate. Refreshments will be served in the shops and you can spend as much time as you like working on your masterpiece. The cost for the event is $25. Remember the pieces do have to be fired so you will come back the following week to pick up your completed art work.
Locations throughout Phoenix valley
Every other Saturday, Lowe’s holds a kids craft workshop. You will need to check your local Lowe’s store to confirm times as they may vary slightly throughout the valley. Most workshops begin at 10:00 am. This Saturday, May 11th, children work with a Lowe’s specialist to create a lovely heart shaped box for their beloved mothers.
Review of the 2013 Buick Enclave.
Buick is the new 30.
Remember when the word Buick evoked visions of our grandparents; complete with white hair and practical shoes, moving slowly towards their large vanilla looking car? Well that has all changed; Buick is cool, young and comes in many flavors.
The 2013 Buick Enclave has been ranked the #1 affordable midsize SUV by both consumers and automotive journalists. After test-driving the Enclave myself, I wished it were an option when I was car-pooling my kids to baseball, soccer, violin lessons and work. In my thirties, the suburban or a station wagon was the most practical option, or unattractive alternative.
The 2013 Buick Enclave makes total sense for the young, affluent buyers with growing families or empty-nesters with grandparent ties and road trip vacations. The other group of potential owners for the Enclave would be shoppers of the Acura MDX, Audi Q7 or Volvo SC90.
The Buick Enclave delivers the goods for the money in terms of amenities, space, styling and efficiency. They kept the price reasonable to the point where it’s thousands less than others in its class and offers that luxury experience any generation wants and demands.
It also delivers room for seven adults, not five grownups and two kindergarteners. Buick did it right with the slide and fold captain’s chairs for the second row of seating, which is easily operated with one hand, clearing a wide path to the third row of seats. Bench seats are also available.
Behind that, the cargo space is enough to accommodate luggage, camping equipment or strollers.
There have been some nice cosmetic improvements. There is a new good-looking instrument panel with a stylish face and easy to access intellilink touchscreen display. It has remote keyless entry, rear child security door lock, rear vision camera system, side blind zone alert with rear cross traffic alert, tri-zone air conditioning and a leather wrap steering wheel with audio controls and XM radio.
It might as well pull itself in and out of the garage and have my coffee placed in one of the ten cup holders each morning.
The 2013 version of the Enclave has laminated glass and ample sound deadening material to create a passenger space that is whisper quiet at highway speeds. I tested this on the local freeway, but I could still hear three-year-old Sofia singing, “Old McDonald Had A Farm” very clearly and very off tune.
The basic shape of the Enclave remains, but a new front fascia and hood, LED enhanced headlamps and new signature “waterfall” grille gives the 2013 a fresh rejuvenated look, much like a day at the spa.
The standard Enclave has all the comforts and convinces any gender desires including its award-winning safety features. There are 3rd row side curtain bags that stay inflated longer in the event of a rollover, and a new INDUSTRY FIRST center side airbag in the center console that protects driver and front seat passenger from opposite side impacts. The Enclave starts at $39, 270. The one I tested was $51,000.
If you want to know what’s under the hood to move this incredible machine, you will find a 3.6 liter V6, 288 horsepower engine with EPA statistics of 17 City and 24 highway.
All in all, the 2013 Buick Enclave lives up to its #1 ranking in the midsize SUV category and evokes new visions of Buick owners, and one of them could be you!
For more reviews go to www.twofortheroadusa.com
Linda Gellman Levin holds a dual Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and in Special Education. In this new exclusive SmartFem column Linda will address your tough questions on the difficult and important job of raising children. askLinda@SmartFem.com
Why is it if you have two children raised in the same house, with all the same privileges, that they can be remarkably different? — Lisa, a mother and RN (Phoenix, AZ)
This is a puzzling question and very interesting to families. First of all, we are all born with different personalities, traits, temperaments, intelligence, and health issues that can be either similar or different from our siblings. Looking at three generations on both sides of the families can affect our DNA and can contribute to our abilities, looks, athletic traits, artistic, intelligent quotients, musical, learning styles, or mental health.
Even though we think we are giving our children the same opportunities or privileges or parenting styles, that doesn’t necessary mean our children will react the same way or experience it in the same emotional state. What we say to one child may be heard differently with another child. We need to know that we are all different people even though we came from the same parents, and we need to be parented in a different parenting style than the other sibling in order to feel loved and cared for.
What is the best Parenting Style when disciplining a child? — Denise, mother of two daughters (Paradise Valley, AZ)
According to the research by Diana Baumrind, the best style of parenting is called ‘AUTHORITATIVE ‘ OR DEMOCRATIC. Parents make reasonable demands on their child, and they enforce them by setting rules, setting limits, and insisting that the child obey. At the same time they express warmth and affection, listen patiently to the child’s point of view, and encourage the child to participate in family decision-making.
Do you think spanking a child is the right form of discipline? — Ken, father of three small children (Glendale AZ)
Child Psychologists have various views on spanking. Most research indicates that spanking teaches a child to be aggressive and violent, and that it does not teach a young child the true meaning of his/her actions. Spanking is often a release for the parent who feels frustrated and unable to cope with the young child’s behavior. I feel a “ time out”(depending on the age) can be effective and parents can also take a time out to think before being reactive. Giving two choices and re-directing a child to do something else, like not touching something and taking them into another room and giving them a toy instead to play with, can be effective. It’s praising a child for appropriate behavior instead of telling them when they are always acting out.
Please send your questions to Linda via email at
I have been told that I’ve ruined every family vacation during my adolescent years. My dad and mom worked hard each year, saving their money so that they could take my brother and me on an adventure during the summers. My dad was a saver extraordinaire. He once saved up enough change to buy a Lund Pro-V boat, which at the time was the BMW of fishing boats. Every night for four years, my dad would empty the loose change from the pockets of his work pants and place it into an empty 5 gallon Culligan water jug. Four years later, he pulled up to our house with a boat on a trailer behind our family mini-van. After my dad purchased his boat, he was considered a “baller” in our Eastside of St. Paul, Minnesota neighborhood. I felt like a character on Beverly Hills 90210 as our family sped around Lake Phalen going 30 miles an hour. All eyes were on us as we cruised along. I gazed upon what I assumed to be a sea of jealous faces as I thought, “This is what Donna Martin must feel like.” As an adult I found out that people were looking at us because gas powered motors were not allowed on Lake Phalen, but at the time I basked in my assumption that everyone looking at us, wanted to be us.
In my teen years, I was what most would consider, unpleasant. I was narcissistic, selfish and moody. My moods were the worst. I could be laughing hysterically to the comedic styling of Beavis and Butthead one minute and then the next I was screaming and crying on the floor because one of the straps on my favorite Doc Marten sandals had broken. And these mood swings didn’t cease as my age increased. Finally, in my late twenties my behavior was given a name, Bipolar II.
At the time when I was ruining our family vacations it was no laughing matter, but as the years have passed it has become a family joke. “Remember when you ruined our trip to Glacier National Park,” my dad often reminds everyone during any and every family dinner. “That was money down the drain.” I do remember how I ruined that vacation. It was 1994, I was 14 years old and the last thing I wanted to do was spend fourteen days in an RV with my mom, dad and little brother. It wasn’t long into our ride before I was grumbling about my dad’s incessant playing of his Johnny Horton CD. “If I have to listen to ‘North to Alaska’ one more time, I’m going to die. I’m going to open the door of this RV and fall out and onto the freeway,” I screamed to my parents from the back of the RV. During my teenage years, this was an ongoing fantasy of mine. Every time I felt anxiety, depression or the slightest discomfort, I would imagine how peaceful it would be to just open the door of the vehicle I was driving in and simply fall out. Looking back I realize that there would be nothing peaceful about falling out onto the unforgiving ground of the freeway at a speed of 70 miles per hour, but at that time, it seemed like my only option.
During our drive from Minnesota to Montana, I begged my dad to play my “Live Through This” Hole CD, but he resisted. According to him, our music options were Johnny Horton, Roger Miller, John Prine or silence. And the silence option was not even silence. Instead it was listening as my mom hummed the chorus to Diana Ross and The Supremes’ “Love Child” over and over again while reaching over from the passenger seat and running her fingers through my dad’s non-existent hair. In the 70’s my dad had long wavy locks, but by the 90’s my dad had nothing but peach fuzz. My mom was clearly living in the past and nothing annoyed me more than when she pretended his 70’s hair had made it into the 90’s.
Before we left for our vacation I begged to stay home. At the time I could not imagine leaving my friends for two whole weeks. Plus I had already made plans that my parents didn’t even take into consideration. I was planning on spending every summer day at Prosperity Recreation Center where my friends and I would sit on the gymnasium floor and watch the boys we liked play basketball and then run away screaming when they tried to shoot snot rockets at us. I had been looking forward to this all school year and my parents were ruining it. How dare they take me to one of the most beautiful places on earth where I whitewater rafted, hiked glacial mountains, stayed at campgrounds with water slides, had nightly bonfires and ate endless s ’mores!?! I still blame my parents for why my summer crush, Dan, never asked me out when I got back. If it weren’t for our family vacation, I could have gotten to him before Tanya did. Then maybe I could have been the girl who ran into his arms (full of homemade tattoos) and kissed his mouth (missing many teeth) when he was released from prison in 2000 for carjacking he committed in 1996. Ugh, parents.
I continued to complain during our entire vacation. I thought the mountains were annoying; the glaciers were “just regular old snow;” the mountain air smelled like the pig barn at the Minnesota State Fair and around every corner I swore that I saw a grizzly bear just waiting to maul us all to death. Of course none of these things were true yet I spent each day with a permanent scowl on my face. And at night before we all fell asleep inside the RV, I would cry just loud enough so my parents could hear that they were ruining my life. That was the last time we took a family vacation. Sure, we went to a cabin or camped here and there throughout the years, but that was our last true family vacation.
When my parents told me we wouldn’t be taking another trip the following summer, I was ecstatic. Ironically, I’m now the only one who misses going on family vacations. “We should take another vacation. Just the four of us,” I’ve suggested every summer since I turned 25 years old. Each time I make the suggestion, I hope that my dad will say yes and then reveal a 5 gallon Culligan water jug full of coins that he’s been saving to fund our trip. Sadly, this has yet to happen. The past is impossible for them to forget as my suggestion is always met with, “Maybe next year.” I think my only chance of getting the four of us to go on another family vacation is if I pay for the entire trip and then let my parents sit in the backseat of the RV and ruin it for me. It’s only fair.
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Preserve Your Memories with Home Video Studios of Scottsdale
After 6 hours of waiting in a full theater at Tempe Marketplace’s Harkins Theaters, the lights dimmed. Even from the third row from the top I could still see the glowing white Legolas wig some elf-dressed fan donned all the way down in the front row.
I was yawning already and the film had not even begun yet. Around midnight the previews started. An ovation rang throughout the theater. The Lord of the Rings never appealed to me on a commercial level, but there I was with my 3D glasses resting on top of my prescription ones, wondering how many pain pills I had in my purse for the post movie 3D headache. I was prepared to meet this installment with some skepticism. After all, The Arizona Republic gave the movie 2.5 stars, so I was curious to see what I would think about the film.
Following applause directed at the title credits, the journey began.
Anyone who has seen the Lord of the Rings film adaptations can attest to them being particularly violent and dark. There is a misconception among many that The Hobbit is just as mysterious and bellicose as the previous Lord of the Rings movies. The Hobbit, although it has its moments, is not nearly as macabre as the previous related movies, rather, an attitude of courageous adventure dominate this release. There are sword fights and war flashbacks still, however nothing out of the ordinary for a fantasy film.
Despite the fact that I could comfortably take my 8 year old brother to see this film without hesitation, (maybe I would make him go to the bathroom during Gollum’s scenes…) at the midnight premier there were hardly any parents and children to be found. Granted, this may be due to the fact that it was a school night and they would not have arrived home until 4 am, but I recall quite clearly that during the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, there were countless children waving wands and wearing a scar on their forehead up past their bedtimes. Compared to Deathly Hallows, The Hobbit is practically a musical. I don’t mean that it is silly or extremely juvenile, but it is an easy watch for a child. PG-13 is the perfect rating for this film. Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey does an exceptional job of retaining the lighthearted, child friendly vibe the book portrayed, while simultaneously presenting long time Lord of the Rings/Tolkien fanatics the content they deserve.
In addition to the appealing mood The Hobbit put forth, the actors in the film were superb. Martin Freeman plays Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit which the film is centered around. Freeman, a BBC veteran who won his fame for his role on The Office (UK version), and as Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick, John Watson, in the show Sherlock, proves his talent as an actor in this film. From comedy to drama and now to a whimsical fantasy character, Freeman’s versatility is wide. And as always, Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey is always a pleasure, although many complain that there was not enough magic used by him in situations where magical assistance would have been greatly appreciated.
In addition to the acuity of the performing, I am sure it helped to have costumes and makeup transforming into true Middle Earthlings. For example the dwarves were almost cartoon like with all of the prosthetics and hair, however instead of seeming cheesy, it contributed to the mystical world that the audience travels to when watching the film.
Orcs, trolls, and other miscellaneous creatures that were created using CGI technology were commendable in regards to appearance and detail. However in the 3D, 48 fps (frame per second) version in theatres the disparity between the real and the animated was all too blatant. There were a few scenes in which I thought I was watching a Roger Rabbit-esque feature. The scenery of the various lands and kingdoms the dwarves and Bilbo traveled were executed beautifully though.
By the time the film had ended, I was willing to sit through another hour. The pacing was done well and three hours seemed to be nothing more than one and a half. Ending on a suspenseful note, moviegoers will be desperate to see what happens next in Jackson’s other upcoming Hobbit adaptations.
While discussing what had just been viewed with friends, no one had any complaints about the movie as a whole. Minor things such as Gandalf’s magic stinginess, the CGI creatures, and the occasional corny scenes seemed to be the only flaws. Overall, The Hobbit satisfied fans of all ages and was worth the money to see in the 48 fps and 3D. Jackson and the rest of the cast and crew earned an 7/10 in my book.