Thursday, October 7, 2010

Movie Review - Life As We Know It

To mangle an old saying, “Some people are born parents, some have parenthood thrust upon them.” “Life As We Know It” takes a sweet and funny look at what happens to two people who could not be more different when they suddenly find parenthood (and togetherness) thrust upon them.

Holly Berenson, played by Katherine Heigl, is a driven, up-and-coming restaurateur, whose polar opposite, Eric Messer, played by Josh Duhamel, is a relaxed, barely-grown-up frat boy who is now a promising network producer. In the opening scenes we see Holly and Messer, as he is known, interact disastrously, thrown together often once their respective best friends meet, marry, and have an adorable daughter, Sophie. Tragedy strikes, and Holly and Messer, as Sophie’s godparents, are left to raise a one year old in the home of their departed friends.

The most comic moments of the movie come from the clashing personalities of Holly and Messer. Holly turns immediately to parenting books and tries to raise Sophie “by the books”. Messer has a more, well, messy style. But both share a love for Sophie and a devotion to the wishes of their friends. Non-parents in the audience may miss out on the references to The Wiggles and Wonder Pets, but despite the tragic setup, the light tone of the movie makes it an amusing ride.

The best part of the movie was watching Messer’s transformation, as he grows to love Sophie and to grow into his unplanned role as a parent. The development of the relationship between Holly and Messer develop was not as believable, however – the stars lacked some chemistry together, and the sudden shifts were not smooth. I thought the ending was not credible, although it did tie up all the loose strings rather neatly. I could not help but feel sorry for Dr. Sam, left out in the cold (and for a moment I idly wondered if I had any single friends in Atlanta that I could introduce to him – can’t let a catch like that go free!).

This was not a movie filled with belly laughs, but it was a pleasant, amusing tale, and an enjoyable movie to watch. I would give it three and a half stars out of five for the funny parenting scenes, character development of Messer, and (to be completely frank) the eye candy of Messer and Dr. Sam.

For more info on the movie, please go to . “Life as We Know It” is rated PG-13. I have received compensation for this review but the content of this review reflects my own opinion.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

September 11, 2010 -- Remembering and Celebrating

On September 11 this year, I will be remembering with sorrow the good people lost that clear and bright September day nine years ago. But I will also be moving forward and celebrating, enjoying the religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment of our Constitution. Ganesh Chaturthi, the Hindu celebration of the elephant-headed god Ganesh, falls on September 11 this year. We will be decorating our home, making special foods, and hosting an honored guest, the priest who performed our wedding, for a special ritual.

Ganesh is known as the “god of obstacles.” We look to Ganesh to help us through difficult times and to make the way smooth, but if we are not following the correct path, Ganesh will put obstacles in our way to try to guide us. He loves sweets almost as much as my son does, and he treasures his family. He is usually depicted with his hands raised in blessing. On Ganesh Chaturthi, Ganesh returns to Earth for a short time to enjoy being with his devotees. At the end of the celebration, clay icons of Ganesh are immersed in water, returning him to the soil from which he came and symbolizing the cycle of life and death that rules over every living creature.

Although my heart still aches for those lost on September 11, moving forward and celebrating helps ease that pain. I am proud to live in a country where we are free to worship as we choose and to celebrate as we choose. This Ganesh Chaturthi, we pray that this valuable freedom will be honored and treasured by all Americans.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Holiday Challenge: An Update

Here's how I'm doing so far on my Holiday Challenge:

  • I requested a pile of books at and pretty much ran through all my credits. I requested a total of three books for my 6 year old, two for my 2 year old, two for my husband (my husband is, alas, not a reading enthusiast but I found some travel books that I think he will like) and one for me (hey, I deserve a present too!).

  • I won a drawing on the blog Moms Mutterings. ( for a $25 gift certificate to ABC Ties. This will be a nice Diwali gift for my husband!

  • I found a couple of nice new tops for me for Diwali at a local thrift store. One is a lovely fancy top, and I think it will go great with some bottoms I already have. The other is a more simple top that I’m considering altering to make it into a tunic – depending on whether I feel adventurous enough to dust off my rusty sewing skills. Even if I do not alter it, I think some leggings would go great with it. Plus I also found a lovely Italian leather purse, not sure how old it is but it’s in beautiful condition. Total spent so far on clothing and accessories for me: $14.

  • I ordered two piggy banks and one kid’s t-shirt from Kellogg’s with their Toy Story 3 promotion . I had a few codes from Kellogg’s cereal boxes and traded stamps (from Quad Readers Club) for the rest. Waiting on one more code to order one more t-shirt.

Running total spent (listed by gift recipient):
6 year old - $0
2 year old - $1
Husband - $0
Me - $14

Friday, August 6, 2010

Holiday Challenge Update #1

A few more details on my Holiday Challenge:

I’m not counting the cost of stamps that I use to mail OUT things (like for refunds or mail in gift-with-purchase), but I will count in my total the cost of any shipping from an online site or catalog. I usually count shipping as part of the cost of a purchase anyway, so I won’t change my internal accounting for the challenge.

For Diwali, the gifts that I plan to give are new clothes for each of a 2 year old girl, 6 year old boy, my husband and I. The kids will also receive toys and other goodies.

For Christmas, I plan to give stocking stuffers for a 2 year old girl, 6 year old boy, my husband and I; plus stocking stuffers for three of my husband’s cousins (2 guys, 1 gal) whom we will be meeting on a holiday trip (shh – don’t tell them about their presents – it’s a surprise.) Also two secret Santa gifts (adults) and 10 teacher gifts (these have already been taken care of since I hit the 90% off clearance sale at Bath & Body Works last January – price tags still on, so I’ll calculate the cost of these). Plus my mommies group sponsors a needy family every holiday – we all pitch in a little bit of money for items on the family’s wish list, and I always put together some little gifts for each member of the family too. This is the tricky one to plan in advance – we don’t know until a few weeks before the holiday the composition of the family, so there could be kids from baby age all the way through high school. For the challenge, I won’t count the monetary gift but I will count the cost of the “extras” that I give.

I’m off to a pretty good start already, I think. Here’s what I have so far:

How are you doing so far?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August = Time to Start the Holiday Challenge

Ah – August. We have settled into summer, with endless days of heat and humidity. The swimsuits are all stretched and faded from constant use. Hacking open a watermelon is the only kind of cooking that I want to do. The dog reminds me, with his uncanny ability to find the coolest spot in any place, why these are the dog days of summer. In August, I lift my eyes to the calendar, and find myself mentally preparing – for the holidays.

The holidays? Aren’t they 4 months and 1 ½ seasons away?

Precisely. That’s precisely when an obsessive over-planner (like Darth Mama) starts getting ready. Well, not exactly. I never really stop getting ready for the next one. I just start gearing up more now.

This year, I’m trying something a little different. As an obsessive over-planner and a compulsive bargain shopper, I have a tendency to go a little (a lot) (an ENORMOUS AMOUNT) overboard. Now, I don’t think I’ll be able to stop flinging myself overboard, but I’ll add a twist – and maybe a double back flip – this year.

Which brings me to the twist -- my HOLIDAY CHALLENGE. This year’s theme? How low can you go. How little can I spend while still doing my usual big holiday splash for the kiddies and my husband?

A few simple rules for my challenge – I start now, where I am and with what I have. For example, I have about $9 in gift cards sitting in my account at In my holiday challenge, I am free to use that amount without “charging” it to my cash total (especially since those gift cards were free with swagbucks, but that’s another blog post). The cost of stamps will not be included in my holiday total (mostly because I don’t think I’ll be able to keep track of all the stamps I use for sending in rebates, and because I receive 10 stamps a month free from Quad Readers Club – but again, that’s another blog post). If I have stuff squirreled away in my house, it’s free game to use as gifts, because there’s no way I’ll remember accurately how much I paid for it, and it’s better to use what I’ve got than to keep on buying (plus I just stumbled across a Hello Kitty poster yesterday hidden away in my kitchen cabinets – don’t’ ask how it ended up there -- that would be GREAT for my daughter’s room). Gifts with purchase count as free so long as there is a real use for the purchase. For example, if I buy a happy meal for lunch and save the toy for a kiddie present, the toy counts as free only if I actually eat the happy meal for lunch (and do not eat two lunches, which is something that I should not do even if it doesn’t violate my Holiday Challenge rules).

And here’s the double back flip part – our family celebrates Diwali as our big holiday, which falls on November 5 in 2010. So, I’ll have to finish the bulk of my challenge BEFORE the Black Friday sales. We also do stockings for Christmas but the gifts are much, much smaller. That means two holidays instead of one, with the big part coming early.

So – here’s the first things I did for the challenge:
  1. I moved that Hello Kitty poster to my gift stash so I can find it at holiday time. That's assuming my stash stays in the same place, and I do not forget where my current stash is (now you understand even better the "if it's in the house, it's free game" rule. I estimate I have at least three stashes that I've lost and I am still hoping to stumble across).
  2. I sent off for a free Toy Story 3 story book from Band-Aid with three proofs of purchase.
  3. I checked my credits at http://www.paperbackswap/ and pondered what the kiddies would like, but have not ordered anything yet.

Anyone care to join me in my holiday challenge? Jump in with a comment!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Migraine battles

The last few days have been marked by migraine battles -- I've been victorious lately, but I have an awful feeling that my days as migraine conqueror are numbered. The migraine is like a small dark cloud of buzzing gnats, hovering about 4 inches above my left temple. I can see them gathering there and feel the heat coming off their beating wings. If I focus hard enough, and eat/drink/do all the right things, they'll stay hovering there. One false move, though, and they will turn into locusts and descend on me, devouring all in their path. I have no wish to be chewed up and spit out by those beasts, so I fight the good fight and hold the migraine holds off.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

National Donut Day and other goodies

National Donut Day is June 4! What a great holiday. Can’t wait for the parade for this one. Free donut with any beverage purchase at Dunkin Donuts on June 4.

Free 20 page photobook from Shutterfly if you “like” them on Facebook. I’ll like anyone if they give me free stuff! Click on the “like” button, then click on “claim coupon”. Copy your unique code and enter it in your account at Shutterfly ( The code is good until 6/30/10.

Some good free stuff at – Three Dog Bakery treats - , Cottonelle tissue, Crest 3D Whitestrips, Playtex tampons, Prilosec. Purina cat or dog food –

Coupon from Picture People for free 8 x 10 plus 25% off your portrait purchase.

Free Reynolds Wrap toy car when you buy 2 rolls of foil