Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Drive-in Movie Theater: A Welcome Flashback

My first memory of having visited a drive-in movie theater is from 1986.  My parents loaded us all into the family van and made the trek to a local drive-in theater.  The featured films that evening were “Back to School” starring Rodney Dangerfield and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” starring Matthew Broderick.  You know, Sarah Jessica Parker’s husband. 

I fondly remember my dad hanging a receiver over the driver’s door in order for us to hear the audio that accompanied the video.  The sound was a bit staticky and the screen was a little fuzzy, but not so much that those things ruined the experience.  After all, we were enjoying the only technology that existed at the time. 

Another memory that floods back from that night is how incredibly difficult it was for everyone to get a good view of the screen from inside the van.  Portable chairs like the ones that you see at soccer games and outdoor concerts of today hadn’t yet been invented and we didn’t have those bulky lawn chairs that would have allowed us to comfortably enjoy the movies in the great outdoors.

Despite the inability to get a clear view of the entire screen from within the van, I have nothing but amazing memories from that evening with my family doing something that was almost unheard of by the mid-80′s as drive-ins were almost a relic.

Nearly two decades later, having moved to another state, I was surprised to see that one of my favorite past activities was still available for me to begin making memories for my children.  The technology is different, but the experiences are much the same – fantastic!  The audio is now played via an FM station in your vehicle, the movie screen is crisp, and the vehicles that we drive are much more comfy than what my parents had.  Oh, and camp chairs allow moviegoers to comfortably sit outside of their vehicles for unobstructed views of the screen.

The nostalgia of old and comfort of new collided on New Year’s Eve 2011 to create new memories when my 12-year-old daughter and I enjoyed a visit to the local drive-in theater.  We missed the company of my husband and teens who all declined to go along on this memory-making, quadruple feature adventure.  I think their reluctance had something to do with the first two movies to be shown (Happy Feet 2 and The Muppets). 

Although this wasn’t our first visit to this drive-in theater, it was the first mother-daughter trip there.  We had a great time laughing and talking about silly things in a way that you can’t when “the boys” are around.  In wonder, at times mockingly, the youngest (and most adventurous) member of my brood asked questions about and commented on the concession advertisements that played before the first movie.  I’ll admit that watching advertisements with a copyright date of 1959 is nothing like the colorful, musical, and noisy pitches that she’s used to seeing on Nickelodeon, and even though I wasn’t born until over a decade after those commercials were made, I found them quite nostalgic and actually enjoyed them.  I felt entertained.  That experience was the equivalent of enjoying a game on an Atari console having already played one of today’s video game systems. Simply fun and funny!

As we reclined in our comfy seats, snuggled into blankets and pillows that we brought from home, we laughed and giggled our way through three movies of the night’s quadruple feature.  Right after the third movie of the evening, which starred Sarah Jessica Parker and featured a cameo by Matthew Broderick, a co-owner of the theater announced that it was finally time for us to make our way into the concession area to get our New Year’s Eve treats: hats, noisemakers, and sparkling or hot cider.  So my daughter and I made our way through the line picking out each of our items (we chose hot cider, since the outside temperature was 41 degrees) and posed for our picture that was being taken by the same co-owner.

What a wonderful evening this had been and it wasn’t over yet!  Once back to our van, we eagerly awaited instructions for how to proceed with the celebration.  At the appointed time, we were directed to watch the screen as it displayed a decades-old animation counting down to the start of the new year.  Alas, shouts of “Happy New Year!” could be heard from every corner of the lot.  Honking horns and fireworks marked the momentous occasion.  And cups were raised in honor of the promise that the new year would bring.

After a few more minutes of celebrating, the final movie of the evening began.  We tried to stay awake long enough to enjoy this experience to the fullest, but it just wasn’t in the stars, so we headed home soon after to join the rest of our family and nestle into our warm beds.

While streaming video, mail-order video rental subscriptions, ubiquitous video rental kiosks, or local video rental stores (which are becoming relics themselves) are more suitable for the busier lifestyles that we lead today, in my book, they could never hold a candle to the experience of sitting in my own vehicle (or outside of it in a camp chair) with my family while enjoying a great set of movies on a big screen under the stars.

The time warp to when life was slower and simpler is the perfect antidote to the toxic schedules that many of us keep.  I welcome the experience of taking a step back into time and look forward to future retreats back into the wonder years.

The $8 cost per person for 2-4 movies paired with the freedom to bring my own food and drinks into the facility is far less expensive than a family outing at any community megaplex.  However, regardless of the cost of admission, the memories that are made from visiting a drive-in theater are priceless.

Search the Drive-in theater database to find the closest auto theater near you.

Happy New Year!

CC

 

Activity Burnout

Our family of six is busy like most modern families.  Work, school, dance, scouts, church, friends, etc. all compete for the very limited resource of time.  We do most of our activities, because they are fun and bring us joy, but others things like work and school are simply necessary.

I don’t know if it’s just my family, or if others out there are going through the same thing, but we’re in desperate need of a break!  The cold, snowy (and lately) rainy winter doesn’t do much to help adjust our attitudes.

Thank goodness spring break is just around the corner.  Otherwise, we just might go stir crazy.  We’re looking forward to being unplugged from the usual rat race.  No office or home phones ringing.  Cell phones will be off or on silent.  Computer usage will be limited to getting ideas on where to go and what to do at our vacation destination.  Facebook is forbidden.  We plan to just relax and enjoy each other’s company.  Old school entertainment like board games will become the new norm for our vacation this year.  The low-tech board games, not the new ones. :-)

Favorite Television Show

I’m OD’ing on what is likely my favorite comedy of all time, Reba!  I’ve watched three episodes in a row and will watch at least two more before turning in for the night.

What are some of your favorite shows?

Togetherville: A Social Networking Site for Kids

Facebook is the social networking giant amongst teens and adults, but a new social network is brewing for the underaged crowd.  Togetherville.com is a hot new site that allows parents to sign up their 6-12 year-olds for accounts that are verified using their parents’ Facebook account.  While Togetherville is not affiliated with Facebook, it uses the networking giant’s login information to verify that users who sign up for “parent” accounts actually meet the age requirement for adulthood.  That’s not the only verification step to that grownups have to take before opening an account for children. Check out their page to read about other methods that they use to verify users.

Content

While the site allows your children to post status updates, it  also boasts games for the younger crowd.  Parking Mania, Snowboard Challenge, and Lil Dress-up Time are just some of the pre-screened titles that have been tested and deemed suitable content for your little ones.  However, it’s not all fun and games, because Togetherville also has educational applications to enhance your child’s learning experience.

Three Ways for Your Children to Connect Safely with Their Friends

Parent Network: Only those people within a parent’s social network who also have the Togetherville application – and their child(ren) – can request to connect to a child.

School Network: When parents link their child’s account to their school, kids can discover their classmates and request their parents to connect.

Friending Codes: Each kid in gets a unique secret friending code to share with others they want to connect with in Togetherville.

Privacy

Togetherville does not share information with Google or other search engines, so your child’s profile is not searchable or discoverable on the internet.  Also, since you would select only trusted Facebook friends and their children to have access to your child’s safe and secure online neighborhood, there is no possibility of anonymous users having access to your child’s profile.

For more information about Togetherville, please visit their frequently asked questions.

Are you a user of Togetherville or some other kid-friendly social networking site?  Does your child use Facebook or MySpace?

Let’s chat!

Love to alL!

CC

Valentine’s Day Craft Ideas

Looking for a way to tame cabin fever, have fun with the kids, and celebrate Valentine’s Day all at once?  Try these easy craft ideas that require little to no materials.

Bead Bracelets

These gifts are simple and inexpensive.  You’ll need:

  • Clear beading string (stretchy)
  • Red, white, and clear beads
  • Scissors

Simply cut clear beading string into 8″ lengths and add beads in whatever pattern your heart desires.  Once bracelet is at desired length, tie ends into triple knots and snip excess string.

Keepsake Box

Making your own  jewelry or keepsake box is a great way to pass the time when cabin fever has taken hold.  These inexpensive items can be purchased at your local crafts store.

  • Small wooden box (unfinished)
  • Wood paint (or spray paint for shorter drying time)
  • Stickers

Lightly sand the box to remove rough edges then add coat of paint.  Let paint dry completely before adding second coat.  Finally, decorate with stickers and/or paint festive designs onto box.  Viola!  A simple, personalized keepsake or jewelry box.

Paper Wreath

Materials needed:

  • Construction paper or card stock in traditional valentine colors
  • Glue or yarn

Draw heart template onto construction paper or card stock.  The firmer the template, the easier it is to trace.

Trace approximately 15 impressions of the heart template and cut from paper.

Decorate each heart with drawings or messages.

Line up the heart cutouts to form a circle and adhere with glue, or punch small holes (one on each side of heart) and string together with yarn. 

Hang finished wreath for everyone to see!

Word Search

Make a list of words that remind you of Valentine’s Day, then enter them into a free online word search puzzle maker, such as the one found at Discovery Education.  Print and search!

For an added seasonal touch, print word search on translucent paper (found in craft stores), then glue to red construction paper being sure to have a border for decorating purposes.

Netflix vs. Movie Theater

Did you know that the average price for a movie ticket these days is nearly $8?  While that amount might sound low, it includes prices for matinees and children’s tickets.  Not so cheap-sounding anymore, huh?  And we haven’t even brought up the cost of concessions.  Yikes! 

The high price of movies has pretty much kept my family away from the big screen, except for blockbuster movies or special occasions (kids wanting to blow allowance).  Instead, we opt for Netflix.  In fact, we’ve turned to Netflix for our movie needs for five years now and it has never disappointed.  You simply can’t beat having movies delivered to your directly to your mailbox (and now your PC) for a small fraction of what it would cost to take your entire family to the megaplex.

Besides price and convenience, I love that Netflix has an incredible selection of family-friendly titles as well as my favorite thrillers and documentaries.

Netflix does have some competition from companies like Red Box, On Demand, and Blockbuster (the kiosks), but none of those are game-changers for me.  There’s something about an all-knowing movie-selection company that sends what I want, when I want, and suggests things that I’m not even aware that I want for the price that I want to pay.

The next family movie night in my house will undoubtedly involve a movie from Netflix and some inexpensive theater-sized treats enjoyed from the comfort of our own sofa and pj’s.

Do you Netflix, or are you among the $8 movie-goers?

Let’s chat!

Love to all!

CC

How Do You Prepare for Snow Days?

As the Midwest plans for another snowstorm, children and adults take the prediction of frozen precipitation differently.  The younger crowd looks forward to a day off from school, while the older bunch tends to wonder about how or if they’ll commute to work in a treacherous, wintry mess. 

The night before a storm, children all over town use at least one of the following rituals to brew up a day off from readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmetic:

  • Sleeping at the foot of the bed, with pajamas inside out and backwards (there’s a Facebook page for this)
  • Flushing ice cubes down a toilet
  • Sleeping with spoons under their pillows (see inside out PJ’s FB page if you want to “Like” this)
  • Freezing white crayons then placing it under tbeir pillow before going to bed for the night
  • Doing snow dances

All of these traditions are supposed to lead to a day of sledding, building snowmen and forts, making snow angels, and lobbing snowballs at both willing and unwilling targets.  For those who aren’t into winter sports, there is video-gaming, movie-watching, or sleeping on the agenda.

Mom and dad’s snow day plans probably aren’t as carefree.  While kids are thinking of fun, mom and dad may be stocking up on grocery items, rounding up shovels and salt, restocking firewood, and filling up their gas tanks before what is not-so-affectionately now known as “white death”.  I admit that I did these things, but now that I’m done, bring onthe snow!

Oh, I don’t have a sled yet!  Gotta go!

Let’s chat!  How do you prepare for and spend snow days?

Love to all!

CC

Favorite Television Shows

Most of my favorite television programs are from decades ago.  A time when programming was more original than our viewing options today.

Take Three’s Company (1977-1984), for instance.  One of the highest rated shows of its time, it was centered around three young roommates, (Jack Tripper, Janet Wood, and Chrissy Snow) and their landlords.  The original landlord, Mr. Roper, refused to allow an unmarried male to occupy the same apartment as two unmarried women.  Not to be swayed, because Jack needed a place to stay and the girls desperately needed a third roommate to replace the one who’d recently left, Janet convinced Mr. Roper to let Jack become Chrissy’s and her roommate by telling him that Jack was “gay”.  Ultimately, Jack went along with the idea and the roomies lived mostly happily ever after.  (Well, until a major cast change years later.)  Think about how original and daring the premise of this show was?

The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, The Love Boat, Charlie’s Angels, and The Facts of Life are just a few of my other favorites from the 70′s and 80′s.

Let’s not forget about the animated blasts from the past.  The Smurfs, Scooby Doo, Deputy Dawg, Johnny Quest, The Flintstones, and The Jetsons (1962).  I’ve never seen anything else that was as simplistic and still managed to be as entertaining as the Smurfs.  The 101 three-apples tall, blue, not-quite people or animal beings who each had their own task that helped to keep their village running smoothly.  Until Gargamel and his cat, Azrael, tried (at least once per episode) to capture as many smurfs as possible as the main ingredient for Smurf stew.  By the way, did you hear about the Smurfs 3D movie that will be released in the summer of 2011?  Why?  Why?  Why?  Can’t they just leave good enough alone? 

OK, back to the topic.  Shows from days gone past were classic, original, entertaining, and many were very family-friendly.  Today’s programming is made up of scripted “reality” shows, significantly violent “entertainment”, and topics that are not suitable for a huge chunk of the population.

Thank goodness for online episodes, TV Land, and the availability of some of my favorite shows on DVD.  My childhood memories are preserved forever; unless I make the mistake of watching a modern remake of my favorite old school shows.

Let’s chat!  What are some of your favorite old school television programs?

Love to all!

CC

Positive News Reports

“If it bleeds it leads.”  I get it, some people thrive on death, drama, and crime, but not all of us.  I’d love to be able to watch news reports without having to switch to another channel, because one of my children walks into the room.  Besides, I want to hear good news…a lot of good news!

So, I hunted for web sites that deliver just what I crave – good news.  The people behind Happy News find good news stories, from their own sources as well as others, and put them into one convenient place.  One of yesterday’s headlines was “School Finds 340-Year Old Bible“.  Credit to CNN for this story; now if only they could seek more feel-good news and report it, report it, report it.  Enough of the Nancy Grace doom and gloom!

How about another great story where University of Pennsylvania students distributed coats to needy children?  Operation Warm is an organization that reaches out to children in 26 states in conjunction with a wide range of organizations that have the ability to reach deep into some of the country’s neediest communities.  Good news stories aren’t just for entertainment purposes, they serve to inform.  Maybe this story will help if you have (or know of) a child in need of a warm coat.  Or, maybe it will incite you to make good on your promise to do more for your neighbors.

It’s true, good news happens around the globe every day.  Unfortunately, most news outlets don’t report it often and at length.  If I were to sponsor a news broadcast, I don’t think I’d want my product advertisement to follow a report of the lastest bloodbath.  Imagine it: “This gory, bloody message was brought to you by Random Mom!”.  I don’t think so…

Maybe the lack of good and wholesome programming is the reason why I watch a ton of home improvement shows.  The content is great, the commercials are relevant, and the programming is kid-friendly without being Nick Jr News-ish.

If Happy News begins televising their reports, I am SO there!

Chime in with your thoughts.

Love to all!

CC