Thursday, February 26, 2009

Catching up on Movies

I've been delinquent in keeping up with my blog, so I appreciate my readers sticking with me.
What an intriguing and captivating movie. A few minutes into the movie, you forget that it's in French, you forget it's black and white, you've forgotten it's animated. All you know is Marjane and her world. It's so beautifully made and depicts the situation in Iran in 1980's so well - you feel as jolted as Marjane and her family when their lives changed.. slowly and purposefully. I was drawn to Marjane as we were similar ages, but then we were drawn to the parents who had to let go of their daughter so she may grow.

I was first apprehensive this was going to be dark and gloomy, and possibly graphic. It reveals just enough. This movie deserved all the awards and recognition it's received.
Two Days in Paris
Julie Delpy is such a force. She wrote, directed, produced and even sang on the closing credits. I loved her in "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset" with Ethan Hawke. Those movies did so well because the dialogue had a natural rhythm. She and Ethan Hawke both received credits as writers for the movie since they've definitely improvised or had input into their conversations.

This movie isn't a typical travelogue about two days in Paris. This movie is a complex dive into so much more. Adam Goldberg plays Jack, the American boyfriend who doesn't speak French. Julie is Marion who is fairly unstable - discussions she has with people tend to be bizarre and explosive. There's another great scene where her mother calls firemen, and Marion ends up flirting with them. Jack walks through Paris with the grace of a scruffy German Shepard among dancing spaniels who know all the steps. As if the situation with Marion didn't frustrate him enough, he gets kicked around Paris like a football. As a director, Julie tapped into the frustration one feels when thrown into another culture.

There's snappy and witty dialogue, snapshot of Parisian life and attitudes, cultural clashes as well as the clashes between men and women. This is like a French Woody Allen movie, with Paris taking the central stage where Woody had NYC.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

8th Birthday Party Ideas

I'm recovering from Annika's 8th birthday party. It went really well and she said the whole day was perfect. For reference, I thought last year's party went well but she still talked about her disappointments from it (i.e., she got way too many Hannah Montana gifts and this girl N really stole the attention during the party from her - kids followed N's lead).This time, she got to be front and center, and the loudest and the most wired. (N was not here, whew!)

But, here's what we did and what worked.

Theme: Afternoon sleepover.
Guests were instructed to wear their PJ's, bring sleeping bag and stuffed animal. Annika wore a red & gold chinese silk outfit - perfect for the occasion (red and glam!). Had extra sleeping bags out just in case someone didn't have one, which happened. We had Miley Cyrus CD playing in the background. ("it's a girls night, it's alright..")

Food: popcorn, chips, cookies, pizza, cupcake tree (instead of one cake), ice cream sundaes in waffle cups. Cranberry gingerale was a hit as was the hot chocolate & apple juice. I kept a pitcher of it and the girls curled up in front of the fireplace (i.e., electric heater) and they still wanted hot chocolate with ice cream.

This is the Generation A (A for Allergy). We made everything totally peanut/nut free, chocolate is optional and alternatives for dairy (no ice cream, but fruit popsicles). Annika has peanut allergy and she wanted to make sure that everyone was treated equally, not segregated as she has been in the past.

Games: Stuffed animal search (all the animals in a pile, few more thrown in for confusion and girls were blindfolded and had to find), sleeping bag relay, story time (tucked in sleeping bags, one girl starts a story and the next one adds to it around the room. It was nice because it gave the quiet girls a chance to speak up), stuffed animal toss (if you get it in, you move on to next level)

Decorate pillowcases - I got cases from Ross, fabric markers from Michael's. I got Fabric crayons to do iron ons, but that didn't work out so well - you have to press really hard and if you write words, you have to write them backwards! Tricky for 2nd graders!

Dress Stuffed Animals - I got these cute animals from Michael's, got baby socks, hair accessories and bear dresses from dollar store, and made some tutus at home with chiffon. Also gave them ribbons. I got these animals for them instead of a "goodie" bag filled with cheap toys. I did fill little Valentine boxes with M&M's

High School Musical II : we set the big screen projector and girls had pizza, cake, ice cream while singing along to "Fabulous"

My friend's 13 yr old daughter helped me a lot with coordinating the games, serving the food, and overall noise control. You cannot do a party like this singlehandedly. Daddy was sent on a mission to get pizza for the kids & Starbucks for Mommy.

By the way, the first 10-15 minutes, the girls literally ran around in circles screaming. They would scream for no reason - just make high pitched squeals.

Annika loved all her gifts and there was a nice variety.

Mommy had 2 glasses of Italian red wine and pizza and went to bed at 9:30.