Reviews

Did You See The Help Movie?

thehelpmoviereviewI went to see The Help this past weekend as a Girls Day Out. I had only read half of the book, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, other than an uplifting and heartfelt movie.

Funny thing, I enjoyed the movie, but my many emotions (anger, sadness, disbelief, joy) did not include warm and fuzzy.

Of course there is the racial tension, but that wasn’t a big eye-opener for me. I was captivated by the relationships between the women.

The so-called bonds of friendship, the mother-daughter dynamics, the alienation because of misunderstandings, the decisions made in order to be a part of the “in” crowd.

Skeeter was a recent college graduate that moved back home as she pursued a journalism career. As I watched her mother and friends go on and on about her singlehood, with little joy for her future career, I couldn’t help but think of the intelligent, beautiful women today that get funny looks and inappropriate comments from friends, family and strangers because they are not married with kids.

Then there were the times the help was treated poorly in front of guests, not because the employers wanted to treat them wrong, but because their social circle told them they had to behave that way. I thought about how many times women today do things because they want to be a part of a group that is not even worthy of their time.

It also made me think of the times women mistreat each other, talk about each other and alienate each other because of superficial reasons (look at her hair, why would she wear those shoes, she’s not from our side of town, etc.).

Not everything was bad. I loved seeing the power of women relationships when they were done right. Take Celia Foote and Minny. Minny was the help, but Celia treated her as a valued confidante and part of the family.

And look at the friendship of Minny and Abilene. They didn’t have much, but they made sure that the other was okay.

All types of chaos happened around them, but these women had each other. In the end they were in the best position, and certainly the happiest.

My takeaway from the movie was two-fold. First, it gave me a deeper appreciation for the things my family endured so that I can have the lifestyle I have. And two, it reminded me that my choices have consequences and it is best to choose love and goodness over popularity any day.

A “Feel-Good” Reality Show: Secret Millionaire

Ellen Turner & Helen Ashe of The Love Kitchen

ABC is premiering their feel-good reality show, Secret Millionaire this Sunday, March 6th at 8 p.m.

The show follows some of America’s wealthiest people for a week as they leave behind their luxurious lifestyles to live, and most importantly volunteer, in impoverished communities.

As the title suggests, no one can know they are a millionaire so the volunteers leave all signs of wealth at home to live on minimal wages while discovering some of America’s unsung heroes.

Sunday’s episode highlights Dani Johnson, a woman that was homeless at 21 and a millionaire by 23. She began by licensing a weight loss product and has grown that in to several other businesses.

For this episode, Dani lives in a one bedroom apartment in the Western Heights section of Knoxville, TN, a community known for crime, drugs and prostitution. She volunteers at three organizations, The Love Kitchen, The Joy of Music School and Special Spaces.

I must say that The Love Kitchen was a great place to open up the season. The volunteer-based organization is run by 82-year-old sisters Ellen and Helen. These two exude love through the screen. Really, when I saw them I couldn’t stop smiling. And get this, their tagline is “Everybody is God’s Somebody.” How amazing is that?!

It is absolutely evident that they are doing what they were meant to do and that people love them, not only because of the food, but because of the warm and loving atmosphere. The Love Kitchen serves over 2000 people a week. This sister-duo alone makes the show worth watching.

But, the other two organizations are just as worthy. The Joy of Music School is a program that provides music lessons and instruments to children in the area and the students shown are very talented. One recently received a full college scholarship.

Special Spaces creates bedrooms for kids with life-challenging illnesses. This episode shows a room designed for a five-year-old battling leukemia. Yes, this is a tear-jerker and yes, the room is fabulous.

Overall, I liked the show. But it’s not for the reasons you probably expect. Sure, it’s cool to watch a person that is used to a luxurious lifestyle give that up for a week to live on the other side.

But, much more importantly, the show recognizes people that have devoted their lives, time and/or money to helping others. You can tell that all of these organizations are sincere and are doing this because it is what they love. It is not for recognition, even though they truly deserve it.

I hope that when others watch Secret Millionaire it inspires them to get involved in their own communities.  In this episode three totally different organizations were highlighted, showing that there are so many ways that we can use our talents and interests to help others.

If you can’t wait until Sunday, get a sneak peak of Secret Millionaire here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du7eaJZK1qw

I’d love to know what you think after you watch. And even more than that, I’d love to know what you do to be involved in your community.

Gift Guide: Sesame Street: Cookie’s Counting Carnival

If you’re looking for an appropriate game for a 3-5 year old, Sesame Street: Cookie’s Counting Carnival should definitely be on your list.

This game does an excellent job of teaching basic math skills (counting 1-20, adding, number relationships, etc.) to preschoolers using amusement park attractions like a petting zoo, rides and concession stands.

As part of the game, you also get a soft, furry Cookie Monster Wii Remote cover. It is really cute and adds a nice touch to an already adorable Sesame Street experience.

What I Loved:

Most games require very simple motions to play, so you don’t have to keep telling your preschooler to press B or press 1. Many of the games require a quick tilt of the controller and a jump by the player. Both of my girls really loved jumping to make something happen on the screen.

The games are short enough to keep their attention. My 3-year-old usually gets bored with Wii Sports games, so I was concerned about her wanting to play. But Cookie’s Counting Carnival kept her attention for 20 minutes. She and her sister rotated turns and it was quick enough to avoid “Is it my turn yet?” chanting.

The girls learn without realizing it. I’m lucky that they enjoy doing homework and learning. But, anytime I can reinforce paperwork with play and practical applications it’s a win-win. With this game the girls not only count and choose the correct shapes and colors, they also learn relationships. For instance, in one carnival game the player is asked to choose which one is “more than” or “less than” a number.

Because there are so many games, 14 to be exact, they are not playing the same game each time. We can mix and match for a different experience every time.

Keep in Mind:

While the game is for preschoolers, it is best used during family time. Some of the games are over the head of a typical 3-4 year old, so parents will need to be close to help them figure out the answer.

One More Thing:

Use the coupon code MOMMY during checkout at http://www.sesamestreet.org/videogames for a 10% discount off your purchase of this or any Sesame Street video game. Also, if you want to see a clip of the game in action, here’s the trailer for Cookie’s Counting Carnival.

Enjoy!

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this game. However, all opinions are mine, because I value your trust and I WILL NOT publish anything that I don’t believe.

My Take on Bali Firm Control Leggings

Let me start by saying I wear leggings or tights under most of my slacks because I have found it almost impossible not to have panty lines otherwise.

So, when Bali gave invisible shaping firm control leggings to attendees at Blogalicious 2010 I couldn’t wait to try them. Here’s what I love about them:

They are thick.  These tights are thick enough for me to wear with my dresses or long shirts and boots and not look tacky.

They smooth bumps. I won’t go into my cellulite struggle here, but know these tights do a great job of making your legs look smooth. This is very important to me, especially under slacks, but the smoothing was enough for me to wear with dresses, too.

As a bonus, they also helped smooth out my waistline.

They are comfortable and supportive. I had these on all day at a conference and I never felt uncomfortable. They didn’t roll down or bunch up around my waist.

Now for the other side. These are not Spanx. What I mean by that is Spanx has a VERY firm hold, a hold so firm you may have to practice breathing. If you don’t believe me, check out this Wanda Sykes clip. Now, I need this extreme support for certain outfits, so Spanx still has a place in my wardrobe.

Also, while these do a great job for my legs I wouldn’t recommend them if you are looking for something to really suck in your belly. You will need to go with something stronger, a shapewear that focuses on that area.

Review Summary:  I recommend these firm control leggings for everyday wear under slacks, dresses and long shirts because they work and they are comfortable. But, you’ll want something else if you want extreme support.