I have shared before that I am a big time movie lover. I worked at a movie theater for years just to get all the free movies I could handle and I REALLY used that perk. I like action and adventure personally. I grew up with The Dukes of Hazard and Wonder Woman re-runs as well as shows like The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. My mom instilled in me a love of movies with strong female characters too. As a tween/teen I was a HUGE fan of Ellen Ripley of the Aliens franchise. To this day I still love movies with women who are strong and capable. Sadly there are’t a whole lot of movies that depict strong and capable young women and teens but there is one that meant a lot to me when I was that age. As an added bonus the heroine is also very into environmental issues and human and animal rights. I just rewatched it this week. LOVE!
The movie is A Far Off Place and it stars teenage Reese Witherspoon and Ethan Embry. Reese plays Nonnie who lives in Africa with her family. Her father is the gamekeeper for the area and he tries to peacefully resolve the poaching crisis facing the area through legal channels. He has shored up the borders and the ivory trade has been blocked, making the wrong people very angry. Nonnie is wanting to take mattes into her own hands though because while trade has stopped, the killing has not. She has found a hero and mentor who is actually out stopping the poachers in their tracks and bringing them to justice the old fashioned way…at the end of a shotgun barrel. They disagree about how best to resolve the issue but they have some things in common…a love of Africa and a love for the wildlife there. The movie hosts some gruesome opening scenes of poachers mowing down beautiful elephants and then using chainsaws to remove the tusks from their corpses.
Harry is a New York City kid who is visiting their home with his father and he is quite bored with the country. In one scene he is asking what fun there is to be had in Africa, just as herd of giraffes are trotting by. Perhaps because he is looking for something to do he follows Nonnie as he sees her sneaking out into the bush at night. They come across Nonnie’s bush friend Xhabbo who has been injured. The teens help him to a nearby cave and treat his wounds. Nonnie gathers local plants to heal him (gotta love that). Xhabbo asks them to stay with him in the cave overnight and they do. While they are sleeping a group of poachers attack Nonnie’s home and kill everyone there, including the parents of both teens.
Their devastation over the loss though must wait because they overhear that the poachers want to finish them off as well, since they cannot be sure how much they know. Having no means of transportation, all three of these young folks set off on a 2000 kilometer trek across the Kalahari desert. That is like walking from New York to Miami and in very dangerous country. Together they fight for survival every day, hunting, foraging for food and water, and trying to throw off poachers who are hot on their trail.
As far as strong and capable heroines go you cannot beat Nonnie. She is a lovely girl who cares about truly important issues and she is seeking to make a difference in the world, even at her young age. I was a complete Nonnie fan as a teen myself and even named my dog after hers, Hintza.
I highly recommend this movie for families and especially for teens and tweens. It is kind of graphic (even though it is a Disney movie) but I think that makes it more realistic. I also recommend the book it is based upon. Enjoy!
Kids birthday parties are notorious for being extravagant wasteful affairs these days. The market is huge for all the party gear that is needed…the balloons, plates, napkins, favors, confetti, etc. They come in every theme known to man so that the birthday celebration can be a perfect example of the commercialization of our children. All of it has held very little appeal to me as a parent and I have chosen to “just say no” for years. For us that means we don’t do “themes” and we usually don’t even invite guests beyond family. In fact instead of parties we usually just plan a special event… a night at a hotel with a waterpark (for our two winter birthdays) and cake and gifts with parents and grandparents. Our summer birthday boy usually gets a paintball adventure.
It has been a very conscious decision not to buy into the commercialization of birthdays but I recently read a book that softened my heart to the idea of more traditional parties. The book is Naturally Fun Parties for Kids; Creating Handmade, Earth-Friendly Celebrations for All Seasons and Occasions. The book is gorgeous and some of the parties outlined in it reminded me of parties that might have been thrown for kids decades ago. They are simple yet elegant and fun for everyone, not just the wee birthdays guests. THESE are parties I can get behind…where Buzz Lightyear and Dora are nowhere to be found and there aren’t huge bags of garbage to be thrown out at the end.
The book is broken up into sections for each season, which is helpful but the intro talks about shopping thrift stores for party stuff, using regular plates and flatware, cloth napkins, and using nature as the centerpiece and backdrop of the party. I loved the themes too…pancake party, forest fairy party, natural spa party, strawberry picking/jam making party, winter solstice party, cooking party, upcycle art party and so on. There are plenty of ideas for both boys and girls and every party is perfectly outlined so you can reproduce it on your own. The pictures are sensational as well. I know my daughter would be thrilled by the spa party and the book includes recipes for facials and scrubs made with natural ingredients so that the attendees can have a spa experience without the toxins in conventional products. It is perfect for slumber parties too if you ask me.
I suggest that parents look a little less on Pinterest for birthday party ideas and check this book out instead. I highly recommend it! Enjoy!
See also: How to Host a Green Birthday Party
Spotted a few killer deals on Zulily today. I LOVE spotting deals for organics and for green toys because these things can get spendy! Might be time to start Christmas shopping…
Organic Leg Warmers:
Organic sheets sets for babies and toddlers:
If you are local, check out the giveaway at the end of the post…
Last week my two youngest kiddos, (my daughter’s friend), and my hubby hit up one of our favorite places in Columbus…the Science Center, COSI. We have been season pass holders off and on throughout the years but not of late so it had been awhile since we had been there for any length of time (minus that preschooler event in June). We were excited to check out the new Lego Castle exhibit though since all three of my kids are crazy for Legos. At their grandparents house they have ”Lego Room” filled with many, many thousands of Legos and work tables for all their marvelous creations. They are pretty serious about their Lego love.
So obviously this exhibit was a big hit with them. It had numerous places for them to build with Legos big and small, play with Castle props (dress up , joust, etc.), and of course see elaborate Lego creations built by other people, many of them children.
After spending the morning in this Lego wonderland we spent some time visiting the rest of the museum…the Ocean wing is always a favorite. My kids always manage to get wet…always.
Another new to us exhibit were the Jelly Bean works of art. Love!
A good time was had by all…
If you are local and want some passes, COSI was kind enough to give me a set of 4 free entry passes with 4 extreme screen passes. If you want a chance to win just comment and tell me what you love about COSI. Good luck!
Disclosure: I was given free passes/parking to attend this event. All opinions are my own.
When you are a kid, money can seem like a really huge deal. Any amount of money that a child gets can make them feel very important, and the first thing they want to do is go out and spend their money. That is exactly what consumer America encourages them to do in fact. In this day and age however, it might be a better idea for a child to save the money they get instead of going out to spend it. This is something we all need to learn how to do unless we want to live paycheck to paycheck. Here are some tips on teaching kids how to save money.
Try a money jar: Nothing can get your kid more excited about saving money than a money jar because it provides a visual reminder of their progress. Heck I still have a money jar and so do my parents! Try using a large glass Ball jar, and store it in a place where it is not likely to be broken, right in their room on a shelf or on their dresser perhaps. Want to make things even more exciting for your child? To really encourage your child to fill that jar with coins, let your child decorate that jar with colors or stickers or paint it any way they want!
Make a chart: Maybe you can turn saving money into a reward system! The more the kids fill that jar with coins, and with their savings they can earn special prizes. Another use for that chart is to help them save for a goal like a movie or toy they may want. When you create your chart, paste or tape a picture of whatever they want right at the top of the chart, so they will see them getting closer to that goal.
Children learn by example: Experts say that children learn things by the example they see from their parents. Do you have a change jar that you keep your loose change in? If you want your kids to start saving money, then you need to create a change jar or some of other visual way to measure savings of your own so you can set a good example.
Play the match game: To really encourage your children to save, try matching them dollar for dollar. Not only will your child be able to reach their savings goal. But you will really get them excited about starting to save for a new goal.
Use a banking program like ‘S’ is for Savings: This particular program involves a children’s savings account designed to give kids a financial foundation and it is modeled after their popular virtual wallet program. It helps kids practice saving, sharing, and spending. They literally drag and drop their money into different virtual jars showing how they want to divide it up. Parents can automatically deposit money into their kids account, like allowance. I like this concept because it not only teaches them to save it also teaches them how to manage a bank account.
Do you want your child to understand the importance of saving money? Teaching your kids to save money is important because it can show them what it can get them. You will be teaching your child an important lesson that they will take with them for the rest of their lives.
Disclosure: I was compensated by PNC for participating in this campaign. All thoughts and opinions are my own.