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The little book with BIG resources!

Pompeii: A Movie Review

POMPEII: A Movie Review


Release Date: February 20, 2014

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Cast: Kit Harington as Milo, Emily Browning as Cassia, Kiefer Sutherland as Senator Corvus.

Mom Rating: Lots of violence and fighting make this a definite no go for the little ones! As for the middle school student studying about the city of Pompeii in history class…do not expect this film to scholastically provide any historical insight. However, it would be beneficial to reflect on historical facts both before and after the movie!

Genres: Drama, Historical Adventure Film and possible Romance.

Powerful, Passionate, Pompeii! This movie is action packed from the second it begins to its rock solid end!! The 3-D experience works well in this film thanks to; the violent displays created by Mount Vesuvius, the heartless bloodbaths created by the Roman takeovers, and the “fight to the death” gladiators.

The film begins with Milo as a young boy who witnesses his parents and the entire Celtic Horse people destroyed by the Romans. He is imprisoned as a youth and grows to be a well-trained and seemingly indestructible gladiator.

He meets two significant people that have a big impact on his life: Cassia, the beautiful daughter of a prominent entrepreneur, that immediately falls head over heal for him and the forever loyal Roman that so violently slaughtered his parents.

Milo ends up in a lot of trouble because of Cassia and her attempts to get him alone. The evil Senator Corvus wants Cassia as his wife so he is very jealous of Milo and would like nothing more than to see him dead.

Pompeii is definitely full of action and anticipation. The gladiator slaughter scenes in the coliseum are nothing in comparison to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius! Full of fury this volcanic monster shows no mercy. The loyal people of Pompeii are no longer feeling the spoils of their beloved city but the hot burning ash of an angry god.

Review by Shari Jacobs

“Winter’s Tale”: A Movie Review



In Theatres February 14, 2014

Genre: Drama and Fantasy

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

 Cast: Colin Farrell as Peter Lake, Russell Crowe as Pearly Soames and Will Smith as Lucifer

 Mom rating: Definitely not for anyone under 13 because of the sexual content and violence.

What is destiny? Are miracles planned or a result of The Wheel of Fate? Does good win over evil? Does the Prince’s kiss always wake up his one true love? These are just a few questions that you might ask yourself while watching this fantasy love story.

Colin Farrell/Peter Lake was put in a boat as an infant and grew up a thief.  He worked for Pearly played by Russell Crowe, the merciless leader of a crime brigade with a few other demons. The only person Pearly answers to is Lucifer played by Will Smith. Yes, the demons have a chain of command and lots of rules!

Do you believe in love at first sight?  Peter Lake does!  He meets a girl while robbing her house.  He was so intrigued by her beauty and piano playing that he decided not to rob her. The seen was quite comical and they ended up having tea together instead! 

When Peter decides to end his career of pilfering Pearly takes it personal and sets out to destroy him and anyone that gets in his way. Fortunately, Peter has a guardian angel in the form of a beautiful white stallion that comes to his rescue, saving his life several times. 

Will Peter win the fight of good verses evil?  Will he be able to save his one true love and himself from the vengeful demon Pearly?

This movie has a great and very unexpected twist at the end!  Winters Tale gets a thumbs up and a must see!

Review by Shari Jacobs


“Endless Love” (2014) Movie Review

Endless Love

Release Date: Friday February 14, 2014

Run Time:  103 Minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, brief partial nudity, some language and teen partying

Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Gabriella Wilde, Bruce Greenwood, Joely Richardson

If you’re anything like me (a slightly cynical twenty-something who enjoys a good thematic adventure), you probably cringe upon hearing the word “remake”.  For that reason, it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t realize that the movie “Endless Love”, which opened in theaters this weekend, is a remake of the 1981 film with the same title.  The original featured Brooke Shields (Suddenly Susan) and Martin Hewitt (General Hospital) with Tom Cruise (Going Crazy on Oprah’s Couch) and James Spader (The Blacklist) also appearing in smaller roles.  The newest version of the story stars Alex Pettyfer (Magic Mike) and Gabriella Wilde (Carrie) along with Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek) and Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck).

Audience members are first introduced to the cast at the high school graduation of Jade Butterfield (played by Gabriella Wilde) and David Elliot (played by Alex Pettyfer).  It’s there that we learn about the events in Jade’s recent past that left the privileged youth with the burden of living up to her parent’s high expectations, even at the expense of having a (social) life of her own.  Moviegoers are also clued into David’s infatuation with Jade, the girl who has never noticed his existence…until now.  The remainder of the film follows their love affair, the events that unfold threatening to keep them apart, and the promise that true love lasts forever (or at least until the end of the film).

When you take the film at face value (ignoring the fact that we’re watching two teenagers, who hardly know one another, fall “madly in love” within a matter of days), it’s easy to appreciate what it’s trying to accomplish.  It’s a sappy love story, at best, but it has some redeeming qualities that are worth the rental when it comes out on Red Box.  I enjoyed the use of comedy to break up some of the more serious moments in the movie and found it to be entertaining.  Everyone needs a good love story for Valentine’s Day (or, as I like to call it, “National Ferris Wheel Day”) and this film accomplishes just that.

Overall, on the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale from one to ten, where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again…I give “Endless Love” a 8.39253 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of “Awwww, that’s sweet”.

You can follow Holli’s journey through life and parenting on Facebook, Twitter, or online at It’s An Ordinary Blog (dot com). Questions about this review?! Email Holli anytime at Holli@iFamilyKC.com


Kids at Weddings

We are entering the time of year where friends and family are going to be having weddings. They say that most people get engaged between Thanksgiving and Valentines Day and that Valentines Day through June is the most common months for weddings. A couple years ago my brother got married and my 3 and 5 year old daughters were his flower girls. I was so stressed making sure that they were just perfect for the special day and hoping they wouldn’t freak out walking down the aisle with all those people staring at them. They done great with one exception. As my 5 year old threw flower petals on the floor my 3 year old freaked out that she was making a mess and was following behind her picking them all back up. I was horrified but it ended up being so cute to all the guests that they still talk about it. See we had talked about it and practiced all the motions but until that day when the actual event occurs your don’t know what to expect. That is how it is no matter where you take kids. The truth is they really run the show.  As parents we can be scared about attending weddings with our kids in tote. But what about if we are the ones getting married? Should we invite our friends with kids, just the friends with a kid restriction, or leave them out….Touchy subject. Here are some tips that I was able to find and put together to help just a little.


The Knot Tips: Courtesy of http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/wedding-guests/articles/the-kids-stay-in-the-picture.aspx

Managing the Kids

If possible, seat all the parents and their children together at one table or at tables close to each other. The quickest way to ruin a single guest’s time is to stick them at a table with lots of kids. While it might seem like a good idea to put all the children at a table alone, an unsupervised group of kids is the fastest way to go from elegant reception to kindergarten madness.

Another way to keep the kiddie contingent under control: Hire a chaperone. If you know a teenager or young adult who’d be willing to be a designated adult for a few hours, hire her to keep an eye on things. She’ll be less babysitter and more lifeguard — someone who can take the kids to the bathroom, put a Band-Aid on bumps and bruises, or simply say, “Bobby, please get off the wedding cake.”

Offer a Kid’s Meal

Be thoughtful when choosing the food you want to serve to the little ones. This isn’t the time to be a culinary snob — most kids will eat only fun foods like little pizzas, chicken fingers, or mini hot dogs, so spare yourself the heartache and extra dollars and forgo the foie gras. For dessert, a make-your-own-sundae bar is always a hit. And since little people have small appetites, you should ask your catering manager for a lower per-person price. Also be sure to ask if the kids can get their food early and quickly — especially at an evening reception — since kids eat on a schedule.

Keep Them Entertained

Since children have short attention spans, you may need to create diversions — a kid-friendly DVD, a few board games, or a couple of Game Boys — set up in a separate room. You could also prepare goodie bags for them. Arts and crafts stores have great bead sets, drawing kits, and the like. Our advice: Get every boy the same gift and another gift for every girl, if not the same gift for all. You don’t want anyone to be fighting over that lone box of scented markers.

Don’t Freak Out

Despite the fear that people will instill in you for inviting kids, children do bring instant surprise to a wedding (not to mention a lot of laughs). Keep a sense of humor about having the little ones there: If Isabel can’t keep her hands off the cake, don’t throw a fit. Instead, laugh and tell the photographer to catch it on film.

Kids at Weddings
Submitted by:

Keri Nichol, Mom Squad Blogger

Heart Shaped Valentine’s Day Calzone

These can be customized by the kids. You could change up the filling adding all their favorite pizza toppings or you could make it a dessert calzone by simply adding canned apple pie filling to the center, brushing with an egg wash and sprinkling sugar and cinnamon on top. There are lots of possibilities here. BUT the best part is spending one on one quality time doing something your lil one is going to enjoy J

Kids can help:  Filling the dough and crimping edges.

For the dough: 

  • 1 pkg yeast
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 ¾ cup white flour
  • 1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour

For the filling:

  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Marinara sauce
  • Turkey pepperoni

Combine yeast, sugar and warm water and let set for 5 minutes.  Mix remaining ingredients and then add yeast mixture.  Let dough rise, in a warm place, for about 1-2 hours, until double in size.

Roll out a small portion of the dough at a time, cutting two equal sized hearts.  Fill middle with a thin layer of marinara sauce, turkey pepperoni, and cheese, and then layer the top with another heart and crimp the edges together with a fork.  Set on baking tray.  Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned.  Test to make sure dough is done baking.  Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.

iFamily KC Mom Squad Blogger Keri Nichol

Valentine’s Day Box

Now I realize some schools do not do this anymore but some still do. When I was a kid this was my favorite thing about Valentine’s Day. It allows you to be so creative with your ideas and do something fun every single year. I sit with my kids and make these every year even if they don’t need them for school just because they enjoy it. However, year after year the same design can get boring and I found a great way to change things up. Instead of using the traditional shoe box…..use other shape boxes. How about an oatmeal container (the round ones) or as it shows here; use a cereal box. This makes a great looking brief case style box.



1. Carefully cut three sides of cereal box for lid with craft knife. Cut an opening for Valentines and poke two holes into top side of box for handles. Front of box will open from top and fold down.

2. Using all kinds of fun craft supplies decorate to your own style.

3. Then using ribbon or yard attach the handle

Idea and Picture courtesy of Kids Craft. Visit http://www.plaidkidscrafts.com/2012/01/24/TuesdayTutorialCerealBoxValentineHolders.aspx for directions for a box exactly like shown.


iFamilyKC Mom Squad Blogger Keri Nichol

It’s A Movie Review! Reflections On “Labor Day”

Labor Day

Labor Day movie review

Release Date: Friday January 31st, 2014

Run Time: 111 Minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic material, brief violence, and sexuality.

Cast: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith, Tobey Maguire

For years, Kate Winslet has dazzled fans on the big screen with her incredible talent.  Her latest film, “Labor Day”, hit theaters nationwide on Friday.  Starring alongside Josh Brolin (“W.”, “No Country For Old Men”) and Gattlin Griffith (“Changling”, “Green Lantern”, “Couples Retreat”), Winslet plays reclusive single mother, Adele, who struggles with her inability to cope with the outside World. Adele and her son Henry (played by Gattlin Griffith) live in a picturesque small town where everyone knows their neighbor.  While on a rare trip to the store for supplies, the pair encounter injured escaped convict Frank (Josh Brolin) who pressures them into providing him refuge in their home.  Left with no other choice, Adele takes him in over the Labor Day weekend.  The remainder of the film follows their story and the events that unfold changing their lives forever.

The portrayal of late 1980’s life in a sleepy town is where this film succeeds. The beautiful imagery, combined with an emotionally charged score, help to elevate this otherwise flat screenplay.  The film, which was adapted from a novel, was the second book turned screenplay for author Joyce Maynard.  The problem with translating a story from a print novel to the big screen is that it’s hard to capture every detail in the way the author intended.  In the spirit of giving the benefit of the doubt, let’s just assume this is the case with “Labor Day”. Overall, the story line is sweet and interesting but it falls short on the screen in that it it’s anticlimactic.  Audience members who are expecting a pay off will be sorely disappointed.

On The It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale from one to ten where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again I give “Labor Day” a 2.6235 with an emoticon based sub ranking of “Well, maybe the book is better?!”

Did you know that iFamilyKC staffer Holli Ann documents her journey through life and parenting on It’s An Ordinary Blog. You can connect with Holli anytime through Facebook, Twitter, or by email at Holli@iFamilyKC.com