Fabulous Film Friday!

It’s that time of year – summer flicks are gearing up to come out, and that means we’re going to have to decide what movies to line up for. I might need to order some Garrett’s Popcorn to help make the wait a little more bearable.

I know what you’re thinking.  But, it’s not Friday.  And it may not even be Fabulous.

I couldn’t wait.  It was too exciting!

So, keep up!  I’ve got a lot to cover in the next few posts – including an AWESOME giveaway to get yourself all Avengers-ed up!

Bully – Powerful, On So Many Levels

When I first learned that this movie was being released, a part of my heart sank.  I have a daughter that was mercilessly bullied at the hands of a group of girls in her Catholic elementary school.  I was dismissed by school administration on numerous occasions with regard to my daughter, told that it wouldn’t be fair to single out individual children.  Until that child was my daughter, and she took a stand for herself.

I didn’t know if I wanted to see what COULD have happened if we hadn’t found Eilis another school and given her a chance to get out of the situation she was in.  I wasn’t sure I could handle the pain of the other children, or the parents of these other children, going through something that would not only hit close to home, but would land right in my living room.

But I had to.  And you have to.

Bully takes us through the experiences of several children who have suffered at the hands of bullies.  You will feel their pain, and you will see the anguish of their parents.  When you realize that the happy little boy the film opens with has taken his own life as a result of the routine bullying he was a victim of, you will feel your heart breaking, your stomach turning, and I dare you to get through the rest of this film without cleaning your handbag out of tissues.

You won’t find solutions in this film, but you will find a jumping off point.  Important for children, parents, school administrators and staff, even coaches and scout leaders to see, the movie doesn’t solve the problem of bullying, but it opens up a dialogue for us to step up and figure out what to do to save these children.  It is time for us to take a stand, and while the movie doesn’t give us all the answers, I hope that it gives us the  motivation.

Bully is the first REAL stand for these children who suffer, some to the point where the pain they bear becomes overwhelming.  It puts this problem on the map, in our faces, and hopefully on the top of the priority list of school administrators who are too quick to brush this aside.

See Bully this weekend, and see it with your child, whether they have been bullied, are bullies, or have the potential to make a difference in the life of a peer who accepts silently the treatment that will cause lifelong emotional scars.  It’s a movie that no one should miss.

Disney’s Maleficent Starring Angelina Jolie Hits Theaters March 14, 2014


The Walt Disney Studios has announced a U.S. release date of March 14, 2014, for Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie in the title role as Disney’s ultimate villain. The live-action film explores the origins of the evil fairy Maleficent and what led her to curse Princess Aurora in Disney’s animated classic Sleeping Beauty. Leading a team of visionary filmmakers known for creating and transporting audiences to new and exciting worlds, Academy Award®-winning production designer Robert Stromberg (Avatar, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland and Oz The Great and Powerful) will direct with a script by Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Alice in Wonderland). Maleficent is produced by Joe Roth (Disney’s Alice in Wonderland and Oz The Great and Powerful).

Review – Mission Chicken Caesar Wrap Kit

I am in school four days a week, and two of those days, I don’t get in the door until around 5 o’clock – if traffic is good.  By then, I’m exhausted, the kids are starving, and we’re keeping Jim out of the kitchen by order of the local fire department.  Nothing is on the table for dinner.

I’m always on the lookout for things that will help get a semi-homemade meal on the table in record time.  If I can feed my hungry crew in less than 30 minutes without calling Domino’s, I’m a happy mom.

On a recent trip to the local ShopRite, while browsing taco essentials, I found the Mission Chicken Caesar Wrap Kit.  The kit comes with 12 flour tortillas, Caesar dressing, and Caesar seasoning.  According to the box, I just needed to add 1.5 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken, and dinner would be served.

These could not have been easier to make.  To save myself some time, I bought the thinly cut chicken breasts, that you could use for chicken cutlets.  This made the actual chicken cooking time only about five minutes.  After cooking, you add the seasoning packet and 1/4 cup of water, and let the mixture boil.  That happened in under five minutes.  I seriously hadn’t even had time to clean my lettuce by the time the chicken was cooked!

I warmed the tortillas in the microwave for about 20 seconds, and in literally under 15 minutes, dinner was on the table!  The kids opted for ranch dressing on their wraps, while Jim and I used the Caesar dressing included with the kit.

As for taste, they were quite yummy.  I was tempted to add some shredded cheese, like you might find on a Caesar salad, but the seasoning packet contains Parmesan cheese, so you really don’t need it.  We found the seasoning to be spot on, and really, to save yourself some fat and calories, you could probably have left off the dressing entirely and still had a really nice Caesar flavor.

The kit cost about $3 in the store, and we added, obviously, the chicken for around $4.  The lettuce was about $2, but I only used a few leaves and have plenty left for a salad for another day.  The kit makes 12 wraps, but we realistically got 8 with the recommended amount of chicken.  I probably could have stretched the chicken out a little more, but if nothing else, we saved the calories on the extra tortilla.

I would absolutely buy these again, but I do have to think of a side dish that works well with these.  If you think in terms of restaurant chicken wraps, they usually come with chips or fries, which kind of blows the whole healthy eating kick.  Definitely something to work on.

What Good Came From Gastric Bypass Surgery?

I’ve posted quite a bit about some of the negatives and side effects resulting from my gastric bypass.  I’ve even mentioned the downside of weight regain – which I struggle with on a minute by minute basis.  But there are benefits that far outweigh – for me, anyway – the risks I undertook.

When I decided to have surgery, I had just watched my father fight – and lose – his last battle with diabetes.  I sat in a room with my dad’s brothers and sisters, who came from various parts of the country to be with us in hospice, and realized that we were all diabetic.  As my dad slept fitfully on one of his last days, his youngest brother by his side, all I could think was that I hope and pray my young cousins never have to sit like this and watch their father die from this horrible disease.

And then it struck me that I never wanted my children to sit and watch me.

After losing the first 50 pounds, my blood sugars became normal.  Not only did I no longer have a need to test seven times daily, I also stopped needing medicine.  My blood pressure, which really was in the medium to high normal range, is now low normal – unless it’s the night before a chemistry exam.

I didn’t know how much the excess weight slowed me down, and honestly, I thought I was a damn mobile big girl.  But when I lost 100 pounds, and realized I could get down on the floor and not have to crawl to the sofa to lean on it to get up, it was an epiphany.  I volunteered more at school, after backing off when Brighid was in elementary school.  I went in one afternoon to read to her class, and one of the boys told her I was the fattest mom ever.  He was an expert, having a pretty enormous mother himself, but it occurred to me I might be an embarassment to my kids, so I didn’t go back to school to volunteer.

I also didn’t put myself out there for things – like applying for the Walt Disney World Moms Panel.  But then I lost weight and found courage.  I can’t tell you how happy I am that I did.

I didn’t know my quality of life was as poor as it was until it got better.  And it did.

So, yep, there have been a lot of pitfalls in my journey through gastric bypass.  But the days when I’m flying high make every small stumble worth it.

Kale Chips – There Just Might Be Something to Healthier Eating

So, you know when you’re on a diet, you start missing food.  You may not have even eaten all that much of it when you weren’t dieting, but as soon as you feel like you can’t have something, it becomes The. Most. Important. Food. EVER.

Chips are kind of that food for me.  I could go from birthday party to birthday party and rarely think about eating a potato chip or a Dorito.  But put my fat arse on a diet and tell me things like chips are a forbidden food, and I won’t rest until I have some.  So there.

But today, I’m here to tell you that my chip crisis has been solved!  Thanks to my fabulous friend Faith, I have discovered the joys of Kale Chips!  Yes, that’s right, kale.  As in the green, curly, leafy stuff that you move off to the side of your plate and act like you don’t see it there.  Someone once described the taste of kale to me as a cross between a brussels sprout and asparagus.  I once described kale to them as something I’m not eating, even in the event of an apocalypse, where the only thing that survives on this earth is me and kale.  So how can calling something this nasty “chip” make it so appealing?

Before attempting, I grilled Faith on the important stuff – taste, texture, and kid rating.  It all sounded positive, so I picked up an enormous bunch of kale at the grocery store and figured I’d give it a try.  If nothing else, it was $2 towards my free Easter ham from the local ShopRite.  And honestly, if they’re terrible, it’s not my fault – kale is supposed to be terrible.

These were oh my gosh so easy to make.  You wash and thoroughly dry your kale leaves, and separate them from the thick vein that runs through the middle.

When you’ve finished, rip any big pieces into bite sized (chip sized!!) pieces.

My $2 bunch looked like quite a bit of kale, especially when ripped into pieces.  Don’t worry.  The mound of kale will soon be reduced dramatically.

Once your kale is clean, cut, and ripped, you drizzle olive oil and some seasoning on it.  I used just sea salt on most of it, but on a small batch, I used Garlic Bread Sprinkle from McCormick.  It contains a little garlic powder and a tiny bit of parmesan cheese, and is great to make garlic bread or to sprinkle on popcorn or vegetables.

I tossed the kale in a big bowl in the olive oil and seasonings, although you could probably just as easily use a cooking spray.  When I was sure I’d gotten some of the seasoning on each piece, I put them on a flat cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

In the oven at 350 degrees, my chips were ready in just about 12 minutes.  They should be crispy but not burnt (the crispier they get, the more delicate they are, and the curly parts get crumbly).  They are delicate and crispy, and I’m not sure which I loved more – the salted ones or the garlicked ones.  Both are absolutely delicious.

Now, you can certainly make these less healthy by adding too much oil or the parmesan cheese (which really was just a tiny amount in what I used), but kale on it’s own has only about 25 calories in a cup.  Even if you add olive oil and salt, you still have a snack that’s less than 3 grams of fat and under 60 calories.  Compared to the over 150 calories and nearly 11 grams of fat in an ounce of potato chips, and you’ve got a healthy, kid friendly snack that you won’t have to sneak around to eat once you tell people you’re dieting!

Thanks, Faith, for the great idea!