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Showing posts with label family movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family movies. Show all posts

Monday, February 27, 2017

Adventure & Altruism: The Kindness Diaries

Friday evening I was looking through Netflix for something decent to watch with my children.  It's not often that I find anything new that I feel is worthwhile to sit through and is appropriate for all ages of family members...and isn't boring.  But just as I was about to give up, this Netflix series caught my eye: The Kindness Diaries.  Though it's not religious, this is a great show to watch as we go into Lent.

Leon Logothetis was apparently a stock broker before he decided to travel the world on a motorbike on a quest to see if human kindness and goodwill still exist.  Each day, no matter which part of the globe he finds himself in, he relies on the kindness of strangers to give him a place to sleep for the night and a meal.   He sometimes needs mechanical help with his bike that he cannot pay for, and he often needs directions.  He literally approaches strangers on the streets and asks them if they will put him up for the night, but he also talks and connects with people throughout the day.  Many times foreigners won't take him into their homes, but they will give him personal tours of the area, buy him something to eat and sit with him, and tell him their stories.  He does encounter genuine acts of kindness everywhere he goes, and each day is a new adventure.

After watching several episodes, my children and I definitely noticed a trend: the poorest people were most often the ones who agreed to put him up for the night.  The most remarkable example was of a homeless man in Pittsburgh who said that he couldn't invite him into his house because he was homeless, but Leon was welcome to rest at his little corner on the street with him and his friend.  This man had been homeless for a year, after he and his wife separated.  He gave Logothetis blankets to sleep on, what little food he had to eat, and even a spare set of clothes.  He literally gave him everything he had.  This touched the adventurer so much that he surprised the homeless man by buying him a house and enrolling him in an educational program that enabled him to become a chef.  He is now creating meals for the elderly.

And that is the interesting twist to this show.  Logothetis not only has these numerous adventures as he travels the globe and seeks kindness and hospitality from strangers, but he also gives back to those who are the most generous---and usually the most needy.  He experiences firsthand the most extreme poverty in India, and yet that is also where he repeatedly experiences extreme generosity.  People are willing to sleep on the floor and go without eating in order to provide him with a bed and food.  When he is allowed to spend the night in an orphanage, he is given precious bottled water to drink while the residents themselves drink unsafe tapped water that often makes them sick.  He is so touched by that, that he and his crew offer to purchase two water purifiers for the orphanage so that all the children have a right to clean water on a daily basis.  These unexpected acts of kindness on his part touches and greatly impacts the lives of those less fortunate people who were willing to treat him with kindness by providing him with food and shelter for one night.  And so the ripple effect occurs as kindness begets more kindness.

Just watching each twenty minute episode sparked heartfelt conversations in our family as we have been inspired to find our own ways to extend kindness to others throughout our days.  What a wonderful way to enter this Lenten season.  I know our family members often feel it's such a glum time of sacrificing something for forty days, but we can see in this series that sacrifice with love and kindness enriches our own lives more than we can anticipate.  That by giving of ourselves willingly and cheerfully, we receive so much more in return.

And that makes this show so worthwhile.

If you don't have access to Netflix, he also wrote a book by the same title that can be found on Amazon.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Unofficial Start of Summer With a Few of My Favorite Things

This Memorial Day weekend, as we remembered all those who fought and died for our freedom, our family also kicked off summer with some our favorite summer traditions.  The temps were hot here in the Allegheny Mountains, and we even turned on the AC, which I would have never dreamed we'd need to do a couple of weeks ago when we actually had sleet and snow on the mountains.  Even if the official first day of the season is still weeks away, it definitely looks and feels as if summer has arrived in the Northeast.

We started the weekend by taking the cover off our pool, and what a mess!  Leaves, dirt, tadpoles, and who knows what all else fell down in those murky waters.  It will take us days and days of vacuuming and dumping loads of chlorine in there before any of us will be willing to jump in.  The children went wading in the creek instead.

That's not to say that no one was swimming in our pool because there were most definitely plenty of creatures in there.  We'd scoop them out and let them go free, but ten minutes later, there they were again.

Fortunately, I have a number of amphibian lovers in our house who have been more than happy to catch and release them...maybe a little too close to their little sister who is afraid of every amphibian and reptile.  She doesn't even want to go to the zoo this summer because she remembers the crocodiles that she was certain were just waiting for her to fall over the fence to provide them with their dinner.

Frogs and toads were not our only weekend guests.  A bush on our patio was full of these newly hatched moths.  They were everywhere, including in the spiderwebs on our back porch.  They're so interesting to watch as they emerge and stretch out their wings.  I absolutely love all the wildlife here in the summer time.

Hanging out on our patio in the evenings is one of my favorite ways to relax in the summer.  We always have a few "barn cats" nearby to keep us company. The only problem with this spot is that I get a great view of our surroundings---beautiful but always wild and unruly.  We never get caught up on the yard work.


At least for now, we have these beautiful yellow irises to distract me from all the overgrown shrubs, grass, and weeds.  Trying to focus on the positive.

 First thing on weekend mornings, when it's still a little cool and we have no place we have to be, I love to sip my coffee and read a book on the front porch swing.  All I hear are chirping birds and buzzing bumblebees except for this weekend, when cabin owners with four-wheelers spend their time zipping up and down the mountain at top speed.  I'm not fond of them at all.


When the temperature climbed to over 90 degrees one afternoon, we all came into the air conditioning, and watched this movie about Mother Teresa on Netflix.  This woman has been such an inspiration to me for years.  The way she continued for decades to treat the poorest of the poor with dignity, kindness, and love despite the dark emptiness and loneliness she felt inside, moves me to tears.  I couldn't be happier that she is to be canonized a saint this fall.  The movie is a great introduction to her life.

Last evening we fired up the charcoal grill and ate out on the patio for the first time this year.  Nothing fancy, just the traditional summer foods: watermelon, baked beans, cheddar & bacon hamburgers, potato salad, potato chips, and Arnold Palmers.

That was followed by a campfire...

...and some firecrackers, sparklers, and all the ingredients to make smores.  My kids never, ever get tired of smores no matter how many campfires we have.

Now I'm off to retrieve the kiddos from the creek and slurp on some lemonade swirl popsicles before we all head off to our last full week of school.  I hope all of you were able to enjoy some summer favorites this weekend too.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Have You Seen Little Boy?

A few weeks ago when the children were out of school for the day, we sat down to watch a movie together.  As I was searching Netflix for something that looked appealing and worthwhile, I stumbled upon this movie Little Boy.  It appeared to be safe enough for all family members, and it had 5 stars, so I decided to give it a try.  Little did I know then that it would top any other movie I have seen in a very long time.

Despite what the mainstream critics say, I thought this movie was incredibly moving, inspiring, touching, and not at all offensive---and we are Catholic.  The synopsis can be found here at Wikipedia, but I'll try to give you just enough information to leave you intrigued.  Seven year old Pepper is small for his age, but his father has always built him up to be as powerful and capable as a super-hero.  When his father is shipped away to fight in WWII, Pepper wants more than anything to bring his father back home.  Influenced by his older brother, he believes that his father's deployment is the fault of all the Japanese.  There just so happens to be a Japanese-American in their town who is hated by most of the residents, especially Pepper's older brother.  A series of events occur, and Pepper hears this Gospel verse at Church: "For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move hence to yonder place,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you."---Matthew 17:20.  Inspired by that and an awe for a certain magician/super-hero, he is filled with faith that he can bring his father back home.  Whenever he speaks to his parish priest, however, he is told this will not happen as long as he has hatred in his heart.  He is then encouraged to become friends with the Japanese-American, Hashimoto.  Along with this, he is also given an important list to follow, which happens to be the Corporal Works of Mercy:
To feed the hungry;
To give drink to the thirsty;
To clothe the naked;
To harbour the harbourless;
To visit the sick;
To ransom the captive;
To bury the dead.

It is humorous at times to see how Little Boy completes these merciful deeds and crosses them off his list, and it is inspiring and touching to see how he does indeed try to move mountains with his faith.  His determination, fortitude, and extreme faith end up affecting all those around him.  He continues on even when others make fun of him and tell him it is hopeless.  At one point near the end of the movie, he is faced with what he believes is a choice to let go of one dream for the sake of a friend.  Just when you think the movie's plot has ended, there is a final twist that leaves you inspired and full of hope.

Little Boy was released in 2015 and is now on DVD and Netflix.  I would definitely watch it again as long as I had a huge box of tissues beside me.  This is a tearjerker almost from the beginning, but I seem to cry over these movies more easily than the rest of my family.  I was moved by the film and found it refreshing over the massive amounts of shallow, superficial, cynical tripe that dominates the screen these days.  It also prompted some good historical discussions about the plight of the Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II.  My children were unaware of their story, for the most part. Needless to say, I highly recommend this movie as long as you're aware that tissues are probably in order, and if you're like me, your eyes might be puffy for a good hour or so afterwards.