Ice Age 4: Continental Drift

This one actually (barely) passes the Bechdel Test, and Sykes makes it worth watching altogether.

Adding Queen Latifah to the Ice Age team was probably one of the best decisions the crew made while adding installment (after installment) to the series. The first movie was so good in a meaningful way, with actual character development and depth. The second was completely the opposite, with totally stupid plot lines and an incredibly stupid female mammoth added who thinks she’s a possum and needs Manny to show her the way.

Because we lady folk don’t get our own bodies, don’t you know!


The franchise does improve in the third film as Ellie, voiced by Latifah, takes on a leadership role as well as a motherly one, though the former is a bit of a caricature and excludes her from much of the adventure. In the fourth movie, Ellie is finally in a primary leadership role—but it’s far secondary to her husband’s. When they are split up, it’s up to her to lead the animals away from the continental divide and to safety. She has some good lines, and we have the addition of her daughter, voiced by Keke Palmer, to add to the female cast—as well as her teen mammoth friends.

The movie is funny enough, and we have lots of female characters added—including two female pirates, voiced by the hilarious Rebel Wilson and Jennifer Lopez—that make it perhaps one of the most female-heavy casts in cartoon history; we also have more sloths, including Sid’s obnoxious mother and hilarious grandmother, played by Wanda Sykes (who really makes the movie). However, most of them don’t have an opportunity to talk, unless it’s to discuss men… Sigh. Still, it’s a huge step in the right direction for this series, and we do have females saving the day here and there (though they are also saved by males in return—which is fine; I would much rather have a symbiotic hero thing going on than a one-sided one).

As far as our original trio, their adventures are pretty exciting. Diego’s love-struck status with the new female tiger Shira is super cute, while run-ins with the pirates and sirens are fun and adventurous without being as scary as the dinosaur was in the third film (or those creepy fish-things in movie number two). Their characters continued to develop, which was fun to watch, but Sykes’s antics as the grandma everyone thinks is crazy (but turns out to be the opposite and quite the hero herself) really make this movie worth watching.

The Avengers

This constant-action movie is fun, but fairly shallow.

Over the summer, I heard friends rave about the latest Marvels superhero movie The Avengers, and I was pretty excited about it. Getting a sitter is nearly impossible (unless you have $10 an hour to pay—not that I begrudge sitters of this money, but we just don’t have it; that’s the price of a movie anyway!) so my husband and I usually have movie date nights via rental—and lately, via FREE library rentals, and this is one example!

We curled up with our snacks and settled in to watch the film last night, and it was a good movie. It had wonderful effects, and though rumpled Mark Ruffalo will never be My Hulk, the rest of the team was pretty good—especially the Black Widow, whom I believe deserves her own movie. That woman’s scenes were the best in the movie, hands-down.The plot was a little too simple in terms of the rest of the movies; half of it was simply the heroes all fighting one another and generally being unable to get along. This was fine; I don’t mind simple plots as long as they are executed well, and I really like it when heroes are portrayed with their more human aspects, like anger, jealousy, and pride. When superheroes are played as perfect with One Great Weakness, they get boring, and we cannot connect them to human nature—and isn’t that where everything needs to be connected from anyway?

But this movie sort of fell flat from the previous Marvel films. There was no real character development—and while you could argue that the previous films already accomplished that, that’s simply not true of Hawkeye, who was first introduced in this film. And if you watch the other films, you certainly get all of the back stories. I suppose the development of the characters in this movie is attributed to their working together and whatnot, but it was just so full of characters—like the X-Men movies—that it seemed like you just couldn’t get enough depth in there. I get it; I write. Too many characters is really too much to get through in just two hours.

Because of this, however, the film also felt rather one-dimensional, made up of mostly fighting and action scenes—whether against an enemy or each other—which was too bad. It was still enjoyable—with plenty of zingers and fun moments—but I really think the script could have included another layer or two to add just a bit of depth to the movie.

I really, really missed Edward Norton. Did I say that already? Well, I really mean it. Ruffalo couldn’t pull off that brilliant scientist persona like Norton did. And I missed the women in the other films, too, but that would have only added more chaos to the cast of characters! More women in general would have been nice, though, as it would be in most movies…

Still, I look forward to the sequel and hope we’ll have even more definition and depth in it.

Mummy Shunnery

I totally get it.

A lot of moms claim to feel judged by other moms for a lot of reasons, and it’s easy to see why. It’s not even just the Mommy Wars and the media pitting us against each other to see who is a better mom, who can “do it all” and “have it all” the best (when we all know that such a thing is a joke). I think we all perpetuate this mummy shunnery in our own lives without even meaning to.

I have been making a concentrated effort to not talk about homeschooling much—if at all—when among moms who don’t homeschool not because I don’t like to talk about it (on the contrary, I could talk about it all day, which bores some people to pieces!), but because it makes them uncomfortable.

I used to think that this was attributed to the fact that they looked down on homeschoolers—they thought we were weird, or unsocialized, or beneath them, or whatever. But now I realize that many of them either think we are snobby with a too-good for public school stance, or even that we mean to make them feel guilty since we consider ourselves better parents (we don’t!) than parents of school-attending children. It’s hard to see how my daily actions, meant to be what I think is best for my family and me, could be seen as a direct affront to others, but I understand it now.

For starters, I encountered the same thing as a vegetarian. People could say, “I’m Catholic” or “I’m Irish” and nobody would bat an eye, but if I said, “I’m vegetarian,” people were immediately defensive, demanding to know why. It turned out that many thought that I thought I was better than they were—or taking the moral high ground—when I was only trying to live what I felt was an ethical lifestyle. Homeschooling seems to be the same way.

And now I am encountering the same thing with other moms, and I have to remind myself that it’s not personal for me, but for them. I know a few moms who are completely anti-sugar, and I have to stop myself from having my feathers ruffled when my daughter eats a cookie or drinks some lemonade in front of kids whose moms tell them no. I know moms who use curriculum when I don’t, and they look at me like I’m some kind of lazy bug (no matter that our days may even be more rigorous and my job just as demanding compiling resources and planning events), who count calories or lament their body size when I am much bigger and eat my nachos at mom’s night with a smile (albeit a strained one when I feel their gaze upon me; it’s one thing to be happy and quite another to feel…judged).

It’s hard to not worry about what others think. I know many women (and men) learn this important skill when they’re older (they’ll even say they’re too old to care); maybe we should chat with them a bit to see how to get past these feelings of shunnery, this judgment culture.

5 Ways to Get in to See the Specialist When They Say "No!"

Supermoms do not usually take no for an answer. We know how to get what we want for our kids. Sold out Disney on Ice – got it. Special flavor of ice cream your store no longer carries – found it. Purple tennis shoes that light up AND have Velcro – bought them weeks ago.

Squeeze in for appointment at the specialist when the pediatrician refers you – um, wait. What do you mean, no?! Not every doctor or specialist has as flexible of a schedule as the pediatrician, especially when they are the best in the state. And, you want the best, right?!

1.   Be as polite as possible and ask if you can get little Susie in any sooner because fill-in-the-blank-excuse.

2.   Ask your pediatrician if her staff can get you in any sooner than the 6 week wait that you were just given.

3.   Call and asked to be placed on a “cancellation list”. Who knew these even existed? Let them know that you are very flexible and will take any time slot.

4.   Call every day, mid-morning, and ask if they can possibly squeeze little Susie in that day. You’d think this would be annoying, but I have it on good authority from a front desk person that it happens all the time and is not the least bit annoying.

5.   When all else fails, beg, cry and plead for your baby. Healthcare should not be like this in this day and age, but, when it comes to specialists, it is. 

Birthday Wishes SuperMom Style

Every kid has big dreams for their birthday. They have a list of toys a mile long. They want to invite every kid in their school (more presents that way). They want to have The. Most. Amazing. Party. E.V.E.R.

Supermoms instinctively know this. We are, however, bound by the limits of our budget, time, feasibility, legality and the laws of physics. Beyond that, we got it covered.

Here is my latest challenge. My soon-to-be 6 year old wants, and I quote…

“To go on an archeological dig, find a dinosaur bone, take pictures with it and then donate it to a museum, as long as they put my name on a plaque on the wall…”

Tall order, but do-able. I have 2 options:

1.    An aunt in a neighboring state lives next door to a facility that lets kids actually dig for dinosaur bones and, afterwards, tour their previous finds in the on-site museum. Sure, it’s an overnight trip for us, but it’d be an adventure.

2.    Our local Natural Science Museum’s membership plans include an upgraded option that allows you one behind-the-scenes tour with a staff member as a thank you for your generous donation. It’s slightly more than the standard family membership, but no more than what I would pay if I were throwing a regular party this year at, say, a bounce house place.

How have you saved the day in the birthday party department? Did you wear your SuperMom cape while doing it?! Yes, SuperMoms rock!



8 St. Patrick's Day Activities

SuperMom is not necessarily Irish, but she likes to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with her kids. If you need a little help on how to do this, read on:

1.    Dress Up. Wear green so you don’t get pinched or grab that “Kiss Me” t-shirt out of your closet and stand tall.

2.    Make and decorate some sugar cookies. If you’ve got a cookie cutter shaped like a four-leaf clover, great. If not, grab the green frosting and sprinkles and go to town.

3.    Run to the library and borrow a book about the story of St. Patrick. It’s an interesting read. For older siblings, you can research famous Irish-Americans, like Kennedy family comes to mind, of course.

4.    Throw a corned beef in the crock pot. People just don’t make corned beef anymore and it really is good. Be sure to save the leftovers for a wicked corned beef has in the a.m. Wait until they leave for school, no need to share that one. What?

5.    If you are Irish, talk about your family history. Pull out the ole photo album. If you’re not, talk about what it meant to be Irish in America anyway.

6.    Grab all the green markers, pens, crayons and glitter for a monochromatic art project. Hunt down green felt, puff balls and construction paper and go to town.

7.    Printables rock. Check online for any St.Patrick’s Day printables, coloring sheets or search-a-words.

8.    Take some pictures with your handy camera and make St. Patrick’s Day cards to send off to Grandma.

5 Things Super Moms Know

No super mom knows everything, but there are certain things that are common knowledge to super moms all around the world. What are they? Don't worry, I won't hold out on you – there's a list below.


A super mom is super, not perfect. That's because nobody is perfect. Yeah, you've heard that a million times, and there's a reason for that – it's because it's true.


Every super mom needs some alone time, even if it's just 10 minutes to take a bath each night. Alone time means time not spent with your kids, friends, or partner. It's time where you're completely alone.


Some moms feel like they have to go, go, go all day long. Super moms know that it's okay to take a break. Sit down, kick up your feet, and enjoy a candy bar while your kids fight over the sticker in the cereal box. You don't have to devote every second of every day to your kids.


Dinner shouldn't always be a 4 course meal that includes something from each major food group. In fact, it's perfectly acceptable to give your kids peanut butter sandwiches or a bowl of cereal every once in awhile. Trust me, they'll be just fine.


When it comes to parenting, everybody has an opinion. You think politics and religion are taboo topics? Try telling a mom she's raising her kids wrong. Super moms know that they're doing a good job, so they avoid critics because they simply don't have time to listen to negative babble.

How a Super Mom Survives Summer

It's Never Too Early to Start Planning

OK. Once your kids are older you can send them off to a faraway state, like Maine, for 8 long weeks of summer camp and some well-deserved rest. The rest is for Super Mom. If your kids are little, however, this does not work. Camp counselors do not change diapers. So, you need to get a little more creative to avoid that dreaded, “I’m bored” whine!

Here’s the plan. Depending on where you live and your school district, there are 10 -12 weeks of summer vacation. That’s a lot of time to fill without the help of a camp or two. Why not schedule a day camp every other week? They are not terribly expensive. Heck, it’s probably cheaper than having them home. And, you can schedule in some really fun and educational activities.

Everyone from the zoo to the local museums has a summer camp offering. Call around and see what you can find out. In addition, there are day camps dedicated to just about every sports and school subject you can think of, from math to soccer. Get creative. Would your child like to try their hand at mixed media art pieces or learning Mandarin? What about a space camp, golf or even cooking? The possibilities are endless.

Now, here’s where you need to pull out that Super Mom cape… some of these camps fill up by the end of January. Yes. Yes, it is very early. Luckily for your kids, they have an unber-prepared Super Mom, like you, who knows how to plan in advance.   

Who Takes Care Of Super Mom?

Super Moms take care of everyone and everything around them. They remember birthdays. They kiss boo-boos. They make sure their families get plenty of fresh air, three servings of dairy and more antioxidants than you can shake a stick at. That’s all well and good, but who takes care of them? Who checks up on their caloric needs? Who asks about their obscure medical symptoms? Anyone?

Probably not. The problem with being a Super Mom is that everyone thinks you are invincible but, contrary to popular belief, you are not. None of us are. We break. We slow down. We get tired. We get sick.

Just like any creature, we need to take care of ourselves. I cannot begin to tell you how many times a Super Mom has skipped a meal. The cause is usually one of two things, either a small child decided that what was on Super Mom’s plate looked much more appetizing than his or her own and ate it. And, what mom would discourage that, kids need to eat. Or, equally distressing, Super Mom’s out and out forget to eat.

Just yesterday, I was feeling tired. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Boom. Instantly tired with a killer headache. I was moving like molasses and totally scatterbrained. My sister (because sister’s rock) asked me what I had for lunch. Hmmm… it was 3 p.m., lunch wasn’t that long ago. Yet, I couldn’t remember. So, she asked me what I had for breakfast. That was easy: coffee. So, in the 10 hours I had been running around that day, I had consumed nothing but my morning coffee. Not good. Super Sister took care of it, and me.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself and the other Super Moms you know.     

Quick - One Last Chance to See the Holiday Lights at Your Zoo

What kid wouldn’t want to wander around the zoo at night? What kid doesn’t love holiday light displays? Leave it to a SuperMom to bundle it altogether into one. Hey – it’s not just the cable company that knows a thing or two about bundling. Entre Zoolights.

Oh, alright. This SuperMom did not invent the concept of ZooLights. Not even close.  In fact, most of the larger zoos around the country have something similar at the holidays each year, albeit with a slightly different name.  What a great idea, both for families with kids and for fundraising for the zoo.

Bundle everyone up. Pack some hot cocoa in a thermos and away you go. For younger kids, bring a wagon filled with pillows and blankets. Even if you have the older ones, pack some extra cozy blankets for the ride home. They may pretend it is so uncool but, secretly, they will know you are a SuperMom.

Most shows start around 6pm, when it starts to get dark, and are a separate admission. In fact, the Phoenix Zoo actually closes at 5pm, moves everyone out and then re-opens at 6pm. Yes, you have to leave for an hour and then pay again, even members.

Speaking of which, have I mentioned lately that SuperMoms are also SuperSavers? If you want to wear the cape in your household, be sure to get a membership to your family’s favorite places. A membership is usually tiwce the cost of admission for a family of four. It makes no sense, really. Pay to enter twice or pay almost the same amount to go any time you want for a year. Hmmmm…check it out for yourself.

Hurry – the lights come down mid-January.