Sunday, August 28, 2011

Back to School (and Succinctly Yours!)

Well it's back to school for everybody around here, including me, and I have to readjust to both the early morning wake up routine and the early bedtime. I was so exhausted Thursday and Friday that I missed a Book Blurb Friday over at Lisa Ricard Claro's blog (this is the first one I missed since Lisa started it!), but I just couldn't bring myself to get on the computer any more. I am hoping to get back into my school rythym soon.

I tried to get some extra sleep this weekend, but was kept up by the terrible wind and rains that we got as a result of the hurricane. In fact, I know exactly when our electric went out because I picked up the clock to check how long I had been awake. So, at 2:05 this morning our electric went out, and at 12:00 pm it came back on. We are counting ourselves lucky because we have no real damage except some broken tree limbs, but my brother-in-law and his family still don't have power, and they are saying it could be a couple days until they finally get it back on. In the meantime they are living in their camper (it has a generator) for what may be an extreme camping trip... Were any of you affected by the storm? At one point I thought maybe our basement would have been safer!

Now it's time for Succinctly Yours, another writing meme that piggy backs on the idea of Susan of the Stony River Blog.
Grandma Goulash posts a picture and you are to write a 140 character or word story about it. You can also use the word of the day in your post if you wish. This week's word is sagacious. Here this week's picture and my take this week:

Nora wanted to live life to the fullest after a cancer scare, so despite seasickness worries and fears of the ocean, Mary packed her bags. (140 characters)

I hope to try to swing by your blogs soon!

Monday, August 22, 2011

More opinions on D.C. (and Succinctly Yours!)

View outside Natural History Museum
I wanted to finish up the posts concerning the attractions in Washington D.C. with a couple more reviews of museums we visited. The last two museums we visited were the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of American History. Everything we read online ranked the Air and Space Museum as the second or third most popular for families with kids, so we planned on spending a great deal of time there on our last full day in Washington.  Well, you know the old adage, Don't believe everything you read?   Here is a primary example, because we were more than a little disappointed by this museum. I guess we were all expecting a lot of interactive space themed displays, and maybe a moon rock or two, but this just wasn't the case.

View of some planes on the ceiling 
As the name of the museum implies, it's Air and Space, so the majority of the displays dealt with airplanes, but we have been to more interesting places where you could climb inside planes like WWI and WWII bombers, and Vietnam air rescue helicopters, and these were all in Cape May, NJ!  Sure there were planes, but they were either behind glass or hanging from the ceiling, there were only two floors, and there was only one plane(the first commercial airplane) that you could walk through, and only a couple items about space.  My daughter was pretty upset about it, and if it wasn't for the "rides" offered, it would have been a total loss.

2nd level, 2nd of two cool space set ups
Now about the rides...there are several "simulations" offered on the lower level of the musueum which of course cost,those you can ride in and those you control.  The controlled ride lets you and a partner(pilot and gunner)control a fighter jet.  You play a video type game to get used to the controls and you try to shoot down the enemy.  When the game is done, you enter a capsule where you are strapped in a three point harness and then additional head and shoulder padding are lowered down and you're off-you do 360's, banking turns etc. just like a real fighter jet.

Let me tell you, this thing is extreme! My daughter and I spent the majority of the time in the capsule upside down because I couldn't figure out the controls, and we never engaged the enemy-heck, I was just trying to survive the ride!  But both of us couldn't stop laughing, so I'm thinking it was money well spent. (The cost is $7 for both adults and kids.)

Most planes were behind glass or barricades
The other "ride" let you sit down while it sent you through imaginary twists and turns of a space roller coaster-money well spent? No.  This was beyond lame, with no real 3D aspect to the picture so you never truly felt like you were on a coaster. ($7 per adult, $5 for kids-I was telling people while I was in line for the figter jet not to do the coaster ride...)  And the amount of time spent in this museum?  About 20 minutes-the length of time my daughter and I were in line for the rides (my son and husband walked through it then). Maybe we were expecting too much...

Now we hadn't planned on going to the Museum of American History because it was ranked pretty low, and there were monuments to see, but there was more than a couple passing rain showers, so we ducked into this museum to kill some time.  We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of exhibits housed there (three floors and several wings), and the exhibits themselves.  But you really had to pick and choose because there were so many, and we started to get "museumed out" pretty quick.

You could choose a speech to superimpose yourself into

My son the politician-you can barely see him!
My daughter and I enjoyed the wings dedicated to all the first ladies-there are dresses and other items worn by each one, but the inaugral gowns of the first ladies from the 80's on up (including Michelle Obama's) were all there.  My husband and son passed on this, but we joined up with them in the presidential artifacts area where there is Lincoln's top hat, and other items from all our presidents.

Plus, the most magical display was the first American flag (you know, the one that inspired Francis Scott Key)preserved under low light in all it's glory!  The flag is huge-about 40 to 50 feet wide, and everyone was pretty quiet as we filed in to look at it. (Sorry, you couldn't take pictures...)

There are other oddities housed in this building like Julia Child's kitchen, life then and now, and other areas we just didn't have the time or patience to see.  And as for our final ranking, the zoo and Natural History tied for first place, a not too distant second would be the American History, and sadly the Air and Space wouldn't make the cut. We do plan on visiting sometime in the near future, so I am hoping to go through at least one of the art museums (most notably the portrait museum), and I would like to catch a play in Ford's theatre where Lincoln was shot (still in operation today!)

Now time for Succinctly Yours, another writing meme that piggy backs on the idea of Susan of the Stony River Blog.
Grandma Goulash posts a picture and you are to write a 140 character or word story about it. You can also use the word of the day in your post if you wish. This week's word is tepid. Here this week's picture and my take this week:

Joe's brother warned him about the house, saying it was haunted by old Johnson himself, but his honor was at stake, so he didn't turn back. (139 characters)

Hope to be by later tonight to see what everyone else wrote!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Smithsonian Museum Reviews (and Book Blurb Friday!)

In my last post I talked about recently visiting Washington D.C. with my family, but what is there to do when you get there? All 19 Smithsonian museums and all the monuments are free to the public, so some should be on your "must see" list. Now we weren't able to see the entire spread (some we didn't have an interest in, and there is no way I would even try to tackle the lot of them in three days anyway), but I thought I would give you my oppionion of what we did see anyway. One good thing is that most of the Smithsonian Museums are located in one long strip called the National Mall, so you could do two at different times (which we did) in the same day if you wanted...

Now I did search online for the best museums to visit if you have kids, but I have to disagree with some of these web site's recommendations. First and foremost on our list was the National Zoo. Our kids love the zoo, as do I, and we decided that since it was only 4 1/2 miles away from our hotel (the National Zoo is located outside of D.C.), it was the perfect spot for day one of our visit. The plan was to visit the zoo and then check into our hotel when we were through. Unfortuately, the zoo is a popular place during the summer, and getting there an hour and a half after it opened wasn't quite early enough. There were no more parking spots available, and the only thing we could do was head straight for the hotel.

We were able to check in early, and after a good lunch, we got our feet wet using the metro to get to the zoo. (That 4 1/2 miles took us over half an hour by car in very heavy traffic, but only 5 minutes by rail. Plus, we found out that the "free" zoo charges $15 for three hour parking, and $20 for more than three hours.  It only cost us almost $15 to take the metro-round trip during the peak period for all four of us, so even though we had a hike uphill a couple blocks to the main entrance, we sort of came out even...)

The good: it's relatively shady and that's good for some of the hot, humid weather D.C. is known for (and speaking of heat, there are several water sprayers to cool you down, and my kids certainly took advantage of this); many animals are in outdoor habitats; and the number one reason is to see the pandas.

The bad: If you are going by metro, it's a hike all uphill, so if you don't think your legs can take this and a walk around the zoo, go for the parking but get there early; the indoor (meaning air conditioned exhibits)get crowded-this is where you will notice just how many people are there the same time you are; eating in and around the zoo, just like everywhere else in D.C. is not cheap; now while I thought the zoo was big, I don't think it can compare to the likes of places like the Pittsburgh Zoo which covers a lot more ground. Was it worth it? We thought so, and you should give yourself at least 3 hours to see all the animals.

Next on our list was the Natural History Museum, and for the most part it didn't disappoint. There are two levels with various wings showcasing the likes of dinosaurs, prehistoric man and animals, rocks and minerals (showcasing the famous Hope Diamond necklace worn originally by Marie Antoinette), and many other displays. There are areas where you can sit and watch an informational movie about the specific area you are in (hint: a chance to sit down!), you can watch as archaeologists chip away at fossils, and there are various interactive exhibits.

One of our favorites was the Meanderthall Man where you sat, lined up your face with an image on a screen, took a picture, then combined your face with a face of a prehistoric man or woman from different periods. You can then e-mail that picture to yourself. (If you have a scan app on your smart phone, you scan the app into your phone, change your face with a picture you then take with your phone, and keep or rejet the results. We did both!) 
The good: So much to see that you really need to be selective; interactive exhibits; large enough spaces for groups of people to move around; the interactive butterfly lab where you can go into a room and be surrounded by different species of butterflies (this was good and bad-the bad was that it cost extra: I think it was $5 per kid and $7 per adult, but you could stay in the room as long as you liked, and they were beautiful...);and of course there was that "coolness" factor for the place.

The bad: The museum offers many imax movies on different topics at an extra cost (we decided against them); the "natural" is the focus (mainly prehistoric, so nothing related to times of kings and queens-somewhat disappointing for me); the interactive areas did get crowded, so don't plan on hurrying through this museum; we could never find the escalator or elevators even after following signs pointing the way-we hiked up the stairs instead; and their was just one small mummy in an incomplete exhibit marked for Egypt (it doesn't open until November.) Was it worth it? You bet, and I believe it tied with the zoo for favorite sight seeing spot.

I will highlight the National Air and Space Museum, the Museum of American History, and the monuments we saw later in the week. Right now it's time for

Book Blurb Friday! This is where Lisa Ricard Claro, from Writing in the Buff, posts a picture meant to serve as a fictional book cover. It's your job to write a blurb about the book in 150 words or less to entice a prospective reader. Are you up to the challenge? Here is this week's picture and my story:

Alive for Now...

Anna hated the cold, and she was sick of Deadwood, South Dakota, and all the snow locals ramble through on a daily basis without complaint. It was the end of March for crying out loud-she should be wearing cute little outfits, enjoying spring flowers, and suffering through allergies like everybody else back home, but according to the FBI, this was her new home.

Anna’s parents died in a horrific car accident that still has law enforcement shaking their heads. They were the prosecutor’s star witnesses in the trial of the Big Tuna himself, notorious mob boss Tony Accardo, and though Anna’s parents never told her about the case, the mob didn’t know that, and the FBI decided relocation would keep her safe.

But would it? An unknown car nearly missed her as she went for the mail. A coincidence, or is someone making sure Anna’s never heard from again? (149 words, and Deadwood is a real place, and The Big Tuna, Tony Accado, was an actual mob boss in Chicago... I got lazy-LOL!)

I can't wait to see what everyone else wrote!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A capital trip (and Succinctly Yours!)

We have lived close to Washington, D.C. for 20 years, and never once ventured down there. I am not much of a history buff, and I remembered a not-so-interesting trip there with my family when I was small, so this spot has not been on my "must see" list at all. I am more of a beach bum when it comes to ideal vacation destinations, but with the work needed on the house and the price of gas, we decided to do short trips close to home this year. We designed a vacation around my daughters state meet at the end of May (Cape May and Wild Wood NJ), and my husband took the kids camping, but I thought it would be nice to get away one last time before school started.

I researched area attractions that would interest kids and Washington, D.C. popped up. All of the Smithsonian Museums are free, and then there are the monuments, the White House, the Capitol Building, etc. and the kids really seemed interested. There was one problem-the cost of staying in D.C. was ridiculous, with fees to park per day that ranged from $12 to $35 a day! But the more I researched, the more I learned. There is a metro system running from Maryland to Virginia suburbs that is supposed to be the cleanest and safest in the country, and it runs regularly to and from D.C. My chosen suburb was Bethesda, Maryland, only a couple hours drive from home and a fifteen minute trip via the metro into D.C.

We stayed there from Thursday through Sunday, and we learned an awful lot about how to maneuver around. Some things we did right, and some we did wrong and kicked ourselves later for, and I will be posting about different aspects of our trip for those who might be interested in going there as well.

What I did Right: our hotel choice.
Like I said, I chose Bethesda, Maryland because it was close enough to Washington without the bigger price tag, at least for the hotel. When I started my search, I pulled up all the sites that promise you the best deals on rooms, but Expedia beat them all not only for price of rooms, but additional "perks." We didn't want to spend a fortune on this little trip, so I was looking for a nice hotel at a budget rate-quite a hard thing to do at the end of summer around Washington. Like I said, most of the hotels were more than $200 a night for even a Holiday Inn, and all charged to park your car each day.

Expedia brought up some suburbs in my search, and Hilton Garden Inn, Bethesda, Maryland popped up. Their guests can park in their adjacent parking garage (*this was a positive and negative-I didn't read anything about a charge on Expedia for this, but we were charged $15 per day to park and we could have used the public parking over the weekend for free! But, we were able to check in at noon instead of the normal 3:00 pm...); I could get two queen size beds (instead of the usual doubles)in a room; they were 1 1/2 blocks from the Metro station; they were near several small diners and some fast food; they offered an indoor pool and work out facility (and computer center); and the biggest perk? We got their huge breakfast buffet for four each morning and it was included in the room rate. And the rate? Hold on to your hats...$94 a night (but with parking it ended up being $109 a night, still good...) The same hotel in other discount deal web sites was around $12 more without breakfast, and when I went to Hilton's own web site, the price quoted (still queen beds but no breakfast offer) was almost $250 a night!

When we usually stay in a hotel, I look for Hampton Inns and Ramada because they often offer a free breakfast buffet, and when you are trying to keep costs down (and meals are one big cost factor)this really goes a long way-especially with small kids. But you have to get to breakfast early, because the trade off is limited space and a whole bunch of other people wanting breakfast too! And though the food is decent enough, you basically eat it to tide you over until lunch.

Hilton's buffet was more than expected: a dedicated room with many tables (you waited to be seated instead of swarming the place), everything you could ever want for breakfast and the instructions to ask the cook if you wanted pancakes or a made to order omelet. There were scrambled eggs, many different kinds of sausages and bacon, every fresh fruit you can think of and that included fresh strawberries, blueberries, etc. to put on cereal or your waffle, many types of bagels and muffins, specialty breads and doughnuts, any juice you wanted, coffee, and tea, and a variety of yogurt flavors and cereals. And we learned that food in and around Washington D.C. is very expensive, so filling up here was a good start. (After this breakfast we downed so much water with all the walking that my husband and I were not hungry for lunch, and the kids just wanted something small.) We still got a check after we were done eating, but we just put our vouchers in the billfold. The cost of this meal without the vouchers would have been over $30. One negative, the wait staff hovered around you while you ate, and we felt kind of pressured to leave a tip each day.

The room: there was more than enough space and included a refrigerator and microwave; I heard nothing and no one our whole stay and we were only on the 4th floor; the bed and furniture were also some of the most comfortable I have ever had in a hotel (the chairs are supposed to be both ergonomic and the beds adjustable, but I thought they were fine as is); the room was also extremely clean (and I am very picky).

Three minor flaws. First, the sound of the air conditioner wasn't noticed too much until it was time for bed, and it went on and off throughout the night. Second, there were some missing tiles in an otherwise spotless bathroom and I can't help wondering why we were put there when the hotel was obviously not full to capacity. Another problem was with the bathroom sink drain. The water let out of it pretty slow when we arrived, but by the third night, it was worse, and didn't smell too pleasant. There was an obvious clog issue that I can't believe the cleaning staff didn't notice, but since we left this morning, we just reported it to the front desk at check out.

The pool: Okay, I am glad I found a hotel with a pool and hot tub. When you have tired, hot kids at the end of the day, the pool is a nice way to wind down, and we used it two nights. The negative: the pool was extremely small and shallow-only getting up to 3 1/2 feet (while this was good for my son, adults might not like it); there was a life guard on duty the entire time for this very small, shallow pool (this hotel caters more to business travelers, so I'm guessing something must have happened to have a need for it to be watched); the bottom of the pool had some type of non-slip surface that was rough to the touch. Both my kids and husband all have "boo boos" from the pool!

Location, location, location (and security): Not only were we close to the metro, but we were on a side street that only got hotel traffic. And just in case you still felt uneasy, the police station was on the next corner... Plus, you needed your room key to go up to your room in the elevator, and down to floors other than the main floor, otherwise the elevator didn't move. (Just an added piece of security I liked!)

If I was grading the Hilton, it would earn a solid "B," and my husband says 8 out of 10 would be a fair assessment-nobody is perfect, and I have never stayed in a "10" hotel... The place was clean, comfortable, and the staff were friendly. But do check the hotel deal sites and compare them to Hilton's (they are running specials for the fall now) main site for reduced rates and other possible perks!

Now time for Succinctly Yours, another writing meme that piggy backs on the idea of Susan of the Stony River Blog.

Grandma Goulash posts a picture and you are to write a 140 character or word story about it. You can also use the word of the day in your post if you wish. This week's word is frantic. Here this week's picture and my take this week:

Dejected, Woody collapsed in a nearby chair to contemplate life. His boy didn't play with wooden toys anymore-he was replaced by G.I.Joe. (139 characters)

Hope to be by later tonight to see what everyone else wrote!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Camping pictures (and Book Blurb Friday!)

As promised, here are a few pictures of the family camping trip (minus one of course...)
Here is night number one-notice how differently my son and daughter sleep!

A picturesque setting...
Daddy does the cooking (and the kids said he did great.) Hmm...

The last day there it poured off and on all day, but no leaks!
Does this get you yearning for the great outdoors? For some of you (like me) probably not-LOL!

Well, at least I have:


Book Blurb Friday! This is where Lisa Ricard Claro, from Writing in the Buff, posts a picture meant to serve as a fictional book cover. It's your job to write a blurb about the book in 150 words or less to entice a prospective reader. Are you up to the challenge? Here is this week's picture and my story:

The Man They all Forgot

Madison had been married to Asher less than a year when she began to see signs that something wasn’t right. Instead of growing closer, they were growing apart-her husband stayed late at the office, took strange phone calls at all hours, and when she questioned him, he accused her of not trusting him anymore.

Madison felt like she was living with a stranger, and she was ready to call it quits when Asher convinced her to wait. After his business trip in Rome, he would explain everything, but that day never came, and it was if he never existed-his coworkers acted like they never knew him, the airline had no record of his getting on or off the plane, and his parents they said he died years ago.

Madison would now study the past year, searching for clues, anything that might help her find the man they all forgot… (149 words-cutting it close!)

I thought I would have a hard time with this week's picture, but the words just flew on the page. I had to do some major cutting to get it under the 150 word limit though. I can't wait to see what everyone else did!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Survival if the fittest (and Succinctly Yours!)

Don't worry.  No bears visited my family this past weekend
As some of you may know, I was very much on my own since Thursday evening when my husband took the kids camping-sans me. Even though I knew I would miss the "family time," I just couldn't get past the whole idea of camping. I hate camping (especially roughing it in a tent), always have and always will, and I knew they would all have a better time without all my neuroses’about the dirt and bugs. As it turned out, my husband and daughter had a wonderful time despite it raining all day long on Saturday, and my son? He has mixed feelings, but he may be more like his mother than he cares to admit...

But I am so glad I survived as well. At first it was so quiet and a bit unnerving, particularly at night. Let's just say that I haven't had a decent night's sleep since they left. I was so tired, but as soon as I went to bed I was wide awake...listening. This house makes some strange noises and with my over active imagination it was always after 3 AM before I finally slept. (On the first morning I even watched the sun come up-not by choice of course.)

My husband took lots of pictures but I will share some later in the week. Thank goodness for Succinctly Yours, another writing meme that piggy backs on the idea of Susan of the Stony River Blog.
Grandma Goulash posts a picture and you are to write a 140 character or word story about it. You can also use the word of the day in your post if you wish. This week's word is oblivious. Here this week's picture and my take this week:

Recent changes in the Queen's dating choices were experimental, but she didn't know a night out with Bozo involved his wearing the makeup. (138 characters)

I don't know why I'm still up, but I am (hopefull) heading off to slumberville now. Hope to stop by soon!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Camping dropout (and Book Blurb Friday!)

The kids went camping-I did not. In fact, half of my husband's family is camping alongside them-I am not. Let's just say I am not a big fan for many reasons, one of them being that I've been there, done that. My childhood vacations were spent cooped up in tents, then in campers and trailers of various sizes with my mother, father, and three sisters (and sometimes a cat or dog!) You don't really know your family until you've spent a week with them in such a small space, and it isn't pretty... My dad often asks if I remember that time we went to Yellow Stone National Park, or Rehobeth Beach, and all I remember is a hot truck ride (no air conditioning my friends) and fighting with my sisters for SPACE.

And my other reasons? No escape from the heat, the bugs, the dirt, and then there's all the work to set up camp, and the lack of SPACE (yes, I know I said it already, but it needs repeating.) So here I sit, more than a little teary eyed after wishing my family goodnight via a cell phone call (my daughter texted me half the day!), and I keep reminding myself of all the negative so that I can pull through this okay. Are any of you campers?

So I am doubly glad for:

Book Blurb Friday! This is where Lisa Ricard Claro, from Writing in the Buff, posts a picture meant to serve as a fictional book cover. It's your job to write a blurb about the book in 150 words or less to entice a prospective reader. Are you up to the challenge? Here is this week's picture and my story:

The Water Takers

Darby watched the rain just as she did the day they forgot her, but they were coming back-she could feel it, and the bizarre weather patterns were her proof. Not only was the little town of Bridgewater, Main, the only town getting rain, it was getting close to the yearly rainfall for the entire state.

She remembered how the ships hover out of sight, heating nearby oceans so that massive amounts of precipitation falls, water they desperately need on their dying planet. They are Humanoid in nature, resembling Earthlings the most as children, easily adoptable, at least that’s what they thought…. So the young serve as water takers, in case something goes wrong.

And things went terribly wrong years ago, and Darby now lives with an alien species, in a government scientist’s home. But this isn’t her home, and she needs to make it back somehow. (146 words not including the title.)

This is sort of funny. I was reading Lisa's previous post about allowing her muse to lead her, and the direction this took is way off the deep end for me. I looked at this picture earlier today and couldn't get an idea, and when I started writing this evening I thought I was heading to the horror realm (another first for me) but thankfully sci-fi extreme took hold. I can't wait to see what you all wrote!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Movies Worth a Look (and Succinctly Yours)

Summer is a time to sit back and relax, and escaping the heat at the movie theater is always on the agenda around here, especially when the movie is animated and a much anticipated sequel. We saw a total of four movies this summer (three are still in theaters) you may want to check out if you get the chance.

The first was an animated sequel Kung Fu Panda II. I always hesitate about seeing a sequel but I have to say that I enjoyed this movie almost as much. Jack Black is back as Po the Panda (as are all the old characters), and though I am not a fan of Black's work in other movies, his tongue-in-cheek type of humor is a perfect fit for animation. Here's a run down: Po, along with the fabulous five, must save China from a villian who has discovered gun powder and who plans to use it to become all powerful. The bad: while I still enjoy seeeing these characters again, I felt the movie was a bit more violent than the first. Yes, I know both movies deal with Kung Fu and fighting is a part of that, but the first movie was "lighter" than the second with more humorous moments involving Po. Both my kids enjoyed the movie but they are 12 and 8, and I might reconsider letting a very young child see this. My grade: B/B+

The second movie was also animated and another sequel-Cars II. Lightning MacQueen is invited to race a four part road race in Europe using a new all natural fuel instead of gasoline, and he uses his old friends as his pit crew. Unfortunately, someone is out to damage the fuel's reputation by trying to wreck the cars in the races. British spies are working on finding out who before it's too late, and Mador, mistaken for an American spy, must help. I enjoyed the first Cars movie a lot better because there was more emotional scenes-MacQueen learning some hard lessons and making friends along the way. Although I still marvel at how they design whole worlds around cars and not people (the first few scenes were really great!)this movie was mostly action packed without a lot of feeling. My kids had mixed reactions. For the most part they enjoyed the movie, but my daughter felt a bit let down just as I did. My son said he liked it almost as much as the first Cars. My grade: a B-/C+.

The last two movies weren't sequels or animations, but were based on some old comic book heroes-The Green Lantern and Captain America-the First Avenger. Now I don't usually like superhero movies (notably the Spiderman series) because they are usually all action and no substance, but I saw two of the three this summer and I enjoyed both. The Green Lantern is about a risky jet pilot who discovers a dying alien (a member of the Green Lantern Peace Keepers-beings from other planets and galaxies who keep evil at bay in their assigned quadrons) and is chosen by the lantern as his replacement. First, let's just say the special effects are out of this world-computer animation at its best-and the story itself wasn't half bad. But the evil force attempting to anhilate Earth is pretty scary (a black cloud wih a face who can suck the "fear" out of people) and I had more than a few concerns about my son. Both kids enjoyed the movie, but this one is definitely not for the younger crowd. My grade: B+ for fantastic effects.

Captain America: The First Avenger had a much better story. It takes place during WWII, and Steve Rogers is a puny little man who wants to fight in the war but his size and health problems prevent it. He gets the attention of a scientist who wants to use him as the guinea pig for his new serum-it would turn a person into a super soldier. And those familiar with the comic book story will like the fact that this movie stays pretty close to the story. Once again, good special effects, though not as over the top as the Green Lantern, but the story was great. Now the movie is PG-13, but even though it takes place during the war, there is not blood and gore, only Hydra's super ray gun that disintegrates people. Hydra's face alone will scare the squeemish, but both my kids enjoyed this movie. My grade: A.

My son and husband also saw Thor and both enjoyed the story as well as the effects, but they rate it below the other two because there was too much story and not enough fighting. A unique male viewpoint-LOL! Have you seen any of these movies?

Now it's time for Succinctly Yours, another writing meme that piggy backs on the idea of Susan of the Stony River Blog.
Grandma Goulash posts a picture and you are to write a 140 character or word story about it. You can also use the word of the day in your post if you wish. This week's word is proliferate. Here this week's picture and my take this week:

Harry inched closer to the parchment and saw his mistake immediately-nuvo lacerta changed him into a lizard, but how would he change back? (139 characters)

Yes, I have Harry Potter on my mind, but I know this movie would be much too scary for my kids, so I will have to wait for the DVD release... Sorry I am so late with my post, but I was too tuckered out yesterday. I look forward to reading others!

Photos were used soley for the purpose of reviewing the movie.  All opinions stated are my own and I was not compensated in any way.