Movie Review

You’re Invited to Join The Catholic Community Cinema Society 6

Do you like watching movies? Do you appreciate genuine and authentic movies that encompass Truth, Beauty, Redemption, LOVE and all that other good stuff? Do you relish a deep, enriching and eclectic conversation with others who also value these same qualities in a good movie?

Well hold onto your popcorn and hold your hopes up high cuz I’ve got an exciting announcement for you!

I’d like to introduce and invite you to a new endeavor unlike anything you’ve ever screened before…

The Catholic Community Cinema Society was proposed and founded by none other than the Most Overly Enthusiastic Cinephile I’ve ever known: My long-time friend, Joel, who writes all about movies, books, culture, family, faith, and other cool life stuff over at I/FWP. (That’s short for Ideas. Folk. Work. Place.)

Basically, those who want to be part of this awesome Catholic Community Cinema Society will all watch the same movie each month and then have fun conversing about that same movie. See Joel’s blog post for the specific details on how it works and how you can participate. 

We’ve already lined up the first three movie picks for July, August, and September:

All these are currently available on Netflix Instant Watch. You can also rent the Princess Bride, Shawshank, and The Hustler on Amazon Prime for $2.99.

If you aren’t sure about joining in, know that Joel used his Overly Enthusiastic picture and brotherly charm to convince not only myself but also the hilarious Mary of Mary Big Hair to join this new Society (said in a stuffy High-Class British accent) so that he wouldn’t be all alone in his overly enthusiastic cinephilia.

Of course we agreed because we didn’t want to make him feel bad er I mean, because we too are overly enthusiastic about movies!!!!!!! (See all those exclamation marks?) See, I’ll even give you my own Overly Enthusiastic expression to make up for using his picture without permission. (Although, he did send me the picture so technically I have full rights to use it how I choose, right?)

Now that we’ve probably scared you away with our overly enthusiastic selves – or at least convinced you to join us for the obvious entertainment factor – head on over to Joel’s blog and stay-tuned for a post later this month all about The Princess Bride!

(Amazon Affiliate links included in this post – Which means when you purchase anything on Amazon after clicking the links, they send me a teeny thank you gift card I’ll probably use for either books or renting more movies.)

Finding Dory, Finding Family, Finding Self {Movie Review} 4

This weekend we surprised the kids with a day trip up to Kansas City for my husband and my great nephew’s baptism. (I can’t believe I am a great aunt!) We drove up early and watched Finding Dory at the Cinemark in the Kansas City Plaza.

Aside from the movie, I think the highlights for the kids were getting to go up escalators and crossing a skywalk to get from the ticket booth into the theatre. It’s the small things.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this Disney Pixar Finding Dory sequeal to Finding Nemo. Nemo was such a great movie, I wondered if Pixar could make a sequel that was at least as good as Nemo. After seeing the terrible disastrous disappointment of a sequel that is Cars 2, I didn’t want to hold my hopes too high for this one.

I’m happy to say that I am very pleased with Finding Dory and would recommend it to anyone and everyone. Finding Dory is a true family movie everyone can enjoy! It’s manageable and classic entertainment all ages can easily process and relate to. 

Side by side with the original, I would say this sequel side-story about Dory looking for her parents may not be as thrilling or complex of a plot, however, its milder temperature is overlapped with the humorous wit and absent-mind minded nature of Ellen DeGeneres’s Dory that everyone came to love in Finding Nemo.  I love Nemo and Marlin, but everyone knows Dory is the real star of Finding Nemo. It was fun watching a whole movie with Dory and a great mix of new characters everyone can relate to.

Parents with younger children who may not have been comfortable with the more intense scenes in Nemo (like the sharks) will enjoy the calmer flow of Finding Dory. Not to say there aren’t exciting moments, they are just less intense and resolve faster.

I was thankful Pixar paid attention to what families appreciated and liked with Finding Nemo and stuck with the same core values of family and friendship with a clean, tasteful, and fun presentation. I really liked that Dory has two parents that she has good memories of and the two parent characters, Jenny and Charlie, are good, loving, and strong mother and father characters.  Oh and the child Dory is too cute.

My husband says he appreciated how familiar the movie felt with the original Finding Nemo but it’s still different enough that it wasn’t just a boring repeat of the first marine adventure.  Unlike, Cars 2, they didn’t try and one-up all the adventure of Nemo with ridiculous intense action scenes.

For myself, the two themes I loved about Finding Dory are:

  • The Importance of Memory
  • Turning Disabilities into Strengths

First, Memory

Memory has been a huge part of my life this year, I’d say Memory is the word theme of my year so far.

Aside from being able to relate on a smaller scale to Dory’s short-term memory loss and absent-minded challenges….

Wait, what was I going to say?

Oh yeah…

I’ve always been fascinated with memory. What are memories, how do they work, what are they made of? Are memories only neurological reactions or do they come from somewhere deeper, outside of our physical bodies?

Where would we be without our memories? How would we function in this life? How would we find meaning without our memories? Who would we be without our memories?

All these thoughts about memory and how important memories are were already swimming around in my mind and heart before watching Finding Dory and the movie drug me down deeper into the current of those thoughts that I’ll hope to explore in later blog posts.

For now, I’ll say that I was very aware of the role all of Dory’s memories played in helping her find her family but most especially it was the painful memories that helped Dory the most in her search for her family and herself. 

Disabilities at Strengths

This is another huge theme I’ve been mulling over and wrestling with for some years now that has come to the forefront of my thinking and everyday living recently as I try to figure out how to look at my children’s perceived weaknesses or unique challenges as something good instead of something terrible that’s tearing them, me, and our family life apart.

All the characters in Finding Dory struggle with something, even Hank, the seemingly rough and tough “septopus”, has his own monsters he’s trying to hide from. Each character learns now to work through their own fears or disabilities while also learning how to work with others and their differences.

I can’t go into all the details but suffice to say that we’ve had special challenges with one child for a few years now and, now that school is out and the routines and structure are gone, it’s become very, very, very challenging at home.

I’m having to learn (and re-learn) how to look at this child’s challenges and struggles and see how I can turn them into strengths and gifts for himself and our family.

Like Marlin in Finding Dory, it’s soooo hard to comprehend and look at the world and various situations differently than what I would do. Like in Finding Nemo, Marlin again has to let go of his perceptions and way of solving problems and learn to trust Dory and see the world as she sees it and think like Dory.

“What would Dory do?,” may become my new mantra too, only replacing my child’s name for Dory’s.

This is a great movie for kids, but one might wonder if they really made this movie for parents. 😉  Make sure you bring some tissues when you watch it, Pixar knows exactly where the tear buttons are on mom’s hearts.

**This last part contains spoilers so that’s why I left it at the end if you want to finish here and come back after you’ve watched it.***

Since this is a movie for kids, here’s what our kids said they liked about Finding Dory when I asked.

12-year-old daughter: I liked how it showed Dory when she was little and her family together. It wasn’t just about Nemo and Marlin’ story, it was also about Dory and her background too.

Favorite scene: When the truck fell into the water with all the fish coming out.

13-year-old goddaughter (who is visiting with us): I just liked the part where it was talking about Dory’s past and how she felt when she was little and the story behind all that.

Favorite scene: The Becky bird – she’s kind of scary – but funny when she dropped the pail to go eat the popcorn. And when they have to bounce on the water fountains while saying, “What would Dory do?”.

9-year-old son: Dory’s past, I liked seeing when she was young. I like when the truck was falling and the fish were slow motion falling out of the truck into the water. I like that the octopus [Hank] could camouflage.  And, I liked Becky and when the seals were making all the noises on the rock.

6-year-old son: When the truck fell and then the fish ate the fish and then he barfed it out.

3 year old: Um, um….um…. about Dory’s mamma and dad! And….swimming. Because Dory is a fishy. Mamma, we watch-ed fishies at the place [the acquarium] we went to. [He remembered the aquarium in Tulsa we went to last year!]

As a side note, we looked it up and were AMAZED to learn that there are octopuses that really can camouflage like Hank! Check this out and be amazed at the wonder of Nature –

Fall Wardrobe, House Up-Keep, Reading/Watching {Journal}

Outside my Window: 

Sunny, clear blue sky, 81 degrees with a slight cool breeze. Apparently the weather didn’t get the memo that Fall began, I’m still waiting for the beautiful 70 degree days.


I’ve been getting my Fall Capsule Wardrobe ready for whenever the weather finally does get into the right season.I need to do the same for the kids’ clothes too.

A photo posted by Erika Marie (@onesimplemama) on

I’ve been wearing the same clothes for too long and I’m ready to put the shorts and t-shirts away and get out my jeans and cozy long-sleeved t’s instead. I even put on my ankle-boots the other morning to just try and force the weather to cooperate with me.

Until then, I’m using a transitional wardrobe that’s a mix of my past Spring/Summer clothes with a few Fall-ish clothes ready and waiting for those cooler days to blow in. Once I have the new capsule ready I’ll share that on a separate post.


School is going well still for the most part. I’d say this has been our least stressful year – so far. It’s still stressful but in comparison I think I’m handling it better. Probably because I’m realizing more and more that there is only so much I can control, the rest is up to the teachers and the school and each unique and independent child.

I can remind them and guide them and offer help as needed but when it’s time to get things done, only they (each kid) can be the one to actually do it. Or maybe I’m just getting older and lazier.

In the Kitchen:

I’ve honestly been just kind of winging it. Sometimes this means we have frozen food from the freezer or something plain like sandwiches.

Last week I made a few “real” meals like some carnitas tacos with chuck roast meat and corn tortillas, some chili soup for the first day of Fall, and then I came up with these home-made pizza bagel bites!

Homemade pizza bagels! #recipeexperimenting

A photo posted by Erika Marie (@onesimplemama) on


Whewie, we’ve been doing a lot of work on the house lately. And when I say we I actually mean my awesome husband. It started with redoing some siding, then the painting of the new siding, and then he decided to some some touch-up work on a window, and then another window…heck we might as well re-caulk and re-paint the trim around all the windows (that need it). And while he’s at it, better fix the shed and clubhouse doors and windows…and repaint it…

I’m trying to talk him into letting me put new shutters up like these. What do you think?

Yesterday I spent all day trimming the bushes. With an electric trimmer. I don’t think my hands and arms will ever stop shaking.

Today seems like a good day to trade out the Summer deco in the house for the cozy Autumn ones I have…if I can find them.

Thinking About:

Many things. The Pope, his visit, all the politicizing of it, what his real message is, why people are simultaneously obsessed with the Pope and despise the Church, Catholic Social Doctrine, what real evangelization is, how I can really live my life for Christ and help others truly encounter Him, you know stuff like that. 😉


The last few weeks I’ve been preparing for my re-certification as an instructor with the Family of Americas Ovulation Method of Natural Family Planning. So I’ve spent most all my reading time studying about cervical mucus, hormones, and when and where to use brown, yellow, red, white, or baby stickers. 🙂

Aside from that I’m slowly getting through:

Encountering Truth: Meeting God in the Everyday

Walk Softly and Carry a Great Bag: On-the-Go Devotions


What a Girl Needs From Her Mom

and I’ve had this on one of my reading tables for a while too –

By Thomas Merton New Seeds of Contemplation

I think between all those and my continuing NFP training I’ll be good on books for a while.


I kind of fell away from keeping good track of what we’ve been watching. Here are a few I remember we’ve watched in the last few months.

The Princess Diaries

This was a daughter movie night with our 11-year old daughter. I think it was a little older for her on some parts but it was fun re-watching it with her.  I think we’ll hold off on the second one for a little bit though. 

The Princess Bride

We also watched this recently with our daughter – it was so fun! It’s definitely as good – if not even better – than the first time I watched years ago. She really enjoyed it and it was fun to share that with her. I think we’ll definitely re-watch it together as a family some day.


My husband has been wanting to watch Hook with the kids for a while so we finally did. Overall, everyone really enjoyed it. I have to say I wasn’t as happy with some of the language used but it wasn’t terrible either.


Ok this one was a bit odd and definitely not great for as far as solid morality goes but…at the same time it really did end up showcasing some real-life lessons that ended up surprising us.


My husband and I picked this just to see if it was any good and I think we both can say we “liked it”. It wasn’t wonderful but it wasn’t terrible either. I think I’m more fascinated with the fact that it was made over 12 years following the same characters over that time. Because of this, we were able to stay connected with each character as they grew and developed.

Again, not great morality, but it wasn’t really supposed to teach anything about what’s good/bad. It was more like being a silent observer of a boy and how his life changed over 12 years and how this affected him and some of the people around him. I’d recommend it.

Well that’s all for now folks. Hopefully I’ll be back here soon.

The Big Movie Update 2

Finally, THE movie post you’ve all been waiting for. Well, at least the one Joel has been desperately waiting for. 😉

When I came to see the last time I did a big movie update I was shocked it had been since my Fifteen Movies We Watched in 2015 back in December! How did that happen?

Since then, we’ve watched about 15 or so. What can I say, my husband and I love watching movies together. Since there are so many, I’m only going to list them (in no particular order really) and say a few things about them. If they’re good enough, they’ll get more than a few sentences and maybe even a whole post to themselves in the future.

1. Inside Out

We splurged and went to watch this in the theater with all four children! Everyone loved it and sat through the whole thing, even the squirmy two-year-old. The five-year-old would occasionally get distracted with his surroundings and the magic of the projector lights but at least he didn’t make me take him to the bathroom.

This movie will probably get a post of it’s own but for now I’ll say that we all really liked it, I didn’t really have any regrets about taking the kids to see it and I think most families would also really enjoy it. I want to say more about it but for now, go read Joel’s review about it, it’s pretty much what I would say anyway.

2. Jupiter Ascending

Ok, I know I totally made fun of this movie when I saw the trailer but secretly I was a little intrigued. We were given the chance to watch it and turns out it’s actually pretty good. It wasn’t nearly as corny as I thought it would be and more action-y and suspenseful than I expected. The sexual content was mostly clean so all in all, I was able to enjoy a sci-fi movie that didn’t make me gag or think too hard or have to “shield my eyes”. I’d suggest this one for an easy-going night in.

3. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

We watched this a few months back and I remember enjoying it. I’ve enjoyed the other Jack Ryan movies and this one was good too but definitely not on the same level as The Sum of All Fears or The Hunt for Red OctoberPatriot Games, or Clear and Present Danger. But how can you make a movie about Jack Ryan without Harrison Ford or Sean Connery?

4. Sherlock Season 1, Season 2, and Season 3

We decided to give this a go a few months back, just for kicks. I found the first two episodes rather boorish but we just finished up with season three and find it quite fun now! I found all 3 seasons on Blu-Ray at our local library!

5. Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World

We got to watch this Joe and Erin when we stayed with them in Colorado and it was really fun! I love Steve Carell and Keira Knightley always adds such a fun personality to her characters. This movie was a little more serious than I thought it would be but I still laughed a lot throughout it. The pairing of the two characters seemed a little awkward to me (more like a father and a daughter) but hey, it worked. I’d also suggest this for a fun and relaxing movie date night.

6. Walk The Line

I can’t remember how we found this one, library movie maybe? My husband is always skeptical when I come home with library movies but this one turned out ok. I wasn’t too familiar with the story of Johnny Cash so that was interesting learning more about that. I have little envy for celebrities and musicians who have to try and share their passion and talents without losing their souls. Most do, and few gain them back. I like how this story ends. Redemption. Forgiveness. Healing.

7. The Boy In The Striped Pajamas

I don’t want to talk about this one. I guess it was “good” from a cinematic quality point of view. Even though there are great lessons in it, I can’t get over the ending.

8. The Hobbit Trilogy An Unexpected JourneyThe Battle of The Five Armies, and The Desolation of Smaug

I think I mentioned that our daughter recently read all The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings books so we went ahead and watched the Hobbit movies with her and she loved them all. There were times when she’d call out in disgust at how the movies branched away from the original story line but all in all she enjoyed the movies and her new favorite character is Tauriel, who she’s already decided to dress-up as for Halloween this year.

Up next, The Lord Of The Rings and then maybe – maybe –  Star Wars: The Complete Saga. Either way, my husband and I would like to re-watch them all before the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes out!! Here’s a fun “making of Star Wars” clip to get you excited. (I can’t believe I’m getting so excited about this.)

9. Taken 3

Meh. We watched Taken 2 and  the first Taken and this one was o.k. It provided entertainment but not much more, which sometimes is exactly the type of movie we’re in the mood for.

10. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

I read the The Hunger Games Trilogy and really enjoyed those. I may even re-read them again when I’m in the mood for quick fiction fix. Then I watched the movies and also really like those. This first part of Mockingjay was good but I didn’t really like this 3rd book as well as the first two. I might have liked it better if I hadn’t read it first but it’s also kind of fun knowing more about the whole story line while watching it play out on the screen. I’m excited about Mockingjay Part 2! (yes, I’m a nerd.)

11. The Judge

This was one we both really liked. I’d definitely recommend it. I think it has some language (duh, Robert Downey Jr) but I got to see Downey play a different type of character. I really liked watching how his character transformed and his and his father’s relationship as well. This is a great story about the importance of a father-son relationship, forgiveness, respect for the elderly and sick, and finding the “true meaning of life”. Watch it, you’ll like it.

12. Calvary

Wow. This one. Yes.

I could have sworn I’d written about this but cannot find it! I really, really liked this. However, it’s also kind of hard to recommend because it’s not something just anyone can appreciate and I think it may even offend those with more sensitive movie palates. Calvary is a movie about a priest, but not just as some guy in a black robe, but a person – a regular old fat sinner like the rest of us.

If you’ve seen it, Fr. Barron has a great review on Calvary here:

13. Old Fashioned

I reviewed this movie for CatholicMom and it was really fun getting to talk with Rick Swartzwelder about it too! This would be another nice and easy movie night in!

14. Noble movie

This is the movie that started me on the Hang Outs path when I got to pre-screen it and Google HangOuts with Stephen Bradley the movie director. When this movie comes out on DVD, it is a must-see. Powerful. Inspiring. Good.

Ok, I’m tired of movies. I accidentally renewed our Netflix streaming for a month so I’m sure I’ll have more to talk about soon. Any suggestions for streaming movies?

Is Chivalry Dead? Plus An “Old Fashioned” Hang Out with Movie Director Rik Swartzwelder 1

After such a fun time doing the Hang Out with the Noble movie director, Stephen Bradley, I immediately said yes when asked by if I’d like to preview the upcoming Old Fashioned movie and do a Hang Out with Rik Swartzwelder – the writer/director/producer/lead actor in Pure Flix’s Old Fashioned – where “Chivalry Makes a Comeback”.

If you’re looking for a good wholesome romance movie you can really enjoy and not gag or have to squirm around in your seat while watching, you’d probably like Old Fashioned, which is available on DVD starting June 16. If you’re interested in listening to or watching to the Hang Out with Rik and me, head on over to’s post – An “Old Fashioned” Love Story {Movie Give Away!}

Also, Carmel Communications is generously teaming up with to offer a Give Away of THREE Old Fashioned DVDs!

We had a few technical difficulties before and during the Hang Out so I had to cut out two questions I really wanted to ask Rik. Thankfully he really is a true gentleman and kindly obliged when I asked if he could send me the answers via email.

I asked Rik –

Do you think chivalry is dead?

I love Rik’s Response: On life support, maybe. But not dead. Actually, I think we’re starting to see the pendulum swing back toward the ideas of chivalry, respect, and honor. A lot of young people coming up today have seen—at much younger ages than previous generations in some cases—the massive and deep wreckage that has been created by a careless, self-centered, non-committal, and immediate-gratification-obsessed approach to romance. The sad thing is to me that a lot of these kids are being forced to discover alternatives to the status quo on their own; what I mean is, they were never even taught that there was a better way. But, through experience, they’ve realized that there simply has to be a better way… something more precious and substantial than they have known must be out there… somewhere.

And that’s sad to me because it seems as if, sometimes, those who know better are reticent to speak up or offer any guidance at all out of fear of appearing judgmental or trying to tell others how to live or looking out of touch with the times. No one has to listen, you know? Those who want to laugh or turn away, will. And those that want to mock the idea of seeking and striving to honor God in our romantic lives… well, they will. Let them. There are worse things in life than ending up a punchline on The Daily Show. For example, having a young guy or girl whose life has been needlessly damaged or waylaid because you had the chance to offer a way out… but were afraid to. That would be worse.

Since I have three sons of my own, I also asked him –
What tips would you give to moms for how we can teach our sons about chivalry?

Again, Rik’s suggestions are simple: Like many things in life, I’d say… lead by example. More than anything, they will pick up on what they see in the home. And this goes for daughters as well as sons, of course.

The idea of “chivalry” goes far beyond romance, even though that’s the primary angle in OLD FASHIONED. It’s an approach to life… one that focuses on the ideals of courage, honor, courtesy, and justice (among other things). It’s a very specific approach on how we treat others… and not just those from whom we want or desire something. All people.

Children are very observant. They quickly pick up how we treat not only our spouses, but also teachers or restaurant servers or bosses or employees or those of different races or social classes. It all registers with kids. Now granted, parents are competing with a relentless tidal wave of media that is offering up a wildly different set of values and that’s no easy thing. So, I would never stake a claim that any of this is a cake-walk.

But… it really does come down to us. It only takes one person who’s had enough and is willing to do the hard work or rewiring his or her own thoughts to live differently… and some kid, somewhere, will be watching that one person… and learning.

What about you, do you think chivalry is dead? How can we encourage our children to bring it back to life?


{Amazon Affiliate Links provided in this post, if you decide to buy the DVD through these links, Amazon sends our family a romantic Gift Card – thank you!}

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