Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Magic of Good Characters- The Secret Garden

"Have you met Dickon yet?"

This was a question I asked my nine year old sister as we sat at the dining room table, discussing books. She is not at a reading level where she could read The Secret Garden on her own, but due to the wonderful invention of audio books, she has been able to step into an entirely new world of stories.

A moment later, the significance of how I had worded my question struck me.

Have you met Dickon yet?

I spoke of Dickon as if he were a real person, an old and dear friend, one whom I couldn't wait to discuss and elaborate on.

But then it made sense, that is exactly what Dickon is. Dickon is an old friend of mine, one that I met years ago and have held fondly in my heart ever since. When I look at nature with a wondering eye, or see a picture of a fox, I think of Dickon.

Dickon taught me what the word "wick" means. When something is alive and green, it is wick. Wick is a simply delicious word.

Mary Lennox. She and I did not connect as quickly, the only thing I had in common with her in the beginning was our shared pastime of creating pretend gardens out of heaps of earth and weeds.

Yes, I softened towards her a tiny bit when she stopped wearing black. She did get more approachable whenever Martha was around. But I doubted that Mary Lennox and I would ever become fast friends.

But then, it happened. We, Mary and I, we discovered a secret garden. A magical, mystical-feeling garden with a tragic history. It had been shut up after the death of a beloved soul, left to be forgotten and overtaken by darkness. If only we could get inside this place! Luckily, we had made friends with a delightful little bird we dubbed Robin Redbreast. He seemed to know our deepest hearts' desire, it was almost as if he had waited for us to come along so that he could share this great secret with us.

Oh the wonder! Robin Redbreast gave us the key, and we opened the door to the secret garden. Our secret garden.

And then, a very magical thing happened. Mary Lennox and I became friends. Our shared love of beautiful and secret places drew us together. Our desire to bring life and beauty back to what once was dead strengthened our bond.

We met Dickon and decided that he was a perfectly wonderful boy. We began to practice our own broad Yorkshire. We got a little set of gardening tools and began to bring life back to our secret garden.

Oh! How our hearts leapt for joy when Dickon proclaimed the rose vines to be wick. The image of the stone walls of our garden covered with tangled rose vines and beautiful blooms brought a lump into our throats.

One night, a strange cry sent us searching about the various halls and chambers of Misselthwaite Manor. And what should we find, but, dear heavens! A boy!

It turned out that he was cousin Collin. His mother, the former occupant of our secret garden had died, and his father had abandoned him to travel Europe, hoping somehow to travel away from his grief.

Collin was a fascinating individual, just another piece of this mysterious and secretive place. But he was rather self-centered. And foolish. What was wrong with him anyway? He was convinced that he was a hunchback and going to die. Well, we weren't going to put up with a single moment of that nonsense! How ridiculous!

The next several hours of my life I spent with my new friends. Mary, Dickon, and Collin. Together, we got stronger physically, as well as strengthened our friendship. We ate secret meals of potatoes baked over an open fire in the woods. We showed those stupid doctors a thing or two about health. And just to prove everyone wrong, we helped teach Collin how to walk, just like we knew he could.

And above all, our garden prospered. In the end, even Collin's father, Mr. Craven, was not immune to our efforts. By the end of our time together, we had brought life and love back to the entire Misselthwaite Manor. The secret garden was a secret no longer, the time for secrets and hidden darkness was over, a new era of love and life had begun.


Francis Hodgson Burnett wrote The Secret Garden over a century ago. To some people, a book about a lonely little girl on an English moor written by a woman over a hundred years ago would some irrelevant.

Those who would believe such a lie do not know the value of a good story, or of true characters. Mary, Dickon, and Collin are very real people in a sense. I feel their emotions, I earnestly desire them to strive for the best. I cheer when they do well, and I weep when they are hurting.

That is what the magic of a good story, a good character does. It takes us to places afar, and allows us to befriend and feel the emotions of someone whose entire physical existence consists of paper and ink.

But a good character is more than that. When you meet a good character from a very good, old story, you become a member of a long line people suspended in time. See, Dickon has been making friends since he first appeared in 1911. He probably knew some of my ancestors. He knows my mother and younger sisters.

And he was still there, nearly a hundred years after his birth, ready and waiting to befriend me with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his rosy face. Dickon is like Peter Pan, only better, for Dickon will never abandon me as Peter Pan would Wendy. I will never grow to old for Dickon, and neither will he for me, we will always be friends.

Common friends have a way of drawing people together. I would venture to say I could make friends with people of all ages who are also friends of Dickon.

That is the magic of a good character. Good characters bring people together, across decades, centuries, ethnicities, and differences of opinion. Good characters remind us of ourselves, or teach us something new about someone else. Good characters, once befriended, are friends for life. Good characters never grow old, or become irrelevant, or cease to affect us. Good characters add to who we are as individuals, and as a group.

Have you met Dickon yet? Or Jo March? How about Puddlglum? Do you know Frank and Joe Hardy? We really must get together soon with the Fellowship....

....the magic of good characters...

Friday, July 17, 2015

10 Annoying Cliches in Movies

Are you ready for another rant post? Now don't get the idea that I am constantly critiquing or that I storm about my house ranting nonstop. I find that a bit of annoyed humor about a subject that we all understand is sometimes just the thing I need to make me, and hopefully others, smile. Hopefully you can relate to at least a few of these.

Starting with the least annoying and ending at the most annoying, here are 10 Annoying Cliches in Movies.

10. Kissing At the Wrong Moment

confused looks -  You're About to Die! Why Now?

I'm a woman, don't get me wrong, I want to see a kiss in movies, particularly movies where they have made you suffer through hours of misery. This desire for a kiss is not even just owned by my gender, there are just certain movies where everyone, man or woman, is screaming, "JUST KISS HER ALREADY!"

So while I acknowledge that I like a good kiss at the appropriate moment, let me say this, I value life more. What I mean by that is, if it is down to a kiss or running for your life, I will pick running for your life every time. Hey, just think about it like this Buster, if you both make it out you can have more life to live and you can spend a great deal of it kissing her.

The one exception I have to this is in Captain America: The First Avenger when Peggy Carter kisses Cap in the car right before he jumps onto Red Skull's flying apparatus. Considering we know how this story turned out, that was her last chance to kiss him, and in the words of Han Solo, that guy "...could use a good kiss!"

Now, the subject of kissing leads me to my next annoying cliché....

9. Missed Kiss

This missed moment usually happens before the giant chaotic hullaballoo in which the romantic leads kiss at the wrong moment. For example, back at a safe base, HQ, or underground bunker, there is always a moment in which we find our two romantic leads staring at each other. Their thoughts run something akin to this,

Hot Lead Guy- "Wow, she's gorgeous, smart, funny, she can kick rear, and somehow her makeup is still perfect. I think I'm in love, and if we get out of this, I will tell her so and make her my wife shortly following said declaration."

....and she's thinking....

Hot Lead Woman- "He's such a stud, even when he sweaty and covered with blood. He's so funny, and his eyes, the way they are staring into my soul right now. Good thing my makeup still looks perfect. I wish he would just say out loud that he loves me, and we could get married, and have six children."

They both lean in, staring into each other's eyes/souls, and, wait for it, wait for it!

When they are mere centimeters apart, the commander walks in. Or a random soldier. Or an unpaid intern. For crying out loud, it could be the dog! It doesn't matter, the moment is broken, and they both back off, looking emotionally unstable and embarrassed.

8. Women Who Look Gorgeous When In Physical Distress

Maybe this annoys me more because I am a woman, maybe guys haven't even noticed this detail, but trust me, all of womankind has noticed. Movies as a general rule (there are exceptions) create this unrealistic image of a woman who can go through a volcano, get abducted by aliens, fall off a cliff and break her spine, and still look amazing. What the heck, she actually looks all the more adorable for a bit of wear and tear, and the hero is even more endeared by her.

A lighter example of this is the idea of a "pretty faint". Ladies, take it from someone who has fainted, no, that's far too dainty a word for how horrible you feel physically, PASSED OUT is a much more appropriate term. There is no such thing as a pretty faint, it is an ideal that belongs in the world of fairies and unicorns. In reality, this is what fainting looks like.

That's right ladies, passing out makes you look like a dead, an actual dead possum. Or worse.

7. Women Running In Heels

I get it ladies, not everyone is as clumsy as I am in heels.

Me walk, no, falling in heels.
And yes, I know, heels can be very cute and feminine looking. I am not 100% against heels for all occasions.

But at what point do we question the idea that something that puts you off balance, three inches above your normal height, and does NOT conform to your natural God-created foot shape is required female footwear 24-7? Men don't wear ridiculous shoes like that, why are women expected to?

And I don't care that some people "have learned how to walk in heels" it is bad for your body and no one should be expected to run from a massive dinosaur, aliens, The Hulk, etc. while wearing heels. Really, we should applaud all women extras who still manage to escape certain death while wearing heels, it's much harder on them than it is on the men.

6. The Horse/Human Rehab Story

How many times has this same story been told over, and over, and over again. Messed up teenager who lives in the city is sent out to a ranch somewhere in hopes of becoming reformed. There is also a wild horse at said ranch who refuses to be trained or to form attachment to anyone.

I'm wild, hurt and angry, so misunderstood by the world. Much like a troubled teenager.

And then it happens. The two bond.

Wow, plot twist! Did not see that coming!

The two go on to complete some incredible feat like saving the ranch, rescuing a wild herd of horses, or winning a national competition and beating out professionals after only a few months of training.

I'm waiting to begin my life purpose. Rehabilitating a troubled city kid and going on to rise in fame and esteem. I'll get back with you a few months.
5. People Who Act Like They Have Never Watched Movies

This is probably one that is closest to how humans actually react. We are often irrational and foolish. But doesn't anybody ever watch TV? Or their own movies? You would think they would learn a thing or two about life.

Examples: Don't touch the red button, don't run when predators are watching, DO run towards shelter when dinosaurs attack, don't stand there gaping when aliens attack the city, it's always the red wire, there is probably some major corruption among your leaders so don't trust them, don't drink anything at spy parties, etc.

Sure it's pretty, so are erupting volcanoes. 

4. No One Ever Finishes Their Food

This one literally hurts. If I can't eat the food myself, I want to at least live vicariously through the person on the screen. Eat that food!

But they never do. They aren't hungry, they storm off and leave the plate untouched, they are talking the entire time, you should never have cooked that bacon and tomatoes in the first place because now the Ringwraiths know your location, etc. *Sigh* I'm gonna need a minute here.

It hurts so much...
I know why they can't say at the end credits "No food was harmed in the making of this film", because it simply isn't true. So much food is created and then sacrificed on the altar to the movie gods.

Not only is it incredibly offensive to the viewer, but it is entirely unrealistic. A person can only run off of the energy created from pure macho for so long, and even the great must eat eventually.

3. Ignoring the Obvious

This runs along the similar lines of not watching movies. Learn from past experiences people! It is so plainly obvious that he has a crush on you, the line cook is totally sabotaging your restaurant, again, the corruption in your organization likely originated in leadership. Oh my goodness! Can we just process this and get on to kicking rear already?

Love, not fear is better when it comes to handling magical powers, the toxin is air born, if you can't find the bad guy anywhere, then he is probably right behind you.

2. Not Giving Vital Information

"I love you", "I didn't call you earlier, someone else did", "Guess what I discovered when I was kidnapped and brought to the evil lair", "I have magic hair that glows when I sing", "My name is Cinderella and I live at such and such street where I am abused and kept in forced labor" "Luke, Vader is your old man".

The oversight in giving out vital information is simply an insult to human intelligence, as you can see below, can really get out of hand.

(Yes, I just did that, but you don't know where I live, so I'm ok with it)

Thanks Obi-Wan

1. Last Words

You only have a few more moments in which to say things before your time on this earth is done. Well, not really, something will work out right before you die that saves you and allows you to live happily ever after, but you don't know that at the time.

You last words, your final verbal legacy, your last chance to make an impression on the villain who is crowing over your defeat. And what do you say?

"Go to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks!" Well, that's not exactly how they say it, but I at least try to keep some class.

Are you serious? You want your last words to be that? That's your final parting gift to planet earth and the race of men?

You couldn't be more creative? Or maybe use those two seconds to think of some way to get out of this. What did you accomplish other than turning a very classy death into a cheese platter? We all know the villain is headed to the eternal basement furnace, but your condemning him there will not get him there any faster.


What are some cliches in movies that drive you insane? Are there character stereotypes that you have just had enough of? Does a certain response to a crisis just bug you? Tell me your thoughts and feel free to post them in the comments or on your own blog.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

(N-Depth) Movie Discussion- Inside Out

This post may seem a little overdue, but I have been on vacation of sorts for the last week. Or perhaps I planned it this way all along, since more people would be apt to read my post if they have seen the movie already. *rubs fingers together cunningly*

In case you have not seen the movie, then never fear, you can read my non-spoiler review for the movie here.

Let me start by saying, that Inside Out was not in my top favorite Pixar movies. I said as much in my previous review, in which I go into great depth explaining that even my least favorite Pixar movie is still far above many other movies when it come to quality.

Ok, on to the movie.

First off, it was brilliant. The brilliance of the writers at Pixar never ceases to amaze me; having grown up in a family where creativity is held in high esteem, good ideas were praised, and life lessons were woven into everything from the strange to the everyday ordinary, or, extraordinary. This is what Pixar is, and I admire them so very much for it.

Where to begin? A thought train, that is a literal train. Yes! And have you ever had your thought train utterly derail? Yes, I have, regularly.

I loved the dream production studio, that was perfect, the way the little writers take the real life events and then distort them is so how real dreams are.

The bubble gum song? YES! For me, it would come in the form of that one High School Musical song that Troy and Gabriella sing at their musical audition. How many times have I gotten the lines, "We're soarin', flyin', there's not a star in heaven that we can't reach..." Gah! Get out of my head!

I have to be honest, I was NOT a fan of the imaginary friend Bing-Bong. I read the title to a Disney article the other day that said, "Why Bing-Bong May Be the Best Pixar Character Ever Created" I was utterly astonished and enraged. What?!? How can you say that annoying puff of cotton candy is even in the same category as Woody and Buzz, Mike and Sully, Dug and Russel, Dori, Hiro and Baymax, and Fred, don't forget Fred, Walle and Eva, Elasti-Girl, and so, so many more! It's offensive to the very core of my being. In case you have not gathered this from my rant, I was not a Bing-Bong fan. He was obnoxious and frustrating. Even so, one of my favorite moments in this film took place surrounding him.

Ah yes, my top 5 moments in this movie.

  1. The memory of when Riley was a toddler, and goes running out of the bathroom with no clothes on. I am the second oldest of six children folks, I know toddlers. This scene was so incredibly realistic and adorable, because let's be honest, most toddlers are rather nudist. I have certain siblings who, when they were toddlers, we felt triumphant just to keep a diaper on them. Toddlerhood is a sweet time when life is innocent and full of joy and giggles at tiny moments, it shouldn't be taken for granted nor should people freak out when talking about things like baby bottoms, poo, and peeing on the floor.  That's just life as a toddler, let' enjoy it and not mind getting down to earth about it.
  2. At the end of the movie when Riley bumps into the preteen boy, and you see what is happening inside his poor brain. All of his emotions are running in circles screaming "GIRL", well, except for Fear, who is huddled in a fetal position on the floor. HA! Hilarious, so hilarious.
  3. When Sadness sits down with Bing-Bong and empathizes with him over the devastation of loosing his rocket ship. This scene was a very crucial part of the movie, and really, a crucial part of life and relationships that people rarely get. More on this in Sadness' character spotlight.
  4. When Sadness gets a hold of the controls just in time to keep Riley from running away.
  5. When Riley walks into her house in San Francisco for the first time, and when she stands up in school and realizes just how badly she misses her home. I felt so much for her in those moments, because I did the exact same things, at age 10 and 11. I too have walked into a house that was awful, actually, when you combined the smell ( fermented cat urine) and the atrocious condition of the dwelling, it was worse than Riley's experience. I remember literally thinking to myself, "It's over, Mom and Dad have officially lost it." It ended up being a lovely home, but only after a thorough purging and remodel. Also, I packed up and moved across  the country when I was 11 years old. I experienced some very real culture shock, and felt isolated and sad.
Now, to my favorite part, the characters.

Joy, we all love joy. We all love feeling joy. The animators did a beautiful job of visually creating joy into an actual little person. She was bright, cute, and adorable, with spunk and just an edge of sarcasm that kept her from being too drippy sweet. Truthfully though, Joy rather annoyed me through much of this film. I knew that Sadness needed more input into Riley's life way before they ever made it clear in the movie. Also, while Joy truly wanted what was best for Riley, she at first failed to understand that it is impossible to be happy all of the time, and doing so ends up just making you feel empty and hollow. Trust me, I know. I have tried to put on my happy face at times when I really just needed to let myself feel things that I was stuffing. It wasn't healthy and it made me feel hollow.

Anger, ha, he was good for a laugh. Truthfully though, I feel that in many ways, Anger can be one of the most damaging emotions. I am not saying it is wrong to get angry, but how many people react out of anger and then regret their actions. Let's think about it for a moment, which Emotion was it that pushed Riley to want to run away? Anger, anger is often reactionary, and rarely do you find your best course of action when thinking in anger.

Fear was hilarious and adorable. I have a brother that is very easily startled and jumpy, so there were many moments that I chuckled while watching Fear. I really appreciated that while making Fear, well, fear, the writers didn't leave him shivering in the corner all the time.

I did not expect to like Disgust so much, but I found her really adorable. Maybe it was her sparkly green eyelashes and pink scarf/blush/lipstick. I don't know, but she was adorable. She was Disgust, but not a jerk, that is good character creation right there.

And you may be wondering why I saved Sadness for last, read on and I will tell you.

Sadness. The emotion that we all try avidly to avoid, stuff, or jump over. People who feel sadness are often avoided, ridiculed, or ignored for fear that they might drag the mood down. This truth about the Emotion Sadness was accurately depicted in Inside Out. Joy, in trying to do her job of giving Riley the best all the time (which she thought meant feeling happy all the time) attempted to keep Sadness in a tiny little corner away from the control panel, where she couldn't do anything to hurt Riley or ruin her memories. Dear Joy, you meant well, but you actually ended up hurting Riley more.

Remember how I said that one of my favorite moments had to do with Bing-Bong and the destruction of his rocket? Well, that had absolutely nothing to do with Bing-Bong himself, and everything to do with Sadness. Bing-Bong, was absolutely devastated, and in the bigger picture, we all felt a pang because we were watching the necessary but sad fact that Riley was letting go of her sweet childhood. Bing-Bong represented the fantastical and wondrous childhood years. Bing-Bong collapses on the ground in deep despair and stares down at the abyss that just swallowed a piece of Riley's childhood. And what does Joy do? She does what many people do instinctively, she avoids the obvious pain of the moment, and tries to jump right over it. Thanks Joy, but Bing-Bong doesn't really feel like smiling right now, he's dying inside.

And then comes a very critical and profound moment. Sadness, the emotion that everyone ignores, comes over and sits down beside Bing-Bong! She doesn't try to fix it, she doesn't try to keep him from feeling, she just sits next to him and shares in his grief.

That right there is a vital part of living and relating with people that is so often overlooked. When people are hurting, trying to get them to laugh it off or smile is not always the best course to take. Yes, joy is needed in the midst of suffering, but you know what else is needed in the midst of suffering? Sympathy, or to have someone who is willing to sit down and feel your pain with you. I think people avoid doing this because it is far messier than trying to make someone laugh, and it requires a greater personal cost to them. But the best relationships are those where people know when to it is "....a time to laugh, and a time to cry...". 

Joy eventually realizes this, after falling down into the deadest part of Riley's mind where she finds an old memory, and upon replaying it, realizes that a moment of sadness had to happen before it was followed by a moment of joy.

Joy then realizes that she needs to get Sadness back up to the Command Center to save Riley, who is in the process of running away and is shutting down her emotions entirely. With some breathtaking stunts, the two Emotions manage to make it up to the Command Center where Fear, Disgust, and Anger are all panicking trying to figure out what to do. Everyone is relieved, thank goodness! Joy is back, she'll know what to do. And finally, Joy has figured out what she needs to do.

Joy steps back and tells Sadness to go to the control panel, which is almost entirely dead and will not respond to any of the the Emotion's actions. Sadness steps up, and touches the panel.

And suddenly, yet, softly, the wall that Riley had built up in her heart and mind crumbles, and she feels again. 

See, I believe that sadness is about the most common emotion known to the human race. Why is that? Well, we live in a fallen world, imagine it for a moment, in the Garden of Eden right after Adam and Eve sinned and their connection with God was broken. What do you suppose they felt? That's right, the worst and most aching kind of sadness you can ever imagine. We as humans are born broken from the very beginning.

We have all felt sadness, and when you have felt what others have felt, you open yourself up to being able to have compassion and empathy for others who are hurting.

Riley had shut herself off to all emotions, especially sadness. But when she allowed herself to feel sadness, she touched the very most raw and vulnerable part of herself, and after that she was able to express and feel everything else that was inside of her.

Now, this movie was made by a secular studio. And I am sure that they consulted a secular psychologist when discussing how the mind works. So there were obvious gaps in the way that the creators explained the human mind. No mention was made of the part of us that is spiritual, and how that effects our mind. Those who know the truth about how God created us humans will have to fill in the gaps for themselves. I do, however, applaud Pixar wholeheartedly for the good work that they did do in giving people of all ages a bit of understanding into how we think and feel.

What were your thoughts on this movie? What was your favorite part? Did they leave something out that you wished they had done? Who was your favorite character? Join the discussion and feel free to post on your own blogs/and or in the comments section.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ring Around the Rose: Stories and Pixar

I only have a few minutes to pound out this post. Also, I would like to thank these ladies for letting me play Ring Around the Rose with them, I have enjoyed it greatly. Please, check out their blogs here!

Savannah at Savannah Jay's Workshop
Jenelle at Jenelle Schmidt
Dorian at Dorian Writes
Hayden at The Story Girl
Heidi at Along the Brandywine
Kaycee at The Pink Cave

Ok, first question- What is the first story you wrote?

Well, I first had an inkling of the idea that I might like to be a writer when I was about eight years old. I didn't really learn how to read until I was about six or seven, and truthfully, I hated learning how to read. It was boring, I would get annoyed when I didn't get words right, and the stories weren't that interesting. Once I graduated from our reading lesson book I was moved into this set of readers written by the Amish community.

Oh. My. Goodness, can you say boredom. I, along with all of my five other siblings were taught how to read on those things. The only subjects in the earlier ones was about farming, or school, with Teacher Dan. The pictures always had objects, but never any people. I think one of my favorite stories was one where a little Amish girl named Nancy ran into the corner of the school house and cut her head open. I know, that sounds so bloodthirsty and terrible of me, but it was the only drama or excitement that had happened other than the goat getting loose, so cut me some slack.

Yeah, I learned how to read, but I can't say I am a fan of those readers. So you can imagine my utter delight when I tasted the delicious food of The Boxcar Children, that was when my reading career really took off. Now, it isn't that I hadn't been exposed to any good books. Mom had read my older brother and I the Little House on the Prairie series, and she and my dad tag-teamed The Chronicles of Narnia. It was largely because I knew that one day I would be able to read "big people" books with real stories that I didn't ever entirely loose heart on learning to read.

Good news, my reading career exploded once I was introduced into the realm of mysteries. I have the softest spot in my heart for the mystery genre, because that was the food I fed myself solidly on when I was just setting sail into the magical world of the written word. Boxcar Children, Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys (my first literary crush was Joe Hardy, oh he was so cute! I have since moved on to liking Frank, recognizing that he would suit my personality more, but I love them both to death), and Trixie Belden.

We didn't have hardly any money at this time in my life, Netflix didn't exist yet, we didn't have television, and we never went out. My entire world was made up what I could get from the library. My older brother and I would race through our other school subjects so that we could go running back to our bedroom and devour mysteries for hours on end.

I can remember thinking to myself one day, probably when I was about eight or nine, "Wow, it would be so neat to create your own story, you could do whatever you wanted with it. I think I might like to be a writer someday." Yes, I can even remember where I was standing when I said this.

I think my first real story that I ever wrote was for a Christmas school assignment. My brother and I were bummed about having to do school near the holidays, so Mom told us each to write a Christmas-themed story. I can remember both of us, sitting side by side at a tan folding table in Mom's bedroom, with notebook paper and pencils. No, I was NOT ready to type up my first story, more on that in a future post. ;) Spoiler alert, chunky keyboards, boring typing textbook, small fingers, you get the gist.

After staring at the page for a bit, I launched in, scribbling away.

My story was about a pioneering family who were headed west. I was a history nerd in the making, and both my brother and I were kind of obsessed with pioneers/cowboys. Yeah, mysteries and western pretend play were the essence of our entire existence.

Anyway, this pioneering family had ten kids, whom I listed out all by name. It started to snow, and the parents were distracted by the weather when the weakest girl, Kathy, fell off of the wagon. All of the other siblings jumped off of the wagon to grab their sister, and somehow their parents left them in the storm, never noticing the disappearance of their ten youngsters.

My self-reliant little kiddos set out to follow their parents, when suddenly, while passing a nearby cabin, they were kidnapped by two men! Again, at this point I'm constantly inhaling mysteries, kidnappings were a regular event in my schedule. Well, all were kidnapped except for two of the girls, Lyn, and Sarah. They managed to evade capture and then hunkered down outside of the cabin to discuss what to do. Lyn was the older and cleverer of the two, so she came up with a brilliant plan. Sarah, who was incredibly fast, would run in and lead the kidnappers away from the cabin while Lyn freed the rest of their siblings.

It worked like a charm, and once Lyn had freed her siblings Sarah led the kidnappers back towards the cabin where the intrepid group of pioneering youngsters took them down and tied them up! Then, the siblings walked several more miles where they came upon another cabin with a friendly older couple, and wonder of all wonders, their parents! Their parents were overjoyed to see their children again, and miraculously, they had arrived just in time for Christmas Day.

It was a typical little girl story, fraught with drama, unrealistic action, and girl-power. Mixed with my obsession with pioneers and covered wagons.

Truthfully, I haven't ever really identified that story as being the beginning of my writing career. I guess in a sense it was, but it has been a journey over the years of me discovering that writing is a part of who God made me to be, and for me to see the purpose in the way that I think and how writing fits into all of that.

But, every step, no matter how small, takes you just a little bit farther on your journey, even if you don't know it at the time.

Now, onto the second question- Which is Your Favorite Pixar Movie and Why?

Ugh! They are all so good! Pixar's worst is by comparison other movie studios' best. My family and I absolutely adore Pixar, and John Lasseter, a man largely responsible for making Pixar into what it is. A place the combines childlike creativity, wonderment, hard and beautiful truths of life, and rib-aching laughter all into single movies? Yes please!

I have struggled with this question many times before. Would I choose Cars? We watched that a while after it came out, it looked dumb on the cover, but oh my lands, we had no idea what a drive we were in for! My Dad always cries when we watch that movie, and we quote it all the time. Seriously, is there a non-quotable Pixar movie out there?

Oh, and what about Monster Inc? I believe that if I could choose any Pixar character to hug it would be Sully, big bundle of gravelly voiced love that he is! I love that movie, it is so incredibly creative, and Boo? Really? Does it get any more adorable than a totally precious flower petal of a little girl winning the heart of "Kitty" and a snarky, one-eyed green monster?

Let's not forget Up, I actually saw that movie in theaters, I spent the first fifteen minutes developing a boulder-sized lump in my throat and chest, and the rest of the movie shrinking it down to size, only to have it make a reappearance when Carl opens up Ellie's "Adventure Book". *Gulp* Oh, and since the creation of that movie, who has not shouted "SQUIRREL!" At some time or another.

The Incredibles? Incredible. My favorite part of the entire movie is when Elasti-Girl stops in front of the mirror at the bad guy base to see how she looks in her new suit. Seriously, she could get caught at any moment, her inexperienced children and she were just blown out of the sky, and her husband could be dead, and she stops in front of the mirror to see how she looks. Priceless.

Then there's Walle, Finding Nemo, Cars 2, Monsters University, Ratatoullie and we're not going to even start talking about the movies that Disney made once they bought Pixar. That was a good move right there Disney, Pixar had something in every one of their movies that you could only pull out here and there.

You might have noticed that I have overlooked one very, VERY, important movie, or rather, movies, yes, the movie that started it all.

That is because it is my favorite Pixar story of all time.

Oh, toys coming to life. Is there anything more creative, more imaginative, and more childlike than imagining your toys coming to life? How many hours did I spend imagining my own toys coming to life? I used to imagine that my doll house people were alive, and they lived in little communities under our furniture. Perhaps their cities were in the walls. One day I just might be walking down the hallway and see one of them scurry across my path. We would become friends and I would help them out by doing "big person" jobs for them like policing, reaching high things, and helping with moves and such.

I also just simply adore the characters in this movie, my top favorite being Woody.

I identify with Woody so much, I even took one of those character quizzes for certain movies and I came out as Woody. He is a really nice little toy with strong leadership qualities, a sometimes overbearing mother hen syndrome (I feel ya little man) and he tries to find a silver lining in every cloud. He is your go to guy for good times and bad times. He has led this incredible little group of toys, and really, Pixar characters from the very beginning. And you know that he will "Never give up on you." *Holding Back Tears, Begins Singing, "You've got a friend in me..."*

Woody, you were the charming little cowboy who began it all. And I love you.

Thank you for bearing up with my long ramblings. Ok, I'm gonna go yell "SQUIRREL" at somebody now.