The Top Five–Movies

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a list of my top five favorite movies…and it wasn’t even an official “Top Five” list back then! The list has changed quite a bit, so here’s the updated version:

  • The King’s Speech–This has been my favorite movie pretty much since the first time I saw it.
  • Apollo 13–But before I saw the above movie, this had been my favorite for many years!
  • Hidden Figures–This is the most recent addition to my list, and it’s definitely the best new movie I’ve seen since The King’s Speech. Truly excellent. It also has a lot in common with Apollo 13.
  • A League of Their Own–Baseball, plus history, and I’ve even visited some of the places used for filming this movie…how could I not love it?
  • White Christmas–A Christmas movie had to make the list, and there is no Christmas movie I like better than this one!

The children asked me to turn it into a top ten list, so here’s the remaining five, at their request:

  • Hoosiers–Along with the next two movies, this used to have a spot in my top five…it’s my second favorite sports movie, and has one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard!
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding–Not only does this movie make me laugh every time, it’s also a Chicago movie!
  • Ocean’s 11–Who doesn’t love a good caper?
  • Meet Me in St. Louis–This is the oldest movie on my list, both in production and setting…it grows on me a bit more each time I see it, and it’s a movie our family watches often!
  • Cars–This is a special movie to me, both for sentimental reasons and because I really love its message. It must be very special, to be the only animated movie on the list!

These lists are interesting to me. Many of the movies I like best are based on actual historic events, although they have different levels of fictionalization. These movies also provide a pretty good snapshot of the things I love…the British monarchy, space, baseball, Christmas, history, St. Louis, and mid-century modern anything. Really, the only thing that’s missing is Lego…and The Lego Movie would probably find its place in spot 11!

What are your favorite movies?

Favorite Movies

Ross: “Rachel claims this is her favorite movie.”
Chandler: “Dangerous Liaisons.”
Ross: “Correct. Her actual favorite movie is?”
Joey: “Weekend at Bernie’s.” From the Friends episode “The One with the Embryos”

I have, for a long time now, been trying to come up with a list of my top five favorite movies. I’ve been able to list favorite movies by category, but I’ve always been too wishy-washy to narrow the whole field down to just five. I finally decided, after having a conversation with someone about what my favorite movies are and flailing about, looking for an answer like someone without any intelligence, that I should just figure it out.

Sounds easy, right?

First, I had to figure out what makes a movie a true favorite. For some, it may be a movie that they’ve seen that’s a classic, or an Academy Award winner, (or both!), that they liked OK, and sounds good when asked. Or it could be a movie that’s been seen many times, to the point of being memorized. Or a movie that always makes you laugh…or cry, (if that’s what you’re looking for).

I finally decided that for me, a favorite movie is one I can watch over and over, and never get sick of. Something I can watch every month, (or maybe even every week, in extreme cases), and still want to watch again. Once I figured out this criteria, finding the movies to fit was easy!

  • Apollo 13–This is my number one favorite movie ever.
  • The King’s Speech–Such a moving story, and yet occasionally hilarious. Plus, I’ll never forget the correct pronunciation of “ma’am!”
  • Ocean’s 11–The remake. I still haven’t gotten around to seeing the original.
  • Hoosiers–This has been a favorite of mine for almost 20 years now, (or maybe it’s already been 20 years…man do I feel old!), and I still haven’t tired of it.
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding–This one almost got bumped in favor of Gone With the Wind, until I realized that as much as I love that movie, it’s way too depressing to watch frequently! Greek Wedding, in contrast, makes me laugh until I cry every time I see it!

That being said, I do reserve the right to also have a Christmas movies list. Christmas is so important to me, and there are so many good movie out there for that time of year, that they really have to be listed separately…it’s just the only fair way to do it! (Hey, they’re my lists–I can cheat a little if I want to!)

  • White Christmas–This comes close to Apollo 13 in the favorite movie ever category!
  • San Fransisco Ballet Nutcracker–I will confess to watching this year round, if only to fall asleep to the music.
  • Elf–Bob Newhart as an elf. Ed Asner as Santa. What else is there to say?
  • Muppet Christmas Carol–surprisingly faithful to the original story, and it has muppets in it!
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation–Hey, I need one guilty pleasure!

How to Celebrate Independence Day, the John Adams Way

I have loved this quote from John Adams regarding Independence Day celebrations ever since I read it last year:

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty; it ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Even though he said it over 200 years ago, it describes perfectly our Fourth of July celebrations today!

  • Pomp and Parade? Check! Between speeches and patriotic music, I think we’ve got pomp covered. And I do love a good Independence Day parade!
  • Shows, Games and Sports? Check! The shows might be a little different from what John Adams had envisioned, but who doesn’t love an opportunity to watch Yankee Doodle Dandy? Or The Patriot? Or 1776? Or Independence Day? And the Fourth of July is a great time for families, friends, and neighbors to get together and play all sorts of games, or to watch a sporting event on TV.
  • Guns? Check! Between cannon blasts, and fireworks, (which are really just colorful guns), this is probably the most anticipated event of any given Independence Day.
  • Bells? Check! If not church bells ringing, then bells in concerts all across the country. Big or small, bells are ringing all around America for the Fourth of July.
  • Bonfires and Illuminations? Check! There are those fireworks, again, and lights in general, as everyone stays up late to celebrate America’s birthday. Even backyard bonfires are not uncommon, as families huddle around them, and talk late into the night.
  • From one end of the continent to the other? Check! I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love at least some aspect of the Fourth of July, whether it’s the fireworks or the time with family, the food or the parades. And it doesn’t matter if you live in a big city or small town, (or even on a farm in the middle of nowhere), east coast or west, north or south–Americans all over this country are celebrating today–celebrating our strength and our freedoms, celebrating all of the things that make this country great!

My Favorite Christmas Movies

I discovered this Christmas that there are five Christmas movies I can watch over and over again, and never tire of. Don’t get me wrong, I have watched many, many Christmas movies this year, and liked them all, but most of them I can watch once, maybe twice a year, and have my fill. Not my top five, though–they deserve multiple viewings!

  1. White Christmas–not just my favorite Christmas movie–one of my top five favorite movies, period!
  2. San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker–not technically a movie, but still one of my very favorite things to watch at Christmas.
  3. Elf–just so very, very funny.
  4. The Muppet Christmas Carol–I watched at least five versions of A Christmas Carol this year, and the Muppets are still, by far, my favorite. True to the original story, great music, plus…Muppets. What more can you ask for?
  5. Eloise at Christmastime–this is kind of a guilty pleasure, because it’s somewhat cheesy, and the production quality is pretty low. But for some reason, I find it absolutely charming, even if Eloise is the world’s naughtiest child!

I could probably cheat a bit, and add a TV program to my list–A Charlie Brown Christmas. I never tire of hearing Linus tell the Christmas story, and I love the music. Plus, I have to respect any animated special that doesn’t focus on (and in fact, barely mentions) Santa.

My Favorite Things–My House

Thought I’d take a departure from my usual lists of things to write about what I like best about my house.

Upstairs Laundry Room–First of all, after living in three different apartments, I’m still just grateful to have my own washer and dryer!  And, ever since my vicarage-induced fear of basements, the idea of having to go down into one almost daily has terrified me.  I love that the machines are upstairs, where most of the stuff I wash is located.  I also love that it’s right next to the playroom, so I don’t have to wonder what my children are up to when I’m doing one of the at least ten loads of laundry that need to be washed every week.

Upstairs Playroom–I suppose if we had a finished playroom in the basement, that could be on the list as well (basement phobia aside).  The point is, I like having a place for our toys that’s not in the main living area of the house.  It helps at least contain the clutter when the bulk of the toys are upstairs.

Open Kitchen/Living Room–It’s so nice to be able to be a part of what’s going on in the main area of the house when I’m cooking, cleaning, or doing something at the table like clipping coupons.

Kitchen Faucet–Silly thing to like, I know, but it pulls out from the fixture to become the dish sprayer. Genius!

Pantry–Big enough to hold everything I want it to, and also keep the trash can and the craft bin out of the way.  I applaud the person who decided that kitchens deserved closets, too!

Kitchen Island–(Can you tell I love my kitchen?!?)  I love the extra work space and cabinet space.  But what I really love about the island is that it allows me to work at the counter without turning my back on the rest of the kitchen/my children/the TV/the door (I’m weird about having my back to the door).  I can see what’s going on, and still prepare my meals–the best of both worlds!

Blankets–We have a stack of blankets in the corner (when the children haven’t draped them all over) of our living room.  They don’t match each other or anything else–we have fleece and chenille, character blankets and quilts, animal and sports themed blankets.  But I love knowing that if someone is chilly when watching a movie, or just wants to snuggle in a blanky because it’s soft, they can just grab a blanket off the pile.

Game Cabinet–I love this for two reasons.  One, I love the armoire itself.  It’s pretty, I like the color of the wood, and it matches the rest of the furniture.  Two, I love that it’s filled with all kinds of games.  Games for kids and games for adults, family games, group games, and, of course, my favorite, our collection of Ticket to Ride games.  The place to go if you’re looking for some fun!

TV–Just in case the fun we’re looking for is a little more passive than games, I’m happy that we have a nice TV (and a nice collections of DVDs to go with it!) where we can veg out together, watch movies, the news, the Olympics (can you tell I can’t wait?)–whatever strikes our fancy.

Living Room Picture–We bought this picture of Jesus as a toddler helping Joseph in his carpentry shop as a wedding gift to each other.  It is one of the few things that has been with us on all our moves, and displayed proudly in all our homes.  My favorite thing about it is the shadow cast behind toddler Jesus, not in the shape of a child, but the shape of a cross.  Very cool.

Mission Theme–I didn’t even realize at first that our house had a theme, decor-wise.  Then, one day it hit me–we have a lot of mission furniture, and the other decorations, especially in the living room, also kind of fit the theme.  Maybe I have decorating talent I wasn’t even aware of!

Master Bathroom–Maybe it’s because my parent’s house didn’t have a master bedroom/bathroom, but it’s still a novelty to me that we have a bathroom connected our bedroom.  I also love the garden style tub and separate shower–it’s as close to a spa as I’ll ever get.

Walk-in Closets–The three bedrooms we use as such all have walk-in closets.  It’s so nice to have the extra space for all our stuff–we’ve even put our dressers for two of the bedrooms in the closets!  It’s almost decadent!

Bookshelves–I love our bookshelves, not for themselves, because they’re the cheap, put-it-together-yourself from Target kind, but for the massive number of books we have on them.  I still use the library a lot, but I love knowing that I can find a book from pretty much any genre right here in my own home if I so desire.

Bedding–I love the bedding we have.  I’m specifically referring to our fall/winter bedding, because we just have a light blanket for the summer.  But our heavy comforter is the prettiest shade of indigo, and has matching shams and Euro shams, which I am a total sucker for–just love them.  Makes it seem like a hotel. And the high thread count sheets–I’ll never go back to cheap-o sheets again.  For that matter, I also love the bedding in our guest room–also has high thread count sheets, and I think the plaid comforter is very nice.

Back Door–I like having an actual door in kitchen.  Not a sliding door, but a regular old six panel door.  I am grateful not to have to worry about having blinds or curtains across a sliding door.

Photo Groupings–I spent a lot of time figuring out how I wanted to arrange the special photos I had framed.  I moved them around a bit, but for now, I think I have them way I want them.  Two black and white and three color groupings in the den (including one of our wedding photos, and one of the children’s first birthday portraits), as well as a Christmas-themed grouping in the living room.  I love having pictures of family and happy times to look at!

Christmas Decorations–They’re only out for four to six weeks of the year, but I love the decorations we’ve put together–our house definitely looks prettiest in December!

Americana Wall–My theme wall in the kitchen.  If we ever finish painting (it’s looking doubtful), all the kitchen walls will be red, and the valance and one curtain we have are navy blue.  Right next to the window with the blue curtain is my wall grouping of Americana “stuff.”  Rustic looking flags, stars, Uncle Sam, a “liberty” sign–you get the idea.  I’ve been collecting the stuff in that grouping (and it’s not that huge–less than ten things) since before we got married.  I really like what I’ve accumulated and the way I’ve arranged it, although I am looking for one last piece to balance it out.  I’ll know it if I ever see it–I’m waiting for something of a very specific size and shape!

Den Table–My in-laws gave us this neat table for our first Christmas in this house.  It’s a skinny table (What do you call that?  A cocktail table maybe? A console table?) in our mission style.  What makes it special, though, is that they mod-podged pictures of our house at the various stages of the building process (and a cool picture of the first snow after we moved in!) on to the top.  Such a thoughtful gift, and such special memories.

Rocking Chair–Also a gift from my in-laws, this is something of a family heirloom.  They wrote on the underside of the chair who it belonged to and when they gave it to us.  I enjoyed rocking Ladybug in this chair when she was tiny, and now it’s going to be the “teacher chair” in our schoolroom.

Schoolroom–I have to brag on myself a bit, here.  I love the way our schoolroom (also known as the guest room) has come together.  I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on it, but I really think it looks quite school-y, and is quickly becoming a favorite room in the house for everyone!

My Family–I would be remiss if I left out my family, since they are in the house most of the time.  It wouldn’t be my home without my family in it, and they are the best thing I’ve got going!

My Favorite Things–Movies


Gone With the Wind–Love the movie almost as much as the book–Scarlett gets to wear so many beautiful dresses, and I’m a sucker for anything Civil War related.

Apollo 13–It doesn’t matter how many documentaries I see, or how many times I studied it in history, or how many times I see the movie itself, I always wonder if they’re going to make it home.

The American President–The line at the end about the rose garden gets me every time!

Little Women–Can I say that I still hate Amy, and that Jo and Laurie should have gotten married?

Dirty Dancing–OK, not the most wholesome movie, but I love the dancing.

Jerry Maguire–I liked this movie a lot more before Tom Cruise got so weird, but it still makes me smile.

Save the Last Dance–Cool movie, takes place in Chicago, love the dancing.

Ever After–Such a neat twist on the Cinderella story!


Hoosiers–This movie still sends chills up my spine, and I’m guessing I’ve probably seen it at least 50 times, if not more. The music is so well written, and when Norman Dale is driving down those country roads at the beginning of the movie, I feel an inexplicable longing to live in that time and that place.

A League of Their Own–I love the time period of this movie, and love the concept. Can’t imagine playing baseball in a dress, though!

The Cutting Edge–It’s just cute–plus, I love figure skating!

Major League–I know, I know–it’s horribly offensive, but it’s also hilarious, and having grown up a Milwaukee Brewers fan, I have to love Bob Uecker’s performance.


My Big Fat Greek Wedding–Break out the Windex and the uzzo (did I even spell that right?)! This movie reminds me of all of my favorite things about Chicago.

The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2–Royal Engagement–Every little girl dreams about being a princess, and apparently, that dream didn’t die as I got older. When I watch these movies, I can still imagine that someday, the royal family will call and offer me my crown…

Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride 2–There is just nothing not to like about these movies. Hilarity at it’s finest!

13 Going on 30–This movie takes such an innocent approach to everything. There’s very little offensive in it, it’s funny and sweet and cute. I’m going to have to watch it again soon!

Clueless–I’m kind of embarrassed to admit how much I like this movie. Everybody has a guilty pleasure of some kind, right? I am reminded of all the best things and all of the worst things about high school whenever I watch it.

What Women Want–Seriously, does it get much funnier than this? Who knew Mel Gibson could be so hilarious! I just about die every time he tries to put the pantyhose on!

Cheaper by the Dozen (original and remake)–This is a great movie, although the original sure does make me cry. Then again, I sobbed during the remake, too–I was pregnant, it’s a long story that makes me sound crazy…never mind.

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation–I think this is the only movie on my list that I don’t actually own. I didn’t even know it was available on DVD until I looked it up today. Like On Moonlight Bay, this is another one that I would watch whenever it would come on cable, because it’s just so darn funny!

The Parent Trap (original only!)–It’s corny, but it’s also sweet.


White Christmas–This may be my favorite movie, ever. Which is unfortunate, given there’s only about a month a half out of the year where it’s acceptable to watch it. I love the music, I really love the dancing (come on, didn’t we all dance along to “Sisters” when we were little girls?), I love the time period. And the costumes…I’d give an arm to wear some of those, especially the red and white dresses at the end. And that final set…ahhh, Christmas decorating at it’s finest.

Elf–This is a fairly recent addition to my list, but there is something so hilarious and yet charming about this film. Bob Newhart as the old elf? Genius! And don’t even get me started about Ed Asner playing Santa!

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation–Another movie I’m embarrassed to admit I like, but when that squirrel comes flying out of the Christmas tree…

The Muppet Christmas Carol–I have seen a lot of versions of A Christmas Carol, but this one is my favorite, because it’s not that dark, and it’s really funny. How can anything with Rizzo the rat be anything but?


Cars–One of the few children’s movies we have that I can watch over and over and not get sick of it. And I think it has such a good message on top of it.

Fantasia–I confess, I can’t watch this movie without falling asleep at some point during it, but I still think it’s one of the neatest ideas ever for an animated film.

Cinderella–I liked this movie OK before, but Bunny has made me watch it so many times, it’s really grown on me.


Seven Brides for Seven Brothers–This is another movie I’ve watched a ridiculous number of times. But again, I’m a sucker for singing and dancing, and there is plenty of both in this one.

Sound of Music–A nod to my Austrian roots–I always wonder what my Grandfather’s life was like when I watch this movie, although he left Austria a good 15-20 years before they did in the film.

On Moonlight Bay–I waited for what seemed like a lifetime (which, at the time I suppose was technically true!) for this movie to come out on DVD. I saw it for the first time in college, and watched it every time it was on cable after that, and kept patiently waiting for my own copy, which I now have. I have yet to see the sequel, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, but I’m hoping it’s as good.

State Fair–“It’s the best state fair in our state!” This line didn’t used to make any sense to me, but I suppose in Illinois, there could be some argument over who has the best state fair in the state!