The One Thing Better Than Movie Night and What You Should Know About the Next Solar Eclipse!

June 26, 2017

We have movie night most Friday nights during the school year.  The kids love movie night and now that it is summer they beg for ‘movie night’ every night.  I prefer to keep it an every-so-often thing to make it special, so we try to keep it to just Fridays.

Movie Night

Sometimes I cave and slip one in on another day of the week.

Movie night for us means that we dig through our DVDs of Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry and Wile E. Coyote or click through Netflix to pick an episode of Magic School Bus or Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures.  I pop popcorn on the stove the way my mom used to and serve fruit to those who prefer it to the popcorn.

Then, I melt a little butter for LOML and I to top our popcorn with.


I haven’t shared that with the kids yet, as I’m trying to avoid grease stains on the couch. 😉

Despite the adoration each of my offspring has for movie night, it is still wrought with challenges and complexities.

Our town still has an actual movie rental place that has an entire aisle of free kids movies, complete with a gumball machine that offers a $1 rental if you get gumball color of the week.  I guess that makes it a $1.25 rental. 😉

But, despite the plethora of choices at the local Family Video store, we usually have a difficult time agreeing on a film.  Then, there is the fact that Disney and all of the other producers of children’s movies seem to only make films laden with villains and tragedy.

My children (rightfully so) are completely incapable of enduring the elongated suffering, within a children’s movie, despite the amazing joy gifted to them in the final two minutes of the film.  Hence, our typical choices above.

Disney is the greatest offender.

Must we really have such a stark contrast in order to feel amazing joy?

Exhibit A: Frozen.

Anna is dead, at the hand of the man who is supposed to have loved her a first site, left first to die in a cold room by him and then struck with his sword as she turns into a life-sized ice cube, after chasing her estranged, crazy, ice-possessed sister who is so distracted by her icy rage she inadvertently strikes her sister with a lethal shot of ice.

Oh, but wait.  Anna is actually alive.  An act of true love.

I feel empty, yet whole, yet traumatized.  Thankfully, through a lot of the movie I was a little distracted by my amazement she didn’t suffer frostbite on any extremity.  My children – not so much.

Need I say more?  Thank goodness at least for Olaf.

We went to the movie theater to see Moana even though we know our children do not like Disney movies.  One of my friends told me it wasn’t so scary, so we were hopeful.

My children wanted to leave the theater immediately after it began.  We convinced them to stay a little while longer with our cunning parenting skills.  Then, just a little while later – there I sat with the most traumatized of my brood in the hallway of the theater until everyone else ended their suffering with a spark of joy just before the credits rolled.

My children are scarred for life.  Thank you Disney.

Why not just rebrand and produce the likes of Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street.  It should be an easy transition. 😉

Of course I am joking (a little), but Disney, if you are listening, can you please make more movies like Sing (thank you Universal), even though it still had one of my children in tears?  Maybe something along the lines of Mary Poppins?  Minus the bank stability and tuppence scenes of course.

Back in March we abandoned the idea of Friday movie night in favor of going to the Cline Observatory at Guilford Technical Community College.  Cline observatory is tied in the state for the third largest permanently mounted telescope at an educational institution.  It is an hour and half drive for us.  I read about it in my Our State magazine (which I love, love, love and highly recommend if you live in North Carolina).

Cline offers free telescope viewing every clear Friday night.  They offer updates on their twitter feed (@GTCCASTRO), so prospective viewers don’t drive there only to find the night isn’t clear enough.

Cline Observatory Instead of Movie Night

Cline Observatory Instead of Movie Night 2

Despite the drive and the bitter cold winter air in the observatory all three of my children raved about viewing the night sky.  My youngest actually said,

“Mommy! This is awesomer than movie night!”

Everyone else agreed.

There is nothing like the night sky to fill you with awe and wonder and to humble you about your presence in the universe.

Two students maneuvered the telescope and the crowd politely rotated around the room taking turns at the eye piece for each viewing.  It really was magnificent.

We stayed until the very end of the viewing opportunities.  The children wouldn’t leave.  Even though they were freezing.

Kids at Cline Observatory Instead of Movie Night

During our time at the eyepiece we saw Venus, Mars, Uranus and the Andromeda Galaxy to name a few.  And, FYI:  According to recent Hubble Space Telescope measurements, our galaxy, the Milky Way, will collide with the Andromeda galaxy in about two billion years.

Maybe I will succumb to Botox by then.

If you haven’t viewed the night sky through a powerful telescope, I highly recommend you seek out an opportunity to do so.  It will be worth the drive and the late night.

XO, your wrinkled and freckled friend Melissa

The Solar Eclipse of 2017

This August, the United States will experience its first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in 99 years.  The path of total solar eclipse, where day will briefly become night, will pass over Oregon and continue diagonally across the United States all of the way to Charleston, South Carolina.

During a total solar eclipse the moon casts its shadow (umbra) onto the Earth’s surface.  One watching will see the sun diminish into a crescent and then during the period of totality, when the sun is completely covered, the corona, or the outer atmosphere of the sun is revealed.

Those outside of the path of full solar eclipse (reaching as far as Canada, Central America and South America) will see a partial solar eclipse, where the moon will cover part of the sun’s disk.

NASA has all things eclipse at their website – complete with a countdown to the time of the eclipse and even ideas for throwing an eclipse party.  I love that idea!

Except, I won’t be throwing a party, because we will probably be somewhere in the middle of Kentucky in the path of the full eclipse.  If you remember from reading this, I love all things night sky.

Mark your calendars for August 21st and meet me in Kentucky!  And, remember, you should wear proper eyewear to view a solar eclipse.  Looking at the sun can lead to permanent eye damage if you do not know what you are doing!

You can get eye wear here and also check out these phone apps for solar eclipse viewing help:  Solar Eclipse Timer for iPhone and Solar Eclipse Timer for Android.

XO, Melissa the mamabrain

p.s. Am I the only one who now has the song Total Eclipse of the Heart stuck in her head? 😉

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