Archive for August, 2011

Disney’s First Day

Posted in Everyday Life on August 30th, 2011 and tagged , , ,

Disney had her first day at her new preschool last week, and she had a great time!  She really likes going to preschool every day!  Here are some pictures of her on her first day.  One picture features her little brother who wanted to go to preschool too, but he’s such a cool dude that he got right over it and is happy going to pick her up every day (despite his parents making him wear the Chicago Cubs shirt):

And The Journey Begins…

Posted in homeschool on August 18th, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , ,

Even before we were married and had kids, my husband and I have always liked the idea of homeschooling our children, but the time just hadn’t been right in the past so we put the idea on the back burner.  The idea resurfaced last spring, and we began to pray and meditate on it and to do some planning.  Over the summer we were able to visit with some of the families we know who homeschool, spending hours learning about resources, comparing curriculum, and getting to know their families better.  My worry-prone mind tells me it’s completely insane to take something like this on while expecting a new baby, but on the other hand, time keeps passing us by and our oldest is in 6th grade already.  Never being exactly sure about God’s plan for us ahead of time – how many children we will be blessed with or paths of service my husband might be called to in his career, etc – now seemed like as a good a time as any to try homeschooling our two oldest children.  Besides, I’ve been told that it’s easier to teach when there is a baby in the family rather than a troublesome toddler, which is all the more reason to start now instead of next year or the year after.  So in addition to “Mom of 5”, another new hat I will be trying on this fall is “Homeschool Teacher”.

I am 90-95% ecstatic and 5-10% terrified, depending on the day you ask me – but only because I’m worried about taking on all these responsibilities while enduring the lack of sleep that accompanies a new baby.  Other than that, I know we can do it – after all, we believe this is God’s plan for our family, so we can always appeal to Him through prayer for strength, endurance, and patience.  Also, I have tons of ideas; actually one of the main problems I came across when designing my daughters’ curricula was finding a way to include all of the subjects and ideas that I was so excited about.  I didn’t come close, but there are always future years.

Our 6th grade curriculum is complete: it’s designed and outlined, and we have the materials.  Our 6th grader is extremely excited about our adventure, and it helps to have an amazing support system through friends who homeschool – a good percentage of my daughter’s friends are homeschooled, and they are amazing kids.  Actually, ALL of the kids I know that are homeschooled are amazing kids, and the vast differences between the emotional maturity and the moral integrity of the homeschool kids and the public school kids in our church youth group was one of the leading contributors that led us to this decision.  As youth group leaders, my husband and I have gotten to know many of the kids in our small town.  They are all great kids, but seeing how distracted many of them are by all of the emotional dramas that are manufactured in the public school setting was both eye-opening and heart-breaking – another factor aiding our decision.

Tangent over – back to curriculum.  We are using A Beka curriculum for our 6th grader, and we found a complete set of workbooks and teacher guides on ebay for a great price – barely more than our school fees would have cost.  Taylor is extremely excited about her books; especially the art book which looks REALLY cool!!  And the great thing about A Beka curriculum is that it is Christian-based curriculum, which is very important to us and another key factor in our homeschool decision.  We also found a whole bunch of workbooks and textbooks the other day at Goodwill in mint condition and at a great price!  It’s incredible how many resources there are out there, and also surprising how fun it is to hunt, shop, and piece them together to make curricula!

Most of Taylor's A Beka Curriculum

I know it’s going to be a lot of work.  I know I’m prolonging indefinitely the things I might want to do for myself once my kids are old enough to take care of themselves – any hobby, job or career path I might have wanted to pursue when the time came to put all of my kids on the bus for the day is moot.  But I’m accepting that my career is Mom + Homeschool Mom, and right now, I can’t think of any better use of my time than the investment I’m making in our family and the futures of my children.

This summer we worked so hard on getting this homeschooling room ready!

 

Taylor's books are on the table

In General…

Posted in Everyday Life on August 10th, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Here we are in the middle of August already, how did that happen?  I know how July flew by for me since most of it was spent traveling, but where the heck has the beginning of August gone?

I am 30 weeks + a few days pregnant.  I talked to the doctor yesterday and am most likely going to have the baby at 39 weeks (planned cesarean), so there is not too much time left of this pregnancy – for that, I am mostly glad!  I cannot wait to meet little Luke!  Plus I’m sick of the soreness, the nausea, the moodiness, and all that good stuff.  I just hope that I turn back into a normal person again because right now it seems like an impossibility.  I can’t remember my life before I was pregnant – did I really have enough energy to function every day?  Sure don’t now, but most days, I can fake it but that is exhausting in itself.

I wrote a few posts ago about making important decisions and about doors of opportunity opening for us.  For certain things, we are still praying, being patient, and waiting to see what God’s plan is for us right now.  In the meantime, we did reach one decision about a lifestyle change for our family, and we are very excited to get started.  Close family already knows what this is about, but do I want to reveal it to others for the first time in a blog?  I’m not sure…  But either way, we are very excited about it, and it’s been a lot of fun already to begin this journey.  Just another thing to look forward to this fall!

Tonight is the last night of our Wednesday night Bible study, and it’s been great to make new friends and to get to know these families.  I am looking forward to having 3 (THREE!!) free Wednesday nights for our family once the class is over and before youth group starts again.  And how is this for irony?  I wrote the preceding paragraphs, saved it as a draft, then did lunch with the kids before coming back to it.  During lunch, I checked the mail and I found postcards notifying us of youth group leader training meetings on TWO of my THREE free Wednesdays.  Sigh.  I need to be happy with that one free evening, but my human nature disappoints me because I almost had 3 free Wednesdays instead of one…  oh well, such is life.  Wednesday nights are fun anyway; I just wish I had more energy to enjoy them.

My Monday morning Bible study is drawing to a close also – that one I will really miss.  I’ve become close with the other ladies in my class, and it’s been so great to get to know them and learn about the similarities and the differences in our lives and journeys in our relationships with Christ.  I will even miss the 5 hours a week of homework – it was SO incredibly valuable and eye-opening for me to spend this time with God’s word.  If I weren’t taking on so much this fall, I would definitely sign up for another one.  Maybe in the spring or next summer…

Seen some movies lately, as usual – I think it’s probably mine and Hubby’s favorite thing to do together, snuggle and watch movies after long days of work and tending the kids.  I had heard that the new Planet of the Apes movie was supposed to be good, so we saw that, but I was disapointed.  It was okay, but I was hoping for less ape, more planet – meaning, the movie ended just as the apes were about to take over.  I would have liked to see their rise to power as they actually take over the planet.  Maybe that’s going to be saved for the next movie?  The movie was entertaining, but there was a little too much animal cruelty and not enough payoff – seeing the apes take over the planet – for having to watch all that animal cruelty.  Of course the creatures were CGI so you know none of them were hurt during filming and it was just a movie, but that doesn’t mean in my spare time I want to sit and watch that and think about what goes on in animal testing labs.

We haven’t visited the Redbox in a while, mostly because we had seen many of the movies they had (we watch a lot of movies!).  But Hubby ventured out last night and picked out Cedar Rapids, a fun (a bit more vulgar than I usually like, but interesting just the same) movie about insurance salesmen starring Ed Helms (Andy Bernard from The Office; he’s also in the Hangover movies).  It was a different kind of movie, and we both enjoyed it.

That’s about it for now…  I just had the opportunity to sit and blog for awhile – I MADE the opportunity, actually – because I just HAD to today.  I’ve had this awful headache that’s been lodged behind my left eye for a few days now, and running around chasing kids again was just too much for today.  And I do need to sit more.  For someone in my condition, I really think  I should be resting more, but the nature of the busyness in our household makes it an impossibility.  I’m finding it quite a challenge to take good care of myself, finding time to eat right to take care of my anemia and gestational diabetes and all that stuff.  It’s just too hard to put myself first when I have 4 little ones to take care of and Hubby has his own full plate with work as well.  I hate to complain about physical stuff, but I really need to feel better soon.

A Smurfin’ Good Time

Posted in Movies on August 1st, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was so pleasantly surprised by how much my family liked the new Smurf movie that I was inspired to write a short review.  Going in, I thought I would hate the movie because it didn’t look funny.  And I was a fan of the Smurfs as a kid, so not only did the movie look stupid, but I couldn’t figure out why it took place in our realm rather than the Smurf’s realm – wouldn’t fans of the little blue mystical creatures, kids, and everyone else want to see Smurf village on the big screen?

Don’t worry, we get to see Smurf village, and it’s pretty cool.  Especially the scene where Gargamel breaks in!!  Ok, so I guess that’s kind of a spoiler, sorry about that…  but this is a kid’s movie we’re talking about.  And kid’s movie it is – my kids all really liked it (ages 11, 7, 4 and 3).  The Smurfs have screen time for pretty much 100% of the movie, and there aren’t any boring scenes with a lot of dialogue – these tend to lose the attention of kids.  There are some Smurfy jokes – in this case I’m using “Smurfy” to describe inside jokes written for fans of the Smurfs from decades ago.  Much like the Brady Bunch movies are actually enjoyable parodies of the hit tv show and poke fun at it,  The Smurfs movie has gags about such shout-outs to the 80s cartoon as their names reflecting their personalities (a hilarious joke in the movie that I’m still chuckling about), cracks about how Smurfette always wears the same dress (although more than one joke about this was overdoing it and took the humor away), and multiple references to creator Peyo.

(the Smurfs as I knew and loved them)

From the previews, I thought Gargamel was going to be a bumbling bafoon, one of these over-the-top characters who might be ruined by the actor portraying him as he flailed around aimlessly in a ridiculous looking costume.  But Gargamel as a live person in today’s New York City was actually quite entertaining and even hilarious at times (If you grew up watching the Smurf cartoon like I did, watch for the way Hank Azaria runs as he portrays Gargamel – he imitates the cartoon character so well that it made me laugh out loud!).  I especially liked the inclusion of the little details from the cartoon – like seeing the Smurf cages that Gargamel always had lying in wait for when he finally caught the little guys.  There was backstory explained; everyone knows by now that Smurfette was actually created by Gargamel as Smurf bait, right?  The story line was cheesy but not unbearable even while it made several futile attempts at teaching positive life lessons to kids in the audience.  I could have done without the Katy Perry song reference (is “I Kissed a Girl really a song for kids?  I’ve never heard the song and don’t want to know), and Katy Perry as Smurfette’s voice didn’t really give any personality to the character anyhow – she was just a girl Smurf and nothing like her character in the cartoon.  Clumsy Smurf on the other hand, was a perfect 3d replica of his cartoon counterpart – both in voice and graphics.  I did stop watching the Smurfs sometime after the Smurf cousins (Smurflings) came in, so I have no idea where Gutsy Smurf came from (seems to be a brave Scottish Smurf complete with red sideburns and a kilt?).  I would have liked to see my personal favorite Smurf, Jokey, get more screen time in the movie.  On that subject, I don’t understand why the group of 6 Smurfs with the most screen time (the ones who get to go to NY) did not include such series regulars as Jokey, Greedy, Handy, Vanity or Hefty.  Actually, I didn’t see those Smurfs at all, but then again, we arrived late to the movie so maybe I missed their appearances.  The production staff also did an excellent job of utilizing aspects of modern technology to make funny jokes involving the Smurfs.  Case in point: see the wikipedia reference.

(My favorite Smurf, Jokey)

Overall, Smurfs was an entertaining film for the entire family – and there was a huge gap between my low expectations and my high level of enjoyment of this cute movie!  A must-see for anyone who has kids to take to a movie – bonus if you are a Smurf fan!

One more note – here is a list of characters I would like to see in the sequel:
Hogatha, Johan and Peewit, Clockwork Smurf, and Baby Smurf.  But please, NO SMURFLINGS!!

And oh yeah…   I did a search on my own blog to see if I had written about the I’m a Pink Toothbrush song from the Smurf’s 1979 album.  Turns out, I did include it in a blog post that I had written in March 2010, and my kids (and me still!) are big fans of this adorable tune.  It was really fun to read about my speculations on the Smurf movie in this blog post given the limited info I had that time on this “in production” project!  (if you read it, you should know that Quentin Tarentino was oringally cast as Brainy Smurf, but both actor and studio are quiet on why the pairing did not work out…)  So apparently I HAD heard of Gutsy Smurf – and wrote about it in my own blog a year and a half ago!

(modern Smurfs from the 2011 movie)