November 30, 2007

Enchanted with 'Enchanted'

I just got home from seeing the new Disney movie, "Enchanted." I wasn't going to go and see this movie -- no reason really -- just thought I would wait for it to go to DVD and save the $9.00 ticket price (plus goodies). But, my parents were going and it is raining today (really? in Phoenix? Yes!) and it just seemed like a good day to go to the movies. I will admit to being a big Disney fan and while I have been less than enthusiastic of their more recent releases, I have a soft spot in my heart for all things "Disney." Maybe it is because I am a child of the 1960's and I remember seeing 'Bambi' at the movie theaters (and cried all the way home when I saw what I thought was Bambi's mother strapped to the top of a car). I was in my peak movie watching years when "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and "Swiss Family Robinson" debuted. My brothers and I were dropped off at the movie theaters and were given a $1 each to spend on candy or popcorn. It was a kiddie affair back then, one of the safest places for weary Mom's to deposit their kids and take a few hours off. When I was 10, my friends and I, would go to the movies each Saturday and it was always the one thing we looked forward to each week (that and roller skating). Disney and me -- we have always had a love affair -- and even though I have cringed over the years at some of their story lines -- overall I still will watch a Disney movie well before I will watch any other kind.


I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and thought it was "enchanting" to say the least. It is a delightful movie and has absolutely nothing "untoward" in it. The PG rating is probably due to some of the graphic images (the dragon in the end is pretty scary looking) and the intense story line of the Queen trying to kill Giselle. I thought Patrick Dempsey was delightful and Amy Adams, who plays the title role of Giselle, was just perfect as the story book princess transported to modern day New York City. I loved every part of this movie and actually could see it again, just to enjoy the music and dance scenes. The choreography is superb and the score, written by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, is so typical of their other wonderful collaborations (Beauty and the Beast, Pocohontas, The Little Mermaid, etc.).

I think this movie is a great family film (sentimental dads would enjoy it too) and it is a nice film to see this Christmas season.

November 29, 2007

Taco Bowl Recipe

I found this recipe on Yahoo this morning and thought it would make a quick and easy dinner for our family. I changed the recipe a little, but basically it is the same as the one posted online.


Flour Tortillas
1 pound extra lean ground beef
1 cup Salsa or Picante sauce
1/2 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
2 cups chopped lettuce
1 cup chopped tomatoes

I like to cook my ground beef in a skillet and usually brown in onion and green pepper. This is my standard procedure that I use for most any ground-beef type recipe. Mix in salsa or picante sauce. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Microwave tortillas on HIGH 30 sec. or until softened. Press 1 tortilla into each of eight medium muffin cups to form a bowl. Carefully fold edges of tortilla back to keep an opening for the filling. Bake 10 min. Fill with meat mixture and top with lettuce, tomatoes and shredded cheese.

November 23, 2007

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas


Yes, I am in the mood for Christmas nostalgia. One of my favorite movies of all time is Irving Berlin's "White Christmas." When I was growing up, we watched this movie every single year during the Christmas season. I don't know why it became a family favorite, but it did, and we still try and watch it each year. A few years back I sent each of my brother's a video of the movie so that they would have their very own copy to watch with their families.

I am sitting here right now typing up this post and "White Christmas" is on TV on ABC Family channel. Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen are dancing with each other and singing "The Best Things Happen When You Are Dancing." No one writes songs like these anymore and no one dances this way.

It reminds me of a more gentle and romantic time and makes me long for snow covered villages, children singing Christmas carols and sleigh bells jingling. Those were the days when it was OK to greet one another with "Merry Christmas," to display the nativity on your lawn, and to share the Christmas message with friends and family without any fear of repercussion or intimidation. No one seemed to mind that the holiday was about the Christ child or that the reason we celebrate was to remember His precious gift of life eternal. No one seemed to be upset by crosses or shepherds or wise men. No one seemed upset by anything related to the season -- and those few who did -- reminded us of another holiday classic -- Dicken's Scrooge. No, it was OK to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas and to enjoy the entire season, sans commercialism and cynicism.

Oh how I miss those days and the warmth of the season: cookies baking, tree picking and trimming, snow crunching under boots, window shopping (real windows with Christmas displays), spending time with family, and simply remembering the reason we celebrate the season.

November 22, 2007

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like....

Ok, I am not allowed to even speak of "the event" until tomorrow -- that is the rule in our house. My DH is a fanatic about not rushing through the holidays just to get to "--!!". He absolutely forbids any singing, any talk, any hint of lights, tinsel, or cookies....until we celebrate Thanksgiving.

In years past, his drop dead date was December 1. We were not allowed to even begin to think about the big holiday, let along contemplate the year's light show or tree setup, until the first day of December. But after 24 years of marriage and the fact that he has lived with a person who absolutely loves this time of the year, he has mellowed....somewhat. We are now allowed to begin to dig out the decorations and actually put on music the day after Thanksgiving. The tree, however, must stay packed into it's box until 12/1.

Hmmm....I think after dinner today I will start to clear away the clutter from the storage area and just "look" and see what we have in there. I can hear my DH yelling, "NOT!" from down the hallway...so I will just sign off and put the thought out of my head...until tomorrow!

Remembering Days

I was looking through my old computer (now DS' computer) and found several folders of photos from our big vacation a couple years ago. It was fun to look through them and to remember all the fun we had on that trip. It will be the last "big" trip we will take for a while, what with our current situation (medical/financial) and all. God truly blessed us by allowing us to take this trip and to be able to see some of the most beautiful places on this side of heaven.

Here are just a couple of my favorite photographs (taken by me with a Minolta digital camera). Not too shabby considering it was my first attempt at photography with a small digital camera.

This is from inside the chapel at Grand Teton National Park

This was taken while on a hike to the top of the glacier in Glacier National Park.

It is funny how you forgot just how striking and beautiful a place can be until you see a photograph of it and then a flood of memories come streaming back to you. We spent about 13 days touring the intermountain west and had one of the "best" vacations on record. It will be a family time that I cherish and will always look back upon fondly.

With Thanksgiving, We Give Thee Praise


"To God who gives our daily bread
A thankful song we raise,
And pray that he who sends us food
May fill our hearts with praise."
~Thomas Tallie (1505 - 1585)~

Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving day!


November 21, 2007

April in Paris

If you would like to listen to a very nice rendition of April in Paris played by my son on his Korg SP250 digital piano, click the link above. I think DJ does a great job with this song (light Jazz) and has incredible depth and feeling when playing it.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

I took this picture on our vacation to Glacier Park, Montana. This photo was actually snapped at Yellowstone. I post it here in honor of my MIL, who is celebrating her birthday today. She collects all things "Daisy," simply because that is her name. Happy Birthday, Mom!

November 11, 2007

Call of Duty

In darkness surround
Didst the soldier land,
To lead the way
Into danger's hand;
Into France did he fly
Falling gently from the sky.

Bang! Boom! Whoosh!
Didst the bullets go;
Whizz! Whang! Floosh!
But to the soldier,
Ding! Zzang! Swoosh!
They landed not a blow.

On he went, through the perilous lands,
All obeying on one command:
Set up a station, to which the planes might know,
To send reinforcements, to where they might go;
He did his job, and his job he did,
And then sat he in a bush and hid.

Dawn broke, on that faithful morn
On June 6, 1944;
Where did on the beaches
Land the greatly awaited corps.
Then the soldier, with all his might,
Went out of hiding, to help the fight!
Against Nazi Germany he went,
Like an angel that God had sent;
To destory all evil; to free the soldiers;
All from their certain demise.

One year past, before it was time
For all of them to rejoice, and drink wine;
Nazi Germany had fallen, it was no more;
All thanks to the soldiers, one year before.
Those faithful soldiers in their Call of Duty
Saved Europe and all it's beauty,
From those who wished to conquer all,
They were the ones destined to make it fall.

And now, no more, does the evil Axis exist,
Who captured Europe with an iron fist;
They are gone forever, never to return,
All thanks to the soldier, whose country was his main concern;
He came home after a while,
And met his wife and children with a smile.
He was finally home, no longer gone;
And now it is a memory, a memory of that faithful dawn.

~D.J. Hepburn (age 14)

A proud Mom posts this tribute written by her poetic son honoring those soldiers who fought so valiantly to guarantee our freedom during WWII.

November 10, 2007

Biology

We are steadily working through our biology text, Biology: God's Living Creation (A Beka Book), this year. It is not a bad biology text, as biology texts go. A Beka tends to focus more on traditional natural science than most textbooks and as such their curriculum is divided into the following categories: Botany, Human Anatomy and Physiology. Life Science, Zoology
and Cellular and Molecular Biology. Some other texts concentrate more on Cellular Biology and Human Anatomy. I liked the way this text was written and think it is compatible with Charlotte Mason's approach to teaching natural science.

We will be doing many of the recommended labs this year, but will not be attempting dissections. However, to gain a full credit in this subject/course, we do need to include a complete lab, so instead we will be watching one or two of these dissections online through "virtual laboratories." Virtual Labs are now very popular and many colleges actually use them instead of physical laboratories. I found this list posted through another home school group and thought I would share it here, just in case you are also seeking an alternative to doing your own lab:

November 8, 2007

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

We are memorizing three poems this term for our Victorian Era study. The first is by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, one of my favorite poets.

Kubla Khan
OR, A VISION IN A DREAM.
A FRAGMENT.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh ! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover !
A savage place ! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover !
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced :
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail :
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean :
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war !
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves ;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice !
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw :
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome ! those caves of ice !
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

We also will memorize William Wordsworth's Daffodils and John Keats, Last Sonnet.

November 7, 2007

Noelle the Movie

Fellow homeschooling family, David and Kerry Wall, have produced and are starring in a new holiday family film entitled, "Noelle." David Wall is writer/producer/director and stars along with his wife, Kerry, and three of their four children. The movie is due in theaters this December 7th.

You can see the movie trailer here: http://www.noellethemovie.com/

The movie synopsis is:

"Father Jonathan Keene - a cold, impatient Catholic priest arrives in a tiny fishing village the week before Christmas to do what he does best: shut down a dying parish. But things take an unexpected turn as he becomes entangled in the various lives of the village's eccentric characters, including their beautiful librarian, the childlike priest he is displacing, and the magical experience of Mrs. Worthington's legendary Christmas Party, where everyone is welcome and anything is possible."

The trailer of the movie suggests great family fun and delivers a heartwarming Christmas message. You can contact the producers at their weblink above to inquire about movie locations and other opportunities to support this film (renting an entire theater for your church or organization).

Rated: PG

November 5, 2007

Frankenstein

I am reading this classic novel with my son, age 14, as part of our Victorian Studies this year. This is the first time I have read this novel and I must say I have found it to be strikingly beautiful and terribly sad, all at the same time. I did read about Mary Shelley in college during a semester course on the Romantic Era. I never really wanted to read this novel, feeling as many do, a dislike (er, contempt) for horror. However, as I researched and prepared our course of study this year, I wanted us to read through the Victorian era chronologically and needed 3 novels that were written in the early part of the 18oo's. I already had two in mind: Scott's Waverly and Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I needed a third and since the fascination with horror and the genre of the grotesque actually develop during this period, I decided to give this book a try. Oh my, was I glad that I did. It is a wonderful novel, with rich and beautiful writing, and a deep and very disturbing message. With the age of cloning and medical creation on the nightly news, this novel is also aptly chosen. It fits perfectly with our overall theme of studying God, His Creation, and observing life as He created it.

If you have never read this book, consider giving it a go with your high school student. It is best read in a small group, where you can engage in plenty of discussion. Well worth the time and the effort to read (it is short - just 24 chapters).

Here is a brief synopis on this book:

FRANKENSTEIN; OR, THE MODERN PROMETHEUS (1818) The novel starts with series of letters from Robert Walton to his sister. Walton is an English Arctic explorer who spots a strange creature on a dog-sled. The exhausted Victor Frankenstein arrives, in pursuit of the creature,and while recuperating tells his story. He has been born into a wealthy Geneva family. After his mother dies of scarlet fever and becomes a student of natural philosophy and medicine. Inspired by occult philosophy and the teaching of his mentor, Waldman, he builds a creature in the semblance of a man and gives it life. It body is assembled from parts which Frankenstein has stolen from butcher shops, dissecting rooms, and charnel-houses. The creature is repeatedly rejected by those who see it, but the monster proves intelligent, and later highly articulate. Receiving no love, it becomes embittered. Frankenstein deserts his creation, who disappears. "I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I have deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I have finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart." (from Frankenstein) Frankenstein hears that his younger brother has been strangled, but Justine, his family's servant confesses the murder. However, later the monster tells that he murdered William and framed Justine. Frankenstein then agrees to make a mate for the monster so that it will not bother anyone again. A wave of remorse makes him destroy the female. The lone creature swears revenge. He kills Frankenstein's bride, Elizabeth, on their wedding night. The scientist becomes mad, but recovers and chases the creature across the world. The two confront in the Arctic wastes. Frankenstein dies. The creature describes eloquently to Walton his efforts to seek out beauty and how crime has degraded it beneath the meanest animal. "He is dead who called me into being; and when I shall be no more the very remembrance of us both will speedily vanish. I shall no longer see the sun or stars, or feel the wind play on my cheeks. Light, feeling, and sense will pass away; and in this condition must I find my happiness." The monster leaps from the ship on a ice-raft, disappearing again in the darkness. - The novel contains no supernatural elements; the creation of the monster is described in the third edition on a rational scientific basis. Frankenstein is a scientist who challenges the Creator of the world with the possibilities of modern science, but is destroyed because he cannot anticipate the outcomes of his own acts. The story has also been interpreted as an exploration of the artist's - creator's - relation to society.

Courtesy of: http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/mshelley.htm

You can find this book in your local public library or through any national bookseller.

November 2, 2007

The Golden Compass Movie

There has been a huge amount of hub-bub flying around the internet regarding the release of this movie. Antagonists say the film contains anti-religious themes and supports and atheistic view of life. A brief background on the film and it's writer:

"The Golden Compass, a fantasy film starring Nicole Kidman that is scheduled to be released into theaters on 7 December 2007, has been drawing fire from concerned Christians. The film is based on Northern Lights (released in the U.S. as The Golden Compass), the first offering in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy of children's books, a series that follows the adventures of a streetwise girl who travels through multiple worlds populated by witches, armor-plated bears, and sinister ecclesiastical assassins to defeat the oppressive forces of a senile God.

Books of the trilogy have sold more than 15 million copies around the world, with Northern Lights winning the Carnegie Medal for Children's Literature in 1995 and in 2007 being awarded the 'Carnegie of Carnegies' for the best children's book of the past 70 years. The Amber Spyglass, the final book of the series, won The Whitbread Prize in 2001, making it the first children's book to do so. The series' author, Philip Pullman, is an avowed atheist who has averred that "I don't profess any religion; I don't think it's possible that there is a God; I have the greatest difficulty in understanding what is meant by the words 'spiritual' or 'spirituality.'" Critics of Pullman's books point to the strong anti-religion and anti-God themes they incorporate, and although literary works are subject to a variety of interpretations, Pullman left little doubt about his intentions when he said in a 2003 interview with The Sydney Morning Herald that "My books are about killing God." (Conservative British columnist Peter Hitchens labeled Pullman "The Most Dangerous Author in Britain" and described him as the writer "the atheists would have been praying for, if atheists prayed.")"

You can read the full article here:

http://snopes.com/politics/religion/compass.asp

To see trailer and cast information, visit the movie's website here: http://www.goldencompassmovie.com/

This film has not yet been rated and it is due in theaters in less than one month. Hmmm....I wonder what that means?? I would encourage you to check out this film to decide for yourself if you want to support this film.

November 1, 2007

Victorian Study

I thought I would post my son's reading list for this term. Our period study is Victorian England, from about 1800-1900 (with a little backtracking into the 1780s to bring us up to speed).

Bible

Our Bible program this term includes a study of the Gospel of Matthew; Commentary by J. C. Ryle; an overview of the Bible by Josiah Tidwell; and two devotional books, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, and the lovely character study by John Angell James entitled, A Young Man's Friend and Guide to Life and Immortality. Additionally, daily readings from Oswald Chambers powerful book, My Utmost for His Highest, will be discussed.

History


We have found a wonderful book by Edward Farr and E. H. Nolan called, The History of England in Three Volumes, Vol.III. From George III. to Victoria. It is online through Project Gutenberg and is the third volume of David Hume's massive and well-respected work, The History of England, Volume 1 From the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688, which was originally published in 1776. Volume 1 was written by David Hume, Scotchman and British Statemen. Volume 2, The History of England in Three Volumes, Vol.II. From William and Mary to George II, was written by the delightful Scottish author, Tobias Smollett (The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker). We have found volume three to be a very enjoyable and easy to read history of this period.

We also are reading several M. B. Synge books this term. The Growth of the British Empire is the fifth volume in the Story of the World series. It covers our time period but gives a much broader view of world events during the reign of Queen Victoria. We are also reading a children's biography by Synge entitled, The Reign of Queen Victoria. Synge was a well-known children's author and wrote a number of biographies in addition to the comprehensive world history text, Story of the World.

Historical Background

We will be reading about some of the major political reform acts that were passed during Queen Victoria's lifetime. Most namely, the Reform Act of 1832, Poor Laws, Corn Laws, Anti-Slavery Act and Women's Right to Vote.

Government & Economics

We will be reading John Stuart Mill's essay, On Liberty for our government study this term.

Geography

For our travel literature this term, we are reading A.W. Kinglake's, Eothen: Traces of Travel in the East. Additionally, mapping exercises and drills will accompany our geography reading.

Literature

Our literature readings will focus on three specific periods of the Victorian era: Early (1800-1836), Middle (1840-1870) and Late (1870-1900). Term 1's selections include: the Scottish romance novel, Waverly, by Sir Walter Scott; The genteel society novel, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; and the grostesque novel, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

For the history of English Literature, we will be reading two chapters from Robert H. Fletcher's, History of English Literature, a very easy to read and narrative study on the major writers of this period. We will be reading about the Romantic Era as well as Victorian Era.

Our poet study will follow the suggested study of Fletcher's book (also using his study outlines in the appendix).

We will be reading two Charles Dicken's dramas this term. First, we will enjoy "A Christmas Carol" and then will listen to a dramatic reading of "A Cricket on the Hearth." Both were performed on the London stage during the Victorian era and are commonly referred to as Dicken's Christmas Books.

Grammar & Composition

Our Grammar study this year will focus on Fowler's The Kings English. Two Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch essays will provide thoughtful discussion on reading and writing well: On The Art of Reading and On The Art of Writing. We will also be writing weekly essays from our history and literature readings.

Science and Natural History

Our science study will focus on Biology and we will be using A Beka's textbook, Biology: God's Living Creation, for our weekly reading. We will also be reading Charles Darwin's, The Origin of the Species, and spending time in world view studies with Answers in Genesis. A second science focus will include study through the Wiley Self-Teaching Guide to Basic Physics along with a selection of laboratory experiments.

Picture and Composer Study

We are correlating our history and literature study to include reading about and listening/viewing several works of art and music. Our reference work will be The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Timeline of Art History along with several short biographies on selected artists.

Foreign Language

We will continue our study into German using Rosetta Stones Immersion language program.

Current Events and other

Life work, handicrafts, as well a current event readings will be scheduled weekly, based on need and time. Piano practice, lesson and chamber group participation will continue as normal.