Category: Movies


Busy preparing lessons for the art class.  Well, that and watching movies with the kids (watched part of Camelot–the cheesy version, all of Overview of America by the John Birch Society–a great overview of political systems, and then Mr. Nice Guy–the kids and I LOVE JAckie Chan).    And cleaning up messes, including my own–even my desk, which happens so seldom that I posted pictures over at

Three of my favorite things

A doodle I did of my husband last night. This is the view we usually have of him. 🙂

Tsuji Ayano An incredible Japanese singer who plays the ukelele and whom I am currently addicted to listening to.

Studio Ghibli Our favorite anime studio. Home of Miyazaki, a brilliant anime director. If you want to try out anime but have no idea where to start Studio Ghibli productions are the best starting point.

My Neighbor Totoro
Whisper of the Heart (my knew favorite)
Porco Rosso
Spirited Away
The Cat Returns
Howl’s Moving Castle (the book is MUCH better though the movie is wonderful.)
Castle in the Sky

I should note that these are the ones we have seen. There are others we have not seen. My husband and I watch each first then decide if it is suitable for our children–you might say these are comparable to older Disney animations, and in fact, Disney now helps produce them here. Some of these have scary bits but I would say all are suited to 7 and up.  Keep in mind–we don’t have cable tv.  Our kids don’t experience American tv very often and my husband and I prefer it that way.

WFMW: Greatest Hits

This weeks Works For Me Wednesday hosted by Shannon of Rocks in my Dryer is a greatest hits edition.  This is one of my favorites since it is still benefiting us today. 


I wrote this about 2 years ago and then reposted it for WFMW over a year ago. The great thing is that this study instilled a great love for cooking and baking in our children. In fact–the oldest just made sugar cookies from a recipe which she only had part of the ingredients for and had to adapt the rest. They turned out wonderful.

Cooking our way through History

Originally posted on (which is now long gone) then on–with some editing–if you think I am wordy now you should have read this before the edit.

It all began with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Rachel, then 8, wanted to see it desperately. We felt she was a bit young for it but knew she loved the audio book of it. We also wanted her to have the joy of reading it herself–at that point due to her dyslexia she hated reading.


We told her we would take her if she read the book on her own and also learned about World War II. We figured she wouldn’t finish it but if she did it would take several months. She read it in one day. I had to find a suitable way to teach her and her sister, Esther, (age 6 and who would naturally be sitting in if it was at all interesting) about WWII.

At the library I researched WWII while they went off to find their own books. It was then that I discovered that there were more books about the American Girls than just the story books. I picked up Welcome to Molly’s World and Molly’s Cookbook and a children’s cookbook of English foods. I checked them out as well as numerous other books about that time, both here in the U.S. and in the rest of the world.


I found that the girls responded best to the books with lots of pictures and good explanations of those pictures and they especially loved the cookbooks. For several days we read all about WWII, being careful which stories we talked about and which pictures I explained because of Esther’s compassionate nature. The thing that caught their interest most were the recipes. We read the background information in each cookbook first, making sure they really understood the culture which spawned these foods, how they made them, and why. We then perused the recipes deciding what we might like to make. Many of the foods in “Molly’s Cookbook” they already knew but they loved the explanations of why they were made. We tried several of the recipes, with Rachel reading the ingredients and Esther gathering them, then working together to make the food.


The English foods were not as appealing to them, with the exception of the biscuits and scones. Rachel and Esther both took one look at the meat pies and emphatically said “No, thank you.” Even the Turkish Delight they found very disappointing.

By the time we were done with the project, Rachel was ready to see the movie. Understanding what the Pevensey children were eating and why gave her a good hook to hang what was going on in the world in that time on. She loved that she knew what Turkish Delight was and actually cringed when Edmund took a bite.


When it was time to take the books back they asked to study another time in American History using cookbooks. Since then we have worked our way through Colonial days, Pioneer days, the Oregon Trail, the Revolutionary War, and several other periods of U.S. History. We have even begun cooking our way through other cultures, being careful to study abut the culture and not just make their foods. Not only have our three children the youngest, Issac, is 4 gained a better understanding of the diverse people of God’s world but also they have learned many different cooking styles with a variety of foods.


Rachel and Esther now love to make meals when I am unable. One day they will make pinto bean tortillas, the next Chinese vegetables with noodles, and the next they will beg me to make fortune cookies or scones.
We have discovered that cooking our way through history and world cultures is a wonderful way to explore God’s world and our own heritage. It has helped us as we study the lives of past and pray for current missionaries as well as learn about other aspects of our American Heritage. It has also helped me a great deal as they have also discovered the joy of cooking and baking, as well as many other skills such as reading instructions and the chemical reactions that take place when foods are cooked. In fact only a few weeks ago I came home from work to find that Rachel (with permission and a bit of oven help from her father) had baked biscuits for the family.

The pictures above are of the kids making pioneer style Salt Rising Bread with a recipe taken from my 1919 Lowney’s Cookbook. That was two years ago–they were so small! Now Rachel often makes a full 3 course meal on her own and wants to set the table with the good table cloth and china.

Recipe for Success

Today we continue to celebrate Home Education Week with Dana of Principled Discovery who asks:

It is also National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day! So share a recipe…figuratively, as in two parts love, one part creativity, or literally, as in a super quick, nutritious meal your kids scarf up. Think about what you do in the day, what helps keep it organized and you sane (or how you got past that need for organization and saneness!), and curriculum materials you find effective.

What keeps us sane?

Who said we were sane?

We like to keeps things a little bit crazy, keep things shaken up. My husband likes things always the same and I like things always changing so–we keep things in the office the same and the rest of the house is in a constant state of upheaval.

What works for us?

Everyone has a job to do and no one gets to play till that job is done.

Respect one another and love one another.

If you have a question you find the answer.

Have fun and do what you love.

If you made the mess you clean it up.


We bake together all the time though I am not much for cooking. The kids eat lots of carrots and peanut butter, mango slices and bananas, home made bread, gorp (peanuts, almonds, carob chips, cereal, raisins), homemade yogurt and granola, noodles and cheese, cheese and crackers, and frozen veggies (occasionally defrosted). If I do cook it is noodles or crockpot pot roast or stew and occasionally homemade Chinese. Rachel loves making homemade pretzels, bagels, peanut butter cookies, and bread. She just got a Vegan cookbook from the thrift shop and is trying out all kinds of recipes–we aren’t vegan though we are nearly vegetarian because it is cheaper and her food allergies make vegan recipes easier for her to actually make. Esther prefers making eggs and noodles. Issac is all about tortillas with cheese and pretzels. (I have in the past posted some of our recipes I will have to look for them–they are probably on my old site.)


The only curriculum I have ever used once I quit teaching public school have been Hooked on Phonics and Times Tales. Both of those have been at my children’s request and they have loved both–though I personally don’t like Hooked on Phonics. Times Tales was especially amazing and helpful and even helps me now to remember my upper times tables (I couldn’t before.)

Otherwise our curriculum would be called lots of classic and quality books, the great outdoors, the internet, Edubuntu, family time, board games, the Bible, movies, lots and lots of art supplies and scrap paper, and video games (Harvest Moon, Brain Age, and Animal Crossing have all had a significant positive impact on my children’s education.)


Not really. Most of the organization comes from constant decluttering. We do try to have a place for everything and keep the things in the areas they will be used but otherwise, well we are all home all day and it takes a lot to keep things from degrading seriously.:) I do have the books organized in each room so that they are in the room that makes the most sense–the story books are mostly upstairs, the easy readers are in my sons room, my books are in my bedroom and in the living room, cool and interesting educational books are strategically placed about the house where they will be seen and on the low shelves of the living room where they are easily found.

What keeps us nearly sane?

Lots and lots of prayer, time to do our own project, freedom to follow our interests, ongoing interesting conversations, freedom from being tied to what others think we should be doing.

The Importance of Play

I ran into this news story over here and it surprised me that it was even a story.

Watch any child who is free of schedules, strict socially structured and planned activities, and the freedom to use the materials on hand and you will find that child playing. Any parent who has watched and listened quietly as their little one plays can tell you that that child is imitating and working out what is in the world around him. What parent hasn’t been surprised to find their 2 year old more interested in the wrapping paper than the brightly colored toys it hid? What parent hasn’t noticed a baby’s joy at a set of keys or a spoon?

The only reason older kids don’t play happily with what is on hand is that they have been told they need the latest toy or that cool kids don’t play that anymore. They have been trained to need entertainment, to demand it, and have been taught to be bored without it.

We don’t need to teach children to be creative–we need to keep from killing their creativity by smothering them with talking or overly specific toys and too many scheduled activities.

Yes, I am ranting.

I want my children to grow up happy and fully intact. That means I let them loose with how-to books and the supplies on hand. Rachel has a list of things she wants me to buy at the craft store and I tell her that she can buy it if she saves but otherwise she has to make due with what we have. She has made old fashioned can stilts, a fishing pole with a hook made from a jewelry find earring hook and paper fish, a riding horse from an old broomstick and a sock. She made a card board and clothespin ring toss, and a plethora of clothespin dolls. No, they aren’t high quality but she and her siblings love them because she made them herself. In fact, she is amazed at how wonderful these old fashioned toys are compared to the junk she used to buy all the time at the thrift shop.

Sure my kids play games and watch movies, and other than an occasional “that’s enough, go find something else to do” or a request that chores be done first they are free to play as long as they like. They get sick of it pretty quick when they have that much freedom. Boredom is not tolerated and pretty soon they are engrossed in something else.

Now that they are older they love to plan out games and spend much longer organizing the activity and preparing for play than actually playing. They, at 6, 8, and 10, still spend plenty of time really playing. The girls have a doll house and their cabbage patch kids, Issac has his marbles, race tracks, trains, Legos and Construx–they all play with all of it so when it comes down to it they are only divided by rooms . Every time I enter the girls room I see the dollhouse rearranged–their Only Hearts Club Kids stand in some new fashion–it always makes me want to take a picture as there is so much thought put into the setup. In my son’s room , well it is a mess. They love building things and use all sorts of random objects to build elaborate structures. One day it is Lego vehicles, then next it is Construx, the next it is race tracks. (And, as you can see from the photos, my son likes to play with our rock collection.)

They don’t own any toys that all go perfectly together. They wouldn’t keep them that way if they did. Marvel Super Heroes and Villains often make their way into the doll house alongside my vintage Strawberry Shortcake dolls. The ceramic tea-set my in-laws got the girls are as often used with miss-matched plastic kitchen things and foods and Cabbage Patch Kids as they are used for real dress up tea parties elaborately set up by the kids. Wooden blocks and train tracks are often used with matchbox cars and the old fashioned Little People from my Sesame Street set. And that is just inside–you wouldn’t believe the mish-mash of toys that litter our yard in the summer months. (And you know those boots we went to find–those were so my ten year old could go play in the giant mud puddle that fills the valley out back every spring.)

Yes, it gets messy. Sure it isn’t as nice and neat as those little craft kits and running them to t-ball and every other thing under the sun that kids under 12 can be involved in. Yet somehow it is right and it works and the kids are learning and enjoying and growing in ways that they wouldn’t if they were on a schedule and played one kit at a time.


Dragging three grumpy and stir crazy kids through the cold rain to several stores in search of boots–not fun.

We found a pair finally at Target–they cost more than I planned but I have been promised that this child who wants everything will not ask for anything else for months to make up for the $20 spent.:) We’ll see. I( could go on about all the learning that occurred today but my brain hurts.
I am tired and grumpy and instead of complaining about everything I am going off to curl up with a good book (I got a package of 4 in the mail from yesterday so have some reading to do) and sip some hot tea or coffee–I haven’t decided yet. The kids are off to test out Rachel’s black polka dot rain boots and get muddy and soaked. They will be in in an hour or so requiring clean clothes and a hot bath. After that they will curl up and watch Gorgeous for the third time today (once in English and once in Cantonese with English subtitles–which I prefer–you get a much better sense of the story that way and yes I prefer watching anime with subtitles than in English.) I am not just an anime fan but also a closet kung fu fan–I actually have a portrait of Bruce Lee over my desk with all my paintings. It was a gift from my brother in law. The kids have been enjoying seeing Jackie Chan at work–yes the movie has some other aspects that are less than suitable morally but which we have decided are okay in this instance and it is a great introduction to Chinese culture. We have had plenty of great discussions about various behaviors and aspects of the movie. Good stuff but I am too tired to make a whole post of it so it shall wait.

A Day inthe Life 17: Edubuntu update and other random stuff

So, we installed Edubuntu–which is a HUGE hit I may add. It took our poor little old computer, which could barely cope with Windows XP and made it into a speed machine. Also, the kids have spent the evening and morning trying out all the educational software that came bundled with it. In fact, Rachel, much to my husband and mom’s utter joy, is engrossed in KTurtle (the LOGO/Turtle like software I mentioned yesterday.) My husband is thrilled because she has an analytical mind and he has wanted to teach her programming, because, well, he is a programmer by nature and by job. My mom is thrilled because way back when I was small she used to teach LOGO in Catholic school. Rachel is thrilled because she discovered the handbook and is having no small measure of success making things appear on the screen.

Esther has been exploring the installed games and other software–finding Kstar–an astronomy program which lets you look at the stars and constellations at any time and any place with other bonus features. She also discovered a chemistry program (it lets you explore all the elements on the periodic table, showing the actual element, plus the atom and other features. (If I had had this program I would have passed that portion of chemistry). She also found Mine–a Gnome version of Minesweeper. This was a wonderful introduction to logic for my least logical child.

Especially exciting is that Shamus is taking a real interest in all these programs and helping them make the best of them. He has been wanting something he could work with them with and this is perfect, not to mention introducing them to some of the things I am not so good at. 🙂

I was up half the night with “I feel like I am getting sick and can’t sleep” insomnia and am thus a little less useful than usual (I am just proud that I vacuumed.) I intend to do a sketch today, I really do. We’ll see if it happens. In the meantime I am off to join the kids who discovered that I got my new Special Edition Pride and Prejudice (which was only $15!!!! and which came with a “making of ” book and a beautiful folio.) They started watching without me so I am off to join them. Of course I am a bit thrilled because my 6, 8, and 10 year old want to watch a 5 hour long rendition of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice! Okay,. the 6 year old will wander off and is currently crashing cars while keeping one eye on the movie but he isn’t complaining about it. 🙂

Awesome Sale

Library and Educational Services is having an AWESOME sale. Since they are wholesale you have to be a homeschooler or teacher or someone else who qualifies to get an account but if you fit the bill this sale is incredible!

They have so many great things on sale for about 25% of the normal price that I can’t even list them all. A lot of A&E history DVD’s as well as stories of the presidents.

I just ordered the 5 hour long Pride and Prejudice DVD set for $15–its the 10th Anniversary Deluxe addition which prices at $60.  (When I told Shamus the price he said get it as an anniversary gift. :))

If you do video tapes they are selling out of those–they have the 10 tape set of Nest Entertainment  animated Bible stories down from $130 to $20!  My kids LOVE these stories but we don’t do video tapes so that isn’t happening–if we did we would be ordering them.

If you homeschool check it out–there are some great books and DVD’s available at great prices.  You have to sign up and give some evidence that you are homeschooling since it is a wholesale site but it is worth it.  If you want to see the email I received that explain the sale let me know and I will email it to you–it lists the sale items in detail.