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Pizza Hut Book-It Program for Homeschoolers Enrolling for 2017/2018

We did the Pizza Hut Book It program two years ago and we started it this past year but then I did a TERRIBLE job of keeping up with it and we didn’t go past the first month.  What a shame!  I am going to do better for the upcoming year!

Book It is enrolling homeschoolers (Kindergarten thru 6th grade) for the 2017/2018 school year.  Sign up here. 

Not familiar with the Book It program?  When you sign up you’ll receive a kit that will help you keep track of your child’s reading goals.  When they have met the goal you can reward them with a certificate for a FREE personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut!  (Drink purchase required)   In your kit you will receive 6 free pizza certificates – one for every month from October to March.  One certificate, per child, per month may be used.

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My Thoughts on the Movie Everyone is Talking About

beautyandthebeastreview

My Thoughts on the Movie Everyone is Talking About

If we could all learn to love like Belle….that’d be great….

I know all sides have an opinion but I just saw it today and I wanted to wait until I had seen it to chime in also.

I’m not here to debate what the Bible does or doesn’t say about certain sins.  We are all sinners and I thank God that He had mercy and sent Jesus to save my eternal soul (and yours!) because without that we’re all in the same sinking boat.

I want to tell you what we should be talking about from the movie.

But first…

If there hadn’t been a “news story” (or ten) about the infamous “moment” you would’ve missed the moment.

There were two, (maybe three?) “moments”.  (I’ve decided to include them at the end of the post if you want to know.)  But I wouldn’t have thought anything of these “moments” if I hadn’t been looking for them.   And I hate that I was looking for them.  I hate that my favorite childhood movie brought to live action was tainted by someone trying to push an agenda.  I spent part of the movie seething at the fact that a politically charged comment and the backlash that came from it almost ruined my movie.

I’m mad that I had to be cautious about being excited about the movie.

I’m mad that I had to think twice before I told people I was going to go see it.

I’m mad that people that are supposed to represent my community tried to make me feel shame for wanting to see the movie – BEFORE they even knew what was in it.

Guys and gals, the knee-jerk reaction that people of faith responded with has hurt our witness.

I feel like the “comment” was made before the movie came out just to invoke that knee-jerk reaction from the conservative crowd.  The progressive crowd wanted us to loose our heads so they could point and scoff and use this against us from now on.  “Remember when those loving Christians went bonkers about 3 seconds of a movie?”  “Remember when people boycotted a movie no one had seen yet because of what someone said was in it?”  The collective “we” played right into it.  The “worldly” crowd pushed a button and made all the “Jesus freaks” heads explode.  And for what?  Nothing.  Nothing at all, I tell you.

I’m reminded of something I’ve read within the last year and I wish I could remember where so I could give proper credit.  But the essence of the comment was, Christians need to stop acting surprised when the world acts like the world.  Guys, this movie was made by worldly people.  So unless you own zero books or movies published by anyone other than a Christian publishing company and you never turn on prime time network TV or cable, unless it’s a Christian network, you need to get your knickers out of a wad.  Because you can’t be okay with one worldly show/movie/book and not another.   There was no foul language or sexual content in this movie which is more than you can say for network television.

beautyandthebeastbeautiful

So what should we be talking about when it comes to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast remake?

I’m glad you asked.  There were so many beautiful things about this movie.  Like the enchantress says in the story, “Beauty is more than skin deep.”  The “beauty” in this movie goes deeper than what a couple of interviews say.

There is a solid 10 seconds of the movie where there is a giant crucifix fully in the frame. Let’s talk about how beautiful that is.  Christ’s sacrifice on the cross on screen for 10 seconds (which in a fast-paced movie is a significant moment) or possibly more – it didn’t occur to me until the scene was almost over to count how long it was.  They didn’t have to include that.  There were no crucifixes in the cartoon version.  The “bookstore” that Belle visits in the opening song, in the live action film, is really just a shelf of books inside the town’s church kept up by the priest. There is no real reason for them to make that scene that way.  But there it is.  There is a priest, a church and a large CRUCIFIX in the film.   Did you see any of the “worldly” crowd blowing a gasket over that?  I didn’t.

Aren’t we all “beasts” – “cursed” by our sins and in need of the redemption of love?  In case you’re not sure how to answer that, it’s yes, yes and YES.  My gosh, we are all ugly in our sin, hideous creatures until the love of Christ changes us (like Belle’s love transforms the Beast at the end.)

Aren’t we all “Maurices”, trapped in the prison of our sin until someone comes along and takes our place?  Again, yes.  We are trapped by our sin, just like Maurice was trapped in the Beast’s tower.  Then Jesus comes along, just like Belle did for Maurice, and takes our place.

The Beast was essentially her enemy and yet in his time of need (after being attacked by wolves) when she could have run away, she saved him.  Wow.  How many of us have a hard time being nice to a co-worker that annoys us?  Could you save the life of your enemy?  How many of us look the other way when there is someone in need?  Belle shows the compassion of the Good Samaritan when she choose to save the Beast even though it means losing her freedom.

Belle shows sacrificial and redemptive love.  Can we focus on that?  Can we talk about that?  Can we talk about how she tried to find the good in the Beast?  Do you try to find the good in everyone around you?  Yes, even the ones that annoy you?

Can we look more than skin deep for once?

The beauty of this movie is that we can say “Look at that.  THAT’S what Christ did for us.”   If you know someone that is not a believer but that has seen the movie, you can use that as a gateway to a conversation with them.  “I saw the movie too.  It was beautiful.  The way Belle’s love transformed the Beast at the end reminds me of what God’s love did in my life.”

See how much nicer that is?  How much nicer than “I’M NOT GOING TO SEE THAT MOVIE BECAUSE ONE OF THE CHARACTERS DECIDED TO ACT A LITTLE GAY!”

Maybe, just maybe, even we, followers of Christ, could learn a little about showing love from this movie.

Don’t let your witness be ruined because you sided with the group that is yelling the loudest.  That’s not how you win people to Jesus.  Boycotts don’t win hearts.

Don’t be afraid to go see the movie.  Read my “regular review” here.


What are the supposed “moments” in the movie?

Well, first off, let’s be clear, LeFou obviously has something for Gaston.  Whether it’s “hero worship”, a serious man-crush or romantic feelings we all know LeFou follows Gaston like a puppy and does whatever he asks.  That’s evident even in the cartoon version.  The live action version makes it seem more romantic – but again, I don’t know if it’s because I was looking for it to be that or not.

In the tavern during the “Gaston” song, LeFou is singing to Gaston – again, we know he holds some form of idolization/affection for him.  During some parts of the song he gets uncomfortably close, but he’s always rebuffed by Gaston for doing so.

During the fight scene between the villagers and the castle residents the wardrobe attacks three guys and dresses them as women (in the cartoon it was just one guy.)  Two of the guys run off screaming (like the cartoon version) but one guy smiles before he runs off – giving the impression that he would rather be dressed like a woman.  It was less than two seconds.

In the final dance scene the whole ballroom is filled with dancing couples doing a choreographed number.   They switch partners back and forth occasionally and in one part LeFou and another man find themselves mistakenly matched up and they choose to continue the routine.  It’s at most three seconds of the film.  

 

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Does Grade Level Really Matter in Homeschooling?

doesgradelevelreallymatter

You know you’ve wondered it.  You may have even asked it.  There are many sides to the debate too.   Where do you stand?

Does Grade Level Really Matter in Homeschooling?

Every child is different.  And when it comes to homeschooling, every homeschool is different.  That’s the beauty of homeschooling.  You can cater to your child’s educational needs.

I’m going to tell you our story first and then I’ll tell you what side of the debate I fall on.

G was writing at 3 and reading at 4.  He could add, subtract, graph and measure by 5.  Part of the reason we wanted to homeschool is because we wanted to counter the boredom that would inevitably come from being in a Kindergarten class that had nothing to teach him.

Because BOY + Boredom = Potential for Trouble

Not trouble like doing bad things trouble.  But trouble like “can’t stay in seat” and “can’t be quiet”.  He’s always been a naturally inquisitive boy drawn to learning and teaching himself.  I did not want a bad school experience to ruin that.

But I thought since kids naturally started school at 5 years old in Kindergarten, that I had to “play along” and say he was in Kindergarten.

That worked for about 5 minutes.

Or more literally, about 2 months.

He wanted to know why all his books said “1” and “1st” on them.

“Mommy, am I in first grade?”

Should I say, “Well, no, you’re in Kindergarten but you can do 1st grade work so that’s what we do.”

Even at barely 6 that wouldn’t fly with his incredibly logical mind system.

So I said, “Well, it looks like you are, doesn’t it?”

And right there, in October 2014, just two months after starting Kindergarten, he was promoted to 1st Grade.

And we haven’t looked back.  As of writing this, February 2017, he is excelling as a third grader.

So there are three major sides to this debate.

#1: My kid is whatever “grade” matches his public schooled peers regardless of what his books/curriculum say.

#2: My kid is whatever “grade” his books/curriculum say.

#3: My kid just does his books/curriculum.

So which way is right?

All of them.

Group #1’s kids are often involved in sports or activities outside the homeschool realm.  Keeping them the same “grade” as their peers (even if it just on paper) simplifies registrations & and team sports.  And it keeps kids with their same friends who are progressing at the “normal” public school pace.

But that doesn’t mean Group #2 is in the wrong.  We are Group #2.  We changed churches from the church G had grown up in from infancy (where he was still in the class based on his “grade” had he been in public school) to a brand new church last year and I gave him a choice.  Go to the 1st grade Sunday School class (which is the grade his same aged peers would be in) or go to the 2nd grade Sunday School class (that matches his homeschool grade).  He chose 2nd grade.  He has a fall birthday anyway so he’s always been on the older end – so even one grade up he’s still almost as old as the youngest kids in that grade.  He chose 2nd grade because our new church contains homeschool families we know – including a friend of his that was in the 2nd grade.

But Group #3 isn’t wrong either.  They don’t want to be defined by a label.

So, does that mean grade level matters in homeschooling?

Well, it only matters as much as you want it to matter.

I know plenty of #1s who would NEVER consider moving their child “up” a grade even if their work is at a higher level.

As #2s ourselves, I don’t plan on moving G “up” again.  I feel like moving him once to get his workload to match his capabilities was sufficient.  But I don’t know what the future holds so I wouldn’t be opposed to it in the future.

And the #3s – more power to you.  Your kids will be the ones graduating high school with a 2 year college degree simultaneously at 16 years old.

There is no right or wrong on this issue.

If there is anything I could go back and tell my “new-to-homeschooling” self it would be to not worry about “labels” and how things are “normally” done.

As a “third grader”, G’s language arts and reading curriculum is for 3rd grade.  But for “fun” he reads books at a 5th grade level. His math is 3rd grade but it leans toward being slightly more advanced than other math programs.  His science isn’t even a grade.  It’s just “science”.  Same with history.

We still like to mark the start of each new year with the first day of school holding the “grade” sign. But I no longer let it define us or hold power over us.

Which group do you fall in?

 

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Balto and the Race to Save Nome, Alaska

balto

92 years ago TODAY (January 27, 1925) the race to save Nome, Alaska, began.

Seems like a good reason to go to the library and get a book to brush up on this event!

Here are the books you can look for:

Balto of the Blue Dawn (Magic Tree House Book #54).  There is also the Magic Tree House Fact Tracker, Dogsledding and Extreme Sports: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #54: Balto of the Blue Dawn.  But I haven’t read it so I don’t know how much of it is about Balto.  

The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto

Balto
-the animated movie.  I feel it does a pretty good retelling of the story.  Great to get younger kids interested.  (You can stream it from Amazon here for $3.99)

Five True Dog Stories
-contains the story of Balto and other dogs who did amazing things

Alaska’s Dog Heroes
-another good one for the kid interested in more amazing dogs – also contains Balto’s story.

The Great Serum Race: Blazing the Iditarod Trail