Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Family Movie Night - Great movies you may have forgotten about

Our family loves family movie night and it is a joy to enjoy a movie together. Yet we can often struggle to come up with a movie that we all will enjoy. Plus with newer movies you have to be very careful about content.
As my kids have grown older I have enjoyed showing them movies I loved from my own childhood and teen years. During Christmas my kids often get a few DVDs that have become family night treasures.

Here is a list of some of our favorite family movie night movies-

   Journey Of Natty Gann – This movie is from 1985. It takes place in the 1930s and is about a young girl who travels across the country to find her father. She befriends a wolf and drifter (John Cusack) who help her along the way. The movie has its tearful moments, a few frightening scenes & a few not so nice words in it. Our family enjoyed watching this movie together and recommend it to others. The movie gives you a clear view of the depression era, beautiful scenery from across the country and also opens the doors for honest talk about running away and staying safe. The movie is available to buy on DVD. 

The Incredible Shrinking Woman – This movie is from 1981. I remember seeing it on tv as a kid. It became a fast favorite of mine. The movie stars the wonderful Lilly Tomlin who is a stay at home mom with two children. She starts to shrink after being exposed to a mix of chemicals. The movie has a number of catchy jingles that your children will enjoy singing nonstop and your kids likely will find it comical that a mother can still be a mom even when she is the size of a Barbie doll. The movie does have some touching moments as the family wonders about mom and if she will shrink away to nothing. Some children may find this troubling but I think most children will enjoy it as much as adults. The movie does contain a few not so nice words, a few slight frightening scenes & it does show some characters smoking. All in all it is a fun family movie and one of our top favorite movies to watch. The movie is available to buy on DVD. 

 Yours, Mine & Ours – This movie is from 1968 and stars Lucille Ball & Henry Fonda. I discovered this movie as a teenager in the late 1980s & it became a fast favorite of mine. The movie is based on the true story of a widow with 8 children who marries a widower with 10 children. The movie follows them meeting, dating, getting married and adjusting to life with 18 children. The movie is very comical and our whole family enjoys it. The movie does contain use of the word sex in a few short scenes and at one point a woman is drunk. The movie teaches about a family working together as one unit, respecting each other and accepting each other. The movie is available to buy on DVD.

 The Never-ending Story – This movie is from 1984 and I had the pleasure of seeing it in the theaters when it was released. The movie has been a favorite of mine and I was eager to share the movie with my children. The movie is about a quiet bullied boy who skips school to read a book. The book turns out to be more than just a story and he is soon on an exciting adventure. The movie is full of adventure and has some frightening scenes so I would not recommend it for children under 7 or for children who are sensitive to tense movie moments. The movie is beautifully made and I love how you often forget this is a story that is being read by a child. You are swept up in the moments with him and you likely will cry with him too during touching moments. The movie is a wonderful classic and you can buy it on DVD.

Willow – This movie is from 1988. The movie takes place in a fantasy world where a dwarf discovers a human baby. He must protect the baby and deliver the child to safety. He discovers the baby is a princess. The movie is full of great adventure and comedy. While the movie is rated PG it does contain PG 13 content so you may want to review the parents guide on or Internet Movie Data Base, I would say this is appropriate for kids ages 10 & up. There are intense fighting scenes but all in all as a family we found this to be a wonderful movie to add to our collection. There is a lot of humor which lightens the mood. This is a family favorite in our home and a movie we all can watch together.

I hope you have fun rediscovering these movies with your family. I am sure if you think back to your childhood you can come up with a lot more movies to add to this list.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Kids Wonder The Darnest Things

(This article was originally written for Yahoo Contributor Network aka People's Media) in 2007)

As a homeschooling mom I am at home with my children all day long & all night long too. I try my best to answer their questions honestly.

I remember the first time I came across a mom who taught me this parenting skill. She was a former elementary school teacher and I baby sat her little girl. One day as her mom was about to run out the door the little girl asked her mom why the outside of her cup was wet. I told her what my mom always told me, "Your cup is sweating." Her mom laughed and went on to explain the exact reason in details. I thought she was a little crazy and that a 3yr old would have no idea what she was saying. But I was only 17 at the time so what did I know.

After I had my own kids one of the first tough questions my daughter asked me was about thunder. She was terrified of thunder as I had been when I little. I think maybe she was around 5 or so at time and I was tempted to just say what my grandmother told me. My grandmother use to tell me stories about the devil beating his wife with a frying pan. I must say the picture didn't give me much comfort. I liked my mom's stories about angels bowling up in Heaven much better than the devil beating his wife. So I was a little confused on what to tell my little girl. Should I tell her the truth or a sweet little story that may bring her comfort? 

I decided to do both. I told her the story my mom told me. Then we got books from the library with good photos for her to see how thunder was creative. This seemed to help her fears. By the age of 11 she was really into weather. Now at 19 she loves going on the web to keep up with the current weather & checking radars.

Another time came when I was expecting my third child. She asked me how the baby got inside me. I admit I panicked. She was only 5 and I didn't want to tell her too much. But I also didn't want to say the stork brought the baby. I just told her God put the baby there and he was growing inside my tummy. Then I got some books written for children that explained in it in a child friendly way. This worked for awhile.
When she was 8 asked me more directly for details. I was prepared and had some books to help me walk through the process. Reading the book with her I was able to cover all the questions she may ask. I only went into more detail when she asked. What was great though was I didn't have to tell her more than she wanted to know. I think some parents pile on to many details when their kids ask them questions. For example a child may not want to know how and why the egg travels from here to there in a woman. All the child may want to know is how does the baby eat? Or does it hurt when the baby kicks you? So I followed my daughters lead not my own. 

I felt comfort that by 11 my oldest could ask me anything and I'd tell her the truth. One night she was watching Cops with her father & she came to me asking why some men dress up in women's clothing. She had the weirdest look on her face and I couldn't help to giggle. I told her that I really didn't know the answer but I did know that it is just something some men like do to. 

Some questions are harder to answer. She came to me one day looking upset and troubled. I asked her what was wrong. She told me she was watching a court show with her father and she heard about a woman who took off her clothes for money. I told her that some women do that. She asked me why. I explained the best I could. I told her some men enjoy seeing women do this and will pay a lot of money for it. It is a quick way for some women to make a lot of money. I also let her know that years’ later though some women regret doing this. 

One of the harder questions I’ve had to answer was for homeschooling. We were studying American history in our homeschool. My daughter and I were watching the first episode of Roots. We were watching Kunta Kinte going through the man-hood test in Africa. She had some questions about the circumcision. She saw the boys lined up and a man bring out some kind of tool. I knew this was going to tough to explain. I tried my best to tell her about how this goes back to Bible times & how it is still done today. Really that was all she wanted to know and I was thankful about that.
I believe that honesty is the best with children. I want them to know what they can ask me anything and I will be truthful. Sometimes my oldest will ask me a question and I'll ask her before I answer if she really wants to know. Sometimes she says yes and other times no. But at least she knows she will get the truth. 

Here are some resources to help you answer your child's toughest questions. I have used all of these with my children. 

Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle - this is a great book for little kids.

Before I Was Born (Ages 5 to 8) & What's the Big Deal? Why God Cares About Sex (Ages 8 to 11) by By: Stan Jones, Brenna Jones
What are thunder and lighting? -  Thunder and Lightning: They're Not So Frightening by JD Schmith , 

Weather coloring books for kids online
I Miss You: A First Look At Death by Pat Thomas and Leslie Harker

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death (Dino Life Guides for Families) by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown
Books that answer everything (well almost everything) - 
Questions Children Ask by Miriam Stoppard 
How to Talk to Your Kids About Really Important Things: Specific Questions and Answers and Useful Things to Say by Charles E. Schaefer
801 Questions Kids Ask about God by by Anisa Baker,
Or just use Google. 

Please keep in mind to keep your answers simple and honest. 

Still wondering why water forms on the outside of a cup with something cold inside?  The humidity (the water in the air) condenses on the cup. It's called condensation.  Condensation: deposition of a liquid or a solid from its vapor, generally upon a surface that is cooler than the adjacent gas. A substance condenses when the pressure exerted by its vapor exceeds the vapor pressure of the liquid or solid phase of the substance at the temperature of the surface where condensation occurs. Heat is released when a vapor condenses. 

Hmm, I don’t know maybe after reading that answer I like the idea that the cup is sweating? What do you think? 

When I originally wrote this my oldest 11yrs old, middle daughter about 7 & my son was 5.  My kids are teenagers now. I am still very open and honest with them. They ask me a question and I still keep things simple and to the point. If they ask more questions I give them more answers. 

My oldest at the age of 19 talks to me about everything from details about her first date to her fears& dreams. We talk comfortably about everything and I mean everything. 
The same goes with my other two teens.

Graphics from - PC Hugclub

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A letter to the 17yr old me.

I turned 40 today. Last night I did a lot of thinking back to where I've come from and it's hard looking back but encouraging.

Even those who know me may not know how bad things were during my teen years . I honestly didn't think I'd make it to 40.

I wasn't sick physically but mentally. I started battling depression at the young age of 13. It was pretty severe. Of course as expected most assumed it was normal teen behavior. This was 1989 and teens were expected to be moody, isolated in their room and down. But I was way more than that. I was self harming, thinking horrible thoughts of death and felt so alone. 

Things got worse over the years and by 17 I was in a mental health hospital for my own protection. I was there twice during my 17th year and I think it saved my life and got me on the path of healing. I was in treatment for my past childhood sexual abuse and my family joined some therapy sessions too.

My journey changed in a very positive way when I met my husband at 18. He took to church and to meet his family on our second date. I got to know my husband & God at the same time. We soon got married. 

My life soon took on meaning. I was still in therapy and felt I had a reason to be alive! I was not only loved by God but also my husband & his family. We soon started to grow our own family and my love grew. I "graduated" therapy at about the age of 26 and also began a real intimate walk with God.

There have been struggles over the years and but looking back I can how God molded my life path to where I am today. 

I feel blessed as I look at those around me - I have a husband of 21yrs who loved me even when I felt broken, I have 3 amazing children who teach me life daily, I have my family of my parents and my sister plus her husband & daughter. I also have a large extended family on my husbands side, I'm blessed with not only close friends but also online friends and wonderful church family.

When I look back at my 17yr old self feeling so lost and alone in the grips of depression and seeing life not worth living I want to hug her and say just look . . . look at what is waiting for you. You may not feel loved but there are so many out there who will touch your life. Plus one day many people out there will need you in their life. They will need you as a wife, mom, teacher, friend and most a you are daughter of God forever loved no matter what.

Maybe my 17yr old self can't hear that but I hope and pray other teens will. I want them to know your life has a purpose and a meaning. You may not see it now and it may seem a long road to 40 but you are growing now. Where you are is important and there is a reason you are here. Cling to that hope as hard as you can even if your hope is tiny God can grow that hope with faith and He will hold you up when you have no more strength. 

I have made it 40 and still amazed at the journey that took me here. I can't wait for the next 40 years and they are going be a great adventure.