It’s a Major Award!

Cover of "A Christmas Story (Full Screen ...

The movie A Christmas Story is a major part of our holiday traditions.  Ralphie, Flick, Schwartz, Farkus, and yes…even the Bumpuses’ dogs are more familiar to our boys than Dasher, Prancer, or Comet could ever hope to be.

We have watched the movie as we’ve decorated our tree every year since the boys were knee high to an elf.  (Ok, there was that one year when we had too much eggnog and decided that we’d give Polar Express a try instead, but we kindly refer to that as the “Christmas Debacle of 2005”)

Of course we know every line by heart now, and we use dialogue from the film in every possible holiday situation.  Every time a package arrives in December, we always shake and declare it to be “fru-gee-lay.”  We can’t even listen to Deck the Halls without chiming in with the correct pronunciation of the chorus: Fa-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-rah.  And no dinner that includes mashed potatoes can be finished without someone doing the piggy noise.

It’s just OUR movie.  I can’t explain why.  We just GET IT.

So with our new Blu-Ray barely a month out of the box, we knew what our family Christmas present to each other was going to be.  The ULTIMATE COLLECTORS EDITION of…A Christmas Story!!  Not only did it include the beautiful, crystal clear Blu-Ray quality film, but an incredible bonus…


You have no idea how much fun it was to add “the soft glow of electric sex” to our beautiful tree this year!! 

I dare you to figure out a more fun way to celebrate the big day…in fact, I DOUBLE DOG DARE YOU…

(Note: If you have recently returned as a POW from Vietnam, then you have a valid excuse for not understanding anything about this post.  Otherwise, there is no credible reason I will accept for not having seen this movie multiple times.)


Do you do documentaries?

I was one of those kids in school who couldn’t wait for the classes where the teacher was going to show a documentary because that meant at least 20 minutes of extra snooze time.  I remember my dad begging me to sit down and watch various documentaries with him on PBS, and I would comply, for a little while, until I suddenly “remembered” I had homework to do.

Documentaries just weren’t my thing.  Don’t get me wrong – – I enjoyed learning – – but for some reason I associated documentaries with the geriatric Geratol generation, and couldn’t overcome my bias for many, many years.

Then when my kids came along, they grew up with cable, which is basically just one long stream of mini-documentaries – – especially on the channels my boys enjoyed most like Animal Planet, Discovery, National Geographic, and the Science Channel.  I was amazed that they were actually choosing to sit through programs about the National Forest system, the life of humpback whales, and the newest research on renewable energy.  Even more amazing was finding myself sitting right there beside them – – happily enraptured.

This change in my viewing habits had a profound influence on me, actually.  I find that my thinking about issues is much more analytical now.  I love looking at things from both sides, weighing the arguments for each, and creating an opinion (or not) based on these observations. 

I also find that now, when I want to learn about something new, in addition to Googling it, and poring over my book options, I also check to see if there is a documentary about it.  Quite a switch.

snagfilms But I have a new tool in my arsenal now, that I had to share with you.  Snagfilms is an online library of documentaries that not only lets you watch full-length documentaries for free, but also lets you embed them on your website or blog.  And as an extra bonus, they offer a charitable link related to each documentary so that if you feel inspired by what you see, you can support the cause behind it.

So if you “do” documentaries, like I do, check out Snagfilms and give them some love – – well, unless you have homework to do, of course.


Thisses and Thats+

It’s New Years, and I am feeling random. So let’s throw momma under the train and rabbit chase for a minute.

  • ~~Have you checked out my blogroll lately?  I’ve made some changes as my feed reader has updated, and you might just find that one of my new favorites is your new favorite as well!  How ’bout giving my new bloggy buddies some love, k?
  • ~~Found an awesome post over at MakeUseOf (my absolute fave website of ’08).  It is called 10+ Web Tools To Save Your Butt In School and granted, we aren’t having to save our butt in school, or anywhere else, but I thought some of these were pretty dang good tools for high school college level students
  • ~~Webinars…do you attend?  Sure. Some of them are just another online waste of time, but I have found some incredible information that I could implement into our day to day homeschooling at the better ones.  One of my all-time favorite webinar series is Discovery Education’s series.  Just go here to view their upcoming offerings, sign up for one, and then be sure and add it to your calendar so you don’t forget to attend.  For purely homeschool-related info, keep a check on the Homeschool Connections calendar for upcoming webinars.
  • ~~Just saw “The Great Debaters” last night and it was a compelling, if somewhat contrived script.  I am always drawn into those “based on a true story” kind of films, and if nothing else, this one will get you and your kids talking, so I give it a recommendation as a family watch for ages say – – 12 and up.
  • ~~You know how much I love cool tools and sites, so here is one you may or may not already know about, but that I had missed somehow and was quite psyched to learn about:  Did you know that a lot of auctions on ebay are overlooked because a word in the title listing is mispelled?  Those auctions can end at far lower final bids because they can’t be located via the normal search methods.  This site lets you type in the item you are looking for and searches for all the different variations of misspellings that might occur for it, and …voila!  You’ve tricked the system! 

So for my final randomness, why not enjoy this pic of our dog Squat on New Year’s Eve?  If this one doesn’t make you go “ahhww”, then you need to head to the doc for a psych tune-up! 

Yeah, yeah, make the dog look ridiculous. Great start to 2009.



Late to the party as usual…but OH! Mamma Mia!!

Yes, it was finally my chance to see the beautiful spectacle for the senses that is ‘Mamma Mia’ tonight.  Oh, you guys, I am reeling.  It was that incredible!!  I downloaded the soundtrack within 15.5 seconds of walking through my front door and snapping open my laptop.  I think I might’ve mentioned once or forty times that I am a bit of a music freak.  So, where, dear ABBA, have you been all my life??!! 

There are very few genres or eras of music that don’t show up on my “faves” list, but sadly, not too many tunes from the ‘Me Decade’ tend to be scattered across that list.  After tonight, I’m afraid I may have given 70’s music just a bit of a bad rap.  Granted, the songs were given a little bit of an update, but still…these were beautiful, meaningful, fun, danceable notes and lyrics.  I had forgotten how many of Abba’s  70’s songs (gulp!) I had sung along to over the last thirty years…Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen, SOS, Take A Chance on Me, I Have A Dream.  So, I humbly repent of my previous down-the-nose treatment I have given to the decade of music previously associated with disco, early punk, and Funk.  There is redemption in ABBA, Bob Marley, a little Bowie, AC/DC, Springsteen, and others.  I repent, yes, I repent.

greece Yet another side effect of seeing the triumph that is ‘Mamma Mia’?  I now desperately want to live in the Greek Isles.  Beaches. Coastal caves. History. Archaeology.  Picture postcard beauty.  Why are you still sitting there, people???  Don’t you feel those breezes from the olive groves beckoning?  Get off your tushies and join me on my Greek pilgrimage.  I vow to get there with or without you, so you might as well put the laundry down and come along, yes?

I had been a little disappointed with the movie offerings of the summer…some of which I had been really looking forward to (cough- X-Files – cough), but 2008 will now go down as the summer I was lucky enough to get to see Mamma Mia.  It was that good.  This has been a lucky week for musical-lovers, such as yours truly.  This past Friday a group of folks at my church got the privilege to see ‘All Shook Up’, a fun romp through many of Elvis’ greatest hits, at the local playhouse.  It was truly entertaining, but pales in comparison to the smile that is emblazoned across my jaw tonight.

If you love, hate, or are indifferent to musicals, (wait…no one is really indifferent to musicals, are they? I just can’t live in a world where people are indifferent to musicals, so don’t tell me if you are, pretty please…) you still must go see Mamma Mia.  You simply must.  But be prepared to lay down a chunk of change afterward for that ticket to Greece.  You’ll see…oh you’ll see….

The Countdown

One month???

One measly month????

That’s how much time is left of summer vacation.  Makes this geeky homeschool mom want to cry into her Palm Pilot.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I love homeschooling.  It has allowed me to spend nine years of quality time with my children that non-homeschooling moms probably never even knew they missed.  It has allowed me to learn about bunches of stuff I missed the first time around.  And it has strengthened my belief in child-led learning. 

But who are we kidding here?  As much as I love homeschooling, I REALLY love summer break.  And since my oldest will technically be of “working age” next summer, who knows if this might be the last one my boys and I will share together just “hanging.”  And we’ve done lots of that so far.  We’ve hung out at the pool.  We’ve hung out at the mall.  We’ve hung out at the library, the bookstore, the parks, the ice cream parlor, and the coffee shop.  We’ve hung out pretty much every place in town that doesn’t have a ‘NO LOITERING’ placard overtly visible.

We’ve talked about lots of cool subjects together.  There just isn’t anything better than having philosophical discussions with your tween and teen over sherbet Push-Ups.  Lazy summer days seem to somehow loosen our tongues and create discourses on everything from why people get tattoos to what it will be like in the afterlife.  We’ve been known to even start a conversation in the morning, take it up again after lunch, and run it in the ground before bedtime. 

We’ve also found incredibly creative ways to avoid work.  I had at least seventeen house projects scheduled for this summer, and do you know how many we actually accomplished??  Give yourself a pat on the back if you guessed: ZIPPO! I’ve kept up with the laundry and dishes (mostly), and kept the floors from being overtaken by mutant dust bunnies and the bathroom from being overtaken by mutant mold creatures (mostly), but other than that, this has been “the little house that time forgot.” 

Our summer has been filled with plenty of Topsy-Techiness, as well. Uber has discovered he doesn’t have two left feet at his new favorite game “Step Mania.”  H-T has been the official YouTube tester of every sci-fi-related clip – – and, for the record: Yes, they are ALL working!!  I have had loads of fun with R-T’s new Windows Media Center PC, and have learned how to control the computer remote from the comfort of my king size bed.  You’d be amazed what you can find to watch on the computer when you have no satellite service.  Even R-T has become comfortable with his new ‘puter, and has been blogging away on it. 

All in all, it has been a terrific summer vacation so far. I can’t believe there is only one month left!!

Well, I could try to think positively.  You know, cup-half-full, and all that.  Maybe I could look at it as: “Cool.  We’ve got a WHOLE month of summer vacation left!!!”  Unfortunately, when they were giving out the positive-thinking genes in heaven, I was distracted by the blinking lights on St. Peter’s celestial cell phone. 

Stupid calendar.


Wall-E…A Right Brainer’s (And Left Brainer’s) Dream Come True

I’ve taken all the tests…all of them, trying to figure out just exactly how my brain works (or doesn’t).  And all of them tell me the same thing.  I’m extremely left brained.  For those of you who don’t quite know what that means, I’ll give you a quick infomercial.  Left brained people, like me:

  • Respond to verbal instructions (i.e. do not use pointing, grunting, hand gestures, or facial expressions if you have something important you want me to know.  You must use your words!)
  • Problem solve by logically and sequentially looking at the parts of things (i.e. I can’t put a peanut butter and jelly sandwich together unless I have specific step-by-step instructions)
  • Looks at differences (i.e. overthinks everything)
  • Is planned and structured  (i.e. I love to plan; I hate to follow through with said plans)
  • Prefers established, certain information (i.e. we would like the term “grey area” politely removed from English vocabulary)
  • Prefers talking and writing (i.e. see “planned and structured” above – – we are useless)
  • Prefers multiple choice tests (i.e.  this is how my husband proposed: “Would you like to A) Marry Me, B) Marry Me, C)Marry Me, D) Marry that guy you used to date who turned out to be an alcoholic and a bum”  Hey, I know the correct choice when I see it
  • Controls feelings (i.e. closed off and in need of constant anxiety medication)
  • Prefers ranked authority structures (i.e. I do my best work in school and/or prison situations)

Yep…this pretty much defines me to the Nth degree.  And it really irks me.  I long to be the creative, right-brained gal who sees the big picture, and takes life in stride, and doesn’t sweat the small stuff – – heck, doesn’t sweat, period!  I have always looked for any sign that proves that I might have just the teensiest bit of right-brained DNA in me.  To no avail…until yesterday!

image Yesterday, we headed out to our local arts cinema (you know…the fun sit down cinemas where you can eat pizza and sip wine, and not see much on the screen, but it doesn’t matter cause it’s so cool to be there??).  Well, our arts cinema is trying to go a smidge more “mainstream” and “kid-friendly” this summer, and has shown movies like Indiana Jones, and now…Wall-E.  Well, H-T has been watching the Wall-E trailers for almost three months now online, and became convinced that it was going to be Pixar’s crowning achievement.  So, he dragged us along for the ride.  And what a ride!

Wall-E is a visual masterpiece.  The entire first half of the movie is almost entirely without dialogue, and relies on incredible animated images to convey the story of this plucky little robot in his desolate existence on an abandoned planet Earth, and his determination to make a romantic connection with the new robot on the block.  I could see why my extremely right-brained kiddo was drawn to this story – – it was a spectacle of visual stimulation.  But I loved it!!  I was mesmerized by the scenes, the story, and the emotion that was wrapped up in the almost wordless animation.  It was my holy grail – – the proof I needed that there is some little spark of right-brainedness buried deep inside that logical grey mass of mine. 

So, the moral of this story?  Whether you are right-brained or left-brained you will enjoy Wall-E, so take those little gremlins of yours out to that overpriced, over-commercialized place called your local movie theater, prop them up with some popcorn and a Coke, and prepare to be spellbound for an hour and a half or so.  You’ll thank me later….