Tuesday, April 15, 2014

REVIEW: DVD Combo Pack - Produce and DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea by Curiosity Quest

We were so very fortunate to have a chance to review the DVD Combo Pack – Produce and DVD Combo Pack – Swimmers of the Sea by Curiosity Quest!

 

WHAT IS IT?

The DVD Combo Pack – Produce is a collection of three episodes that discuss how some familiar everyday foods go from the farm to the table.  You’ll learn how mushrooms, cranberries, and oranges are grown, harvested, and packaged for consumers all over the world!

Each 30-minute episode will take you out in the fields where the journey begins and take you through the entire process of preparation, growth, harvest, processing, and packing. 

You can purchase this combo pack for just $24.95.

 

The DVD Combo Pack – Swimmers of the Sea is a collection of three episodes that give you a look at the life of the penguin, the life cycle of the Alaskan salmon, and an intimate view of sea turtles.

Each 30-minute episode will give you up-close insight into the amazing world in which these creatures live and the challenges they each face to survive.

You can purchase this combo pack for just $24.95.

These combo packs are recommended for kids ages 7-14.

 

OUR EXPERIENCE:

The DVD Combo Pack – Produce included 3 separate episodes chronicling the processes by which mushrooms, cranberries, and oranges are all grown, harvested, and packaged for consumers.  There was so much interesting information in these episodes that we could barely resist the urge to watch them all in one sitting, despite how late it was when we started!  I took lots of notes and kept thinking to myself that you could easily have your child write a paper on what they’d learned by watching, because these videos are absolutely packed with fascinating facts you have probably never heard before!  Even for me as an adult, I learned so much from these shows!  I’m going to talk about each episode individually to give you an idea of just how meaty these episodes really are.

The first episode we watched was about mushrooms.  It started by taking us to a large mushroom farm.  We learned that mushrooms are not a vegetable but a fungus.  That was news to my 9-year old (and confirmation of why she won’t eat them!).  The farmer said people mostly consume white or portabella mushrooms, and those were the ones featured in this episode.  Mushrooms grow from spores, which are too small to be seen.  You might wonder, then, how a mushroom farmer plants something he can’t see.  Farmers grow them from spawn, which is a fungus on top of a rye grass seed.  Once the rye grass seed has been inoculated by those mushroom spores, they can be planted to grow the mushrooms.  Makes sense, right?  I’ll bet you didn’t know that.  It was news to me!

The film showed us how the farmer slowly breaks down regular hay by adding raw materials to it and keeping it moist with water.  As it decomposes in the sun, the hay gets darker and darker until it’s eventually black like soil.  The farmer uses a machine to rotate the hay in the big piles regularly and tests the internal temperature of the stacks.  When it reaches 173 degrees, the compost is ready to be spread into wooden trays where the spawn is planted.  Those trays are stacked on racks in a climate controlled environment that keeps the humidity and temperature just right for the mushrooms to grow.  In fact, they can adjust this climate in order to control how large the mushrooms can grow. 

Once some of the mushrooms are ready for harvesting, pickers are brought in to harvest them.  They only pick some of them, leaving room for smaller ones to continue to grow.  They trim the mushrooms as they pick them and drop them into four baskets, sorting them by their size.  Imperfect white mushrooms are separated out to be used for things like pizzas.  Believe it or not, each picker can harvest 104 lbs. of mushrooms per hour!  That’s a lot!  Then the sorted baskets are sent for packaging.

With portabellas, pickers thin out the smaller ones so that they grow much larger.  Portabellas grow very quickly, in a matter of just a a few days.  Portabellas have very thick, meaty centers, and they are sliced and packaged for consumers.  Ends and pieces of portabellas are separated out to be used for things like soups.

The next episode was all about cranberries.  The cranberry growing season begins in March-April, and they are harvested in September-November.  You’ll probably be surprised to find out that cranberries actually grow on vines in fields, much like other plants.  They are NOT grown in water!  However, each cranberry has four hollow chambers inside that cause them to float in water.  So farmers flood the fields at harvest time so the cranberries will float to the surface, making them easier to harvest.  A machine separates them from the vines and then they can be carefully collected. 

Not all cranberries are red.  In fact, many of them stay green.  While they taste the same either way, they are not as visually appealing when they are green, so when they are sent for processing, a machine separates out the green ones from the red ones.  Stray pieces of vine are also removed at this stage.  They all of the cranberries are carefully dried to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.  Once they are dried, they are placed in a cooler for storage.  As they are ordered by customers, they are removed from the cooler and bounced off a piece of wood.  If the berry bounces, it is good.  If it doesn’t bounce, it’s not as good.  The second grade berries and any small ones are generally used for cranberry juice.  Only the best are used for fresh cranberries.  Rejects are fed to wildlife.  They can be fed to chickens to keep them healthy.  Surprisingly, cranberries are an ingredient in over 1,000 food and beverage products!  They are cholesterol free, fat free, and full of antioxidants, making them good for heart health.

The fresh cranberries are packaged in bags, 8 per case, and sent to market.  Other cranberries that are used for Craisins and juices are harvested and processed in just an hour!  Tractors knock them off the vines, and then they are floated into a corner of the the field and collected.

The last episode on this disc was about oranges.  Oranges are picked by hand, because people are gentler than machines, and the growers don’t want bruising to occur on the fruit.  Bruising causes spoilage to occur over time.  Pickers can get as many as 500-800 oranges from one tree over the growing season!  The oranges may still be green when picked.

Navel orange trees bloom in the spring and are harvested in the winter.  Valencia orange trees bloom in the spring, as well, but are not harvested until the summer of the following year.  These oranges are used for juice. 

Growers run wind machines above the trees that blow the warmer air up high down towards the orchard to keep the fruit just a bit warmer and help prevent freezing.  These are used at night when the temperatures are in the 20’s and 30’s. 

After picking, the oranges are taken to the packing house for further processing.  They are treated with ethylene gas for a couple of days to accelerate ripening.  This is just like sticking bananas in a paper bag so the gas they emit will ripen them faster.  They are washed with chlorine and water to destroy fungus.  Then, under black lights, workers remove any oranges that have a yellow glow anywhere on them.  This reveals blemishes or injuries to the fruit that they might not otherwise notice.  Then the oranges are sprayed with bicarbonate water to remove the chlorine.  They are sprayed under high pressure to remove fungus.  Brushes underneath remove dust and dirt.  Foam rollers remove the water and help dry the oranges. 

As the oranges roll by, a machine takes photos of them and determines any off-color or odd shapes and ejects those oranges for juicing.  Then it sorts the oranges into categories of perfect, medium grade, and questionable.  Workers do additional visual sorting of the questionable ones to make a definitive determination as to their condition.  The good oranges become packed, the imperfect ones become juiced, and the bad ones become culled for cattle feed.  Then the good oranges are further sorted by machines by their size, and stickers are put on each fruit to be sent to stores.

The DVD Combo Pack – Swimmers of the Sea contained 3 episodes that taught us about Magellanic Penguins, Sea Turtles, and Alaskan Salmon.  I continued taking notes through each episode, and my notes literally ran off the bottom of each sheet of paper!  These videos are so packed with great information.  My 14-year old son joined us for some of these episodes, and even he really enjoyed them and learned some new information.

Magellanic penguins got their name because they were first discovered by Ferdinand Magellan.  These penguins don’t need ice and snow to survive.  They have 100 feathers per square inch!  Aquariums prepare their food with added vitamins to keep their feathers healthy.  These penguins weigh between 5.5 and 12 pounds.  They eat about 1/2 pound of food per day.  Once a year, they molt their feathers and re-grow new ones.  This requires a lot of energy, so they generally will eat more just before this molting process begins.  They like to eat herring and capelin fish. 

Their wings can be called flippers because they do not fly but swim underwater.  Birds that fly have hollow bones to make them light, but birds that swim instead have dense bones to support them in their swimming.  Penguins preen (or clean) their feathers regularly, and they help preen each other.  They have very short legs, which is what causes the typical waddling that comes to mind when you think of penguins. 

The females are smaller than the males.  Even in captivity, the penguins practice “porpoising,” which is a means of swimming they use to help evade predators in the wild.  They spend most of their lives in the ocean, but they can also rather awkwardly move about on land.  Penguins do not typically mate for life.

The next episode was about sea turtles.  Rehab centers rescue troubled or sick sea turtles of all kinds.  Green sea turtles are herbivores and eat sea grass.  Loggerhead turtles are carnivores and eat squid, lobster, and crabs.  Rescuers add catfish protein to their diets to help rehab the sick sea turtles. 

Sea turtles are cold-blooded and have a slow metabolism.  They have a beak like a bird rather than jaws.  The leatherback is the largest of the sea turtles and can weigh up to one ton! 

There are very few Kemp’s Ridley turtles left.  They only nest on two beaches in the world, so they are very protected.  Hawksbill sea turtles are critically endangered.

Baby sea turtles have a yolk sac on their backs, and that’s how they get nutrition when they’re in the eggs.  After hatching, they continue to get some nourishment from the yolk sac until it disappears.  Once it disappears, they are totally dependent upon their diet to survive.  When they hatch, they follow the light of the moon into the ocean.  Mother turtles will always return to the same beach in which they were hatched to nest their own eggs.  Turtles rarely lay eggs in captivity. 

Loggerhead sea turtles can crush a conch shell with their beak, so handlers have to be especially careful when feeding them or they could take off a human hand! 

Newly rescued turtles are kept in individual tanks so keepers can control their food and medicines as they are individually rehabbed.  Sea turtles can live 70-100 years!  They are the oldest kind of animal on earth, dating back to the days of the dinosaurs.  Sea turtles are protected by the government, so it is illegal to touch one, and even rehab centers have to get a special permit to be able to handle them so they can help them when they are sick.

Sea turtles are surprisingly able to swim at 35 mph!

The last episode on this disc is about Alaskan salmon.  Salmon find their way back to the same stream where they were born when its time to spawn.  There are 5 species in Alaska:  Pink, Sockeye, Chum, King, and Silver.  Most of America’s salmon come from Alaska.

The process of imprinting (learning where you come from) happens in the first five months of life, and they learn the scent of their stream so they can return at the end of their lives to spawn.  They spawn in fresh water and lay eggs in the gravel.  Different varieties like different types and sizes of rocks for spawning. 

King salmon are the largest Pacific salmon and can be up to 100 pounds each! 

Salmon live for 3-5 years (up to 7 for Kind salmon).  They hatch in fresh water streams, but they live their lives in the ocean’s saltwater before returning to their original fresh water stream to spawn.  This is what it means to be anadromous. 

We have fish hatcheries to help ensure that wild salmon do not become depleted.  Netpen facilities help spread the salmon around so they return to multiple streams to spawn.  2-10% of those from hatcheries will return to spawn.  The rest are captured by commercial fisherman for human consumption.  After the salmon spawn, they die.  This is the end of their life cycle.  Each net pen structure can hold 3 million babies for 3 months before they are released.  Some salmon migrate as far as Japan before returning to spawn. 

King salmon have to be in fresh water for two years before they’re able to breathe saltwater.  They eat shrimp and krill and other fish.

As you can see, my kids and I learned SO much information on each of these topics.  The videos were interesting and engaging and kept our attention throughout.  The host is funny and even a little bit silly at times, but always very entertaining.  These episodes are highly educational, but they’re so fun that the kids didn’t even think of them as educational, and they looked forward to each new episode.  They could easily be used in a unit study or as a basis for a research paper.

I saw on the Curiosity Quest website that many of the episodes also air periodically on many PBS stations across the nation.  I would highly recommend that you check out the many available DVD’s on their website!

I also noticed that Curiosity Quest offers a homeschool subscription that includes two DVD’s a month and a curriculum to accompany it for either a monthly or an annual subscription price.

See what other Crew members had to say about these DVD Combo Packs from Curiosity Quest by clicking the banner below.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up–March 30th-April 5th

Following the death of my mom, there hasn’t been a whole lot going on around here.  My brother, Brady, flew back to Arkansas to see about settling mom’s estate.  He’s the executor of her will.  On Monday, the Ard Church of Christ gave a nice memorial service for my mom.  There were about 20 people in attendance.  My cousin, Leora, held a wake afterwards.  Mom was cremated, and her ashes were placed in an urn in her plot at Ard Cemetery beside my dad and my brother, Jimmy Ray, Jr., who died of pneumonia when he was 7.

I did a lot of crying this week.  Truth be told, I’ve really been mourning my mom for the last seven weeks, ever since her cancer diagnosis.  I think I’m about cried out.

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On Friday, the weather was so nice, and we couldn’t wait to get out of the house and emerge from our winter caves to enjoy some spring sunshine!  We drove out to the Hampton Coliseum box office to get our tickets for opening night of the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus.  Then we shopped at the big Goodwill Outlet, one of only 2 in Virginia.  Then I took the kids to Rally’s for lunch.  We haven’t done that in a couple of years, and it was a real treat!  They have a new funnel cake, and we shared one of those, too.  Yum!  Then we decided to drop in at Blue Bird Gap Farm.

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I have fond memories of going there as a child myself, and I have enjoyed taking my kids there over the years.  I was shocked to see that most of the animal exhibits have now been removed, and it’s really more of a small park or playground now than a farm.  That’s too bad.  The kids looked around in the antiques barn and spent some time on the playground, though.  Still fun for them!

Then we did some quick shopping at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet before heading back to Virginia Beach to pick Hayden up from school.  We arrived just as the bell rang, and then we got right back on the highway to head off to the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk!

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As you can see, the kids had a great time and ended up in a cage where they belonged!  Smile  We even got ice cream on the way home.  After all, a day out with the kids wouldn’t be complete without ice cream!

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Gosh, it sure was nice to get out and have some fun with the kids.  It was almost like a much-needed stress release.  These last couple of months have been pretty rough.  We had so much fun on Friday, though, that it really makes us look forward with anticipation to our spring break.  It won’t be long!

Monday, April 7, 2014

"Homeschooled" Episode 1 - The Pilot - Part 3 of 3

Here is the final installment to the pilot episode of our web series, "Homeschooled."  I hope you enjoy it!  We sure are having a good time making it!  :)


And if you missed the first couple of installments, here's where you can go to watch them all in order.

See ya next week!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up – March 23rd-29th

On Sunday, I got a call from two of my siblings about my mom.  The hospice nurse apparently feels that mom only has about 1-7 days left to live.  She said the animals always know first, and she could tell by the way my mom’s dog, Misty, was behaving around her that it wouldn’t be long now.  Her dog was circling her.  That was pretty devastating news to hear.  But on the other hand, once mom started experiencing pain, I prayed that it would all go quickly for her now, as I don’t want her to have to suffer.  It’s hard to believe that it’s only been about 6 weeks since she first went into the hospital with pneumonia.  And it was Valentine’s Day when we were first told she had cancer.  It has all happened so fast.  It’s quite a shock and hard to process.  Please continue to pray for her peace and comfort.

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My homeschooled kids were off school this week, so I was in the mood for trying out some new recipes.  On Sunday, this one came to my email inbox from Betty Crocker.  Hooray for lasagna cups!

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These were really good and so easy to make.  I doubled the amount of filling and had enough of everything to make 24 of them, which fed us for 3 dinners plus a couple of lunches!  It was definitely the easiest lasagna I’ve ever made, and I love the automatic portion control you get with individual servings.  Well, unless you are a growing teenage boy named Hayden and you eat FOUR of them instead of one or two!

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On Tuesday, I did a little scrapbooking of some photos from 2010.  This was a field trip my son and his friend, Xevier, took with my husband to the Virginia Air & Space Center.

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The trip was an overnight lock-in, and they focused on robotics.  They formed a team called the RedWings, and their robot creation more successfully completed the mission than any of the other submissions!  Go Red Wings! 

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On Friday afternoon, the phone rang about ten after one in the afternoon, and it was my sister.  I could tell she’d been crying, and she just said “this is that call.”  Sadly, my mom passed away at about 1 PM.  All I got was that she was sleeping at the time, so I’m thankful that she went peacefully.  The nurse had alerted the people around her that her blood pressure and respirations had slowed and that the time had come, so they gathered around her for the end.  I felt dazed.  It was exactly 6 weeks from the day we’d first heard the word “cancer.”  Everything happened so quickly that it all seemed surreal.

I will tremendously miss the sweet sound of her voice, making her laugh, the endearing little things she would say to me, talking to her about my kids, and feeling her loving support.  Somehow, the world felt safer knowing she was always there.  Crying face  It’s not the same place without her.

Here’s the last photo that was ever taken of me with my parents shortly before my dad passed away in 2001.

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I miss them both so much, but my heart is soothed in the knowledge that they are embracing in heaven this night.

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I dreaded having to break the news to Hayden when I picked him up from school.  I contacted his guidance counselor beforehand and asked her to keep an eye on him on Saturday (the district is making up a snow day be attending on Saturday) in case seemed distracted or upset.  This is the first time he has experienced the loss of a close family member where he was old enough to understand.  She asked if she could notify his teachers, as well, and I said that would probably be a good idea.  They know he’s a sensitive kid.  As it was, he was very upset when I told him.  The kids had to go right to gym class after school, so I thought maybe it was just as well so he’d have a distraction, but he ended up breaking down in the middle of class, as it turns out.  Poor kid. 

As it turned out, the school called about an hour before school let out on Saturday and asked me to come and pick him up.  The teacher in his final class of the day asked how he was doing, and he broke down again.  When I picked him up, his eyes were all red, and I just gave him a big hug.  On the way home, I told him I was 11 when my uncle, grandmother, and grandfather died just in a span of a few months, and I’d only just met my grandparents the year before.  I remember feeling sad on and off for quite a long time afterwards, and it really hurt inside.  I told him it’s best to let it out and let yourself grieve however you need to.  I hate seeing my baby hurt like that.

He’s the only one of my kids who really had a chance to have a relationship with my mom.  Here’s a photo of them in June 2001 when they met for the first time.

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And here’s one with both of my parents.

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I’m so thankful that I sent my dad a ticket to visit me that summer.  He spent his last birthday with me and got to meet Hayden for the first time, and he passed away just a few months later.  I had a compelling feeling to see him, and later, I understood why.

In August of 2013, I had that same compelling need to see my mom, and so I made that trip out there to see her.  I’m so, so very glad I did!  It was like a still small voice letting me know I needed to listen and be with my parents, and both times, it turned out to be the very last time I would see them.

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Rest in peace, mom!  No more sadness, no more sighing, no more pain…only everlasting joy and gladness to fill your heart!  Amen.

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I always go to Trader Joe’s while the kids are in their Friday gym class.  Baseball season has begun, so this was their last class.  I usually end up getting whatever dinner ideas they are sampling that day!  What can I say…I’m a sucker for good food!  Winking smile

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This time, I bought their wonderful herbed pizza dough, some TJ’s pizza sauce, some TJ’s Quattro Formaggio cheese blend, and on the way home, I got some turkey pepperoni.  I pressed out the dough by hand and put the toppings inside and then folded it over and sealed it up.  It was enough dough to make two calzones, and I served it with a Caesar salad on the side.  It was SO good!  My whole family loved it.  I’ll definitely be making this again, and it only took 15 minutes to bake.  Super simple!

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Then on Saturday night, I decided to try out a new recipe I found on Pinterest for an Italian Sandwich Torte.  This is a hot, melted sandwich that is baked in layers inside a springform pan and then popped out like a pie and sliced into wedges.  Oh, my!  This was quite a treat!

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My husband absolutely raved about it all night long and said we’d have to have it again!  I used black forest ham, Boar’s Head genoa salami, provolone, parmesan/romano, roasted red peppers, spinach, eggs, and crescent roll dough from Trader Joe’s.  It was as visually appealing as it was downright delicious!  Here’s the recipe link:  http://www.shugarysweets.com/2011/03/italian-sandwich-torte.  Enjoy!

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Well, in closing this week, I’d like to post a little tribute to my mom.  Shown here is a photo of her as a little girl of about 5, and then again in 2008 at our family reunion.  This was just a year before she had her first stroke.  This is the mom I know and love so much.  I’ve always thought she was so beautiful.  Love you forever, mom!

Mom As a Little Girl

If you have someone you love in your life, take the time to tell them how much you love them, how much you appreciate them, and how much you treasure them.  You never know if it’s the last time you’ll be able to show them how much you care, and you can’t love them too much.

Monday, March 31, 2014

REVIEW: Captivated DVD by Media Talk 101

I had the opportunity to review the intriguing Captivated DVD documentary from Media Talk 101.

 

WHAT IS IT?

The Captivated DVD is a documentary film that highlights the increasing dependence our society has on various forms of media, from television to cell phones, computers to tablets, to video games.  Everywhere we look, people are engrossed or “captivated” by their digital devices. 

Are our relationships with people suffering because of the time and attention we give to media?  Are we being unduly influenced by worldly sources?  Are we using these devices as tools in a modern world, or are they taking over our focus?

This film helps us answer these questions and more and also forces us to examine our own use of media and to consider whether or not we put it in its rightful place or give it a unjust priority over opportunities for spiritual growth in our lives.

You can watch a large number of video excerpts from the film and see for yourself if this documentary could be important in your life and the lives of loved ones around you.

This DVD is intended for adults.  You can purchase it for just $16.95 with free shipping.  They are also offering a special sale right now where you can order 2 and have the second copy to give away to a friend for just an extra $5 with free shipping.  Now that’s a deal!

This film is 1 hour 47 minutes long and includes an additional 2 hours of bonus features.

 

OUR EXPERIENCE:

I have to admit that when I first heard about this film, I didn’t think I’d be interested.  I watched the trailer, and I still wasn’t convinced.  But once I sat down and watched each and every video excerpt available on the website, I became more and more intrigued, and I was certain it was worth investigating further.  I’m so glad I did!

I invited over a close Christian friend for tea, and we sat down and watched the film together.  Wow!  We had wonderful discussions throughout the film, even pausing it several times to talk more about it.  We watched all of the bonus interviews on the DVD, as well, and it was all so worth our time!  We both found ourselves nodding in agreement throughout the film.  It definitely sparks some self-examination and gets you thinking about how the use of media impacts your own family.

There’s so much to tell about this film.  I took lots of notes as I watched it, and I think the best way to summarize it for you is to highlight some of the many points that jumped out at me as important.

The movie starts out introducing how we began using media in the first place…with the telegraph.  Suddenly, people found they could share thoughts and tidbits of news across the miles without having to wait days or months to get their messages through.  It literally changed the way people communicated, and it allowed families spread out in distance to stay close through this type of contact.

One of the first good points of the film was how introducing busy programming on television to very young children actually conditions their brains to need excessive stimulation in order to generate interest, and this in turn develops a shortened attention span as they get older.  This really caught my attention, because I have a kid with ADHD and two others who really struggle with their attention span for things that are not visually stimulating (like school work…go figure!).

Another good point was that the brain gets good at whatever it does most.  So if kids spend their time playing video games, they get very good at them.  But if they spend their time reading books or playing board games, they get very good at those things, as well.

While we’re on the topic of video games, here’s something else to consider.  Your brain, when it works hard to accomplish a task, derives pleasure from a job well done and a sense of accomplishment at reaching a goal.  But scans of the brain show that playing video games also stimulates the pleasure center in the brain, bypassing the part where it works hard to get the sense of accomplishment.  So essentially, it tricks your brain into having strong feelings of having accomplished a lot on a difficult task without actually working hard, so you get a false sense of accomplishment with the same gratifying feelings of pleasure.  Also, the film states that 10% of children are actually physically addicted to video games, and in a clinical sense, it parallels that of a gambling addiction.  That’s a scary thought!  Do we want our children crippled with dependency in this way?

I mentioned that I have a child with ADHD.  I chose not to medicate.  I homeschooled him until high school when he had developed more self-control, and I kept his life very routine and regimented so he could focus better at home.  The film talks about how often times, children with ADHD can become more regulated and avoid medication by disconnecting them from media, ensuring they get sufficient sleep, having plenty of outdoor activities, and ensuring they have good nutrition.

It also discussed how the Hollywood rating system for films created the “R” category, which allowed movies that would never before have been allowed in theaters to now be shown with the “rated R” label.  In fact, there are now twelve times more R-rated films than G-rated films being made each year, and that is largely driven by the money generated by the popularity of these films with questionable content that our grandparents would have found shameful.  Over time, people become desensitized to shocking content so that foul language, violence, and adult situations are no longer shocking.

Many people have unknowingly become enslaved by media.  How many times have you been in line at the grocery store while someone stands at the checkout pecking away at their phones or rudely carrying on a phone conversation in front of the cashier?  What about texting in church or at the dinner table?  Do you have friends who panic if the power goes out and they can’t get on the computer?  Do you children dread vacationing in remote locations where they have to be disconnected from media for a while?  Do they know what else they can do with their time?  I know my own family suffers from some of these same maladies at times.  It can be a tragedy if one of the kids fails to charge their tablet and finds that the battery is dead…real tears!

Also, we should consider more closely what messages are being communicated through the television, music, and internet sources we choose.  Countless sources communicate the ideas of man and not of Christ.  Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  Are those the ideas that linger in our minds through the media we’re accessing?

Without media, you have more time for other things in your life…to learn, to do, to interact with others in a meaningful way, and most importantly, to spend time in God’s word.  Do you catch yourself saying you don’t have time for bible study?  Could you skip Facebook today and immerse yourself in the bible instead?  Are we making right choices in how we spend our time?

The film also points out that television was once a family-oriented activity where parents were ultimately in control of what their children watched.  Most homes had only one tv in a central location, and children watched whatever their parents were watching.  I remember that in my own childhood home, and I remember that my parents didn’t always shelter me from questionable content in the programming, but instead, used it as an opportunity to discuss with me the situations that I’d encounter in the world and how to handle them or what better choices could be made in a similar situation.  Do we do that with our children now, or do we give them their own televisions in their rooms and just assume they are watching something appropriate?

Instead, we need to control the medium, not the other way around.  Be selective in what you watch and the messages you stream into your mind through video and music.  Use television as a opportunity to discuss things with your children that conflict with your Christian values.

The overall message I got from the film were that if we don’t allow ourselves to be captivated by the messages of this world, then it means we can strive to be captivated by something else that glorifies God.  Media sources and digital devices can be wonderful tools in living a godly life.  The key to it all is discernment.  And that’s the message I think this film drives home to viewers. 

What captivates you?  Ask yourself that question as you watch this film, and you’ll be glad you took the time to examine yourself.  The first thing my friend said when it was over was that she wanted to get the film for herself and watch it again with her husband.  Its message is too important to ignore.  I highly recommend it!

See what other Crew members had to say about the Captivated DVD by clicking the banner below.

Our Family's Animated Series: "Homeschooled," Part 2 of Episode 1

Here it is...Part 2 of Episode 1 of our new family animated series:  "Homeschooled."  Enjoy!


Please take a moment to post and let us know how you like it!  My family sure has had a lot of fun putting it together.  Stay tuned for the final installment of the first episode next Sunday night!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up – March 16th-22nd

Welcome to a new week!

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Haylee’s been doing a 50-state study from Knowledge Quest this school year, so I bought her this fun magnetic states puzzle from Ollie’s Bargain Outlet for $4. 

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She put it together on the included magnetic map first and then transferred it to the side of the freezer so it would look cool.

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Monday was St. Patrick’s Day, so I decided to make our traditional meal.  Our long-time favorite is Betty Crocker’s Slow-Cooker Old-World Corned Beef & Veggies

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Haylee was quite happy about that, because she LOVES this meal!  I didn’t make it on St. Patty’s Day for the last 2 years in a row because I was following the PINK Method nutrition plan and didn’t want all of those calories and fat.  But I agreed to make it this year and just gave everyone far more veggies than meat!

Then for dessert, we had these Easy Grasshopper Bars from Betty Crocker. 

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They were pretty good!  And it made 24 of them, so it was a treat that lasted us most of the week.

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Mid-week, I went with my neighbor friend and my homeschool field trip group to Student Night at the Opera to see Carmen performed at the Harrison Opera House. 

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The last performance I saw was Ariadne Auf Naxos, which I hated because it lacked a cohesive storyline.  This was so much better!  That crafty Carmen…such a seductress! 

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I began working on my homeschool plans for the new school year starting in June.  Sonlight released the .pdf version of the new 2014 catalog on Friday, so I pulled out some storage tubs of books in our shed that contained Core B and Core F, and I compared what I had with the latest version. 

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Customer service at Sonlight informed me there are no changes to those cores from 2013 to 2014, so once I’d made my list of what I needed to upgrade my cores and science packages, I went ahead and placed my order to take advantage of 2013 prices before they increase to the 2014 rates on April 1st. 

I’m so excited!  I could hardly believe they changed out so many books in Core F…it hardly resembles what it was when I first purchased it in 2009.  This was our favorite core of all, so I’m hoping the changes don’t ruin it for us!  I’ve heard rumblings that the old Eastern Hemisphere Explorer was much better (it was certainly more visually appealing on antiqued paper), but if that’s the case, I still have an unused copy of the old EHE that we could go back to if we wanted to. 

I went ahead and shipped off two big boxes to Sonlight to return Hayden’s Core 200 and Science 250 that I’d ordered for him last spring but never ended up using since he ended up going to charter school.  That will get me a refund of about $850, and I’ll just lose the $47 I spent shipping it back to them.  I’m so glad I remembered to check on that, because I was only a week from the return deadline!  It was so much money because I had to order the Sonlight Ultra Microscope, which account for over $200 of that cost alone.

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I’m hearing almost nothing on my mom now that my sister is not there visiting.  I did learn, however, that she has been switched to liquid morphine as needed for pain.  On one hand, that makes me sad, because I know that is done in the final days for a patient’s comfort.  But on the other hand, I am glad to know that my mom will not be in pain with that.  I certainly don’t want her suffering day in and day out like that.

I feel very torn about whether or not to try to visit again.  I don’t think I want to see her this way and have that be what sticks in my mind when I think of her.  I don’t think I could hold myself together seeing her in pain, and I don’t want to upset her more.  She is now on a catheter and bed pan and no longer getting up at all.  She still can’t speak from the stroke.  My sister said when she has the stomach pain, it’s very intense.  I can’t imagine watching her suffer like that.  My sister said leaving for the last time was the hardest thing she’s had to do, and she wasn’t even sure my mom understood that she was going home.

Please continue to keep her in your prayers.

I’ll leave you with this beautiful portrait of my parents that was taken not too long before my father passed away in 2001.

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This is how I think of them.  That’s what I want to remember.  I love them both so much.

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Until next week!