Saturday, May 24, 2008

Prince Caspian

Jenna turned fifteen on May 14th. Prince Caspian came out on May 16th. Ever since we knew the date for the opening, the plan was to see it as a birthday present for Jenna. She would also be allowed to bring or friend or two. Well, the Peter Pan production messed things up and we were not able to see it until today.
Just from the previews I could tell that there were going to be some changes that I may not like. I have read all seven books and then read them to my kids as well.
Just so you know, I am going to try not to spoil anything here, but please know that they did take a few liberties with the storyline. The one that bothered me the most was the dumbed down vocabulary and dialog. These kids were supposed to be from England in the 1940's. Their dialog sounded pretty similar to what I overhear kids sounding like at the mall. That may be an exaggeration, but the movie most certainly did not stay true to the richness of C.S. Lewis' lovely use of language. It is sad that in an attempt to "update" the story for modern audiences they have taken so much away. There is also a suggestion of attraction between Caspian and Lucy that you will not find suggested by CS Lewis himself. The original hero would have only been 13 at most. The actor who portrayed Caspian is actually 27. The other actors are 21, 19, 17, and 13. All much older than the literary characters. There are also multiple liberties taken with the plot and sequence, although the themes are kept intact. If you have not read the book, please do so before seeing the film. Do not let this film be your only acquaintance with Narnia. Hollywood's Narnia may be more glamorous, romantic, flashy, and action-packed, but the Narnia of CS Lewis has so much to give.
It reminds me of the comparison of the original tent of meeting and the temple of Solomon. The latter may have been more grand to look at, but it had lost some of it's original glory in the process. I have written more about this in a previous blog called Better is not Necessarily Better.
Feminism also rears it's not too pretty head in this film in an attempt to make girls feel in equality to their male sword-wielding counterparts. In the original stories, the girls were expressly forbidden to fight in any of the battles, but since we are now sending our young women to die on the battlefield in real life, this movie feels a need to reflect those ERA politics.
However, for all my criticism, I would still recommend this film. The characters still learn the fundamental biblical truths we find in Proverbs 14:12 "There is way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." and Psalm 127:1 which reads, "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain."
All of the children except for Lucy want to do things their own way, and even Lucy afraid to stand on her own for what she knows is right follows along after them. In the aftermath are extreme consequences. This is a theme in the original story and the film has retained the heart of this same theme.
I am still looking forward to the film adaptations of the remaining books, albeit with some trepidation. Douglas Gresham was a co producer on this film. He is the stepson of CS Lewis himself and wields most of the power of the Lewis estate and copyrights. If he allowed the minor alterations in this film, how far will they take the alterations in the next film, and the next? One possible hope may lie in the choice of the director for the next film. Andrew Adamson, of Shrek fame, has been at the helm of these first two films. The next director is rumored to be Michael Apted, the same one who directed Amazing Grace, which is the true story of the man who almost singlehandedly helped to bring slavery to an end in England. Though I haven't seen that film, I have heard that it was very well done.
We have two to years to wait. The next installment is not slated for release until 2010.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Since February my kids have been involved in a children's production of Peter Pan. The performances were at the McCallum Theater in Palm Desert. Taylor was a lost boy named Nibbs and Jenna was an Indian named Running Deer. Here are a few photos and a link to more. The play turned out awesome even though behind the scenes was rough. We are very proud of out little stars.
To see more click here

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Monster Mommy

She is known only as "Monster Mommy." Children and husband live in fear of the dark gloom she brings as the countenance of the sweet lady they know as wife and mother changes drastically as if some Jekyll and Hyde concoction has been poured down her throat. She demands service and obedience without question and with immediacy. If she is not satiated, within seconds her force grows as like a tropical storm feeding on energy to become a devastating hurricane. "Is your room clean? Why not? Do it now! Why did you make the bed like that? I've taught you a hundred times how to do it right! Why are you just sitting there watching tv? No you are not allowed to nap. What about the mountains of laundry in the garage? How much longer does the box spring that didn't fit in the bunk bed frame have to live in the living room? Do your 4 guitars have to live here in my bedroom? Can't they live somewhere else? Maybe somewhere I don't have to see them all the time? Why does the lego box look like it exploded? Don't you know how much I have to do in a week? What if we sat down to compare lists? I know mine would be way longer than yours. I can't believe you guys don't appreciate me more. Don't you know how much I do for all of you." all said in a blaze of fire breathing smoke.
As much as this tyrannical sergeant is reviled, she is however effective. After one of her appearances the home of the sweet mom is cleaner and more organized. For a few days afterward, the husband and children are more attentive. Yet they live in dread of the monster's next tirade. They dream of a hero to come slay the monster once and for all. Of course like Dorothy in Oz, who had the power to go home the whole time right at her feet, literally, these children and husband too, hold the power to tame the monster mommy. Will they ever realize it? Do they realize that the sweet mom they love dreads the monster's coming every bit as much as they do?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day. It is also May 11th. Two years ago today, I lost my mom. I didn't really lose her, I will be seeing her again, but I don't know how long that will be, only God does.
In a previous post, I shared a poem I wrote for my mom on mother's day one year. Teapots and teacups; that one was actually published in a book called
The Heart of A Mother, which was a compilation of poetry, stories and quotes about moms. I was honored by the fact that my poem for my mom got to be in that book. Today I share with you another poem. This one my mom never got to hear. I read it at the dove ceremony at her funeral. My mom loved teapots, something I have explained before, she also loved roses.
With that I give you...

The Rose and the Dove

Once there was a seedling.
Before long the seed began to grow.
First the stem and then the leaves.
Little by little, a blossom began to show.

A young beautiful bud, it soon became.
Her petals opened wide to the sun.
But hard rain and cold wind came too,
And petals fell one by one.

Her beauty still shone through though,
Despite the ravages of time.
Deep inside the flower,
Lived the promises of springtime.

One day her stem did not stand tall.
Her petals were withered and worn.
She looked to the sky and said a prayer,
As from her stem, fell her last thorn.

It was then that a dove appeared
In the clouds, and in one graceful glide,
Swooped down to the earth,taking the rose,
Promising to be her guide.

He would guide her home to the sky,
To the Father, to whom she had prayed
For rest and for peace from the storm.
In Heaven, the rose,
at the feet of Jesus was laid.

The rose filled with joy
In the presence of her creator
Had but one question to ask.
"lord, why did You not take me sooner?"

To her question came this reply:
"Before the dove could guide you here to me,
I had to remove each of your imperfect thorns.
It was then, at last you could be free."

The rose responded in surprise,
"But Lord, those thorns just simply fell off."
"Yes, they did," said Jesus. "They did,
The day I died upon the cross."

In honor of my mother; a very special rose.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A great result

In a previous post I discussed that I was given the opportunity to teach an art lesson to fifth through eighth graders based on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Well this past Thursday, May 8th, was the big day. It was an ambitious project. There were three realistic portraits of Lewis, Clark, and Sacajawea. The Lewis and Clark portraits were based on paintings by Charles Wilson Peale. He painted the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson as well. The Sacajawea was a photo of an actress portraying her. I had around two hours and fifteen minutes with the kids. I wasn't sure if it would all come together, because that is really not a lot of time for this kind of project. I did my research before hand. I also knew a bit about the expedition from helping my tutoring student with his history project on the subject. What I didn't realize at the beginning of this project though was that I would find the most perfect historical example of Romans 8:28.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. NIV
The New Century Version states it like this;
We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him. They are the people He called, because that was His plan.

For those who do not know the story, let me explain briefly. Sacagawea was a Shoshoni
Native American. She had been kidnapped from her family during a raid by another tribe when she was still a small child. She ended up being married to a French Canadian trader. This trader knew French and several native American languages. Sacajawea knew some of the same ones as well as several more. In this way they were able to communicate with each other. Around this time, President Thomas Jefferson assigned his friend and personal secretary Meriwether Lewis to explore the land that had been given to America after the Revolution by the British as well as the new land acquired from the French in the Louisiana Purchase. Jefferson wanted the USA to be populated throughout her borders, but no one really knew what was out there. William Clark had served in the army with Captain Lewis. Together they set off in May. When winter set in they had reached the land of the Mandan Indian tribe. Here they built a fort to wait out the winter and ended up meeting the French Canadian trader and his young and pregnant wife Sacajawea. It was agreed that when Spring came the trader and his wife would accompany Lewis and Clark as interpreters. When they set out Sacajawea carried her then two month old infant son named Jean-Baptiste in a sling. This arrangement with Sacajawea would end up becoming the most crucial aspect of the whole expedition. It was their plan to get to the Continental Divide, find a west bound river and raft it all the way down to the Pacific Ocean. The problem at this point though was that they needed horses. The expedition met a Shoshone Tribe who were not necessarily excited to meet them. Lewis and Clark asked Sacajawea and her husband to interpret for them so that the tribe's chief would know that no harm was meant and that in fact the expedition could really use a little help. Through the discussion with the Shoshone chief, Sacajawea learned that this was the very tribe that she had been stolen from as a child and that the chief was in fact her brother. The expedition was able to take advantage of this familial relationship and trade guns for 30 horses that would help them get to the Continental Divide. Winter set in again and there was no food. Any grass was eaten up by the horses and there was no game to hunt. Their only chance for survival was to eat some of the horses. They were able to make it as you well know, and westward expansion began. Just think, if Sacajawea had not been taken from her family, Lewis and Clark probably would have died that winter and never made it to the Continental Divide. Just think about that the next time you wonder why bad things happen.
On a side note, my class went great. I think the kids really enjoyed it, and they completed some great pieces. I will get to talk to some of the parents tomorrow at church so I'll hopefully get a good report from them too.
*Edit Note*
The first piece is oil pastel. I applied it directly like crayon and then used a Q-Tip dipped in baby oil to blend the colors and give it a more painted texture.
The second piece is pencil and the third is pen.
For the lesson, I gave each student a black line(like a coloring page) of each portrait to reference. I then proceed to guide them line by line by line through drawing each portrait. At the end the students were allowed to choose which portrait was their favorite and to use the oil pastel and baby oil medium to complete it.
It was my original intention to instruct in each medium but time constraints prevented it. I will see if one of the students will let me borrow their finished pieces to display here later.

There is a great online interactive game over here at National Geographic to help you learn more about the famous duo.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Say anything...

It has been a couple of days and I just wanted to write something. There will be no funny stories or deep thoughts today, but there is more good news. Next Thursday I get to go teach an art lesson to 23 students at the private school I will be teaching at next year. It will be based on the Louis and Clark Study they are working on. I love that I get to do this, and I will actually get paid for it too. It is a wonderful opportunity to show the teachers how to integrate art into the curriculum too. I am firmly convinced that you can teach any subject through art and that that is the answer to cutting art out of schools. You can pretty much teach any subject from the point of view of any other subject as well. Unit study is an awesome tool that really helps kids to see how so many things are interrelated which is hopefully the answer to the age old question asked by students, "How will I use this in real life?". I am not saying that unit study is the only way to go. I pretty much consider myself an eclectic home schooler. I love the classical methods as well. Whatever you can make work and keep kids interested in and enthusiastic about is a useful tool if it viewed as such by the teacher. We should never become slaves to a particular method or to the ever changing currents and whims of children's curiosity. We need to learn how to harness the power and use it to guide kids through education, life, and their relationship with God. Standards are not evil either, if we see them as the tools they are.