Crew Round-Up: Artist and Composer Study

Artist and Composer Round-up
Are you looking for some fun and interesting ways to add more art and composer study to your homeschool?  This week’s Crew Round-Up may be right up your alley, then!

We really love creating art at home.  There is something so restful and relational about it;.  Jackson and I usually do it together; we each have our own art journals, so we can sit side-by-side and share art supplies as we create.  It is a fantastic way for us to bring peace, community and enjoyment, especially after a long day of studying core subjects.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog today, and see what we’ve all got to share with you!

Enjoy!  –Wren

5 Days of Finchnwren’s Fabulous Family Movies–Day 2, Pixar!

movie blog hop picmonkey

VeggieTales might have introduced us to the CGI world, but Pixar Animation Studios are  probably the world’s best-known CGI animated filmmakers.  In my opinion, Pixar has something special that I haven’t seen replicated elsewhere.  John Lasseter and his team have been creating characters and storylines that have captured our hearts since 1995’s “Toy Story,” although Pixar’s been in existence since 1985.  Steve Jobs had a hand in its incorporation beginning in 1986, and The Walt Disney Company purchased Pixar in 2006.  And Pixar is still producing amazing work…..and John Lasseter’s magic touch is even affecting Disney pictures now (like last year’s wonderful “Frozen.”)

We have a number of family faves that we’ve purchased.  Here’s a short list of our most-beloved Pixar presentations!

Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3

By the time Toy Story 2 begins, Woody and Buzz are best friends.  Andy heads off to summer camp and Woody, while rescuing a toy penguin set out in the dreaded yard sale, is swiped by a toy collector who’s ready to make a big deal—selling a retro collection (which Woody completes) to a Japanese toy museum!  Themes of faithfulness, friendship and self-sacrifice are woven throughout this story.  Will Woody head off to fame in Japan or remain home with his toy friends to his beloved Andy?

Toy Story 3 picks up several years after Toy Story 2 concludes; Andy is getting ready to head off to college and the family is packing up his toys to either save or to give to a local day care center.  Although Andy plans to take Woody with him to college, boxes are carried to the day care center by mistake…..and Woody has to rescue his toy friends from a despotic dictator of a teddy bear!

We love both of these movies.  I’d recommend parents view them before showing them to the children; there are some scary elements (Zurg, Lotso, the fire at the dump) and toilet humor.  In the outtakes of Toy Story 2 Stinky Pete is caught cozying up to two dolls (uck), and there are some flirty moments between Buzz and Jessie, Bo-Peep and Woody and Barbie and Ken in the two films.  However, parents can just use their DVD remotes or the mute buttons for these, like we do.  (Over the years we’ve found that the remotes are our best friends!)  The overall themes of love, friendship, faithfulness and family are wonderful.

March 2012 054


A rat….an uneducated chef-wannabe…Paris…..doesn’t sound like an appealing trio, does it?  But of course Lasseter and team make it so!  Remy (the rat) dreams of food…of cooking…of becoming a chef.  And not just a chef…a FRENCH chef.  Linguini (the young man) wants to be a chef but has no idea what he’s doing in the kitchen.  The two partner to create great success at Gusteau’s (the famous deceased chef who said “Anyone can cook!” and who has recurring appearances as Remy’s conscience) Restaurant….hidden, of course, because who wants a rat in a fine restaurant’s kitchen??  The ending is unexpected and charming.  But the moment that sells me on the movie, that captivated me when I saw it the first time and still causes me to be still and closely observe….is the point when the snooty food critic, Anton Ego, visits Gusteau’s Restaurant under the management of the two unlikely partners.  It is almost a perfect moment in film, animated or not!

There are perilous moments, a brief scene of intense smooching….as always, preview first before you watch it as a family.  But the overall themes?  Family and love, working in one’s gifting, fulfilling one’s calling despite what others say….these are all powerful messages.  And they’ll generate some great conversation, I imagine!

The Incredibles

I’ll admit it.  In our family, we are suckers for superheroes.  Sadly, so many movies about superheroes are rated PG-13…and are way above our boy’s level, in terms of what’s appropriate, beneficial and good for his spirit.  We bought “The Incredibles” years ago, when Jackson was just a toddler….and we waited quite awhile to show it to him.

As a matter of fact, he STILL hasn’t seen the WHOLE movie.  And this is DEFINITELY one that you’ll want to preview first.  (We fast forward a freaky moment in the cave on the island, the first interaction between Syndrome and Mr. Incredible, and the final showdown between the two of them.  Just too much for our family!)

Bob and Helen Parr are in the superheroes’ equivalent of the Witness Protection Program.  Once revered by the nation, they were ostracized and hidden away when public opinion turned against them.  He works (unhappily) in insurance; she’s a homemaker and stay-at-home mom to their three kids Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack (two of whom inherited their parents’ powers).  Bob longs to be out fighting crime again, and “making a difference;” he’s largely unaware of what’s happening in his own family, who is somewhat disconnected with each other and bearing the burden of hiding the truth of who they really are.

Suddenly, the opportunity to fight crime and save the world comes to Bob again….or does it?  The Parrs are thrust into a life-and-death battle against a terrible nemesis.  What will the outcome be?

This movie is definitely the most perilous and, at times, frightening of all the Pixar movies I’m mentioning today.  And I thought long and hard before including it in this list, wanting parents to know I really don’t recommend it for small children.  It would, however, be a great movie for ages 12 and up, shared together with parents.  The shining light for me, though, is what I’ve never seen in another movie; a family, blessed with unbelievable abilities, striving against a destructive enemy together.  Through terribly difficult experiences and sometimes poor choices, they become more at the end of the movie than they were at the beginning (spoiler alert!); closer, more honest, more loving, able to work together as a tight unit.

I LOVE that.

For in the end, isn’t that what we all want for our families?  (Superpowers notwithstanding.)  Close relationships, appreciation for one another’s gifts, love and encouragement in our daily tasks.  Working together to achieve more as a whole than we could apart.

I thought a lot, after I finished this post, if there was a recurring theme in my Pixar faves. Well, there is!  I’m not only a sucker for superhero stories, but most definitely one for stories of redemption, and these four movies all have that in one way or another:

  • Redemption from wrong ambitions and a return to life and relationship
  • Redemption in the form of continued life and blessing for someone else
  • Redemption for the purpose of a life
  • Redemption from a stilted life of secrets, where characters walk into full expression of gifts and joy

What a blessing!

These wonderful ladies are also participating in our 5-Days of….Blog Hop.  They’re writing about the topics below and I know they will bless you as they have me….check them out!

Ellen @ Grace Tells Another Story ~ Making Homeschooling Fun! – Take it Outside

Marcy @ Ben and Me ~ Helping Children in Uganda – Orphan Care

Wendy @ Simplicity Breeds HappinessAround the World: Jamaican Jerk Chicken (Recipe)

Sarah @ Delivering Grace — Learning About England History Resources

Victoria @ Homemaking with HeartNature Study: Out and About

Joanie @ Simple Living Mama ~ 5 Days of Charlotte Mason Preschool – Outside Play

Gwen @ Tolivers to Texas ~ A Happy, Peaceful Home: Genuinely Enjoying Your Family

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses ~ FREE History Resources for Homeschool


And if you’d like to see what over 60 Crew bloggers are writing about this week, link over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog!


Enjoy!  –Wren



5 Days of Finchnwren’s Fabulous Family Movies–Day 1, VeggieTales!

movie blog hop picmonkeyYes, it’s time for another one of my fave Schoolhouse Review Crew events—the 5-Day Blog Hop!

This time, the category is “Five Days of……”  You can imagine that there will be amazing and varied topics to read!  And, as always, I’ll include a link to the main page of all the Blog Hop bloggers, as well as direct links to the other 8 members of my group.

As you can tell from my title, my contributions to the Blog Hop are family movies!  Each day, I’ll share some of our family’s favorite movies.  Here’s the lineup for the week!

  • Monday:  VeggieTales!
  • Tuesday:  Pixar
  • Wednesday:  Inspirational Films
  • Thursday:  Date Night
  • Friday:  Family Devotions

So, here we go….and as Bob the Tomato would say, “hi, and welcome to VeggieTales!”

Years ago when Murphy and I were on the mission field, other American families in our city introduced us to the delights of VeggieTales.  We were immediately taken in by the wry humor, the great storytelling abilities and the huge array of vegetable characters dreamed up and voiced by Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki.  And we didn’t even have children yet!  So of course, when we were finally blessed with our son Jackson, we knew VeggieTales was going to be a part of his childhood!

I think that most, if not all of the Western world is familiar with VeggieTales.  But, if you’re not, let me introduce you.

Bob the Tomato is the earnest master of ceremonies; he introduces and closes each show, and also stars in many episodes.

Larry the Cucumber is Bob’s goofy sidekick and comic relief.  He is also the star of “Silly Songs with Larry.”

The vegetable ensemble cast also includes Jimmy and Jerry, the gourd brothers; Mr. Lunt (another gourd), Junior Asparagus and Laura Carrot, the main children in the series, Archibald Asparagus, the token proper Brit, Pa Grape, Mr. Nezzer (another cucumber or pickle, I’m not quite sure) and Petunia Rhubarb and Madame Blueberry.

The VeggieTales team excels at taking Bible stories, moral lessons and pop culture, and animating them with great humor and vegetables.  The stories are not only clean and delightful but are as watchable by parents as they are by the kids.  As Larry the Cucumber says, “I laughed….I cried….it moved me, Bob!”

Our collection of VeggieTales is sort of old school.  We haven’t bought a VeggieTales DVD in three or four years.  But here are a few of our most favorite ones:

  • “Lord of the Beans” (and yes, this is a takeoff of “Lord of the Rings”…perfect for you Tolkien geeks out there; a story about gifts)
  • “Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Samson’s Hairbrush” (a nod to Indiana Jones” and Samson both)
  • “Sheerluck Holmes and the Golden Ruler” (yes, Sherlock, and the Golden Rule)
  • “Duke and the Great Pie War” (a medieval retelling of the story of Ruth)

March 2012 053Veggie Tales also created two feature-length films that are equally as wonderful as their shorter shows:

  • “Jonah:  A Veggie Tales Movie”
  • “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything”

These are fantastic movies.  “Jonah” is VeggieTales’ version of the Bible story of Jonah.  It has fantastic songs and a great storyline that mostly matches the story in the Bible; except, of course, for the scene inside the whale’s belly with an angelic choir, and the extra character/narrator of Khalil.  Murphy and I discovered one night when Jackson was about 18 months old, and asleep in bed, that there was an audio commentary with characters Mr. Lunt and Larry the Cucumber (voiced by Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki).  We ended up laughing so hard we snorted, trying to keep from waking the baby!  It is purely hilarious on its own, but there are times when the two of them are about to crack up themselves, which makes it even better.  The DVD set also includes music videos from the movie, behind-the-scenes extras and even movie “outtakes!”

“The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything” grew out of a silly song from a Veggie Tales show.  This heroic pirate-y tale includes time travel, a princess rescue and what a hero really is.

Speaking of songs, original, catchy (and again, hilarious) songs are part of what makes VeggieTales so fun.  Years later we are still singing….

  • “Endangered Love” (Barbara Manatee)
  • “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything”
  • “Love My Lips”
  • “The Hairbrush Song”
  • “Song of the Cebu”
  • “The Water Buffalo Song”

And, just for fun, here are a few of our favorite VeggieTales lines:

  • “Bacon!”
  • “Cookie man say NO.”
  • “With sound chip!”
  • “Nothing.  Zilch. Zilch!”
  • “And also a hippo.”

We’ve returned this year to watching VeggieTales here and there.  They are short and sweet and a delight to watch; and now Jackson’s old enough to really appreciate the humor that VeggieTales aims at its adult viewers.  We have so enjoyed this!  VeggieTales excels in a lot of things….but the best is that they provide delightful, fun-filled family entertainment, suitable for every member of the family.  And, you might just learn something about yourself as well!

If you’d like to visit the VeggieTales website, you can download free activities for your family and children alike; watch videos and sign up for special offers.

“Remember….God made you special, and He loves you very much!”

Why don’t you check out some of these wonderful blogging friends in my group, who are part of this 5-Day Blog Hop as well?  You can see each topic they’re writing about this week, and the links will take you right to their blogs.

Ellen @ Grace Tells Another Story ~ Making Homeschooling Fun! – Chunk the Schedule!

Marcy @ Ben and Me ~ Helping Children in Uganda – Meet Praise!

Wendy @ Simplicity Breeds HappinessAround the World: Korean Bulgogi Beef (Recipe)

Sarah @ Delivering GraceLearning about England: Introduction

Victoria @ Homemaking with HeartConnecting with the Creator through Nature Study

Joanie @ Simple Living Mama ~ Charlotte Mason Habits

Gwen @ Tolivers to Texas ~ A Happy, Peaceful Home

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses ~ FREE Geography Resources for Homeschool

And if you’d like to see what over 60 Crew bloggers are writing about this week, just go to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog!!


Enjoy!  –Wren