Monday, September 21, 2015

Where Have All the Family-Friendly Movies Gone?

Greetings, Chaotics!
For the past few months, my husband and I have been struggling with something.
You see....we are having a hard time picking out family-friendly movies. Before we got married, and before I knew better, I assumed that pretty much any cartoon movie was a safe assurance it was family-friendly. I mean, children are(usually) the intended audience for a cartoon, are they not?
But, a few months ago, a few verses in the Bible jumped out at me, and I started to evaluate what I, myself was watching and listening to. I had started to connect a few dots, and the more I did, the more I realized how much shows, movies, and music was setting the tone for my attitude towards myself, my husband, and my children....and how quick I was to go into a sour/displeasing mood as a result of watching and listening to certain things.
Eventually, I felt convicted so much about what I was watching/listening to, that I taped the verses to the top of my TV screen. That may sound weird or silly, but it's amazing how much you won't watch if you have the Word of God staring at you each time you turn on the 'tube.
Last month, my husband stated verbally he was feeling convicted of what he was watching, as well. I didn't become a TV nazi, he came to this on his own, seperately. Then we started talking about our traditional Saturday Family Movie Nights....and how with each week, it was becoming more and more of a struggle to find something that everyone could watch without partial nudity, sexual suggestions, or cursing. So, we turned off the TV/movie watching for a bit, and turned Saturdays into Family Game Nights.
I started looking at Redbox once a week to see what new movies we might be able to watch. Before searching, there were over 30 movies listed on their app for me to possibly watch, many of them cartoons. I did a search for G-rated movies that were under the categories "Comedy" "Children" or "Family".
Do you know how many appeared on average, fitting that criteria?
A whopping three. That's right...THREE.
Out of those we had already seen, one looked like it was a low-production/poorly made children's movie that received a "dove" approval, and the last was usually something we had either already seen or gave the appearance of having the suggested audience of babies and toddlers.
I tried increasing the rating to "PG".
And every single new cartoon poped up, along with some...questionable movies.
After reviewing a few of the reasons why a cartoon( a CARTOON!) would be rated PG, I started to see a pattern...
even cartoons today can't make a decent living unless they involve partial nudity, suggesting sex in some way(even if mildly by today's standards)crude humor, a mention of butts or backsides, and some popular but questionable singer doing their soundtrack.
What is going on? Now, we can't even watch 99% of cartoons without seeing a butt, partial nudity, or sexual inuendos!
We are coming to a rock and a hard place....
I have an 11-year old daughter who THINKS she's ready for teenage-related stuff in all areas...except the movies that are coming out today "geared" towards teenagers.
I have a 9-year old son who wants to watch super-hero related movies/shows, but is disgusted with how much nudity, cursing, and sexual references come with them.
I have an 8 year-old daughter who wants nothing more than to watch what the others are watching, but will get nightmares or can't get out of her head all the garbage that is associated with older-child intended movies.
I have a husband who hates musicals, and all girly-related movies, as does my son(which, by the way, is the only other option we have aside from the three mentioned above when looking into G-rated movies).
So...what are we to do? As more Saturdays come and go, we are both becoming frustrated and disgusted with the movie options set before us. Even movies we've seen as children we are starting to realize aren't safe/G rated(seriously, why the hello kitty did anyone let a child see movies like "Indiana Jones", "Batman Forever" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"?!?).
I'm not trying to hold my family to my standards. I'm really not. There have been several occassions where I have allowed movies that I personally felt convicted NOT to watch, but they thought they were ready to watch...only for THEM to ask to turn it off because they realized it wasn't what they thought/had things in it they didn't want to see,etc.
And, with even Christian targeted movies having at least a PG rating and production companies only rolling out one every 6-12 months, we're finding fewer and fewer options that we'd all be willing to watch.
We WANT to watch movies together. We absolutely love having Saturday as our "rest" day and ending it with a yummy dessert and popcorn, all huddled/snuggling on the couches/under blankets, and watching something we're all excited to see. Plus, with my husband working and gone all week due to being a truck driver, it's the only time a week that we all can sit around the TV and watch something we all agree on. And it's always fun to quote a funny line or use the movie as a conversation starter/inside joke between all of us.
So, again I ask...what are we to do? Are we to merely limit ourselves to watching movies every 6-12 months, hoping something family-friendly will sprout up somewhere in between? Are we to just stick largely with game nights? Are we the only ones encountering this struggle? If so, what do you do?
We want something that will bring us together, to end the week as well as our "day of rest", but we don't want our children to be scarred or tramatized every other Saturday as a result.
I just want to know where have all the family-friendly movies gone...and when they're coming back.
Until Next Time,
~Mama Jenn

Housewife 101: Meal Prep 101

Greetings, Chaotics!
Food has been on my mind lately. Okay, a lot lately.
Okay...if I'm being totally honest, it's always on my mind in some way.
Hey, I'm a fat girl, what can I say?
Over the course of my years on Facebook, many people have commented(some politely, some rudely) how my food posts have made them hungry, they wanted to know how I cooked XYZ, etc.
And I kept thinking...why is that? I mean, I'm no food photographer, so my photography skills are not the reasoning. My recipes are not something that takes crazy kitchen equipment or food items that take a doctorate to conjure up. So what gives?
The only two things I could come up with are-
1. Y'all don't know how to cook(or, y'all don't want to cook).
2. Y'all don't have/make time to cook.
And when I have posted recipes, y'all have said one of the two(or worse...both) in your own way.
"Oh, my mom/dad/crazy grandmother that got high off the fumes in a cookbook never taught me."
"My (insert guardian's title here) couldn't cook, neither can I!"
"Oh, I can't boil water without burning it!"
"But that looks complicated. Why bother with all THAT when I could just buy it in a box/can/*insert fast food place here*? "
"Are you kidding me? Ain't nobody got time fo' all 'dat! I'm raising X amount of kids and I have zero time to make a "real" meal from "scratch"!"
And I'm not saying all these after graduating from Martha Stewart University with a major in Paula Deen and a minor in Rachel Ray!
    But it would be seriously cool if I did. Just sayin'. 
    I'm saying this all from where YOU are at.
     I didn't know how to cook! I wasn't born a little chef! My mother considered making scrambled eggs "real cooking" and anything else was either a TV dinner, or a "helper", or cereal. My father knew how to cook a few things, but as he started to get older, he, too, resorted to convenience foods and pre-packed/frozen/boxed stuff.
    I was a single mom, with two kids, who considered Hamburger/Chicken/Tuna Helper to be "cooking from scratch. And ordered pizza/Chinese at least once a week whenever we got sick of all the "helpers". And ate cereal when we got sick of those.
    It wasn't until my third child that I realized...hey, eating the way we are with TWO kids is expensive! And I just added another one! 
    We were living off welfare and food stamps here, people! Even with the amount they gave us, I could not make ends meet while ordering out/eating convenience foods all the time!
    So, around the same time I felt convicted to be more conservative, I also felt more convicted to start cooking "real" food.
    What are some things I learned? Let me tell you-
    1. MAKE TIME
    I can have the best recipe for homemade pizza in the world...but won't know it if I'm so rushed, I don't have time to make it and resort to opting for take out or a pizza from the freezer section instead because I forgot about it until the last minute. If you're going to make the transition from getting take out/prepackaged foods all the time, make sure to make time for it. I'm also adding to make more time than what the recipe says, in the event you're a new cook. The time frame given is not always the time it actually takes. Some recipes assume you know what you're doing, others may cook longer or shorter depending on your stove/oven/altitude. Give yourself enough time to not feel rushed.

    I know this sounds weird, but one of the things I noticed when I first started was how much more expensive in the beginning cooking myself was. This was largely due to not having most of the spices,etc. not already in my cupboards, and not knowing how to plan meals,etc. according to sale cycles/coupons. You may be used to eating Ramen Noodles for dinner for $1, but as you go to shop for, say, a real chicken dinner, you may find yourself forking out more and get discouraged. Don't. Trust me when I say that with time and experience, it will become easier(and as a result, cheaper).

    Truth in food advertising
    If you're asking yourself may be time to learn how to cook.  And coupon. 
    If you are a complete nobody in the kitchen as I was when first starting out, seeing a piece of paper with 7 sets of directions and 15 items to obtain may overwhelm you as it did me. I'd buy the 15 items only to realize I couldn't "read" the recipe. What the heck is a julienne cut? How do I saute' something? What the hello kitty is a steaming that when my boobs are sweating, while I slave over the stove? This is why I stress you READ the recipe ENTIRELY before going out and buying all the ingredients. That will give you plenty of time to decide if it's actually worth trying, you can google(and check YouTube) on anything they tell you to do with said food items, and can buy all that's needed without starting halfway through before realizing you're missing two ingredients. Also, if you're using a recipe for something ethnically-related, and you have no idea what one of the items are, you can look it up online to see what it looks like so you know what to look for.
    However, I'd also like to stress starting small. If you can't understand half the recipe, or are having a hard time finding multiple ingredients for said recipe, then it may be too much to try at the moment. Try finding another recipe that is written in a way you can understand, or with ingredients that you know where to obtain.
    This somewhat goes with #3. I have already stressed reading the recipe in its entirety, beforehand to ensure you have all the ingredients. But what if you were like me, who cooked with her microwave, and you have no pots and pans? Or steamer? Or Crock Pot? And the only knife you have is a butter knife? What do you do then?
    My suggestion to you would be to get all these things used, especially if you are new to cooking. You may be drooling over a $250 pot and pan set, a knife set from Japan, and a crock pot dipped in gold and outlined in silver...but let me tell you, honey, it will all go to waste if you're new. You are at some point going to burn something(s) that you don't even want to bother trying to scrub off. You're going to light these suckers on fire, they might soak up that ONE recipe that reeked your place for days, they're going to get stains that may take forever and a day to get off, they're going to get scratches, they're probably going to get dented in some way. For a newbie, one of the biggest money-wasters for me was buying a brand new pan and pot set...TWICE...before I realized it'd just be cheaper to buy it as I needed from a secondhand store. You may turn up your nose at buying secondhand cookware, but trust me on this, it's going to be a lot easier to throw that burnt $1 pot containing oatmeal that will not wash off than that $50 designer pot you got because a celebrity chef made it with tears from Santa's Elves.
    Do we really *need* a $70 Hello Kitty microwave? Uhm, yes! I mean, no. I mean...maybe(?)

    This may come across as silly. Set the right environment? What the heck does THAT mean? Am I supposed to seduce my rice with Barry White music while caressing my chicken in satin sheets or something?
    No. Unless you're into that sort of which case, be my guest.
    *Cough* FREAK *Cough*

    What I meant by this was make sure you're kitchen and your mind are ready to cook. You can set aside the given time for a recipe, but if you're sink is filled to counter tops with dirty dishes, you'll find it take longer to cook as you have to search for that *one* pot you need to cook with, wash it and dry it...only to realize your measuring cup is dirty,too...only to find out your favorite spatula is in that mess as well...see what I'm saying? You'll be reaching for the speed dial to a take-out place faster than you knew how.
    I'm not saying deep clean your kitchen and make it "company is coming over!"-clean. Just make sure your kitchen is USABLE. Is there at least ONE clean counter you could use as surface space? What cooking utensils, pot/pan(s) do you need-are they clean? Is your stove top covered with tomato sauce from last night's exploding sauce fiasco?
    While I'm at it, I'd like to add...make sure you're in the right mind to cook. This may come off as a little old-fashioned, but its true. You're more likely to enjoy the process if you turn on some of your favorite tunes and JUST focus on the actual cooking. If you're constantly uploading pictures of the process on your Instagram, while checking your Facebook feed, while thinking about your cats ex-boyfriend's YouTube page...things can go south pretty quickly. Try not to get distracted.
    "But I just went on Facebook for a MINUTE!" 

    Oh, and be comfortable! Even if you are a transdecadian(hey, if you can be multiple genders, then I can be multiple decades in my head) housewife as I think myself to be, you really don't have to rock heels, pearls, and makeup in order to be prepared to cook.

    Unless, you know, your husband likes that sort of thing. *wink*
    If you just came home from work(and that sort of attire is required), then go change into something more comfortable before starting. Make sure to wear something you don't mind getting dirty/wet. Even if you wear an apron over your clothing, there's still a chance things might get messy and your clothes might take a hit. Make sure whatever you're wearing is something you're not too worried if it gets a stain or two here or there..or you might have to risk throwing away.
    Nobody has voted for this poster yet. Why don't you?
    Seriously, just do it.
    This is one of those things no one really tells you. Or maybe you guys had families that already knew this, and I'm the odd one out. I know the process of cooking from start to finish, especially if you're a newbie is DAUNTING. But it's going to be even more daunting if you cook this amazing meal...and have 50 items to clean and put away afterwards. So, as soon as you're done with that measuring cup/ spoon, spatula, bag of Barry White seduced rice, or whatever it may be, put it back where it belongs. Even if that means the sink to wash...eventually. As you become more comfortable with cooking, you'll figure out how long a pot of water can sit on the stove without you loving staring into its bubbles, and can eventually start wiping down a counter here and rinsing off a measuring cup there to make the process easier and less of a chore once your done.

    This may sound stupid, and yes, I put this last as sort of a chuckle. But when you're used to NOT cooking or cooking out of a microwave, you may sort of go on auto-pilot and forget that, unlike a microwave AN OVEN WILL NOT TURN ITSELF OFF ONCE YOU OPEN IT UP. Same goes for a stove. And a blender. And a hand held mixer.
    Please remember to turn off any electrical appliances as you are done using them! Maybe my idiotenese is showing here, but yes, I was the dummy that often forgot to turn off the oven/crock pot(before I discovered crock pots that turn themselves off, anyways...seriously, the people that make kitchen appliances know me)/stove/mixer/ blender before eating or after using it.
    Lemme tell ya....forgetting to turn off  things can make a memorable mess in the kitchen. And can result in burned things, like hands/arms.
    Seriously, don't be that me. You will regret it.
    " is abnormally toasty today...wonder why...*shrugs*"

    Until Next Time, Chaotics!
    ~ Mama Jenn

    Wednesday, September 9, 2015

    Start With Where You're At

    "And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ[right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you." -Philippians 1:6
    "Therefore humble yourselves[demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you. Casting the whole of your care[all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully[Psalm 55:22].-1 Peter 5:6-7.
    I was SO excited a few weeks ago to start "our" eclectic little homeschool curriculum. The kids had loved just about every subject, nearly all of it we had obtained for free by the grace of God, and that we had to pay for was very low in cost.
    But then...I looked on here and saw others preparing for public school. I had struck up conversation with other homeschoolers as well as those whose children were attending public school. Through listening/joining into all these conversations, I suddenly felt inadequate. Our little eclectic curriculum didn't seem like it was "enough". All my excitement turned into panic. I stopped doing schoolwork with the kids. Someone(I won't mention names) questioned my ability, jokingly, to homeschool my children-but of course, combined with everything else, just confirmed in my mind that I was steering the kids on a one-way ticket to stupidity.
    The past few days, I had been researching new curriculum. I had been comparing prices, reading reviews, and trying to scramble to find things that would fill in all the gaps.
    BUT...I started going through old photos here(on Facebook). And God was whispering, "see? You WERE teaching them."
    Then, after getting frustrated once again after looking over the phone-book sized homeschooling catalog(homeschoolers, y'all know which one I mean!), I emerged from my bedroom and my eyes looked around my living room. I recalled a conversation I had with Solstice yesterday, when asking her where she found out about something I thought she didn't know yet. "In the encyclopedia," she replied casually.
    A few years ago, when I vocally expressed what was on my heart(to homeschool), I was scared out of my wits. I couldn't finish a college level math in my major without resorting to tears after the first week, for goodness sake, how on earth was I going to take on the responsibility to homeschool THREE children, for possibly TWELVE years?! I didn't have a homeschool book in sight when we started. I had a preschool book, a library card, a bus pass to get to said library, and faith that this is what God was calling me to do.
    This morning, as I looked at the bookshelves lovingly built by the hands of my husband...and the filing cabinet that was left by a previous tenant...and the desk provided by a church member...and the "TV" stand(which really should be called another book shelf for all the books that couldn't fit on the first bookshelf my husband built, that also holds the TV) I listen to a sermon talking about casting cares on God and not ourselves as I do the dishes...God speaks to my heart. When I first started, I didn't care that we weren't exactly like the public school(in fact, it was my goal for us to look NOTHING like a public school, especially the one that had let us down!), or "that homeschool family" a few miles/etc. away, or that we had what the world would deem "suitable" curriculum. I had faith! God called us to a good work and he was going to make a way. I wasn't comparing, I wasn't thinking "we could do better if we just had...", I was pliable and humble. God HAD provided the books we needed, God DID supply us with the materials required for the time(s), God CONTINUED that good work in us as long as we were trusting on him(and not ourselves) to meet the need, and as long as we remained humble!
    I know God has called us to change course this year. But by looking at the world(and myself and my ability), instead of keeping my trust in him(and his ability), I allowed myself to worry and stress over something that God already said to, "don't worry, I GOT THIS." about.
    God is doing a good work in our homeschool. It may not look like another family's homeschool. It may not look like the local public school's work. It certainly will not look like the way I or my husband were schooled(and I thank God for that!). But it WILL be a good work, as long as we remain humble. My children will lack no good thing(education or otherwise) as long as we remain pliable and humble to God's will. I just have to go back to our beginnings- I have to have faith, start with what we have, and trust that God will provide what we need when we need it! And if worry over what we're doing should arise, I have to cast it right to God, because I SHOULD NOT and CANNOT handle it on my own!
    The words on my heart this morning were "start with where you're at.". God has started a good thing in our hearts-let's not try to do better in our own eyes, let's start with where God has us at. Even if that means looking the mess we created dead in the eyes. Even if that means seeing ourselves for who we really are. Even if that means admitting(HUMBLE pie, anyone?) that there is something in our lives that we want to do more in, but coming to the point of realizing we can't without God. Start with where you're at. Not where that other person is. Not where that other family is. Not where someone else's children are at, or someone else's spouse is at, or heck, maybe even not where your own spouse is at. Not where any other book may say you(or your children, or your spouse, or your homeschool, or your career, or anything in between) should say you should be at. Start with God's word, and where you're currently at.
    God can work with you, no matter where you're at. But only if you remain humble and open to allowing him to continue that good work he started(or is trying to start) in you.#revivalstartswithme #revivalinourhomeschool #revivalinmyheartandmind

    Wednesday, September 2, 2015

    Techy Thoughts

    Greetings, Chaotics!
    I had been thinking some about technology and myself lately. At the same time, I have been thinking about myself, my children, my husband, and God lately.
    And yes, I have been thinking of my Chaotics lately, too.
    For some time, I've said I would be reducing/eliminating/reducing my time on Facebook. And several people have said, no, don't, we love/like/really appreciate all that you post on Facebook. Don't go!
    And I have seen them, and started to feel bad. The people pleaser in me wants so badly to say, "Just kidding! I'll stay on, but I'll just be more disciplined with my time!". I hate to be the person that rains on a person's parade.
    At the same time...I have been feeling led to read more and work more on myself and my children lately. I'm sure some of you have seen the many postings I've made on there with the hashtag #revival or #revivalstartswithme .
    I've been praying(and re-praying, and praying some more) about this.
    If I'm being totally honest with myself, I do NOT want to go. I would love to think of myself as most of you can in regards to Facebook, you super humans who can go on once a week, or even once a day for an hour or so and then get off and keep moving.
    But, even now, with all my hashtags and Bible reading...Facebook for me is still a problem. Yes, Facebook has allowed me to find some really great people that I'd probably NEVER encounter in my day-to-day interactions. It has helped me to find my political grounding, it has shown me that there are people out there that are like me at times when I felt like a the only person that believed something. Facebook has given me countless recipes to try, has made me laugh my bum off more times than I can count, and has helped become the bridge to connect myself and my children to the people we love and miss so much back home and in our second home. Facebook even helped me find my husband! the same time, I have missed large chunks of MY life. Now, I am so absorbed(addicted?) to it. I am embarrassed to admit the many, many times my children have said to me, " this! Mom? Mom? Are you paying attention?". The many other times they have asked me a question only to be met with silence because I was scrolling my news feed like a zombie, not paying attention to anything else around me. The times we've had a special moment that probably should of been between just us, but instead, I asked them to do it again so that "I can post it on Facebook.". The times my children see me taking a picture and sometimes excitedly, other times with sadness in their voices say, "are you going to put THAT on Facebook, Ma?". The times I felt I may have made my life TOO open, gave y'all a peek TOO personal into my family's life. The many times I feel like I'm exploiting my children's childhood all for the sake of a few of those blue little thumbs ups. The times my kids have said, "Mom! Get off Facebook! We're supposed to be having quality time together!". The times I've said my house was a mess and I didn't care because I was a MOM, and I was MOMING...but in actuality, I was just spending hours on Facebook. The times when my husband asks, "So, what did you do today?" and my mind is drawing a blank, not because I did what I was supposed to do, but because I went on Facebook thinking, "I'll just check that one status and get off" and hours later, I was writing yet another lengthy comment about my stance on something that had zero affect on my personal life/well being.
    As I said in my original post(on Facebook), God(or maybe just my own soul that wants what's best for me?) has been prompting me and urging me for some time, you've gone too far. Get off. Stay off.
    And, I do. Every once in awhile, I'd get off for a few days, either by necessity(couldn't pay the internet bill!), or by intentional choice. And after the first day, maybe two of having that feeling that I'm letting someone out there down, that a huge world event is going to happen and I'll miss it and die, etc....after one or two days, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I don't feel like every moment needs to be "updated" and "broadcast" to everyone, I actually have large chunks of time for...STUFF! And stuff I do-and lots of it! God gives me 24 hours, and on the days I'm not on, suddenly, those hours don't seem to wiz by with me questioning if I was "productive enough" that day. I go to bed TIRED, knowing I made the the most of each day.
    I  started removing myself and my family, little by little each day. Trying to not post as much. I saved all our videos and removed them. Each day, I take at least 100 photos, save them on our computer, and then remove them from Facebook. I don't want any reason to come back on after September 15. I don't want to be tempted, I don't want to fall back into giving the appearance of being present for my family, only to be absent when it really matters.
    It's strange...since I decided this, I have FOUR other people say they're feeling led to remove themselves from Facebook. I don't know all their reasoning as to why. Nor do I know if they'll actually go through with it. Heck, I'm not even sure if I'll be 100% done doing all I need to do by September 15 on there.
    But I do know one thing. As I continue to  delete things on there, I get a sick feeling in my stomach. To me, that sick feeling means I'm doing something that others have asked me not to do, but I feel that God has told me to do. That sick feeling means I am stepping out of my comfort zone, and doing something life-changing. That sick feeling means that I'm letting go of one side of myself, and entering into something new. I may feel like I'm going to puke, but that feeling being there means that something great is about to happen.
    I don't have that feeling often, because I'm one of those people that don't like change, or surprises.
    I talk a big game about change, but honestly, I'm just like everyone else. It didn't make sense to anyone I spoke with about leaving home. No one could understand why I'd commit to marry a man I had never met face-to-face. No one was in the stall when I had to put my head between my legs(well, as best I could anyways...still working on that fat girl issue) at the airport's bathroom in order to keep from passing out. Big changes, stepping out of my nice little bubble and doing something that no one else understands or can relate to scares the stomach contents out of me! Yes, even something as simple as removing myself from Facebook! I hate change, I hate stepping out, I hate the unknown and unexpected!
    But...BUT...I'm going to try. I'm going to do it as best I can.
    ~Mama Jenn
    Several people have asked me "what about ALL technology? Your blog, your cell phone, etc.?"
    Well, at this time....I don't know for sure. Technology is my frenemy. I'm trying to take baby steps with all other forms and see how it goes. In regards to this blog, I really don't know. The number of readers has declined quite a bit since I got married. I do intend on downgrading my cell phone in order to just have one for emergencies only, while keeping a landline...but I'm still not 100% sure on that. The only thing I can say for sure is I'm trying to remove myself from Facebook, and taking it from there.