Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Hunger Games Review -- Revisited

Ok, I stated in a previous post that I was going to review The Hunger Games even though I knew without a doubt that I needed to see it again. I felt it was rushed and left key elements out of the book. Well, we went and saw it again today and....

At one point during our second viewing, Sierra leaned over to me with a big smile and a level of giddiness expressed "I am LOVING this movie" and I, with equal giddiness, expressed "ME TOO!!!" It was REALLY, REALLY a great movie and it does follow the book better than any I have seen before.

Now, it's crazy, I know, to have been so frustrated with it on the first viewing and than totally opposite on the next, but that is true.

Here are my reasons for changing my mind. First of all, we saw it at a midnight showing. As I stated in my previous review, my eyes felt like golf balls. There were SO MANY screaming girls (none in this one)...I was tired (I had a full night sleep for this one)...

Secondly, I went in to the movie with the book in mind. My mind was thinking ahead on the book while the movie was going on...I wasn't in the moment, I was ahead of the moment and even sometimes behind. I was constantly comparing and was, thus, distracted. Today, we went in expecting the movie and I can honestly say that I did not think once about the book!!!....ok there was a scene that I leaned over to Sierra and asked if it was in the book, but that was it.

We ended the movie with a full 180 degrees! We loved it....really loved it. It is rather amazing and good. I hated that Sierra had been so disappointed in the movie and feel much better now that we both love it (as did Daniel and Matt). Sierra even said she wants to see it again!!

So, there you go!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Homeschooling Daniel

Well, it is no secret that homeschooling has been the best decision we have ever made. There are moments where I want to throw my hands up and leave because I am so frustrated...but I remember having those moments when my kids were in school.

One of the main arguments I hear a LOT from people against homeschooling is the "lack of socialization". This was a concern for me when I began this journey a year and a half ago with Sierra...and it was true for a while. Now, it is SO FAR FROM THE TRUTH it is UNBELIEVABLE. Their lives have NEVER been so social...and neither has mine. We are blessed to live where we do. SO many parents in this area homeschool it is UNBELIEVABLE. I have pushed myself out of my shell a LOT in the last several months and have discovered friends for my children and for me that are RICH with knowledge, support and LOVE.

The opportunities my kids have as homeschoolers are far greater than ANY they had when public schooled. Not only is their education MUCH, MUCH better, but the benefits and opportunities they are presented with are SO MUCH greater. For example: Sierra will be participating, tomorrow, in her SECOND class at our local cooking school...this is not simple home ec instruction...this is fine dining. She gets to gather with fellow homeschooled Jr. Highers and prepare and eat a three course meal. Daniel also, recently, got to participate in a cooking class that was INCREDIBLE...much more so than I thought possible. When I think of the things my kids would MISS were they NOT in home schooled, I realize more and more how much I LOVE being able to provide this life for them.

Last week, Daniel got to participate in a field trip to Chick-Fil-A. The management at this location took our kids (there were so many that it was broken into 2 groups) through a behind the scenes tour of the restaurant. I was SERIOUSLY impressed with their patience and the information they shared. The kids LOVED seeing the kitchen, especially the refrigerators and freezers. We were told ahead of time that the kids would ALL get free kid's meals with this tour (which was also free, btw) which I thought was a GREAT blessing. HOWEVER, Chick-Fil-A went beyond that...they gave all of us moms free food as well....AND when they accidentally made one extra meal, they offered it to me to bring home to my daughter's friend. I could NOT believe the generosity (even though I am in awe of the company itself).

Here are some pictures that were taken of my son's group as they went through the kitchen...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Hunger Games

It has been several days since I went to see the movie "The Hunger Games" and I almost hesitate to write about how I feel about the movie because I think I need to see it again. It has raised many different emotions in me...some good and some not so good.

You see, I read the books. Had I not read the books, my reaction would have likely been one of excitement and awe. However, as anyone who reads knows, the books are always better than the movie.

I was hopeful of this one, though, because all the reviews sung it's praises. This movie was supposed to be one of the best adaptations out there and all the reviews raved at how great it was!! I tried hard to stay in reality, but I found myself hoping for that impossible goal of watching a movie that could be just as good as the book. I was, of course, sorely disappointed.

Sadly, I am a literalist. If you tell me you are going to do something, I expect you to do it. If I read that the movie follows the book, I expect it to follow the book. So, when I watch the movie expecting certain events and/or characters and I do not get them, I get confused and agitated...especially if I am sitting next to my daughter who obsessively read and re-read the books sighing next to me as her hopes slowly fall.

That said, I have to admit to watching this movie at a midnight showing, in a theater filled with screaming girls, after sitting outside the theater for hours....I was tired and my eye balls felt like golf balls. So, that may have contributed for my disappointment. For this, I have decided that both Sierra and I need to put some space in between this viewing and going to see it again with the husband and the boy...but we SHOULD see it again. We went expecting the book and didn't get we need to go expecting the movie and see what happens.

That said,I will say that I am pleased at how well it did over the weekend and is going. I am no fan of Harry Potter or Twilight and have hopes that The Hunger Games may squash some of the fervor. I think that Jennifer Lawrence, who played Katniss, did a great job in this role...she conveyed a good amount of brooding and toughness. A couple of the key elements of the book were well the relationship with Rue.

There were some things we were really looking forward to seeing, like the tribute parade, some more of the training, and some more development with the relationship of Peeta and Katniss. Some of this was seen, but seemed rushed and underdeveloped.

I cannot comment on how the movie was, though. It is hard to say good or bad when I am not objective. I constantly think of the book. So...

If you want to know my the books (even if the third book isn't that great). Maybe on a second viewing, Sierra and I will find that we were to harsh and it's really great. Now, the reviews are pretty clear that the movie is winning over critics everywhere. How many of them read the books, who knows? Again, I would like to see it again with the movie in my brain and not the books.

Oddly enough, though, I hope beyond hope that they DO radically change the third book. There are some serious flaws in the story that need to be corrected and if they change just about everything in that book, I think many of us will celebrate the fact that a book was NOT a good adaptation!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Beef Enchiladas

Like many Texans, there is hardly anything I like more than Mexican food. Tacos...Enchiladas...Fajitas...Chips and Salsa...etc. It just does NOT get any better. Making Mexican food can be easy. I LOVE tacos and find I like our homemade kind more than any other. We don't add any of that gross taco seasoning stuff to ours. I just season with garlic salt and pepper...add shredded lettuce, cheese and salsa into Stand & Stuff Taco Shells and they are fantastic!!

I have always wanted to make restaurant style enchiladas...but getting the sauce right is HARD!!! Canned enchilada sauce is kinda gross and watery.

Amazingly enough, last week Daniel had a cooking class (it was FREE at HEB) and they had the kids make a mexican meatloaf and beef enchiladas. I was SO impressed, that I decided to try to make it at home. I did just that last night and my family LOVED them. I followed the instructions pretty good with a few modifications and will make one more modification next time. Here is what I did!

First...I browned a pound of ground beef. As it was browning, I seasoned generously with garlic salt and pepper...having the flavors cook into the meat.

When the meat was done, I put the drained meat in a bowl. I mixed into the meat a small container of prepared Pico de Gallo, a couple handfuls of shredded mexican blend cheese, and a few tablespoons of Cookwell & Company's Chili Mix. I combined the ingredients together and tasted to see if I thought it tasted like it needed something. I wished I had had a bigger container of pico...this one was VERY small. You can add whatever seasoning you think it might need.

I took flour tortillas and heated them up. In a seperate bowl I heated up a can of enchilada sauce (yes, the kind I just called gross). This is the one change I would make next time: I would use corn tortillas.

I took several tablespoons of the Cookwell chili and spread it on the bottom of my 9x13 pan. Next I dipped a tortilla in the enchilada sauce on both sides, put some hamburger mix filling and rolled and put into the pan. Repeat until you run out of mixture (this made 11 enchiladas for me). I then covered the enchiladas with more of the chili sauce...however much it took before I was satisfied that it was covered.

I put in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes and topped with a fair amount of cheese (I am not much on measuring) and baked for an additional 10-15 minutes. YUMMY!!!

Like I said, I will try next time with corn tortillas. BUT, my kids and hubs all loved it. It packed some heat (Matt got the spicy chili). I think it would have been good with some shredded lettuce and fresh pico de gallo on top!!