Let's Chat "Media"

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

When I launched The Unplugged Family, it was with a desire to raise media awareness.  For a while, I was working hard at launching my own project - to speak to various schools, community groups, and churches about media issues and awareness.  I felt called and lead to do it and, for the most part, I loved it.  I spent years studying media and pop-culture and it burdened me to see where society was heading (and where we've already landed).

Here's what I found though - the more I talked about pop-culture and media, the more I worried about hurting people's feelings or offending parents.  Comments online and in person would bring me to tears.  I felt people just didn't understand my heart. 

People have said things like:

"Oh, we just bought a new TV, but I better not talk to you about THAT.  You'd disapprove."
*gulp, no I wouldn't.  Our choices are ours, and yours are yours.  Let's be friends.

"Can I check my cell phone in front of your kid, or is that too much screen time?"
*Um... really?

And the one that broke my heart and made me cry:

"I feel sorry for your daughter to have you as her Mother."  (After I stated that I just didn't feel right about putting my daughter in dance.)
*Oh, my goodness.

It's hard to put yourself out there with a 'different' mentality.  I've often prayed and cryed out to God - how do I live differently and stand for what I know is right, yet, not offend others or appear judgemental or legalistic?  Do I just keep my mouth shut tight when I know I've been called to speak truth to these issues that plague the modern family?

I've confided in other home educators, sometimes, all I have to do is exist and I'm offending some one.  Simply live differently (even only in home educating) and others get up in arms.  I don't have to do a single thing or say anything!  I feel like sometimes, people see you living counter-culturally and instantly assume you are judging them because they don't do it like you do.  Can I tell you- nothing could be further from the truth for me?

My heart - it's huge.  I honestly love people.  All kinds of people.  A respect and love for diversity is one of the biggest focuses of our homeschool and family life.  I really hope people who know me well, know my soul.  Everything I write and speak about comes from a place of utter imperfection (honestly, I completely flail and am on this journey along with everyone else) and love.  We are just a normal family that has chosen to say no to certain cultural norms.  We're still figuring out how to do a lot of it.  And I know there are many, many like us.  I've met them and they are fabulous!  (Hi, by the way!)

We have a cell phone, yes.  Haha.  We have a tablet too (though I still can't figure it out).  By the way, it took my husband 12 years to collect enough Air Miles to get the free Blackberry tablet... so, keep saving.    And he have two computers too.  We aren't compltely cut off from the modern world.  I have a blog, for goodness sake!  I use Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook - and I really, really enjoy it!  It's all about moderation, friends.

My husband and I - we're just passionate about living a Christ-centered, intentional life.  And we want to welcome others to come on this journey with us.  For us, that means saying 'no' to a lot of what the world throws at us.  It's a journey. We're not there yet.  As I write this, my kids are watching "Wild Kratts".  So, yes, they are normal kids who have some screen time.  We're not superhuman!

Reducing screen time, tossing TV, minimizing our exposure to pop culture, cherishing and focusing on our outdoors time, these are life choices that have revealed buckets of truth in our lives.  It has pulled us towards a much more intentional, rich, yet, simple life.  And hey, I'm pumped to share those discoveries with you and your family because I love you.  I love people.  I care about families.  I want to see families healthy and strong and living a full, joy-filled life.

I'm motivated and brought to my knees when I receive emails from Moms who share with me that through this small blog, they've been inspired to toss TV and reduce video game time in their home.  And guess what? There whole family dynamic changed and they are living a much richer life.  They are close to their husband, kids, and neighbors.  PRAISE GOD.  These are the stories that make me realize, there is truth to be told!

I don't believe all media is evil.  I do, however, believe most forms of pop culture exist to steal joy and stir up feelings of discontentment.  Mainstream media is a distraction from why we're really here - to love. 

Everything I write or speak, friends, it's in love.  Deep rooted love.  For your heart.  For your marriage.  For your family.  For your kids.  For your future.  (And mine...)

I know it's part of my calling - this media education of sorts.  I've just been fearful of it because it causes such a stir, it seems.  But God has used the past few years to really teach me and mold me.  Yes, He's pounded pride out of me too.  He has opened my eyes wide to how I can share in humble love but still speak truth.  And I'm trying my best.  Please know, I'm trying my best.

I feel lead to share more posts about media and pop culture related topics.  Because I believe these issues are incredibly relevant for today's kids and today's families.  I'm praying for direction and wisdom and truth.  I'm praying for our families, facing an onslaught of lies and propaganda every single day.

Friends, His truth prevails.  He has already won over the monster of 'this world'.  My heart aches to bring darkness into light.

So, starting next week, we will be talking about media topics that I know many of you will relate to.  The first thing I'd like to discuss is the issue of media in the bedroom.  We will open up about why it is so important to get the screens our of our children's rooms and out into the open spaces of our homes.  There'll even to an oppotunity to share your thoughts and experiences with this topic.  Let's launch a movement to get screens out of our children's rooms.

I'm excited to share with all of you and so excited for the future of this blog.

All for His glory and all in love...

Growing Home   

Galloping the Globe - Mexico!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Our study of North Amercia began with Mexico!   However, we won't be following up with studies of Canada and the USA until Spring time when we can better interact with local wildlife and plant life, etc.

Here are some snapshots and captions from our unit!

Mexican Food!

Might I suggest some amazingly YUMMY Tacos for lunch?  So easy to make, and a favorite for our kids!

 Mexican Cookie Rings were delicious and so easy.  They are almost the same as sugar cookies, but with a finger print hold in the middle and sprinkles on top before baking.  We loved them.  Here is the recipe.

Mexican Music and Dance

We enjoyed watching some videos and listening to clips of traditional Mexican music.


A couple videos include this one of a Mexican concert (kind of like Mexican "Lord of the Dance" - ha, and this one which is a traditional Mariachi performance.

We took a look at different traditional Mexian instruments and did a collage with definitions as well.

Learning Spanish

Spanish is one language the kids were moderately familiar with.  We reviewed counting to ten in Spanish and said simple prases like Hola, Adios, Amigo, (you get the idea).  We also did a lift-the-flap book for Spanish colors.

Aztecs - a little glimpse in the past

We did not study Aztecs at length, as we will likely cover the history of North America next year.  We did, however, read a few simple books about Aztecs and do a couple crafts.

The Aztec's loved to decorate with feathers.  We made simple feather wheels using colored feathers from the Dollar Store.  We looked at an Aztec art book and tried to copy the concepts from the photos we found within the pages.

Aztecs also used clay to make bowls and jars of many kinds.  We decided to use old plastic containers and cover then with paper mache.  Then we painted our dry bowls with various designs.  I showed the kids some ideas of Aztec patterns and encouraged them to mimic them.

Butterflies and Monarch Migration

Looking at Mexico is a great time to take a look at Butterflies.  As always, my go-to books are Usborne and Caterpillars and Butterflies is a fantastic book.  Just the right amount of information, beautiful illustrations and photographs.  We read through the book and then took a look at several other resources about Monarchs.   We've studied Butterflies before, but it was fun to refresh our memories of just how AMAZING these creatures are.

If you search YouTube, you will find several videos about the Monarch migration.  We watched THIS one.  You may also choose to watch some time lapse videos of butterfly life cycles, like THIS one.  For the life cycle video, I read the captions to our younger children.  They loved it.

We took a look at Butterfly anatomy, using this free print out from Enchanted Learning 

Then we studied the Monarch migration to Mexico, looking at migration patterns as well as how the Monarchs actually stimulate the economy in very specific parts of Mexico.


Galloping the Globe included a study of Volcanoes with Mexico, so we happily jumped on board.  We love studying Natural Science!  We read Volcanoes from Usborne, another fantastic non-fiction read for the kids.  Then we looked at several other resources with information about volcanoes and how they happen.

Making Volcanoes!
If we're studying Volcanoes, you better believe we've making them too!  We've done this activity several times before, but our children are always happy to do it again.  All you need is a simple mixture of Vinegar and a squeeze of soap and some baking soda.  We used a bit of red food coloring in the Vinegar to make it look more red/pinkish. Give each child a little container (see through is best) on top of a catching tray or dish.  Then, let them pour the Vinegar mixture on top of some Baking Soda (or dump a spoonful of Baking Soda on top of the Vinegar).  The chemical reaction causes a little mini Volcano! 

Identifying the Volcanic Range in Mexico.

Learning about and labeling the parts of the Volcano.

Other elements of our study and our Mexico Lapbooks...

Which continent is Mexico found in?

Looking at Mexican currency.

Free Worksheets and Print-out Links:

Homeschool Share
Parts of a Volcano Labeling worksheet

Thanks for reading!




Friday, January 25, 2013

Again, I'm sitting, head in hands.  I'm begging into thin air for direction, for calling.  For grace and heaps and heaps of it.

Wes and I talk in circles about Uganda and Kenya and poverty and money and business and purpose and work and children and why in the world we're really here.  Don't we all want a profound calling?  A deep, heart-thundering purpose?

We struggle over and over to wonder how we can make 'a living' without throwing our lives away.  We only get one life, only one.

Again, I'm on my face asking for a light on the path - where do I step?  Which way, Lord?  The shepherd, He leads.  But we aren't given a map.  We're given a hand to hold and a whisper to follow.

My soul forgets over and over the truth I already know and again, I remind my slow self why I'm here and what He tells us about these days.  Even through the winds of uncertainty and the question marks overhead - God is sovereign.  He holds the pen and He is writing a beautiful story.

It's mucky and messy and full of unknowns, but it is holy and profound and every season is shaping us.  Even when we feel small, so, so small - in surrender, we grow taller still.  When I'm sitting at the kitchen table doing second grade math (again) and snapping K'nex together so they can simply be torn apart - even then, He is sovereign and He is writing.  He is writing and He is molding.

Again and again, we will fall down and beg for direction and purpose and light on the path.  And again and again, we are shaped and changed if we push into our Heavenly Father.  We will continue to pray the where and what and when and how?

Love makes you mad... and I chase God like a young girl runs after her first love.  I'm like a crazy person grasping and flailing for firm feet and a straight path.  Always trying to find His heart in a loud, loud world.

Again I will fail, and again He pours grace, and again I am changed and again I long for more of the same crazy process.  Again I thank God for the moments and whisper 'love' in the darkness.  Love is the highest goal.

Purpose, direction, the big plans?  God's got it covered.  We just need to bow and be faithful in the everyday little.  The little that is actually very, very big.

Again, I breathe deep. 

Yes, His yoke is easy.  Cling to Him in all things, every day, every moment.  Seek His face, and He promises, He will bring rest.  Even in the crazy, His peace will come.  Again and again and again...

Written for Five Minute Friday, linked in HERE.

We just have to listen by Wes (Cass' hubby)

Monday, January 21, 2013

For this guest post, I'd like to introduce you to our guest writer, my husband, Wesley.

The kids and I had the opportunity to enjoy the day and we seized it. It was like Spring - as best as Spring could give us in the middle of January. The sun was warm on our face, the ground soft and everything seemed alive in contrast to being in the midst of its winter slumber.

Once the idea of going for a bike ride came to my kids, nothing was going to stop them. Smiling, I suited up and joined the excitement.

"I'll lead the way daddy!" exclaimed my 7 year old.

It didn't matter to me where we were going, the joy of the outdoors had taken them and that's all that I was concerned about. Down the road, along an all to familiar pebbled path and up the hill to the lake.

And that was it. We had 'found' what they were looking for. Not sure if they knew it before they left the house, but once they arrived nothing I could have spoken to their hearts could have convinced them otherwise. Raw nature to be enjoyed. To be taken in. For what seemed like hours my daughter and I explored squishy beaches while the boys succumbed to their inner craving to break up the ice with a seemingly unlimited supply of rocks.

It was refreshing for all of us. It was refreshing because our Creator is so close by when we are experiencing His creation. I know it. I see, hear, smell, feel it in this moment. The kids may not understand why they enjoy it yet. But by God's grace we'll teach them to know it too.
I point out to my daughter the hawk as it circles high in the sky. I tell her to push aside the thunderous sound of the water flowing past the dam and hear the quiet bubbling of the ice, making it seem alive. His heart is here.

I share these gifts with her as we walk.  The boys are a little harder to quiet, to slow down enough to take it all in that moment.

Hours later, during bedtime, that time comes while reading to my oldest. We are reading Gentle Ben by Walt Morey and the words leap off the page putting to words in the quiet moment what I wasn't able to do before.

    “The sharp ears were picking up the distant thunder of the surf, the far-off cries of clouds of gulls, the near chatter of a jay, the raucous voice of a pair of crows, the scream of a fishing eagle, and the endless musical brawling of the nearby creek running over its stones. All these sounds and smells could mean but one thing to Ben, the thing that he had never known and that every wild animal has craved since time began; freedom – freedom to live as his kind had lived through the ages.” (pg59, italics added)

I read it again to him. I ask my son, “Do you hear that?” The brown bear was made for this. He was created for this. And he was empty until he was filled with what he was created to be filled with.

And the thing that we are born not knowing, yet every person has craved since time began? To be close to our Creator – to live at one with Him, as He had intended it through the ages.

Until that day comes when we stand in His presence; look, listen... quiet everything you are and He will reveal himself. He wants to.  

We just have to listen.

Wesley is married to Cassandra and the two work together in educating their children at home.

Linked In:

Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground