Date Night in a Galaxy Near You

Review of Guardians of the Galaxy 2

GuardiansVol258b64e2849b3d

From the opening credits I was immediately hooked in. The expectation was high. I fully expected the modern day Han Solo in Star-Lord to be loosely in charge once again of his dysfunctional “family” of space misfits. This movie did not disappoint. From the opening scene I was bombarded with action, special effects, dynamic characters and last but not least, a seamless integration of great pop music.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, like its predecessor, has an uncanny knack for combining the mundane with the extraordinary. Where else can we find characters bickering over senseless things like who does “the gun thing” while fighting off space beasts or the search for Scotch tape while the possibility of death and destruction is imminent? Set against spectacular action sequences, the dysfunction of this patchwork family takes center stage as we wait to see if the bonds of relationship created in the first movie can withstand the strain of a new threat.

Matthew Stahlmann

Matthew Stahlmann is Jenni's husband. Together they have seven amazing kids. A lead guitar player for more than 25 years, Matt is passionate about music and worship.

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The Power of Using Visuals With Children

Guest post by Arlen Grad Gaines and Meredith Englander Polsky

Preschool Teacher Reading To Kids

Whether it is the acquisition of new skills or the adjustment to life changes, we know that children feel most comforted by routine and repetition. The idea of knowing what comes next can feel incredibly reassuring, especially around new or different concepts. We have found that the use of visuals work well for all children, including those with special needs.

Visuals, in general, are great tools often used by special educators, therapists and anyone working with (or parenting!) a child with special learning needs. Sometimes children need less talking “at them” and more concrete ways to wrap their mind around a particular concept. Many children with special needs are highly visual and are better able to process information when they can see it. A short picture story can tap into that strength, thereby better supporting the child and his/her needs.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 5 to 29), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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The Tale as Old as Time Gets a Live Action Makeover

A Review of Beauty and the Beast Live Action Film

beauty and the beast movie review

Right out of the gate, I have to say I loved this movie. Jody and I went to see it earlier this week, but because of the controversy surrounding it (more about that later), we were tentative about even accepting the invitation to review it. So glad we decided to take the risk!

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Fighting the Word Gap

Increasing baby's vocabulary increases later success

baby's vocabulary

Thirty million is a big number, it’s a lot of money, a lot of people, a lot of anything. Imagine it in terms of a child’s vocabulary. Imagine if your child heard thirty million fewer words by the age of three than the child sitting next to her in school. Imagine how that would affect her vocabulary. 

Research shows that up to 98% of words used by a three-year-old are directly derived from their parents’ vocabulary.  They also found that the number of words the children learned varied greatly among socio-economic lines, with children from professional families hearing approximately 30 million fewer words over a child’s first three years. 

Aimee Ketchum

Aimee Ketchum

Aimee Ketchum is a pediatric occupational therapist working in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and pediatric out-patient. Aimee is the owner of Aimee’s Babies, a child development company. Aimee is also certified as a yoga instructor, a baby massage instructor, and early child development educator. Aimee is currently one of the five finalists in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Word Gap Challenge with her Word Gap App. Aimee lives in Lititz, Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters.

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A Great Message for Parents

Moana Movie Review

moana

If you were not planning a trip to the movies this weekend to see Moana (Disney’s newest princess flick), I hope I can change your mind.

I have to confess that I wasn’t super excited about this film. I probably would have skipped it all together, but with Thanksgiving and family in town, Jody wasn’t able to make it so it was a chance for my husband and I to get out on a sort of date night.

We took the baby with us and drove up to Tampa the night before his birthday. It was sort of a date/pre-birthday celebration, and we figured that if the movie wasn’t great, we’d have an hour each way in the car to spend together, which is always fun for us. Plus, little Rhema Joy (who is 3 months old now) tagged along, and Matt and I always enjoy going out with the kids one at a time, even when they are babies. No one can gush over a little Stahlmann baby like we can, and it’s super fun for us to enjoy Rhema together. Besides, this is for sure our last baby until a grandchild comes along, so we relished the chance to soak her in together on our date night.

When the movie started, I was immediately impressed with the aesthetics. It is a gorgeous film, and with a bunch of Hamilton fans in my house, the influence of Lin-Manuel Miranda on the score was not lost on me. Joining with Disney composer-arranger Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa’i, the lead singer of the South Pacific fusion band Te Vaka, Miranda co-wrote a soundtrack that brings a new sound to the Disney repertoire. My husband is still walking around belting out “You’re Welcome!” — the song that the demi-god Maui sings when we first meet him.

I like a surprise in a movie. Actually, I like a lot of surprises. For me a good movie means characters I care about, a story that raises questions and answers them in sometimes unpredictable ways and a message that either challenges or inspires me. Moana had it all.

The message that resonated with me most was one that Jody and I often share with parents — children are not an extension of their parents; they are their own people with a calling and a purpose that is unique to each one of them. Our job is to help them discover that and prepare them for it. Moana’s parents were too afraid to let her be herself.

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Here’s the story. Three thousand years before our tale begins, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one in Moana’s world knows just why. Well…almost no one.

Moana’s father is Chief Tui (Temuera Morrison) of Motunui, a remote South Pacific island where the people live in blissful harmony. No one is to travel beyond the reef that encircles the island, but when the fish become scarce and the lush crops begin to wither away, something has to be done. Moana’s feisty (but wise) grandmother tells her the tale of Hawaiian demigod Maui, who stole the magical Heart of Te Fiti. He must be found and the heart returned for life to thrive once again in her village and throughout the lands of the Pacific. Maui is a surprisingly quirky character with his own quest to restore the magical powers of his fish hook.

maui

Their quest is full of adventure, surprises and fun characters, including Tamatoa, a 50-foot crab who hordes bright, shiny things. Voiced by Jemaine Clement, I thought Tamatoa sounded like a mix of Tim Curry and David Bowie. 

moana-tamatoa-fi

If you’re planning to take very little ones, you might want to preview it first. There are a few parts that could be scary.  Also, if your family is sensitive to potty humor, you may find your feathers ruffled once or twice.

For Christian families who are afraid of introducing the polytheistic worldview of Moana’s Polynesian world, I would encourage you to use it as a teaching tool. Learn about this culture together. Compare Moana’s beliefs with your own, and explain why you believe what you do. This is a great opportunity to begin a discussion about apologetics.

Please come back and drop me a line to share your thoughts on the film, and let me know if you liked it as much as I did.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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How Game Theory Can Help Your Family With Time Management

Helping kids develop healthy time management skills

This episode of POP Parenting radio show is all fun and games! Our guest Steve Shenbaum is an expert on game theory and how the principles behind childhood favorites like Hide and Seek can offer families time management tools.

This show is part of a current series on helping kids develop healthy habits. Take a look at the schedule for July, and remember, you can always listen live at 9:00AM ET. If we are not on a radio station local to you, visit our page on Genesis Communications Network, and you can listen streaming. If you’d like to be able to listen to POP Parenting locally, click on the contact button above to let us know, and we’ll tell you how you can help.

Saturday, July 2 — Healthy Habits for the Mind with Jenni & Jody

Saturday, July 9 — Healthy Habits for the Body with Dr. Samantha Brody

Saturday, July 16 — Healthy Habits for the Spirit with Rabbi Elaine Glickman and Pastor Tony Faeth

Saturday, July 23 — Healthy Habits for Organization with author Evan Zislis

Saturday, July 30 — Healthy Habits for Time Management with Steve Schenbaum, founder of Game On.

This Week’s Show Topic

 

time management for kids

This week on POP Parenting, we are talking to Steve Shenbaum, founder of Bradenton, Florida based game on Nationone of the most respected firms in communication, character development, leadership, and teambuilding training. Through a groundbreaking, game-based training technique, called MILE™, game on’s program harnesses the positive power of Mystery, Incentive, Laughter, and Empowerment to create immediate improvement people can see, feel, and measure.

game on Large

 

The impressive client list of game on includes

  • NASCAR
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • 2015 USWNT World Cup Champs
  • 2015 NCAA Champion FSU Women’s Soccer
  • University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball
  • United States Olympic Committee
  • NBA Rookie Transition Program
  • USO
  • Wounded Warrior Project
  • All four branches of the military

In the episode, Steve offers practical advise for helping families develop healthy time management habits through the understanding and use of game theory. We had a blast with Steve in the studio, and you are sure to have fun too as you listen and gather some new tips and tools. Be sure to click on the podcast link below and listen.

 

Caught in the Act

This week’s “Caught in the Act” is a mom who created an amazing way to celebrate her daughter’s 16th birthday. Cynthia Schrock tells us about this unique way to honor a child and to touch their heart. Cynthia has written a book about it. The Ultimate Gift of a Birthday is available on Amazon. Have a listen to this inspiring segment, and then check out her book!

Cynthia Schrock

ultimate gift

Brother, Brother Music

brother brother

Hey, if you dig the sound of POP Parenting, we encourage you to check out Brother Brother! They are a super fun two-man Indie Americana band comprised of brothers Bradley and Brett Anderson. They have a new album coming out soon, and we have had the chance to hear some of it — it’s awesome! So go visit them, like them on Facebook and check out their music.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 5 to 29), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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The Family Movie is Back!

A Review of Disney's Pete's Dragon

Petet's Dragon

My oldest son Griffyn and I had the pleasure of pre-screening Pete’s Dragon. If you are looking for a family movie, this one cannot be missed. Think back to all your past favorites from the 70’s and 80’s, this movie has captured that magic. The family movie is back!

Directed by David Lowery with a screenplay by Toby Halbrooks, this movie is a surprising success. Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford), a woodcarver, delights local children with stories of a mysterious dragon that lives deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. His daughter Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) believes these are just tall tales, until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley), a 10-year-old orphan who says he lives in the woods with a giant, friendly dragon. With help from a young girl named Natalie (Oona Laurence), Grace sets out to investigate if this fantastic claim could be true.

Although the timeframe isn’t explicitly mentioned, it seems several decades removed from now. This was the first thing that struck me. The story is wrapped in a more modern setting than the original, but it’s still removed from the present — a simpler time with no electronic distractions where a simple children’s book can shine as a plot device for the story. And all this before we ever meet the dragon. As we held our breath hoping that the reveal wouldn’t disappoint, we were greeted on screen by a perfect CGI beast with a nod to the sweetness and goofy personality of the original. We wanted to take Elliot home with us. Being a fan of the first, I can’t help but make comparisons. All of the essential elements are there but re-imagined and retold in a way that merely hints at its predecessor.

Since this iteration is not a musical, we see the story unfold in a different way, but the pacing is perfect. The movie never drags, nor does it run away with fiery explosions and window dressing. The story is key, and it’s a moving story of relationship and trust that will find even the most stoic tough guy wiping “that thing out of his eye” from time to time. The only downside that we detected was the 3-D. Some of the effects were decent, especially with the dragon, but on the whole, it was so underused that it’s not worth the upgrade.

If you are going out to the movies this weekend, do not miss this one. It is a must see that delivers on the magic which will make you see the world a little differently. You can also click here to download the newest movies for free.

Matthew Stahlmann

Matthew Stahlmann is Jenni's husband. Together they have seven amazing kids. A lead guitar player for more than 25 years, Matt is passionate about music and worship.

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Ready to Join the Clutter Free Revolution?

Helping kids develop healthy organizational habits

Food ingredients and green herbs on modern kitchen countertop.

This week’s POP Parenting radio show is going to help bring freedom to families all over the U.S.! We are continuing a series on helping kids develop healthy habits with a look at creating healthy organizational habits, and our guest author Evan Zislis has inspiring and practical ideas that will help families better manage “stuff” and in the process, improve family relationships.

This show is part of a current series on helping kids develop healthy habits. Take a look at the schedule for July, and remember, you can always listen live at 9:00AM ET. If we are not on a radio station local to you, visit our page on Genesis Communications Network, and you can listen streaming. If you’d like to be able to listen to POP Parenting locally, click on the contact button above to let us know, and we’ll tell you how you can help.

Saturday, July 2 — Healthy Habits for the Mind with Jenni & Jody

Saturday, July 9 — Healthy Habits for the Body with Dr. Samantha Brody

Saturday, July 16 — Healthy Habits for the Spirit with Rabbi Elaine Glickman and Pastor Tony Faeth

Saturday, July 23 — Healthy Habits for Organization with author Evan Zislis

Saturday, July 30 — Healthy Habits for Time Management with Steve Schenbaum, founder of Game On.

This Week’s Show Topic

Evan-Zislis

This week on POP Parenting, we are talking to professional organizer Evan Zislis, author of Clutter Free Revolution: Simply Your Stuff, Organize Your Life & Save the World.

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In the episode, Evan offers practical advise for implement his simple 3-step method for organization:

  1. Clear out
  2. Get Organized
  3. Design Beautifully Inspiring Spaces

For a free resource from Evan to help you get started, click here!

He also talks about why it’s so difficult for some families to get organized and how the disorganization of stuff contributes to unhealthy family dynamics. This is one episode you don’t want to miss!

Caught in the Act

This week’s “Caught in the Act” was nominated by Angelia Anderson (from last week’s Caught in the Act), mom of Brother Brother duo Bradley and Brett Anderson. Angelia suggested we talk to Susan Owen — a homeschool mom of three daughters who have all now graduated. Susan and her family have been working with Education First, a foreign exchange student program, for the past decade. Susan talks to us about how the experience has opened the world for her family!

Susan Owen

Susan Owen

Brother Brother Music

brother brother

Hey, if you dig the new sound of POP Parenting, we encourage you to check out Brother Brother! They are a super fun two-man Indie Americana band comprised of brothers Bradley and Brett Anderson. They have a new album coming out soon, and we have had the chance to hear some of it — it’s awesome! So go visit them, like them on Facebook and check out their music.

 

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 5 to 29), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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Developing Healthy Habits for Kids’ Spirits

This week on POP Parenting radio

healthy habits for kids spirits

This week on POP Parenting Radio, we are continuing a series on helping kids develop healthy habits with a look at creating healthy habits for the spirit.

Take a look at the schedule for July, and remember, you can always listen live at 9:00AM ET. If we are not on a radio station local to you, visit our page on Genesis Communications Network, and you can listen streaming. If you’d like to be able to listen to POP Parenting locally, click on the contact button above to let us know, and we’ll tell you how you can help.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 5 to 29), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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Developing Healthy Body Habits in Kids

This week on POP Parenting Radio

This week on POP Parenting Radio, we are continuing a series on helping kids develop healthy habits with a look at creating healthy habits for the body.

Last week, we kicked off the series with a look at developing healthy habits for the mind, and this Saturday we will talk about healthy habits for the spirit (be sure to tune in).

Take a look at the schedule for July, and remember, you can always listen live at 9:00AM ET. If we are not on a radio station local to you, visit our page on Genesis Communications Network, and you can listen streaming. If you’d like to be able to listen to POP Parenting locally, click on the contact button above to let us know, and we’ll tell you how you can help.

Saturday, July 2 — Healthy Habits for the Mind with Jenni & Jody

Saturday, July 9 — Healthy Habits for the Body with Dr. Samantha Brody

Saturday, July 16 — Healthy Habits for the Spirit with Rabbi Elaine Glickman and Pastor Tony Faeth

Saturday, July 23 — Healthy Habits for Organization with author Evan Zislis

Saturday, July 30 — Healthy Habits for Time Management with Steve Schenbaum, founder of Game On.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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