A Spectacular View of Another Culture

Review of the Pixar Movie Coco

coco

Pixar has wowed us once again! Their newest film Coco is an exquisite look at the Mexican observance of Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), an annual holiday that honors deceased loved ones. As usual, Pixar has created not only a visual masterpiece but also a story that appeals to kids and adults.

Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his hero, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.

I happen to be married to a guitar player, and he and my son are going to see the movie tonight for my son’s birthday. I just know my husband is going to be thrilled with the film’s attention to musical detail.

Jody and I had the opportunity to go see the film before it hit theaters, and as we left, we talked about how much we loved it, but how we are also pretty sure there’s a whole section of the Christian community who will avoid it because of it’s spiritual depictions. Here’s our take on it. If a family feels a particular conviction about avoiding any subject matter that portrays different religious views, then we would say it’s best to sit this one out.

As for us, we are comfortable giving our kids a glimpse of other cultures and then having discussions about how their beliefs differ from ours. We’ve always found these conversations to be great faith builders for our kids, and we have felt that it is important for our children to understand different cultures. So, if you’re unsure, just pray. God will show you what’s best for your family.

The one caution we would offer is that it might be best to keep very young ones home. There are parts of the film that may be scary for little children.

On the whole, we give this film a big thumbs up for its gorgeous animation, engaging story (it’s The Book of Life meets Kubo and The Two Strings) and fascinating look at the Mexican culture.

Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”), Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opened in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017.

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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Can We Trust the Historical Accuracy of the Exodus Story?

A DVD Documentary Review

Have you heard that a great many of the world’s archeologists and historians don’t think the Biblical account of the Exodus ever happened? Apparently, they don’t see evidence for any of it. I’m not just talking about a mass migration of the Israelites out of Egypt, they don’t see evidence for the Hebrew people ever being in Egypt, as slaves or otherwise. And there are even some prominent Jewish Rabbis jumping on their bandwagon, saying these things are not historical facts, they’re just religiously important traditions. What? Sounds like confusion to me.

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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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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A Great Message for Parents

Moana Movie Review

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.

moana-1

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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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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Does Your Child Have a Growth Mindset?

Helping Kids Create Healthy Habits for the Mind on POP Parenting Radio

growth mindset

This week on POP Parenting Radio, we kicked off a new series on helping kids develop healthy habits with a look at creating healthy habits for the mind.

Over the past year or so, Jody and I have been super interested in studying habits. I guess it started when we read the book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. So much of what we do in life is driven by habit — and that can be both good and bad.

So for the month of July, we are talking about helping kids develop good habits. Take a look at the schedule, 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 (podcast is included below)

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 (guest TBA)

This Week’s Show Topic

During this week’s episode, we talked about the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset, and why is it critical to groom a growth mindset in our children. The concept for this episode came from the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, and in the third and fourth segments we offer some practical tips for cultivating a growth mindset.

Brother Brother Music

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 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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Un-Ashamed

A book review

So this is a difficult review for me to write. When I saw the opportunity to review Un-Ashamed: Healing our Brokenness and Finding Freedom From Shame by writer, counselor and speaker Heather Davis Nelson, I jumped at the chance because Jody and I have spent the past few years really examining the whole concept of shame and how it so deeply affects our culture.

I rarely ever agree to do adult book reviews, primarily because I am usually too busy to commit to finish a particular book by a certain deadline but also because reading is my refuge from a busy day — it’s my dessert at the end of a long to do list, and I don’t want to devote that time to something I can’t relish and digest slowly, at my own pace.

I made an exception for this book because it tackled a subject that I find compelling and from a biblical perspective — all the better!

Nelson seems to have written the book partly in response to Brené Brown’s research and writing on shame but with a biblical answer to the pervasive issue, as well as out of her own personal battles with shame, many of which she doesn’t seem to have overcome. She writes, “I am a people-pleaser by nature and practice, and writing publicly terrifies me because of the fear of criticism and judgement. I want my words to be beautiful and perfect. And yet — like every other part of my life — they won’t be and they cannot be.”

Her transparency is admirable, but it makes it all the more difficult to write this review.

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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Would a Worm Go on a Walk

A Children's Book Review

would a worm go on a walk

I have a 4-year-old, and when I saw the opportunity to review this book, I jumped at it. The bright colors of the cover, and the title intrigued me, and since Matty Jay is really into picture books right now, I thought we would be perfect candidates to review this colorful story written by Hannah C. Hall and illustrated by Bill Bolton.

Would a worm go on walk? Would a piglet play piano? Would a lion be a lifeguard? Well, no, because that’s not how God made them!

Matty and I loved the silliness of each animal question, and I really appreciated the alliteration, especially since this is the early reading season for him. The message that God gave all the animals — and us too — unique qualities and special strengths is a good one. Would a worm go on a walk

But hands down, the illustrations sell this book. The bright colors and silly depictions — like a ladybug applying lipstick and a possum at a ballet bar — are really engaging for young eyes and minds. Plus, if you have early readers, this would be a fun one for them to attempt on their own.

I definitely recommend this book for your toddlers, pre-schoolers and early elementary kiddos. If you’re interested in getting one for free, leave a comment below (on the jenniandjody website, not on Facebook), and you will be entered to win your very own copy.


Disclosure

(In accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.

If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller/FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

 

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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Planning to See “The BFG” This Weekend?

Movie Review of Disney’s The BFG

the bfg

Earlier this week Jody and I had the chance to attend a pre-screening of Disney’s new movie The BFG. The film opens tonight in theaters everywhere, and if you’re looking for a family movie this weekend, this might be a good option.

The BFG is the story of 10-year-old orphan Sophie and a 24-foot giant with enormous and expressive ears, a keen sense of smell and an oogly-googly vocabulary. The giant, known as BFG (for Big Friendly Giant) kidnaps the precocious Sophie from a London orphanage and brings her to Giant Country, inhabited by human-eating giants twice the size of the BFG. The two become fast friends, but threats from the other giants propel them on a journey that includes Buckingham Palace, the Queen of England and the Royal Army.

Directed by Steven Spielberg, the Disney film brings to life Roald Dahl’s book with breathtaking cinematography and animation. It’s a very sweet story about the unexpected friendship of two lonely souls. Kids are likely to be fascinated by the scenery and tickled by some of the humor, especially the scenes with explosive, phosphorescent flatulence.

Although we both enjoyed the tenderhearted film, Jody and I also thought it was a bit slow. However, its visual splendor still makes it theater worthy. Sophie and BFG’s magical visit to the gossamer and luminescent Dream Country alone makes it worth a trip to the big screen. So if you don’t have extraordinary plans for the Fourth of July weekend or if it happens to be raining in your neck of the woods at any point, pack up the family and head to the theatre to see Disney’s The BFG.

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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Multitasking Lowers GPA

multitasking

Moms may be known as the ultimate multitaskers, but the research agrees that multitasking is not an efficient way to get things done. In a nutshell, multitasking is doing two or more tasks at the same time, and in the world of constant connectivity and social media, our kids are multitasking more than ever, and that’s a good thing.

Throughout this month, we are talking about helping kids develop healthy habits, and this week our radio show and column are focused on developing healthy habits for the mind. So for today’s blog, we want to talk about helping our kids get into the habit of focusing by avoiding multitasking.

Did you know that FOCUS is an acronym? It stands for

Follow

One

Course

Until Successful

The argument we often hear is that multitasking makes us more efficient. But the truth is, there are limitations to how many tasks we can perform and how well they can be executed when being performed at the same time.  Instead, let’s teach our kids to focus and fully complete one task before doing anything else.

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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