Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Old Movies - A Better Family Entertainment Choice

Here at the Amick household, if there is one thing we are selective about (actually there are many things :-) it would be what kind of films our children watch. We are not a "TV Family" and do not have regular televison in our home, any viewing is strictly video/DVD and every selection is okayed by Mom or Dad. The Amick televison is used for educational purposes, with numerous educational items from the library being utilized regularly, as well as entertainment, usually about once per week on the average.

Over the years we have discovered that the majority of movies created for childrens' entertainment today are not something we wish to fill our childrens' minds with and be influenced by. It's a sad thing when entertainment marketed for kids or family viewing is full of violence, poor language, sexual situations or implications - and even films rated "G" are full of characters whose behavior most parents would not want their children to mimic. Prior to having children I had a job managing a video store for several years, and it was astonishing to witness the decline in quality of family films then and ever since . But dear reader, you may be asking, "What about the incredible special effects, amazing animation, award winning writing and enjoyable soundtracks in todays films?" My reply... Ah, yes - eye candy to be sure, but sadly it's nearly all the equivilant of toxins to the brain, character and morals of the audience.

With that said, I'd like to turn your thoughts to a time past, when films were made that could tell a story without excessive gore, indecency, foul language and the like. Films that are still entertaining and can captivate viewers of all ages. How many of you have watched a classic film in the last year? If you haven't I would sugest giving it a try - you might be surprized how much you enjoy it. Our children have grown up watching classic movies with a few new hollywood releases sprinkled in occasionally afer Mom & Dad find it meets approval. They enjoy old films just as much as the new ones and often more so. We often find that old films can be used to follow-up study of particular subjects or historical events we study in school. We also enjoy watching a film after reading the work of literature it was based on - lively discussions ensue as to the differences between the books and film and what was deemed better. Our rule (and hopefully your rule too) is ALWAYS READ THE BOOK FIRST if there is one that came before the film version. Books that are after thoughts of films are, in my opinion, often not worth the time to read - if in doubt check online.

Where do you find the "oldies but goodies"? Certainly a quality video store would have a few, but I have definitely seen a decline in them over the years. The best place to locate them is your local library or for that extra special gem interlibrary loan. We have found countless films to watch this way.. and all for free! When we discover one that we want to add to our personal collection, we have found inexpensive purchasing success on ebay or

If you're looking for some old films to accompany your homeschool history study, a helpful website is: Use the yellow box on the left of the screen to look over titles in various catagories. The book, A Knight at the Movies by John Aberth which focuses on films about the middle ages is also an entertaining and helpful resource.

Below is a list of recommendations from the Amick home. We'll continue to add more as we remember them or discover new ones. We'd love to receive any recommendations you might have of your own!

** Please take the time to research or preview the film prior to allowing your kids to watch it. Not all of the movies listed here are appropriate for all ages or children's maturity levels - and some are just for mom & dad!


The Sound of Music, Camelot, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Oklahoma, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (one of my favorites as a child and now my kids love it), Tom Sawyer (1973 starring a little Jodi Foster), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (Gene Wilder 1971 - not the recent release with Johnny Depp), Calamity Jane (Doris Day), Mozart's The Magic Flute (filmed by Ingmar Bergman), The Wizard of Oz (Judy Garland)


The Ten Commandments, The Jesus Film, Ben Hur, A Man Called Peter (1955), The Robe


It's A Wonderful Life (a must view for every child!), A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Molly's Pilgrim (Thanksgiving theme) - read the book first, film info at:

Classic Disney

The Strongest Man in the World, The Million Dollar Duck, Mary Poppins, The Nutty Professor, The Snowball Express, The Shaggy Dog, Old Yeller, Davy Crockett and the River Pirates, Davy Crockett King of the Wild Frontier, Daniel Boone series (4 films), Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Freaky Friday (original with young Jodi Foster), Pollyanna, The Sign of Zorro, Parent Trap (original with Haily Mills), Flight of the Navigator, Rob Roy The Highland Rogue

Old & Modern Classic Family Films

Across the Great Divide, Shirley Temple Films, National Velvet, The Wizard of Oz, Born Free, The Princess Bride, Seven Alone, The Man from Snowy River, Return to Snowy River, Mountain Family Robinson, Ice Castles (1978), Quarterback Princess (1983 a teenage Helen Hunt), Something for Joey (true story of John Cappelletti 1977 - one of my all time favorites as a child and I recently sought it out through interlibrary loan so my kids & Mike could experience it - still loved it after all these years), Grizzly Adams Movies & TV Episodes - for a blast from the past check this out, be sure to have your volume up! The original Star Wars trilogy (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back & Return of the Jedi - NOT the new films)

Classic Literature on Screen

Little Women (1933 Katharine Hepburn or 1949 Elizabeth Taylor), Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe/Narnia - get the BBC versions, Heidi (Burl Ives), Where the Red Fern Grows, Diary of Ann Frank, (1959), The Miracle Worker (1962), Rebecca (1940), The Agony & The Ecstasy, The Yearling, The Wilderness Family, Lassie Films, Little House on the Praire (1974), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935 James Cagney), As You Like It (Sir Laurence Olivier), To Kill a Mockingbird (Gregory Peck - I still cry at the end of the courtroom scene when Atticas walks out), Gone with the Wind (MY ALL TIME FAVORITE FILM EVER MADE), Journey to the Center of the Earth

Classic Romance

It Happened One Night (1934 Clark Gable), An Affair to Remember (1957 Cary Grant), Casablanca (Bogart & Bergman 1943), The African Queen (Bogart & Hepburn 1951)

Classic Action, Adventure & Heroes

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938 Errol Flynn - the boys absolute favorite!), Zorro (1975 Alain Delon), Joan of Arc (1948 Ingrid Bergman), Cleopatra (1963 Elizabeth Taylor), Ivanhoe (1952 Robert & Elizabeth Taylor), Knights of the Roundtable (Ava Gardner 1953), The Sword of Lancelot, The Court Jester (1956 Danny Kaye), Adventures of Superman (1948), Old Lone Ranger Episodes, The Longships (1963 - a Viking Story), The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Searchers (John Wayne)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Why the HomeschoolEStore Banner Link?

Hi Folks,

I'd like to take a moment and let you know that our family is now an affiliate of, the only online retailer of educational material and audio books in downloadable format. This means that whenever anybody visits our site and clicks on the HomeschoolEStore link, and makes a purchase, we earn money! It's that simple. carries hundreds of supplemental educational materials, over 500 audio titles, and even downloadable software, carrying the products of over 70 children's and educational publishers. Because their material is all instantly downloadable, there's no waiting around for your purchase to arrive, no shipping costs, and most of the titles are 30% below retail. You can find anything from parenting resources, to preschool, to college and career placement. So, if your child needs help with a particular topic, you're looking for a unit study, notebooking pages, need an educational audio book, etc. then visit their site - just click on the HomeschoolEStore link and go shopping. You'll end up with a great product, and you'll be helping our family out in the process!

Our family has ordered a number of our homeschool curriculum items from this company as well as many of the free books offered each week - we have been more than pleased with them. I hope you'll take some time to visit the site and look over the many options they have available.


And for the month of October, our family will earn 25% of every sale, 10% for every month thereafter. Thanks for considering our affiliate status with the next time you need to make an education or audio book purchase.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Naturally Curly or Wavy Hair - More Than Just Hair...It's An Attitude

There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead,
When she was good
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad,
She was horrid.
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This is a special post for individuals, like myself who have naturally curly or wavy hair. If this is you,or someone you know the information shared here could be life changing... I'm very serious. You could be transformed from someone who spends their days trying to manage and control those curly locks to someone who celebrates their waves and curls. How? Read on....

"Curly hair is in your genes," I was always told, and is it ever evident. To this day when I attend a wedding or funeral and all of the relatives from my father's side of the family are seated in a concentrated area you can view the sea of curly headed men and women in every hair color ranging from the elderly to young babies just sporting that first curl on the tops of their heads. It is truly amazing to behold - in a facinating and yet comical way (and is often joked about at each family affair).

Like many others I have spent the majority of my life trying to tame unruly tresses, wishing I had beautiful straight hair like "so & so".

In elementary school I was busy dealing with tangled long curly/frizzy hair to prevent the formation of today's currently fashionable dreadlocks (there is a reason they are called dread locks folks). In junior and senior high the fashion rage was perfectly feathered hair that met in the exact middle of the back of your head. In order to achieve this effect, I had to spend hours each morning straightening, then recurling my hair and still never have it reach the "ideal look". Then leave for school only to have the rebellious curls come unleashed at the first hint of humidity, P.E. class, or sports practice after school. I purchased all the equipment, shampoos and potions; read Teen magazine for styling tips and visited salons where no one ever seemed to know how to cut or style curly/wavy hair - thay always treated it like it was straight, which it certainly was not. My junior year of high school I had my hair professionally straightened, only to have my head look like a large bell. Every morning was hours of work to style it to make myself presentable for the public.

College days were a bit more relaxed since there was more acceptance of variety than in my small home town, but still my hair was a nuisance most of the time whether it was short or long. As years passed by I became more accepting of it and with the task of motherhood it seemed a low priority to spend great amounts of time on.. still it would be nice to know WHAT to do with this hair!

Almost 2 years ago, my answer finally came. A friend of mine with a daughter in her mid twenties with very long curly hair had discovered a goldmine of a book called Curly Girl by Lorraine Massey (a true curly girl herself). Massey has written a book that encompasses every curly girl's stuggle with her hair - including her own personal story. Her book is filled with historical trivia on the subject, testimonies from curly girls and massive amounts of information every curly or wavy girl should be armed with. Massey is the owner of a salon in New York specializing in curly/wavy hair care. Curly Girls flock from around the country to have her do her magic on their hair - she really knows her stuff!

In her book she helps you to figure out what degree/style of curly or wavy hair you have and then tells you precisely how to care for it - including special cutting and coloring techniques. What's in the book you want to know? Well, I'll tell you what's not. There is no promotion of special products or goop to buy, no special machines or gizzmos - none, notta one! What it does contain is a process of hair care that it is so easy, so simple and requires so little time it will blow your mind - but not your hair (a hint on book content). Styling info & suggestions are also included to go with your new free curly look. There is also a chapter on the care of curly kids.

Okay, okay, you need an info tidbit to entice you te read it, do you? Alright...

Curly Girl Rule #1 - Never use shampoo on your hair.

WHAT! you scream, how can THAT be? It's true - I have not shampooed my hair for nearly 2 years and neither have several of my friends that started this hair care regime either. We are all clean and presentable - there is an alternative to shampooing - READ THE BOOK! It's a short read 139 pages - mostly photographs and if you can't get it at the library it costs under $10. I keep it in my bathroom next to my hair care supplies (which are few thanks to this book).

I have been so happy with the results I have personally had. My hair looks fuller and my curls look great with no frizz (on the days I do indeed "fix" my hair - I do have my lazy days too). I now have ways to style my hair that are easy, fast and look nice. I know how to deal with the notorious problem of curly ends, but flat head (no curls on the crown and no lift) and many more styling beasts that curly girl knights can now slay with a simple hair clips & gel. Of my friends that have tried the curly girl method, I have only heard rave reviews as well.

I challenge you to go to and read the reviews posted on this book, there are 134 to date with a 4 1/2 star average rating. Also visit the curly girl page - a website especially for those using Lorraine Massey's book - you can even print out business cards there to invite other curly girls to learn about the method.

So how about it ?
Take the challenge and maybe you not only find your inner curl, but your inner girl!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Library Sale is a Homeschool Treasure Trove

Attending library book sales is a yearly tradition for us and in the past we have brought home bags/boxes of books. Ususally within our purchases were a few that we could use to go with our homeschool plans, but the majority were books the kids chose that they wanted to read for fun. Since the sales in the Fargo-Moorhead area were usually priced $2 per paper bag, I was not too firm with the kids about setting strict limits of what they chose - as long it was not something I disapproved of.

Last Friday the kids and I headed off bright and early to the Brainerd Library's used book sale. Ahead of time we had discussed how we would not be purchasing a bunch of "twaddle" or "fluff" reading materials this year, instead we would focus on quality literature and items that were worth having in our home filling shelf space. This was to be our first time attending the sale in our new community and I was assuming that since it was a smaller community and library, we would not find much that fit our purchasing agenda - was I wayyyyy wrong!

We arrived to a FULL parking lot and saw many people exiting the library with a book or two in bags, or completely empty handed - I thought this was a very bad sign. We entered a room much smaller than the room we were used to being in for sales and immediately noticed the pricing was different, by item - not by the bag.... BUMMER! I thought the whole experience was going to be a total disappointment, but we all split up and decided to start hunting.

I immediately went to the area where the classic literature was, and found a couple of books I had wanted to add to our home library, but was dissapointed that there were not more to be had since this was my main area of interest for purchasing. After I finished in that area, I wandered over to where the kids were. They were looking through tons of records - their new shopping interest since the discovery of Dad's old record player. I was astonished at what I found there.... A complete set of all of Shakespeare's plays, poems and histories on album in pristine condition packaged in beautiful sturdy shell cases (5 cases with 5-6 records in each one). Along with each recording of the acted out play was a book with the full text so you could read along while listening - as well as historical and background information. The set was called "The Living Shakespeare".

Next to them was a set of Time life Records that covered all of the eras of classical music and great composers. The set consisted of 18 beautiful cases containing 4-5 albums inside along with magazine type books that were filled with glossy color photos/artwork and information to accompany the music era and composers. I could not believe my eyes! I had been pricing CD's and tapes in both of these subjects to use for our homeschool use since we study a work of Shakespeare and a classical composer per quarter - now here they were before me in record form. The price on the wall said all audio items were 50 cents - I quickly grabbed the lady in charge of the sale and asked her how much these sets would be each - she thought about it a moment and told me 50 CENTS! I was elated! I immediately boxed them up and hauled them to the check out area for safe keeping. Newly motivated I continued the hunt and ending up finding numerous items that were completely meant for our family's homeschool needs. The list includes:

Several works of classic literature
A number of books on nature study for children and phenology items
A number of old classic films - some for educational purposes
A set of videos on the Impressionists for our artist studies
Books for each child that go with their particular area of interest & learning
Some FREE teaching materials/texts for classic literature and poetry
A video series set of my mother's all-time favorite show from my childhood (snagged that for a Christmas gift)

We carried all of our boxes to the checkout area and added them to the 3 lg boxes of records. Others in line behind us with a few books in hand looked at us in awe. I thought to myself "What's the matter with you people? Haven't you seen a homeschool family before!" As we were checking out though, several people in line made remarks about our awesome finds and expressed marvel & jealousy wondering how I had found such great stuff. The secret... you just need to be willing to take the time to look through items meticulously (sometimes painstakingly) to find the treasure that may lie there - many are not willing to or do not have the time.

A nice older fellow who was helping people carry out purchases (like.. A box=1) came in and the check- out lady told him he needed to help me. He took the box from the table and started to leave, until she told him that the 4 other boxes on the floor were mine too. He seemed a bit surprised and said I was definitely thier number one purchaser thus far. He went to retrieve a dolly from somewhere and loaded it to the top and we headed out with the remainder in hand and filled the van. I was so giddy and overjoyed on the way home - singing and thinking about the things I'd found and the money I'd saved ( now that I could remove the Shakespeare CD sets from my "to buy" list) that I missed my turn home and had to turn around. The kids didn't know what to think of me.

You may be wondering how much money I did spend on all of this treasure? A grand total of $34 - the cost of ONE book, much less 5 boxes of curriculum based items and not one "twaddle" item in the midst! How absolutely awesome is that???

None of us could wait, so once home we brought out the record player, popped in A Midsummer Night's Dream and sat on the living room floor, surrounded by our piles of treasure... reading - all of us tickled pink :-)