Monday, February 18, 2008

Pride And Prejudice - Best Film Option

This segment captured the essence of the film beautifully. (sigh)

Becoming a Jane Austen Junkie??

Okay, I had read Jane Austen back in college due to being an English major, and also due to taking book & film classes, but I never really enjoyed her work all that much. Maybe it was because I was young, or possibly because I was in a hurry to get the reading done (since you only get a week or less), or might it have been the fact that I had to read it .... I know not - but I was never absorbed by any of her books or overly impressed with them... until yesterday.

Over the past few years I have been revisiting many of the classics that were crammed into my college days, and undoubtedly enjoying them so much more, or even for the first time as I read them now vs then. Jane Austen is an author who has been on my list for some time to re-read, so after a timely chat with a fellow homeschool mom who adores her work immensely I decided to take the plunge once more (and set Dickens aside temporarily). Ironically, the very night I had this conversation, I had earlier that day purchased the film version of Pride and Prejudice (the 1995, 6 hr long mini series by BBC). I had ordered it with some homeschool materials because it was on sale and I am always thinking ahead - plus it was the film version of choice by any true Austen fan and most closely follows the book.

So, there it was decided, I would begin with the tale of Darcy & Elizabeth (again). I started the book a bit last week, but due to time limits only got a few chapters into it, but then Saturday night I read like a fiend and became so engrossed in it, I did not want to put it down.. so I was eating my V-Day dark, dark, dark chocolates to try to keep my eyes open to read till the end. When blurriness forced me to surrender to sleep, I set the book aside quite reluctantly. The next afternoon I was able to seize the story once more (after kicking butt on the house and occupying the kids so I could give my full attention to my reading enjoyment). I finished the book in short time and LOVED it. I saw, understood, and appreciated so much that I had missed before, and even though I had seen a few film versions of the story already, I was captivated by the book details and incidents that were left out of them. Now I was on fire to watch the entire BBC film...

Did I mention that Mike is in Florida? Oh yes, so I had the time to do what I wished (aside from taking care of the seven kids of course...). So, that night after they were asleep or in beds reading I began my movie marathon of Pride & Prejudice, and even though I had just finished the book, I was consumed by the film as I amazed at how well the film makers and cast captured Jane Austen's work on screen in an accurate, true light... nothing was left out... nothing! I never wanted to see it end! I was most fascinated by Jennifer Ehle, who played Elizabeth and how she was without a doubt born to play the role of Elizabeth Bennet - the way she captured her was nothing less than astonishing, and Colin Firth was truly the best Mr. Darcy I could ever imagine on screen as well. (Keep in mind I have seen all other film versions of this book previously.) Be sure to watch the film trailer above created by a devoted fan.

I immediately got online (mmm, around 2am) to see if any sequels had been written - huh! Check this out if you dare! I don't even know where to begin!?? After doing some online reading I am in fear of becoming what is known as a "JA Junkie"... but would that truly be so bad I guess? I even found a quiz to help you discover which Pride and Prejudice character you are ... My score was most close with Jane (sweet, sweet, angelic Jane) - can you believe that??? It may say something about the accurateness of the quiz huh? (Oh, next I was closest to Elizabeth.)

If you'd like to hear the first chapter of this delightful book read aloud (in a most creative way)... go here.

Anyway... tonight I rented the new to video film Becoming Jane . I'll let you know how it is!

Next Day:
Okay... I watched it. To sum it up, I had a difficult time getting into it because I just did not like it initially. I actually stopped the film for awhile and did some chores, then resumed it. After this break to readjust my mind about what to expect I was able to enjoy it as "just an entertaining movie". Which it was, and there were some very moving parts in it, but as far as a true representation on Austen it was lacking. My sentiments lie with this reviewer. If you are just seeking a romantic film, you'll enjoy it. If you are seeking authentic Austen adjust your thinking or leave it on the shelf.

I think I'll give these a peek! Wish I could've caught them all...

"The Complete Jane Austen" on Masterpiece Theatre (PBS):

Jan 13

Jan 20
Northanger Abbey

Jan 27
Mansfield Park

Feb 3
Miss Austen Regrets

Feb 10-24
Pride and Prejudice (3 2-hour episodes)

Mar 23

Mar 30-Apr 6
Sense and Sensibility (2 90-minute episodes)

My Favorite Valentine Song This Year

On Valentine's Day I had to do 6 hours of driving, so I heard ALL sorts of love songs from every style of music and decade (oldies, 70's, 80's, 90's, and today). BUT, even though this one was played after the Valentine song runs were over - it was my personal Valentine's Day favorite... enjoy!

Valentine's Day Fun

We had some fun this year in preparation for Valentine's Day. About two weeks prior to it, we drew names within our family for secret pals (of course Ruby & Fawn needed some assistance). For this period of time the kids had fun doing special things secretly for their pal, such as making their bed, giving them extra help, leaving them notes, giving them little gifts, etc. Everyone had a great time and looked forward to the revealing on Valentine's Day... surprisingly, only 3 of us guessed who was our pal correctly!

Other fun things included a massive Valentine prep day the Sunday before the holiday. Now, we have never use the little boxed cards that kids can purchase because we have just enjoyed making home-made ones each year, but this year was tooooo beyond that due to Justin, MJ & Fawn having classes to supply them for and my kids + Fawn having the homeschool co-op to bring for - we were in excess of 100 easily! Therefore we were all about Hello Kitty, I Spy, and Pixar fims Valentines!

Of course, on party day(s) each of the kids came home with bags of cards and plenty of treats. I had to confiscate the goods from the smaller, untrustworthy ones to give out gradually (and just throw some of it away). Those of us who attend the homeschool co-op got to make V-Day boxes to have people put things in for us and also enjoyed a potluck. Fun, Fun!

Mike and I did not get to have our usual V-Day ritual of watching Chocolat or another film from our romantic favorites list due to traveling etc. (yet) But we did exchange gifts...

I gave him some books that he is very excited about and that came highly recommended by a friend (I know, not very romantic to most?) .... definitely read the info about the first one listed below - "Listed by Abraham Lincoln, alongside the Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress, as one of the books that most influenced his life, few true tales of adventure and survival are as astonishing as this one."

Sufferings in Africa: The Incredible True Story of a Shipwreck, Enslavement, and Survival on the Sahara by Captain James Riley

Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival by Dean King (a revision of the above)

We Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance by David Howarth

Mike gifted me my usual assortment of fine chocolate bars from a variety of countries ( new ones to try each year - yummy!) and a new suede winter coat (I've wanted one for a few years and have not had a NEW coat in over 12 years! All second hand store stuff until now!)

Our Favorite Romantic Movies for Valentine's Day

1) Chocolat
2) Phantom of the Opera 2004
3) Gone with the Wind
4) Pride and Prejudice 1995 version newly added!
(be prepared to snuggle up and cuddle for a long time!)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Observing the District Spelling Bee

Ever since watching the film Akeelah and the Bee over a year ago, my kids have been way into having spelling bees at home. It was a very inspiring film for them and they attacked the subject of spelling with a new kind of conviction.

Today we ventured out to watch the district spelling bee for 4th & 5th graders in our region. It was an interesting thing to experience and the atmosphere is one in which you could hear a pin drop... despite this little Ruby and Fawn did wonderfully and allowed the rest of us to focus on the spellers.
I was amazed at the 12 kids we observed in the 4th grade group and what good spellers they are. I consider myself a good speller and enjoyed the opportunity to visualize the words in my mind as they were called off... but I must admit, there were two words I got wrong! In the "spell down" to break the 4 way tie between the final four 4th grade students the words were surprisingly difficult... and now of course I cannot even recall any to list as an example (we were all getting weary of the pressure of complete silence by now and restlessness of body and mind were settling in after nearly 2 hours). In the end, the boy that Elliot had predicted would be the winner prevailed and carried away the trophy to move on to state competition in a few weeks.

All of us enjoyed the opportunity, and when we returned home the kids immediately hit their lists to study for their own spelling test scheduled for later today. They did however express relief that I had not copied down the words from the bee to create their future word lists from!

Knee Surgery Update

It's been awhile since I have written, due inititally to just not getting on the computer often or for very long because of my knee recovery. Steps were challenging and our computer being in the basement, just was not very inviting. Then, once I got more mobile, I was so behind with everything that priorities had to come first, and then my knee was tuckered out and I was back in the chair. Excuse of late, many topics I am desiring to blog, but just am too exhausted at the days end to write. Alas, here I am to plug in an update....

We were very blessed for 3 weeks following my surgery to receive suppers deliverd to our home from church members due to my near permanency in the chair and not being up for long on my legs. We ate like kings each night and the kids lived off of cold cereal and PB & J sandwhiches during the day! I also have a dear friend who popped by each week to round up the kids into a work crew and oversee and organize the household chores, including laundry which is always challanging! It was so helpful!!

I have been, and continue to go to physical therapy twice per week. The exercises grow more challenging each week, and now that I am off crutches (but still wearing the brace) I get to do more interesting things which also include work with weights, balance, etc. My knee and quadrecep muscle are doing well in their return, now I am begining work on my hamstring recovery - that whole area is totally on vacation! I am fortunate to have a great therapist and his entire team are fun to work with and make the experience pleasant.

At home I have exercises I should be doing, and still have the "zapper machine" as I call my Neuromuscular Stimulator Tens Machine. I still just do not enjoy using that thing!

I continue to work for and towards a full recovery of my knee, although the possibility has been stated that I may not get complete range of motion back with it. I tend to have faith that I just might anyway.