Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Try Natural Products that Work! {A Koru Natural Review}

When I was asked if I'd like to review Emu Oil and Pure Lanolin Lip Balms by Koru Naturals, I thought, that would be be a bit of a departure from the types of things I usually blog about, but why not?  In the snowbound northeast, with dry, frizzy hair and cracking lips, testing out the products would be timely.

Trying Koru Naturals products also would not require too much of a change of routine on my part, which is a good thing, because I am not great at routine changes and I am also a minimalist when it comes to body care products.  I wear no make up, pretty much just wash-and-go with my hair and, besides brushing my teeth, use very few products daily.  What I do use for products, though, I like to lean toward the natural side with.  

What Is Koru Naturals?
Credit: Kori Naturals

Koru Naturals is a company that opened in 2002 in order to share body products made with time-tested ingredients with clients in the United States, Canada and several European countries.  All the products Koru Naturals offer are made with ingredients from New Zealand that have been used for thousands of years for people to protect their skin, fight common health problems, and promote their general well-being -- things like lanolin, active manuka honey, manuka oil, rosehip oil and Rotura mud products.  None of Koru Naturals' products are tested on animals.  Better still, due to the rich tradition of the ingredients that Koru Naturals uses paired with the benefits of modern technology, each Koru Naturals product is both naturally beneficial and a good value.

Our Experience

Koru Naturals Review 

When we received our four-pack of Pure Lanolin Lip Balms (4 tube pack, $9.80) my daughter Nina was suffering from intermittent, annoying and ugly cracked lips caused by weather and cold sores healing.

Usually, when her lips are in such a condition they get much worse before they get better.  She licks them and picks at them, causing scabbing.  Since trying Koru Naturals Pure Lanolin Lip Balms, however, that has not been the case.  The thick, glossy balm (and some prayers, according to Nina) have offered comfort.

The cold sore, which you can see under the thick salve of Koru Naturals Pure Lanolin Lip Balm in the picture above, have not turned into scabbed open sores recently.  This keeps my girl comfortable and smiling, which, in turn, keeps me smiling.

Thank you, Koru Naturals, for creating a product that can help my girl's lips!

I have been using it, too, and have found that, although at first it seemed goopy - almost seeming more of a jellied ointment in the tube than a stick - it is definitely a helpful product!  It has virtually no flavor or strong scent to it - which is a big bonus in my book - and keeps my lips protected from the crazy winter weather we've been having.
I have taught my girl to dab Pure Natural Lip Balm on her lips with a clean finger or with a clean cotton swab (due to her cold sores) and I simply dab my own stick of Pure Natural Lip Balm straight onto my lips from the tube.  Then, I rub my lips together to spread it.  This keeps the lip balm from going on a gloppy, thick mess, which is what seemed to happen when we tried drawing it across our lips as we would most other chapsticks and lip balms.  It also keeps our lips protected and for a while after application, shining.  Koru Naturals Pure Natural Lip Balms gets thumbs up and smiles wide from us!

Koru Naturals Review

Emu Oil (2 oz. bottle, $9.95) does, too!

My plan for the Emu Oil was to use it to keep the effects of chlorine from the pool we go to in the winter from being too bad for all of us.  However, between snowstorms and winter bugs, we have not been going to the pool much.  So, instead, I have simply been using it to tame my dry winter hair!

As you can see in this lovely stealth (and oh so not flattering) shot my daughter took of my oldest and  reading one January evening which I just found, my hair is usually one bug, bushy, frizzy mess.

A selfie taken the other night to show the effects when I realized that I am rarely in any of our pictures, but could use a visual to share to show the effect of Emu Oil, evidences that while, yes, I may need a hair cut and to use the Emu Oil to help with, um, happy age lines, the Emu Oil does make a difference in my hair!

I simply put a few drops of Emu Oil - and I emphasize few, because a little goes a long way - in my palms after I shower (and even on the days I don't shower), rub my palms together, and finger comb the oil through my hair.  

Doing so leaves my curls more defined and tamer, which leaves me a little less reluctant to share photos of me!

I will continue to use Emu Oil on my hair and will begin using it more on my children's hair, reminding them to only use a few drops at a time so as not to over-do things, as my daughter is wont to do, leaving her fine hair oily if I do not guide her correctly.

Now that I am confident with the product, I will likely start using Emu Oil for other things, too.  I have heard it can be wonderful for skin and all of my children and I can use some no-fuss, effective skin help - my children for little red bumps on their arms and me for being a "mature mom". 

Would We Recommend Koru Naturals?

 I would recommend both of the Koru Naturals products we tried, Pure Lanolin Lip Balms and Emu Oil, since they are effective and easy to add into your daily routine.  Our positive experience with them makes me confident that other Koru Natural products, such as these that other Schoolhouse Crew Review Members tried, would be equally effective:

Learn More

To learn more about Koru Naturals, find them on Facebook and Pinterest.

You can can also see what 100 other Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about Koru Naturals.

Koru Naturals Review

What natural products have you been trying lately?  

I had not heard of Koru Naturals before adding them to our body care routines for this review.  I am quite happy I have now.  Easy, effective, and good value.  A little goes a long way.  That's my kind of no-fuss, natural product!

Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Have You Experienced the Treasures of the Church?

Although I was born and raised Catholic, I somehow missed learning about relics until I was an adult.

The same cannot be said of my children.  

My children and I have talked briefly about relics before, and, now, with thanks to the Treasures of the Church evangelization apostolate, we have experienced relics first hand.

What Is Treasures of the Church?
Treasures of the Church is a ministry that brings folks closer to God through an encounter with the relics of some of his saints.  They offer expositions of some 150 first and second class relics preceded by a multi-media presentation on the Church's use of relics.

During the presentation, Father Carlos Martins explains the scriptural, catechetical, and devotional basis of relics.  While doing so, he shares stories of saints and of miraculous healings.

Then, attendees of the presentation are invited to go view and venerate the relics.  These include a piece of what is said to have been the cross Jesus died upon, a piece of Mother Mary's veil, and fragments of many saints and objects they have touched.

Please let  Father Carlos Martins introduce the Treasures of the Church apostolate to you himself:


What Was Our Experience Like? 

I got stuck on ice in my driveway on the night we went to experience the relics, so we arrived a few minutes into Father Martins' talk.  

Once we got settled into a pew, I was not sure how Luke, Nina and Jack would do during the adult presentation since they tend to be wiggly children.  Jack did well at first, but it was late for him to be out and he ended up getting a bit ornery.  Luke and Nina, on the other hand, quickly became engaged by the presentation.

As Father Martins talked about confession, their ears were wide open and they leaned over to ask me some quiet questions.  They also became particularly interested in the powerful (although at times "adult") stories of the saints that Father Martins shared as well as in testimonies of miraculous healings.

I, too, found myself engaged and, when not shushing Jack or responding to a quick quiet question or comment from Nina or Luke, learned a few new details about saints and relics myself.

Thus, my children and I all benefited from the presentation.  (Yes, even Jack.  For although he complained about being tired, etc., he listened as well and has since shared details of stories he heard.)

After the talk and a potty break, we waited in the long, relatively slow line to see the relics.  This was hard for the kids since they are never good with lines, but, with homeschooling friends right next to us in line, they survived and we made it to the tables the relics were at.  

Just before we did, Nina told me her heart was pounding.  I felt it.  It really was.  My girl was so excited to experience the relics, especially since she had heard a portion of Mother Mary's veil would be there.

Nina's excitement, however, was also laced with disappointed.  She had heard during the presentation that a holy object touched to a relic could become a third class relic and she so wished I had brought an object of devotion with us.  I apologized to her and let her know that I am learning about these things, too.  I did not know to do so.  She understood, but still somewhat sad.

Then, a woman named Nancy, who was nearby to us in line and had the sweetest, most prayerful demeanor, offered Nina a generous kindness.  Nancy had paused several times from her own prayer and devotion to share tidbits about her experience with and knowledge of the saints with my children.  During one of these pauses, when chatting with Nina, Nancy learned that Nina was upset about not having an object of devotion to touch to the relics.  No sooner did Nancy hear this then did she smile, reach into her bag and present Nina with a rosary from Medjugorje.  Nina was absolutely delighted and continued along the table, praying and touching the rosary to the relics.

I was moved by Nancy's kindness, compassion and devout prayer. Light and love seemed to emanate from her and I think I will remember the example of it each time I remember our experience with the Treasures of the Church.

I am not sure what Luke will remember.  For while Luke began his trek through the tables that the relics were on alongside me, he ending up moving ahead with some friends of ours.

I know he read some of the placards, touched some of the relics and said a few prayers.  Luke has also since commented that "it was so cool to see a part of the cross" and he been referring to the experience as a whole and to details from Father Martins' talk.   Plus, he began experiencing the exposition by praying with me and his siblings that the Holy Spirit would guide us and that we might be open to the prayers of intercession from saints.  So, I trust the Spirit is working in him as it seems to be in all of us through the experience -- with slow, quiet whispers. 
Of course, the Spirit's whispers are sometimes hard to hear. Especially in the din of a four-year-old's complaints.  

Unfortunately, Jack was that four-year-old for part of our evening.

As the night progressed, so did my challenges with Jack.  I was able to focus him on the first of the relics and in a few brief prayers, but mostly, he just wanted "to eat", to cry "I'm tired", and "to go home".

Since we had eaten just before going out, I knew Jack was not truly hungry and, since he had taken a rare nap in the afternoon, I also doubted that he was too tired to make it through the evening.  It was clear, though, that he wanted to go home because the sheer number of relics and the waiting it would take to venerate each of them was overwhelming.

Jack was not engaged and he was letting me and everyone else know it.  So, eventually, I just sat him down at a quiet table with some friends, some blank paper and a few pencils.  He contented himself drawing, told me later "it (the experience) was not really fun or like playing at all", but it was interesting to see that "huge one at the end with all the parts of the disciples".    He also perked up when he saw Joseph's relic after the "huge one".

So, four years old might be a little young for an exposition of the relics, I guess.  But who knows?  Perhaps just by being there, praying a little and having me and so many others pray in communion with the saints in Heaven, Jack was strengthened in some way.

I truly hope we all were!  

I know I am glad we went to Treasures of the Church and have been thinking about the saint I felt drawn to despite never really knowing much about him.  Luckily, even though the picture I took of the placard by the saint so I could remember which one it was was blurred, I can read it online.
I was thrilled to discover that all the placards that were next to the relics are available on the Treasures of the Church  download pageWith long, slow-moving lines and an ornery Jack, I could not possibly read each of the placards to my children at the exposition nor digest them myself.  Now, I know I can do so later.  In fact, I intend to print them and, then, pull specific ones out as the kids and I celebrate saint days through teas, playdates and notebooking.

Thank you, Treasures of the Church, for offering this resource free online as a download!

Do You Want to Experience Treasures of the Church?

Treasures of the Church travels to parishes, schools and prisons throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.  It is currently traveling throughout New England with published exposition dates scheduled in MA and NH.  If you're in the area, GO!

If you're not in New England, book an exposition where you are.  To learn about how you can request an exposition for your local area, go to the Treasures of the Church website.

I'd love to hear about your experiences with relics and your ideas for helping young children understand and experience them. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Want to Know the Most Requested CD in Our Minivan Lately? {An In Freedom's Cause Review}

When our family was introduced to Heirloom Audio Productions last year, we discovered a CD that we could not get enough of.  Last month, we were blessed to receive In Freedom's Cause Single Package to review and can honestly say we cannot get enough of this awesome audio theater. 

In Freedom's Cause has played over and over again in our minivan in the past month.  I think the only time it has not been on when we've been out and about has been when we have forgotten to bring it back to our vehicle after taking it inside to listen to during chores and playtime.  We just love it!

Our Experience

Image Credit

For our review, we received:

We also received links to a few extra special bonuses, such as a 30-minute video documentary with the cast, crew and actors of In Freedom's Cause in the studio, which we watched as a family.   

"You know what, Mom?  I wish I could write audio dramas.  I want to make things like In Freedom's Cause.My oldest son commented to me after watching this documentary and listening to the audio CD's.

Yep.  In Freedom's Cause is inspiring!  It comes alive with:

  • adventure
  • excitement
  • faith and values
  • rich vocabulary
  • discussion opportunities
  • characters that you cannot help but to cheer for
  • and, an engaging tale of Scotland's fight for freedom.

The first time we listened to In Freedom's Cause, we were headed out for a Sabbath day family walk.  No sooner did we arrive at the trailhead parking lot then did our children beg us to "...please wait.  Please let us finish one more track..." before exiting our minivan.  

Indeed, before our children had even heard the entire In Freedom's Cause audio theater production, they were already swept up in the engaging story of Wallace and the Bruce.  As a result, once we commenced our hike, our children quickly found sticks and began to enact the swashbuckling saga of Scots fighting for freedom that had captured their imaginations.

All along the trail, our children dramatized the latest G.A. Henty story that Heirloom Audio Productions had brought to life for them.

Then, when we returned to our minivan, the children gladly buckled in to listen to the rest of In Freedom's Cause, which we have all come agree is far more than just an audiobook adaptation of a classic piece of literature.  In fact, it is a dramatic "radio theater" type saga, wherein music, sound effects and the voices of a star-studded cast come together to offer a complete auditory feast that ignites imaginations, immerses listeners in history come to life, and inspires souls with examples of faith!

Image Credit

Bedtime chats, free time play, mealtime conversations and more in our home have all been affected by our introduction to In Freedom's Cause.  Time and time again, I hear my children talking and giggling about the story.  I have also introduced thoughts and ideas from the In Freedom's Cause Study Guide to the children during informal discussions.

For us, there is no need to use the comprehension questions included in the the 49-page, full-color study guide ebook, which comes in printable PDF form.  That is not because the questions are not excellent.  It is simply because my children's impromptu conversations and dramatic play evidence that they understand the story even without the questions.  Truly, my children spontaneously narrate parts of In Freedom's Cause with accuracy just because they love it so.  

However, should I ever want my children to work on the skill of writing answers for comprehension questions, I will surely pull from the "Listening Well" segments of the study guide, since these segments pose well-written, specific questions for each segment of the In Freedom's Cause story.

There are also "Thinking Further" questions in the Study Guide, which encourage listeners to move past the surface of the story, digging deeper into interpretation and take aways.  Some of the material in these questions has played into my family's informal discussions about In Freedom's Cause, and, when my children are a bit older, may become fodder for exercises in how to answer open response questions.

The Study Guide also offers vocabulary lists, which we did not attack formally, but which I found helpful anyway.  You see, when we listen to In freedom's Cause, my children naturally ask, "Mommy, what does ____ mean?" in response to the rich vocabulary used within the audio drama.   The Study Guide vocabulary lists, then, are handy so I can be sure I know which words they might ask me about.

Three Bible studies are also included in the Study Guide.  These compliment and extend the faith ideas that are seamlessly woven into the script of Wallace and the Bruce.

A Word About In Freedom's Cause from Each of Us

Every person in our family has positive things to say about In Freedom's Cause.

Jack (age 4) said:
It was a fun story.  The Scottish win.  I like it.
He has also been known to say, "I'm Ned.  Who are you? Sir John Kerr?" when challenging Daddy to duct tape weapon battles.

Dad has said:
There's nothing I disliked about In Freedom's Cause.  I found it entertaining... engaging...  I loved the Scottish accents... It gives a lot of history, entertains you, brings historical characters to life... t does not go over the top with battles scenes but makes clear the intensity of the people involved  and their passion for fighting go Scotland.

Dad has also been regularly practicing his Scottish accent, much to the amusement of all of us.  Little is cuter than when he and the kids model after lines from the story trying to sound like Scots!  
Luke (age 9) has commented"
That CD inspired me.  I wish I could write audio dramas... I like how they are narrating and like you are actually there. 
My favorite part is the battle where Bruce defeats his enemy.
I hope they (Heirloom Audio Productions) make one about the American Revolutionary War, too.

And, Nina (age 7) keys into the humor of the audio theater when she has said:
I thought the part where the girl said, "What is a boy doing down on the ground looking up at a girl up in a tree?" was funny.  (Nina always gets excited by the female characters included in Heirloom Audio Production stories!)
 When they use the goat woo, that was so funny.  "That s the most desperate thing I have ever heard in my life...."  (Imagine my little girl breaking into fits of giggles as she puts on a Scottish accent and continues to narrate what she recalls of the goat woo scene.)
 And when they talk about Wallace, it's funny, like when he was shot in the neck with an arrow and just said "That hurt my neck a great deal," or when he was fishing and had to face an enemy.

And me?  I think it's pretty clear, I love In Freedom's Cause for so many reasons.  Among them:

  • It is a "page turner" of an audio drama which keeps us all riveted.  (That means excited listening during minivan trips instead of potential bickering.)
  • It gets the adrenaline going with stories of real-life history. (This, in turn, inspires my children to re-enact the excitement of the story in their imaginative dramatizations and lively conversations thereby integrating academics into enjoyment.)
  • It reinforces strong faith and values like freedom, courage, character.  (I love when my children connect to characters that integrate faith and strong morality into life.)
  • It feeds our family's appetite for history and adventure.  (I would much rather have my children involved with living history than mere twaddle.)
  • It honors my theater-loving side with a strong blend of fast-moving, blood-pumping drama and tension-breaking, giggle-inducing humor (As a former actress and creative dramatics teacher, I love theater.  Without questions, this presentation of G.A. Henty's In Freedom's Cause IS audio theater!)

In Freedom's Cause definitely ranks among our family's favorite CD's and has become the most requested audio in our minivan of late.  I cannot recommend it more enthusiastically to others who enjoy audio dramas as well as to those who may not hitherto have listened to audio theater as a family.  

I will, however, add one caveat: Although In Freedom's Cause is a family-friendly audio drama, those with sensitive children may want to preview the action-packed adventure before listening to it in its entirety as a family.  My whole family (including our 4-year-old) loved the CD and did not find any of it too intense.  However, some children may find parts of the Scottish fight for freedom disturbing.

Learn More

In Freedom's Cause Audio CD Review

  • Read and watch a video about how Heirloom Audio Productions invested passion in bringing real history alive while researching this active listening audio adventure.

  • Order your own copy of In Freedom's Cause, a high-quality audio production which features acclaimed actors, state-of-the art sound design, and an in exciting music score. 
The 2 CD-set In Freedom's Cause that we reviewed is available for $29.95.  If you order this CD-set, you will get a downloadable study guide, a prayer poster and an MP3 of the audio drama as free bonuses. Heirloom Audio Productions also offers several other packages to suit differing needs and budget.  These range from a $19.97 downloadable MP3 and bonus materials package to a $249.97 Patriot Package that includes multiple bonuses and 25 copies of In Freedom's Cause to give away.

In Freedom's Cause Review
  • Stay abreast of Heirloom Audio Productions next awesome audio adventure, With Lee in Virginia on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

What audiobooks have your children engaged in learning about history and faith while simply enjoying themselves?
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Get A Free Printable Saint Geography Notebooking Page!


This week has been a super busy one here.

Among our usual activities, we had a homeschool World Culture Fair to prepare for and present at....

Preparing the background of Nina's Cherokee display board...

Our second Duct Tape Battle Club meeting to prepare for....

Showing off sample weapons and armor they have made to prepare for leading others to do similar projects at Duct Tape Battle Club...

And today's Geography Club to prepare for...

Flashback to Last Month:  The Antarctic Scientists Station at our Antarctica Geography Club Meeting

With so many special projects to help the children with, I just was not up for the potential time and mess involved with the children's creativity as they prepare for their Geography Club "expert reports".  (Each child picks a topic related to a continent to present to the other children about in any way they wish to do so.)  So, I encouraged Nina, who had chosen to do St. Nina and the Republic of Georgia, to keep things simple by using a notebooking page.

Before making my own notebooking page for her, I looked to see if there was something "perfect" online.

At Sanctus Simpliticus I found some wonderful Saint Notebooking Pages.  I liked the rounded saint picture spaces on these and the large boxes at the bottom of some of them, where I thought Nina might write or draw freely about St. Nina or about the Republic of Georgia.  However, since St. Nina is not a common saint, of course, there were no ready-made pages for her.

Then, I found some cute Mini-Saint Information Fill-In Printables at Catholic Icing that I almost went for since they have a map and everything.  However, after Nina put together her world culture fair project, she was a bit tired of writing.  So, I knew she would grown at the lines on the bottom of the Catholic Icing pages.

Thus, I created Nina a new Saint Geography Notebooking Page  that used elements of both the Sanctus Simpliticus and Catholic Icing ones I had found.


  • On the top is a rounded space with a ribbon, where a child can fill in the name of the saint and paste or draw  picture of the saint or write several quick facts. 

  • Next to that is a speech bubble that says, "I am patron of..." where a child can sketch or write what the saint it patron to.

  • Below the speech bubble are three lines.  Children can use these to write something about where the saint is from or write anything else they wish.  They can also just leave them blank or create a colorful design on them.

  • Below that is a world map where children can color information about where the saint was born, died and/or made a difference.

  • Beneath the rounded saint space are the words "Feast Day" so children can note the saint's feast day.

  • At the bottom, is a sizable box, where children can draw, paste or write facts about anything they wish -- the saint, the country the saint is from, their connection to the saint or country, etc.  I thought Nina might paste pictures of Saint Nina's cross and scroll here as she is interested in why St. Nina is often depicted with them.  Instead, she chose to depict her reason for choosing St. Nina as her saint.

You can tell by looking at Nina's page that she was a bit "projected" out by the time she worked on her Geography Club project.  Her work lacks the ultra-neat handwriting and copious color and decor that is sometimes characteristic of her projects.  

She even had me write some things for her, which she dictated, as she was tired of writing.

However, she is still pleased with the results of her notebooking page and additional pages (all pictured except one with maps of Georgia) and more than ready to use them as visuals during her oral "expeert report".  So, I would say the notebooking page I made her was a success!  Perhaps this free printable Saint Geography Notebooking Page will be for something your child is doing, too.

Have you found or created other helpful saint or geography notebooking pages?  I'd love to hear about them!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Should There Be An Exodus from Public Education in America? {A Review of IndoctriNation}

Ever have a tough home education day?

I certainly have!

In fact, it was at the tale end of one such day when I finally decided to take some "me" time to view Great Commission Films' DVD IndoctriNation, a 102 minute documentary that costs $19.95, which I was offered an opportunity to review as a part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Before I tell you more about the film, let me just say that I use the phrase "me time" loosely.  For, in truth, this homeschool mama gets few to no 102-minute stretches of solo time.  Thus, the film was viewed by me alongside my three children, two of which, thankfully, dozed off as I sat, pen and notepaper at hand, watching the film, and one who, surprisingly, not only stayed awake through the entire documentary, but, then, wanted to talk about some of topics tied to the film before going to sleep.

Once you watch the film, you will understand why the conversation I had with my son about the IndoctriNation could have gotten dicey.  For, the documentary starts with a parental advisory which states that parts of the film may not be suitable for children.  As I learned, this warning is not to be taken lightly. 

Topics such as sex, birth control, drugs, homosexuality and school shootings are clearly discussed in IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America.   So, if you, like me, end up watching the film with children, expect to say, "I will explain that further  when you are a bit older and ready for it" more than once; hope that your kids don't realize the lollipop looking things being handed out at schools by Planned Parenthood are really condoms (if they even know what condoms are; mine do not); be ready to explain that "gay" does not just mean happy; and, in general, be prepared for a wide variety of comments and questions to arise.  For, although IndoctriNation deals with sensitive topics appropriately and well, such topics are, inevitably woven into large portions of the documentary.  If they were not, how else could the filmmaker fully explore the crux of the IndoctriNation: Should there be an exodus among Christians from American public schools?

Just What Is IndoctriNation?

In a nutshell, IndoctriNation is the story of one family's field trip across the United States in order to better understand what the current state of American public schools is,  how it got that way and what Christian families might do about it.  As such, it is also an exploration of a highly charged question among Christians about whether Christian children should be pulled from America's public schools in order to best disciple them or whether they should remain in the schools as "salt and light" for the world.

To answer this question, Scottish filmmaker Colin Gunn, his American wife, and their seven homeschooled children set off  in a big yellow bus to interview teachers, administrators, parents, and more as they trace the history and current state of American public schools.  What they find is edited into the 19 segments of the IndoctriNation documentary , which can be viewed in either English or Spanish with subtitles. 

Testimonies are offered.  The history of how America's schools began and developed is chronicled.  And questions such as the following are explored:

  • Are today's children morally and physically safe in the public school system?
  • Are public schools religiously neutral or are they hostile towards Christians?
  • Is it possible for students, teachers or administrators to be "salt and light" in America's public schools?
  • What figures in history have influenced and changed the American public school system and what is the result?
  • Can the public school system be fixed or is there no hope?

Throughout the film, the bus that the Gunn family in drive as they travel throughout America runs into a number of issues.   It breaks down numerous times and this becomes and analogy for the American school system.  As the documentary ends, the bias of the film is made clear.  The bus is willfully destroyed.  The conclusion that America's public schools are beyond repair is drawn.

IndoctriNation essentially argues that Christian families should not trust American public schools with their children.  

My Thoughts

Without question, IndoctriNation preaches to the choir with me on many points.  I am already a home educator.  I am a former schoolteacher as well -- one that witnessed some of the detriments of America's public school system firsthand and does not want my children involved with bastions of relativism,  godlessness, questionable practices, teaching to the test and so much more. 

I found the documentary powerful, easy-to-follow and packed with facts and opinions that made me go, "hmmm...."  However, even though the film includes testimony from an array of students, teachers, administrators, theologians, politicians, historians and more, who corroborate facts with real-life testimonies, I cannot help but wonder if the film's bias might lessen its impact for some viewers.

IndoctriNation has an ultra-conservative, Christian and Creationism bias.  Thus, although the parts of film which chronicle the history of public education in the United States and those that discuss some of the challenges that today's students face would be worthwhile for any audience to view, it is likely that a non-Christian audience would not tolerate the majority of the film.

Further, since IndoctriNation calls all Christian families to withdraw their children from public schools, I wonder if even some Christians would be turned off by the documentary.  For example, lower-income families might feel exhorted by the film to pull their children from the public school system, but also unable to imagine who to make ends meet if they did so.  How would they pay for private or home education?  Does it make them "bad parents" if they cannot do so, and, therefore, do not release their children from the dangerous grasp of the public school system?  Confusion, guilt, hopelessness and defensiveness may arise for such viewers.

Would I Recommend IndoctriNation?


I already have, in fact.  The day after watching it, a fellow home educator and I were talking about today's schools and her daughter's experience in them as a new teacher.  I ended up mentioning IndoctriNation to her and the idea that it might not be possible to be "salt and light" in some schools.  I suggested she and her daughter watch the movie.

However, I would not recommend the IndoctriNation to everyone.

  • If you are a family that is involved with the public school system, are happy, see no problems with it and would be unwilling to have your views challenged, then this film won't appeal to you.

  • If you are not willing to be open to the idea that public schools might be the wrong place for practicing Christian children, teachers and administrators, then the film might be pointless for you to watch.

  • If you disagree with the idea that today's schools are owned by the government and designed to train servants to the state adept at little but a dependence ideology, then, well, you won't like what the film has to say.

But, if you are debating whether to begin or to continue to home educate; if want to know more about how American public schools got to the place they are today; or if you are looking for facts and testimonies to support your decision to be "salt and light" outside of the school system instead of within it where there simply may be no room for saltiness, then watch IndoctriNation.

A Final Thought

My nine year old said after watching IndoctriNation, "Mom, I liked it...  I sometimes wonder why you and Daddy don't put us in school.  Now, I know why."  This after a tough day where, yes, we might have mentioned the option of putting our son on the big yellow bus "if..." (even we would not really do so.)

This after a chat where my boy and I decided that I could never go back to teaching in public schools even if I wanted to because I cannot take my faith out of my life or my conversation.

This after I explained to my son that everything he was seeing and hearing in IndoctriNation was from one point of view and that there are other points of view, only to have him comment that even if he watched the other points of view later, when he is older and when he is ready, he still thinks we are making a good choice.

I could not agree more.
Should there be an exodus from today's public schools? 
IndoctriNation says yes.  I say, it is up to each family, led by the Spirit to decide.  I also attest that, agree with its bias or not, IndoctriNation is worth viewing when making -- or remaining steadfast -- in such a decision.  It is a well-put together, controversial and powerful film that is sure to garner reaction.

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IndoctriNation DVD Review


IndoctriNation DVD Review

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

How the Spirit Can Speak Through Snow

Look at the trees and see how gently they are wrapped in the snow. 

Think of how God wraps you gently in his unconditional love. 

Notice how each flake drifts downward. Think about how slowly we must proceed to remain safe if we have to go out. 

Consider these things a reminder to slow ourselves down internally, too. 

Witness how the snow piles up and how, as you scale atop it, you can climb to places you couldn't before. 

Enjoy the new perspective you get from those places. 

Perhaps the snow is like life's challenges. They build up sometimes, layer upon layer, but eventually, as we accept that they are there instead of bemoaning it, and look at them with a different angle, they can help us move higher

Also, ponder: When we try to go at our own paces and do our own things, keeping up with our plans in spite of the snow, things can get frazzled... and even dangerous. 

However, if we slow down, accept and adjust, a calm can come. Beauty can be noticed. Like the way the an icicle catches the morning sun. 

I, for one, am not good at slowing down nor letting go.  I am most comfortable when I am on the go or when I "take control".  Snow encourages me to stop.  It reminds me I am not in control. 

Like many, I need to let go and accept what is. To do what I am called to do in a single moment to help my family, my home, my circle of influence... 

Even if it is simply feeding the feathered friends that sing to me as I shovel. 

Indeed, I am called to pause. To breathe. To be. In the moment. Outside in the snow - again - shoveling. Grateful. Blessed. Quietly listening to the way the Spirit stirs me. 

What are you called to in this moment?'

Wherever you are. Whatever the weather or the circumstance, may you find a blessing in it and listen for how the Spirit might be speaking to your soul.


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