Category Archives: Books

Turning Books Into Movies

This evening, while I was ignoring the dirty dishes and waiting for the seventh load of laundry to finish, I stumbled across a list of books that are being made into movies. Now, I know that I spend more time reading blogs and homeschooling books than actual novels, but this is a LONG list and I don’t recognize even half of them. Surely I’m not THAT out of touch with the literary pulse of our society.

As a comparative literature major, that is a wee bit embarrassing. Well, it would be if I wasn’t so busy with the aforementioned laundry and dirty dishes. And if I were a little more confident in the caliber of books being published these days.

Sarah's not sure

Mom, I’m not sure about these books.

Look it over and tell me if these are books you have read and loved (or hated). I should also mention, I am in no way recommending these books (or the potential movies). If they are wildly inappropriate, I apologize! As I said earlier, I have not read (or even heard) of most of these titles.

A Great and Terrible Beauty
The A-List
I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You
Teen Idol
Maximum Ride
The Clique
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 — August 2008
City of Ember
A Yellow Raft In Blue Water
Wolf Brother
Lovely Bones
On the Road
Where the Wild Things Are
The Looking Glass Wars
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Historian
City of Beasts
My Sister’s Keeper
The Ruins
Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging
Marley and Me
The Tale of Despereaux – December 2008
The Other Boleyn Girl — already out in the theaters
The Kite Runner — already completed
Love in the Time of Cholera — out in theaters
The Lightning Thief
Emily the Strange (comic)
The Giver
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Narnia: Prince Caspian — May 2008
The Hobbit
Memory Keeper’s Daughter – on Lifetime TV
The Life Before Her Eyes – September 2008
Then She Found Me – May 2008
Nim’s Island – out in theaters

I am still surprised at the length of this collection. The real question, however, is not:

Have you read these books? But…

What book would YOU see made into a movie?

I love the Jane Austen flicks – wonderful! Joshua is crazy about the Lord of the Ring trilogy. We have several movie literary adaptations in our DVD library. After looking at this extensive list, I’ve started thinking about what other books just cry out to be made into movies. Three that came to mind while blogging late at night:

Prince of Foxes - this historical romance would be an amazing period piece with the right (dashing) cast
Ender’s Game – sci-fi author, Orson Scott Card, has been working for years on the movie version
Nearly anything by juvenile author Gordon Korman – love his kids books as they are clever, hysterical but clean and not filled with over the top obnoxious children.

give me a sword

David appreciates movies with sword fighting.

Leave a comment and tell me what titles I’ve overlooked. Oh, and did I mention we’re on a Budget (with a capital B) and don’t get to the movies much these days? Probably cheaper to just read the books from the library. :)


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Tuesday Tip for Parenting — Passport 2 Purity

new logo A couple of weekends ago I took my oldest son away, so that he and I could complete the Passport 2 Purity curriculum. Almost two years ago, Kathy purchased the CDs and workbooks, but they gathered dust on a shelf in our mud room, waiting on my convenience.

I wish I hadn’t waited so long. At 14, my son is mature and knowledgeable, but the Passport 2 Purity materials were designed for a younger, less mature audience. Even worse, in the past year Joshua has really begun to exercise a greater level of sovereignty in his life, and is becoming more and more reluctant to talk about certain subjects. I understand it is a natural (and possibly unavoidable) process, but it still makes me sad to see it happen, and it made for some awkward silences during the time that we had.

Thoughtful boy
Still, we did have some good discussions.

We had a great weekend. As recommended by authors Dennis and Barbara Rainey, we organized the time around a recreational event, which I wrote about in an earlier post, Travels with Faramir. We completed all five of the sessions, with time to spare for questions and general discussion.

Lower Lena Lake (L3)
… and Faramir didn’t even push me in the lake!

The choice of theme verse seemed a bit unrelated to the study. On reflection, though, it provides a common thread that permeates the discussion in a very satisfying way. Christ should be the head of every aspect of your life – relationships, purity, studies, and so on.

And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
Colossians 1:18

I’m not going to say a lot about the content of the Passport 2 Purity sessions, since there is some element of surprise to it, and I don’t want to ruin the event for any of my younger readers and their parents. Suffice it to say, that the material is an excellent way for a parent to begin to discuss the topics of sexuality, purity and dating relationships with a child on the brink of their transition to adulthood.

Backup CD Player
Naturally, we had technical difficulties, and had to scramble for a backup CD player.

One of the things I really liked about the weekend course is that it covers the basics without being too heavy-handed. The tone is light and informative, and Rainey repeatedly circles back around to emphasizing the importance of the child-parent relationship.

Perhaps the most surprising part of the material was the fourth session, in which the Raineys talk about purity. He quickly gets your attention: “I’m not going to tell you that the standard for Christians before marriage, is virginity.” Instead, he teaches that the Biblical notion of purity extends well beyond that ‘line in the sand’ which so many well-intentioned folks have drawn. Using the metaphor of a cliff-edge, Rainey walks both parent and child through an exercise of arranging various levels of physical contact in order, from ‘least dangerous’ to ‘most dangerous’. He talks about the tendency to progress through levels of physical intimacy, as a relationship extends in duration. “Where will you draw the line?” he challenges. “How much of your purity will you give away before your wedding day?”

These are sobering questions. Many parents of my generation are in the unenviable position of having to tell their children: “Don’t do what I did.”

my goodness

Were we ever that young?

Parents today cannot assume that their children will remain pure by default. Our culture bombards children with sexual innuendo and explicit images, through TV, movies, magazines and the internet. As one of my friends recently joked, a parent dare not assume that his children are innocents in this area:

Dad: Well, son, now that you’re a freshman in high school; it’s time that we had a talk about sex.
Son: Sure, Dad. What do you want to know?

Rainey works hard to bring the listener (both adult and child) to the understanding that a decision about purity must be made in advance, in order to hold to any kind of a moral standard. He warns that if you wait to decide what you will do when you are already in a relationship, you are practically guaranteeing that you will bow the knee to temptation.

I wish my parents had walked me through a curriculum of this nature, while I was still in their home. Although Kathy and I stood at the altar as virgins on our wedding day, there are lines of intimacy that we crossed, before we were married, which I regret.

Ultimately, an unmarried young man may find it helpful to think of himself as guarding his own purity and that of anyone he dates, in trust for their future spouses. I think this is a teaching that would have resonated with me, as a man who highly values honor and integrity. I think young Christian men are entirely capable of restraining their lusts, especially if they see themselves as honor-bound to guard and preserve the purity of the young lady they accompany. For some reason, this concept never took root in my mind, though it seems blindingly obvious, in hindsight.

Projects galore
The course included lots of interesting secret projects

Parents with eleven- or twelve-year-old children should rush out and purchase the Passport 2 Purity package, and start making plans to get away with your son our daughter for a weekend as soon as you are able. I strongly recommend this curriculum to your immediate attention. Kathy and Rachel are already scheming about their weekend away together.


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WFMW–Bible Devotional Favorites


Last week I shared a few of my favorite homeschooling books and programs. This Wednesday I thought it might be interesting to begin a discussion on devotional Bible books for children. I am a true bibliophile or bookworm and have an insatiable thirst for new books, novels, textbooks, tomes, and other works of fiction or non-fiction. I’ve never met a book sale or book store that didn’t call my name, usually loudly. Our family is continually on the search for inspiring and character/life changing devotionals. Over the years we have filled our shelves with excellent reading material.

When I showed my tall stack of books for today’s post to Tim, his eyes widened and he suggested, oh so gently, that I cull my list a bit. Gasp! How could I possibly do such a thing. As it is, I’m sure I am going to forget a precious gem, a beloved favorite, a truly powerful and influential devotional. How could I possibly leave one out??

Hearing a comment like that really makes you wonder what kind of person you married. Sigh.

Never fear, instead of scaling the collection of reviews back, I decided to break the blog into pieces. I’d hate to bore anyone to pieces with paragraphs and paragraphs of book discussion any more than I want to ignore a beloved devotional. Come back during the week for additional conversation.

I sincerely hope you find some new treasures in our collection as well as recognize a few old friends. Please, please, please leave a comment with the names of some of your own personal favorites. I still have room on my shelves for more books. :)

Bible Devotionals for Younger Children

David (age 6 1/2), Sarah (age 5), and I are currently working our way through The Children’s Every Day Bible illustrated by Anna C. Leplar. The stories are succinct, colorful and aimed for kindergarten to 4th grade.

After we read our Bible story for the day (or multiple stories, if we are, ahem, behind) we turn to a devotional book. There are several little books we enjoy throughout the week. Right now are just about finished with My ABC Bible Verses – Hiding God’s Word in Little Hearts by Susan Hunt. Each letter of the alphabet has a corresponding verse. The verse is explained in easy to understand language and then followed by a sweet story about siblings, Missy and Bill. The lessons are only two pages, and conclude with questions about the verse, a simple prayer and instructions to repeat the day’s verse and review earlier verses. I love watching David and Sarah absorb scripture and learn more about God’s Word.

some favorites

Kids-Life Devotions is an old and much-loved favorite. Joshua, Rachel and I read these stories when they were toddlers, pulling the little book off the shelf over and over the until the binding and cover were completely worn out. I was thrilled to find a copy of the book in a store here in Washington and snapped it up as fast as I could. The illustrations are creative and varied, each story has its own look and feel.

Jesus - my very best friend

This is one of David’s favorite tales.

There are many amusing children’s books that we have read and re-read over the years that reinforce godly character through their entertaining tales. The Adam Raccoon series by Glen Keane have delighted the children since Joshua was a young boy. Of course, Tim’s mother has written her own raccoon tale so we have a soft spot for raccoons in this family. Or at least books ABOUT raccoons.

The Building Christian Character series by Michael P. Waite are hysterical books, teaching lessons through silly stories and rhyme. Joshua has several lines memorized from these books as he is often called upon to read to the younger children.

silly tales in iambic pentameter

sarah's favorite

Handy-Dandy Helpful Hal, the Pooped-Out Parents’ Perfect Pal.

A recent discovery that has all the kids begging for more, is Gid the Kid and the Black Bean Bandits. I found this wonderful, entertaining treat at last month’s homeschool conference. The authors’ mother was one of the speakers. I immediately fell in love with this brilliant story, placing Gideon (Judges 6-8) in the old west. The authors and illustrators, brothers Christopher and Allan Miller, incorporated 3D computer graphics into their story-telling. The result is a fresh, vivid and appealing book. I promptly bought a copy for our family as well as one for my mother in law. I wish I had been able to afford more as this would make an excellent gift. Gid the Kid is book one in the Heroes of Promise series. We are all eagerly awaiting the next book.

david the kid

At least three of the children picked this book out of my big stack of ‘books to be reviewed’ as their personal favorite.

Stop by again for other devotional favorites and please do share some of your family’s cherished titles.

Project 365 – Day 255

Head on over to Rocks in My Dryer for further Works for Me Wednesday links.

Some other Duckabush WFMW Posts

Homeschooling Faves
Laundry Organizer
Giant Whiteboard
Travel Outfits

Join us for our Tuesday Tips for Parenting

Calling Your Child
Creative Use for the Timer
First Time Obedience
Sermon Notes
Thorough Job
Paper Doll Crafts

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Photoshop Elements 5 Class

Today the children and I went to one of our favorite haunts, the library. Twenty-five books, fifteen dvds and a handful of Archies later we were merrily on our way. So few books. We’re obviously easing back into school. Rachel and I were especially gleeful to pick up books we had reserved online.

Normally I spend the precious free moments of my day on the computer: perusing blogs, reading and writing e-mail, and working on various other computer projects. Not this afternoon. Not once I had this book in my hands.

photoshop book

Author, Scott Kelby, is the editor of Photoshop User magazine and the training director for Adobe Photoshop seminars. He’s written over 20 books and has an informal, easy-going writing style that makes his work highly readable.

After five minutes of reading (only at stop lights, I promise), I was hooked and prepared to spend the rest of the day devouring the Photoshop Elements 5 book. If you own Photoshop and have been too busy/overwhelmed/scared to dive into the editing experience, head straight to the library or and check out this excellent book. Don’t be intimidated by its thickness, there are hundreds of step by step instructions and illustrations.

Included in the book is an entire chapter on retouching portraits – removing blemishes, whitening teeth and eyes, lessening wrinkles, and even giving a digital nose job. I am only a Photoshop novice, an amateur at best, but I thought it might be interesting to tackle some basic steps using a sweet picture of Sarah.

Here is the original photo:

original cutie pie

My flower girl.

The first thing I did was to remove some mild blemishes (freckles, a small scar on her forehead, etc). I used the Healing Brush tool. This is a fantastic editing tool as it allows you to easily make very subtle changes.

Next I thought it would be interesting to try softening the circles under Sarah’s eyes. Kelby’s book had a helpful section on this topic (offering three different ways to approach it). I tried the Clone Stamp but couldn’t get a natural look and went back to the Healing Brush tool.

blemishes and circles gently erased

Circles under eyes softened and few blemishes faded.

There are instructions, in the book, for whitening eyes and teeth. I tried both on another picture and it found them to be incredibly easy. Select the area to be lightened (using the Lasso tool) and then go to Enhance — Adjust Color — Adjust Hue/Saturation. For eyes select Red in the Edit Box and then slide the bar all the way to the left in the Saturation field. After making that adjustment, you change the Edit Box back to Master and then slide the bar to the right in Lightness field, adjusting it slightly. This will brighten eyes beautifully.

To whiten teeth, select the teeth (being careful not to include the gums or lips) and then follow the same procedure choosing Yellow in the Edit Box of the Enhance — Adjust Color — Adjust Hue/Saturation function. Slide the bar all the way to the left in the Saturation field (removing the yellow tints) and then switch the Edit Box back to Master and brighten slightly with the Lightness guide. The Preview feature in the editing panel immediately reflects the changes made.

Note to self: Be careful to use a deft hand and light touch in photo-editing.

After whitening Sarah’s eyes slightly, I decided to soften her skin tone. For this procedure I went to Enhance — Adjust Color — Adjust Color for Skin Tone and selected a spot on her skin. I liked the overall color change this edit applied to the picture so I didn’t adjust it further. There are controls within this editing box that allow additional alterations in the colors — Tan, Blush and Ambient Light — and a wonderful Reset button. I was able to fine-tune and modify as much as I liked, nothing like a handy “reset” button.

skin tones

This is probably the most dramatic change – warms and deepens the entire picture.

There was a detailed chapter on color correction. Much of the editing in Photoshop can be accomplished using the Quick Fix application. I didn’t use it with this picture because I wanted to explore some other, more complex techniques. Sure enough, there was a a complicated process of color correction in this chapter that involved setting the values of target colors for the shadow areas then using those default numbers to adjust the overall picture. I don’t exactly understand the mechanics behind the various steps (okay, I don’t understand them at all) but Kelby outlined each stage so clearly and with full-color illustrations that I had no trouble following the directions.

I saved Sarah’s picture after each step of editing but some of the differences are so slight, I didn’t include them here. As it is, this is a LOT of focus on one picture. By the end of this post we’re all going to be bored to death of Sarah and her flowers.

I thought it would be nice to heighten the color in the roses and Sarah’s blue shirt so I used the Magic Wand tool to select the pink flowers and blue shirt. It took several clicks (holding the Shift key down) to be sure everything was selected. There are other ways to select a portion of the photo, this just happens to be the one I used for this step. After I had the areas selected I clicked on Enhance — Adjust Color — Adjust Hue/Saturation and then increased the Saturation just a bit by sliding the bar to the right. I might have made her shirt too bright. It’s hard to find the line between enhancing and transforming.

Note to self: Keep working on that gentle touch. Don’t be afraid to use the undo button and start over.

brighter flowers

What pretty roses, Sarah, and such a nice, bright shirt.

Scott Kelby says most (okay, all) pictures need a bit of sharpening after the colors have been adjusted. Who am I to argue with an expert? I followed his instructions for sharpening a portrait. Kelby explains the reasons behind the various settings and includes numbers for basic sharpening, sharpening soft subjects, portraits, as well as moderate and maximum sharpening.

I’m telling you, this is an awesome book!

Again I went over to that wonderful little Enhance menu (seems like I spend much of my time there) and clicked on Unsharp Mask. I set the numbers to Amount 75% — Radius 2 — Threshold 3. Now that I look over the pictures I don’t see very much change after applying the sharpening (or rather unsharpening) tool. Interesting. Of course, subtle editing is theoretically the goal in this operation so I should be pleased.

I thought Sarah’s lips looked a little pale so I selected them and darkened the saturation level just a bit. Too much and she looked like she was wearing makeup. I wanted to try out one other tool in Photoshop’s portfolio so I decided to give Sarah a few highlights. I used the Dodge tool to “paint” some lighter streaks in her hair. I’m not sure it looks natural so I probably wouldn’t use this in my final picture but it was fun and certainly more affordable than going to the salon.


Would you people STOP looking at me, please.

So there you have it, a nice little tutorial on Photoshop Elements 5 from someone who knows little but can obviously read and follow directions. :)

Here’s a set of before and after pictures, side by side:

before after

Tune in again for another unique modification of this picture.


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Cookies and Mashed Potatoes

I read a wonderful article in the June 2007 issue of Good Housekeeping this week. It was all about making vegetables more palatable and had a catchy title that would definitely appeal to my family, “Learn to Love the Veggies You Hate.” Of course, they would probably more likely appreciate something like, “How to Keep Your Mom from Fixing Vegetables EVER” but so far that one hasn’t made it to the major magazines.

sarah's french toast

Sarah finishes up the last of the Baked French Toast from Tuesday.

Now I like most vegetables but they managed to pick a few that don’t even make it to my “hey, let’s try this” list. To be fair (ie put myself in a better light) two of the veggies are favorites and eaten almost daily in our house.

I’m an adventuresome soul and always ready to experiment on my family with new, healthy, weird concoctions (they love me for this, I assure you) so I determined to try out one of Good Housekeeping’s veggie recipes. To be safe I started with something that looked down right acceptable: Broccoli Gratin. It has broccoli (something we already eat regularly) and potatoes. How can you go wrong? I figure I’ll ease them into these slowly and then hit them with one of the others like Shredded Beets with Celery and Dates (oh yeah, that’s gonna go over well here).

Broccoli Gratin

1 pound broccoli florets
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 in chunks
2 cups water
Pinch ground nutmeg (I omitted this)
3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Boil potatoes and broccoli until tender (17 to 20 minutes)
Drain vegetables, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Mash veggies, adding some reserved cooking liquid if mixture seems dry. Stir in nutmeg, 1/4 cup Parmesan, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper.
In shallow baking dish, spread vegetable mixture; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.
Broil 2 to 3 minutes or until Parmesan is browned.

I did have to make some adjustments to the recipe. I didn’t have any Yukon Gold potatoes. I cut up a small bag of red potatoes to use then changed my mind. I ended up drizzling them with Olive Oil, salt and fresh Parmesan and baking them in the oven. I decided to use instant mashed potatoes instead. I cooked the broccoli (didn’t measure) in water with some salt and butter until soft (and mushy, I mean very tender). I saved the liquid and pureed the broccoli in the food processor. I added some milk and a little more butter to the water and mixed up some instant mashed potatoes. I stirred in some sharp cheddar cheese (couldn’t resist) and then added the broccoli. I put the whole mixture into a Coring Ware dish, topped with fresh Parmesan and popped it into the oven with the roasting red potatoes.


It was delicious! Everyone liked it (well, everyone who likes mashed potatoes). It would also work, I think, with cooked cauliflower (although don’t tell my family or they’ll start to get suspicious). Tim thought it was a fairly painless way to eat broccoli. Joshua wasn’t sure about it as he couldn’t tell how many potatoes and how much broccoli he was eating. I think he likes his food separated out. It’s just proper, potatoes should be on one side and veggies the other with meat in the center. :)

On another, sweeter note, I made some yummy carrot cookies for an after dinner treat. It was so healthy I didn’t even charge the kids for a dessert point.

I LOVE this cookbook!! It’s one of my current favorites. If you like to bake and get excited about wheat germ, lecithin granules, and soy flour and recipes that unabashedly use these type of “exotic” ingredients, then you simply HAVE to check out this book or one of the author’s other selections.


The Smart Baking Cookbook: Muffins, Cookies, Biscuits and Breads by Jane Kinderlehrer

A friend introduced me to the author’s books, Smart Cookies and Smart Muffins. I found the Smart Baking Cookbook at the library. It has a collection of the muffins, cookies, and bread recipes all in one. I’ve gone to several times to buy the book but keep resisting (I mean, library rentals go for 3 weeks so I have time). Tim and I are a serious budget these days so there isn’t a lot of extra money available for “frivolous spending.” Still, I do have some anniversary money kicking around and definitely MUST own this book. We have Amazon Prime this year which means all of our Amazon shipping is FREE (if it is an Amazon sold item and not through another seller). How tempting is that??

Tonight I made:

Golden Carrot Molasses Gems

1/3 cup vegetable oil (preferably olive)
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup grated raw carrots
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 tbs bran
2 tbs rice polish or soy flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup powdered milk
2/3 cup raisins
1 1/4 cup rolled oats

In food processor, blender, or mixing bowl, combine oil, molasses, egg and vanilla. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add carrots and blend.

Combine wheat flour, wheat germ, bran, rice polish or soy flour, baking pwdr, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and milk powder.

Add to carrot mixture. Blend briefly. Stir in raisins and oats.

Bake 350 of 12 to 15 minutes.

carrot cookies

These were delicious! The kids all loved them. One thing I especially appreciate about the author is all the additional information she incorporates in her recipes. She gives tips on when and what to serve with the goodies, what kind of nutritional value is emphasized in each recipe, and so on.

I did have to make a list and buy some things not normally found in my pantry. Most everything was found in the bulk food section of one of our local grocery stores so it wasn’t too difficult.

There you have it. Two new recipes to try and one book recommendation. Enjoy.

Project 365 – Day 158

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