Category Archives: Movies/TV

Harry Potter Week (last summer)

Last Summer, I posted that we were planning a Harry Potter Week with our youth students.  You can read about the plans HERE.  The week was a lot of fun with Harry Potter themed food, drinks, and crafts.  We watched a different HP movie each night and concluded the week with a trip to see 7.2 at the theater.

Michael and I recently watched all of the movies AGAIN in preparation for our visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando this coming December! (At least that was our excuse…)  And I recently joined Pottermore, and it made me want to re-read all of the books again.  But I have way too many other books to read first.

I never ended up posting pictures from that week and decided that it’s better late than never.  So here are the pictures from Harry Potter Week that should have been posted last summer.

Most of the ideas were found in these two books: “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book” and “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.”  (You can click on each title to take you to the Amazon link.)

 

Sunday: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

  • Craft:  Wands

Mine & Michael’s (we formed ours at home to try the craft out)

Some of the completed wands.  They turned out so good!  All of the students REALLY liked this craft!

  • Snack:  Chocolate Frogs (I bought the molds HERE)

These were great!  The molds were super easy to use, and the frogs looked really good.  We decided to put mini marshmallows in some of them, and those turned out good as well.

  • Drink:  Butterbeer (recipe found HERE…used #5, but I’d like to try #1 on my own).  I don’t have a picture of this, but it was AMAZING!! The students loved it, and I can’t wait to try Universal’s version.

 

Monday: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

  • Craft:  No-Sew House Ties

These were really easy, and they made for a great craft.

  • Snack:  Pumpkin Pasties

These took a LONG time to make.  And I can’t stand pumpkin, so I didn’t try one.  But the students who tried them really liked them.

  • Drink:  Pumpkin Juice.  I don’t have a picture of this, but I did try it, and I can say it was good!  I think the pineapple, etc. made it where the pumpkin wasn’t very prominent.

 

Tuesday: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  • Craft:  Wizard Money: Galleons, Knuts and Sickles

The students could paint their Wizard Money with whatever they wanted.  I chose a metallic paint, and over time they stuck to each other.  It’d be better with a flat paint and then add glitter.  But they were cute.

  • Snack:  Acid Pops

These weren’t very good.  They were a little too sticky.

  • Drink:  Polyjuice Potion

This actually turned out to be really good!  Michael was saying last night that we need to make some more.  You can’t see it in this picture, but there were gummy worms in the drink, which added some fun.

 

Wednesday: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

  • Craft:  No Mess Quills

For some reason, I didn’t get a picture of these, but they turned out cute.  They were definitely a cheap but practical craft.

  • Snack:  Dragon Eggs

  • Drink:  Liquid Luck

This turned out to be one of my favorites, even though it was simple.

 

Thursday: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

  • Craft:  Extendable Ears

I didn’t make this craft, but here is a picture of one of the student’s

  • Snack:  Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans

These were SUPER easy.  I just made a label and put them on small cups.  We just used regular jelly beans, but you can purchase actual Bertie Bott’s Beans if you’d like.

  • Drink:  Pensieve Potion

This was another that was simple yet good.

 

Friday: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

  • Craft:  Pygmy Puff

These were super cute.  Mine is still on my shelf at work.

  • Snack:  Cockroach Clusters (found HERE)

Simple no-bake type cookies, but they were good.

  • Drink:  Butterbeer again.  It was just too good!!

 

Saturday: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1 at church, Part 2 at the theater)

  • I honestly can’t remember what we did this day.  I think we told the kids they could finish up any of their crafts or they could bring a shirt to draw on.  But we might not have done anything.
  • I think we just had popcorn and leftover snacks, but again I could be wrong.  I was just too long ago!

It turned out to be a GREAT week!  There were lots of game ideas, etc. in “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book” but we didn’t have time for that.  And personally, I enjoyed that book more than the other.  “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.” was a fantastic British cookbook, but it wasn’t practical for what we were looking for.

So if you’re looking for a theme night for one of the Harry Potter Movies, or if you’re just wanting something fun to do, I highly recommend some of these crafts, snacks, and drinks.  And try out some Butterbeer even if you haven’t seen the movies.  It’s great!

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–Staci

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It’s Been Too Long – By M

I can’t even remember when we wrote our lost blog post, but I can imagine it was probably somewhere back in February about our son, Josiah, who is still healthy, kicking (like a baby ninja), and growing!  There have been so many great things going on for us, and we have stayed so busy that it has been hard to write, but I wanted to give everyone out there a quick update on what’s going on in the world of Michael Elizondo:

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– Staci is currently in week 29 of her pregnancy!  It’s so crazy that our baby boy is dues in less than 3 months!  Wow

– We spent Spring Break working in Josiah’s bedroom and it’s been so fun seeing it come together!  We’re so thankful for our parents who have done so much as we prepare for Josiah!  We also thank everyone who has already surprised us with little gifts here and there!

– I have to give props to my mom, mother-in-law, father-in-law, and sister-in-law for all the help they did for us as we got our flower beds done.  I don’t think I’ve moved more dirt and rocks in my life, but it feels rewarding and looks great!

– New Favorite Artist:  Zach Williams

– Staci and I just finished our 4th time watching the Harry Potter Movie Series all the way through… 4th time… does that makes us freaks?  oh well 🙂

– Cant wait til July!  3rd Batman comes out and it will be epic!

– We’re getting our first real neighbor (If you haven’t been tracking along, Staci and I had the awesome opportunity to build our house in a new subdivision.  Our closest right-side neighbors are a lot over and the closest left-side neighbors are 2 lots over, but now we will have an immediate neighbor on our left!)  Which is nice, because the loud part of the construction, if not all the construction should be done by the time Josiah gets here and that’s on his side of the house.  It does throw us off when we look out our back windows and see men walking around in the backyard next to us.

– Our son is coming so soon and we can’t wait!

– I am loving this NBA season.  Although I am still a little bitter about the lock-out (millionaires fighting over money *roll my eyes* is pretty ridiculous in my opinion) I am loving watching my Spurs dominate.  I’m holding out for Championship #5!  Let’s See it in June!

– Staci celebrated her birthday, and although we didn’t get to celebrate the way that we had hoped it was still a special day/weekend!

– Love our new toys, thanks to our Tax return!  New DSLR camera and HD Camcorder!  They’ll be perfect for documenting our little one and all the family events that we’ll be celebrating in the future!  (I know you nay-Sayers who disagree with getting a return, but it works for us, and it’s nice to get a little gift every spring… better than dreading tax day for sure)

– I hope Fox Renews Alcatraz for season 2!  That was a really good show!

– Speaking of good shows and Fox, Touch is absolutely incredible!  go to Hulu and watch now!  Oh and Once Upon a Time on ABC is good too, but Staci likes that more than me 🙂

– We will be parents in less than 3 months!  That is still so unbelievable to me!

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We hope that all is well with you, and hope to get some more posts up here regularly.  We know that it will be harder and harder once Josiah gets here, but we want to keep you all in the loop!

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Now that you know a little bit more about what’s going on in our world, how are things in your world?

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– M


Disney Night: Dumbo & Fantansia

For previous Disney Nights, click HERE.

Our third Disney Night was Dumbo since we don’t have Fantasia.  If you’re curious about all of the Disney Animation Features and their release dates, you can click HERE.  The week after we watched Dumbo (last week), we found out that you can rent Fantasia on Amazon on-demand, so we did that this week.  So here are our two most recent Disney Nights.

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Dumbo

Our Family Night:

  • Watched the movie
  • Looked up more info about the Fantasyland Expansion including a whole area themed around Dumbo and the Circus (HERE is a good article with videos)
  • Played “Ticket to Ride” aka “Trains” in honor of Casey Junior (Michael won and set a PR by the way.)

Other Family Night Ideas:

  • Make a tent and play a game inside
  • Have the whole family put on a circus–each person has to plan at least one act
  • Eat animal crackers

Thoughts/Fun Facts:

  • We absolutely hate the “Elephants on Parade” sequence.  It’s weird and creepy.  But when we watched the special features, we found out that the Disney Studio was very proud of this sequence.  It allowed them to try new things and be artistic in whatever way they felt led.  We still didn’t watch it tonight though.
  • For the scene with the crows, they filmed live dancers to get a picture of what they wanted the birds’ movements to look like.
  • I love that Dumbo doesn’t say a word during the entire movie, and yet he’s such an iconic Disney character.
  • I cry almost every time I see the “Baby Mine” scene.

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Fantasia

Our Family Night:

  • Listened to Classical Music (Beethoven Station on Pandora) while we cooked and ate dinner
  • Watched the movie

Other Family Night Ideas:

  • Play different types of instrumental music and let the kids (and/or adults) draw/paint pictures of what they think the music sounds like

Thoughts/Fun Facts:

  • This was a really last-minute theme night decision.  But it was great as a relaxing end to our crazy youth conference weekend.  We realized that classical music really is so relaxing to help unwind.
  • In fact, it was almost too relaxing.  I couldn’t stay awake.  So we stopped the movie and tried to watch it the next afternoon between morning and night church.  We didn’t quite finish it, and honestly, it wasn’t our favorite.  So we decided to not start it again.
  • I read in my Vault of Walt book that Walt Disney was so excited about Fantasia.  He wanted to instill in the American public a love and appreciation for classical music.  He thought it would be received so well that he had plans to create multiple films like it.
  • Michael looked the movie up on Wikipedia and found out that the re-release in the 60s made the movie popular with the older teenage/young adult crowd.  If you’ve seen the movie, you can probably guess what substances were used to increase their interest in the film.

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Q for You: Dumbo: What’s your take on the “Elephants on Parade” sequence? Fantasia: Fan or not?

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–Staci

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New Disney Favorite – By M

With Staci making all her fun Disney posts, I figure why not make one of my own?!

And, if you haven’t caught on by now, Staci and I are big Disney fans.  Granted, Staci is a much bigger fan than I am, and she is also madly in love with Disney World.  Anyway, the two of us our always buying and watching Disney movies.  It’s great to have all our old childhood favorites and other classics.  We’re big nerds like that.

We’re also a part of the Disney Movie Club because you can get a ton of Disney DVDs for real cheap when you sign up.  We also, want to be prepared for when we have kids, so they can enjoy the movies that we grew up watching.

So we recently made an order for Dumbo and the New Winnie the Pooh movie.  We originally made this purchase, as stated before, for our future child.  We decided to watch Winnie the Pooh to see if it would be any good.  My family had the original one when I was kid and I remember it was funny (for being a 5 year old).  So I honestly wasn’t expecting much.  As the movie opened, it had that same Winnie the Pooh nostalgic feel –the old bedroom with the stuffed animals strewn about the room, the same “Winnie the Pooh” song intro (done very well by Zooey Deschanel), etc– a lot of the events in this story even mirror some of the old story.  Needless to say it started well…

…And to my great surprise got better as the show went on.  Staci will be my witness that this movie had me laugh out loud more than any other movie since Despicable Me.  It really blew me away how witty the lines were, and the slap-stick humor was great!  The only complaint I would have is that the movie is only 60 minutes… I didn’t realize feature movies could even be that short.  Although the Toy Story trilogy and the Lion King will always be my tops when it comes to Disney movies, this new Winnie The Pooh movie has definitely made its mark in my book!  So go rent it, enjoy it, and let your inner child out for a good 60 minutes!

So find a chance to tap into your inner child and check out the new “Winnie the Pooh” movie and enjoy!

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What’s a recent movie that really surprised you in a good way?

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– M


Best of 2011 – By M

Ok… I know that this is, like, 3 weeks too late, but I figured, Hey why not?!

Besides, there were a whole lot of awesome things to highlight in the year of 2011.  So, here goes!

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Favorite Once-in-a-life-time Event:  Skydiving with my wife

This is something that has been on my to-do list since I was in middle school, but I never thought I would have the opportunity to actually go do it.  The craziest part for me was watching Staci fall out of the plane with her instructor right before me and knowing that this was “Go time!”  Check out THIS post that we wrote about it afterward.  And here are a couple of pictures from it.

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Favorite Youth Trip:  California for the Youth 2011 Conference

Although Staci and I had plenty of incredible experiences with our students this year, I think our trip to Cali takes the cake.  The conference was great, the kids were fun, and the sites were awesome!  Can’t beat it for 2011.

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Favorite New Toy: iPad 2

Yeah, it’s pretty awesome!  But I waste too much time on it… but I am getting better!

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Favorite Movie (and Book Series): Harry Potter 7.2 (Harry Potter Series)

I know this is a completely nerdy pick, but you have to admit, the way that the HP story culminates into HP 7.2 is absolutely incredible.  And it makes it even better if you’ve read the books.  I don’t care what anyone says… if you can’t see the story of true love and self-sacrifice through this epic story then you’re crazy!

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Favorite New (or New-to-me) Album(s): Gungor – Beautiful Things, NEEDTOBREATHE – The Reckoning, Owl City – All Things Bright and Beautiful

This is a toughy because we got tons of great music this year, but these are definitely ones that find their way onto my iPod more often than not!  And if you want to see more great music from 2011 check out THIS post.  We also had our best Christmas music of 2011 HERE.

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Favorite Accomplishment: Building a covered porch for a woman in need for our HS Mission trip, U.M. Army

I’ve dabbled in renovations and remodeling with my in-laws, but never have I built something from the ground up.  I blogged more about the whole week of work on THIS post, check it out.

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Favorite New-to-me TV Show: Parenthood

Ok, I have to preface this one by saying, I find a hard time recommending this show because of certain content in this show.  However, I love that this show is themed around family and how important it is to have family in your life no matter how dysfunctional.  I have to admit that this show has put a lump in my throat many-a-time.

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Favorite Concert: David Crowder*Band (House of Blues Houston, TX)

DC*B has been my favorite band since high school.  David Crowder has had a huge impact on me as a musician and worship leader.  I love their music and their concerts are loads of fun.  I’m heart-broken that they’re breaking up and that this was their last tour together, but it is awesome for them to go out on their own terms and make it solid!

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Favorite Event: Catalyst Dallas

Catalyst is an incredible Christian leadership conference that began in Atlanta.  They now have a small version they do on the West Coast in California as well as in the mid-west in Dallas.  Great speakers, musicians, entertainment, and more!  Someday I hope to make it out to the Atlanta conference!  You can check out a post we wrote about it HERE.

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Favorite Purchase: Buying a house

‘Nough said…  There is nothing like having your own home, and it’s even more special to pick out what you like, and watch the building phase from the ground up!  It’s been an awesome journey for Staci and me to be in our new home.

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Favorite Overall Moment: Finding Out We’re Pregnant!

Many of you have read through our pregnancy story and know that this has been a long and difficult journey for the two of us.  So seeing the positive on the pregnancy test was such an incredible thing!  And it’s been fun getting all prepared for the little one to arrive this summer.

Then…

Now…

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Those are my tops for the year of 2011!  I’m sure there are plenty more things I could go on about, but I’ll keep things short there.

What are some of your faves from 2011?

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–M


Disney Nights: Snow White & Pinnochio

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it on here before, but we’re going to Walt Disney World (the Disney in Florida) this December!  We’ve been planning a family trip with Michael’s family (parents, sister, brother, and sister-in-law) since last July.  I absolutely LOVE Disney World.  This will be my 5th trip and Michael’s 3rd.  Even though he’s not a nut like I am, he really enjoys it too.

Since we’ve been married, we’ve joined the Disney Movie Club twice.  So…it’s safe to say we have a lot of Disney movies.  To celebrate our upcoming trip, we’ve decided to watch a different Disney movie every week leading up to the trip.  I’m sure there will be some weeks we don’t get one in–especially around the time the baby comes–but we’re going to try.

I’ll post a little synopsis of our Disney night, and then I’ll give some ideas of what I’d do for a theme night with little kids.  I can’t wait to have Family Nights someday soon, and I love planning things like this.  I might also add a few things I like about each movie and/or fun facts.  We’ll see.

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Snow White

Our Family Night:

  • Watched the movie
  • Cleaned the house (fun, right?!)
  • Mini Foods in Sevens (Michael just ate normally, but here’s my plate. PS. Can you tell I was still having a hard time with foods?)

Other Family Night Ideas:

  • Have the kids put on a talent show with dancing and instruments they make
  • Make a treasure hunt for toy jewels

Thoughts/Fun Facts:

  • I didn’t really like Snow White much as a kid.  I didn’t like her high-pitched voice, and it just wasn’t one of my favorites.  In fact, Michael and I had decided to not buy it.  That is, until we went to Disney World in 2009.  On our behind the scenes tour, we learned a lot about Snow White and decided we had to have Walt Disney’s first animated feature–actually, the world’s first full-length animated feature.
  • Recently, I read in “The Vault of Walt” by Jim Korkis that Hollywood stars showed up for the premier because they had to.  Many of them could be heard making fun of coming to an animated movie and talking about the absurdity of it all.  When it was over, they gave Snow White a standing ovation!  Also, many of them left with sunglasses on to cover their tear-streaked faces.  It was safe to say that Snow White had accomplished more than anyone thought possible.

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Pinocchio

Our Family Night:

  • Watched the movie
  • Ate Homemade Pizza (see below for tie-in explanation)
  • Played “2 Truths and a Lie”

2 Truths and a Lie Game–You have to guess which one of the other person’s statements is a lie.  We decided to give 3 points for the first guess being correct, 1 for the second, and none for the third.

  • One of my examples: 1) I wanted to be an artist 2) I wanted to be a nurse 3) I wanted to be a doctor.  Correct answer: 3 is the lie.
  • I ended up winning by 2!

Other Family Night Ideas:

  • Make puppets and put on a play
  • Let the kids have a grasshopper race (hop on all fours)
  • Wish upon a star

Thoughts/Fun Facts:

  • While we were watching Pinocchio, we decided to find out where the story takes place.  Michael thought it looked like Germany, but I thought that the names were Italian and the clothes were Swiss.  After much googling, we finally found that it takes place in northern Italy.  So we brushed up on our geography and looked at a map of Europe.  It turns out that northern Italy borders Switzerland, which borders Germany.  Hm–you learn something every day!

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We made a list of all of our Disney movies (in order of original release date) and I tried to think of something to go along with each.  I’m such a nerd for things like this, and I’m excited about our weekly Disney Nights!

I’ll be writing a Pre-Trip Report on the DISboards (www.disboards.com) later, and I’ll post the link here.  I’ll also post an abbreviated list of our plans here once the trip gets closer.

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Q for You: What ideas do you have for different Disney Nights?

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–Staci

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Harry Potter Week

For those of you who are Harry Potter fans, it goes without saying that the last movie is just around the corner!  You can watch a trailer HERE.

A lot of our students are huge HP fans, and when we came to our church they were in the middle of doing a Bible study called “The Gospel According to Harry Potter” on Wednesday nights.  (The study took clips or themes from HP books/movies and then taught about the themes using Scriptures.)  We took our students to see HP 7.1 last fall when it came out, and we had a great time.

Sometime between then and now, we had the idea to have a Harry Potter Week building up to the new movie this summer.  Well, that time has come!

The movie actually releases next Friday, but we’ll be at camp next week.  So we’re having HP week the following week.  Each night, we’ll watch one of the HP movies, and have a HP inspired snack and (optional) craft.  I’m super excited because:

  1. It’s Harry Potter
  2. I love cooking and doing crafts
  3. I love planning things

So in case you want to plan your own HP party, I thought I’d share our plans.  Almost all of the ideas came from “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book” and “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.”  (You can click on each title to take you to the Amazon link.)

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Sunday: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

  • Craft:  Wands
  • Snack:  Chocolate Frogs (I bought the molds HERE)
  • Drink:  Butter Beer (recipe found HERE…using #5, but I’d like to try #1 on my own)

Monday: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

  • Craft:  No-Sew House Ties
  • Snack:  Pumpkin Pasties
  • Drink:  Pumpkin Juice

Tuesday: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  • Craft:  Galleons (possibly Knuts and Sickles too)
  • Snack:  Acid Pops
  • Drink:  ??

Wednesday: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

  • Craft:  No Mess Quills
  • Snack:  Dragon Eggs
  • Drink:  ??

Thursday: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

  • Craft:  Extendable Ears
  • Snack:  Treacle Tart
  • Drink:  Liquid Luck Potion

Friday: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

  • Craft:  Pygmy Puff
  • Snack:  Rock Cakes (or if I’m low on time, Cockroach Clusters found HERE)
  • Drink:  Pensieve Potion

Saturday: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1 at church, Part 2 at the theater)

  • I’m still debating whether or not to do a craft and snack this day since we’re watching two movies…thoughts?

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I’m really excited about Harry Potter Week!  Any ideas we should add?

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–Staci

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**All Crafts taken from “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book

**Pumpkin Pasties, Pumpkin Juice, Treacle Tarts, and Rock Cakes taken from “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook“; All other Recipes (other than those noted in the plans) found in “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book”


I Don’t Get It – By M

Ok maybe I do get it… but it’s just not how I am any more.  Let me explain what I’m talking about…

I know that I mention Jon Acuff in probably half of the blogs I write.  I don’t mean to be a creepy-psyco fan or anything; I just happen to read his blog often (along with several others) and I read this post about “The Hangover 2”, and it got me thinking…

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Quick Disclaimer:  This post is NOT meant to be written towards anyone.  It is also MEANT to be a non-judgmental assertion of some of my thoughts.  If you have seen or plan on seeing “The Hangover 2”, please know that I would never EVER judge you for what you may or may not watch at the movies.  That would just be ridiculous.

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With that said…  When I first heard about the first movie, I already had one good reason to not go see the movie: The name.  I know, I sound like my mom….  😦    But truthfully, that is enough to stop me from spending $10 at the theater.  I can’t exactly imagine anything good coming out of a movie with a title like that.

However, I really would like to make this post about more than just one movie.  There’s something I find a little disturbing in the trend of the young generation of the church/Christians.  We seem to be really good at justifying things that we do that we know we probably shouldn’t.  This applies to more than just movies; you can apply it to TV shows, books/magazines we read, things we do on the weekend, things we do with our boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.

I think that’s why I liked Acuff’s blog post so much.

If you didn’t click on the link, his post is essentially about the excuses that  Christians make when they see movies that they know, like “The Hangover”, will be full of all kinds vulgarity, and probably shouldn’t see anyway.  We make excuses like being “relevant” and “with the times”, covering your eyes during the nudity, focusing on the “deeper” meaning of the film, or, in Acuff’s terms, reverse Jesus-Juking anyone who questions you watching it (in other words calling someone judgmental and closed-minded for not watching it, and for judging what they haven’t seen).

I think about the verse Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  And also in 1 Corinthians 10:23 ” ‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is constructive.”  I have a choice to do whatever I want to do.  God isn’t gonna stop me.  And… I like that!  I like that God doesn’t force me to love Him, or do anything on His behalf.  However, some things that I want to do just aren’t good.  Some things I want to do, in the words of Paul, are just not “beneficial” or “constructive” to me.

I am a firm believer in finding God in “secular” things.  Staci and I are always connecting movies, TV shows (especially LOST), music, and books (even including Harry Potter) to our relationship with God.  I love to find God in things that people didn’t intend because I believe that what the Bible says about all creation singing His praises is true.  But I also believe we can find these things in movies much more wholesome (great, using another word my mom uses) than movies like the “Hangover”.

Once again, I want to reiterate that I am not trying to judge those who do what they do.  It’s their choice.  I’m also not trying to sound “holier-than-thou” by saying that I have simply chosen the alternative.  The truth is, I didn’t always make these kind of decisions in my life.  Remember at the beginning of this post (which was so long ago that you probably don’t) that I had said I do get why people watch these kind of movies. There was a time in my life when I would have gone (and did go) to the opening night of movies like the “Hangover”.  Where I watched what I thought looked funny regardless of vulgarity.  In fact, I  even owned a handful of those kind of movies.  I laughed at the worst parts and scoffed at those who thought I was doing the wrong thing.  And then I realized that God has the best thing for me, while most of things I do are only the “good” (or, a lot of times, not so good) thing.  So now I have stopped watching many of the types of movies and TV shows I once found funny due to vulgarity, and the funny thing is, as I have moved away from watching those things, the less I have a desire to see one, and the more I am convicted when I do watch one.

This post isn’t meant to judge, just to hopefully get you thinking.  ” ‘Everything is permissible’ – But not everything is beneficial…”

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What is the best movie you’ve seen in recent months (and if it’s “The Hangover 2” be honest.  Like I said I won’t judge you)?  What’s one you’re looking forward to in the upcoming ones?

(For me, by far, Inception is the best one I’ve seen recently (even though that was a while back).  And I know it sounds nerdy, but I’m actually excited for Harry Potter 7 pt. 2 this summer.)

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– M

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Harry Potter Accomplishment – By M

Just a short post to say that I’m not a reader.  The only time I ever would read anything would be the comic strip in the Sunday paper, directions (yes, I am not too prideful a man to read directions), and what I was forced to read in school.

However, since marriage, Staci –as many of you know– is a HUGE (and I emphasize that word immensely) reader.  And she’s gotten me more turned on to reading.  It started by her getting me hooked onto Ted Dekker, whom we’ve mentioned in other posts (He is an awesome Christian Fiction writer).

Last fall, Staci and I decided to watch through the Harry Potter movie series, and I found them actually pretty enjoyable (Although, to be upfront, I couldn’t recommend them for anyone younger than 13 or 14 even with PG and PG-13 ratings).  Anyhow, Staci decided that she wanted to read through the series.  So we bought books 1-7 and Staci finished all 7 books between September and November when “The Deathly Hallows – Part 1” came out.  Staci convinced me to start reading the series.  I can’t exactly remember when I started, but I finished up book 7 just a couple of days ago.

I have to admit, the books are REALLY good (but would, once again, not recommend them to the younger people).   I know the books and movies have caught a lot of flack from the Christian community about wizardry and witch craft, but my opinion is that the books make it clear that there is good, and there is evil, and Love is the most powerful “magic” of all.  But a full review and argument for my case on the books/movies would probably be due in another post that I’ll probably never write….

So all that to say that I finished 7 books, which equalled 4,100 pages of mystical, magical mischief!  Only my fifth series of books to ever finish (Left Behind -LeHaye/Jenkins, Circle Series -Dekker, Paradise Novels -Dekker, The Lost Books -Dekker).  So… go me!

Any good books that you’ve read lately, or goals that you’ve accomplished?

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– M


Catching Up: Cousin and HP Weekend

I’m so behind on blogging — sooo sorry!  I’m home today since I’ve been working lots of crazy hours, and I want to try to get all caught up on the blog.  Sorry in advance for them all coming at once, but I know this is the only way I’ll get caught up.  🙂

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First of all, we went to Houston to visit my cousin, Paul, and his wife, Liz two weekends ago.  They helped us move in, but this was the first time that we were able to meet up after that.

Since we have Fridays off (we work on Sundays), we were able to relax and sleep in and then head over to Houston that afternoon.  Liz was leaving work when we arrived, so we visited with Paul until she came home.  And then we were given the grand tour!  Their house is adorable.  I should have taken pictures.  They live in a cute townhome, and everything is decorated so cute.  They also had all of the fall decorations out.

After we visited for a long time and ate dinner, we were ready to go to The Painted Potter to make Christmas Ornaments — or so we thought.  Liz realized that she left her wallet at work, so we made a quick detour to her school.  I’m glad it turned out this way because we were able to see her classroom!

I was really excited about going to the potter painting place because I hadn’t been to one since I was in elementary school (we made my dad father’s day gifts there one year).  Michael had never been and he kept telling people he was going to pottery class.  Hehe.  Friday and Saturday nights are “Date Night” and they give you a discount on the fire and paint fee.

It was such a cute place!  I could have spent hours and hours looking at all of the different options.  We knew we wanted to make ornaments, but even then there were so many to choose from!  Michael ended up picking a reindeer and I picked a snowman.

Next, we picked our glazes/paints.  There were SO many to choose from!  Then it was time to get busy painting.  You can get a glimpse of how many different colors there were to choose from in this picture:

We were all concentrating so hard!

The 3-D ornaments were harder than they look!  There were so many little details.  Paul and Liz made OSU orange & black snowmen.

Michael painted his reindeer brown (obviously) and my snowman had purple, blue, and green snow clothes. (By the way, they look completely different after they’ve been fired.)

We had such a great time!  It was so nice to be able to just sit and talk and be creative at the same time.  It’s been a long time since I’d done any artsy stuff (besides graphic design stuff, but I don’t count that), and I didn’t realize how much I missed it.  We knew we’d definitely be back!  (It took 6 days to get everything fired, by the way.  I haven’t taken a picture of the finished products yet, so I’ll add that in a later post.)

When we got back to Paul and Liz’s house, it was time to eat some snacks and play some games!  They’d told us that the games on the “Beauty and the Beast” blu-ray were SO much fun, so we decided to play them first.

The first game we played was a character guessing game.  We each used our phones to call in and get a character.

Then we used them to answer “yes” or “no” questions about our character and vote on who we think other players were.  It’s so crazy how interactive these games can be now!

After we played a couple of rounds of that (it was SO much fun, by the way!), we played the other game.  This one was incredible!  It’s like an interactive “Clue” type game.  Our mission is to find Belle’s missing friends.  You choose a room to visit and then pick a hiding place to uncover.  You could find a character, the Beast, a magic mirror, Gaston, or nothing at all.  In order to be able to look, you have to answer a trivia question right.  Most of them had something to do with a song from the movie.  Some of them were really hard!  We had a ton of fun playing!  If you have (or can rent) the “Beauty and the Beast” on blu-ray, I highly recommend playing the games!  Michael ended up winning the second game.   I was Player 2 — the one with no friends found.

Oh–and their dog, Dasher, was helping us play.

After that, we played Scategories (I think Liz won) and then sat around and talked until 2 a.m.!  It was SO good to be able to just talk.  We’ve missed having a married couple our age to hang out with.  And what makes it better is that they’re family too.  My brother and I have always been really close with Paul and his sister, Bethany.  I’m thankful that we live so close to Paul and Liz now.  Especially since all 4 of us are so far away from our families.  We had a GREAT time, and we’re excited to go back next week to go look at lights and go ice skating!

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The next morning, we slept in, had some breakfast, and then headed back to Beaumont so we could take the youth to see Part 1 of “Harry Potter 7“.  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but Michael and I watched all of the movies this summer (I’d only seen the first 3) and then I decided that I wanted to re-read the first 4 books and read 5-7 for the first time.  I made it my goal to have at least 1/2 of 7 read by the time the new movie came out.

Well, I made it!  I had a couple of chapters left in book 7, but I finished it that night after the movie.  So that means I’ve read 4,100 pages of Harry Potter in 3 months!!  And it was well-worth all 4,100 pages.  JK Rowling is a very gifted author, and I really, really enjoyed reading these books.  It’s funny how books mean so much more to me when I read them now.  There have been quite a few books that I’ve gone back and read over the past year or so and I think I can just appreciate them more now.

Anyway, all that to say I was really excited about HP7!  Michael was excited too.  We got there super early because we thought it was going to be really busy (we’d purchased the tickets early), but it wasn’t at all.  We were the second people in line, and we ended up having tons of time to kill.  We wasted time taking pictures and playing cards.

The movie was really good!!  We all really, really enjoyed it!  It wasn’t as good as the book, but they rarely are.  I wish they didn’t leave some things out, and they changed some things that I don’t think they should have changed, but other than that it was GREAT!  It just stinks that part 2 doesn’t come out until the summer.

It was a fantastic weekend!

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Now I just have to catch up on some more happenings….

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–Staci

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Q for you:  Have you ever painted at a pottery place?  And did you see HP7?

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