My Year In Review: 2015

2015 has been a great year! Here is a recap of some of my favorite books, movies, posts, and events of 2015!
2015

MOVIES

For me, I felt 2015 was the Year of Movies. Although I wasn’t too impressed with the selection of new releases (although there were a few I enjoyed), I found a LOT of fantastic movies. Here are some of my favorite movies I watched this year, although not all of them came out this year.
Best Movie For Kids: Max (PG)
I LOVE dogs, and Max was no disappointment. When US Marine Kyle is killed in Afghanistan, his crazy German shepherd Max goes to live with Kyle’s family; his parents and lazy teenage brother, Justin. Reluctantly, Justin takes Max in, and the two create a sweet friendship.
Best Movie For Tweens and Teens: The Giver (PG-13)
I have been a Lois Lowry fan since reading Number the Stars when I was younger, but The Giver never interested me. It seemed too sci-fi for my taste. This year, however, it has quickly become one of my favorite stories. Young Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world – no war, no hate, no differences – and yet no color, happiness or fun. Author Lois Lowry says The Giver was inspired by her father’s memory loss. He couldn’t remember the death of her sister, or his horrible memories of war, and remained relatively in bliss. But at the same time, he couldn’t remember their good times either. The Giver poses an interesting question: Which is better – living in a neutral, seemingly perfect society, or embracing the good times, and braving through the bad?
Best Movie For Teens: Return to the Hiding Place (PG-13)
Return isn’t a remake or retelling of the original The Hiding Place classic. Instead, it offers the Hiding Place told from a fresh perspective – Corrie ten Boom’s young resistance fighters, and their fight for faith and justice. The movie mostly centers around Hans Poley, a physics student who refuses to join the Nazi party. He goes into hiding at Corrie ten Boom’s house, and soon becomes active in the Resistance, including the large rescue of a Jewish orphanage. This film strongly inspires Christians nowadays to take unpopular stances on important issues. You can see my full review here.
Best Movie for Adults: The Railway Man (R)
Eric Lomax, a British Army officer, is captured by the Japanese during WWII and sent to a POW camp, where he is tormented and forced to work on the Thai-Burma Railway. Decades later, still suffering the trauma of his wartime experiences, Lomax and his wife Patti discover that the Japanese interpreter responsible for much of his treatment is still alive and set out to confront him. This true story took some liberties (for dramatic purposes) on Lomax’s post-war life/reunion, but otherwise this was a very good movie on forgiveness.

BOOKS

I’ll confess: I haven’t dedicated much time to reading this year, but I did come across a few gems I thought worth noting.
Trusting Calvin by Sharon Peters
This is by far the best book I read this year. Max’s life is suddenly turned upside down when he and his brothers are transported to a series of concentration camps during the Holocaust. His time in the camps left him with a morbid fear of dogs, and, after a run-in with some bored camp guards; fully blind. With help from his brothers, friends, and a German barrack survivor, Max, and his two brothers, miraculously survive the camp. With the help of a German doctor in post-war Germany, Max adjusts to living as a blind person, marries, and he and his brothers with their wives move to America, and live stable and comfortable lives. Fast forward about 40 years later – Max is coming to a retiring age, and circumstances force him to get a guide dog. Despite his intense fear of dogs, through a lot of time and patience, Max learns to live, and to trust, again. You can read my full review here.
Little Princes by Conor Grennan
In search of adventure, 29-year-old Conor Grennan decided to travel the world and began his journey volunteering at an orphanage in war-torn Nepal. Unexpectedly, Conor begins to fall in love with the children, and realizes Nepal’s major problem with child trafficking for money, and is determined to do something about it. My librarian recommended this to me, and I can say it did not disappoint. You can read my full review here.
American Sniper by Chris Kyle
Earlier this year, American Sniper was the most-talked about film – creating controversy and gaining popularity. Chris Kyle, hailed as the American Sniper, has held the record for most confirmed kills is US military history. This is his memoir that inspired the Clint Eastwood major motion picture. Chris served four tours in Iraq, and later married and had a couple kids. Unfortunately, his life was cut short in February 2013, after he was shot while helping a fellow veteran at a shooting range.

TOP POSTS

Historical Movies for Kids
Gaining the attention of some major bloggers, my Historical Movies for Kids has been my most-visited post of 2015. It has had nearly 100,000 views, and is one of my personal favorite posts, as I love getting kids passionate about history!
Historical Movies for Kids
Math Cheat Sheet
Coming in at a close second is my Math Cheat Sheet, which was my most-visited post of 2014. Originally, I created this for my own personal use, and then decided it could be beneficial to other homeschoolers. Instead, it has been downloaded by close to 100,000 people and I have received dozens of sweet comments from fellow homeschoolers. It has also led to my first paid printable, a Diagramming Sentences How-To.
FREE Math Cheat Sheet
 
The Fish Filter
Although the Fish Filter isn’t my third most visited post, it is my most visited post that was published this year, and is one that I am very proud of. While Facebook filters became a “thing” – and nearly everyone’s profile picture on Facebook lit up with rainbows after the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage this June, I decided to create an alternative.
The fish

2015 was an interesting year; filled with highs and lows. I learned quite a bit about hundreds of incredible, inspiring people. I’ve grown closer to my grandparents, finally got my driver’s license, and started my first semester of college. I’ve had many incredible speaking opportunities and have had the opportunity to share my story to thousands and encourage others. I’ve been working out, cut soda out of my diet, and am working on eating healthier. I saw a movie in theaters for the first time in almost 4 years (excluding the time we won tickets to The Monuments Men last year), and saw a live play (A Christmas Carol) and a musical (Fiddler on the Roof), for the first time in at least 6-8 years. I’ve been forever embracing early morning snuggling with my younger sisters and watching Disney movies. My biggest highlight was probably winning my first title, our local Jr Miss competition. (plus a whopping $3,250 in Scholarships)

DYW

Of course, no life is perfect. My heart broke when I heard about the mass shootings in a Kenyan Mall, ISIS’s beheadings of Christians, and the two major terror attacks in Paris. I’ll always remember 2015 as the year I lost anyone close to me – a sweet friend who died of pancreatic cancer. In moments that have had me broken down in tears, I’ve began to realize on a more personal basis the meaning of “being yourself” and sticking up for what you believe in. Through it all, I’ve came to realize that everything – the good and the bad – is life. Without the bad, how could we fully appreciate the good? With every up and down, we have to brave through the bad, and enjoy the good. We have to live each day to the fullest, and learn from our mistakes. That’s what life is about.
 

“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes.”
-Edmund Dantes, The Count of Monte Cristo, 2002

Thank you all so much for following and supporting me. I hope you all had a fantastic year, and cheers to 2016! I can’t wait to experience everything it has to offer!

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Samantha is an entrepreneur and a former homeschool student from Indiana, USA. When not blogging, Samantha can be found reading about WWII, trying to speak Hebrew, and wasting time on Pinterest. Her work can be found on Free Homeschool Deals, Unigo, True Aim Education, Encouraging Moms at Home, and more.

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