Thursday, July 29, 2010

From the trenches

You know those days?  I'm having one.

I don't remember the last time my head didn't hurt.  Last week, I'm sure, probably Friday.  But I can't remember it.

And I'm tired, tired, tired of not trusting our cars.

Speaking of cars.  So I go into town, and it will cost a fortune to fix the rim.  We'd pay it, if we'd have it tomorrow, but they can't guarantee that.  Probably Monday.  We can get a new one for less if we wait until about Wednesday.  No contest.

So I go to get new tires on the other vehicle.  My head is pounding, remember?  And I barely have a voice.  So they decide I look like a good person to use to train in the new guy.  I'm paying by check, only the scanner doesn't like my check.  25 minutes and two checks later, we go to the customer service desk, where they still can't get my check to scan.  Of course, they can't start work on my car until I pay, and I really DO NOT want to use our regular bank account. 

And then they find that the new guy rung up the wrong tires, so they are charging me about $70 more than they should.  But they STILL can't get the system to accept my perfectly fine check.  It's not one of those print 'em yourself things, it was sent out BY THE BANK.  I have to use my debit card.  It's now been nearly 50 minutes.  And the tech guys are doing NOTHING this whole time.  There has not been ONE. SINGLE. CUSTOMER.

They tell me it will be about a half hour, so I kill time.  I come back after 35 minutes, and my car is still being worked on.  Along with three others.  Thirty minutes becomes 45.  Did I mention a headache?

Oh, and not that I can afford groceries now, since I just spent money we don't have, but I stop to grab tortillas.  I have TWO items.  I get in a line that says "open" and she smiles and tells me she's closing.  The lane next to her, the checkout person quickly switches her sign to closed.  I walk to the far end of the store, and pick a line.  I get to be the first person in that line... is time to switch checkout people.  That requires the "old" checkout person to run some computer thing, then they wait for a customer service override, and the new person can log in.  Customer service is apparently busy serving customers, not serving checkout people.  So the checkout process times out, and she has to start over.

Yes, I stood as the FIRST person in line to buy TWO packages of tortillas for well over 10 minutes.  Did I mention my head hurts?  Pretty sure I did.

Of course, I intended to go to Walgreens and use an 'on your next order' coupon to get something for my neck.  I know I didn't mention that I can't turn my head because my neck hurts, and I suspect that is, oh, probably a cause of my headache.  I forgot until I was heading home, and I just. could. not. turn around and head back into town.

I also forgot to drop off late books at the library.  Dropped them at the bookdrop instead.  They'll be processed Monday, so they won't be AS late as if I wait for the bookmobile to return on Wednesday.

Oh, and as I'm heading home, Connor calls to tell me the stuff shifted in the aquarium and killed two tadpoles.    There's a reason we don't do pets.

I want a massage.  I want a dark, cool room.  And I'm really, really tired of being a grown-up.  At least the kids hadn't yet named the baby frogs.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review: Missing Max

As part of the blog review team for Oasis Audio, I had the opportunity to listen to Missing Max by Karen Young.  The audio is read by Laural Merlington, who did a fantastic job with the voices, especially differentiating the many Louisiana female voices.

The basic plot is that a six month old baby, Max, is kidnapped at Mardi Gras while momentarily in the care of his older sister, Melanie.  Fast forward six months, and Kyle and Jane Madison are trying to cope, as is Melanie, but everything is falling apart.  Things get miserable, and they only get worse.  The family members are all in pain, are all pushing each other away, and are all trying to cope in ways that aggravate everyone else.  Everything that can possibly go wrong does.

I think the book did a fabulous job of showing the stress and strain that a tragedy can bring to a family. Particularly in the first half of the book, it was fairly clear that everyone in the family shared in the blame for the family turmoil.  I love how the main characters were fleshed out, and many of the secondary characters were made very real as well.

I truly liked other touches of reality.  That being a Christian doesn't mean that your kids will always behave.  That becoming a Christian doesn't mean your problems vanish.  That actions do have consequences, and sometimes some pretty far-reaching consequences at that. 

I seem to have issues with most modern fiction, and this book was no exception.  Mostly, the issues were relatively minor, but they include:
  • Why do the primary characters all have to be super-model material or ruggedly handsome?  Can't the main characters be merely attractive?  Ever?  I'd find it easier to relate to Jane if she wasn't drop-dead gorgeous.
  • More bothersome to me was the idea hinted at repeatedly that everything happens for a reason, and that God must have a purpose in the abduction and abuse of a baby, though we may never find out what that purpose is.
  • Alongside that, one thing I did find very frustrating is that when Jane is trying to find a reason for this awful tragedy, she just doesn't get any satisfying answers from anyone.  "I don't know why bad things happen to good people," is about the best she hears.  Unfortunately, that probably is realistic.  I wanted someone, at some time, to point out that bad things happen because sin entered the world, not because God enjoys tormenting babies.  And that God can bring some good out of pretty horrible circumstances, but it doesn't mean that God wants people to behave so abominably. 
I enjoyed the book, and I do recommend it, though it is not necessarily something to be listening to while little ears might overhear.  There are some really tough issues, obviously, but it did get me to think about what is -- and isn't -- important in life.  And it got me thinking about how others are reacting to my actions and my words, not to my intentions. One tragedy after another makes this book sound rather depressing, but it is actually fairly uplifting.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this audiobook free from Oasis Audio as part of their Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Bible in 90 Days Challenge - week 4

Bible in 90 Days Challenge, post regarding days 15-21.  Here's last week's check in.  I'm changing the week # to match up with what they are using because I am getting confused.  And I'm only checking in with progress through yesterday.  Mondays are too crazy and I'll never check in if I wait until the kids are up and we get to listen.
  • Monday: Read Deuteronomy 9-26.  Poor Richard Dreyfus.  He does not get a break in this book (he's voicing Moses... and I'm pretty sure we haven't heard anyone else today.)  It was tough listening to some of the laws here.  It is just so hard to believe that people have to be commanded not to burn their children, you know?  And doubly hard to believe that after being commanded not to burn your babies, that you would then find anything appealing about those horrible Baal worshipers in Canaan, and end up joining them.  Anyway, we listened to extra today so we can have Saturday off.
  • Tuesday:  Read Deuteronomy 27-34.  Yikes, this was LONG.  The kids totally agreed with Ian on What's in the Bible -- death just isn't a great way to end a motivational speech.  I did let the kids watch What's in the Bible 3 after we got through Deuteronomy.  Seemed a good reward.
  • Wednesday: Read Joshua 1-18.  My kids loved the paragraph about the angel of the Lord coming to Joshua.  They were all clearly envisioning Larry the Cucumber falling down before the angel in Josh and the Big Wall.  Yeah, yeah, I allowed them to pull that DVD out to watch too.
  • Thursday:We finished Joshua.  Intended to do way more.  Everything conspired against us, including power outages.  Yuck.
  • Friday:  Okay, totally blew it.  I think that what I'm going to do is to listen to Judges myself today and tomorrow.  And I'll have the kids work through the Judges portion of a story Bible, which will take a lot less time.  Hmmm.
  • Saturday:Finished Judges.  The kids picked the wrong time to not be listening.  But we'll have fun hitting the highlights tomorrow.
  • Sunday: all we did was to catch the kids back up. 

So, that's my check-in for the week.  We're behind.  And the kids go camping again this coming weekend.  I'm not going to try to "catch up" exactly, but I'll figure something out so we don't lose more ground.  Go here to see what others are saying (I'll link to the actual check-in post tomorrow!)

Edited to add:  Okay, I added up how much time we have left, and we are NOT actually behind.  We're behind where the rest of the group is, but my plan was to go by time listened, not by pages in a Bible I don't own.  If we continue at 67 minutes per day, we will actually finish on day 87.

So I'm going to not worry about it this week.  We'll listen to probably something closer to 70 minutes a day M-Th, so we can listen to under an hour on Friday.  The kids will skip Saturday, and hopefully we'll get another near-hour listened to on Sunday.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Review and Giveaway! Hands-On Bible

I recently received a copy of the Hands-On Bible from Tyndale House, and also a certificate that I can give away to one of you!  I had no idea when I requested this that I'd have the chance to bless someone else with one too.  I love doing this!

Thomas has been wanting to have a Bible of his own, so I jumped at this chance.  And I am very glad I did.  What a great Bible!  Bright, colorful, with lots and lots of interesting information, and very high kid-appeal.  The publisher's description will do better than anything I can write:

Jesus taught with hands-on lessons and illustrations. The Hands-On Bible uses the same experience-based learning to communicate God’s Word in an active, understandable way. This new edition features updated tip-ins, a more portable size for kids, an attractive cover, and online parenting helps. With hundreds of fun, memorable activities (A “Do-It” activity in EVERY feature!) and the full New Living Translation text, the Hands-On Bible is packed with activities and experiences that invite kids to crawl inside the Scriptures and “do” God’s Word!
We are having so much fun with this Bible.  The maps at the back are fantastic, and my boys have loved the introductions to the books of the Bible.  The appendix has kid-friendly definitions, and even a FAQ article. 

There are lots of additional resources available too.  There are devotions available, and this same page also has a Bible reading plan, and songs available for download.  At the Tyndale House page, you can download a great excerpt.

Right now there is a drawing going on for 12 family pizza nights, two hardcover Bibles, a Hands-On Bible Curriculum, and all three volumes of What's in the Bible.  It's a bit involved -- but head on over and read about it!

And I'm giving away a certificate for a free Hands-On Bible.  To enter, you must visit the Tyndale House page, take a look at the PDF excerpt, and leave me a comment telling me what feature appeals to you the most.

For additional entries, you can:
  1. Visit the drawing page linked above, view the devotions, and comment on one here.
  2. Follow me with Google Friend Connect and leave a comment stating that you did.  Two entries (leave two comments) if you were already following me.
  3. Visit the devotions page linked above, check those out (you do need to register, but it is free), and comment on what you find.
  4. Publicize this giveaway on your blog, facebook, or something similar, and leave me a comment telling me where.
That's six possible chances.

I will be drawing at the end of the week, entries must be in by midnight Mountain Time Saturday, July 31.  I will email the winner.  If I cannot easily figure out how to contact the winner, I will post on the blog.  If I cannot reach the winner, I will draw a new winner on Tuesday morning.

Disclaimer:   I received this book and coupon for free from Tyndale House Publishers, in exchange for my review.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Computer Games Sale

For something totally different on a Saturday...

Big Fish Games is having a weekend sale to celebrate a billion game downloads, or something like that.  That means that they have a bunch of games (over 60) on sale this weekend for $2.99.  The blurb says this expires on 7/26, so maybe you have through Monday.

A year or more ago, I wrote about one game that I particularly like, and it is part of the sale.  The Amazing Brain Train is the name, and my comments last year still stand (except for the pricing, they've changed that dramatically).  The screen shot here is of a game where you are placing mirrors to keep a bunch of koalas warm.  I love this one.  (Go read my earlier review to learn about the mini-games I find more challenging!)

They've got lots of other games available to download at this price.  As far as some with a fair amount of educational value, the Professor Fizzwizzle games (another is here) are great for elementary ages.  They are like logic puzzles.  To the right is a screen shot from Molten Mystery.

Although I don't particularly like hidden object games, there are some "travel" ones -- one for Paris, one for Rome, one for London that I think would be fun supplements to either a Latin or French program, or a geography supplement.  The screen shot on the left is from the Rome title, of course.  (Naturally, that's what I would choose!)  I don't own these, by the way, so don't consider this an endorsement exactly.

Here is the entire list of sale games for the Mac or for a PC.  All of their games (mmm, I think all, almost all anyway) have a free one-hour trial, so you can test it out first.  And all of the game links above are for the Mac version.  Click it, and there is a link to the PC version on the Mac page.

Not that I'm pushing you to do it, but if you find six games you like on this sale, you'll fill a "punch card" and at the beginning of August, you'll get an email with a code for a free game of your choice.  So that would be seven computer games for just under $18.

I have used Big Fish Games off and on for at least a couple of years.  I have never had any problems with any of my game downloads on either a Mac or PC.  And I don't get anything for sharing this with you.  Though if someone from Big Fish reads this, I'd love a free copy of Brainiversity 2 in exchange for a review!  :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review: Travel Kits

Travel Kits by Donna Rees is an e-book sold by The Old Schoolhouse and is my second review product for The Homeschool Crew this year.  The basic idea as it is put in the first chapter, "A travel kit is a collection of items that will entertain and/or delight the passengers (especially the younger passengers), thus making the trip more pleasant for everyone."

The e-book is 93 pages, consisting of 14 chapters and some bonus materials.  You can download the table of contents and a sample to see it for yourself.  The chapters contain a lot of creative and ingenious ideas for creating kits for young kids, for older kids, for moms and dads, even for grandmas and grandpas.

It occurred to me as I read that with all of our traveling, this is an idea I really do need to think about implementing.  We have a roughly 15 hour drive to the grandparents' houses, which would be the logical time to attempt this.  Or I could create something for Trina for Scout nights, when her brothers will be busy, but she will have nothing to do.  And I'm thinking the kids might make one for their grandparents when they visit near Christmas.

One thing we do on our trips is to listen to a lot of audiobooks while we drive.  And at a bare minimum, I have been inspired to wrap up something for each of the titles (we rip the audiobooks to my iPod and leave the actual CDs at home) and make a game out of choosing the next title and unwrapping it.  It certainly sounds a lot more fun, doesn't it?  And I love the idea of not necessarily knowing what we'll listen to next.

Subtitled A Simple Way to Bless Others, I guess that was the aspect of this e-book that didn't do much for me.  Maybe I'm just too self-centered or something, but I just can't imagine making travel kits for people outside of my family.  A lot of the ideas I just can't imagine using for someone else's kids either... I'd be more than happy to pull together educational stuff about places we'll drive by, but I can't imagine imposing my ideas of fun and learning onto another family, to be quite honest.  Nor would I want to be choosing treats for any but the closest of friends.  Again, I wouldn't trust my ideas of appropriate travel food on anyone else (Reese's cereal is my favorite!  I don't feed it to my kids at home, but love it on those trips!)

What do I recommend as far as this product?  I don't know.  At $12.45, I'm not sure if I would feel happy with my purchase.  But if I purchased it with one of The Old Schoolhouse's coupons or special offers at 50% off, I'd be quite pleased.  I do know that the book is making me think differently about our travels, and maybe after I actually use a travel kit or two, I'll feel more positive about its value.

The Old Schoolhouse has a pretty wide selection of e-books available, on all kinds of topics.  I particularly appreciate the variety of topics, both directly homeschool related and not, so if this one doesn't appeal to you, maybe another one will.

Edited to add:  I wanted to add something I thought about today.  I'm wondering if my perception of value is drastically different from others' perceptions based on the fact that we've already settled into a pretty decent on the road routine.  We've been making 16 hour trips to see Grandma forever, and between audiobooks, rest-stop traditions, state-crossing traditions, special food (Reese's cereal!!), and other special activities... well, I'm not quite sure how we'd fit something else in, I guess.

I think families who aren't used to loads of car time, or who struggle with travel time (ours is actually a lot of fun), or who rely on portable DVD players (we've never owned one), would find a lot of bang for the buck.  I think I was probably too harsh in my value comments above. 

You can check out what my fellow crew-mates have to say about the Travel Kits e-book at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive a free e-book from The Old Schoolhouse.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Book Review: Amazing Adventures, Creative Connections and Daring Deeds

Amazing Adventures, Creative Connections and Daring Deeds by Tim and Alison Simpson has been sitting on my nightstand for a long time now.  I was sent this book to review by NavPress, and I have to admit, this one is a struggle.

The book consists of 40 short chapters, each representing an idea on ways for your family to experience Jesus.  The chapters each consist of:
  • a short intro
  • Reaching In, which is some sort of family activity/discussion
  • Reaching into the Word, which is exactly what it sounds like... getting into the Bible.  Most of these are broken up by age groups so you can do different types of discussions with different aged kids, from age 4 to teens.
  • Reaching Into the World, which challenges you to get out and DO something as a family.
I love the concept.  I love the idea of active family devotions.

I read the book's introduction and the first chapter almost immediately upon receiving the book, intending to do some prep work and start using this book as a family study.  I couldn't do it.  It's taken me a month to pull the book out again and start reading more chapters.  You can read this for yourself at the NavPress website.  

The result?  I'm not really sure HOW to review this.  I read another dozen or so chapters, and there are things I really, really like.  I think my family will (we have not yet!) use the first three sections of the chapters, and then instead of the Reaching Into the World ideas given, we'll brainstorm our own ideas.  Because I found most of the ideas given to be quite impractical for our family, and not necessarily the application I think my family needs.

Now that I have finally put my finger on what doesn't work for me, I do think we'll be able to make some great use of the book as a family. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, July 19, 2010

Review: TOS Planner Module - Travel the World

My first review for the 2010-11 Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew year!   Travel the World, intended as a unit study for all ages, is the June, 2010 Planner Module put out by The Old Schoolhouse.

I thought I'd use this with my 4th and 1st graders while their big brothers were away at camp.  Somehow, that never quite happened, and then the kids took turns being sick.  So we didn't use anywhere near as much of this as I would have liked.

What it is:

A 56 page e-book, this, like all the Planner Modules, is intended to be used alongside the TOS Planner, but it most certainly is a stand-alone product as well.  The teaching part of the e-book contains some introductory geography materials, and then goes through the continents one by one.  The next section contains a lot of "extras" including coloring pages, various puzzles, lapbook starters, copywork, and so on.  A high school expansion section follows, which I'll talk more about below.  Finally, there are a couple of recipes and pages of additional resources links.

I have a number of Planner Modules from before they included a high school expansion pack, and I have to say, this is a great addition, and one that is going to make me take a serious look at some of the other newer modules.

How we used it:

Most of this is pretty open and go.  I opened up the e-book, started reading aloud, and then we followed links to investigate some topics a little more deeply, or to play games.  The older kids pretty much rolled their eyes at me, I have to confess, as they felt they already knew everything there was to know about latitude and longitude.  Throwing some of the high school expansion activities at my middle schoolers helped immensely.  They particularly enjoyed learning about Matthew Maury, and having that as part of this geography study did help bring them in.

I don't really do much with lapbooks, my kids tend to really dislike word puzzles, but the coloring pages were a hit with my little two (1st grade and age 4).  Still, I know so many people really love these things, so I am glad they are included.

Now, if I were trying to do this as a unit study, one thing that is missing for my family is some good, real books.  Off the top of my head, I can think of a few that I'd probably add:  Around the World in 80 Days (except we read that fairly recently) would make a good "big" Read-Aloud.  My Father's Dragon would be an excellent read-aloud for those too young for Jules Verne.  I'd check a few picture books out, too, I'm sure.  Me on the Map, or How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.  I'd also consider looking for titles that took place on each continent.  But we're big into literature.  I'm sure most families would not feel the need to add all that.

I'd be more likely, I think, to use this particular study as a supplement to our regular history/geography studies though.  Work from it one day a week for as long as it takes, for instance, and have the time to really play some of the games and work on learning the concepts for each continent.

My overall opinion:

At just $7.95, I will be looking at some of the other Planner Modules, particularly those from this past year that include the high school supplement.  I'm seriously looking at the March 2010 one -- Wonders of Flight.  And my entomologist would love the May 2010 one -- Insects Galore!

Check this out.  There are pretty extensive samples available to download, so you can see if you think it could be used to enhance your family's studies.

You can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about the Travel the World Planner Module  at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive a free e-book from The Old Schoolhouse.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Bible in 90 Days Challenge - week 2

Bible in 90 Days Challenge, post regarding days 9-14. I decided my Mondays are just TOO insane and I will NEVER check in on time if I do it actually on Monday.  So I'm going to blog my check-in on Sunday, and only have to link up on Monday.  That I can do.  I hope.  Here's last week's (late) check in.

  • Tuesday: read Leviticus 8-19.  Wow, lots of stuff that just isn't fun to listen to.  'Specially with the kids.
  • Wednesday: read Leviticus 20-Numbers 2.  There is a reason I always bog down in here.  I have to say, this reading plan is kind of nice.  Get all these lists of people and things over and done with in under a week and move on to something that doesn't put me to sleep.
  • Thursday: read Numbers 3-14
  • Friday: read Numbers 15-29.  I got a lot of sewing of Scout uniform patches done, so we listened a little longer than usual.  That puts us almost where we are "supposed" to be. 
  • Saturday: read Numbers 30-36.  Experienced technical difficulties, so we were short about 20 minutes.  We'll have to make that up this next week.
  • Sunday:  Read Deuteronomy 1-8.  Found it interesting how Moses blames this next generation for him not being able to enter the Promised Land.  'Because of you...' even though it was their parents who were involved, and God was punishing Moses for what Moses did... So if Moses  blames everyone but himself, why is it so surprising that my kids blame everyone but themselves?  Or that I do?

So, that's my check-in for the week.  We're about 20 minutes behind, will plan to make that up this week.  Go here to see what others are saying (I'll link to the actual check-in post tomorrow!)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Planning the year: Science

I posted plans a week or so ago for Language Arts.  Mostly because I had to in order to wrap my brain around what in the world we're going to do, is it enough, and have we covered "everything."

Well, this post is about science.  Because science is fun, we love figuring out science, we always do more than planned, and I just needed something upbeat to write about.

So, then, here is the basic plan:

Connor - he'll be finishing up Biology through Virtual Homeschool Group, sometime in October.  He'll be starting Chemistry through them when they start up the school year (late August?  early September?  I'm not sure).  I'm quite sure he won't have a problem keeping up with both for those few weeks.  He's also doing some things to supplement his studies, and pursuing various rabbit trails.

William - he'll be taking General Science through Virtual Homeschool Group.  We have the mp3 of the text, so he'll be able to listen along.  I refuse to hold him back in science because of his reading.  I'll be scribing lab reports too.

Thomas - we're still toying with a couple of options here, including the idea of finding things to do that relate to what William is studying in General Science.  I think, though, that he & I are going to work through one of the Apologia Zoology books.  And we're continuing to work through this Archaeology book.

Richard & Katrina - I think it is a little light, but they'll be working through The World God Made according to the schedule in Little Hearts for His Glory.  They'll get plenty of other science, so I'm not going to worry about it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Bible in 90 Days Challenge - week 1

Bible in 90 Days Challenge, post regarding days 2-8.   I wanted to make this pretty and everything, but I just don't have time.  Last week's post is here. So, here's my unedited notes taken throughout last week.
  • Tuesday: read Genesis 15-26, 69 minutes.  Did this over two sittings.
  • Wednesday: read Genesis 27-36, 65 minutes.  Would have done another chapter, but Chapter 37 starts with Joseph, so we opted not to split that up.
  • Thursday: read Genesis 37-47, 68 minutes.  Yikes, we're falling behind.  Obviously, this version must make it up later.  I am going to trust that listening to 65ish minutes a day is going to keep us close enough to on track.
  • Friday: read Genesis 48-Exodus 11, 77 minutes.  Interesting to hear them being told that the women will take up silver & gold from their Egyptian neighbors, and then to get to the point of that happening.  Discussion with the kids as to why God punished all the people of Egypt because of Pharaoh's hard heart.  The idea was raised that maybe they were being punished for allowing all the Hebrew baby boys to be killed.  And what does that mean for our nation and all the millions of babies we allow to be killed?  You know, there are moments I liked it better when my kids were too young to be bringing this kind of thing up.
  • Saturday: Read Exodus 12-22, 69 minutes.
  • Sunday: Read Exodus 23-33, 68 minutes.  Had a good time with the question posed in the B90 daily email.  Can you think of a more lame excuse for idol-worship than what Aaron says?
  •  Monday: Read Exodus 34-Leviticus 7.  Switched how we are listening, so I need to work on figuring out exactly how much time that was.  I may need to get us caught up on where we are supposed to be and just follow the schedule.  Ugh.

Okay, so this checking in on Mondays thing is going to be very challenging for me.  I missed it totally yesterday, and will probably be booted from the "official" challenge.

Oh, well.  We'll continue anyway.  Go here to see the people who are together enough to actually check in as required.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My bugaboo

Planning Language Arts.  Nah, this doesn't stress me out every. single. year.  You believe that, right?

I think I have a plan though.

Connor, 8th grade --
William, 6th grade --

  • Institute for Excellence in Writing, Student Writing Intensive B, working with me
  • Teaching the Classics - six week "seminar" this summer
  • Fix-It Grammar, the first story, Tom Sawyer, alongside his brothers
  • Caesar's English, alongside his brothers
  • Reading Assistant, Master Reader, etc.
  • All About Spelling
  • I'm debating Drawn Into the Heart of Reading
Thomas, 4th grade --

  • Institute for Excellence in Writing, Student Writing Intensive B, using some easier source documents and working with me
  • Teaching the Classics - six week "seminar" this summer
  • Fix-It Grammar, the first story, Tom Sawyer, alongside his brothers
  • Caesar's English, alongside his brothers
  • Sonlight Readers
  • All About Spelling
  • I'm debating Drawn Into the Heart of Reading 
Richard, 1st grade --
Katrina, age 4 --  well, her stuff we'll play by ear.  I'd love to start her on All About Reading, the new program coming out from All About Spelling, but I don't think I'll be able to afford that.  :(  Not for one student. 

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Bible in 90 Days Challenge

I resisted.  I really did.  But this morning, I just knew we needed to join this challenge.  By "we" I mean myself and my four boys.  Trina probably won't really participate.

The goal is to read through the entire Bible in 90 days, starting today and ending October 2.  I'll be tweaking it a bit (stop laughing!) as we are going to LISTEN through the Bible, using the NKJV Word of Promise Complete Audio Bible by Thomas Nelson.

This audio Bible is 97 1/2 hours long... which I calculated to be 65 minutes a day.  So, instead of following exactly the schedule laid out, we'll listen to 65 minutes and finish up the chapter.  Today, that meant we listened to Genesis 1-14, which was almost 69 minutes.  The official schedule would have had us reading Genesis 15-16 too, but I figure it will all work out (and those are fairly short chapters).

The idea in this reading is to go through the Bible at a pretty fast clip, getting the big picture -- a broad overview.  It isn't meant to be an in-depth study by any means. 

I think it is going to be really fascinating to see what the next three months bring.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Why do we do this to each other?

Three events in the past week.  None directly involve me.  But all leave me sad.  All 'quotes' are paraphrased.
  1. A clearly exhausted mom complains that she didn't get any sleep last night because of the baby.  A mom of older kids says, "oh, enjoy this time while it lasts honey, you blink and they are all grown and gone."  
  2. A woman complains that she just hates when her mom treats her like she is still five.  First response?  "Oh, I just wish my mom was still around.  I wouldn't care how she treats me.  You ought to appreciate your mom while you still have her."
  3. A lady requests prayer for a friend who was robbed.  The first response there?  "It's just stuff, and stuff can be replaced.  You/she ought to be grateful that everyone is okay, not worried about mere things."
What do these three situations have in common?  In each case, a woman is frustrated or upset.  And in each case, an alleged friend steps in and makes her feel guilty for not always having a sunny disposition and seeing the silver lining.  And they sound so "Christian" and pious and all, but really, are they saying anything worth hearing?

Mom number 1 knows that her kids will only be little for a short time, although some days it sure seems never-ending.  When I made statements like that, I just wanted some acknowledgment that sometimes this being a mom of little ones is HARD, and going for days on end with little sleep is HARD.  I didn't need people telling me it was only going to get worse ("oh, you think this is bad, just wait until they're teens!") and I didn't need people pooh-poohing my stress and exhaustion. An understanding smile, a hug, agreement that everything seems so much worse when you haven't slept.  That would have been enough. 

And why can't woman number 2 be frustrated with her mom without being told "at least she isn't dead."  I mean really, WHY do people think that is necessary?  This lady doesn't regularly complain about her mom, so it isn't like she needs a solid dose of a different perspective.  I imagine the person making the statement thinks she is being helpful.  But really, it sounds like, "you think you have it bad, look at me!"  Again, an understanding smile, a hug, agreement that relationships can be frustrating sometimes.  That would have meant more to me in that situation.

And number three just makes me angry.  Nearly thirty years ago, my family lost a lot in a house fire.  Not everything, but nearly.  Nobody was hurt, something I'm certainly grateful for.  I can still see my baby brother's smoldering mattress being dragged out of the house.  That is an image forever seared into my brain.   I remember ONE person, a teacher, who seemed to have any clue as to what I was experiencing.  My friends and everyone from church?  Either they made ludicrous statements ("*I* would have gone to my closet and grabbed all my clothes and taken them with me") or they (the Christian ones) told me that I was wrong to be upset about mere things, stuff that can be replaced and doesn't truly matter.

I snapped twice.  Once to the fashion queen quoted above ("I was too busy grabbing my brother.") and once to one of the hundreds of "just stuff" people.  But mostly, I let them make me feel like I was a bad person for caring that I lost my brand new camera, or for losing my very first "grown up" silk blouse, or for losing the linens my great-grandma had made (and everything else in my "hopeless paper bag" aka my hope 'chest').

Why can't we just smile, hug, and acknowledge a tough moment?  Why do we have to make ourselves out as having it worse than anyone else?  Why do we have to lapse into smug, sanctimonious statements that don't help anyone?

I know I've done it too.  And if I've done it to you... I am truly sorry.  I'm going to try to work on that smile and that hug.  And try to resist the urge to minimize your struggles while expounding on mine.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chick-fil-A Reading Challenge-- an update

Okay, so way back when (uhhh, January!) I posted that we were going to read the books featured in this year's Chick-fil-A calendar.  And you haven't seen me post about it since then.

Because, I confess, we were hopelessly stuck on January's selection.

The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas.

That is one long, endless book.  We downloaded an audio version from Librivox.  All 25 hours of it.  We started listening in early February.  Listened to about fifteen chapters, and debated whether or not this was something we wanted to continue.  Dale listened to the rest on his commute, and he & I discussed it a bit.  This certainly is not a children's book.  We picked it back up, listening to a chapter here, a chapter there, but never truly attempting to seriously work at it.

The past couple of weeks, though, with driving back and forth for swim lessons and science camp (which means 3-4 hours a day with everyone in the car) we took the plunge.

And we finally finished the book yesterday.  That only took four months.

I am glad I finally know the story.  Mostly we enjoyed it.  One thing that can be frustrating with Librivox is that it is a variety of volunteers who read the chapters... so sometimes the names are pronounced differently from one chapter to the next.  I didn't notice a lot of that though, aside from the author's name (probably half pronounced it Du-mah, and half pronounced it Du-mahs).  Some of the readers were clearly more comfortable with the French names and phrases than others.  But we enjoyed them all.  I particularly liked the lady from Warsaw.

My favorite moment this week was somewhere around chapter 65.  The chapter starts off, "It was a stormy and dark night..."  I couldn't help but picture Snoopy and his typewriter. 

What is next for our Chick-fil-A reading challenge?

February's selection was Sherlock Holmes.  The kids listened to one of those while driving with their father.  So February is done.

Salisbury in Wonderland is the title for March... so I downloaded Alice's Adventures in Wonderland from Librivox this evening.  At just under three hours, that is a book I think we can finish.

We're skipping April, as we read Old Yeller fairly recently.  Then we are back to longer titles again to catch up... Robinson Crusoe (May), Gulliver's Travels (June), and Moby Dick (July).   Moby Dick is also nearly 25 hours.  I need to find an abridged version.  I don't think I can take another four months to finish one book.  (I have put two versions on hold at the library.  Both are supposed to have fantastic illustrations.  Or I'll go for the graphic novel.  I am NOT listening to the unabridged book.)