Sunday, January 29, 2012

90 day Bible Challenge- Week 5 Resources and Check-in if you're reading.

We've covered much of Israel's history this week.  It's hard not to miss the forest for the trees sometimes when reading through all the kings of Israel and Judah.  I wrote a post a couple of years ago on a woman's influence in the home that I based on observations of the good and bad kings according to whether their mothers were God-fearing or not.  Even the history books of the Bible are applicable to us today!

Then this morning I was reading in 1 Chronicles and was reminded again of the rebellion and redemption of Korah.  At the time I wrote that post, I didn't realize that Psalm 42 is also a Psalm of the sons of Korah.  That is so cool and knowing the backstory definitely helps me appreciate the cry of the Psalmists heart!

What is the Lord showing you as you commit to reading His Word daily?

Don't forget to checkout Ted Cooper's You are Here in the Bible and Amy's daily SOAPs at Momstoolbox.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My new routine and my husband's weight loss

This has nothing to do with my new routine, except that I've been very sleepy.  Aren't they cute?  Lucie sleeps in a crib next to her sister's bed, when she isn't in our bed.  I'm not sure whose idea this was, but it made for a great photo op.

My new routine has me up at 4:30 so I can swim at 5.  This is great for getting an early start on my day, but I'm worthless at the end of the day.  I haven't had the energy to blog or even to hang out with my family.  They all watched a movie last night and I went to bed early.  I'm going to aim for swimming 3-4 times a week, but the funny thing is, even when I do wake up late (6 instead of 4:30) I'm still wanting to go to bed early!  And it doesn't matter if I get a nap, I'm still tired out by 10.  I guess I have a new bedtime.  My new schedule has allowed me to stay on top of laundry, get my 90 day Bible reading done early, and made it easier to start our school days on time, but my "free time" in the evenings has been completely eaten up.  I guess that's a good thing, but I've made very little progress on the books I'm reading.

In more exciting news, my husband is losing weight and feeling better than he has in a long time.  After reading Why We Get Fat... by Gary Taubes we decided he would go on the new Atkins diet.  He loves it because he doesn't feel hungry all the time, he gets to eat real food like meat and eggs and the weight is coming off.  Better than that, his blood pressure is in the normal range for his age in the first time since I've known him.  Seriously, he had high blood pressure when we married.  I'm anxious for him to go to the doctor and get a lipid profile done.  I can't wait to see his triglyceride number.  I think he's lost 15 pounds so far and it's been about a month.

For those of you who have tried Atkins before, the main difference is you're now allowed unlimited leafy green vegetables from the beginning.  Actually, there are lots of veggies he can have, just not starchy ones.  My husband is still in the inductive phase and wants to stay there until he loses another 10 lbs or so.  The kids and I have been trying to get him to workout.  We may wear him down eventually.  I have a feeling he's going to come back from this ski trip with the kids wanting to get in shape.

I've been really missing blogging, but I guess I'm in a new phase : )!  It probably won't last long.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Night School

We've had some doctor's appointments lately and my husband and the kids have been talking about going skiing.  In order to free up my time to take kids to the doctor and make sure they don't get behind in the event of a last minute day trip with dad, we've been doing some night school.  I've loved reading ahead in our Sonlight read-alouds with the kids.   There's something so liberating about starting a day of school knowing that you've already accomplished something!  This also gives the kids an extra 30-40 minutes in their school day, which they are loving.  I'm sure there will be evenings when we don't get all our reading done at night, but I like trying to get a jump on our day and the kids do, too.

Do you do school at night?

Monday, January 23, 2012

My 1.5 Million Dollar pair of new running shoes!

You know how you can't wait to get outside and break in a new pair of running shoes?  I always walk with an extra spring in my step when I'm wearing new running shoes.  In fact, when I've struggled to stay consistent with running, investing in a new pair of shoes guarantees I'll get back on track.  I'm speaking metaphorically in my title.  I did not buy a 1.5 million dollar pair of running shoes.  Our local health club just finished remodeling its swimming pools and they are NICE!  I haven't been swimming in forever, but  now I'm at it at 5 am in the mornings!

I actually woke up ten minutes before my alarm went off this morning at 4:35 am!  I pulled into the parking lot at 4:52 am and I was like the 8th car.  Who knew there were so many crazy people in Amarillo?!

Actually, I could get used to this.  I love getting so much accomplished in the mornings.  I had a load of laundry done, my 90 day Bible reading almost finished, breakfast served, I was dressed and had dried and straightened my hair, and family devotions completed by 7:30 am.  By 9 I had done the grocery shopping and taken my husbands shirts to the cleaners.  The downside is by 1 pm I was toast.  As in, people in my family were strongly encouraging me to take a nap.  I have never gotten up in the 4s before and can't imagine that this new routine will hold up for long, but who knows.  It must be my new phase!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

90 Day Bible Challenge- Week 4 Resources and Check-in if you're reading

Yes, I know it's 2012!

If you started the 90 day Bible challenge on January 1st with me, you should be on day 22 today.  We're now 24.4% of the way through the entire Bible!!

I was reminded this week about how David is a type of Christ (Part I: Humble beginnings, anointing, and obedience and Part II:  From suffering to exaltation ).  I know I sound like a broken record, but it's just so cool to see God's redemptive plan unfold in the pages of the Old Testament.

What is the Lord showing you as you delve into His Word daily?  Check-in below if you're reading.  I need accountability, too!  The only thing more fun than reading the Bible in 90 days is reading it with a friend!

Check out Mom's Toolbox for Ted Cooper's You Are Here in the Bible this week and don't miss Amy's daily SOAPs.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I have a confession to make...

Remember that whole going green phase I went through?  Well, it was just that.  A phase.  Here's what happened with my various endeavors:

Cloth diapers- turns out Calvin is allergic to them.  Seriously.  His stomach looks way better when I put him in disposable diapers.  How sad that it took me 15 months to come to terms with that.  And how messed up is it that when I figured it out, it was still hard for me to make the switch. 

Junk mail- I paid my $41 to and months later I'm still getting tons of mail.  Let's put it this way.  We're on very close terms with our mail carrier who has to hand deliver our mountain of junk mail that comes daily.  I'm thinking we're getting more like 250 lbs per year, not 41.  I filled out all the forms and have no idea why we're still getting the junk.  C'est la vie.

Homemade, environmentally friendly fabric softener-  Like this was going to go over well.  I tried, I really did.  My family revolted.  A friend of mine gave my son some clothes recently and he kept inhaling them over and over.  I finally asked him what the heck he was doing and he said, "Cole's clothes just smell so good!"  My housekeeper also rebelled.  I told her no fabric softener and the other day after she left I found a dryer sheet in the dryer.  I can't believe she went to the store and bought dryer sheets for my laundry behind my back.  Ok, so the baking soda and vinegar recipe didn't exactly smell like spring breeze, whatever that is.  Now we're back to the chemical-laden Downy.  And everyone is the happier for it.

Ditching paper towels-  My husband put his foot down on this one.  He said he could maybe put up with the house smelling like vinegar, but he had to have paper towels.  I tried just buying one roll for him, but I was too tempted and ended up using his paper towels.  Pretty soon I was buying the big econo-size package again.

Now, I realize these were all very small changes; paltry, really.  It made me feel good to make healthy changes for our family and for the environment.  Like I was contributing somehow to a greater good.  But since reading Folks, This Ain't Normal by Joel Salatin, I realize that I had no idea what going green really looks like.   And I have to admit, I don't want to go green on the big things.  I don't want to live in a bunker built into the side of a hill with a hoophouse instead of a roof.  I like having a roof.  And while I think it's really neat in theory to heat your home with natural resources on your property, I kind of like having a gas line that comes right into our home and that little thermostat thingy that allows me to adjust the temperature just so.  And while a part of me wouldn't mind being "off the grid", I'm just not willing to add a solarium onto the side of my house.  (I'm sure the neighbors would just love that!)

What I've discovered about myself is that I'm not green at all.  I don't know why this should come as a surprise to me.  I drive a gas-guzzling 4wd SUV and I love it.  (We were separated for a week once and I can attest that absence really does make the heart grow fonder.)  My husband has a motorcycle, but rarely rides it.  He also drives a 4wd SUV (though it's more fuel efficient than mine) and our other car is a motorhome.  A few years ago my husband came up with a bumper sticker idea while on a road trip.  "Prius, tastes like chicken."  We like big vehicles.  And I drive mine all over town multiple times a day.  Swim practice has been a 40 minute round trip for the last few months and I make the drive twice on some days!  I'm basically, single-handedly responsible for building big oil.

If you've known me very long, you may have noticed that I go through phases where I obsess about certain things.  Right now it's food.  You should hear my poor mom explain to me what we're eating and why on Sundays since my little obsession began.  I used to just eat it and enjoy.  Now I have to know where it came from.  And remember my sewing phase?  Then there was the soap making, the Insanity workout, and what else?  I went through a running phase a few years ago.  And my family will never forget my ebay phase.  It got so bad that my kids had to start hiding their prized possessions from me.  Really getting my doctorate was a phase and so was teaching.  Frankly, considering my track record I'm a little surprised I'm still happily married after 14 years!  It's probably because my husband is so laid back and lets me do my thing, even when my thing is a little crazy.

So there you have it.  The ugly truth.  I wanted to go green.  I tried to go green, and failed. 

I feel much better now.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My first attempt at rendering lard.

Ok, so the new news is that animal fats are good and most vegetable fats are bad (unless cold pressed olive oil and virgin coconut oil- think unprocessed).  Unfortunately, however the lard you purchase in the grocery store has been partially hydrogenated (like margarine) to make it more solid for transportation and shelf-life.  Man-made trans fats are bad, so I decided to take the plunge and try rendering my own lard from a big bag of pork fat I purchased from the local farm where we buy our meat.

I did this for about 30 seconds and decided I didn't have the time for cutting the pork fat into little bitty pieces.

I filled my 8 qt crock pot and cooked on low.

My husband came along later and cut up the fat with scissors.  Why didn't I think of that?

Because I didn't cut the pork into litlte pieces at first, it had to cook too long and you can see some of the pieces getting too brown.

After the first straining. 

They turned out more white than I thought, but I do detect a faint odor and taste.  Not ideal for pie crusts!  Next time I'll have to cut the pork up smaller to begin with.  Next time may be today since I still have more pork fat to render.
All in all it went ok.  Our breakfast of scrambled eggs and biscuits were made with our new lard and the kids ate it up.  Big D did not like the smell, though it didn't bother me.  He said our house was beginning to smell like an Alsups!

Monday, January 16, 2012

90 day Bible Challenge Week 3- Check-in if you're reading, too!

Just pretend that says 2012! 

If you started the challenge on January 1st, like me, then today was day 16 of the 90 day Bible challenge.  We're officially in our third week now and in case you're keeping track, 17.77% of the way through the entire Bible! 

Yesterday when I read in Deuteronomy 33 how the Levites were entrusted with the Urim and Thummim because they were to teach God's Word to the rest of Israel, I was reminded that the Urim and Thummim was not a magic 8 ball! 

Today I was reminded of the importance of memorial stones in our lives so we can remember God's awesome acts on our behalf and share them with our children, as the Lord instructed the Israelites to do.

What have you been most impressed with in your reading lately?

Check out Mom's Toolbox for great 90 day Bible resources for week 3 including her daily SOAPs and Ted Cooper's (founder of 90 day Bible) You are Here in the Bible overviews. 

Welcome to a Day in the Life of our Homeschool- TOS Crew Blogcruise

The homeschool room. 

The cubbies are where the current use texts and workbooks are stored.

It took us a few months to hit our stride this year and find a schedule that was strict enough for me to get everything done that I need to accomplish each day.  Each of my kids has a laminated schedule/checklist to keep them on track throughout the day.  Even their five minute breaks are accounted for.  Of course, there's nothing to stop them from finishing a subject early, in which case they can choose to go on to the next subject or take a break until the official start time for their next subject.  It seems rigid, I know, but it works for us.

Each of my kids has a slightly different schedule since I'm reading aloud two cores this year, Monk and Twinkle Toes share Sonlight readers, and the kids take turns on the computer for Rosetta Stone.  I'll share my 12 yr old son's schedule with mine in parentheses.  This is our typical Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri schedule.  We use Sonlight's 4 day schedule and go to Community Bible Study as a family on Wednesdays from 8-noon.  On those my school kids do math at CBS while I'm in leader's meeting and Monk does science on his own when he gets home.  Monk and Twinkle Toes have piano lessons on Wednesday afternoons, as well.

(6:15 am I have breakfast made and wake up kids.)
6:30-7:00 am     Make bed, get dressed, eat breakfast
7:00-7:30 am     Catechism, character sketches, and prayer with family
7:30-7:55 am     Individual Bible reading and Scripture memory
8:00-8:55 am     Math- TT Algebra II
9:00-9:45 am     Individual Sonlight reading (I'm reading aloud Sonlight Core B to Measle)
9:45-10:20 am   Read-aloud with mom Sonlight Core F Eastern Hemisphere
10:25-11:15 am Science- Apologia Physical Science (I'm making lunch right now.)
11:20-11:55 am Lunch
12:00-12:25 pm Rosetta Stone Mandarin Chinese
12:30-12:55 pm Language Arts
1:00-1:25 pm     Greek 2 pages
1:30-1:55 pm     Computer Science
2:00-3:00 pm     Practice piano
3:00-                  Homework- Complete all unfinished work for the day.

Of course I forgot to include Eastern Hemisphere Explorer in the new schedule so Monk and Twinkle Toes try to squeeze that into their Language Arts and Reading time or as homework at the end of the day.  Monk gets the opportunity to earn an hour of electronics time per day as long as he keeps an A average in math.  He also has swim team every evening.

See, he really does get free time!

TOS Review of We Choose Virtues: Virtue Clue Cards

The goal of We Choose Virtues, created by mom and teacher Heather McMillan, is to inspire character in kids that lasts.  I think all parents want their children to become young men and women of character.  In fact, this is a major reason behind the homeschool movement today.  Yes, I want to be with my kids and I want them to be with one another, but mainly I want their education to be more than just academic.  In our homeschool, our goal is to glorify God above all else.  Since our house is full of people with a sin nature, that can't be accomplished without including character training.  We like to start our days with catechism, character training, and a time of prayer.

The Virtue Clue Cards are creative, cute, and easily taken with you or your child when on the go.  They're geared for kids 3-18, but I've found them helpful, as well.  My 5 and 8 yr olds enjoy assigning them to one another and then swapping them.  You can use the front side (shown above) to help your family memorize Heather's character catchphrases and antonyms.  The back of the cards give a challenge for the day and encouragement from a VirtueVille character such as Piggy Bank Frank (for patience) or Oboe Joe (obedience).

I think the Virtue Clue Cards, available at $5.99 for a limited time, would be a great addition to whatever character training program you're using in your family.  In our home we've chosen to teach character traits in conjunction with the Bible, so we wouldn't utilize the Virtue Clue Cards on their own.  I realize that We Choose Virtues is trying to be helpful to a wider audience than just Christian families so they made these virtue cards without Bible verses.  They do offer faith-based character training programs designed for Christian schools, Sunday schools, and even homeschools.  The faith-based homeschool kit, available for $99.99, includes Scriptures from the NiRV Bible on both the parenting cards and virtue flash cards.  The homeschool kit also includes a teacher's guide, several virtue posters, a personal virtue chart, and virtue user review.  I did not review this kit, but it sounds more in line with the way we do character training in our homeschool.

Even though we wouldn't use the Virtue Clue Cards on their own, we have found them to be very helpful in reinforcing the definitions of the character traits.  The virtue cards help make an abstract concept like being content more concrete.  For example, the virtue catchphrase for "content" is "have my 'wanter' under control".  The antonym for "content" given in italics is "I am NOT... bored, greedy, always wanting more, and I don't beg or whine!"  This has been helpful because our children don't necessarily realize that being bored means they're not being content, or that whining means they have a complaining attitude, which means they're not being content.  The challenges on the backs of the cards are great, too, because as we try to keep them, they show us our failures!  All of this can be discouraging apart from assuring our children that God is at work in us to will and to do for His good pleasure and that when we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us.

If you're looking for a fun way to reinforce the character traits of gentleness, self-control, kindness, forgiveness, diligence, contentment, perseverance, patience, obedience, helpfulness, honesty, and attentiveness then these Virtue Clue Cards will be a great addition to your home.  They will help make the virtues come to life for your kids and this can lead to further teaching opportunities.  


Please check out the other TOS crew reviews of We Choose Virtues Virtue Clue Cards.

Disclaimer:  I received a free pack of the Virtue Clue Cards in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed above are my own.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Why we get fat... according to Gary Taubes

I had the book Why We Get Fat:  And What to do About It recommended to me, so I read it over the holiday.  Frankly, if left to my own devices, I wouldn't have bought a book called Why We Get Fat because it's always seemed pretty simple to me.  According to Gary Taubes, it's not nearly as simple as we've been led to believe.  He's not a doctor or a scientist, but a scientific journalist.  I enjoyed his book, agreed with much of it, and disagreed with some, too.  It may be a bit premature for me to respond to his more recent book without first reading his previous and larger book, Good Calories, Bad Calories about much the same thing.   I'm anxious to read Good Calories, Bad Calories, but I'm also in the middle of a 90 day Bible challenge, homeschooling, etc. and don't know when I'll finish it.  So, since I have time now to respond to Why We Get Fat, I want to do so.  I can come back later and react to Good Calories, Bad Calories.

Taubes sketches the last 200 years of obesity research and concludes that what used to be common knowledge, that carbohydrates make us fat, is basically right.  He also goes to some trouble to argue that the lipid hypothesis which states that dietary cholesterol and saturated fat cause heart disease and atherosclerosis, is probably not true (except for the trans fats popularized ironically because of the lipid hypothesis, aka margarine as a substitue for butter).   He has to present this dual argument because one can be true, but not both.  Either carbohydrates are good and fats are bad (as we've been taught for the last 40+ years) or fats are good and carbohydrates are bad (as Taubes suggests).  Yes, this is a bit of an oversimplification, but it's basically what he argues. 

This is the food pyramid we all grew up with.  Is it backed by more scientific evidence or political pressure?
As you can see from the food pyramid above, if you're anywhere near my age, you were taught in school that the majority of your calories each day should be grains.  I took health in school, then I took physiology and chemistry and nutrition in college, then I took more physiology and biochemistry in graduate school, then I taught exercise physiology and sports nutrition in college.  So I don't take it lightly when I question whether this ideal that was taught to us, which I then taught to others, was backed by indisputable scientific evidence or whether it was more a product of political pressure and the industrialization of our food system (where big corn has more clout than say Joe dairy farmer).

Taubes is very persuasive, though it's obvious what he's trying to sell and to whom he's selling it.  He uses lots of case studies and anecdotal evidence, but it's not easy to go back more than 50 years and have a wealth of controlled studies to choose from.  For example, he argues that between 1910 and 1970 consumption of animal fats (butter, tallow, and lard) fell drastically while consumption of vegetable oils (corn oil, etc. including margarine) rose greatly.  Between 1910 and 1970 heart disease rose right along with consumption of vegetable oils.  As I said, Taubes is persuasive, so much so that I'm spending the weekend rendering lard from a 10 lb bag of clean pork fat I purchased from a local farmer, but still this argument wouldn't last 10 seconds in an academic setting.  The problem of course is there were many other changes in our lifestyle between 1910 and 1970.  I mean, that's practically like comparing the families of Little House on the Prairie with  the one in All in the Family.  Life changed in those 60 years, and most of us would probably argue that it wasn't for the better (the fat guy in the easy chair in front of the tv in All in the Family comes to mind)!  Taubes had already dismissed exercise as a factor in weight (something I'll dispute later), so I guess he thought he had his bases covered.  But, there could be a plethora of variables that could have contributed to the increase in heart disease from 1910 to 1970.  What about the mothers leaving home and joining the workforce, for example?  I'm sure this had a huge effect on our diet and other aspects of health during those 60 years. 

Taubes does cite lots of well-controlled experiments, too, but general sweeping arguments like the one above that are rooted in very little scientific evidence is what got us into this mess in the first place (if indeed we're in a mess, nutritionally).  It's hard for me to tell how much of his simplistic approach is because he wants his book to be readable and easy to follow or because he wants to sell us on the idea that fats are good and carbohydrates are bad.  (The title of his previous book makes me lean toward the latter.)

I can tell it's going to take me several more blog posts to sum up where I agree with Taubes and where I disagree with him and why.  Is this something anyone else is interested in? 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Christ our Firstfruits

A couple of days ago I read about the feasts that Israel was to celebrate each year.  I've written previously about how the Jewish holidays point to Christ and are fulfilled in Him, in a post called The Substance is of Christ.   I want to focus this post on the Feast of Firstfruits. 

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, 'When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, so that you may be accepted.'" Leviticus 23:9-11a
So the offering of firstfruits was so that God's people would be accepted by Him.

The timing of the Feast of Firstfruits is interesting.  (Actually that's an understatement.)  The Feast of Firstfruits took place 3 days after the celebration of Passover.   (This is a bit of a simplification.  See the charts and figures on this Messianic website for more information.)  Remember, Passover was celebrated on the 14th day at twilight of the first month, Abib or Nisan.  This was to commemorate the first Passover when the Angel of the Lord killed all the firstborn in Egypt, but passed over the houses of His people who had the blood of the sacrificial lamb spread on their doorposts and lintels.  It is no accident that Christ became our Passover lamb on Passover, and rose from the dead three days later, on the day of the celebration of Firstfruits.
Paul refers to this in 1 Corinthians 15  when he's defending the resurrection of the dead (Saducees didn't believe in the resurrection and some in the early church must have been influenced by them).

"If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.  But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection from the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  But each in his own order:  Christ, the firstfruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ."  1 Corinthians 15:19-23  (emphasis mine)

I used to take this bit about Christ being our firstfruits metaphorically (as in He was the first of the harvest, which in a sense He is), but the 90 day Bible challenge has helped me to make connections between the Old and New Testaments of the Bible that I never saw before.  Christ literally became our firstfruits offering.  When He was raised from the dead by God, on the day of the celebration of the Jewish Feast of Firstfruits, He made His people accepted by God.

It's not just that Christ did this and that in His lifetime in order to fulfill aspects of the law.  It's that the feasts were always meant to point to Him.  Waving a sheaf of barley never really made God's people right before Him- it didn't take away the guilt of their sins.  Christ was always our Firstfruits, just like He was always our Passover lamb.  The holy days instituted by God were to point His people to their sins and their need for a Savior.  The substance of the holidays were always Christ!  Paul was a Jew of Jews and he knew his Old Testament.  We are at a great disadvantage when we come to his letters without any understanding of the Old Testament.  There is no such thing as New Testament Christianity divorced from the rest of God's law.  The 90 day Bible challenge really helps put this in perspective.  The first 68 days are spent reading the Old Testament and the last 20 days the New Testament.  That's right, 77% of the Bible is Old Testament!  When we neglect it, we're neglecting the majority of God's revelation to us!   Amazing, isn't it?
This realization about the feasts might seem like a small matter, but it's meant so much to me.  I like symmetry and order.  This messy business about sacrifices and this series of holidays that were so important in the Old Testament and then discontinued in the time of the early church always troubled me.  It all makes sense now.  It's not that God had a plan A that didn't work out so then He instituted plan B.  Christ was always the plan for our redemption.  The substance is of Christ, the feasts were like shadows reflecting His substance.  I love that God is a God of symmetry and order.  Christ is everywhere in the Old Testament- it all points to Him and it all finds its consummation in Him.

The feasts and holy days were like a road map that led to Christ.  The early Christians were Jews and they followed that map.  Somewhere along the way, the church abandoned its Hebrew roots and I've so enjoyed rediscovering them.  The books Our Father Abraham:  Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith by Marvin R. Wilson, A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays by Robin Sampson, and Listening to the Language of the Bible:  Hearing it through Jesus' Ears by Lois Tverberg and Bruce Okkema are several books that have helped me recover some of these Hebrew roots.

Remember this Easter as you're celebrating in church that Christ in His resurrection became our firstfruits offering so that we could be accepted by God.   To God be the glory!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

On Schedules and Math

This is the work of my number two son.  His big sister has been playing school again!

I've noticed something through the years.  When it comes to math, the earlier in the morning it's scheduled, the better.  Have you also found this to be true? 

Our number one son, now 12 and finishing up Algebra II, is very good at math.  In the early grades his school consisted of math and reading, about an hour and a half of each per day.  Last week I wanted us to start easing back into our school schedule after 3 weeks off.  In other words, I wanted the kids to be busy, but I didn't want to have to get up at 6!  For three days last week, my bright son spent most of the day doing math.  He also helped his sister on the computer, practiced piano, ate meals, went to swim team, etc.  But it seemed like it took him all day to finish his math.

Monday I got him up a few minutes after 6 and he got dressed, ate breakfast, read his Bible, worked on his memory passage, had morning devotions with his family, and finished math during his scheduled time- all before 9 am!  How can the same amount of work take 4 hours one day, and less than one hour the next?  My husband says it's all about the distractions.  That may be a big part of it.  (I remember the day when sharpening a pencil seemed to wipe out half the morning for Mr. Monk.)  I think there's also something almost magical about being on a schedule.  What do you think?  Do you schedule math early in the morning, later, or leave your school unscheduled?  I will say that this has not seemed quite as important for my girls, although I have resorted to using the kitchen timer to help Measle stay focused during math.

Student and teacher.
I think Measle might have picked something a little beyond Kindergarten level, but her student rose to the occasion!
It looks like we have another math pro on our hands!  I'm thinking Prince will skip first grade and go right into second next year.  My goodness he's one sharp 5 year old!

My husband had the great idea a while back to make Monk stop doing his math at a particular time (according to our schedule) and any unfinished work would become homework for him to come back to after finishing the rest of his school.  Knowing that his free time, aka computer time, would be cut short later in the day has probably served as a powerful motivator for Monk to stay focused during his morning math time.

How have you encouraged your kids to finish their math in a timely manner without lightening the workload?  (I'm always looking for new tricks!)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

90 day Bible challenge week 2- Check-in if you're reading, too!

If you started the 90 day Bible challenge on January 1st, then you should be on day 9 Monday.

I love Leviticus!  Some of my favorite Lessons from Leviticus are on the pervasiveness of sin and the forgiveness of sins.

What is the Lord revealing to you as you read the Bible in 90 days?

Check out Mom's Toolbox for other 90 day Bible resources such as her SOAP applications.  Here's Amy's SOAP for day 9.

Calvin's new big boy haircut

The curls are gone, but Calvin looks like such a big boy!  Ignore the deer-in-headlights expression.  That's just me getting a little too close with the flash again.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

TOS Review of Maestro Classics: The Story of Swan Lake

I knew my kids would love this.  They love listening to books and they love dancing to music, so what could be more fun than combining the two?!  The Story of Swan Lake by Maestro Classics features The London Philharmonic Orchestra playing Tchaikovsky's famous ballet with Stephen Simon conducting.  The story is narrated by Yadu, the original narrator for the Stories in Music concerts at the Kennedy Center.

My middle four kids (3-10 years) listened intently and in turn acted out or danced along with the story.  I'm glad they enjoyed it so much, but I'm especially happy for them to be exposed to the fabulous music of Tchaikovsky.  Measle has been playing the violin for about 3 years and Prince just started lessons this week.  Listening to classical music is a very important part of the Suzuki method.

The booklet included with The Story of Swan Lake is filled with interesting facts about Tchaikovsky (also included on the CD), a mnemonic song that helps your children associate Tchaikovsky with Swan Lake (also included on the CD), a pictograph story summary to help your kids remember the plot, fun activities like dot to dot, a crossword puzzle, a maze, a tutorial on the difference between major and minor keys, and pages featuring the accoustic and electric guitar.  The CD has a total playing time of 54 minutes and has in addition to The Story of Swan Lake, which runs 33 minutes, information on Tchaikovsky's life, a guitar arrangement by Joe Stump called Speed Metal Swan, information about the music, the song "Tchaikovsky Wrote a Great Ballet", and more.

My kids had a blast with The Story of Swan Lake in the living room, but I kept thinking it would be the perfect family entertainment on our next road trip.  I plan on ordering several more Maestro Classics in the future.  I think Peter and the Wolf will be our next purchase.  I have fond memories of listening to a Peter and the Wolf record when I was a little girl.  When Lucie (3 yrs) was returning to her room to change clothes after Swan Lake, she exclaimed, "That was great!"  And I have to agree!

You can purchase Maestro Classics CDs here for $16.98 or as mp3 downloads for $9.98.  Other titles include Peter and the Wolf, The Soldier's Tale, My Name is Handel:  The Story of Water Music, The Tortoise and the Hare, Casey at the Bat, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Juanita the Spanish Lobster, and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.   They also have a 9 CD collection available for $128, for a savings of $25!


Please check out the other TOS reviews of Maestro Classics!

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of Maestro Classics The Story of Swan Lake in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

If it were a crime to be cute... Calvin would be in big trouble!

All of our kids have been cute, but Calvin is the smiliest baby we've had.  His siblings went outside to play today and he looked so longingly after them that I had to push him in the swing for a little bit.  Then he looked so cute that I had to run get the camera.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

90 Day Bible- Week 1 Resources and Joseph as a type of Christ

Amy at Mom's Toolbox has updated her Week 1 Resources page for the 90 day Bible Challenge.  The resource page keeps you posted on your week's reading at a glance and Amy also links to a 90 day reading schedule bookmark and her SOAP applications for each day's reading.  Also included on the resource page is a You Are Here link that gives background information on your reading including timelines, maps, cultural stuff, etc.

I will definitely not be posting my observations for each day's reading, but since I'm here I might as well share a thought from today's.

Day 4-  I love the story of Joseph.  Not only is it a great story of forgiveness, but it's a picture of God's redemptive plan with Joseph as a type or shadow of Christ.  Joseph goes from being a favored son to a humble servant to ruler of the most powerful country in the world.  This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible.

"But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to perserve life."  (Genesis 45:5)

I imagine Christ saying much the same thing to us when we see Him face to face.  We will fall down in worship crying out that we aren't worthy.  He was "smitten by God, and afflicted.  He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:4b-5)  We sold Christ out by our sins just as surely as Joseph's brothers sold him.

When we repent of our sins, like Joseph's brothers did of theirs, I imagine Christ also saying something very similar to Joseph's reassurance for his brothers.

"But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive."  (Genesis 50:21)

That "good" is our salvation and the glorification of Christ, both of which glorify God.

"Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  (Philippians 2:9-11)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

90 Day Bible Challenge- Day 1- Pre-law law?

Miscellaneous Musings from Day 1-  Genesis 1-16

I love thinking about how Pentacost was Babel in reverse.  I know I've talked about that before, but it's just so cool and I was reminded again today of how God, in His grace, rescues His people from their just punishment.

I had a couple of new thoughts while reading about the incident where Abram lied about Sarai being his sister in Egypt.  Isn't it interesting that the Lord brought "great plagues" against pharoah and his house because of Sarai?  Fast forward 500 + years and you'd think the plagues that God brought against Egypt through Moses would have been a reminder, almost a calling card.  Remember Me?  The God of Abraham?  I'm back and I've come for My people.  I can't recall another instance of God sending plagues against a country in the Bible until Revelation.  What is it with Egypt and plagues?!

I also think it's so interesting that pharoah is angry with Abram when he realizes Sarai is his wife and not just his sister.  It always surprises me that the king of Egypt knew it was wrong to sleep with another man's wife.  Our culture tends to envision ancient man as barbaric, having no morals, and I think even in the church we tend to think of people prior to the Mosaic law as being basically lawless.  But, there must have been some sort of recognized code of conduct, and it must have come from God.  Romans 1 also supports the idea that those who reject the Lord do not do so out of ignorance, but because they suppress the truth about God in their unrighteousness.   This comes after the Mosaic law, but then Noah's generation was pronounced wicked in his day, as were Sodom and Gomorrah, both prior to the Mosaic law, so there must have been some righteous standard.  For that matter, Cain could not have been justly punished by God for murdering his brother if God had not prohibited it in the first place.   

Have you noticed anything new in your reading?  I'm so excited to be blogging through the Bible in 90 days again!  I hope to post at least weekly and would love for you to check in and comment if your reading along.  Happy reading!


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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.