Friday, October 10, 2014

What we say

This week I had the chance to see a gift that someone has.  That is the gift of not being bothered by others' opinions of them.  I've seen people before not care about others opinions.  I can't say that I've understood.  I'm sure different people have different reasons.

I think some people tell themselves they don't care, but really do.  Some people stop caring and become numb to others' feelings.  Some people retreat away from people so they can't hurt them anymore.  But, then other people naturally have a peace that helps them not to worry or care about others opinions of them.

I saw one of these people in action this week.  After the summer I've had and what I've walked through, I recognize the gift this person has.  Of course it has its consequences, but one of the positive consequences is that this person is more easily able to show grace to people in her life that say things that are off the mark.  One of the other consequences is that she isn't always aware of how what she does affects other people.

I think that is the way it is with any gift that the Lord gives us.  There are strengths and weaknesses of what He gives us.  He knows what we need.

I can see what He's given this person in my life.  I think I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum.  I care too much.  I love too much and hurt too much.  They're two sides of the same coin.  But, seeing how God has made this friend makes me smile.  And it makes me think.

Is it okay to not care what other people think of me?  Yes.  I can see that this friend cares about the Lord and about glorifying Him in her life.  But she's free to just love people and see past the things they say.

We are all called to different things.  I was reminded on Friday that I am called to care and connect.  I talked with a young mom and her two little ones. I encouraged her and she shared with me that it had meant a lot to her husband when I genuinely asked after her a few months ago and how they were doing.

I've seen a lot of older women become wounded birds.  I want to learn to care, but be able to look past the things people say that are off the mark.


On vacation, Autumn got a Life is Good tshirt that says, "Smile... It's free."  I love it.  I wish I could have one, too.

I've let my kids sleep in this morning and I need to go wake them up.  It's been a busy past two weeks for them.  They're troopers and I love them.  I wanted to write down the things popping into my head at the moment.

1.  Smile.  A lot.  Every chance you get.  Smiling makes you feel good and makes others people feel good.  It breaks the silence.  It breaks up the pain.  It breaks up the hurt.  It reminds you of God's beauty, His comfort, and that He's in control.  We can trust Him.

2.  Smile.  Tell my kids I love them.  A lot.  Even though they've heard it before.

3.  Snuggle with my kids.  Read together.  Break out of the cycle of being driven by the idea that I have to get so much done.  Take a 30 minute reading break in the living room.  Don't feel guilty.  It's impossible to get everything done every day.

4.  Don't compare.  Don't compare my children to one another.  They are all different and I love them all.  Emphasize and remind them of their strengths and that God made them the way they are.  Don't directly or indirectly compare.  Teach them that everyone has their own strengths.

5.  Let go.  Let go of the past and cope with the present.  Don't let the past put a noose around my neck.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Learn to Type Software?

For the past year, my kids have been learning to type using the BBC's free internet site: Dance Mat Typing.  I like it a lot.  It covers the basics at a speed that's very appropriate for grade K-5.  It includes practice and fun songs that engage the kids.  All three of my kids have enjoyed it.

I felt like it wasn't quite enough, though.  I wanted them to get more practice and be able to increase their speed.  So, I started looking for a program to use.  I asked around and the recommendations all pointed to Mavis Beacon and Typing Instructor.

In the end, I purchased Typing Instructor for Kids.  It takes a bit to navigate the program honestly.  I had to sit down with it first and understand what my kids needed to do.  My first daughter went through the first level and completed it, but the program wouldn't let her move on.  She didn't understand why.  So, I went through the level and it passed me.  I am assuming that the program set a goal for her that she didn't pass.  Typing Instructor does let kids backspace and correct when they've pressed a wrong key, but I don't know if it takes off for this.  The levels take about 17 minutes for them to complete.  Or at least the first one did.

I didn't encounter any major glitches.  My kids enjoy it.  I like the games that come after the lesson. They're fun and purposeful.  Creative practice.

I'm also glad that I paid for the program.  There are lots of typing games online that are free, but the screen shows up small and there's tons of advertising which is very distracting and undependable.  Sometimes I'm very surprised at the ads that show up on various websites.  I know they can't control it once they agree to the ads, but it shapes my decisions about which websites I let my kids go to regularly.

What I noticed though is that Dance Mat Typing goes slower than Typing Instructor (and it has no ads--Yippee!).   So, I'm glad my kids completed Dance Mat Typing first.  I think Typing Instructor for Kids is going to be a good fit for us.

I did also have the chance to try out Mavis Beacon--Personal Edition, using UltraKey.  The program is the same cost as the other (about $15), but it's a bare bones program.  No games.  None.  This edition is for adults and it goes through things pretty fast.  But, if you are an adult and need to learn how to type quickly, this is a good option.  I did encounter a glitch in the first lesson and the challenge level they set based on my pretest was almost impossible to reach and pass on the first lesson.  Mavis Beacon also won't let you backspace and correct, so all typing has to be correct the first time in order to pass on the challenges and skill tests.  You can retake the skill tests, though, without redoing the lesson--which is what I did.  Honestly, I'm glad I spent the money on Typing Instructor for Kids instead of Mavis Beacon.  If I were purchasing a program for an adult or teenager, I'd probably choose Typing Instructor (adult version) instead of the Mavis Beacon program.

I'm surprised that the programs didn't address some things that were reinforced in my typing class in high school.
1.  You can't look at your fingers!
2.  Your index fingers sit on the home row keys that have bumps.  Every typewriter and keyboard I've ever used have a bump on the f and j keys.  The ten-key number pad also always has a bump on the 5 key.  These bumps help you keep your place.  They're very important so that you can always find your way back to where your fingers should rest.
3.  You can put a napkin or other light covering over your child's hands if they have a hard time not looking down.  If you're using a desktop computer and keyboard, you can make a cover using wood or cardboard that you can set over the keyboard so kids can't see the keys.  The point of learning to type is to be able to do it without looking at the keys.  This drastically increases one's typing speed when it is mastered.

My kids are enjoying getting back on the computer again.  I'm glad for it to be productive time.