Saturday, March 26, 2016

All at once

Last Sunday, my monitor started to go on the fritz.  At first, I thought it was my desktop computer.  But, we soon realized that it was the monitor.  My computer had been having issues for a couple of months and so I had jumped to that conclusion.  As my investigated, it became clear that we needed to replace if not all, of my computer.  We decided all.

Getting and using a new computer can be quite a daunting endeavor!  Moving pictures, files, bookmarks...  Thankfully, the transferring began and proceeded smoothly except that when we tried to transfer my photos, we learned they were too big.  Over half of the memory on my computer was going to be consumed by my pictures.  So, I spent two days deleting photos and paring down what needed to be copied over.  Thankfully, I got it cut down by half by the time I began copying them!

My computer issues are a little more complicated because I'm changing over from PC to Mac.  Somehow, I'm surprised at how okay I am with all of this.  I'm thankful for the patience the Lord has given me.  When I couldn't access a file my daughter needed yesterday, I accepted it.  I found a way around it, but it didn't print perfectly.  I had to handwrite a few things on the form before I copied it.  (so old fashioned, right?!?)

I remember years ago when a man I knew explained to me that he felt technology would save humanity.  My face responded with a look of disbelief.

When people don't believe in God, they look for something to believe in--whether it is themselves, technology, the goodness of mankind, or even that their family is what they live for.  We all need meaning in our lives.  It's one of the ways God made us.  There's a hole in our hearts.  But, it's made for God.  Not for a computer or the affirmation we can find if we look on social media.

Sometimes computers can either become a link of control or a source that gives us a false sense of control.  I have noticed that anytime we hold onto something tightly, we react badly to any divergence or bump in the road.  Computers can be the source of much frustration when we expect them perfectly.  Of course, the world tells us that they are supposed to be perfect.  Ironically, I think everyone knows that computers are flawed because they break.  They get viruses, worms, and encounter programming glitches.

Yesterday, my kids had some friends over and spent the whole afternoon outside.  I was talking with my friend, their mom, and posed a question to her.  I asked if she was concerned about the growth in a particular religion.  She wisely redirected the question and helped me see that my question was misdirected.  Instead, she explained her concern was for people who don't believe in God at all, and for people who don't believe that Jesus died for their sins.  She was concerned--for the lost sheep.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Another Line...

I just heard this line from a movie, "Where is Good?"

The police detective says to a young woman who is a victim, "I've noticed that once people become victims, they tend to stay victims for the rest of their lives.  Don't let that be you.  Work hard to fight that."

Something to think about.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Music Studies

I have to admit that I haven't had a lot of motivation to do our music appreciation curriculum in the evenings the last few months, so now we're playing a little catchup.  Last night, we listened to Classics for Kids about Vivaldi and learned a lot of fun and interesting information.  Then, we moved onto the Classical Era of Classical music and watched Chuck VanderChuck's video on the PBS website (easy to find by googling) and the Fast and Friendly Guide to the Classical Period on Youtube.  My kids loved these short videos.

Now, we're moving onto the composers of the Classical period.  We started this morning with Beethoven.  We began by listening to the shows on Beethoven on Classics for Kids site.  My kids took notes on a Beethoven notebooking sheet I found online and listed in the post I wrote a few months ago on Music Appreciation  (see Here).  After listening to the first two shows, I printed off Classics For Kids worksheet on Beethoven and my kids enjoyed the activities on the sheet.  After we finished listening to all 5 shows (only 6 minutes each) about Beethoven, we watched a few videos on youtube that my kids really enjoyed.

First, we watched the Peabody and Sherman clip of Improbable History about Beethoven and I asked them to tell me all the things from the video that couldn't have happened (ie. celebrating 4th of July with fireworks, cars, Beethoven could hear, making a cake with mustard, etc.).  Then, I asked them to tell me what was true in the video (Beethoven's wild hair, playing the piano, wrote the symphonies--just not in the order in the cartoon).

After watching this video, we watched one more clip that we really enjoyed about Beethoven, which was the Muppets singing Ode To Joy.


It's quite fun to watch!

Friday, March 11, 2016

A good line...

I just heard this line in a movie just now...

Man A looking at the stranger:  "He's a duck out of water."
Man B nodding his head:  "That's how ducks learn to fly."

Hmmm...  Something good to think about.


"He's still a duck out of water."
In response... "He's testing his wings."

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Paper Things Book Discussion

Last night, my oldest daughter's book group of 7th grade girls discussed Paper Things by Jennifer Jacobsen.  I wrote a set of discussion questions and a Bible Devotion to go along with them.  I thought I would share them here.  As I was preparing the devotion questions, I reread the chapter on teaching kids compassion in Growing Grateful Kids by Susie Larson.  I agreed wholeheartedly with her articulation that one of things we need to give our kids is perspective.  By gaining perspective, the hope is that they will grow in compassion towards others.

It is difficult to find appropriate books that I'm comfortable with aiming towards this end for my oldest daughter.  I am finding that many books aimed at middle schoolers try to pack too much emotional weight on the mind of these young girls.  A good example of this is Almost Home by Joan Bauer.  The main character in the book constantly says that she has to be the responsible one and take care of herself.  She makes sense of her world on her own without asking any adults.  She is also portrayed as the responsible one (instead of the adults) in the story.

Paper things, on the other hand, does still pack a lot in, but reading the ending of the story and discussion of the book can be very fruitful.  This book tackles the issue of homelessness and kids and other important topics of family, friendship, traditions, and expectations.  (As a side note, I think Small as an Elephant, Ms. Jacobsen's other book, packed too much emotional weight for 6th and 7th graders.)

Here are my questions and devotion...

Paper Things Discussion Questions

Expectations of people

1. Ari is a kid and Gage is a teenager. What do you think Ari's “job” is? What is Gage's “job”?
    2. Ari is in fifth grade. Does she have realistic expectations of herself? What does she expect?

  1. Before reading this book, had you ever thought about homeless kids before? What were Ari's greatest struggles when she was homeless? Have you ever had a friend who was homeless for a time or had to live with family members because they didn't have their own home?
  2. What do you think would be the hardest part about being homeless? Why do you think people are homeless?

  1. Did Ari tell Sasha what her life was like? Why don't you think she told her?
  2. Was Sasha a good friend to Ari? Was she able to be?
  3. Why do Ari's paper things matter to her? What are they to her?
  4. A faithful friend is a strong defense; and he that hath found him hath found a treasure. What do you think makes a good friend? Who is a good friend to Ari in the story?

  1. Would you have gone with Gage if you were in Ari's shoes? Would you have stayed with him when they didn't have a place to stay? Why do you think Ari's mom wanted them to stay together?
  1. Who helps Ari? In what ways do they help her? Who helps Gage? How does Gage change over the course of the story?
  2. Do adults make mistakes? How does Janna change by the end of the story? What are some of the mistakes that you think Janna made? When an adult makes a mistake, should you still respect them? What does it mean to respect someone? Sometimes, like Bryce's dad in Flipped, adults do things that aren't respectable. How should/can you act when you don't respect an adult?
  3. Why didn't Janna adopt Ari and Gage?
  4. What do people do when they are afraid? How do they act towards others?

Being Responsible
  1. Pg. 245, Gage realizes how hard it is to take care of Ari. Does Ari have what they need when they are homeless?
  2. Why do you think Gage wouldn't accept Janna's help? Are you more likely to try and do something on your own or to ask for help?

  1. Why does Carter mean so much to Ari? Traditions give people a sense of belonging. What traditions does your school have that matter to you—that you think you'll still remember years from now?

Last thoughts...
  1. Ari says, “Try as you might there are some things you can't mend.” Pg. 81
    What is something that can't get fixed in the story? What does get fixed? Do you agree with Ari about what she says—are there some things that you can't fix?


Comfort and Compassion
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. --Theodore Roosevelt

From Growing Grateful Kids...
“God, in His kindness, put people in my path from time to time, people whose convictions opened my eyes to God's enormous heart for the world, and this changed everything for me.

One of my favorite passages from the Bible is I John 4:12
English Standard Version
No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

And then there's...

Praise to the God of All Comfort
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5New International Version (NIV)


1. God loves us, so He comforts us. How does God comfort us? What does that look like?

2. What are some things your friends are going through or have gone through? How could you (or have you) comforted them?

3. When someone makes a bad choice, are you responsible for their decision? If you had said something different or been there for them, do you believe they wouldn't have made that decision?

* It's important to understand that God's in control. Yes, we are supposed to love other people, but we aren't responsible for the decisions other people make.

4. What can you do when you see someone in trouble?
What about when they're making a bad decision?
When should you talk to an adult? Is that breaking someone's trust? Why or why not?

We also discussed what they could do to help or encourage a friend who was homeless.  One idea was to invite them over for a meal or to hang out.  They could also be invited to sleepover sometimes if it was okay with parents.  I thought of offering to keep something for a friend in your house until they had a permanent home because homeless people can't keep things with them during the day if they are staying in a temporary shelter.  Where we live there is also a nonprofit that helps homeless families get back on their feet.