Thursday, July 29, 2010

Photo Shoot

The other day Michelle did a photo shoot with Elizabeth. Michelle is our resident photographer.

She has done most of her photo shoots with inanimate objects. I have been encouraging her to do more with people. Her biggest challenge is shyness. She isn't sure she is able to boss older people around. A little sister is no problem though, so she started there.

I really like this picture. These are the new pants that Grandma found for her. Michelle bought me a bouquet of flowers and then borrowed a few of them back.

Another of my faves. Elizabeth is such a happy, healthy, child. We all really enjoy her! Michelle is interested in doing something artistic as a job, and photography is one thing she enjoys and is good at. I told her that she needs to learn to shoot people well. Cause that's where the money is.

I am not sure what is up with all the angled photos, but Michelle really likes that slightly off center perspective.
Which is your favorite?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer Analysis

Today, I sat down and started planning our school for the summer. It is a quiet week, as Joan and Mr. Boots are at camp counselling. The summer is about 2/3 over. I decided to evaluate how we are doing in getting done the things I hoped to accomplish. It has been a good summer. A lot hotter than I hoped for, but good none the less. Here is what we have done...

We have gotten some outdoor fun in. We are working at making sure that Dallas gets a walk every day. The heat has made this a little harder.

We have made a couple family trips. We had the Memorial Day weekend trip to visit family in Wisconsin and the trip to Kentucky to the Creation Museum. We have been to the Rutherford B. Hays Library and Museum, and Fort Meigs. We are working on going on some other field trips in the next couple weeks. We are hoping to have some friends visit in the next couple weeks.

We have survived the three June birthdays and the June Family birthday party. We also saw the Eichs off to the Philippines in July.

VBS went well. It was a busy week, but we got through it without too much stress.

Our summer reading program has been a little spotty. We have averaged about 2.5 days of getting to our reading per week. We do 2 hours when we do it. The boys have both finished their Geometry (Hallelujah!). Michelle still has some math to do and Mr. Boots has to finish his Biology.

We went to two weddings, an Eagle Scout ceremony and a couple graduation parties. There has been two more engagements announced.

Our garden is doing splendidly!
We have had fresh slicing tomatoes almost every evening for supper the last couple weeks. They have been great. I have been getting lots of pesto made from the basil. We have been picking zucchini and green beans. We have swiss chard and the broccoli will be ready soon. Peppers and eggplant are setting on. We never did get any cukes planted. Oh Well. Our herb garden is doing great. We have replanted the lettuce and it will be ready in a few weeks. It is definitely saving on the food bill.

The children have been enjoying the neighbors pool on a pretty regular basis. They have also been spending a lot of time playing with Lego's. They have recently been designing new projects that they will enter into a Lego design contest. Some of the children are working on improving their typing skills. They are also anxious to spend time skyping and e-mailing their cousins in the Philippines. The younger boys have been reading or re-reading Tolkien's books. That is not included in our reading time. Next week will be VERY busy we plan to split about six cords of wood for the fireplace. I am hoping it won't be too hot.
I am pleased at what we have gotten accomplished. Still a lot to get done before autumn arrives. I haven't begun to put food away for the winter.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Book Sale Findings.

Thomas and I went to a library sale this morning. This sale has a lot of donations and is one of the sales I don't like to miss.
I thought I'd tell you some of the things I found...
Famous Fairy Tales, Edited by Walter Piper (Think, 'The Little Engine that Could' author)
Emily Lewis's 'Friends' and 'Emma's Lamb' If you are unfamiliar with her, she writes and illustrates picture books for the 18 month-4 year old set. They are in a rural setting and are very peaceful. Very sweet illustrations, and lifelike.
The Brown Fairy Book Edited by Andrew Lang
'Smoky' by Will James, A cowboy/horse story
Landmark Books/World Landmark Books:
Marie Antoinette
Tregaskis:John F. Kennedy and PT 109
Lincoln and Douglas, The Years of Decision
Tippecanoe and Tyler, too!
Thomas Jefferson: Father of Democracy
Custer's Last Stand
The Panama Canal
The Winter at Valley Forge
The Erie Canal
(I had all but 2 of these already. I will put the others in our doubles boxes.)When looking for Landmark books, make sure to check the Biography, History and Travel sections. They are often misplaced in the adult books. I found 'The Erie Canal' book in the travel section today.
'More Songs to Grow on' by Beatrice Landeck, A book with a lot of old folk songs
'The Snow Queen' by Hans Christian Andersen. Ill. by Mary Engelbreit (A lot of Nursery rhyme, fairy tale, poetry books I have collected because I like the illustrations. I never pass up a book illustrated by Marguerite DeAngeli, Wesley Dennis, etc.)
'The Little Fir Tree' by Margaret Wise Brown. (She is another author of children's picture books that I grab when I see. I remember her 'Ask Mr. Bear' book as being one of the first books I read to myself when I was four.)
'Mudlark' by Geoff Dunham I never heard of this author before, but I liked his picture book
'Richard Halliburton's Complete Book of Marvels' , One of my children's favorite travelogue books. Fascinating man. Used in Amblesides's curriculum. Goes for $70 on Amazon. Love it when I find it for less than a dollar. Someone had put it in the psych/sociology section.
'Art and Life in America' by Oliver Larkin. A Pulitzer Prize Winner for History
'The Peter Patter Book, Rimes for children' By Leroy F. Jackson Ill. by Blanche Fisher Wright Copyright 1918. Beautifully illustrated.
'Fly High, Fly Low' by Don Freeman. A fun story about Sid and Marge, two pigeons who stuck together through thick and thin
'A Newbery Christmas', Fourteen stories of Christmas by Newbery Award-winning authors. (I'll put this in our box of Christmas books along with 'The Little Fir Tree')
'Everglades' by Jean Craighead George, paintings by Wendell Minor. Jean Craighead George is a wonderful author and naturalist. She wrote 'My Side of the Mountain', 'Julie of the Wolves' and a number of picture books and nature stories for primary children. I grab her books when I see them, especially the ones for the younger children. You do have to pre-read her books designed for young adults as they are a little more nitty-gritty/romantic than I necessarily want to put in my children's hands. She is also a tree-hugger. She is an excellent author.
'A Year with the Birds' by Alice E. Ball. Copyright 1916. This book contains illustrations from Audobon's bird books. She has written a poem for each bird. She has the birds divided seasonally. Each season lists when the different birds are to be expected. This would be an excellent book for those that keep nature journals with their children.
The Adventures of TinTin -2 of them that we hadn't read before. by Herge ('The Castifiore Emerald' and 'Prisoners of the Sun') These are old books that have been reprinted. Grade School boys love these. Written comic book style.
Cherry Ames Books. I picked up seven different ones. This is a series about a nurse. Starts in her first year of nursing school and follows her through a number of different positions. Girl's really enjoy them. Written back in the 50's and 60's when these series were so popular.
'Christmas, All American Annual of Christmas Literature and Art', Over sized, soft cover, and beautiful. (Vol 40-50) Has anyone ever heard of these before?
I hope you have enjoyed my tour through some of my latest boxes of books.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Amish Culture

I have interacted with the Amish culture since I was 16. I once got into a disagreement with a relative about whether I had any cross-cultural experience. I told this person that I did as I had spent much time with the Amish. She thought that since they lived in our state, that they were the same culturally as us. I tried to explain that they spoke a different language and certainly were very different in many other aspects.
I think today may demonstrate my point:
On Wednesday night, our phone rang at 10:10 PM, it was an Amish friend. She told me that she was planning to meet two of her brothers and their families, who live out of state, at the zoo. I have spent a lot of time at their house and had often invited their family to come up and visit us and see how we live. Well, when she called she asked if they could come by on Friday after the zoo and heat up their pizza in our oven and eat in our back yard. I said sure, but that I wouldn't be here. I said I would leave the older girls at home, but that I was going to be down in Amish country myself that day seeing patients. I was disappointed that I was going to miss their visit.

Honestly, I thought there might be as many as 18 people coming. They showed up with their closest relatives and neighbors. In all there was 31. They had never been here before or had any idea of how small some houses and lots are in the city. Fortunately, we have a larger house. There was room enough to accommodate them. They made themselves at home. Many went up to the family room and enjoyed the AC and read books from our large library. Others went to the basement and stretched out for a quiet rest there. The temperatures had been in the mid-90's today so they were pretty well scorched.
They did bring their own food. They brought pizza topped with hamburger, peas, pepperoni, hot peppers and their homemade Colby cheese. You can't get that at Papa John's! There was alot of fresh garden veggies along side. Joan, and Michelle played hostess. The girls put out the food we had planned for our dinner. It was a big party!
I think this shows a huge cultural difference. Would you show up at someone's house with 30 people without telling the hostess how many people you were bringing? They had invited others, but they weren't able to come. They felt comfortable inviting themselves to our home and brought their own food. What a hoot!! I still can't believe that they showed up here with 30 people! I will probably never know who all came. We forgot to have them sign the guest book. I wonder what the neighbors thought? All those Amish unloading from 2 vehicles in our driveway. I love it!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Can you Judge a Book by it's Cover?

How do you tell if an old book is a good book? That is a great question. Some are and some are not. How do you know? My dad gave me a hint that I have found to be reliable. His advice? "Look for the spider web inside the covers."

If I am at a book sale and think that a book is potentially one I want on my shelf, I open it up and if there is the spider web design there I buy it, Even if I don't know the author. I have found a lot of treasures that way. I have met some new book friends and authors this way.

I am not sure of the history of the spider web design. I know it was done by a specific binder and was used through the 1960's. It was around as early as the 1940's. Whoever selected books for this company did well.
Does anybody else know the history of the spider web design inside the cover?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fort Meigs and the War of 1812

We are continuing our Ohio History via field trips 'program'. Today we went to Fort Meigs which was where the turning point battle in the War of 1812 occurred. Prior to the siege at Fort Meigs the US had lost nearly all the battles of the war. After that the tide went against the British and the US won.

Fort Meigs is the largest restored fort in the US. It is the size of over 8 football fields. It is in Perrysburg, OH.
We were blessed to be able to hook up with a tour of children from a day camp. The guide took us on a tour of the fort and also demonstrated how to shoot his gun. If you call ahead they will arrange a tour for you.

In the center of the fort is an obelisk that was built early in the 1900's as a memorial to all the men who died there. More men died from disease than from battle wounds. The area is right on the Maumee river and was very swamp like. In the spring of 1813 the mud came up to the men's knees.

They do have different displays and information in four of the blockhouses. It got us out of the sun. It was VERY hot today. (90+).

The breeze off the river was the only thing that made it tolerable. At least we didn't have to wear the linen shirt and pants, the wool vest and dark blue wool jacket of a regiment soldier. They wore the exact same uniform, summer and winter.

The inside of the block houses were painted white so that the light coming in the window was reflected. They were not allowed to use candles in them as there was so much gunpowder present.

Our guide shot his gun out the window. It really wasn't very loud as the explosion occurred at the end of the barrel which was outside. I was surprised how much light came in the loop windows.
The inside of the fort has a number of earth mounds that were built by the soldiers as a place for them to hide behind from the cannonballs. They actually built little shelters inside the mounds. The British called the Americans 'groundhogs' as they would pop up to check for incoming shells and then duck back down into their holes. Very few Americans were killed in the battle from British artillery.

Outside the fort is a very nice air conditioned museum. It describes the role of the fort in the War of 1812, artifacts they have found on the grounds, important men of the time and a memorial. I think you could go through the museum in 30-60 minutes depending on how much reading you want to do.

The museum and fort cost $8 for and adult and $5 for a child and children 5 and under are free. It is also free if you are a member of the Ohio Historical Society. It is open Wednesday through Sunday. It has many re-enactments and programs on the weekends. Check their schedule before coming.
I would say that the children found this a fascinating visit. They have talked about it pretty much non-stop since they came home (when they weren't arguing about who had dishes-ugh!). Younger children might be bored. There are not a lot of buttons to push or brightly colored displays in the fort. It is a mile walk through the fort. There is a smooth gravel path. It was a very informative afternoon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Story Telling

Recently, I found the book, 'Tell Me a Story, an Anthology' by Charles Laughton, at a library sale. It was copyrighted in 1957.
Charles Laughton, a Brit, started off as an actor in Los Angeles. During the WWII years he felt guilty because he wasn't doing anything in the war effort. He was driving his wife crazy with his bad attitude.
One day he met some wounded soldiers who were taking a tour of M-G-M and asked them what they did in the evenings for entertainment. They answered, "Nothing." He started going over to the hospital a couple of evenings a week to read to the men. He would read Dickens, Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Andersen's Fairy Tales and the Bible to them. He found that 'reading aloud to a group of people, however scarred, turns them into children. The men would sit and listen to fairy stories. They found a reflection of their sufferings, which they had thought to be unique, in the tragedies of Shakespeare, and felt better.' His readings required a larger and larger room at the hospital. He decided that people wanted to be read to. He made that his profession and ended up touring all over the world reading great stories.
His secret for learning to read aloud is, 'to read something you love, to someone you love and practice and practice and practice till you don't have to pin them down anymore to listen.'
I liked his closing goal. He wanted to be the man who knew all the stories, who had a bottomless bag of stories on his back. He said that when he walked into a bookstore or library he would feel sad to see all the stories he would never be able to enjoy. He said, "I think of all the wonderful tales that I will never know and I wish I could live to be a thousand years old."
As parents, we have the greatest opportunity to practice being a story teller, to the most receptive audience in the world, our children. It is something we should do regularly, as long as they live in our house. Even when they are teenagers and young adults, keep reading to them. Having a common body of stories is a great way to bond your children and yourselves together. Yes, they can read to themselves, but nobody is ever to old to be read to. Think of it like giving them an oral hug. It takes time, and it shows you care. On the other hand, your children are never to young to be read to. It helps build their vocabulary and lets them know you care, even if they don't understand every word! It will help you build your common family culture. Turn off the TV or DVD player and spend time together today!
Tell me what the last book you read to your children was. I read 'Lazy Tinka' by Kate Seredy to the children yesterday.

Friday, July 16, 2010

VBS Wrap Up

We had a great week of VBS this year. The children were attentive and they did a wonderful job learning their verses.

The new sound system was a useful asset. The sound effects worked well in the drama. The actors did an entertaining job, as usual!

The last day there were 94 children. The junior class had 34 children. No one was absent. They had a fun time with all the outdoor activities. One day, all the games fit the Egypt theme by being about mummies.

The children wrapped one another in toilet paper. This team had the winning entry.
The closing program was very well attended by the children and parents. The gospel was clearly presented We did have a couple children come this year because their parents found our website. These families came to the closing program also. Many of the first time attendees seemed very excited about coming to AWANA in the fall.

We do praise the Lord for this opportunity to share the gospel with our community. I believe that only about 35% of the children came from our Fellowship.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Future of Good Children's Literature

Recently, someone asked me to talk about how I determine which books to save, and which to give or throw away.
The best way to tell if a book is worth keeping is to read it! If I want to keep it around, because I think I might like to read it again, that's a keeper! Yes, I still enjoy reading good children's literature. Most of what is out there today, is not good or literature. I have read some books more than ten times, because I enjoy them and it is like visiting an old friend. These books I want to introduce to my children and grandchildren some day, as they are my childhood friends that never grew up. Good books demonstrate good character and encourage us to persevere through challenging times. We want to become like our storybook heroes. If a book is well written it also teaches us, painlessly, what good writing is like. Other old books teach us history before it became politically correct, when it was still OK to be 'proud to be an American'. A good author is knowledgeable about his subject and passionate. When you read a 'twaddle-free' book you learn easily and remember what you read. The author whets your appetite to learn more about the subject. If you come across books like that, keep them and note the authors. Find other things they have written.
I do throw books away regularly if they are not up to our family's standards either in moral tone or writing quality. They are just cotton candy for the mind and can rot our mental teeth just like candy does our physical ones.

Another BIG factor in buying older books is that their availability is quickly decreasing. One reason is that in 2008 the US congress passed a law that ordered the CPSIA to make it illegal to sell anything for children 12 and under that hasn't been tested for lead. The law is over broad. It says EVERYTHING must be tested! It went into effect on Feb.10, 2009 and put the lead limit at 600 ppm, and on August 14, 2009 it reduced it to 300 ppm. Libraries and other businesses let out a yell. A compromise was reached on books - Only books printed before 1984 (ironic date) would have to be tested. Alas, those are the good ones. Many used bookstores dumped all their books in that category unless they were 'collectible'. So far the law has only been selectively enforced. A couple christian and used bookstores were raided. The penalties for breaking the law are BIG. The law is so broad as to say you can't even give away these 'dangerous' items. Testing is terribly expensive, and in the case of books, you have to destroy them in the testing. I am therefore buying doubles/triples/more of the books I want my children to have available for our grandchildren.
If you want to read more about the CPSIA and the lead laws go to www.heartkeepercommonroom and type in 'CPSIA' or 'lead' in the search engine on the left hand sidebar.
As the collection of good books available is diminishing, so is the number of collectors increasing. More and more homeschoolers are putting together 'heritage libraries' for their families. Books that were easily found five years ago, are now nowhere to be found unless someone donates a private collection. If you find them you need to grab them, because they probably won't be there tomorrow.
In another post I will write about some of our favorite authors that we are always looking for.
Who's your favorite children's author? I love Stephen W. Meader and Lois Lenski.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

VBS 2010: The Egypt Files

This post is especially for our Filipino Readers.
(Pun intended)
This is the 41st VBS at our church. We welcome the children every day at the registration desk. My Mom, sister, and I are doing registration. Our VBS has always been free. Behind is the craft area.

The Pre-school class has 10 little ones. They have a puppet show along with other things every day for the children. This year they are using the window as the stage rather than building it in the room. It has worked really well.

The new director's wife seems to be everywhere. Making sure that everything is running smoothly. We have a slightly smaller school this year than last year. 79 children the first day and 74 today.

Each teacher is responsible for decorating their own area. This is the Pre-primary area. It is a smaller room, but they fit about 17 children in here. Joan is co-teaching in this group.

It has been warm, but the children seem calmer this year for some reason. The teachers have been commenting and appreciating about how well the children are listening.

The children always enjoy the crafts. Yesterday, they made a game out of clay and beads. Today, they made a picture frame to put their photo in. They used a CD (jewel) case.

The Primary class is a busy group. They are the second through fourth graders.

Mr. Boots and Michelle are helping here. Michelle is teaching the verse and Mr. Boots is doing the puppets and some other teaching. He is really enjoying it. Thomas is helping with the outside games.

They are serving the snack outside at the 'oasis' area. Everything is following the Egyptian theme. It is working nicely to have all the snacks outside. Less mess inside.

The Juniors is the largest group this year. The first day they had 30 children. There were a few missing today. Mrs. Nan, showed the children that simply mixing the ingredients for a cake in a bowl, shaking it up, does not result in a cake. The children are learning about the logical fallacies in evolution. The gospel is being presented clearly.
The VBS is going well. I have to admit, I keep thinking I hear my sister, Mir's voice. I keep turning to look and she's not there. It really makes me miss her, more than I ever thought I would.