Monday, March 28, 2011

Various Thoughts

This winter we had the most gorgeous ice storm. I took pictures of it and posted them in an earlier blog. Tonight I am posting what it looked like a couple days later when the sun came out. I really couldn't believe how long the ice stayed on the trees. It was really beautiful. Our God is the most awesome Creator.

What have the Mangos been doing? Yes, we spend a lot of time working on speech and debate. I end up assisting and critiquing the children as they prepare. Our next tournament is April 7-8th. We are looking forward to it. Monday nights, Roger usually takes the three almost oldest children to the club meeting. The rest of us stay home and have some quiet together. What did we do tonight? Joan studied her macroeconomics as she has a CLEP test on Wednesday. T-Bob worked on dishes while he listened to 'With Wolf in Canada', a G.A Henty book that we have on CD. He loves the Henty books and is always reading or listening to them on CD. It is amazing how much history he learns this way. Elizabeth and I played games on the computer and read some books. We played Poppit and Sara's Cooking Class. We 'baked' a Chicken Pot pie and a carrot cake. She is much better and faster at working the mouse for these games than I am.

We are now into our third and final semester of school. We hope to be done before the end of May. I will write up our study plans for this semester as a separate blog post. Everybody seems to be coming along well. T-Bob is especially enjoying his reading books this semester. He enjoyed 'Little Women' so much that we have moved on to 'Little Men'. I find it harder to build up their love of reading with all the technology around. It was so much easier when the other children were young. I do sit and read with Elizabeth quite a bit which we both enjoy. She has finished 'Farmer Boy' and now we are working on "On the Banks of Plum Creek'. She also really likes 'Paddle to the Sea' by Hollings Clancy Hollings (What parent would ever name their child that, REALLY?!!). She is a big poetry fan. Her current favorite is A.A. Milne. (Of Christopher Robin and Pooh fame).

If I want them to read, I have to set them a good example. I have been reading more lately. Some just for pleasure, light stuff and some more profitable. A book I got for Christmas was 'Love and Respect' by Dr. Eggerich. It is a book that I wish I would have read 24 years ago. I am planning to give it it's own blog post. I also am reading 'Large Family Logistics'. I am almost finished with it. I will probably blog about that also. (Can you blog about a book that was really written as a series of blog posts originally?) My reading tastes are varied. I enjoyed a book called 'Dead Men Do Tell Tales'. It is a book by a forensic anthropologist. He tells about a number of different crime skeletons that he was involved in solving the cases for, Even when they attempted to destroy the body. If you are a CSI fan, you would really enjoy this book. Crime is not always pleasant, but it isn't too graphic and there are no language issues. I am currently reading a missionary biography about the Logan family in Africa. As my DH says, "This was when men were men, nothing wimpy about those missionary guys!" This is one I will probably read to the children. I have been rereading for the umpteenth time my Stephen W. Meader books. They are such great stories. Very collectible because they were the favorite books of so many of us in our youth. I especially love his historical fiction. I have read (or reread) a couple G.A Henty lately. A well written children's book is a great way to spend an evening.

I am excited because I recently bought a new memory card for my camera. I am hoping to be able to do a bit more videotaping of the children's speeches as well as taking more photos without having to stop and download them to my computer.

My parents are in the Philippines and my Dad promptly got bronchitis which turned into pneumonia after he arrived. He also had a bad fall in the San Francisco airport. A little old Asian lady was dragging her suitcase behind her and then quickly cut across right in front of him. He took a tumble and ended up with bruised wrists, hip and very sore ribs. Nothing broken, but when you have very sore ribs, pneumonia and coughing is just that much worse. He went and had blood work and chest x-rays in Manila. The total bill was under $20. Of course you had to pay at the time of service. Please pray for my parents, that they would recover and be able to enjoy their remaining four weeks there.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Speech and Debate Tournament

This past year we have joined a Speech and debate team. This was mostly driven by Thomas's passion. The team we are part of is under the auspices of Christian Communicator's of America ( a Christian homeschooling debate group.

(Our Team: Michelle is the tallest girl on the left, Thomas is the short guy in the front and Paul is on the most far right)

Most states have their own chapters. Each team competes in their own state group or in combination with a neighboring state. Our state also competes with Michigan.

There are many things we have come to appreciate about the CCA. The Christian label is not just taped on, it is foundational. They have points in their statement and Glorifying God is number one. They really follow through with this. Competition is point number five. It is really a family oriented activity. They limit the yearly tournaments to four so that it is not to heavy a weight on the families and so that as many dad's as possible can be involved. Our team has really strong Dad involvement. We have also been pleased by the emphasis on developing a godly character. Competition gives lots of learning opportunities in this area.

Paul competes in the team debate. This is open to youth 14-18, ie high schoolers. He also competes in Impromptu Apologetics. They are given a long list of questions before each tournament that they might be asked, that they can prepare for. At the tournament they are given a question and then they have three minutes to prepare a seven minute speech. Apologetics is the skill of being able to biblically defend your faith.

Thomas also does the Impromptu Apologetics category and prose interpretation. In Prose Interpretation they have 10 minutes to present a prose (or story) piece. Thomas is doing the Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry. Thomas is not old enough to do debate this year, so he is working on three different speeches.

He is also doing Rhetorical Criticism. This is a memorized 10 minute speech in which they apply some system of evaluation to an auditory artifact. He applies Monroe's Motivated Sequence to the Carbonite Ad. If you want to know what this is, you'll have to google it or come to our next tournament.

They also have speech categories for the younger children (9-12). T-Bob is also doing a prose interpretation. You can see he was pretty relaxed before his speech. All the young men are expected to wear suits throughout the tournament.

T-Bob's Prose piece is a Homer Price chapter on 'The Super Duper' by Robert McCloskey. He does a really nice job.

They even have a junior division for 5-8 year olds. Elizabeth competed in this one in the last tournament. All the Junior competitors got little trophies. She did a prose interpretation of 'A Bargain for Francis'.

The first tournament, only the older two boys competed. After watching it the other children all came and asked if they could do it also. I didn't get a picture of Michelle competing, but she also did a prose piece. She did an excellent job despite her speech issues. It is exciting to see the growth in the children fr4om participating. Their comportment is maturing, their speech is more clear and thoughtful. They are becoming more critical thinkers and evaluators. The younger ones are really learning from watching the older ones. They are having a good time at the tournaments and making good friends. I am really glad this has become a part of our family culture.

Thomas, because he is competing in three different speech categories is doing 'Sweepstakes'. This is really a rigorous endeavor as each speech is about ten minutes long and must be given three times, usually on the same day. Because of the challenging nature of 'Sweepstakes', all competitors who complete it are given acknowledgement on stage. Thomas is on the far right.

Feel free to ask if you have any questions.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Had a Wonderful Birthday!

Spring arrives on the same day that I was born. I love spring flowers, especially daffodils. The winter was long and cold and snowy this year and so the only flowers in bloom are the crocuses.

My girls fixed me a beautiful breakfast tray for me to enjoy in my room. It was delicious!

Orange juice, hot tea in a new super size mug with whipped cream, cold strawberry soup, scrambled eggs, bacon, and delicious homemade cinnamon raisin bread. It was an amazing breakfast!! No, I wasn't able to eat it all. I saved most of the soup for an evening snack.

We had a really nice lunch also. It was nice to have the family around for a quiet afternoon.

Michelle made me tapioca pudding for my birthday dessert. It was yummy. We had cut up fresh fruit with homemade granola to go on top.

Michelle and Paul

Who's this guy? Not a Mango. He is one of Paul's best friends who was up visiting from North Carolina.
This is his younger brother who is good friends with Thomas and T-Bob. They are two very pleasant young men to have around.


It was a great day.

Elizabeth sure enjoyed her dinner.

T-Bob and Elizabeth gave me dark chocolate bars for my birthday.

Michelle made and decorated this chalkboard for me. I will hang it up in the kitchen and take down the electronic dartboard that doesn't work. She made all the flowers that are on the one corner too.

I am blessed with a wonderful family!!