I’m not normally one to pick up a mystery novel. Don’t usually like them, for whatever reason. But Kiss makes me want to go out and get more of Ted Dekker’s books–it was that good. I really enjoyed Shauna’s quest to discover what happened to her in the “missing” six months of her life and who was really responsible for the accident that disabled her brother and stole her memories, as well as her struggle to determine whom she could trust.
The pacing was excellent–it was the type of book you want to stay up until two in the morning reading (and I very nearly did!). The suspense was great–I couldn’t get a handle on who the bad guys really were until close to the end of the book. There was political intrigue, amnesia, money-laundering and murder–everything you would want out of a good suspense story. Parts of the plot were a bit far-fetched, but it is fiction, after all.
My only real criticism is that the Christian theme is a little weak for a Christian publisher. Shauna’s faith (or lack thereof) was only mentioned in passing through most of the book, and the way the issue was resolved in the end was a little too anti-climactic.
“Mommy? Would you come here for a minute? I need to have a little conversation with you.” Turkey
“Well, my days of not takin’ ya seriously are certainly comin’ to a middle.” Nathan Fillion as Mal Reynolds in Firefly
“A picture paints a thousand words
But the photographs don’t tell it all
I see the eagle swim the canyon sea
Creation yawns in front of me
Oh Lord, I never felt so small.” Andrew Peterson, Nothing to Say
Last week was Ryan’s birthday (which also happens to be Epiphany). I had made a cake according to his specifications, which everyone was excited about eating.
As last week was Epiphany, we also had one last Christmas themed day in school. We read The Visit of the Wise Men, as well as the story of the Magi from Matthew 2, listened to three different Epiphany hymns, and made a star craft to help us remember that God put the star in the sky to tell all people (even Gentiles like the wise men) about the birth of His Son.
I had chosen Matthew 2:11 as our memory verse for the week, as well.
“And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”
Our regular schedule for Bible verses goes something like this: On Monday and Tuesday, Turkey and Bunny repeat the verse after me, phrase by phrase. On Wednesday and Thursday, they say it with me, usually needing some prompting. On Friday, they say it on their own. This is how we’ve been doing memory work since school started in September, and it’s been working pretty well. There have been a few longer verses that required a little coaching from me come Friday, but mostly they have no trouble memorizing a verse in a week’s time.
I assumed that this might be a challenge last week, though, as this was our longest verse to date, and included a few long words, and a few new words, as well. I was fully prepared to need to help them on Friday, and I was totally OK with that, since this was such a challenge.
So, rewind to Epiphany itself (again, also Ryan’s birthday). Since it was only Tuesday, we were still at the repeat after me stage, and as far as I could tell, they weren’t really memorizing it yet at all. So, Tuesday night, we enjoyed some birthday cake (big hit with everyone!), and ran out to WalMart. Just before I hopped out of the car to run into the store, Turkey says, “Mommy, we should say our Bible verse for Daddy, so he can hear it.” Well, as I was about to get out of the car, and, quite honestly, hadn’t memorized it myself yet, I decided to throw an impossible challenge their way. ”If you can say the whole verse by yourself, you can have another piece of cake when we get home.”
I’m sure you can see where this is going. I get back in the car a few minutes later, and Ryan tells Turkey and Bunny to tell me what they told him. And, without any help at all, they said the whole verse, with very little hesitation. So, my not-so-impossible challenge ended with them having a second piece of birthday cake before bed (I can’t believe they even went to sleep after that!), and I learned an important lesson–never underestimate a child’s ability for recall when cake is involved.
I’ll have to tuck this information away for a time I get truly desperate for them to learn something!
*Please note that this is mostly tongue-in-cheek (even though it’s a true story)…I don’t plan on bribing my children in the future, even though it’s tempting!
Rob: “I think you may have a couple of issues here, dude.”
Bucky: “A couple of issues? Man, I think he has the full subscription.” Rob Wilco and Bucky Katt talking to Satchel in Take Our Cat, Please!
“I’ve become my father. I’ve been trying so hard not to become my mother, I didn’t see this coming.” (Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green in Friends)
I laugh every time I hear this, although, I have to admit that I’ve been thinking about this quote in a more serious way lately. Not that I was trying not to turn into my mother, but because I’ve discovered just how much in common I have with my father.
When he was still alive, I really thought we had nothing in common. As a matter of fact, I went out of my way to be different from him, much like Rachel and her mother in the above quote. But, the older I get, the more I realize how pointless it is to deny who you are and from where you come.
So, I’ll admit it–I like outer space and Star Trek, Babylon 5 and Old Time Radio, classical music and (dare I say it?) math. I wish I could have talked about those things we have in common with him when he was still alive. I think this latest rumination sparked from watching When We Left Earth and Apollo 13–I would love to talk to my father about living through man’s journey to the moon and back. He was a geek (not unlike me), so I know it must have been a huge deal to him.
Hindsight is 20/20, I suppose. I’m hardly the first person to realize this about her relationship with a parent. At least I’ve come to a point now where I can allow myself to enjoy those things, even if I no longer have the opportunity to share them with him. And at least my husband shares my love of all things nerdly, and we seem to have passed that on to our children, so I do have people to share it with. I just feel guilty that I went out of my way not to share it with my father while I had the chance. Hopefully, as they grow older, my children will be wiser than I.
Even though the first day of winter was on a Sunday, and technically, we had suspended school for the Christmas holiday the previous Friday, we had a special school day on December 21. Turkey and Bunny loved this, because Daddy got to come to school, which is something they are always asking for. We had a special craft activity, a special story, and a movie to watch.
Our craft project for the day was Q-tip snowflakes. They’re really beautiful, and easy for children to do on their own, because the snowflakes can be as simple or as complex as you want. There’s a really cool gallery with pictures of actual snowflakes taken with a photo-microscope. It’s totally worth checking out, and a great reminder of God’s attention to detail.
This craft was really fun, although I’m really glad I made a sample beforehand, to work out most of the kinks (who knew there was a correct side of the wax paper to use?). There were still a few minor issues with the snowflakes coming apart when peeling them off the wax paper the second time around, but not as bad as my first two, and a little hot glue fixed them up just fine.
Daddy got to be the narrator for our winter story–Snow, by Roy McKie and P.D. Eastman. The timing was perfect on this one, because Bunny had received this book as a Christmas present the Friday before (thanks, Uncle Ken!), so we got to read her copy, instead of looking for one at the library. Turkey and Bunny loved it, and have been asking to read it constantly, as well as planning all the things they would like to do in the snow that they learned about in the book–it would have to snow here first, but that’s besides the point. They can dream, right?
Finally, we watched our second viewing of the Nutcracker–the San Francisco Ballet production. I had previewed the second half of this version of the classic ballet a few days prior, and because I was so impressed with it, decided it would make a nice addition to our winter lessons, especially with how beautiful the “Waltz of the Snowflakes” was. Turkey and Bunny had already seen the Mikhail Baryshnikov production the previous week, in addition to reading the storybook, so they were familiar with the story. They both seemed to prefer the San Francisco Ballet production, in part due to the fact that Baryshnikov leaves out the Sugar Plum Fairy, while the San Francisco Ballet gives her her due. Regardless, they both sat transfixed through the entire performance a second time, which I find impressive given their ages, and the fact that, as much as even I love the Nutcracker, the music is so soothing, it makes even me want to drift off to sleep!
We have really enjoyed our special change of the season activities for both Fall and Winter–now I just have to come up with something spectacular for spring! I’m thinking something involving coffee filters, food coloring and pipe cleaners, but I haven’t decided for sure yet. Stay tuned!
One last post about our Christmas school activities, which are two-plus weeks past at this point. We had a lot of fun with special craft projects, coloring pages, a field trip, and even some special foods. As much as we love Sonlight, it was nice to take a break from our regular lessons and focus solely on Christmas–one of my favorite things about homeschooling is the flexibility and the opportunity to study the things that are really important and personally interesting to us.
The field trip is an annual event in our family (St. Charles, MO, Christmas Traditions), and we would do it even if we weren’t homeschooling, but there are so many different things that could be tied into our lessons that it doubled as not only a tradition, but a school activity. We tried to go the night they did the Las Posadas procession, because that was something we were going to be discussing the day we learned about Christmas in Mexico, but it didn’t work out so well, so we went back the next afternoon. There was still plenty to learn about as far as history and Christmas around the world, so we were definitely not disappointed.
We also got to pick up a cool coloring book of the different characters we saw there, which was fun to use in school, and the perfect place for some (but not all) of the trading cards we collected while there.
Our Christmas Around the World coloring books were also very helpful as we learned about Christmas in other countries (and the Nutcracker, too!).
Turkey and Bunny love craft activities (as do most children their ages), and they had plenty to do over our two week Christmas school unit.
One of my favorite activities was the hand and footprint angel. Admittedly, they bear a striking resemblance to Jimmy and Jerry Gourd (the instructions said to trace both feet, but in the future, I think I’d only use one), but I love any project that captures how small my children were at the time they made it.
For our Christmas in the Philippines day, we made waxed paper stars (they’re supposed to be four-point stars, honest!) to mimic the parols that are so integral to a Philippine Christmas. This didn’t work entirely as planned, because Turkey and Bunny didn’t entirely understand that you can’t just mix colors of crayon shavings without it turning brown or black–their second attempts were much better than first, though. We also had a little “melted wax on the carpet” incident (my fault, not theirs), but most of it cleaned up.
A really fun craft that I added to our lessons at the last minute are these stained glass Christmas trees. After you cut out different shapes from tree, you cover the holes with different colors of tissue paper. They look fantastic in a window with the sun shining through. Very festive!
We also made a foam nativity scene that Ryan got to take to work to brighten up his office a bit. And by we, I mean me, because at it turned out, I really needed the hot glue gun to make everything stick, which Turkey and Bunny can’t help with yet. They did get to punch out the pieces and hand them to me, and they were very helpful in telling me exactly where everything should go, so they didn’t mind my participation, but I still wish they could have done more of it by themselves.
Another project that needed a lot of my help was the gingerbread house. Again, I had to do most of the assembly, but Turkey and Bunny got to do most of the decorating, which is the real fun part anyway, so they had a blast. I think it turned out pretty cute, too!
Turkey and Bunny also made Christmas ornaments–two candy canes and two wreaths each. We kept some, and gave some to the grandparents, which was a big hit, on both the giving and receiving end. Turkey and Bunny were able able to do this one almost completely on their own, and it was good practice in both patterns and counting.
Speaking of counting, we had another fun project (not really a craft) that I devised to work on the children’s counting skills. They each had an index card for each of the 12 days of Christmas, and a bunch of tiny chart stickers. They put down stickers for each gift of each day, and then we counted the number of gifts given per day. It was a simple enough project, but Turkey and Bunny really enjoyed using the stickers, and they love counting, so it was successful.
We also had two special food days incorporated into our Christmas around the world lessons. The first, when we learned about Greece, was Baklava. This was a big hit with everyone in the family–who doesn’t love a special dessert?
The second was Zuppa Toscana, from our Christmas in Italy day. I hear that this is a staple at restaurants like Olive Garden. Having never been there, I’ve never had the chance to try this soup before, but I have to say, it was really delicious. Just the right amount of spicy, and perfect for a cold day.
So, that’s the end of our Christmas school activities. We had such a great time, and I’m already collecting craft ideas and names of storybooks for next year!
I don’t normally post pictures of the children, but here are a few photos of our Christmas celebrations for those who are interested:
Trying to get a nice picture of all four children, which is almost impossible, anyway…notice that it’s the baby on the attack, while Bunny looks like she’s trying to pretend she’s not related to any of them!
Moose is a little blurry, and Ladybug had to be distracted with a candy cane, but not a bad photo of the four of them, considering.
Turkey and Bunny (aka Joseph and an angel) dressed and ready for the big dress rehearsal for the Christmas program to be held on Christmas Eve.
Ladybug ready for church…who wants to tell her she can’t take the bag of blocks with her?
Moose all dressed up, and inspecting the Christmas tree, as was his job all Christmas season.
Turkey and Bunny in a rare peaceful and sweet moment together…even with the excitement of the program being only an hour away. Too bad their costumes had to cover up their Christmas clothes, although, the costumes were cute, too!