This is a great article about what most baseball fans will remember as one of the single greatest nights of baseball ever, and how much baseball, more than any other sport, mimics the unpredictability of life:
“Baseball, like life, revolves around anticlimax. That, in many ways, is the beauty of it. I realize that’s a hard thing to explain to someone who doesn’t love baseball. No, more than hard, it’s an impossible thing to explain, because many people want sports to be more than life. They follow sports to jolt them out of the steady rhythms of the shriek of alarm clocks, the monotony of morning meetings, the rush to get the kids to soccer practice by 4 p.m. They want sports to be bigger than life. What’s the point, otherwise? There is nothing in baseball as jarring as a blind-side hit, as jaw-dropping as a perfect alley-oop, as tense and heart-pounding as a breakaway.
And the hard thing to explain, the impossible thing, is that many of us love baseball not in spite of these failings, but because of them.”
I can’t believe how much math has changed since I was in school!
When I was in third grade, math, at least as I remember it, primarily focused on memorizing multiplication tables and learning about fractions. Well, Turkey and Bunny did that last year. Sure, it’s something we’re still reviewing, but the concepts are old-hat by now. Something else they learned last year, which was surprising to me at the time, was an introduction to simple equations:
n +6 = 14
n -2 = 12
I know this is very basic “solve for n” situation, but I’m fairly certain that I was approaching junior-high age when I learned these things. Maybe around fifth grade? I guess my memory could just be foggy, but either way, I was shocked when they learned this last year. I have heard that the math curriculum we’re using, (Horizons), tends to run a grade level ahead, but having no other experience with math curriculum, I don’t know if this is true, or just something Horizons users tell themselves to feel superior. Regardless, it’s certainly ahead of where I was at this grade level!
This year, I continue to be shocked by the things they’re expected to learn in math. For example, we’ve begun order of operations. Yes, the most simple format possible, but the concept is still being introduced:
(4 + 3) + 2 = (2 + 6) + 1
I told you it was simple, but to me, it’s a huge step for third grade, learning that you need to do the part of the problem in parentheses first. Yes, since it’s all addition, it doesn’t really matter at this point, because they’re going to come up with the right answer no matter how they do it. But it’s a concept that they’re learning, that they’ll apply to more complex problems later.
We’ve delved into more complex equations this week, as well:
n + 6 = 4 x 3
Not only is the equation more complex, but they’re continuing to learn about order of operations on top of it–do multiplication before addition.
They’ve actually taken quite well to all of these concepts, which is a big relief for me as their teacher. I’m still kind of mystified that they’re learning this stuff already, though, (but I don’t discount the fact that I simply may be out of touch with what is standard math curriculum these days!), and slightly concerned what this means for us in a few years!
Today is the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, (also known as Michaelmas), one of those rare “white days” that appear on the church year calendar amid the sea of green that is the Time of the Church. I was surprised to discover that Lutheran Service Book has not one, but three hymns, (#520-522), appropriate for this day. Here are the words to “Christ, the Lord of Hosts, Unshaken,” which I’m sharing because it’s the only one of the three hymns that mentions the archangel, Michael, (the great warrior), by name:
“Christ, the Lord of hosts, unshaken
By the devil’s seething rage,
Thwarts the plan of Satan’s minions;
Wins the strife from age to age;
Conquers sin and death forever;
Slams them in their steely cage.
Michael fought the heav’nly battle,
Godly angels by his side;
Warred against the ancient serpent,
Foiled the beast, so full of pride,
Cast him earthbound with his angels;
Now he prowls, unsatisfied.
Long on earth the battle rages,
Since the serpent’s first deceit;
Twisted God’s command to Adam,
Made forbidden fruit look sweet.
Then the curse of God was spoken:
‘You’ll lie crushed beneath His feet!’
Jesus came, this word fulfilling,
Trampled Satan, death defied;
Bore the brunt of our temptation,
On the wretched tree He died.
Yet to life was raised victorious;
By His life our life supplied.
Swift as lightning falls the tyrant
From his heav’nly perch on high.
As the word of Jesus’ vict’ry
Floods the earth and fills the sky.
Wounded by a wound eternal
Now his judgement has drawn nigh!
Jesus, send Your angel legions
When the foe would us enslave.
Hold us fast when sin assaults us;
Come, then, Lord, Your people save.
Overthrow at last the dragon;
Send him to his fiery grave.” Lutheran Service Book #521
And a bonus hymn for Michaelmas, (sorry, I couldn’t pick only one!)–”Lord God, to Thee We Give All Praise,” the famous angelic hymn by Philipp Melanchthon:
“Lord God, to Thee we give all praise,
With grateful hearts our voices raise,
That angel hosts Thou didst create
Around Thy glorious throne to wait.
They shine with light and heav’nly grace
And constantly behold Thy face;
They heed Thy voice, they know it well,
In godly wisdom they excel.
They never rest nor sleep as we;
Their whole delight is but to be
With Thee, Lord Jesus, and to keep
Thy little flock, Thy lambs and sheep.
The ancient dragon is their foe;
His envy and his wrath they know.
It always is his aim and pride
Thy Christian people to divide.
As he of old deceived the world
And into sin and death has hurled,
So now he subtly lies in wait
To undermine both Church and state.
A roaring lion, round he goes,
No halt nor rest he ever knows;
He seeks the Christians to devour
And slay them by his dreadful pow’r.
But watchful is the angel band
That follows Christ on ev’ry hand
To guard His people where they go
And break the counsel of the foe.
For this, now and in days to be,
Our praise shall rise, O Lord, to Thee,
Whom all the angel hosts adore
With grateful songs forevermore.” Lutheran Service Book #522
Making a no-bake cheesecake was a first for me. I will say that if you’re looking for the texture and density of a traditional baked cheesecake, this may not be for you–its texture is almost mousse-like, and it’s surprisingly lighter than a regular cheesecake. The prep work involved is the same, but you don’t have to deal with baking it, and checking it, and wondering if it’s done enough/not overdone, (I have a bad habit of cracking cheesecakes when I make them, and while they’ve always been delicious, they certainly haven’t looked perfect!). I love the coffee flavor in this cheesecake, and I’ve found that it’s especially delicious if you eat it when it’s partly frozen!
- 1 1/2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 packets (1/4 oz. each) powdered unflavored gelatin
- 1/2 cup milk
- 4 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 instant coffee powder
- 1 Tbsp. hot water
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 Tbsp. coffee-flavored liqueur (optional)
- 12 oz. chocolate chunks
- 2 c. whipping cream, whipped
1. In a medium bowl, combine Oreo cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press into bottom of ungreased 9-inch cheesecake pan, (or springform pan with 3-inch sides, greased), and freeze.
2. Sprinkle gelatin over milk in a small saucepan and let stand for 1 minute. Stir over low heat until gelatin is dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. In a bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium-high for 3 minutes. Slowly add dissolved gelatin/milk mixture. Stir in cocoa powder.
4. In a small bowl, dissolve coffee powder in hot water. Stir into cream cheese mixture.
5. Stir vanilla, coffee liqueur, (if desired), and chocolate chunks into cream cheese mixture. Fold in whipped cream.
6. Pour mixture over crust. Chill until firm, at least six hours, or overnight.
7. Run a hot knife around edge of pan to loosen.
Today, I had my (almost) 14 week doctor visit. The highlight of the appointment was hearing the heartbeat for the first time via the doppler, which the doctor found right away. This was a big relief to me–I’ve had early appointments in previous pregnancies where he had to hunt a bit for the heartbeat, and time always seems to slow down when that happens, as I tried desperately to remain calm. I was hoping I wouldn’t have any reason to panic today, and thankfully, I didn’t!
I also got to schedule the appointment for the big ultrasound for five weeks from now. The children are very excited about this event, and everyone is guessing, (or confidently declaring), what they think this baby will be. We’ve never gotten to share this part of a pregnancy with older children, and it’s proving to be quite fun!
So, everything looks good. With every day that passes, I feel a little more relaxed about the pregnancy, and more confident that things are going well. I had forgotten just how much fun pregnancy is, (especially now that I don’t constantly feel sick anymore!).
“Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word;
Curb those who by deceit or sword
Would wrest the kingdom from Your Son
And bring to naught all He has done.
Lord Jesus Christ, Your pow’r make known,
For You are Lord of lords alone;
Defend Your hold Church that we
May sing Your praise eternally.
O Comforter of priceless worth,
Send peace and unity on earth;
Support us in our final strife
And lead us out of death to life.” Lutheran Service Book #655
This week’s topic is music. Not music lessons, because obviously I’m not qualified to do that, but general knowledge of musical instruments/composers/history and music appreciation. This is one thing I try to make sure we spend time, because it’s something that I didn’t have a lot of exposure to as a child.
This year, we’re using two books that I really like: Those Amazing Musical Instruments! and the Dover Musical Instruments coloring book. Those Amazing Musical Instruments! is a really cool book that goes in-depth for every instrument found in the orchestra (and some that aren’t!). The instruments are arranged by section, starting with strings, and, of course, the first one featured is the violin. There’s information such as how many of each instrument is found in an orchestra, other places you might hear the instruments, (such as a chamber group), the history of the instrument, and its pitch range. There is also an included CD, with several samples featuring each instrument, as well as what their ranges sound like. The photos in this book are excellent, and provide great close-ups of instruments that children might otherwise not get to see.
The Musical Instruments coloring book is a nice accompaniment, (if you’ll pardon the pun), to Those Amazing Musical Instruments! I like that the children have the opportunity to color the instrument they are learning about, and it’s nice to give them something to do with their hands while they’re listening to the music samples. Each picture also has a caption, which reinforces what they’ve learned about the instrument, whether something about its use, construction, or history.
In the past, I’ve used two other books that I also really like. Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin gives children a very basic introduction to the instruments found in an orchestra, and also reinforces counting skills. This is an especially good book to read with small children. The illustrations are excellent, and even just using words, children are able to get an idea of what the different instruments sound like.
The Story of the Orchestra is somewhat similar to Those Amazing Musical Instruments!, in that they both come with a CD, and they both cover the different orchestral instruments. The Story of the Orchestra, however, also goes into detail about specific composers, so many of the samples on the CD are grouped not by instrument, but by time period and composer. Because they are grouped by time period, it also gives a good general overview of music history, as well.
Of course, you can’t learn about music without listening to it, and I have some favorites in that area, as well. My very favorite CDs are the Classical Kids Collection, volumes one and two, (plus A Classical Kids Christmas, when seasonally appropriate). These CDs are, for the most part, arranged by composer, and in addition to giving samples of some of their more well-known works, they also tell a story about the composer and the world in which he lived. I enjoy listening to these as much as the children do, and I can’t believe how much they’ve learned from them!
There’s also Bernstein Favorites: Children’s Classics, which has both “Peter and the Wolf” and “The Carnival of the Animals,” as well as “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.” This is another CD which has taught the children a lot. “Peter and the Wolf” is one of the few things I really remember listening to as a child, and it is very useful in identifying musical instruments by what they sound like. I dare anyone to listen to “Peter and the Wolf” without humming it for the rest of the day!
In addition to these, I’d also recommend simply playing CDs of symphonies by some of the greats. For example, we listen to a lot of Tchaikovsky here. We have a CD of the Nutcracker and Symphony No. 4 that is very popular. We also enjoy the 1812 overture (complete version, please), and Symphonies Nos. 1 and 6. Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” is also popular, as is anything by Bach, Mozart, or Vivaldi. I also like to include some more “modern” composers in our listening, (although not necessarily officially in our lessons), such as Sousa, Gershwin and John Williams.
Other resources I’ve heard good things about, but haven’t had the chance to use yet include: Beethoven’s Wig; The World’s Very Best Opera for Kids…in English!; Tubby the Tuba; The Farewell Symphony; and The Philharmonic Gets Dressed. The most important thing, though, is making good music available for children to listen to, from a very young age, and talking to them about what they hear and think about when they’re listening to it!
I was so happy to read this morning that Lance Berkman signed a one-year extension with the Cardinals. He has really become a family favorite, partly because he’s just a really good, Christian guy, (I’m always happy to find a good baseball hero for Turkey to admire, because it seems like they’re few and far between), and partly because his career was supposedly in “decline,” which made him something of an underdog in my opinion. Hey, if this season was decline, (batting .300 with 31 home runs so far), I’ll take it!
I was really worried that the Cards weren’t going to be able to afford to keep him, and even though he’s only been with us for one season, the idea of him leaving and going somewhere else really made me sad. The children couldn’t even comprehend that he might go–they just don’t grasp the whole trading, money aspect of the sport. I’ve been waiting with bated breath to see what would happen–I’m so glad the wait it over! I know it’s only a year, but at least it’s another year, right?