Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mom in Space!

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NASA had a display trailer set up outside the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science for three days this week. Since Candace is studying space, I thought it would make for a good field trip. I’ll confess I was a little disappointed (which is what happens when one’s expectations fall short of reality) in the space exhibit. The really cool interactive floor wasn’t working and there really weren’t that many interesting things to see. L We did have our pictures made in space suits and received a free pencil. (Well, actually, our pictures were superimposed on a picture of a space suit. Does that count?)

All was not lost, though, as we decided to go into the museum itself and have a look around. Their newest exhibit is Hunters of the Sky. It has to be their coolest exhibit ever. Though all of them were stuffed, there were many very cool looking owls, several eagles, assorted other raptors, and even a California Condor. We saw owl pellets, whole and dissected, real x-rays of wounded birds, and an eagle’s nest. There were several interactive stations such as viewing various feather types under a microscope, experimenting with air currents, and trying to identify different raptors. Unfortunately my girls weren’t quite as eager to read the wealth of information as I was, but I’m sure they learned a lot anyway.

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To me, the coolest thing was the eagle’s nest diorama. It was huge! I can’t imagine seeing such a sight in real life. I’m sure it would take my breath away. I had wondered where they got the birds since I know the museum staff didn’t go out and kill all these birds just to show them to us. One of the plaques said that the baby eagles in the display had been killed in a storm.

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Since Candace and I had been reading about owls, it was really neat to see all the different owls right there. And that California Condor! O, my goodness, if I ever saw one of those flying over I’d think the dinosaurs were back. That thing is huge. It is sad to note that the one on display had died from drinking anti-freeze. How tragic!

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We pretty much had the place to ourselves which was nice. Though we didn’t spend the entire day there, it was really cool. I’m so glad we went. I hope I can go again before it leaves December 30th.

Bonus picture:

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Ever see a giant praying mantis made of pine straw?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker

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Black, Red, and White – The Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker

For those of us who grew up in church, can name all sixty-six books of the Bible (spelling most of them correctly), and memorized John 3:16 before we were out of diapers (well, maybe not quite that soon) sometimes (and I hate to admit it), sometimes those poignant and life-changing stories of old become (how do I say this) mundane…too familiar…taken for granted.

In steps Ted Dekker with his Circle Trilogy to save the day, or at least give us a fresh glimpse of our heritage and our faith. Even non-believers will enjoy this series as they are full of action, suspense, passion, and all the things that make for a good story. If someone like Peter Jackson (of Lord of the Rings fame) got hold of this it would become an epic film. Be prepared to see the Bible come to life in a completely unexpected way.

What happens when Thomas hits his head and awakes in another reality only to find that somehow he’s the key to saving both worlds? Which reality is real anyway? What will happen if someone drinks the water of Teeleh? Just how far will someone go to save the one he loves? Will the Raison Strain actually destroy earth as we know it? Who is Elyon? What is the Great Romance all about? Where did all those black bats come from? To find out, start by picking up Black, but be forewarned, you’ll have trouble putting it down so make sure someone else is keeping an eye on supper…it might burn while you're turning pages.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What happens when an 18-Wheeler hits a '98 Ford Taurus?


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And if angels are with you, you walk away without a scratch or a headache!

My parents came to our town and bought a new car last Friday. They had promised their old one to Cassie (DD16). The windshield was cracked, and since it was still covered by my parents insurance they took it home with them to have it repaired.

On Tuesday my parents headed back toward us to bring Cassie the car. About 12 miles from our house my dad had an accident. An 18-wheeler pulled in behind him on a 4-lane road and clipped his back bumper on the driver's side causing my dad to flip in front of the 18-wheeler and spin 3 times before crossing the median and ending up on the side of the road in the opposite lane. Praise God he wasn't hurt a bit. He said he felt very secure and firmly in place. No airbags deployed. I asked if it was his seat belt or angels holding him tight. He said he felt the seat belt, but he knew there were angels too.

Poor Cassie. After the relief of hearing her grandpa was ok, she was disappointed that she was so close to having her car. (What is Murphy's Law? If anything can go wrong, it will?) Technically, she still has the car; it's just seen better days. It may be totaled. Fortunately, my parents still have insurance on the car and it will either get repaired or they will give her the money to put toward another car.

By the way....the new windshield didn't even have a scratch on it! (A few splatted love bugs, yes. Cracks, no.)

Fall in Mississippi

Fall has arrived in Mississippi. Now, for you folks who don't live in the sun belt the word "fall" probably conjures up images of beautiful tree foliage, frosty mornings, and crips breezes. In Mississippi try morning temperatures of 65 (at least you don't break into a sweat the minute you walk out the door), beautiful green trees and grass (the brilliant leaves will come, but probably when the rest of you have snow on the ground), and breezes cool enough to send my girls into jackets (because anything that won't bake a cake is cool around here.) In Mississippi, when the high is no longer in the 90's, fall has arrived.

Now that the temperatures are nicer, my lantana is blooming beautifully. I'm so pleased!

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(A jacket, shorts, and bare feet...what's with that????)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

What homeschooling's about.

When Cassie (16) discussed ending her public high school experience after 1.5 years, her one question was, "Can I learn sign language if I come back home?" ASL (American Sign Language) has always facinated this daughter of mine, so I readily agreed. After much searching, Cassie actually found her own materials, an online course she discovered. After checking it out I agreed to give it a try. Three weeks into it and she loves it! (You can check it out for yourself by clicking here.) Truly, one of the great advantages to home education is that children can persue their interests.

Not only is Cassie interested in learning ASL, but she dreams of working with the deaf one day, perhaps as an interpreter. With that in mind we (Cassie, Candace dd12, a friend, and I) took a tour of the Mississippi School for the Deaf and Blind today. What a treat! Not only is the MSDB a beautiful facility and campus, but our tour guide was more than eager to show us around, answer any questions, and introduce us to people. We popped into the end of a basketball practice, a science class, a preschool class, and a second grade class. We talked with teachers who were hearing and some who were also deaf. One teacher who works with blind students showed us how a braille typewriter works! (How cool!) One teacher mentioned having Cassie come help her with her class sometime, and a director gave the kids forms to fill out in order to be able to volunteer. Cassie was even able to use some of the signs she's recently learned!

This homeschool mom's heart was breathless with joy to hear Cassie, Candace, and M. talk about how interesting the tour was and how excited they'd be to volunteer. Their lives may be forever changed by this encounter in a real and positive way. What a joy to watch your child really persue something that truly interests her (him)! Cassie may never learn the periodic table; and if she does she'll probably forget it the next year. But she will never forget this day and our trip to the Mississippi School for the Deaf and blind.

That's what homeschooling is all about!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Abraham Lincoln has been quoted as saying of Harriet Beecher Stowe, "So this is the little lady who made this big war." I thought to myself, Uncle Tom's Cabin must be a powerful book! I knew it was considered a classic, but one probably not read in the public schools, so a couple years ago my now DD16 and I set out to read aloud this incredible novel that divided a nation.

Upfront let me say we never finished the book. The story was compelling and griping. The characters were deep and it was easy to become emotionally involved in the tale. However, my daughter and I got completely bogged down in the slave dialect. I realize Miss Stowe was trying to be true to the culture, but it took so much energy and concentration to decipher the dialog we simply gave up. In retrospect I think it would have been a better silent read than read-a-loud. (At least in my opinion.)

I regretted not finishing the story, but DD16 went off to public school and that was the end of that. Well, maybe not. DD16 is back home now, and while I wanted to finish the story, I really didn't want to get bogged down again. So, I did what any self-respecting homeschool mom would do *smirk*.....I borrowed the video from the library.

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There are many video renditions of Uncle Tom's Cabin. This is the one I happened to get from our public library. There may be better versions available, but I really feel this one is worth watching. (Avery Brooks did a tremendous job as Tom.)

In 2007 most of us have had some glimpse of the horrors of slavery. We've read of Harriet Tubman. We've seen or read Roots. We've read or watched Gone with the Wind. We've been to Civil War sites. We've read Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. But what of those who lived before the Civil War? What of those who really had no idea how horrific slavery was? I can easily see where Uncle Tom's Cabin would spark heated discussions, evoke extreme emotion, and widen the chasm between abolitionists and slave holders. Considering the role this story placed in American History, everyone should either read the book or at least watch a rendering of this tragic story of slavery and the triumph of Christian character.