Stop What You Are Doing Right Now and WATCH THESE VIDEOS!

If you ever wanted a deeper understanding of the Ten Commandments, watch these short videos (average of 5 minutes for each commandment).  They will explain the commandments and what they mean in simple, easy-to-understand terms.  Both my kids and I learned a ton!

Some of what I learned:  That coveting does not mean wanting what someone else has.  It’s more than that.

That Do not Murder does not mean do not kill (blame ‘lost in translation’ for this error).

That Do Not Steal is more than just personal property.

That we are only commanded to honor our mother and father.  That does not mean we are commanded to honor other human beings. (Note definition of honor–different than respect).

Do Not Misuse God’s name does not mean to not cuss.  It means to kill in God’s name.  This is the only commandment that is unforgiveable.

Remember the Sabbath is for us to rest–to be more than a worker, to be free or we are slaves, and to make slavery impossible.  It also strengthens the family as we are forced to spend time with other human beings.  And animals were granted dignity as well.  And all of this affirms God.

Without God who brought us out of Egypt, there is no moral compass.  With one God, we are all equal.

All of the commandments are for the function of society and to keep it prospering.  Otherwise, we are doomed.

This is just a bit of what I learned.  I cannot recommend this site enough.  It’s run by Prager University and is presented by the founder of Prager University.  It is not a university per se as we know it; just a site free to all with five minute videos discussing issues of the day (including theology) founded by Dennis Prager, a conservative radio talk show host and columnist.

I can not speak for the site; all I can recommend are these videos.  If nothing else, you’ll gain a different perspective on the commandments, perfect to go along with the Life of Moses.  I watched these alongside my kids and because they are short and sometimes entertaining my kids were engaged the entire 50 minutes.

Click HERE for the videos.  Enjoy!

Just When You Think You Have It All Figured Out, God Slams You and Says, “Not Just Yet!”

Ever notice a pattern in life where things are going good and smooth.  Your job is great. Kids are growing.  Bills are paid.  Vacation was nice.  Bought a house.  Painted a fence.

Then, it all changes in what seems a matter of days and you are thrown in limbo again.

Maybe it’s just me who notices this.

I’m anxious again.  I find myself aimlessly trolling the Internet for no reason at all.  For about 10 minutes.  Then I close my computer and do it all over again.

I’m looking for nothing in particular.  When in truth I am seeking something.  Solace. Serenity.  Peace.  Knowledge.  Him.

It’s that time of year again where we may move houses.  Our landlords have the house up for sale and we’re getting a ton of showings.  I think it’s only a matter of time.

We’re praying to buy a house–a permanent home–but our chances are not looking good.

Husband’s job always seems to be in flux for some reason.  Call it the economy.

My pup had to have emergency surgery today.  She should be okay, but it was completely unexpected.  And very, VERY worrisome for her mama who couldn’t stand to lose her so quick.

Still waiting on teacher applications.  You think with school right around the corner, they’d hurry up.  But alas…

My novel has stalled at 30,000 words.  Put that down for a bit.

Trying to read books.  Have no desire.

I feel like I’m following God’s path for my life but, again, His timing is not mine.  I’d just wish He’d hurry up sometimes!

So I pray.  I just apologized to God for man’s tendency to pray in crises and not to pray in the good times.  Then again, He created us so I’m assuming He understands.

Then I pray some more.

Then I sit.  Trying to calm myself.  Occupy myself (my house is very clean!).  And not stay up late at night typing blog posts because my mind cannot rest.

And wait….on others….on Him….to answer prayers….or not answer them (which is an answer as well).

I focus on breathing and picturing God’s wonders in Nature (waterfalls, etc) that calm me.

Inevitably, peace will come.  It just won’t be on my time.

Patience, I whisper to myself.

Then I hear God whisper that as well.

And all is as it should be.

Mary Pope Osborne’s Classroom Adventures Program

Introductory Note:  I was contacted by an agency about this program and asked if I would publicize it on my site.  Normally, I turn down such requests but because I think this one actually has value I am posting my thoughts and opinion on the site.  Further, I admire Mary Pope Osborne and what she has done for getting kids to read in this country through her hugely successful Magic Tree House series; so, this is the least I can do to further her goals.  She constantly is giving back what she has been given (especially to kids) and I see this site as contributing to her efforts.

To celebrate the Magic Tree House’s 20th Anniversary, the author of the series, Mary Pope Osborne has created a free, comprehensive set of educational resources located here at Classroom Adventures Program.  Incorporating every book in the series, this resource helps teachers spark the interest kids have in the series and expand it to school subjects.

Osborne’s “Gift of Books” Program provides free-books to under resourced schools as well.  More information is available at the aforementioned site.

My kids love the Magic Tree House series and I do as well.  They learn about different parts of the world and interesting historical facts in a fun way so they don’t even know they are learning.  These books are on the top of my list for the kids to read out-loud to me because I learn as well!

I have previewed this website and it does offers a lot of ideas on how to engage children’s interest further in the various subjects.  It has a sample curriculum online that tells you what subjects are covered in which books and it even has sample kids works so you’ll get an idea of what the work looks like when completed.

My kids love to go to the Magic Tree House website and do adventures and get stamps for the books they have read.  I see this new site as just another way to further education.

Homeschoolers can use this just as easily as classroom educators.  Everything is free.  For me personally, I probably won’t be using it because our days are packed already.  But it’s there if I need it and it’s a resource that I believe is worth exploring.

Ahhh, The Things You Don’t Know in This World…

We have been studying Ancient History in homeschool.  We have been studying the Romans since January and are almost at the End of the Roman Empire.  I have read a ton of books (ok, not a ton but at least dozens) to my kids about the Romans.  Many of these were about Julius Caesar.

Caesar.  The word conjures up many different images for us.  The Ides of March. Shakespeare.  Dictator.  “Veni, Vidi, Vici.”  July.  Statesman.  Cleopatra even.

All of these I usually think of but now I have a new one to add to my list:  Caesarian section.

Ever wonder how things are named the way they are and why?  This one would top my list as to why.  According to legend (which many scholars doubt happened), Caesar was born via Caesarian section.

In Ancient Times, this procedure was only performed on dying or dead mothers in an effort to save the baby.  According to one website, Roman law even decreed this procedure be performed since babies were needed to survive since so many died back then.

I had never thought of the history of this word before.  It’s called Caesarian section like a dog is called a dog, right?  We are taught as kids the names of things and we just accept it without questioning or pausing to think of the rich history behind such names.

We are also studying Latin.  If you want to learn etymology, Latin is the place to start. Fascinating really.  Enriching.

I would like just one thing named after me.  This guy seems to be everywhere!  Advantages to being the greatest leader in Roman History–a time where things were being invented, written down, and christened.

And now you have a great tidbit to throw around at your next dinner party!

Where is Community?

A while back the pastor in my old church (before we moved a few times ago) proclaimed community is in the schools.  School is where you meet friends, spend a good part of your life, do sports and activities, etc.

At the time, my kids were in school and I disagreed.  Sure, you meet people in school but I don’t believe it’s the center of community.

Yesterday, we went back to our old school for a book fair.  Immediately upon walking in, I didn’t feel any sense of community.  I saw some people we knew and chatted but that was about it.  We bought some books and left.  I didn’t feel any sense of belonging.

Maybe because we don’t belong any more.

Still, I was a bit surprised at the feeling.  I had wanted to go and been looking forward to returning for a while now.  I do have some great memories there as do my kids.  As a homeschooler you always wonder if you are doing the right thing. If your kids shouldn’t be in a traditional school.  If they are missing out on things.  I fear I will always wonder this and feel a tad guilty over the fact.

We drove by our old church which is near the girls’ old school and my middle child asked if we’re ever going to go back there again.

On the drive home I thought about our new church this Sunday.  We haven’t been for a couple of weeks.  My kids have been sick.  I missed both bible studies this week and it was a real bummer.  We have trips planned so will be hit and miss for the next couple of weeks.

A feeling arose, like a longing or a pull, that I didn’t have with the school.  I miss church.  I miss God there (yes, I know. God is everywhere and you don’t have to go to church to experience Him) but as most of us know coming together with believers is what we are called to do and does fulfill a spiritual need within us.  I miss the people.  The community.

I had this argument with my husband after that message that Sunday long ago.  My husband sided with the pastor.  School is the center of community.  I argued it was the church.  It should be the church as it has always been and as I believe God intended.

But, my husband said, so many don’t go to church that schools have taken over.  This fact I could not refute.

So, I guess the center of community is different for different people.  For me, it’s the church.  For others, it might be the school.  Maybe it’s their local neighborhood.  Or a community center.

Where is your community?

The Things You Never Knew (Or Were Too Busy to Learn)…

I was blessed and privileged to spend over a year of my life in London, England. And this is one fact I never knew…but probably should have.

There is an obelisk that stands in London on the River Thames near the Embankment Tube stop.  Now I know I have passed this, probably several times, in my year in London.  I walked everywhere back then.

But I don’t remember stopping to read the story (odd since I’m a tourist at heart).  In fact, I don’t even remember noticing it.  But I know I must have passed it.

In all honesty, if I didn’t stop and read its history it was because I assumed it was fake.  Just some replica erected for some purpose.

Well, in truth, it is a real obelisk, given to London by the Egyptian ruler in 1819 and was constructed by Tuthmosis III (Eighteenth Dynasty) which would be approximately 1450 BC or almost 3500 years ago.  This is a real piece of Ancient Egyptian history, standing in the middle of London, England.  This obelisk was almost lost at sea during transport.

I have always loved Egypt and Egyptian history.  And if Brown University had accepted me, I would have majored in Egyptology (but they didn’t).

We are doing Egypt in homeschool right now.  Next week is our last week and it’s a final wrap up and I’m learning an intense amount (I’ll have to do a Rosetta Stone post separately).

What I’ve learned is one of the reasons we have so much information about Ancient Egypt is because their writing (hieroglyphics) has been preserved for so long.  Why?  Because of the dry climate in Egypt.

If you compare the photos of this obelisk when it first arrived in England to now, it’s a sad sight:  the constant rain in England has done it’s damage.  Most of the hieroglyphs are now obscured, gone to us forever, in just a mere 100 years.  Sad, isn’t it?

New York City has its twin standing in Central Park in the same deteriorated condition.  Paris had one as well but from a different time period (I know I’ve seen this one.  I remember seeing it.  But again, I never took the time to stop and find out what it was.).

In modern times, it’s a travesty.  Can you imagine Egypt today giving away one of its ancient treasures?  No.  In fact, they are trying to get a lot of them back that have been taken from them (another story altogether).

But 200 years ago, the mind-set was completely different.  And 200 years ago, no one could read hieroglyphics (this wasn’t until 1822 when the code was cracked. Another story).  So the importance of these monuments was unknown.

These obelisks are even misnamed:  known as Cleopatra’s Needles (when Cleopatra wasn’t born until 69 BC (1400 years after these were constructed).

It’s sad.  I’m sad.  I’d like to see all of these returned to Egypt and placed back where they should be before they are no more than rough limestone that appeared much as it did before being engraved.

But who am I, right?

My point: somehow I feel I should have noticed this.  I should have known this.  I should have been taught this.  I have walked by two of the three and never paid any passing notice to them.  What a shame.

I pray I have a second chance in this life; a second chance to return to these places (hopefully with my kids) and see what I had not seen.  Learn what I have not learned (which is what homeschooling is doing now for me).  And be where I have not been.

Some say I have lived a privileged life.  I admit: I have.  Not as privileged as some but definitely not as hard as most.

Somehow this all has to fit together.  It has to.  Still waiting though.  Not for sure how long.  But I am…

What’s Worse: What You Know or What You Don’t Know?

I have a “car book” that I read only in the car.  I finally finished it after 8 months last week!  Yeah!  I love historical fiction but rarely get to indulge in it.

In Ireland by Frank Delaney, a boy learns the woman who he thought was his mother is really his aunt and his aunt is really his mother.  So the above question was posed:  “Which is the worst, huh, what we know or what we don’t know?” P. 479

I started thinking about this in my own life.  As many of you know, I have struggled this whole year with my kids’ school and deciding whether or not to homeschool in the future.  If I hadn’t of homeschooled before, I wouldn’t be having this dilemma.  If I hadn’t of known there was a better option, I’d be quite content with my kids in public schools.

But I do know.  I know I can do a better job.  I know I can save a lot of money, time, and hassle doing it myself.  I know my kids thrive on the challenge at home.  I also know they are both acing public school because they know so much from what I taught them.  I know my oldest daughter questions all the time why public schools do things (for the 1% who can’t follow the rules).  I know I have a passion for teaching and learning and for teaching and learning the Bible that I can pass on to them.

But if I didn’t know all of this….I’d be quite content in my ignorance without some of the hassles of my mind.

The boy in the book–his whole world was turned upside down with his new knowledge.  He was frantic.  And 2 pages later is the best answer I’ve heard when a girl asks the boy:

“What’s the good news inside it?  There’s always good news wrapped up in bad news?”

For the boy, a lot was explained about his childhood: why his “mother” acted the way she did, why his “aunt” acted her way, why his grandfather left the family, etc.

There are many of these examples in my life and probably in yours:  where we know things we wish we didn’t and where we didn’t know things we wish we would have sooner.  For the former, homeschooling. For the later, BSF and things about the Bible I wish I had known sooner.

For me, the good news about homeschooling is there’s options in life.  I know I have choices about my kids’ education.  I know I can teach.  I know my kids can learn.  And I know homeschooling is a viable option for me and my family.

For me, I’d rather know.  I don’t like living in the dark no matter how painful or life-altering the news may be.

In the end, the boy found peace.  And so have I.

I’ve Created a Monster…

I drop off my girls at school and am driving home.  We happen to drive by the library.  My son says, “Me go to library.”

“Not now,” I reply.  “It’s not open yet.”

Well, he proceeds to kick and scream because we can’t go to the library.

“Me want books,” he says.

“I know, baby, but we’ll have to go some other time.”

“No!” he screams and kicks some more.

When we used to go to the library, my son would be happy with only a few books.  Now, he pulls book after book off the shelves and he ends up getting close to a dozen (and that’s just him).

I try to limit our library visits to just once a week because my husband can’t take the library books that lie around our house in piles and frequently across the floor.

My children play a game where they check out library books.  The other day they were selling library books to each other complete with play money–bartering in effect.

It’s not just my son who has a problem.  He got it from me.

Last weekend, I was putting books on hold and suddenly the computer comes back at me and says, “Error.  Please check your account at the information desk.”

Well, I thought.  I’ll just use my other daughter’s account.

Same message on her account.

So on Monday I ask the librarian.  She kindly informs me that there is a 20-item limit on each account for the number of holds placed.

I quietly think to myself, Maybe it’s time my son opens an account.

Yep, I’m a monster too.

Hachiko Waits

“This is a horrible, horrible book,” my 7 year old daughter cries.  I try to laugh at her antics amidst my own tears.

Hachiko Waits by Leslea Newman is a fictionalized account of a true story that happened in Japan in the 1920’s.

Professor Ueno gets an Akita puppy named Hachi who goes with the professor to the train station every day and meets him again at 3 pm when the professor arrives home.  This goes on for about one year until one day the Professor never arrives on the 3 o’clock train.  Hachi waits and waits and waits.  He waits for 10 years until his death, always scanning the trains that come in for the Professor.

If you are any kind of animal lover, especially dogs, you are guaranteed to cry at this story.  The loyalty and devotion of a dog is never at its finest than right here.

I cried because I felt so sorry for the dog.  Hachi will never know his owner is not coming back.  Hachi cannot go on with his life because his life was the professor’s life.  When the professor’s life ended, so did his.

I have 2 old dogs whom I know will die sooner rather than later.  I am not looking forward to this and neither are my children.  I think it will be an important learning experience when it happens but it won’t make it any easier–losing a member of your family.

Here, Hachi didn’t know he had lost his family.  This is the ultimate tragedy I think.  We humans can move on because we understand.  Dogs don’t.

I often wonder if Hachi would have been okay if the professor had died at home or if he could have seen the professor’s body.  If Hachi would have understood and been able to move on and somehow intuit the meaning of death.

Death happens all the time in Nature and animals do go on.  I wonder how animals process death.  You see mother elephants who refuse to leave their dead baby’s body.  You see monkeys who carry their dead babies around in denial of the truth.

When my husband shot a buffalo (this was a paid hunt on a private ranch where the buffalo were going to either be sold to hunters or sold to the slaughter-houses because the ranch owner had lost his lease), he described how all the other buffalos tried to nudge him to get up.

It seems animals mourn like we do.  But Hachi could not mourn.  He didn’t know.  He sat faithfully every day expecting his master to step off the train like he had done countless times in the past.

Hachi is revered by the people of Japan for his loyalty, devotion, and faithfulness.  All the school children are taught his story and there is a statue that stands in the spot Hachi waited in the Shibuya Station.  It has become a popular spot for marriage proposals as couples confess their undying devotion to one another–just like Hachi’s.

Every year a memorial service is held to honor this special dog.

I think this paragraph from the book says it all:

“I have come to believe there is a special train to bring those who have obtained Enlightenment up to Heaven.  Every day for the past ten years, Professor Ueno has met this special train to see if his beloved Akita-ken is on it.  Day after day after day he has waited up in Heaven, just as Hachiko has waited here on earth.  And today, when the special train reaches Heaven and opens its doors, Hachiko will be the first one to step out.  Just think how happy he will be to see his master again.” P.73

I believe with all my heart dogs do go to Heaven.  I believe I will be with my dogs again when they pass and they will be with me.  I believe they will be waiting for me and will greet me just as vigorously as they do here on earth.

Dogs are the epitome of unconditional love.  No matter what happens they will love you because you are theirs and they are yours.  Dogs and other pets are a gift from God because He knows they can give us things we cannot get elsewhere.  Dogs give humans so many things and ask for so little in return.

Dogs, especially Hachi, are special indeed.

Below is a picture of Hachi as I envision him waiting:


The Magic Tree House Series

I have been completely remiss in talking about this series by Mary Pope Osborne–I guess because it’s just so popular I assume everyone knows about it.

My 7 year old was reading Eve of the Emperor Penguin out loud to me when I heard a part that I had to share with you all.

For those who don’t know, The Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne follows the adventures of a brother-sister team called Jack and Annie as they travel through time around the world in their Magic Tree House.  They are sent on Missions by Morgan Le Fay and Merlin of King Arthur fame and frequently have adventures in Camelot.  They are officially classified as chapter books but the later ones are much longer.

In this book, Jack and Annie are searching for the fourth secret of happiness, which is summarized in the end.  The third secret that spoke to me was this, “Every day he (speaking about Leonardo da Vinci–a previous book) felt happy when he learned something new.”

This is me.  Definitely me.  I’m like a kid in a candy store when I learn something new and every time I read one of these books I learn something.  The time periods are all historically researched and sometimes with real people such as Leonardo da Vinci.  You learn facts in the midst of history.

I guess this is why I love to read historical fiction too.  I like stories with characters that take me back to a period I would have liked to have seen, lived in, and experienced.

I guess this is why Isaiah speaks to me so much: a real person in a historical time.  And combined with God it creates an insatiable appetite within me to know more.

The website is amazing as well.  You can create an account and go on more “Merlin Adventures”, where you are asked questions and facts from the books.  My daughter loves this.  I’m not a fan of computer games but this site I allow my children to use.  I always help them with it but it’s fun, easy, and emphasizes facts from the books.  Learning doesn’t get any better when these elements are combined.

My daughter can’t get enough of this series and as a parent I cannot recommend these highly enough.  We always get the newest one from the library and we also devour the non-fiction Research Guides that accompany the series.

I wish I had these when I was a little kid (amongst many other things!).  Good thing I still get to be one.  This probably explains why I spend hours each day reading kids books with my kids.