Thursday, November 20, 2014

School Disguised as Gifts: Arts and Crafts

I'm not talking about all crafty things today, maybe Fine Arts and Crafts would have been a better title.  Here are some ideas.

All three of my children take piano lessons, so fun repertoire books are always happily accepted.  My oldest daughter has particularly liked The Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music songbooks. I have enjoyed them vicariously ;)

Art and craft supplies are always welcome, but I do particularly love this Alexa My First Sewing Kit.  The projects are fun and doable and my girls are learning some basics of sewing.

This idea is for the grandparents: my children need no more toys and stuff, so several years ago my parents began to give them "tickets" to various local drama and concert presentations.  Sometimes these tickets go together (all the older girl grandchildren went to The Nutcracker last year with my mom). Often, they go by themselves with my parents to a local Children's Theater presentation.  They give other tickets too:  to an amusement park, to one of those bounce house places that have open play times, to the rec center pool, etc.  These are great opportunities for participating in the arts (which we may not be able to afford for a family of 5 on a single income) and building a relationship with their grandparents.  I appreciate this gift so very much!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wednesday with Words: Unexpected Sources

A number of years ago, I devoured and adored Marilyn Chandler McEntyre's beautiful Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies.  When I saw she had published a short book, What's in a Phrase? Pausing Where Scripture Gives You Pause, it wasn't hard to add it to my cart. 

I haven't read a lot of it, but it isn't designed to be read straight through, rather dipped into when in need of Assurance, Invitation and Admonition, or Mystery and Surprise.  She writes short (1-2 page) meditations, journal entries on passages that "catch her mind" and cause her to consider. 

I recently read her passage on Deuteronomy 8:15-16, "He .. fed you in the wilderness with manna ..." (editing hers):

It takes time, I find, to recognize that what we need when our notion of what we need is confined by habit and expectation.  We may not have the money to replace an appliance, but we may have a neighbor who can fix it.  We may not have our closest friend nearby when sorrow strikes, but someone may surface from the margins of our lives with a big heart and a listening ear. Solutions may come from unexpected sources. The answer to many prayers, reinforced with every celebration of the Eucharist is simply this reminder: "You have what you need." Take it. Eat it. There will be more. (page 6)
What a lovely thought; the God of all Heaven and Earth will provide more ... Praise His name.

What are you reading this week and what has caught your mind?

Wordless Wednesday: Homeschool Choir Concert

Thursday, November 13, 2014

School Disguised as Gifts: Puzzles

I have always loved giving puzzles as gifts.  We have tubs of big wooden puzzles and boxes of puzzles.

When my kids were toddlers and preschoolers, Melissa and Doug puzzles like shapes, upper and lower case letters, numbers, hands and feet, vehicles, and animals were in huge rotation.  \

As they got older, geography puzzles became more the thing (alongside our games!). I love this United States puzzle. I, long ago, blogged about The Global Puzzle and how happy I was with it and the customer service I received when we found a missing piece.  We love our GeoPuzzles, too.

Finally, we have enjoyed the big two sided Melissa and Doug Human Body puzzle as well as the Solar System puzzle as supplements to our science studies.

What are your favorite puzzles?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wednesday with Words: The Thing Itself

I've long enjoyed Mary Stewart's gothic romances.  I purchased and read a lot of them around the time I was in high school, and have occasionally revisited them.  Several of the Hive's 52 Books in 52 Weeks group recently picked up The Ivy Tree and some struggled with it.  Because it is one of the ones I liked and own, I thought I'd refresh my memory and dug it out of the box in the basement.

Stewart's style is to lushly describe places and events.  In this book, one of murder and mistaken identity, I find that even though I remember the outcome of the book, she's able to mess with my mind and make me question whether I remember correctly or not.  There is a lot of grim animosity in this book.

When the principle protagonist and antagonist in the book meet, they have a fencing argument about identity and image:
"Yes. I believe you. But you mustn't blame me too much for being rude, and staring. It's a queer experience, running into the double of someone you know." [Con said]

"Believe me, it's even queerer learning that one has a double," I said. "Funny enough, it's a thing one's inclined to resent."

"Do you know, I hadn't thought of that, but I believe you're right? I should hate like hell to think there were two of me."

I thought: and I believe you; though I didn't say it aloud. I smiled. "It's a violation of one's individuality, I suppose. A survival of a primitive feeling of -- what can one call it -- identity? Self-hood? You want to be you, and nobody else. And it's uncomfortably like magic. You feel like a savage with a looking glass, or Shelley seeing his Doppelganger one morning before breakfast."

"Did he?"

"He said so. It was supposed to be a presage of evil, probably death."

He grinned. "I'll risk it."

"Oh lord, not our death. The one that meets the image is the one who dies."

"Well, that is me. You're the image, aren't you?"

"There you are," I said, "that's just the core of the matter. That's just what one resents. We none of us want to be 'the image.' We're the thing itself." (pg 13, italics hers, bolding mine)
Isn't that just like a person and sin.  We don't want to be the image, but the thing itself.  I don't know that that is what Lady Stewart was getting at, but it is the thought I was thinking about when I read it.

What are you reading this week and what has caught your mind?

Wordless Wednesday: First Friday Fun

Thursday, November 06, 2014

School Disguised as Gifts: Geography Games
Games are a fantastic way to learn about the world we live in and the location of various places.  We have a lot of Geography games that we enjoy.

The first is The Scrambled States of America game. There's a related book by the same name that I kind of hate, but I do like the game relatively well.  It forces us to look at the names and some general information about each state - like the capital, nickname, or some other basic information.  And it is actually fun. 

We also like - maybe even more - the Ticket to Ride games. I almost put these in the logic games post because there's a lot of planning involved.  There's Ticket to Ride, set in America with major American (and a couple of Canadian) cities and locations to link together with your train routes.  You can even get an expansion pack set in the 19teens (recommended because there are full-sized cards which are easier to shuffle). There's also Ticket to Ride -Europe which works on similar principles ... the city names are not always anglicized, but it still gets the idea across.

Finally, we recommend the 10 Days in ... games.  We own Europe, Asia, and Africa.  Each is similar, yet different with different strategies.  In these games, players attempt to be the first to connect a sequence of travel on a continent for 10 days.  Some days will be airplane, railroad, or boat.  Some days will be in differing countries.  The game requires planning ahead and knowing where countries are. I love these games, although I do find we play Europe most frequently.   I see there is a similar This Day in History game that I will be researching.

Are there other Geography Games you like or recommend, I'm all ears ....