Archive for December, 2010

Such a Change!

Both John and Brock write stories for pleasure.  Usually they are high-adventure episodes that take place in outer space or something like that.   I think this has developed because of their increasing love for books.  They just devour good books, and I’m thankful for that.

Writing has not, however, always been easy for John!  He is such a detailed kind of guy!  When he was little, he would just agonize over trying to put his thoughts onto paper.  I remember one time specifically when he was supposed to use the word “blue” in a sentence, and he just struggled and struggled trying to think of just the right thing to write!  During the past couple of years, John’s writing has really changed, and I think a lot of it is from the instruction he gets from A Beka Academy Language classes.  They are not his favorite classes, but they sure have helped him to fluently and descriptively record his thoughts!

I asked John if I could put a sample of his writing on this blog, and he agreed to let me do that.  He wrote this paragraph for an assignment in Mrs. Schmuck’s 8th grade language class.  For this exercise, he was to write a paragraph describing the interior of some place.  He was to include details that appeal to the senses to convey his overall impression of the room.  Here is what he wrote:

The clinic’s waiting room seemed extremely rigid.  There seemed to be an exceptionally large crowd in the room, a majority of which were anxiously glancing at the doors and the clock.  No one was talking in tones louder than whispers.  Even the few children that were there seemed to lack their normal rambunctious energy.  The dull gray wallpaper and medical smells seemed to accent the tension.  About the only sound to be heard well was the ticking of a clock.  On the other side of a glass window, a few fretful nurses were shuffling around, staring at the floor while a doctor looked for something.  A minute later he picked a file from a shelf.  He pored over the papers that spilled out of it with wide eyes, pacing worriedly.  Whispering something to a nurse, he stole out of the room into a long corridor.  A nurse beckoned someone gloomily to follow her.  Once the woman caught up with her, the nurse lowered her voice and told her follower the bad news.  The woman fainted from disbelief.

Sounds like the beginning of a great story, doesn’t it?!  I am so pleased with how well John’s writing is coming along.  Maybe someday he’ll have to be the author of this blog!  😉

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Our family recently finished reading Jenny Cote’s newest book, The Prophet, The Shepherd, and the Star. It is the third book in her series that features a dog named Max, a cat named Liz, and their friends as they observe and participate in Biblical events.  This latest book is quite long–it has 517 pages and includes the stories of Isaiah, Daniel, and the events surrounding the birth of Christ. It is currently available at The Epic Order of the Seven website as well as Christianbook.com .  It will be more widely available in the coming months.

This book begins in the times of the Old Testament even though its main plot involves the birth of Jesus Christ.  Max and Liz are present as prophecies about the coming Messiah are written, and they follow Daniel into his Babylonian captivity where he leaves instructions for the future Magi to identify the Messiah’s star.  One of the most captivating scenes occurs at the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. As they bravely refuse to bow to the king’s golden image and are thrown into the furnace, the animals recognize that the 4th Person in the furnace is the Messiah, and it is quite a worshipful scene.

The lengthy background information that is given in this book causes the reader to see how historical events relate to one another.  God works in longer periods than a single lifetime.  His purposes are great, timeless, and extend world-wide. Human life-times are not always sufficient to see the working out of His plans. Growing up, I knew the Bible stories from Sunday School, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I understood the sequencing of the stories and how the Bible is really an unfolding of God’s redemptive plan.  The stories of Abraham, Joseph, Isaiah, Daniel and other Biblical characters are all vital steps in  His overall plan, and this book helps the reader to tie some of those pieces together.

Of course, the story of the birth of Christ is the central message of this book, and it is very well written.  One of my family’s favorite characters, Rabbi Isaac, appears in this portion.  He is a Jewish rabbi in Nazareth who has studied the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah and is looking for His soon appearance.  He knows Mary and Joseph and is quick to believe that God was working out His glorious plan through them and helps others to believe the same.  Eventually he even loans them his beloved donkey, Amos, for their difficult journey to Bethlehem.  Rabbi Isaac is a  precious character–very funny, but sincere.  He has a habit of saying, “True?  Of course, true!”  and that has become a familiar phrase in our house too!  🙂  We would love to see Rabbi Isaac make future appearances as Mrs. Cote continues her Max and Liz series.

My son Brock had an interesting comment about the portions of the book that portray Jesus as a baby.  He said it made him feel strange to hear Jesus referred to as “cooing,”  crawling, and doing other normal baby things.  When I asked him why, he responded that it just seemed kind of irreverent or humiliating to think of Jesus like that.  I pointed out that that is the whole point of the incarnation!  Jesus purposefully humbled Himself to take on the form of a baby, live a perfect life, and as a Man sacrifice His life so that we might be forgiven and receive eternal life.  It was a giant, lowly step for Him to do this. So, yes, it does sound a little strange to read about Jesus being a baby, but it is a great reminder of His great sacrifice for us.

The Prairie Family highly recommends this book.  We read it together throughout the Christmas season, and it made a wonderful addition to our holiday.  It definitely helped us to focus on the reality of what we are celebrating.  It is rather long having 76 chapters.  I am not sure when we began reading it, but it did take us several weeks to complete.  It was, however, well worth the investment of time, and my kids did not in the least lose interest through the entire book.

The Prophet, the Shepherd, and the Star ends with quite a cliff-hanger!  There is a new member that is to join the Epic Order of the Seven, but that member is never clearly identified.  Of course, we have our suspicions on who that member will be, but we are looking forward to reading the next book in the series when it is completed to know for sure!  The next book will be about Jesus Christ’s ministry, and I believe that it will include the crucifixion.  I’m not sure when it is to be finished, but I know that we will be reading it as soon as it is available!

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Dan and I have been working on a project in the garage.  What is it???  Stay tuned…..  It’s going to be something helpful for school!  I’ll post about it when it is finished!  🙂

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I love Christmas Eve!  In fact, I almost enjoy it more than Christmas Day!

This year our Christmas Eve was wonderful.  We actually had to have school until noon on Christmas Eve to fit in all of the semester exams before the break, but the kids were good sports about that whole thing and worked very diligently.  They all agree that it’s nice to have those exams finished, not having to worry about them until January.

To reward the kids for their hard work, we took them to Montana Mike’s Steakhouse for a Christmas Eve lunch.  We always have such a nice time there:  the food is excellent, and really the prices aren’t much higher than eating at a fast food place if we go at noon on a weekday.  It’s nice going to sit-down places like this now that the kids are older.  We enjoy our times together while we wait for the food to come–nice and relaxing.

We opened our Christmas “stocking” gifts in the afternoon.  I learned many years ago to use bags instead of our actual stockings because nothing fits in those silly Christmas stockings! The kids all enjoyed the games, movies, and candy in their stockings, and Kara was especially delighted to get her own “Big Girl” Bible with both the complete Old and New Testaments.  I had old fashioned cap guns in the boys’ “stockings,” and they are having as much fun with those silly cap guns as they do their new-fangled Nerf guns!

Before Bed, we watched The Nativity Story DVD.  I think this is our 3rd year of watching this wonderful movie on Christmas Eve, and it is turning out to be a tradition that the kids really look forward to.  It helps us all to get our focus on the true Meaning of Christmas. As each year goes by, that Meaning grows more precious to me.  What a wonderful Savior we have!

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The girls and I are between merit badges in American Heritage Girls, and rather than starting something new before Christmas Break, we decided to do some crafts during our last couple of meetings for fun.  So, if their leader (hm…….) can get her act together over the break, we should be ready to start up in January with brand new focuses and projects.

I have gotten crafting kits for several years through the Creative Girls Craft Club, but the girls are just now at the ages to be able to work on them.  So, they had a lot of fun looking through my boxes of projects to pick out what they wanted to do.  These kits are so complete—they have everything needed to complete the crafts except for things like glue. Paints, brushes, decorations, needles, etc. are all in the kits, and the instructions are so well written that they are quite easy to understand and follow.

Cosette has been working on decorating a hanging organizer that is turning out very cute. This has been a good project for her because it is something that has taken time and patience to complete, but it’s a neat, usable final product.  Kara has made a couple of simpler things:  a decorated purse, and a pretty glitter frame.  These little projects are so much fun that I knew once we started working on them, I’d get asked if we can do more on a regular basis, and that has indeed happened!  🙂

We have talked about ideas for what the girls would like to do next in American Heritage Girls, and we will have some fun and exciting things to do in 2011!


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