Monday, July 27, 2015

Mommy Moment: Summer Reading

Not only did I sign Gess up for the library reading program but I also participated. I only had to read 10 books and they can be any 10 books but I always challenge myself to read something outside of my usual reading patterns. They must be new authors, or genres, or something to that affect and I can only check out what I find by browsing the shelves. I figured I would tell you about all the new items I explored because after all, now that Gess is older I don't really read with her anymore so I can't tell you about the books she read. I can, however tell you about mine.

Summer Reading List 2015

My first selection was The Aushwitz Escape by Joel Rosenberg. This was on my "to read" list anyway and I was excited to get it. It was an exceptional book and I highly recommend it to everyone. I have done much reading, study, and research on the concentration camps myself and I could tell that while this was fictional, it was very careful to be as historically accurate as possible. After reading it, I re-watched The BBC documentary: Auschwitz Inside the Nazi State and felt as if pieces of the book were coming alive. I hope that one day that make this into a movie!  Highly Recommended!

My next selection was more disappointing. It was Longbourn by Jo Baker. I loved the premise which was following the lives of the servants while the events of Pride and Prejudice took place. Since Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is my all time favorite book, I had to give it a try. It wasn't too terribly bad but I didn't like the way it was too sexually explicit and immoral. As with every book and movie today, some character has to be gay and others have to be sexually promiscuous and there was just too much graphic detail in parts of it. That really doesn't come to life very much until halfway through and it was in small segments so I finished the book, but if I had know I would have passed on the read altogether. I already have in my mind what kind of people the Bennet family are and I didn't care for their take on some of them. I imagine it is hard to mess another work of fiction and make everyone pleased with it though.

I have this thing where I actually keep two books going at any one time. One is usually educational or spiritual and the other recreational. So, while I was reading the above book, I was also reading this Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly. I have to admit I was unsure of it at first but it came highly recommended. Historically it was intriguing. It is so fascinating to read about the events and culture that surrounded those passages that we are so familiar with. It really put the entire picture of Jesus' death into historic perspective. Learning about the Roman and Jewish leadership made it come more alive. I have to admit he doesn't hold back and there are a few explicit details I wish he had left out, but the depths of the wickedness of the times are facts. Highly Recommended!

Unlike many folks, I wasn't a huge fan of Little Women but I was willing to give A Long Fatal Love Chase also by Louisa May Alcott a try. I enjoyed reading it much more and the story was rather intriguing. It was, however, as the title reflects, a fatal love chase and a long one at that so it is kind of depressing, but entertaining along the way. I found myself pondering where this young lady might have gotten such an idea for a story. It certainly gives insight into how one looks at right and wrong, men and women, the saints and the sinners. Because it's not a very happy book I am not shouting about it from the rooftops but I am not sorry I read it.

My next book on Biblical study was What's So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey. I can't tell you how much this impacted my life. I read this book at such an important time. While the courts were redefining marriage, Philip was talking about his friendship with a person who professes to be a Christian and is gay. He doesn't compromise on the issue but he reminds us that we need to handle all things with grace. The phrase that stuck with me the most was Grace versus Ungrace. You won't believe how often I now recognize ungrace in my own life as well as those around me. I think every Christian would benefit from this book! Highly Recommended!

My daughter recently studied ancient Egypt and during the summer we watched a documentary called Egypt on Netflix. The first couple were on Howard Carter and his discovery of King Tut's tomb. So when I saw The Murder of King Tut by James Patterson I was anxious to read it. This book does a similar thing the documentary did in that it covers both the the life (and death) of the young King Tut as well as that of Howard Carter. It was a cross between non-fiction and fiction and I liked how he intertwined the two. He used the fictional narrative to tell the story, but was sure to place in the facts as he knew them. Through it he weaved in what was his own theory of what happened to the boy king. Sprinkled in between are chapters about the author himself and his adventure in the research of the book. He really felt that King Tut was murdered and he was out to prove it. As he shares his own journey you get a good sense of what was based upon fact and what was his own conjecture. Of course no one really knows what happened, but it is entertaining to read about! However there is some sexual content so keep that in mind.

After a couple of secular novels I really needed to know that my next book would be more wholesome. For that I chose At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon as it was recommended by a dear friend. This book was certainly different than anything I had read. It was a charming story of a pastor in the small town of Mitford. It's almost like it was several stories inside one story because it followed the lives of several of Father Tim's parishioners. Tim is an elderly single man who is pretty set in ways and ends up with a dog, a boy, and the possibility of a girlfriend! All this while many other adventures are going on. I am pleased that it wasn't the typical love story!  I am not sure I will follow more in the series but it was a refreshing break from the other books I read! Recommended!

Bible study is one of my favorite things I and love books that explain how the atheistic worldview doesn't play out well in reality. It's a favorite topic in our home so The Atheist's Fatal Flaw seemed rather interesting and since it was fairly new I grabbed it. I was very familiar with Norman Geisler but didn't know anything about the other author, or at least I thought so. My husband pointed out to me that the author was local. Once I realized that I found out the connection was closer than just distance! His wife is a fellow homeschooling mom and is in both our Co-op and Homeschool mom's group! I was thrilled! She is such a sweet lady! The book was really good, but somewhat frustrating in that it spends the majority of time explaining the Atheistic worldview. They were very careful to make sure they accurately presented that side before they tried to explain the flaws in it. My husband pointed out that my frustration with what the atheist says was pretty good evidence the book was doing a great job expressing their views accurately. It was fairly easy to see the flaw in their argument, but their arguments were sort of hard to follow. Not due to the authors of this book, but due to the way they speak. I will admit I spent a good deal of time looking up the definition of some words but it was worth the effort and read. I think they make a compelling argument against atheism in the book and it is a good read for anyone who is interested in the subject! Recommended!

Do you realize I haven't read any of the Narnia Chronicles? Well, I decided to start those and chose to go to the very beginning by reading The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis. I don't think I have to tell the readers how great an author C. S. Lewis is and how much I adored the book. In fact I checked it out again along with the audio version and Gess and I are both following along together. I like doing that for read alouds. It allows us to get further than I normally would because we don't get tired of actually doing the talking. We will follow up with Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe doing the same thing! Highly Recommended!

My final selection was The Schoolhouse At Prairie View by Marshall Albert Barber which was written in 1953. I have to admit I was looking for a short book because I had only one left to complete my commitment. This was still a very enchanting and informative book. It was written by a scientist from Kansas University and it was about his educational experience in a one room schoolhouse in Kansas during the late 1800's. I didn't grow up here in Kansas but I do feel as if it is home. It was so interesting to read about what it was really like to grow up here. Click on the link to his name to learn more about the author and if you can find a copy, read this book. It was great. Recommended!

That was my reading list for the Summer of 2015. What did you read this summer?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summer Library Fun

We are at the end of another summer reading program. Our library has the funnest activities year round but the summer ones are always the best. Here are a few examples of what Gess has done most recently.

Since Gess is a huge science buff she gets really excited over the Mad Scientist who comes each year. I particularly love how she encapsulates the theme of the program into her presentation. This year it was Super Heroes so she talked about their super powers and used science to demonstrate them! 


Playing with your food is always fun. Check out Gess' turtle, Minion cookie, and Chocolate Rocket!


The Lego club is always a big hit. Gess loves sitting and building her own thing and I think it is good for her to see what other kids do as well. Gess usually spends her time building the wall and so there is very little time to finish the stuff inside. This is a store.


All the kids who completed their reading will get a T-shirt, certificate, be in a drawing for other prizes and most importantly get invited to the pool party! They also already earned a free drink at the soda stand in the drug store, a corn dog from Sonic, a dessert from Taco John's, and a good bag filled with various things including a candy bar and soda pop.

My Gess loves to read so motivating her to do it isn't hard, but it is fun encouraging her to read things she might not usually pick and celebrating reaching goals is something we all enjoy. How was your summer reading adventure? I will share about mine on my next blog!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Piano Performance

This last week Gess was asked to play the piano at our local Christian Women's Club. While they had Gess come and play the piano they also had a boy who has Down syndrome read a story and a boy who has autism do a comedy sketch. All three children did an amazing job and I was blessed to have been a part of it! I am so thankful that they wanted to spend their day celebrating our children's accomplishments. I thought I would share a piece that Gess played with you. It is the hymn As The Deer.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Summer Math with Minecraft

So I am checking out Facebook from Educents and I see this banner come across my feed telling me that Minecraft Math is on sale. That piqued my interest because Gess isn't very fond of math but she loves Minecraft. I grabbed it and figured I would use it as a supplement this school year. Then it happened. Gess heard me telling her dad about it. "Minecraft Math?" She asks. I tell her yes and show her the book. For the next few days she kept asking me if we could do Minecraft Math. I told her we would during school and blew it off. Eventually I realized that if she wanted to do it during the summer I would not stop her! She was asking for math so why in the world was I saying no? So I got them printed up and we started right away.

Here are the books we used. The books are still on sale for awhile!  Even so, it's not that expensive. I also picked up the writing one that we will use later this fall.


We have completed the one on angles. She really enjoyed it. At one point it had her go around the house and find several examples of angles. She found plenty of right angles but I thought the obtuse and acute might be more difficult. Nope, she found them right away. The clothespin was her acute and her bow was the obtuse. Way to go Gess!


After you do the work it has you look for and construct things in the game that you just learned about. I did modify the work for her. I had her do 20 right angles instead of 100 and things like that. Since Gess has special needs I just want to make sure she has the concept not make it so hard that she struggled.

I love it when you can take something your child enjoys and use it for a subject they tend to despise!  These workbooks are short so they work really well for a summer activity. It was definitely worth the small amount of money they cost!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Lazy Summer

I am so sorry I have not been posting. Not only was I healing from surgery but as I started to work and actually cook again I sliced my thumb along with the squash I was working on! It was sore for awhile and that made it hard to type. Then that finally healed and I just couldn't think of what to write about.

That's the thing. Usually I have all these summer activities to talk about but due to my surgery we really haven't done much since Gess has gotten back from camp.

At least I was given permission to drive earlier than I thought so Gess has still been able to participate in the library reading program. She has actually completed it and been given her awards, part of which is an invitation to the swimming party at the end of the summer.  Other than reading they have fun activities such as crafts and other things. One thing they do every year that we love is give you a bag of junk. It consists of things like an empty paper towel roll, q-tips. a piece of yearn, craft sticks, beans, and other miscellaneous material. Now you have to make something using everything in the bag. You can add to it, but you can't leave anything out. Gess wanted to make a Roman Colosseum but we didn't have anything round. Instead we made it a superhero arena and since we lacked superheros we pulled out the Lego men.


We also had a quiet 4th of July, but Gess likes it that way anyway. She isn't a fan of loud so we mostly got fountains that don't make noise. We had some pretty good ones though.


I will try to start writing more often now. At least once a week through the summer. After school starts I hope to get back to a regular schedule. Until then, thanks for being patient. I hope you are enjoying your summer break, that is if you take one. We have been doing a little math but I will tell you about that in my next post!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Why Camp Barnabas is So Special

While Gess has Down syndrome, she is pretty high functioning and has attended our local church camp with me going as her counselor. She could participate in most things, it was pretty much a week of her tagging along and trying to be a part of the crowd. That's her every day life. People are warm and welcoming, but after a few minutes of conversing with her they are back to their own conversation and she struggles to keep up or moves off into her own space. They aren't mean and it's not their fault really, it's just life. They are at a different pace and a different communication level. It's tough, but she adjusts and never complains.

Then there is life at Camp Barnabas where suddenly, for just one week, her world turns upside down. For that week friends go hand in hand together as one. You want to do a ropes course but happen to be in a wheelchair? No problem! Camp Barnabas can hook you up - literally!  There is nothing they won't help you do! No one stops and stares, gets impatient, or criticizes you. Instead you are celebrated! You are wanted! Everyone takes time to get to know you. YOU! You are why they are here. No one tells them "no you can't." You now get to decide what to do!


This, to me, is why Camp Barnabas is so special. It's for this one fact. For one week Gess gets to live as if she didn't have special needs. That's a gift you can't give in a box! Thanks Camp Barnabas for working so hard to make that dream come alive!

Camp Barnabas is a Christian camp and there is no better way to share the love of Christ than to accept everyone just as they are. That's what they do at Camp Barnabas! To learn more visit their website or watch this movie explaining the difference that it makes in the lives of everyone who goes, camper and counselor alike.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Making costumes

Gess is going off to Camp Barnabas this summer. It is an amazing Christian camp for people with special needs. This will be her second year going. Every day they have a special theme party for which you dress up. This year's themes are Super Hero Showdown, Noah's Ark Water Park, A Knight's Tale, & Blast From the Past.

I will start with the most complicated costume we made.
  
Noah's Ark Water Park

Gess loves learning about dinosaurs and realizes they were actually on the ark. While this sounds unreal to some of you, when you understand the average dinosaur was the size of a sheep and know that God didn't have to choose the largest of them all to be on the ark, you get it. They were there!  So she wanted to be a dinosaur. I found this simple and fun DIY Paper Dinosaur on Pinterest. Using the paper as a template I hot glued the paper pattern to green cloth. I actually glued it in the wrong place so it doesn't go over Gess' head, but I felt this would work as it was. We got her stuffed lizard out so she could take him along and actually be 2x2. He doesn't spikes on his head so it was even better. What do you think?


Super Hero Showdown

Gess recently informed me that Superman was her favorite super hero so we went and a bought a Superman T-shirt, cut up an old red t-shirt utilizing the sleeves to help tie it in front and grabbed some blue shorts. Ta da!  Superman, or woman anyway!


A Knight's Tale

The best we could find at thrift store was one that might fit a peasant lady at the time. We got a scarf to go over her head. She may not look like royalty but she sure is cute!


 Blast From the Past

This one was easy. Every year Gess is a part of a local fashion show and this year she got some really wild looking pants. They reminded me of the 70's - my generation. So here she is in her 70's get up with things we already had around the house!

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