Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blue Pen/Black Pen Phenomena - Teen Truth Circumvention

You may have this phenomenon going on in your house and just not realize it.

It gained its name thanks to my oldest child.   Someone had decided to do some scribble art on our wall.  My husband asked who wrote with a black pen all over the wall.  It was fervently denied by both her and her brother.  Caught in the act later, we asked why she lied?  Her response – I didn’t; it was a blue pen.  Hence the black pen/blue pen phenomenon.
It may be because I teach English that my children are so aware of how to use language to get around things.  This, however, is a bad thing.  Most recently it was about smoking.  Why teenagers choose to try smoking being fully aware of all the dangers and nastiness associated with it is beyond me!  Believe me, we’ve gone out of our way to educate them about why it is wrong.

Anyhow, that discernable smell began appearing on my oldest son’s clothes.  I ask – Are you smoking?  No, mom!  My friends smoke, I don’t.  Then other signs, cigarette pack in the car, the occasional butt on the ground, lighters – are you smoking?  No, Mom, it’s my friends.  Finally, caught in the act by a friend.  Are you smoking?  No, Mom.  How can you say that, you’ve been seen doing it?   Mom – I smoke occasionally.  I’m not smoking.  Smoking implies I do it all the time and am addicted.  I’m not. 
Yes – he knows what he is doing.  Yes, my heart broke a little. 

So what does a parent do that has children who use the blue pen/black pen phenomenon to circumvent the truth:
1.  Stay vigilant
2.  Try lots of different wording when asking questions
3.  Check their text messages
4.  Look for signs (you know in your gut the truth)
5.  Look them dead in the eye
6.  Explain that trust is a valuable commodity they will not quickly get back
7.  Pray (actually this should first and after each on the list)

I hate having to be a detective parent.  It’s worse though to be naive.  Teens will get into situations they knowingly shouldn’t.  We hope and pray we can trust them to do the right thing and to be honest when they don’t.  However, that isn’t always the way it works out – even with the best of parenting.  Trust your gut moms and dads!  It doesn’t lie, and it doesn’t differentiate between black and blue.

Monday, June 27, 2011

God's Color Pallette

I was doing yard work over the weekend and was amazed by God's color pallette.  We're not gardners by any means.  We stick plants in the ground and if they grow - great!  Yet, the diversity and beauty never ceases to amaze me. 

I just wanted to share.  Happy Monday All!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

God and Stephen Hawking Review

God and Stephen Hawking
Author:  John C. Lennox

I’m a scientist at heart.  To me, the world is biology and chemistry and physics all created by God.  So, when Stephen Hawking, a world-renowned physicist, claimed that physics shows there is no God , I was troubled.  Not because I worried he’d convince me, but because I knew that many who recognize his name put a lot of credence behind what he has to say even if they don’t understand it. 

Reading John Lennox’s book, God and Stephen Hawking, allowed me to better understand Hawking’s view and the inherent flaws.  Why listen to John Lennox? His credentials are on caliber with Hawking – primarily being that he’s a mathematics professor at Oxford.  I’m certainly no quantum physicist, so having concepts explained in lay man’s terms helped me to see what Hawking is saying and why it is inaccurate.

Hawking offers that the “laws of physics themselves brought the universe into being.”  Can a law create anything?  In order to be a law, there have to be observable circumstances that consistently fall within defined parameters, then you have a law.  A law that is identified because of the consistency of something cannot create that something from nothing.  Confusing?  You bet.  This is a small book, but a big read.

I’ve never really understood the tension between science and religion.  Why must one exist without the other?  Why must we be asked, as Hawking does, to choose between one or the other?  God created everything; therefore, the scientific laws and principles that humans have identified are by design.  No conflict there. 

According to Lennox, Hawking uses the ideas of a multi-verse, M-theory and the impossibility of miracles to demonstrate there is no God.  However, the multi-verse (or is it one giant created universe?) and M-theory are just that, theoretical.  Some would argue – so is God.  However, when we take other aspects of knowledge like history, archeology, and literature we can find evidence for God.  None for the M-theory.  And miracles?  Well, yes, that requires a belief in God.  Sure there are laws that are immutable here on earth, but an omniscient God is not subject to these laws, he makes the circumstances that we define as laws.  If he chooses for Jesus to raise from the dead, that is certainly within his power.  The fact that there are numerous documented eye-witnesses is the proof we seek for resurrection and therefore the existence of God.

While put in lay man’s terms, this book is still a difficult read.  Not surprising when refutation of a quantum physics scientist’s theory is the purpose.  Be prepared to go slow and really think through each section.  I would have liked to have seen a little more breadth and depth in the book – the author admits there’s so much more to cover.  However, if the purpose of the book is to help those of us not steeped in mathematics and physics understand why Hawking is inaccurate, then I feel it fulfills that objective.

***  I received this book free of charge from LitFuse for my honest review.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Yarning for Winter

The hubby endorses that fact that I have taken up crochet.  It's a fun way to keep my hands busy and a great way to spend time waiting for kids at their various and sundry activities.

So far, I haven't produced a lot, but I've sure enjoyed learning.  I'm blessed to have a good friend with yarning skills and lots of patience to help me out.

So, long story longer, the hubby bought me two skeins of yarn in gold and black and a couple crochet needles for Mother's Day.  Why gold and black you ask?  Because they are his alma mater's school colors of course, and he wanted a scarf for football season.

Since I love making things for him, this was the perfect gift.  With some advice from said friend, I embarked on a somewhat creative pattern.  With his input, here is the scarf (complete with white stripe the hubby requested to make sure all colors are represented) and a hat to accompany it.  I'm pretty happy with them if I do say so myself.  He is too, and that's all that matters.  Yay for accomplishing something, even it if is winter attire in the dead of summer! 

Do you yarn?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tired - No, Take that Back, Exhausted...

Ladies – are you ever awake?

Lately, I can’t remember what it feels like to be genuinely awake.  I’m tired.  All…the…time…
Today it was to the point that I just took a long nap.  No point in fighting it any more. 

I’d like to say it’s because I’m so busy.  We are busy, but I still manage to get a full night’s sleep every night.  No staying up till 3:00am and trying to function.  In fact, with summer, we’re sleeping in more.  Can sleeping in make you even more tired?

Yes, I do exercise.  Not nearly enough, but at least a couple hours a week. I do sit way too much on my keister – but, without energy, it’s hard to have motivation to do much else. 

I just wish for energy.  Not energy in a bottle or caffeinated pill, but real, honest to goodness energy. 
So, ladies, I see you out there jogging, power shopping, playing with toddlers – what is your secret?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Boys' Room Remodel - Part 2

As you know, we remodeled my middle son's room to accomodate both him and his younger brother.  He wasn't too happy about it, but with their older sister moving back in, we needed the room.  He was more agreeable knowing it would entale a remodel to upgrade his room from a baseball boy's room to a teen hangout.

IKEA was a big help in this endeavor.  We had everything except for their beds. 

I sold their old loft beds and started thinking platform for both form, function and space saving.  Sears or JCPenney, can't remember which, had the perfect beds, but wanted an arm, a leg, and my first born to ship it.  So, looking around, I found out that Wally World aka Wal Mart sells the exact same bed online and ships free to their stores!  Yes! 

Typically, I'm not a Wally World fan.  Sure, they have great prices, and I shop there for little things and some groceries, but certainly not furniture.  I have to say - I'm impressed.  The beds we got were Sauder brand.  Not high quality, but something to last these transitional teen years.  They assembled exactly per instructions and were really well designed.  Who knew?  So, here's the latest addition to our morphing teen room - beds! 

Last but not least, we have to figure out what to put on the walls.  This will be a challenge as each boy is VERY different and has his own ideas of what is cool and what isn't.  No rush - the walls can wait...

We're trying to avoid the whole poster thing, but what else is there?  I've seen some of these wall decals, but do they really work?  How do they look?  Are they expensive?  I'll put my mind to worrying about that next week.  What do your young teen boys have on their walls?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Strike it Rich with Pocket Change Review

Strike it Rich with Pocket Change
Authors:  Brian Allen, Ken Potter
I chose Strike it Rich with Pocket Change because my husband loves coin collecting.  I was interested in seeing what other aspects of numismatics or coin collecting there are. 
What a fascinating book!  Who knew there were so many coins out there with small blemishes that are worth SO much.  Some of those “errors” on the coins are barely discernible to the naked eye, but given the opportunity can be worth many times their original value to a collector.  I had always figured it was just old coins that had a lot of value.  This book helps you realize that it is the uniqueness of the coin and not just the age that makes it valuable to collectors.
The book is wonderfully illustrated.  Each coin is clearly shown along with a blown up image of the “area of error” and where to look to find it.  Fair market value for the coin is indicated depending on the circulation of the coin. 
Each coin (penny, nickel, etc.) is listed by year for easy reference.
There are some errors that are of no value to collectors and some where there are one a few of that coin with the error ever to have seen circulation and valued at thousands of dollars.  It was interesting to me that the change in my pocket could be worth so much to a collector.  I can’t say I understand why, but who am I to judge?
The book goes on to discuss the buying and selling of these coins, membership in various numismatics groups, and how to have your finds authenticated.  I can imagine that if I ever truly found one worth any money, I’d be hooked! 
My husband got hold of this book and isn’t going to put it down.  He’s very interested as well.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed he finds a unique coin for his collection.  If you have a budding coin collector, or know someone who enjoys rare coins, this is a fun reference book.
***  I received this book free of charge from BookSneeze for my honest review

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Parenting - Feast or Famine

We’ve had quite a week!  My sister’s family has been out, and we have had a blast.  Daily the pool has been filled with kids.  We’ve had a graduation with a big party afterwards, bowling, Frisbee golf, eaten out several times, a trip to Discovery Place and IMAX, an excursion to the Reed Gold Mine, and fun at Dan Nicholas Park.  It should be a kids dream.

But…  Tomorrow my middle son has the chance to go to the local amusement park with friends and we’ve said no.  We have good reasons:

1.  He has a doctor’s appointment that we’ve already canceled two times. 
2.  There’s a lot to get done around here.
3.  It’s my hubby’s last day off.
4.  We’re nervous about him riding with a teenage driver.

So.  We’ve gone directly from feast to famine.  Suddenly, we’re unreasonable, no-fun parents.  I can accept that.  There’s a part of my heart that understands how much fun it sounds like to go.  But…  There’s also a part that says – “Hey, you’ve had a blast this week.  Give a little!”

The hubby even offered to take him to the park after the doctor’s appointment and pick him back up.  Not good enough.  I know he’s just mad.

Parenting is a challenge, constantly. It’s been a rough week for hubby as he’s been in altercations with all three teens. Not the best week before Father’s Day.

I've come to realize - it is as important for kids to hear "no" as it is for us to provide for them. If all they ever hear is "yes", the expectation is life is like that. I want - I get. We all know that's not how it rolls. We're working on "no" one situation at a time. It doesn't feel good for anyone, but it's a reality teens especially need to learn.

Are you good at saying no?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Great Mogul Diamond Review

The Great Mogul Diamond
Author: G. P. Taylor
I reviewed the first book in this series with my eleven year old son a few months ago. Initially, I think he was lukewarm to the book.  He felt like there was too much low humor in it for him.  However, after a while, he picked it back up and began rereading it.  Then, he asked for the next one. 

When the chance to review The Great Mogul Diamond came, I jumped on it.  He was excited to receive it, but immediately informed me this was book three and not book two in the series.
Nonetheless, he really enjoyed it.  There are new characters that he felt would have been easier to understand had he read book two.  So, lesson learned, read them in order. 

He enjoyed the Christian motif throughout.  It was more apparent to him in book three than it had been in book one.  He did note he wished they’d just say Jesus instead of calling him “The Companion”, but I think that’s just an eleven year old wanting transparency over subtlety.
What I appreciate most, beyond the intricate storyline, is the presentation.  Having a book that melds text and graphic novel makes for a fun and engaging journey for young readers.  The graphic novel parts are beautifully illustrated and really create a picture in the mind of the reader.  The textual sections build an exciting story that makes the reader love the protagonists and desire for their success. 

Yes, I’ll be buying book two, and, for that matter, any others in the series.  These books have it all for the young Christian reader.  A strong story, beautiful illustration, and a message about morality and Christianity that is subtle and not preachy.  I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to review.
*** I received this book free of charge from Tyndale for my honest review.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cousins Galore

I’ve been hosting my sister’s family at my house this week.  They flew in from Colorado for my oldest son’s graduation.  We’ve been having a ball.  It makes me realize how much I miss them, though.  I’ve already offered to convert the bonus room into bedrooms so that they can move on out here.  J

She has five kids in her clan and we’ve got four.  Aren’t they a good looking bunch of youth!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Oldest Son Graduated Today

How is it possible that I now have two high school graduates?  Wasn't it just yesterday that I was marveling at that big infant in my arms (he came into the world at 11 pounds)?  He is a gentle heart with a stubborn streak.  A handsome young man with aspirations in the techological world of automobiles.  I'm so proud of who he is and can't wait to see the man he will become.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A House Full of Family

I am SO excited!

My sister and her entire family are coming to celebrate my oldest son’s graduation starting tomorrow! She, like me, has three boys and a girl. So, all seven are coming, and I couldn’t be happier.

Thirteen people in my house! What a joyous occasion! I know – it’s A LOT of people, but when it’s a houseful of loved ones, there can’t be too many.

This is especially exciting because none of her kids have ever been to my house. We’ve lived here eleven years. When they do come to NC, we like to meet at the beach. Can you blame us? So, getting to host everyone is a real treat.

My only fear – feeding everyone! Since six of the people here will be hungry teenage boys, I may literally be eaten out of house and home. Fortunately, they put in a Mickey D’s about two miles from here a year ago. If worse comes to worse, I can give them each enough cash to raid the dollar menu.

We have three boys to a bedroom, the two littlest kids on a futon in the music room, my sister and hubby are taking my oldest son’s room, we’re staying in our room, and now I just have to figure out where my daughter will go. She can sleep in the room with the two youngest, but she works late and usually comes in around midnight. So, maybe not a good idea? We could put a mattress in our room, but then she’ll wake us up. Hmmm…. Maybe the laundry room? Just kidding! We’ll figure it out…

Are you having family stay with you this summer?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Turning off Texting

I’m beginning to see my husband’s perspective on teens and texting. After an episode of he said /she said that apparently went on until 4:00am this morning involving my two oldest teens and various friends, I have to feel that texting just creates social barriers.

When matters of the heart can be dealt with by the clicking of buttons, something has to change. When tone is indiscernible and things can be said that would never be said face to face, things have to change.

I honestly see the advantages of texting. In fact, I enjoy and use it quite a bit myself. Quick texts about a person’s day or their whereabouts are a good thing. This is much easier than entering into a lengthy conversation when a few words can do the trick.

However, I’m just not sure that youth of today understand when it’s time to step away from the message box and actually dial that person’s number. They don't verbally engage one another on a personal level and make sure that what is being communicated is being said understanding there is another human receiving the message.

My hubby has been rallying for the removal of texting from our teens' plans for quite a while. The fact that they’ve exceeded 20,000 texts a month should have convinced me, but the brouhaha that ensued this morning all over a text battle last night has opened my eyes.

Now we have to decide, do we -

1. Go cold turkey and turn texting off completely
2. Set time limits on when texting is an option – like 8am to 10pm
3. Realize we can do nothing because these are young “adults”
4. Confiscate phones at night

It’s time to get serious and make a decision. One that will inevitably lead to another brouhaha as these privileges are in danger of being revoked.

How do you manage texting in your household?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

When is Enough, Enough?

Have you ever realized that you are your teen’s hero as long as your wallet is out? It’s an interesting phenomena – I go from being an ignorant annoyance to being amazing with the flick of a credit card.

Some days, it’s nice to be loved and show love by making them happy. Other days, it’s downright frustrating when the attitude turns on the minute a request is made to pick up, clean up, or just be home in time for dinner.

No – this isn’t the Holiday Inn. That’s the mantra around this house. You don’t have a hotel room with free continental breakfast and maid service – you have a family and a home where responsibilities are expected.

Sigh… Can you tell it’s been a rough afternoon?

So, what do you do to keep balance in a home with teenagers? Or is it just mine? No, I know it’s not. Couldn’t be, right?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Remodeling - Making a Room for Two Boys

The younger boys are moving back into a room together now that Sissy is moving home for a semester.  At first, they didn't like the idea, but after some cajoling and new furniture (yay for IKEA) they are happier.

Here's what we've got so far.  The goal was to make a living space for each of them as far opposite as possible in a single bedroom.  So far, so good.  Still waiting on the platform beds to get in, but the mattresses on floor suit them fine since they don't have to make their beds.  :-)

Desk Area 1

Desk Area 2

A Place for all those Legos

TKD Belts

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

2011 TOS Homeschool Crew Blue Ribbon Awards

The Blue Ribbon Awards are Out!

Come on by and see which homeschool curriculum The Old Schoolhouse magazine's Homeschool Crew voted best for 2011.  Selections were based on what the Crew had the opportunity to review for this year! 

I loved the opportunity to be a part of the Crew and can't wait to see what we are reviewing for next year.  Whether you've gotten your curriculum for next year or not, this is a great opportunity to check out different vendors and see what the reviewer's of the Crew thought of these products.

Click here to find out who won...