Friday, June 23, 2017

Steady (five minute friday)

As we prepare to say goodbye to Neal's grandmother any day now, I think back on her steady presence in our lives.  Her first husband, Ben, died when Neal was a preschooler.  She became very involved in her grandchildren's lives, and I've heard many, many stories and memories about times they spent together.  She remarried when Neal was in grade school, and I got to see firsthand how beautiful a second chance at love can be, and how much joy could follow what had been such a sad time.

Pop Pop and Mom Mom Woody at our wedding
On the day Neal and I got married, Mom Mom told my mother that she was "renegotiating with God." She had originally wanted to live long enough to see her Neal get married, but she woke up that morning and realized that she wasn't going to be content with that -- now she wanted to see more grandbabies. The day Luke was born, she sashayed into the hospital like the star she had been (once upon a time, she sang with Jan Savitt and his Top Hatters), picked him up and said, "I want more."  Renegotiating with God...a steady part of her personality.  She got to see so many great-grandchildren -- my five, our niece and nephews, and three of Neal's cousin's children.

Mom Mom and Damien on her 94th birthday - 2010

Last fall, Mom Mom turned 100.  Her health was failing, but her love for her family held steady.  She smiled proudly as we all gathered to wish her a happy birthday, realizing what a milestone it was for her -- and for us to have had her in our lives for so long.

May 2017
Now, the updates of her rapid decline are steady, but she's as tenacious as ever.   Almost two weeks ago, we were told the end was quickly coming, so we hurried to say our I love yous.  But Mom Mom has remained her feisty self -- she's slipping away, but defying all the rules of how a final decline ought to go.  (She's always been a rule breaker, so why are we so surprised?)  Even when expectations have been no longer days but hours, she holds steadily to earthly life.

I'm going to admit that this has taken far more than five minutes to write...yes, the tears are steady.  But when I hear Jude brag to total strangers in the check out line, "My great Mom Mom is ONE HUNDRED YEARS OLD!" or I hear Celia play Mom Mom's piano, or see my oldest sign his name, "Benjamin Luke" and know he's here because of a lady who left a career in radio for one as a country doctor's wife, I think of the steady presence she has been in my life for the small part of hers, and am comforted by the steady hope that someday, I'll hear Miss Charlotte Kay's voice for myself on the airwaves of heaven's big band station.

Miss Charlotte Kay, Lady Topper

Five Minute Friday is a weekly event. Our hostess, Kate chooses a single word to start the free-writing process - this week, it's Steady. It's not about revising your thoughts to perfection, it's about taking 5 minutes to just put it all out there. New writers and readers are always welcome.

©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Too many books? (Almost Wordless Wednesday)

I never thought I'd say we had too many books being read at the same time! 

©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Adventures of Rush Revere (A Homeschool Crew Review)

History has always fascinated me, and I think it has become my favorite subject to teach.  Jude is my mini-American history buff. Back before he could read, we discovered several history-based videos, and they just pulled him in.  Now that he can read, reading about history is one of his favorite things.  He was really excited we were chosen to review a whole five-book set of American history stories from Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush Limbaugh and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh.

After writing two political commentary books, Rush Limbaugh stopped writing to focus on his other media outlets; he felt he really had said all he intended to.  However, the history lover in him kept trying to surface, and eventually, the series The Adventures of Rush Revere began with Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims. The entire series features five titles:
  • Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims - the story of the Pilgrims' journey on the Mayflower and their difficult first year in America, culminating with the first Thanksgiving in America. 
  • Rush Revere and the First Patriots - Rush and his students head back to the era of the Founding Fathers, including John Adams, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin and the Boston Tea Party
  • Rush Revere and the American Revolution - featuring Dr. Joseph Warren and General George Washington as they fight for American freedom
  • Rush Revere and the Star Spangled Banner - the War of 1812 comes to life under the rockets' red glare
  • Rush Revere and the Presidency - the former General Washington is now President Washington, and he and his successors Presidents Adams and Jefferson set the tone for what it means to be an American president.
Each book is a standalone title, in the sense that the book's story focus has a beginning, middle, and end within the volume.  However, it is better to begin with the first book and continue reading them in published order. Not only does it make chronological sense, but there is a fair amount of exposition in the first book that doesn't appear in the later volumes. In addition to the historical lessons, there are modern-time applications, from discovering the courage to stand for your beliefs to understanding that the defense of freedom continues today with military deployments.

Jude was really excited to begin reading these.  I was a little more anxious.  It's challenging, especially now, to find tales of history that aren't politicized. I think history needs to be told from "both" sides.  (My favorite historic site is Fort Necessity National Battlefield, which actually tells its story from all three sides - Colonist, British, and Native American.)   Factor in that these were written by Rush Limbaugh, a very vocal and well-known partisan political commentator, I was a bit skeptic. After reading the books, I will say that there is a conservative filter applied, but I don't think it's hobbling, but rather one that forces a focus on context of the depicted eras. (Kudos to historical researcher Jonathan Adams Rodgers.)  If anything, I think if one was to set politics aside and read with an open mind, especially the Foreward of each book, I think the reader can see that it's written from a patriot viewpoint, with a love and awe of just what has gone into making the United States so unique.  Limbaugh explains that his belief in American exceptionalism isn't about saying "We're better than anyone else," because we do have our own issues.  In this case, exceptional means unique - and by that definition, he is right. Since our beginnings, Americans have had a unique way of doing things.

This series is intended for readers ages 9 to 13, and have a Lexile Measurement in the 700s.  I like using Lexile measures to help me find books for Jude -- while they don't always take into consideration content and theme (where the age recommendation comes in handy), I know what levels are easy or challenging for him. This book fell into an "easy readability for Jude" zone, making it perfect for him to read on his own.  I knew Jude would be able to handle the text, but truthfully, at about 200 pages per book, I figured it would take him two or three days to read each book. He devoured the first two on day one!  I handed him the first one, and said, "Let me take your picture for the review."

Usually, when it's time for lunch, he will set aside any "school" books and search out a "fun" book to read during lunch.  However, he wasn't giving up this book...I had to remind him to keep eating! (That bite hung out there for an empty-mouthed six pages!)

These books have even kept him up late.  One night, I went up to bed around midnight, and when I peeked in his room to re-tuck him into bed, I caught this.

I think you've got a good book if you can distract a boy from eating and keep him up late at night reading history!

When I started writing this review, I asked Jude for his input.  He kept dictating, so I kept typing.  Next time, maybe I'll let him write the whole review himself!  Jude says:

Rush Revere is a history teacher.  He liked to teach by showing the past to his students, and not by reading boring history books. Liberty is Rush Revere's horse.  He has a black tail and brown hair on his body.  He got his time-travel powers when was struck by lightning.  It wasn't a normal type of lightning. It went so fast that it gave him the power to go faster than the speed of light.  Tommy is one of Mr. Revere's students.  He's really smart, especially about science, but he doesn't want anybody to know.  Freedom is another student.  She could telepathically talk with Liberty. Elizabeth was the daughter of the school principal, Mr. Sherman.  She was mean and insulted everyone and wanted her father to get rid of Rush Revere for good. She didn't get to go on any missions with the others. Principal Sherman likes Rush, but he doesn't know about Liberty. He doesn't plan to fire Mr. Revere. Cam is another of their friends. He first thought there was no way that Liberty could time-travel, but going on missions made him believe it was true.

I like the time-traveling part. I like when Liberty uses his powers for time traveling, freezing time, and turning invisible. The books taught me about when the English first came here, the American Revolution, and the fort where the Star Spangled Banner was made. The part about the Revolutionary War made me a little sad and scared because I thought about all the soldiers who died, but I was very proud of them for fighting for America's freedom.  
I liked Liberty best. His favorite thing to do, besides time travel, is eat. He is always hungry, and apples are his favorite food. When he doesn't get to eat, he complains. In the Star Spangled Banner book, the group visited Washington DC, and Liberty gave them a Top Secret Mission.  It was funny that he picked MILKSHAKE to be the code name, but it didn't really surprise me because Liberty loves to eat.   

My favorite part was when they traveled to Mount Vernon, where George Washington lived.  I learned that his grandchildren lived with him. The story helped me remember when I visited Mount Vernon with my family. I liked when George Washington became president, and when he gave the job to John Adams.  George Washington was one of my favorite presidents.  
I liked all of the pictures, too.  They helped me imagine parts of the story better. There were pictures of people who sailed on the Mayflower. There was also pictures of the kids in the story.  
I would like it if there were more Rush Revere books. My other favorite president is Abraham Lincoln, so I would like if Liberty and Rush could take me to "meet" him in a book.  It would be really neat, too, if Liberty and Rush took us to see Mount Rushmore being carved.  (That has both of my favorite presidents in one place!) 
The books were awesome.  

High praise from a reluctant reader and writer!

For the record, I think Liberty was my favorite character too.  I confess that my head read his part in Eddie Murphy's voice -- Liberty's personality seemed to have a little bit of Donkey's tendency to run on (as he did in Shrek), and some of Mulan's dragon Mushu's sass.  He's a cheeky one!

The pictures impressed me, too.  Illustrator Christopher Hiers has created new drawings just for the books - a traditional way to help children imagine things more concretely.

However, interspersed with these story illustrations are reproductions of renowned images, from presidential portraits to pen and ink drawings.  Crisp photographs of these also help bring the story to life.

Clear photo labeling combined with credits at the back of the book allowed us to do some exploring.  Putting "fireman Philadelphia Ben Franklin" into a search engine gives you copious links to follow, but with the information between these two places, we were easily able to explore even more.

In addition to the books, there is a huge amount of online content available as well.  At the end of the books, there are discussion questions printed, but there are also study guides available.  You can also find interactive activities as well, which Jude also enjoyed.

We really liked this series, and hope that there will be future titles released.  They've become favorites that he's already re-read several times, and his brothers and sister are eyeing them as well. Good luck getting him to share - to read them myself I practically had to sneak them when he had gone to bed (and hope he didn't take the one I was currently reading with him!)

To read other Crew members' reviews, click the banner below.

Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series {Reviews}

©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Worth (five minute friday)

We have a lot of recipes posted here on the blog.  This week, a friend asked for egg-free cookie recipes, and I was able to pull several posts from here and say "This one, this one, this one if you use applesauce, and this one."   I think I had about eight or so cookie recipes.

All but one had no wheat, and several of them were re-imagined from other recipes so that they were safe for a different kid.  When I think about it, it's a lot of work to constantly be adjusting and re-adjusting recipes. But it's worth it.

This week, Celia turned 13 and I was up frosting cupcakes until an hour I haven't seen since she was a colicky newborn.  As I finished them, I got teary, for several reasons.

Frosting cupcakes for "School birthday." It's probably the last time I'll be doing this -- Celia will graduate before her next birthday rolls around.
12 years ago, we were just beginning to realize the tip of the allergy iceberg. When Celia started school, she was going on year three of nothing but plain table sugar and tube-fed formula that was safe for her to eat. Her first (and second and third) "school birthday" treat for her friends was cotton candy. She has taken homemade lollipops and marshmallows; one year she finally could bring strawberry flavored marshmallows. Last year, she had enough foods to magic up cupcakes, and this year she's picked up another food - the frosting has Sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) instead of coconut oil.
I'm not going to complain about being up late, waiting for the cake to cool enough to frost. Tonight, I'm grateful there's a reason to stay up making something other than cotton candy.

She took them to school, shared them with her friends and brought them home.  Damien snagged one of the leftovers, took a huge bite, and said, "This is the most delicious birthday Celia has ever had."

Was it the most delicious?
Was it amazing to realize that on her 3rd birthday, after one failed trial after another the doctor said, "No more.  Tube only, no foods until she's bigger," and ten years later she a handful of hard-won foods that I can turn into normal-looking cupcakes?
Was it worth the thinking and tinkering and lack of sleep?


Five Minute Friday is a weekly event. Our hostess, Kate chooses a single word to start the free-writing process - this week, it's Worth. It's not about revising your thoughts to perfection, it's about taking 5 minutes to just put it all out there. New writers and readers are always welcome.

©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Apologia Educational Ministries: Internship for High School Credit (Schoolhouse Crew Review)

Internships are expected as a course of study in many fields. Think about student teachers, hospital training for nursing and doctoral students, or even trades apprenticeship programs. They're all practical ways for people to learn about their career fields.  You'd never think of a student teacher or nurse not getting school credit; for most, a semester of student teaching is mandatory for graduation. Why not create a way for high school students to work and gain school credit? Apologia Educational Ministries has the same thoughts! Internship for High School Credit is Apologia's latest high schools course offering.  The program was written by Sherri Seligson, and offers "practical help to explore and direct your career plans," and shows the benefits of an internship and how to document and credit the experience.

I used to think that by high school, you had to know what you wanted to do, so you could just plow through college and get going with your life.  I just knew I wanted to go into the medical field and had aspirations of being a NICU doctor.  And then I got to college and hated pre-med, for a multitude of reasons. I decided to go in an entirely new direction with my life, transferred those credits to a different university, and graduated with a BA in Theater.  Couldn't get more different if I tried!  Looking back, I wonder if I should have paid more attention to what I liked and was good at, and less at what I "thought I wanted."  A high school internship in the field might have saved a lot of anguish and money.  (And God bless my parents, who just said, "OK," and wrote the next semester's check without freaking out - at least not in front of me!)

Fast forward to Luke's high school years. Homeschooling provided us with the perfect opportunity for an internship.  While we live in a state with very relaxed homeschooling rules, I wanted to make sure he had a comparable transcript to his public- and private-schooled peers, if only so that he would be competitive when it was time to apply to colleges. For his "21st-Century Finances" credit, Luke was able to work in two small businesses - in sales/public relations/small business start-up with me,  and in warehousing and supply in Neal's family's established business. Those high school internships led Luke to decide that he wanted to take a year off between high school and college, work in the family business full time, and decide if he still liked it.  After a "gap year" of work, Luke has found that he enjoys the challenge of small business and would like to work in the family business as a career.  An internship allowed him to discover the right path for him.

So, if we managed without the book for Luke, who graduated already, why would we consider using the program with Matthew, who will also likely intern in the family business?

Well, for starters because it allows the student to be more independent.  For Luke, I felt like it was always me pointing things ways to earn credit or lessons to be learned.  In contrast, the program guides the student to find internship opportunities that might fit with potential career paths.  Rather than being about "finding a summer job by looking at who is hiring," activities in the workbook help a student match internships that might not be quite so obvious. For example, a student with a goal of vet school would likely think of looking into programs offered by a local zoo.  However,  Internship... suggests some not-so-obvious options like looking into internships/employment offered by a working farm or animal rescue/shelter.  It then provides instruction on creating a resume and interview preparation.  While Matthew may not need a formal interview to work with his Dad (we joke that the only entry-level requirements are being born into the family and being tall enough to push a broom handle), practicing those skills in a low-stakes situation will only benefit him.

However, an internship is not just "go to work, earn a credit credit." Even if you're working in a job that isn't likely going to lead to a career, there is much to be learned from the people you work with, and the program organizes ways for students to do that.

If your student is looking to achieve one semester's worth of credit, weekly assignments from Internship... will help him earn it.   Weekly activities provide a framework for the student document what he's learned about the job/career, assigning questions and exercises meant to help a student learn more about the business he is working in.  Among them are questions to ask supervisors, to understand where specific jobs fit in the grand scheme of the company.  While it's hard to relate your entry-level job with a business as a whole, it helps an intern realize that each employee plays an important role.  Other exercises target speaking to others in a company and finding out what their educational background is.  I think this is important because if the internship is a stepping stone to your career, you want to know what you need going forward. However, in talking to others, you might find that their stories intrigue you more, and following in their footsteps might be better.  For example, someone who loves animal conservation but honestly can't stomach cleaning animal pens might find their talents would be better served writing grant applications or as an accountant for the organization.

However, a second half-credit can be earned by spreading out the "weekly" activities over the course of two weeks.  In the first week of the assignment, the student does the activities as written.  Over the rest of the lesson period, the student is expected to write about the internship (approximately one to two pages each week),  with the option to do further research about what he discussed with his co-workers.

Although it appears that this program is probably more beneficial for the student working in a larger organization, I think it will still be helpful for Matthew as he begins working in the family business over the next year.  There isn't a broad range of people in our business to interview -- that's the nature of a small business.  However, I think Internship... is a program that could be completed with the help of a good mentor, and if he looked to his father and grandfather as mentors,  Matthew could fulfill this course by focusing on interviewing them about their experiences and educations as laborers who eventually owned the business.  If your student is working in an apprentice program, it might be worth finding a journeyman or master tradesman in the field to serve as a mentor, especially if they are also entrepreneurs as well as tradesmen, and completing the course.

I like this program because it not only provides a way for a student to check off the "21st-century practical living" box, but it helps him explore a career path while still in high school.  It may help cement an idea, or it might spark an entirely new interest.  I don't necessarily expect a 16-to-18-year-old to know exactly what he wants to do for the next fifty or so years, but I think this course can help him use a high-school job to discern what he could potentially find to be a rewarding career.

In addition to the Internship for High School Credit program, crew members worked with How to HOMESCHOOL with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus (DVD & Coursebook). Read reviews of both by clicking the banner below.

Homeschool with Confidence & Internship for High School {Apologia Educational Ministries Reviews}

©2012- 2017 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Happy Birthday, Celia!

Welcome to the teen years!

©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Expect (five minute friday)

As we come to the end of our school year, I realize I expected so many different things for the year.

I expected we'd the homeschoolers would still working on the things we picked out last fall.  I'm absolutely shocked at how much ground we covered this year, and how much the boys completed.  Jude and Damien are completely done first and fourth grade work.  Matthew has a few more "10th grade" things to work on, but since I had planned on him taking until into the summer to finish them anyway, I'm not overly stressing.  He's also started working on some courses that will count toward his 11th and 12th grade years, so I've decided as long as everything is done in the next two years, it's all going to work out.

I had expected Luke to be back in school by now.  Instead, he took a full year off, and will start in the fall.

I did not expect we'd be spending most of our Sundays hanging around college halls while Celia had orchestra practice.  It was worth it to see her play with such confidence and joy -- even if my 20-year-old soul is still trying to convince me that college furniture isn't as uncomfortable as my 40-plus-year-old body thinks it is.

But I think I got more than I expected.

Kids who have learned about themselves.

Kids who have gained confidence.

Kids who have taught me that as long as it works out in the end, it's all good.

This year has again shown me that what I expect isn't always what happens, but what happens is what should be.


Five Minute Friday is a weekly event. Our hostess, Kate chooses a single word to start the free-writing process - this week, it's Expect. It's not about revising your thoughts to perfection, it's about taking 5 minutes to just put it all out there. New writers and readers are always welcome.

©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.
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