Wednesday, February 24, 2016

book sale finds

February brings a large area book sale which, over the years, has swelled our home library with many favorites. I didn't scour the children's section as I have in years gone by, but I did find some nice additions and maybe a few that will only be read once and then passed along. It's always a gamble, but when I am paying a dollar or less per book, I can afford to be liberal. 

When I delightedly found the hard cover edition of The Phantom Tollbooth, my 12 year old was incredulous that I was buying yet another copy of this book. "Don't we have like four copies at home already?" Yes, but this one is hardcover and look at the map drawings on the endpapers. And our paperback copies are in varying states of used. And you will each want one for your own libraries. See, completely justified and only a dollar.

The Phantom Tollbooth map
 Some of you saw these spines on my Instagram photo, but really, we all want to see the covers. I haunted the classics and poetry sections of the sale on the night I went and found quite a few treasures. John Buchan's The 39 Steps, Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad, and T.S. Eliot poems. I have other Buchan books, but I wanted to start his series in the right order. I'm enjoying 39 Steps so far. Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's was drab. The James Thurber collection, (gray spine on left) looks fun.

*Edited to add:
All the books get the same treatment every year. We wipe the covers down with disinfectant wipes, being careful to not rub too hard. If necessary, we peel old stickers and remove sticker residue with Goo Gone if possible. Then the books are scanned or manually added in to my Library Thing account. It's not a perfect database, but it gives me some idea of what books we have.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

therapy work and play

We have resumed private therapy for Kate and one of the first things we learned from this wonderful therapist is that trunk rotation is connected to lateral tongue movement.
Meaning if you can stand stationary and put your hands on your hips, swing your elbows out and rotate your hips(trunk), you can likely move your tongue from one corner of your lips to the other.
Kate can't rotate her trunk without support and she can't move her tongue from side-to-side. She tilts her whole head and cranes her neck to try to move it.
The body movements are all connected and accomplishing trunk movements is key to helping get the tongue moving laterally for eating and chewing.
So we are working on trunk rotation games and tongue movement. If you are praying for Kate, those would be two precise things to pray for her to learn to do. And that we would be faithful in making time for her to intentionally practice these skills.
This a very short article explaining more. (I apologize for the cross-post on my Facebook page, but I know some of my most faithful prayer warriors read here and not there.)

Also I don't post home videos very often, but here is a video I took last week of Kate putting one of my old sweaters on a hanger. I usually can tell when she's been hanging things up in my part of the closet. But the fact that she has taught herself to do this is amazing to me.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

those who belong to Him

I woke quite early this morning with yesterday's voices and thoughts of dear Christian friends expressing their grief and their hope over the unexpected passing of their wife, mother and friend. Surrounded by God's people, they gave testimony of both their sorrow and their joy. The tears flowed and will continue to flow until they are no longer needed. Our church families feel the heavy pain of part of the body being taken away from us without our consent or notice, yet it is to this body and its Head that we cling to, confident in His care and compassion for us.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

January Book List

Picture Books

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes
A tiny gardener inspiring a child-sized gardener to plant and care for flowers in the space around their home. Rich and full illustrations tell the story of life in a garden. Very nice.

The Big Book of Slumber by Giovanna Zoboli, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani, translated by Antony Shugaar
So I wanted to really like this, especially since Alicia from Posie Gets Cozy mentioned it, but the translated rhymes didn't work very well on some of the pages, although the illustrations captured the imagination. Alright, but not great, in my opinion.


Witness by Whittaker Chambers
I cannot do this book justice in this space, but I am so thankful to have read it, not just for the information, but also for the tremendous spirit displayed in this memoir. Mr. Whittaker Chambers first became an open Communist Party member around 1924-25. He wrote for several Communist newspapers before being recruited to join the underground Communist Party and eventually a Soviet secret agent, I believe. By 1937-38, he wanted out. This is his story of his life.
It is 800 pages and took me the whole month of January, but I persevered through some of the tedious details and names to find many passages that spoke directly to my soul. I'm not very well read, but if I had one of those lists of the best 100 books that everyone should read or books that I would take to a desert island, this would be on it, right near the top.

Without You, There is No Us: My Time With the Sons of North Korea's Elite by Suki Kim
The following is from my review that I wrote on Goodreads.

This is the first book I have ever read on North Korea, so my review reflects that. I first encountered the idea of the book in an article I read by the author which intrigued me about the book. After waiting months in the library queue, my turn came with the book. I didn't realize that the author had been allowed in to teach at this elite school under the guise of being a Christian missionary. More on that deception later.
Her derision of Christianity is evident, even the mystical brand of Christianity she recounts from her fellow teachers which not all Christians are comfortable with, myself included. But when she recounts coming away from a staff worship service discussing how interchangeable the words 'Jesus' and 'Great Leader' could be in the Christian hymns, you know she questions the validity of the claims of Christianity, not the other way around. 

Although earlier in her book, she had noted that North Koreans do consider their leaders to be gods, so her observations about Christian hymns seems silly at that point. "We all believe what we want to believe," she concludes. Her religious background is Confucianism, but the only reference she makes to her adherence is a trip she remembers making on behalf of her father to tend the ancestral gravestones in South Korea. 
Other reviewers have mentioned her obsession with writing about her love life with deliberate vagueness, yet her habitual use of the term lover to describe the person she writes to while teaching seems pathetic since she openly admits he doesn't love her. Strange relationship, and even stranger that she spends so much time discussing it. Perhaps that just shows how solitary and insular life becomes for those who spend any amount of time there. I don't know.
I mentioned earlier that she knowingly deceives her co-workers on her religious beliefs, apparently even taking Communion during their secret worship services, which becomes a bit of blow-up when she is confronted about that practice by one of her co-teachers and friends. The deception is interesting because she notes that one of the things that becomes hard to abide is the outright lying she knows her students incessantly participate in during her conversations with them. She views them as her children at times, but struggles with her affection with them because of their habitual and even unnecessary dishonesty. She realizes that this is the environment with which they have been raised and trained in, so she gives them a pass. But what of her own deception of which she knows is wrong? It is justified evidently by her desire to use her gathered notes to write this book which lets the outside world know what North Korean culture is like. She admits in the closing paragraphs of her memoir, that the publishing of the book will hurt the staff of the school, but does not appear to be bothered much by it. 
I did find the book interesting because of the descriptions of North and South Korea she provides and the conversations she has, plus her insider knowledge of Korean culture and history is interesting. I would have to read other books on North Korea before I could truly say if I recommend this one or not. I read it in 24 hours after bringing it home from the library, so I can say that I was compelled to read the book. That's something.


The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, translated by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos
I have written a post about our story discussion experience here and posted our subsequent essays here, so I won't repeat myself. This book proved to be full of interesting details and have many threads of insights tied up into the plot. We discussed the possibility of Erik, the Phantom impersonating The Angel of Music and the idea that Angel implies a minister of good, not evil. Seth also noted that the phantom is a ghost, yet also appears to be human who is susceptible to death. And in his essay, he discusses the idea of Erik living under the opera as a possible symbol of the Underworld. I'm glad we both read it and took the time to explore the story using our Lost Tools of Writing program which has been extremely valuable.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

two essays, one story

As I mentioned last month, we have been working on persuasive essay writing through a book discussion on The Phantom of the Opera.  This was our first time encountering this story, even though the musical and stage productions have made this story familiar to many.
After working through several drafts, both handwritten and typed, we reached a consensus on my son's final draft. We both worked on paper through the various steps of Invention, Arrangement and Elocution for this third essay. It is a process that while is still new to us in some ways, is yielding such good insights into the stories that we continue to persevere in following the instructions set out in The Lost Tools of Writing.

After Seth's final draft was secured, I thought I might take my notes and attempt to write an essay taking the other side of our issue. I was more convinced in the position Seth chose, but thought it would be good for me to try for a different position using the same issue we had chosen.

So I leave you with our two essays and if you are familiar with the story, ask you to consider where you fall on the issue presented.

ESSAY 3: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA           Feb.2, 2016

Have you ever seen a ghost or an angel? Have you ever welcomed a stranger to your house?
These questions apply to why I believe that Christine Daae should not have welcomed the Angel of Music in The Phantom of the Opera. She was not cautious, was not careful of her possessions, and did not consider what the Angel said.

Christine should not have welcomed the Angel because she was lured by Erik’s singing. She was so caught up in his singing that she did not ask herself who or what was singing. She did not know the Angel’s plans for her, she should have asked why he was here. She could not see Erik, she should have asked other singers or musicians if they had seen him.

Christine should not have welcomed the Angel because she should not have given her soul to a stranger. Christine said she was dead since she gave her soul to him. The Angel was a curse because he caused pain and suffering to Christine.         

Christine should not have welcomed the Angel because Erik may have been a demon-possessed man. He lived under the opera house which signifies that he may have come from the Underworld. The Angel was a fictional figure who was not supposed to be real.

I believe that Christine Daae should not have welcomed the Angel of Music: She was not cautious, was not careful of her possessions, and did not consider what the Angel said.

The Phantom of the Opera February 5, 2016

What is the cost of love? If there is no cost, is it truly love? Through these questions, I seek to explore the idea that Christine Daae in The Phantom of the Opera rightly introduced Erik, the Angel of Music into her life for the following three reasons: it promoted her singing career, it provided a connection with her dead family, and  it caused her to have compassion for suffering.

The Angel of Music promoted Christine’s singing career by providing her with fame and status following an enhancement of her singing talent. He provided her with a personal mentoring experience that allowed her to become successful. And lastly, he provided her with an even greater ability to do what she loved, singing.

The Angel of Music provided Christine with a connection to her dead mother and father. He was a companion who knew both the loves of her past and the hopes for her future. His arrival was the fulfillment of a promise made to her by her father when she was yet a young girl.

By introducing the Angel of Music into her life, Christine was given the opportunity to have compassion for the suffering of another. She was able to give the love and affection that Erik’s mother had refused him. By agreeing to marry him, she showed sacrificial love to both Raoul, her devoted lover and to Erik, her unintended lover when they both needed her most. She promised to attend to the details of Erik’s burial upon his death as a final act of compassion to him.

While Christine’s acts of love to the Angel of Music may have cost her turmoil and suffering, she rightly introduced him into her life because it promoted her singing career, provided a connection with her dead family and caused her to have compassion for the suffering of others.