Thursday, December 29, 2011

7 Tipping Points that Saved the World

One thing I love about homeschooling my children is that it supplements my own education - especially in history.

I appreciated how much history I had learned when I read 7 Tipping Points That Saved the World by Chris and Ted Stewart.

Their focus is on freedom and individual liberties.  They make a good argument in the introduction that we live in a very unique time in history in which liberty is the norm.  The purpose of their book is to point out specific moments in history which could have destroyed the foundations of our liberties if the outcome had been different.

The cool thing, for me, is that I was familiar with each of the events - not from my own schooling, but from teaching my children at home.  Even if you're not familiar with the historical events, you will enjoy this book.

This is not a dry, technical history book.  The Stewarts incorporate narratives, bringing readers to the time and place they are discussing in that chapter.  Then they include relevant historical information, and make their claim that if the outcome had been different, the world as we know it would not have been.

I'm looking forward to reading their first book, Seven Miracles That Saved America.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Once in Royal David's City

Once in Royal David's City
Cecil F. Alexander

Once in Royal David's City
Stood a lowly cattle shed
Where a mother laid her baby
In a manger for His bed;
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little child.

He came down to earth from heaven
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Savior holy.

And through all His wondrous childhood
He would honor and obey,
Love and watch the lowly maiden
In whose gentle arms He lay:
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heav'n above,
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.

Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him, but in heaven,
Set at God's right hand on high;
When like stars His children crowned
All in white shall wait around.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Sir Winter

When I think of winter, this is what I imagine: the aftermath of the Blizzard of 2011 last February.

Thankfully, we've had no such snow this winter, and I'm not sure we're expecting anything like this (much to my children's chagrin).  They would love winter to be snow this deep every day.

Quite frankly, if it weren't for the digging out part, I would too.  Because then my children would be outside every day, playing in the snow.  Playing outside in the cold, without snow, does not hold the same charm or excitement.

So far this year, we've been fortunate.  We've had relatively mild weather and only a dusting of snow (which does not make for dramatic pictures).  But this week it's starting to get colder and colder.


Sir Winter
Jean Kenward

I heard Sir Winter coming,
He crept out of his bed
and rubbed his thin and freezing hands:
'I'll soon be up!' he said.

'I'll shudder at the keyhole
and rattle at the door,
I'll strip the trees of all their leaves
and strew them on the floor.

'I'll harden every puddle
that Autumn thinks is his - 
I'll lay a sparkling quilt of snow
on everything that is!

'I'll bring a load of darkness
as large as any coal,
and drive my husky dogs across
the world, from pole to pole.

'Oho! How you will shiver!'
- And then I heard him say;
'But in the middle of it all
I'll give you


Yay for Christmas!  As the radio is playing right now, "It's the most wonderful time of the year!"

Monday, December 05, 2011

If you're lucky enough...

... to live near a Trader Joe's, or know someone who does...

And if you love peppermint tea...

I highly recommend you high-tail it to your nearest store,

or politely beg your friend or relative,

for Trader Joe's Candy Cane Green Tea.

I read about the Candy Cane Green Tea in the holiday Fearless Flyer, and thought, "Well, if it tastes half as good as they say it does, then I'll probably enjoy it."

Oh. my. word.

Best peppermint tea I've ever tasted.  Hands down.  Sending my dear husband for another box before they're gone (maybe the rest of the store's inventory?).

And don't ask for some when you come visit.  I'm not sharing mine.

(Unless you're Dawn Swendsen.  Cause she's having twins, so she's special.)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Breaking Stalin's Nose

Interesting title, isn't it? Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin is a children's book, written from a young boy's perspective during the time of Stalin's rule of the USSR.

Sasha Zaichik is about to join the Young Pioneers - and he cannot wait! He writes a letter to Stalin as he waits for his father to come home from work. His father works in State Security, and Sasha is proud of the work he does, rooting out traitors from their country.

Suddenly, his world changes completely. The Secret Service comes and arrests his father. Sasha is shocked, and he immediately tries to go see Stalin, the great leader.  Sasha is sure Stalin would realize a big mistake has been made, and would immediately release his father.

However, things do not go as planned, and events go from bad to worse when Sasha makes his way to school the next day.

Yelchin does a masterful job of slowly exposing Sasha's naivete' throughout the course of the book - and exposing the sinister underpinnings of the system Sasha trusted explicitly. Yelchin grew up in the USSR, and used his own experiences to write this book - which he explains in an afterword.

Because of the disturbing nature of peer pressure, group-think, and manipulation, children should not read this book without an adult. (Which is why I'm reviewing it here instead of on my kid's book review blog.) However, with an adult's guidance and discussion, this book can be a powerful tool in helping children (and adults) understand how people survive in hostile dictatorships.