Friday, December 31, 2010

3D Technology at the Seamans

This is sort of like one of those stories where the kid gets a great gift for Christmas and then plays with the box . . .

Our kids went to see a movie in 3D right before Christmas. They didn't go on and on about the technology; they just popped the lenses out of the glasses and started to goof around. They took them to all family events and got cousins, moms, and grandmothers into the act.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Book Review: "Slave" by John MacArthur

The subtitle for this book is "The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ."
When I think of metaphors to explain who I am as a Christian, I think of the father-child relationship or of how Jesus is my personal friend. I don't normally tend to think of myself as Christ's slave. It turns out that I am pretty typical for modern times. But what author John MacArthur is pointing out in this book is that early Christians all referred themselves as "slaves of Christ." In fact, the word "Christian" is only used three times in the New Testament, but "slave of Christ" occurs 123 times. His book explores the concept that because (1) this word was mistranslated as "servant" years ago (and a servant is a hired worker - very different than a slave) and (2) our culture really doesn't understand much about how slavery worked in the Roman empire of the New Testament, we have lost the meaning of this rich idea.

"Slave" contains a message I needed to hear. Thinking in terms of being a slave is the ultimate "it's not about me" attitude - which I could always use a heavy dose of. I tend to think of slavery as only negative (but in a theological sense, we were all enslaved to sin or self before we were purchased by our new Master, Christ). But one thing I need to keep in mind is that a slave did not need to worry about providing for himself - that's the master's job. What a comfort! And far from being a "slave driver," Jesus said "his yoke is easy and his burden is light."

Paul spoke of "bearing on his body the brand marks of Christ." He was referring to the scars from scourging and comparing them to the marks of ownership that a slave might have. The word picture that immediately came to mind for me was Woody in Toy Story. You remember how he has Andy's name written on his foot? And how he's not worried about anything but spending time with Andy? That's how I want to be.

I really enjoyed this book, though I must warn that it gets a little tedious in discussing theology (the doctrines of election, grace and eternal security are all discussed in depth) and in the details of Greek translation. You can tell that it is written by a seminary professor and not a layperson. There are generous footnotes and a lengthy appendix, if you like that sort of thing. I always feel obligated to read the footnotes and find it a little distracting. I wish it had contained a little more in the way of personal stories and application, but I definitely recommend it to the serious believer!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dickens December

This year, as one last unit study "hurrah" with all the kids before Rebecca leaves our homeschool for college, we are doing a study based on "A Christmas Carol." I bought this annotated version which has a wealth of extra info:

For our advent devotions, we are also reading "The Life of Our Lord" which is an abridged version of the gospel that Dickens wrote for his own children (he had ten of them) and read every year during advent.

We also read two stories that inspired "A Christmas Carol" - Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" and Dicken's own "The Story of The Goblin Who Stole a Sexton" (from "The Pickwick Papers"). We are reading abridged versions (or watching movies if available )of Dicken's other novels (just to know the plots) and are watching both a short bio and a long (10 episode) bio of Dickens that we found on Netflix. We are also studying a huge amount of new vocabulary words and "Humbug Grammar."

Our literature studies are going well. Our science studies are going poorly so far. I read on the internet that you could make a great pH indicator from poinsettia leaves. I planned to buy a poinsettia to do double duty as a decoration and a science experiment. However, the boys didn't see the plant in the car when they unloaded the groceries, and it ended up spending the night in the backseat.

Well, one thing the kids learned is that the poinsettia is a tropical plant and as such cannot survive temperatures below freezing. We chopped up the leaves and steeped them:

The mixture smelled pretty bad.

We used different acids and bases to test our indicator (I know, usually you use indicators to test acids and bases, not the other way around). Anyway, the poinsettia indicator was an "epic fail" as my boys like to say. The only thing we had fun with was mixing our acids and bases to make it foamy, and we could have done that with food coloring.

So the lesson we learned from this experiment is that you can't trust everything you read on the internet. Poinsettias are valuable as a decoration only.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gingerbread Nuclear Launch Facility

Last weekend we had a party for Nathan's soccer team at our house. We had planned to do s'mores in the firepit out back, but since it was sleeting we stayed inside. We ended up with many boxes of graham crackers. So we decided to put them to good use and use them as "faux gingerbread" to make some cool little houses.

Nathan got started, and I saw that he had a little table in his house. He said "That's not a table! It's a nuclear launching pad!"

Here it is complete with guard towers:

Most of the missiles are regular warheads (extras are stored inside). But there's also a special weapon, "fat boy" pictured out front here:

And here is the artist pictured with a lot of "nuclear waste" in the photo as well:

Gingerbread will never be the same!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

No Mo NaNoWriMo

Rebecca participated in "National Novel Writing Month" (NaNoWriMo) last month, and she wrote like a woman obsessed. She kept up with her word count each day (the website provides a graph to show you how you're keeping up), and I've never seen her so motivated. She wouldn't let me read her novel until it was done.

Anyway, I must say it was very gratifying to finally read the finished product last weekend. I kept thinking "This is the gal that I taught to read and write. She is the one I spent countless hours reading aloud to. Now I am sitting here enjoying the fruits of my labor - being entertained by a full-length book that she wrote herself." I enjoyed the story thoroughly. It was about a misfit in a Fairy Godmother school. Very funny and maybe a little sappy - but true to the genre.

I also got some insight into the way she works. I have dubbed this month "NaFiIlMo" for "National Finish your Illustrations Month" in order to motivate her to finish the drawings she is working on for a children's book. I even told her I would put a graph on the fridge so she can be accountable for how much she is getting done each day. We'll see if it works.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

I got to thinking that none of my family has ever seen my house decorated for Christmas - because I'm always at their homes for Christmas. So consider this a Christmas tour of the Seaman home - minus the free cider and cookies.

The kids usually get the tree down from the attic and put it together. I'm sure it's not as fun as going to a Christmas tree farm, but it's what we've always done so they don't know any different. This year, as soon as the tree went up, the boys left to go to Knoxville for a game, and Rebecca and I did the rest of the decorating.

Rebecca puts the lights on - following my random method instead of her Dad's meticulous all-day method. We had some fun watching "Love Story" while we decorated. I thought it was cool that I was able to get a picture of Ryan O'Neal working at a Christmas tree lot in the background with our tree.

Here's the tree with lights. You can tell by this point we had moved on from "Love Story" and were watching the Arkansas football game.

Here is our mantle. I always put a basket of Christmas books on the hearth along with the "Wise Guys" that Aunt Barbara made years ago. One of them has lost his gift, and one has actually lost his head a few times. Notice how the faces are interchangeable.

I've got a sofa table behind my loveseat now. Don't you love how you can still see the football game?

And last, but not least, here is our advent wreath. We are rebels, so we use green and red candles instead of pink and purple. I loved how I got the bokeh of the tree in the background. It's a technique I've been working on.

I really don't decorate much of the rest of the house. We spend most of our time in this room and the kitchen, and since you can see the tree from the kitchen, I usually don't bother decorating in there. Or you might say I decorate it with cookie dough, icing and sprinkles. In other words - a big mess.

I do have three special manger scenes in the house (which I'll save for a later post) and occasionally buy a poinsettia (this year's has already met an untimely death - watch for a post on that as well).

Thanks for taking the tour! If you ever visit in person, I promise I will provide cider and cookies.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sweet Potato vs. Pumpkin Challenge

A few weeks ago, I told Nathan that I might make a sweet potato pie for Thanksgiving this year. He refused to believe that someone would "make a pie out of a vegetable." I told him I didn't think he could tell the difference between pumpkin pie (one of his favorites) and sweet potatoe pie. He bet me $10 that he could! Well, money's been a little short lately, so I decided to accept the challenge.

Nathan started to get nervous. He reduced his bet. He reduced it again. Last Sunday I baked some pies. I used the same recipe except for the pumpkin and sweet potato. All my boys took a blind taste test. Only Noah could consistently tell the difference. I won a whole dollar from Nathan!!!

But what really made me a winner is that all the boys agreed that sweet potatoes make a good pie. A can of pumpkin costs $1.50. An equivalent amount of sweet potato (if you're willing to peel it, cook it and mash it), costs about 30 cents. So we'll be having sweet potato pie this year. The money we save will be used to help subsidize the apple pie for Rebecca and the pecan pie that we just had to have to round out our meal.

Here are my two pies. I will give my $1 to the first person who can correctly guess which one is pumpkin. Sorry I can't let you taste it. Both of the pies were gone in about 24 hours. Since sweet potatoes are a vegetable, the boys could justify eating some at every meal.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

True Colors

Recently, we did a little project involving tree identification that involved taking lots of photos of leaves, trees, and bark (this was supposed to be one of the educational projects that I was going to do as part of my work with Panasonic).

I think it's interesting that the green in leaves is just chlorophyll - the true colors of the leaf are what we see when the green is gone.

That's a great metaphor for life. For us, the "green" is gone - quite literally since we have had no income for a 10 months now. I feel like we are being given a chance to show our true colors! It is a comfort to me to know that God knows me - He knows my true color, and He can identify me without a field guide of any kind.

May our true colors bring glory to the Lord!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

On Being a Good Audience

There's a reason they call it performing in front of a "live audience." Have you ever been to a play or a performance where the audience was dead? My kids have seen both sides this year- audiences so good that they make a mediocre performance seem worthy of an academy award, and audiences that were so dead that performing in a morgue would have been more exciting. When they come home from a performance, I've learned that the best question to ask is "How was the audience?"

I've trying to apply this to my life in all kinds of ways. What kind of audience am I? At a soccer game, I want to learn the kid's names and encourage them from the sidelines. At a play performance, I want to be one of the ones that laughs and claps loudly. When I'm reading a friend's blog, I want to take time to leave a comment now and then. Romans 12: 15 tells us to "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." I want my friends to know I am in the audience of their lives, I am sharing in their victories and sorrows, and I am rooting for them.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Now Showing at Kingsport Theatre Guild

Rebecca, Caleb and Noah are currently performing in "Once Upon a Mattress" at Kingsport Theatre Guild - the musical based on the story of the "Princess and the Pea." I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see them sing and dance on stage for the first time.

From Once Upon a Mattress

From Once Upon a Mattress

Interestingly, we did our own version of "Princess in the Pea" several years back that proved that Terry is of royal blood. Terry is a little picky about how the bed is made, how his pillow is adjusted, etc. So almost ten years ago now, Rebecca and I put a few very small dried beans under the sheet on his side of the bed to see if he would notice. He passed the test. So I guess he really is my Prince Charming!

Running Around

Like most families, we do a lot of running around - especially when school starts back in the fall. Recently, that running has been literal.

Caleb has joined the recently-formed homeschool cross-country team. They don't have cool matching outfits, but they managed to do well at the recent Bristol Cross at Steele Creek Park. Caleb is easy to spot in his orange shorts!

From Running

From Running

From Running

From Running

Noah also decided to try some running. He recently ran in the Eastman Road Race. he didn't prepare at all for the one-mile race, so he found it fairly brutal.

From Running

From Running

Noah has declared that his running career is over. Caleb is going to be in another cross-country meet this next Saturday.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Noah's Birthday

Noah turned 11 on September 21st. It was a pretty low-key birthday. He started out with breakfast in bed (his request). Then after a short morning of school, we took our bikes and headed to the Greenbelt Trail in Kingsport.

From Sep. 2010 - Birthday

We turned it into a field trip that fit pretty nicely into our history studies lately.

We saw the site of the Battle of Kingsport - a Civil War battle that the Confederates lost in 1864:

From Sep. 2010 - Birthday

From Sep. 2010 - Birthday

We also saw this interesting monument that was created to honor the Indians. The land that the monument is on was given back to the Indians about 200 years after the white men first took it from them. It seemed like a fairly empty gift as there was nothing but a monument in a vacant field. I guess it's the thought that counts?

From Sep. 2010 - Birthday

Anyway, it was a beautiful day, and it was fun to get outside and enjoy it. Noah had a sleepover a few days later to complete his birthday celebration.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Into Each Life a Little Rain Must Fall

From Sep. 2010 - Damage to House

We woke up Saturday moment to a "shower" in our basement. A pipe had burst in the half-bath on the main floor while we slept and was flooding the floor below. There was about an inch of water on the basement carpet and the ceiling had collapsed in several places:

From Sep. 2010 - Damage to House

From Sep. 2010 - Damage to House

I started to cry when I saw the damage, but then somehow I just started to laugh. "When it rains, it pours" was all I could think of. Terry and I woke up the kids, and we had the basement room emptied in about an hour and started trying to ShopVac the carpet. Now, five days later, the old ceiling has been removed, the carpet pad has been pulled up and discarded, the carpet is dry, and best of all - the mildew smell is gone! Terry is a great do-it-yourselfer, so we may even come out ahead when the insurance pays up!

This is just another opportunity to ponder Matthew 6:19-21:

"Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

This is the verse that kept coming to mind when I accidentally erased my computer hard drive in June and then dropped my external hard drive (with all the back-up data) just a few weeks later. I realized that so much of the treasures of my life are stored in photos, video, and documents of various kinds. These things are important, but I realized that I had too much of my time and effort stored in something that was not eternal. It was a good reality check.

The College Search

Rebecca has started looking for colleges, or rather they have started looking for her. She is getting phone calls, letters, and emails every day. Our favorite has been the solicitation she got from the University of Oregon. They mailed her an "O" decal and encouraged her to take a picture of herself at a Tennessee landmark with the Oregon "O". I thought it was a pretty clever attention getter and was even funnier because it came just a few days before Tennessee was to play Oregon (and after the game, it really wasn't funny anymore).

Anyway, right now Rebecca is mostly interested in Milligan College because it's a good Christian, liberal arts school that is only twenty minutes from our house. They also give great scholarships so that it won't cost much more than a state school.

But another school in Tennessee, Bryan College, has already offered her a full scholarship - tuition, room and board, the works! We went to visit it on Labor Day.

Bryan is in Dayton, Tennessee. It's a very small town which is famous for the Scopes Monkey Trial that was held at the courthouse.

From Bryan College

William Jennings Bryan tried that case and died just five days after it ended. The college was his vision and was named after him. They had quotes from Bryan all over the campus, and I liked the one in the library that said "The incomparable benefit of the valuable experience of others."

From Bryan College

From Bryan College

From Bryan College

Saturday, September 11, 2010

From Camping on South Holston

We recently spent a week at one of our favorite spots - Little Oak Campground on S. Holston Lake. We had clear skies, a full moon at night, and absolutely no rain - a rarity when we go camping, it seems.

From Camping on South Holston

One of the highlights of this trip is that Noah finally joined the "slalom club" - ahead of his older brother, Caleb, which was part of the fun of it for him!

From Camping 2010

From Camping on South Holston

From Camping 2010

From Camping 2010

Another fun thing was Rebecca getting up on skis while wearing the 1920's bathing suit from the play she was recently in:

From Camping on South Holston

More photos: