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.