Monday, September 19, 2005


Ayyy, Maties...

Get out your stuffed parrot and eye patch, jump on a dead man's chest and lift that glass of rum, it's international talk like a pirate day. (just heard it on NPR's Marketplace report, too late to give pirate lessons in school today but I will mark my calendar for next year and come up with something.) P.S. there where a number of pages to link to I picked this cause it had a list of handy phrases and monikers.


Found at the Library This Week....

I love libraries, I still remember the joy of getting my own library card as a kid (an orange paper square with a metal strip with an embossed number) and my librarian, Mrs. Craigey who was my good friend and book recommender from grade school through high school. I even went to her retirement party when I was in college. My childhood fantasy was to be locked in a library or bookstore.

Anyway, now that my small local branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia has been reopened for a year the shelves are getting to be more well stocked and with the wonder of the internet loans from other branches are a snap. So, I am having fun raiding the stacks for books for me, for the kids and to add to the topics (especially history) that we are studying in homeschool.

I found a great children's (probably mid/late grade school) historical fiction series, The Roman Mysteries, by Caroline Lawrence. It is a projected series of 18 books, half of which are currently published the rest coming by 2009. They follow 4 young friends of different backgrounds as they live life and solve some mysteries that come their way. They are set in AD79 and following in the Roman World and general Mediterranean world of that time. They seem to be historically accurate and the books include a glossary of Latin terms used and some maps or diagrams. I have read the first 3 so far and plan to keep on going.

The thing that really intrigues me is the way the author portrays the religious life of the times including one of the protagonists being a 1st century Jewish Christian. It really gives a good sense of what it was like to live and believe in that time and place and what the interaction of the various belief systems was like. The author does not shy away from having the doctrines of Christian faith discussed or lived out by the characters involved. Pantheistic Roman religion is also portrayed as a living part of the live of characters.

I don't think my 6 year old is quite ready for these yet because the depictions of some things like slavery, being chased by wild dogs, people dying as Vesuvius erupts etc. would be too intense and themes of love and marriage, loss of loved ones while discussed with modesty and appropriateness are present and might be best left for a few years. Though I do look forward to sharing them with my kids. I may even add them to our church library wish list since I think they would be a great way for kids to understand what life for a believer might have been like in the 1st century AD. Plus they are just fun.

Monday, September 12, 2005


Two sides to every story

My husband and I have been having an ongoing difference of opinion on how well disaster relief has gone at the federal level, how it is being reported etc. So it was interesting to read this 'cause it sorts supports my point of view. I'm not saying I know who is right and who is wrong. I will admit that I probably have a biased point of view. At least for now the point should be to help with immediate needs and with long term rebuilding. In the longer run it is more important to learn from what went well and what might have gone better, hopefully without too much partisan finger pointing.

Friday, September 09, 2005


Walk Like an Egyptian

I am using a history curriculum called Story of the World this year. My husband knows the woman who wrote it and some other friends have used and liked it. Though there are things you could argue about with it and lots of different ways to approach teaching history I am pretty happy with it so far. It is especially good for the age my kids are at preK/K and early elementary because it is flexible and has an emphasis on the story and flow of history rather then name and date type stuff. It also has maps, coloring pages, projects and story book suggestions to use as appropriate for your situation. They seem to be enjoying it and learning things.

Right now we are doing some of the first lessons on Ancient Egypt. Searching around on the web I found that The British Museum is the host to some awesome pages on Ancient Civilizations. We are using parts of the one on Ancient Egypt right now and I plan to use the others too as applicable. My kids (4.5 and 6) are like them a lot. They would be great for just about any age interested in some basic information and fun activities related to these civilizations.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


The melting pot

One of my favorite courses in college was one on US immigration and looking at the effect all these incoming peoples had on the culture and history of the country. Well it seems that the hurricane disaster in the south is writing a new chapter in the story of the American melting pot.
Today I have heard a number of stories about the foreign countries large and small, wealthy and not so wealthy, near and far that are sending or offering aid. These offers range from money, to equipment, to food and other necessities, to oil, to people with specific skills. These stories really touched me. Listening to various ambassadors and other representatives talk there were two main themes.

One was that some of their people lived in the affected areas and so to what ever degree possible they wanted to be of help on their behalf. This connection is fairly obvious in cases of the link between New Orleans Creole population and the countries of France and Canada. The connection to places like Bosnia Hertsogovenia may be less obvious, at least to me. That to me though is part of the beauty and strength of this country (even while it is sometimes part of the frustration). We are a big melting pot and all of those other places are part of us and in a way we are part of them and that provides a set of connections that just isn't the same anywhere else.

The other is that we (the US) are generally on the giving end of the stick rather then the receiving. The ambassador from Sweden said that even while frustrated by red tape holding up the movement of the things they want to donate they are highly motivated to persevere and help. Why? Because of what they saw in both the help given by and the attitude of the Americans providing aid in Indonesia after the tsunami, when over 500 vacationing Swedes were killed and many others injured. There is a seeming disbelief that we should need help from others. For the media this seems to feed into the American is unprepared and ineffectual story line. While there may be legitimate problems that we need to address in how all this is being handled it should not be seen as weakness to accept help freely offered, or even to ask for it.

It is a reminder to me of a number of things...
-To be thankful for the diversity that is America, even when I am frustrated by it.
-To be humble and willing to accept help when it is offered. To accept help freely offered, or even to ask for it is not weakness, especially when you have a need. It is a way of allowing others to do God's work in your life.
-To realize that for all the bad press we hear about our own country's image overseas that it may not be as bad as it looks and that people do see the good done by us too.
-God provides in mysterious ways for his people and to build bridges between parts of his broken creation. We are not meant to be loners, either as individuals or as nations but a part of the fellowship of God's people world wide.

Friday, September 02, 2005


Props to CHOP

Yesterday we had a play date with a friend and took them to our pool club. We hadn't been there an hour when my 4 yr. old son fell on the dino slide. He came over crying and saying he fell and heard his tooth crunch. I inspected his mouth and found no blood, nothing loose etc. As I cuddled him to me I noticed my chest was covered with blood. It was coming from his chin which had a nice 1 inch or more horizontal cut in it, deep enough that I could see flesh. The lifeguards helped me clean him up and bandage it to get home. I left a key with my friend so she could stay for awhile and she brought home my stroller and pool toys later. (thanks Ruth) I called my husband to come help drive us and watch my daughter while we went. I also called the clinic to see if we went there or to the ER and changed us all into dry clothes.

Then it was off to the Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania(CHOP) and their Emergency Room for the first time. It took more effort and time then usual to get there since it is move in week at the University of Pennsylvania which lies between home and CHOP. This meant more traffic, people double parked, people not sure where they were going, and rerouted traffic due to streets closed to accommodate unloading at the dorms. If the injury had been more serious I would have been stressed but it was fine and only added a few minutes.

I was very pleasantly surprised when we arrived. They had a large waiting area with crayons, coloring pages and other things to keep kids occupied while you wait. The wait was fairly short and the processing efficient. Everyone from the Nurse to the, Doctors to the guy who came in to refill the paper towel dispenser were so nice, polite and helpful. They talked directly to Andrew when appropriate, not just to me and Paul. They also used language appropriate to his age to make sure he understood what they were going to do to him.
Since its a teaching hospital we saw 4 or more different interns/residents who asked the same questions and looked at the wound to assess the options. (hey, what's a little extra time in the name of educating our future doctors).
In the end we were there for almost 3 hours, partly because we had to wait 15 mins between each of the 3 topical numbing medication applications and partly due to a shift change that occurred during our visit. But once the attending/head doctor realized how long we had been waiting for a final decision on treatment she saw to it we were finished up ASAP. (It's all in how you handle the problems, not the problems themselves)

The coolest parts were these:
-Instead of traditional stitches they were able to use "doctor glue", liquid adhesive/stitches to hold the skin together. The deciding factor was the placement of the cut in relation to what moves when you chew and talk and if it would be sufficient to hold or not. Seems to be doing ok, I guess so far and was definitely less traumatic for my son.
-They have a person who comes around to make sure that the kid is not freaked out, help answer any questions and provide books, or other appropriate entertainment/distraction tools if needed. She also gave him (and my daughter) stickers and a popsicle after we were all done. She was very nice and helpful and made the visit fun for Andrew.
-We got to have McDonalds for lunch since there is one as part of the hospital complex. It made dinner fast and easy and a treat for the kids. I had never gotten my lunch so I really needed to eat by the time we were done at 5:30. I even bagged the low carb habit I am trying to keep and went straight for a quarter pounder.

All in all I was very impressed by the hospital, the staff and the fact that they were so friendly, helpful and informative. It was especially great that my daughter could come back with us the whole time. Maybe next time (though I hope that won't be soon, often or serious) I will feel more able to handle the whole thing by myself and not make my husband leave work and come along. Though it was great and helpful to have him there I would have been fine alone. (Thanks Paul for coming and being so patient with my lack of clear thinking on the issue.) We are blessed and fortunate to live near such a quality facility.

Andrew seems to be doing fine, but is a very active kid so please pray that it will heal well and quickly and that he won't fall and knock it open or scrape off the material while horsing around.

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