For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Hymn

Powerful, wonderful hymn, we need to sing more often.

How Sweet and Awesome is the The Place

Isaac Watts


VERSE 1 
How sweet and aweful is the place 
With Christ within the doors 
While everlasting love displays 
The choicest of her stores 

VERSE 2 
While all our hearts and all our songs 
Join to admire the feast 
Each of us cry with thankful tongues 
“Lord, why was I a guest?” 

VERSE 3 
“Why was I made to hear Thy voice 
And enter while there's room 
When thousands make a wretched choice 
And rather starve than come?” 

VERSE 4 
’Twas the same love that spread the feast 
That sweetly drew us in 
Else we had still refused to taste 
And perished in our sin 

VERSE 5 
Pity the nations, O our God 
Constrain the earth to come 
Send Thy victorious Word abroad 
And bring the strangers home 

VERSE 6 
We long to see Thy churches full 
That all the chosen race 
May with one voice and heart and soul 
Sing Thy redeeming grace 



Thursday, April 10, 2014

Supercharged Science - TOS Review

One of our recent review item has been an online science curriculum called Supercharged Science. We received a one year subscription to the e-Science Premium membership.
Supercharged Science is a hands-on, complete K-12 science curriculum written by a very knowledgeable scientist (BA and MA in Mechanical Engineering and worked on rockets at NASA).

Supercharged Science is a full program rich in experiments. The author took the time to prepare videos of a vast, and I mean vast, number of experiments in every science topics out there. She included explanations of the experiments in written form, as well as in the videos themselves.
It is an online program which means you need a computer, internet connection and a log in. The material covered can be searched by topics or grade levels.

Topics covered include:
  • Mechanics
  • Motion
  • Matter
  • Energy
  • Sound
  • Astrophysics
  • Chemistry
  • Light 
  • Electricity
  • Magnetism
  • Alternative energy
  • Thermodynamics
  • Electronics
  • Life science
  • Biology
  • Earth Science
  • Some more advanced topics
Each topic consists of a unit. Inside each unit are:
  • A getting started/introductory video and text
  • A download link for the textbook text of the whole unit (lesson, experiments, questions)
  • Link to the shopping list for the whole unit
  • Link to each lesson. There usually is 2 lessons within each unit.
  • Link to each lesson's set of experiments
  • Link to each lesson's textbook reading
  • Link to each lesson's exercises
The site looks overwhelming at first, but there are lots of videos to help you navigate it through.


A lot of the experiments require extra material, meaning buying apparatus, but you can find experiments that only use household items.  We mainly did those ones.

Our opinion:

I am not a science geek. My husband has a degree in chemistry but does not have much time to do school. So, I am usually the one doing it. I am not a big fan of experiments because they do not always come out right and I do not like that.

I had heard of Supercharged Science before and had known about its abundance of experiments and how excited Aurora is in teaching science.

Supercharged Science is a great way to get your kids to experience and love science. The experiments are varied and engaging. Aurora is enthusiastic and you can tell she knows and love what she is doing.

Since the boys are all over the grades I decided to use the program by topics. You can start from the very beginning and make your way through by picking whichever topic interests you. We kind of jumped around according to what they wanted to explore. We did Matter, a bit of Astrophysics and poked in a few other ones.

A few of what I like about Supercharged Science:
  • The amount to choose from. It is really a buffet of experiments and topics.
  • The experiments are shown in a step by step manner. You can see and hear in the video how the experiment goes. And then you can go on and do the experiment following the written instructions.
  • Each experiment has a list of the material needed.
  • Each unit has an introductory video which sparks your interest in what in going to be covered.
  • The review exercises which are in the form of questions
  • The downloadable format of the unit, which you can print.
  • It can be done independently if the child is motivated enough.
We enjoyed especially 2 of the experiments:
  • Making Moon Sand
  • Microwaving soap
The boys were really excited to learn that there were 5 states of matter as opposed to the 3 common ones we usually talk about.

Though I like the way Supercharged Science teaches science, I found Supercharged Science difficult to implement in our homeschool. She does say on the website that implementing this program demands a deliberate effort to schedule it in. Being the not so schedule kind of mom, I had problems making sure it was being done every day as I had hoped and would want.

The boys (and myself) really enjoyed watching the videos and doing the experiments, but taking the time to decide which one we were gonna do was were I had great difficulty. There are so many topics to choose from, so many experiments to choose from, and the "can't decide" type of person that I am somewhat dreaded having to go through the process. I had to go through the ones I thought might be interesting to do, then go through the material needed. If I did not have them, we would watch and then go on to another one.


My boys did not particularly care for the reading part of the program but I think it is because they are still young (8 and 10). I would have to read the material in advance and talk about it while or after we have done the experiment.

I think the depth and breath of this curriculum is astounding and worth every penny, you just have to make sure you are a well organized person and be ready to invest in the apparatus. You would still benefit from the program, but given the cost you would want to make use of it to its maximum potential.

Supercharged Science is a monthly subscription with different options, the one we received K-12 level costs $57. There is also the K-8 level which cost $37.

Just for you my readers, the company decided to offer a month worth of full access to e-Science for just $1.  You will be charged the regular price once the month is over.

You can also get free access to some sample experiments .



If you have any problems, please don't hesitate to reach out to Aurora (ashley@superchargedscience.com).

Click to read Crew Reviews



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Hymn

Another one of my favorite hymn: 

Great God of Wonders

Samuel Davies

Great God of wonders! All Thy ways
Are matchless, Godlike and divine;
But the fair glories of Thy grace
More Godlike and unrivaled shine,
More Godlike and unrivaled shine.
Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
Or who has grace so rich and free?

Crimes of such horror to forgive,
Such guilty, daring worms to spare;
This is Thy grand prerogative,
And none shall in the honor share,
And none shall in the honor share
Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
Or who has grace so rich and free?

 Angels and men, resign your claim
To pity, mercy, love and grace:
These glories crown Jehovah's Name
With an incomparable glaze
With an incomparable glaze.
Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
Or who has grace so rich and free?

In wonder lost, with trembling joy,
We take the pardon of our God:
Pardon for crimes of deepest dye,
A pardon bought with Jesus' blood,
A pardon bought with Jesus' blood.
Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
Or who has grace so rich and free?

 O may this strange, this matchless grace,
This Godlike miracle of love,
Fill the whole earth with grateful praise,
And all th'angelic choirs above,
And all th'angelic choirs above.
Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
Or who has grace so rich and free?

To hear the tune you can go on cyber hymnal.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Captivated DVD - TOS Review

Recently we received a DVD from Media Talk 101, whose purpose is to awaken our society about the dangers of technology and finding from its influences. I received the Movie Captivated DVD for review.

I was originally excited to receive this DVD, since, just like many parents, I have come to recognize and realize that technology is taking over our lives and the lives of our children, and that we need to beware. On top of that, my husband is studying the topic of  Media ecology  for the purpose of a doctoral paper (doctor of ministry), and we thought this
might be interesting and informative to watch.

Although, there were lots of thing that I think the DVD rightly pointed out, there were a few points that need careful consideration and with which we were disappointed (and from my husband point of view - who happenned to have read some of the research books mentionned -were disturbing ).

The details:

Audience: This is designed for adult but approved for all ages.
Price: $16.95

The 107-minute long movie/documentary was divided into 4 sections:
  • Media:Consumption which focused on statistics, and history.
  • Media Content: which focused on what media promotes and its influence.
  • Captivated, which focused on how media reflects and are medium for ideas, ideologies and philosophies.
  • Battleground which showed how the battleground is in the mind and how the enemy (the devil and the world) is woven within the very fabric of our lives and society, and that media is one of its means of influence.
  • Freedom which focuses on ways we could get out of this by replacement of media time with more godly, family-oriented and profitable activities.
The DVD also contains 9 extended interviews and a note from the producer in the extra bonus features.

First of all, let's look at the good things about this movie:
  • The movie is full of snippets of interviews from authors and researchers (Christian and secular), parents, and youth. There is a list of participants on their webpage.
  • Lots of pointed quotes and famous sayings from historical people as well as Scripture passages.
  • Full of personal testimonies.
  • Information on how the brain works and effects of media on the brain.
  • Shocking, sobering and scary statistics.

The main emphasis of Captivated, as it jumped at me watching it, is to bring to the fore the damages of the technological age in the lives of people, especially, the young ones.

A few of the things they point out are as following:
  • Kids' brains are being tricked to have a sense of accomplishment without actually doing anything substantial and rewarding.
  • Teenagers screen out parents and adults from their lives.
  • The trivia of youth is amplified.
  • It creates a peer controlled and moderated world and culture
  • It gives meaning to the word 'amuse' (as in a=no and muse=think)
  • The danger it presents to kids' attention span, social, writing and talking skills.
  • The danger on relationships and the type of connections young people have now, which is more in snippets.
  • The physiological effects
  • The wedge that it creates between parents and kids and one another in society.

My opinion:

I thought the DVD did a good job in showing how the secular media has an agenda and showing the evolution of the world of technology from the telegraph, to what we have now. Also, it pointed out how the world of media went from being concerned about decency to one that seeks to push the envelop more and more in an attempt to outdo one another. It is no longer about the public but about the business.

Despite all of this I am reluctant to recommend this DVD because of the following aspects of the DVD that were somewhat concerning:.
  • The movie seems one-sided and too simplistic. It lacked the nuanced critique that such a topic deserves. Its analysis of the effects of media did not go deep enough. It did not adequately point out that not all media is evil. The only nuanced part was in the bonus features that one might or might not get to watch. This is disappointing, especially since the producer clearly states (in his bonus feature personal interview) that he is not anti-media but wishes for more discernment from people. This did not come out as strongly in the movie itself.
  • The movie had a feel of scare tactic which potentially could lead to legalistic behavior. After watching the movie I was more concerned about what media is doing to my kids (and myself) than my need to live a life that glorifies God. Fear is not a very good motivation for change. It did not go deep enough in search of the real problem. it failed to deal with our sin problem and heart affections, which leads to replacing one addiction with another. Even if that other addiction is more godly we are still dealing with idolatry.
  • There was not enough of the Gospel. 80% of the movie was "media is bad" and 20% about what we should do and about God's good news and power in the Gospel.
  • The movie leaves you with the impression that you need to create a Christian ghetto.
  • There was not enough of positive encouragement besides unplugging.
  • The tactic was flawed because it sounded more like propaganda, which we (rightly) accuse the unbeliever of doing. We, as christians, should show a better way of analysing deep issues such as these. This is not just a problem for Christians.
  • It fell short of providing critical tools to engage media. David Murray seemed to be the only one going that route and I appreciated what he said.
The extended videos allowed for a better understanding of the points some of the interviewees wished to make. Unfortunately, a lot of what is being said in these extended videos, was somewhat undermined by the video itself, such as technology not being evil or bad, and yet in the movie itself they promote and strongly encourage disengagement and/or total unplugging, instead of ways in which we could think about its use biblically and in helpful ways.

 The one interview that stood out to me was the one of David Murray as he really offered a balanced view of technology and a gospel-centered approach and tactic to engage technology, as well as how to view its place in society. This is precisely what I found was missing from the overall message of the movie itself. The challenge is not to have a drastic behavioural change but thoughtful, biblical engagement, and critical use of technology. He rightly points to the problem of sin and how we tend to misuse God's good gifts. I love the term he used of "disciplined discernment" which he attributes to Tim Challies. I wish the movie focused more on that as opposed to the more negative bent it carried.

I empathize with the overall message of the DVD about being aware that too much media is not good for you and especially as Christians, when there are better things that one could be doing with his time. However, my husband and I strongly believe that as Christians we need to be careful to communicate truth reasonably (i.e with good logic and well-crafted arguments), instead of relying on an appeal to emotions. Failing in this area can have disatrous consequences.

Overall, this DVD might be helpful for people who have denied the negative effects of technology, in that it might serve as a wake up call, given its strong consequentialist overtone. However, I am afraid it might just preach to the choir and be shoved off by those we try to reach because of its unbalanced overall approach. In our case, we have been aware of these dangers and have been keeping an eye on them. We do not compromise family meal times, have one TV for the whole house, control amount and content, etc. This DVD did not bring much to the table of how to be more discerning, especially as we recognize that technological advancement will carry on with or without us. Again the key is critical, disciplined discernment as well as ordered affections, and these themes were touched on almost as an add-on.

I guess I would say the DVD addresses the ways in which, and the reasons why media can be dangerous, but did little to address the how we can engage and glorify God with it (beside may be doing documentaries like these).

My only advice is if you get this DVD, make sure you listen to David Murray's full interview, and reflect on it, as it really spells out the way we ought to think about technology, which message I found was missing from the DVD as a whole.


Click to read Crew Reviews
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Hymn


Come and See  
   Matt Redman

Behold the author of our salvation
Behold the wonder of grace so free
Behold the blessing of true forgiveness
At Calvary.

Behold the answer for all the broken
Behold the mercy that makes a way
Behold the pronise of perfect healing
At Calvary.

Ref:  Come and see, come and see what God has done
Come and see, come and see what Love have done
In this place hearts and lives waking up
To the Light of the world
You're light of the world

Your cross is speaking words of freedom
No condemnation shall we now fear
Our shame is silenced
Your love has triumphed
At Calvary

Bridge: God it's your love, here on display
We stand in awe it takes our breath away



Friday, March 28, 2014

Random 5 on Friday

The Pebble PondWhat has been going on at our house in the past weeks or so? As usual, not so much, but I thought it would be nice to note a few things that happened this week.

1. The boys had their first dentist visit this week. It went all well and no one complained.

2. Joho has been on an Asterix marathon, to which Zach and dad joined in.

3. We've been reviewing another science program (Supercharged Science), so we have been up to some experiments as well.

4. On the school front:
  • We are plodding through finishing The Logic of English. We are at lesson 31 out of 40.
  • In Math we are reviewing CTC Math, which seems to be working for the boys.
  • We're also covering Geography, History, Latin, French.
  • We are still enjoying our new writing curriculumL Writing and Rhetoric.
  • Zach is still plodding along in his Lord of the Rings as well as enjoying Kingdom series books. Joho is going along in his Hardy Boys series.
5. I am enjoying reading my newly arrived in the mail Old Schoolhouse Magazine.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Try a New Recipe Tuesday

Last week I had a few bananas that were left uneaten. Today I thought I wanted to make something sweet and thought I need to use these bananas. Of course, I went and browsed Pinterest, I got inspired and remembered a jamaican pastry that I used to like: Banana Tarts. So that is what I ended up making.

The boys and mom approved!

Banana Tarts

Ingredients:

Filling:
3 ripe bananas (you could use ripe plantains as well)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
nutmeg
vanilla

Pastry dough
2 cups flour
1/2 salt
2/3 cup butter or shortening
5Tbsp water


Prepare the dough:
1. Mix together salt and flour.
2. Cut the butter in the flour until ressembles coarse crumbs.
3. Add water, 2 Tbsp at a time, mixing with a fork. Form dough into a ball, and refrigerate wrapped in waxed paper.

Prepare filling:
1. Put bananas, sugar and water in a saucepan and cook at low to medium temperature until mixture thickens (about 15 minutes).
2. Add a pinch of nutmeg and vanilla.
3. Add optional food red coloring

Assembly:
1.Spread dough unto a working surface and make rounds.
2. Fill each round half full and seal, making sure to dempen the edges.
3. Brush the tarts with some milk and prick with a fork.
4. Place unto a baking sheet and bake at 450 for 10 min., then at 350 for 25 min.

Et voila, enjoy!

Family Time Fitness FREE Core 1

Have you heard? Family Time Fitness is offering their Core Curriculum 1 Program for free between now and March 21st. Here is your chance to try it.


Fitness 4 Homeschool - Core 1 Physical Education Curriculum



You can check my review of Family Time Fitness for more info.