Saturday, October 25, 2008

Voice Suicide

Morton Cooper's Stop Committing Voice Suicide was recommended to me. After interlibrary loaning it, I skimmed the first chapter and found a few pertinent pages. Then I got busy and set the book aside. Seeing as how it's due back in a week, I figured I best be reading the rest of the book.

Most of the book is testimonials as to how people can learn to stop abusing their voices, and how badly most of the medical community misunderstands this, resorting instead to ineffective medications and treatments and surgeries and poisons (Botox injections). Essentially, the author needs only a few pages to give the advice that's necessary to find one's "natural voice." And it only takes a minute or two to figure that out. The problem is practicing practicing practicing to learn to use your natural voice (in the bottom half of your skull) instead of the throat voice (in the upper part of the neck).

Homeschooling inadvertently taught me to start using my voice from my throat, and I paid the price for it. After all the laryngitis and pain, my method of compensation was to get quieter, not to talk to friends as much in person or on the phone, to sing less, to read aloud to the kids less, to limit the use of my voice. So today I managed to figure out how to make the sounds "in the mask" and to bop back and forth between the throat and the resonance "in the mask" (sound coming from the mouth and the nasal cavity). I still can't make words the right way, but I've been humming and la-la-ing in my baby steps of learning to speak in a way that doesn't exhaust my voice. I feel dumb practicing, but I'm holding out hopes that I may once again be able to read aloud or discuss the kids' schoolwork for more than an hour or two a day.

Trick or Treat

Tonight was the assigned date for trick-or-treating in our township. This is our first time having trick-or-treaters since 1988. At our last home, the neighbors weren't interested in trick-or-treating; they were of the four-footed variety and said "moo" and "baaa" instead of "Trick or Treat!" At the parsonage before that, we enjoyed trick-or-treating for the first two years, but for the next two years the congregation had a "fall festival party" that was arranged to interfere with treat-or-treat hours.

This was a NICE batch of trick-or-treaters! We had 23 kids come by. Parents tagged along, not too close, but at a safe distance away. Except for a couple of younger siblings out with the crew, all the kids were about age 4-11, and they all bothered to dress up in costume. That made for a pleasant time passin' out the candy.

And I over-estimated how many trick-or-treaters, so darn it!, there are Snickers left over that we will have to eat so as not to let them go to waste.

Friday, October 24, 2008

April 25

Quick, Katie and Rachel. We're going to play Jeopardy for a second. Tell Grandma and Aunt Karen the question.

The answer is:
April 25.

The question is:


Andrew's driving test was today. Not only did he pass, but he got a perfect score.

Yesterday we picked up Maggie's [month-old] bike which spent the last week in the shop. Today we rode to chapel. On the way home, she fell over. The metal in the gears is twisted, in need of further repairs, and we had to walk the bike home the last 1½ miles. That is pretty depressing.

I should just focus instead on Andrew's new license, and not on further bike repairs.

Good for Andrew.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Indoor Light

As some of us talked last night about winter, and the dark, and the cold, Sherry mentioned something she stumbled upon by accident. She said she put candles in her windows one December, and had to take the screens off to do it. She noticed that doing so let in a lot more light.

We were thinking the window screens in the bedrooms would be removed during winter because of naughty kitties scratching at windows. But now I'm thinking that maybe some other screens might need to take a hiatus in the basement.

Oh, Mr Sun, Sun, Mr Golden Sun,
please shine down on me!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Our Bible story today again made mention of Rahab who hid the spies and kept them safe when it was time for Israel to enter the Promised Land.

In the Psalms and the Prophets, it always seems like Rahab is bad. This has long confused me. So I asked this morning.

Guess what? It's easier than I thought. Rahab was a nickname for Egypt because of mythical stories about the Rahab-beast. So the woman in the line of promise had the name Rahab, but usually when we hear about "Rahab" later in the Bible, it's a reference to Egypt who enslaved God's people. Wow -- I should've asked this question a long time ago!


Adults wring their hands and worry over teenagers who think they're immortal. Some teenagers think they can beat the train across the tracks. They'll try car-surfing. The kids can't figure out the adults' concern; after all, they're going to be just fine, nothing bad will happen to them.

Kids who don't do wacky and dangerous things will insist that THEY don't think THEY're immortal like some of those OTHER teenagers. I remember conversations with my son-in-law (long before he was interested in my daughter) where he couldn't understand why his mom would worry about certain things he did. Ummm, that would be because Nathan was thinking he was immortal. Oh, he would object when I said that!

I would vociferously disagree when somebody told me as a teenager that I thought I was immortal. I knew better than that. How could anybody suggest such nonsense of me? And yet, twenty years later, I realized that there were rides at Six Flags that scared me. Why hadn't they scared me before? Ummm, because back then, I was immortal.

I'm seeing now all sorts of things that I did (a practical teenager who knew, of course, that she wasn't immortal) that betrays how much I figured I was immune to death. I knew better in my head. But not in my gut. For instance, how shocked I am (and likewise my middle-aged friends are) at bodies that cannot do what they used to be able to do. Even if I do have time for it, I cannot mow the whole yard and clean the whole house in one day anymore; there's just not energy to do it like there used to be.

And it's not just the youngsters. We all know people who get to be in their 60s or 70s, and then a friend dies, and then another friend, and then another. And the person begins to think, "Oh my gosh! What's going on? All my friends are dying! What's up with this?" Logically, our minds know better, but there's still that element of shock down in our gut that our buddies --our agemates-- die.

Maybe that's just a tiny little hint that death is foreign, and things weren't created to be this way.

Or maybe it's just that it takes us a long long time to get it through our skulls that sin and death are part of our very own selves.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Israelites' Passovers

We've been reading the stories from Exodus to Joshua, about the wilderness wanderings. Today's story was the first celebration of the Passover in the Promised Land. What struck me, though, was the preceding verses in Joshua 5. The men under age 40 needed to be circumcised because they hadn't been doing that since they left Egypt.

That leaves me with lots to wonder about. Does this mean that the parents who died in the wilderness were not believers? If they didn't believe the promises of God, they would not desire to bring their children into the covenant, and thus wouldn't bother to circumcise their baby boys.

Does this mean that there were no Passover celebrations during the 39 years after the Israelites refused to go into Canaan? The Torah doesn't mention Passover celebrations during those years, but that doesn't mean they didn't happen. But those who are uncircumcised could not participate in the feast -- just like those who are not baptized may not commune.

I don't know what all this means, but there is one thing that is certain. In light of this, God's grace and mercy and abounding faithfulness is even more overwhelming. If we are faithless, He is faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. And boy, you sure do see it here when you realize that, for all those years, the Israelites didn't even circ their children. Still, God stood by His promises.

Today's Goals

Ditch school. Mow the yard which hasn't been touched in about 4 weeks. Make sure children have winter clothes (of the correct size, even) out of storage and in their closets. Go shopping (which I've put off for more than two weeks now -- the list is getting long and the pantry is getting empty in selective places). Clean the house. Finish my first pass through on editing Mark.

One out of six accomplished.

And no, surprisingly "ditch school" was NOT the one we got right.

We did get the winter clothes out. Hooray -- children will not turn blue and get frostbite indoors. (I also gave up on the cold today and turned on the furnace.)

Some cleaning was done. Most of the mowing was done. And a little schoolwork was thrown in too. Shopping postponed. And I still have hopes of finishing that last lesson in the book so that I can begin making changes and corrections to the computer file.

Maybe by tomorrow night I will have made a dent in most (???) of today's list. Let's not even think about what happens to tomorrow's list. Shhhhhh!

Monday, October 20, 2008


My friend LW posted a link in the comments to Mental Floss, a magazine Jane introduced me to, and which is really funny. Oh oh oh, the website sucked me in and wouldn't let go!!

Having a son who is notorious for Rickrolling people, I found the Barakrolling video hilarious!

The ATM Money-Eater

I was loathe to get into online banking and debit cards. The old-fashioned paper-way had worked just fine all along. I finally was dragged into it, and am not happy with mistakes that have transpired. But the one mistake I'm writing about today is the ATM eating money.

Apparently, if you don't grab the money fast enough (you have a few seconds) the ATM will suck the money back inside. It's not supposed to withdraw the money from your account (or at least that's what some of the human bank tellers tell me). Two weeks ago, the automatic teller ate $100 of mine. It was only the third time in my life I'd used the ATM to get money out of my account. When I went inside to the human tellers, they checked the computer and assured me that the money was not withdrawn from my account.

Guess what I found this weekend?

I filled out paperwork at the bank today to request an investigation to verify that I didn't get the money that the computer says I did get. They tell me it will be about 10 days before the amount is credited back into my account.

You know what? PEOPLE at the bank never grab the money back. I trust the people. I don't trust the technology and the machines.

Moral of the story: avoid those blasted machines. But if I need to use it, do NOT under any circumstances answer a child's question, picked up a dropped item, record your withdrawal, or wave at your neighbor while waiting for the money to be spit out of the machine. Be there, waiting to nab it, posthaste!

Enzymes and Allergies

Between my forgetfulness, and having company, and eating away from home, I haven't had my enzyme capsules with meals since Friday. The roof of my mouth itches. My eyes are red and itchy. The allergy symptoms are threatening to overwhelm. Sometimes I don't believe that the enzymes do so much to keep me comfortable. And then I forget to take them and can really see how much I depend on them. I suppose Sudafed and Claritin would be a little cheaper (assuming I used off-brands) but it's nice to know the enzymes are dealing with the real problem instead of just treating the symptoms like the allergy meds do.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Place Value

I keep hitting stumbling blocks in Maggie's math. There's a concept that I will think she has long since mastered, and then we find out she hasn't. So I back up and teach it again. Then we go on. And then, lo and behold, it turns out that she hadn't actually gotten it. So we back up again.

In the past month, we've retreated all the way back to place value. I think what we're doing now might be effective. It seems like there are synapses firing at an increasing rate, anyhow.

We spent a lot of time just adding 10 to a number (dozens of numbers per day for several days). Then we added 100 to a number. After some work with that, I started making charts: 5-8 numbers across the top of a page (2- or 3-digits each), with 5-8 rows of instructions (add 10, subtract 10, add 300, subtract 100, add 20, etc). After two weeks of that, she's got it ... as long it doesn't involve regrouping. And she even answers some of the regrouping questions correctly.

I keep wondering if I should be saving all these worksheets I make for her, and publish them under the title Beat-It-to-Death Arithmetic.