Thursday, May 21, 2015

Our Daisy

I never knew I was a "dog person"  until, at 40something years old, I had my first dog.

I wasn't raised around dogs, but the few I knew in passing were generally small dogs.  When I was little, my grandparents had a beagle that I would've loved to know if Shannon hadn't been so jumpy for a dog-shy little girl. My best friend growing up, Jennifer, had  a larger dog, but I have very few memories of him/her from all our times together.  Our neighbors had a poodle, Mitzi, who was the cutest but yappiest thing around;  she made us giggle with her my-bark-makes-up-for-my-size noise.

The boys begged for a dog.  We caved.  We opened our hearts to a co-worker's dog and I instantly fell in love.  I was no longer the only 'girl' in the house -- I had a buddy named Daisy.

She came to us as an active girl but with a history of Lyme disease.  She did not live up to a portion of her name -- the retriever part -- but she had some great food-related tricks.  

Adoption Day, 2008
Daisy was Levi's favorite comfort (3yo in this photo)

Daisy tolerated Tiger's kitten antics
May 2014

Yesterday, Friday, May 15, our sweet Daisy dog had to be put down.  The day before, she slowly walked up the stairs and hid in our boys closet while Dave was using an air compressor to build a shed in the backyard.  She has always been afraid of loud noises.  I have to admit, that I did not really worry about her -- or notice that she had not come downstairs in the evening -- until Friday morning.  Luke and I had to use a towel as a sling under her belly to get her down the stairs and into the car.  After dropping Ben and Luke at their play practice (thankfully, just a mile down the road from the vet), Levi and I took Daisy to the doctor.  I knew it was bad news.  She had a cancerous mass in her liver -- something common with golden retrievers.  She was bleeding out and it was time.  

I was able to run down the road and get Ben and Luke to say goodbye to Daisy.  Dave -- on his very first day of work! -- was able to leave early to also come say goodbye and help comfort the boys.  We all stayed with her until the end.  

Now, we live with all those firsts -- the quiet of our home, the changes to our routine.  I have some dog food and treats to pass on to the animal shelter.   I've washed her bowls for the last time.  We are super busy with life right now, but it is amazing how one of us will stop in our tracks and realize we miss her and our hearts ache.  

My facebook post on the day she died:  

Oh, to be loved by a good dog is a priceless gift; 
to love a good dog is such a blessing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

{Crew Review} Fishflix Family Friendly Movies: Unbroken Review

We love movies in our house, and Friday night tends to be a movie night here.  However, finding appropriate movies that span the ages from almost 16 to 9 can be challenging.  As you know, Hollywood can create some fabulous movies with great moral lessons, but there can be gratuitous profanity and/or images that we'd prefer to not expose our monsters to.

I jumped at the chance to review Unbroken Legacy of Faith Edition (yes, this is the Hollywood release) from has culled through the enormous offerings of production companies large and small to find movies that will uphold Judeo-Christian values.  You can view company information in their "About Us" section Review

As I mentioned, this is the Hollywood produced version of the film that was a huge hit on the big screen.  EXCEPT.  The "except" part makes this movie a bit more family friendly.  While not compromising the story, this version has blurred out some naked images, which some families may appreciate.

If you didn't catch the gist of this film, it is about Louis Zamperini, from the San Diego area whose Pacific Theater plane crashed into the ocean because of mechanical failure.  He and two crewmates survived on a life raft for 47 days before they are "rescued" by the Japanese and sent to POW camps. The physical and psychological horrors these POWs endure is gut-wrenching.  The movie follows the men through their internment until they are released after the war.

One of the criticisms of the Hollywood film, however, was that the "rest of the story" was not told. Upon his return from the war, Mr. Zamperini had a difficult time re-adjusting to his life and had horrible PTSD. By God's grace, Mr. Zamperini was able to heal, maintain the integrity of his young family, and go on to share the gospel message and impact many lives for Christ.  This part of Mr. Zamperini's story is fleshed out in the segments on the accompanying "Legacy of Faith: The Story Behind the Film" disc.  It includes these parts:

Introduction (8 minutes):  Pastor Greg Laurie shares how he first learned about Louie Zamperini and describes the four "lives" of Louie.

Coming Full Circle (15 minutes)--- This is a professionally produced interview/ biographical segment from CBN.  Louie tells his complete story:  growing up, running in the 1936 Olympics, his POW time, and his conversion to faith.

Faith Lesson (3 minutes) -- Using segments from the film, Louie describes his faith. Angelina Jolie also contributes to this segment.  I love how he sees that God worked in his life prior to his salvation to draw him close.

Captured By Grace (28 minutes) -- Louie Zamperini partnered with the Billy Graham Evangelical Association to produce this longer story.  This segment focuses more on his military service, crash and POW time and his conversion after the war.

Louie & Laurie (53 minutes)-- This is a recorded interview of Mr. Zamperini by Greg Laurie in front of a live audience.  

How We Used This Product:  We watched this as a family and really enjoyed it.  Just a few weeks earlier, I had included a book about Mr. Zamperini's testimony in Luke's Easter basket (not knowing we would review this movie).  Luke really liked comparing the movie version to the book version, and was sure to point out the differences between the two.  (Which just reinforces for me why I LOVE it when the boys read the book before they see the movie!)  Luke definitely enjoyed playing "expert" during the film.

A few days after watching the movie, which was just over 2 hours long, I pulled out the Legacy of Faith disc.  These are four separate recorded interviews  that Mr. Zamperini gave over the course of his later life about his WWII experience and God's redemption.  Obviously, the story is the same in each of these four main videos, but each is distinctive by the length of the videos and Mr. Zamperini's contributions to the production.  I'm not sure I'd sit around again and watch this disc in its entirety; rather, I think there is a time and place for each one.

I would really recommend this version of the movie if you are looking to expand your DVD library.

Crew members also reviewed several other DVDs offered by

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

So....What Do We Do When CC is Over for the Year?

It is the first Monday in May.  Our official school year isn't over until the end of the month.  Luke and Levi's program has been over since the beginning of April and Ben has had a full week off now.

So, what do we do?

Two boys have already had their year end evaluations.

Ben, who was responsible for half of the seminars in Challenge I, still has several classes to power through before he heads off on a Summer Adventure (more details at a later time).  He is just a few lessons from finishing Geometry; he has caught up on Spanish in a powerful way and is just a few weeks from finishing that; Biology is getting some intense work right now; and then there is Java.

Levi is finishing his last literature book study using the Memoria Press guides we reviewed last fall. We are at bare-bones usage at this point -- I'm just asking him the comprehension questions.  He is also helping me review some IEW products (of the sort he will use in Essentials next year, so it is good preparation) as well as a vocabulary program.  Oh, and math, we are working at a fast clip through MUS Gamma so that we can get to multiple digit division.

Luke has a bit of a lighter schedule.  He finished his literature books already, but is needing to finish up spelling.  He is almost there.  After our review of A+ Interactive Math, I've got him back on MUS Epsilon- it is just a better fit for him and he is more successful.  The goal is that he can change over to Saxon at some point in the late summer.  He wants to use a different math program, and I'm willing to let him try Saxon -- I think the spiral approach might work a little better for him. I still have to administer his standardized testing, so that will happen at the beginning of June.

Oh, and cleaning the schoolroom.  That is mostly my job -- I have bookshelves to build so that I can reorganize our schoolroom footprint.  Once I discovered hanging bookshelves on the wall, I have been obsessed with doing that as much as possible.  Like the photo in the blog post I linked above, I have another 'L' shaped shelf I want built to hold the books in the last remaining bookcase.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

To My Mom on Mother's Day

Dear Mom,

Thank you for every little little thing -- and big thing --you've done for me.

Thank you for dragging my uncooperative butt to Colorado and forcing us to see nature instead of letting me sit there and reading books in the car.  As a matter of fact, thank you for dragging my uncooperative butt a lot of places.

Thank you for every thank you note you made me write.

Thank you for tough love.

Thank you for "strongly encouraging" me to attempt new things throughout my childhood and teens.

Thank you for forcing me to take music lessons.

Thank you for enlarging our world by sacrificing to take us on amazing vacations and trips.

Thank you for loving me even when I wasn't making the best of choices.

Thank you for the times you said, "I told you so," and the times when you didn't (but wanted to).

Thank you for the unconditional love you still have for me -- and my husband -- and my children.

I am so glad I snagged a photo of this picture when I surprised you for your anniversary.  To have a picture from the first few weeks after my birth is priceless for me, and worth the plane ticket (well, seeing your surprised face was worth the plane ticket, getting to see the photos was the priceless bonus).

I love you.  Always. Forever.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

{Not So} Wordless Wednesday - belated post

A bike with gears!  What a milestone!

Levi had $50 in Toys R Us gift certificates (thanks to all his hard work on the Great Parents Academy review).  This one should last him for awhile.  He will definitely enjoy this more than another Lego set.   

So, guess what he did all afternoon?  And guess how hard he fell asleep that night?  

[I was having trouble getting Blogger to auto-post this, thus, it is a day late.]