Thursday, April 28, 2011


Psalm 133:1
A Song of Ascents. Of David.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!

My children's piano teacher is a good friend of mine and each week graciously overlooks the fact that my children are not in love with playing the piano. They take lessons because they must. They practice because they must. They improve with age and practice, but Mozarts and Beethovens they are not yet. Still, they are learning to play beautiful music.

But, lately, the piano notes are not the music I am impressed by as much as by who is playing and how. Recently, Miss Jen assigned a duet: "A Waltz for Four Hands." Watching my children work together as a team and learning to play in sync has been the real joy. The first child will do all their other piano assignments first, then call the other to join for the duet. They come immediately when the other calls. Our keyboard corner is too small for them both to sit, so they stand side by side without complaining about it. Holly counts the beats (1, 2, 3, 4...1, 2, 3, 4) and they try to play together with the proper rhythm. It isn't easy. But, they have treated each other so kindly and patiently. There have been no nudges of recrimination for mistakes. There has been no laughter at one another's expense.

This is not the first job they have tackled together. They learned early to work out systems in work and play. Holly (my first born who believes in fairness) generally orchestrates but Elijah (second born/baby tough guy) is not without input. When we go to the library, one pulls the cart of books around, the other checks the books out. When we bring them home, Elijah unloads the books from the car to the living room; Holly organizes them on the shelf. When the groceries arrive, he lugs them to the pantry and she organizes them on that shelf (yes, a pattern emerges, but it satisfies them both).

I am blessed to see my children cooperate, share, and be kind to one another. It encourages me to think that they will be able to rely on one another into adulthood.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Curiosity Files: Quicksand -- A Review

Who knew you could dig up 84 pages of information and activities all having to do with quicksand? I never would have suspected it, but The Curiosity Files: Quicksand unit study does just that. Published by The Old Schoolhouse for only $6.95, you’ll want to sink right into this one!

Written for 8 to 13 year olds, this e-book is amazingly comprehensive. Beginning with “Everything you NEVER wanted to know about quicksand,” Professor Ana Lyze uses a humorous conversational tone to relate the science behind this non-Newtonian fluid. If you don’t know what that means, you’ll need to read the book! And while you are at it, you can make and handle a non-Newtonian fluid as one of the activity choices that follow all the learning.

There are related lessons and activities in all of these categories:

• Bible, cleverly beginning with the house on sinking sand
• Math, including ciphering and word problems (how deep did the poacher sink?)
• Reading, with practice reading charts and graphs
• Writing, providing an essay question, plus tips for how to write essays and outlines
• Word puzzles and other games
• Vocabulary, giving lists that are multi-level for younger and older students
• Drawing and other art projects (as you might expect: sand art!)
• Spelling practice
• Handwriting and cursive practice, incorporating the Bible verses from the lesson above
• Science, with labs on surface tension and viscosity
• Geography, teaching mapping and a lesson on terms
• Music, adding a little song to your repertoire
• Reading list, for additional reading on the subject
• Recipe for edible quicksand (using some of our favorite ingredients!)

If that isn’t enough, the section called “Curiosity Snippets” will help you create a cut-n-paste project file which would make a great addition to your home-school portfolio.

My middle-schoolers enjoyed doing the crossword puzzle once they found they could use the spelling/vocabulary list as a word bank. Next, we tried the viscosity lab, timing the speed of a marble as it drops through different liquids. We tried milk, hand-soap, syrup and molasses. With great fore-thought, we used our craft table area where “messy” is not a problem. If you choose the same liquids, you will want to have a little bowl of water (or sink) nearby for hand rinsing! Of course, the favorite activity was edible quicksand. The kids had fun making the gummies “scream” as they went down deeper and deeper into the mire of pudding and marshmallow. We substituted vanilla wafers for the cinnamon graham crackers and we all emerged with smiles!

For more details about this and other similar unit studies, including topics as varied as “Cicadas,” “MRSA” and “Red Tide,” go to: The Old Schoolhouse.

I received this e-book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 18, 2011

This One or That One?

My daughter's Missionettes class is studying "Creation" this month. Last week, I walked around class and offered each girl a chance at winning a penny. I held out two closed hands. They had to decide which one held the penny. If they guessed correctly, they won. If not, they lost out.

This was an object lesson you might use with your children. There are two options available for us: evolution and creation. They are complete opposites. One relies on an intelligent, personal, and powerful God to accomplish everything. The other relies on a floating speck of hydrogen. You cannot have both of them; you cannot meld them together. You must choose one.

The world tells us that we can make up our own minds about what is true. But, is that true? Or is it like the penny game? You can make whichever decision you want, but only one will be a winner! Choose wisely.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Forget the Bunny

This article originally appeared in my Coordinator's Column for the MOPS Pitter Patter newsletter in April 2000. With Resurrection Sunday right around the corner, it seemed timely again.

Easter is a time of very special memories for me. I am not talking about Easter bunnies, hats, parades or even baskets full of chocolate, but rather much more romantic moments. My husband, Paul, chose Easter Sunday as the day he would propose to me. He came to pick me up for church, dressed in his wool suit, carrying a full vase of lilies and a brown envelope.

The note on the lilies was a quote from Song of Solomon: “Like a lily among the thorns is my darling above the maidens.”

The envelope contained his written proposal:

Colleen Copley
You are reverent,
virtuous, wise, loving,
patient, fun, creative, understanding,
most beautiful, highly desirable and very special!
I love you dearly
and I would like to spend the rest of my life with you.
Will you marry me?
Paul Berry

He chose the day for its significance in our lives as believers in Christ. What better day to profess his love to me, than the anniversary of God’s profession of His love to the world?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16

I have said yes to both of these proposals. These were the two best decisions of my life. It is true, both have meant sacrifice -- I can’t always have things my way anymore. But, both have brought me life, love, and peace.

Some of you may still be waiting to answer the proposal before you, still deciding – don’t delay any longer. God is waiting for you to turn to Him and say, “Yes, I love you for You have loved me with an everlasting love. And I will in turn love
you with my whole heart, spirit and mind.”

Friday, April 8, 2011

Leave it to God

On Saturday, after 4½ hours of hard labor, we collected fifteen large trash bags full of leaves from our yard. Out of curiosity, we weighed one. Thirty pounds! If that was average, we unloaded almost 500 pounds of leaves from our yard! If that sounds unbelievable, you haven’t heard it all. Those fifteen bags barely scratched the surface – maybe 1/6th of the yard!

We had to acknowledge that we haven’t been the best stewards of our yard over the past few years. You get busy and you stop noticing. The new leaves hide the older leaves. And the piles get bigger. And under them? The grass is missing. Our land is becoming barren.

The same thing happens when we are not good stewards of our hearts. We allow little sins to pile up. Then we cover them up and they become unnoticeable (to us) because of the more sins added on. Soon, it all looks so unmanageable.

What to do?

First, our eyes must be open to see the clutter we have allowed. Ask: What stands between me and God? And then, we must acknowledge our failures before the Lord.

1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

After that, we must begin to clear it all away. New grass cannot be seeded in my yard until the leaves are removed. The seeds need to be able to raise up to the light of the sun. Goodness cannot grow in my life unless some weeding is done and the soil is exposed to the light of the Son.

Through it all, the Master Gardener promises that He will help us.

Deuteronomy 31:8: And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.