Sharing the Good News

How does seasonal tire change and poor customer service relate to sharing the Good News? Let me tell you what happened to me today.

Friday is the deadline to have winter studded tires changed over the summer tires here in Alaska. This morning I took my 2 summer tires to Sam’s Club to have them put on as well as 2 more new ones. Usually this takes up to 2 hours if they are very busy.

When I arrived the line was to the door but several people were just price shopping not buying. Finally, my turn came. I told the man what I wanted and he rang up my sale. It wasn’t until after I completed the transaction and asked that I was told the wait time would be at least 6 hours!

I asked for a refund of the install cost. They told me to go to customer service to get that taken care of. In the mean time, I assumed they would pull my tires from the rack so they would be ready when I was finished. No. I again had to wait, and wait, and wait. I was courteous and assumed the clerk knew I’d already been through the line once and paid. No. A new clerk gestered in the direction of the long rows of stacked tires and told me that the ones I needed were down the first aisle then continued to ring up more sales. I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to pull tires off a stack taller than I am. That’s the employee’s job.

Finally, another customer told the attendant when he asked for the next customer that he needed to get my tires. The clerk grudgingly got my tires. I told him I could carry them to my car. I just needed someone to get them down for me. However, the clerk sarcastically said the man insisted he (the clerk) get the tires for me so the customer was just going to have to wait longer for them to be taken to my car. Very rude and inconsiderate employee.

He also said they didn’t expect to have such a rush. What did they expect? It’s just 3 days left for tire changeovers, but he didn’t think they’d be busy! Needless to say, I was less than thrilled with their customer service today. Anyway, an hour after I arrived, I had my 2 new tires and was ready to go somewhere else to have them installed.

I got to the other tire shop and was told they had no one waiting so I would be next. Terrific! While I was waiting, 2 men were discussing the Gospel including Romans. I recently got a commentary book about Romans that I’m enjoying. For some reason, I had an undeniable urge to share this book with these men.

I went over and politely mentioned the book. I even brought it with me today so I showed it to them. I was literally shaking, but couldn’t stop myself. I’ve never done this before. They were thrilled, and immediately asked how they could each get a copy! We found paper and I gave them ordering information. Within 5 minutes after that, both men’s cars were ready and they left.

Now I know why I couldn’t get my tires installed at Sam’s Club. I was meant to share this book with these 2 men. God’s ways truly are wonderful. He has a purpose in everything, even if we find it frustrating at the time.

Here’s the contact information in case you too want a verse by verse commentary on Romans.

To the Romans by Dr J. Otis Yoder

Available from

Heralds of Hope, Inc

PO Box 3

Breezewood, PA 15533-0003 USA

Drugs or God

Yahoo had an interesting article today about researchers giving cancer patients psychedelic drugs. Basically getting them high to relieve end of life anxiety.

The story focused on a woman dying of ovarian cancer.

Edlich, whose cancer forced her to retire from teaching French at a private school, had plenty of reason to seek help through the NYU project. Several recurrences of her ovarian cancer had provoked fears about suffering and dying and how her death would affect her family. She felt “profound sadness that my life was going to be cut short.” And she faced existential questions: Why live? What does it all mean? How can I go on?

“These things were in my head and I wanted them to take a back seat to living in the moment,” she said. So when she heard NYU researchers speak about the project at her cancer support group, she was interested.

Sounds like she needs a pastor not a drug. She has valid concerns. What is society coming to when we choose to drug ourselves instead of considering God even at the end of life? The drug won’t take away the true underlying cause of her anxiety, the need for God.

The therapy seeks to help patients live fuller, richer lives with the time they have left.

All three people in the study so far felt better, with less general anxiety and fear of death, and greater acceptance of the dying process, Ross said. No major side effects have appeared. The project plans to enroll a total of 32 people.

We will all eventually face these same anxieties unless we know Jesus. Some people don’t even get a second chance to make that choice if die tragically in accidents. Now is the time to decide, for we don’t know the number of our days.

No more Alaskan pay phones

ACS, the statewide telecommunications company in Alaska, has decided to get rid of ALL their pay phone in the entire state. They claim dwindling revenue and increased repair costs. However, I don’t see why they need to get rid of all of them. They didn’t raise rates. They didn’t get rid of just some of them. For instance, if they had more than one in a location, the additional ones could be removed. They didn’t phase them out slowly so people could adjust. They didn’t give notice that they were even going to remove them. No. They simply got rid of all of them, everywhere. This includes communities where cell phone service is unavailable.

I see this as a huge safety issue.  Since ACS basically had a monopoly on pay phone in the state, you can’t just go somewhere else that has a pay phone from another company. With a few minor exceptions, there is no other company. I also see it as an attempt to increase cell phone sales. If you don’t have a pay phone and need to make a call away from home, you now need to purchase a cell phone. I don’t know what communities without cell access will do, and there are a lot of them in rural Alaska.

Not only have they taken phones from places like stores and post offices, but they have also removed them from harbors and airports. Many boat owners and crew (myself included) don’t always have cell phones or if they do, reception can be spotty. They rely on the dockside pay phones, especially in coastal communities without cell service, to check in with friends and family. Some harbors are isolated from the community so if a safety problem occurred without a pay phone, it may be hard to find help. If you were dropped off at an airport and your flight was delayed or canceled, which frequently happens in rural Alaska, you would need to borrow a phone to call for a ride. Again, this may be difficult in places without cell service.

When they removed a pay phone, no notice was put up as to why.  No notice was put up in advance warning of it’s removal. The phone was simply removed. Many store owners were surprised when ACS showed up and removed the phone. In some small businesses, people came to the business simply to use the pay phone. However, while they were there, these people often bought a little something as well, so the phone was a way to draw in customers.

I am likely writing the state regulatory commission to complain.  Besides being a safety issue, this is an anti-monopoly issue. This is exactly the situation anti-monopoly laws were designed to prevent.  I can understand they are a business and loosing money, but they over reacted. I would urge anyone else who has used a pay phone for any reason in Alaska to also write and complain. Pay phones are an essential public service in Alaska. We need pay phones!

I aced it!

As many of you who read this blog regularly are aware, I’m taking online college courses toward a degree as Health Fitness Specialist. This is the end of the third week of class.

For the general nutrition class, I’ve had a problem. My book didn’t arrive until this Tuesday afternoon. Luckily, we haven’t needed it for the homework and she has good Power Point lesson notes available. However, there was a test due tonight covering the first 3 chapters in the book. That gave me 4 1/2 days to study 3 weeks worth of material. Yikes!

The instructor said I could re-take the test if I did poorly since I didn’t have much time with the book.  I’ve been stressing about it all week. I took the test this afternoon. It was rather hard in places.  When I got the grade back… I got all 50 questions right! I won’t need to re-take it after all.

Yes. As long as their are tests, there will be prayer in (home)school.

Faithful in little things

I was working this last week remodeling a house. I had several appointments in the week too. Unortunately, I can’t wear a watch. They make my wrist break out. It doesn’t matter what it is made out of (plastic, cheap metal, cloth backing, or even gold). They all make me break out in a painful rash. Bracelets do the same thing.

The workers were annoyed that I was constantly asking them what time it was or to remind me when I had to leave for my appointments. My husband has gotten used to being my time piece, but he wasn’t there. They suggested I get a pocket watch.

Well, I did laundry Thursday evening. After unloading the washer, I found a watch without the band, yet it still had the little metal bars to hold one. It was still working and even had the correct time. I didn’t recognize it. I asked the kids and neither of them knew where it came from or how it got into the washer. It definately wasn’t there when I put the clothes in. I checked the pockets to make sure they were empty before putting them in.

All I have to say is that God saw my need and provided. Our needs don’t have to be great for Him to provide. There is no need too small. All we need to do is ask. What a great lesson for me! I plan to put this watch on a string and wear it around my neck.

Matthew 7:7-8

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Psalm 6:19-20

But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.

Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.

Fitness challenge update 2

I haven’t forgotten about the challenge. I just was very busy the last couple weeks so this is the first time I’ve been able to write another update. Here’s what I’ve been up to.

Last week I only managed to get in 2 regular workouts and a walk with my kids, so I guess that counts as the third. So my exercise for that week was Sunday Turbo Jam, Wednesday water aerobics group, and Friday family walk.

This week I’ve done a lot of raking. Not your typical raking up cut grass or fall leaves. No, this yard hasn’t been raked in over 3 years. The leaves were on top of and mixed in with overgrown grass and trash. I have spent 12 hours so far raking and am only a quarter or a third finished. My upper arms, chest, and back are very sore. I have a swim lesson in the morning. Hopefully that will help work out the soreness.

My weight is 164 (down 3 pounds from the start). Here’s my measurements after 3 weeks:

waist 34.5  +half inch

chest 38.5  -half inch

hips 41.5    -half inch

Right thigh 24  +half inch

Left thigh   25.75  +inch 1/2

Since the changes were so minimal, I think they might have been measured in slightly different spots, especially my legs. It will be interesting to see how much difference next week all this raking has made.

Now you know how I did. How are you doing?

Hands-on learners (revised)

First, what is a hands-on learner? A hands-on learner is someone who learns best by touching and doing things. They like manipulatives and projects where they can do things rather than just reading textbooks and writing. Often they doodle, fidget and have trouble sitting still. For this reason, many hands-on learners are mislabeled as ADD or ADHD by schools, especially boys.

2 years ago, I wrote a post about hands-on (kinesthetic) learners. Since then, I’ve found more ideas and curriculum suggestions, so I thought I’d revisit the subject. Most of this is geared toward elementary students, but parts of it can be used for all levels. Some of this is copied from my earlier post. I’ve arranged my comments by category to make it easy to find suggestions. If you have an area of concern that I don’t cover or you have something else which you find useful for hands-on learners, please feel free to let me know.

GENERAL TIPS:

I’m finding the biggest thing is to have a variety of activities and allow lots of wiggle time instead of insisting he sit doing writing based activities all day, although we will still do those too. He also needs consistency in routines. For instance, we do reading every day. He will have to do the workbook lesson, but the lessons themselves may contain different activities. Part of learning for kinesthetic kids is learning when you really need to just sit still and get the work done. That’s hard, especially for younger students. We try to limit sitting time and have movement breaks or hands-on activities between them.

One thing that has helped greatly in all subjects is using a kitchen timer. I give him a set amount of time to do the work. If it is done before the timer goes off he may get a reward. If not then he has some sort of punishment unless he has tried but truly doesn’t understand the work. Rewards can be extra time the next day, going to the park, extra free time, or occasionally a small treat. Often I’ll let him use any time remaining as a break. Punishment is usually loss of a privilege or time-out and depends upon how much extra time he takes to complete the work. This helps keep him on task.

I used to insist he do his workbook lessons at a desk. This year, I bought him a clip board so he can do his lessons elsewhere as long as he is working. Often I’ll do this as a reward for getting work done on time the day before. Sometimes though, there are days he just can’t get comfortable at a desk and having the clipboard to choose his work area helps get him on task.

MATH:

There are a few companies now that use manipulatives beyond just the first few grades.

We love Math-u-See for math so he can fiddle with the blocks to find the answers after watching a brief video introduction to the lesson. As Mr. Demme always says, “Build it, Write it, Say it.” Using multiple senses makes memorizing anything easier. I’ve tried to apply this to other areas of his learning. I like this company because they use the same blocks all the way from kindergarten through calculus. So once they learn and get used to the blocks, students aren’t constantly switching manipulatives like some programs. Since the blocks compliment the lessons and workbook, instead of being the main focus, students don’t become dependent upon the manipulatives. Nor do parents have to purchase and keep track of many separate manipulative systems.

There is a math program called Right Start Math which uses a lot of manipulatives including an abacus, shapes, number balance scale, blocks, and more to teach basic math. I’ve seen this program and it seems good if you don’t mind keeping track of many separate manipulatives. I know a few homeschool families who have had good outcomes with this program.

LANGUAGE ARTS and READING SKILLS:

I switched from Abeka to Christian Light Education after first grade. While Abeka was thorough, it wasn’t very engaging. The work in Abeka was very repetitive and he was getting burned out by the end of the year. While still a workbook based curriculum, CLE is more engaging because they have more variety of activities in their workbooks even though they are plainer (less color and illustrations). This helped him focus on the work instead of the illustrations.

There are a few other reasons CLE is better than Abeka for hands-on learners. Abeka reading only had very basic comprehension questions whereas CLE has a full range of reading and comprehension skills. CLE also has study skills lessons which Abeka didn’t. I think these are important to learn (especially for kinesthetic learners) and not all parents know them or how to teach them. Having them built into the curriculum is great.

The goal of any reading program is ultimately to get students reading real books. The best was to do this is to expose them to quality literature as soon as possible. Readers and levelized stories have their place, but quality literature for children should not be left out.

HISTORY:

For history we use literature and activities based programs from WinterPromise instead of a history text. This is more of a Charlotte Mason approach. He’s doing well and really enjoying the reading selections. Most are historical fiction or single topic books. There are a variety of hands-on activities to reinforce the topics each week, instead of the usual narrative or fill-in-the-blank style worksheet.

SCIENCE:

My son is gifted in science besides being a hands-on learner, so finding a science program has always been a challenge. He enjoys reading about science, but finds traditional elementary texts too dull and easy. However, he’s enjoyed many of the books in the God’s Design series. There are activities that go along with many of the lessons, but often there is a lot of parent prep and help needed for them.

He’s also done the Real Science 4 Kids series the last 2 years. These have a separate lab book for write-ups of the activities. While he really enjoyed the readings, we both found the labs, and especially the lab book, tedious. The instructor guide didn’t help much either. As a result, my son was understanding the science theory from the books this year, but I didn’t do many activities to reinforce and apply the concepts.

There is a company called Exploration Education that is a project-based curriculum for physical science. I want to use them next year.  I had a hard time keeping my kids away from their booth at the homeschool curriculum fair. Every time they wandered off, I found them at their booth playing with, and asking questions about, the projects on display.

Their lessons are multi-sensory. First, they each watch a cd video-text about the lesson. There are graphics and animation to help show the concepts. Then, they do the project or experiment. Finally, they do an activity/write up about the project. The second and third levels also have assessments. The first level has narration of the reading (which can be turned off for older kids using the level) so I don’t have to read everything to her. She can be listening while I’m helping her brother with his project.

The curriculum has 3 levels. Actually the third level includes all of the second and just adds on extra lessons for each unit. Anyway, the levels cover the same topics so both my kids could learn about similar concepts at the same time. There are 4 units. The first activity in each unit is a project. This project will then be used for all the other activities in that unit. They are pretty basic but seem to show very well the concepts.

Both kids would be doing separate activities, but about similar topics at the same time. I really liked this aspect of their programs. I wouldn’t need to keep up with totally separate science topics and figure out activities to go along with both of them. Also, it didn’t look like a lot of parent prep for the lessons.