June 22, 2016

NIrV Minecrafters Bible

This is my first Bible review, not counting the preschool version.  I enlisted my 11 year old son to help with this one, because...Minecraft.  This is considered a Children's Bible, and the NIrV stands for New International Reader's Version.  Special content is Minecraft themed, and the full-color, full-page illustrations throughout are in the familiar style you see on the cover below.

Isn't it cute?!  I had mixed feelings upon its arrival.  Is it sacrilegious to use video game love to make God's Word look more appealing?  I don't know, but my son was excited to help and promptly sat down in the hallway to look through it.

He liked the illustrations, pointed out to me the table of contents and "How to Use This Bible" page near the front, and looked over a couple of the illustrated pages that have some of the more popular stories retold in larger text, with a reference at the bottom ("What to Read") as well as a "What to Do" suggestion, for those who like to get hands-on in there learning.

For example, in the middle of Psalm 135 we find the "Jesus is Born" page with a short 3 paragraph paraphrase referencing Luke 2 and Matthew 2, and the suggestion to "Create a stable for some animals. Then build a manger for them to eat out of."  I think the idea isn't too bad - some kids enjoy crafts and just need an idea to get them going.  However, the grammar in the second of those two choppy sentences is atrocious. (I know I'm not perfect at grammar, but I want to give an honest review.)  I'm also not sure why this particular page is stuck in the Psalms. (On second look, the illustrated pages do seem to go in Biblical order as well.  More are from the New Testament so it spilled over, I think.)
The Bible itself is as easy to use an any other I have had.  The pages are thin but not too thin, the text isn't too small, and I do like the font and spacing (see picture below).  The little retold story referenced above is Biblically accurate.  The hardback cover is very sturdy and I imagine it would hold up several years to a typical boy.
My only real reservation to recommending this would be that the translation/version itself isn't beautiful.  It isn't as bad as some, though, and does retain the gist of each verse.  I'll use John 3:16 for comparison, as most everyone knows that one:
God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.
Official description:

"Do you ever feel like it's more fun to exist in the computer world than the real one? Is that the only place you can control your destiny? Well, God is the original great world builder, and he gave us the power and the skills we need to make changes in the real world. The Minecrafter’s Bible, NIrV contains the full text of the New International Reader's Version (NIrV) of the Bible (from Genesis to Revelation) as well as 24 color tip-in pages featuring full-color illustrations in the style of wildly popular virtual-world-building games. Featured stories include the days of creation and great builds of the Bible."

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

June 15, 2016


I have not found Utopia.  But I did read Utopia and have decided that I don't ever want to live there.

As part of the Back to the Classics Challenge of 2016,  I chose to read Utopia by Sir Thomas More because its also a chance to pre-read for AmblesideOnline year 8 (we are about to begin year 5!).  I helped lead the discussion of this short book on the AO forum, and enjoyed the discussion more than the book.

Not that its a bad book.  I liked my translation (Dover Thrift edition, no translator listed), it wasn't a difficult read compared to some others this year, and it includes interesting ideas.  However, it was full of satire and I found it hard to distinguish the satire from the serious parts...if there were any.

Utopia is a story within a story, told by a man the character Thomas More meets.  They hit it off, grab lunch, then the secondary story begins.  All the virtues of the Utopian way of life are extolled.  Everyone proclaims they are happy living this special way on an island of exact measurements with cities of certain specifications, wearing the same clothing as everyone else, sharing the fruit of their labors and renting out their diplomats to help the governments of other countries.  They have more money than they can ever use (communally), despise jewelry or things that draw attention to individuals, and have to switch houses and lands every so often to prevent the idea of "rights' taking hold (at least, that's my take on it).  They all are offered education, work hard and freely at the jobs assigned to them, and have slaves to do the dirty jobs.

It seems to me that the whole story must be satire, not just some.  However, since it was written, communist governments took it at face value, and encouraged all their citizens to read it!  I don't see how anyone can read this and think its a good idea to try to implement it.  The whole thing is only ideal if slaves aren't real people, and human nature doesn't exist, neither of which are possible.

So - do read this book, if only to disillusion yourself of the notion that Utopia is a nice place to be.

June 14, 2016

This Sensory Summer

Summer is here, and with warmer weather comes new sensory experiences.  Take advantage of as many as you can without losing your mind.

Occupational and speech therapy is on-going, but both therapists say he is doing really well and all he needs is time with other children to practice social skills.  He needs *guided* time with other children, though, for it to be effective, I think, so when they said a new social skills group for ages 10-13 is starting next Friday, I jumped onto that list in a hurry.  We have participate in one a different location and its holistic in nature, and is a great program, but farther away, so its our back-up if the closer one doesn't work out.

The therapists and counselor suggested putting him into several camps this summer.  He refuses overnight camps and I won't force that.  I made him do one at age 6 or 7 that was 2 nights long and very close by, so he's "had the experience."  I discovered some local options for sports, so that is this summer's sensory focus!
Last year we bought a pool pass, and that was worth it - he overcame several fears and was much more comfortable when we went to the pool this year.  First time there this year and he said, "I'm going to go off the diving board."  !!!  He did, many times, and was really proud of himself for facing that final water park fear (which wasn't the jump itself, but the drains at the bottom, which he has always feared).

This year, we will go to the pool less and focus on sports.  We started with a road trip vacation, then jumped into tennis camp.  It was drill oriented, with a very friendly coach, active kids, and was a good overall experience.  This week start junior pro tennis, so he can continue his skills and learn about the matches themselves a couple of nights each week through July.

This week is also Vacation Bible School at our church, which he is not at all excited about.  I'm working with preschoolers and he will be introduced to the youth group with the other rising sixth graders.  Cue the anxiety.  Its each morning this week, but they should be kept pretty busy so I think once the first day is under his belt, he will cope just fine.  If not, I'm on site and available. :)

In mid-July, he will do soccer camp, which is 5 mornings in one week.  Although he has played in our community soccer teams for several years, he has always refused day-camp.  I think he only agreed this time because the alternative was an overnight camp, but he did agree!  Plus, as he is a preteen now, the social drive is kicking up a notch or two.

In between these activities, we will continue to visit the pool, but also will try the different beaches at our local lakes, as well as the creek on our property.  You really can't be water fun in the summer for a cheap sensory experience!

Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop -- a monthly gathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it's like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo! Want to join in on next month's Sensory Blog Hop? Click here!

June 8, 2016

Paradise Lost

As part of the Back to Classics book challenge, I took up  Paradise Lost by John Milton.  This is an epic poem, Book 1 of which is read in Year 8 of AmblesideOnline, so it also counts for pre-reading and therefore part of my "homeschool teacher Professional Development".  Killing all the birds with these stones!

I did make it through all 12 books, although I was tempted to give up a couple of times in the slower, harder-to-understand books.  Reading along with others in the AO forum kept me going, for real.  Overall, I am glad I read it and look forward to sharing it with my son in a few years.  I am considering adding the sequel, Paradise Regained, to my reading list as well.  Challenges are good!

Basically, Paradise Lost depicts the fall of man from the grace of God.  Milton knew his Bible, but he also knew mythology and every other book written by his time.  By the time he wrote Paradise Lost, he was blind and had to dictate the ENTIRE THING.  Think about that.  Not only did he compose a book without ever seeing it, but it was a poem, with rhymes and meter!  An amazing feat.

As I was saying (before I went all fan-girl) was that the plot is basic but the way of telling the story is unique.  Adam and Eve are created, sin, and are kicked out of the Garden.  Before and alongside this story is the fall of the angels and the story of Satan and his demons in hell, trying to figure out how to fight back against God for this punishment.  That made it a fascinating read, as I had never imagined creation and mankind from the point of view of the devil before.

Another point of interest was all the mythology included (although this messed with the story's timeline in my head).  Milton was masterful in weaving myths and Bible and his own story together to make it almost believable.

Eve was a bit of a doormat at times, but overall I think woman was depicted pretty well, and the beauty of Eve, and the sanctity of marriage was a lovely picture.  Adam had his faults as well, but in the end they went out of the Garden together into the wide world.

Finally, there was Jesus.  Christ was there from the beginning, and loved man from the get-go.  He volunteered (before Man even screwed up, if I remember correctly) to take care of the needed sacrifice.  That part was beautiful and had never occurred to me before.

June 6, 2016

Then There Were None

Agatha Christie, the greatest mystery novelist of all time, some say.  I put off reading her, assuming the language would be difficult or outdated, or the ending predictable.  I was very wrong.

As part of the Back to Classics reading challenge, I chose Then There Were None, which was first published under the name of Ten Little Indians.  (I suppose that name was deemed inappropriate or something, but it actually fits very well with the story.)

This book was a real page-turner and I read it in one day!  I haven't done that in ages, but I literally could not put this book down.  I won't spoil it for you by saying too much - plenty of other people have done that already.  I'll just say its a murder mystery and the mystery begins on the very first page and doesn't get solved until after you think the book is over.  All along the way I got more confused, more involved with the characters in trying to figure out whodunnit.  In the end, I was impressed with not only the elaborate scheme that was pulled off, but also in the storytelling itself, that gave just enough away with enough misdirection to keep you from figuring it out for yourself.

I will definitely be reading another Christie novel in my future.

June 4, 2016

Its Been A Year!

It has been a full year since we got the diagnoses .  The information has sunk into my brain, and several books on Asperger's, ADHD, and processing speed have been read.   The therapies have become routine, and small changes have been happening.  Mostly, I'm learning to accept he is who he is and to have more realistic expectations of what he can and cannot do, and where those lines are drawn.  My husband is unofficially an "Aspie" too, so we are learning about all this together.

Falls of St. Anthony, Twin Cities
I feel like we all have grown as a family.  Closer together, yes, but also moving forward together.  There were several things ending and beginning this past year and it feels like maybe we are "getting somewhere", you know?

Year Review by the Numbers

48 sessions of weekly speech and occupational therapies
42 weeks of school - AO Year 4 completed
24 days of swimming last summer (and starting again tomorrow!)
12 games of soccer
7 day mission trip to Nicaragua
6 months of vision therapy (twice a week)
3 sessions at a Holistic Therapy location (yoga; sensory tools; social group; interactive metronome)
2 family vacations (Myrtle Beach; Great River Road trip)
1 fainting episode and 1 cardiologist appointment

Best purchase in the past year - the hammock swing by a landslide!  He bought it with his own money on the mission trip to Nicaragua, and has used it constantly.  Second place goes to the set of magnetic blocks.  Or maybe this ice cream cone, LOL!