Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Homeschool Resource

I don't actually homeschool my kids, but I do work with them a bunch at home, especially when trying to prepare them for testing to get into one of Chicago's excellent schools.

Last night I was looking for reading worksheets to use with Bumble Bee, and I found a website that promises to be an excellent resource.  There are worksheet and activities for use from pre-K through high school.  With the basic free membership you can download 9 worksheets a month at no cost.  There is also a pay option if you want unlimited worksheets.  I probably don't need that, but for anyone who does homeschooling that may be useful.

*I am in no way being compensated for this blog post.  I'm just excited about the resource.  Bumble Bee and our neighbor just made cute little mini-book.  They colored and then read them out loud and they were excited to do it.  This is great because I sometimes struggle with her not being willing to read with me.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Another Thought on Forgiveness This Lent

I just finished reading The Illumined Heart by Frederica Mathewes-Green.  I won't do an elaborate review because the book is an easy read that you could practically finish just as quickly as reading about it.  It is worth reading, too.  In particular there are some very apt sayings that we should all remember in our struggles to be good Christians.

I'll quote one of these.  In speaking about forgiveness she says, "We release the one who hurt us from his debt, seeing what a greater debt God has already given us.  To the best of our ability, we should try to resume a relationship and behave toward the person with love, since that is the kind of forgiveness God models toward us." (94)

How often people say, "I'll forgive you, but I can't forget," meaning we'll never actually be friends again.  Is this actually forgiveness?  I've always felt it isn't.  Indeed, when we pray the Lord's Prayer and say, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," I always felt that there was something to this not only of forgiving, but the way in which we forgive.  If we forgive fully so God will forgive us.  If we merely say the words without feeling the forgiveness in our hearts, will we still be forgiven?

As I think of the struggles in my own life and those within my diocese these words from The Illumined Heart really strike home.  I think there is a lot of talk and a whole lot less actual forgiveness going on...  May God grant us all the strength to truly forgive as He does.

Friday, April 12, 2013

My Visit to Aristotle Greek School

Yesterday was my visit to the Aristle Greek School in Niles.  It went very well.  As Ms. Rita, the preschool coordinator, introduced me, she showed the children my picture from the back of the book.  She had shown the picture to the kids during the week before.  So, as she told them I was the author who was going to talk to them, one little boy said, "But she doesn't look like her [pointing to the picture]!"  Indeed, I've had a haircut since the photograph in the book was taken!  

First, I read the story to them.  Then, I answered the questions that the kids had prepared in advance.  The three-year-olds got a bit antsy and had to leave before I could answer the last question.  When we finished the main talk, I took pictures with each class and the kids who were buying books.  Then, the kindergarten class and I sat down to chat some more.  They had a few more questions and wanted to tell me all about their writing and illustrations.  It was fun all around!

Tribune Story

Friday, April 5, 2013

A New Hat: Public Speaking

I am venturing into new endeavors.  Next week, I will have my first professional public speaking engagement.  I am very excited to be doing a reading of Josiah and Julia Go to Church for the Pre-K and Kindergarten students at St. Haralambos Aristotle Greek School.  I will also be speaking to them about being an author.  I asked the teachers to have the children prepare a few questions in advance.  At this age attention spans can be short if they're not really interested, so I want to talk about those aspects of writing that interest them.  Some questions are quite apropos, such as "What other books are you going to write?"  Others are much more general interest: "What is your favorite color?"  I know this is a very important subject for kids.  I hope they don't dislike me when I tell them its BROWN!

Currently, if you have an event at which you'd like a children's book author to speak, initial arrangements can be made with the Orthodox Speakers Bureau.  I'm working on adding other topics for the near future, too.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Hidden Garden: a Story of the Heart

My daughters and I were excited to learn that we would have the opportunity to preview Jane G. Meyer's latest book The Hidden Garden: a Story of the Heart. We read it four times the afternoon we received our copy of the book. My daughters are 8 and 4 years old, and I'm old enough not to tell my age, so we all took something different from it, but we also agreed it was a good book. This is a book that I feel privileged to have in our library. It is one that we will read over and over, that we will share with friends, and it is one that I hope one day many years from now to pull out and read for some grandchildren. It is a book that I predict will become an Orthodox children's classic.