Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A One Room School -- 1980s style

I went to a one room schoolhouse in 1988-1989.  Well, almost. It was a converted farmhouse, and walls were removed to make one large room.  From where I sat, I couldn't see the boys' room, my view was a closet that held hymnals for our weekly chapel.  If you had already guessed it was a Christian school, you are correct.  We were loosely associated with a Pentecostal church, but we were the only Christian school in the area and we had Pentecostal kids as well as Mennonite, and me, a then-Nazarene attending the school.  Aside from the actual texts we used, there was no one belief that was taught to be superior.

There were 16 students in grades -- um something -- through 12.  Except for seniors, no one was really quite sure what grade they were in, so they usually said what grade they would be if they were in public school.  We used a curriculum where we worked at our own rate.  Twelve workbooks equaled one credit.  We worked on our own and if we had a question we would ask our teacher.  Upon finishing a section, we would "go score".  We never thought of the secular use of the word "score" and we tossed around sayings like "I need to score."  "I left that at the score table."  "I really need to score."   What was scoring?  Basically checking our answers.  There were red pens at the score table.  (Our teachers used green on tests.)  Until we reached the end of our workbook, we checked all our work ourselves.  Then we took a test, and if our grade was under 80%, we had to redo the workbook.

As you can imagine, with so few kids, we had some great times.   This post is first in a series and basically gives you a bit of an overview.  Our school day started at 9:00.  We began with the pledges to the American flag, Christian flag, and the Bible.  There was the Scripture of the month read.  If we wanted to be on honor roll, we had to memorize that passage.  Then someone would open the day in prayer.  I always hated when they called on "Sister Jennifer" to pray.  I wasn't even a Christian then (though I didn't realize it!) and I thought "Sister" in front of my name sounded so funny and I'd always have to hold back a giggle before I prayed.

We then worked in our workbooks until morning recess.  (Yes, even 12th graders got recess!)  After that break which was sometimes playing volleyball or going into the basement to play ping pong with badmitten birdies or tennis balls, we were back at our workbooks until 11:30, at which time we had an hour for lunch.  We often brought board games for this break, and the picture on this post is us playing Old Maid.  For some reason we played that quite a bit.  After lunch, back to work until 1:30.  On Wednesdays we were dismissed at 1:30 (and had no morning recess because we had chapel instead.)  The other days, the final hour of school might be gym (either volleyball or running around the school building 12 times.)  This was also the hour where girls had home ec and boys had wood working, at least for a while.

I eventually showed up once a week to school.  Homeschooling was illegal in my state at that time, and the school said as long as I did 2 1/2 hours of school work each day, I would be counted present.  I went to school to take tests and get new workbooks.  Home Ec was then 120 hours of cooking, baking, sewing, crafting something I had never previously made.

I have so many unique and fun memories of that year I will be sharing over time on my blog. . . so stay tuned. . .

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ragamuffin Based on the Life of Rich Mullins DVD review and GIVEAWAY

I have been, unfortunately, unable to post this review until now.  The good news of that is rather than posting a review immediately after watching a movie, I can think back on it, mull it over, and give what I believe is a better review.

I was excited to hear of a DVD coming out called Ragamuffin which is based on the life of Rich Mullins.  I followed his music from his first album -- before people started singing Awesome God.  Although I never met him, his life and music influenced my life more than any other artist.  

This DVD is 137 minutes long, and although it's a Christian film, there is caution for language, alcohol use, and smoking.  I am glad to see that Christian films are beginning to show life as it is and not some sugar-coated version where everyone is perfect because I know I'm not, and neither was Rich Mullins.

My fiance had sung Awesome God a number of times, but couldn't tell you who wrote it.  He knew nothing about the life and faith of Rich Mullins, but after watching it, he asked me why this was released straight to DVD and wasn't shown in theaters.  He immediately started saying who he knew who would enjoy this movie, although like him they are not fans.  So this is a fantastic film for anyone regardless if you know every word to every song Rich Mullins sang (I'm raising my hand here) or if you have never heard of him before.

This is a film about the struggle of life.  Hurts from childhood that sear so deep we never really get over them.  Love that is not returned.  Falling in love with Jesus.   Living differently than the industry around you.  Caring about people.  Being a bit of a rebel.  Being a Ragamufin.

I don't want to imitate Rich Mullins, he's not the example we should strive to be, but I long for the faith he had.  I admire him as a fellow believer and hope that my life can be like his.  I have heard (this was not in the movie) that he usually signed albums "Be God's".   This is the story of a man who strove to "Be God's" be in so doing, he was honest with himself and others about his failings, pain, and problems.

Connect with Ragamuffin:

Watch the trailer:


Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

July is Cell Phone Courtesy Month!

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

Did you know that July is National Cellphone Courtesy month? I honestly think that everyday should be a cellphone courtesy day. Phones add so much to our lives when used correctly. I can share photos with family and friends who live far away. I was away recently and I was able to connect with a roommate from college so we could meet up for a few minutes at an Interstate exit. This would not have been possible without cell phones and U.S. Cellular's reliable 4G reliability. But with phones also comes responsibility.

Photo courtesy of

A Pew Research survey found 67 percent of cellphone owners check for messages even when they don't hear their phone indicate there is a message received. That's a lot of time spent checking, and obviously there are better times than others to check your phone and that's what this post is about.

U.S. Cellular conducted a survey between November 15 and December 2, 2013 of 500 people in partnership with Maritz Research. They found 37% of people said that others get upset with them for using a cellphone because of the time or place they are using it. Yet, 63% of people said they get upset with others. So either it's the same people causing all the problems for everyone, or there are people who don't realize their cell phone habits are annoying to others. Interestingly, the same proportion that believe no one gets upset with them is the same percentage that say they get upset with others!

As is to be expected, those over the age of 54 have a stronger etiquette believe than those younger. Among those ages 55-64, 82% think it's rude to check your cellphone with talking to someone else, and 80% find it rude to check it while dining. Contrast that to only 63% of those ages 18-34 find it rude to check your phone while in a conversation with someone, and only 57% think it rude to check it while dining.

Also found in this study, women tend to prefer texting more than men. Women are also more likely to use texting as away to avoid a conversation.

So what are some tips for improving cellphone courtesy?

Set ground rules.  If you are meeting with others for dinner or going out with friends, discuss the expectations for phone use.  When my mother was very sick, I informed people that I might need to answer my phone at any point.  Even so, I did my best to be considerate.  If I was with a group of people I would often step aside to answer the phone and would keep it silenced, but would be able to feel it on vibrate. I tried not to have it out on a table because that can also be distracting to others.   Did you know that if you forget to turn off the ringer on a Samsung Galaxy S5 that just by flipping it over, it will stop ringing!  How convenient is that?  I have the Apple iPhone5S and to make that stop ringing, I just have to press the button on the top of the phone.

Another great tip is to understand those around you.  If you are out to dinner with a younger friend, taking a photo of your food may be totally acceptable, but that might not be okay with your great-grandmother.  Yet, the opposite could be true.  If you have a high-tech grandparent, she might not be bothered by your cellphone use while someone else could be.  Knowing how others feel about electronics can go a long way towards generating an environment that makes everyone feel comfortable.  I had to check the time recently when talking to someone, and I made a point of saying why I was pulling my cell phone out of my pocket -- that I had an appointment and didn't have a watch.  That was all I did on my device.  Yet at dinner with a different person, I checked in on social media and even used a special that I received for checking in.  Understanding the other person's attitude can help immensely in making for a more pleasant experience for both.

Adjusting the brightness of your screen can also allow you to use your phone or tablet without disturbing others.  I know of one site that allows for "night browsing" but few sites give that option -- on most sites, you should adjust the brightness of your device.  This way to you can use your cellphone or tablet without disturbing those around you.

Single Tasking is a huge benefit to those around you as well.  Did you know that according to the survey I metioned above that more than 1 in 3 people (35%) have had someone walk into them because the person who bumped into them was paying more attention to their phone than they were where they were going.  I know this week someone nearly walked in front of us while using a phone -- the scary part was he was crossing the street while looking at his phone.  If you stake single focused, there chance of a problem is a lot less likely.  In fact, even when I am on the phone, I like to stay single focused.  Yes, I could clean house or fold laundry, but personally I believe the person on the other end is worthy of my undivided attention.

If you are looking for ways to help your child learn good cellphone etiquette,  don't forget to download the  U.S. Cellular Parent Child Cellphone Agreement .  It is free, and it will help facilitate discussion with your child regarding cell phone usage.

Cell phones are a great way to help make life better and it's a good thing to use them so they enhance life and not distract from it!  It's simple to do, and I hope you will join me in my quest to be ever aware of respecting others while also staying connected!