Second Cubing Competition

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Our son participated in his second cubing competition, which happened to be named Westminster Squaners. Why? Because the main event was Square-1 and the location was on the campus of Westminster School of Atlanta. Get it?

Westminster School campus

One of the many impressive buildings on the Westminster School campus

It was a tougher field than in his first cubing competition, so it gave him motivation to get better. He did not make the final in any of the events, but he improved his personal record in 2x2x2 and 3x3x3. Also, he qualified for Nationals for the pyraminx (based on time) and got official competition scores for the 4x4x4 and 5x5x5 – an important stepping stone in becoming a well-rounded cuber. Continue reading »

Rocket Launch

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While we were in Orlando for a family vacation, SpaceX and Axiom Space launched AX-2 from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. We have always wanted to see a rocket launch. We drove the 90 minutes from our Airbnb home in Kissimmee to Jetty Park. One of the several viewing locations recommended online, this park was a good introduction to the whole procedure.

Axiom Crew Ship

Axiom Space Water Crew getting in position before the space launch

It was a superb field trip. We experienced something very few people have – the sights and sounds of sending humans into space. The sonic boom after the first stage of the rocket came back to land startled all of us, even though we were expecting it. Continue reading »

10 Years of Homeschooling

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Our summer break starts today. This concludes our tenth year of homeschooling. Our son finished 9th grade. According to the law, he started out with Kindergarten (or Year 0 as it is known in some countries). Hence, 10 years of homeschooling.

Girl playing violin

I am holding her book as she warms up before her violin recital.

Words do not come easy to describe the last decade. My husband and I are happy we went this route – let us start there. Then, we can say that we plan to continue on this road until high school graduation for both. Continue reading »

KSYO Spring Concert 2023

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On May 1, 2023, at the Tennessee Theater, the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra performed their last concert of the season. This concludes our fifth year with this organization.

KSYO Youth Chamber Orchestra in rehearsal

Youth Chamber in rehearsal at Bearden Middle School – the conductor is on the right of the sitting area, checking the sound

It gets tough to drive them there once a week for 70 minutes one way and to return home around 9:45pm. By February I wonder if I am quite right in my mind to be making such efforts so they can “be in orchestra.” But then I persevere and the Winter Concert happens. I take heart for the last third of the season.

By the Spring Concert, we feel like it was all worth it. A lot of progress invariably happened. Beautiful music flowed into our minds and souls, improving our quality of life and character. The time spent commuting helped bond us in many ways as we shared our thoughts and feelings with each other.

Our son plays in the Youth Chamber orchestra and they played Benjamin Britten’s Simple Symphony – a jewel of a piece. Katie Liaw conducted.

In the last two weeks before the concert, we had a scare that he would not be able to play. He had hurt his shoulder blade due to a combination of shoveling, flapping his arms fast, and taekwondo over three days.

He sat out one rehearsal and took Aleve every 12 hours, as the doctor recommended. As time went on, he got better and better and was able to sit in the dress rehearsal – whew! Crisis averted. It would have been so disappointing to practice for the entire season and miss the last concert.

Our daughter plays in the Philharmonia Orchestra. They played two arrangements of Tchaikovsky pieces and an American contemporary composer. Cynthia Wright conducted.

Book 18 of 50 – Deep Work

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When I read Digital Minimalism last summer and blogged about it, I knew I wanted to read more books by Cal Newport. As a computer scientist, he thinks very logically and presents information in a way that makes sense. Maybe I have missed my profession. Maybe I should have been a computer science major in college, because, I tell you, Newport’s mind presents information just the way I like to receive it.

Deep Work Paperback Cover

Deep Work Paperback Cover

Deep Work by Cal Newport is tremendous. If you do not read any other book this year, read Deep Work. It is not just about productivity. It is about changing who you are by the activities you engage in. Stop the shallow habits of thought and become intentional about the way you interact with the technology available to us today. Continue reading »

First Cubing Competition

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We went to Huntington, WV for our son’s first cubing competition and it was called – what else? – Country Roads. Almost heaven, West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River… You know how the song goes.

Judging at cubing competition

Our son (red hat) serving as a judge for the blindfold event

Our son had a lot of fun competing and so did we, watching. The cubing community is very friendly and supportive of each other. The father of one of the participants heard our son’s time on the 2x2x2 and congratulated us, informing us that our son just qualified for Nationals. One of the participants even gave my son a set of hand warmers, which I thought was a nice gesture. Continue reading »

Book 17 of 50 – In His Steps

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Have you ever wondered where the phrase “WWJD” came from? Wonder no more. It came from In His Steps by Charles Sheldon.

In His Steps cover

In His Steps cover

In all honesty, I had a hard time reading this book because Sheldon preaches a sermon over and over again. As he advances the story, he slides in a sermon. Continue reading »

Book 16 of 50 – The Art of War

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Sun Tzu wrote this classic, The Art of War, thousands of years ago, yet military academies still study it today. In fact, the translator placed notes throughout to show how Hanibal, Napoleon, Hitler and others followed the advice in this book, as well.

The Art of War cover

The Art of War cover

I read this book to the kids over two days – two sessions of read-aloud fun, about one hour each. It is a short book and very straightforward. Continue reading »

Book 15 of 50 – The Cat of Bubastes

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I read The Cat of Bubastes by G. A. Henty to the children for over two months. We did a lot of driving to Science Olympiad practices, co-op, and music lessons, which reduced our reading time to a minimum. But we persevered. They liked it a lot.

Cat of Bubastes

The Cat of Bubastes

Set in Ancient Egypt about the time when Moses was an adult prince there, this book will teach your children a lot about that culture. The clothing, architecture, worship, societal hierarchy, fishing, hunting, agriculture etc from Ancient Egypt feature on every page. Continue reading »

Book 14 of 50 – Co. Aytch

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Sam Watkins fought as a Confederate soldier during the Civil War. Twenty years after the war, Watkins wrote this memoir, Co. Aytch about his experience. His stories about surviving enemy fire border the surreal.

Co. Aytch

Co. Aytch book cover

His company was named “H.” Back then, they spelled words they way they sounded – hence the title. Sam’s regiment hailed from Tennessee. Since I live in Tennessee, I recognized a lot of the places he mentions. Continue reading »