Monday, February 28, 2011

Black History Month, The Civil Rights Movement, and a Book Review for you.....


I recently received a free copy of the book, While the World Watched by Carolyn Maull McKinstry from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review.  I thought it would be fitting to review this book today, the last day of February, since February is Black History Month.  I thought I would give a bit of attention or acknowledgment to a subject that even today still seems to raise eyebrows and tempers.

In September 1963, the Ku Klux Klan bombed Carolyn Maull’s Birmingham church.  The teen was unharmed; however, four of her friends were killed in the blast.  This book is her personal account of that life-changing event, as well as a remarkable time-line covering her firsthand account of the Civil Rights Movement.

In 1965, Carolyn marched through Alabama with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  In 1968, Dr. King was assassinated while standing on the balcony of his hotel room in Memphis.  Eight years later in 1976, my family moved from Texas to Memphis.

(Prepare for a flashback....)

I had lived my first 11 years in a small rural town and in the suburbs of Los Angeles, CA and Dallas, TX.  Racial issues and desegregation were not a concern.  I left my Texas neighborhood school, which was literally across the street from my house, and moved to a racially divided city that had developed a desegregation-busing plan not too many years before our arrival.  We were shocked to learn that we would not attend our neighborhood school, but would instead be bused to another neighborhood as part of the desegregation of schools.  Of course, I was a kid at the time, so it really did not make much difference to me.  I generally enjoyed school and was a good student.  I was shy and quiet-a good girl.  I was not prepared for the animosity, especially that of the black students and teachers.  Many seemed resentful.  Back then, I was not aware of the reasons some of us were treated differently; I just knew there were differences.

As I moved on to Junior High age, the talk of moving to the assigned junior/senior high was more than a little scary.  The older siblings of my friends were experiencing racially charged riots at that time.  I spent that summer with my stomach in knots.  When the time came to ride that bus, it was not nearly as bad as I had imagined.  It was actually better in many cases.  The teachers were more accepting and the kids were becoming accustomed to the changes.

As the years have passed, I cannot say that much has changed in my racially charged city.  Unfortunately, the city is still very much divided.

Now, back to the book....

I enjoyed reading about this issue from Carolyn's perspective.  Her story is one of perseverance, of standing up for what is right despite the odds, of acceptance of the past, and of forgiveness.  I admire her for her ability not only to forgive, but also to push forward within a cloud of self-assurance and strong faith.  While I have witnessed parts of the fight, I will never insinuate that I can relate in any way.  However, as a child of the South with many friends and family members who are still entrenched in the 'good old Southern ways', I have seen the issue from the other side.  It is not pretty.

What an amazing story and a remarkable woman.  Much like the story of Memphis, While the World Watched is the story of how far Southern racial relations have come over the past 50+ years and how far they still have to go.

**Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of the Tyndale Blog Network book review 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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Do you Speekee the Spanish?

I was recently granted a free trial period of Speekee TV in order to review the program.  This program is a Spanish immersion program for children in the age range of 2-10 years old.  The program includes 10 online episodes using puppets and real kids in real situations to teach Spanish.

There are free downloads available in the form of activity worksheets that you can print off to reinforce the lessons learned. The episodes are 100% Spanish--no English at all.  However, you can have English/Spanish subtitles on the screen if you choose.

A subscription to Speekee TV is $7.50 per month and the first two weeks are free.  This is very reasonable for unlimited access! Plus, no contracts.  You can leave the program at any time without penalty.

The website also offers a DVD version of the program, as well as a early education/elementary classroom package.

I have two kids who fit within the Speekee TV age range.  My youngest boys are five years old and almost 10.  Both of my boys are on the Autism spectrum and absolutely love computer programs.  They found the episodes entertaining.  The older boy felt the program was a little too young for him.  The younger boy just seems puzzled by the foreign language.  He is no longer considered non-verbal, but he does have some definite communication issues.  I have no doubt  he is capable of learning from the Speekee TV Spanish lessons.  We will definitely keep using Speekee TV with the 5 year old, but will probably look for something a little different for the 10 year old. 

Here are a few things I really like about this program:

  • The price!  $7.50 per month for access is very reasonable for this type of program.  As a one-income family of seven, online programs and classes are usually priced out of our reach.
  • The quality-the program has the feel of a Spanish Sesame Street.  Puppets and kids....you just can't beat that combination!   
  • The indepth study-loads of Spanish vocabulary in each episode means you will stay on one episode for several lessons, not to mention being able to go back and revisit each episode to review.  If you wanted to focus on these ten episodes, you could easily cover one episode repeatedly for a month and stretch this out over a full year.  After covering all ten episodes, Spanish immersion will be evident.
  • The open-ended subscription.  No worries about contracts and unexpected cancellation fees.         

The Speekee TV Spanish Immersion online program is inexpensive, entertaining, and effective for teaching beginning Spanish to young children.  You can get 2 weeks free if you sign up now!

Disclaimer---I received the online program for free for a period of time in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday--Bad Hair Day?

 EEGs are hard on your style....

 See what I mean??


Yeah, still cute in spite of the glue.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday--Shiny New Toy

Look what I can do with my shiny new toy!

I can read a good book.....


Play a fun game.....

Or listen to some tunes......



 I think I love you!!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wordless Wednesday--Secret Stash??

Looks like someone had WAY more than his fair share of chocolate coins.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Go Red for Heart…Did YOU Wear Red for Someone Special?

Yesterday was National Go Red for Heart.  Officially, I believe it is Go Red for Women.  Everyone is encouraged to wear red to bring awareness to heart disease in women--the #1 killer of women in America.  I proudly wore red for my mom who is six months out from an ambulance ride that changed her life.  Thankfully, after a heart cath, bypass surgery, and several setbacks, she is recovering nicely and doing well now.

With that said, I would like to encourage everyone who has been touched by acquired heart disease to think about the Go Red campaign in a broader sense.  Think women, think men, think girls, think boys.

Think younger…

  • When you hear of heart catheter procedures (known as a heart cath), do not think only of a 50-year-old man having stents placed to open clogged arteries.  Think also of a 3-day-old baby having a narrow valve ballooned open.
  • When you hear of pacemaker or ICD placement surgery, do not think only of a young woman with an uncontrollable rapid heart rate.  Think also of a 3-year-old child going back to the operating room for a pacemaker due to blocked heart rhythm after open-heart surgery to repair defects.
  • When you hear of heart valve replacements, do not think only of a thirty-something getting a new valve.   Think also of the 4-year-old getting a new valve due to defects. Think also of the 2-year-old having a valve completely removed and left out until he is older.
  • When you hear about bypass surgery, do not think only of the older relative having a clogged artery bypass surgery.  Think also of a 3-year-old child going in for the final surgery of a three stage surgical repair to bypass one whole side of his heart.

Imagine a 5-year-old who has been shocked back into normal heart rhythm after days of uncontrolled high heart rates.  Imagine four heart cath procedures, two cardiac MRI procedures, one open-heart surgery, grown up medications, numerous ER visits, hospitalizations and procedures, and all before his 4th birthday.  I do not have to imagine-that is my boy's story.  I wore red for him yesterday.

Thousands of children share similar stories.

Just imagine…

  • A 2 year old with five open heart surgeries under her belt
  • A baby in congestive heart failure
  • A plastic bag filled with heart medications for a preschooler

Imagine burying a baby, a toddler, a teen…

Imagine losing a child of any age due to heart disease.

It happens every day.

Spread the word…

Congenital Heart Disease is a killer, but more children are surviving than ever before.  Those of you who have not been touched by CHD may find yourselves directly affected in the coming years.  Very little money is devoted to CHD research.  Visit the following websites to learn more about Congenital Heart Disease and to find out how you can help increase awareness:

Go Red for Heart.  Did YOU wear red for someone special yesterday?  I would love to hear about it.  Leave me a comment and let me know your Go Red stories!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday--Dentist? Groovy!

Fun at the dentist......

The whole office was decked out in balloons, tie dye, love beads, and peace signs.  Happy 50th Birthday, Dr. Hughes!!

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