Memorial Day

Monday, May 31st, 2004
Yesterday at church, we were shown a video tribute to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in their service to our nation.

With a background of somber but patriotic music, the words of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address faded in and out, as images of American soldiers -- at times emotional, at other times inspiring, but at all times patriotic -- appeared on the screen. It was a moving, but inadequate tribute to the sacrifices that the men and women of our great nation have made. I say inadequate, not as a reflection on the video presentation itself, (it was outstanding), but that most of us simply cannot comprehend the price that these people (and their loved ones) have paid, and continue to pay today, so that we might enjoy the freedoms that we do -- here in America, and around the world.

Image:Memorial Day My pastor encouraged our congregation to visit the local cemetery to pay our respects to these heroes.  It was a very sobering experience to see row after row of flags waving in the wind, each marking the grave of an American soldier. As we walked through the cemetery, we read each grave marker to learn the name, branch of service, and sometimes the specific event in which each of these men and women had served.

From the top of the hill, I could see the freeway in the distance below. While perhaps a total of 10 families visited the cemetery in the brief time that we were there, thousands of motorists drove by, probably unaware of the cemetery, occupants, or the connection between them.

That connection is freedom.

I am grateful for this country that I call my own, a land that is free; and I am grateful to the men and women who have proudly served to make and keep it that way.

The next time you drive by a cemetery on Memorial Day and you see all of the flags, stop your car and get out. Take some time to walk the rows of graves, to remember what we enjoy in America, the price paid, and give thanks to God.

Mission Impossible?

Saturday, May 15th, 2004
As an on-going homeschool activity, we have set a goal of visiting each of the California missions over the next several years.  This past week, we visited the beautiful mission San Juan Capistrano, the 7th mission in a chain of 21 missions along California's "El Camino Real."

Image:Mission Impossible?

We were able to walk the Mission site and visit the Serra Chapel.  We also toured the Padre's quarters and the soldier's barracks as well as the remains of the Great Stone Church. At noon, we heard the tolling of century old bells.

Image:Mission Impossible?

After our field trip, and in keeping with the spirit of the day, we headed across the street for authentic Mexican food.

Mother’s Day Tribute

Sunday, May 9th, 2004
This weekend, we enjoyed a wonderful Mother's day. I took my family to visit my grandmother and grandfather and my aunt and uncle.  As we visited together I took the time to observe how each of my children were behaving and interacting with one another and with their great-grandparents, great-aunt and great-uncle, and their cousins.  I took time to reflect on each of their character and grace.

I'm very proud of my children -- not for any accomplishment on my part, but for the delightful young ladies that they are growing into. They are graceful, compassionate, kind, intelligent, caring, eloquent, and fun. Most of all, their love of the Lord can be seen in their countenance. As I thought about all of this, I realized that these are the very characteristics that had first attracted me to Kathy 15 years ago, and that through her example, these were now manifest in my children. What a fitting tribute to my wife on Mother's day.

I'm very honored to have Kathy as my wife and I count our daughters among the many blessings in our marriage. Thank you, Kathy.  Happy Mother's day!

Joe’s Cool Colored Coat

Saturday, May 1st, 2004
Remember Joe?  The second to youngest of 12 brothers, who captured his father's heart and got a cool jacket to show for it?  Joe's brothers became jealous, betrayed him, and took their revenge upon him, along with his new jacket.  Joe rises above his situation, is noticed by the big boss, finds himself second in command over everything, and preserves his family line. This story has it all: Love, generosity, dreams, jealousy, treachery, revenge, loyalty, flirting, deceit, despair, more dreams, hope, prophecy, wisdom, leadership, grovelling, compassion, and reunion.

I don't want to give away the plot, but that's a good brief summary; It's remained a popular story for thousands of years.

If you have been following our family web site, then you know that this is one of our favorite Bible stories. Tonight, we were again privileged to enjoy this story in musical form at a performance of Andrew Lloyd Weber's Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, performed by the Bakersfield Music Theater.

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After the performance, we had the opportunity to go backstage to meet the cast.  The girls had their pictures taken with Joseph (Jason D. McClain) and Pharaoh (Kevin Trueblood).  Both were delighted to meet the four girls and were kind enough to pose for photos. Emily and Kelly wore the Technicolor Dream Coats that Mommy made for Amy and Wendy when they were little.

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I have seen this musical many times across North America from Toronto to California; however, this particular performance had the most energetic choreography that we have ever seen in a production of Joseph. Our family had a hard time staying still in our seats when the brothers celebrated their dastardly deed and when Isaachar (Frank Sierra) led us in the "Benjamin Calypso."

Find this interesting? You can read the real story on-line:
Joseph's Dreams - Joseph and Potiphar's Wife - Interpreting Dreams
The Rise to Power - Joseph’s Brothers take a Trip - Return of the Brothers
The Final Test - The Reconciliation - The Relocation - Wise Administration

Homeschool Geography Fair 2004

Saturday, May 1st, 2004
For the past few weeks our house has had an international flair as my children have been preparing for today's homeschool geography fair.  Books from the library, postal envelopes with foreign currency, embassy packages with information, and flags from foreign nations have all had a place on our dinner table for weeks.

Each child prepared a display and wrote a report about the country they selected. In addition to their report, each child gave an oral presentation to the group. Finally,  we were able to taste representative foods from each nation, which the children prepared for us.

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Amy chose to do her research on the country of Italy. She enjoyed learning about Italian culture, the Euros, and the opportunity to build a model of the tower of Pisa.
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Wendy researched the country of France and shared information and items she collected from her French relatives. She made chocolate crepes to share with the other children.

Emily studied about Ireland and served homemade Irish Soda bread.  She really liked learning that grocers sell vegetables from baby carriages. She also learned about the flag of Ireland and what each color represents.
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Kelly (4) read a patriotic presentation about the United States of America. Kelly showed an American flag that she made and she showed everyone where California is on a map that she colored. She let everyone sample authentic American food: hot dogs.

For next year's Homeschool Geography Fair, the girls plan to write to the Sampson Boys, down under, to collect some information about their homeland: New Zealand. Their dad, Michael is a great guy, a fellow technologist, and a dedicated homeschooling father.

I've been behind on the blogging lately - lots of exciting projects going: client work, another speech, preparations for the eProductivity.Net site launch, family/homeschool, and my own studies and research all keep me quite busy. I will try to post more details here and over at the Mack Academy web site soon.