"A Christian should be an Alleluia from head to foot." - St. Augustine
I'm about 12% Alleluia on any given day, but I'm working on it.

Seven Quick Takes: Vote for My Kid Edition

— 1 —

Behold the Math Ninjas:

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My son and his friends just submitted their entry for the Mathcounts Math Video Challenge. It’s a five-minute explanation of a probability problem that somehow blossomed into an adventure story of ninjas (filmed in the freezing rain at Houston’s Japanese Garden), pizza, sneaking past the librarian, and a last-minute double-cross. You can vote for them, if you’d like, once every 24 hours.

The top four video teams will go to the national competition in Orlando this Spring.

I’m working on a post about Mathcounts and homeschooling and all the things I learned this first year (by doing dumb things), but for now – well, I’m the Math Ninja’s Mother, and I approve this message. (We’d appreciate your votes, in other words.)

— 2 —

My older son loves to read history books and recently finished Lee and Grant, which my mom had passed along to him recently. Because I’m a history teacher by trade, I was able to converse with him for at least four minutes about what he’d read before fending off my own college-amnesia-based despair with a suggestion that he check out James Thurber’s “If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appamatox.”

I provided him with my faded copy of The Thurber Carnival, which my mom gave me when I was about his age. She doesn’t remember even giving me the book, and all I really remember of my first read-through was that I found it completely baffling as to why anyone would think this was worth reading. But later I came back to it and now it’s one of my favorite books.

It’s such a joy when your children are old enough that their jokes start to actually be funny and you can laugh together at things you’ve read or…watched on YouTube, fine. My daughter read parts of it, too, and we were all laughing at the fake pet advice columns and other hits from the compilation.

Then I thought about how maybe it wasn’t a great idea to give my impressionable children a book of stories like The Unicorn in the Garden and how I might be warping their ideas about love and marriage and framing one’s spouse, that kind of thing. Fortunately, a box full of saint biographies arrived this week from my mother, so that was probably a good complement to “resign yourself to the mundane and ridiculous” message I think the kids will take away from reading Thurber.

— 3 —

I was at our local Catholic bookstore a couple of weeks ago, and look who I saw!

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 WordPress isn’t cooperating with my desire to rotate this photo, so it has the bonus appearance of the green book hovering angelically over the others, but the imporant thing is that my friends Jennifer Fitz and Jared Dees were both there, hanging out in the Catechist section. Congratulations to each of you! Jennifer has a lovely post up at New Evangelizers on how souls and gardens are both works  in progress.

— 4 —

Somewhere on a blog in the past two weeks, I read about the BBC series “Endeavour” on Netflix, and I highly recommend it. But I’m a sucker for anything involving British people in period clothing frowning about murder. This one ups the ante by also including opera music, so I feel like I’m classing up the joint when I watch it instead of my usual USA Network summer programming and other late-night viewing.

— 5 —

This comic from xkcd showing what time it is everywhere in the world at the moment you view the comic is amazing.

— 6 —

It’s about that time of year when I really feel in NEED of Lent, you know?

— 7 —

The latest thing I think is going to revolutionize my entire life is Anki, a thing that makes flashcards. I’ve almost figured out how to operate it, so surely I’m on the way to Better Homeschool Living Through Programmery. (Weirdly, the children were not as excited about this technology.) I read about it in this interview with recent Jeopardy champion Arthur Chu. The deal with Anki is that you tell it how well you know a particular fact presented to you via said flashcard, and then it shows you the flashcard again based on how well you claim to know the answer. You can read more about it here, including the sobering fact that:

The brain’s “use it or lose it” policy applies to everything we learn. If you spend an afternoon memorizing some science terms, and then don’t think about that material for two weeks, you’ll probably have forgotten most of it. In fact, studies show we forget about 75% of material learnt within a 48 hour period. This can seem pretty depressing when you need to learn a lot of information.

Or when you are pushing 40 and squinting back at your college years.

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