Zimmer ~ Composer ABCs

You know this work of this composer – Hans Zimmer. Maybe you don’t know his name but if you have seen any number of movies since the 1980s, you’ve heard his work.

Zimmer is well known for his combination of electronic sound with traditional orchestral music. It is so well accepted that he has scored over 150 movies. These include The Lion KingCrimson TideGladiator, the Pirates of the Caribbean series, The Dark Knight TrilogyInceptionInterstellarDunkirk, and Blade Runner 2049.

Hans Zimmer is a German-born composer. He was born in 1957 in Frankfurt. According to Zimmer, “My formal training was two weeks of piano lessons. I was thrown out of eight schools. But I joined a band. I am self-taught. But I’ve always heard music in my head. And I’m a child of the 20th century; computers came in very handy.” [Zimmer, Hans (11 June 2013). “I am Hans Zimmer – Ask Me Anything!”. RedditArchived from the original on 4 November 2020. Retrieved 28 June 2017.] While a teenager, Zimmer moved to London and spent a good deal of time working with bands of different types and styles.

Zimmer moved to the United States where his success sky rocketed. His “break” was being asked to score Rain Man, which he did masterfully. From there, he went on to score a large body of work. His work in Hollywood and on Broadway is just phenomenal. It is next to impossible to note all of the productions he has worked on and all of the recognitions he has garnered. You can see his discography on the Hans Zimmer website.

You can read a good bit more on Hans Zimmer on the iMDb biography or Wickipedia. I have not found a really solid website for a biography for him apart from these two. There are a lot of interesting stories on Zimmer, including one about him adding a chainsaw to a piano for effect. True or not? Guess it depends on how much you trust Wickipedia. 🙂

Regardless, this composer, who just happens to be the head of music at Dreamworks (my girls love their work!), has a lot to offer the music work and has left a legacy of movie music that will always be admired. Add to that the work he did on experimental sound and adding different bits to instruments and you have a composer whose music will live on for quite a long time.

I hope you have enjoyed this series on composers and that you have found some new music to listen to. Perhaps it even challenged you to break into something you would never have tried otherwise. My husband’s mantra about new-to-you music is that you have to listen to it all the way through 3 or 4 times before you truly know whether you enjoy it or not. It is a good thing to consider with anything new, right?

Thank you for joining me on this musical journey.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Composer ABCs in this series:
A – Leroy Anderson
B – Bernstein, Bizet, Bax
C – Copland
D – Debussy and de Meij
E – Elgar
F – Fauré
G – Grainger and Ginastera
H – Holst
I – Ives
J – Joplin and Janacek
K – Kern
L – Liszt
M – Mussorgsky
N – Nelson
O – Offenbach
P – Palestrina and Prokofiev
Q – Quilter
R – Respighi, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff, Ravel
S – Saint-Saëns, Shostakovich, Still, Smetana, Sibelius
T – Tavener & Tchaikovsky
U – Ustvolskaya
V – Vaughan Williams and Villa-Lobos
W – Whitacre & Willson
X – Xenakis
Y – Yoshimatsu

Teach Sunday School Bible Breakdowns ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Teach Sunday School is a company that creates printable Bible study materials, including this one – Bible Breakdowns. They have created a number of materials that we have used previously, including Books Of The Bible At-A-Glance and Easter Escape Room. I have found these materials to be neat, compact, and effective in sharing the information they are intended to. In choosing the Bible Breakdowns, I have not been disappointed, finding them useful for the purpose I had in mind when I saw them.

Bible Breakdowns has both an Old Testament pack and a New Testament pack. We were given both for the purpose of this review and both have come in handy. There is a single page for each of the books of the Bible, except for Matthew which is broken down into so many subdivisions that it includes 2 pages. Each book includes a heading that notes the name of the book, whether it is Old Testament or New Testament, and which book of the Bible it is. (Job for example has 18 and OT to designate the 18th book of the Bible found in the Old Testament.) It has a short written summary next. This is followed by how many chapters there are, the type of book it is, the date it was written (or approximate date), the period of time covered by the book, and the author. Then it is broken down by chapter and verse, with each break given a subject or theme. Job includes 7 sections. Finally there is a list of a few of the most popular verses from the book, including their ranking within the book and within the whole Bible.

These are very similar to the Bible-At-A-Glance pages yet they organize the information differently and highlight different parts. As you can see in the image below, much of the information is the same – book placement, author, date, etc. But the Bible-At-A-Glance page does not include the chapter and verse breakdown that is in this set. This set allows the user to have a checklist of what to read and a helpful subject or theme for what will be read. This can really assist in keeping one on track and moving forward. And some books are much easier to read when you know what the theme is of what is coming up. You can see this comparison below.

So, how do you use these? I am using them a couple of different ways.

First, our Bible bowl book this year is Joshua. So all three of the girls have a copy of Joshua to keep with their materials for that. When we really settle into the studying for that, I will be asking them to check it off as they daily read, as I expect them to get through Joshua 6-8 times during our study. Each time through I’ll ask them use a different color pen to mark the passages so they can see progress clearly.

Second, I have printed it all off on half-sized sheets and included them in the mini-3 ring binder that I have with the Bible-At-A-Glance pages, also from Teach Sunday School. This is a resource I keep on our bookshelves for use at any time. I have recently had my daughter who was working through Proverbs take a look at this resource. We have often picked it up to help us get an idea about a book of the Bible we are studying.

Third, our 5-8 grade students at Bible class (my youngest is in this group) are reading through the Bible chronologically. I’ll be sharing the pages for each of the books she reads as she goes through. She has already started both Genesis, Exodus, and Job.

These really have quite a wide variety of uses. If I were teaching the 2nd-4th grade class at church this quarter, I would carry this with me each time we started a new book, just to have another way to view the book we were starting. Overviews are such a great way to get a handle on the start of a new book each time.

There are many great ways to use this resource from Teach Sunday School. I highly recommend that you visit their website to order the download for the product or, if you are looking for more ideas on how you might use it, visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about how other families have been using this Bible resource with their family.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Independence for PK and early elementary students

As a parent, one of the things we are always striving to teach our children is independence. In as many areas as are appropriate at the time. I was clearing out some things earlier today and came across the task trackers we used with two of the girls when they were little. These were simple and allowed them to be a bit more independent in their house and school tasks. It also gave them a bit of the freedom desired to choose what to do next.

The girls were in their princess phases at the time so I purchased a couple of pieces of scrapbook paper with their favorite princess. I laminated the ones with the princess and a coordinating one for each child. I also purchased small velcro dots. Out of the coordinating color of paper, I cut as many small squares as I was going to list tasks. I put a small soft velcro dot on both sides each square. I then lined them up on the princess page and added a small hook dot where each square was going to go. I used a wet erase marker to write the tasks on the laminated squares and them put them on the princess base. When a task was completed, the child could turn the square over.

To make this more accessible for a PK child, you could draw simple pictures for each item instead of using words.

I did not put up every task every day. If I didn’t need the child to complete a task that day, I turned it over to start the day. And, as they graduated from one type of task to another, I just used a wet paper towel to wipe off the label and then wrote the new task on.

This was simple and worked really well for a good long while. It can also work in place of a workbox if you are interested in that but don’t really have the space.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Yoshimatsu ~ Composer ABCs

This was probably the hardest because I don’t know even a single one of the possibilities that I came up with. I have never heard of any of them. Well, except Dwight Yoakum but I don’t know if he fits the category of composer or not. I don’t know enough about him as I have never cared at all for country music. But maybe you do so you might know. Regardless, I have chosen to look very quickly at Takashi Yoshimatsu.

Yoshimatsu is a 20th century composer who grew up in Tokyo. He listened to a lot of rock and pop while growing up in the 1960s but was also quite taken with symphonies by classical composers such as Tchaikovsky and Beethoven. This is a pattern that will continue through his life, influence by both progressive pop and rock while simultaneously being influence by the classical world.

He has written in a variety of ways, experimenting with sound through atonal music, jazz, rock, Japanese traditional music, and more. One of his most commonly known pieces is a tribute to those who influenced it (the Beatles, Pink Floyd and Emerson, Lake & Palmer). This work for string music sounds interesting so I looked it up. It is titled Atom Hearts Club Suites. Below is a movement from the first one.

Yoshimatsu has written concertos for instruments that do not traditionally get solo pieces, including bassoon, cello, guitar, trombone, alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, marimba, chamber orchestra, traditional Japanese instruments, and two for piano (one for the left hand only and one for both hands). There are also a number of symphonies included his list of compositions. Among his other credits is the music for the 2003 remake of the anime series Astro Boy.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Composer ABCs in this series:
A – Leroy Anderson
B – Bernstein, Bizet, Bax
C – Copland
D – Debussy and de Meij
E – Elgar
F – Fauré
G – Grainger and Ginastera
H – Holst
I – Ives
J – Joplin and Janacek
K – Kern
L – Liszt
M – Mussorgsky
N – Nelson
O – Offenbach
P – Palestrina and Prokofiev
Q – Quilter
R – Respighi, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff, Ravel
S – Saint-Saëns, Shostakovich, Still, Smetana, Sibelius
T – Tavener & Tchaikovsky
U – Ustvolskaya
V – Vaughan Williams and Villa-Lobos
W – Whitacre & Willson
X – Xenakis

Featured Last Week for the Letter X:
– Every Bed of Roses chatted about X-Factor in Your Homeschool
– Our Homeschool Notebook showed a lego X is for Xylophone 
– Homeschooling Highway included a set of Homeschooling Tips: X

Science Vocab with The Critical Thinking Co. ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Vocabulary can be a tricky thing, can’t it? Sometimes is just sticks with us while other times, it just seems to leave our heads as quickly as it enters. This is why I like activities that utilize vocabulary without it seeming like drill and kill. The Critical Thinking Co.™ has a book that we have been using that is a great fit for this – Science Vocabulary Crossword Puzzles.

The age range for this workbook is grades 4-6 but it has been a nice fit to start out the school year for my 7th grader. It is not super challenging in the grand scheme of things but it is getting her focused and she is really enjoying it. Because of how the clues are written, it is challenging her to recall vocabulary words from a great variety of science areas. This is helping bolster her science knowledge.

The book is an 8 1/2 x 11 softback book with perforated pages to make them easy to remove from the binding if desired. Photocopying of the material within one home for multiple children is allowed. We did not do this. Miss J utilized the book as is, writing directly in the workbook. There are 8 major topics covered in these crossword puzzles: living things; earth’s land, water, and resources; weather; solar system; matter, energy and force; human body; science and scientists; inventions and discoveries.

The crossword puzzles are designed with ample space for each of the letters. There are the typical set of puzzle clues for across and down. There is a choice box with answer options to choose from. At the back of the book, you find a completed puzzle for the answer key. There is also a list of the vocabulary words for each puzzle at the back of the book.

Miss J has been completing one puzzle each school day. She is allowed to choose which one she will do. This has proven to be a fun way for her to expand her vocabulary and to challenge her recall of known information. We require her to answer as much as possible from memory before asking for help or looking for help online or in books.

getting help on the Periodic Table of Elements

This does not by any stretch of the imagination constitute a complete science curriculum but it is a fun, simple enrichment activity or review. It is a fun way to start a year or to introduce a topic area. It could be a jump start for a research project or a rainy day activity. A sick child could do a lot with a book like this, also. With so many options, this is a resource that I can easily recommend.

The plants crossword jump started some research on trees, specifically sequoia and cyprus. She spent some time researching and reading about old trees.

The Critical Thinking Co.™ has a lot of options to choose from. In the past, we have reviewed:

Mastering Logic & Math Problem Solving

Pattern Explorer Beginning (Grades 3-4)

Something’s Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha

Editor In Chief Level 1

Surfing the Net: Science

We also bought and used Mind Benders Levels 3 & 4. Can you tell we have been pleased with many things from The Critical Thinking Co.™?

The Homeschool Review Crew has had families utilizing several different products from the The Critical Thinking Co.™ In addition to the Science Vocabulary Crossword Puzzles, families have used

Building Thinking Skills® Beginning 2
Tell Me a Story
Science Mind Benders®: Animals
Understanding Fractions
Vocabulary Virtuoso: Mastering Middle School Vocabulary

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read more about each of these products.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Spouse In The House ~ a book review & giveaway

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the I Read with Audra program (Audra Jennings PR) and the publisher Kregel Publications.

“Two is company but three’s a crowd.” We all know this adage but what happens when two are home together all.the.time? What happens when two is a crowd? That is the concern being addressed in Spouse In The House by Cynthia Ruchti and Becky Melby. They know all too well how crowded a space can become when your own daily routine is crowded by someone else’s routine coming home to rest. The global pandemic has caused a stress of this sort for many. But often, retirement, health, or work (from home or together in business) can crowd a space. So what then?

Ruchti and Melby tackle the issues and attitudes that show up when home space is shared continuously. The practical and humorous approach these ladies take for tackling the issue of shared space is joyful, even when dealing with not so joyful things. Their own experiences play well into their knowledge and ideas. They also ask others who are experienced in being home all the time to share their insights, funnies, and tips.

Humor is key to the issue of being home all the time, as many know from the past 18 months. The titles of the chapters highlight the necessary humor – “The Line Down the Middle”, “Love Keeps No Record of Who Cleaned the Toilet Last”, “The Sins Febreze Can’t Quite Cover,” and “It’s Still M Rib, Adam. It’s Still My Rib Cage, Eve.” There are 20 humor filled chapters in the book, along with some helpful resources that may or may not apply to you (including resources for when your marriage is not a safe place to be). Ruchti and Melby take turns writing in each chapter, both addressing the topic at hand from their own experience, marriage, and viewpoint. These ladies play off each other and boost each other’s knowledge, providing a great frame work for growth in marriage.

I found the book to be quite helpful, even though our family doesn’t fit the HHATT (He’s Home All The Time) model. Marriage tips for every marriage come through loud and strong, because good, solid, biblical attitudes are necessary for every stage of marriage. My husband does have an unusual schedule and we home educate our three children. In addition to that, the girls are quite active in dance and that means we have unusual schedules all around. The tips from Spouse In The House really are helpful for creating a home environment where everyone wants to be, where everyone feels respected and included, and where we can work, play, and just chill. Most off all, though, it makes home a place where we all want to come back to at the end of each day. And isn’t that what family is about?

While Ruchti and Melby did write a book that is biblical in character, it isn’t a “pound you over the head with Godly attitude” book. It incorporates love and Godly attitudes into the simple, loving, and daily interactions between a husband and a wife. I found it a helpful marriage book in this regard.

About the Book, from the cover:

A frank and funny look at what to do when together is too close.

Cynthia Ruchti and Becky Melby know all too well how adjusting to a new, all-the-time closeness can cause the bliss of marriage to form blisters. Drawing from their experiences, and from men and women across the country in the same situation, the authors take a deep breath and dive into the root causes. They dig into what God’s Word has to say, and they offer practical tips for learning the spiritual, emotional, relational, and even physical steps that can help readers replace irritation with peace.

For any couple who wants their home to be a refuge of peace and serenity for all—not just themselves—and who wants to know they aren’t alone in the mental and physical claustrophobia of too much togetherness, Spouse in the House is a vulnerable, charming, and pragmatic breath of hope.

About the authors:

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Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope through her novels, novellas, devotions, and nonfiction, and through speaking for women’s events, retreats, writers’ conferences, and workshops. She draws from 33 years of experience writing and producing the 15-minute daily radio broadcast, “The Heartbeat of the Home.” 

Ruchti’s more than thirty books have garnered reader, retailer, reviewer, and other industry awards. She serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, is a founding board member of the Deliver Hope ministry and is part of the worship team at her church. She’s also a literary agent with Books & Such Literary Management. 

Ruchti and her husband, Bill, live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and six grandchildren.

Learn more about Cynthia Ruchti and her writing at cynthiaruchti.com or by following her on Facebook (@CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage), Instagram (@cynthiaruchtiauthor), and Twitter (@cynthiaruchti).

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Becky Melby has authored more than twenty novels and novellas. Spouse in the House is her first non-fiction book release.

The Melbys have four sons and fifteen grandchildren and make their home in southeastern Wisconsin. When not writing or spoiling grandchildren, she may be found touring the country with Bill in their camper or on their Honda Gold Wing motorcycle.

Find out more about Becky Melby’s books at beckymelby.com or follow her on Facebook (becky.melby.9) and Instagram (@beckymelbybooks). She also shares short blog posts each Friday on the Fill My Cup, Lord page on Facebook. 

Giveaway!!

Visit I Read With Audra (Audra Jennings PR) to enter the giveaway.
https://www.audrajennings.com/2021/09/win-copy-of-spouse-in-house.html
Will end 10/21.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Math Essentials for middle school ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

As we prepared for this fall, my youngest daughter asked to be taken off of the computer math program we had been using and to be able to do her math from a printed book. It was really good timing because Math Essentials had just come up for review with their prealgebra program. Basic Math Skills Rescue Parts 1 and 2 is a two book set of softback, consumable workbooks. Together, these two books set the stage of a strong foundation for algebra, creating an algebra readiness for the student.

Creator and master teacher Richard Fisher knows that success in math relies on readiness for the upcoming ideas and concepts. In designing Basic Math Skills Rescue, he deals with what he terms the Critical Foundations of Algebra. He feels that success in understanding these ideas will result in long-term math success. There are three areas to deal with – whole numbers, fractions, and some areas of geometry and measurement. These are all addressed in this two book set.

Basic Math Skills Rescue Book 1 includes work with whole numbers and integers, fractions, and decimals and percents. Basic Math Skills Rescue Book 2 includes work with geometry, problem solving, and some more specific pre-algebra concepts. Each book is designed for a single student to work in and includes several helps at the back as well as an answer key.

Each page has a short review section up top. This is followed by a short teaching example and two sample questions to complete together. Following the samples, there are a number of questions for the student to work independently. It ends with a word problem to solve. As noted, the answer key is in the back of the book to check work. If needed, there is also access to online instructional videos to help teach the concept. The access information for this is in each book. We have not utilized these videos since she is wanting more one-on-one help this year but it is great to know they are there if she needs help when I am unavailable.

There are some really well thought-out parts to Basic Math Skills Rescue. Every lesson includes review so you never completely drop a concept until it is the main focus again. Each lesson seems to flow smoothly into the next concept focus, never big jumps in ideas that leave a student confused. The flow of each individual lesson makes sense. Each lesson is self-explanatory but does not make it hard for a teacher to guide the lesson. There are tests for each section. There is also a “resource center” at the back of the book.

The resources at the back of the book will come in quite handy as she gets into more complicated ideas. Included at the back are a glossary of terms and examples, a list of important symbols, a multiplication table to 12s, a table of common prime numbers to 1013, a table of squares and square roots, and a table of fraction/decimal equivalents.

My 7th grader has begun in book 1 and often tackles it while she eats her breakfast. This is a solid review for her of whole numbers at this point. Each concept generally has two lessons on it. She is completing one or two lessons a day at this point. As we move into concepts she is less familiar with and needs more help, we will move to a single lesson each day. Because there is not a lot of white space on each page to work the math of the problems, she also has a notebook in which she writes her problem and does the work. She then transfers the answer into the book. Using the answer key at the back, we check the work together.

If you have seen my review of previous math products from Math Essentials, you will note that they have a book titled Mastering Essential Math Skills. Because we have reviewed it before, I was quite curious to see how it relates to Basic Math Skills Rescue. Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 (the one we reviewed and aimed at middle and high school students) covers the same topics as our current review. However, it is all in a single book and has only one lesson per concept. Additionally, there are two speed drill wheels in the review section. I do think those are fabulous and would make a great addition to this book, also. Because it is moving twice as fast, Mastering Essential Math Skills is better suited to a student who is reviewing or is fairly familiar with chunks of the concepts and just needs a bit of review help.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about other families’ experiences with Basic Math Skills Rescue Parts 1 and 2.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Xenakis ~ Composer ABCs

Scientific approaches to music do not tend to lend themselves to the comment of enjoyable or interesting but it certainly can be labeled interesting. This is the case with today’s composer – Iannis Xenakis. This 20th century composer has an architectural background and thus this influence on his music is very specific.

Xenakis was born in Eastern Europe to Greek parents. After his mother died (he was 5), he had a difficult childhood, resulting in being sent to Greece to attend boarding school. At this school, he participated in the choir and studied many composers. Learning notation and solfege (do, re mi, etc) was also included in his music education at this school. He moved to Athens and began university studies in 1938 but the ensuing wars cut his studies short. (The Greco-Italian War, WWI, and a civil war all took place within the next decade.) He became involved with a communist group, fighting street battles, and was severely injured, losing sight in one eye. He was sentenced to death but had his sentence commuted to 10 year and then finally, fully lifted in 1974 after yet another group took over leadership of the country.

In 1947, Xenakis fled to Paris illegally and remained there, eventually becoming a French citizen. When he reached Paris, he sought employment in an architecture agency. He was a talented architect and quickly rose from apprentice to working side-by-side with the owner of the agency, Le Corbusier. He designed many well-known buildings. This background bled into his music and composition.

He sought to learn many times and from many people but found it difficult to get instruction. He had quite unique ideas about music and finally found some encouragement from Messiaen. Xenakis’ music was methodical, mathematical, and rhythmic. It is considered minimalistic and I personally find it difficult to listen to. But, it is truly a scientific form of music as he applied formulas to composition to create some of his works.

One of his most recognized pieces is Anastenaria (1953–54): a triptych for choir and orchestra based on an ancient Dionysian ritual. The third part of the triptych, Metastaseis, is generally regarded as the composer’s first mature piece. It is often performed as a stand-alone piece.

Serialism in music, the use of musique concrète, or utilizing recorded sounds as raw musical material, applying mathematical formulae to composition, electronic music – these are all advanced 20th century composition techniques that Xenakis excelled at.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Composer ABCs in this series:
A – Leroy Anderson
B – Bernstein, Bizet, Bax
C – Copland
D – Debussy and de Meij
E – Elgar
F – Fauré
G – Grainger and Ginastera
H – Holst
I – Ives
J – Joplin and Janacek
K – Kern
L – Liszt
M – Mussorgsky
N – Nelson
O – Offenbach
P – Palestrina and Prokofiev
Q – Quilter
R – Respighi, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff, Ravel
S – Saint-Saëns, Shostakovich, Still, Smetana, Sibelius
T – Tavener & Tchaikovsky
U – Ustvolskaya
V – Vaughan Williams and Villa-Lobos
W – Whitacre & Willson

Featured Last Week for the Letter W:
– Every Bed of Roses chatted about Writing Cursive
– Our Homeschool Notebook showed a lego World
– Homeschooling Highway included a set of Homeschooling Tips: W

The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady ~ a book review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the I Read with Audra program (Audra Jennings PR) and the publisher Kregel Publications.

The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady by Sharon J. Mondragon is just the book I needed. An enjoyable story combined with well-developed characters and a push toward evangelism made for a story line that I couldn’t put down. If you have ever felt comfy in your space and routine, don’t read this one because it will push you out of that comfort zone and step on your toes and rip up your routine, making you think long and hard about what you really are doing in your zest and zeal for God.

Do you like to knit or hand craft gifts and useful items? You will want to just jump right in a become a part of the Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl ministry. Here’s the summary of the story and how these ladies’ lives take quite a turn, right along with their knitting. There are surprises in both!

Margaret, Rose, Jane, and Fran had a good thing going: meet every week in the quiet of their peaceful chapel and knit prayer shawls. No muss, just ministry. That is, until their pastor boots them out of the church in his last-ditch effort to revive the dwindling congregation.

Uptight Margaret isn’t having it. Knitting prayer shawls where people can watch is the most ridiculous idea she’s ever heard of, and she’s heard plenty. Prayer belongs in the church, not out among the heathen masses. How are they supposed to knit holiness into these shawls if they’re constantly distracted by the public? But with no choice, the others embrace the challenge. They pack their knitting bags and drag Margaret–grumbling the whole way–to the mall with them. She can’t wait to prove them all wrong when it fails miserably, and show the pastor that she always knows best.

Without the familiar mold the group has been stuck in, their own losses, pain, and struggles rise to the surface. And the people and situations they encounter every time they try to sit quietly and knit are taking them a lot further out of their comfort zone than they ever imagined. Can they find the courage to tackle the increasing number of knotty issues they learn about in the community–or will the tangle be too much to unravel?

I found the story of Margaret, Rose, Jane, and Fran a joy to read. I just wanted to curl up with something cozy and a glass of ice tea and just read. I wanted to know how these ladies were going to fare when they had to leave their comfort zone, especially as I read about how grumpily Margaret was taking the challenge. Once they met Sarah, I just knew something bigger was happening. And then it grew. And grew. And grew. And you know what I saw? God meeting the open hearts with people who had no idea what God could do. It made me wonder about how much I was in my comfort zone, closed off from that big and wide and messy world that needs God. I adored this story and have told my teenagers that I think they would enjoy it, too.

The characters that come into the story are amazing and I found myself really rooting for them. From pregnant Amy with the purple hair to the prayer requesters who would not sign their prayer request, from the lady who is missing her father to the mom whose child came boldly into the circle, characters are everything and this book is packed with them. The fabulous and well formed characters really made this book an extension of life.

But I bet you are wondering about “the dragon lady” part of it. You know, our attitudes and outward appearances often made us a dragon. When we allow that to be what rules us, we lose ourselves. So what happens when we finally give in and listen to God? He can do amazing work in our lives. So, you’ll have to read to find out who exactly is the dragon lady. But I will tell you – God knows we can all be a dragon and he is looking for us to give that part of ourselves up to Him so He can smooth us over into one who works for Him.

About the Author:


Sharon J. Mondragón writes about the place where kindness and courage meet. Her debut novel, The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady (originally titled The Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl Ministry) was the 2017 winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis award in the Short Novel Category, and she has also been recognized by The Saturday Evening Post where her short story, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” was an Honorable Mention Awardee in the 2014 their Great American Fiction Contest.
 
Mondragón has been active in prayer shawl ministry since 2008 and currently serves as facilitator for the prayer shawl ministry at her church, St. Paul Episcopal in Waxahachie, TX. She also knits with the Circle of Healing at Red Oak United Methodist Church. She is a Level 2 Certified Knitting Instructor through the Craft Yarn Council and teaches beginning knitting at a local yarn store.
 
Mondragón is the mother of five grown children and has four grandchildren. After 26 years as an Army wife, she has settled in Midlothian, TX with her hero/husband, her laptop, and her yarn stash.
 
Visit Sharon Mondragón’s website and blog at www.sharonjmondragon.com and follow her on Facebook (Sherry Mondragón) and Twitter (@SJ_Mondragón).

Final Thoughts:

Get your hands on this book. You won’t regret the read and you might just find yourself boldly asking God to take you our of the prayer chapel and into the world.

Giveaway:

You can win a copy of this book by entering the giveaway. Visit https://www.audrajennings.com/2021/09/win-copy-of-unlikely-yarn-of-dragon-lady.html to find the entry form.
The Rafflecopter will close on 10/19/21.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Whitacre & Willson ~ Composer ABCs

Today we are featuring more of what I consider band composers. Eric Whitacre and Meredith Willson. Both of these men wrote for more than band but since band is where I came to know them through playing their music, well, that is how they stuck for me.

Eric Whitacre composed for band due to what is called a fluke on his website. I found it interesting that he stumbled on a rehearsal, sat enthralled listening to it, and decided he had to write a piece for that group. According to what he said, he had never written for musical instruments at that point, only voice. He studied every instrument by talking to players of that instrument and asking asking all the questions he could – What is your favorite piece to play? What range are you most comfortable in? and more. The piece that came out of that is Ghost Train and one that I must have played right after it was released. A strange piece for certain but one that brings interest to the band world.

Deep Field is a piece that I find quite interesting. It is based on imagery from the Hubble Telescope and a film was created through collaboration with Whitacre, his Virtual Choir 5 which included 8,000 voices ages 4-87 from 120 different countries, producers Music Productions, scientists and visualizers from the Space Telescope Science Institute and multi award-winning artists 59 Productions. It is imagining the deepest reaches of space. The film created for the music shows some of Hubble’s amazing images, as well as never-before-shown fly-bys of galaxies. The images in the film are stunning and go beautifully with the music. There is even an app to be downloaded and cued by the conductor when this is played live.

Whitacre was born in Nevada in 1970 and studied at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. After graduation there, which is where his first compositions came to life, he studied at Juilliard School of Music, graduating with a Master of Music in 1997. His works are actually quite varied, though I initially knew only of his band music. He has written a large body of work for orchestra, choirs, film (including Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice), and more. He is a visiting conductor and a speaker. He has given TED talks. He is considered to be the pioneer of virtual choirs. (Virtual Choir 6: Sing Gently is below. It is a must listen.) And this is all for a composer who is still producing work. Keep your eye on this guy. His website has a list of all the compositions he has completed if you are looking for more to listen to and/or view.


Meredith Willson is going to be best known for writing The Music Man. Born in 1902 in Iowa, he has a long career as musician, composer, conductor, arranger, author, and radio personality. Shortly after high school, he was playing flute with John Philip Sousa’s band and later with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. He toured and performed for a good while. His wife Rini also toured with him as a singer.

Willson wrote the script, lyrics, and music for the Broadway musical The Music Man. It was released in 1957 and played on Broadway for several years. It was then purchased for movie rights and found success on the big screen, also. The Music Man is a semi-autobiographical story of his Iowa boyhood. It includes many numbers that are well-known and the story is always a joy. (The song below is one that I often think of but I like all of the pieces. I had a hard time choosing which to post here. “Til There Was You” or “76 Trombones” or “Gary, Indiana” or others.)

Willson also wrote the book for The Unsinkable Molly Brown, another Broadway musical that was a solid success. Another of his musicals is Here’s Love but that one is not well-known.

Having spent a lot of time writing for radio, there are many, many popular songs that are credited to Willson. These include “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas,” “Till There Was You,” (a hit by the Beatles), and more. His body of work is interesting and includes campaign pieces (“Chicken Fat” was the theme song for President Kennedy’s youth fitness program) and school fight songs (University of Iowa and Iowa State Univeristy).

Willson died in 1984 in California.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Composer ABCs in this series:
A – Leroy Anderson
B – Bernstein, Bizet, Bax
C – Copland
D – Debussy and de Meij
E – Elgar
F – Fauré
G – Grainger and Ginastera
H – Holst
I – Ives
J – Joplin and Janacek
K – Kern
L – Liszt
M – Mussorgsky
N – Nelson
O – Offenbach
P – Palestrina and Prokofiev
Q – Quilter
R – Respighi, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff, Ravel
S – Saint-Saëns, Shostakovich, Still, Smetana, Sibelius
T – Tavener & Tchaikovsky
U – Ustvolskaya
V – Vaughan Williams and Villa-Lobos

Featured from last week the letter V…

This Week over at Our Homeschool Notebook the topic is W is for World
This week over at Every Bed of Roses the topic is Writing Cursive

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