Sunday, August 31, 2008

Science Crisis!!

I'm in the middle of a crisis over 8th grade science. I was getting Ga'hoole Girl's science assignments for the week ready and realized that Modules 5-8 are about geology, archaeology, and paleontology. While Dr. Wile does a pretty good job of presenting Old Earth and Young Earth perspectives side by side, I'm not real happy with the prominence of the YEC point of view. Then, she is supposed to do life science, but she has done a good bit of life science in the last few years and will be doing biology and marine biology in the next couple of years. In addition, I'm getting more and more disatisfied with the whole read the textbook and answer questions. That really doesn't do much to promote understanding, to my mind. EEK!

I checked out Reasons to Believe, but they don't have anything very useful. Amazon has lots of textbooks, but I've heard so much awful stuff about textbooks produced for the public schools, that I don't want to go that route (and I don't have the background to know if the book is any good). I did find a few interesting looking trade books at Amazon, and Usborne has a book that might work.

I've decided for now that we're going to do Module 4 - on simple machines. Then, I've ordered some books on Earth Science and geology from the library. Then, I'll decide about just using the library (and museums and internet) or purchasing books or curricula. If nothing else, maybe I'll just have her read interesting science books and write about what she's learning.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

And we all breathe a collective sigh of relief . . .

. . . that Sophie (Ga'hoole Girl's cat) is not seriously ill. Over the last month or so, Sophie has lost a considerable amount of weight so that she is really light and her bones are easy to feel through her skin. I was concerned about diabetes, a parasite, hyperthyroidism, or feline leukemia (particularly leukemia since we have two other cats and it's contagious). Mr. Math Tutor and Ga'hoole Girl took the cat to the vet this morning and we found out that the cat has a fatty liver from not eating which probably started a month or so ago when we got them cheap cat food that Sophie doesn't like. Apparently, cats are prone to getting fatty liver when they have sudden weight loss. In addition, her immune studies were a little off, so the vet checked her for leukemia (which was negative). So, we have to give her pills daily and liquid amoxicillin (which she doesn't like as much as my kids did) twice a day then have her blood checked at the end of the week. It's not fun to have a sick animal, but it's very nice to know that it's not serious and she should be fine. Sophie is only four years old - it would be very sad to lose such a fun kitty in the prime of her life.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Our Week in Review - 8/29/2008

This is the end of our first full week of school for this "year". I like to think that we are year-round homeschoolers, but the fact is that we ditch a number of our subjects from the week before dance recital to the middle of August. So, last week was a partial week because of the county fair, but this week included almost all of our subjects.

We did school together every day but today. I had a migraine on Sunday night, but was OK by noon on Monday, another headache Tuesday but was still able to work with the kids, and a bad headache today so today was an independent work day. I give Ga'hoole Girl a list of weekly schoolwork on Monday morning and it's due before dinner Friday night. I was skeptical of her finishing it since she had only done one item by Tuesday night. But, I bit my tongue and she proved me wrong when she gave me her list this afternoon. Each child also has a daily list each day and I have a weekly list of what I want to do with the kids together or separately. Here's what we did:

Math - both kids did five full days of ALEKS. At one point during the summer, ALEKS was saying that Wild Man was expected to finish his level in 96 weeks. He's now down to 9 weeks and Ga'hoole Girl is at 17 weeks. Ga'hoole Girl did have some frustration when she didn't do as well as she would have liked on an assessment and has had to review some concepts. (Of course, that's what Mr. Math Tutor and I like about ALEKS!)

Spanish - both kids have done five full days of Spanish. I found an online audiobook for Spanish that I'll use when we're driving. It teaches conversational Spanish using a funny storyline.

Spelling - Ga'hoole Girl did Spelling Power every day but today. We'll make up today's work tomorrow probably. Wild Man was supposed to do the last lesson in All About Spelling Book 1 today, but we didn't get to it. We'll do it tonight or tomorrow. Wild Man has a terrible time with spelling, even in this easy book 1 stuff. I love All About Spelling, and I think it's the best thing for him, but it's still so hard to have to tell him (again) that dress has two "s"s. He gets so frustrated. But, I'm optimistic that he'll catch on.

Reading - Ga'hoole Girl read her reader this week even though she had two weeks for it. Now she wants a book about Anne Boleyn, but the only one in the house is clearly rated PG-13 (at best). So, a library search is in order. Wild Man wanted to earn some extra money, so I'm paying him a quarter for every chapter he reads in a chapter book (up to a dollar a day) in addition to his usual reading. Twice this week, I came downstairs to find that he'd already read 5 chapters!! Wild Man is also working through Explode the Code Book 5. I expect he'll get to Book 6 in a week or two.

Grammar - Ga'hoole Girl has been working through Easy Grammar.

Writing - Ga'hoole Girl continues in her Jump In! book with learning outlining forms. She also posted an entry on her blog evaluating her cooking experiences this week.

Food Science - Both kids watched some "Food Detective" and "How'd That Get On My Plate?" this week. Ga'hoole Girl helped me with our fried fish and hushpuppies on Monday. She also made the meatballs on Tuesday which she thought were terrible, but I thought were fine. On Wednesday, we made fried chicken in which Ga'hoole Girl did the brining and breading. I did the frying because Ga'hoole Girl was pretty nervous about the hot oil. It was probably a good thing she was worried about it because some oil sploshed over the pan after I was done frying and started a small grease fire on the stove. It was quickly smothered with some flour, but was a mess. But, Ga'hoole Girl ended the week strong by making gravy to go with tonight's roast.

Art - Ga'hoole Girl read in her Usborne art book and explored one of the websites. Wild Man and I read some of his art book, Looking at Pictures with Children.

Science - Ga'hoole Girl finished module 3 in her Apologia General Science book. Wild Man and I were going to do some science experiments today, but never quite got to it. Next week.

Handwriting - I had ditched handwriting last year, but I've restarted it with Wild Man. I'm hoping that cursive writing will help with some of his letter reversals. In any case, he's doing about a page a day from Getty Dubay Italics Book C (I think).

Sonlight - The kids watched videos on The War of the Roses, The Mughals, and Late Medieval Art. We are also continuing our reading through The World of Columbus and Sons. We've been reading about Columbus' voyages, but also read about the Borgia family this week. I was wondering how they were going to talk about the Borgias without gettin PG-13, but the author handled it nicely.

Elections - We are also using an election unit study from Little Blue School. This week, we did the Prelude week on Tuesday and Week 1 on Thursday. The Prelude was just an intro to elections and the electoral college. Week 1 was about political parties. Each child has made up their own political party and they are running for "Vice-President of Planning" of our household. The study plan was for them to pretend to run for President, but my kids came up with the idea of the "Vice-President of Planning" thing. Next week, we'll do two weeks in one then we should be on schedule.

Bible - We did Genesis 20 today and memorized 1 John 1:9.

Whew! I looks like it was a busy week, and I guess it was. The kids did a lot of work. I'm really glad that they are able to do a lot on their own, so my input was only required for a couple of hours a day. Next week, I think we're going to do some work on Labor Day, but not a ton since it's the last day of summer for the neighborhood kids. We have a homeschool group meeting on Friday, so that day's work will also be abbreviated. But, I hope to still get a good bit of Sonlight done.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Unit Studies - Elections and Olympics

The Olympics are finally over, and so is our Olympic Unit Study. The kids did some learning about the history of the Olympics and the specifics about this year's Olympics. We all learned new stuff about the sports that we watched. In addition, we looked up some of the countries represented. Overall, it was a success, although it wasn't very structured.

I'm adding in an Elections Unit Study from Little Blue School. The study started a few weeks ago, so I'm trying to do the first four weeks of the study in just two weeks. Actually, I don't think it will be too difficult since we did the first week's work all in about an hour today. (We are doing Sonlight on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and Elections on Tuesday and Thursday.) The homeschooling mom who did the study has kids who are younger than Ga'hoole Girl and Wild Man so the work isn't real intense, but it looks like it will be useful. During the study, the kids will make up a political party and pretend to be a candidate for office. Today, we did some worksheets and discussion of the basic structure of government and the electoral college system. During one of the units, we will make hats out of duct tape which will be really cool since the kids made duct tape wallets at camp.

I haven't been as interested in politics over the last three years, but my kids are showing some interest in this election. For one thing, they saw lots of political commercials during the Olympics. They are also noticing things that affect their lives. For example, we took the car down South instead of the van a few months ago because of the cost of gas. We are also trying to limit air conditioner usage. So, the kids are really keying in to energy issues, particularly the idea of whether or not to open up some US areas for oil drilling. We are going to listen to the Democratic party speeches on Thursday night and then to the Republican speeches on the last night of their convention so the kids will get to hear what other issues are on the national radar screen. Real life - read education.

I'm so not ready for this . . .

When I ordered Sonlight Core 7 today (we're starting in October), I also ordered the college and career planning set of books. They have three books to help us put together a transcript, look for colleges, and help Ga'hoole Girl with career choices. Yikes!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - 8/25/08

This is my first time participating in Menu Plan Monday from Usually, I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl when it comes to meals, but I decided to try menu planning since I know it will help with grocery shopping, etc. What I have done, though, is to plan out six different menus and not worry about when we will have each one. On days when I'm feeling well, we'll have one of the menus that requires more cooking, but if I'm not feeling well, then we'll have a real simple meal. Also, Ga'hoole Girl will be doing some cooking for her Food Science course, so those meals will get stuck in there as well. So, here's my first week's worth of menus.
Day 1
Batter Fried Fish - Paula Deen's recipe
P.S. We already had this meal tonight. The fish was wonderful - some was bass that Mr. Math Tutor caught a few days ago, and some was pollock from the store. The hushpuppies were truly some of the worst that I've ever had. Next time, I'll find a good recipe and not try to modify one. Anyway, I've decided that deep frying isn't so bad now that I have two important things: a good set of tongs, and two kids to help clean the kitchen!
Day 2
Fried Chicken (probably will brine it first)
Parsleyed red potatoes
Green beans
Day 3
BBQ meatballs (purchased frozen, cooked in pressure cooker)
Fried potatoes
Day 4
Garlic bread
Day 5
Frozen pizza
Day 6
Roast beef, rice, and gravy
Yes, we have salad quite often for our veggie - or raw veggies and dip. If we run out of salad makings, then we drink V8 juice. Sometimes, Ga'hoole Girl will whip up some sauteed squash or something else she thinks is interesting. Or, I'll see something yummy at the grocery store for us.
So, check out Menu Plan Monday and be inspired!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

How Cool!! (and some recommendations)

Guess what?! Travis Prinzi left two comments on my blog tonight! I read his stuff at The Hog's Head and The Boar's Head Tavern (and he's had some good articles at Suite101) and I left a comment tonight at The Hog's Head (hoping to win some Harry Potter bookplates). His writing is really good and he writes on topics that interest me. Some of my favorite of his articles are about how Rowling's series is a commentary on education ("The Brilliant Weasley Dropouts " and "Harry Potter in the Classroom"). So, check out those sites and see for yourself.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What We Are Using This Year - Heart of the Matter

It's been a while since I've participated in a Heart of the Matter Meme, but I'm getting back on track with "school" stuff, so here's this week's post. The theme is "What We Are Using This Year".

Both kids:
Sonlight Core 6 (finishing) then Core 7
ALEKS Math - Wild Man on Elementary 3, Ga'hoole Girl on Middle School Math 3
Power-Glide Spanish
Balancing the Sword Bible
Various audiobooks for music history
Various DVDs for art history
The Food Channel

Wild man
Explode the Code
All About Spelling
Miscellaneous early chapter books
Real Science 4 Kids Physics
Looking at Pictures with Children

Ga'hoole Girl
Easy Grammar Plus
Jump In! writing curriculum
I'm Just Here for the Food
Apologia General Science
Usborne Introduction to Art

Of course, we also add in whatever books look interesting along with activities using the maps and timeline. Check out what other homeschoolers are using this year at Heart of the Matter Online. Also, check out some of my previous posts for reviews of other curriculum that we have used.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Our (not so) New Van

I wrote last week about becoming a one car family after our van blew a head gasket. We were learning to be content with our car and even managed to figure out how to get everyone to and from a special church service at different times throughout the day Sunday. Earlier this week, Mr. Math Tutor and I stopped by our neighbor's campfire to chat with them. In the course of our discussion, we mentioned our transition to living with one car, and they offered to give us a van. Their kids gave them the van several years ago when the kids bought a new van. This couple (they're retired) drove it for several years, but they just got another car from their kids. Their kids told them to just get rid of the van, so they offered it to us - and declined our offer of payment. So, we now have possession of a 1996 Oldsmobile van - for free! Is that totally cool, or what?! This van has over 200,000 miles on it, so we'll keep using the car for driving out of town, but it will be very nice to not have to worry about trying to get all four of us to church at the same time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pros and Cons of Living Near the Fairgrounds

We live two blocks from the county fairgrounds, which can be good and bad during the week of the County Fair. Here's the breakdown:

1. Easy to get to and from the Fair.
2. The family of one of my best friends often stays with us during the Fair since her girls are showing goats, rabbits, and horses.
3. Proximity to funnel cakes!!
4. We can go to the Fair every day, so we don't have to see everything on the same day.
5. We get to see lots of friends who are participating in the Fair.
6. Good opportunity for kids to learn to manage money over several days.
7. Neighborhood kids selling lemonade.

1. The noise of the tractor pull and the Midway. Good thing we're used to staying up late this week.
2. Proximity to funnel cakes.
3. Wild Man kind of acts like the Fair is an extension of our backyard. He has to work to remember that he has to ask to go and to take his phone.
4. Kids spending most of their money on the first day (ask me how I know).
5. Lots of traffic in our little town.

The pros outweigh the cons so far. The kids and Mr. Math Tutor were at the Fair for an hour or so this evening. I was about to go to the basement to walk on the treadmill and decided that maybe I should walk out to the Fair instead of the treadmill. So, I called Mr. Math Tutor and met him and the kids at the Fair. We walked around a little bit, got some funnel cakes, and came home to watch Olympics and listen to the tractor pull (which is, mercifully, quieter here than it was at the Fairgrounds).

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Olympic Observations 2

More thoughts from watching the Olympics:

1. The Olympics are wreaking havoc on our bedtime routines! The kids normally go to bed about 9:30 and we go to be before 11 during the summer, but we have stayed up till close to midnight several times this week.

2. Michael Phelps is truly amazing.

3. Watching Michael Phelps' mom is really entertaining.

4. Why in the world has NBC been showing the women's marathon for the last hour? This is one of the least interesting things they have shown.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Rich Mullins Hold me Jesus

Well, sometimes my life just don't make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It's so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down, I'm falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

I'm singing hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympic Observations

We watched the Olympic opening ceremony and a bunch of Olympic stuff yesterday. Here are some of the things I've been thinking.

1. Mr. Math Tutor wants to know when a swimmer who is asked what it takes to beat Michael Phelps will just say, "Swim faster than him."

2. What's with the half-naked women playing beach volleyball. It's apparently not necessary for the sport since the guys wear clothes. Mr. Math Tutor thinks it's a sponsorship thing.

3. A woman my age can swim 100 meters in less than a minute?! That's just scary!!

4. I'm so glad I live someplace where I can see across the road clearly.

5. The lighting ceremony was way cool!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Curriculum Reviews - Bible

Until this year, we have always used Sonlight's Bible curriculum. I have to say, though, that Bible is often a weakness in the Sonlight Cores. There are a few things that have been really good, but a number of others that just didn't click. So, here's a review of what we've used and how it has worked. We'll start with successes and move from there.

AWANA - Both my kids were in AWANA for several years until it started to conflict with dance class. Frankly, the weekly AWANA meeting plus the learning verses during the week was probably the best Bible curriculum that we could have asked for during the grade school years. If you have the chance to put your kids in AWANA or something similar, I would highly recommend it.

The One Year Bible for Kids - One year, we read through this Bible (not the "Challenge Edition") for Bible. This was really good for us. It was straight Scripture reading without lots of activities that we never get around to, etc. This is the NLT version, which we also really enjoy.

Balancing the Sword - This is our current Bible curriculum. Basically, these are just books with comprehension questions for each chapter of the Bible. There are also pictures and helpful charts. These are not written from a specific theological perspective and are purely comprehension questions. We are on Genesis 14 and are enjoying it. Basically, we read a chapter out loud then Mr. Math Tutor asks the questions. The kids (and I) look through the chapter to find the answers. I've been reading ahead in the Broadman commentaries and also have several other Bible resources available for use so that we can look up anything else that we have questions about. One reason I like this is that the kids really have had some questions and have engaged the Bible more than they have with other curricula.

Leading Little Ones to God - Mr. Math Tutor used this book with each child when they were 5 or 6 years old. It is a series of readings designed to introduce children to Jesus and basic Christian teaching. I highly recommend it - both kids (and Dad) loved it.

Children's Bible Field Guide - We used this with most of Core 6 (although we didn't completely finish it). Basically, this book goes through each book or section of books in the Bible and explains what was going on in this section of the Bible as well as what we can learn from it. Both kids enjoyed it, but it wasn't very in-depth. The activities are directed at a group learning setting, so I ended up having to create activities for the kids.

The Awesome Book of Bible Facts - This is not really a great "curriculum" book, but it goes nicely with reading the Bible. Both my kids enjoyed it.

Learning about God from A to Z - Frankly, I don't remember much about this book and we've already given it away. Suffice it to say that neither child got much out of it.

Starting Strong - Another book that I don't recall real well. The kids just didn't engage it much.

Remembering God's Awesome Acts - I thought I would really love this book, but I ended up disliking it more than did Ga'hoole Girl. The book is a study of Genesis and Exodus. One of my problems is that it is unashamedly "Young Earth" in view and tone. I've been teaching my kids both "Young Earth" and "Old Earth" positions (I'm pretty firmly "Old Earth" myself) but this book had several weeks devoted to the first couple chapters of Genesis with a "Young Earth" point of view. The activities could be interesting, but many were frustrating for me and Ga'hoole Girl. We finally just gave it up.

I hope this helps in your own homeschooling. I'm coming to the conclusion that the best Bible curriculum for my kids is the Bible itself (part of why I like Balancing the Sword). We use our commentaries, maps, and charts liberally, but I really like that we're reading the Bible every day.

New Addiction

You may have noticed that I haven't blogged on any books recently. It's not because I haven't been reading; it's because I've developed a real addiction to Grisham novels. I think I'm working on my sixth one right now. Once I get started on one, I feel like I can't do anything but read. I'll get back to my reviews, eventually. Of course, I'll be reviewing a lot of John Grisham's books!

Catching a gnat

Today was our first day of a new school year. We actually did almost a full day's worth of work around here. For me, though, a good bit of it felt like I was chasing a gnat - Wild Man. He was soooooo squirrelly today that I was about to go crazy. He made a joke about something while we were reading, so he felt the need to make the joke 40 more times in the next 10 minutes. He couldn't sit still for more than 10 seconds. He was the same way with his workbook. I don't know if it was time of day, the stormy weather, or what, but this will get old really fast. Maybe we'll try a cup of coffee before I have him do reading and spelling with me. Maybe.

Teenage writing

My daughter is a teenager. She is also a really good writer, even though she doesn't believe me. She has now started two blogs, one about Zelda stuff (that's a Nintendo video game for you grown-ups out there) and one about books, homeschooling, and our pets. You are welcome to take a look as long as you overlook her grammar and spelling issues - I'm not sure how much proofreading she'll do before she posts!

Alexander Solzhenitsyn dies at 89

John Piper has a wonderful post thanking God for the life of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. I particularly appreciate this comment by Piper:
Lord, grant me greater faith to live in the coming day when I will say, “Bless you, all hardship and pain! You have cut me off from the death of prosperous idolatry again and again.”

Saturday, August 02, 2008

More Schoolish Stuff

I've been trying to get ready for starting school next week. The kids have been keeping up with some school-type things through the summer, but we start really "working" on Monday. Here are a couple of fun ideas that I thought other people might like.

1. Timeline - Yes, every homeschooling family has to have a timeline. Ours isn't terribly exciting except that we don't keep it updated very well. The problem is that it's above some bookcases, so I'm the only one who can reach it well. So, I end up writing on it and figuring out where the dates need to go, so the kids get very little educational value out of it. (I, on the other hand, am pretty well versed in the order of things until about 30AD.) This week, we're going to catch up on the timeline, but in a way that allows the kids to be more participatory. I wrote the names of events on clear labels. The kids will look up the dates of the events and then put the stickers on the timeline - I think they can reach it well enough to put on stickers and, if not, we can always bring in the ladder. My plan is to make up some new labels every few weeks for the kids to put dates on and put on the timeline. I don't expect them to recall specific dates, but I would like for them to have an idea of the order in which things occur in history.

2. Olympic questionnaire - I recorded a PBS show about Olympic preparation in Beijing for the kids to watch next week. They are going to have a questionnaire to fill out where the letters of the answers are coded to numbered spaces at the bottom of the questionnaire. Not terribly original, but hopefully a way to get them to pay some attention while they're watching.

3. Olympic timeline cards - I'm taking 3x5 cards and having the kids fill in the year, city, country, one interesting fact, and one interesting athlete for each of the modern summer games. Actually, I'm filling the card out partway - one or two pieces of info - and then having them complete them. When we're done, we'll tape them to a window in chronological order. My goals are for the kids to remember a few of the most famous athletes and recall some of the political events around the Olympics (the Nazi Olympics, the hostages in Munich, the boycotting of the Moscow Olympics, etc.). They can find all the info on or in some books that I got from the library.

4. Country cards - One of my goals for studying the Olympics is to learn about lots of different countries. I'm not sure how we'll decide which countries to include - medals earned, interesting athletes, etc. - but the kids will fill out a 3x5 card on each country with info like continent, language, primary religion, important geography, important economic info. We have a large World Map in the dining room that we'll use for locating the countries, as well.

I hope this goes even half as well as it's planned. If so, I'll consider it a success. Monday is the big day!!

Gazelling and Simplicity

We sold our van today. EEK! Last Thursday night, as Mr. Math Tutor was taking the kids to a Timber Rattlers game (while I was home with a migraine), the van died. Turns out that it blew a head gasket - $800 worth of work on a $2000 vehicle. So, in the "gazelling" tradition, we just sold it and put the money toward paying down debt and building up savings.

What, exactly, is gazelling, you ask? "Gazelling" is a term coined by Dave Ramsey and popularized in his financial books and seminars. It refers to doing whatever it takes to pay off debt so that you can start saving and investing money. We were introduced to the Dave Ramsey lifestyle a number of years ago when our church hosted a seminar. Mr. Math Tutor took to Dave's philosophy right from the start. In fact, we were very fortunate that he did this because we had no consumer debt and had money in the bank when I had to quit work. Mr. Math Tutor is feeling very "gazelle"-like again to get our financial selves in better shape and save more money.

So, when the van issue came up, we had debated and prayed and decided to become a one-car family. We live in a small town, so we can walk or bike to the grocery story, library, and downtown (such as it is). Mr. Math Tutor's schedule is going to be flexible, so we're hoping this won't be too hard. The biggest problem we forsee is that Mr. Math Tutor often goes to church for both services (being an elder and all that) while I usually go just to the second service. It looks like I might have to drag my lazy self out of bed earlier on Sunday mornings from now on.
In any case, we have our "Emergency Fund" completely funded, so if the one-car lifestyle is just too hard for us, we can always go out and buy a used car.

While the one-car lifestyle does present some scheduling complications, it does contribute to a more simple lifestyle in other ways. We will spend less on insurance and gas. We won't have to keep up a second vehicle. We don't have to keep a second vehicle clean. We'll get more exercise when we have to walk to things in town.

If you haven't checked out Dave Ramsey, you really should do so. He makes money issues easy to understand without guilt. You know what I'm talking about - you go to a church money seminar and they talk about how you shouldn't be in debt and you should have a budget and you're wanting to crawl under a chair because of how poorly you (and only you, you feel sure) are taking care of God's good gifts. Dave Ramsey is different. For one thing, he has been in the bad financial situation so he knows what it's like. For another thing, he is funny. And, there's no guilt involved. After listening to Dave Ramsey, I actually wanted to go out and make a budget and be responsible. How crazy is that? So, sign up for a seminar or buy a book, or go to his website. But, if you need financial help, seriously consider Dave's stuff. (Yes, the commercial is now ended, and, no, I was not paid for it - I just feel strongly about it.)