Monday, November 1, 2010


The following is an assignment that I wrote for IEW class last week.  Mom thought I should share it.  It is a three paragraph story on the Israelites and the Exodus.
I hope you enjoy it.

Moses the Emancipator

Egypt was a blazingly hot and arid land. Blistering sunlight descended upon the Israelite slaves as they labored in despair, fashioning colossal, towering monuments under Pharaoh’s ruthless regime. It seemed they would be devoured by the baking sun and the Egyptians’ bellowing commands. After four hundred years, they felt their pleadings would go on indefinitely and God would neglect them forever. Eventually, their wailing was heard by the Lord. God chose Moses, who was mild-mannered and meek, to demand their freedom from Pharaoh. Quaking in his sandals, Moses ascended to Pharaoh’s radiant, fanciful palace to seek their release. The corrupt pharaoh protested repeatedly. Contrary to Moses’ instructions, he refused to let the Israelite’s go. He would not obey. Because of Pharaoh’s wickedness, God sent baffling plagues and devastating enigmas to torment the Egyptians. Finally, Pharaoh’s will was depleted. He gave in. He set them free!

The Israelites joyfully followed Moses toward the Promised Land, which was flowing with delicious milk and sweet, delectable honey. At long last, they were out of bondage. Unfortunately, they didn’t get far. Pharaoh became irate and ordered his army to track them down. As they approached the Red Sea, they discovered they were trapped! Pharaoh’s army descended upon them from one side. The Sea lay on the other side. Fearfully, the Israelites turned to Moses in despair and wailed, “Have you taken us here to die?” Moses validated their feelings of terror, but he had a stronger faith in God. Courageously, Moses stretched out his gnarled rod and prayed.

As Moses pleaded with the Lord and extended his trembling hand, unbelievable events began to take place. “Stand back and watch the Lord at work,” bellowed Moses. At that moment, God took charge. The angel of the Lord and a fiery, flaming pillar of cloud went behind the people and obscured the way for Pharaoh’s army. Next, the Lord sent a mighty wind streaking and whipping though the night to split the waters of the sea. A dry path appeared. The Israelites traveled safely across the squishy, murky sea bed. Towering walls of water encased them, but they refused to give up. When Pharaoh and his army relentlessly followed, the Lord caused the wheels of their chariots to become stuck in the spongy mud and fall off. On the other side, Moses again stretched out his hand. Suddenly, the sea crashed down and devoured the Egyptians. Pharaoh’s army was destroyed. In awe, the people of Israel beheld the wondrous works of the Lord. God’s servant, Moses, had become the deliverer. Emancipation at last!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Starving for a cause

October 09, 2010

Our Youth Group Famine

First of all, let me just say that I’m sorry I haven’t been posting lately. I’ve been extremely busy the past few months  due to school, co-op group, Jiu Jitsu and youth group. I’m sorry that I haven’t been posting and I promise to begin writing regularly again now that we are kind of settling into it all.

Now that I’ve got that covered, time to continue this post.

This year my twin and I are finally old enough to go to youth group at church.  So far we both like "youth" a lot more than AWANA because wearing a green shirt and earning points every week is fun when you're a kid, but after a while it gets old.  In youth, the teenagers lead worship and we do projects and Bible study.  There's Mountain Dew.  And a pool table.  Youth is good.

The youth group does this thing each year called a 25 hour Famine, and this was our first year to be part of it.  To participate in the Famine, you have to fast for twenty- five hours.  That means NO FOOD. 

Before the famine, we out and get sponsors to donate money for every hour that we go without eating.   We do this to raise money to buy and cook Thanksgiving meals for families in our community that wouldn't get much of a Thanksgiving otherwise.  Yes, you did read that right.  The teenagers will cook the food.  We deliver it to the families, too.  Our sister and brother did the famine for years, only this time, things were a little different.  They always got to go play laser tag and drive go-carts in the middle of the night.  Our youth director had something else planned this time around.

Not only did he plan for us to see what it was like to be very hungry, he also wanted us to know what it was like to only have a small amount of money to spend when we did get to eat.  He also made us sleep on the floor of the church.  In cardboard boxes.  Without blankets, pillows or heat!   (I'm not going to rat him out and tell you where he ended up sleeping.  On the couch!  You didn't hear it from me.)  Let me tell you, it’s not fun to be starving, cold and uncomfortable!  Want to know what it was like? Keep reading.

We were supposed to be deprived of food from Thursday night at 9:00pm until 10:00pm Friday night. Our mom made breakfast for dinner that night right before 9:00.  Ryan and I pigged out!  We ate a mountain of french toast and sausage, hashbrowns, scrambled eggs & cheese and sweet tea!  We tried to stuff ourselves so we wouldn't get hungry soon.  Let me tell you, it didn't work.  Our mom said we could stay up late as we wanted and sleep all day so we probably wouldn't notice that we'd missed breakfast that morning and we wouldn't get hungry until dinner time.  That didn't work either.  Hunger began to gnaw in my stomach around 1:30pm the next day.  It didn't help that Dad made coffee and it smelled so good!  Mom cooked a ham!  I think they were trying to torture us.  My mouth watered all day long.

Either way, I survived. Heather dropped us off at church at 9:00pm that night and the youth group kids all got on the bus and headed to Bi-Lo. Yes, I said BI-LO. Why? Well, once we arrived at Bi-Lo, our youth pastor gave us each a dollar to buy whatever we wanted to soothe are hunger. Partnership was allowed, so we could go in together and but stuff to make sandwiches or whatever.  We could only spend one dollar though.  He even would let us walk across the parking lot to Mc Donald’s to get something to devour if we wanted. But he would not give us any extra money for tax! 

Now we had known ahead of time about the dollar thing and Ryan and I have been thinking.  Guess what I figured out? I had an advantage no one else had. My twin! We formulated a plan wehre he would buy a loaf of bread and I would get peanut butter.  Yeah, cheap peanut butter, but when you are that hungry you just don't care!  My twin and I scavenged around BI-LO for awhile and guess what?  The least expensive bread we found was .99 cent.  The bread was over a dollar.  No peanut butter sandwiches for us.  Bad plan.  We searched and searched and finally found Ramen Noodles. Ramen noodles are cheap.  You can buy plenty of packs for a dollar. 

(Our mom doesn't buy Ramen noodles because she says it's not food.  I'm pretty sure she's never been starving with only one dollar before.)

We made it back to the church and it was time to chow down!  Problem.  I have never cooked Ramens by myself before.  Neither has Ryan.  Mom has this thing about boiling water and safety.  One of our friends helped us out.  We cooked five packages apiece. I finally got to taste the succulent taste of food again! My taste buds were dancing when I took the first bite of Ramen Noodles. After the hundredth bite I wasn't so interested in Ramen noodles any more.  Did you know that Ramen is mainly carbs and starch?  Did you know that carbs and starch and Mountain Dew on an very empty stomach in the middle of the night isn't exactly a good thing?  When the youth director called us back into the youth room for a surprise of PIZZA my first thought was how am I going to stuff anything else in my mouth?  I managed.  He had pizza of every kind, plus three kinds of different Debbie Cakes, two kinds of Oreos, and two packs of Chips Ahoy. You better believe everyone dashed to the table to get some of those delicious treats. After we went into sugar-shick, we watched videos of years past (I wasn’t in any of them by the way). Next we played numerous sports and clowned until about 2:30am. When we came down from our sugar high we were worn out.  We  split up (boys in one room, girls in another) and attempted to get some sleep. It was difficult to try to do this. The youth room floor wasn’t the most comfortable thing to lie on. It felt stiff and I was frozen. That'll teach me to wear shorts to church at night in October.  Now matter how much I moved, it didn’t get any more comfy or warm.  Even if I tried covering myself with the newspaper I got to use as a blanket, I didn't get warm all night.  I was never so glad to see my mom as I was at 7 this morning!  When we got home:  FOOD!  Warmth!  Beds!  Dark bedroom, cool air, clean sheets, soft pillow and a full stomach! 

I realized that I'm very thankful for what I have. This weekend helped me appreciate what God has given my family.  I don't know why I was born into a family that has plenty of what we need.  It could have been different.  I wonder why I don't have to live wondering where my next meal will come from?  I won't say the word "starving" when I only mean "hungry" anymore.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Life of Fred

Ever since elementary school, I’ve always struggled with math. Math just does not come easily to me. Most days I had trouble understanding what the teacher was talking about and a lot of times I wasn’t able to finish all of my work during class. I’d have to bring it home for homework, and that meant hours at the kitchen table with Mom explaining things again.

Since we began home school math has become a lot easier. At the beginning of sixth grade, my mom set me up on something called Teaching Textbooks. This is a program that you do completely on a computer. There are four disks of math that last for the whole year. The teacher teaches you the math lessons on the computer every day. You work out the problems in your notebook or on scratch paper and then enter the answers into the computer. The program automatically grades every answer that you put in, so you always know how many you’ve missed and you can either rework the problem or have the solution shown to you (but then you’re marked incorrect.) Every nine or ten lessons, there is a quiz. This is basically how Teaching Textbooks works. After most of the year on this math program, I felt like I had really learned a lot and made progress. My mom was happy with my grades, but not as happy with the program. She thought that we would get bored with math on the computer every year.

After much research, my mom found this new math program called “Life of Fred.”This is a math book about a five year old boy named Fred Gauss.  His last name rhymes with house.  (Friedrich Gauss was a mathematician back in the 1800's  He was also a child genius...just keep reading and you'll see why this is important.) Now, I know what you’re thinking “What does a math textbook have to do with a five year old boy?” Well, the “Life of Fred” books are much different than your average textbooks. These books teach math in a story. Let me explain.

Fred is a college professor. Yes, you heard me right; a five year old boy is a college professor. (Because he is a genius...ah!) He also lives in his office and eats most of his meals out of a vending machine, but that doesn't have anything to do with math. Throughout the story of Fred’s life, he comes across everyday situations where he needs to figure out some kind of math problem. So, while the author is telling you about Fred’s life, he also adds math to the story. You, the reader, have to figure out the answers at the end of each chapter before you can move on with the story. For example, during one part of the story, Fred dropped a large knife on his foot! He had to be rushed to the hospital and the doctor had to determine how much blood Fred had lost. The reader (you) then figured out how much blood an average five year old would have, how much Fred had lost, and how much he needs to have replaced in order to live. Sound exciting?
It is. 

After a few chapters, the reader comes to “The Bridge.” This is basically a nice way of saying “You will now take a quiz on what you’ve been learning.” You are given five attempts to pass over the bridge. Each attempt has ten questions. You have to get at least nine of them right to pass to the next chapter. Yes. You heard me right. You have to make a 90 to move on! Talk about pressure! If you don’t get a 90, you have to do attempt number two…another bridge, another ten questions! There are five tries, like I said. I have never had to do more than the first try so far, but if I did fail all five bridges, I would have to go back and redo all the chapters before that bridge to see what I missed.

The point of “Fred” books is to teach a kid to learn by reading on their own. Supposedly this is mostly how we will be learning once we get to college. So it’s a good idea to get used to it now.

“Life of Fred” books go from Fractions all the way up through two years of college Calculus. (My sister is going to be taking Calculus at college this year, and my mom will be ordering a “Fred” book for her as a back-up.) I find the “Life of Fred” books to be a fun and entertaining way to learn math. I will begin with the Pre-Algebra book for seventh grade. These books have definitely given me more of an interest in math and shown me ways that people actually use the math they have to learn. I would recommend these books to anyone whether you are home schooled or just needing a little extra help!


Friday, July 23, 2010

Trip to Charleston

“Zach, get your lazy butt up!” my mom yelled from her bathroom as she was blow-drying her hair. Even though I wanted to stay in bed and sleep a few more hours, I remembered all that we had to do today. Reluctantly, I dragged myself up.

That’s when I thought I’d kindly do my mom a favor and wake-up my twin brother. I dashed into his room and threw a pillow at him, “Get up!” I said. Then I made a hasty retreat into the kitchen for some breakfast. After I finished my breakfast, I got ready. Pretty soon we all piled in our automobile. Of course my mom told me to bring a book, so I would have something to do if things got tedious (a word that means “dull or boring.)

After about thirty minutes on the road, I realized that I didn’t really need my book. I wasn’t bored because I was in the back seat talking and laughing with my twin (and also making fun of our older brother and his girlfriend because they’re always holding hands and hugging.) Finally, we made it to Charleston and stopped at Five Guys for a delicious lunch. Ah the aroma of hamburgers cooking!! Now, this only made me hungrier, so I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into a nice, warm, juicy hamburger. Five Guys is the BEST!

After lunch we headed to The Fire Museum. Luckily I’m not thirteen yet, otherwise we would have had to pay for me. Kids under thirteen get in free! Apparently my big brother really adores gift shops, because he shot right to it as soon as we got our tickets. Soon, there I was at the display room. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were tons of fire truck on display. They had models dating from the early 1900’s all the way up to now. They even had a fire “enjin” that dates to 1785, was pulled by humans and is one of only three in existence.

The best part was the fire truck simulator that consisted of a real engine cab with lights and sirens and all the controls a real truck has. Inside it had real fire truck controls and a virtual reality screen. With the push of a button, kids can respond to a fire call and drive through city traffic with sirens wailing! Of course I got in and drove to the “fire.” They also had a firefighter dummy with full bunker gear hung on a scale and the goal was to try and lift the gear off the ground. This was to show how heavy the turn-out gear is. My dad and big brother succeed in getting the dummy off the ground as high as he could go. I lifted him halfway off the ground (witch meant I was lifting about fifty pounds!) Later, I watched this show about “fire safety” and “fire hazards”.

Soon we left the Fire Museum and went for a walk through the Market in downtown Charleston. It was HOT there! It was over 100 degrees and the heat index was more than that. That is not a good time to go walking though a crowded market outside with no air-conditioning. While were there we shopped in a store to look at necklaces and wooden swords. Next we went to the mall…which was fine with me because it had an air conditioner! We found a store that had a display of really comfortable mattresses. The saleswoman told me I could try one out, so I plopped down and relaxed. I didn’t want to do anything but lay there and cool off. Unfortunately, it was time to leave so we could pick up my sister and head home. Dad promised some ice cream on the way home, so I was willing to get up and trudge back to the car. But first, we went to the Battery.  The Battery in Charleston doesn't have anything to do with Energizer or Duracell.  The Battery is a huge seawall that surrounds a park with cannons and looks out over Fort Sumter.  (That's where the "Shot Heard Round the World" happened and started the Civil War.) We drove home through a thunderstorm, and my sister didn’t stop talking until we got back in our house!

All in all, it was a busy day, but it was a lot better than just sitting at home doing nothing!  I enjoyed our trip to Charleston. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Why I Started Jiu Jitsu

Welcome to my second post. I wanted to focus on this next topic so you can understand what led me to become involved Jiu Jitsu. If you’re interested, I encourage you to read on. If you’re not interested, it’s absolutely fine with me, but I guess you’ll have to come back another day and read something different.

Now,back to my topic. I suppose what led me to Jiu Jitsu is the fact that Karate and Tae Kwon Do were a little bit too difficult for me because they require good balance and high kicking. You see, I have a mild form of Cerebral Palsy that makes my leg muscles a little tighter. It can be more difficult for me to do things that other kids take for granted. (For instance, kicking.) Since I really wanted to do a martial art, I begged my Mom about it a lot. One day she read an article in the paper about a Jiu Jitsu instructor, Mr. Josh, and some of his students who had disabilities. She knew that if they could do it, so could I. So that’s how I found a gym to train at.

The reason I want to attend Jiu-Jitsu every chance I get is a different story. When I began two years ago, of course I didn’t know any one but my instructor. So, I just tried to hang in there and wait for his instructions. He taught the class an arm-bar that day. Then, came the part I was scared of…sparring (a word which means “to fight or to battle”). I wasn’t sure I wanted to fight on my very first night, but I certainly wasn’t going to chicken out! But wait…the instructor paired me with the highest ranked kid in the class! (Turns out he did this because he knew that she would go easy and not try to destroy the new kid.) Besides the actual “fighting” part, no harm came to me. I did learn right away the meaning of “Tap Out,” though. Arm-bars are painful.

What I like about “sparring” is that during each class Mr. Josh gives you a choice of whether to fight or not. Plus, during class the fighting match is not the “real deal” like in tournament fights. The people you fight with won’t try to break your arm at all because they’re your friends. Mr. Josh has three very important rules when it comes to “sparing”. Rule number 1: Respect your partner’s safety. Rule number 2: Watch out for your own safety. Finally, rule number 3: try to be victorious.

Sparring soon became what I love most about Jiu Jitsu. Not because I wanted to beat people up, but because it was a way where I could actually practice the fighting techniques my instructor taught. It’s kind of like a test of skills, matching what you’ve learned against others. Size and strength play a large part in martial arts, but they don’t mean everything. Technique and training are just as important. Not to mention that when I’m sparring, I have a fighting chance because on the ground, everyone’s equal and balance doesn’t matter.

If you are interested in Jiu-Jitsu then I am happy to tell you that you won’t regret trying out a class. You might turn out like me and try to attend every class. It is exhilarating (a word which here means “fun and exciting”) and teaches you self-defense. You will probably make many good friends in class as well. Who knows, maybe there will even be a cute girl in your group! (There is in mine!) Thanks again for taking the time to read my blog and please come back again.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

About Myself

Hello, and welcome to my blog. If you read my Mom’s blog at all, you might know a little bit about me. If you don’t know much about me, then please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Zach. I’m almost thirteen. I love to read books. A few of my favorites are: The Red Pyramid, A Series of Unfortunate Events, the Dragons in our Midst series, and there are many more!

Another thing I love to do is a sport called Jiu-Jitsu. “What is Jiu-Jitsu?” you might ask. Well, Jiu-Jitsu is a sport which allows you to defend yourself if you ever need to. Now, Jiu-Jitsu is slightly different from other fighting spots. You don’t practice forms or kicking like you would in Tae Kwon Do or Karate. With Jiu-Jitsu, you can take someone down (or defend yourself) without hurting your adversary. (Adversary means “an enemy or opponent”) It is actually quite fun. In class, you practice moves and holds against your friends. And then, there are tournaments where you can test your skill against other kids and possibly win a medal or a samurai sword!

Another thing you might want to know about me is that I can write excellent stories.

I’ve already started many of my writing ideas. I might finish them and get them published one day. Someday I hope to enter a writing competition. Writing stories might turn out to be my career, so I’m going to keep putting my best efforts into this so I can someday accomplish that goal.

Swimming is also one thing I’m interested in. I learned swimming from a Paralympic Gold Medalist! I worked on many different swimming techniques such as the backstroke and how to dive the proper way. Sadly, I ended up resigning from swimming in order to concentrate on Jiu-Jitsu because there just isn’t enough time for everything I like to do. Let’s just say if I ever fall in 10ft. deep water, I’ll survive.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and if you could please come back here later that would be great! I will have more posts in a couple of days.