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Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

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1. What do you call a group of crows?

2. Often seen at the end of a sentence, the three trailing dots that indicate the omission from speech or writing of a word or words that are superfluous or able to be understood from contextual clues are known as…

3. How many kingdoms are part of the United Kingdom?

4. Solve the following equation: 5 + 3 * 4 / 2 – 1 = ?

Can you answer these questions? All were featured on the show Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? What made the show funny was that college-educated adults went head-to-head with fifth-grade students and usually had to admit, “I am not smarter than a fifth grader.” Only two contestants actually won the $1,000,000 grand prize. Of course, the students had more recently studied all the subjects, and as the expression goes, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” I am never more aware of that then when I’m helping my middle-schooler with math. Every time I have to look up the difference between rational numbers, irrational numbers, whole numbers, and integers. My son will ask, “Mom, didn’t you have to learn all this?” And I reply, “Of course, but that was years ago.”

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When Sunscreen Isn’t Enough

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We should have listened better. Here we were, college kids from Michigan, on a choir tour to Florida during spring break, a very welcome relief of sun and warmth. Our choir director warned us that we had to be careful in the sun. It was six times more intense that much further south than we were used to, and we would get a sunburn much more quickly than we would in Michigan. He told us to use plenty of sunscreen, drink lots of water, and stay in the shade when possible. Naturally, most ignored his advice. I mean, come on. You can’t very well come back from Florida without a tan. So despite the warnings, many students got some sun on the beach with little or no sunscreen to protect their skin. There were a lot of lobster-red faces for the remainder of that tour.

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The Best Motivation for Cleaning

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For the past two weeks, my carpets have never been cleaner. You might think I’m expecting guests, but no. Selling and showing a house, perhaps? Not that either. No, the real reason is far less exciting, but it’s highly effective. You see, we have fleas.

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Three Types of Editing You Need (Even if You Aren’t an Author)

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One of the more tedious parts of being a writer is the editing phase. When you proudly send off a manuscript and get it back with over 1,000 suggestions, it’s pretty discouraging. But once you get the nerve to start looking at those suggestions, you find that most of them make sense and do indeed improve the flow of the story. You make the changes, knowing that the story is better as a result. But in the vast majority of cases, one round of edits isn’t enough. Most writers go through at least three rounds of edits before they reach a final manuscript. So once you’ve sent back the revised manuscript implementing the suggested changes, know that you aren’t done. You can expect to receive yet another marked-up manuscript. And another…

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What Does This Mean? (Beyond Confirmation Class)

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I can practically sing “Phantom of the Opera” in my sleep. My son is in the marching band, and their program was “Phantom” this year. Besides the fact that he practiced it at home, we also have the advantage of living but two blocks from the school, and therefore we can hear the band when they practice outside. We heard “Phantom” every school morning, every Monday night when they had three-hour clinics, every halftime show for home games, and every weekend in October for competition.

But here’s the thing–the harder the competitions got, the more they practiced. You’d think by the time they’d done it a few times, they had the thing pretty well under their belts, but no. They worked on fine tuning the performance, sometimes quite literally. They held chords to figure out which instrument was out of tune. They played the same sixteen measures over and over to make sure everyone was stepping exactly where they ought. They needed to know every single detail about their part, and know it well. It was inspiring to observe their focus and dedication. And it’s a good lesson on what it means to live as Christians in the world.

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Highlight Reel

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What do we know about Adam and Eve? We know God created Adam from the dust of the ground and formed Eve from Adam’s rib. Adam named the animals. Oh, and Adam and Eve were the first ones to sin. That’s kind of a big deal. They lived in the Garden of Eden until then, but were barred from it ever after. They had children and one of their sons murdered another. But seriously, Adam lived 930 years, and that’s all we know of his life? In all that time, something important had to happen, right? Or what about Noah? The ark, naturally. And the fact that he got drunk and passed out naked in his tent after getting off the ark. But again, this guy lived 950 years, and we only know two accounts from all that time. How’s that for a highlight reel?

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