Friday, September 26, 2008

What We Eat

In the past week or two, we've been watching a video series for school. Burt Wolf's What We Eat has 13 half-hour segments on food, how it's impacted history, science, culture, etc. Andrew complained a bit about some of the evolutionary mindset, but the political correctness isn't bad as PBS shows go.

The homeschool catalog in which I saw the video-series charged a mere $190 for the series. I obviously was going to the library! Only one copy existed in the statewide library catalog, but we were allowed to interlibrary loan it. However I saw today that Amazon carries the series for about $85, and Burt Wolf's website charges $25. For $25, the series is definitely worth it. This series reminds me somewhat of several of Richard Blunt's articles in Backwoods Home about food's impact on economies and history and cultures.

There was discussion in the series about how wheat and grapes were grown in the New World because of the Catholics' need for the Sacrament.

We learned how jam became popular after sugar's refinement became common. This happened about the same time as the Industrial Revolution. The women were working in the factory and were not home to prepare food for the children. Jam was something that did not require the wee children (home alone) to cook with fire or use knives. It also allowed the workers to have something that didn't take prep-work for dinner.

There was need in France at one point to decrease the peasants' dependence upon wheat as their most staple food. Potatoes were newly available after having been brought over from the Americas, but had not been well received. One scientist decided to plant a large plot of potatoes; he set plenty of guards around the field day and night. What was going on in the field was kept somewhat secret -- at least secret enough to develop interest among onlookers. When it was time to harvest the field, the peasants rushed in, stole as many potatoes as they could get their hands on, took them home, and planted them for themselves. And thus the peasants were enticed into treasuring a food that they had earlier rejected.

Peanuts were the food of the poor people. When the po-folks went to a show, they would, of course, take the cheap seats in the back or in the balcony and snack on peanuts. Thus the term "the peanut gallery."

When Columbus set sail, looking for the Spice Islands, one of the things he was sent to fetch was pepper -- black pepper, the spice. Instead, the natives introduced him to this plant-thing that had a hot flavor to it. He called it "pepper," so he had indeed found "pepper" for enhancing their food.

And these are just a few of the interesting bits gleaned from "What We Eat."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mallet Finger

There was a play-time at work on Tuesday. Gary's team played kickball against another team. There were dunk-tanks and a barbecue. Gary came home with a sore finger, thinking he must have jammed it. But it didn't have the swelling of a jammed finger. On the third day he went to the doctor. He has "mallet finger" now because of torn tendons around his knuckle. The treatment is splinting it 24/7, because any bending of his finger will pull the tendons away from where they're reattaching, and they'll have to start all over with the healing.

At least he saw the doctor and found out about the treatment. The doctor said that most people will wait for about two weeks for this problem to get better on its own (thinking that it must just be a jammed finger) and then finally go see the doctor. But if you wait that long, the only way to correct the problem is with surgery, or to live with a crippled finger. The six weeks of splint is going to be majorly inconvenient, but at least that's all he's going to have to put up with. I imagine he'll get very good at using his mouse left-handedly. And he thinks he may have to buy velcro-closed shoes for the interim.

He says the splint has helped with the pain too. When we changed the bandage this evening, taking off the splint just to dry it was enough to set him grimacing again.


We heard about a good, wholesome horse story that sounded like a movie appropriate for the whole family. In many ways it was. No language, no violence, no sex. An intact family. Set in the West, with lots of outdoorsy activity and scenery. Not sure why it rated a "PG" instead of a "G."

The only thing that bugged me was something about the heroine's attitude toward her father, and how a perfectly decent father was made out to be too insensitive. I've heard people complain that, in the fifth Harry Potter book, Harry was so whiny and self-centered and full of teen-angst, and thought everybody was against him. But that was NOTHIN' in comparison to the heroine in Flicka. Thing is, in Flicka the heroine was held up as wild (a good thing, apparently) and strong/stubborn and self-determined and all that jazz, whereas Harry Potter's somewhat similar qualities were seen as a bad thing.

Green Homeschooling

Just another reason to homeschool: to save the environment.

Our county's recycling propoganda flyer came out today. We are told that the average school-age child generates 67 pounds of garbage per year just from the disposable items in his school lunches. The paper suggested using tupperware containers, cloth napkins, and other ways to cut down on lunch-time trash.

So when I get a block of cheddar out of the fridge, cut it with a knife, and let people munch, I have helped to SAVE the world by not buying individually wrapped cheese sticks. Or when I cook up a pot of rice and put it on ceramic plates and have the children eat it with silverware, then I am SAVING the world because I didn't send them to school with a yogurt cup, a plastic spoon, a paper napkin, and a Twinkie wrapped in plastic.

Good for me. ;-)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hymn Greeting Cards

I saw these greeting cards at the bookstore when I dropped Paul off at Bethany Lutheran College. They are beautiful, and not very expensive (as cards go). They really grabbed the attention of this hymn addict, because the cover of all these cards is a calligraphied hymn stanza. And, oh, the choice of hymns! I'll put up some pictures of cards later, but for anybody who would like more information right away about "Hymns in My Heart greeting cards," you can request an order form from:
normanmadson at yahoo-dot-com

(Of course, when emailing him, you will have to use the @-sign and the period, as in a normal email address. Writing the edress this way will hopefully help protect Mr Madson from getting too much spam by web-robots who hunt for email addresses on the internet.)

Paul's Clep

And more rejoicing on the clep-front. Paul took the Western Civ I test today, and scored a 68! Wow! With his cleps, a few credits that he took at the local junior college, and taking 16 hours per semester instead of 15, he can knock a semester off his college career. That's a lot of tuition money saved!

Also, since I haven't seen anything on his blog recently, I am taking the liberty to report to grandmas and siblings that his roommate transferred to a different college, and so Paul has his own room now. He is in Choraliers which is the group that puts on the annual musical theatre production. He is also running for student senate.

Too bad homeschooled kids aren't socialized. [snicker giggle guffaw]

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. (1 John 4:2-3)

I was taught in religion classes in college that our confessions teach that the papacy is the antichrist. I always had a hard time with that, knowing many Roman Catholics who are Christians. And I heard so many of the things the Pope said, and how Christian it sounded. It was explained to me in oh-so-many ways how it is true that the papacy is the antichrist even if the pope himself is a true Christian. Okay, this may be obvious to lots of folks, but it never really made sense to me.

As we have been studying 1 John during Thursday morning Bible class these past months, one thing Pastor has been pointing out is that "the spirit of antichrist" is the doctrine of works-righteousness, in all its many forms. True doctrine is that God took on human flesh, bore our sin, and fully atoned for our rebellion and errors, giving us His holiness, and that our standing before God is entirely in what He has done on our behalf.

I asked about the people who believe that Jesus came in the flesh, was a "good teacher," but was not God. The answer was that "Jesus Christ" means something. It means "Yahweh is salvation" and it reminds us of all the promises of the Anointed One throughout the Old Testament, and who He was, and what He would accomplish. Thus "Jesus Christ has come in the flesh" isn't just about a historical figure, but about the eternal God becoming man so that He might bear the cross so that we don't have to.

Pastor pointed out that, at the time the confessions were written, the papacy had declared Luther's teaching anathema (damnable). The papacy said that anyone who believed that he stood before God, righteous and holy and blameless, fully on account of Christ's death and His blood shed, was going to hell for such a belief. Well, uh, that was kinda sorta "against Christ" (antichrist) doncha think?

And yet, the teaching that causes us to look to our own works, our own goodness, our own merits before God, that teaching was present in the early church prior to the existence of a papacy, and that teaching is present now [gasp] even among us. It is the very essence of the sinful nature, and must "daily be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires."

I don't know about you, but seeing "antichrist" as being works-righteousness (instead of only as the papacy) wraps up a lot of loose ends for me.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Great Faith

Jesus said to the Canaanite woman, "Great is your faith" (Matthew 15:28).

From 1 Corinthians 10: "But God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape that you may be able to bear it."

Do you ever think that God just doesn't have a very good grasp of what you are able to bear? Surely He is overestimating what I can bear! (And yet, even as I question His wisdom in this area, it is nevertheless true that He provides the absolution, which is the way of escape.)

But back a few weeks ago, Pastor said something in the sermon that I had not considered before. How did Jesus know the greatness of the Canaanite woman's faith? It wasn't because He is omniscient and could thus "know" something by observing the woman's faith, something we mere mortals cannot observe. He knew her faith because He created it, He implanted it in her, He sustained it. That's why He knew what it was. So it's not a matter of measuring how big my faith is (with corresponding pats on the backs or "woe-is-me"). It's not about how much bigger I can get my faith to be. But it's entirely what Jesus has done and given and provided.

I believe that I cannot ... believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him. But the Holy Ghost has called me ... and kept me in the true faith!

Appearance Matters

I am practical. I do not do froo-froo. I like to see beautiful flower gardens and lovely homes. I can appreciate someone's being well-dressed and well-coiffed. A well-set table (at somebody's else's home) is something I can oooh and ahhh over. But I am not adept at making things nice and pretty. Especially when it comes to government expenditures, I hate to see money "wasted" on something like interior decorating or great architecture.

I have long been rethinking my perspective on this when it comes to churchly matters. But recently I have begun rethinking it with regard to other buildings too.

The hospital in my home town recently opened a new cancer center. It is gorgeous. The space is bright and open and airy. There is plenty of natural sunlight. There are patios and fireplaces. There are comfortable chairs. There are stations for coffee and pastries. The woodwork is beautiful. There are flowers and good artwork. There is an assortment of books and puzzles and games to pass the time.

The atmosphere in the new building (just from the way the building is constructed and decorated) is so cheery and upbeat that it really seems to make the whole experience of being treated for cancer more pleasant. And that has GOT to be worth something!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


For the first four kids, we barely used any worksheets. We would buy some workbooks occasionally, but most pages went unused due to the kids' catching on to the concept before using up the practice-pages.

But now I have a kid who needs much more practice on many concepts than can be found in a workbook. Or in several workbooks. I tried hunting websites for worksheets I can print out. What I'm finding is that there are worksheets out there, but they don't provide exactly the practice we are in need of. And it takes so blasted long to hunt through all those websites, and all the different worksheets on the sites.

So this evening I sat down with blank paper and a Sharpie marker, and made up a week's worth of math problems for Maggie. I hate doing that, but it doesn't seem there's much choice. The other thing I'm going to have to do is to sort through all those old hand-me-down workbooks and find the appropos pages to dish out to Maggie.