Friday, November 26, 2010

Harriet Tubman, the Moses of her People

My cousin and I and a few others have started an 'email book club' of sorts. We have been reading books together and writing our thoughts out afterwards.  It's been fun and eye opening.  Good for learning to 'think' about things rather then just read and move on.

One of the books that read recently was 'Harriet Tubman, The Moses of her People'.  It was written in the 1800s, while Harriet was still alive.  And it has been reissued a number of times since.  It is a small book, but powerful as a motivator and reminder of what life as a slave in early America used to be like.

Having grown up in a society that says that education is important, I realized I have come to believe the lie that the more you know, the smarter you are, and the better person you are.  But Harriet blows that stereotype out of the water.  She was so in tuned to the Lord, she could 'hear' him speak.  I don't know anyone like that today. I wonder if our 'education and knowledge' get in the way of the still small voice?

Harriet was born a slave and ran away when she was a teenager.  She was used of the Lord to bring thousands of other slaves along the 'underground railroad' to safety in Canada.  Her family as well as many others.  The Lord seemed to speak to her almost audibly.  The stories she told of close encounters and last minute changes of plan were amazing. 

I have a hard time hearing stories of slaves and the treatment they endured. I am too empathetic and can't handle seeing people suffer.  But I need to be reminded of the history of America and God's grace even in the midst of such atrocities. We are surrounded by horrible acts of sin today, they are just different and to us, not so obvious.

I was also really encouraged to pray for 'faith like a child', which is exactly the kind of faith Harriet Tubman exhibited.  It could be nothing but that, as she couldn't even read the Scriptures herself.

She willingly and humbly excepted any gifts the Lord provided.  She begged for mercy and help when the situation merited it. And she was so thankful to God for every little blessing she encountered.  She had no thought for herself or her safety.  She fully believed that when the Lord wanted her home, he would take her home.

Oh, to have such faith!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Darwin's Black Box, by Michael Behe

I read and was fascinated by Darwin's Black Box, by biochemist Michael Behe.

It was very intense and technical at times, but very readable throughout also. He put the really technical stuff in squares so you could easily skip through that part until it ended if you felt the need.  I felt the need a number of times, but got the point of how complex the cell is nonetheless.

He talked about how Darwin explained his ideas of evolution based on a 'black box'.
''Black Box' is a whimsical term for a device that does something, but whose innter workings are mysterious-sometimes because the workings can't be seen, and sometimes because they just aren't comprehensible.'  But since Darwin's time, many technological advances have been made and have 'opened' the black box that Darwin spoke of.  We now understand life down to the cellular level and realize that much of what Darwin thought can not be true. 

Having grown up in a 'fundamental' Christian home, I never doubted creation and always thought that evolutions was 'crazy'. :)  Ok, a bit simplistic, but the general gist is true.  I did hear some Answers in Genesis speakers on occasion and realized there was a lot more going on that I was not aware of, but I did not do much studying until this summer.  I really started just to get going on my science reading just as a way to start on my 'scholar phase' education.  But it really is a fascinating subject. Now, I have not gotten nearly technical, but instead have read a bunch of books on science versus evolution.  Long-age versus short-age, etc.  So I have not delved much into the hands-on science.  But I am enjoying this study very much.

I was a bit worried, that after doing some serious reading, I would come to the conclusion that science really is true and the Bible is not.  I knew better, but yet there was that little 'thing' in the back of my mind.  'What if?'  You hear all the time from intelligent people that creation is simply not possible and that Evolution is obvious and self-supporting.  But, after reading and seeing real, hard facts and numbers, it was a relief to come to the realization that it takes just as much imagination and faith to believe evolution as it does to believe Creation.

Behe is a Roman Catholic biochemist (genius) who believes that evolution of some sort happened.  However he also does not believe that it could have just 'happened'.  He does not share as much what he believes as he does what he does not believe.  After research and thinking things through, he came to the conclusion that there was no way for the cell, in all it's intricacy to have evolved without a designer of some sort.  He talked about a concept called 'irreducible complexity'.

And he went into great detail to explain how 5 facets of human biology were irreducible complex.  There was not one extra part that could be removed and still have it function properly.   Which makes evolution almost impossible.  He started with a mousetrap and used that example throughout the book.  He also explained the cilium and how they 'swim' around to help the cells work properly.  The second example was the coagulation of blood.  The third example is the complexity of the transport system for a piece of DNA to copy into an RNA.  The fourth is the way our immune system works to fight off invaders of all shapes and sizes.  The fifth and final example of irreducible complexity is how the cell builds itself from the various protein components.

That was a pathetic version of the 5 examples he gave of irreducible complexity. I confess much of it was above my head.  But I was able to grasp how it was impossible for any of those processes to work without all the components in place.  And without those processes, there is no way we humans could live. 

And because of that and many other examples, Behe, and many others, came to the conclusion that there MUST be a designer out there.  It is impossible to think otherwise.

He did not seem to think it was a Creator God.  He definitely did not think it was the God of the Bible.  But I found it refreshing and reassuring that intelligent people could believe that someone or something did design the earth.

I also really appreciate that Behe did not try to answer all the questions.  He acknowledged that there is just no way to know all the answers.  It's too complex.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cancer Salves, by Ingrid Naiman

Cancer Salves, by Ingrid Naiman was a fascinating read.

It has a lot of 'new agey' ideas and some eastern/Ayurvedic healing type methods.  But, all in all, it was a fascinating read of one woman's journey to learn more about healing and cancer slaves in general.

She has a website that she maintains with more up-to-date information on resources, etc.  It also is an interesting read.

Of course, it opened up a pandora's box yet again.  I want to do more research on cancer specifically and on the healing powers of herbs, etc, and esp their history throughout time.  I love that God knew at Creation that we would be suffering the effects of sin, so he provided us with natural means of healing right from the start. 

I loved the history the woman gave about the cures for cancer, going back as far as the 12th Century.  It was very eye opening to me to realize that the body has been breaking down for a long time.  And the crazy thing is, thousands of years ago, people seemed to generally agree that the health starts in the gut.  And that health is the balance of meeting the bodies organic needs (minerals, vitamins, energy) and helping to rid it of toxins.  There truly is nothing new under the sun.  

This book dealt specifically with the history of using 'escharotics' to heal cancerous masses on the human body.  The definition of 'escharotic' is: 'a caustic substance that causes a chemical reaction with tissue.  The reaction is usually attended by heat, itching, and burning and results in the destruction of the reactive tissue.'  She was esp interested in using escharotics versus surgery for removal of  cancerous 'lumps'.  She gave a short biography on the various people she had found throughout time, that used esocharotics for healing cancer.

She mentioned the treatment of cancer by Hildegard of Bingen, 12th Century; the American Indians' Richard Guy, 1759 from London; Constantine Rafinesque and Samuel Thomson of America, early 1800s' Weldon Fell, 1858, America; John Pattison, 1866, NY; Eli Jones, 1911 of Pennsylvania; Henry Hoxsey, 1900s; John Christopher, 1900s; Frederic Mohs, late 1900s.

The people mentioned above all used escharotics to remove cancerous lumps, but all agreed, later in their career at least, that using internal cleansers and detoxers, and nutrition were the most important part of dealing with the disease.  Escharotics were used in place of surgery, as they had a much higher success rate and caused less trauma in the long-run.

There was a lot of 'little nuggets' of info that I learned by reading the book.  And I'm excited to read more on the subject by those who have used natural means to heal cancer and other immune-related diseases.

I enjoyed this quote:

"We live in a time of unparalleled pollution and adulteration of our food and water supply.  Survival of the fittest and good health may depend on periodic detoxification as well as adequate efforts to regenerate damaged tissues.
Detoxification is a technical term referring to measures that relieve the body of chemical toxicity as well as surfeit, metabolic residuals that are deposited in various parts of the body where they congest those areas.  There are many ways to purify the body, ranging from fasting to specific dietary regimes and herbal remedies to medical protocols.  The simplest involve modest improvements in the diet and supplements that cleanse the blood and liver, improve elimination, and relieve lymphatic stagnation.  The most complex entail the removal of parasites and serious contaminants such as mercury and lead.  While it may be possible to overcome cancer without addressing digestion and elimination as well as the functioning of the liver and blood stream, kidneys, and bowels, it hardly seems realistic to expect health without attention to the overall condition of the body.  Tonification is another technical term.  In essence, it refers to those strategies that correct deficiency conditions.  Detoxification and tonification employ different diets and herbs because detoxification removes unwanted substances from the body whereas tonification rebuilds depleted systems of the body.  Since every cell has a different normal life before it is replaced, each system of the body is rebuilt at its own pace.'

I thought that was a great 'overall' view of what a body needs to heal and be healthy.  It needs to get the junk out and get the good stuff to where it needs to go. Isn't God so good to design such a simple, yet incredibly complex system?

The book also described in detail, some anti-cancer herbs. Namely violets, yarrow, bloodroot, galangal (similar to ginger), goldenseal, red clover, marigold, poke root, chaparral, burdock and turmeric. I am esp interested in trying to find a source of yarrow, goldenseal, burdock and turmeric and incorporate them into our regular diets.  Maybe through teas or tonics.  I need to do more research into the Swedish Bitters that we take daily. I may find that they have herbs that do the same things as the ones mentioned above.  That would be nice! 

I was fascinated by the book and I'm excited to learn more about the 'natural pharmacy' that God gave us, to heal our diseases and 'dis-eases'.  We definitely have some!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Our Current Homeschool Schedule

I posted here what I would like my 'Eureka' to look like. 

Now that it is party way through November, I can say that, while it's not perfect, I am very happy with where we are in our daily routine of life and learning.  I see major progress from last year. I see us loving the learning process together. We get into good books and learn so much from them.  It's very exciting for me. :) 

I feel the area that needs the most work at the moment is the chores.  For some reason I'm having a hard time with figuring out what they should look like.  But we are getting there, definitely progressing.  Attitude is so important, I have to make sure I'm going about it the right way.  I want to see joy in learning, and character building and skill learning in the chores. 

This is what our general routine is at the moment.

8:00   Eat breakfast (we eat anywhere between 7:30 and 9, depending on when the kids wake up and how long it takes to make breakfast, I just picked 8:00 as a starting point)

8:30   I read 2 or 3 stories from Egermeirs while the kids finish breakfast.

9:00   I do dishes and clean up while the kids do their chores. Right now one washes the toilet/sink/floor while the other changes the cat litter and sweeps the kitchen.  Needs work, eh?  :)

9:20   We sit down at the kitchen table and I look over their Saxon math books to see what concepts they need to know.  If they know them, I don't usually do too much, if they don't know it, then we'll work on it, using manipulates from the kit mostly.  I also go over the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading. Myia knows most of it, so I go over a few lessons so she understands the rules she already seems to be able to follow.  Samuel can't get past the sounds of letters, so we just sound out a few words together and I ask him what sounds a few letters make.  The whole thing takes from 10-30 minutes.  We esp love making things with the manipulatives and counting the bears while learning math.  

9:40   We lay down and read a few chapters from a book.  When we're done, we write about it in our Book Reports.   We have read a few American Girl books, a few Littles books, some history books (chapter type books mostly) and some other cute books I have collected along the way. 

10:00   This is the kids favorite time.  We call it 'half hours' and basically, I set the timer and each child gets half an hour (or less depending what time it actually is, what the plans are for the morning, etc.) with me to do whatever they want.  Or, I reserve the right to choose if I think they should be doing something specific.  Samuel pretty much always chooses to lay on his floor and play with his Hot Wheel cars.  It's not my favorite, but he loves it and talks about it all the time.  It really seems to be filling a need.   Myia and I tend to do things like crafts, puzzles, games, etc.  It's fun and special for all of us.  

11-1  Kids play while I prepare lunch. 

1:00   We eat lunch as a family.  Sometimes we read parts of a proverbs and talk about a verse or two.  

1:30-2:30   They each play their computer games for half an hour. 

2:30-3:00  We don't always do this, but I try to read some more of the book we are reading.

And that pretty much is our schedule.  Drew is gone for the afternoon, so we run errands if necessary.  I try to get to the library once a week with the kids.  And we read 20 minutes or so before they go to bed.  Myia also is allowed to read in her bed until 9:15 and she reads a lot then.  It's fun to listen when she doesn't know I'm there.  She is getting to be an amazing reader.  And her sudoku skills are downright embarrassing!  She won't let me write in her book because her handwriting is neater then mine (no joke) and she allows me to help, but doesn't nearly need it.  Crazy! 

All in all, Drew and I are pleased with how we are progressing as a family.  I spend a few hours reading most days. Maybe not as varied as would be wise, but I am advancing my own 'Scholar Phase' and even Drew is starting to read more 'useful' books and enjoy them. 

I still have a lot of things I want to do, but I have learned that slow change is better then fast, as it's more long-lasting. 

Progress is good.....

Friday, November 5, 2010

Found-Goals for 2009

I found my goals for 2009, I just didn't publish them on my blog. :)  So here are my goals from last year.  

1. Food:
-3 meals a day-real meals, breakfast, lunch and leftover supper
-mostly only soaked grains
-little/no sugar (honey and maple syrup are fine)
-little/no processed food
-fermented veggie, dairy and/or drink w/every meal
-take daily as supplements: apple cider vinegar, whey, coconut oil, cod liver oil, salt water

2. Children:
-homeschool daily-get into a better pattern and more creative
-daily bible study with them
-Stop yelling at them (this has gotten bad lately, and I know it needs to stop)
-attitudes I want to purposely cultivate-gratitude, respect, selflessness, honesty, obedience, intelligence, courage, joy, eat and like nourishing food, curiosity, love for life and learning, kindness, wisdom, self control,
-be active together at least twice a week-soccer/team sport, park, walk
-set a limit, either 1 or 2 times a week with an actual movie time, or 1/2 hour/one show a day-not sure yet.

3. Me:
-Less grouchy/moody
-In bed by 9:30
-Read scripture daily
-Less internet-set a limit
-Cut the junk out, as it's totally in control of me right now

4. Money:
-Cancel both CCs
-only spend money after talking it over
-set up and stick with a budget, food budget
-use any extra for paying off credit card instead of spending on other things

Winter Meal Plan Template

Well, it's a change of season, a change of foods and also time for a change of menu planning techniques.  Summer went well.  I hope to do better next summer, but I enjoyed preparing one meat a week and seeing how far I could make it stretch, and what I could come up with for picnic friendly foods. 

I am really trying to get back to cutting our budget so we can pay off some debt.  The only thing we can really cut is the grocery budget, and that is hard to cut without losing ground on our health and healing.  I really am not willing to do that.  But, with winter here, I realized it's a perfect excuse to do more soups/stews, which tend to make the meat go further.  I am also trying my hand at adding beans and lentils to our meals.  Not as a substitute for the meat, but as a way to make that same meat stretch just a little further.  I am using only navy beans, as they are GAPS friendly and supposedly ok to consume with a messed up gut.  They also allow lima beans, but, in the words of the great Alexander 'Yuck, I hate lima beans!', so I'm not ready to add those yet. :)

I decided to go back to my original 4-week menu planning.  I am much better at it now and found it quite a simple process to 'fill in the blanks'.  I like 4 weeks, because we get 2 paychecks in that period and only one is available for food.  So I have to get it all with that first paycheck or it's gone.  Which means that I need to know what I am planning to make for the next 4 weeks, or I can't make sure I have it on hand.

I also want to get better about what the kids and I eat for supper.  We have been doing a LOT of peanut butter on leftover pancakes/waffles and granola.  The granola is still fabulous, but nuts shouldn't be a regular meal, so I would like to add more variety to our suppers, without adding much expense or cooking.  Plus with Myia's possible wheat-induced asthma, I can't justify pancakes or waffles (even if they are sourdough and soaked for 24 hours) on a regular basis.  That is my one meal that I don't have to spend an hour + on, and I'd like to keep it that way.  So that means more advanced planning and preparing of course.

Breakfast stays the same-any variations on eggs and bacon I can come up with, or a kefir smoothie.

I also decided to try and make meals for Drew for the entire month and freeze them individually.  It is so nice to just grab one out of the freezer when I'm making lunch and heat it up in the cast iron skillet with some broth while we're sitting down to our family meal.

So if I'm cooking and freezing a bunch of meals for him, why not make extra of the same foods for the kids and I?

Which lead me to create the following meal plan for the 4 week period of November 14th to December 11th.  And I plan on following the same general outline for the rest of the winter if it goes well.  With necessary tweaking of course.  The actual days we eat them may vary, depending on our schedule, etc. 

I have my grocery list all worked out and it should come to just over $400.   I hope it does!  

It's similar to summer, in that we have the same foods every week-white fish (cod usually as it's the cheapest)/canned salmon, liver and I'm also adding a chicken soup every week and a fish chowder every week.  I can make them at once and freeze them for easy meals throughout the month.  Two chickens should be enough for a soup a week as a family meal and a meal for the kids and I for supper every week (luckily, the kids and I love chicken soup and Drew will tolerate it).  And fish chowders need a lot of various cans of seafood at once, so making them up at once is more economical and easier.  The other 3 family meals will be one meat like this summer also.

For Drew for work, I will pick 4 different meals and make them all at once, and make enough for the kids and I to have as leftovers for a set amount of meals also.

I hope to do a lot of cooking at the beginning, which means less later on.  I have the freezer space, so that really helps.  And cold weather cooking lends it self to that type of meal nicely. 

Also, I'm working on getting probiotics with every meal.  Breakfast we do kefir.  Lunch is kombucha, fermented veggies and bitters.  And for supper I'm hoping to serve 1/2 cup of yogurt, sweetened or not.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

You know You're a homeschooler When...

An email from Sonlight curriculum came a few weeks ago with a list of 'You know you're a homeschooler when...' and I loved them and had to post them here.  Some I wish were true, and others are true for us.  It's a great read!  

You know you're a homeschooler when . . .
 . . . your kids are in the kiddie pool playing Lewis and Clark, paddling down the river with lacrosse sticks. --Jen
. . . you find yourself and your guests at your birthday party, at 10pm, embroiled in a lively discussion/explanation of the heart's size and function...with your five year old, who just had to get out of bed and ask because she couldn't sleep until she knew! --Eddie
. . . people ask to borrow books from you because it's closer than the library with almost as varied a collection. --Christine

. . . your son asks to listen to the Geography Songs CD every day at lunch. --Sherri

. . . you can SING the countries of Africa! "Algeria, Ethiopia, Liberia . . ." --Cindy

. . . you stop in the church parking lot to pick up a big Rhinoceros beetle. It is dead and actually smells a bit bad, but you lay it carefully in the back seat, because your kids have never seen one before, except for the one in "Bug's Life." --Anna

. . . you go to the greenhouse in the summer to buy herbs and start talking to the kids about the different kinds of plants . . . and then one of the workers asks if you work there!!!! --Donna

. . . you're out with non-homeschooling friends and they expect you to know the answers to everything--like the difference between a vegetable and a fruit and whether certain things like cucumbers are veggies. --Melissa

. . . your daughter's dance bag has more books than dance shoes in it. --Carla

. . . you find yourself saying, "We were studying last week, about . . ." and people look at you funny, and you don't know why. --Melinda
 . . . you don't think about, but your friends are all talking about, school registration next year . . . or how many days until you go back to school. --Carrie

. . . the doctor's/dentist's/hairdresser's office is happy to schedule your child's appointment because you don't want one after 3pm or during a school holiday . . . or you can take advantage of off season rates because you make your own school holidays. --Carla

Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd. at

Monday, November 1, 2010

Yeah for Progress!!

Like my friend and I say 'Progress is good'. And it truly is.  I find myself wishing for more progress, more quickly.  But God has been showing me that slow is better, it makes for more long-term, REAL changes in one's life. 

The kids and I walked to the park last week.  It was so beautiful out and we were enjoying the fallen leaves, nice breeze and sunshine on our faces. 

Our park has a big army tank that was used in one of the World Wars (I'm assuming).  It's big and fun for the kids to climb on.  Thankfully they have never fallen and hurt themselves.  Now, they have been climbing it for 4 1/2 years and I have never joined them.  I couldn't.  I didn't have the physical ability. 

But, after watching many children trying to climb up and around the tank, I came to appreciate how much my kids had grown and developed because of their hours climbing the tank.  Now I know other things aided in their development and growth of course.  But climbing the tank is a lot like climbing a tree or rocks (which are 2 things they don't have much access to).  The bodies is forced to move in various ways and a whole lot of muscles are used in the balancing and climbing of the various pieces.  It's pretty cool actually. 

After watching this video, I came to really understand how important overall movement is to one's body.  And esp to appreciate how much their tank climbing fun aided in my children's over-all development. 

I would love to come up with a workout with similar varying moves as the MovNat video.  I love the concept of using all the muscles and changing the stresses on the body, instead of the same stress over and over again.  It seems more natural really.  Of course, it would look nothing like his, being here in Clifton, NJ. But, the concept can still be followed I think, to an extent. 

Now, granted, you can't do that kind of movement if you're bones are weak and brittle, or even if you're body is filled with toxins and unable to get the blood and oxygen to where they need to be quickly and efficiently.  Or, for that matter, if you're physical structure is all messed up and even walking is painful.  All of which describe me quite well.  I have felt, for some years, that I have the bones and body of an 80 year old.  It's depressing to have that old of a body when you're in your 30s! 

But the last few weeks I have found myself feeling so much better.  I still have a long way to go (slow is better, remember), but I really don't feel like I'm 80!  Like if I take one wrong step, that I'll start the domino effect of bone breakage.  It's so wonderful! 

So, when the kids were climbing and playing on the tank last week, I decided to try and join them.  I have NO upper body strength and was a bit sheepish to try, in case I couldn't and looked silly, but it would just be another lesson for my kids to make good food and lifestyle choices so they don't end up like their 'dear old mom'. 

Low and behold, I was actually able to pull myself up onto the tank without too much grunting and butt-sticking-out.  It was fabulous.  And I was able to even slide down without hurting my back on impact, and I did it over and over again.  The kids were amazed.  The nice thing about homeschooling is that you can go to the park before it fills with school kids.  So after awhile, I stopped because it was kind of embarrassing.  :)  But it was so freeing to see that I was making real progress.  That my body is healing and my foundations are being reset properly.  Yeah for progress!! 

I was able even to run around with the kids some.  We were soldiers hiding from the enemy by running from tree to tree.  Some of the adults in the park found it amusing.  But I was just having so much fun, actually being able to run without fear of major repercussions-like a 32 year old ought to be able to do! 

We even enjoyed a barefoot walk home together.  :)

Whenever I get discouraged by things I can't do, God graciously reminds me of how far I have come, and encourages me by reminding me that I'm going in the right direction. 

Progressing forward.....