Apr 30, 2006

Field Trip Review: Body Worlds

We went to the Houston Museum of Natural Science last week to view the Body Worlds exhibit. I realize it can be quite controversial to cut up dead bodies and put them on display for others to gawk at, but there really is no better learning experience for studying the human body that I know of! Even medical students flock to this exhibit to learn more about the human body here than they can with a cadaver.

Using a process called plastination, bodies are not only carefully preserved, but still moldable, so much can be done to show the body in motion, as well as the many intricate details of this amazing machine God has given each one of us for our time here on this earth. All bodies used are donated specifically for this research.

Although this exhibit was considerably smaller than the original in Germany, which we saw about ten years ago, it was still a great exponential learning opportunity. We were able to easily observe each of the major systems of the human body, separately. Most people have seen a skeleton, but have you seen the nervous system - just the brain, the spinal cord, and all the attached nerves - nothing else? Or how about the circulatory system, with nothing attached? And then there were the many poses showing different muscles being used, as well as tendons, ligaments, etc. There were two digestive systems side by side: one was just as it would be inside one's body, all squished together, and the other was stretched out the length of a human body. What a contrast!

Another section showed each organ separately; some were healthy, some were diseased. We observed cirrhosis of the liver, smoker's lungs, cancer, spina bifida, and many other diseases.

We saw a 3 week old fetus. That was amazing!

This horse and rider gave us a new appreciation for both the horse and how we are created in God's image. There are a LOT of differences here.

There were audio tours available, if you desire, that explain in great detail about how each part of the body works as you are looking at that particular part. It was very informative, but I didn't like the fact that it drew you into your own little world, and even though we were there as a group, we were all listening to our headphones separately. I would love to have a tour guide talk us through instead.

We watched a planetarium show and an IMAX about the human body to maximize our science day. They were both fairly good. The museum human body bookstore was outstanding! I picked up several things there that I have not seen in the homeschool community. Good stuff!

Body Worlds will be on display through September 4. I recommend going in late August.

On another note, we were listening to Jonathan Park in the car on the way to Houston and when we arrived, we were about halfway through the episode where they discover the hidden treasures of Ur of the Chaldees. When we stepped into the museum, the featured traveling exhibit was "The Royal Tombs of Ur: Ancient Treasures from Modern Iraq." That was a God thing! It briefly mentioned Abraham, and it was quite interesting.

Lesson learned: don't plan a field trip when 50 public school buses are going to the same place! The noise was deafening, but after 2 p.m. it was quite enjoyable!

Exponential Education

I have recently discovered something about education.

Do you remember learning about exponents in math? I don't suppose I can actually show one here, but it was a smaller font number to the upper right corner of another number, such as 3 "to the power of" 4, whereas 3 is the main number and 4 is the little number in the corner. These always fascinated me. If we were just to take 3 X 4, for example, the answer would merely be 12. However, with exponents, you multiply the number times itself for however times the exponent says to. So in this case, we would multiply 3 X 3 X 3 X 3, which would give us 81! What a tremendous difference!

So what does this have to do with education? I have recently applied this same principle to learning. As we have increased our field trips, our museum trips, our hands-on learning, I have noticed that our learning has increased exponentially as well. You know that old saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words." Oh, how true that is! An educational picture, of sorts, can dramatically speed up learning. (And likewise, the evening news can dramatically speed up learning as well, but those are not the kinds of pictures I want my children to have seared upon their brains. I want to be very careful what "impressions" I put upon our minds.) So I feel good about "investing" in the IMAX theater for a great educational movie, which may take many, many hours of reading a great book to get the same educational impact.

Now, if just seeing something has such an exponential educational impact on our brains, I started thinking about what else learning could do. Several years ago, I heard a great Sunday School lesson that forever changed my life (don't you love those memorable lessons?). The man was talking about reading God's Word and he started with talking about just reading the Bible, where the only sense that is used is seeing. Then he talked about reading God's Word out loud. Now, we not only see the words, but we are saying them and hearing them also! Wow! That was an exponential leap! In the same amount of time, we can now see, hear, and say the words of God! As I started experimenting with this, I noticed that my disabled daughter would come and join me every morning, so that she could hear God's Word, too. I am not reading to her, but she is able to hear the word of the Lord. What an extra blessing! (Moms, don't push away your little ones when you are spending time with the Lord. They can learn, too, although you are not speaking to them.) A little while later, I discovered even more exponential learning from God's Word, which I will cover in a post entitled "The King's Assignment," coming soon!

We have never done too many field trips, but this last year we incorporated quite a few of them into our schedule. We don't go for the ones that are more for amusement (muse = think; a = not or without; a-muse = not thinking; without thinking), but there are lots of great educational opportunites out there. Have you ever studied something in a book, and then gone to see it, or do it? It's that "Aha!" feeling, isn't it? Before we went to Sea World a couple years ago, for example, we always liked dolphins, we read about them, we looked at pictures of them, we'd even seen them afar off. But when we were able to spend an hour with the dolphins with almost no one else around, to play catch with them, to pet them, to feed them, to play with them, to laugh with them - our learning about dolphins increased to tremendous exponential proportions. No amount of book learning, and I'm all for book learning, could match this one hour experience!

So, I will be giving field trip reviews on this blog now, for my local readers especially, or maybe those who would like to come for a visit!, but we do like to travel once in a while, so I will write field trip reviews for wherever we might go. I hope these reviews will encourage you to exponential learning, no matter how old you are! The day you stop learning is the day you grow old.

Exponential learning also includes science experiments, gardening, cleaning house, a walk in nature, seeing the baby ducks grow up, and a million other areas of life. Explode your learning with exponential education!

Apr 29, 2006

Weekly Recipe: Colcannon

We first tried this Irish dish on St. Patrick's Day one year, and it quickly became a standard in our family. It is basically mashed potatoes with cooked cabbage, so feel free to play with the recipe - a lot! I don't measure anything in this recipe, so I will attempt to relate amounts here.

Potatoes, cut in chunks, to steam or boil in a 3-4 qt. pot, filled. I place celery leaves and bay leaves on top of the potatoes for flavor and then throw the leaves away when done cooking. Cook until tender.

One green cabbage, diced about 1/2", to steam or boil in another 3-4 qt. pot. Cook until tender.

I drain my potatoes, add one stick butter, and mash by hand. Add drained cabbage, s/p to taste, and then add plain (I like Bulgarian) yogurt to taste. I use about 3 cups. Serve!

This works well to then put in a crockpot and take to a potluck if you put the colcannon in while hot. If you try to start a crockpot with cold colcannon, it will take a few hours because it is so dense (not recommended!).

Apr 28, 2006


What in the world is Lamed? (pronounced lah-med)

Lamed is a letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Lamed is the middle letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Lamed is also the tallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. To the Jew, this is very important. Why?

Lamed is also a word in the Hebrew language. It means two things: to teach; to learn.

How can one word mean both to teach and to learn? And why is this important?

First, the Jews consider the meaning of things to be highly important. Since Lamed is the very center of the alphabet and since it is the tallest (overshadowing the other letters), the Jews have said that Lamed is our highest endowment, our greatest gift, from God.

Teaching and learning are our highest endowment from God? What does that mean?

Paul tells us in II Timothy 2:15: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

In Acts 17:11, the Bereans "searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so."

In Isaiah 34, we read a long list of prophecies of the end times and then the Lord ends with verse 17: "Search from the book of the LORD, and read: Not one of these shall fail."

When you spend time studying and searching God's Word, does it bring you closer to the Lord? If your heart is to study His Word to learn, is it an act of worship? The Jews believe that studying God is the ultimate act of worship of God. Think about it. If you are studying God's Word to know Him better, to know His will for you, to know what pleases Him, to know what is an abomination to Him, wouldn't that be worship? "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy ... mind!"

Do you worship the Lord daily by studying for yourself what He has to say to you? I John 4:1 tells us, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." How do you test those spirits? Against the Word of God! Let us study God's Word daily and search diligently to test all that we hear and read. Let us show ourselves approved unto God!

Is studying God's Word the only we can study to worship God, though? How about considering His creation? Take a walk in the beauty of His creation (which man has damaged) and consider what God has done in each little flower, the spring greens, the birds' songs, a million little aspects of His creation. In that same vein, when we study science, we are studying about God. It is God who created science, and provided so many opportunities for humans to learn, both believers and not. As Christians, though, we should study science as being from an incredible Creator, which leads us to worship again, doesn't it? And how about history - His Story! God has allowed everything in history to happen for a reason, some for His glory, some to teach us something, and much of it for reasons we do not know now. But we can study and find out many of God's ways in history as well!

There are many other subjects of study, of learning, that will lead us to worship God as we learn more about Him and His ways. Let us look for the sovereignty of God in all of life!


If we want to retain knowledge, when we first hear something, we must study it for ourselves, walk it out, and teach it to others. Those who teach learn the most!

What an awesome gift God has bestowed upon us - to learn; to teach! Now that you are responsible for this knowledge, go and make disciples, disciples of Christ, teaching them ALL things that Jesus taught!


Apr 26, 2006

Go, Teddy!

Theodore Roosevelt's ideas on Immigrants and being an AMERICAN in 1907.

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American ... There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag ... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language ... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Theodore Roosevelt 1907

Apr 16, 2006

This is the Day!

I used to sing "This is the day that the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!" every morning with my family to start our day. In my Bible studies, I have often looked up to see what "day" means when that word is used, but this particular instance of "day" somehow escaped my attention (habit, I suppose!). So, what day is it, really? Is it talking about the newness of each day that the Lord gives us to live for Him? I suppose it does not hurt anything to have that attitude toward each day, but let's take a quick look at the context of this verse.

As Christians who celebrate the feasts the Lord gave us, we recently celebrated, and studied, Passover. Most Christians know that at the end of the Passover supper Jesus had with his disciples, it is recorded that they sang a hymn and then went out. Wouldn't you love to know what hymn that was? Well, Jews by nature seem to be creatures of tradition (Fiddler on the Roof was quite accurate in that respect!). Jewish tradition often goes back to its biblical roots. Now, granted, there are many jewish traditions that God did not institute, such as keeping kosher, but we do find many "traditions" that even Jesus kept. One of these traditions would have been the hymn sung at the end of Passover. That same hymn has probably been sung since the time of David, and is still sung in Jewish homes all over the world today at the close of the Passover.

Have I kept you in suspense long enough? What hymn is it? It is called "The Hallel" or "The Great Hallel," and is actually Psalm 113-118. Yes, they sing the whole thing even today! Here is one passage from the Hallel:
Psalm 118:22 The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This was the LORD’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day the LORD has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save now, I pray, O LORD;
O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity.
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.

This is obviously a messianic psalm, talking about the coming Messiah who would be rejected, which Jesus fulfilled. The main thing we want to look at here, though, is the "day." This is the song that Jesus sang after the Passover supper. Jewish days start at sundown the evening before, so it was actually the day Jesus died, and here Jesus is singing the psalm, the hymn, the song, that is sung on EVERY Passover, "This is the DAY the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it!" Did you realize that Jesus was rejoicing as He went to His death on the cross to be the Passover lamb, the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world?

The Jews use a Haggadah, an official order of service, for the Passover, which all Jews use. It is interesting to note that this verse of the Hallel is the only one that is mentioned twice. Just a side note for now!

To understand more about God's purpose for Passover, try reading the Hallel. It was all fulfilled in Christ!

The Evolution of My Homeschooling Philosophy

When I first began this homeschool journey eleven years ago, I was mostly concerned about protecting my daughter from the bullies in school who kicked her and hit her every day; about the teacher in her public school who informed me that she would not have time for my daughter that year because she had to spend all her time disciplining certain boys in the class whose fathers were high-ranking military officials; and about the extremely low academic standards that frustrated me even in kindergarten.

As I continued homeschooling, and as I grew in my walk with the Lord, my reasons for homeschooling changed and grew and became personal convictions. I learned to truly love learning for the first time in my life, and had a great desire to pass on a love of learning, a lifetime of learning, to my children. Someone introduced us to living books from the very beginning, and I am very grateful for such an enjoyable start even to this day. We learned how subjects that used to be dreaded were now so much fun!

Gradually, I realized that homeschooling is more than just school at home. I began to realize that training my children in every aspect of life was something I could do, something I should do, and something I loved doing! We have learned how to function in every day life, cooking, cleaning, car maintenance, lawn care and gardening. We learned every detail of moving and setting up a home, including organization, house painting, repairs, and deep cleaning. We learned how to set up a library, build a chain-link fence, and as many things as I can possibly fit into each day. But most of all, we learned about living our life by God's Word. How should we act in this situation? What should we wear? How should we spend our time, money, etc.? What does the Bible say about _____? Homeschooling is preparing my children for the rest of their lives.

That began to evolve into the realization that all of life can be "homeschool." I learned how to identify, and eventually use, teachable moments. We learned about character through the examples of others' behaviors, some good, some not so good, and from the books we read and the movies we see. We learned that we can learn something from every small experience in life. I learned that the best way to teach is through real life. We learn early math through going shopping or doubling a recipe. We learn science through taking a walk and considering God's creation. I learned about exponential learning, how doing something hands-on, or seeing a museum exhibit, or how a live experience greatly increased the amount of learning taking place vs. reading about that same subject. Field trips took on tremendous importance!

Along the way somewhere, I realized that homeschooling should be fun! I determined that I wanted to pass on the joy of learning so that my children would not only have pleasant memories of learning opportunities while they are growing up, but that they will delight in learning for the rest of their lives. We enjoy great books, we put on the music while we have fun working around the house, we dance to the Lord together, we exercise together, we laugh together! What a joy it is to learn together!

During this whole venture, God quietly began showing me that homeschooling was really His plan for families. We are told to diligently talk about the things of the Lord to our children when we sit in our house, take a walk, when we sit or lie down and get up. That's a lot of time! I am so grateful that God put a desire to homeschool in my heart before He gave me a conviction about it. I am grateful that my children always saw a mother who homeschooled them because she wanted to and not because she had to.

Now we come to the latest revelation for why I continue to homeschool. In this last year, the main thing God has been teaching me in my walk with Him is how important relationships are. In fact, I think NOTHING is more important than relationships. God left us here on earth, upon our profession of Christ, not just for one reason - to glorify God and serve Him forever - but for a second important reason - people! Jesus told us to love God first, and then love others. One of the reasons I homeschool is to teach my children to love God more than anything else! But another huge reason I homeschool is to have that relationship with my children!

I LOVE being with my children! I love working with my children. I love reading to my children. I love going on field trips with my children. I love going to the symphony, to the park, to the museum, even on errands, with my children! I love just talking with my children. Everytime we are together, we are working on our relationship, whether for good or for bad. What an opportunity homeschooling is to work on relationship: relationship with God and relationship with family. Even relationships with other families are afforded many oppotunities to grow as well. Life is not about me; it is about God, and others, namely my husband and my children.

While there are many altruistic reasons for homeschooling, when I discovered that relationship-development with my children was God-ordained, I could then enjoy homeschooling even that much more. I so look forward to spending each and every day with the precious children God has allowed me to raise and homeschool. What an awesome privilege and delight!

Weekly Recipe: Zucchini Kugel

Do your children hate zucchini as much as mine do? Have you looked for ways to "sneak" it into them? If so, this is our biggest hit so far (except chocolate zucchini cake, which I will post soon). A kugel is typically a Jewish noodle dish, but this uses zucchini (or yellow squash) instead of the noodles. We really liked it!

1 lb. grated zucchini, drained for 10 min.
1 T healthy sugar/honey
1/8 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. raisins
1/4 c. chopped walnuts/pecans
1 T butter, melted
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Mix together all ingredients except zucchini and raisins; mix well. Add zucchini and raisins; mix lightly. Place in lightly greased pie pan and bake at 400 deg. for 25 min. or until well set. Serves 8.

Apr 12, 2006

Charlotte Mason - Updated

Are you interested in the Charlotte Mason "Original Home Schooling Series," but have a difficult time wading through all that old Victorian era English? Here is a free online modern version written by Leslie Laurio, also available for sale in print. When I first heard of this version, I was concerned that it might be too freely paraphrased, or even dumbed down from the original, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it maintains the full integrity of the original insofar as I have read it. I would say that the original reads like the KJV Bible, and is really not too hard to read if the KJV is your regular Bible, but that the modern version reads like the NKJV. Just the odd words have been updated. She has also added links to the online version where a poem, book, author, etc. might be mentioned by Charlotte Mason that we might not be familiar with. That was very helpful. I still heartily recommend the "Original Series," but this is a good supplement. What a blessing this is in my life!

Apr 10, 2006

Weekly Recipe: Cheddar-Crusted Tart Apple Pie

Joshua chose this pie for his birthday this year instead of a cake. This is a real family favorite!

(from Ken Haedrich)
(Makes 1 9” pie. For a 9 ½” / 10” pie, use 1 ½ recipes filling.)

This is a mix between a sweet and savory pie.


1 2/3 c. flour (I use soft wheat pastry)
1/3 c. stoneground yellow cornmeal
½ t. salt
10 T. unsalted butter
1 c. grated (raw) sharp cheddar cheese
~ ¼ c. ice cold water

Mix flour, cornmeal and salt in large bowl. Cut in butter. Sprinkle in cheese and lightly mix. Add enough cold water to make a dough that will hold together without cracking or dry spots. Divide dough into 2 balls, wrap each in a piece of plastic wrap, flatten balls to ~ 1/2” thick. Refrigerate at least 45 min. Roll out one at a time between wax paper for top and bottom crusts.

While dough is chilling, mix Filling.

5-6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced very thin
½ c. healthy sugar (or brown sugar)
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 t. Dijon mustard
¼ t. ground cloves
1 ½ T flour (pastry is fine)

Slice apples into very large bowl. Mix remaining ingredients except flour in small bowl. Pour over apples and mix well. Sprinkle flour over apples and mix well. Mound mixture in bottom crust and add top crust as usual. Slice vents.

Bake at 425 for15 minutes, pie crust edges covered. Lower to 375 and remove edge cover for ~45 more minutes or until juices are bubbling. Larger pies take longer.

Apr 9, 2006


People who seem to really love the Lord
Beautifully landscaped grounds
Modest ladies, but still very modern
Conservative men (no bedheads!)
Delicious food
Diverse offering of majors
High academic standards (A's are EARNED)
Extremely professional
No TVs
Well-planned community of beautiful buildings
High standards
Prepared for emergencies
No body piercings/tattoos
No electronic gadgets attached to personages
No talking in class
Very meaty sermons
25 students in a class
No male-female touching
Church 7 times a week
No concern for leaving personal belongings in open cubby holes
No locks on doors
Lights out - 11:10 p.m.
Church bells ringing
Clean dorm rooms
Teachers care and take time with students
Clean campus
Quiet atmosphere
Respectful students
Enjoyable lectures
Prayer at beginning of every class
God's Word naturally brought into every class
Apparent desire to only please the Lord
Missions/ministry opportunities galore
Sports attitude - glorify God first
Lots of fun things to do
Private beach
Good attitudes
Very friendly one with another
Almost 5000 students
~500 international students
Great library
Wonderful music
"Safe and secure"
$5998 annual tuition/room/board

Very refreshing!

Pensacola Christian College


12 hours. 711 miles. How do we pass the time?

What a wonderful opportunity driving across country is! We enjoyed the beautiful wildflowers this time of year and Texas has to offer. A wide variety of good music. "Little Women." Some good sermons. And lots of great conversation. Lots of laughing and silliness. Opportunities to thank the Lord for His protection over us.

I really enjoy these memory builders.

Pride Goeth Before a Fall!

On our way to Pensacola recently, Natasha and I were attempting to navigate through Houston traffic when we happened upon the much-loved HOV lane (high-occupancy vehicle - 2 or more persons in one vehicle). Seeing a sea of red brake lights off to our right while we soared through Houston at 70 mph, we were laughing and joking about our good fortune. I did kind of wonder why we were the only ones in our lane, though, when all of sudden, without any warning at all, the lane very unceremoniously dumped us right in the middle of downtown Houston, with a gate in front of us with a red stop light. After the gate opened to let us through, I thought I could just cross over the overpass and get right back on the freeway, but, alas, there were no freeway entrances to be found. So we drove and drove and drove, until we finally found ANOTHER freeway to get on. Thankfully, we had a Houston map with us, so we were eventually able to find our way back onto I-10, but I think I lost all the time I thought I was saving as I drove past everyone else, waving with silly pride!

Apr 4, 2006

Weekly Recipe: Impossible Quiche

This used to be one of my favorite recipes when I used a lot of box mixes like Bisquick. I experimented until I found a good substitute. I make it with veggies, but you can use meat if you're a meat eater. Tomatoes are a must in our family! This makes one 9x13, but you could put it into 2 pie pans as well.

4 c. steamed broccoli, chopped tomatoes, asparagus, raw zucchini, etc.
green onions
2 c. grated cheese
(2 c. meat, optional)
3 ½ c. milk
8 eggs
scant cup butter
1 1/3 c. biscuit mix
(To make your own, use 1 c. flour, 1 t. salt, 2 t. BP, 1 t. soda, 1/8 t. cream of tartar, 1 t. sugar)
S/P to taste
2 t. curry, cumin, basil, or marjoram, etc.

In a greased 9x13, layer veggies including green onions and then the grated cheese. If using fresh herbs, mix with veggies. Mix all other wet together in blender and pour into a separate bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix well and carefully pour over the veggies and cheese. Bake at 350 for 45 – 60 min. or until well set. Should be well browned on top.

Apr 2, 2006

Spring Cleaning!

Growing up, we did a thorough spring cleaning nearly every year that I can remember. We cleaned cupboards inside and out, washed windows inside and out, vacuumed books and baseboards, and swept the ceiling for cobwebs. We worked hard to clean the whole house. And for what? To have a clean house? Oh, I suppose that's a good reason, but is that enough to motivate me to spring clean?

I think God has not only given us a reason for spring cleaning, He is the originator of spring cleaning! Did you know spring cleaning is in the Bible? In Ex. 12:15, God is giving the Israelites instructions for the first Passover/Unleavened Bread Feast and all those that would follow: "Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses."

Leaven is anything that causes rising, such as yeast, sourdough, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar. There are several other lesser-known leavening agents as well, but they are not essential to our story.

So how did the Israelites get rid of the leaven in their houses? Did they just throw out all the jars of yeast, cans of baking powder, and boxes of baking soda? (Well, since those items weren't in vogue then, probably not!) But if we were to just throw out those items in our pantry today, would our house be totally free of all leaven? If we all also threw out all breads, crackers, cookies, muffins, tortillas, doughnuts, and almost anything made from a grain, would our homes then be leaven-free? What about those cookie crumbs under the couch or the bread crumbs that find their way to some unseen corner?

The only way to be absolutely sure all the leaven was gone, and this was extremely important to the Israelites and still is for Jews today, was to clean every nook and cranny, and especially the corners of the house. We know that today as spring cleaning!

So here we have God's idea for a special house cleaning, and then what was to follow? A feast! A solemn, yet joyous, celebration! Look for this special celebration coming up April 13 this year!

Now, I don't know about you, but I can't "spring clean" my whole house in one day, even with my children helping me, so I will start early. It sure does make a difference to have a reason to clean! And I get to enjoy the clean house!