31 July 2009

Butternut Marinara Sauce

I have a good friend that can wander through her pantry and throw together a meal...without a recipe. This astounds me. I have some sort of mental block, coupled with an extreme reliance upon my beloved cookbooks. This friend has emboldened me, however, because it is apparent to me that her family still loves her, sans recipes.

Earlier this week, I needed the courage. It was one of those nights where everything went wrong with my recipe {actually, it has been one of those weeks, but that is another story}. I didn't have some ingredients I thought I had, and I what I did have was an abundance of homegrown tomatoes needing to be used up. I decided to maximize my tomato usage by creating a sauce, but then I needed to thicken it, and then there were a couple other veggies sitting around, and the next thing I knew I had Butternut Marinara Sauce.

Butternut, because I took half of the butternut squash I baked for the baby and threw it in as a last-minute thickener. Lucky for me, that turned out okay. Only one child hated me for it, which is pretty good odds when you think about it.

I served this over pasta. I spent a significant amount of time wondering how it would taste over rice, and I think we'll try that next time, as I prefer {presoaked} rice to pasta, nutritionally speaking.

I quickly wrote down what I did since most people liked it:
Butternut Marinara Sauce

3-4 quarts tomatoes, diced
1 zucchini, diced
2-3 Tb garlic, minced
1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. thyme
1-2 tsp. sea salt
pepper to taste
1/2 baked butternut squash, slightly mashed

1. Dump all ingredients in a soup kettle. {Add squash later on if you need to.}
2. Simmer for all eternity, minimum one hour. Keep kettle at least mostly uncovered if you want the sauce to thicken up {which you do}.
Bon apetite!

30 July 2009

Frugal Timeline Helps

This is going to be our first year using a wall timeline. We read all sorts of history, and I like the idea of placing the events and people and other things we learn in relation to each other, and also in relation to, for instance, the birth of Christ, and ourselves. Conveniently, I have a lot of big blank walls in my home. This is a combination of a lack of funding and decorator-phobia.


I checked out timeline packages from various school supply stores and online, and everything was just way too pricey for my budget. It wasn't that I didn't have the money per se, but that I'd have to cut something else that I preferred.

So we are doing a makeshift timeline that I think will have a lot more functionality than what I saw when I was shopping around, and I'm going to try and make it fairly attractive since we have to look at it for a year.

First, the line itself will consist of a Cling Thing display strip. I cut a bit off the end for a project last year, so it's not quite twelve feet, but it'll work fine. {NOTE: The Cling Thing strip is reusable; I have been using mine for at least four years and it shows no wear at all. I plan to use it until the return of our Lord.} The strip will have on it the centuries we are studying {about 1000 AD to 1500 AD}. It will also contain the long line of kings of England. I found some great royalty figures for it online for free that I cut and pasted into a Word document.

Because the kings of England are central to our understanding of history in Year Two, I am using them to "keep time" right on the major line. Above and below the line will go all sorts of people, places, events, and so on {I'll get to that}. I will stick them directly onto my wall without damaging my wall using Removable Glue Dots, which I bought at a local craft supply store for less than four dollars. I am hoping to get at least two years' worth of use out of these dots, making my timeline cost around three dollars per year counting the cost of paper and ink.

Here are my categories for the areas above and below the major line:
  • Famous Christians {think Saint Patrick, Joan of Arc and Charlemagne}
  • Works of art {we are studying three artists, one each term, but I'd also include important literary works, like Dante's Divine Comedy, which we'll be introduced to this year}
  • Technological development {invention of the printing press comes to mind}
  • Wars and battles
  • Famous people {like Marco Polo or Christopher Columbus}
  • Important eras {like The Dark Ages or The First Crusade}
I actually went through the entire year and found figures online for each and every important event. I figure this way I will only find myself in a bind on occasion when I either overlooked something, or we read something extra I haven't yet planned for. My rule of thumb is that the figures should not be silly characters. I wanted them to be beautiful, artistic, reverent of the person or situation, and also representative of the era if at all possible. Wikipedia is a good source for paintings of famous people. I cut and pasted everything into a Word document, like I mentioned above, and then sized it down to where each item was two inches tall. This gave them all appropriate relative size for the line.

For famous Christians, I found that searching the icon archives for the Orthodox Christian Church and the Catholic Church was helpful. I found some beautiful icons from the 15th century to use on our line. For wars and battles, I found one clip art item in Word that I liked and used it over and over, just putting a new name and date under each one. For something odd, like Dante's Divine Comedy, for instance, I was able to find a famous painting of Dante holding a book and standing between Purgatory and Hell with the Heavenly Spheres floating above. For a famous city {Venice}, I found a beautiful ancient map. I also found a wonderful painting of vikings that was very bright and colorful, which was characteristic of this ancient people.

This took two hours or so to complete, which isn't terribly long as these things go, and it saved me a ton of money, and was exactly what we needed. There are so many resources online, that we really don't need to purchase these things. I understand that some families have the money and so they buy the fancy sets, and that is, naturally, fine. But for those of us for whom it is not wise to spend our dollars in this way, there are other options.

My last plan for the line is to go far off on one end {1000 years away in inches}, and add in the birth of Christ and any little bits of first-millennium {AD} history which come up throughout the year. On the other end, I want to go about 500 years away and add in a photo or drawing of our family. In this way, I think the scope of history will be put in perspective a bit.

*Photos can be seen here: Edible Timeline.

28 July 2009

Term One Folk Song: The Jam on Gerry's Rocks

I have begun researching the folk song for Term One. Folk songs in general are really growing on me. When I took my son to the dentist this morning, the office was quiet, unlike most dental offices which play elevator music. However, I now know that it is quiet so that the dentist himself can provide the entertainment. He sung a rousing folk song to my son, who was quite thrilled. If I keep teaching folk songs to the children, perhaps some day they might sing along during a cleaning!


According to one source, the song describes a situation in which
Young Monroe and his crew do not wish to work on Sunday, but when a log jam forms, they turn out. The jam breaks and all are cast into the water, with foreman Monroe being drowned. In some accounts, his sweetheart dies for love and is buried with him.
We already read one of the original circa-1800's tales of Paul Bunyan, so that should make whoever remembers {only my oldest, I'm sure} a bit prepared for the logging imagery.

I was going to post the sheet music, but this time I found it easily accessible online. It is not a full piano piece, but it'll work fine as we are trying to learn to sing them a capella. The sheet music only contains the first verse, but the complete lyrics can be found here.

Personally, I think we will skip the last three verses or so, ending the song at the death of the hero, rather than going into the death of his lady love. This is really for the sake of expediency as it takes me many weeks to teach a song to such a young group.

There are actually two known melodies for this song. I like this one, personally, but if I had older children I would probably attempt learning both, just for fun.

For those of you wondering why we sing these songs {or needing a reminder, like I often do when I get into efficiency mode}, here is a bit from the Ambleside website:
There is a wealth of rich material in folksongs. There are songs about historical and mythical characters, there are songs that go with the history we study in school, there are songs that, like the poetry of the day, give the feel and flavor of the time or culture--a very important goal in a CM education. Folksongs do this in a unique and special way.


Folk songs are one part of a liberal education. Besides giving us some feel for the time and culture they represent, they are fun to sing. Developed by the people for the people, they are singable, useful for delight and enrichment in the bathtub, in the shower, while rocking a baby to sleep, traveling in a car, washing dishes, cleaning out the car. They are accessible to all of us--no externals necessary {no instruments, no lessons, no accompaniment required}. More of us should sing, and if we start this when our children are young, then when they are grown, they will feel comfortable with their own voices.

There is actually a lot worth reading on that Ambleside page, plus links to folk song resources.

We also sing hymns. For now, we all sing the melody. I'd love to sing in at least two-part harmony when the children are older. Ambleside has assigned hymns, and I love their selection, but our children are so young that I am still working on {1} perfecting their ability to sing the hymns we sing in church, and {2} perfecting their ability to sing the hymns their father often sings with them or to them. So, for Term One, we will be learning Jesus Paid it All, which is a song Siah sometimes sings to them.

This year, we will be reviewing a song each day, and have one day set aside for learning new songs. I will alternate hymns and folk songs, but this way I think we are less likely to lose old knowledge.

There is nothing like hearing their little voices lifted in song while they play outside later in the day, especially when one of those voices is only two-years-old!

This recording is of the other tune, but I still thought I'd post it because he explains a bit about the logging vocabulary:

27 July 2009

Quotables: The Fruit of Her Hands

The Fruit of Her Hands
by Nancy Wilson
We must determine to be obedient to the Word of God no matter what it says, with no compromises. This is what it means to be a woman of the Word. We must find out what the Bible teaches about marriage, about children, about men and women and their roles, and then we must be obedient with no apologies, no matter what the cost. Is this radical Christianity? No. This is basic Christianity.

-Nancy Wilson

23 July 2009

This Book and That Book

It has been quite a while since I went through my book stack and talked about what I'm reading, what I will be reading, and what I hope to read. I love to talk books, and find out what others are reading, too, so if you have something you're fond of, go ahead and share the title with the rest of us in the comments!

What I'm Reading

Smart Medicine for
a Healthier Child

This is my new favorite tool-of-the-mothering-trade! During Si's time in the hospital, Baby O. had some tummy troubles {not related, as he's had them before}. I ran down to my favorite natural medicine store and spoke with the woman behind the counter. She took me over to their book shelf and helped me look up natural remedies in this book. Immediately, I fell in love with it, but it was too pricey. However, I came home and found it online in good shape {ex-library copy}, for $6 including shipping.

I love used books.

Anyhow, this book was written cooperatively between a traditional medical doctor, a naturopath/acupuncturist, and a nurse practitioner. Like many references of its kind, it contains a long list of childhood disorders and concerns--beginning with Acne and ending with Whooping Cough. What makes this book unique is the amazing treatment varieties covered: conventional medical treatment, dietary guidelines, nutritional supplementation, herbal remedies, homeopathy, Bach flower remedies, and acupressure. So, for instance, if my child is doing that of which we do not speak {vomiting}, I can try Pepto {actually, our doctor would just have us keep the child hydrated, but go with me here}, add a Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidobacterium bifidus supplement, have him drink aloe vera juice or ginger tea, administer homeopathic Arsenicum album, or do some selected acupressure motions.

How cool is that?

Norms and Nobility

I have read the preface, introduction, and first two chapters three times. It is that good. Anyone still up for a casual book club? I know that our family issues threw a wrench in our plans for June, but what do you think about now?

To You and Your Children

I believe I got this for two dollars...and brand new, at that! Si and I are reading this one aloud, looking up most of the references, and having some interesting discussions.

Man of the Family

We recently started reading this one aloud together as a family. We all love it. Moody gives me some insight into the minds of little boys.

The Paideia of God

This is a nice little book of essays thinking through issues surrounding education: vouchers, dress codes, classicism, etc. Trying to kick my habit of wanting to own and mark up every book I read, I'm reading online for free.

Along this vein, I am also slowly reading Whiston's Accomplishment of Scripture Prophecies, which is on Google books, but has been out of print for around two hundred years.

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration

A friend of mine lent me her copy. This is a fascinating book for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it reads not unlike an old British travel journal.

What I Will Be Reading

Designing Your Own
Classical Curriculum

Every time I meet someone who runs a homeschool I admire, I find that they reference this book. I have had it on my PBS Wishlist for months, and got a match this week. I always feel guilty when, in exchange for a poorly-written easy reader, I receive a wonderful book like this. When it comes to PBS, I am usually getting the better end of the deal.

To a Thousand Generations

Infant baptism: a subject I always wondered about.

The Baptized Body

Mystie tells me this is pretty in-depth, like taking an upper-level university course. Leithart is supposed to be brilliant, so I'm looking forward to it. This is in the read-aloud-with-Si pile.

Free: The Future of
a Radical Price

The bad news it that the price of this book doesn't match the title. The good news is that Cindy pointed out we can read it free online.

Mr. Clutterbuck's Election

A novel by Hilaire Belloc written in 1908: who could resist?

Books I Hope to Read

I could also call this: books I might buy with all those Amazon credits you all are so gracious to donate to me when you click through my sidebar. Or, conversely, books I wish I could afford.

Cure Tooth Decay

I am very interested in preventing future dental bills.

Real Food for
Mother and Baby

I am always looking to maximize our nutrition through food.

The Devil Knows Latin

This might convince me to get through my Wheelock's a little quicker.

I Could Keep Going

But first, we have to save up for those bookcases in the Library {aka large hallway}. When Si was in the hospital on his deathbed, he moaned to me, "I am so sorry about the bookcases!"

Um. Babe? We'd rather have you with us. I'm just saying.

22 July 2009

The End of Education

EDUCA'TION, n. [L. educatio.] The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.

-Noah Webster, 1828
I have been attempting to define education for the last seven years; essentially since I became a mother. There is so much talk out there in academia about methods, benchmarks, standards, and so on. Whether we realize it or not, all of these things presume an end. They have a purpose. It is the purpose, or the end goal of education that I am trying to solidify in my mind this week.

Within the realm of secular education, the general purpose is to produce a worker for industrial society. This is why politicians like Obama are always tying education to jobs. It isn't just that a good education makes a person more fit for a job {which is objectively true}, but that the child is viewed through an industrial lens as a cog in a wheel, a future worker for our brave new economy.

This is not to say that every individual teacher within secular education agrees with this, but that all of the benchmarks and standards are created in order to pursue the goal of getting the child into an industrial job.

Sometimes, there is a step in between that thinly veils this idea, so that the goal of education through high school becomes getting the child into college. Then, the goal of college is to either produce professors to perpetuate the existence of colleges, or to produce a worker for an industrial society.

And so it goes.

Might I digress for a moment and lament the fact that it seems to be unacceptable to go to college just to read a book? To take a class for the book list, or to simply soak up new ideas? This makes Wendell Berry sad, too.

Education {and the child!} has only been defined like this the last century or so. It was a gradual change over time, but here we are, raising future little workers for the Great Society.

However, this is not the true end of education, which is one reason why, even according to the new standards, the children "produced" by the schools tend to be inferior to each previous graduating class.

The key concept is this: The end of education is to nurture the child into an adulthood in which he is fit for both kingdoms of human existence.

I'm really putting myself out there to try and define the purpose of education in one sentence. Please don't throw tomatoes; it took a lot of effort to come up with that sentence, and now I need a nap.

Two Kingdoms

By using the phrase "two kingdoms" I am alluding a bit to Martin Luther's doctrine of the two kingdoms of God, and a little bit to Augustine's concept of the two cities, the City of God and the City of Man, but mostly to my own basic understanding of human existence.

As Christians, we believe that this life is not all there is. We do not cease to exist when our heart leaves off beating. As one of my favorite songs says, it is not death to die. This reality must, must, must inform our philosophy of education. The child must be fit for both stages of existence, his life here on this earth, and his future life in eternity.

If we limit education to one of the kingdoms, we will truncate the child. Current secular education does this by telling the child that this life is all there is, and that they must chase it like the proverbial wind, and pay no attention to that Man behind the curtain. But Christian education can focus too much on the secondary kingdom, and produce heavenly-minded sons who cannot accomplish the basic duties of this life like feeding and clothing their own families or sitting at the city gates and governing with wisdom.

What to do About Nonchristian Children?

I thought I'd raise this question myself, since it seems to be an obvious one. I've actually been thinking about this a lot, and I think that this is where the Christian educational philosophers are lacking. I haven't read any good dealing with the nature of the child of unbelievers, his family's need for the Gospel, and how this impacts education.

That nonchristian children will be educated differently from Christian children seems obvious, but I am not sure where I stand on the issue. The primary place where folks try to work this out practically is in debates raging around the acceptance of nonbelievers into Christian schools and universities.

I am not prepared to really answer this question, but I think that if I'm going to give a blanket definition of education's end, I need to at least try to apply it in a difficult situation.

My thought is this: if we are to say that a primary goal of education is fitness for God's kingdom, we will have to deal with unbelievers differently. Generally speaking, however, secular education has managed to bury God, ever since Nietzche killed Him, at least*. In burying God, the Right Questions, according to David Hicks, have been buried as well:
[The method of the modern school] narrows the search for truth and the free exchange of wisdom by rejecting immaterial categories of thought, as well as the ancient notion of the mind's participation in the object of perception. This method stamps students for life, establishing aprioric rules for perception, thought, and experience and inviting them to dismiss subconsciously the impalpable, the marvelous, the inexplicable.
In general, if we are going to apply the "two kingdoms" mentality to children from unbelieving homes, we must still aim at the heavenly kingdom, too, and not the earthly only. Among other things, this will mean changing methods like Hicks is referring to, which is to say methods which close minds to the idea of God, or which relegate God into irrelevance, right from the start.

Fitness for the Kingdoms

When we say that education makes a child "fit" for the two kingdoms, we mean that he is ready for them, or appropriately prepared for them. One of the things I have to deal with each summer during my preparation times {these posts are a part of my preparatory studies, by the way} is the fact that our study cannot be exhaustive. Admitting this is the first step to planning a reasonable school year.

All of this is to say that "fitness" does not mean the child knows everything. Graduation into the aforementioned adulthood will not mean that the child new adult is automatically capable of living as wisely and prosperously as a 40-year-old. However, it does mean that graduates should be suitable for their new task, which is to build a life as an adult, which implies not just a vocation, but also the ability to live wisely, practice virtue, and leave Father and Mother and take their places in newly formed families.

Confidence and Humility

Tied into the idea of fitness, I think, is a certain amount of confidence, but a confidence that is, ideally at least, not overconfidence. If we are going to discuss ideals, then I think we would also expect to see fitness include a measure of humility, not self-deprecating, but definitely reasonable. When I say reasonable, I suppose I mean realistic. The idea here is that the graduate realizes that they are just starting out in life, and that their childhood education might have ended, but that there is much that life has to teach them, and walking in wisdom will consist of an ongoing pursuit, not one which stops because there is no longer any assigned homework.

An easier way to say this is that graduates are prepared to live a life of learning.

On Adulthood

Adulthood has been cheapened by the fact that many 20-year-olds are nothing but fully-grown children. We all know people like this. I remember when I was out and about, pregnant with my third child, and I came across the mother of a childhood acquaintance. I asked about her children, and she volunteered that one was not "ready" for marriage, and the other was married, but not "ready" for children. The way she said it made me think they were still children themselves, and yet we were on the brink of turning thirty at that point.

Adulthood can, and should, begin at a certain age. I have good reason to believe that the age is twenty, but I don't want to get distracted right now by explaining why. I could say "nurture the child into maturity" instead of "adulthood" to eliminate any negative associations, but then I realized I mean adulthood.

Children will graduate from our school at adulthood. This is an age, and my hope is that our children will be ready for it when it comes. Conversely, children who are exceptionally mature will not be graduated early, or at least that is our conviction at this time. Here, I am using graduated in the broad sense, meaning "released from our authority."

Parents are called to parent their children, whether mature or not, until they are adults, whether mature or not, and so I suppose I have this clear picture of where my responsibility begins, and also where it ends.

Why This Matters

As I'm thinking this through, I keep coming back to the concept of Two Kingdoms. This is our balance. This is where it all comes together. This is why we can say with conviction that swimming school matters, and so does catechism. This is why we can say that it is as important for our sons to provide for their own families as it is that they learn to care for widows and orphans. This is why children will be taught to earn a dollar and save it, earn a dollar and spend it wisely, earn a dollar and invest it, and also earn a dollar and give it away. The Two Kingdoms make up human existence, and both of them matter. A proper education will consider them both, take seriously both, and nurture a fitness for both.

* Note to Dr. King: I know that Nietzche didn't really kill God.

Read More:
-At Google Books, you can check out Douglas Wilson's The Paideia of God, and Other Essays. At least read the essay on paideia.
-Willa has been studying up a storm this summer. Read her Educational Epiphany, Mining Parnassus, and Four Turn of the Century Educational Ideas for a sampler.
-Toward a Philosophy of Physical Education
-The Purpose of Singing in the Home

19 July 2009

I Almost Forgot: The Hamburger Birthday Cake

The very first day that Si was sick, the afternoon that he came home from work, was the day before our oldest had his seventh birthday party. I had just dropped the children off with my parents for the afternoon, ran to the feed store on my way home, and was shocked to see my husband's car in the driveway. He was on the couch and said his stomach felt a little funny.

I had no idea on that day what the future was going to hold for us.

It is amazing to me how, in retrospect, some things seem so very providential  I think I've learned that God is more in the details than we realize. He even foreordained this birthday cake.

My normal Birthday Party Eve Routine makes me sick before the weekend is over. You see, I make these complicated cakes that always take me longer than I expect. {I am not complaining, for I love to do this.} So I stay up until one or two in the morning completing them, and in the process I eat too much cake and frosting. By Saturday, I am exhausted and running on adrenaline, an effect which quickly wears off once the party is over. By Sunday, I have usually caught some sort of bug, a predictable result when I consider the sleep deprivation combined with over-consumption of sugar.

Make that powdered sugar.


So as I was saying, this cake was providential. My son picked it out in advance: a hamburger cake to match the burgers we were eating at his party. It looked complicated to me, but I was done by 10:00 PM, a new record for me. And I barely had to cut the cake down, which meant I hardly ate any sugar at all that night. I thank the Lord for this, because I ended up leaving the birthday party a bit early to take my husband to Urgent Care.

And now here we are, on the other side of all the drama, and I'm realizing I never blogged the cake, which is a tradition of mine. Someday I'll figure out how to make these cakes into a health food, but until then, this is the Real Deal, powdered sugar, butter, and all.

I looked up Hamburger Cakes on the Internet, and found a number of alternatives. I ended up combining the ideas into something that I think is pretty much my own fusion of what I read. The key is to bake a two-layer white or yellow cake in 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans, then freeze those layers while you bake a batch of brownies in one pan of the same size. {Frozen cakes are so much easier to decorate!} So the "meat" layer ends up being brownies, which are a nice dark brown with a messy edge that looks great without having to be frosted.

A second key is to use some high-quality food coloring gel so that you can get the frosting for the "buns" to be just right. Do not use cocoa powder as it'll be all wrong. I used some brown in moderation, and then added in a dab of red so that it'd have that orangey-look:

The steps are pretty basic, which is why it took me so little time. Put the bottom layer on your base and make sure the top is really flat {cut it down if necessary}. Frost it with your brown. If you think you don't have enough of your brown, use some plain white in the middle because you'll be putting the next layer on top of it anyhow.

Stack the brownie layer on top of this, and add some "glue" frosting on top of that. Don't get too close to the edge. An unfinished edge is fine since you'll be adding in the "toppings" there later on.

Stack on the top layer, and frost it as smoothly as you can. Remember you want a "bun" look.

Now, if your husband is nice like mine, you have a good set of decorating tools, and adding the "toppings" will take no time at all. I have learned, after many, many years of frosting cakes using plastic baggies and imagination, that good tools save a lot of time. I separated out three separate bowls of white frosting and tinted one bright yellow, one green, and one red {for tomato or catsup, depending on your perception}. Gel food coloring is a big help when you are going for vibrant colors like these. A leaf tool can be for lettuce, a ribbon-type tool can do the cheese, and a plain round end can do the catsup.

The end.

It'll come out looking sort of like this:

Ooops. I almost forgot that if you keep real sesame seeds on hand, which I do, sprinkling a few on top will give it a more realistic look.

I was a little distracted at the party, with Si being sick in a back room and all, so I didn't get that "perfect" cake table photo I usually try to take, but here is a shot from the side:

18 July 2009

Update Sixteen

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, this week marked week three of rehab. It was actually a pretty slow week, as we got a lot of the appointments out of the way last week. So Si did three days of therapy, and also pushed himself to do some weeding in my garden during the cooler hours of the day. Life seems a little more normal every day now.

He began weaning off of one of his anti-seizure meds, and today is his last day of that medicine altogether. After a full week off of that medicine, he will have an EEG. If that test comes back normal, he will be able to begin weaning off the second anti-seizure medication.

On Friday, we made a visit to our family practitioner to ask if Si might go back to work half-days. Good news! The doctor agreed that Si is ready for that step, and he will be able to return to work beginning Monday! The doctor also asked our insurance to keep Si in therapy for two more weeks so that he can continue building up his strength and the muscle mass that he lost while he was in bed.

The biggest obstacle right now to life-as-normal is the driving issue. We laughed this week when we began to think through what it would take for him to go to coffee with a man from our church. Every time we make plans, we have to think through it thrice and be sure that we figured out the details just right.

This will also be the biggest issue with working--that he needs rides. We have had a number of volunteers, but of course it gets an extra measure of complication when he is only working half-days. Would you please pray that God smooths the way for this? I keep hoping we'll find someone from his work or someone who works downtown living in our neighborhood who will let him hitch a ride. I love living at the edge of town, but I realize now that we are not on anyone's way to anywhere! For now, though, I can do the driving when he needs me to. When school starts, that will get more difficult.

I want to thank you all, again, for walking with us through this. To think that it is almost over! If the EEG comes back normal, we are only looking at two more months of driving restrictions, less than that of medications, a couple follow-up visits with specialists, and we are done. It seems so close now. So many of you have faithfully continued to check on us and help us juggle driving and children and doctor visits. Thank you so much.

Love to you all!


16 July 2009

The Darndest Things: Little Mommy

This is the first time that we've a baby in the house at the same time we've a daughter old enough to have her own maternal instincts sparked by the fact. This has been a source of amusement lately, to say the least.

Some of A.'s {age four} actions are quite minor. She fawns over Baby O. quite a bit. She picks him up when he's headed toward a forbidden corner of the house and puts him back on the right path. She tries to help him finish his bottles long after his mother gave up on him.

But then there is the rocking. Oh, the rocking! When O. is a strapping teenager, he will probably be embarrassed by the photos of this.

A. has these moments when her mother-heart is bursting with love for our baby. I can always tell by looking at her that she's going to have to rock that baby, and quite soon. She'll pick herself up off the floor where they've been playing, and walk her Important Walk back to the play nook where she searches high and low for her pink blanket, the one that, up to this point, has been reserved for her favorite baby dolls.

Now, she uses it on O.

She picks up her blanket, runs back into the living room, situates her preschooler-sized white rocking chair, and picks up her brother. And then she wraps him in her pink blanket and rocks him in her chair. Back and forth. Back and forth. Sometimes he likes it, sometimes he looks quite pitiful, and other times he screams in protest, but always she has her look of pleased motherly importance.

This poor little boy appears to have one too many mothers.

14 July 2009

Morality, Myth, and the Imagination

Now, if we send to any publisher for his catalogue of school books, we find that it is accepted as the nature of a school-book that it be drained dry of living thought. It may bear the name of a thinker, but then it is the abridgment of an abridgment, and all that is left for the unhappy scholar is the dry bones of his subject denuded of soft flesh and living colour, of the stir of life and power of moving. Nothing is left but what Oliver Wendell Holmes calls the 'mere brute fact.'

--Charlotte Mason in Volume III: School Education

As a prerequisite for fully comprehending our topic today, we need to remember that David Hicks said that the supreme task of education was the cultivation of the soul. I used to think that the task of education was to get a diploma, but I now realize that many, many students graduate with a piece of paper and a maimed or stunted soul. So here at Afterthoughts we look at education as producing a sort of person rather than passing a certain test.

Today's idea is this: Morality is a function of the imagination. To expand a tiny bit more, a "good myth," as Hicks puts it, inspires the imagination of the student and increases the student's capacity for right moral behavior.

The reverse seems to also be true: unimaginative students do not excel in virtue.

It has taken me a couple of years to really wrap my mind around this concept. I first read of it in my favorite book of all time, Poetic Knowledge. Later, the thought was reaffirmed and re-expressed by Vigen Guroian in his work Tending the Heart of Virtue.

And now, David Hicks has concurred.

Myth as a Literary Type

When I was in high school, I was constantly irritated by an English teacher who insisted on calling the Bible a myth. I tried to explain to him that calling it a myth meant that it was untrue. He condescended to explain to me that I was wrong, the Bible could be both myth as well as true because myth is a literary type.

Now that I've had over a decade to think about this, and I see that David Hicks calls Scriptural stories "myths" as well, I still think he's wrong, and by extension Hicks is in error as well. Myths imply the presence of a myth-maker, a man who has invented a story in order to explain something about the world. One of the more recent examples of this sort of behavior is Kipling's Just So Stories, in which Kipling goes to ridiculous lengths to explain something about the world {like the invention of the alphabet} in a way that lets us all know that this is nonsense, nothing but a silly story.

Hicks himself explains that language is notoriously conservative because words are never emptied of their prior meanings, even when they acquire newer applications. In this sense, the new uses are adding senses of meaning without ever taking the old meaning away.

If someone told me a story and I declared the story to be nothing but a myth, I would be accusing that person of lying. We all instinctively know this, because the word myth, even though it can, in a literary sense, refer to something that is true, has been utilized for so long as a name for great stories in history that were false, that the word itself connotes a certain level of uncertainty as to the veracity of the story.

In other words, we do not naturally call true stories, even wonderful, awe-inspiring true stories, myths, because we use the word myth to identify a level of falsehood.

With that said, I used the word myth in the title because Hicks used it in his book, and I'll be quoting him. However, I personally will be using the phrases great story or living book as a name for the sorts of literature which are appropriate for education. These stories might be true or false or embellished, but because I will include the Holy Book, I refuse to label them as myths.


The Soul's Encounter with Good Stories

There is a brilliant scene in the clever little Adam Sandler movie, Bedtime Stories. Sandler, who plays the part of Uncle Skeeter, is putting his niece and nephew to bed. He suggests a bedtime story, and searches the room for a book. What follows is actually a brilliant cultural observation:
Rainbow Alligator Saves the Wetlands... Organic Squirrel Gets a Helmet... I'm not reading you these communist stories!
Children's books like these really exist. I remember reading an easy reader called Rikki Tikki Tavi that was a complete mutiliation of the original tale. While Kipling wrote a story of danger and triumph that was also realistic and based on actual, observed animal behavior, the author wrote a story where Rikki Tikki faces great danger and learns a lesson in playing it safe. I will never forget the moral at the end: He would never leave home again.

And we wonder that we now have a generation of men who have failed to launch. Why wouldn't they, when the greatest virtue we teach our children is to wear a helmet?

For all of human history, great men have been nourished on great stories. Hicks writes:
To the considerable extent that questions of value, of right and wrong, of justice and of beauty cannot be experimentally or rationally resolved, myth allowed many individuals to share an epiphany, a vision of truth granting them a basis for accepting certain normative standards for which there are no clear or convincing proofs. The myth of Job, for instance, has helped centuries of men and women endure suffering and injustice in the quiet certainty of right conduct.
And how many of us know that we can survive, for instance, famine or economic turmoil, because of the quiet heroism of Caroline Ingalls? How many of our sons will fight the dragon that they were born to fight because of Saint George and the Dragon? Great stories change us. To use a quote from the movie You've Got Mail:
When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.
Likewise, Hicks writes:
Myths inspire men to perform great and selfless deeds by assuring and warning them that their actions are not individual, but symbolic. Their actions and ideas have never-ending consequences. Truly, a civilized action or idea assumes the first principle of the mythos--that the thought and deed are both determined and existential at the same time, formed by the past, while transforming the future. The student of that myth is likewise transformed by participating in them through his imagination. The myth involves and commits him, civilizes him, stamps him.

Hicks on Myth

Hicks has a few details on the impact of reading the greatest stories of all time that I don't want to leave out. He says that myths help us to know we are not alone. There are great people who have survived more extenuating circumstances than the ones we face, and we can be encouraged by that fact. Myths shared throughout a culture create a cultural cohesiveness, reinforcing the absolutes of virtue.

Myths have universal application. This is what he meant above when he said our actions are, on one level, symbolic. When I love my husband, for instance, there is a way in which my love says something about the love of all wives for their husbands. When I mother my children, there is a way in which my mothering makes a statement about what it means to mother. Myths give us an Ideal Type, an untarnished picture of what it means to be great.

So is it Scriptural?

Sometimes we Christians assume that because something isn't spelled out explicitly in the Bible, it must not be true. This necessitated, for instance, an entire chapter in my husband's book concerning whether or not the concept of having a worldview was scriptural. The same goes for this concept. The Bible does not say that virtue is born of moral imagination. However, I would assert that the concept is at least somewhat implicit in Scripture. In other words, it is assumed.

Let us take the favorite passage of Christian homeschoolers everywhere, the Shema. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 says:
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
God commands the families to remember what He has done, to remember what He has commanded. The faith is handed down by the constant retelling of the great and mighty deeds of the Lord {most especially the Lord's bringing them up out of slavery in Egypt}, and of the wise commands of the Lord.

Later, in Deuteronomy 31, the Lord Himself writes a song and commands Moses to teach it to the Israelites. The words of the song appear in Deuteronomy 32. I love verse 7:
Remember the days of old;
consider the generations long past.
Ask your father and he will tell you,
your elders, and they will explain to you.
Forgetting the past is a grave threat to Faith.

Later in the Old Testament, we see King Josiah {our personal family favorite}. He had been preceded by terrible kings, and the nation in general was in disrepair. He was a good king, to be sure, but he became great when he finally got a picture in his head, a vision of what his kingdom was meant to be. You see, as he is going along, ruling as best he knows how, the Book of the Law is found. When it is read to him, he is enlightened, and therefore grieved. He declares that the anger of the Lord is burning against the people because their fathers did not obey what was written in the book. But God has mercy on Josiah because his heart was responsive to what he had read. Josiah becomes a truly great king, a king whose imagination has been captivated by God's Word.

Finally, in the New Testament, we have the famous passage from Philippians 4:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Here we actually see the progression I've been writing about. First, Christians are to be thinking about things that are admirable and virtuous. We see that the things in their minds, the things they are able to imagine, came from somewhere else, which is to say from Paul. It is the things they have learned that they are able to put into practice. And these were learned not just from hearing, but also from seeing. In other words, they saw greatness in Paul {and in Jesus, of course}, and become imitators.

At its heart, education is imitation, but that is a key concept for another day.

Back to Imagination

When a child reads or hears great stories and great ideas, one right after the other, his mind is filled with images of virtue and excellence. He can picture what greatness is. He can know what loyalty looks like, because he has read of David and Jonathan. He can know what perseverance means, because he remembers Bruce's famous spider.

Here is the important point: what the mind is full of is what the mind can imagine for its own character.

So if our daughters' minds, are filled not with tales of Helen Keller, Florence Nightingale, Pocahontas, Boadicea, and the virtuous woman of Proverbs, but rather Hannah Montana and Dora the Explorer, their capacity for greatness, for imagining virtuous action, will be greatly diminished. The mind is full, and our actions pour forth from it.

Applying the Concept

I thought about writing a list of how I think folks could apply this concept, or how our particular family is applying this concept, but then I changed my mind. I think there are probably as many specific applications as there are men to make them, and what is required first and foremost is the asking of a very specific question:
In what way can we best prepare the imagination to attempt greatness?
Once we realize that the imagination is always working from a starting point, with the material with which it has been furnished through reading, story-telling, movie-watching, song-singing, or whatnot, we will realize the truth in what Hicks has said. Virtuous people have a picture of virtue in their heads already. When pressure hits, they rise to the occasion because the life of their mind has prepared them to do so. We cannot overemphasize the importance of training in the life of the mind.

Many "strict" families spend a lot of time and energy on censorship: seeking out what is evil and destroying it or prohibiting it. And surely such things have their place. But I think that, in general, energy is best spent on seeking out good things--great things--and refusing to settle for anything that is less than true, good, beautiful, and so on. When we spend our energy chasing virtuous thoughts for ourselves and our children, we have very little time left for mediocrity in all its various forms.

11 July 2009

Update Fifteen

Dear Family and Friends,

Another week of rehab is behind us, and Si is doing so well. Those of you who haven't seen him since he was in the hospital would marvel at how well he is doing.

This week was very full, so I'll just give you the highlights. He saw his neurologist, hematologist, and chiropractor, and each visit went well in its own way. The neurologist agreed to begin weaning from seizure meds, so on Monday he will begin decreasing his Dilantin dosage, and if all goes well, he will be completely off of Dilantin by the following Monday. The hematologist told us that his blood looks perfect, his kidneys are functioning fully, and he no longer needs plasmapheresis. He told us that Si would be able to get the port taken out of his chest, which was fine with us as it was showing early, mild signs of infection. The chiropractor visit was, as always, a delight, and she helped him with some residual wrist pain he'd been having starting during his hospital stay. And she is also our miracle worker, as many of you know.

Yesterday I was actually formulating a short prayer request in my mind that I was going to send out via Twitter and/or email. We were having difficulty tracking down a surgeon to remove Si's port. The hospital had no record of Si having a port put in, and so did not know the name of the doctor who did it, which complicated the issue since it is standard to have the same surgeon take it out as put it in. When we finally spoke with a surgeon, he said the soonest we could get in for a consult was in a week, and at that point we'd still have to schedule the actual procedure farther out. At that point Si called our wonderful nurse assigned to us by our health insurance. She has been a Godsend in so many of these issues. She made a few phone calls and yesterday, we got the call saying to come over right now and see the surgeon!

Well, God was good to us. I broke the Cardinal Motherhood Rule and took the children out close to mealtime when they had not eaten, but there was no time to get a sitter! God gave all of us grace, and the children did well, even though we were gone for two hours. It helps that we were given some granola bars along the way. The surgeon not only consulted with Si, but took the port out right then and there! It went well, and the bandages will come off tomorrow.

I do have prayers for this week. First and foremost would be protection from seizures during the weaning period. Then he also needs to be protected from infection and bleeding as he heals from yesterday's minor surgery. Lastly would be wisdom for our family doctor. Si has an appointment on Friday, and we are going to request the doctor to release him back to work for half-days. We feel that this would help him increase his stamina, and he will also need the hours off to continue his follow-up appointments and tests. However, we do not want to push him faster than is healthy for him, so we are hoping that the doctor has a clear picture in his mind of what is appropriate at this stage of healing.

I want to thank all of you for sticking with us this entire time. You have been so faithful. We have been blessed lately by our extended church family, our "cousins" so-to-speak, who aren't from our church, but God has brought them forth to bring us a meal or drive my husband to therapy. I am, through all of this, amazed at God's goodness to us through such a variety of people.

Blessings upon your weekend!


10 July 2009

Planning Extravaganza: 2009-2010 School Year

Monday morning, we read the final chapter of Paddle-to-the-Sea, which was our final Ambleside reading of the school year. I had originally planned to do something traditional, like ending school on a Friday and having a pizza party. But, what with tragedy striking at an indiscriminate time {the week before the last week of school}, we did what we could. Various family members read to our Year One scholar when possible throughout the month, and then suddenly, Monday morning, we were done. We sang Victory in Jesus, and that was that.

Approximately three hours later I was drooling over this year's book list.

I am so happy with Ambleside in general, that I don't feel the need to add a whole lot. One thing we skipped in Year One was Trial and Triumph. I was waiting for a bit more maturity, which is to say I was saving it to begin in Year Two. We'll be following the weekly reading schedule for Year One as far as the pacing of reading the book, which works out to reading only a few of the chapters for the year.

It doesn't hurt that we we able to acquire a "damaged" copy for a dollar during a recent sale over at Canon Press.

Other differences will be, for instance, that we are going to read Little Pilgrim's Progress instead of the real thing. The pacing is supposed to be such that the children read through the original language over the course of two years. However, my philosophy on understand this work is a lot like my opinion on understanding a musical or an opera: familiarity with the storyline first is helpful before experiencing the real thing. So my plan is to do the children's version this year, and the original version next year, knowing full well that I will be alternating this way for the next eight years of my life.

We are skipping Shakespeare again this year. Please don't hate me.

I am planning on adding daily readings of the KJV version of the Scriptures. Even though we, as a family, typically read out of the NIV, NASB, or NEB {just to narrow it down}, I appreciated Ambleside's argument in favor of the KJV, and I agree that it, unlike other versions of Scripture, will contribute to a child's literary education.

I am considering purchasing the new Outdoor Hour eBook to enhance our nature study. This year there will be two nature journals, but three journal-ers, so to speak. Just as I did with my son a few years back, A. and I will be journaling together. I am thinking that I will draw and she will color, or something like that. This is something that the three of us will do together while the others are sleeping, as A. had to nerve to drop her afternoon nap entirely.

I repeat: she dropped her nap.


Anyhow, that is what I have so far. I'll post more when I have time, plus I'll try to post complete Term One Circle Time plans again this year. I love Circle Time; it really holds all things together.

Read More:
It's that time of year! Mystie and Willa are planning, too.

09 July 2009

Family Recipe: Nourishing Chili

About two years ago, I began promising to post my chili recipe, but I never followed through. When the children's allergies were eliminated, I quit posting all of my GFCF weekly meal plans, and so forgot about it.

I've spent the last couple of days gearing up for taking back over the cooking in our home. Our church family has been kind enough to bring us meals every single evening during this entire ordeal. It has been wonderful to not have to fit in not only cooking, but grocery shopping, during this time of trying to juggle child care with my husband's inability to drive due to his seizures, plus the physical and emotional exhaustion.

However, we are getting closer to being back to normal, and that means I get to take my old jobs back over. I mowed the front lawn this week, and loved every minute of it. I have missed my normal work.

For at least a year I have been putting off getting my recipes more organized. Apparently, I was off the job long enough to forget where I kept things, and so I decided to break down and put all of my summer recipes in a binder where they will be easily accessible.

I am, naturally, being extremely picky about what I cook Si from this point on. He lost some weight through this, and he was already naturally thin. So I'm trying to maximize his nutrition in every bite. My chili recipe has been faithful to me for years. And today, since I needed to type it up for my binder anyhow, I added a couple notes and uploaded it to Scribd for your enjoyment:

Vencel Family Nourishing Chili

07 July 2009

Whiston's Accomplishment of Scripture Prophecies {IV}

You probably thought that I forgot I was reading this book. Not to fear, I never forget, except when I fail to remember. But books are never far from my heart, even books covering odd subjects, and so it is only natural to spend an afternoon attempting to choose between a nap and a book. The book wins. For now.

For those of you just joining us, I have been typing out my notes on a work by William Whiston, who is most famous for translating the works of Josephus in the seventeenth century. He did such a great job, we still use his translation today, though often updated for "modern" language and spelling.

Here are my notes on this current section:

  1. Concerning the "prophetick stile," as Whiston was apt to spell it, it is explained that prophecy isn't always expressed in the future tense. Whiston says that future events are instead often referred to in what he calls the praeterperfect sense, in which, at first glance, events sound as if they are already in the past. As an example, he refers to the Messianic prophecy in Isaiah 53:
    Who hath believed our report, and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? He was despised and rejected of men; he was despised and we esteemed him not; surely he took away our griefs, and removed our diseases; and we thought him to be stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. And he was wounded for our transgressions, and he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we were healed. We have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
    This is a future event that, when translated into English, is written in such a way as to sound like a past event, and this tense is what Whiston calls the praeterperfect sense.
  2. This next insight into the prophetic style of writing is meant to give insight into the point above. Whiston explains that the Prophets {or the Holy Spirit speaking through them} speak as though they are located at a different place in time. Essentially, prophets seem to feel themselves to be at that future point in history about which they are speaking. Then, when they tell others about what they saw, they describe it in that past tense which Whiston above called the praeterperfect sense. As examples, he references Jacob's blessing upon the twelve patriarchs, many of the messianic and prophetic Psalms, Ezekiel's prophecy concerning Gog of Magog {where the prophet curiously refers to the ancient nature of his own prophecy, making obvious the dramatic length of time he expects before its fulfillment}, and later where Ezekiel claims that this is the day of which the prophecy is speaking, even though he is actually referring to a future event. The idea, again, is the prophets experience their visions as being present and then relay them to others in either the present or the past tense.
  3. Whiston goes on to admit the disjointed nature of prophetic literature. He calls it "short, abrubt, and disturbed by the coming on of other matters of a very different Nature." At this point he questions whether the prophecies appear in their original order, or whether they have been disturbed over time by their enemies, most especially Antiochus Epiphanes, who attempted to destroy them. He then explains God's providence that the Holy Books survived all sorts of difficulties, including tyrants, dispersion, and so on.

    On a personal note, this makes me uncomfortable. He seems to think that they would be so much more understandable if we could just put them back in order. But it seems to me that prophecy is by its very nature a mystery {hence Daniel sealing up his scroll}, and Whiston is simply convinced that some new order of pages and paragraphs will automatically cause every other scholar to agree with him. Scholars never agree with each other, and no ordering aright will change this fact. It seems to me strange to be, on the one hand, amazed at how God managed to preserve these texts through wind and storm and war and famine and other misfortunes, and then to doubt that His preservation was altogether perfect, and I don't mean in regard to a tiny scribal error here and there, but rather the entire ordering of the book of Ezekiel. This is rather akin to expecting the blind man Jesus healed to have need for glasses to correct a mild astigmatism.

    I'm just saying.

    And I'm not a textual critic, and admittedly a little naive in this area.

    Anyhow, after Whiston continues some tangential exposition on the nature of prophetic textual ordering, he reasserts his idea that prophecies are sometimes, but not always, abrupt, short, and disturbed. An instance of this is in the third chapter of Isaiah, where Isaiah explains how horrible it will be for Israel, and how her men will die by the sword, and then suddenly he explains how wonderful it will be for Israel when the Messiah reigns. Whiston explains that often, after describing misery through judgment, prophets will turn around and reference the grace and mercy of God.

    A second example he uses is in the book of Daniel:
    Thus also in the 8th Chapter of Daniel, when the Holy Spirit had been describing the Miseries to be brought on the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes, at the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th verses; in the 13th and 14fh verses Daniel hears an Holy One speaking, and another Holy One answering; and the Subject thereof is not at all about Antiochus, but about the Period of the final Miseries of the Jews, and the conclusion of the Pollution or Desolation of the Temple which is not yet over, or the famous 2300 Evening Mornings; after which the Temple is to be cleansed hereafter, as I have shewn upon another occasion. This Prophecy comes in so abruptly, that almost all Commentators have mistook its meaning, and apply'd it to the Times of Antiochus, how little soever the facts could be made to answer such an Interpretation.
    The point of explaining this is to reinforce Whiston's assertion that, in order to understand prophetic Scripture passages, we must understand the nature of prophetic language.
And that, my friends, is enough for today.

Read More:
Whiston's Accomplishment of Scripture Prophecies
Whiston's Accomplishment of Scripture Prophecies {II}
Whiston's Accomplishment of Scripture Prophecies {III}

06 July 2009

Cap and Trade: The Musical

05 July 2009

Update Fourteen

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, we have completed week one of rehabilitation! Si visited our general practitioner (who will make the final decisions about going back to work), visited our chiropractor, had outpatient plasmapheresis twice, and was evaluated by his new physical therapist. This seemed to be just about the perfect amount of activity for him as he's regaining his strength.

To say that he is doing well is an understatement. He really took off on Wednesday, which was the day after he saw our chiropractor. He has responded very well to her methods. To contrast, on Monday, he was still using a walker and almost collapsed on his way to the car after his plasmapheresis. By Thursday, we had brought a walker just in case, and he walked into the house CARRYING it.

There is a reason some of our friends started calling him Lazarus.

This week he will have some pretty intense physical therapy on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. He will also follow-up with the neurologist and hematologist on Tuesday. We are praying that the neurologist begins to wean Si off of the seizure meds, and that the hematologist will say that he is done with plasma treatments and can have his port catheter removed from his chest. His port area began to look a bit red this week, and at this point we think it is more dangerous to have it in than out.

Other prayers requests would include mapping a plan for Si's return to work. He would like to go back as soon as he has his port out and has completed therapy. Our insurance only approved five therapy sessions, which means only a week and a half. My personal prayer is that if the doctor decides he needs to remain off of work, he will order up more therapy so that we don't go backwards in the healing process.

This has been a wonderful week for our family. Si's twin's family was still here until Saturday, so we were able to really spend time with them instead of running off on our hospital shifts. And Independence Day is our seven-year-old son's favorite day of the year. It was extra-special for him to have his father home to kick off the month of July. In my mind, this was God's present to our son.

So we spend the days healing. We have had many volunteers to help drive this week, so I will be taking the opportunity to finish up the school year, as we had one week left when Si fell ill. It is always good to finish before it is time to plan the next year!

I am currently looking for volunteers to help drive Si to and from work when the time comes. An elder from our church suggested that we look for ten men to volunteer for a rotation. This way no one is driving more than twice per month. I, of course, will fill in where needed. If you know someone headed downtown who would like to help out with this, please let me know. I'm going to start compiling a list.

I thank you all for your continued prayers for our family. Many of you were there to greet us this morning, our first time back at church as a family, and it was so good to see you.

Much love,

01 July 2009

Rebuilding Si: Kefir Smoothies

When I first knew that my husband was going to come home, I emailed some dear friends and at least one stranger and asked their advice on what in the world to feed him. After all, his appetite is small and his nutritional needs are large. Obviously, supplementation is a key cornerstone in his healing process, but I still wanted to make every calorie count. In addition to this, we had the issue of taste because the seizures caused heightened senses of taste and smell, which made it difficult for him to eat food that didn't appeal to him.

One of the wonderful things I was encouraged to do was to feed him kefir. We have a wonderful dairy from which we buy raw milk products {no, this is not how he contracted E. coli 0157:H7--you can read about pathogens and milk from our dairy if you are curious}. I was excited to see that they carried kefir {which they spell as qephor} and that it isn't just made with milk, but raw colostrum. This is like making a superfood extra-super.

In addition to the kefir, I'm adding in:
  • Frozen berries
  • Liquid chlorophyll
  • A teaspoon of flaxseed oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons of organic expeller-pressed coconut oil
  • A tablespoon of Ambrotose Complex
  • A dollop of strawberry frozen yogurt, because it makes him happy
  • Ice
  • Organic fruit juice {in amount required to get the right texture}

Read more:

About kefir
About colostrum