22 August 2008

Dr. Broda Barnes

Dr. Barnes (1904-1988) was a medical doctor and held a Ph.D., which he received before receiving his medical training. In addition to practicing medicine for 50 years, he researched and became an expert in the thyroid gland. His book, Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness, is quite an interesting read. Part medical travelogue, part sitting down for a chat with an old-fashioned, no nonsense doctor, and part memoir, it's an interesting read. It's kind of like How to Raise a Healthy Child, in Spite of Your Doctor, by Dr. Robert Mendelson.

Dr. Barnes' book is extremely logical, something I don't find often in allopathic physicians lately. He thought about things, asked questions, and searched for answers and let us in on the process.  While this book isn't a thriller or even a grab-you-by-the-lapels page-turner, it was definitely worth my time and attention. I like reading these types of books, as long as they're not rabid and shrill, and this one wasn't. I found it fairly enjoyable.

However, if you need to learn about thyroid function because you or a loved one are currently dealing with it, I wouldn't suggest that this should be the only title you read. I have more recommendations, which will come later.

Before his death, Dr. Barnes established a foundation to carry on his work. I ordered their information packet for $18 (partly to obtain the names and contact information of their Arizona members - they sent a list of three - and partly because I wanted more information). Some of the information included was new to me, but most of it wasn't and much of that was outdated and hadn't caught up with the newest research trends (although the newest, alternative, trends in treatment haven't drifted far from Dr. Barnes' practice). The photocopies (not computer printouts) were difficult to read from being so many generations away from the originals. The information wasn't as cutting edge as I'd hoped and as Dr. Barnes' research was at one point. The foundation hasn't sponsored a conference in several years and only processes orders received by fax and snail mail. I don't know if they're resting on his laurels or simply being passed by.

So, in summary, it was a good book, but skip the foundation. I'll have more books and their reviews about this topic soon.


18 August 2008

I Never Met a Curriculum…

…I didn't tweak.

I'm finally sitting down to try to sort through and figure out what topics we'll be studying for history this year. My two oldest students, Judith and Nathan, will be working through Gileskirk Modernity. My younger five will be studying the same time period.

A dear friend gave me three years of Tapestry of Grace, classic edition. The thing about curriculum someone has given me (in other words, that I haven't paid for) is that there's a great deal of freedom to tweak and tweak and tweak. When I've bought something, if it doesn't work, I hope to sell it, which limits how much I'm willing to take it apart. However, if this doesn't work, I can give it away or I can wrap fish in it - it really doesn't matter.

I've gone through the three years and have pulled out the units I want to cover this year. I'm working to fit them into our Gileskirk study, but I'm also trying to plan out the units for the younger kids. I've pretty much chucked the writing instruction and will substitute other things I have that I like better, but I'll be able to pull writing topics from Tapestry.

I'm also pulling from blackline map masters on CD, Romantic poetry from the internet, and even Veritas Press history cards. I don't seem to have as many books about this time period as about others, so I may have to do some shopping. Some of the activity sheets from Tapestry are definite keepers, while others just don't trip my trigger (those are going into the circular file).

And while I'm planning a general overview of the year's topics, I'm only getting detailed about the first four or so weeks (we're in the second week of our first six-week session, adding in a bit more each week), although at the rate I'm working, I may have to content myself with only two or three weeks.

I'll try to keep you updated on my progress, Dear Readers, but until the wedding, don't hold me to that!


15 August 2008

Book of the Dun Cow

Book of the Dun Cow, by Walter Wangerin, is an amazing story.

The coop and farmyard of Chaunticleer the rooster are threatened. Can the simple farm animals save their home?

The poetry of the writing, the humour of the characters and their relationships with one another, and the battle of good and evil all come together in a compelling story. Wangerin draws from medieval monastic hours and mythology to weave a tale that speaks to the spiritual battles being fought today.

His world is 'peopled' with animals, but they aren't simply personifications. They think and talk and relate like people, but in harmony with their basic animal natures. Chauntecleer is a rooster and, while you may see echoes of folks you know in him, he is what a rooster should be. The nature of things is part and parcel of Wangerin's worldview. Essences cannot be ignored; when they are, disaster strikes.

I first learned about Wangerin's tale in From Homer to Harry Potter which includes a chapter about this book.

We added this title to our Gileskirk Modernity book list and I'm really looking forward to re-reading it and discussing it with the students in our group.


14 August 2008

Trusting God

The complete title is Trusting God, Even When Life Hurts, by Jerry Bridges.  Trusting God is one of those life-altering books that gives you a new set of spectacles through which to view the world.

Mr. Bridges' thesis is that, even when life hurts, God is big enough to handle our griefs and pain.  He doesn't gloss over the difficulties of living in a sin-filled world, but he offers hope to the suffering, a lifeline to the doubtful, and peace to the storm-tossed.  When we look at the Gospel, we see the most clear manifestation of God's love for us; our trust in him must be based on the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of Christ.  Mr. Bridges draws this line clearly and joyfully from the Gospel to the trust that is due to God.

I was challenged by the thought that trusting the Lord is a way to honor him.  I'd never made that connection between trust and honor before and was struck by it.

I believe this is one of those must-read titles for all believers.  It's one I plan to return to again and again.


13 August 2008


Conventionality is not morality.  Self-righteousness is not religion.  To attack the first is not to assail the last.  To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.
~Charlotte Brontë
How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about [arithmetic], and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe?  How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone?  No; a woman's function is laborious because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.
~G.K. Chesterton

09 August 2008

A Gospel Primer, by Milton Vincent

This little tomeis one more in a long line I've been reading lately that seek to plumb some aspect of the depths of the gospel and Mr. Vincent succeeds admirably. Its value is not in its factual rehearsal of the gospel, although the poetic section at the end forces a slower, more contemplative reading, but rather in its continual seeking after what the gospel means in a believer's life. Each section (I hate to call them chapters, maybe 'micro-chapters'?) is only a paragraph or three long, yet contains so powerful a point that it's enough to contemplate all day or to discuss with others for a week.

I consistently found that the themes, observations, and challenges in each micro-chapter reiterated, emphasized, and explained in fresh ways those of that day's Scripture assignment and my daily forays into Trusting God and The Godly Man's Picture.  I love it when the Lord pulls things together for me (maybe it's just that I'm thick-headed and hard-hearted and he needs to repeat things so they stick!). As the Lord connected the dots for me, I began to see the bigger picture of how the gospel works out in real, day-by-day, rubber-meets-the-road life. The riches of Christ are a sea we'll swim in for eternity, and I've barely gotten my toes wet, but the process is a delight.

I'm reading this aloud to the kids right now and we're discussing our way through it. It's one that I'll come back to as part of my personal time with the Lord and that we'll continue to re-read together through the years.  

So, Dear Readers (I'm taking Angelina's correspondence course), I highly recommend this book.  It's worth every penny and much, much more.


08 August 2008


  • All muslins are made.
  • Only 3 more to fit: one of them being mine, which my mom will help me with tomorrow; one of them I'm trying to arrange a time to meet with the attendant; and the third is on its way to Dallas for Drew the Lesser's sister to try on, mark up, and mail back.
  • Judith cut out and sewed her second muslin today - there were so many piddly adjustments to hers that I felt like we needed another just to be sure, and I'm glad we did as we discovered that she needs separate right and left back pieces because of her posture, which we're now working on. Cool thing: her sewing ability and her confidence are improving.
  • All the lining fabrics have been pre-treated and pressed.
  • Three patterns have received final alterations - I'll start cutting out these linings tomorrow.
  • Still have to figure out where the pink embellishments will go on 5 of the dresses; although I had a good idea for Bonnie's which she's contemplating (can you say 'godets'?).
  • Have to research and choose the embroidery pattern for Eliza's flower girl dress. I think it's time for a trip to Martha Pullen's website.
  • Must purchase silk thread (for the silks) and cotton thread (for the rayon linings).
And, although the website isn't complete yet, it's up!

Little snag in the invitations, but Plan B seems to be working, and they should be ready to mail next week.


03 August 2008

Catching Up

Attendants' Dress Progress:

patterns all traced with preliminary alterations: check
all bodices cut out of muslin: check
2 muslins made and ready to try on this morning after church: check
all but the green silk pre-treated and pressed: check

This afternoon, I'll work on a few more of the toiles, especially that of Drew the Lesser's sister who lives in Dallas - I need to mail hers out tomorrow so she can try it on, mark it up, and send it back. I might even have time early in the week to make Drew's birthday Hawaiian shirt - only 2 months late!

School Plans:

I was going to start school on the twelfth (the eleventh is the first day of the government schools' new year and, after working all summer, we take that day and have a 'First Day of Public School, Aren't We Glad We Homeschool?' day off to watch movies, eat treats, play games, and read aloud together), but I've decided that, other than our time together (Matins? Lauds? still not sure what to call it - 'Morning Time' doesn't work because sometimes it happens in the afternoon!), the kids will work independently to give me time for wedding sewing.

Lately for our time together (whatever it'll one day be called) we've been…
reading through II Corinthians
reading The Gospel Primer
memorizing the books of the NT, with review of OT books once or twice each week
learning 'God Moves in a Mysterious Way' by Cowper, alternating with review of 'O Wondrous Love'
learning 'Paul Revere's Ride', reviewing 'Casey at the Bat' once each week
reading a chapter or two of Northanger Abbey

Jared's Plans:

He's in the midst of applying to Patrick Henry College. In Houston, spoke with Gene Edward Veith, provost of PHC, and he was so encouraging about Jared's application. We don't know what the financial situation will look like, but we're thinking Jared will complete his first year through PHC's distance learning option - we have to go with whichever option is less expensive. And, starting tomorrow, he has a job with an inventory company.

Been thinking lots about CiRCE, but haven't had time to put fingers to keyboard, yet.