Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Miracles for Christmas

We began the trip in a way customary for us; that is, I was in a traumatized frenzy with my heart beating, hands shaking, nausea rising, feeling like I was going to faint, have a heart attack, and then throw up and have diarrhea. When I am like this, I am not tactful, nor am I always rational, and people feel that they are being yelled at (which they probably are, albeit not vindictively). So there is always a certain amount of pain that accompanies getting out the door while I try to wipe the counters and otherwise mop up behind us, in hopes of arriving home to a clean and organized environment.

We arrived at the airport in good time, thanks to a wonderful friend who drove us over. It was a clear day, unlike the previous day (Dec. 22), when it had snowed hard for approximately 36 hours straight. Although it was clear in Syracuse, it was apparently not clear in Detroit. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 4:17 p.m., but at 3:45, instead of a plane arriving at the gate, there was a switch in the schedule and the flight was pushed back to 5:25 p.m. This was not good, as our connection in Detroit was scheduled to board at 6:45, and it is a 90 minute flight from Syracuse to Detroit.

I asked the gate attendant if she thought we would get there in time. Unfortunately, she was over-worked, over-tired, and sick of passengers. The previous day had been a total fiasco, and on our day to fly, there were still many people who had not been able to get out the day before, trying hard to get on planes. Everybody seemed short tempered and tense. She said, “You have a chance. Your connection isn’t delayed, but you might get there in time. Also, there is another plane leaving Detroit about a half hour later.”

I asked, “Can you book us on that one?”

She looked at me as though I were crazy, “No. It’s completely full.”

I stood there, wondering, “If it is completely full, and we are going to miss our scheduled flight, then why would I go to Detroit? Should we not return to our home?

She looked at my silent face and said, “If you don’t get on this plane, you won’t get out of Syracuse for three days.”

So I just sat down. With my family. I have been trained not to ask the tough questions.

We finally got on the plane (it had simply arrived late from, I believe, Detroit). I told my family, “We will probably have to spend the night in Detroit. I don’t think we are going to make our flight.” They told me not to be negative and pessimistic and all that. I told them I was just trying to be prepared so I would not be devastated when it happened.

The pilot told us that most of the flights out of Detroit were being delayed, so not to worry about missing connections.

I prayed all the way to Detroit. I just beseeched God to help us. I told Him, “It would not be hard for you at all… all You have to do is delay that connection. That’s so easy for You, You would hardly have to even pay any attention…”

They had nothing but water and orange juice on that flight, and very crabby people.

The flight was slow: slow getting off the ground, slow landing, slow getting to the gate. We touched down on the Detroit tarmac at 7:14 p.m. Shawn immediately powered up his Blackberry… only to learn that our connection had already taken off. It was gone. I felt the adrenaline drain from my body. We would not have to run to try to make it. It was gone.

Inside the airport, at the gate, we got in line to talk to an airline representative. The man in front of us was small, tattooed, and extremely angry. He shouted at the gate attendant, and she bit her lips, responding politely but completely unhelpfully. He finally stormed off.

We approached her with trepidation. Shawn is the master of charm, but I was just terrified that the desperation in my eyes would irritate her. She looked at me rather than Shawn, so I said, as politely as possible, “We just arrived, and we have missed our connection… there are six of us, trying to get to Minneapolis. Is there anything you can do?”

Surprisingly, she did not respond with passive-aggressive hostility. She checked some things on her computer monitor. “Well,” she said, “Six is a lot, but there’s a flight departing from gate B12 in fifteen minutes, and only a few people have checked in for the flight. I’ll book you on it, but you’ll have to hurry.”

We were at gate A25. If you have never been to Detroit, you will not understand the distance we are talking here. Detroit has a tram service, but we were halfway between stops, and to backtrack to get to it would have hurt as much as it would have helped.

Suffice it to say that we took off running, in our heavy winter coats, each of us burdened with two pieces of carry-on luggage. We ran on the moving belts, puffing and trying to gently push past slower people while panting, “Excuse me please…” and “Pardon me, I’m sorry…” We ran between moving belts. We ran up escalators and down escalators. There is a big tunnel between the A concourse and the B concourse. It has a domed ceiling and special lighting effects. As we ran through, it changed from blue to a dusky color to glowing gold. The effect was emotional and hopeful. I prayed, “Please God, don’t raise my hopes only to dash them…”

After running for 10 minutes straight, we arrived at gate B12. I was sweating, my shoulders heaving and my lungs burning. David told me, “Mom, you really need to get in shape.”

There was a big line at the gate; I suspect it was all people like us, waiting for seating assignments. Shawn got in line to wait. The kids and I sat down. I remembered watching the news in years past, seeing people stuck in airports at holiday time, suffering weather delays. It occurred to me that I had made a pact with Shawn never to put ourselves in that situation. I thought, “What are we doing here???

After about 10 more minutes, Shawn had not moved in the line. I went to see if I could figure out what was happening. The lady trying to service the line put out a pager request for boarding pass paper. Shawn was on his cell phone with some Northwest Airlines office somewhere else. He hung up and told me, “Well, they say we’re booked on this flight…” He had an idea, and sent me to the line where they were trying to board the aircraft, but with my old boarding pass. He kept his place in the line he was in.

Very politely, I approached the lady (who was not boarding very many people), and said, “We missed our connection… this is my old boarding pass… they said we were booked on this flight, but we don’t have seat assignments yet…”

“Hmm...” she said to herself. Then she asked the lady who was waiting for boarding pass paper, “Are there any restrictions on seating assignments?” When the other woman replied in the negative, she said, “Righto. Here we go! Load ‘em on up!”

“Like a bunch of cows, huh?” I said to her, but I smiled. She looked surprised, but smiled back. I waved for my family to join me and we took her seat assignments and boarded the plane.

As we walked onto the plane, I was struck by how beautiful it was. It was a very new looking plane; the white parts were very white, and the seats were pale gray. Lots of white light glowed from above the baggage compartments. We were seated in the very back of the plane, all together, and wonder of wonders, the bathroom was out of order, so we would not have to deal with a line or the smells that emanate from an airplane lavatory. It seemed, well, heavenly. I don’t know when I have ever felt so overwhelmed with thanks to God.

We waited a long time. While we were waiting, freezing rain began to fall, and the plane was de-iced. At one point, the pilot came on the loudspeaker and told us, “Well, this flight did not exist two hours ago, but it has been created, and here we are… it will just be awhile while we wait for an ASMTJ assignment and an ASNPRF assignment.” (I am making up those acronyms, because I do not know what they really were, but I figured it meant we needed a runway assignment and a place in the line of planes waiting for take-off. That is just what I figured, but I think I was probably right.)

And then, oh miracle of miracles, then we took off. For Minneapolis. I continued praying, thanking God and saying, “Thank You so, so much. I don’t even care if we don’t have our luggage. Just thank You! This is more than enough. Thank You!”

Little did I know that I would find out about another miracle… a few minutes after we were up in the air, the pilot came back on the loudspeaker and told us, “Well, folks, we got out of Detroit just in time. They had closed two runways before we took off, and now they are moving toward closing down the whole airport.” I could not believe how God was taking care of us.

We had planned to eat dinner in Detroit during our layover. A number of us had not eaten lunch, and some had not even had any breakfast to speak of. Since we were famished, we were particularly glad that this plane had full beverage service. A ginger-ale helped my tummy considerably.

Anyway, to bring a long story to a close, we eventually arrived in Minneapolis, and our luggage was not there, but it was on the next flight (apparently at least one more plane got out of Detroit before they closed down…). My sister picked up Shannon, Laura, Jon and me, while Shawn and David stayed behind at the airport to wait for the luggage and to rent a car. By the time we went to bed at my parents’ house in Anoka, Minnesota, we were all together and even had our pajamas and toothbrushes. It was about 1 a.m., but we were thankful. God is good.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


This is how my deck looked the other night. Then we got another day and a half of solid snow. I suppose I should have taken a new picture to show how much higher it is now, but I took a picture of the front entrance instead:

It's sort of like living in the shrubbery maze that the dogs go through in Go Dog, Go!. Except it is all snow.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Can I?

There are a host of rules on blog etiquette. I don't read them much, because every time I do, I find out I've stuck my foot in my mouth again and done something wrong. Jesus distilled His rules down to two basic ones that cover all the rest: Love God, love your neighbor. Blog rules are not so simple. And I am afraid I am about to break another one today.

Can I just pour out my heart? Because I am pretty sad right now. That's the way it is, and it isn't a different way.

I called my parents on Sunday. I do that fairly often. Call on Sunday, I mean. Usually I just talk to my dad. My mom isn't much for talking on the phone anymore, but this past Sunday she got on the phone. She had a list of questions she wanted to ask me, because we are flying to Minnesota for Christmas this year. So she got on the phone and said, "Let me just find my list... oh where did it go?" Finally she found it. She paused and said, "Oh Ruthie, I need to tell you that at 6 a.m. this morning my dear, sweet wonderful sister Loie died."

And I sucked in my breath and I just couldn't believe it. I know that Loie has not been well at all. I knew that she was living in a hospital bed in the livingroom of her daughter Molly's house, with daily hospice care. But this is my Aunt Loie, who lived on the farm and made custard pies. Loie who sewed a little blue outfit with a bonnet that both Shannon and Laura wore as babies. Loie who sent us two handmade plaid teddy bears. Loie whom I always thought of when we used to call Laura "Baby Lo-lo", because Loie sometimes went by Lo for short, too. Loie who loved her four children and ten grandchildren and growing number of great grandchildren so much, but still had time to remember her niece in New York once in awhile.

Last summer I visited my parents while Shawn had a business trip in Minneapolis. I brought a bunch of old pictures home with me from my mom and dad's. Later, stricken with guilt, I scanned them all and made copies and put them into scrapbooks for my brother and my sister... I just mailed them off last week.

While making the scrapbooks, I remember looking at a picture of my mom with her four sisters, the five of them, and thinking about how I missed my Aunt Ruth's funeral last year (2007) in November. Last Christmas my cousin Rachel wrote to me and told me what a blessing it was to see relatives she hadn't seen in years at Aunt Ruth's funeral, that she was sorry I hadn't been able to be there. I looked at my aunts, in their younger years, and I thought, "The next time there is a funeral, I want to be able to be there." Maybe that is a morbid thought, but that's what I thought. I want to be a part of the family. I want to be there.

Who knew the way things would turn out? Well, God did, certainly.

Aunt Loie died on December 14, and her funeral is scheduled for December 23. Ironically, our plane tickets are for December 23. We are leaving at 4:17 p.m. (supposedly), and arriving in Minneapolis at 9:50 p.m., or something like that. Late. After the day is over.

Instead of being there to share this time with my family and grieve together and remember together and encourage and comfort each other, I will just be putting everyone out at the end of a long day.

The tickets are from one of those cheap discounters, the type of ticket that cannot be transferred or changed in any way. There is less that we can do than if we hadn't had any plans to begin with.

And even if we did throw my ticket away and just buy me a different one, leaving the previous day (it is not feasible to do that for the whole family), I don't think I have it in me to change plans, have everything ready for everyone a day early, and then travel by myself on my birthday.

My family doesn't care that I won't be there. They don't expect it. Nobody is putting any pressure on me. They would probably think it odd if I went to great lengths to get there.

But I care. I am very, very sad. I guess it boils down to selfishness. Nobody needs me, but I feel like I need them.

This is my mom and my aunts. Aunt Ruth is sitting on the sofa. Aunt Teda (Priscilla) is on the arm of the sofa. Aunt Loie (Lois) is behind Teda, and my mom is standing next to Loie. Aunt Nunie (Eunice) is in front on the right. Only Nunie, Teda and Bonnie are left, and Teda has a very bad case of Alzheimer's.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


One of the best gifts my husband ever gave me was my Water-Pik.

Having braces at 42 is no joy, but a Water-Pik is a great help in soothing the pain.

That said, if you, like me, have braces and you are thinking of getting a Water-Pik, just keep this hint in mind:

While cleaning your teeth, be careful not to ever inadvertently aim the water jet at the back of your throat.

Gagging while trying to clear water out of your innermost nasal passages is, um, unpleasant. And if you drop the Pik and it sprays down your entire vanity area while you are trying to get ahold of yourself...


If I had categorized archives, this one would go along with the one about how I discovered that it is best not to spray perfume in one's eye while dressing for church.

Monday, December 8, 2008

While we're on science... Bible study tomorrow

Job 38-41
God is the Creator.
He has Sovereign Control over the entire Universe.
He not only observes what is going on, He orchestrates what is going on.
Everything is always under God’s observation and control.

As God talks to Job out of the whirlwind, He reveals that He created the world and that He controls the inner workings of the universe, right down to the weather on earth.

Then God speaks of the wonders of His creation right here on earth, and lists a number of marvelous things He has made, including…
Mountain goats
Wild donkeys
Wild ox
Hawk and Eagle
Behemoth (which I think is the brontosaurus)
Leviathin (which I think is the tyrannosaurus rex, or possibly an ancient and giant Komodo dragon)

The idea here is that if we cannot control the hours of sunlight in a day, or the rain or the snow or the temperature, if we cannot direct the stars or send a flood or lightening, if we cannot even tame a wild mountain goat that God made (much less tyrannosaurus rex), then who are we to question God?

Concerning dinosaurs.

1. God made dinosaurs. We know this because we know that God created everything, and we know that dinosaurs existed because we have found their bones. Thus, God created dinosaurs.

2. Evolutionists claim that dinosaurs never lived on earth at the same time as people did. My answer to that? They are wrong. They are wrong about a lot of things, and they are wrong about that.

Since evolutionists censor every shred of evidence that does not support their case, it is difficult to prove that dinosaurs and people lived at the same time. However, just because we don’t see a lot of fossilized dinosaur bones in the same places as fossilized people’s bones doesn’t prove anything. People and dinosaurs did not probably live all that close to one another, geographically. Do we find a lot of fossilized lion bones around fossilized people’s bones? I would expect not. Does that mean people and lions never lived at the same time? Obviously not. And I know that there are different layers from different ages. What they don't tell you is that human and dinosaur and even all types of plant fossils acutally do exist in the same layers, sometimes actually straddling layers. Evolutionists do not like to confront this evidence. It might prove Noah's flood, or something.

3. Noah took two of every kind of animal on the ark. Genesis 7:14 clearly states that a pair of every kind was included, including every creature that “moves along the ground.” This indicates that dinosaurs would have been among the passengers on the ark. The Bible never says Noah took all fully grown animals. It only says he brought male and female of every kind. Of the biggest and most ferocious animals, it is quite possible (and quite plausible) that Noah took baby males and females.

4. Interestingly, most cultures have an oral tradition that includes a story, “myth” if you will, about a cataclysmic flood. Also very interestingly, most cultures have tales of dragons. It is very possible that tales of dragons are really tales about ancient people’s encounters with dinosaurs. Of course, as oral traditions, the stories were prone to be exaggerated and embellished over time (e.g. giving the dragons magical powers). But it is very interesting that all the way from Japan to Great Britain, there are ancient tales of dragons and dragon slayers.

Most people have never seen a dragon, but everyone has heard of them. Ancient tales telling of a major world flood, tales that have survived throughout history, might just be another hint to us from God that a flood really did happen. Similarly, ancient tales of dragons, tales that have survived over time and throughout numerous cultures, might just indicate that some people at some time came up against a dragon… or a “dinosaur” as the case may be.

5. Some people say, “If God made dinosaurs, then why doesn’t the Bible talk about them?” Well, that is an interesting question. The word dinosaur was coined in 1841 by Sir Richard Owen. It is from Greek word roots meaning “terrible” (deinos) and “lizard” (sauros). Dinosaur means terrible lizard.

A dragon is a terrible lizard, and the Bible mentions dragons. And leviathans. Etymologically, dragon and leviathan both mean giant serpent/sea monster thing. Also very interestingly, the King James Version of the Bible was translated in 1611. Since dinosaur bones were not recognized as being the bones of extinct reptiles until somewhere between 1824 and 1838, and the word “dinosaur” was not coined until 1841, it is not surprising that the translators of the earliest English Bibles, translated some 230 years earlier, did not use the word dinosaur—it would have been impossible. The word did not exist.

The words “behemoth” and “leviathan” are transliterations of Hebrew words of unknown meaning. In other words, in Hebrew, behemoth is behemoth, and leviathan is leviathan. Because the translators did not know the meanings of these words, they just changed the Hebrew letters to English ones so we could read the words as they sound. The question is not so much “Why doesn’t the Bible talk about dinosaurs?” as, “Why don’t modern Bible translators use the word dinosaur when they come to leviathan and behemoth?” The answer is probably that they cannot know for absolute certain that this would be accurate (it is plausible, but not scientifically provable), and to translate as such, they would place themselves, and God’s Word, in a vulnerable position to be ridiculed by evolutionists (who have always been more concerned about obfuscating the existence of God than about accuracy, anyway).

6. Are dinosaurs really extinct? Well, obviously, the really gigantic ones are. But lizards look awfully like dinosaurs, if you ask me. A big lizard reptile and a little lizard reptile are not so different. Obviously the “species” has undergone adaptations. Nobody questions the fact that God created creatures with the ability to adapt. Darwin saw living things adapting and over-interpreted his observations, thinking that they were actually evolving. A species will adapt to weather conditions or a change in habitat, but it will not evolve into a higher species. In fact, a species may adapt back and forth as conditions change back and forth. But it will not evolve into a new species. Hence the fact that we do not see new species evolving all around us today.

The lizards of today are very possibly the dinosaurs of ages past. Some of the lizards of today and very reminiscent of dinosaurs. In 1911, Lieutenant Steyn van Hensbrock, a Dutchman, discovered Komodo dragons on the island of Komodo in Indonesia, and they were named "Komodo dragons" in 1912 (scientists were willing to call them dragons, presumably because everybody knows that dragons are “just pretend”; they were not, apparently, willing to call them dinosaurs, presumably because it would undercut their theory that dinosaurs and humans never co-existed on earth). These creatures are thought to have been discovered as early as the second century AD by the Chinese, and some people think they contributed to the Chinese dragon lore (more on that later).

Komodo dragons are very fast, ferocious and frightening. They grow as long as ten feet, although most are 6-8 feet long. They weigh from 150 to 330 lbs., depending on their age and sex. Their scales contain small pieces of bone, making them effectively armor-plated. They are ferocious predators, hiding quietly and then springing on their victims, which they tear apart with their powerful jaws and many rows of serrated teeth. Their mouths contain up to 80 different strains of terrible bacteria in the saliva, so any prey that gets away initially is doomed to die of a blood infection before much time has lapsed. They can eat up to 80% of their body weight at one sitting, and they can smell prey as far away as five miles. They are also able to climb trees, run at a speed of nearly 20 mph, and swim in the sea, even from island to island. They live in burrows in hot, dry, rocky climates. These creatures sound surprisingly similar to the leviathan God describes in Job 41, although probably a good deal smaller. (I personally wouldn’t even want to meet one of these “mini” leviathans.) I’m not convinced that dinosaurs are as completely extinct as they say.

7. Evolutionists say that dinosaurs have been extinct for 65 million years (such an exact number from those who know so much). However, a Jesuit priest named Athanasius Kircher wrote an account of a dragon slayer who succeeded in killing a dragon near a Swiss village in 1678 (to put this in context, remember that the KJV Bible was translated into King James English in 1611, and dinosaur bones were first identified in 1824). Kircher also described how the dragon lived in underground caves and caverns. He drew pictures of dragons as well, and also drew a small dragon that was said to have been discovered during the time of Pope Gregory the XIII, who died in 1585. The dragon (I imagine it was stuffed or something) was kept in the collection of a naturalist named Ulisse Aldrovandi.

As well as searching the records of medieval Europeans, we can look to the Chinese for information about dragons. Dragons have been a huge part of oriental culture. While in the west dragons were regarded with fear and loathing, in the east dragons were valued for their medicinal powers. (Interestingly, scientists are currently studying the Komodo dragon, trying to figure out how it can be immune to its own bacteria and how we might use that knowledge to protect humans from bacteria.) The Chinese used what they called “dragon” bones, teeth and horns to cure many illnesses and maladies, from heart and liver disease to epilepsy, constipation and bad dreams. The really interesting thing is that Chinese apothecaries (apothecaries were the guys who made the medicine) helped fossil hunters invaluably in later centuries by showing them to fossil sites… dragon bones, dinosaur fossils, is there a difference??

The point is that God knows it all. He knows when He made the dinosaurs, and why, and why He let them die out (or shrink, as the case may be).

If God can make storms, ice-ages, and dinosaurs, if He can order the stars and set constellations in motion, if He can provide or withhold food from the lion, then He can certainly take care of our lives.

When we understand His awesome power and greatness, we will not question Him accusingly. Like Job, we will say, “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.” (Job 40:4-5)

" ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord, ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ " (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cake of science

So yesterday Jon came home from school with a funny look on his face.

"Hi, Honey," I said. "Did you have a good day?"

"Yes." He did not elaborate. He did not meet my eyes. He fiddled with his fingers.

"What's the matter?" I asked. Famous last words.

"I, um, forgot about a science project," he replied.

My heart sank. "When was it due?"

"Tomorrow," he said, little guessing how that one word filled me with hope. Tomorrow means we can actually do something about it. Tomorrow means the late grade is not already in the book. Tomorrow we can handle. As my heart began a slow waltz, he said, "We have to make an edible model of a cell. I was thinking I could make a pizza."

I thought of a pizza with meat and cheese and otherwise pricey, imported ingredients being carted off to school to be poked, breathed on and possibly licked by about 100 middle school students.

I said, "No. I think we will make a cake."

We could make a plant cell or an animal cell. Plant cells can be rectangular. We (I) decided on a 9 x 13 rectangle cake. The cakepan could be the cell wall. Brilliant! One cell part covered with no extra inconvenience.

I had an Aldi's yellow cake mix. Aldi's makes good cake mix. Plus, it is only $0.79, so that was a big plus. It called for three eggs. I told Jonathan that two eggs would serve our purpose just fine. No need to waste eggs on a science project.

Jon mixed up the cake himself and poured it into the pan, put it in the oven and set the timer. He even tested it and got it out of the oven. Clearly, I made him do some of the work.

When the cake was out of the oven, we went to Wegman's to the bulk foods candy section. I had told Jon to make a list of the cell parts we needed to illustrate, along with ideas for kinds of candy that would be good to use for each part.

We ran into a number of confused looking teenaged boys milling around bulk foods. Jon knew them. They did not have lists. Most of them did not have parents (how did they get there?). Fortunately, with both a mother and a list, Jon was quite efficient at picking out his candy. We spent approximately $0.62 on small portions of bulk candy, and $2.19 on Fruit by the Foot, which I have never bought before, but I found it next to the oatmeal (?).

Then it was time for Jon to go to youth group.

And time for me to get creative.

I decided that in order to illustrate the cell membrane, I would line my other 9 x 13 cake pan with plastic wrap (the plastic wrap being the membrane), and transfer the cake to that pan.

Unfortunately, the cake broke into about 86 pieces when I tried to take it out of the original pan (probably because I told Jon to skimp on the eggs). But I have done cake projects for school before. Many times. I am a seasoned cake-projecter, so I did not panic. I calmly fit the pieces of cake into the pan, over the cell membrane (a.k.a. plastic wrap) like a jigsaw puzzle, and made a mental note to make a generous amount of frosting.

I cut a hole out of the smashed cake. The hole was to symbolize a "Cell Vacuole." Vacuoles are bubbles in the cell where other things are not. I thought this was another brilliant idea. I was on a roll.

Then I made frosting. I made it with powdered sugar, hydrogenated vegetable shortening and water. No milk. No butter. No vanilla. This cake was all about appearances. And frugality. I did use green food coloring, even though I know, I know, I know the green in plant cells comes from the chloroplasts. I just figured that the green from the chloroplasts probably permeates the cytoplasm to some extent, and makes it appear green. It was a plant cell. It needed to be green.

About the time I finished frosting it, Jonno came home.

I made "nametags" for the little cell parts on the computer. We cut drinking straws into sections and made slits in the top so we could stick the little tags in and make signs to label our project.

Jon actually got to do the final assembly.

This is what it looked like:

The nucleus was a large yellow gumball. DJ pointed out that this was very much not to scale, but it was the biggest gumball they had. I thought later that I could have used an apple or an orange instead. (Except, I really like apples and oranges, and the gumball only cost us $0.02.)

The mitochondria were Mike & Ike's.

The ribosomes were chocolate chips.

The lysosomes were "burnt French peanuts" (?). I have never eaten these, but Jonathan said they looked the part.

The chloroplasts were green Skittles.

The (frosted) cake itself stood for the cytoplasm.

I was particularly proud of our last two creations. First I will try to explain how we did the golgi body. We bought some candy whose name I do not know. I always buy this candy at Christmas, because I really like it, but I don't know its name. The wrapper says, "Sunkist," but that is the brand, not the name of the actual candy. It is little individually wrapped patties of jellied fruit juice, coated with sugar crystals. We took three, unwrapped them, and pressed them together in a stack to make a golgi body. It was pretty cool.

The piece de resistance, however, was our endoplasmic reticulum. We took Fruit by the Foot and wrapped it back and forth in a curvey, accordian style wave. Then Jon said, "Wait! There're supposed to be ribosomes floating around in the endoplasmic reticulum!" So we rewrapped the wave, inserting chocolate chips (which, you may remember, are our ribosomes).

Another view (you can see our super-awesome vacuole in this shot):

Do you think he learned anything? I'm surprised the schools can get by with assigning projects like this. What about the poor kids whose parents don't have the time or the money or the inclination to help them? If nothing else, a project like this separates the kids with supportive parents from those without.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Thanksgiving story

We traveled to Springfield, Illinois (birthplace of Abraham Lincoln) to spend Thanksgiving with my husband's side of the family. It was a momentous occasion, because we were all there, together, for the first time in five years, and we gathered to bid farewell to Shawn's sister Wendy and her family. Her husband, John, is taking a job teaching "Ethics and Government" at Oxford University in England. They are leaving on December 30, and they will be there for five years.

Here they are with their two children, Micah (age 8) and Hannah (age 5).

Hannah is quite the character. She reveled in her position of "youngest-everything." She climbed on her big cousins, hunted them down in hide-and-seek, made them dress, undress and redress a hapless scurvey-legged doll, and demanded the reading of many books.

Here is Hannah reading a book.

Hannah particularly liked David, in perhaps the way cats always seem to "like" me (me, the one with the cat phobia). David does not particularly care for small children. He has even gone so far as to say he can't stand them. However, Hannah found his large, well-muscled body perfect for romping on--he always caught her every time she jumped or rolled or otherwise threw her tiny body at him. If I didn't know better, I'd say she gave him about as good a workout as he gets at the gym.

Oh, and she wanted him to read to her. She brought him a picture book, some silly Disney-Christmas-lift-the-flap kind of non-literature type deal, which was OK with DJ, because there were harldly any words to bother about.

They got to a page where each Disney character was bringing something to put on the Christmas tree, and you had to lift the flaps to see what each one brought.

They got to Daisy Duck, and Hannah held the flap down. "I know this one!" she told David, "I've did this one before. You have to guess. Guess what Daisy brought! I'll give you a hint... it begins with a w-w-w sound."

DJ thought and thought. He could not think of anything that Daisy would put on a Christmas tree that began with the w-w-w sound. "I just can't figure it out," he told Hannah.

Triumphantly she lifted the flap and announced, "It's WIBBONS!"

(You know, those long red ones that you use to tie up packages... DJ would never have thought of that. His sisters do his Chistmas wrapping for him, and with his crew cut, wibbons just aren't part of the daily routine.)