Saturday, May 31, 2008

Expelled: The Movie

TJ and I saw the most awesome movie about 6 weeks ago. It literally was the best movie I have ever seen, and I highly suggest paying the high cost of admission to go see it (or at least rent it when it's available!) As an educator (almost!) and having just finished a course on teaching science in the elementary grades, I can relate to how many of these educators feel- the curriculum is very restrictive and state and federal regulations make it difficult to present a non-biased position (they promote evolution). Anyway, here is an article I found and again, I urge EVERYONE to go see this movie, especially if you have children in public education. You need to know what they are being taught, especially if it goes against your religious beliefs like it does mine. Then, after you see the movie, demand answers from school district officials as to why only one viewpoint is presented in the curriculum (in SC curriculum standards, creation is viewed as a religious "fairytale" with no merit whatsoever). But, don't stop there. Go to the State Board of Education as they are the officials who decide what to include in the curriculum. Change starts with one person at a time- just look at Rosa Parks, Linda Brown (Brown vs. BOE of Topeka, KS- segregation in schools is illegal), MLK, and many others.

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The difference ‘Expelled’ will make

By William a. dembski • Reprinted with permission • © Baptist Press, April 18, 2008 - AFA Journal, June 2008

Ben Stein’s new movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed opened April 18 in theaters. It explores the widespread persecution – destruction of livelihoods, careers and reputations – of scientists who doubt Darwin’s theory of evolution and think intelligence is needed to explain life’s origin and development.

Controversy surrounds this film. Reviews tend to be extremely positive or extremely negative. Who likes it? People who think God may have had something to do with our being here and therefore find it reasonable that God may have left tangible evidence of His involvement in creation. Who hates it? A science, education and media elite who prefer that God had nothing to do with it and think that nature must do all its own creating.

Who’s right? That’s the wrong question. Anyone who has studied the history of science knows about “the pessimistic induction.” The pessimistic induction says that all scientific theories of the past have to varying degrees been wrong and required modification (some were so wrong that they had to be abandoned outright). No scientific theory is written in stone. No scientific theory should be venerated. Every scientific theory should now and again be subjected to severe scrutiny. This is healthy for science.

Expelled, by contrast, points up the unhealthy state of contemporary science regarding biological origins. Our intellectual elite have insulated Darwinian evolution from scientific scrutiny. Moreover, they have institutionalized intolerance to any criticism of it. Expelled documents this institutionalized intolerance and thereby unmasks the hypocrisy of an intellectual class that pretends to value freedom of thought and expression, but undercuts it whenever it conflicts with their deeply held secular ideals.

Spotlighting yet another sin of society is all fine and good. Happily, Expelled also suggests a way forward in the debate over biological origins. The most surprising thing viewers learn from watching the film is the flimsiness of the scientific evidence for thinking life can be explained apart from a designing intelligence – the other side’s rhetoric notwithstanding. Take Jeffrey Kluger’s review of the film for Time magazine:

“He makes all the usual mistakes nonscientists make whenever they try to take down evolution, asking, for example, how something as complex as a living cell could have possibly arisen whole from the earth’s primordial soup. The answer is it couldn’t – and it didn’t. Organic chemicals needed eons of stirring and slow cooking before they could produce compounds that could begin to lead to a living thing.”

Come again? Take some organic chemicals, slow cook them, give enough time, and out pops life? This isn’t a scientific theory. This is an article of speculative faith.

In Expelled, Stein interviews atheistic scientist after atheistic scientist, and they all admit that they haven’t a clue how life arose. There is no materialistic theory of life’s origin, and anyone who suggests otherwise is bluffing. In creating conceptual space for intelligent design, Stein, and not the dogmatic defenders of Darwin, champions true freedom of thought and expression.

Will the movie succeed in opening up discussion about evolution and intelligent design? Here we need to be realistic. As Thomas Kuhn, in his “Structure of Scientific Revolutions,” has clearly documented, those who support the status quo rarely change their views (and Darwinism is the status quo). Or, as Kuhn puts it, a new scientific paradigm (in this case intelligent design) succeeds on the graves of the old guard. Don’t expect the scientific community and intellectual elites to turn to intelligent design in response to this film. If anything, expect a backlash.

But that’s OK. The unwashed masses, in which I place myself, will love the film. Ordinary people, who often pay the Darwinists’ salaries through their tax dollars, will rightly be incensed. They’ll see that enough is enough: They will no longer be bullied by a Richard Dawkins, who tells them that if they don’t subscribe to Darwinian evolution, they’re either stupid, wicked, ignorant or insane. They will start demanding that evolution be taught honestly – warts and all. And young people will be encouraged to take up careers in science to restore its health and integrity.

Expelled’s impact will be felt immediately. But its long-term impact will be even greater. The film opens with documentary footage of the Berlin Wall going up and closes with it coming down. The day Darwinism and intelligent design can be fairly discussed without fear of reprisal represents the removal of a barrier even greater than the Berlin Wall. When future intellectual historians describe the key events that led to the fall of “Darwin’s Wall,” Ben Stein’s Expelled will top the list.

William Dembski is research professor of philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is interviewed in Expelled. For more information about the movie, visit http://www.expelledthemovie.com/.

Friday, May 30, 2008

What I've Been Working On

Here are some pictures of what I've been doing the past few days. Vacation Bible School is only 9 days away, and I have so much to do to get ready for it. I can't wait, and hope the boys I will be teaching are just as excited as I am!


A dinosaur mural- I will take a picture once I'm finished painting it because you can't see all the fine details, like a volcano erupting in the background or all the foliage surrounding the stegosaurus.

The pictures don't really do these guys justice. They are stuffed and about 3 feet in height. I am going to place them in the room around the dinosaur mural. I also have 2 huge 6 foot trees I made that will go in the corners of the room to add to the ambiance of the room.

Once I finish the dinosaur mural, I have another mural with Noah's Ark on it that I need to paint. I will take a picture of that when I finish, as well.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day!

TJ has to work most holidays so I was going to take the kids to the zoo today, but with the high cost of gas and high probability of crowds, I decided against it. Instead, we are heading to the pool later this morning. I bought some new pool toys and floats, and I hope T.G. enjoys them more this year than she did last year. Last year I had to hold her the entire time she was in the water because she hated her baby float. The boys, on the other hand, love the water and I have to make sure they stay by the steps where they can somewhat touch the bottom. Nonetheless, they are excited, and were ready to go in their bathing suits at 7:15 this morning! LOL!

I hate that TJ has to work today, but he gets a week off between Christmas and New Year's to make up for it, and it's worth it then, especially since the kids are out of school for 3 weeks during that time. Well, I have to go pack some snacks and begin the process of getting everyone lathered up with sunscreen, towels packed, toys inflated and loaded in the van, shoes on, and in the car. Yeah, with all that to do, I should be there in about 2 hours!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Best Friends, Sorta

Man, this week has flown by for us! Ta has hit two developmental milestones that have greatly affected his relationship with Th, and contributed to the peace among the family: he learned to wear flip-flops and how to pump his legs on the swing!

These are HUGE milestones for him as he was getting tired of always relying on someone me to have have to help him with his sandals and push him on the swing. Trust me, I was just as tired of having to help him! This morning, not too much before 9am, both boys were outside as I was doing laundry and other stuff downstairs. I had the windows open so I could hear and see them, and for almost an hour, they just swung together and talked. It was nice to see them relating so well. Not being close in age to either of my siblings, this type of bond is something I always wanted my own children to experience, and thankfully, they are.

I later found out they were talking about Carowinds, an amusement park in Charlotte, because we are headed there tomorrow for the first time since last summer. To say they are excited is an understatement! Ta is my daredevil, and was very disappointed last year when he was denied access on a roller coaster because he was too short. He is very small for his age, so hopefully he's grown enough to be able to ride this year. The roller coaster is all he talks about!

Speaking of small, T.G. had her 18-month check up yesterday. She finally hit the 20-pound mark! She weighs 20 pounds, 2 ounces! The doctor jokingly stated I could turn her car seat around now, knowing we turned it back in February or March- she was about 15 months old, because she was getting tired of staring into the back seat. She didn't meet the weight requirement but she was close; I think she weighed almost 19 pounds then. Anyway, she is still in the 5th percentile for weight and 25th percentile for height. My little peanut!

I have a headache today but am drinking a Mountain Dew Code Red because the doctor said what I was describing sounded like a migraine and caffeine could help. So, I am trying this with Tylenol to see if it will. If not, I received a prescription for a pain medicine but it is a narcotic and I don't want to take it unless I can go lay down.

That's about it for now. I've made a couple of meals to freeze for when I have the baby. I am going to make a third one now, plus a pizza for dinner. The boys are headed outside to, yep, you guessed it, swing! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pickin' Some Fun

I've been asked if TJ and I know our new baby's gender. Yes, we do, but we are choosing to keep it a surprise until delivery day. Some family members have gotten upset over our decision, but the surprise will be worth the wait when he/she makes his/her debut into this world. Until then, keep praying that the pregnancy will continue to be healthy and normal.



We went strawberry picking over the weekend. Th picked one gallon all by himself, while TJ and Ta picked another gallon. T.G. helped me to pick a gallon, and all 3 kids had faces that were covered with strawberries.


My mom, dad, brother, and sister (& Kaylee) went with us. Of course, whenever my dad is around, something embarrassing always happens. This was no exception. Somehow he tripped while trying to cross over a row of strawberries and fell. Except he didn't just fall, he rolled and tumbled. I couldn't get my camera on fast enough to catch him on the ground, but I did manage to take a picture of the poor strawberry plant that was smashed as a result of his fall.


Nonetheless, we had a really great time and I spent the better part of yesterday washing, slicing, and storing strawberries. I am not sure if I'll make strawberry jam or just keep the berries frozen for making strawberry shortcake and smoothies throughout the summer. That's what I did 2 years ago because every time I'd thaw the berries to make the jam, I'd sneak a bite here and there and before I knew it, there wasn't enough berries left for jam. So, we'll see what happens.

I also received another letter in the mail on Friday that I almost threw in the garbage because I thought it was "junk" mail regarding the upcoming Presidential Election. It was from Senator Wes Hayes informing me that I am the recipient of the South Carolina Human Service Providers Association Scholarship. I was nominated by the faculty of my college, and of all the nominees, Senator Hayes chose me to win. I have to go to Columbia for a luncheon/reception to accept the award on June 24th. I am so glad I didn't throw the letter away and decided to open it! It is very exciting as I have never won anything like this before. TJ is very excited for me, as well, so now we begin the task of searching for childcare so we can both attend the luncheon that day. If he can't go because of childcare issues, I won't attend alone. I realize that is silly, but without his support for all these years, I wouldn't be able to attend school and care for my home and children; my success is just as much his success.

That's about it for now. My ear is still bothering me; I can't hear 100% of the time. It's very frustrating and I completely understand how Ta felt for all those months his ears had fluid built up. I can't imagine what it would be like to have both ears feel this way like he did! He endured a lot for a very long time. I am just glad the tubes took care of the fluid problem and Lord willing everything else will resolve on its own.

*I am thankful for opportunities like strawberry picking to build lasting memories in the lives of my children. *

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Day in Pictures

A written post will follow this weekend. . . until then, enjoy these pictures from today. Such a happy, bittersweet day in our lives!

*I am thankful for Th, who has brought so much joy into my life. I love you forever more than the most!*








Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day, Doctors, Graduation, & Floors

Mother's Day was great despite being sick. Every year, I pick 2-3 pieces of the kids' artwork they made in school over the past year and from those, TJ has one piece framed from each child as their gift to me. We hang them in our playroom and it is a cute way for me to see the progress each has made from year to year. TJ's gift to me was a gift certificate for a pampering session at a local spa, which I am very excited to use! We also went out to dinner to my favorite Japanese hibachi steakhouse, and although Ta was a little frightened (until he realized TJ and the chef were friends), we had a fun time and the food was excellent.

I caved and went to the doctor last night. I’ve had a cold for a while (tomorrow will be 2 weeks) and last Friday my ear started bothering me. I was trying to hold off on going to the doctor because I have doctor's appointments scheduled on both Thursday and Friday. But, I’m glad I went because I have an ear infection, and it actually hurts worse today than it did yesterday. I can tell there is fluid built up because everything sounds muted in my left ear. It’s a strange sensation! I am on an oral antibiotic so hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow.

I am very excited about Friday. I have an ultrasound scheduled, and I think TJ and I agreed to find out what we’re having but NOT tell ANYONE so don’t ask! :) I really wanted the suspense of not knowing, but TJ wants to find out, so this is our compromise.

Friday is also Th’s preschool graduation. Along with a few other family members, TJ and I will be there, and we wouldn’t miss it for the world! This is an important milestone in his life and I am glad some will be there to share it with us. I just can’t believe my baby is entering kindergarten in the fall- where has the time gone?

My sis came back this evening, and on the way home from the airport we made a trip to the store to buy hardwood flooring for our entire first floor. We had to use her truck to haul it back home- we bought a 1/2 ton worth of flooring! I am ecstatic as this will dramatically change the look of our house and help us to sell it in the future. I can't wait for TJ to install it- hopefully it will be soon!

I think that's enough of an update for now. I am going to work on a mural for Vacation Bible School. I am teaching the 3rd/4th grade boys, and I have all kinds of fun things planned for the kids. I am thankful for the flexibility that the VBS director gives the teachers- it allows my creativity to shine in order to share the gospel of Christ.

*I am thankful for my husband, children, doctors, medicine, extended family members, the kids' preschool, and VBS- they have all impacted me in some way.*

Monday, May 12, 2008

Good Morning!

I had a great Mother's Day, and I want to share the details, but right now I have to clean some of my house while I have an hour all to myself (the kids are at preschool and I just got home from the grocery store).

Have a great Monday!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Happy Days!

I applied for some scholarships through the College of Education back in February for the next school year. The committee was to meet in April, and letters would be mailed to recipients around April 30th. Since that was last week, I had resolved that I was not a recipient, although I did win a different scholarship for $1,700 through a different source. Anyway, I received a letter in the mail today notifying me that I was selected for 3 scholarships totalling almost $8,500! So, combined with the other scholarship, I will be receiving over $10,000 in FREE MONEY for next year! I am very excited, especially as my GI Bill ends this month and I will no longer be receiving money for school through that.

Now, about Ta. I talked to my pediatrician and she agreed with me in that she did not feel Ta showed signs severe enough to warrant autism, but she suggested I go ahead and have him evaluated just to rule it out. She gave me the referral and phone number to schedule the appointment. TJ and I discussed it and I am going to wait until after his next hearing evaluation. It's not just about the cost of the evaluation, but we have to go to Charlotte again and it is a time consuming exam (3+ hours). They will evaluate him on all areas of development: speech/language, motor, social, and cognitive to determine if there are delays. Since I do not fully believe he has full-fledged signs of autism, I think it's best to use it as a "last resort" type of evaluation if we can't find any other answers through the hearing evaluation or speech/language evaluation (if it comes to that).

TJ received another job this past Monday. He went to work on Tuesday fully prepared to turn in his resignation, and did, in fact, do so. However, his boss not only matched the offer he was given by the other company, but increased it by $2,500. So, of course he is staying. What a blessing! We have been praying for a raise for over a year as TJ is a hard worker and has tons of responsibility that he was not being compensated for. . . until now.

It has been a very emotional week as we faced some stressful decisions: TJ's job situation, Ta's medical issues, and money for my final year of school are just a few that I am sharing. There are also some personal things going on that I would appreciate prayer for. TJ and I have another major change facing us that we are praying will work out as there are many, many factors involved. Thank you!

*I am thankful for answered, and unanswered, prayers.*

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A New Chapter

There is a lot going on in my life right now. It seems as if each of the kids has an "issue", and TJ is going through some job "issues", and on and on it goes. Not that the "issues" are bad, but they have required lots of prayer and thought and discussions on our part, so it's been emotionally draining on my part.

First, Th received his acceptance letter from the Montessori school this past Saturday. I am so excited, as is he! This was a definite answer to prayer and one we have been waiting for since February.

Ta had his post-op appointment today with the ENT doctor. It went okay. He passed his hearing test, and most people would think that was good news, but I was speechless. Just last week his preschool teacher said something to me when I was picking him up about how all day he had trouble hearing her. TJ and I have noticed him having difficulty at home, too. TJ joked that when Ta went today, he was going to be fitted for hearing aids. So, what does this mean?

Well, he is having a more thorough evaluation performed by 2 audiologists at the end of the month. We have to drive to Charlotte for the appointment, so I will need to get a babysitter for the other children. Plus, the ENT wrote up a condensed report for me to give to my pediatrician. He thinks she (my ped) needs to consider screening Ta for a mild form of Autism. Yes, you read that correctly. Here is a quote directly from the report: "Needs ear specific hearing test. May need speech pathology eval. Must still be concerned regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder. Follow up after audio." I have been thinking about that all morning and balancing the signs back-and-forth in my mind. Yes, he does show a few of the signs (a late talker, he only said 3 words at the age of 2; he fixates, or to use the clinical term, perseverates, on certain things; he tantrums often) but he makes excellent eye contact, he enjoys playing with other children and will initiate play with others, he initiates conversations, and his communication skills seem to be up to par for his age now. I tried to get an appointment with my pediatrician to talk to her personally but of course, the phone mafia wouldn't let me get through to her and because it's not a "sick" or "well" visit, I can't just schedule an appointment. I left a message for the doc to call me back, and she did, only I missed the call. Talk about frustrating! I am left to keep waiting and praying.

So, in the meantime, he will go for a further hearing evaluation and depending on those results, he will have a speech/language evaluation to determine if there are other issues going on that are restricting his receptive communication. I have to keep a log to bring to the hearing appointment that documents all the times I notice him having difficulty hearing at home (like, for instance, when I call the kids and he doesn't answer but the others do, or times that he says, "What you say?" and I have to repeat myself) and his teacher needs to do the same for the mornings he's with her at preschool. It's going to be arduous, especially because already today I have had an instance where he didn't answer me, but I didn't have paper/pen handy so it didn't get written down and I don't recall all the specific details (time of day, environmental noise, what he was doing, what I was doing, etc).

I will save the news about TJ's job situation for a later date. I am tired and my brain hurts from thinking. Has that ever happened to you?


*I am thankful this is happening after the semester has ended and I can focus all of my attention on the needs of my children.*

Friday, May 2, 2008

It's Over!

Another semester is behind me, well almost. I still have 2 more finals but I don't actually have to study for them or anything. In one class, we are having presentations. In the other class, we are retaking a test that we took the first day of class. It's a 4th grade standardized Social Studies test. My instructor is using it to assess our learning in her class, so it's not graded, just compared to when we first took it. Nothing to study for or stress about.

I am sick, too. I have a cold (thanks Th!) and Th has not been sleeping well, meaning I haven't either. He is sleeping on the floor at night, right next to me. Every time he stirs or coughs or moans or wakes, I wake up and try to get him situated again. Plus, with the stress of a final this morning at 8am, I had difficulty falling asleep and getting back to sleep once I woke up. I kept thinking of my study guide and the questions I needed to review. I think I got a solid 3 hours of sleep last night!

I have another final today at 11:30. I might leave here and go take a nap until 10:30 or so. We'll see. My parents and brother should be in town around 1:30, so once I get home this afternoon, we'll be busy and there won't be time to sleep.

I just hope I am feeling better by the morning!