Sunday, 30 September 2007

And then there were four......

So, well, this weekend was really blessed. We harvested many tomatoes and peppers before the frost. We spent a lovely time with relatives. I caught up on the laundry for now and.......

Then I peed on a stick. (See side bar for picture of results. ;)...)

About 4 years ago, after 2 years of trying, we were told by a doctor that we would statistically likely not ever conceive a child without fertility drugs/treatment. We delayed treatment. About two months later we were pregnant with Lil'Bug. Ha. We were not surprised that, as she's turning 3 soon, she is still an only child. What did surprise us was the results of the stick.

:) We are blessed yet again. Lil'Bug is thrilled, we are ecstatic, and.....well, there is so much happiness welling up inside that I, for once, am left wordless (for now).

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Saturday Night at the Vinyard

Our local farm land is pretty good for sweet wines. The people who manage this particular vineyard also like music and having people over to see their every Saturday while it is somewhat warm (sometimes bewilderingly hot) they host a local band at the grange house. Lil'Bug was quite upset that we went to a music show without her (it was 14 and up) so we promised to find her a show this week: so the reggae/jazz fusion band from Iowa City, that wasn't really good enough to link to, it was.

Even though we are spoiled by are recent visit to the most talented band in the world ever's show, the over all experience of this outing was good. They have a herd of Elk that come to the fence when the music plays, the weather was perfect, the sky was clear, moon was almost full, we could even sorta see the space station with the binoculars, and Lil'Bug danced and danced.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Music Class....we do what?!?!?!?!

Yeah, What She Said......

bounds into music class the way she bounds into everywhere she goes and starts singing the Tiny Tim Frog song. The teacher asks her if she like frogs. Lil'Bug says, "Oh yes!" I say that she's really good at catching them. Lil'Bug explains to the teacher that the song is all wrong because eating soap and drinking bathwater is really bad for you. She chatters on a bit. The teacher asks her if she likes butterflies........

"Oh yes! Mom and I catch um. Then we fry them up and eat them! Yum!"

That's right. Everyone turns to look at me. "Uh, no we don't."

"Yes we do mom!"

Awkward silence. Teacher starts class.

No. We. Don't. In case you were wondering. She also told the Science Center guy that we eat turtles in soup.


Birthday Parties

I think I have it. After a lovely playdate yesterday and then some quiet reflection time, I contemplated something LIfedreamed said about how she does birthday parties: only big parties for the bigger birthdays, like 5 and 10.

Hmmm. I thought. No one else in our family celebrates with a big party unless it is a BIG milestone, then no one else is under 5 either. :) We don't do cakes, we do eat out and maybe splurge on dessert. We do a thoughtful gift or two.

Her birthday does fall on a park day.....

So last night Dearest Husband and I talked about it and decided.........

Drumroll please.....

We will bring healthy cupcakes to park day. We will stay late and grill dinner. Hopefully family can join us after work. I will let Lil'Bug wear whatever dress/cape/superhero hat she wants too. (Well, she does that anyway....)

If it rains or is waaaaaay too cold, then we will probably go to the Science Center AND we will remember to tell people of our plans. I don't mean a Science Center birthday party....just friends meeting up there. We can eat cupcakes in the cafeteria. No big deal. Just friends. She's always delighted when we run into friends at the places we visit. Then we will go out to eat with family.

I know, I know......cheating her out of some mandated cultural norm. Some families throw big parties for every member, complete with cake, mixed drinks, and lots of rowdy family/friend fun. That's just not us. I think if we did it for just her it would imbalance the harmony of our family. We can make her feel special in ways that fit with how we live our life. I hope I make her feel special and loved everyday.

When she turns 5 maybe something different.

Math Thoughts, Revisited.....

I heard someone the other day talking about how we don't really encounter "Math" as its taught in the "real world". Baloney. That's what I say. Totally baloney. Maybe that individual doesn't, but why limit the child to whatever that person's life is? I use math, as it was taught to me, all the time, as an English teacher, as a mother, as a checking account holder, as a homeowner, no less, maybe more......

Here are some examples.......grading papers, calculating weighted grades, disputing excuses (a student wrote on her quiz her work schedule instead of the answer.....I noted out the "not working" hours available, subtracted sleep and eat and drive time (based on her home address and address of work/ legal speed limit), factored in the average reading speed to the amount of words in the assigned essay and calculated that she could have read the assigned reading 152 times in the time she had available. The calculation ended with the note that her quiz score was 0....and I was docking an extra 10 points for annoying me into doing complicated math. None of my students ever did that to me again! :)....) So that was a teaching moment and amused me at the same time....yes, I said it annoyed me, but really I did it to satisfy my need for sarcasm.

Anyway, we use math to garden, to buy paint, to buy food, cook food, do taxes, calculate pension, raises, and other monetary issues. We use math to fill our autos with fuel, to fill our yard machines with oil/fuel mixtures. All of this needed to be slowly added to our skill set before we were presented with the real life math.

Maybe their point was that the math they were "taught" was useless. Maybe.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

More Random Fun!

A while back I posted a comment on an invitation to a random meme. Ron got back to me right away, but I was stuck on his questions. That's right, writer's block. So, like any obstacle is overcome, I sat down and worked it out over several days.

What is the age of your current home? built in 131 years old.

What style is it? Where do I even begin? It is a mix, so "eclectic"; it has a seven gabeled roof (Queen Anne), corbels (Italianate style), Eastlake sticking and windows- including the stain glass patterns (Eastlake is not an architectural style but has been merged with the term "Stick Victorian", Italianate doors, and the list goes on. That era was all about picking things that don't go together and making them work- at all odds with the practical sometimes.

How does the word vortex apply to your blog? It is from Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide. I like the little parable. Sometimes I am so self absorbed that I cannot see the big picture and my family gets sucked in. My blog is like the opposite of that machine: I get to focus on all things from my perspective. Still a vortex.

As an English professor do/did you teach primarily grammar/function, writing or literature? Yes, all of those, if the students are paying attention. As it is I must grade multitudes of papers and sometimes teach former high school students to love learning via the beauty of the comma.

Pick a post from the main page of a blog from your reading list that you would like everyone to (re)read: Child's Play has an interesting post up about linear and non linear thinking. I'm still processing it.

Monday, 24 September 2007


Here is verbatim what the NEA has written, which can be found on their pdf file,
but you will have to visit Happy and Free to get the link. I couldn't get it to post right.

B-75. Home Schooling (their pp 36, pp 45 of the pdf file)
The National Education Association believes that homeschooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, students enrolled must meet all state curricular requirements, including the taking and passing of assessments to assure adequate academic progress. Home schooling should be limited to the children of the immediate persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used.
The Association also believes that home-schooled students should not participate in any extracurricular activities in the public schools.
The Association further believes that local public school systems should have the authority to determine grade placement and/or credits earned toward graduation for students entering or re-entering the public school setting from a home school setting. (1988, 2006)
The above resolution is a little too 1984 for me.

Yike. I'm paying lots of attention to federal mandates and the organizations that lobby for what becomes legislation for homeschoolers. According to the above, I could be exempt because I can easily get "licenced" since I teach college.

I have a problem with the general idea of this for heaps of reasons. I think it is foolish to think that licensed=good teacher, just as having a drivers licenced does not make you a good driver and a Bachelor's degree does not instantly qualify you for any job. 2) What happened to all of our choices? Are they going to invade private schools and force them to use mandated curriculum too? What's next? TV? Radio? Books? Maybe they will get to decide how you parent your baby and Baby Einstein will be required for x amount of hours per child each day and crib and formula use will be mandated and not optional. Maybe people with x medical problem will be required to take x pharmaceutical as mandated by the state. No, how we choose to educate our children is our choice. I understand the need for "oversight" to prevent severe cases of abuse but this invasion is a totally different level for very different reasons.

My Center of Gravity

I woke up from nightmares last night and the anxiety has not yet subsided. I need to find inner balance and physical balance because we are ice skating this afternoon!

Why am I feeling so off? I am not sure. I didn't eat well over the weekend. I didn't sleep well either. I am very stressed out over the house and all that it entails. I am feeling a creative block lately as all of my creative energy has been tied up in the house for the last 9 years. Though I did remember that the phone call I forgot to make (the nagging feeling that I was forgetting something all morning) was to the vet for Kitty's check up and possible spay/neuter. Easy enough to remedy.

Also, planning a three year old's birthday party is not an easy feat. It should be easy. Park Day + Cake + Games = one happy tot. Right? No. Late October the weather may be too cold or rainy and park day is during the day and all family have day jobs except me. We have vetoed the house as a location. It is not even up for discussion. This makes me a little sad. Zoos, Science Centers, Chuck E. Cheeses....all too expensive. Not asking MIL. Not fair to her. GAH!!!!!!!!!! Why is it so freaking hard? Every birthday we've been to 'cept one has been at the family's house.

Any ideas?

Saturday, 22 September 2007

How Often is Too Often?

We've been having a series of lively discussions around here regarding housecleaning. Housecleaning is NOT my superpower. I can walk through an old house that is cut up and mangled into apartment units and tell you the original floor plan/location of fireplaces and pocket doors, ect.....BUT I cannot clean a toilet and I have no idea where to begin to clean the oven. Flylady made me neurotic and I had a shine-y sink for about a week and began to call my shoes loathers instead of loafers. Happy Slob is nice but, while motivating, doesn't give me step by step instructions for some of these tasks.

The latest contention around here is that I mop too much. ????? I'm good at mopping. I even have an industrial tile scrubber that I whip out once a month (maybe that is overkill, but it is sooo fun!). The kitchen floor never looks dirty (awesome slate tile in greens and browns), but it never looks clean to me either. I mop about twice a week, when it gets sticky. Is that too much? Tell me it is not too much. :) I also vacuum as often. We have hardwood floors but the broom and the dog hair seem to have a truce so I must come in with the anti dog hair strike- the cyclonic vacuum.

Also, I am not really that bad. I do try. I hope some of my mama friends who have visited can chime in and reassure my husband that our house is not worthy of intervention on the Oprah show.

Friday, 21 September 2007

A Gigantic Nuclear Furnace

No, this is not another TMBG post. :)

It is somebody's birthday around here this week. So, those of you who work with not hug, sing to, or cajole him. Just smile knowingly and tell him I said "hey."

I am still working on his present. I have not had time to work on it so it might end up being a Christmas gift. I'll post pictures when its done. I did clean the house but that was more for the guys we don't know that want to buy our house that came over yesterday for a second walk through. WHOO HOO!

Wednesday, 19 September 2007


That's right. Me. I scampered back into the concert hall and played the giddy and sweet girl with camera. The sound guy who looks like a mini John took the picture of ME WITH JOHN FLANSBURG! It's Istanbul, you know.

Dearest husband was hesitant to go where the people are not allowed.... so he did not get to be in the picture! Me, I figured they would haul me out by the elbows if I wasn't supposed to be there. That did not happen and I got the above picture.

They locked the doors after that.

She's a Jumping Bean with neat concert pictures

Ok, I AM the jumping bean. This show was awesome. I now really have camera envy, but these are pictures that my little 2 Mega Pixel camera took sans flash:

This is not a test.....

Opening band? Oppenheimer, a group (two cool guys) from Northern Ireland. I LOVE this band. I've been listening on the ITunes radio for months now. I was thrilled when they started the set. After, I excused myself the "restroom" and found them:

That's right! That's me with cool robot voice guy. I'm one cool mommy blogger, let me tell you. Not, however, as cool as these guys: Rocky O'Reilly (Guitar, keys, percussion, mac) Shaun Robinson (Vocals, drums, keys, guitars). Rocky is the one with the cool hair and the robot voice in the music. Shaun plays drums and does vocals. That in itself is pretty impressive, but Dear Husband says it also means he has to drink and do drugs and girls enough for both a lead singer and a drummer and that's the impressive part. Hmph. These two guys play this incredibly complex beautiful music live and on stage and they are really nice.

The Lion's on the Phone

We arrived early. No mere law of inertia or geography or meteorology would keep my husband from arriving on time. He drove like a nut, no big deal since that's how he always drives. I teased him at one point about possibly missing an exit and he flushed red. Heh. :)

Did I mention we arrived early? Parked really close and went in. Concert starts at 8pm, doors open at 7pm, we arrive at 5:44pm. Dear Husband wants to argue that point but our parking stub gives him away. :) Anyway, he doesn't want to leave the building to get food someplace where the food is actually edible because he doesn't want to miss sound check or be at the end of a line. Some guy directs us to a "line at the bottom of the stairs." Oh, those stairs, we say as we return from the basement food court (at the IMU). The line is more like a pile of three (3) people. Two of which are actual stalker groupies.

We go eat at previously mentioned food court. Yuck. Then we return to the pile of people. Soon we are joined by a doctor from Dubuque and his wife who have never seen TMBG live but are big fans. Dr. guy has a vintage T-shirt and discussion blooms about albums, radio play, songs, live shows (groupies chime in)...and the line grows to 15 people. At 7 we are let upstairs. Gen Admis. in a place with no seats means that the only benefit from waiting in the lobby and eating crap food is....well, we got to buy T-shirts early? :)

Here is my view before the show (note how low the stage is, how close up people are allowed, and remember that I am the size of a malnourished twelve year old....):

There's a Little Birdhouse in my Soul 1

Last night was neat. We went to see They Might Be Giants in Iowa City. TMBG was the first band I heard when exiled at my aunts farm in CO at age 14 that was not Debbie Gibson or Madonna radio pop. I bought Apollo 18. Good stuff.

When I moved to Iowa at age 17 there was a high school radio station. One of the DJ's played Benny Goodman, the Violent Femmes. and TMBG right in a row. I drove down to meet this guy in Iowa who had my exact same musical tastes. He was really nice. I met him again on and off as friend of friends and such. 12 years later? We are married with one small tot.

So you see, TMBG runs deep in our family. Lil'Bug says Giants are her favorite band. I think new York City is one of the most beautiful love songs ever. My husband has almost every album ever including but not limited to the concert downloads from their website.

On to the concert.....

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Little Dancer in my thoughts on our lifestyle

Today was our first day of fall Music Together. It was awesome. Lily asked to wear her spinning dress and declared at the end of class, "I love my new teacher!" She danced and danced and sang and was excited to hear that in this class the instrument is the flute. I grumbled a bit when they didn't include it in the welcome packet, but we do already have a recorder at home. I was hoping for a pan flute since that's what on the CD and we do not already have one. Meh. We'll just have to get one on our own.

I also set up her phonics computer game. She doesn't do the mouse very well so it was the two of us clicking through together. She does know her letters and sounds better than I thought and even a few words too. She wanted to do this for hours and hours and hours. It sure does take a big dose of patience parenting and homeschooling but the trade off is definitely sitting next to me delighted!

I've been thinking more about TV lately and my personal relationship with it. I grew up with cable TV, 100 channels with nothing on. We would watch and watch and watch. I don't object to watching movies because 1) there is an intention when putting one in the player and 2) there is a lot less selling than the commercial driven networks. I realized that what I object to the most is the advertising. I object to being advertised at. I object to exposing my child to this. She recently saw an ad for Chuck E. Cheese's. She's never been nor do we intend to take her there unless someone else is hosting a birthday party and that is unlikely that anyone in our friend circle will do that, but she's been talking about it incessantly- because of an advertisement. Blah.

Our lifestyle in general is different from mainstream Americans. We grow food, bake bread, read to each other, oh, and homeschool our almost three year old. That last one really puts us out there. Why? I've always been eccentric, artsy, and well read so I am used to being different, but even among our "crunchy" friends we seem to stick out a bit. I'm not sure why it is bothering me today.

Now for your obscure pop culture reference: I'm squishing your head!
Squish squish squish.....

Oh, and that is a chocolate goatee she has. Dark chocolate. Yum. I had one too- we had a really fun lunchtime. :)

Weekly Topics Vote

On the table this week is another Random Meme that I am working on the answers to. For some reason I am having writer's block! :)

Last week's vote the results were very much for showing my art projects in progress. I shall try to have them up for Thursday.

I also plan today to post my modified zucchini bread/muffin recipe and my chai tea recipe.

We had our first fall music class today. Music class? Aren't we unschoolers? Indeed. It's a music together class to teach me, the tone deaf rhythmically challenged mama, how to dance and sing joyfully. Lil'Bug is just along for the fun of it all.

She also has been bugging me for ice skating experience. It's 95 billion degrees here in Iowa and she wants to ice skate! She saw some clip on PBS about Olympic ice dancing and then Arther's sister DW (also PBS) was worrying about learning. I thought at first Lil'Bug was just imitating TV script but she asked after dinner for me to teach her and woke up in the middle of the night upset from a dream where she fell on the ice trying to learn to jump. So I must make an effort to find a free skate open to tots locally in the humid hot end of summer of Iowa. Geesh, what a challenge.

That's about it. Oh, and we are entering birthday party season around here. We know sooooo many people with fall born children, including mine. I am really awful at the whole gift thing and we usually end up gifting cash but I always feel lazy about that.

Just random ramblings I know. :)

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Living History

I'm going to include more pictures from our farm day here BUT I'd also like to reflect on the place we went a bit. It is a "living history" farm. I used to work at a museum across town that was a part time living history (read, I had to dress up for tours) and from my museum experience I know a lot about the behind the scenes of what makes these places work. We often shared resources and once I had to stump to save their State funding from being line itemed out of that year's budget.

It gets my goat when tour guides tell the kids that the upstairs portions are blocked off because its not safe. That's not true. They are blocked off to the general public because of ADA compliance laws, which I find ironic since most of the grounds were inaccessible to those who travel with limited off road mobility. The upstairs are perfectly safe. Do not lie to my kid.

I did appreciate however that the guides at the 1750 farm site did not dress up as Native Americans. That would have been Disneyish and silly. I also thought it amusing when the guide there explained that they didn't start the cooking fire today because a "school" group was coming through and the kids mess with the fire. Ha. Our "school" group was angelic. She meant the 30+ 6th graders up the road.

I did not see anywhere signs posted and had to ask about the buildings' authenticity. What I mean by this: many of the sites were replica buildings built new and authentic buildings moved in to the new foundations to create a false historical setting. It is a learning tool but they are supposed to make it very clear what is real and what is set up for learning purposes like a movie set. The original buildings are impressive but not a whole town and 4 eras of farms.

The employees, other than having a rote script when asked questions sometimes (see ADA reference, gah), are amazing with children. In my experience, we have had ok days, but today was by far one of Lil'Bugs favorite days at the farm. That was in no small part due to the encouragement and interaction of the guides.

One other minor item to note: two of the town buildings were closed off due to fire damage. Arson. I asked and was told that the arsonist(s) broke into the buildings and were burning specific items on the floor which caused structural damage. ???? Who does that? Why? I'm going to look up the articles in the local news and ask at the State Office and see if there is more to this story that gets told to school groups and moms with tots on a day outing.

A Taboo Topic

I know. I'm going from cute kid fluff to serious topics and it's scary, but this has been weighing on me all summer. A friend told another friend who thought she might be pregnant not to tell anyone, not anyone, until she's at least 3 months along. Why? Two reasons, it is considered bad luck and/or she might miscarry.

Right. IMHO this is specifically a reason TO share and share early. How are we supposed to support each other otherwise?

She and many others miscarry their babies. Not having shared the possible joy they can not share their grief. It is isolating and heartbreaking to face such a huge thing alone, likely over and over again. One of my virtual blogger friends is blogging about this right now. How very brave of her. She's facing the added emotional facet of running an Internet business that caters to custom made baby things. Can you even imagine how hard this must be for her? Also, knowing that others have had loss doesn't help. It doesn't lessen the fear, pain, and the heartbreak.

I cried reading her posts. It really got me wondering why the topic is so taboo and where it got its roots, but I couldn't find anything. I did find this:

Besides the feeling of loss, a lack of understanding by others is often important. People who have not experienced a miscarriage themselves may find it hard to empathize with what has occurred and how upsetting it may be. This may lead to unrealistic expectations of the parents' (plural) recovery. The pregnancy and miscarriage are hardly mentioned anymore in conversation, often too because the subject is too painful. This can make the woman feel particularly isolated.

Interaction with pregnant women and newborn children is often also painful for parents who have experienced miscarriage. Sometimes this makes interaction with friends, acquaintances and family very difficult.

I found this on a comment section of A Little Pregnant:
There's an unreasonable taboo against talking about infertility and miscarriage. I learned that the hard way after having a grisly 2nd-trimester miscarriage in 2002. Since I'd had such a public miscarriage -- I'd gone from having a noticeable pregnant belly complete with kicking baby inside to being flat-stomached and irrepressibly weepy -- many friends came up to me with stories of miscarriages and fertility problems I never knew they'd had. Friends. Good friends. People I'd seen naked, for godsakes, and they'd never dared to speak about their miscarriages until I had mine......I just can't understand why it's considered OK for mothers to discuss baby poop blowouts and how many stitches they got in the perineum after labor, and yet we're still shy about talking about pregnancy failure.

I found another passage that linked the shame of pregnancy loss to the fathers and that historically it was looked at as their failure. That's why it was shameful to speak of it historically. So why are we still holding on to that?

I don't understand. If a friend of mine were suffering I would want to know and I would want to help, not that there is anything at all anyone can do. I can't think of the right things to say to end these thoughts.

Friday, 14 September 2007

A Lovely Day Out, Dusty, but Lovely

We had an absolutely lovely day. We met LifeDreamed L. and her little man in person. We played hard at the farm. We enjoyed the company of friends and friendship that is offered without clauses. It was really lovely.

Actually, it's been a week like this, but that's for another blog. This one is just for the fun pictures of my Lil'Bug helping at the farm.

List of things she got to do:
Feed the pigs slops, haul firewood, pull kernels off of corncobs, sweep a utility room, gather eggs, feed chickens (ice-cream grass), print a poster note, wash her hands with lye soap, scrape bison hide, ride the horse drawn omni-bus, play, play, and oh!

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Random Question Meme

Don over at Gookins presented an opportunity for a meme and how could I pass it up?
Here are his questions and my answers:

1. Since you are an English instructor, your first question is in traditional essay question format. Compare and contrast teaching college students to homeschooling your daughter.
Lil'Bug isn't jaded yet. That's the only contrast.

Ok, seriously... My classroom is an refuge sometimes for many of the students that walk through my door. I don't lecture and I don't teach. They teach, they learn, they help each other. I provide them with tools, hold their hands, and facilitate their discoveries. Oh, I grade and deal with red tape, but they pick the subjects to write about, they ask questions, I show them how to find the answers (even if I know the answer). It is as close to unschooling as a classroom can be. They leave my class with skills not just obligatory grades on paper. I also don't fail students who are willing to work and learn. If a student wants to revise over and over to get a better grade they have an extended time to do so. Learning comes from failing, not just from getting it right the first time. I can blog about some of the exercises I do that are interactive and student led if you like. It is exactly my approach to Lil'Bug. I encourage my students to find their passion and write about that. I "teach" process not content. It is way harder than the talking head/textbook model that I was (mostly) taught with in college. I model it after history teachers I had at Drake...they would take us outside and let us dig tranches with historical artifacts to learn about WWI, bring in food when discussing the royalty of France and their attempted escape across the French countryside, and we read Shakespeare with maps and special effects. It was way cool.

2. You are stranded on a desert island and can choose 5 books to keep with you; what would they be?
The Complete Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy
The Complete Sherlock Holmes
The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead (it was a toss up between this and the Army Survival Manual, but zombies won out. Same stuff plus bonus material on, well, zombies....)
The volume of the Theodore Sturgeon collection that has the short novella "Bright Music"
The Cajun to English dictionary: what better time to learn my ancestors language than when stranded on a desert island!

3. What’s in your CD player (or on your iPod) right now? Madness: the Peel Sessions

4. You’re restoring an old house. What is it about older houses that you prefer over new ones?
Materials, craftsmanship, and artistry. I love that the carpenter, an anonymous worker, left his mark in so many ways that when I go into another local house I can tell if it was the same guy. I love that the house shaped the lives of its inhabitants in so many eras including me and vice versa. I love how every detail has a purpose and reason: the transoms control droughts, the step that squeals, the old cistern, etc. Every detail also leads to a story. I love that the stories can lead us to common experience and demonstrate in real ways how history and major events affect people at home. I wrote my thesis on this theme. I can talk about it for hours, days, years on end. I've only been in a few homes built with as much detail and quality material and care that were built new. Even if I someday build a new house we will use salvaged architectural material.

5. Your pick. Choose at least one of the following questions:
-What was your most embarrassing moment?
When I was a new mom and just learning to breastfeed (and still on Percoset) I didn't button my shirt up properly (meaning, no undergarments and gaping open wide). I went the whole afternoon shopping and ended up at my MIL's. They said nothing either, but my MIL offered me a new winter coat. When I went to try it on I noticed. I was terribly embarrassed. They were kind enough to say nothing, but I cried the whole way home. I have a couple others that made the final list, but that was the most.
-If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would have purple hair, the same colour it was when DH and I were married in 1999.
-If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Elemental. I would love to have Storm's abilities. Sometimes a good thunderstorm would come in handy.
-If you could be any animal, what would it be?

Wanna play too?
The Rules of the Meme:

1. Leave me a comment saying anything random, like [the title and artist of the song stuck in your head or a food that you cannot eat because it grosses you out]. Something random. Whatever you like.
2. I respond by asking you five personal questions so I can get to know you better.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and offer to ask someone else in the post.
5. When others comment asking to be asked, you will ask them five questions.

How I know?

At a recent playgroup/picnic a fellow mom stepped on a bee. She couldn't get the stinger out and was in a lot of pain. I'm good at crisis (just not the hello and how are you part). What did we have on hand to help? I had nail clippers and lemon juice and ice (I bring that for Lil'Bug and me to drink instead of plain water).

So after introducing myself through performing stinger extraction on a stranger's foot, someone asked, "How did you know that would help?"

Well, it's a long story. Most if it is common sense: ice reduces swelling, reduced swelling makes the stinger easier to get out. Lemon juice is a natural astringent and would soften the spot by moisture. I did use tweezers that someone brought and not the nail clippers for the final bit.

But I have removed many burs and slivers from farm animals. That's really it. I've been thinking about this over the weekend. I know most of what I do about life from the summers on my aunt's ranch. I studied her EMT manuals because I wanted to be a trauma surgeon. EMT's do basic field triage. The animals would be freaked out when you were treating them, extracting a tick or splinter, etc.

But everyday learning was more diverse than just that. My uncle taught me about engine repair and chemistry. Over dinner we'd discuss world history and politics. My aunt was a collector of many things and the history of things often made them more valuable. She also collected acres. I would spend the mornings after chicken chores exploring those woods, gullies, and pastures. I found a petrified stump once and upon returning to school the science teacher informed me that I could not have found such a thing in rural eastern Colorado. He called me a liar. It's not like I could even lift the thing to bring it out of the woods. My family knew it was there. They verified what it was. That was enough, but it was also enough to squelch my enthusiasm for science classes and teachers. Later I learned that it was likely a petrified palm tree. Another farmer found it (or one near it) and hauled it in to the Natural History Museum in Denver.

But really, how do I know what I know? I retain a lot of what seem like useless trivia but I can't for the life of me remember the names of most of the new people I met. What good outside of academia is knowing the bazillion proper uses for commas? (Oh, not in my own writing of brain shuts off grammar when I am writing; gah.)

But when asked the question...I shrugged my shoulders and mumbled something about animals on the farm.

Think that's the end of it? Oh no, my friends, I spent the next couple weeks studying the life cycle of the Iowa wasps. How to control them, kill them, what makes them tick, what the chemistry is behind their stings, even wasp anthropology (though I think that's the wrong term).

Now I know these additional things: any meat tenderizing agent (vinegar, lemon juice, orange juice, etc.....oh, and meat tenderizer) will neutralize the sting venom; aggressive male drones will all die with the winter freeze (read, do not feel guilty killing them unless you plan to use poison); and smoke will stun/daze them. I also now know that if one demonstrates sufficient interest in such a small matter as keeping park day wasp free, one gets designated official beekeeper and must dig out the smoker from the apiary supplies. So much for social skills, eh?

Making bread at midnight

Everything seems to get more interesting if you add ...."at midnight". What's interesting about making bread at a normal time? Well, aside from the unusual event of anybody actually making bread at home anymore.

It's actually a poem by Sheryl St. Germain. A really crazy beautiful poem. I lost one of her books to a friend who borrowed it and then stopped calling, so I assume not everyone shares my opinion! :) Sheryl was also my thesis advisor at ISU for a bit. She left the last year (took me 4 years to finish as a part timer.) What happened was that she moved to the East coast. Would have been nice to get an email that said, "Well, now you need to find a replacement advisor, ha ha" instead of a generic to everybody in her address book, "I love PA and my new job! Bye!" Really? How nice I thought. Then, (*&98&;;(*7(*^^$%$%#$%#%&I&()()_*&....... how am I supposed to find a replacement with 3 months left before defense?!

I digress. What I am trying to write about is actually midnight. I pick pumpkins at midnight. I drink tea at midnight. I tend to get time to blog, read blogs, paint, and think at midnight. The only thing I can't seem to do is sleep. Coincidentally it is the only thing that, at least to me, does not sound more poetic/interesting if you add "at midnight."

What makes this such an interesting hour (aside from the police scanner)? There is nothing good on TV, everyone is asleep, laundry still threatens to topple....but it is quiet and clear outside. Sometimes it is quiet and clear inside too.

Add this to the list: Lil'Bug playing midnight.

Monday, 10 September 2007

2nd Board of Teal

This board has not decided which way is up yet. It is in the second layer stage where the bare bones of the subject are roughed in. Also, Lil'Bug flicked paint at me so it also has crimson added. I actually like the colour blending at this point.

This is also gouache and pencil on latex covered board.

Cool Spider Picture at the Lion House

Pelican Harvest

We went on another field trip with the Polk County Conservation Program. We went to see the American White Pelican migration/nesting ground...but it was underwater. There was one nest in a tree. That was very cool.

Dearest Husband got us some really wicked binoculars and PCCB provided long range telescopes. The best part of the trip out there was the friends. We had an awesome day.

We also saw an immature bald eagle hunting fish, a neat bug, and various other pelican related water birds.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Good days seem hard to come by

Good days. It's all a perspective right? Today was tough in the middle. Mommy/daughter/cat clashes. We went swimming but the tension continued(s). After a delicious burrito dinner I threw kid into the back yard and proceeded to pull/cut/destroy weeds. Then I tied up my raspberry bushes finally. Let me tell you what, that is an itchy and painful affair. Not very pretty either, but we might harvest enough for jam this fruiting. Not enough for Christmas gifts, but enough for ourselves and that is the point of much of our gardening. Oh, and while I did this Lil'Bug managed to unwind all my twine and capture herself, "In the name of the hundred acre woods!" Man she's a funny funny little Pooh Bear fan.

I am trying to get the yard cleaned up by Saturday when we finally stick the FOR SALE.....SOON sign up in the yard for the benefit of the 30 people that go on our neighborhood house tour that are typically diverted around our block. Chad intends to work on the front landscaping and smile at those who do stop and gawk. I am really sad about the house sale process actually getting underway...but happy too.

The picture is this week's harvest. We are finally ripening the volunteer little orange tomatoes. They are sweet and tart. Before I had a chance to replant the lettuce bed with beans, they sprouted up and took over the entire bed. Crazy.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

De-Cluttering is hurting our economy or why my mess is patriotic

Clutter= costs you money because you can't find things you need so you end up buying more AND/OR you break the stuff you own (see below) and have to replace it AND/OR when stuff gets stolen you don't know for days and then really have no idea what all is gone anyway (so no insurance claim possible).

Wow. I know, bold statement, eh? Here's the summary: Clutter costs you money= supporting our economy= patriotic. Right?

So here's an example of how I work to support the economy. Say lovely wife (that's me) decides that all her files and pictures need to be backed up (after a scary, dog and cat smash the computer right off the table, incident- such a bad week around here) so she spends a mere $15 for husband, dearest husband to spend all of his free time for the next two weeks backing up said files. Oh, an external drive must be purchased too. Ok, fine. Par. But what if there is nowhere to put the stack of CD's in the clutter we call the library room?

Perhaps it would go down like this: the amazing lindy hopping vacuum dancing wife is jiving like a hep cat, actually cleaning for once instead of just chasing tot, and knocks into the desk (aka the precariously stacked mountain of stuff in which sometimes husband lurks with electronics). Jazz music is so loud she doesn't hear the crash and proceeds to, after a bit and a song change, foxtrot on to fallen pile of fragile and brittle CD's, or should I call them splintered bits of plastic?

Ok. Do not panic. Now I have to shop and buy some more which will undoubtedly lead to extraneous impulse purchases. Purchases support our economy and improve morale of both the shopper and the worker, (and the employed debt counselors), right? Patriotic, eh? The library is now vacuumed and I'm supporting our economy.

This is just an example of one tiny corner. Imagine what I would avoid destroying if everything had a place to be stored all lovely like. You have no idea the destruction that occurs by my graceful enthusiasm every freakin' day around here.

Oh, and sorry about the landslide in your office dearest, most capable, efficient, wonderful, loving, and forgiving husband. Oh, and the back up files that you might now have to re-do. Oops. But I'm just being patriotic so you cannot be very mad at me. ;)

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Harry Potter Fan

I finally got to see Order of the Phoenix! It all started when the Target check out girl commented on my HP pajama T-shirt (hey now, surely others end up wearing PJ shirts to get groceries?) and I realized that the OP would be leaving the IMax soon..... so like a big dork still donning my HP PJ shirt I went to see it. I was amazed that soda and popcorn only totaled $4. I was overwhelmed at the Imax "experience" and annoyed when it stretched out faces and the like, but overall it was a good movie.

I like the book better. The movie paid tribute to some of the minor characters like Tonks and Kingsley but there was no attachment or character development and I think that will have to be addressed in the movies at some point since they are more important later. There were a couple other things left out that were important too, like Quidditch being canceled, the Centaur Divination teacher, and the like but it is just a movie. I do feel a bit sorry for people who will never read the books.

Here's to hoping there is a director's cut that is 6 hours long!

New Process

I thought I'd preview the new process I've been using for painting. It is both new in medium and new in the way that I approach creating. Here is a picture of one, yes only one, of the boards that I started last month. I am using Gouache and Watercolor Pencils.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Farmers' Market

We have started attending the local farmer's market, the insane one that is like the state fair with the stroller mamas (like bumper cars for busy parents) and musicians, food vendors, and.......oh yes, the fresh fresh peaches. We come home and eat peach after peach after peach until we all turn into peaches. Yum.

My favorite part of the market are the street musicians. They are kind to Lil'Bug and usually let her see their instruments and sing and dance. Very sweet.

Someday we hope to participate on the other side of a local market and bring the joy of fresh farm stuffs to an urban family or two......that's the dream that keeps us plugging away at the life we live now.

Sweet Tea from a friend

Yikes. Check this out. I think what tickled me most were the glowing words that wheelchairmama left me on her blog. :)

I nominate the blogger at Because I'm the Mama That's Why. You can see the link on my blog roll. She's funny and sweet.

My cousin/aunt/friend/not sure how to explain how we are related Montucky Rox at South of the Bridgers.

And I will come back to this when I find two more bloggers who have not already been nominated.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Family Night at the Fish Park

We headed out for a dusk picnic at the lagoon. It was lovely. Lil'Bug loves her "fish park." We spend a lot of time at this particular park this time of year. It has much of the features we need to have smooth sailing family time.

I was a little surprised that my modest digital actually took this picture. Most pictures outside at night do not turn out.

I am glad it did, as it captured a lovely moment on the swinging thing. Ah, childhood. :)