Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Happy Halloween

I'm quite certain not many other places do what Iowa, or rather Central Iowa, does for Trick or Treat Night. It's called Beggar's Night and it is not even on Halloween. The "trick" you have to do to get a treat is tell a joke. We skip that part, in fact we skip the entire door to door thing.

Last night we went to the mall. *SCREAM* Oh the horror! I hate malls. I hate crowds. I hate shopping and being pressured by pushy sales people. I hate kids hyped up on too much sugar/ poor parenting. I have come to the conclusion that the whole ordeal is one big photo opportunity since every 3 or so feet some parent stopped their kid to pose them and take a picture. I hate that too. I like natural joy/action photos. I like real smiles. Blah. My camera ran out of juice after two unfocused pictures. Guess what we couldn't find at the mall? Batteries.

Lil'Bug was very overwhelmed by the kids, the noise, and the crowds. The thing is though, we had a good time just being together as a family. She liked playing on stuff. She loved getting candy. She liked getting gooey with tootsie roll drool. Her happy= me happy.

So, even though it is Halloween, we are done with Halloween stuff! Today is a day of rest. Oh and of banned book debate. That's for another post.

Fibroids, the Mystery

I spent the morning researching uterine fibroids because their absence really bothered me. I'm glad they are gone, but why and where?

I found several medical journals that talked about post menopausal disappearance of fibroids. That's not me...BUT, the why is interesting. Abnormal estrogen can cause their growth. I also had these same growths in my breast tissue 4 years ago. Gone now. Why?

There are several theories:
1) Unresolved anger accelerates growth of tumorous tissues. I certainly had a lot of that 4 years ago. I'm at peace with those issues now, working towards forgiveness, and only get riled up now and then instead of stomping around angry all the time. I still get mad sometimes about the injustice but it is not ruling my life nor calling me every day. I'm not sure that that's why the fibroids are gone though.
2) Added hormones in milk and meat cause, not only early onset puberty in girls and infertility issues in young women, but also fibroid growth. When Lily was born we switched to organic milk, yogurt, and cheese. We've also switched to no hormone chickens and buy our other meat locally. I can't remember the last time we ate a microwaved TV dinner. We opt away from buying convenience foods.
3) Pregnancy and long term breastfeeding adjust hormone levels and normalize the fibroid causing conditions. We certainly did that, long term breastfeeding, Lil'Bug weaned herself this summer. I knew that longer breastfeeding minimizes chances of breast cancer, but I'd never read about the other effects before. Speaking of hormones, I was on the pill for almost 10 years, a low dose estrogen, exactly the hormone that is said to trigger fibroid growth.
4) Exercise. I am certainly more active than pre Lil'Bug. I used to sit at a desk all day and watch a lot of TV or lay around and read books. I was not over weight or lazy per se, but in retrospect I was not very happy or healthy.

I'm not sure if it was one or a combination or all of the above, but the fact is that right now I don't have fibroids. Fibroids complicated my pregnancy with Lil'Bug, hindered labor, and complicated C-Section recovery. Here's to a healthy lifestyle!

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Yup, Still Tuesday......

Our appointment went as well as we could have asked with an almost three year old at her nap time in tow. Whew. I am really glad I had help!

I love my husband. He is totally awesome. He took us out to lunch and for a walk, and even turned off his phone, just to alleviate my anxiety before the appointment. He really wanted to stay in the exam room, but Lil'Bug was pushing buttons, bouncing off walls, and biting! She really needed to run around and he made that happen for her.

There are a lot more tests available for pre-screening. I was a little in awe with how much they added since Lil'Bug was born and how much earlier things can be screened. The rules for fish consumption have changed again. I can eat cod, which was on the banned list. I can eat little tuna too. If I wanted to eat Tilapia, I could. Salmon is highly recommended. I was reassured that VBAC is very supported in the medical group I've chosen. Whew. My BP and weight are perfect, though I am to watch weight gain since I am so small.

We couldn't hear the baby's heartbeat in the exam room. The Midwife arranged for an in-house ultrasound when she was made aware of my anxiety over this. Thank you Dear Husband for articulating my fears. Did I mention that I love him!

The ultrasound tech is a lady I know from serving on the Historic Preservation City Commission. She's also the tech that ran the Doppler for my breast biopsy 4 years ago. It was a little comforting, and weird too, to have someone familiar running the probe cam. Ah! The baby has a good heart beat and measures 8 weeks 3 days. Calendar dated baby at 8 weeks 6 days. So, early June is what we know. Heartbeat was upper 180's. Lil'Bug said it sounded like Boo-Gah Boo-Gah Boo-Gah. She was so good and calm through this part. I am glad she was. The tech gave her the pictures to take home.

Also, no fibroids were found. ??? None. It is not like they just disappear! I had huge masses of them. Where did they go? Maybe it is best not to think to much about this and simply say I am grateful. Incredibly thankful.

So that's what we know. I'm more at ease now, but still tired. I'll write more later.

Tuesday Morning in October

Last night there was a big chemical fire in Des Moines. Actually a chemical plant exploded and fire, smoke, and toxic water runoff ensued. My sister's live in boyfriend's father works(ed) at the plant and was one of the first evacuated. My sister was home sick from her job at the ARL which is next door to the industrial park where the plant was located. The smoke was drifting and toxic. The runoff was heading towards the Des Moines River and our main water source for the region. The ash is toxic.

We harvested the last yesterday afternoon, but anyone who hasn't in this area should call it a loss. We already buy drinking water bottled, but especially now it is important. The news is trying to make people panic less but I studied chemical toxicity in my grad program at Iowa State for preservation technologies, the things that are burning are nothing to be shrugged off. It's serious stuff.

We're fine here, so far the ash cloud is blowing east, but we have many friends (and most of my students and colleagues) in that direction.

On a lighter note, we are heading for our first pre-natal visit this afternoon. I'm not worried much. I feel nauseous, have chicken pox acne, and mood swings aplenty so all is normal there. But there are so many things that could go wrong, so I am still worried a little.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Everyone is sick but me......

For the past 5 days Dearest Husband and Lil'Bug have been sick. It started with her,"Bad poopies!" and went downward to fever and coughing and snot and more snot and the very worst part of it all: crankiness.

Everyone is cranky, or was cranky, over the weekend. This was very much not fun. It made me cranky too. It made nothing get done. Not the second fireplace stone, not the window repair, not the cleaning, nothing. My sister took me shopping on Sunday and I was a bowl full of joy, let me say. 1st a lady ran a stop sign, we both stopped in time, AND THEN SHE FLIPPED ME OFF! and went. Why? I clearly had the right of way. Then, once my heart slowed down, we parked and went in to shopping complex. When finished and returned to car, a HUGE SUV parked so close to my driver's side that the SUV door was touching my side mirror. I had to climb in the passenger side. This would not be a big deal but for the fact that because I am 4'10" the seat has to be adjusted very close to teh steering wheel for me to see out. Imagine pregnant lady trying to circus bend just to get into driver's seat. I was pissed. I couldn't do it. I got out and re-examined the situation. It made me even madder. I looked for a handicap tag (none) or something that would explain why the SUV had done this. On SUV's driver's side, there is 6 ft of space between them and the next car. SUV is parked at an angle and 3 ft over the line (that's supposed to be) between my car and theirs. Sigh. I try again. I have to readjust my seat all the way back just to get in.

I hate driving. When I started my car to leave the parking lot of rudeness, my transmission when CLUNK. Waaaaah.

So, I spent a lovely afternoon watching my sister shop for things she may or may not have actually needed, but I was with her and that was nice. I didn't grade papers because it is unfair to my students to grade while cranky. Oh, and my cell phone is not working properly, so I ended up more cranky with Dear Husband when he was late home because I missed his call that he would be late.

I've been thinking this morning how to combat the itch of crankiness that is again creeping over my day. Lil'Bug is feeling better, my kitchen is clean, laundry caught up, floors mostly we are cleaning out the car before taking it to the shop, stopping at the library, and having lunch with grandpa. All very nice things. Today it is supposed to be 66 degrees out: we will come home and spend the afternoon working in the garden. It's time to pull down the last harvest and compost the plants this week. It's time for the change of seasons.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

I'm a Halloweenie....

When I was a kid I, and my siblings, had some pretty cool Halloween costumes. One thing my family went all out for was Halloween, every year. We took turns having an elaborate costume. Now, elaborate doesn't mean expensive but it did mean time consuming and labor intensive.

1984: I was Bugs Bunny. Sounds pretty simple and I had the standard poly plastic mask but......I also had a cardboard box made up like ground with grass, a hole cut in the top and I would pop out and say, "What's Up? Is it trick or treat?" and take a bite of a real carrot. Cute.

1985: My brother was a mummy. Pretty classic BUT they made him a cardboard sarcophagus, painted gold and lavishly decorated, and wheeled him around on a dolly. Too cool.

1989ish: My sister went as a mermaid. Pretty standard. Little Mermaid was her favorite Disney thing of all time. However, the tail had its own wheels and her feet were decorated like sand and sea life. Very cool.

1991: The eyeball. Favorite all time costume. I went as an eyeball. My head was the eye and my body was the ocular nerve, complete with blood vessels. The eyeball part was paper mache and painted with glow in the dark paint and was bloodshot. So very cool. Trick or treating, I looked like a floating eye.

1993-1999 ish: my sister went as dead people. She would choose a person and then go as them dead. People she knew and by dead, I mean, zombie slaughtered. One year it was a dead cheerleader, once a dead paramedic, a dead doctor, a dead prom queen. In light of school tragedies and rescue workers heroics, these motifs are no longer as funny as they were. She still goes all out. Last year she as a martini and this year she's talked bunches of people into going as bees and they are collectively a swarm of bees. Cute.

As for me? When I was pregnant with Lil'Bug, she was due on Halloween. I was huge. The only thing I could fit in was a butter yellow cotton jumper. That was the year of the butter cow. Yes, I just told people I was one of Duffy's Iowa State Fair sculptures. :)

This year? I really wanted to have a Halloween party in celebration of living in the perfect haunted house (looks like Adams' Family house but with a gabled roof), but alas we are too busy finishing up house projects to get ready to list with an agent to even have time to plan a party let alone hide the laundry pile. So tragic. I had big plans too: Sprinklers on the roof for a rain storm, strobe lights for lightning, Creepy organ music playing over thunderstorm sound effects, cobwebs, dry ice at the double doors spilling out fog every time we opened the doors, and our family dressed as the Adams family. Bah. Someone should so steal my ideas and take pictures. Please. :)

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Weirdness MEME

Ok, I've been tagged for a meme. I love memes. :) This time it was whimsigal over at The Road Less Traveled.

So, the meme is to list 10 weird things about myself. Oh boy, only 10?

10. I would have purple hair (again) if I could. First it was that my job would be affected, but now I am going totally online but I'm pregnant, and then I'll be breast feeding. So, purple hair will have to wait 2-3 years. The purple I love is a deep velvet purple, very Victorian. Even so, when I worked at a museum there was no way I could convince tours or my supervising board that purple hair was appropriate. Now, I joke that I either need or get tenure or go online. So close.

9. I really like fruit with meat sandwiches. Cranberries on turkey, apples on turkey, cherries on ham, strawberries on chicken salad. Oooh. Grapes on chicken salad too. I discovered this taste when I was pregnant last time but it didn't go away. Yum. Sometimes I forgo the fresh sliced fruit and just use jam. Peach jam is really good with turkey too.

8. My OCD thing I worry about doors being locked and the oven being turned off. Whenever I talk myself out of checking, I'll come down in the morning to an open flame on a burner or the back door unlocked. I've been known to drive around the block and run back to the house to check the front door. I also hate when my family leave lights on in rooms they are not using....or in closets, I really hate that. I follow them around and turn off lights. I mean, come on people, I have laundry to do! Flick the switch yourself!

7. If I go to a home that I see has cockroaches I will throw away the shoes I was wearing. Why? Bug eggs. Easiest way to bring them home with you. I used to go into a lot of homes that needed restoration survey or demolition. I lost a lot of shoes that way. No, they can't be cleaned to my satisfaction. I also have a roach related fear of sticking my hand in oven mitts. Both things can be blamed on my childhood. That said, I have never had a roach in a place I have lived as an adult, knock on wood. No, I've never had pesticide sprayed either.

6. I tend to not finish things. In fact it is amazing that I finished my thesis to satisfaction. Honestly, I didn't. I don't think it is complete, but I turned it in anyway and passed with honors. ??? I fretted for weeks that the advising committee must not have actually read the thing, since it is not finished!!! I have one chapter left to write. 2 years later, I still have not worked on it. It may well be an Oprah book of I could just freakin' finish it.

5. Along the same lines as #6. I got a not rejected letter from the New Yorker. It said to revise. 8 years later....the revision is actually in a stamped envelope next to my thesis. I likely have to update the postage now. I think it still has a 32 cent stamp. Never. Finish. Anything.

4. I have foot in mouth disease. I say exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person, if the opportunity arises. Sometimes I even blog like that, but I can always delete and hide the evidence. Emails, not so much. In person, well that I have to hope can be lost to memory. I have a really hard time in groups because of this.

3. I over think things. I had to ask my sister about that one. It is her biggest complaint about me. When we are watching a movie or such, I ponder out loud at the inconsistencies. I know, that in itself is weird and annoying. Details bug me. In fact, when I read HP 7, at the end when Tonks and Lupin are listed amoung the dead I went back and re-read very carefully to see when they entered the battle. That still bugs me. Why would Tonks do that with a baby at home? After that big scene with Lupin and Harry? I blame JK Rowling. I think that it was inconsistent writing. Fine, I may have had extra sentiment towards Tonks, purple hair and all, but still, to make a big deal out of it and then not really address it again 'cept for killing them both off? Bah.

2. I like to spell things the British way. I'm not British and have never even been to Canada. I just love words and some words look better to me spelled the way that they do it: favourite, amoung, colour, theatre, dialogue, grey, to name a few. I just noticed this one while running spell check for the list and began the old out loud dialogue with the spell check, "No, I will not drop those letters! It looks better, it sounds better, why doesn't blogger have an add a word feature!!!!!" Bugger. What exactly do Americans have against the letter U anyway?

1. Did I mention, I never finish anything?

I tag:
Mama B.
Wheelchair Mama
Dreaming Laura
Sugar Creek Abby
The Chefswife
My Cousin David (just checking to see if you started reading here!:))
Lisa @ Because I'm the Mama

I think that's it. It seemed when I checked that the others I read on the unschooling ring were already listed, but if I forgot someone, let me know! (I purposely left out those who I am pretty sure loathe meme's.....)

Thursday Thinking

Today Lil'Bug woke up with a slight fever. She didn't feel good last night or yesterday and today she's just kind of ornery. This means no swimming, the fever not the ornery tot thing. Usually a dip in the pool chills her out, but that's exactly what I'm worried about today: getting chilled.

So today we are off to buy a new mop head, some juice, and look for birthday presents. I'm still not sure what we are getting her. 1 week until the big day. I already purchased a few board games and some outdoor stuff. Mostly things she said she really wanted but then never mentioned again. Gah. Back to thinking about the mop I guess.

We are getting ready for a busy month of November. Lil'Bug's B-Day, NaNoWriMo, a big celebration for Great Grandma in KC, Thanksgiving, ect. I'm thinking ahead to the food. food. My favorite kind.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

How Sometimes Some Things Go

I woke up with energy this morning. :) Yay. We got up, had breakfast, and I graded papers. Got them done. Wow. 9am. I decide to make 5 lasagnas. Some to eat now, some to freeze. I thaw meat, get all ingredients out, saute the veggies, and......I can't open the sauce jars. Dearest Husband suggests a pipe wrench, then popping a nail through to depressurize. Both hammer and pipe wrench are in the room that I got shot at in on Monday, (whole n'other story involving forgotten, yet still plugged in air compressor and nail gun....) I forgo those suggestions in favor of his co-worker's idea of running the lids under hot tap water, which worked BTW.

Cool lasagnas made, all 5, in the oven bubbling away, when little one screams, "Bad poopies!" and takes off running. She made it and oh my was it an accurate description. I get her cleaned up, me cleaned up and head downstairs. Cat is vomiting. Cat talks like a people when she vomits, which is a freaky thing. I decide to leave it. I waivered a bit and decided to leave it. Dog decides to be helpful. The thought of that makes me vomit (morning sickness is soooooo misnamed!). So now I might as well clean up cat vomit since I have to clean up my own. "Mom, bad poopies!" Oh child.

All is calm now and I decide I should also actually clean the floors. I vacuum but brown sugar clogs the vacuum up (last week Lil'Bug spilled a whole bag, the vacuum seemed like a good idea at the time.....) Fine. I sweep. Then I get out the soap water and flood the tile. That's what I usually do and then mop it up, wringing the mop out in the sink..... mop broke. The sponge head fell off. I had to mop on my hands and knees with a towel. I can't well leave puddles as tot and animals would track it all over like snail trails. Mopping is Lil'Bug favorite chore and she was mad mad mad that we were not using the mop bucket and mop. She stomps off.

Sigh. I no longer have energy. I have to go to work tonight and I won't be home until 10 PM. So much for good intentions........oh wait, I smell lasagna....

Update on Soap Nuts

Edited to add: Wikipedia's entry on soap nuts AND an article on soap nuts.....

Edited to add more: Here a link to the company I buy from.

The truth is that I was getting frustrated with the soap nuts so I switched to Method brand detergent. Then my husband's skin issue came back, painfully so. He asked why, why, why did I stop using the nuts. Well, 1) they didn't lather up the 3rd use like they do the 1st (supposed to get 3 wash loads from every sack) 2) that made it expensive 3) the bag kept breaking open in the wash and then I was picking nut bits out of the clothes or out of the dryer.

He didn't care. He wanted his skin back.

So I researched a cheaper nut source. I found a supplier in Illinois that sells a lb for 18$ plus 3$ in shipping. That's 150 nuts as apposed to 60 nuts. Way better deal if the quality is as good. It is. Bonus, they now sell on Amazon too! So, then, what about the other issues?

While searching for a different supplier I found a couple blogs and a couple product reviews. One said to brew the nuts in a tea and use that for shampoo. ?? Well, wouldn't that work to get a more consistent laundry detergent too? And eliminate the nut bits? Hmmm, yes.

And so......I brew with 4 cups of boiling water in a mason jar, 10 nuts. I use 1/2 cup of the "tea" for each load at the beginning of the week and 1/4 at the end when the concentration gets stronger. The mason jar should have a lid to prevent spilling, use as a pouring strainer for the nut bits, keep the cat/ flying bugs/ laundry lint out, and keep the mixture from going rancid. I don't make more because I don't use more than that in a week. I get 10 loads from 10 nuts or 150 loads from the lb bag. Excellent. I get the sudsing I needed, no bits, and my husband's skin back. :)

An added bonus is that I cut the cost of laundry. I only need one rinse cycle and dry time seems to be 1/2. We don't have to buy fabric softener or a separate wash for delicates and wools. No phosphate ground water contamination, so I can feel really good about the waste water not adding to water pollution.

Also, did you realize how many non auto related products have petroleum? Forget SUV's, our dependence on the stuff goes way deeper: cosmetics, lotions, plastics, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, hair product, detergents, air sprays, candles, Fells Naphtha, goodness, I am still surprised when I find yet another petroleum product. So many go on our skin, the most absorbent organ we have. I am certainly glad to eliminate one more from our use, since that is likely the basis of our family's allergic reaction.

I also get the label of "hippie" from my husband's friends. Fine. It's possible my friends think so too.... ;) If only I could grow my own nuts, then I'd be truly, truly deserving of that label.

Brain Spurt

Some mornings Lil'Bug wakes up and is suddenly bigger and none of her clothes or shoes fit. Sometimes she is suddenly smarter or more mature. Today was one of those days. She woke up, got dressed, went to the bathroom, and headed downstairs to get food. She usually yells for help at some point much earlier than the kitchen, usually before getting out of bed. Today she raided the fridge for strawberries and found her bowl of dry Cheerios (snack). Lest you think I was neglectful, I stealthily trailed her to all activities, after all she's not yet 3.

She noticed me and smiled. "Look mama, strawberries!" I just grinned back.It was no big deal to her, why should I make a huge thing about it?

Some days she just amazes us with her observations and her sense of humor.

Lil'Bug has a vocabulary that is growing by leaps and bounds and sometimes adds new words to our repertoire: "Snuzzeling" is a snuggle and a cuddle initiated by a nose rubbing. She says it's what giraffes do. Ok.

Then there is Afrog the lallygagging alligator. She saw Muppet's' Treasure Island and loves the word lallygagging. Not sure she knows what it means, but still very cute. Afrog, she says, is a funny name for an alligator because he's not a frog. Chomp chomp chomp, mmmmm, yum yum yum.

She named a pair of hotwheels, Dog and Cat. Dog is the orange one and she says a girl gets to drive Dog. Why? Because it's fast! I think it is funny that she gets amusement by "naming" things other things that they are not. Does that make sense? :) She's also swimming and singing and dancing and drawing and many other things. No wonder I am all tired out!

Now for what we have been doing:

We spent almost all day yesterday at the Science Center. They have a new exhibit that is like ChuckECheese's arcade with a gross body function theme. They have a clown at the entrance that freaked both of us out. Once past that, Lil'Bug pretended to be an apple, and slid down the digestive track slide to come out poop. They also have smell stations for various body excretions. OMG yuck. For someone with morning sickness, it almost ended outing just walking by that part. For Lil'Bug it was all about playing with friends. She was so happy to see everybody. Me too.

We also went to see the IMAX Sea Monsters. It was really cool. I had never been to an IMAX before this year and I think I am hooked. A regular theatre just won't cut it anymore!

We came home and she wanted to watch her PMK DVD on zoo management again. She prefers this over anything else right now and I think she's seen it 10 times since we got it from the library the first time.

Ok, we're off to make lasagna!

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

I'm really mad....

How's that for a deep and ominous title?

Another blogger has been posting (with the same dismay as I have) about some of the darker issues in our world: racism, bigotry, homophobia. Why don't people keep their stupidity to themselves? The hard truth of it is that they don't. They are proud of their hatred. They don't view it as such or as ignorance.

Recently a mom in a playgroup that I don't know why I go to was boasting about a method she chose to discipline her child's sleep issues. It involved locking the kid in a room and letting her cry and vomit herself to sleep. She seemed to be asking for input and so I said, "Yuck." I said that it was evil and cruel and would have long term consequences for the baby. I said she should research the harrowing statistics that are associated with the method including fatalities. I said yuck again. I said she should be a better mother. I said all of these things with more eloquence than I am relating it now. It should be no surprise that the other moms pounced on me. They thought the method was yucky too but that moms should not judge each other.

What she is touting amounts to child abuse. I had to say something. I had to write something.

I try my hardest to be a kind mother, one who respects her child's needs and personhood. I don't hit (or pinch or flick). I try not to yell. I try to be attentive to her interests and curiosities and provide safe environments for her to explore. I never force her to cry alone. Even our time outs are not punishment, but a cool off period. She is getting to the point where she will sometimes even realize she needs a cooling off period and initiate it herself. If the behavior warrants it, privileges are lost and we discuss why. It is more often than not a natural consequence.

Do most families really do things so differently? Is it really about "showing the kid who's boss"?

On my first day as a fledgling, yet (perhaps overly) eager teacher, my provost expressed a sentiment about teaching that is easily applied to parenthood - they may try to rile you or outwit you, but remember that you are the professor (parent) and you know things they don't that they need to learn from you. They need to know you are confident and calm and, more than anything else, that will bring peace to the dynamic.

Sometimes I get cranky (I know, I know . . but it's TRUE!) I always try to remember - screaming hasn't helped before and never will. But while I struggle sometimes (remember a blog entry about paint all over the kitchen floor?) I try to put it in perspective, and often end up being able to make a lot of fun, or a good lesson out of the situation. No matter what though - I'm doing my best to Parent (a verb!!), instead of playing dictator. If one mom went away from the group questioning the cruelty, I shone a light into a dark, dark place. I sometimes get the feeling (hearing a mom at a hair salon talk about how she left her 4 year old at a mall play place alone so she could get some 'peace for once' for example) that children are viewed as an accessory to be brought out when convenient. Perhaps that's overly harsh - perhaps it's overly honest.

The same goes when I stand up for my friends who chose love that is not accepted by some, or when I speak against racism (race itself has no biological basis... I mess with the census people insisting that I am all things on their list (why not? Its all made up anyway, why should my skin color matter to the gov't?)) and most of all when I speak of love: love for a child, a spouse, friends, or something you believe in.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Farm Crawling: Inch by Inch

In the sunshine is a little brown caterpillar inching through imminent danger, aka a chicken house full of hungry chickens:

Freedom! Well, almost. Not chicken dinner, but caught (we like to think rescued) by a boy.

What kind of caterpillar is it? What kind of butterfly/moth will it be?

Farm Crawling: Getting Your Goat

We hope to have sheep or goats someday. This was a neat milking parlor set up. The goats were very kind to Lil'Bug and the goat cheese so very yummy. It didn't keep well in the fridge though, much to my disappointment.

Farm Crawling: Don't Worry, Bee Happy

Many of you who know me, know that I love bees. I used to be a little afraid of them, I used to get stung. My husband and daughter are bee charmers, which I thought was a biological thing. I have since come to the suspicion that it is more of a learned fear issue. I can't tickle bees like Dearest Husband can but they crawl on me and then fly away. We have an apiary set up in our basement (don't worry, vacant) and it is one of the few things moving with us.

Of course we explored the apiaries at one of the farms:

This is a friendly hive, the farmer informed us:

This one is more grouchy. The more grouchy ones are placed farther out in the fields away from the tour traffic. Perhaps they are grouchy from just being honey harvested?

This is a freshly scraped honey comb.

I can't wait to bee on a farm!

Farm Crawling: Meeting Thanksgiving Dinner

I have this thing about food. I like to meet my food, or at least know the people who have cared for it. I like eating happy pigs. There is accountability that way for all of us.

Have you ever toured a factory or mass producing meat place? The animals can be forced fed, kept in small pens, force bred, treated like animals, and then lined up for slaughter. Conveyor belt processing of their carcass into food. Chicken nuggets for example: made from chicken slurry. OMG. Yuck.

Anyway, we found this great event through an announcemnt on our locl homeschool idea board: the farm crawl.

This is Lily meeting the father of our Thanksgiving dinner (I hope we order in time!)

This is Lily viewing the flock in which we hope to get our heritage breed Turkey. Yum.

I'll post more, see the following posts. :)

Friday, 19 October 2007

Friday Freewrite: Suprise!

I promised my students that I would do the Friday Freewrites too, since they are tortured weekly by having to, um, write for a writing class. Fair is fair. This week's freewrite is about how I would react to a surprise party that I knew about. Would I play along? Would I ruin it?

I would be really flattered if someone threw a surprise party for me, but I probably would end up canceling out on the pretend thing they'd try to use to get me there. I've been bad about that lately (sorry Heather!). Oh, but if I knew about it? Then I would just really fret about the social aspect, but I would play along. I would also buy a box of Stam's for the offending organizers!

Really, I'm not a fan of surprises. I like to know. I like to know just about everything I can about a situation before going in. As a youngster I used to map out how I thought phone conversations (topics, questions) were supposed to go before calling friends. I still hate calling people. If I didn't have email I'd never leave the house!

I will find out if the baby is a boy or girl if I can. I like to know as much as possible and there are so many unknowns in life. Some people say there are too few surprises left in life....I say good. I like to know.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Thursday Thirteen

1) We made two pumpkin pies from real pumpkins on Wednesday.
2) Eating pumpkin pie gave me gas that felt like contractions and I let class out early and drove home very upset. It was just gas. Yuck.
3) It has been raining for 14 days in a row. It is wet and cold and rainy. Forecast calls for more rain.
4) We are going to fetch a new (free!) swingset from an unschooler family in rural Iowa on Saturday. Yay! Free swingset AND a visit to a farm. Neat.
5) Lily swam today. No floater suit. 12 feet distance. She grabbed the side of the pool and pushed off and....swam back to me! We spent another hour just doing this and swim to the bottom of the pool exercises. Too cool.
6) We saw the IMAX "The Human Body" this week. Very cool, but scary to an almost three year old.
7) Cats are weird. Cats get even weirder in the middle of the night.
8) I love soup!
9) I'm excited about NaNoWriMo.
10) I had never seen Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame. It is really different from most Disney movies. I loved it but.........Lil'Bug learned to spit at people from watching it. Gah.
11) Farm eggs taste incredibly different from grocery store eggs. I know that grocery store eggs are like 80 days old, but I never knew that the taste was so different. Yum.
12) Sleeping toddlers are bringers of joy. She played hard and now she's giggling in her sleep. Neat.
13)I am totally enamoured with my husband. He has made himself an expert in prenatal nutrition and trouble shooting. When I cam home last night upset, he researched abdominal pain and comforted me. It was nothing, but it hurt. He is truly amazing. As annoyed as I was previously, I am really glad I married such a wonderful man.



National Novel Writing Month. 50,000 words in 30 days. Can I do it? Sure. I wrote my thesis in as long and it's longer. It may take some additional planning, but I can do it. It averages to 1,667 words a day. Easy peasy. Right. I plan to write a little and paint a little each day.

So here's my dilemma: which novel should I work on? Choices are as follows 1) The Bridesmaid's Guide to the Neurotic Bride and Her, um, Interesting Family. 2) finish Gen X'ers Guide to How to Use a Hammer 3) A murder mystery involving a dam break and a drag queen. 4) some other idea. Any idea. Suggest something. 5) an extension of a short story I wrote, a love story in the bayou. Lots of magic, folklore, and food in the mix.

I'll put the character profiles up prior to Nov. 1st so I am ready to go. I am thinking about creating a separate invite only blog and posting a chapter a day. Thoughts? Would anyone be interested in that?

Monday, 15 October 2007

Blogging Pregnancy

Dearest Husband pointed out that I am not really blogging this pregnancy much, as in I am not really writing about being pregnant. At first, I had the excuses: the people I know who do that eventually get really obnoxious and end each sentence with, "because I am pregnant."- but that is not true, it only annoyed me when we were trying and not pregnant, really I think its cute. Then, I said, we have too much going on right now and my students read my blog and NO ONE wants to know what and when I am vomiting.

But really, this blog is not a newspaper column or a business blog, it is a personal record of our family's life and right now the facts of when and what I am vomiting are very much a part of our daily life!

So here are my reflections on this pregnancy so far:
1) I am worried about different things this time. With Lil'Bug I was worried about family, being a new mom, my job, and finishing school. Now, done with school, job is not dependent on daycare, family issues are resolved, and I am a pretty good mom. Now I am worried about medical complications I know could happen, Lil'Bug's adjustment, moving, and pants that fit.

2) Vanilla ice cream with chocolate and caramel chunks (Cow Tracks) is THE BEST ice cream to use in a root beer float. Try it. Especially if you are pregnant. It is crazy delicious and the only dessert I have had in 7 weeks.

3) I am really tired. I wasn't with Lil'Bug but I think she is why I am tired this time. Last time I sat at a desk all day now I am chasing her. Also, I had been more of a caffeinated mom prior and absolutely no caffeine this time is really wreaking havoc on my energy level. Why absolutely? Anything with caffeine, aspartame, or hazelnut makes me vomit. I can smell aspartame from yards away. If I don't eat breakfast, vomiting is a sure thing. 50/50 chance if I eat something. Dearest Husband reminding me that lots of nausea is a good sign is obnoxious.

4) Lil'Bug is pretending she has a baby in her belly too and has started up again feeding her dolls "mommy milk" and carrying them in slings. I plan on ordering from Wallypop matching ring slings, one for her and one for me. I won't do that until the Spring though.

5) Last time I was wiggy about used baby things, now I am marking my calendar for the big baby rummage sales. We just sold 80% of our baby things in June. Gah. We'll need extra car seats know what? I don't know what else. We didn't use 1/2 the stuff we had last time. Before the big sale on Saturday we will have a family talk about what is needed. Last time I had Pottery Barn visions floating through my head and now I am a bit more practical.

6) Last time I was set on using a doula, this time I'm not. I love doulas, I loved my doula, but this time I think that I will be just fine. It's early. I may change my mind. I'm going to try a VBAC but I have the same medical complications as last time and this time we know what that actually can mean in terms of scary medical things. I'm ok with another C-Sec, it is just not my first choice. I will also use a hospital facility (see above reference to scary medical things). I think that home births are awesome, but I hope that the community of women I belong to will support and understand my choice as I support theirs. My medical condition is part scaring from an adolescent abdominal surgery and part genetic abnormality (PCOS).

7) Breastfeeding. It took almost a month for Lil'Bug and I to learn how without aids. Most women I know quit when or if it was that hard for them. Not me. This time I know I can do it and I don't have to worry about pumping 3 hours a day. Goodness that sucked (30 minutes each session x 6). Yay for working at home!

That's it for now. If I don't get back to cleaning right now- my whole week with be thrown into chaos!

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Under Budget?

So, Lil'Bug gets the idea one morning after breakfast that she needs to make a grocery list.

Ok. Bananas and cheese-noodles.

I needed to go to the store anyway, so we load up the car. As we were doing this, she gets the great idea to take her toy grocery cart. "Ok," I say, "but that means that you can't ride in the Beepbeep cart." She's all smiles.

We get there and she happily scoots the aisles looking for her bounty. She ponders the bananas, picking the perfect bunch. She contemplates the cheese-noodles before deciding on her old standard. She asks if we can add a bag of vegetable chips and at the last turn grabs purple Gatorade and fits it in the small space below in her plastic red cart. She looks at me and says, "Ok, I'm done. Let's go pay!"

At the check out she unloads everything on to the conveyor. She practically had to lift the Gatorade over her head (she's a tiny two). She asks for the money so she can pay, the lady gives her change and asks, "How was your shopping experience young lady?"

Lil'Bug beams, "Great! I came in under budget!"


At this point I was laughing so hard tears flowed. So were all the people in line. That's what I say. I thought she was shopping, but I didn't realize exactly how much and to what great detail she was imitating me.

Also, later, she was upset. She was "sad and angry" that we laughed at her. I explained that we were laughing with her and that she was just so incredibly smart and articulate that everyone was awed. She smirked at me and squinched her nose. I must remember to be more sensitive to her feelings. :)

Friday, 12 October 2007

There are Noses, Noses!

A song by the Crossing was changed ala tot this morning as she belted out over breakfast, "THERE ARE NOSES, NOSES!"

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

One Thing Led to Another.......

Ok, so a little task like exploded. It's not that I have a lot of laundry to wash either. Here's what happened:

None of my clothes fit right. Time to change out to winter/fall clothes. New closet door hung over the weekend but closet floor surface finish damaged by drywall dust. Hmmmmm. I will change all my clothes to this closet, sorting them into Goodwill/packed away/or keep out as I move them. Simple right?

I am currently staring at two empty closets, a huge pile of clothing on hangers, and a small quart of floor stain. I started all projects simultaneously. Why? Yeah. I don't know.

The bigger weirdness might be that I stopped to blog about it....

Monday, 8 October 2007

How we Harvest and Freeze our Peppers

It's simple really. That said, note that we didn't know how easy it was and it took us a bit to perfect what is common sense to most people.

Wash them. This seems like a pain, fresh from the garden BUT where we live there is high lead content in the soil. While the soil we grow our vegetables in is imported and amended, our neighbors soil isn't and the dust that blows and settles from that can be really dangerous. So we rinse with water before we eat anything. It is kind of a letdown that we can't pick and eat and graze through the garden......but not as big of a deal as getting lead poisoning.

Cut off the top, then cut the pepper long ways. To de-seed we use a spoon and scrape them hollow. We learned that if the seed flap isn't removed, it turns black in the freezer. It's still ok to eat, but looks icky.

Then we pack in freezer bags, suck the air out, and seal. We try to store in quantities that we will use, but peppers can be used a bit of a time out of the bag. I also discovered that the pepper will shatter when they are frozen. Pounding the bag is much more fun than chopping!

Now, it is also important to note: wear gloves when prepping hot peppers. The oil is really hard to get off and if you wipe your eyes of eat a cracker (stick your fingers in your mouth) or change a baby's diaper....all are in for a not so nice surprise. We have wiped an eye on more than one occasion. Wearing gloves solves this post pepper (unless you continue wearing the gloves the rest of the day and that is just weird...).

What if you forget to wear gloves? We have experimented with several remedies. We have tried baking soda, toothpaste, dish soap, flour, milk, ice water.....The most effective has been to take a big handfull of baking soda, use water to make it into a paste, then vigourously rub that all over your hands, or to wash hands with baby oil. Either way, once your done wash hands with regular soap. The one time I got it in my eyes I just rinsed and rinsed with cold water. Any other suggestions are welcome!

Saturday, 6 October 2007

How We Process Tomatoes, Raspberries, and Pumpkin

We cut the tops and the ugly bits off, place in a stock pot (NOT aluminum, the acid in tomatoes will eat through aluminum), mash a bit with a potato masher, and then bring to a boil. Boil at a low flame setting until the tomatoes go all mushy and soft, let cool a bit, but into freezer containers and let cool some more. We then put the containers in the refrigerator when cooled, the freezer. Simple. Note* This is only safe for freezing.

Raspberry jam: 1/1 ratio of fresh raspberries to sugar. Boil down a bit, until jam consistency. Pour into jars. Done. I don't add pectin since the berries have it naturally. It is wicked good and a little scary when boiling- it looks like bubbling, gurgling hot lava. We then refrigerate, but you can pressure can them at this point too.

This year's harvest was affected by the late Spring frost. We didn't get any berries in the Spring and Fall berries are sparse. I am collecting a handful each day, rinsing, and adding to a container in the freezer. I hope by the end of October to have enough to make enough jam for us over the winter, but it is unlikely.

Pumpkin: I used to skin and boil chunks but this year I decided to halve the small sugars, de-seed, and bake. Baking retains more flavor and mineral/vitamin content. When they are soft, I let cool and then scrape out the good goo. I measure out 2 cups per bag, push the air out, seal, and freeze.

I buy my pumpkins for the most part. Despite actively vacuuming off the squash beetles with my shop vac every day, I lost the war. I won't use chemicals so I am dreaming of the summer at the farm when I will use chickens to de-bug my precious pumpkin plants. Pumpkin is my favourite vegetable ever. Pumpkin curry bisque is my favourite food. With crusty sour dough....yum. Pumpkin pie smell is my favourite smell ever and I am currently working on trying to convince through blog comments my favourite soap maker to make her Chai soap (smells the same) into a shea butter body creme, a linen spray, and a super fat soap.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Growed Up

One of my recent favorite blogs to read posted a picture of a Colorado sunset. That made me homesick for something I haven't known for a long time.

Sometimes I get called out on my childhood stories......"I grew up in Eastern Rural Colorado..." or, "I grew up in South Side Chicago....." or, Greeley, CO or Jennings, Sulfur, LA, or Kanankee, IL or Iowa.

All are true. So, where am I from?

All of those places and experiences shaped me in major and heartbreaking ways. Even when we move, I will call Iowa home. We moved to Iowa when I was 16. But sometimes, when I am driving home from the night classes at the rural campus I teach at, I get a pang of homesickness for the vast, yet anything but flat, open spaces of Eastern Colorado. The wide open sky, so little light pollution that you can actually see the stars (even the Milky Way), the clean smell of the wind, and how you can see trouble (both the metaphoric and the tornado kind) coming from miles away- even watch the devastation from a safe, yet beautiful distance. I miss the noise of wildlife and the quiet after a blizzard. The sunsets are so achingly beautiful that I cried at age 14 when I was told I had to go back to Illinois. You see, in that home I was loved, nurtured, and treated like a human being. Forever will the landscape surrounding that farmhouse be tied to who I am.

When I moved to Iowa I was on my way to being on my own. I met Dear Husband shortly after and a couple of years later we married and began a different life together that I had only known in brief encounters and on the ranch in Colorado. We made a home that makes its foundation on respect for each other and fostering our creative lives.

We are about to move again. Not next week or even in the next year, but it is impending and change is coming. We will be faced with the question yet again. We will say Iowa because it is simple and true. Iowa is very much woven into who we are now as a family. We will bring that with us. I will carry all of the places I've been in my heart.

Thank you for the memory.


What's in it:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons raw sugar
Then the spice mixture, your choice of the following:
  • 1 whole cardamom pod
  • 1 whole clove
  • 2 black peppercorns
  • 1 piece of cracked ginger
  • Cinnamon or Cinnamon stick
  • vanilla bean
  • nutmeg
  • anise
*Hint: Don't start using all of them!

  • 3 teaspoons black tea leaves
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  1. Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add the cardamom pod, clove, peppercorns (or your choice) and tea leaves. Remove from heat, and let the mixture steep for 2 to 3 minutes. Strain into a cup, and fill cup the rest of the way with milk. Sit back, relax, and enjoy!
So there you have it Angie, :), my Chai recipe is really a template for making your own. I found this template on some recipe site that I don't remember and modified it a little. Only the process is from that.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Setting New Fashion Trends

This morning I missed filing some paperwork by 5 minutes. That's not really a big deal. Then we ran late to get ready for music class. I put Lil'Bug's pants on over her pajamas and didn't notice until we were there. You know what else I noticed once we arrived? My pants were on backwards. How does that happen? Elastic waistband for one. Ok, I have no excuse really.

So I discreetly pull a protesting tot to the bathroom for a potty break she does not need AND she proclaims loudly for everyone to hear that I am taking off my pants BECAUSE THEY ARE ON BACKWARDS! Gah. Now they think we eat fried butterflies and I can' t dress myself.

New most embarrassing moment? Definitely a contender.

More (7) Random Things About Us

1) My husband's superpower is popcorn. He worked for Carmike Theaters when we met and I'm convinced he's a Carmike horcrux. Seriously. How else can a normal human produce buttery good popcorn on the stove top that tastes just like theatre popcorn AND, just like the theatres, does not use any butter? I kid you not. Crazy.
2) I grew up in homes that had bugs. All sorts. I have a phobia of sticking my hand in oven mits.
3) Nutella is crazy good too. If you've never had it, seek it out. Hazelnuts are a good source of protein.
4) Lil'Bug is a ham. She will ham it up when she sees the opportunity. Music class is no exception. Her superpower is that no matter how much she spins and spins and spits, everyone still thinks she's a doll. ;)
5) We love to cook. We love learning about kitchen chemistry....however, raw, whole chickens gross me out. Why is it that I am always the one that has to cook the night we have chicken?
6) We all love 1940's jazz. It was this love of jazz that first led me to meet Dear Husband.
7) My superpower is old house structure. I may have mentioned it before- I have an eye for old house's hidden secrets. I have yet to turn down an invitation to investigate an old house mystery!

Now, if you comment, tell me something about you that I don't know! What is your superpower?

Ice Skating, an exercise in patience

This last week held many small adventures for us. Lil'Bug woke up one morning and proclaimed that she wanted to learn to ice skate:

Day one, Lil'Bug tells me she wants to learn ice skating. Urm? It is Iowa and like 90 billion degrees outside! I ask her questions. She tells me that she saw DW on Arthur (PBS) try and learn and was worried about it.
Day two, we see Olympic Ice Dancing clip on TV (not sure why or how it was on, but it was just a clip (about 60 seconds)).
Day three, she wakes up with nightmare about falling on the ice. I make phone calls to local rinks.
Day four, she is impatient with me and spills paint all over the kitchen floor to make an ice rink. Slides barefoot gracefully all over.

No, really. I went through a range of emotions from EEKK my just mopped floor! to OMG how brilliant is that! Why didn't I think of that? I stood in the kitchen and just looked in amazement. I thought, I can scream about this or celebrate my child's persistence and ingenuity.

This kid really wants to go ice skating.

So off we went. The local arena had an open skate so we dug out the winter snowsuit and mittens. Once there, Lil'Bug could hardly contain her excitement. the lady at the skate rental talked me into getting Lil'Bug hockey skates. I think that was the first mistake. They were way slippery and have no toe stop. This was very frustrating to her. She had great balance on the carpet and then the ice was spaghetti legs. Two very nice people stopped to help us and took her around a bit. After about 20 minutes she was done. The picture is on our way out. She looks unhappy.

I thought, disappointed, that I or the attempt ruined it for her. Not so. Once in the car she asked when she could try again, tomorrow maybe? She explains to me that ice skating is hard and takes practice. Sweet little child. I have much to learn.

Then at park day some veteran moms/skaters offered much advice: 1) figure skates, not hockey skates 2) roller skates for at home 3) go watch the freeskate in the morning 4) get her a skating buddy. :) Will do. Thanks to all the moms who talked me through it. :) I'm still open for more advice, btw.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Art Progress

Manic Monday Whoa Oh Oh.....

I have sooo much to write about here. We had friends over, cleaned out the crib to go to its new home (don't get the wrong idea, we just never used it for Lil'Bug and decided we're co-sleeping the second round as well), played, and played, and well you get the idea.

Sunday night actually started the round of recent events. Lil'Bug's bed was drug down from the attic, cleaned, and set up. So she moved from sleeping on mattress on the floor to a big girl bed. The mattress on the floor served two purposes: less height if she rolled out of bed (she never did) and delayed the search for the 3/4 short mattress the big girl bed required. Just so happens that custom making a mattress is very pricey BUT it also just happens that a LaZboy hidebed uses that exact size. Bingo. Whoo Hoo!

Monday we wake up to a lovely October day. October 1st has a lot of meaning for me. It is a sad day and one full of emotion and turmoil most years. Something was different this time. I embraced the memory, paid my respects to the sorrow, and moved on with the day.

Friends arrived just after 10. I felt no pressure to uber clean house. It was tidy, but luckily the visiting friends are not the kind to mind toys and art supplies strewn in use. I adore H.'s kids. They are quirky and sweet and her oldest reminds me a little of Wynona Ryder in Beetlejuice and a lot of me at that age. It was one of those days that time flew by. I did however make the mistake of telling the kids too much about the pork sausage we were eating. I know they care about food being chemical free, so I told them all about the happy, free range pig we got from the preserve. Yup. They then did not want to eat the happy pig sausage. PB&J's were offered. Lil'Bug didn't help with her exclamation of, "Yummy pig! Pig noodles are so good." Red sauce, sausage, and shell pasta are pig noodles to her?

They left just before dearest husband returned home. He asked what was for dinner. Oops. I had intended to make beef stew for the guests and eat that for dinner but I forgot and made pasta instead. He pulled out steaks and grilled them up. I boiled and mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, and 20 minutes later we had the most delicious dinner. Target had the best sale on Angus last Sunday so I bought enough beef and chicken to get us through when the beef from our 1/4 will arrive. This year's pig is coming in November. Anyway, the steak was pounded and scored to tenderize and sprinkled with Slap Yo' Mama seasoning. We are almost out. I have to remember to order more online soon since we use that as an all purpose seasoning almost everyday. It's not like the local grocery carries good Cajun seasoning! ;)

Then our after dinner wild rumpus. Dear Husband played trumpet, then drums, and we danced and danced. Finally Lil'Bug decided it was bedtime and we headed up for bath. She still had sand in her hair from two days ago? How? She's had 3-4 baths since last exposure to sand box! Gah. If anyone has good advice about sand removal from tot's tender scalp, offer it up please please.

Bedtime was greeted with open arms. We read books and settled in. Then she turns to me, "How did our baby get inside your belly? Did you eat her?" 1) We don't know that it is a her. 2) No. Sweet. I did not eat her. "Did Daddy cut a hole in you like I came out?" Lil'Bug knows about her birth story which involved a C-Section. No, but Daddy did help make the baby inside my womb. Pause. Snore.

Ah, good. That buys me another day.