Thursday, June 28, 2007

Peanut Paste Today, Diamonds Tomorrow

An article from BBC News reports that scientists have discovered how to make diamonds out of peanut butter.

Finally, those stuffy science geeks are moving away from all that global warming junk. I thought they would never shut-up about it! It's about time we through out all that new-agey garbage; lets get back to some good old-fashioned alchemy!

Here is my summary:

Scientists at Edinburgh University used a stiletto heel to magically change oxygen into red crystals and peanut butter into diamonds. They hope to change hydrogen into metal (seems that they are working toward some fine diamond and gemstone jewelry). This will help them find the Holy Grail after which they will use it to concoct a supernatural medication that we can take when we visit the surface of the sun.

That's the best I can do to understand it. If you feel like you need to read the original article, here is the link.

**Side note - This article refers to peanut butter as a paste. I was just wondering, would anyone actually buy a product called Peanut Paste?

Tomorrow I will offer the kids a Peanut Paste and Jelly sandwich for lunch.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Book Lovers Should Try

Walking through our home, the idea might hit you that our family loves books.

Over the years we have worked to build a library of some of our favorite novels, non-fiction books, and reference books. Most of the childrens' books are abused to no end, but I try to make sure that the classics and the kids' sentimental favorites are kept in good condition.

We have collected, and continue to add to, a large library of children's non-ficiton and reference books that we use for homeschooling. This year we will utilize the recently discovered website, This website allows users to catalog all of their books into a personal online library. Each book is tagged by the user and the catalog is searchable. You can also network with others who own the same book and the library can give you info about books that people with similar libraries owned. The interface is easy to use and it is fun to see how many book you own.

The real challenge for me will be locating the book that I am looking for!

Here is a fun little quiz for you. Can you guess where you might find each of these bookcases in our house?

*Hints - The family room, homeschool room, Elora's bedroom, and the Boys' bedroom have one each. Two are from the computer/music room.

** Extra Hint - We encourage three-year-old Jacob to help put books away in his room!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Just Another Big Loser? I Guess I Am.

In an attempt to shed those post-pregnancy pounds (yeah, I know 18-months is far beyond the postpartum days) I have decided to try a daily exercise routine facilitated by my personal trainer.

Oops, did I say personal trainer? I meant to say a wide range of arbitrarily chosen fitness DVDs.

Yesterday I received a DVD from Netflix called The Biggest Loser: The Workout. I honestly admit that I have never seen the reality show that this workout is based on, but I had heard of it and the majority of reviews on this DVD were positive.

The DVD has a variety of different routines, and you can combine the elements you like to make your own custom routine. I decided to use a default program (duh).

I found that the exercises were challenging and the trainer was only moderately annoying. But my favorite part of this video by far are the people who are doing the exercises alongside the trainer.

Instead of the typical 2% body fat, California super-trim, exercise models, this video had normal looking people. During the workout, these former cast members occasionally made mistakes that any normal person attempting these exercises might make. One guy could not get in sync with everyone else. If they were all going right, he was going left. Another guy kept getting the stance wrong and despite the trainer trying to move his feet into the right position, he continued with his legs too far apart. Finally the exasperated trainer said "that's a little better" and went on to something else. The women made less mistakes, but near the end of the workout, they both started whining. I'm right there with you girls!

As I watched them struggle I thought to myself "Hey, I'm doing pretty good. Look at that poor guy!".

Why aren't more fitness videos created like this? Do I really need to stare for half an hour at a 24-year-old trainer who's whole life revolves around exercise and nutrition? It doesn't motivate me with a "this could be you" mentality because in reality my husband, four kids, homeschooling, swim meets, soccer practice, dance class, chess club, baseball, girl scouts, housekeeping, grocery shopping, yard work, one dog, one cat, one hamster-life would never allow it!

I will most likely do the second workout on this DVD tonight and I can't wait to see who will screw-up this time. I know I will be there making the same goofy, uncoordinated mistakes that those of us with little dexterity and physical prowess are repeatedly destined to make.

You Know You're a Parent When...

.....your six-o-clock wake-up call rings to the tune of an 18-month old who is ready to play.

Damn, I wish I could go back to bed.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Antibiotics Cause Asthma? Just Another Reason to Breastfeed the First Year

All babies get sick from time to time.

If you have an infant you can wisely choose to breastfeed and thus ward off almost an entire year's worth of varying ailments. I breastfed all of our children past the first year, and we never had a sick child younger than 11 months.

But breastfeeding may not be an option for some mothers who have difficulties with their health or are on medications. And as sad as it may be, despite mountains of medical research that proves the vast advantages to breastfeeding, some women just prefer to formula feed.

Either way, if your infant gets sick you may want to consider the latest research that shows a possible link between antibiotics given within the first year of life and the development of asthma.

Our pediatrician knows that we are minimalists when it comes to medicines, and we have rarely had our kids on antibiotics and only when it is absolutely necessary. Many parents believe that a doctor will speak-up and give them all the available options when treating an illness, but often this is not the case. Doctors sometimes do not inform parents that children can recover from many illnesses without the use antibiotics and other medications.

This latest antibiotic study reveals the adverse affects of "pill pushing" on children, and my suspicion is that more discoveries will surely follow. Or, perhaps not! Most medical research in the United States is funded by the drug companies and they most certainly wouldn't want those facts to get out. It should be noted that this antibiotic-asthma link is being widely discussed in Europe, Canada, New Zealand....have we heard much about it in the US? Hmmmm?

If you are pregnant, read more about breastfeeding before deciding to bottle feed. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that all children be breastfed the first year, and studies show it increases intelligence, reduces the risk of infection, reduces the likelihood of diabetes and obesity, minimizes allergies, helps prevent SIDS, prevents ear-infections, and now, inadvertently, of all it is ABSOLUTELY FREE!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bush Visits; Cramer and Sessions Laud Nuclear Benefits

President Bush was in North Alabama today visiting the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant in Athens, AL. Bud Cramer, who accompanied President Bush, commented on the complete reopening of the Browns Ferry unit in late May:
"Nuclear power is a safe alternative source of energy and TVA has spent five years and over $1.8 billion to refurbish and enhance Browns Ferry to meet our region’s needs."
Senator Jeff Sessions also was quoted in May, responding to the reopening:
"The restart of Unit One at Brown's Ferry is an important milestone in our nation's transition to utilizing more nuclear energy production. The increased baseload capacity will help TVA meet the demands of a growing economy in the Valley, and the clean, safe and affordable energy is good news for ratepayers."
I feel a little confused about all of this, because I grew-up with a healthy fear of nuclear energy. My childhood memories are littered with end-of-the-world, doomsday television specials about reactor accidents and fallout, not to mention the hundreds of references made via Mr. Burns' powerplant on the Simpsons.

Now, it seems that I have nothing to fear! It all sounds so grand! It's clean! It's safe! It will even save me money because it is affordable! Lets all cheer together!
Clean and safe! Clean and safe!
And it will save you money!
I suppose I should rejoice in the miracle of nuclear, but I have a creeping feeling that something is not quite right.
  1. Shouldn't we be concerned about the nuclear waste?
  2. What about the radioactive isotopes the reaction creates?
  3. Isn't there a concern about the high cost and excessive amount of energy that it takes to create enriched uranium?
  4. And let's not forget the ecological affects on fresh water source used for the reaction. (for more distasteful facts about nuclear power view this article)
I guess we should all stock-up on potassium iodide.

You can only expect to hear more of this nuclear chant as politicians scramble for a way to appear green, without actually encouraging a real change.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

You Know You're a Parent When...

.....chocolate pudding vomit hurled at high velocities in your living room doesn't phase you.

As a mater of fact, you already have a procedure developed for such scenarios.

Uh-Oh Thomas!

They're two, they're four, they're six, they're eight,
Shunting trucks and hauling freight.
Red and green and brown and blue
They may all cause cancer too.
In case you haven't heard, a list of Thomas and Friends wooden trains have been recalled. The Chinese manufacturer failed to consider lead paint a bad idea for coating children's toys.

If you have little boys in your household, you probably know that:
Thomas is the cheeky one.
James is vain but lots of fun.
Percy pulls the mail on time.
Gordon thunders down the line.
Emily really knows her stuff.
Henry toots and huffs and puffs.
Edward wants to help and share.
Toby, lets just say he's square.
Our boys love Thomas trains. They also enjoy Thomas videos, Thomas books, Thomas stickers, Thomas clothes, Thomas blankets, Thomas lunch boxes, Thomas puzzles...the list goes on and on.

Although I usually shy away from surrounding the kids with character merchandise, I have always made an exception for Thomas because the train stories went beyond entertainment to teach determination and integrity, working hard and perseverance. All of the Learning Curve train sets are high quality and mostly wood.

I am thoroughly surprised that these products do not meet safety standards and I regret that I will have to tell the children why we are sending their Sodor Smelting Yard and cargo car back in the mail (as if I don't have enough to do already).

I guess Thomas might remind us all that Accidents Happen!

One more anecdote--- I had to printout the recall form twice because Jacob wanted to keep the first one; it had pictures of trains on it! Also, the above video is Henry's absolute favorite.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Happy 30th me?

Today I turned 30.

I have to say that I did a terrible job preparing myself for this day.

All of my life the age of 30 has been a vague, blurry destination far, far off in the distance. I don' t think that I ever actually believed that I would someday be 30. This mythical birthday, draped in malformed ideas about wisdom and maturity, resided in my mind in the neighborhood of the peppermint forest and gumdrop mountain.

Today I find myself standing firmly on the not-so imaginary birthday feeling not-so wise and not-so mature.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You.... Enlist the Kiddies!

I just got back from taking the kids to see a summer movie. We went to Carmike Theater in Huntsville for the matinee of Surf's up. I didn't get to see much of the movie because Henry wanted to run back and forth through the aisle and dump popcorn all over everything. I think the movie was just o.k. though, the kids weren't that impressed.

But this blog post is not about the movie.

What I found very appalling is that before the movie started, during the previews, there was a very long military propaganda video shown. I couldn't believe what I was seeing!!! Emotionally charged video clips were interspersed with short phrases recalling honor, pride and adventure. All of this was shown while a heroic fanfare trumpeted in the background. And, this was not a quick little 15 second blip, it seemed to drag on and on for 3 or 4 minutes. I honestly sat up and turned around, wondering if anyone else thought this was a little weird, but all the other viewers just sat mesmerized, munching their popcorn and goobers.

I have heard of Army recruiting videos being played at Chuck-E-Cheese and was astounded at the rumor but I had never seen these brainwashing tactics in action until today.

Wake-up everyone!

The government is selling brands, and those brands are ARMY, NAVY, AIR FORCE, MARINES. Anyone in marketing will tell you that the younger you get a child to positively identify a brand, the more likely they will be to develop good feelings about it.

I have never been tempted to throw anything at a movie screen until today. I will definitely remember this the next time we are considering taking the kids to a movie.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Geographical Karma

How can the tragedy of a few scarring experiences taint your opinion of a place forever?

My friend recently explained to me that she refuses to shop at Kroger and avoids going there at all costs.

Kroger!? I practically live there! Not only is it nearly walking distance from our house, but they have improved their organic and natural food section to encompass nearly two aisles. Usually things work out fine when I shop there.

She related to me a number of horror stories that included turkey blood down the front of a white blouse and another about being pinned under a shopping cart with a broken leg in the parking lot with her children in the buggy and no one helping her. **GASP!** It doesn't get much worse than that. She concluded that it must be written in the stars that Kroger is not meant for her. She shops at Publix.

This all got me wondering. How many people have places that they have sworn to avoid after a barrage of catastrophes? Is there some sort of geographical karma at work in the world?

As for us, the only place we avoid is Chuck-E-Cheese. Every time we go there the kids get sick a few days later. I honestly thought it was the same for everyone. Perhaps cosmic forces are at work, or maybe someone just needs to Lysol those play tubes.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Job of a Lifetime

In 2001 when our second child was born, I left the workforce to begin the real work of my life, mothering. At first I didn't dedicate much thought to staying at home with the kids, probably because my mother worked for most of my childhood and I had no distinct memories of having a mom at home. I began with no concrete ideas about what I was supposed to do each day so I started by focusing most of my energy on the adult things that I needed to do. I was used to fitting my parenting time around a job schedule, so I began by fitting mothering in around chores and errands.

I soon figured out that a bit of planning and preparation went a long way in making our days run smoothly, and as the kids grew, I realized how impressionable they were.

One day it dawned on me that I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to shape our children. To lay down a character framework that could benefit them for the rest of their lives. A few years later this realization led us to homeschooling.

Today, I try to keep all of my efforts within sight of the fact that life is unpredictable and there is no way I can plan or prepare for every situation that we will encounter. Despite this reality, I have promised to never let myself off the hook by imagining that everything is out of my control. There are so many aspects of childhood that a mother can affect and those seeds of influence continue to grow for a lifetime.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

What is this blog? or The Beginning

Welcome-- I am starting this blog in the hopes that I will be able to maintain a sort of journal or diary of thoughts, happenings, observations, questions and perhaps even share lessons learned with others. Many of my posts will relate to parenting and women, for obvious reasons, but considering that my interests are varied, the posts could be about anything.

Somehow the act of publishing thoughts on the web makes me feel like my ideas are more valid. I know that this is surely a psychological trick I am playing on myself, but I think I can accept that and choose not to care!

I hope that if you do read this blog and enjoy the posts, that you choose to comment on them. I strive to be open-minded and never pass-up a chance to learn from others.

I know I will enjoy hanging a few out there, meeting new people and discussing ideas, so without further ado, I pronounce this blog started!