Saturday, December 29, 2007

Real Christmas Trees...

Chad: Why don't we get a real Christmas tree?
Me: Because I can't justify cutting down a perfectly good tree just to decorate our house for a few weeks.
Chad: Do they just go out and cut them down from everywhere?
Me: No. They grow them in something called a tree farm.
Chad: So, they buy some land with trees, and cut them down?
Me: No. I'm pretty sure they plant the trees there.
Chad: That's good, right? Planting trees?
Me: Not if they're just going to cut them down in a couple of years. What's the point?
Chad: Oh.
(long, thoughtful pause)

Chad: If they didn't have tree farms, the trees could just grow wild there?
Me: Well.. no probably not. It would probably be turned into farmland.
Chad: With no trees at all.
Me: Right.
Chad: So.. the tree farmers are still kind of helping. They keep planting trees there, and if they didn't, there would be no trees.
Me: I... I guess so.
Chad: So maybe we should get a real tree. You know, so the tree farmers will keep planting them.

Sometimes that kid is so much smarter than I am.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Help me, smarty-pants political people!

I think every eligible voter in America should vote. I think people should know who they're voting for and why. I also think people need to take candidate's claims with a HUGE grain of salt, considering the lack of actual power the president is allowed. Blaming the president for the faults of the entire government, while placing little importance on the congress is just nutty. Voting for a party instead of a person is nutty. I also think voters should be fully informed on the issues that concern them, and where the candidates (presidential AND congressional) stand on those issues.

That being said, I'm a complete political idiot. Don't get me wrong, I'm not stupid. But until a few years ago I told people, "I don't like politics," just because the subject seemed so overwhelming and confusing I felt it was impossible to understand - so I didn't even try. I don't know the difference between partisan and non-partisan and bi-partisan.. what the hell is "partisan"? What does it mean to be "Independent"? How on earth do we have all these parties, and laws regulating equal coverage and an unbiased media, yet only hear about two parties? Why is the Des Moines newspaper endorsing Hillary? Are they allowed to endorse anyone?

I really want to know more about politics. I want to understand it, so I can be a better informed voter. I feel it's my duty to do so. But should it be so complicated? I'm convinced all these big words and fancy terms and complicated rules put in place to intimidate the uneducated (like myself, unfortunately) and discourage them from voting. I try to watch the political shows, but my head starts hurting, and I start fidgeting, and my mind starts wandering because NONE of it makes any sense to me. Am I paranoid in thinking this is deliberate? I'd like to be involved in political support, working for a campaign office or volunteering with a party office, but a visit to a few party websites only leaves my head swimming with all those weird big words again.
Ballot initiative - In political science, the initiative (also known as popular
or citizen's initiative) provides a means by which a petition signed by a
certain minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote on a
proposed statute, constitutional amendment, charter amendment or ordinance, or,
in its minimal form, to simply oblige the executive or legislative bodies to
consider the subject by submitting it to the order of the day.
Umm.. what?? I read things like this by substituting, omitting and rearranging in my mind as I go. The same way I read Shakespeare, actually. I can figure it out, but it takes forever and feels like translating ancient Hebrew.

Are there books available to normal people like myself to read and learn more about this kind of stuff? Something written for the average person now, not the average person with a bachelor's degree. I've tried just reading the newspaper and websites and such, but it seems the harder I try to understand it, the harder it is to understand. Politics for Dummies? I hate admitting to my political ignorance, but somehow I feel I'm about 10 years late in learning about it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Hillbilly Animal Shelter...

I have a weakness for animals. Several years ago, some acquaintance-of-a-friend-of-a-friend had a cat they no longer wanted. Vic had seen the cat, and over the course of a couple of days must have asked me 200 times to bring it home. We already had two cats in our little house and I was in no hurry to increase the number of animals we were responsible for. But then the report came, through the chain of people who knew people, that the owners of the cat had stopped feeding her. "We're getting rid of her anyway," they said, "So why buy any more food for her if we're just going to give her away." This is how we got Foxy. Despite her bipolar disorder and overall weirdness, we made a home for her. I just couldn't stand the idea of some poor animal starving.
Then there was the time we found an injured turtle on the road and brought it home to recover before releasing it again. And the time we bought a ferret at a garage sale because the owners said they didn't take him out of the cage, and confessed they'd never taken him to the vet. And the time we hand-fed baby birds that fell from a nest outside our house. Rescued and relocated baby rabbits. Fed the wild opossums and raccoons outside our back door in the winter. I probably can't even remember everything we've done, often by my begging and whining request, to help an animal.

Then my country friend J called about one of his "juvenile delinquent" chickens. The last hatch this year, there was one light colored chicken in the batch of black bantams. A little hen that was smaller than the rest. J said when he went to close up the chickenhouse for the night, all the other chickens, including the mother hen, were crowded together on the perch, while this little hen was huddled by herself, cold and shivering on the floor. She'd been pecked by the others and was holding one of her eyes closed. If you want to know the truth of it, I think my friend knows my weakness and was using it against me. I think he also knows Cadence shares my love of animals and would be delighted to be the stand-in chicken mama.

So we have a new "pet" chicken. We've yet to name her, but this website says chickens can learn their names and actually be very affectionate. I've yet to see affection from the little hen, but she is getting more comfortable with being held and carried around. She makes peeping noises constantly, sometimes long after we've covered up her cage for the night. The GBH would love to eat her. The kids barely let her little chicken feet touch the ground. Because of the cold, the lack of a suitable outdoor home, and her small size, we'll be letting her stay in the house through the winter. My plan is to return her to her chicken family at my friend's place as soon as she's big enough to defend herself, probably in the spring. I was thinking of something like this for her to stay in when she outgrows the aquarium:The bottom lined with newspapers, something like this would be perfect for a little chicken.
Now that we have a pet chicken, I think we've gone past the point of denying we're rednecks.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Middle Schooler Gets Detention For Hugging...

An 8th grade girl in Illinois is punished for hugging her friends, because it violates the school's policy on public displays of affection.
District Superintendent Sam McGowen said that he thinks the penalty is fair and
that administrators in the school east of St. Louis were following policy in the
student handbook.
It states: "Displays of affection should not occur on the
school campus at any time. It is in poor taste, reflects poor judgment, and
brings discredit to the school and to the persons involved."

I'd like to think when this policy was created, they were looking to eliminate hallway makeout sessions and had no idea the span of behaviors they would cover by being so vague; and that whoever called this girl on her breech of policy was just being a rule-driven, tyrannical asshole. The alternative is pretty scary, because that would suggest an institution where students -children - are forced to refrain from any human contact that suggests affection.

Punishing this girl is in poor taste. Making this policy so vague reflects poor judgment. Insisting that the penalty is fair brings discredit to the school and the persons involved. Thankfully, we have no such policy. Hugs and kisses are encouraged around here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wonder Woman...

Fourmother at Land of Our Fourmother has passed some lovely Wonder Woman roses on to me. How sweet!

I think all of us has our Wonder Woman moments. Walking into a room full of screaming, fighting, crying children and with your great and mysterious superpowers, magically turning it into a room full of snuggling, happy people. Cooking a 5 course meal for the inlaws and managing to get everything done at precisely the right moment - nothing burned or overspiced or anything. Tackling the huge evil stack of bills and plugging away until everything is paid or filed in the appropriate place.

I'd like to think, at least once in a while, Wonder Woman arrived home after dropping the bad guys off to the authorities in her invisible jet, poured herself a drink, plopped down on her pet-hair coated couch and thought to herself, "Holy crap! I can't believe I pulled that off."

So, in the tradition of blog awards, I give credit where it's due and pass this on to five wonderful women bloggers:
Ami, who shares the glory and misery of her life with grace, intelligence, and humor. Ami, you rock!
Leola at Living on the Edge... She's a great woman with a lot of guts.
Heather at Mini Memoirs of Mine. She's a neighbor, with a much more interesting life than she gives herself credit for.
Gail at Life a la Carte. The more I learn about Gail, the more I find we have in common.
Nina at Painted Rainbows and Chamomile Tea. She says she's learning about homeschooling, but she shares such great resources, I'm actually learning a lot from her.

I'm hoping this little gift of a silly blog graphic will help these women see how wonderful we all are, every single day.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Redneck Euphemism #135...

"You can't polish a turd."

This means no matter how much you try, it's not getting any better. Most of the time, this refers to someone else's crap (no pun intended), or them personally, and is derogatory in nature. However, I use this phrase often when cleaning my house. That carpet might be vacuumed and free of clutter, but it's still stained and looks like hell. No matter how clean the windows, they still look out onto our yard, yet to recover completely from years of garbage storage with the previous tenants. No matter how much mowing and weed-whacking and flowers planted, the house in the center is missing siding and falling apart. No matter what I fill it with, or how clean it is, this place is still kind of a dump.

Sounds sort of cynical and pessimistic, but it's not. For me, this is a humorous way to appreciate what I have. Nope, it's not perfect. But I can't expect it to be. After all, you can't polish a turd. And that's ok. This turd is my home :)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The snag in structured schooling...

We're not unschoolers, but I cling very tightly to our unschooling tendencies. For example, Chad finished his structured work yesterday in just over an hour and said, "YAY!" when he was finished. Then he went off to read a book about edible plants (and take notes), for fun. Just because he wanted to. We have a set of encyclopedias, a couple sets of children's reference books about everything you could think of, gobs of picture books and games, all of which the kids have access to whenever they like. Just about every day, at least one of them is parked on the couch looking through a book and announcing their discoveries. "Hey Mama! These people make boats out of reeds!" So yeah, we're pretty unschooly. Even our structured lessons aren't that structured. But it's not really unschooling either.

The problem with any kind of structured schooling is time. The kids have chores they do every morning and I freak out if we don't finish expect breakfast and chores to be done somewhere around 10. The idea is that lessons will be finished by lunchtime, and sometimes this works. If we have to spend an hour in the afternoon finishing, that's fine too. See? Not too structured. Except Every Little Fucking Thing disrupts this relaxed-but-structured schedule. Riley decides to play the harmonica right in the middle of math. My mother calls to ask a question and thinks of about 5 million other things to ask about while she's at it. They're working on the road outside and I decide - like a good unschooling parent, you understand - to call lessons off and go watch, then I get all upset later about what wasn't done and what needs to be "caught up" on.

Today we were going to go to the library. I want to make Thursday our library day this year (last year it was Tuesdays. I'm telling you, I'm a complete freak sometimes!). Everything was going along fine, lessons were getting done quickly and by 11:00 I knew we'd be finished before lunch and off to the library after. Then my aunt called. My uncle is having some tests done at the hospital, and due to some trauma patients coming in to the E.R., they're backed up. My aunt was supposed to be babysitting her granddaughter this afternoon, and would I mind taking her just for a few hours so they could wait at the hospital. "Not at all!" I say, "Bring her on over." Now my kids are off playing and schoolwork will never get done. We won't be able to go to the library until someone comes to pick up my little cousin, and by then it will be time to start dinner. Holy crap, this is SOOOO not a big deal. And I am so freaking out about what isn't getting done today.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A nice light week...

I need a vacation from life right now. I can't even keep up with all the things I'm supposed to be remembering. I have little lists of things around the house. Lists of stuff I need to buy at the store. Lists of books I'll get from amazon if the much-needed help that has so generously been offered and is so greatly appreciated, ever actually comes. Phone numbers. Lists of books to get on our next library trip and books that need to be returned. Circled calendar dates. Little half-sentences like, "bday fri/colored pencils" written on napkins and the backs of envelopes. Disorganized stress-bomb anyone? Wow.

I decided to postpone the imminent breakdown due to lack of necessary materials for our History Odyssey program by a week. We are having a light week. Next week I'll have my breakdown. We didn't do anything at all until Wednesday, which just happened to be the first day of school for our district. I didn't do that on purpose, I was just busy babysitting Monday and running errands Tuesday, so it worked out that way. Wednesday there was much fighting and yelling and, "You stop talking." "No YOU stop talking, I'm not talking." "You're talking NOW. I didn't say anything." "Yes you DID!"

Yesterday, after finishing the second day of only handwriting and math, I'm ready to pull my hair out. Chad has this habit of asking to do something, then bitching that he "has to" do it. Like handwriting. I could personally care less how neat his writing is, as long as others can read it. He writes on his own, making little books or taking notes on books he's reading (this too is his own idea). Cadence loves handwriting practice. Anything in a workbook. So yesterday, when Cadence was doing handwriting, Chad asked if he could re-learn cursive (claims he forgot how). No problem. I spent about an hour digging up some practice worksheets online and printing them. Then today I handed him the "A" sheet only to have him say, "Why do I have to do handwriting?" What the hell? Some kind of juvenile Alzheimer's? I just handed him the cursive sheets and told him to do them if he wanted, use them for reference when writing, or throw them away for all I cared. Sheesh.

We took a trip back to the doctor for Riley again. That swollen lymph node from several weeks ago? Yep, still there and not getting smaller. The doctor was very nice, telling me not to ever read about medical stuff on the internet. "You probably read all about Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma didn't you?" Um.. well, yeah. He was a lot more informative than the last doctor, and explained how sometimes it can be long after the original infection clears before they go back to normal. He said they see this kind of thing a lot, and its very VERY rare that anything comes of it. More antibiotics for now, and if that doesn't work in two weeks we'll do a steroid shot. I guess if that doesn't work, they'll move on to biopsy, but he sounded pretty confident that Riley would be fine well before we need to do that. "She looks really healthy otherwise, no other symptoms, I'm sure it's nothing." I feel a lot better than I did before.

My old and ailing cat is no longer ailing. He's still old. No more puking everywhere though, which is nice because I don't have to worry about him so much, and also because I don't have to clean it off the carpets and furniture (computer, washing machine, bathtub...). Now he's spending most of his time sleeping and doing cat things. Like sleeping. Oh, and eating. And sleeping of course. I think I need a couple of days to be a cat.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Redneck Steam Cannon...

*Updated to add photos*

Ah, the Redneck life! You just can't do any better than good old redneck fun. Like most rednecks, we frequently build a bonfire in our back yard - right in the middle of town. The place we live technically IS a town, I mean, we have a post office. But I don't know if 5 or 6 square blocks really counts. Still, we have bonfires. And nobody cares, so long as it's "yard waste". For the record, the local fire department doesn't consider old wood siding that's fallen off your house INTO your yard, as yard waste. Go figure. "Ma'am, we mean the stuff that grows in your yard, not just stuff that happens to be there." Picky, picky.

Anyway, it's common while having a bonfire for Dad and the kids to play in the burning flames and coals. This is fun, right? This is the part where Vic laughs a lot and I say, "Please step back a bit," and, "Please don't run," and, "Please don't wave the flaming stick near your sisters." Usually, I get so stressed out I have to go into the house and find something to do. I trust my husband to be a good father and not allow them to get hurt. He's an old fire pro and is the reason my kids know how to build and bank a fire, which wood burns best, etc. But sometimes maintaining that trust requires me to leave the premises.

During one such backyard bonfire, Chad suggested making a steam cannon. Vic assisted the kids in a makeshift prototype, and after some tweaking and experimenting, this is what they were successful with:

The Redneck Steam Cannon
Supplies- one 2-foot (or so) piece of copper water pipe (diameter under 1-1/2 inches), red-hot coals (from a good couple of hours of burn is best), one wire coat hanger, water, and mud.
Assembly- With a pair of metal crimpers, pliers, or even a vice, bend up about 1-2 inches at the bottom of the pipe. Then, bend it up again, essentially "rolling up" or folding the pipe twice.
Make sure the "folds" are tight and flat. Straighten the wire coat hanger into one long wire. About 4 inches down from the top of the pipe, twist the coat hanger tightly, like a twist tie. You want it tight to make a secure handle that's not likely to slip. (In this version, we used a piece of bent metal, tied on with the wire, but the concept is the same)
Firing the "cannon"- Pour a small amount (1/4 cup or less) of water into your cannon. (As you can see in the photo, we usually just dip it in the nearest rain-filled outdoor object.) Plug up the top with a sticky clod of mud. Mud with very few pebbles is recommended; it lessens the air pockets and your risk of breaking window glass in the event of a misfire. You want your mud to be about the consistency of playdoh. If you're lacking this kind of mud, I suppose you really could use playdoh, although in my opinion it wouldn't be as fun. With a shovel or spade, make a big hill of your hot coals, at least 6 inches tall for good stability. Nestle your loaded cannon right in the middle of the coals, deep enough to prevent it from falling over. Remember to aim it away from people, houses, and your neighbor's car. (Since the kids would be heading to bed soon and I wanted a decent photo, we just braced the cannon with boards strangely straight sticks that fell off the tree. Ahem.) That's it! Within a few seconds, your cannon should fire, blowing a big ole mud clod high in the air. If it doesn't fire, give it a couple of minutes to make sure you're not just being impatient before trying to remove it from the coals. Check for leaks in the bottom of the cannon, holes in the sides, or cracks where steam could escape around the mud. Maybe your mud ammo is too thick or thin? Too much or too little water could also be the culprit. Experiment with different amounts of mud and water. Have fun with it.

This is great fire entertainment, and has become a camping (and backyard) favorite for the kids. Simple and using the basics of supplies, it's guaranteed to leave you grinning like a shit-eating possum.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Solitary Confinement for Schoolchildren...

A local school district just faced a lawsuit for keeping an autistic child in a "timeout room" for three hours. The timeout was videotaped.
"It was more than shock. It was pure mortification," her father later testified
during a legal proceeding. "We saw her hitting herself in the head. We saw her
just looking like a wild animal, essentially, for well over an hour, someone who
had just lost all control of herself and all hope."

I'd never even heard of timeout rooms before this story. Apparently, they're in use all over the state. They're just what you think they are - solitary confinement for children. The girl in this story asked to go to the bathroom and was denied. She tried at least 10 times to sit in the "body basics" position for the required 5 minutes, but every time she fidgeted, she was told she would have to start the count over. She wet her pants during her confinement, and still wasn't allowed to leave.
Kevin Took, a psychiatrist at Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines, said he
deals with children who have been severely traumatized.Took testified that he
did not see anything traumatic about Isabel's videotaped timeout, even though
she wet her pants. Urination and defecation are fairly common issues with
children with autism spectrum disorders, he said.

While she is autistic, this is a child able to ask for a restroom break and function without accidents every day at school. This guy is supposed to be an expert in traumatic situations. Anyone who has ever been to school knows how traumatic wetting your pants can be. Her autism is no excuse for this abuse.
Records show Isabel was in timeout for 100 sessions between September and
December 2005, for as many as five sessions in a single school day, and
sometimes for an hour or more.

This whole article was maddening and horrifying. Especially this part:
As a result, Waukee is not bound to change the way it uses timeout rooms.Because
it was an administrative hearing, the Loefflers cannot seek damages, although
they could seek reimbursement for their $80,000 in legal fees. They also have
the right to sue for damages in civil court.There was no penalty for the school

Jesus Christ. "I'm glad we homeschool" isn't good enough this time. What about all those kids continuing to spend time in isolation rooms? Did anyone else even know they used these? Are homeschoolers still making an unfair comparison when we say public schools are like prisons?

Flat Stanley...

Since I've sent our Flat Stanley pictures off to Robinella, I thought I would share our Stanley adventures here.
I didn't get a picture of Cadence's Stanley pre-adventure, but she dressed him in a snappy black tshirt and some green waist-high waders. I think she was planning to take him to the river, before she realized water is a bad place for little paper boys. Since Riley's Stanley had upset Cadence so badly, Riley made another that we called Freckles because of his bright orange spots everywhere. Some kind of skin condition I guess. We took Stanley and Freckles to Ledges State Park, where there are enough hiking trails and lookout points to make you want to fall over and die.
The road is flooded out from the Des Moines River. It always is. This is actually part of the reason the kids like to go there. The kids wore their bathing suits most of the day.

The first stop was the picnic area for lunch. The kids found a tree frog right off the bat. No big surprise there. Stanley wanted to hold it too.

Next, we went for a hike.

The kids love the hiking part. You're hiking for hours on a trail that never seems to end. You keep thinking, "I'm sure we're almost there," but you're not. The kids always laugh and run ahead and say, "Come on!" about a million times. Stanley and Freckles had to stop to rest too.

Freckles is kind of a sickly kid, if you ask me. One of those scared-of-nature types. Allergies or something. We took a couple of breaks.See that green stuff in the foreground? That's poison ivy.

Then, to everyone's delight, we spotted this great little "cave."

You probably can't see it well in this picture, but there's a brown sign just to the left of the white fence in front of this "cave." It's teeny. Can't see it? Yeah, we didn't either.Up the side of the rocks! Cadence is obviously recovered from her broken collarbone, just in time to break something else. More green stuff. Yep, that's poison ivy too.Chad and Stanley, chillin' in the cliffs yo. After many shouts of, "Jesus, be careful!" and "Jesus, don't do that!" (should have named them all Jesus), we moved out. That's when we saw the sign.Oops. We moved on to the flooded road, aka the Swimming Area.Chad got busy damming up the road. Dams are his passion. They soon enlisted the help of about 6 other kids. Too bad my kids are lonely social outcasts and don't know how to interact with others.No matter how many other kids come around, my girls are still best pals.

Our next adventure with Stanley took place Down on the Farm. Well ok, it wasn't really a farm, but my friend's house is in a rural area, surrounded by crops. Does that count? We were happy to discover an old friend from Seattle was also visiting that day. Her daughter is just a few months older than Riley, and we hadn't seen them since last summer. Stanley donned his best farmer clothes (courtesy of Chad), and buddied up to the resident pet, a bantam rooster named Lone Ranger.

Notice the kids are holding Lone Ranger. He doesn't know he's a chicken and doesn't hang out with the other chickens. Hence his name. He spends his days guarding the garage so the other chickens don't get in, and hanging out around people.

Next was the corn field.

Children of the Corn. Remind me to make Cadence wear sandals the next time she wears those capris. Sheesh. Then they mowed the yard a bit. Stanley got to drive.This was taken before any mowing actually occurred. I think they mowed about 15 feet before running off to do something else. Kids are flighty like that.This green stuff is not poison ivy. It's actually soybean plants, although it does look a lot like poison ivy from a distance. Leaves of three and all that.

And speaking of poison ivy, Stanley suffered the effects of a whole day's worth of exposure:

Thankfully, my kids didn't get it. I mean worse than they already had it. Which was not too bad.

Now for the bad news.

This Stanley didn't make it. According to Riley, his extremities have turned black from frostbite. I don't know how many times I've said, "Wear your gloves. Frostbite will make your fingers turn black and fall off." (scare tactic parenting works like a charm) His lungs are intact, but the rest of his organs are "mixed up." His bladder, the dark swirly thing at the bottom, is full because the frostbite has rendered his ridiculously large penis functionally inactive. Poor Stanley. At first glance, you might think Stanley just got lost in the frozen mountains, but look closer. His brains have all come out of his head. We suspect foul play.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Highlights of the last couple of days:

We took lots of pictures of Flat Stanley for Robinella. I've neglected her and her kiddos, and that makes me a very very bad friend. Public apology doesn't even make it right. I hope she can forgive me. We printed and colored our own Stanleys, I even made one. I asked the kids to think of somewhere they would like to take Stanley, and color him accordingly. Riley's Stanley has a very large penis, and several exposed organs. It's like Autopsy Stanley. Stanley Visits the Morgue?? Cadence was very upset about it, but so far, we have no pictures of that one. If we end up taking any of those, I'll post them here rather than email them. My kids are warped enough, we don't have to warp other people's kids. ;) Robinella, I'll get those organized and sent this weekend. I cross my heart and hope to die.

The poison ivy is looking better. Down to just a bunch of scabby spots. That's good right? I seriously don't know how this is supposed to work. I've been washing sheets and clothing every day in hot water. The kids have been showering with dish detergent and we have a nightly routine of baking soda paste. After much internet searching and a tip from Katherine, we discovered the weirdo bug we found was a soft tick, which I'd never even heard of, but apparently aren't known for carrying diseases. The swollen lymph node is "probably virus-related", and being treated by antibiotics (that I thought were for bacterial infections, not viruses). It's still swollen and painful, and we'll be heading to the doctor if it doesn't go away soon.

I am losing my voice. No throat pain or headache or anything, just scratchy and hoarse. It's weird. I'm starting to wonder if it's strep and related to Riley's lymph node thing. Hypochondria anyone?

Last night we went to a "steakhouse" which was really a more of a bar and grill with fancy prices. I had the first steak I've eaten in about a year. It was super good. I then spent the evening feeling lethargic and dumb, reminding me why I don't eat steak. But it was so worth it. Mmmm. I also had a Sam Adams, in an attempt to feel cultured, but quickly discovered culture isn't for everyone.

Hopefully later today I'll get around to actually posting something interesting. Right now I think I'll have some warm tea and a nap.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Measels make you bumpy, and mumps'll make you lumpy...

That bitch. All this talk about immunity, and my kids are covered in poison ivy. Covered. Chad is completely red from his toes to just above the knees. Cadence has it from head to toe, on her forehead even. I still appear to be immune, since all the itchy insect bites I keep unconsciously scratching have remained only insect bites.. even after several half-hour sessions each day of applying a baking soda paste to miles and miles of the stuff.

We had a long talk about scratching. The kids are washing with dish detergent. I was thinking since it dries the skin so well, it would help. Just an idea, but it can't hurt them. I've considered a salt soak, but I'm afraid it will sting. Wait it out. Just don't scratch.

Riley doesn't have poison ivy, despite having the same contact with the plants as her siblings. She's suffering from some other weird and scary symptoms that will take us to the doctor tomorrow.

There's this gland in her neck that's swollen. I mean it pops right out, you can see it. It's only on one side, and she says it hurts to the touch. No fever, but on her way to bed tonight, she said her body hurt. I pulled off a tick that was embedded in the middle of her back tonight (weird, and just.. eww), and she has a strange sore on her scalp. The sore could easily be an insect bite she scratched open, but we also found some weirdo bug in the girls' room. Ever seen a grub? Its body was like that, all white and squashy and fat and gross-looking. Only round like a marble, not long like a worm. And it had little red legs and a little red head, which also reminded me of a tick. Only bigger, like a June bug in May. Chad killed the thing before I got a good look at it, so I have no idea what it is. She's also Completely Covered In Mosquito Bites.

So now I'm worrying that it's Lyme disease or some kind of lymphoma or an allergic reaction to all the bites or any number of horrible things that could be wrong with my kid. I'm worrying that I'll end up in the hospital with Chad and Cadence getting cortisone shots. I can't sleep from checking on them.

And my husband says my "job" is easy.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Everything Wants to Be Loved...

"...Everything wanna be loved. Us sing and dance, and holla just wanting to be loved. Look at them trees. Notice how the trees do everything people do to get attention... except walk?" --The Color Purple

I was thinking today about other's opinions. We all pretend like they don't matter, but to almost everyone, to a varied extent, they do.

When I first discovered internet messageboards, it was like finding the Holy Grail or the Lost Temple of Hercules. It was better than websites, and better than email. You can interact with several others, to whatever degree of intimate details you're comfortable with, and come and go as you please. Unlike websites, you can always comment when you want to. Unlike email, you don't have to wait for days or weeks (or forever) for a response. Blogs followed, which were equally fantastic things. Read people's thoughts; leave comments readily. Awesome.

I felt a sense of friendship that I'd long forgotten. My old high school friends have taken their lives in drastically different directions than me, and we are no longer close. I hadn't made any new friends for a thousand reasons, mostly because I was too busy being a mom and going through the motions of my regular life. Suddenly I had an opportunity, through websites like MatchingMoms and homeschool groups, to actually meet and make friends with others based on common interests - How easy!

Except it wasn't easy. Every homeschool activity with a group I've been invited to, I've been somehow unable to get to. Our car was broken down. Or we had no gas. Or we had no money. Or something. People begin to get the idea I'm purposely avoiding them. I've started several potential friendships that just abruptly stopped. MatchingMoms brought me together with several moms who exchanged only a few emails before ending contact altogether. Messageboards have shown me several people with personalities (as far as one can tell, anyway) that I adored, and who were receptive to written and email exchanges at first. Then, again, abruptly ended. I don't even know why it happens. It just stops. I send another email or letter. Nothing.

I'm seriously wondering what the hell I'm doing to drive people off. What did I say? What did I talk about that may have turned them off? Am I not smart enough? Educated enough? Earthy enough? Am I too pushy or abrasive? Too young? Too old? Too .. what? I started trying to present myself in a more friend-friendly way. But through all my attempts I'm not even sure what that means. Maybe I'm just not outwardly friendly. Not that I'm aggressive or anything, I'm just not a smiling, bubbly, overflowing with friendliness kind of person. And I hate pretending to be. This is why I'm not a waitress.

It's a natural human reaction to get defensive when your feelings are hurt. This is because we care what people think. I'm likely to say, "To hell with them. If I'm somehow not good enough for them, good riddance. I didn't want to be in their pompous little Good Enough Club anyway." Except I do want to be in their club. I do want to be good enough. I get angry so I don't have to feel bad. I'd really like to be able to be completely apathetic about their lack of interest. I don't want to be jealous every time I read someone's posts about having coffee with the friend they made on the internet or about the latest playgroup they attended. I'd like to believe when I "meet" potential friends, we just "didn't click" and leave it at that. But I wonder. And worry. Because I care what people think.

Everyone just wants to be loved. We want to be seen as intelligent, wonderful people. We want to have friends who adore us as much as we adore them. We leave our childhood to go have children of our own, becoming the providers of love for our children. Sometimes leaving behind the reception of love from others. That's why internet messageboards and blogs are so popular. We sing and dance, and blog, just wanting to be loved.

Music and Life - Alan Watts

From Katherine at Our Report Card today. Check it out!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Score One for Mom...

I just picked up a whole set of Junior Edition encyclopedias, and an accompanying set of atlases from a freecycler in Des Moines. Yay! I can't say enough good things about freecycle. I've gotten rid of some books and random household stuff through freecycle, and have picked up some huge finds. Freecycle kicks butt.

And speaking of BUT, I had a hell of a time finding this place this afternoon. I was driving on fumes and hoping I had enough gas to get home again, becoming more and more worried about it the longer I spent driving around. Then, to top it all off, I got lost on the way home again.

There are not many places I can get truly lost in Des Moines. Usually I know that even though I'm not familiar with the road I'm driving on, if I keep going North (or West, or whatever) long enough, I'm bound to find a street that I do recognize. Not the case this time. This time, every street I took ended in a roadblock, an accident, a parking lot or a construction site. I was doing really good at not swearing at first, but the longer I drove around, and turned around, the more (and louder) cursing I did. I tried to get on the freeway going East, but because of an accident, all lines of traffic except one were blocked off - the one left open being the entrance to the freeway going West. At this point, I was so flustered I didn't even notice I was going the wrong way for several exits. Ugh. By the time I got home, I was a complete wreck.

It's kind of a dirty little secret of mine that I'm terrified of heavy traffic. I'm not frozen with fear or anything, but I'd rather drive 30 miles out of the way than drive down one street with heavy traffic. When Vic flew to Japan, he flew out of St. Louis and I saw him off alone. That meant I had to drive home again alone. Twelve lanes of heavy traffic, it was a nightmare. I cried until I got back on a good old two-lane highway. Today, the directions to this pickup were from the freeway. I sucked it up and took it, the same way I do when I go to the hospital, or anywhere else downtown. But I didn't like it. This getting lost thing just really frazzled me.

People Get Ready For School??...

I'm seeing a lot of posts lately with statements of homeschooling readiness. "We're all set!" they say. They list their curriculum to prove it. I thought I would list mine...


Well, we have that History Odyssey I bought, and I can't wait to use it! Except I still have some books that go with the program that I've yet to buy. I didn't realize I needed anything else when I bought the study guides, or I would have gotten it then - before that money was spent on other things. So, History! We're ready! Almost.

I bought Saxon math for Chad. It came with everything we need, except the notebook paper of course. Ooh, crap. Looks like we're out of notebook paper. He's ready to do some math! After I get the paper. Woohoo!

I haven't decided yet if I want to use the district math curriculum for Cadence or buy our own. I don't think Saxon will work well for her. Too much book work, not enough pictures. So, until I actually purchase something, I guess it's just the district's stuff. She's ready! I guess.

I've also been hunting desperately for a science curriculum, since we have to report science this year. The reviewer (no, I still haven't replaced her) said we could just keep notes of the science-related activities we do, which is nice. I dunno. Seems like a book and paper curriculum would be so much easier to document.

History Odyssey is supposed to incorporate reading and writing, but I plan to assign a book each week, just like I did last year. Does "I plan to" count as being ready? I'm also drooling over Sequential Spelling, but have yet to buy it. But I plan to.

One of the nice things about being a relaxed homeschooler is that I don't feel the need to micromanage our schooling. One of the bad things about it though, is that I'm not really "relaxed" and pretty soon I'm bound to start freaking out about what we don't have.

Here I Am Again...

Here I am. Again. Crabby. Bloated. Crampy. Bitchy.

Monday I took Cadence to the doctor and went completely psycho on my kids in the car on the way. Chad and Riley were fighting over some little McDonald's toy. After screaming at asking Chad to give it to her about a million times, and Riley throwing it at him, I said, "Give it to me!" .. and pitched it right out the window of the car. Riley immediately started to cry. I felt terrible. I blamed it all on Chad, telling him if he had just done what I said and left her alone, none of this would have happened. The rest of the ride was very quiet.

Later I apologized of course, because I just couldn't let my kids go on feeling like a) it was all their fault or b) their mom was insane. So, I apologized. And I didn't even use the word "but."

There is no manual, although I'm not sure it would help if there was. I'm trying, and while I usually am doing my best, sometimes I'm not. Some days I feel like the struggle to be a better parent is just that - a struggle. A pushing, wrestling, biting and scratching, fistfight of a battle with myself just to keep from abusing my kids with my words and actions. Screaming and yelling was all I knew how to do when I became a parent. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do, to sit and make myself be quiet, quite literally biting my tongue instead of saying, "Gah! What is WRONG with you?"

And the hormones don't help. Hormones are my enemy. My little temper tantrum in the car was completely out of nowhere, which was why it slipped through my filters so easily. Normally, I would notice I was getting angry and step on it; just grit my teeth and say, "Please just put the toy away if you can't agree on who will play with it," in my best Sweet Mommy voice.

I used to hope my kids couldn't see through my fake sweetness. I was afraid they would think I spent my days hating them and pretending I didn't. Now, thanks to these outbursts and subsequent apologies, I'm glad they know the truth. I'm not perfect. But I'm doing my damndest to be the best parent I can. Now, my hope is that my children will reach adulthood with the understanding that while my instinct was to beat the living crap out of them, I somehow managed to treat them with love and respect. I made mistakes and then did my best to make it right again. I loved them enough to fight with myself instead of them.

I think the worst part about living this way is the feeling that I'm the only one who has this much trouble. Every other parent I know seems to be a natural at it. When Mom raises her voice, it's because she's Really Mad, it's not just part of a normal day. The parents I know don't have to apologize to their kids because they never hurt their feelings in the first place. I see the awfullest kids with the sweetest parents and I think I can't possibly deserve such great kids when I'm such a psycho. I don't see other parents taking deep breaths and counting backwards from 10. I don't see other parents start sentences with, "Damnit! ---" before replacing the angry face with a nice one and restarting with, "Please." I'm sure they exist. I just don't know anyone like that.

Thankfully, the worst of the hormones are out of the way now. I'm still suffering and grumpy, but I'm past the point of complete insanity. I plan to spend the afternoon reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and drinking homemade cocoa with my kids. May chocolate cure all that ails us.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Check out Mars on August 27...

Contrary to a circulating email that goes around every year or two, Mars will not be as big as a second moon to the naked eye on the 27th of August (Who believed that anyway? Duh.). However, thanks to orbiting patterns it will be in opposition on that date, and closer than it has been in thousands of years. It would be a good time to dig out the old telescope and get a good look.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

To my Artist internet/messageboard/blogger Friends...

I'm going to sketch on my wall. I can't stand it anymore. See this wall?

Just pale yellow paint and some coathooks. It's begging to be filled with chaotic and unrelated images, no? It's seriously bothering me.

So.. how do I do this so the sketches LOOK like sketches and can still withstand washing of fingerprints and crayon? Is it possible to paint something and have it still look like a charcoal sketch? I considered spray lacquer, but I don't want it to be shiny.

Any ideas?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

They make coats out of these things?...

Check out what we saw on the way to the cookout today:

A MINK! (This isn't an actual picture of the mink I saw, and not to cheat the guy out of his photograph, I found it here.) I was so excited! But, I was driving and it was hippity-hopping across the grassy clearing so quickly. If I hadn't gotten a better look at it, I would have assumed it was a muskrat or maybe even a cat. But it was mostly the mink's canter that gave it away. We've had ferrets, and the way a weasel moves is pretty unique.

I was kind of surprised, previously assuming mink are all glossy and black. This one was fluffy and brown, just as in the picture. I knew mink lived around here, but in all my years in this farm and country state, I'd never seen one before.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Weekend at the Arts Festival...

Saturday we took the kids to check out the Arts Festival in downtown Des Moines. We parked several blocks from Gateway Park where the festival was held and walked. Des Moines has changed a lot in the last 5 years, and Gateway Park is just one of those changes. We passed several new lofts and cute little shops along the way. Country girl that I am, I still found myself fantasizing about living in some swanky loft, shopping in those cute little shops, walking to one of the many new parks and outdoor areas, visiting museums, etc.

The Arts Festival has tons of activities for kids. My kids made beaded bracelets, painted and colored, and glittered to their hearts content. I'll have glitter in my hair for years.

Sunday I returned to the festival with my mom, without kids, to look at the art displays. One artist scuplted in clay, removed the sculpture from the kiln when it was red-hot, and rolled in it ashes. The result was a dark, charred effect that was just beautiful. I could have looked for hours.

Here are the highlights of the weekend:

Gateway Park, on the south side of downtown Des Moines. The park was lined with tents: artist tents filled with the products of some great creativity, vendor tents brimming with tasty and bad for you Fair Food, and community tents for things like the zoo and the performing arts center. I read that more than 1400 artist applied for one of the 166 display tents available, which means next year will be even bigger and better.

Riley's bead bracelet.

Cadence glittering her painted horseshoe.

A mosaic-style recreation of Van Gogh, in ginormous size. Very cool.

Street art in chalk.

This was a very cool stand-alone sculpture the kids loved.

And my personal favorite - Geek Art! Microscope images, tinted in different colors and printed for the nerdy art enthusiast's home (at a hefty price, I might add):

Zucchini pollen in orange.

A dust mite, the hairs in green. This piece was called Nightmare Blanket, which I found quite fitting.

Closeup of a crystal formation, I forget now what type of crystal.

This was the third year my kids have gone to the Arts Festival, but it was the first time for me. I had so much fun! I can't wait until next year.

Saturday, June 30, 2007


Online Dating

Mingle2 - Rate your blog

Go rate your own blog. C'mon it's fun. I found my blog rated R due to repeated use of the words: hurt, pain, hell, bitch, and vagina.

I find it interesting (sad, sick, infuriating) that the search tool doesn't scan for the F word, which I tend to use a lot, but found the word "vagina" to be offensive.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I am now plowing through the third day in a row that I've gotten out of bed at 6:00am. Please send coffee. In order to make Vic's new job a success, we decided (well, HE decided) we should go to bed earlier and get up together. He thinks we will spend more time together this way, but I don't know if staring at each other with foggy eyes and muttering unintelligible one-syllable words at each other counts as spending time together.

Normally, I would stay up late. Till 1 or 2 in the morning. This night owl behavior gives me time to get things done. Like reading, sewing, knitting, laundry or whatever, with a clear head and no interruptions. The extra couple of hours after the kids go to bed also give me time to unwind from the constant noise of the day. I need that time to relax enough to sleep. So this getting up early thing is killing me. I find it difficult to go to bed any earlier, since insufficient unwinding leaves me lying in bed for at least an hour before sleep finds me. I figure either I'll become so sleep-deprived that I'll eventually adjust, or I'll go insane. Either is acceptable to me at this point. They have Nap Time in the institution.

My kids have a specified bedtime, but no specified wake time. Their bed time is for my sanity, and their safety as it relates to my sanity. I figure letting them sleep as long as they feel necessary in the mornings ensures they're getting enough sleep. Before this routine of getting up at 6:00, the kids would wake me when they were all up, which was about 9:00 or so. I feel it's important to mention that I'm not a believer in using caffeine to avoid responding to the body's need for sleep. But I'm starting to realize how much of a difference the lack of sleep makes in my brain function. So I'm shamefully drinking caffeinated coffee and telling myself that I'll eventually learn to sleep at night. I will, won't I?

I'll be watching for the men in white coats.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The apple and the tree...

You know that phrase "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree"? Chad and Riley are both very much like me - so much so that we often butt heads in mutual defiance and determination. But sometimes the apple falls off, rolls down a hill, drops into a river and floats out to sea, ending up on some other continent entirely. Such is the case with my oldest daughter.

For me, raising my kids means reminding myself (and my husband) constantly that they're individual people, with personalities not at all dependent on their upbringing. I guess it could be a source of extreme frustration (well, sometimes it is), but for the most part I am just awe-struck. I'm often amazed at how children raised in the same home can not only be so unlike each other, but so unlike anyone else in the house. One could spend an eternity pondering where our personalities come from and what aspects can alter them.

I'm starting to dread the words, "When I was a kid.." that Vic is so fond of uttering when discussing Chad. He mentions how driven HE was to work hard, and take pride in what he works for. I answer with, "He's not you. He's not like you. He doesn't think like you," etc. Chad must see the big picture and how he personally fits into it before taking any pleasure in work. He's just that way. Then an hour later, I'm complaining to Vic about how Cadence won't stand up for herself. She's the complete opposite of Chad, putting the needs and even wants of others before herself, and often being taken advantage of because of it. She's an alien to me. I cannot possibly imagine that line of thinking. She... Well, I don't... How can she... -- But she's not me. She doesn't think like me.

In their schooling, Chad's Big Picture thinking makes him incredibly perceptive and is a driving force to his learning. Cadence learns everything set before her in a calculated and robotic way, out of a need to please me and earn my praise. Chad always asks why, and many hours each day are spent in discussion instead of "real" schoolwork. Cadence never asks why, and is likely to get several lessons ahead in a subject before admitting she really doesn't understand it. Each child's learning must be approached from a different direction. Countless time is spent reminding Chad to focus on the task at hand instead of wandering off into left field; and also in reminding Cadence that my love is not contingent on her performance.

I think this is one of the most important, albeit hardest, lessons I've learned from my kids. The apple might end up in Timbuktu or resting against the trunk of the tree it fell from, but the soil can still be rich. Give them what they each need, and the seeds can still grow. Help them along the way, and the tree can still be strong and healthy. Even if it eventually bears oranges.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


If you haven't already, go check out Tons of free stuff to download and use. Bunches more to order at cheapo prices.

While we didn't use this program as our sole learn-to-read resource, Cadence used Zac the Rat and the other downloadable books for reading practice and loved them. She enjoyed the writing journal as well.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My kids are dirty...

I refuse to take my kids out in public looking like what my grandmother called "crumb bums". (I go into a fit of giggles every time I say that. The kids do too.) One afternoon I left the house in a huge hurry to get to the grocery store before they closed and called the kids from the yard with, "Hurry and get in the car, let's go!" I was so distracted with time that I only glanced in the back to see that everyone was buckled before pulling out of the driveway. I was so focused on the heavy traffic that I never once even did a rear-view check of the kids. After pulling into the parking lot, I turned around to see three filthy children, covered in dirt from head to toe. Mortified at the idea of taking my kids into the store this way, I turned around and drove home. We made a dinner of scrounged-from-the-cupboard stuff and went to the grocery store the next day.

I'm not a clean freak by any means. I don't care if the kids get dirty, as long as they aren't ruining some previously un-ruined clothing. I don't make a big deal out of stains, and the kids have plenty of stuff suitable for dirty activities like camping, fishing, or digging a moat in the yard. I've actually had conversations with the kids that went something like: (Me) What on Earth are you guys doing out here? (Them) We're digging a well. (Me) Oh. Well if you don't find water, fill it in when you're done. I seriously do not care if they're dirty. But the idea of letting the world know that I'm raising a bunch of crumb bums (See how funny that is?) has never sat well with me. What will people think of my parenting if they see my kids looking like filthy little urchins? What kind of gross neglect is that?

I haven't posted too many pictures of the kids themselves here because most of the time they're dirty. I've decided though, that to thoroughly share our lives and experiences, I'm going to have to suck it up. My kids are dirty. Almost all the time. They're not neglected at all, in fact quite the contrary. They aren't models and this isn't a sitcom. They're children, doing what I think all children should be allowed to do. They're free to play as they like, under sufficient adult supervision. And they like to play in the dirt. So without further ado, this is what my children actually look like, about 90% of the time:

And this is what happens when Mom joins in the fun:

7 Random Things About Me...

Over the weekend, I was tagged simultaneously by Katherine and Robin for this meme. I love these!:

1. I tend to like things simply because they're not what most people like. I tend to dislike things just because they're very popular.

2. I enjoy parenting a LOT more than I ever thought I would.

3. I developed a love for art in my early teens. I drew the picture I use here for my blogger profile when I was 15. While I still occasionally sketch and paint, I'm not nearly as happy with the results as I was back then.

4. I embrace my redneck nature. And stuff like this makes me all fluttery and woozy:

5. I grew up swimming in lakes and rivers. I'm afraid of the ocean.

6. I have two tattoos. I ditched the nose ring when Chad was born, but I've been thinking about getting one again.

7. I don't care what anyone thinks of me, as long as they don't think I'm stupid. I'd much rather be considered ugly (even repulsive) than ignorant.

Now I'm supposed to tag 3 people. I tag Ami, Just a Mom, and GailV.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Fly - er, Hop Away Home..

After close inspection of our developing amphibians, we've decided we have a mix of Spring Peeper frogs and some kind of toad, probably just an American Toad. The Spring Peepers are smooth and brown/green, while the toads are darker and slightly bumpier. Spring Peepers have a bumpy appearance anyway, so identification, especially of such small specimens, has been pretty difficult. This would explain their great differences in development the last few weeks. Either way, they're pretty cool.

There were eleven frogs and toads ready to hop to freedom last Friday. Forgive the blurryish pictures. I couldn't use the viewscreen in the bright sunlight, but you should get at least a reasonable idea of the size of these teeny little guys. This is the "path" we walk through to get to the creek across the road. Poison Ivy, anyone?
I've never had poison ivy and so far the kids have proven to also be immune. While we don't count on immunity, as often as we're exposed it's still a good thing to have. We transported the frogs (and toads) in an old tea canister.

Aww, aren't they just So Freakin Cute?!?

Hop away, my tiny little friends! See how camouflaged they are in the sand and mud?On Sunday, we took another eight to my friend's pond, where the eggs were gathered weeks ago. On the walk back to the house, the kids found a very cool garter snake.
After several minutes of handling, the snake was not happy. Garters aren't venomous, but they will still bite. Here it is, pissed off and poised to strike at anything that gets too close. Like some crazy lady with a camera. Isn't it beautiful?
Here is a picture taken while I'm running from the beautiful snake that has determined I am close enough, and slow enough to take out its aggression.

Ah, wildlife!

We started with 26 live tadpoles and have so far released 19 frogs and toads. Yesterday two frogs died suddenly in the tank before their tails were fully absorbed. I'm not sure what happened there, but considering how many have made it, I think we've done pretty well in caring for them. For those of you that have a hard time with math, that means we have 5 left in the tank; two toads we're letting go this afternoon, one tadpole with only back legs, and two frogs (or maybe toads?) that still have significant tails. More updates soon.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Email forwards...

Guess I'm just in a bitching mood today.

If you receive an email that you think is so funny, or touching, or thought-provoking that you want to forward it on to others, please please PLEASE for the love of Bob, do a few things first:

1) Think about who you're forwarding to. Are they a good Christian like you believe yourself to be? Are you even sure of their religious preferences? Could they be Buddhist or Muslim or *gasp* Pagan? Do they agree with the opinions about race, homosexuality, immigration, national language, religion or parenting reflected in this email? Might they be insulted if they're not in agreement with you about how great this email is? Consider how your one-click attempt to save their soul or give them a good laugh might in fact cause them not to speak to you again. If you have hundreds of people on your email list, chances are most of them aren't your real friends anyway. Otherwise, it only takes a few more seconds to add people individually to your email forward instead of just clicking the "send to all" button.

2) Think about the age-appropriateness of the email. Some people have children in their homes, even if you don't. While your friend might enjoy a picture of a drunk guy with his penis hanging out of his shorts, they might not appreciate their kids seeing it. Even an email with graphic text can be a problem for those parents with reading children. Take the time to label your message "Adult" in the subject line, preferably right after the "FWD" part, in case it's a particularly long subject title.

3) Never spam your friends. If you're forwarding an email with coupons or details of an upcoming sale, consider whether the people you're forwarding it to will have any use for this information. If they are really your friends, then you know if they can or cannot afford a shopping spree at Bed, Bath and Beyond, even with a 10% discount. They don't care about gardening sales when they live in an apartment. They're not interested in a sale at Baby Gap when their kids are all over the age of 10. If they're going to get one look at your email forward, make a disgusted noise and click the "delete" button, you're no better than the senders filling their Junk Folder with crap.

4) Remember this because it's probably the most important: Truthorfiction and Snopes are your friends. Use them. Every time. If you forward an email to 10 people about carcinogens in canned lima beans that turns out to be false, not only have you misinformed 10 people and contributed to a rumor that could possibly have seriously ill effects on the lima bean industry, but you've convinced the friends that took five seconds to look it up on a rumor website that you are an idiot. Think of the lima bean farmers! Think of your reputation as a reasonably intelligent person for crying out loud.

I just received this hateful piece of crap in my email box today. Not only did Andy Rooney not say any of this stuff, most of it doesn't go along with my personal beliefs at all. I've had enough conversations with the sender that this should have been obvious. I was shocked not only that the "friend" that sent it would think it was so profound and funny, but that they would think I would agree. I had thought better of them. I replied and told them to check a rumor site next time, and that I didn't think their email was at all amusing. Maybe next time they'll think before they click "send to all."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Check it out!...

Leetle teeny amphibians of some sort have started crawling out onto the rocks. None yet who have completely lost their tails. We're pretty sure most of our tadpoles have grown into some kind of toad, instead of Spring Peepers as we originally thought. Most of the tadpoles/frogs/toads are very dark, almost black in color, while some are brown and speckled. None of them appear to have the telltale markings of a Spring Peeper. Two days ago, three out of the 26 tadpoles had all 4 legs. Yesterday there were eight quadrupeds.

Check out this picture from above the tank:

While it's sort of difficult to see, the amphibian on the left has all four legs. The one on the top has just back legs, and those little bumps from its sides are front legs still tethered with the transparent skin covering they've had since hatching. The one on the bottom has its back legs just beginning to form underneath its body. There are still one or two in the tank with no signs of developing appendages yet.

We will be releasing the frogs/toads individually when they are fully formed with no remaining tail, and by the looks of things that may be as soon as two days from now. I'm actually very happy that they have developed at different rates because that gives us more time to watch them before they're all released. I'm guessing we'll only have them another two weeks at most.