April Showers Bring…


Mud, mostly.

Please don’t make fun of the hideous backyard corner – it’s the one spot where grass refuses to grow; I hope to completely revamp the corner very soon. Last week I had to remove a massive red hibiscus that (very sadly) didn’t make it through the winter. Hence the mud puddle:

Backyard Blueberries

We picked up three small blueberry “bushes” today. I have no actual photos to share because as soon as we got home, the sky blackened, the heavens opened, and the rain poured forth, bringing tornado warnings and flood notices with it. So you’ll need to be patient for photos. Truly, they aren’t what I would call photogenic plants anyway. Downright homely is more like it – tall and gangly like the awkward teenagers of the plant world. They are maybe 3.5′ tall and almost vinelike in appearance with woody stems.

I haven’t decide where to plant them. Some sources suggest they do well in containers, which is one thought, but I’m pretty bad about watering things in containers – not now, but when it really heats up in the summer and you have to water at least once a day, it’s easy to miss a day or two. We have lots of ground, though as I may have mentioned, Mister Lawyer isn’t keen on anyone disturbing his lawn. I think we’ll make an exception for the blueberries. And by we, I of course mean, me. I’ll let the kids show him when they have been planted.

I ran across this FAQ gem in my quest for self-education about all things blueberry:

Q: Do you sell organic blueberries?

A: Our blueberry planting has NOT had ANY pesticide application for over14 years. (knock-on-wood) It can not be certified “organic” only because we use chemical fertilizer instead of poop. We consider this”as good as” organic, but the governmental agencies do not.


Also, I have no idea why, but this image pops up on a search for “Blueberry Plant.” Interesting.

Since it has rained significantly, tomorrow (assuming the deluge ceases) will be an ideal day to plant our new project. The boys are thrilled and want to plant them immediately. The bushes (if you can call them that with a straight face) are actually fruiting – not what I would call a blueberry bonanza, but there are a few berries on there and it seems like a good sign. According to The Internet, the berries will be ripe in the summer. The Summer, is a bit earlier here that most other places – more like May/June rather than June/July/August. Very little grows in August due to the fierce heat.

Ironically, I don’t really like blueberries. Sure, I like them cooked in things, like pancakes and muffins. But plain? That just doesn’t do it for me. Now, I know they are something of a superfood that we all should like and want to eat, but I just don’t. My plan is to hide my distaste from the boys and let them enjoy the berries and their nutrition without my coloring their tastes. Failing that, we will freeze them as they ripen and then throw the lot them into a pancake batter sometime down the line. Mmmmm.

‘Hand of God’ rock being sold on eBay

Here’s one for the record books. Well, whichever books that memorialize crazy. Or entrepreneurial….I’m not quite sure which.

Here’s the CNN article I’m referring to.

A man in northern Idaho says he has seen a massive hand of God in his life, and he is willing to share it with the highest bidder.

Paul Grayhek, 52, listed the rock formation he dubbed the “Hand of God Rock Wall” on the online auction Web site eBay. The highest bid was $250 early Sunday, with three days left to go in the auction……….

However, the winning bidder on eBay should not start clearing out his backyard. Grayhek is not planning to part with the formation.

The buyer will “basically be buying the rights, complete and exclusive rights” to the rock, including literary and movie rights, according to Grayhek.

Movie rights? Literary Rights? Really? I read this article in about 15 seconds. Unless they are talking about stretching this into a 3-5 minute long youtube video, I’m not seeing any “movie” coming out of this sale. Nor can I fathom a book much longer than, well, that article. But you never know – that say the attention span of today’s youth is getting shorter.

Here’s a newsflash, though. I can write about this rock now if I wanted to – no rights required. Such is the magic of the First Amendment. I could even write a screenplay. But I won’t because it would bore people to death and then I would have to defend myself against wrongful death lawsuits from the grieving families of those who saw my film.

Nonetheless, if the guy makes a few bucks off this sale to put toward his education, he probably deserves it; the sale shows initiative and creativity, after all. Kudos to him.

Night Waking

When she wakes at night, I go up to her room and calm her, nurse her, check her diaper, wrap her up in her so-soft blanket and then rock her, petting her fuzzy little warm head and humming to her. I often rock her mindlessly, enjoying her warm baby form on me until I realize that she has been sleeping for ages and I’m not rocking for her benefit any longer. And then I rock for a few more minutes anyway because I now that this won’t last much longer and I need to savor every single minute of sweet sleepy babyness that I can.

Pursuant to Yesterday’s Earth Day Post…

I am the proud owner of a fancy schmancy new composting bin, courtesy of Costco.

It even has legs, so Mister Lawyer cannot fuss about his pristine lawn getting mucked about with.

Hopefully I’ll be able to set it up tomorrow. This is pretty exciting for me; probably more exciting than it should be. I will report back with more details as things progress.

We have been using the garbage disposal more than the trash can, my reasoning being that organic matter that is decimated and soggy is more likely to break down than organic matter trapped in a landfill. But from what I have read, that’s simply not good enough.

I found this argument for composting being the best alternative of the three choices:

A garbage disposal grinds food you put in the sink and sends it into the septic tank or sewer system. It adds extra volume to your septic tank; if you are connected to your city’s sewer, it puts more pressure on that system, making sewage treatment more costly. Sewer systems are designed to process pre-digested material, not fresh kitchen scraps.

A garbage disposal uses about two gallons of water per minute — about 700 gallons a year with average use. That amount of water will make seven pots of tea a day or do six loads of laundry a month. Composting kitchen waste is the best alternative.

I can’t wait to explain the process to the kids – I’m sure they will be amazed, even at this young age. I’m sure my garden will benefit from the results of our efforts and the amount of waste we produce will be decreased even further.

For those who are interested in starting to compost themselves, here is a composting primer that I’ve been perusing – lots of good information to be found at howtocompost.org.

I Missed Earth Day

Well, I didn’t forget about it or anything, but we didn’t do anything special for it either. In a stroke of unfortunate irony, Beastling 2 had a field trip which required a fully disposable lunch rather than the completely reusable set-up he normally carries. I feel kind of lousy about that, but the truth is, it’s not what you do on that one glorified green day that counts, it’s what you do on the other 364 days that really matters.

There are some things that we do here at the homestead that are very green indeed and plenty others that need improvement, but overall, we are inching toward a greener lifestyle.

I am switching over to CFL bulbs as my traditional bulbs burn out. I love them – they take a bit of getting used to, sure, but after a few days, you don’t notice the difference in the color of the light. I actually appreciate the less-yellow cast they give off.

We recycle. Our home recycling takes aluminum, paper, and #1 and #2 plastics, so that goes out front on Friday mornings. My parents’ recycling pick-up takes all plastics other than #3 and #6 and tin cans and glass, so those items go home with my mother every Thursday. Our cardboard is packed up and taken to the big school recycling bin and our plastic packaging and bags is taken to the bin at Kroger. Batteries and used CFL bulbs are collected and taken to the hazardous recycling center once a year or so. Mr. Lawyer actually brings home all of his co-workers’ plastic bottles…I often think about whether our recycle pick-up workers wonder about our beverage habits. We probably come across as incredibly thirsty folk; he has a big office.

We reuse or rehome. I try to reuse items before putting them in the recycling bin and I try really hard to find a new use for items that cannot be recycled at all. Freecycle is a fantastic way to rehome almost anything – your junk might be another person’s treasure. Even broken, unmatched pottery could be a windfall to a local artist making a tabletop mosaic – you never know. Craigslist is another great way to sell or give away goods that others could use.

We avoid disposable lunch products. The kids’ lunches almost never contain baggies or other throw-away items. They bring back their plastic silverware, containers, lunch bags, and drink bottles and we wash and use them again.

We conserve where we can. We don’t leave the tap running, we turn off lights. We teach the children to do the same. It’s small, but it’s something.

We buy products in recyclable packaging over containers and wrapping that cannot be recycled. We avoid buying plastic water bottles and do not buy juice boxes, which are not recyclable at all.

We use greener cleaners. I now use vinegar on most everything as well as Oxyclean, both of which are environmentally acceptable. I now own a Shark floor steamer which takes only hot water. We are not completely virtuous in this area, but we have made some big strides over the past few years.

But there is more that we need to start doing…

Composting. I am this close to getting a composting bin. But I haven’t taken that plunge yet. I am almost certain that when I do I will wonder why I didn’t do it earlier.

Use Reusable Shopping Bags. Actually I have a number of them and I do try to use them, but I don’t always remember to take them in or have them with me when I make a pit stop at Kroger. I will say the plastic bags we do get are all recycled or reused, but that’s not really good enough. The paper bags we get are used for storing our paper to be recycled.

Avoid paper products. We do use paper towels and I doubt that will ever fully end, honestly, but we use less of them. We could use even fewer, though. Fewer paper napkins, too. I will say I have no intention of getting rid of toilet paper in this house. Yes, I know it can be done, but I have limits. We also use disposable diapers, which guilts me to no end, but it is what it is.

Truly the list is endless, there are so many things you can do to green up your life. Even seemingly tiny things add up over time. Multiply that effort by millions of people and it’s not such a small effort anymore.

Check out The Green Guide for more ideas on how to make your lifestyle more friendly to our earth.

This we know: The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know.

All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.

Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth.

Man did not weave the web of life: he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

A Cure for Asthma?

My three year old has asthma which is brought on by exercise, temperature and humidity changes, and allergies. He is severely allergic to peanuts and pecans, moderately allergic to cashews, and slightly allergic to far too many things to mention. I asked him if he would like to live in a plastic bubble and he seemed enthusiastic, but Mr. Lawyer voted me down.

I just saw this news article today. It’s interesting, if rather disgusting:

Could lice be the secret to preventing asthma?

Research on mice shows that those carrying the most lice had calmer immune systems than uninfested rodents, and they said their finding may have implications for studying the causes of asthma and allergies in people.

The study, published in the BioMed Central journal BMC Biology, adds to evidence supporting the so-called hygiene hypothesis, which holds that the rise in asthma and allergies can be linked to hyper-clean living.

The idea is that if the immune system is not properly primed in childhood, immune cells can improperly react to harmless triggers such as pollen or bits of dander. Bacterial and viral infections do not seem to be the priming factor, but researchers have been focusing lately on parasites.

Joseph Jackson of Britain’s University of Nottingham and colleagues wanted to test real, wild mice, not hygienic lab mice that had been raised for generations in ultra-clean conditions.

“Our understanding of mammalian immunology is largely based on rodents reared under highly unnatural pathogen- and stress-free conditions,” Nottingham’s Janette Bradley, who helped lead the study, said in a statement.

They trapped mice and studied their immune systems.

Mice uninfested with the louse Polyplax serrata had much more excitable immune systems than the mice carrying a heavy load of the parasites, they found.

It might be suppressing the immune system in some way, they speculated, perhaps by transmitting some other parasite or microbe or perhaps in its saliva as it feeds on the blood of its host.

The hygiene hypothesis holds that the immune system evolved when people were constantly infected by a host of worms and other parasites — from the mosquito-transmitted malaria parasite to various lice and ticks.

“Much like laboratory mice, people in developed countries are currently exposed to a very different profile of infections to that encountered by their ancestors,” the researchers wrote.

“It is possible that the immune dysfunctions we see today are the result of immune systems calibrated for a set of challenges completely different to those they now routinely face.”

Humans can also be infested with lice, although the species that affects humans does not affect other animals.

I’d like to stress that in no way could our lifestyle be considered “hyper-clean living” by any stretch of the imagination. I’d like it to be, but I’m just not a very good housewife when it comes to scouring baseboards and the like. My kids are happy, reasonably clean, well-fed, and loved and hopefully that’s what they will remember when they think back to their childhood, not that mommy didn’t dust the credenza as often as she should have.

Beastling 2 never did breathe well – from the moment of birth he had breathing issues. Those were attributed to his surgical birth, though. Many c-section babies have trouble breathing initially because their lungs don’t get wrung out like normal deliveries do.

In addition there is a documented link between c-sections and asthma, which, as a mother of three surgically birthed children, is concerning.

However my father has asthma and it was severe as a child. Mister Lawyer had some degree of it as a child, but has outgrown it entirely. And I was never diagnosed as a child but rather told that I had “weak lungs” whatever that means. I don’t ever recall wheezing except when ill and I am reluctant to diagnose anything at all. I can say that I have developed a wheeze recently that I most certainly did not have before and have been diagnosed with adult onset asthma. The allergist suspects I always had some degree of it, but I’m not so sure. Regardless, I am the proud owner of my very own inhaler which works like a charm when I need it. I should add that I am not a smoker and have never been a smoker.

So my point with all that is that I don’t think I can blame the c-section – at least not entirely. I do wonder if it triggered some genetic predilection to asthma that was already present. Of course we can never know.

At 17 months old he developed a mild cold that progressed into wheezing and a clear inability to breathe well. He became lethargic and off color and we took him to to the emergency room where they gave him several breathing treatments, monitored him, and sent us home. Over that winter we hit the ER 3 more times and were diagnosed with asthma in January 2007.

His condition is generally well controlled, although it can still be unpredictable at times. Despite being fully stocked with albuterol and other medications, we were unable to get his breathing under control recently and ended up in urgent care where they administered 4 breathing treatments and started a course of before his breathing improved enough to be released.

We are hoping he grows out of it, like his father, but it actually seems to have gotten worse over the last year. Still, even my father, who’s asthma was very severe, even life-threatening, has had many fewer episodes as an adult.

When I read studies like the one quoted above, I wonder if there may be some validity to the “cleanliness” theory as it applies to society as a whole and I will be interested to see what comes of this research. If it means the clutter on the counter might have some scientifically proven health benefits, then that’s just an added bonus for me.

This is my 100th Post

What shall I use it for? The possibilities are limitless…..

First order of business. I’ve been having this computer problem….it was a pain. Nothing would install….my windows installer got corrupted about 6 months ago or inexplicably SNAFU’d or something along those lines which meant no Windows updates, no Norton updates, no new programs (I’ve been wanting to install Photoshop Elements 7 for months now and TurboTax wouldn’t take either), no Java updates and thus I couldn’t print off internet coupons and so on and so forth…you see what trouble it was?

Anyway, my best buddy in the whole internet world forever and ever and ever and ever and ever walked me through fixing the problem and I am successfully installing updates left and right and running the newly updates Norton at this very minute. Woooohoooo!!!!!!!!


Second order of business. I think you-know-who is teething again. Yes, Ms. 11 Months Old Today. She’s had a hard time settling at night and I’m feeling a little sore in the boobular regions….I think she might have some molars coming in. Wasn’t she just born last month? Too big, too fast.

And lastly, when I was a kid, my dad always used to claim that one hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours after. Logically, this makes no sense, of course. 8 hours sleep is 8 hours sleep, no matter when you get it. However, I’ve come to think there is some validity to it after all.

I do feel vastly better if I go to bed at 10:30 or 11 and sleep for 7 or 8 hours than if I call it a night in the early morning. Even moreso now that I have three small people, several feline friends, and occasionally even Mr. Lawyer disrupting my sleep. I wonder what the sleep geeks have to say about that?

Speaking of being unduly woken, my 5 year old woke me last night by yelling Mommy Mommy Mommy!!! I sprinted upstairs thinking he had woken from a nightmare or needed emergency help finding the bathroom (he’s a very deep sleeper). No, not exactly. He sat up in bed and told me matter of factly that “Sometimes it is windy outside, Mommy. And sometimes it is not.” Seriously? I ran up here for that? I don’t mind getting up to deal with real or imagined crises, don’t get me wrong, but after all the yelling, his observation about the wind was somewhat underwhelming at 3:00 a.m. And so it goes.

Norton is still happily scanning. Life is good.

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