Oink Oink!


I came down with some sort of flu on Tuesday. By Tuesday night, I was cocooned in blankets praying for death. Shivered and sweated all night – you know, the typical flu, right? My hipbones and the other 206 bones were aching so bad, I wanted them removed STAT.

I’m recovering now and indeed I think I might live, though I still have a sore throat and incredible exhaustion. But the fever is gone and with it, that nasty shivering weakness that accompanies it.

According to the wisdom of the internet, the “regular flu” is possible in the summer months, but not altogether probable, leaving me with the following options: a) Not the flu at all and b) H1N1, better known to most of us as the “swine” flu.

As it turns out, it doesn’t really matter – the cure for most people is the same as any other flu – stay home, drink fluids, and rest up. Easier said than done with 3 kids, but they’ve been helping out as best they can (they are all recovering from a nasty virus themselves).

Which, of course, takes me back to a previous post.

So I’ve been quiet here for a few days…I’m hoping to make some banana bread with those sad bananas that have lingered in the kitchen for a week while we have all been sick. If it turns out well, I’ll post the recipe. In the meantime, I’m wishing everyone a healthy week and weekend.

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Pee-Power!


No, really. According to this article, “Urine-powered cars, homes and personal electronic devices could be available in six months with new technology developed by scientists from Ohio University.”

How cool and yet totally disgusting is that? But definitely cool. I love green innovations, though I suppose this one is more of a yellowish-green.

Go, Ohio University!

16 and Pregnant

First off, I’m pro-choice. Am I pro-abortion? No – that’s ridiculous – no one wants to encourage abortions. But I’m pro-abortion rights. The right to choose should be available for those who are not ready or willing to give birth as well as those who, for medical reasons, deem it in their best interest. I’m not hear to debate that, however – just giving my view.

I also dislike anything that glorifies teen pregnancy or in any way makes it seem like a desirable choice. The Jamie Lynn Spears scenario comes to mind. Of course, your average teen has neither the resources nor the support to accommodate a pregnancy during her late childhood, but you seldom see that side of it in the media, with young celebrities pictured with their babies held up like trendy accessories.

So I was reading the channel channel last week – you know the guide channel? – and I saw the show “16 and Pregnant” playing on MTV. I admit I haven’t watched MTV in some time, because I’m a stodgy old fuddyduddy now, but from what I recall, the quality and shall we say…moral content?…of the shows were somewhat lacking. There’s a time and a place for morally dubious programming, don’t get me wrong, but a show about teen pregnancy, obviously aimed at teens, probably isn’t it.

Of course I was curious enough to flip over to MTV to see whether it was some crude glorification of teen pregnancy, like profiling underaged starlets’ impending motherhood.

I have to say, I was not only surprised by what I found, but I was delighted.

Teens are difficult creatures – they don’t want to be told what to do and they assume they know everything. Oh, and they are immortal, of course. Can’t forget that. But showing them the ups and downs of teen pregnancy, which is what this program does, might actually have an effect.

And anything that has an actual effect to help reduce the number of teen pregnancies is something we need to study further. Preaching abstinence only at them, clearly doesn’t work at all. I wish it did, but it simply doesn’t. Perhaps showing them what actually happens to a pregnant girl might?

Each episode profiles a pregnant teenager for about six months and shows the changes the girl goes through, both physically and emotionally, but also in regard to their social life, education, family, and finances through the end of the pregnancy and for the first few months of being a new mom. And those changes are dramatic – friends are put aside for staying at home with baby, college plans are postponed, relationships are changed and in some cases destroyed.

While it also shows an optimistic view overall, the program does not spare the hardships that come in the form of swollen ankles, unattended proms, social snubbing, and staying up all night every night with a fussy newborn when her friends are out painting the town red, dating, and graduating high school. And in many cases, it shows the once-loving boyfriend continuing to enjoy his teenage years as if nothing had happened, leaving all or most of the responsibility to the mother of his child.

In short, the series is about childhoods abruptly left behind for much more difficult responsibilities. Responsibilities that can’t be ignored, no matter how badly you want to go out or take a nap.

The show does not have a narrator other than the teen herself and the adults in the program are supporting characters only. The shows are in no way preachy or overbearing, but rather compelling and honest. Compelling enough for this mom of three to DRV the rest of the series – I’ve watched 5 so far, each profiling a girl from a different background.

If kids will listen to anything, I suspect it will be something like this, especially coming from MTV – a station most teens watch at least occasionally and which is viewed as way cooler than one’s own parents.

And this is something that both those who are strongly in favor of pro-abortion rights and those who are against of abortion rights should be able to support. Reducing the need for abortions to begin with.

The show also has its own website that has links to information about how to avoid pregnancy and facts about sex and contraception as well as updates on the profiled teens and various extras, like footage that didn’t make the show. You can also view full episodes. All in all, a good resource for girls who are at risk for pregnancy as well as for boys.

Thanks, MTV for such a timely and much-needed series.

Beggars

I saw some today. I was driving down a main street to take the baby to the pediatrician and I saw a whole team of them. A “team?” you ask? Yes, a baseball team.

Little league, to be precise, according to their signs. The coaches and parents had their children out begging for money on a very busy road – running up and down the median and around traffic to collect spare change.

I have a problem with that. Well, two.

First, it’s not safe. It is three lanes up and three lanes down plus turn lanes with a narrow median. On Saturdays the traffic backs up and can be rather unpleasant. This intersection isn’t safe for adults to be running around on, let alone children. Particularly a very large group of children. But this scenario is not uncommon – I see it all the time, especially in this area, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe. I certainly wouldn’t want my eight or ten year old out there and I most definitely wouldn’t want the liability of having other people’s kids with me!

Second, it’s a terrible lesson to teach kids. You want a load of money for some project you have planned (to travel to a big game, in this case)? Then you need to put some effort into earning it. What happened to earning the cash – or at least a good chunk of it? There’s already such a culture of entitlement – among both big and little people and this only feeds into that further. What happened to bake sales, car washes, or even selling a product like candy bars or popcorn?

When I was 15 I wanted to go on a trip to Spain with the school Spanish Club. I think the basic cost was $1500 and then incidentals on top of that. My parents told me that if I earned $1000 they would chip in the rest. And I did – by babysitting kids at $2.50-$3.00/hour every day after school. I didn’t even question it, but was instead incredibly grateful that they offered to chip in at all.

I’m not only not inclined to give to a little beggar child, but I would be horrified if my child was asked to participate in such an activity and would absolutely refuse such a request.

It’s one thing to hold a carwash and accept a $20 instead of the $5 charged – that’s a donation, unsolicited at that. When the Girl Scouts sell cookies outside my local Kroger, I usually ask what their favorite flavors are and then buy a couple boxes FOR the kids selling – they get the money and the cookies. The look on their faces is priceless.

Or even to ask a company for a special favor, like a donation of a product that it makes. In fact I recall my own mother going around on behalf of our Scout Troop to McDonalds asking for pickle buckets for camp to store out food in (raccoon-proof).

But outright begging on the street? Oh, no – not my child.

However, this is far from the first time I’ve seen children out at this intersection. Sometimes they are groups that claim to be church youth groups or other small groups which would be hard to verify, but they are often well-recognized groups like this. Is this acceptable now? Do most people see this as a legitimate fundraising source? Mr. Lawyer, when polled, was as deadset against it as I, but I’d be interested to know how other people view this form of fundraising.

Molars: The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Teeth

Houston Children’s Museum

We spent the morning at the Children’s Museum of Houston today. We actually have an annual pass – the one that gets 6 people in, so I went with a friend who had a five year old and a baby and it covered them too. Phew, am I tired!

Here’s a cool interactive map for prospective visitors.

If you haven’t been lately they have completely renovated and grown in size – the expansion that was opened in mid-March doubled the size of the museum to 900,000 square feet, which was much needed. There are seven new exhibits which range from the baby-friendly Tot Spot to the all-new outdoor water feature, FlowWorks, and the energy burning Power Play which features a 3-story climbing PowerTower.

My kids, at 5.5 and just-turned 4 adore the FlowWorks (that sounds like something to do with toilets to me, but I digress…) water feature and next to that, the native red-eared sliders (turtles) outside, which are part of the ecology exhibit. The ecology area is actually very easy to miss on your way to flashier destinations, but it has a lovely butterfly garden, turtle pond, and a nice quiet air conditioned lodge with information about our Texan-grown wildlife.

The Beastlings also enjoyed the Kidtropolis area, though they find the concept of ATM cards which are used throughout, a little confusing still. I think that area is probably better for age six and up to reap the full benefit of the concepts.

Another hit was the How People Make Things exhibit, which shows how toys and other items are made – it includes a robot that assembles a toy – the kids could barely tear themselves away from watching it!

Misses include The Matter Factory which would be better for older (say 6-10) kids but is also positioned in an awkward area with people traipsing through constantly to get to somewhere else which detracts from the purpose. We also didn’t bother with Invention Convention, though it looks fantastic for the older set – I’m sure ages 8-12 would have a great time in it.

Unfortunately, we decided to go on a day that apparently every single stay at home mom, vacation Bible school, daycare, preschool, and day camp decided to attend. For the first time ever that I have seen, there was a line out the door to the sidewalk ten minutes past opening, which did not bode well. And as feared, it was very crowded, really to the point of unpleasantness in many areas. I have no doubt that we would have enjoyed it much more on a less crowded day, though I have yet to figure out what day that might be. We might try going on a Sunday when daycares and preschools and such are closed and many families are at their place of worship – certainly it can’t be more crowded than today.

They recently changed the rules to charge for any baby over 12 months. My 13 month old was in her sling or stroller 99% of the time – she wasn’t feeling well due to molars and with the crowd, I couldn’t let her out anyway. As a result, I would have been unhappy had I actually had to pay for her to come in. The old rule was that under-24 months were eligible for free admission and older toddlers do enjoy it. I think 18 months would have been a fairer cut-off point, personally.

Another new rule is that no outside food is allowed. Previously outside food was welcomed, but now they would prefer you purchase their overpriced, but not otherwise terrible Kid Cafe offerings. There are signs on all the tables reminding you that outside food is not permitted, however many families obviously did bring their own lunches and no one seemed to be enforcing the rule, which is good, because honestly, enforcing the rule would take the museum out of many families’ reach financially. As we all know, little kids cannot wait to eat (trust me, I’ve tried and it’s not pretty), so waiting until you leave just isn’t practical. With our allergies I prefer to bring our own food and until I get booted out of the building, will continue to do so.

Positives are that the staff is fantastic and always willing to help out. There is always someone at each exhibit to help if you have any questions about how it works or something more basic, like where is the nearest changing table. I give the staff high marks for being so personable when they are dealing with such a constant crowd and probably a few brats (adult AND child) as well.

I also love that the exhibits in the main (old) building rotate regularly, so there is always something new to see there. We’ll probably go back in a month – our pass expires in August, so I need to feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of it, which is ridiculous, but hey, whatever.

If you go, look us up – we’ll meet you there.

I’m Surprised This Hasn’t Happened to Us


Police are ‘it,’ assist in Pa. hide-and-seek game

GREENVILLE, Pa. – A Pennsylvania toddler did such a remarkable job of hiding during a game of hide-and-seek that the family had to call police and firefighters to help find her.

Two-year-old Natalie Jasmer was playing the game with her siblings Tuesday in their Pymatuning Township home. When the family couldn’t find her, parents Dennis and Michelle Jasmer called authorities.

Emergency crews and friends frantically searched the neighborhood about 70 miles northwest of Pittsburgh for about an hour.

The family’s dog, Copper, finally sniffed her out. She had fallen asleep in a drawer underneath the family’s washing machine.

The little girl told her family she was sorry. Hide-and-seek is now banned in the Jasmer household.

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I keep the doors deadbolted when we are home, otherwise I have no doubt that the above scenario would have already happened.

Well, actually, there was this one time in college that I went missing and people started to worry, but they eventually found me passed out in a pile of laundry in the back of the closet. But I digress….

Other than the terrible feelings of panic the family must have felt before she was located, it’s a pretty amusing story. I’m sure the little girl will be hearing about it throughout her childhood and beyond.

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OK – I just saw this and had to add it. Click the title for the rest of the article:

NEW YORK – A runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport was shut down briefly Wednesday morning after at least 78 turtles emerged from a nearby bay and crawled onto the tarmac……

“Apparently, this is something the tower has experienced before,” said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters. “I guess it’s the season for spawning.”

…The FAA halted flights for about 12 minutes shortly before 9 a.m. while some of the turtles were cleared away, then quit using the runway entirely after getting new reports of “massive numbers” of turtles on the tarmac….

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So that’s awesome and I had to post it…I keep replaying an image of a herd of turtles crossing a runway (hertle?) en masse. Even better, no turtles were apparently harmed during the mini-migration.

Happy Belated Birthday, America!


At the last minute, we decided to go out of town to Brenham, home of Blue Bell Ice Cream, arguably the best ice cream in the state, maybe the universe. And by last minute, I mean about noon on the 4th of July.

The plan was to go to the Washington on the Brazos state park:

This picturesque park is located on the Brazos River, Washington was the site of the 1836 General Convention which would decide the fate of Texas. Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site is revered as the site of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836. Washington remained a town of some prominence in early Texas until the eve of the Civil War. The park encompasses the site of the historic town (1836).

The park hosts an annual day-long celebration culminating in fireworks in the evening. It features free soda and ice cream, free activities such as climbing walls and bouncy castles for the kids, typical and not so typical foods for purchase, pretty scenery, and generally a good time for people with kids or without.

Oh, and about a thousand degree heat.

Still, given our drought conditions, the mosquitoes were minimal, which was fabulous and there was a slight breeze which helped us deal with the heat. We had quite a (hot and somewhat miserable) hike once we parked, to where the fireworks would be shown. We asked around and were told where to look for fireworks and we planned our base camp accordingly – it was very exciting to get a good spot and we were told to expect the area to fill up considerably once nightfall was upon us.

The boys had fun; Mr Lawyer took them around the park and they did all sorts of fun things. I stayed at our spot with Babybeast who had a fantastic time prancing about in the grass after a soccer ball. She didn’t even try to eat the grass even once.

Once it got dark, we sat and waited for the fireworks.

And then we waited some more.

I brought out a couple sets of those glow necklaces that you crack and shake – they went over really well with all three kids.

Finally, well after 10:00, the fireworks began. We (along with several hundred people behind us) quickly realized with horror that we could not and would not be able from our vantage point to see any of them! There was a huge cluster of trees in the way and while not tall, the fireworks were particularly low – and in a completely different direction than we had been advised to expect.

I quickly told Mr. lawyer to hustle the boys over to the parking lot to try to catch what he could, but because we had “stuff” with us that couldn’t be left unattended, Babybeast and I remained behind and missed 100% of the show. It was very disappointing since I had the camera ready to try to capture the fireworks and was excited about the potential images, but the boys were able to catch the bulk of the show.

So, the kids had fun – and that’s what is really important of course. I am still upset that no one from the park bothered to tell us that we wouldn’t be able to see (to the contrary, actually), but what are you going to do?

I’ll try to load up some photos tomorrow…stay tuned.

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