A Big Toe and A Moral Dilemma
Thursday, August 30, 2007

The internet is a wonderful thing. Some days I read a lot of marshmallow fluff, light and airy posts with little substance, easily forgotten as soon as something new and shiny shows up on Bloglines.

Other days, it's all meat and potatoes, and I end up with an endless stream of bookmarks and Keep It New's in my queue. One can only digest so much at a time.

Lately, it's been like Sunday Night dinner everyday. I've read many good, thoughtful posts, so many that I can't even remember where I read it. One on a woman who burned her foot; although she was no stranger to pain and suffering, it was the first time she had to go it alone - and was suddenly made aware of exactly how, and why, to unite her suffering to Christ.

I found posts on the greater good vs. the common good; on how to suffer well, on the medical ethics of discontinuing a treatment that clearly was no longer helpful at improving life but rather was just prolonging it. I remembered, and searched Google in vain, for an old story comparing a man in a coma with purgatory. I read this quote
When it is all over, you will not regret having suffered; rather, you will regret having suffered so little and suffered that little so badly.
-Bl. Sebastian Valfre
three times in three different places.

And then I woke up with a sore toe.

Suddenly, I am thrust into a tizzy of moral dilemmas. How best to honor God with this new suffering?

Should I not tell anyone, and suffer in silence, offering it up? But that does not reflect the reality that I am needed, must be mobile to keep the children safe, and ultimately leaving the wound untreated will increase our doctor's bill. Also, the fact that I am walking using only my heel in a strange, gimpy hop would probably tip off the family.

Shall I try my best to baby it along, staying off it, letting the family wait on me hand and foot? Or at least sit down when husband dear comes home?

How can I offer it up, if I am resting in front of the TV with my foot propped up? Should I offer up the fact that I can't suffer in silence, as St. Therese did with distractions during her rosaries? Am I simply justifying doing nothing at all, to evoke a holy feeling without a holy doing? Maybe I'll just turn the TV to LobsterWars, again, and offer that up. Pitiful, I know.

Perhaps some more information is needed. I often suffer from ingrown toenails, usually when pregnant. I've had the darn thing removed totally, once, but fortunately I was already on bedrest so chasing babies didn't add any problems. This time was a little different, in that I went to bed fine and woke up unable to put weight, or even touch, my foot. I've never had it come on quite so fast before! And it was ugly. Definitely infected.

I think about the children of Fatima, and St. Francis of Rome, who secretly wore hair shirts and put rocks in their shoes in order to suffer more for Our Lord. But where does
"rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions" Col 1:24
end, and a serious sin against the fifth commandment begin?

I soaked it again when husband dear came home, and did sit around while he made dinner (frozen meatballs and jars of sauce). Walking definitely makes it worse - not just pain wise, but the swelling, and drainage too.

I made a doctor's appointment for this afternoon. Upon awakening, my toe feels much better, but I'm sure it's still infected. Even more worrisome, my joint at the base of the toe hurts more than the toe does. Did I strain it with my strange gait? Has the infection moved?

I have briefly considered cancelling my doctor's appointment, but I think I will keep it. If only the long three day weekend didn't start tomorrow! My choice is go to the doctor today, or, if it takes a turn for the worse, go to the ER on a holiday weekend. I think I'll just wince at the copay and offer that up.
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/30/2007 09:28:00 PM | Permalink | |
Sorry folks, I had to enable comment moderation. I've resisted for over a year, because, frankly, it annoys me.

I often read other's blogs while nursing,and squinting at some random letters trying to ascertain if it's a capital C or an O, and then hunting and pecking with one finger gets old fast.

However, the spammers are being quite active on several old posts, so I'm going to see if moderation doesn't get rid of them. Does anyone know how to do word verificationin Haloscan, instead of moderation? The spam is really weird, in that it is just a string of keywords with no links.


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/30/2007 12:58:00 PM | Permalink | |
A Meme?
I am notoriously bad at Memes. I read them, I do them, I write long posts with the best of intentions, but then my answers look so pathetic that I am too prideful graciously decide to spare y'all the details of my boring nerdiness.

Well... Heather actually made on up! About books! How can I say no to that?

Ten Books Every Kid Should Have
Or "If you were trapped on a deserted island for a year with your child, which ten kids' books would you want to have?"

1. A good children's Bible. Even if you don't believe, I think in order to be an educated individual you need to be familiar with the stories. If you do believe, you probably already have one in mind!

2. A book of Aesop's fables. See above.

3. A good book of fairy tales. Same as #1. We make references to turning into a pumpkin or asking which dwarf someone is, avoiding the poison apple, etc. We need these.

These were Heather's answers, and I totally agree! Cultural knowledge is important, especially when it leaks into language and idioms.

4. The Chronicles of Narnia, complete set. I spent hours with a friend playing "Narnia"; they are clothed in literary language and have a strong moral message.

5. 57 Saints for Children (or similar). I read this during many Masses and for fun, too! Stories of real heroes, bravery, and sacrifice, and real role models to look up to.

6. All-of-a-Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor(my bias is showing. I read girly children's books because...wait for it... I'm a girl!) It's about a Jewish family in New York at the turn of the century. Entertaining, decent, and informative!

7. The Great Brain series, by John D. Fitzgerald. Loved these too!

8. Beverly Cleary treasury. Love me some Ramona. Love me some Socks. And a mouse with a motorcycle? Classic.

9. Heather said a treasury of Dr. Suess. I agree there, too. There's a lot of wisdom (and phonics) in those catchy rhymes!

10.Sorry, Heather, a treasury of H.A. Rey is NOT making my list! That curious little monkey huffs ether, breaks into stores, steal cars, vans, and donuts... we get into enough trouble without adding a "How To" tutorial on wallpapering the bathroom with gift wrap. I'll say... hmm...if I was on a deserted island...I'd go with a children's encyclopedia set. Yes, they do still have book versions, cheap and easy at garage sales! Or at least the Children's Atlas of the World from Usborne.
Knowledge is power, and if you can look up how to make a solar generated helicopter out of coconuts, you'll be the king of that desert island!

Feel free to order any of these using my Amazon link on the sidebar. Someone ordered a belt through it once, and I was SOOO excited! Even though my 'cut' was like 8 cents or something.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/30/2007 08:55:00 AM | Permalink | |
I Love Pachelbel's Canon in D
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
And now I love it even more.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/29/2007 11:44:00 AM | Permalink | |
WFMW:Binder Clips
Works for Me Wednesday
At Mama's house, we like to splash. The little girls will sneak over to the sink to "wash" the dishes. In fact just yesterday, Baby C unloaded the entire dishwasher into the sink and washed all of the dishes for me in the side I was defrosting meat! Oh, what fun.

However, after Mama banishes them from the kitchen expresses her appreciation, it's time to dry little hands. But where's the towel?

On the floor, usually. Kitchen towels just don't stay hung up on the stove, or draped over a cabinet knob, constantly slipping off. I could crochet pretty little hangers for them and button them in place, and I actually would like to do that, but real life has intervened. So my next solution?

Binder clips. I bought a couple of magnetic hooks for the fridge, one for potholders, on for the towels. I clip a binder clip to the edge of the towel, and hang it by the loops on thebinder clips clips.

This is also a great solution for hanging artwork, schoolwork, or educational posters as well. All you need it one nail (or seven, in our case!) and you can clip and hang anything flat, without poking holes in it. Plus, it's available at my favorite venue, DollarTree.

Works for me! For other tips, visit Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/29/2007 09:10:00 AM | Permalink | |
ProLife Search
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I finally know what happened to ProLife Search. I already had a pretty good idea, from rumors swirling around the Net, but yesterday I got an e-mail from Joe Hanley, one of the founders.

Here's some excerpts:

As you most likely realize even before receiving this note, PLS has
had a long interruption in our mission--and our communication--and
we'd like to use this email for three things:

1. First and foremost, apologize for some problems over the past

2. Next, update you on the PLS operation

3. Finally, and importantly as well, initiate effective follow-up to
any communication and requests you have back to us

Bad news before details... as many or you have already noticed, the
ProLifeSearch website is no more. Here's what happened:

... Sadly, the bottom line is that some of the
web developers we hired for this project left our employ and
changed all of the passwords to the site. This meant that for
months we could not access the site, change the site, or post any
new information on the site. It also meant that we could not
access our list of book purchasers to notify them of the problems
we were having.

As we tried to force the new passwords from these developers, the
URL -- http://www.prolifesearch.com -- expired, and it seems some rock and
roll site was all too ready to snatch it up because of all the
traffic we created over the past 2 years.

Legally, the site now belongs to that organization. We have tried,
but we cannot get it back.

As a fundraiser, ProLife Search took preorders on a collection of leatherbound books. They used a foreign publisher and things didn't turn out as planned.

...regarding the books:
all of the money sent to the publisher is gone. The money not
sent to the publisher went to our pro-life charities and hopefully
did a great deal of good for Life.

Of course some of you would like refunds for the money you paid, as
you should. We do not feel right asking for the money back from
our charities, and the rest of the money is in the publisher's
pocket. So we (Jack and I) will personally pay those people back
who request a refund out of our own pockets. We just ask that you
have patience. We simply cannot afford to refund everyone at once.
As money becomes available, we will make good on our promise

Those people who have already requested refunds will receive checks
within one week. Anyone requesting a refund now or in the future
will receive that within 21 days of getting the request to us.

I've taken the link off my sidebar. It seems like a bad case of earnest naivete, except that the founders are Chicago lawyers. If they owe you money, get in touch with them now. I'll forward you a copy of the full e-mail if you need it.

*****UPDATED TO ADD***** August 30, 2007
I did not order any books, so I don't have a dog in this fight. I did post portions of the email, as I have linked, and promoted ProLife Search.
I know that there are lots of rumors flying around, and I myself thought the email was pandering (C'mon, they are lawyers, they didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday!). Also, I DID get spam mail from them in the time that "the email addresses were lost".
I don't think it would be unreasonable to ask for a list of the charities that received the portion of the book fees, so we could call them and see if they actually got money.

I do not want to spread gossip, and I don't know about many of these things first hand. But I do encourage readers to investigate for themselves, and hear the other side of the story from customers who have not received refunds, and decide for themselves.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/28/2007 08:12:00 AM | Permalink | |
One Reason I Homeschool
Monday, August 27, 2007
She is a product of South Carolina schools:

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/27/2007 07:45:00 AM | Permalink | |
Total Eclipse of the .... Moon
Tomorrow there will be a total lunar eclipse, viewable from North America. Westerners will have the best view.

Perfect timing for us, as we are starting our "Universe" unit this week, studying the origin of the Universe and creation of Earth this week, the Solar System next week, and the Moon the week after. I was going to start our Moon observation journals today but I'm going to wait until Wednesday now.

Want more info?

Viewer's Guide from Yahoo! Yes, that's 5:30 am EASTERN time. Yes, I'm actually up at that time and so is Miss E, wanting to do school! Eclipses take several hours, and mid-eclipse is slated for 6:37 EDT. I can do that!

Moon Views
lots of info, including footage, modeling, and an educator's guide. Scroll down.

Observing and Photographing a Lunar Eclipse from Sky and Telescope Magazine

Nasa's Eclipse Page relax, it's very Mom friendly with lots of links and clear explanations.

Moon Observation Journal written in educationese, but with good overview for teachers with questions. I love the line " Suggest that they use their own vocabulary, expressions, and personal codes when recording entries to their journals." Personal code? Is that the same as "self directed spelling" or is that the same as "non-standard abbreviations"? Jargon cracks me up.

Well, I'm off to play with Cuisenaire rods complete some learner-led interactions using math manipulatives...


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/27/2007 06:42:00 AM | Permalink | |
Now That's Just Depressing...
Friday, August 24, 2007
According to experts, most snoring remedies don't work. The best remedy? Earplugs for the snorer's partner.

Unless that partner needs to be able to hear the nursling.


I do know from experience that nose strips, throat sprays, and sleeping on the side are ineffective. The nose strips actually took the skin off husband dear's nose after repeated use.

Now that's a great way to serve humanity and make a million dollars - forget a better mousetrap, cure snoring!


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/24/2007 07:27:00 AM | Permalink | |
Thoughtful Thursday: Frugal Patriotism?
Thursday, August 23, 2007

"Some of man's best qualities depend upon the right use of money – such as his generosity, benevolence, justice, honesty, and forethought. Many of his worst qualities also originate in the bad use of money – such as greed, miserliness, injustice, extravagance, and improvidence." - Samuel Smiles, Thrift
An article I enjoyed recently: Thrift and Liberty

The writer, Gil Guillory, argues that our liberty is derived from the virtue of thrift, and the government usurps our freedoms by scaring us into paying them to create Welfare programs, etc. The click-through on disintegrating traditional intergenerational familial obligations, is well worth the read, too.

Food for thought, considering savings are at an all time low and, IMO, there isn't a chance I'll ever see a penny of Social Security by the time I retire (at age 70, they keep upping the age in order to stay solvent). I'm homeschooling most of the children this year because I think the State did a poor job last year. Perhaps I should have more children to support my old age, since the State will probably mess that up too!

An aside: my MIL was on Social Security for several years before her death. She lived under the poverty line and ended up in government subsidized housing, which cost 33% of her check. Since the SSI was not enough to actually live off of, she also got Food Stamps. Every year her SSI was increased for "cost of living" (usually 1% or so) by the Federal Government. Her food stamp benefit, every year, was decreased by the State of Colorado for the exact amount of her "raise". Even though prices went up, her income did not.
Hmmm... there's that Catch-22 theme again!

The government actually discouraged her family helping her. Any income we gave her had to be "cash under the table". Any gifts had to be less than $100 or so, in order to not draw attention. We were not allowed to help her pay for television service or even caller ID on her phone. Her case workers scrutinized every bill to the penny to make sure someone didn't give her that extra $5.95 - her budget was balanced within and inch of its life!

Holidays, we gave her practical things she could not afford to buy for herself. Towels and a matching bathmat. A vacuum cleaner. A VCR, a radio.

It was cheaper for her to live alone in subsidized housing than to help chip in for a larger home to share with her children, because she would lose her food stamp benefits if she moved out. It was more costly to society, though!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/23/2007 06:40:00 AM | Permalink | |
WFMW: Perfect Gravy
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Works for me Wednesday
Mmmm... gravy. Everything tastes better with gravy! Unless it has lumps.

Here's how to make perfect everyday gravy.

First, cook some meat - roasting or braising is preferred. You really can't use drippings from ground beef. Use the butter method and beef stock if you made meatloaf or salisbury steaks.

When the meat is done, take the juices and put them in a gravy separator. It looks like this, and I got a plastic one at the dollar store.gravy separatorThe spout is at the bottom, so the fat will rise to the top and you can scoop off the fat.

Scoop off the fat, about two spoonfuls. If you don't have meat drippings, you can use butter - just melt it. Put it in a saucepan on medium high heat. Stir in the same amount of white flour (not bread flour).

Using a whisk, mix the flour and fat around until it is the consistency of playdoh and starts to brown. Don't let it get too dark, though, unless you are cooking a Cajun dish! If it doesn't come together, but just lays there like a curdled egg, add a little more flour.

Cook for a minute or two. Don't let the flour burn to the bottom of the pan.

Whisk in the remaining drippings and or stock/milk/water to make two cups.

Whisk and heat until smooth. As you heat it, it will thicken. You do not have to let it boil. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Now, to make sure it is perfect.

Get one of these - mine came in a two pack at the dollar store. It's about 4 inches wide.

sievePour your gravy through the strainer into the gravy boat.

No lumps!

Visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday tips!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/22/2007 09:28:00 AM | Permalink | |
On My Mind...
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Blogging is likely to be light this week, as all my brain power is currently reserved for first quarter lesson plans. Also finding the camera cord (I really do want to show you how we saved $140 on our car insurance! I didn't forget!)

However, this is on my mind - feel free to expand in the comments.

I am a pro-life activist, with varying degrees of involvement. My heart is always in the fight, though, even if my body is not.

One thing I've always thought was that women who get abortions, and those who fight to keep "the right" to abortion on demand at any time, are simply miseducated. If only they would realize that the little pre-born baby was actually a human being, they would change.

I have suddenly realized that is not true...and now I'm not only depressed, but casting about for a better strategy than arguing "personhood". (Too bad, really, I'm pretty good at that).

What caused this sudden revelation?

This article at Salon.com - the author who, using IVF, dreads becoming "severele pregnant" with more than two babies, but also abhors selective reduction, because it is "arbitrary", not because it kills one of her children. She also won't donate her leftover embryos to science, lest their lives be worthless to researchers; she won't give them to a relative, lest she object to their child rearing practices. (Note: Wait until the splash ad loads, then click "Enter Salon" above the ad.)

This article
about researchers using orphaned children, who are only receiving justice (or at least a payout) almost 70 years later.

And who could forget this?

People can be incredibly cruel to other people. Convincing someone that the person they are oppressing is a fellow human being is not necessarily an impetus for them to stop. ?The first two stories are from one day. The people involved aren't overtly evil, criminal, or sadistic. In their minds, they are trying to achieve something good.

I think I'll go watch the Power of One now and regain my faith in humanity.

(It's a good thing I'm a Christian and have real faith in real justice being done. If I were a secular humanist and thought our sad legal system was the closest we'd ever get to seeing justice done, I'd never come out of my depression!)

After posting this, I came across this blog post.
Apparently I'm not the only one having an existential meltdown, as the Caveman would say!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/21/2007 09:33:00 AM | Permalink | |
Friday, August 17, 2007

Now that I'm old and can read whatever I want, I've started reading "the Classics". (The Classics being entertaining American Fiction, although I started Crime and Punishment and bought The Prince for my next book).

I've been through The Jungle (never eating hot dogs again), traipsed through My Antonia, (I have a soft spot for Czech immigrants, apparently) and am currently settled with Country of the Tall Pines. I seem to be going back in time.

There are a few books that I wasn't interested in actually reading, but are referred to so often, and have entered our phraseology, that I felt I needed to be more familiar with them. So I rented Catch-22 from Blockbuster online, for free, figuring it would save me the time and money of reading the book.

Totally backfired. The film is a little artsy, but I think that comes more the novel's structure than the director. But... Oh. My. Word. The dialogue. The dialogue! I watch movies with the closed captioning on, because I am writing a movie and it helps me connect words on the page with what it looks like on screen. I'm only halfway through the movie, but I'm going to ditch it and get the book. I don't want to spoil the plot points (since the movie starts with the demise of main character, I already know how it ends).

Wikipedia sums up the theme nicely:
Heller suggests that rules left unchecked will take on a life of their own, forming a bureaucracy in which important matters (e.g., those affecting life and death) are trivialized and trivial matters (eg clerical errors) assume enormous importance. He concludes that the only way to survive such an insane system is to be insane oneself.
This seems particularly relevant after reading the new Parent Handbook for Mr. R's school. I was bemused miffed when I read the disciplinary actions section. There are three levels of offenses. Level 3 is criminal activity.

Level 1 includes:
Classroom tardiness, cheating, lying, cutting class, and forging notes.

That's right! Being late to class is on the same plane as cheating on your exams.

Level 2 includes:
Use of an intoxicant, vandalism, stealing, possession of unauthorized substances, and the ultimate sin - refusal to obey school personnel.

Not minding your teacher in the same category as drinking and stealing.

He is in a special self-contained ED classroom. He has his own personal Catch-22 there...

The classroom is set up to be a particular environment for his problems. There are two teachers, and five students, all boys. The schedule is fairly rigid and includes a precise and consistent behavior modification program. Mr. R did so well here that he almost disqualified himself from remaining in the classroom! "Luckily" he had one major meltdown so he still qualifies... but it is frustrating! The reason he is in the self-contained class is because he has problems in regular classes. The self contained class is specifically designed to eliminate the triggers of behaviors and support learning. But if he doesn't misbehave, and actually learns, he is put back into a regular class with no accomodations - until he requalifies for the self-contained class by failing again.

I think I'm going to like the book.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/17/2007 09:56:00 AM | Permalink | |
Back Again
Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Thank goodness I don’t have a bad back."

Ahh, how those words, like a child who won’t stay in bed, would come back to haunt me.

Awakening with a lump between my shoulder blades, I attempt to lay perfectly still under the sheets, frantically combing the spotty memories of the previous day. Was it from carrying the fussy baby on the walking tour, grimly pushing an empty stroller with a not-so-free hand? Was it the groceries? Unfamiliar noises surround me, the sighs and whispers of sleeping little girls. Ah, yes. The toddler has climbed into bed with mommy closely followed by the preschooler. They curled their chubby legs up to their chins, deftly and expertly wiggling between their parents. Their parents, who in turn had to curl their legs to their chins in order to make room for four people in the bed, a feat not easily accomplished once the downhill slide of adult physicality has become the avalanche called middle-age. I'm not really middle aged, yet, but each pregnancy counts as dog-years, so I am actually 97.

I take some ibuprofen and putter around the kitchen. By "putter", I actually mean simultaneously fixing some sort of sustenance for six different little tummies, unloading the dishwasher, and pondering aloud on the difference between frogs and toads for my sons. I realize it would be easier to let them fix their own breakfast, but I've spent too many mornings cleaning up after the "easier" part. It's actually harder to wash the entire contents of the sugar bowl off of the toddler than it is to just sweeten the stuff myself, despite what efficiency experts would have you believe. It becomes even more difficult when you are unable to lift said child due to back problems. How does a stay at home mom apply for time off due to disability, anyway? Perhaps a call to the ACLU is in order.

Later, after too much coffee and not enough chocolate, I beg my husband to untie the knot hovering next to my spine, under my neck. He rubs, he kneads, I get no satisfaction. Wait here, he whispers. I’ll be right back. We’ve been married long enough that I have no fantasies of a romantic surprise, of my man slipping over to a hiding place in order to reveal a bouquet of flowers or mended backdoor squeak, the things that make a woman giddy.

He returns with a rolling pin and orders me to lie face down on the ground. I fear he's been watching too many shows on the Military channel, and switch to HGTV while he attacks my spine with the enthusiasm of a pastry chef. Unfortunately, the human back is curved and contoured, not lending itself to a unilateral steamroller approach. My vertebrae, in a stunning gesture of defiance, refuse to be flattened. I have a sudden insight into where my eldest son's personality may have come from - he does have rather too much spine, sometimes.

I mention that I do have a tart shaper that would be better suited to the task at hand, but husband dear determines that one try with a kitchen implement is enough. I am left to my own devices, which, while very useful for baking, are not going to be putting the chiropractor out of business any time soon.

I spy a wayward child, one of the lasses responsible for this mess in the first place. I wheedle and cajole her to put her cherubic piggies on my back. Her balance is spotty, but she gives it a go. The therapy ends abruptly with a topple and tears.

I lay on the carpet and ponder the status of our aging vacuum cleaner. I decide to keep it at Status: Baby it Along, to be shortly followed by Needs to Be Replaced. I wonder idly why there are Cheerios under the couch, when I only buy bran flakes. I am all too briefly caught up in a short but poignant advertisement on the television. Oh, that Pillsbury Doughboy! He's such a prankster!

I suddenly realize that Advil is truly a gift from above, as long as you give it a little while to kick in. And that I have, perhaps, taken too many. Springing to my feet with the energy of a Galapagos Tortoise, I get on with my day.

Thank goodness I'm not prone to headaches...

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/15/2007 11:31:00 PM | Permalink | |
WFMW: Moon Eggs
Works for Me Wednesday
My boys love to cook. They love eggs for breakfast, and it is one of the few things I let them cook independently. The protein is also a very good breakfast for Mr. R, and it gives him incentive to actually eat in the morning.

Armstrong on the MoonUnfortunately, it takes forever. Forever is a relative term, I know, and in the early morning when I am also changing diapers, feeding toddlers, and inhaling coffee it seems to take longer than forever. Standing at the stove supervising is a good practice in patience, though.

Enter Moon Eggs. Crack two or three eggs in a bowl, mix with a fork, and microwave (about 30 sec. per egg, but every microwave is different). Presto! Scrambled eggs in a minute!

We call them Moon Eggs because they come out cratered and pitted from the cooking process.

Works for Me! Check out Rocks in My Dryer for more helps!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/15/2007 09:08:00 AM | Permalink | |
While I'm At It
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
...posting irrelevant things, does anyone know what's up with ProLife Search? All my links pop over to what looks like a band website, and when I googled it the link there did the same thing. Are they defunct? Have they been hacked? What gives?

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/14/2007 02:23:00 PM | Permalink | |
The Scoop on Star Trek

A post especially for my husband, so I can get him to read this blog.

The new Star Trek movie is being directed by J.J. Abram's (whose Bad Robot is responsible for Alias and Lost; he directed Mission Impossible III ) and will star SylarZachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy as Spock. Release date is Christmas Day, 2008.

Set before "The Original Series" Kirk and Spock are newly graduated Cadets fresh from Starfleet Academy and are sent on their first space mission.
In other words, the script isn't finished yet- this sounds more like a pitch than a fully formed script to me!

You might not be aware that J.J. Abrams started out as a writer, responsible for films such as Forever Young, Regarding Henry, and Armageddon.

Script by Alex Kurtzman and and Robert Orci (Transformers, Mission Impossible III, The Island, Xena: Warrior Princess... perhaps we shouldn't mention the last one)

Scheduled to start filming Nov. 5; so far only two actors are officially cast.

That is all.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/14/2007 01:52:00 PM | Permalink | |
More Toy Recalls
Breaking News!

Mattel recalls die-cast cars, Polly Pockets (again, this is a NEW recall), and Batman figures, all made in (guess where) China.
Car recall here.

Meanwhile, our birthday boy in enjoying his not-recalled birthday gift!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/14/2007 10:06:00 AM | Permalink | |
Free? I'll take two...
Monday, August 13, 2007
OfficeMax is offering free laminating for teachers and homeschoolers on Thursdays through Sept. 13. Now's the time to make wipe on/wipe off charts! I'm thinking of making a chore chart, a room checklist, an assignment checklist, and getting maps of our town, torn from the phone book, done.

Barnes and Noble also will give homeschoolers the Teacher Discount (you can only apply it to purchases made for classroom use, and not periodicals.) If your state does not provide any official homeschool paperwork, you can bring in your lesson plans (at least my Barnes and Noble accepts it!) Bonus: On Teacher appreciation day, very often they'll give a free drink from their cafe to teachers as well.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/13/2007 10:18:00 AM | Permalink | |
Gardasil Injuries
Thursday, August 09, 2007
How they stack up.

Heather asks a good question - basically, what do the numbers mean? How do the amount of Gardasil injuries compare with the other HPV vaccines? How do they compare with other vaccinations given to boys and girls?

You can search out this information on any vaccine yourself at the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. Please note that these are not necessarily all injuries that happened, it is a self reporting system.

I compared Gardasil (HPV4) with the other HPV vaccine, counting all injuries reported in 2007 from vaccines given in 2007 in the US:

Vaccine TypeCountPercent (of 989)

The HPV4 is Gardasil; the HPV is listed as "no brand name". There was no data for GSK's Cerverix. So, according to VAERS data, of all adverse events reported due to an HPV vaccine, 97.88% are due specifically to the Gardasil vaccine.

Again, these numbers don't mean so much until I can find out how many doses of Gardasil vs. NoName Brand were administered. If 98% of all HPV vaccinations are Gardasil brand, the then it would appear that it is not more dangerous than the generic. Also I am without data as to how many vaccinations have taken place total, to determine what percentage of vaccinated girls are directly harmed. I've done cursory Google searches, but don't seem to be able to get that info. Any ideas?

In order to compare the HPV vaccine injuries to the ratio of vaccine injuries given to male and female children, one must know what percentage of vaccinated persons reported an adverse event. You have to compare apples to apples. Maybe when it is not 107 degrees outside (that doesn't even account for the Heat Index, either!) I'll be able to play with it a little more!

The CDC Wonders site lets you view and sort data in multiple ways - check it out for yourself! (Look under Immunizations for the vaccine data)

A side note: I was going to link to the weather site from the local paper for those skeptics among you who may doubt it is actually 107 degrees. According to my Dodge Grand Caravan it is, but that is not the most scientific data source! When I viewed the temperature charts and historical data, it gave me the option of viewing the stats for the next day. That's right folks, the Charleston Post-Courier has a time machine and can tell you tomorrows temperatures, sorted by time, today!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/09/2007 01:27:00 PM | Permalink | |
Back to Gardasil
This spring, I blogged about the controversial new HPV vaccine. It hadn't been properly tested, and didn't seem to really help all that much.

Then, a doctor who actually worked on the Merck studies went public with her concerns.

Mama says... I told you so:

Some statistics

More in-depth article

At least three girls have died. Over 1600 adverse events. (And these are not long term adverse events, just the immediate ones).

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/09/2007 09:20:00 AM | Permalink | |
The House of the Scorpion - Rave
Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I'm a total book nerd. I read. I read boxes and packages, magazines and books, anything with words. So of course when my sister arrived for a visit complete with required summer reading, I devoured it in one day.

The House of Scorpion
, by Nancy Farmer, has garnered all sorts of awards, including the Newberry Medal. The book is sci-fi (for SF fans, it's juvie sci-fi lite. Sorry, John Wright, no Space Princesses here!) Set sometime in the future, when cloning and implanting chips in animals and people's brains is commonplace, Farmer explores the ethics of exploitation. It is not heavy handed, written for about 10-15 year olds.

The story follows Matteo Alacran, the clone of a notorious, and rich, druglord-cum-dictator as he grows up from a sheltered six year old boy to a fourteen year old manling. (Yes. I made that word up. Words that end in ling are cool in my nerdy bookworm opinion!) It touches on themes of humanity, cloning, pro-life themes such as destroying life (both pre- and post- born) for personal gain and therapeutic reasons, as well as the harmful effects of drug use and reasons why one might get addicted. Noticeably absent are steamy love scenes, four letter words, and throwaway trashy women. Catholicism provides a cultural background and source for the morality, but it's not a catechism or theological exercise.

I was reminded of Orson Scott Card's best work, Ender's Game, although Farmer does not quite have his gift of characterization and the ending was anticlimactic and a little trite. I do recommend it as supplementary high school reading and modern fiction, however.


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/08/2007 09:51:00 AM | Permalink | |
Terrorism Comes Home
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
In a town in America last week, a car was pulled over. Pipe bombs were found inside. The driver and passenger are Egyptian nationals. It happened on the road I use as a shortcut to Wal-Mart!

My little corner of South Carolina is not a hotbed of political activity. The most passionate feuds are amongst competing boiled peanut stands. Apparently, I'm naive. I knew there was a mosque in my old little town - one Burger King, one McDonald's, a mosque next to the used bookstore, and no Starbucks. And I knew that the Navy, you know, did stuff around here. On any Friday night, you can go to the mall and see fully outfitted sailors, complete with white hat, roaming the bookstore and then heading to the wing joint. But the police blotter around here is generally not very enertaining. The last time a pipe bomb was in the news, it was because a SC man killed himself trying to build one for an Independence Day celebration.

Not mentioned in the paper is that they were pulled over across the street from the entrance of the big Alcoa plant. Alcoa is a huge supplier of aluminum, which is used for infrastructure and building airplanes and boats.

From the article:

An affidavit from the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office said officers from the bomb squad determined that pipe bombs were in the trunk. Pipe bombs are homemade explosives, and making or having them is a felony.

Mohamed told the arresting officer he used materials he bought at a Wal-Mart, according to the affidavit.

No offense, but we're not idiots around here. This road may say "Hwy" on it but it's not an interstate. It is not the way someone would go to North Carolina, unless they were going a long, slow, stupid way. It basically dead ends to the south at the Navy base, and runs northeast through fairly uninhabited country.

Are we really to believe that two grown men, savvy enough to be studying abroad at a university, including one who is a doctoral candidate in engineering don't know the difference between bottle rockets and a pipe bomb he made himself?

This post is a short one today. I've got to go stock up on bottled water, duct tape, and plastic sheeting.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/07/2007 10:16:00 AM | Permalink | |
Figgy Pudding
Friday, August 03, 2007
Fresh fig
I've got figs. Fresh figs. And I don't know how to use them!

They are a little past the eat-out-of-hand stage. Any ideas and, more importantly, tried and true recipes? I can make freezer jam; true canning is beyond me this month.

BTW, fresh figs are delicious. Their outside texture is like a plum, but they are not quite as sweet and pink inside! Who knew? Mine are more brown than purple, I guess it's the variety?

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/03/2007 01:39:00 PM | Permalink | |
There's a new product hitting the drugstores, in case you live under a rock and missed the displays: Alli

It's an OTC version of the fat blocking pill Xenical, but according to GSK, it is different because it's half the dose, comes with 200 pages of instructions and support, and is FDA approved. It will block up to 25% of the fat you eat - can you see the weight just dropping off?

Further investigation reveals it may not be much of a miracle pill. The informational brochure, a slick, multicolored piece heavy on graphics, light on text, and available in two languages, states that "The program requires a commitment... to eat less than 15 grams of fat per meal, eat smaller portions, and increase physical activity."

Well, if people actually did that, they wouldn't need a pill!

The starter pack includes a pill shuttle, to carry your magic beans medication around on the go. That way, you can effortlessly pop one before you dig into a plate of Applebee's nachos.

My favorite parts involve the treatment effects. (By "favorite", I really mean, the part of the product that is the most fun to mock mercilessly).

From the Alli website:
Undigested fat cannot be absorbed and passes through the body naturally. The excess fat is not harmful. In fact, you may recognize it in the toilet as something that looks like the oil on top of a pizza. The treatment effects may include gas with oily spotting, loose stools, and more frequent stools that may be hgluttonyard to control.
Wow, fun for the whole family! I'll never look at pizza quite the same way again.

The pill is put out by GlaxoSmithKline, the same people who have brought us the Paxil debacle (including having to settle with the US government because they were ripping off Medicaid as well as causing the deaths and deformation of many children, teens, and pre-born babies), and the Avandia controversy. (These drugs were also FDA approved, as was Vioxx. FDA approval does not equal safe, largely because the FDA does not fund independent studies but relies on the drug companies' own research.)

Skip the pill, save your money and probably your health, and follow the "plan", sans pill. That's what Mama Says!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/03/2007 09:35:00 AM | Permalink | |
Deal o' the Day: Dover Publications
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Dover Publications has some beautiful coloring books - they make me want to break open the Crayolas! They sent me a coupon and I had to share.

These books aren't for little kids, with bug-eyed cartoon princesses - oh no, they are anatomically, factually, and historically correct high quality books designed for slightly older kids and adults.

You can get books on famous fashion designers of the past, with drawings of Paquin and Chanel. You can get books of traditional Japanese design. You can get a book based on Greek myths, and color the Argonauts. I subscribe to the e-mail free sample, and save and print the images. The children always love them! They also have paper dolls, books, collections of poems, and more. How cool is this one? Sistine Chapel They also have Van Gogh, Degas, Casset, and more masterpieces in coloring books AND art cards.

The truly organized among us - cough, cough, not me! cough cough - will see this as a golden opportunity to stock up for Christmas gifts/ school year birthday closet gifts, especially since this week crayons, colored pencils, and other school supplies are deeply discounted.

Here's the coupon code - $10 off a $40 order.

This year in our homeschool, we will be covering Montessori's The Great Lessons for science, Basic Topography, and then Early Man for social studies (with a little patriotism thrown in - the kids don't know any of the classic songs!). Actually, by the time we hit Early Man for Social Studies, we should also be hitting it for Science, so it's a two-fer!

The first of the Great Lessons involve the Creation of the universe, and basic earth science - solar system, volcanoes, rocks and minerals. Later lessons progress through time with the coming of life, the coming of man, etc. The Montessorian approach goes from BIG to small... and so the creation of the earth is taught first, and gradually the subjects become more and more narrow. This is opposite of most approaches, that start narrowly and grow broader (i.e., self, then family, then state, then country, or self, other mammals, other major animal groups, etc.)

I chose Early Man (I'm planning an overview through early Biblical times, with vertical history for the development of agriculture, simple machines, etc.) because I think that will be a good base for their catechism and next few semester's studies, when we will do Ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt. There are no larger political issues that may be difficult for a second grader to grasp, or inappropriate for me to explain to them. Also, it's not something my fledgling readers need to cover in depth, unlike, say, 18th century European history or 19th century American history. Although, it would be kinda neat to study the Civil war while we live here in Charleston, where you can visit forts, battle sites, plantations, and slave museums! They are simply not old enough though.

To make a long story short, a skill that continues to elude me, as demonstrated in the previous paragraph, here's what I have my eye on: (these are just the coloring books - they have lots of other booklets too!)

Constellations of the Night Sky (Science)
Learning About the Solar System (Science) (Pocket sized and only $1.50!)
Exploring the Solar System (Science) (maybe)
Rocks and Minerals (Science) (yes, a coloring book of rocks. I am the mother of boys!)
The Dinosaur Coloring Book (Science) (includes the animals and plant life of the Mesozoic Era)
Prehistoric Man
The Story of Stonehenge and other Megalithic Sites

(not coloring books, I think these would be great for three-part cards though)
Learning About Rocks
Learning About Minerals

(and, because my life is not exciting enough... but it ties in nicely with the three states of matter and other physical science from the Great Lessons)
Physics Experiments for Children

Aesop's Fables (for literature)
A Child's Garden of Verses (Literature) (for $2.77, how could I not?)

Sharks (Mr. R)
Shells of the World (We go to the beach almost every weekend)
Bible Stories Woodcuts (from a 15th century Bible)

Yeah, I know it's a lot of links. Too bad Dover doesn't have an associate program like Amazon! However, if I put the list, with links, in the computer, it increases my chances of being able to find the list when it comes time to order! Much easier than a slip of paper that the children might scribble on....blow their nose one ... lose.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/02/2007 08:16:00 AM | Permalink | |
Works for Me Wednesday: Parenting Edition
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Works for Me Wednesday
It's time for another themed Works for Me Wednesday ~ and I don't know where to start with this one!

It's the Parenting Edition, with your best piece of parenting advice. For Pete's sake, me, tell people what I think...about kids? This could take all day! I'll try to narrow it down to 4 pithy, easy to remember sayings.

Mama says....

1. You Are the Parent. You are the expert on your child. You know your child better than any book, doctor, or well meaning friend. Trust yourself. If you don't think scheduling feedings is the right way to go, don't do it, no matter what the ladies at church say. If you think your child needs a nap, even if he's five, schedule naptimes, no matter what your neighbor says about making him be a big boy. Take advice into consideration, but never forget that you have the final say - and "I'm the mommy, and I said so" is a perfectly valid excuse. (And one the well meaning neighbor can't really argue with!)

2. Children are Childish. If you hear yourself shouting screaming hissing through gritted teeth saying the words..."Act your age", well, your kids probably are acting their age. Kids are immature. They suffer from childish irresponsibility. They are learning about consequences, about relationships, about life. They did not spring forth, Athena like, fully formed. So, yes, they probably will hurt their friend's feelings... and then it's your job to teach them to make it right. They will leave their bike where the car can run it over. They will lose their right shoe for two weeks, and then find it under their mattress two days after you break down and buy them a new pair. Kids will be kids, and you have to train them out of it.

3. Quiet Time isYour Friend. Yes, generally, it is good to let kids regulate themselves. However, there is nothing wrong, and quite a few things right, with making everyone adhere to the same schedule. At Mama's house, naptime means: The 1 and 3 yo go to their room for an actual nap. The older children are allowed to do quiet activities - they can read, color, do puzzles... they cannot play Super Charged Astronaut Fighters with my umbrellas. They have a bunch of friends over. They must have quiet time. The nursling may, or may not, sleep but he is adjusting to the quiet time schedule as well - he doesn't have baths at this time, he doesn't play with battery toys. He sleeps, or snuggles. Not only do we have a verylittle peace, but the children learn to entertain themselves - in a calm way - which is a skill that will serve them well.

4. The Force is NOT Always With You.
There are some things that no matter how hard you try, you cannot force your child to do. You cannot make a toddler poop. You cannot make a newborn sleep through the night. You cannot make your 5 year old be brave and not afraid. Sometimes you have to gently coax, rather than wield a big stick. You can encourage potty training, or a soothing bedtime routine, or the scaredy cat to hug her bear or sing a happy tune. Ultimately, some things are completely up to the kid. Accept it, and move on.

Check out Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for a bounty of parenting tips!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/01/2007 08:30:00 AM | Permalink | |