Monday, February 28, 2011

Is it Food?

One of the wonderful things about having multiple children is watching them teach each other things.  There's been a lot of that going on around here lately.  Henry has given Violet several lessons on how to draw cars and vans (her speciality is people, he thought she should branch out).  The whole family has been trying to teach Ivy how to talk and walk.  She has been very receptive to the talking thing, and really likes to stand, but has absolutely no interest in putting one foot in front of the other.

Yesterday Mitchell decided that Ivy eats way too much paper, and he was going to teach her the difference between what is food and what is not.  He plopped her in the high chair with some various objects and pointed.

"Not food!"

Then he poured some Cheerios on her tray.

"That's food!"

She took the hint and gobbled up the Cheerios.  When those were gone she stuck the other stuff in her mouth too.  I love babies.

I just recently watched "King Corn", a documentary following a pair of friends as they try to plant an acre of corn in Iowa and follow it through to the plate.  It was really sad.  I highly recommend you watch it yourself, but here are some of the highlights:

*A vast majority of the carbon in our bodies originates from corn.  Corn, corn syrup, cornfed meat, cornstarch - corn is in EVERYTHING.

*Most of corn grown in the United States is not fit for human consumption.  You have to feed it to a cow or turn it into high fructose corn syrup before we can eat it.

*Cows can't eat that corn either.  We feed it to them for about 150 days and then we slaughter them for meat.  If we didn't slaughter them they would get sick and die because cows aren't meant to eat that crap.

*Most of the alterations made to today's corn isn't to make it produce more ears or to taste better or be more nutritious.  They are made to be able to grow the most plants per acre.  Like little inedible corn cities.  Or rather, huge inedible corn cities since the family farm has been under attack for years.

But I'll let you watch it yourself.

As Mitch gave Ivy her lesson about what is food and what isn't, I was just reminded about the scene where they try to eat the corn they grew and discover that it's inedible.  Sad.  It can be such a tricky thing these days to figure out what is really food and what isn't.

Mama Tea over at "A Farmish Kind of Life" just had a great post about a new book she read called "Food Rules" by Michael Pollan.  One of the rules is "Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."  Seems like good sense to me, though it's trickier than it seems now.

Our book club is starting to read another food book - "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver.  I just requested it from the library so I'll let you know how it is after I get a chance to read it.

Lots of food-learning going on around here!

If you're feeling inspired to do a little more food-learning of your own, then head on over to Mama Tea's because she's having a giveaway over there.  You could win your own copy of "Food Rules".  I know I'm heading over to enter, it sounds like a good one!

Good day, good eating, and good luck :-)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Scribbles

Bits O' Brain, and they call it Sunday Scribbles...

*Book club got me thinking about meaningful work. Soul filling work. I don't think I'll ever find any of that that pays actual money. People do it, they find it, but I just feel like it may never be in the cards for me and then what does THAT mean? Work somewhere soul sucking or don't work?

*I've been thinking about this poem alot lately and it makes me sad...

"The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep."

*I just watched the movie "King Corn". Made me never want to eat processed food again. I think I need some heirloom non-GMO corn seeds too...

*I want to plant things. I feel like if I could just plant things and hang clothes on a clothesline, everything might just be okay.

*I want to paint things. I feel like if I could just paint things bright colors, maybe I could get by until I could plant things.

*Cub Foods has Cutey Baby cloth diapers (that woman has MAD marketing skills!) and they are on sale this week, so if you are into that sort of thing, get 'em while they're hot!

*I have a new hat. I got it for my dance class for our costume, but I kinda like it. I'm not usually a hat person but I've been wearing this one around lately because it makes me feel like a gangsta. Or a leprechaun...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

You Get a Star!

Charts.  Sticker charts, chore charts - I'm not a big fan of charts.  We can never keep on top of them for very long, the enthusiasm wanes quickly, they put the focus on getting stuff for what you do  instead of doing stuff because it needs to be done and being a participating member of the family.  But sometimes what we need is a good chart.  Charts always have a nice honeymoon period where they inspire the kids to do great things and life becomes easier for a few days (a few weeks if the rewards are good enough and frequent enough).  Grandma left for Arizona for a week and things have kind of taken a turn for the worst around here simultaneously.  I have been frazzled, to say the least.  So I said to myself, "Self, let's make a chart".

What kind of chart to make?  A chore chart?  A sticker chart?  What should earn stickers?  Hmmmmm...

I decided on an awesomeness chart. 

You get stickers for anything that mama deems awesome.  Brought your homework home and did it without screaming?  Awesome!   Put your boots and coats away without being asked?  Awesome!  Sat in the doctor's waiting room without making a total scene?  Awesome!

When everyone gets to the top, we're going to Chuck E. Cheese's.  Awesome!

Basically I'm setting up an economy in my home where the currency is stickers and I am the Federal Reserve Bank.  Is it bribery?  By the definition set forth by some of my friends, no.  Bribery is when you give the reward before the good behavior.  Incentives are what you give afterward.  But it feels a lot like bribery.  Especially when I sing out after dinner, "I'm coming upstairs in five minutes and anyone who is wearing jammies and has clean teeth gets two stars!", and my offspring scurry for their toothbrushes and footie pajamas without any help or cajoling or yelling from me.  It feels wrong, it feels like bribery and lazy parenting.  But if this is wrong, I never want to be right.  It just works so well!  At least it does this week anyhow, and this week is when I'm feeling kind of crappy and really need to not fight with anyone.  Just today I handed out stars for playing quietly together and for shoveling the driveway, no fighting involved.

I feel a little dirty...

How do you feel about charts?  Do you use them?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Reverse Bucket List: Part Deux

So, I posted a while back about bucket lists and reverse bucket lists.  Recently though, I stumbled across a very cool website called (appropriately) Bucketlist.  The concept is that if you make your bucket list more public and you have people supporting you, you may be more likely to get things crossed off.  Also, perusing other people's bucket lists may give you ideas for your own.  One thing I didn't expect was that browsing the site would give me more ideas for my reverse bucket list!  There are so many things I have done, that I didn't deem bucket list worthy, that are on other people's bucket lists.  Perhaps I underestimate the bucketyness of my life.  It feel so good to look at other people's bucket lists and say "Did it!  Done it!  Been there!", I highly recommend it.  Here is an updated reverse bucket list of mine, culled from the bucket lists of others.

*Attend a Catholic mass
*Go snow tubing
*Learn CPR
*Kiss under the mistletoe
*Rescue a pet from a shelter
*Watch 'The Bucket List'
*See a comet
*Go horseback riding on the beach
*Buy a house
*Learn to whistle
*Go to a rock concert
*Ride a Segway

Soooo... I guess my life is way cooler than I ever imagined.  World, I am mentally high-fiving you :-)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

When Grown-Ups Stop Acting Like Grown-Ups

My hubby is a bit of a crossword fanatic, so every day he brings one home from work that he was working on at lunchtime.  I help him out a bit and usually between the two of us we can get darn close to knocking them out.  Saturday is no different, so he chugs up to the gas station to get the early Sunday edition of the Strib.  So it's kind of nice then on Saturday I can peruse the news too instead of just the crossword section he brings home and the adjacent "articles" (in case you were wondering, it would only take about 45 minutes and 40 bucks per decade to keep your sensitive MIL happy by sending her birthday cards, well worth the investment - ah the things you learn from reading the newspaper).

So this morning I was doing just that - perusing the paper.  And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but an article stating that the Wisconsin Democrats are "in hiding".  The state troopers have been enlisted to try and sniff them out.

"Why on earth are they hiding?", I wonder.  "Is there another madman on the loose plugging representatives?"

My curiosity piqued, I read on.  Turns out there's no serial killer on the loose.  No envelopes full of anthrax fluttering in the air.  There's a vote.  A vote on a bill.  The whole reason that these people were elected in the first place.  To vote on bills.  And the Democrats are hiding because they don't wanna vote.  They don't wanna and they say they are willing to stay in hiding for weeks.

Are you kidding me???!!!!

I'm no Democrat, but I'm not a staunch Republican either.  If I had to pick the party that represented my ideas best I think I'd have to go with the Constitution party, though I have issues with them too.  So don't think I'm riding high on my elephant when I say, "Suck it up, babies!"

This is how democracy works.  People elect who they think will represent them best.  Those people propose and vote on bills and such to make the laws that make our world go round.  If you don't like who you picked, you pick someone else next time.  What you DON'T do is say, "I'm not coming to work because things aren't going my way."  And what you REALLY don't do is get all your friends to go hide too.  Give me a break!!!!

Did I go hide in a closet when John McCain was nominated instead of Ron Paul?  Did I lay on the floor and cry when Obama was elected president?  No!  Because every day I wake up and put on my big girl panties.  Did I refuse to pay taxes when Obama's healthcare plan passed?  No.  Maybe I should have, but I didn't, because that's the way the system works.  That's the game we play.  And I don't quit playing just because I'm not winning right now.  Methinks maybe the Wisconsin Democrats accidentally bought Rainbow Brite and Bart Simpson Underoos at Target instead of some sensible Hanes.  Just sayin'...

Is what is going on with the Republicans very fair?  No.  I concede that.  But that's what you get when you insist on a two party system.  If you had more people from the Green party or Constitution party in there, then maybe you wouldn't have this problem.  Things would be a little more fair, balanced, and middle-ground for everyone.  But we're not playing that game.  We're playing two-party politics and the Democrats are getting skunked over there.  It sucks, but it doesn't mean you throw a fit and go pout.  I have to tell Henry and Mitchell that almost every time we play a game.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but if you quit in the middle just because you're behind, you're not very fun to play with.  It's a concept they haven't learned very well yet.  But I guess I shouldn't worry too much because it looks like the Wisconsin Democrats have gotten all the way to adulthood without learning that lesson and they seem to be doing alright for themselves.

And it's not like the Republicans are trying to propose reviving slavery or anything.  It's just money people.  Money gets given and taken in a million unfair ways by our government every day.  It's the nature of the beast.  And collective bargaining?  Again, millions of people living without it right now in America.  And don't get me started on teacher's unions.  There's a blog post coming up about them in particular.  But seriously, this really doesn't seem like something worth giving up your dignity over.

So, political tirade over, I'm pretty intrigued that they have the troopers looking for them.  What are they going to do if they find them?  Is it like hide and seek?  When they get found will they give up and come back?  Or is this more of a Steven Cowan incident?  Will they have to be dragged back in cuffs, kicking and screaming?  Can you make someone vote in cuffs?  If you uncuff them at the capitol building, will they just starting throwing out kung fu moves and make a break for the door again?  My mind is full of questions.

I hope the state troopers have better luck hunting down the Democrats across the border in Illinois than the military has hunting down Osama across the border in Pakistan.  Will the democrats grow long beards?  Does Illinois have much in the way of cozy caves to hide in?

As much as this astounds me, I was even more disgusted to learn that this isn't the first time the Democrats have gone and pouted.  In 2003 in Texas apparently they hid because they didn't want to vote on redrawing congressional districts.  Wow.

Seriously, I think that upon election, at your swearing in, they should issue you some big kid undies.  I'd be willing to have my taxes raised if it was going to buying the Democrats a little self respect.

Now, I realize my views are not everyone's views, so tell me what YOU think!  Leave me a comment or even better, post your own blog on the topic and leave the link in the comments so I can surf on over and peek inside your brain too :-)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Virtual School

Henry has been doing Connections Academy online public school for two weeks now and I thought I'd give you my initial reactions.


*We can schedule our days as we like.  Unlike regular public school (afternoon kindergarten - ick!) we can schedule school around our family instead of the other way around.

*Fun art projects.  I love art, but doing art with kids too often seems like sooo much work that I tend to shy away from it.  But when it's an assigned project, I have no choice, right?  And it's been fun.  Interesting projects, but not TOO involved, and much better than what he was doing at his last school.

"Art" project at his last school...

 And from this school...

If you're wondering, that last one is a rocket ship yarn sculpture launching in my kitchen.

*Accountability from the teacher.  As you may have guessed, getting things done and staying on task is not my strong suit.  We've gotten alot more done these last two weeks since I have to submit our hours and check off lessons as we do them.  It's helpful for me to have that external motivation.  It seems to also motivate Henry to have another adult who is checking up on what he is doing.  Could certain other adults in the house play this role?  Sure.  Do they?  No.

*Ability to skate through boring stuff.  Since I am the one facilitating the lessons, we can fly through easy or boring lessons, just doing the bare minimum, and we can take the time to really delve deeply into the things Henry is more excited about and really enjoys.  We can take things more at HIS pace.

*It's public school.  So when I tell people what he is doing for school, they are generally pretty interested and positive.


*It's a LOT of work.  Henry has a lot of lessons to do each day.  And a decent amount of prep work is expected from me too.  It can get pretty tricky to get it all done with the baby slowing us down.  And some of the stuff seems like "fluff" that I would skip if I were the one in charge of lessons planning instead of the teacher.

*It's public school.  So they have lots of requirements on hours, attendance, lessons that need to be done (though some lessons are marked optional), etc.  And some of the lessons are fairly unimaginative.  It does give alot more flexibility than traditional public school, but it's NOT homeschool.

So, I think the final word today is that while it isn't perfect, and I'm not sure we'll still be doing it next year, it seems to be a really great option for us at this juncture in our lives.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

ADHD For You And Me

Ever since I took on the role of wife/mother/homemaker and started making (or trying to make) friends with other wife/mother/homemakers I have always had the feeling that our family was different.  Our house was always messier, the kids were always more out of control, the volume was always louder.  We always had more dirty dishes, more scribbles on the walls, more piles of clutter than anyone else.  We'd go for a playdate and someone would say "Oh please excuse the mess, I didn't get a chance to vacuum yet this week" and I'd think "Hmmmm - I haven't vacuumed yet this semester - what does that say about me?"  I don't think it said anything about my worth as a person, so don't worry, i'm not getting all down on myself or anything.  But the fact of the matter is that I felt like we were different, like I was different.  Was it the fact that I had a boy with ADHD?  Maybe partly.  Was I just lazy?  Again, maybe partly, but I didn't feel very lazy.  Maybe I was just making a choice and valuing sucking the marrow from life over household drudgery and time-outs?  A bit, a bit, but on days when no one has clean underwear or clean spoons, it's definitely not about some high falootin' values decision.

I thought maybe I had ADHD too, but after an evaluation with a psychologist they decided that I was a bit ADHD-ish but since it didn't cause academic problems at a young age, they weren't going diagnose that.  My diagnosis?  Unorganized ha ha ha.  I could have told them that.

I just couldn't shake the feeling that I was the only one who couldn't get it together.  Now, I know I'm not the ONLY one.  I've seen Cops enough times to know that there are people out there living in trailers with eighty cats and who step over cat crap on the livingroom floor.  And in the trailer next door is the woman who had three days to clean up her piles of garbage all over the house and get rid of the fruit flies or they'd take away her kids.  But I'm not those people.  I'm a weird hybrid - there have been days when we would have made for a good episode of Cops, but then on the other hand I can single-handedly found non-profit organizations and hang with the private-school mamas.  I feel like I'm living in two worlds and I don't really belong in either.  I'm not comfortable chillin' in the cat crap trailer, but for totally opposite reasons I'm also non comfortable hangin' with the muckety-mucks either.  I want to have intellectual conversations about science, art, and politics, but at the same time I don't want anyone to see what my upstairs bathroom looks like.  I'm stuck between the folks whose lives are falling apart and the ones who have it all together.

But finally, I've met someone who gets me.  A lady who has been traveling in my same social circles lately was sharing the other day and all of the sudden I was hearing myself telling the story.  She was talking about how she was going to wait until her husband was out of town and then really try to get organized and clean up.  When he is around she starts organizing a closet but then it's time for dinner and everything is spread out that she was working on in the closet.  So it gets put in a pile and pushed aside since he gets crabby if stuff is left out.  And then that just adds to one of a bunch of other piles sitting around.  And everything ends up worse instead of better.  Since she quit working she is having trouble structuring her days and staying on top of stuff.  She can't have people over because it's just too messy.

Can't have people over, huh?  Stuff all over?  Sing it to me sister - I'm right there with ya.  Turns out she has ADHD and has been medicated alot in the past but for various reasons isn't now.  Hmmmm....  Now I'm not saying that I've got ADHD and my diagnosis was wrong.  But I've never met an adult with ADHD before (that I know of) and it was just so nice to hear someone describing my life.  Sooooo nice to hear that really, truly, I'm not the only one.

Now before everyone chimes in and says "Oh yeah, me too, my house gets so messy" let me tell you that chances are you have no idea what I'm talking about.  All my friends say the same thing and while it may feel that way to them, I've seen those houses when they are "messy" and trust me, we're talking about a whole other level of disorganization here.

So I just thought I'd put this blog out there in case there are more people that just us two who are living this life and feeling this way.  You're not alone.  And no, you don't have to hang with the cat crap lady to feel normal.  There are at least two more of us out there and you can come hang with us.
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