Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lost And Found

You may remember that Big Sister got a hamster for her 9th birthday.

Or maybe I didn't write that post.

Let's back up a bit...  Big Sister turned 9 on the 6th of September.  She had been asking for some time for a pet hamster.  After some thought and prayer, we decided to grant her birthday wish.  I purchased the beast critter and a 'starter kit' - cage, feed, water bottle, etc - while in Town one evening for my regular errands.  A good friend agreed to critter-sit for a few days, and bring the little guy when she came for the party. Big Sister was thrilled, and she kept very good care of him, remembering to say a special 'good night' to him every evening before bed.  She named him Nutmeg.

Nine days later, my mom and her kids came for a visit.  They arrived shortly before bedtime, and the first thing Big Sister did was let the kids hold Nutmeg.  Then it was off to bed.  The 4-year-old boy, who, like Organique, almost never does as he is told, instead re-visited the hamster.  And left the cage open.  My mom saw some of what he did, I guess, but it didn't register, and so it wasn't until the morning, when Nutmeg was sought, that the gaping door of the cage was discovered.  The boy explained that a tiger had captured Nutmeg, and ate him outside.  While I was fairly certain that didn't happen, I was some worried that he'd fed him to the cat.

Many tears and prayers were offered on Nutmeg's behalf.  Before my mom left five days later, he'd been spotted in the kitchen.  She and Hubby tried to capture him, but he resisted strongly and they failed.  I used a canning jar and lid to fashion a trap (use a large knife to cut a * shape in the lid, bending the sharp points inward), but I left him too much room and he absconded with the bait (his feed) leaving little bits of hair on the pointy parts of the lid.

Hubby bought a live mouse trap, and we set that.  We also bought some dead mouse traps, because we were interested in ridding the house of the annual fall invasion.  We did NOT set those out, fearing the worst would happen to Nutmeg if we did.

Weeks passed and I was certain Nutmeg was gone.  We'd had (and lost) many hamsters over the years when I was young, and the longest any had gone missing (and turned up alive) was a week and a half or so.  I was upset that Big Sister had lost him so unjustly, and sad to hear her ask about him daily.

Then one morning Hubby reported seeing him!  He was back where his cage had been (on the pellet stove) and was trying to chew into the bag of feed.  When Hubby tried to catch him, he jumped into the lower shelves of the changing table and was gone.  We moved the traps, but still nothing for days.

Eventually he showed up again in the kitchen.  I began to wonder, should I be encouraged by the fact that Nutmeg had survived so long unattended, or completely depressed that my house has enough crumbs and debris to sustain life for such a creature.  I'm still really not sure...  I decided that our 'traps' weren't enough, and googled hamster-trapping ideas.  I set up some ramps/buckets/bait systems, using a gallon jar, a glass cookie jar, and a rubbermaid tote.  I mixed up peanut butter, oats, and raisins.  For a few days, nothing.  My dad recalled our finding a hamster (dead) inside a quart mason jar below the sink; he had fallen in and couldn't get out, and we didn't find him in time.  I began to think about lining up all my quart mason jars in a group in the kitchen, making several ramps, and putting bait everywhere, hoping he'd fall in among the sea of jars. :)  In the meantime, I knew he (or a mouse) was using the ramps.  I'd put one flake of peanut-buttery oatmeal at the top of each ramp, and each morning that was gone.  Since he was used to the system, I began thinking I needed something better than his inclination to 'jump' into the jar/bucket.  I decided on some thin cardboard (cut from a ziploc box or such), like a diving board or pirate-plank.  I attached a small strip of cardboard to the top few inches of ramp, and bent it slightly so it extended horizontally over the jar (secured VERY lightly with some double-sided tape at the bend of the cardboard).  I put my regular bit of bait on the ramp, and then more (balanced carefully!) on the plank.  The first night one trap was sprung (or it fell in on it's own weight) but there was no hamster.  The second night, he was captured!  And he was NOT pleased (nor was I, to see what he'd done to my cookie/kombucha jar).

That was a week or two ago, and I'm glad to say he has seemed to re-civilize.  He has not escaped (i.e. 'been turned loose') again, and I hope to keep it that way.  Big Sister is delighted, and I'm happy to have caught a few of the uninvited interlopers.  Not with the live trap.  :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

There Are Days... which I desire to be an example of joyful motherhood.

And come across as an advertisement for birth control.

May those days be few.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Organique Was Here

 My mom used to laugh when we passed a "Kilroy was here" mark.  In a frozen cabin with a group of handicapped adventurers, on a railroad overpass in the mountains, on a short brick wall near a school.  Those are the only places I actually recall the funny caricature, but it stuck with me because I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the humor was about, nor could she explain it.

We have a similar, if less funny, version of that in our house.  And it takes a practiced eye to really decode the "Organique was here" message.  See if you can figure it out:

Exterior latex primer, sliding glass door.


New Decor in the Guest Room

A Closer Look

I especially love that last one.  Need some cinnamon?  No problem!  I hope you like paprika too.  You can probably put it through the sifter and remove the italian seasoning.  Actually I'm considering marketing this new cinnamonpaprikapoppycayennegarlicalum spice.  What do you think?

I don't have a picture of my suspiciously-rearranged jewelry boxes.  And considering I changed out my earrings (briefly, like for a day) in the neighborhood of 2007, it's not like I'd know if anything was missing, really.

But in our home, there is no graffiti of one peering over a wall.  The "Organique was here" messages abound, however.

Friday, October 15, 2010


One of the things that sets me apart from a lot of people in my family is my tendency to favor natural (even weird) remedies before pursuing allopathic medicine.  Sometimes, of course, there's not much choice.

The other day I tiptoed upstairs with my sleeping 14-month-old on my shoulder to lay her in her crib for a nap.  I have allowed horrific habits to develop, and am at their mercy until I get up the energy to wean her from needing to "nurse to sleep."  In any case, the drop went bad and she awoke with much travail.  I settled down to nurse her again, hoping (ha ha ha) the girls would sit tight and work on their schoolwork for a few more minutes.  They did not, of course, and shortly Little Artist came up to express concern over her big sister having "something like a nail poked into her knee."  Baby was sleeping at this point, so I put her in her crib (successfully) and hurried downstairs, mulling over the unlikelihood that Li'l Artist would confuse "sliver" with "nail" and that this probably wasn't a broken nail, and I hope it doesn't require surgery since health insurance isn't one of my current tools.

Big Sister was crouched low, the holey-knees of her jeans exposing her kneecaps and then some.  In one of her knees was... something.  "Something like a nail," in fact.  I say "something," because while the business end of it (the part poking through her skin and skidding around on the surface of her patella) was very nail-like.  The rest of it wasn't, much.  It looked like something that might've been attached to the bottom of a table leg.  Circular, metal, and protruding from the back side of it were two 'nail-like' appendages, maybe an inch long or more.  One of these was decidedly through the skin.  I tried gently to pull it out, but it wasn't cooperating, and Big Sister howled a lot at the attempt.  I assumed the inserted spike was like the other one (not barbed or anything), but it wasn't acting like it, and I didn't want to cause more trouble by helping. I called my husband at work, and he advised taking her to the local doc that saw Gi-gi last year, and that chided my husband for his lack of "eyebrows." I had the same thought, so I helped her to the van, and plucked the soundly-sleeping (doggone it) Baby from her crib, and loaded the rest up as well.  It's only about 2 miles away, so we got there and I walked Big Sister in (yes, she could walk), showed the receptionist, and was called back to the doctor by the time I'd finished filling out the medical history paperwork.

He injected some novocaine (or something), the sight of which, since she wouldn't lay down and doc wouldn't wait, caused her much anguish.  By the time I took her face in my hands to assure her the sting would be short-lived, doc had the wicked thing out with a pair of tweezers.

What followed was discussion about tetanus, punctuated with phrases like, "promise you this thing is covered in tetanus" and "guaranteed death sentence" and other gentle, compassionate utterances.  I told doc I didn't think she'd had the shot before (later, in reading, I changed my mind, as she did have the 'routine' shots for a few years early in life.  I didn't realize tetanus was part of that.), and asked what else was in it.  "What else?  Nothing else!  It's tetanus!"  "Well, what is it preserved with?"  I don't know that I got an answer, having to check on and/or retrieve the other girls at this point.  I asked if there was a 'safe window,' that is, could I look into things, and if I decide to give her the vaccine, would I be able to come the next day..  He said he wasn't terribly sure, tetanus being so rare in America anymore, but he figured that it was likely I'd have a day or two.**  I thanked him, and the receptionist said she'd bill us, and we were on our way home.

I'd like to say I knew what to do from that point, but I didn't.  I called some friends who are better versed than I in dealing with such things, and they recommended soaking her knee in hydrogen peroxide, really working it in to the spot, bandaging with antibiotic ointment.  Doc had already recommended epsom salts, so I thought I'd start with the peroxide.  

We did the peroxide, we did the epsom salts, we did the ointment and bandaid and I googled tetanus info.  Which wasn't very calming.  But I discovered that it's the T in DTAP, and I was fairly certain that sounded familiar from back in the day when I didn't ask so many doggone questions.  While getting a new vaccine is a huge, difficult decision with what I know (or rather, what no one seems to know) about vaccines, there's not a lot I can do about one that's already done, and at least I felt I could inform the doc of that.  This was a Thursday.

Friday morning came, and with it a puffy, red, painful area around the entry wound.  After watching Gi-gi's rapid infection (from a wound far less serious) last year, I didn't want to mess around with this, either.  We were still doing epsom salts, and I had her scratch at the spot to try to let in more peroxide (I really wished I could just inject some, not that it's recommended!).  I remembered my midwife recommending chewed plantain for Gi-gi's wound (which didn't work, or at least not enough), and I knew I had comfrey growing everywhere I didn't want it.  I googled a little more, discovering that comfrey is a great healing agent, but you want to apply it to a clean wound, and not knit the skin together over something infected.  Oops.  That wasn't going to work.  I found some plantain in the grass, and, in lieu of having her chew it (the girl was already balking at the soaking schedule, etc), I tried putting some leaves in the blender with some of her spit.  :)  I wrapped it on her knee with plastic wrap, simultaneously calling the doctor to see if he recommended antibiotics. He sure did, and told me to go to a pharmacy and have them call him. [My plan was to fill the prescription, but give the herb a chance to work.  I didn't want to be caught on a weekend with a serious infection, but wasn't going to give any antibiotics to her just then either.]  As it happened, the pharmacy didn't have the right size/dosage of pill, but they were open briefly Saturday morning and they'd have it by then.  I told them that was perfect, since I planned to treat her with spit and weeds from the lawn (okay, I wasn't quite that brave) for a day or two anyway.

It didn't change for the better by afternoon, and further research said to let the poultice dry, that the drawing-out would be enhanced.  Oops on the plastic wrap.  I ditched the blender too, chopping finely on the cutting board and mixing with spit in a bowl (I suppose there might be reason to have her chew and absorb some of the elements that way, but the enzymes would work on the plantain however the spit was introduced.  :)  When she had to be up and around, I used a bandaid to hold the leaves in place, and also as she slept.

By morning I was quite surprised to see NO sign of infection.  It didn't hurt.  No redness or swelling.  Hubby's second opinion concurred, and not only did I save the cost of the antibiotics, but I got to call and cancel the prescription and say that my organic, backwoods, voodoo-medicine worked!  In turn, he assured me he'd hold the prescription on the shelf for me "in case" I needed it early in the week. :)

We didn't need it, and the knee is healing nicely.  I DID take a picture on my cellphone, but I don't know how to get it from there to here.  You really didn't want to see it anyway.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I just watched an interesting YouTube at A Wise Woman Builds Her Home.  It's on the origins and history of Halloween, (most of which I'm familiar with) and then argues against Christians participating in the traditions.

I always have such a dilemma this time of year, more so as my kids get older and are more aware of the holiday.  Should it be something Christians take part in?

I grew up in a fairly secular home, and did the trick-or-treat thing.  My mom fondly remembered getting the best end of the deal as a Catholic - November 1 is All Saint's Day, and always a day off of school for the parochial students, so they got to stay up extra-late raking in the goodies.

As a parent, we've ignored the holiday altogether, save for explaining the sudden appearance of hellish decor at the grocery stores.

We've also gone to church-sponsored halloween-alternative Bible-maze things.

We've gone to smaller (our main church) Harvest (read: Candy and Cake Walk) Parties.

We've stayed home with root-beer floats and played games.

We've never sanctioned 'evil' or scary costumes - this was most easily done at our small church harvest party, where it wasn't advertised to the whole town, and we parents used collective discretion.  No witches, goblins, vampires and the like.  Raggedy Ann, princesses, etc.

Theologically, I've had both ends of the spectrum imposed upon me.  And I don't mean that to impugn anyone else.  I've just never found my own peace with the subject.

Children love to dress up, and the idea of a holiday with that specific tradition, well, that's a hard one to abandon, unless you have another day or time to enjoy the costume aspect (maybe that's what we need to do).  I've not had trouble staying away from the trick-or-treat tradition, since I'm not big on candy nor the   whole idea of begging/entitlement.  Worse, is the history:  Give me a treat (your money) or I'll play a trick (burn your house down).  :]

The comparative analogy mentioned in the YouTube video (the Nazi salute) is compelling.

What are your thoughts?  Do you celebrate it with all the cultural traditions, abandon it completely, or some pseudo-version that is less offensive to your faith?

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Well, That's Just Teff!

Oh, this is not a post I ever wanted to write.  It's not a season (I hope it's only a season!) I ever wanted to live.  

But it's good for me, and good for Little Artist, so here we are.

I finally took Little Artist to the Naturopath last week to address some of her digestive issues.  She's always - always - had trouble in that department, and while we finally seemed to have conquered the Fear-Constipation-Fear cycle, there was more going on.  I started to notice a distinct difference in how she looked - like when you look at children who are built differently than your own, and the difference strikes you.  Well, it was like that, but she IS my own, so that made it extra-odd.  At least for me. When I see her upper arms, they are not shaped like her sisters' arms are - more thin, I guess, like those hungry kids you see in photos (not THAT hungry, obviously).  Her backbone sticks out in places like alligator-bumps.  Yet, her profile isn't slim.  Her belly is disproportionately big.  But if you try to 'pinch' a bit of fat, that's all you get - a TINY bit.  Not fat, but round, firm, and big.

The naturopath didn't do anything terribly invasive - no blood tests or anything - but he felt and tapped and listened, and told me that 90% of the time this kind of thing has to do with food allergies.  He wrote down the major ones he wanted us to avoid, and advised the use of a good digestive enzyme with each meal and a capsule of L-Glutamine daily.

The things to avoid:  Yeast, Nuts, Soy, Gluten, and Dairy.  Those last two are the killers.  Heh, well, they may indeed be killers to some extent, but avoiding them is hardest.  The soy we already mostly avoid, and nuts aren't hard to eliminate, but yeast is tricky (not just yeast-breads, but anything with vinegar), and gluten is really hard.  We love wheat around here (too much, probably), and if not wheat, then oats, and if not oats, barley, and... well, you get the idea. :)  Dairy is something I rely on daily as a lunchtime protein, and makes for frequent condiments to meals.  

We've been using other grains lately - rice is one we're fairly used to, and millet I've used on occasion.  I cooked up some amaranth the other evening (cooked like rice, with water) and it was very weird!  Millet puffs up and gets fluffy like rice, but amaranth... doesn't.  You can still see the individual grains, but it develops a clear, gelatinous goo...  It's so strange.  I found the smell to be odd, too, but we ate it, and again for breakfast the next day.  Hubby wondered later if there was any left (there wasn't, after that), and I was surprised that it was enjoyed to the extent it was.  I have read about it, and I believe it would grow well here, so there is a possibility I'd put it in the garden next year (it is known to cross with a certain weed we have, though, and I'm not sure about that!).  I've ordered some teff (another super-tiny grain I've never tried) from Azure, and it will be interesting to see how it cooks up and what else I can use it for.  Coconut flour is highly recommended - highly caloric, highly expensive too - but apparently it's usable in many baked goods as well as a thickener (like white sauce and gravy?).

She misses cheese, though, and I'm not sure what we can do about that.  :]

But it's for a season, and we're already seeing progress.  Her belly is much softer to the touch.  We're hopeful her body will heal, and these foods can at least become part of an occasional meal for her.  If not, we'll be grateful for a way to keep her well!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

My New Treasure

I have been thinking about these for some time now.  My Granny has one (an older version, obviously), and my brother consistently refuses to let me "babysit" his while he's on deployment.  They just weren't 'worth it' to me at $259.

Then, this summer, they introduced the newest version of the contraption, and had a few price wars with Barnes & Noble's Nook... and the price was $189.  Well, that almost did it for me, but I still didn't have the $$ to put towards it.  Then, as I waited and watched, they introduced a wi-fi only version for $139.

Now THAT was something I could get behind.  I didn't care if it had 3G coverage if it could read a book.  And when I got paid for a photography job, I pre-ordered it (they weren't set to release until late August, and 2 weeks into pre-ordering, they were already 'out of stock' and pushing back ship dates).  At this point I'd had more than one person ask me about and encourage me to look into the Nook, so I began to do that, keeping my 'place in line' with the Kindle anyways (it wouldn't charge me until it shipped anyway, and in case I decided to get the Kindle, I'd have less time to wait.).  It was a hard decision!  I went back and forth a few times.  I read reviews at tech-geek blogs, I went to B&N to get my hands on a Nook and ask, "So, what makes this better than Amazon's Kindle?"  My Nook-desperate cousin bought one and made me borrow it for an evening, certain I'd come to the "right" decision after that.  :)

Well, from the picture I'm sure you can tell what I settled on.  These are the things that 'sold me' on the Kindle:
  1. It's a lot lighter in weight than the Nook.  Nook is almost half again as heavy as the Kindle, and that was important to me.
  2. I have always used far more than Barnes & Noble, and it is a site/system that I was familiar with and preferred.
  3. While the touch-screen was cool (very, very briefly), I wasn't willing to trade off 2/3 of battery life for the cool factor.  Kindle can go up to a month between charges, they say.  Nook advertises up to 10 days.  I also found the touch-screen more of a liability than an asset the evening I borrowed my cousin's Nook.  Everything outside of page-turns required I first 'wake up' the touch screen, which was tedious for me.
  4. Kindle was $10 cheaper on the sticker price, but add the fact that sales tax wasn't an issue with amazon orders I saved more than $20.  THEN I used a $5 gift card earned from swagbucks, and it shipped to me for $134.
  5. The 2-year warranty was $40 for Kindle and $45 for Nook.  Since I was interested in that, it was another price benefit.
  6. I comparison-shopped e-books (from Ambleside Online's booklists, primarily) and when there was a price difference between B&N and Amazon, Amazon was cheaper on all but one item.
  7. The Kindle sported much faster page-turns than the Nook.
  8. The Kindle has higher screen-contrast than the Nook.
  9. The Kindle now offers 'collections' - that is, you can organize (like with files) different categories of books.  I have one for kid lit, Year 1 Ambleside stuff, Year 3, Bibles and Bible Study, etc.
Areas that the Nook prevailed:
  1. Expandable memory.  While Kindle 3 now comes with 4 gigs of memory, Nook has a memory-card slot to make it virtually infinite.
  2. Replaceable battery.  The Kindle can have it's battery replaced, but you have to return it to the factory, yada yada (the extended warranty does cover a one-time battery replacement, if need be).
  3. It uses the ePub format, which is more common.  Larger libraries sometimes offer digital book 'loans' in this format, and other online ebook sellers often use this format as well (so far there's one book I'm interested in that CBD offers in ePub that I can't get through Amazon).  However, older ebooks can be converted into a Kindle-friendly format, as long as they don't have DRM (copy) protection.  This frees up all the free 'googlebooks.'
  4. It has a 'loaner' feature - you can 'loan' a book from your Nook to a friend's Nook for a couple weeks, at which time it magically returns to you.  This was probably the hardest thing to give up.  I hope Amazon will take a hint and do this someday.
Things I LOVE (that are not necessarily Kindle-specific):
  1. I converted my favorite bible study from pdf to Kindle (kindle reads pdf, but interacting with the text is a bit more complicated), and can read, search, and take notes at bible study with one-tenth of the effort that my binder required.  And since I'm now using the same 'updated version' as everyone else, my page numbers are spot-on.  It thrills me, too, to see my dear friend's name as author on one of my kindle books.  It's not published - yet? - but this makes it feel pretty close. :)
  2. I can increase the font size to read in low light while I nurse baby... and make silent, one-handed page turns.  This is huge!  How did the tech-geeks miss THIS one???
  3. I can put the 'book' down with one hand, let it flop off the pillow, and it never loses my place.
  4. Organique cannot pull my bookmark out and lose my place.
  5. My mom got one too, on my account, so we 'share' (both have access to) whatever either of us purchases.  Since we use the same homeschool plan, this has made tracking down the books a little easier for her, and enables me to help 'manage' some of their homeschool things from afar.
I don't have wi-fi in our home (it'll kill ya, you know), but using my computer to transfer books into my Kindle couldn't be easier.  Drag-and-drop, done.  I DO have a mac, so that might simplify things, but my good friend (yes, she got one too.  And she was one who encouraged me to look into Nook.  I'm contagious.) uses her windows machine and doesn't have any trouble that I've heard of. :)  

There are more features I didn't mention, but any review will touch on them (be sure to google reviews of Kindle 3, as that's the latest unit).  Here are a few reviews to get you going.  Here. Here. Here.  There are also reviews on Amazon, but they're obviously going to be a little biased. :)  Many reviewers also own Nook, or iPad, and can offer their comparisons though.

Do you have an e-reader?  Do you want one?  What is your preference and why?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Further Comparison

The Blaze has a side-by-side photo of the 8/28 rally and the 10.2.10 rally.  Not only is it humorous, how the propagandists and mainstream media (but I repeat myself) like to downplay the attendance at 8/28 (who were not even rounded up and given free bus rides to the site), but it's truly amazing when you consider how few 10.2 people managed to leave such a mess.  Did they round up full garbage trucks too, and dump them off with the attendees?

Also from The Blaze, a photo that says a lot (scroll down a little ways).  Yes, the stars and stripes heaped among debris that at least encircles a trash can.  And a brief video showing a beautiful fountain memorial of WWII decorated with discarded signs and empty water bottles.

A commenter there asked, 'whose future do you want to be a part of?'  Touché.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

To Compare...

Here is the Lincoln Memorial/Washington Mall after Glenn Beck's 8/28 Restoring Honor Rally.  What do you notice?

Here is the same place after the 10.2.10 One Nation Rally which supported liberal/socialist policies. Does it seem different?

This one, in winter, is of the same place after the last presidential inauguration.

As one commenter put it, "The underlying message couldn't be any clearer. When everyone takes personal responsibility for themselves and those around them, you are left with paradise. But when everyone leaves everything up to the "government" to take care of, you are left with one big mess!"

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Big Horse

There are usually a half-dozen or more draft horses at our fair each year, but this year some were 'working' at some kind of silly festival in another town.  Well, I suppose I can't disparage that.  These guys must eat more dollars than most families do in a day...

But this guy was lovely.