Who Said “It’s Not Easy Being Green”?

31 01 2008

I’m going Green. This isn’t going to happen over night… and, I know that my efforts aren’t going to single-handed-ly save the planet but, my efforts along with yours will make a difference.

There are a lot of benefits to being a domestic goddess– time to invest in the homestead is one of the biggest perks. In the last three months since I quit my job to be a full time Mom I’ve begun a recycling program at home, switched out light-bulbs, am cooking from scratch (I even make dog biscuits and suet cakes for the birds!), switched to canvas grocery bags (which by the way really irritates the clerks at Walmart) and now I am planning a garden.

This is pretty new for me… I have really enjoyed herb and perennial gardening and have a really great perennial area but have never done a vegetable garden. I want to grow things I can’t buy at the farmer’s market. Today I ordered the seeds. (A LOT of seeds…)  I’m going to grow some pretty fun carrots (red and sweet), red and white stripped beets, sweet peas, heirloom tomatoes, Trail of Tears beans, several colors of peppers, squash… I think I’ll skip the leafy things like lettuce because they go bad so fast and tend to get buggy from what I’ve read. Most of the things I’ll grow can be seeded straight into the ground– except the tomatoes and I’m saving cardboard egg cartons to start seeds in the sun-room.

Anyway– this is going to be totally organic. Newspaper will be used for mulch to keep the weeds at bay can be tilled into the ground at the end of the growing season. Corn gluten meal works well as a weed stopper- pre-germination. There are lots of homemade remedies for any pests and diseases but, I’ll have to do more research into that. I’m also thinking about using corn as stalking for the beans and peas… Native American Three Sisters (corn, beans and squash) Gardens in the 1700s used this method but, I hear corn attracts deer so we’ll see about that.

My brother who is a soil scientist (Dr. Dirt) and avid gardener told me to go to the County Extension Office to get information on row basing (whatever that is…) and fertilizing. He also said they can test our soil. It takes a little time but is free. I’ll check into that tomorrow.

This is a great opportunity for my son to learn about taking care of living things. He is the dog feeder and brush-er. In the summer he’ll be the dog washer again (he has this thing about being wet so, this has to wait until he’s in his swimsuit when it’s ok with him). I want J to learn to take care of the earth.

My bike needs new tires and a larger basket. I need to setup a composting system,  plant a few more trees and berry bushes… should probably re-watch an Inconvenient Truth.

By the way– my husband is totally on board!

Primaries Deny a Voice to Most Americans

31 01 2008

I am so glad that I haven’t had a chance to vote yet. If I had, my vote for Edwards would have been given away to another candidate.  I read a blog this morning talking about how voting early in primaries isn’t a good idea– too many votes are wasted by candidates dropping out.

Folks in Ohio don’t necessarially prioritize the same things as they do in New Hampshire, Iowa or South Carolina. Maybe one of the first Primaries should be held in Indiana, Ohio or Illinois… but, then what about Texas, Arizona and Georgia? There isn’t a true sampling of the American fabric in the early primaries and therefore we aren’t all heard.

The American system of Presidential election is so bizarre from the point of view of the rest of the world. We sort. A couple of States get to thin out who they like best and the rest of us are stuck with a dwindling field of candidates. 

Maybe it’s time to move back to Brasil where I couldn’t vote but at least I knew upfront that my vote wouldn’t count and my voice was unheard.

Teacher’s Salaries

30 01 2008

We’ve all heard people say that teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year!  Our teachers are a tremendous bargain! Here is another forwarded email from my mother in law who is a retired teacher and principal.

Let’s do the math:
It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do–baby sit!
We can get that for less than minimum wage.  That’s right.  Let’s give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked, not any of that silly planning time. 
That would be $19.50 a day (7:00 AM to 3:30 (or so) PM with just 25 min. off for lunch).
Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children.
How many do they teach in a class, 30?  So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.  However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!!   We’re not going to pay them for any vacations. 

That’s $585 x 180= $105,300 per year.  
What about those special teachers and the ones with master’s degrees? 
Well, we could pay them minimum wage, and just to be fair, round it off to $7.00 an hour.  That would be $7 x  6 1/2 hours x 30 children x 180 days = $245,700 per year.

Wait a minute–there’s something wrong here! 
Average teacher salary $50,000/180 days = $277/per day/30 students = $9.23/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student.  A very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even try – with your help – to EDUCATE your kids!

Edwards Is Going Home. Who Will Speak For The Single Mother in Missouri?

30 01 2008

I’ve figured out what’s really bugging me about Edwards dropping out… He has used the personal stories of people in Missouri, West Virginia, Ohio… and isn’t giving those folks a chance to have their say.

By dropping out of the race before Super Tuesday he has stopped those voices from speaking for him.

What will he do for the single mother in Missouri who can’t afford to pay the rent and keep on the heat despite working a full time job and is concerned that Child Services will take her children away?  What will he do for the many he has told us about who have lost their jobs and are loosing their homes?  What will he do for the other 50 year olds with cleft palate who can’t afford to have it fixed?

He has walked away from the race before giving those folks a vote.

I can only hope that Edwards, as did Al Gore upon leaving politics, will become a crusader for the working poor– for the middle class– for those without health-care.

At the end of his speech in New Orleans today he said something to the effect that we shouldn’t worry about “this son of a mill worker”  Well, that’s hardly our concern… The Edwards family will go home their comfortable life and they will be fine… it’s the single mother in Missouri that I worry about.  Who will speak for her?

Will either of the democratic candidates speak for her? I guess time will tell…

Edwards Drops Out of Presidential Race

30 01 2008

I first supported Richardson and he dropped out. Then I supported Edwards and now he’s gone. Maybe I should support the one I agree the least with and support him or her… with my track record that should get them out of the race.

So, where does this leave us?

On one side is the War-Mongering-Economic-Idiot McCain and the Very-Educated-But-Can’t-Keep-My-Story-Straight Romney.  On the other side is the Billary Dynasty and the Kid.  What choice is there?

McCain isn’t an option for me. He is strong on War and week on Economy. And, does he even know what “Autism” is?

Romney might be strong on Economy but he can’t remember what he just promised so we can’t expect him to keep any of his promises.

Let’s not forget Ron Paul… He’s the candidate of the lunatic fringe… sorry– you don’t have to agree with me. I believe in the Constitution. I like the idea of less taxation but, I can’t understand how our educational system and infrastructure could endure 4 years without support.

Hucklebee— I really don’t have much to say about him. He has no position on Autism. He wants to re-write the constitution.  On the other hand– the guy is really like-able! Have you seen him on the Colbert Report?

Billary: Enough already.  Bill may have been a pretty good President overall but, don’t we want change? We’ve had 8 years of the Clintons. We, the People, wasted a lot of money to find out who he was playing footsie with while he was supposed to be governing… And, really– if Hillary is the candidate (still not sure who’s running that show) she has no experience to speak of– a couple of terms in the Senate; so what? She was not the President and if she’s trying to claim the years she slept in the White House as experience then I should be Ambassador to Brasil since I grew up there! Come on!.. (Anybody remember NAFTA?)

Finally we have Obama…. Humm… He strikes me as lacking confidence. Have you noticed how he takes so long to answer a question? I understand that he has to be careful not to give Billary (and Jon Stewart) and fodder but, he isn’t thinking on his feet.  He’s got his stump speech down and is very charismatic, has some good quot-ables and decent policy but, watch him in the debate on Thursday… I really don’t think he’s got it.

I’ve threatened to do this before but, I think I’ll write in Stephen Colbert.

NOTE: I welcome your opinion and will post opinions that differ from mine but only if written in a polite manner. No insults will be posted.  Make your case for your candidate of choice but do so in a respectful manner. Thank you.

Elementary Science

30 01 2008

Ice Cream. Giant Bubbles. Mirrors. Vinegar. Boat Racing.

Last night J’s school had a Family Science Night for K-2nd graders and their families. It was a blast! They had stations set up around the gym and we moved from station to station trying our hand at scientific experiments. J’s favorite were the bubbles– Giant Bubbles! (He did it 4 times– who needs Disney World?– ok, we do but only every other year…)

There were a lot of people and noise… smells… J did really well! I think the key was that we followed his lead.  We went to the stations he wanted to go to and didn’t push him to do things that he didn’t want to do. He wanted to do about half of the stations and we left about an hour into the program.  His two favorite guys weren’t there but a friend from pre-school was so we hung out with him for a while.

The bubbles were the big hit for our family! They used a baby pool, milk crate and hoola hoop to pull bubbles up around the children as they stood in the middle. It took two people to pull the hoop up evenly so, if you’re going to try this plan on having a little extra help.

Big Bubble

The school provided a book with lots of recipes and experiments– here’s the bubble recipe:

Majic’s Big Bubble Recipe (from Jamico website)

Fills a gallon milk jug

11 Cups of Water

4 Cups Ajax dish soap (antibacterial works best)

1 Cup corn syrup

The other popular experiment:

Ice Cream in a Bag

1 Gallon Ziploc type bag

1 heavy duty Quart Ziploc type bag

4 cups of ice

1/4 cup of salt– rock works really well–

1 cup whole milk

1 tsp vanilla extract (any flavor will work)

2 tbs sugar

Pour milk, vanilla and sugar into quart Ziploc. (You can add fruit, chocolate etc. also)Squeeze as much air out as you can and seal the bag carefully– you might even use duct tape to make sure it’ll stay good and closed.

Put the filled quart bag into the gallon bag and pour in the salt and ice. Seal the bag and shake, toss, flip it around for 5 to 10 minutes. You might want to wear gloves so your hands don’t get too cold.

Don’t open the bags until you commit to being done with the process– it might be really hard to re-close because of the salt getting into the zipper grooves. You can check it by squishing it around — easier to do if you squeeze out some of the air in the gallon bag as you close it.


Science Explanation— The salt lowers the freezing point of the water which allows it to get colder than ice (about 28 degrees). This super-cold water and ice mixture causes the liquid milk mixture to freeze and become solid.

There are a lot of great science experiments you can try at home– watch out for smells with smell-sensitive children! (J hated the smell station!)

Try these websites for more fun science experiment ideas:




Undecided Voter? Take These Candidate Quizzes

29 01 2008

Mine always end up pretty close– the same two are my top matches (Edwards and Gravel) but they vary a little in the order they fall.

USA TODAY: http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/election2008/candidate-match-game.htm

GLASS BOOTH: http://glassbooth.org/

VA JOE: http://www.vajoe.com/candidate_calculator.html

ABC NEWS: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Vote2008/page?id=3623346 (This one is so similar to the USA Today version– but it has little candidates jumping around inside the White House so it’s kind of fun!)

A WORD OF CAUTION:  While none of the above links do, some of the quizzes that are out there require you to give them your email address in order to find out who you match up with.  I don’t give that out to anyone I don’t know and/or trust. (After all, how many Viagra offers can a gal handle in a day?)

Ted “Chappaquiddick” Kennedy Endorses Obama

28 01 2008

Let’s think about who endorsed Obama today:

Ted Kennedy was expelled from Harvard for cheating on a Spanish Test in 1951 and it’s been downhill from there… Then when he joined the Army, signing up for a four-year stint, his Daddy made some phone calls and got it changed to a two-year stint… Anybody else remember Chappaquiddick?

From the Washington Post:

Ted Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick – 1969

On the evening of July 19, 1969, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts drove his Oldsmobile off a wooden bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, drowning his passenger, a young campaign worker named Mary Jo Kopechne. The senator left the scene of the accident, did not report it to the police for many hours, and according to some accounts considered concocting an alibi for himself in the interim.

At the time, Kennedy managed to escape severe legal and political consequences for his actions thanks to his family’s connections (which helped to contain the inquest and grand jury) and to a nationally televised “Checkers”-like speech broadcast a week after the accident. But virtually no journalist who has closely examined the evidence fully believes Kennedy’s story, and almost 30 years later, the tragedy still trails the senator, with aggressive press investigations revived in five-year anniversary intervals.

Probably more than any other single factor, Chappaquiddick – a frenzy without end – has ensured that Ted Kennedy would not follow his brother John to the White House.

Here is what Teddy had to say:

Address to the People of Massachusetts on Chappaquiddick

broadcast nationally from Joseph P. Kennedy’s home on 25 July 1969

Audio mp3 of Address

Do we operate under a system of equal justice under law?
Or is there one system for the average citizen and another for the high and mighty? ” ~
Senator Ted Kennedy, 1973 

His history of mistakes doesn’t end there… 

According to NNDB: “In a late-1980s media profile, Kennedy was succinctly described as someone who “grew to manhood without learning to be an adult”. He is rumored to have had several affairs while married to his first wife, and had often been seen in public while thoroughly tanked and/or behaving obnoxiously. In 1987 he was caught in flagrante delicto with an unidentified woman on the floor of a restaurant.”

Is this someone you’d want to endorse you?

I don’t pretend to understand how New England thinks but, here in middle America we aren’t impressed by the Kennedy family’s wealth and power… JFK was a good President for only 2 1/2 years (1961-1963) … He might have been a GREAT President but, truth is, we’ll never know what might have been if he hadn’t died by an assassin’s bullet.

Is this country in love with the memory, the dreams of what might have been or are we so disillusioned by our current set of politicos that we are turning our eyes toward “Camelot?”

We should not equate the endorsement of these family (Teddy, Caroline and Patrick)members as a JFK endorsement.

Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew: Part 6– I am Visual

26 01 2008

This is the sixth  part of of my series from the book I recently read. It’s Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew  by  Ellen Notbohm. The following is from the article by the same name:

Because language is so difficult for me, I am very visually oriented.  Please show me how to do something rather than just telling me.  And please be prepared to show me many times.  Lots of consistent repetition helps me learn.

 A visual schedule is extremely helpful as I move through my day.  Like your day-timer, it relieves me of the stress of having to remember what comes next, makes for smooth transition between activities, helps me manage my time and meet your expectations.  Here’s a great website for learning more about visual schedules: www.cesa7.k12.wi.us/sped/autism/structure/str11.htm. We figured out the visual learner several years ago when we stumbled upon the Rock and Learn series– Letters & Letter Sounds and Phonics were our first two. J spent hours watching how the mouth on the video formed the sound and– he learned how to make the sounds! It was the first step toward talking… We did have some disagreement with J’s speech therapist who didn’t think TV was good for him– but, we’re the parents and she didn’t live with us so we won! (She was wonderful and we’d still be with her if we hadn’t moved.)

TV, in my opinion is a tremendous tool for communication and learning.  We’ve always been pretty careful about what he watches– fortunately he isn’t interested in stuff that wouldn’t be good for him.  On the few occasions when we saw behavior changes in him like when he was watching Samurai Jack– we removed it from his repertoire and order was restored.  Also, J turns on the subtitles and reads along with with the movie. I realize that some of it is memorizing but he has learned a lot of “bigger” words as a result of context within a movie’s scene. Anyway– do with this as you will but it is our belief that TV (more specifically movies) have been good for our J.

We just brought back visual schedules. I’m no artist– and J reads well so, I make a to-do list rather than a picture schedule for after school until bedtime.  I attach a sheet of stickers to it so he can mark each item as complete and, if all things are done, he gets two stickers on his chore list (good for a prize on Saturday morning if he has all his stickers and/or bonus stickers. It works really well for J.

We’ve also found that at the early on set of a meltdown– when he isn’t listening anymore and is becoming more and more frustrated we can dissipate the situation with a written not explaining in very simple terms what we are trying to tell him.

Please share some of your tricks– what works for you as far as visual communication? I’d also welcome you to leave comments on the other sections of this series to share what your experience has been and what has worked for you.

John Edwards Reacts to Bush Economic Stimulus Plan

24 01 2008

In John Edwards’ Words:

“This is another example of Washington deserting working people and the middle class. They gave $70 billion of tax breaks that do nothing for those who’ve lost their jobs. It’s a complete disconnect between what’s happening in Washington and what I see happening here in South Carolina and across the country. We desperately need a modernization of the unemployment insurance law to cover more poor families and those who have lost their jobs. We also need to build an infrastructure for the clean energy economy that will create jobs and fight global warming.

“George Bush will sign whatever economic stimulus package that is sent to him by the Congress. The Congress needs to stand its ground. They need to insist on unemployment insurance modernization. Because otherwise we’re going to have thousands and thousands of families across this country who don’t get the unemployment help they need, and they lost their jobs through no fault of their own.”

In my words:

Ok, so I’m married and have one child (the two dogs don’t count) So, if my math is correct, we’ll be getting about $1,200. I’m not poo-poo-ing it… We could all use a little extra cash.  It’s just not enough to really matter.  It’s not going to put solar panels on the house or pay off the mortgage. It’s not going to lower the price of gas at the tank or pay for therapy for J for more than a few months… it’s not going make a difference in our lives… Thanks, Dubya.