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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Family day

It's been a little frustrating lately trying to get in any family time. Daniel has been really busy between the two plays he's working on right now (crew on one, in the other) as well as hanging out with friends. Of course, since his dad lives out of town, the boys don't do all of the school/social things on HIS time.

We did manage to cram in some time today, though. Drove over to Lone Elk Park in St. Louis County. It's a neat little park with elk and bison roaming free (well, free inside the fenced perimeter of the park), as well as lots of littler critters. It's kind of a nasty day--rain off and on--but we drove through the park and saw quite a few bison and elk. There was a covered picnic shelter, so we ate there and then checked out the birds at the World Bird Sanctuary. Would have liked to stay a little longer to hike, but Daniel had practice at 3:30. Made it just in time.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Gardening, more

Well, I finally got that compost dug into the garden. It didn't go all that far. It takes forever for our compost to, well, compost I guess. I think it would go faster and get hotter if we put in grass clippings, but we just use a mulching mower. It would also help to get more air and more mixing done, but that's not going to happen until I can get Jeff to build me a new compost bin...and I'm not holding my breath there. I'm still waiting to have him hang the pictures that I framed back in December! (and, yes, I know that I am capable of doing these things...or could be capable...but they're just some of the things that he does)

Found a big frog in the garden. Must have woken him up, because he was none too perky at first. Jacob got a kick out of looking at him for a while. Had to be careful not to dig up my volunteer oregano.

Volunteer oregano
It's not that pretty, but it's already got a little size and it smells SO GOOD. It's a nice head start until my oregano and basil seedlings take off.

I also went ahead an planted my broccoli seedlings. We haven't had much luck yet with broccoli. I'm hoping it's because it is a cooler weather crop and we don't usually get our garden going until late May/early June. I did much better this year. Of course, the peat greenhouse/pot that I used to start the seeds is one that I bought last year!

We'll see how the broccoli does. Today we had a long, steady rain, so I'm a little worried that it was too much for the little seedlings. I'll be pretty disappointed if they don't make it. I can already taste my own broccoli, and it would be nice to not have to buy it for the summer. After planting the broccoli plants, I mulched that area of the garden with straw from our Halloween bales. My hands are killing me today, all itchy, dry, and bumpy. I have to get some gardening gloves...and use them!

We've also been using the bread machine a lot. Jeff is on the second straight loaf of multigrain bread that I've made. We have a bag of store-bought bread in the freezer as a reserve, but so far I've managed to keep on top of things. This latest loaf is probably the best. The others were really dense. This one is more store-like. It's definitely a learning process. Poor guy! He's stuck eating the trial loaves, too.

Had a lovely scene with Jacob this morning. Kids are so fun...yesterday I stayed home with him because he came home from day care with a fever and it drives me crazy when other people take their sick kids to school. He felt pretty good most of the day and kept saying that he wanted to go to school. So, today--when he IS going to school--he throws a fit, says he hates school, and cries as I left him for the first time since his second day at this day care. And I didn't handle it all that well since he was poking along all morning and I needed to get to work...I'm sure that my crabbiness with him helped make the drop-off worse than it could have been. No "Mommy of the Year" awards for me this week! I was going to leave work once my kiddos were gone, but I called the day care and he was doing fine, so then I felt a little better.

In other news, Nathan was pretty talkative last night after track practice. He was pleased because he had jumped 5'4" in high jump. He has big hopes for this year since he competed in the state track competition last year. He'll probably have to step things up if he wants to go again this year, but he's already added 3 inches to last year's best, so who knows? Track meets start up next week, so life will get really busy again. He has two meets most weeks, and I try to get to most of them. Luckily, he doesn't compete in any of the longer distance events, so we won't be stuck at the school all day!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hannah Montana product lead alert

Saw this in the newspaper (3/22/08 St. Louis Post-Dispatch) and thought I'd pass it on to you moms of girls to check out. The Post-Dispatch reported that some of the Hannah products sold at Wal-Mart, Target, and Toys'R'Us are contaminated with high levels of bed. The contaminated products include vinyl backpacks, a vinyl purse, a vinyl wallet, and other products. The link at the bottom leads to a document with pictures of the items that were tested.

As a reminder, lead is a serious health risk for kids: A 2007 study led by a scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health found that lead exposure in children ages 5 to 10 was linked with lower scores on IQ tests, lower scores on standardized reading and math achievement tests, decreased attention, and memory problems.• Recent research looked at children and teens ages 4 to 15 who participated in a national monitoring program at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The study showed that lead exposure may be responsible for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in almost 300,000 children.• A study of the behavior of children and teens’ (ages 7 to 16) documented that lead exposure reduces reaction time.• Research from the State University of New York demonstrated that girls with above average lead exposure have their first menstrual period almost a year later than girls with below average exposure.

For more information, visit http://www.cehca.org/documents/hannah_montana_press_release.pdf

Thursday, March 20, 2008

We've created a monster!

I blogged a while ago about how we usually take a trash bag and pick up trash along trails while hiking. Well, today Jacob insisted on collecting trash during our walk through the neighborhood as well!

Spring break!

Daniel and Nathan have been on their Spring Break since last Friday, and mine is finally here. It had a rousing start. Our neighborhood lost power just as I walked in the door last night due to a downed line around the corner. A house caught fire when the transformer behind it blew, so we had 3 fire trucks, 2 rescue trucks, several police cars, and countless rubberneckers (us included) on the street. We got power back a little after midnight. That's much better than waiting 5 days for power like we did last year. Ugh!

Nathan went to school with me yesterday. He's been awfully bored at home, and I was able to put him to good use at school. My kids love it when the big kids come. I'm sure it's an ego boost. Despite being the day before a 5-day break and doing some out-of-the-ordinary things, they were really good. It's nice to have a day where it's not constant work work work.

We also got to color eggs last night. Luckily, Jeff had boiled them before the power went out, and we had light for long enough to get them all decorated. After that, we went to the Bread Co. for dinner and then did baths by candlelight. We still have a big box of candles from our wedding reception, so we had a nice reminder of our wedding along with some light...and the house smelled good. :D Jeff, Daniel, and I played cards by candlelight and then went to bed.

Somehow, with no power, no one got around to doing any picking up, so I'll be spending a good portion of the day cleaning house. I guess it's a good day for it; Jacob's Easter party was today, so he's at school and I'm free to get something done. Fun, fun...but it'll be worth it to have the house not so messy.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday

Busy day, today. Church, then an Easter egg hunt. I would typically not take Jacob because I hate Easter egg hunts, Halloween parades, basically any time hordes of kids are jostling around trying to grab every last bit of candy they can snatch out from under someone else's grasp. You know, everything we've taught our kids NOT to do. Jeff's mom always took them to that kind of thing though, so I relented. It wasn't too bad. Not that many kids. Jacob's group was ages 2-4, so I guess he had an advantage. His cousin, Alex (also 4), refused to hunt for eggs at all. Jacob was all about hunting, but he would only pick up the blue eggs and one polka-dot one. He ran past all kinds of pink, green, and yellows! :D He ended up with about 5 eggs, but he was happy. So was I, really. I don't like for him to have all that much candy anyway.

After the egg hunt, we went out for Chinese for lunch. Should have just gone straight home. Jacob was past his nap, and he was awful. Improved a bit once I hissed that he would lose his movies and basically everything else for the next week. Ah, yes, mother-of-the-year...that's me. We've been cautiously thinking that he was over that horrible phase he's been in, but this was a little relapse. Our fault, though, taking him out when he needed to be sleeping.

Put the monster child to bed for a nap when we got home, and all I wanted was a nap, but I decided to go and dig in the garden first. I'm trying to get it turned over because it looks like we're finally past the truly cold weather. (And the damn weatherman misled us...this would have been a perfect weekend for camping!) We threw a lot of the fall leaves in the garden (it's fenced) last year, so I had to dig them into the ground. Had a nice surprise...my oregano from last year already has a good start. That started me hoping for the basil, too, but no such luck. I got the entire garden dug up and then got ambitious and decided to dig in the compost, too.

Ugh! We just use a trash barrel right now. Not at all ideal. I had to dump the whole thing, shovel the compost that was ready into the wheelbarrow, shovel the rest back into the barrel, and then wheel the good compost to the garden. By the time I was done with all of that, I was wiped out. Started a loaf of multigrain bread for Jeff's lunches this week and sat down with the newspaper.

Two and a half days of school this week...I'm really ready for Spring break. We're discussing going camping and just coming home Sun. morning for Easter. We'll see. Either way, come on, Wednesday afternoon!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Baking away

Well, I've gotten to use my new bread machine twice now. Seems like it works pretty well. I made one loaf of cranberry-orange bread (which no one in the family likes but me...good! :D) which would have probably been easier in the oven. Today I made a loaf of French bread (without the nice shape...guess I could always let the machine do all of the hard work and then just bake the bread in the oven). The boys should be happy because I made the loaf white. I plan to start experimenting with how much whole wheat flour or other grains I can add/substitute, though, and see how the bread turns out.

I told Jeff today that we could even take the bread machine on some camping trips. It can double as an oven, which would be nice for those days you don't care to cook over a fire or want to make something that needs to be baked (I haven't yet attempted to master the art of baking in a Dutch oven). We could also take the crock pot occasionally...just adding another option for cooking. It is appealing to think of coming "home" and having dinner ready and waiting. We burn a lot of daylight when we're camping and end up eating in the dark often.

Camping is definitely on my mind because we're hoping to take our first trip of the year this coming weekend. We're kind of keeping an eye on the weather, but the temperature has been 50's during the day, so we should be OK. I'm so excited! I really miss camping. And, miracle of miracles, Daniel is even willing to miss play practice to go with us...so it might be a whole family event. :)

Besides the weather, it may also depend on how Jacob is feeling. He's had a bit of a runny nose, but tonight his breathing has sounded really wheezy and more labored. He doesn't have asthma, but we battled RSV for a couple of years running. I think last winter (not this past one, but the year before) was the first one he wasn't using an inhaler when he got bad. Keep your fingers crossed that he wakes up feeling good tomorrow.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Feeling happy

It was a good weekend. Friday all we did was watch a movie with Jacob (but it wasn't Scooby Doo--his current obsession--so that was good).

Saturday we did some shopping (Wal-Mart, Goodwill...very fancy. :D). I was really pleased, though, because I finally found a bread machine WITH directions at Goodwill. Since I sold my previous bread machine for practically nothing at a yard sale several years ago, I couldn't make myself buy a new one. This one looks barely used, though, so hopefully it works as well as it looks. We're trying to eat more whole grain bread products, and with bread forecast to keep going up in price, I though it was worth the trouble to pick up a bread machine again.

My MIL watched Jacob Saturday afternoon so that Jeff and I could go see Fools Gold (predictable, but cute and enjoyable). After the movie, we came home and straightened up because we were having friends over. We played some games and had some drinks. It was a great time. Jacob felt a little left out, though. "Mommy, do you want to come watch with me?" (For whatever reason, he's on a big Mommy kick lately. Doesn't want as much to do with Jeff. Funny...a couple of months ago it was just the opposite. Kids keep you humble, for sure!)

Today the weather was in the 50's and very nice in the sun, so we went hiking at Marquette Park. Berkeley loved it...he's been so cooped up with the cold weather. Jacob had a great time, too, stopping at every stick he saw. It definitely wasn't a quick hike. We took along a plastic grocery bag and filled it with trash from the trail. I'm hoping that, by seeing us pick up after others and hearing us talk about how important it is to keep the parks nice, our kids will be better stewards. Our recycling bin is now overflowing between our normal recycling, all the beer bottles from Saturday night, and the cans and bottles we picked up hiking!

Have to toot our horn there a little. Our family of 5 has one bag of trash in the trash can for the past week. That's about what we use each week. Of course, a little of our virtuousness is offset by all of the water and energy we use washing Jacob's sheets every day because we don't use Pull-Ups!

That's about it. Spent a ton at the grocery store tonight, but hopefully we won't have to do MUCH shopping in the next couple of weeks.

Friday, March 7, 2008

My three sons

Well, found out today that Jacob doesn't have diabetes. It's been an ongoing concern of mine for a variety of reasons. Anyway, got him into the dr. and he came out all clear. His reaction: "Yea! Now I can have sugar stuff!" (we cut waayyy back on anything real sugary or simple carb until finding out). Sadly for him, that's not the case. While I was (thankfully) wrong about the diabetes, it has given me the opportunity to really improve what he eats. Before, he was eating a lot more sugary cereals, pop-tarts, and soda/juice drinks than I really felt good about. Now I feel a lot better about what he's eating, and while I'll relax a little, it won't be a whole lot.

Otherwise, not too much exciting going on. Waiting to pick Daniel up from a party. It's breaking his heart that he's getting picked up at 11:00. I think that's late enough for a freshman...especially when I'm the one dragging my butt out to get him (though it's Jeff often enough). He and his friend tried a little end run around us. When I was taking them home from something last weekend or so, the friend (Dan) said that his mom was considering letting him stay out until 11:30 instead of the 11:00 that we'd both asigned before. Daniel (my Daniel) says, "Oh, I hope she does because my mom'll do whatever your mom does." Hmmm.

Well, I was talking to Dan's mom the other day and asked about this. She said that her Dan had been talking 11:30 and she didn't say a whole lot because my Daniel was claiming that I was letting him stay out until midnight and she didn't want to embarass her son. Um, my Daniel is delusional if he thinks he's staying out that late at this point. Once she and I talked, we were both perfectly happy with 11, much to our sons' chagrin.

Nathan is gone at a leadership camp this weekend. His girlfriend (notice how I was able to refrain from putting "girlfriend" in quotes up there but can't quite avoid mentioning how I wanted to?) is also going, so I'm sure he's happy about that. Ah, the girlfriend. They are, according to their myspace names, "in love". At 13. (What's scary is that I have friends from high school who married the guys they dated all through high school...and Nathan will be in H.S. next year) I got a little reassurance that I don't have too much to worry about just yet, though.

On Monday, I took Nathan to get his hair cut. When we walked in and sat down, a girl a few seats over looked at Nathan with surprised recognition but never said anything. A couple of times it seemed like she was looking over our way, so when she and her mom got up to sign in, I asked Nathan if he knew her. "That's [the girlfriend]!" So they sat, a few seats apart, for probably 15 minutes while waiting to get their haircuts, and never said a word to each other. Kind of cute, really.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

If you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes...

I realize that's the saying for probably 3/4 of the regions in the US, but it's sure true here. After Sunday's near-80's?? We have another snow day today. Up to 14 inches of snow in some areas around here, but I think we'll end up with 6-8 or so. Crazy. And my students have now had a 5-day weekend, so they'll be crazy as well.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Nice weather!!

Ah...ever notice how even a touch of spring is enough to keep you going? That was this weekend. Saturday's temps were in the 60's and today we hit high 70's. Wonderful...even if we do have a winter storm forecast for tomorrow night!

We spent part of the day at the zoo...along with most of the population of St. Louis and the surrounding areas. It took us as long to get from the exit to the zoo as it did all the way from Illinois to the zoo exit. No worries there, though, because it gave me a chance to finish my book (Cormac McCarthy's The Road, not a favorite of mine but an interesting read) today.

Otherwise, I'm basically being driven crazy by my family. I've been fighting a fairly minor cold; it's nothing too bad, just makes me feel lousy. The boys, of course, can't get along, and Jacob is irritated (loudly) by anything and everything. Jeff is crabby because his mouth has really been hurting since having a tooth pulled last week...and I am not all that supportive, I guess. I really need to focus on making him feel better rather than on how annoyed I am about how crabby he is. He would do that for me. Why is it so much easier to realize that than to do it???