"Anyone that doesn't agree with leggings as pants can physically fight me.
And I'm going to win because I have a full range of motion due to the fact that I am wearing leggings as pants."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

3 Things That Will Make Your Life a Bit Happier

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and here is what I've been making an effort to do. And, yes, it is making a difference.

1. Move your body. Get up and get physical. Or lie down and get physical. ;) Just do something to get your blood moving for just 15 or 20 minutes. And then do it again tomorrow.  One of my favorite methods is also the easiest. Put on some music that you love and dance around your living room.  Wave your hands and shake your bootie.  It doesn’t matter if you look like a lunatic. You’ll feel better for it. Trust me.  

Note- Dressing up as The Incredibles isn't entirely necessary, but it helps.  ;)


2. Make a point to be happy for other peoples’ successes. When you find yourself about to criticize someone else for no reason other than the fact that they have achieved something you haven’t, just stop. Take a soft, deep breath. Imagine their success as your success, their happiness as your happiness. Practice this phrase, “Good for them”. And mean it. When they feel good, it does not take away from your ability to do so. Use them as inspiration and be grateful for the example.

3. Stop avoiding reality. Focus on the here and now. Feel into your body and notice where it is that you’re you, with your feet on the ground, your butt in your chair, whatever you’re doing, just be there with it for 3 long, soft breathes. Many habits interfere with your ability to really feel this moment of your life for what it is… fantasizing about the past (or future), television, constant busy-ness, obsessive worrying, drinking, drugs. What these things all have in common is that they pull your attention and your energy away from the present moment. The here and now is the only time in which you can actually live your life… one moment after another, one breath after the next.  You don't want to miss it.

So enough from me.  What is it that you all do to grow the happiness in your life?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

He's Just This Guy*

Have you ever dreamed of getting paid to have your own personal artwork immortalized on some guy's fence in Colorado?

If so, have I got an offer for you.  But first, you might want to read a little bit about the particular guy. His name is Rick and both Jenny and I have worked with him in the past.  He's a really good guy.  And a great boss. 

IT Hawaiian Shirt Day - Centennial IT.jpg

This is a picture of Rick and Jenny lining up for a penalty kick on Hawaiian Shirt Day at the office.  ;)
(And you know that's a link to an Office Space clip.  So funny.  And so sad.)

Occasionally he sends out Tales from the Road.  Here is a snippet from one of them.

Hi kidz,

Kansas City is lovely this time of year. Why look over there - freezing
rain. how nice.

I'm never in Colorado when there is an event within my family - I have a
litany of events that I've missed. Max lost his first tooth yesterday.

Claudia accidentally dropped it down the disposal while she was washing it off. (oops) So, I suggested that they draw a picture of the tooth and put it under the pillow to prompt the tooth-fairy to pay out. Max drew two pictures -one without blood and one with blood dripping from the tooth. Sophia said they were pretty accurate depictions of the real thing.

A couple of weekends ago, Sophia wanted to talk to me because she has a
'crush' on a 'couple of boys' in her class. 'crush' - 'couple of boys' - I
Why would anyone, particularly my daughter, want to talk to me about
their feelings? I freaked.

So.  About the fence.  Recently, Rick sent out the following call to action.

Rick is requesting sketches from artists. These sketches will be used for consideration as being painted on a section of the fence that surrounds the grounds at the Count’s estate in Littleton.
Sketches should, preferably, be submitted on 8.5 x 11 inch paper. The expected area of fence that will be adorned with the painting is 6 ft high by 10 foot wide, so it is recommended that the sketch be drawn in landscape mode on the page.

Sketches can be emailed or hand-delivered to the Count.

It is recommended that sketches contain simple use of artistic drawing styles (e.g. stick figures), since Rick will perform the transference from sketch to fence. The selected artist(s) will be given the great honor of signing the final fence work.

Fee for Selected Sketch: Rick will pay $10 (cash or check) to the artist submitting the sketch to be used for the final fence painting. For sketches that are submitted by team artists, Rick will pay $12 to each artist – maximum of three artists contributing per sketch. Only one sketch will be selected for painting on the fence. Rick will retain all submitted sketches, and these sketches may be shown at a public event when the final fence painting is unveiled, so make a copy of the sketch if you want to keep it for posterity.

Yes, you read that correctly.  He is offering $12 for each member of a team because he wants to encourage cooperation.  (I told you he was a good boss.)  And I'm hoping someone can provide him with something so weird or crazy that he'll be compelled to use it.  Myself, I'm submitting a giant picture of my face.  Because who wouldn't want to see that staring back at them every single day?
No one, that's who.

So, if you're interested in being featured on The Count's fence send me an email.  He has graciously changed the final date of the contest to, "whenever wendy and de bloggers can provide optimal sketches."

Come on.  You know you want to.  (And don't be intimidated; I'm pretty sure he's using the term 'artist' pretty loosely.)

*From Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Monday, April 20, 2009

Organic Gardeners Unite

Remember the excitement you felt when you heard that the first family was going to put in an organic garden?


To me it felt like, Yes, finally somebody in charge has the same values that I do. And that felt amazing. Honestly, it gave me so much hope for my children's, grandchildren's and great-grandchildren's future.

And it also encouraged me in growing my own organic garden. All the while, fantasizing about freshly picked and grilled beans.


But, get this. The Mid America CropLife Association (MACA for short, a group that represents the makers of chemical pesticides) is upset with the idea that the garden will be organic.

In fact, what they said was, "the thought of it being organic made [us] shudder."

Funny that. The thought of putting poison on the earth and into our bodies makes me shudder.

MACA is petitioning the first lady to reconsider using organic methods, and it's up to us to petition just as loudly to encourage her to stick to her guns. You can see a copy of their letter to Michelle Obama here.

In case you think my desire for an organic garden is just touchy-feely, hippy-dippy stuff (no offense, I'm very touchy-feely and totally hippy-dippy myself), I would like to supply you with the following facts...

Dangers of Pesticide Use
-The occupation of farming has been linked to cancers of the central nervous system, lungs, lymph nodes and blood (Horne and McDermott, p 187).
-Children's exposure to pesticides in their food is higher than that of adults because "pound for pound of body weight, children drink more water, eat more food, and breathe more air than adults" (Landrigan and Garg, p 450).


-A study by Curl, Fenske and Elgethun studied the level of pesticides in the bodies of preschool aged children. They determined that children who ate diets with conventionally grown food had six times more pesticides in their bodies than those who consumed organic diets (377).
-The most disturbing fact about the above study is that they found that those children eating conventional diets had exposure levels higher than that allowed by the EPA, while those eating organic diets were within safe levels (377).


-Children lack the necessary enzymes that allow them to properly metabolize (break down) organophosphate pesticides so they are at an even greater risk for poisoning (Landrigan and Garg, p 450).


-Organophosphate pesticides, which make up about 70% of the pesticides used in the US are "chemically similar to the chemical warfare agents originally produced during World War II, and they work by interfering with the nervous system of insects, as well as humans, other mammals, birds, and fish."
-"Symptoms of exposure include nausea, headaches, twitching, trembling, excessive salivation and tearing, inability to breathe because of paralysis of the diaphragm, convulsions, and at higher doses, death." ("What is an Organophosphate (OP) Pesticide?")

And one final note. According to Horne and McDermott, "we are losing about one third of our crops to pests in the United States, virtually the same percentage as before pesticides began to be used heavily" (181). Farmers pay more money than ever for chemicals, but are in the exact same spot in terms of crop loss. There is only one group of people who are benefiting from the use of these chemicals. I'll give you one hint, it's not the farmers and it's not the consumers.

If all of this infuriates you as much as it does me, then please do one (or all) of the following.
-Write to the Obamas and let them know your feelings. Really. You can do this. It only takes a minute or two. (Feel free to copy in anything from this post.) They need to hear from you. And it will feel so good when you hit submit.
-Sign this petition to the board members of MACA, letting them know that many of us care about the future of organic gardening. Who knows, maybe it'll convince them to go into another business. One that doesn't poison people.
-Forward a link to this post (or of the petition to MACA) to all of your friends and family. I rarely send out mass emails, but I think this one is important. Let them know that chemical fertilizers are poison.
-Buy organic produce the next time you go shopping and support those farmers who are trying to be part of the solution. Voting with your dollars always counts for more.
-Go to Local Harvest and sign up for an organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or just find out what local farms are in your area.
-If you're really hot and bothered over all of this, join the Organic Consumers Association to keep up to date on all things organic.
-Start a vermicomposting system to make sure all of your food waste gets turned into compost for your soil.
-Right now is the perfect time of year to start your own organic garden, even if it only involves growing a few seeds in the windowsill. Start where ever you can. Because it is so worth it.

The site Peaceful Valley has some wonderful, organic supplies for growing your own.

Works Cited

-Curl, Cynthia, Richard Fenske and Kai Elgethun. "Organophosphorus Pesticide Exposure of Urban and Suburban Preschool Children with Organic and Conventional Diets." Environmental Health Perspectives 111.3 (2003): 377-383.

-Horne, James E., and Maura McDermott. The Next Green Revolution: Essential Steps to a Healthy, Sustainable Agriculture. New York: Haworth Press, 2001. ("Writing in the first person, Horne describes growing up in a sharecropper family in Oklahoma, running his own ranch, and consulting with farmers as an agricultural economist. He shares what he learned as the Kerr Center experimented with new "sustainable" approaches to old problems on the Center's ranch/farm, and the experiences he has had working with the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. He has a broad perspective on what is happening in sustainable agriculture both on the farm and at the research station.")

-Landrigan, Philip J., and Anjali Garg. "Chronic Effects of Toxic Environmental Exposures on Children's Health." Clicial Toxicology 40.4 (2002): 449-456.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Reading Habits of a Homeschooled Kid

After figuring out where the space station would be visible, Joey decided that she wanted to spend some time reading on the roof.

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I can't say as I blame her.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wishing Well

I found this clever idea over at Here We Are Together. Then I adapted it to our space and put out sea glass, crystals, stones and marbles in a hand-turned wooden bowl that my uncle made.


I'm not sure who enjoys this more, me or the kids. Actually, the cat likes it quite a bit as well. It's her own private little watering hole.

Everything about this area just makes me happy.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ukrainian Egg Dying

Last week, we had a few friends over to dye eggs, Ukrainian style (also known as Pysanky).


Well, technically we used the Ukrainian method, but didn't at all copy their style. Notice the peace sign on Jaden's egg below.


For those of you who haven't tried this, it's a similar concept to using those measly wax crayons in the kits. But about a million times better. And, you know, kinda dangerous.


To find materials, I'd try looking for actual art supply stores in your area the month before Easter. Michael's and Hobby Lobby don't carry these. If you can't find any locally, try Kalyna Ukranian Egg Supplies online.


Basically, you heat the tool (called a Kistka) over the flame of a candle and use the cup-like part to scoop up the beeswax (either yellow or black, it really doesn't matter). Scoop slowly and if the tool is hot enough, it'll melt like butter. You shouldn't have to force it. Once you have enough melted wax in the cup, you can apply it to the eggshell through the pointed, funnel-like bit.

The plastic Kistkas come in three different sizes. White makes the thinnest line, blue is medium and red is the thickest. They also have the traditional wooden version, but none of us particularly like to use that one.


Whatever color the eggshell is when you apply the wax, it will stay that color. So you'll want to start by applying wax to any areas you want to stay white, then dye it the next lightest color, like yellow. After you've waxed any areas that you want to stay yellow, you go to the next, slightly darker color.


This process works just fine with the stuff that you can get at the grocery store. Though we usually use the dyes specific for Pysanky. You should know, however, that these dyes are not food safe, so you'll want to blow the eggs first if you plan to use them.


I mix them up in wide mouthed mason jars and just reseal them after we're done. We'll use them over and over for several weeks.


They work so well that they can be applied with a q-tip if you don't want to dip the entire egg as it's traditionally done.


The original directions had us hold the egg over the flame of a candle as a final step to melt off all of the wax. I found this too tedious and, besides, my eggs usually ended up with char marks.

So instead, we stuck them in a 300 degree oven for a couple of minutes (on a disposable pie plate, which we use year after year) and then wiped all of the wax off with a paper towel. If it feels at all sticky as you rub it, put the egg back in the oven for a few more minutes. All of the wax should come right off.

Note- This year (2010), Joey has graduated to official wax melter. She has assumed total responsibility for this process. And I don't blame her. It really is the most satisfying part.


Pretty, messy and slightly dangerous. Just our kind of project.



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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A BIG Thanks!

Wendy's computer is feeling a little under the weather, poor thing. So when I called her this morning to tell her that one of my photos was one of the 150 winning images in the contest I recently entered (Yippee!), she asked me to stop by here and share it with you.

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For everyone who visited my flickr set and shared your comments with me, thank you all so so much for taking the time.

I really appreciate it!