? ??????????????????? ????Easy Install Instructions:???1. Copy the Code??2. Log in to your Blogger account
and go to "Manage Layout" from the Blogger Dashboard??3. Click on the "Edit HTML" tab.??4. Delete the code already in the "Edit Template" box and paste the new code in.??5. Click "S BLOGGER TEMPLATES AND TWITTER BACKGROUNDS ?



Merry Christmas! I just wanted to drop a reminder to recycle your Christmas cards and decorations. You will be rewarded many times over for taking a few additional, easy steps while opening your gifts and taking down your decorations.


It only takes a few minutes to tuck your ornaments into a box to reuse next year while you are taking down the Christmas tree. Wrap the breakable items in tissue paper to cushion them and wind those endless strands of lights around a paper towel tube or an old broomstick that you were smart enough to save when the broom itself was past repair.


Here are some tips to keep those beautiful greeting cards from going to waste.

  • Snip the names and handwritten greetings off the card and save the beautiful art, graphics and Christmas poems on the cards for craft projects for the kids to use in their crafts projects next fall. They can enjoy cutting out the pictures and threading a pretty ribbon through a hole to decorate a children's tree in their bedroom.

  • Package them up and recyle Christmas cards by mailing them via UPS "ground" or "bound printed matter" to the St. Jude's Ranch that collects and reuses old Christmas cards: St. Jude's Card Recycling, 100 St. Jude Street, P.O. Box 60100, Boulder City, Nevada 89006.

  • Trim them into sizes to use as gift tags next year.


The most important item to recycle is the Christmas tree. If you cut down a tree to decorate, please take advantage of one of the free programs to recycle your Christmas tree. Here are some ideas of how to get this taken care of:
  • Contact your town's street and water department to find the address of facilities where you can take your tree to be ground up to make mulch for your yard.

  • Check with your local fish and wildlife officials to see if they are taking trees to put in ponds and lakes to provide breeding spots for fish.

  • The most environmentally friendly, green way to have a tree for the holidays is to have a potted, live tree that can be planted outdoors after the decorations have been removed.

While your family is involved with unwrapping gifts, don't forget to remind them to save those ribbons, boxes and bows. When we recycle Christmas cards and holiday items we save trees and in the long run; our planet.

Return to Oooh Baby Baby Parenting Recycling and Environmental Issues to see more ways to make the Christmas holidays more green.



Some Southern family Christmas traditions stem rode over on the boat with my ancestors from jolly Old England, Scotland and France. I’m not sure how my folks picked and chose the ones to keep and which ones to toss to the side but I see more than a few right out of some of Charles Dickens’ stories.

Maybe when my kin decided to flatboat down to Natchez and New Orleans they had to make do with what they had on hand and thus the southern aspect of the holidays was born. Whatever the origin of their festivities, Southerners have their own way of celebrating Christmas. Contrary to popular opinion, not all of them involve discharging firearms into the night sky or sitting around a still waiting on some unsuspecting Yankee to happen by to have a little fun with.

Most of my favorite holiday traditions involve food. For the main meal, the meat has to be impressive. A huge, golden turkey or ham decorated with pineapple slices and red maraschino cherries are the optimal choices. However, one year when I was a kid we had a standing crown rib roast. I can remember wondering if the decorations on the ribs were edible. These Christmas menus could not be categorized as southern family Christmas traditions as they date back centuries.

Return to Oooh Baby Baby Parenting and Environmental Issues to see more Christmas menu ideas and how we are spending the holidays.

However, there is one unique family Christmas tradition that may be completely southern or at least American in origin. That would be our Christmas breakfast menu.

Here is what was on the breakfast menu on Christmas day every year when I was growing up.

  • Quail
  • Angel or Bride’s Biscuits
  • Gravy
  • Homemade Preserves

At times the quail were smothered in gravy and there were times when I seem to remember that they were southern fried kind of like chicken. Perhaps the reason that this meal stands out in my memory is because it was never repeated at any other time of year. I will list more of my southern family Christmas traditions after I mark a few items off my list of Christmas details to take care of before tomorrow.


Homemade Christmas Gifts

Did you hear more homemade Christmas gifts will be given and that sales of craft items are up even in the midst of the financial crisis? Well, that's what the newswires have reported. The increase in sales was impressive enough to merit a press release stating the numbers.

The reason for the spike was reported to be that more people are having to make their own Christmas gifts because of a lack of funding for store bought items. If you are a crafter, you know this is a big bunch of bull.

Before you come at me with paint brush loaded for bear, let me explain. Homemade Christmas gifts are BETTER and if you are smart (shall we say crafty?) you can save some money. However, you know as well as I do unless you have been crafting for awhile you can go broke buying supplies and end up spending more than if you had just gone on and bought perfume and neckties as in holidays of the past.

But you would have to kick off your plan to make your own Christmas presents much earlier than late October or November, my friend. That is unless you have only one person to buy for on your list. Homemade quilts, knitted sweaters and crocheted afghans take more than a little time to complete.

What I would like to believe is that people are turning to handmade gifts because
homemade Christmas gifts are unique and personalized, not because they are cheap.


I have been suffering over possible Christmas dinner menus. Somehow the thought of basting a turkey and stuffing myself with dressing so soon on the heels of Thanksgiving is not appealing.

I have polled the kin who will be attending to see if they will be sad without a traditional Christmas dinner. You might be wondering what a traditional, southern holiday meal might include. At our house that would be a combination or all of the following:

  • A golden brown basted turkey to serve as a centerpiece and an extra baked turkey breast so nobody gets mad if the white meat is gone before they get a slice.
  • Two large jellyroll pans full of cornbread dressing with a pitcher of special gravy to pour over it which works wonders if for some reason the dressing is dry.
  • Sweet potato casserole using one of several different recipes
  • A crock-pot full of slow simmered green beans or green bean bundles
  • Molded cranberry salad.
  • Yeast rolls
  • Gallons of sweet iced tea
  • Desserts

Since we had turkey for Thanksgiving and the thought of doing it again is not appealing. I'm researching Christmas dinner menus for baked ham and all the trimmings.

Do you have a website that has a good recipe or some Christmas dinner menu ideas that include something festive besides turkey? Please let me know about it in the comment section, quickly. I need to make up my mind so that I can make a grocery list so that I can go shopping for the ingredients before tomorrow.



A friend of ours recently commented on how few gas guzzlers and how many fuel efficient "smart cars" that he was seeing on the roads. After this enlightening visit where he related his excellent environmentally encouraging news I could hardly wait to fill my semi-fuel efficient Honda with gas and hit the highway. I was so looking forward to riding with my eyes on bright hoping to see the first wave of the new age of consumers and automobiles on parade.

I knew that the earliest possible opportunity would be when we made a short trip out of town to deliver some Christmas gifts. We hit the interstate with high expectations and a carload of excited kids early. On the first leg of the trip there were very few cars or trucks sharing the road with us and there were more gas guzzlers than sippers by a long shot.

However, I still had high hopes as the church crowd had not joined us as of yet. Surely, the spiritual set would be some of the frontrunners for saving our planet for generations to come.

It was easy to see when the last hymn of the service had been sung as traffic increased by fifty percent or better. But I was very disappointed in the number of four wheel drive trucks and big SUVs over anything that could remotely lay claim to being a fuel saving model.

Let it suffice to say that my observations did not equal my friend's by any means. However, I have great hope for the future. Maybe everybody is just upside down in their loan and waiting (like me) for the day they can trade for a greener ride. Or else they think that the tree huggers made up the American gas guzzler myth to put GM, Ford and Chrysler out of business just for giggles.



In the past I have touched upon the casual, unconcerned nature of society as far as keeping the world a safe and uncluttered space. It struck me this morning as I was running a load of pre-Christmas laundry that I had not touched on this subject recently.

You might wonder what washing clothes and the out of touch citizens of planet earth have to do with each other. If you had the opportunity to hear the clunking sound that my washing machine was making you would understand why my foggy brain made the connection.

Let me start by saying that my washer and dryer set is not ancient. They get a workout practically every day but at their young age they should sprint through my family's dirty stuff without sweating. They are not but five years old or maybe even a little less and they sound like they are ready to expire. Even if they happen not to be at death's door, they are gravely ill.

I am now faced with making the decision of calling the appliance repair service and hoping that the fix will be a quick and easy (read: cheap) one or biting the bullet and buying a new washer. The dryer seems to be heating and fluffing just fine. So, a replacement for the washing machine will be all that's required for the time being.

This hits me wrong as I am going to be stuck with a mismatched set for no telling how many years. If I were to follow suit and go along with the disposable nature of society, I'd kick them both to the curb, buy one of those cool front loading models and let future generations fend for themselves.

However, being an individual that is concerned with environmental issues I'll probably just call the repairman, let him replace a couple of gears and suffer with a noisy washing machine for a few more years. By that time I'll probably be so sick of the rocking and knocking that I'll succumb to the temptations and buy something new. Even environmentally conscious individuals such as myself show weakness in hard times.

It would also help if factories would stop manufacturing junk. I don't want new to keep up with the people next door. All I want is to be able to wash my family's sheets and clothes without the threat of going deaf or having to dip sopping wet clothes out of the tub that quit spinning before it was finished.

Return to Oooh Baby Baby Parenting and Environmental Issues to read more of my targeted rants on the unconcerned nature of society.



Don’t let the title fool you, the term "baby deer hunting" is not about grown men out hunting fawns. At least not in this article. What I’m talking about is little kids out hunting deer with guns taller than they are. Allow me to say that I am not anti-gun nor am I anti-hunting. It’s my personal belief that there is a time and place for both. That being said, only an idiot could think that high powered rifles and kids are a good mix.

When I saw the latest in a number of pictures in the local newspaper of kids holding the heads of dead whitetail deer up by their horns, I gave one of my women friends a quick call that is known to have a trophy rack or two hanging over her fireplace. Being less than knowledgeable on the subject, my goal was to find out what was up with parents who were taking their five year old kids out to kill animals. Knowing that she is a responsible mother, I felt that surely she would consider kindergarten age children hunting with guns a severe safety hazard and I wanted to hear her opinions on the subject.

I told her the reason for my call and after a minute of silence, where in retrospect she was probably wondering if she might be risking losing her privileges at the camp house, she informed me that the practice was called by those in the know "Baby deer hunting." Before going any further, knowing that I maintain a blog, she made me swear that I would not mention her name or tell where I got my information. I could easily understand where she was coming from. When you are prone to hang out in dense forests filled with crack shots, you can’t afford to have a lot of enemies.

After I was sworn to secrecy, she started to unload on the topic of baby deer hunting. Here are the basics of what she shared with me. WARNING: if you are one of the guilty parents who have been hauling your kids under the age of 12 with you into the woods, her comments are not going to make you feel very good about yourself.

She said:

Kids who have never taken a gun safety course should not be hunting. There have been studies that baby deer hunters (under 19 years of age) are responsible for 50 percent or more of firearms accidents. Children have trouble making the distinction between real guns and toys and point accordingly. Furthermore, dads (and moms) who would put the gun on the shoulder of a their child so that he or she can kill an animal are irresponsible idiots.

And here’s another little tidbit of information; your fellow hunters don’t enjoy the company of baby deer hunters. The animals they kill or the ones that you bring down and say that they killed fail to impress. If you are doing this to make your friends think that you are a big man to have raised such a mighty hunter; please know that it has the opposite effect. Your fellow club members may not show it, but they dread the sight of you and who could blame them? Buying deer rifles for kids is not cool.

My friend said that she remembered one such incident where a man in her club pulled this stunt and while bragging in the clubhouse, the baby deer hunter seemed to reflect his father’s enthusiasm. Later, she heard the child crying in the bathroom. How traumatic would it have been if that same young person had accidentally killed another hunter?

The moral to this lesson is that it might be best to teach kids about deer rather than take them hunting while they are young. Spend time with them and teach them to appreciate nature. Take them into the woods and show them the scrapes, rubs and tracks and prepare them for the day that they will be old enough to join the hunt. Leave the guns at home. Your fellow hunters will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

If your toes have been stepped on, I apologize. You are welcome to your opinions and I wish you the best success with your parenting methods.

Return to Family, Parenting, Environment Issues and Kids to see more articles on the challenges facing the modern family.





I was glad I stayed home after I read the news on the Black Friday Walmart death. How did we get here, people? Since when has a hot video game or baby doll become more valuable than the life of a human being? It's not unusual to hear of an angry mob leaving carnage in its wake during times of political unrest when blood is running high. But, a raging stampede to get to toys and electronics is hard for me to swallow.

This man was trampled not by scared individuals running from a Tsunami or taking shelter in somebody’s basement because a twister was on the horizon.
His life was taken by a bunch of maniacs looking for cheap DVD players and flat screen television sets. In case you did not notice, this might indicate that our society has become disturbingly and dangerously obsessed with STUFF!

Even one of the articles reporting the details of the Black Friday Walmart death wound up reporting on same store sales and how Walmart was benefiting from the poor economic environment. (Their sales are reported to have gained over 2% in October beating even their own forecast.) We can’t resist spouting percentages and sales figures long enough to stay on topic a few minutes out of respect for a person who died in a horrific and painful way. Has exposure to violence on television made us immune and desensitized to such a senseless tragedy?

A pregnant woman was also injured in the rush of bargain hunters. Remember the good old days when gentlemen would offer their seat to a lady who was expecting? These days that must only apply if she is not between you and that flat screen you wanted for the den. If that baby bump gets in the way, all bets are apparently off. American greed trumps a lady in weakened condition during the holidays, right?

I have wondered what kind of lessons are we teaching our kids when we are willing to get up at dawn to be first in line for some gadget that is at best a fleeting status symbol. Are we now willing to prove that it's ok to kill so long as you do it on Black Friday at Walmart defending your right to get the best buy on what you want at rock bottom prices?

Return to Oooh Baby Baby Parenting and Environmental Issues to stay abreast of more Christmas miracles and acts of human compassion as they happen.



For those of you left with some turkey, I thought I'd share my leftover turkey recipes. Not that I mind the occasional sliced turkey sandwich, but I have a low tolerance for one after the other. I can change the kind of bread that is used. I can substitute condiments that I would normally not reach for. But no matter how you sliced and dice it; a sandwich is a sandwich.


21 and a half ounces of leftover broth right out of the turkey roaster or 2 10 3/4 oz. cans of chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 half tsp. white or black pepper (southern cooks don't care)
2 cups of raw cubed potatoes (peels on or off is up to you)
1 16 ounce package of mixed vegetables or 16 ounces of leftover green peas, string beans and carrots (did you think this was a leftover turkey recipe that would leave you stuck with pans of unused vegetables?)
1 stalk of chopped celery
3 tablespoons of oleo or butter
3 tablespoons of plain, all purpose flour
3 cups of cubed, luscious leftover turkey
4 sliced hard boiled eggs
1 deep dish 9 inch pie crust

Pour broth, bay leaf and pepper into a big boiler and bring to a rolling boil. Add potatoes and allow to return to a boil before reducing heat to medium. Cook for 5 minutes. After that time, add celery and mixed vegetables (if you opted for frozen, if not you can wait 10 minutes as they are already cooked) and return to boil and cook for 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf, drain vegetables while reserving the broth.

Melt butter in dutch oven or large skillet. Add flour and stir until mix is smooth. Cook 1 minute while stirring constantly. Begin to gradually add broth stirring all the time until mixture is thickened and bubbly.

Stir in your drained vegetables, cubed turkey and sliced boiled eggs.

Put the mixture into a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish and cover it with your pie crust. Trim the edges of the crust, flute the edges and seal. To give your dish a unique and fancy look, cut the trimmed pieces of crust into leaves or shapes to make your leftover turkey recipe into something that will impress the kids.

Layer your shapes on top of the crust. Cut slits in the pastry crust and bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until the top is browned and filling is hot and bubbly.

You should be able to serve least six hungry people with this quick and easy leftover turkey recipe.

So, I came up some leftover turkey recipes like the one above that are filled with creative ways to use even the smallest pieces of breast meat that will appeal to families that are used to good, southern cooking. Some are best suited for white meat and others will give you a place to use the meat from the leg and thigh. I would advise you to use the most attractive pieces for casseroles and save the shreds for soups. I give this recommendation because of appearance, not taste. Presentation is a large part of getting the best out of the holiday bird and extending your grocery budget. Even the most attractive won't cut it as acceptable for your holiday party or mesh with the most basic baby shower recipes or decorations. But they are tasty, very cheap and easy to make as you have most of the ingrediants there and they are already cooked!

Camouflaging the turkey in your dishes may be the most crucial part of the process. The last thing you want is for your family members to get wise to your money saving, penny pinching practices and start to voice their protests. It's no fun to spend hours cooking a tasty recipe only to get comments on how they are sick of eating turkey rather than the favorable reviews that you were hoping for. Kids just don't get how important good leftover turkey recipes are or how to make good use of what you have until they are grown and faced with grocery budgets of their own.



I was amazed at how few of the local restaurants open on Thanksgiving. Not that I could have squeezed even my favorite lasagna or fried raviolis down after all that pie I had awhile ago, but for those who had planned on going out to eat tonight might be in for an unpleasant surprise!

The trendy, upscale restaurants that are rather expensive usually do a booming business on evenings following major holidays around here. Working mothers don't want to spend the rare day off slaving over a hot stove. Or if they do cook a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings, they may want a little reward and well deserved rest after the family gathering is over and done with.

If you can find restaurants open on Thanksgiving and Christmas it would be ever so romantic to be treated. What a luxury to slip away to enjoy dinner where you and your husband could indulge yourselves in a little adult conversation not to mention some wine and food that would be somewhat less than appealing to the kids.

Speaking of the kids, I noticed a few of their favorites among the restaurants open for Thanksgiving; Burger King and McDonald's were the most noticeable with long lines. Kentucky Fried Chicken was closed as was Taco Bell, so their fast food selection would have been rather limited, but not nearly as much as the adults in the area with discerning culinary tastes.

I found this to be disappointing as it seemed the children were being rewarded with alternatives to leftover turkey and dressing, but nothing special for me. And I was the one who got up at dawn to make sure the meal was on the table by noon. Such is the life of a dedicated mother.

Return to Oooh Baby Baby Parenting and Environmental Issues to see what was on our family's holiday menu as soon as I have time to take inventory and make a list!


Teen Commits Suicide Live on Web

It's a sad day when a teen commits suicide live on the web. As if a young man at the young age of nineteen feeling so hopeless that he felt compelled to end his life were not tragic enough it's being reported that as Abraham K Biggs, of Broward County FL, was taking the fatal dose of pills that rather than alert the authorities some forum members reportedly spewed insults believing him to be faking. Apparently there were at least some responsible viewers that alerted the police as they broke down the door and found his body. Now morbid surfers are clamoring to find the Abraham Biggs suicide video.

Abraham is said to have posted a suicide note (on the forum?), in which he said that he had hurt other people and considered himself to be a failure. I can't help but think that everyone has had those same feelings at one time or another. Do you wonder what keeps some going while others take more drastic measures? Is it the knowledge that your family members will be devastated? Perhaps religious beliefs give you solace or instill the fear of what could be waiting on you when you reach the other side? We are told that God does not appreciate our disrespect of the earthly bodies that he gives us nor of us making the decision on when to leave them behind.

If there is a surefire antidote to self loathing and suicidal thoughts, I want to know what it is. Many young people respond to inspirational, motivational poems that give them hope to move beyond what's bothering them or reading the experiences of others and hearing that time heals all wounds. Whatever works, I'm for it.

As a parent, I can't imagine what it would be like to be informed that one of my children had made such a final and irreversible decision. I'm sure that if any teen who considers killing himself live on the web or in private would stop to think how much they are loved and will be missed that they will have to stop and reconsider. My thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones that Abraham Biggs left behind.

If you know of a troubled teen who you feel is having suicidal thoughts, please try to get help before it's too late. The Teen Suicide Hotline may be an excellent place to start.

Return to Oooh Baby Baby Parenting and Environmental Issues for more thoughts from a stay at home mom.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 2008

I’m sure most of us remember the story of How the Grinch Stole Christmas from the Dr. Seuss book. Remember that poor little puppy dog with antlers strapped to the top of his head that pulled the wicked Mr. Grinch up and down the mountains? The little fellow skidded and tumbled and made his way through the shoulder high snowdrifts only to make his way to Who-ville where the mean creature that had cracked the whip to drive him onward slithered his way into sweet little Cindy Lou Who's house to steal the gifts from under the Christmas tree. For that matter, if memory serves me, he stole the tree along with everything else.

I said all that to say that in my opinion, the news is the Grinch of 2008. I can scarcely turn on the car radio or the television without being bombarded with the percentages that major retailers project their sales will have dropped when compared to 2007. My oldest daughter heard one such report with a catch phrase that went something like "Worst Christmas in a Decade". She was very curious to know exactly what a "decade" was. I believe that she thought it was some kind of Christmas stocking or a place where presents were dropped off by the jolly old elf himself.

This put me in the less than enviable position of having to explain economic slowdowns in words that a four year old could fathom. I can remember asking my mom, "Why did the Grinch hate Christmas"? She never had an answer for me because she probably felt that I would not understand. I felt her pain as even with my best efforts, this child could not understand what all this had to do with Christmas.
She simply could not make the connection between Jesus and sub-prime mortgages even when explained in the simplest of terms. Then it hit me; there IS no connection.

If you want to know How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 2008, it was by making the celebration too much about purchasing power and too little about blessings of faith and the innocence of children. We may be in a recession and there may be fewer or less expensive presents given to our loved ones, but let’s rise above it and show the world that the quality of our lives is not based on purchasing power and credit limits. It would probably do us all good to get back to the basics of the holiday spirit and not to have so much focus on what we get but rather on what we have.

Return to Oooh Baby Baby Parenting and Environmental Issues to read more opinionated diatribe from this stay at home mom.



The Google Flu Tracker could not have been brought to my attention at any better time. Why wait to see symptoms of the flu in the line at the grocery store when the master of search results can do it for me? As those of you who subscribe to my blog already know, my little one is allergic to eggs (and just about everything else you can name) and every year I go through the angst of making the decision whether or not to subject her to the vaccination process.

A few weeks ago I came across an article that stated that in their opinion that the flu vaccines which are made in (where else?) China were not sufficiently tested for safety. Why can't these people get it right? As if I didn't have enough to worry about with the Thimersol thing, now they are throwing this at me. These are the same jokers that can't keep melamine out their own baby's milk.

Should we believe that they care more about a bunch of people in the United States not getting the flu than they do about their own kids? Does anybody know what percentage, if any, of the flu vaccines that are used in the USA comes from China? Or do we primarily use products made by Sanofi Pasteur and Wyeth Lederle? I know that a few years back when there was a shortage that overseas companies were mentioned. I wonder if that has changed.

Meanwhile, the time is closing in on me to make my move. Google Flu Tracker shows that there is not much activity in our area at the moment. However, with all the travel that takes place from state to state during the holiday season we know those statistics can change in a New York minute.

One thing that I'm having a hard time understanding is why my baby's allergist insists that she needs the shot in spite of the fact that she has an egg allergy as well as the research that has reported that flu shots don't reduce the risk of death. I know she has asthma and the flu would be very dangerous for her, but if they say the shots don't work what's the good in it? Perhaps I should just pay close attention to the Google Flu Tracker tool and flu trends in the United States and run from the risk of viral infection the same way storm trackers run from storms?

Return to Oooh Baby Baby Parenting and Environmental Issues for more on my decision whether or not to vaccinate my family for the flu.



vintage halloween costumes

It's time to start digging in granny's trunk for vintage Halloween costumes! I belive that the best costumes ever are found in old trunks, cedar chests and dusty boxes in the attic. Part of the fun is putting together outfits made from stuff that once belonged to your ancestors.

If your mom threw everything away you can always start to beg and borrow clothing and accessories from your packrat friends. Offer to help reorganize their linen closet or garage in exchange for a dramatic feather boa, spike heels, hat and gown covered in sparkling sequins from a cocktail party from long,long ago.

As kids, we begged our moms to help us design funky, vintage Halloween costumes. I was lucky enough to have a mother who knew her way around a sewing pattern. As long as her Singer sewing machine was working, the sky was the limit. If she had time and something to work with, she let me use my imagination and take my pick of costumes.

Here are some ideas for children’s vintage Halloween costumes:
  • A gypsy with a large gold earring, a colorful headscarf, long peasant skirt and off the shoulder blouse (if you could slip it by the parent in charge)
  • A pirate with a homemade eye patch, tattered pants and tall black boots
  • A hobo wearing grandpa's old fedora, shoes with cardboard stuffed inside to compensate for the holes in the sole of the shoe and a stick over your shoulder decorated with a stained bandana holding your worldly belongings tied on the end
  • A cowboy wearing your little brother's plastic holster, fake cap guns and cowboy boots and hat
  • A witch with a wart on your nose with your face painted puke green and tall pointed hat.
  • Break out the black leather bomber jackets, the black boots and the hair oil to go out Trick or Treating as James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause
  • If push comes to shove, pull an old sheet out of the rag bag and fall back on the Charlie Brown ghost costume

It drove mom crazy when, I started bugging her about making my Halloween costume as early as late August! I knew that if I didn't get started that I might end up having to suffer through the night in one of those uncomfortable vintage Halloween costumes (that are now very expensive on EBay as it turns out) with a sweaty plastic mask with tiny holes and inadequate ventilation. As if the masks weren't awful enough; the matching suits that tied in back were the equivalent of an embarrassing hospital gown. Wearing one of these poorly made Halloween costumes was kind of like Trick or Treating in a plastic garbage bag with little oxygen. Is there any wonder I was hell-bent on making my own? I'm starting a little late this year but with a little nip of fall in the air this morning, I'm reminded that it's time to open up the antique Singer sewing machine and pray that the tension is working properly, so my girls won't be wearing tacky costumes stuck together with duck tape and double stick tape. If the Singer isn't working, the vintage Halloween costume of choice will most likely be Charlie Brown's version of a ghost costume for the big girls and a pair of white footed pajamas with bunny ears for the babies' vintage Halloween costumes. Nothing fancy but they should be happy that I'm generous with the size of the air holes which is more than I had on those unfortunate Halloween nights when my mom was too busy to sew. Please remember to only buy Halloween candy that contains no peanuts. Kids with peanut allergies like to join in the fun, too! Return to Oooh Baby Baby Parenting and Environmental Issues for more stories about my old style Halloween costumes and adventures when I was a kid.



I have posted so much about my daughter’s food allergies as well as other health and medical problems that we have endured. Between the MRSA, the asthma and various lesser food allergies, peanuts is the worst. I have a child that will someday be away from my ever watchful eyes and at the mercy of teachers and other children whose lunchboxes are filled with peanut butter sandwiches or tempting candy that may or may not contain the tiniest bit of peanut that would send my baby into anaphylactic shock.

Knowing that the day will someday come, I have gone on a one woman crusade of how not enough is done to protect schoolage kids in the way of educational materials for teachers and parents. I have spent many hours on the telelphone requesting meetings with school officials to talk about the dreaded peanut allergy. I have asked that they:

  • Consider the use of allergy buttons
  • Classroom door signs
  • Send notes home to ask parents to refrain from sending peanut containing foods to school with their kids
  • Compile and distribute a list of peanut free foods

Those suggestions might seem over the top to parents whose children have no such problems, but please put yourself in the position of a mother who has lost her child to an allergic reaction.

Some considerate parents say that even though their children have no symptoms of peanut allergies, they always check the contents labels so that they don’t put an allergic child in danger. And then I’ve been slammed by some who say it’s not their responsibility to keep allergic kids from dying. Their attitude is that it’s a personal problem and that their kids should not be deprived of peanut butter because it might kill somebody sitting next to them.

As a person who would crawl across hot coals and broken glass to save another person’s child if I could, this has been a painful realization of how desensitized many people have become to other people's problems. What ever happened to the charitable and caring concepts of "Do unto others" and "Don’t judge until you walk a mile in another person's shoes"?

Would these same parents be alright with their child being surrounded by guns, knives or illegal drugs? Of course they would say no and my reply would have to be that any of the three shocking items I just mentioned may in fact be LESS DEADLY to a child with a peanut allergy than the lunch they send to school with their kids.
I’m not ramping up a crusade against the peanut industry as there are all kinds of food allergies peanuts are just one albeit a deadly one. Before I had a baby with a peanut allergy I enjoyed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as much as the next person but not enough to risk somebody’s death.

Even if you are lucky enough not have to deal with kids' food allergies in your own home, please educate yourself by visiting any of these informational sites.

Peanut Allergy Information

Mayo Clinic's page on various allergies including peanuts

Food Allergy Information

Return to Oooh Baby Baby Parenting and Environmental Issues for more information on this topic and other subjects of interest to new parents.



A study was recently released that suggests using fans to fight sudden infant death syndrome. We can always use another weapon in our arsenal in the battle against SIDS so I’m willing to give it a shot, aren’t you? The information in the study says fans might do more than just save energy in the baby’s nursery. Who would ever have dreamed that running a fan in your baby’s nursery may lower a baby’s risk of SIDS but that indeed seems to be the case.

We have heard for quite a while that we should take steps to prevent baby from overheating as well as to place baby on his or her back to sleep as multi-pronged risk reduction tactics. Now they are adding another step to our growing list of preventatives in the battle against the devastating sneak thief, SIDS.

The findings of the study were that when babies sleep in a room where fans are used to circulate the air that there is a 72 percent reduction in SIDS. This is the biggest breakthrough since the “Back to Sleep” movement that recommended placing babies on their backs to sleep rather than their stomachs. This recommendation reduced the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome to approximately one in every 2,000 births.

With the news came a warning that running fans alone may not do the trick. Rather they wanted to let us know that air circulation and room ventilation looked promising, especially when combined with our other prevention methods. But the real message here is that there is still more work and research necessary before we can put the fear of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome behind us forever and that takes lots of money.

Findings like these keep us hopeful and keep the awareness that sudden infant death syndrome still exists in the headlines. This is a good thing because SIDS should stay high on the list of priorities of researchers and pediatricians alike. More studies are desperately needed to solve the mystery surrounding SIDS and here again it might take a village to get the job done. Educating new parents and healthcare professionals, and raising money to fund more sudden infant death syndrome research are excellent goals that should be pursued until we know exactly what causes it and what to do to stop it in its tracks.

We all suspect by now that there is not going to be one simple answer. But every little bit of information helps so please familiarize yourself with known ways to reduce sudden infant death syndrome.



I'm not a fan of Howard Stern's vulgarity. Nor am I politicking for either the Democrats or the Republicans. I am trying to bring focus to the fact that the time frame is narrowing and Americans have very little time to familiarize themselves with which of the politicians stands for what. Listening to the interview on this video scared me to death. Unless the interviews were staged (which we are aware can happen) these voters were blindly choosing Obama on basis of the color of his skin. This is racism, plain and simple.

Wake up Americans! It's not about race. It's not about gender. It's about who is going to run our great nation in the way that YOU want it run. Everybody's always moaning about having no power and acting like victims. Educating yourself on the candidate's voting record and casting your personal vote according to who you feel will do the best job is a tremendous responsibility as well as a way to exercise your power and have a hand in bringing the United States back to greatness.



I want to go on the record that I would rather not kill yellow jackets even though we are all extremely allergic to their stings. My attitude has always been that they deserve to be here as much as we do and have a place in the order of things. But, this year they have overstepped and decided to build a nest right next to my front door.

Fall is such a lovely time of year when the trees are turning the oppressive humidity and temperatures are dropping. But, unfortunately it's also the time of year when yellow jackets start to become even more of a problem than they were earlier in the year. The reason for this is that the colony is breaking down and the ones that are left become desperate to protect their remaining young and to feed them.

They spoiled the joy of the first cool, crisp morning as when I stepped outside I found myself and the girls being swarmed by flying pests. So, I’m now of the mind that I need to kill them before they have a chance to kill us. That epi pen will not be used if I can help it.

I respect their instincts, but they have worn out their welcome at my house; I have the same protective feelings toward my young as they do and if I must kill yellow jackets to protect them I felt that I must do so. So that I could set about killing yellow jackets without feelings of guilt, I wanted to get the facts on how to get rid of yellow jackets without poisons, chemicals and sprays. I'm a big believer in natural pest control but if it comes down to me or them; Baby, it's going to be them. Picture me as Rambo wielding a can of Raid.

I found there are several ways to get the job done but unfortunately with the problem being right on my front door step I’m afraid that I will have to spray the little buggers and then put some of the less poisonous and more natural methods to work.

Here are some ways to kill yellow jackets without using chemicals:

  • Wasp traps – You can build a homemade wasp trap using the instructions yourself for practically nothing. The supply list is very cheap compared to wasp killing chemicals.
  • Pour boiling or soapy water into the entrance of their nest. This method is for the well prepared and well covered person who is not allergic to stings and in my opinion, very brave.

For this round of the battle, I’m going to buy several cans of wasp killer that sprays from as far away as I can possibly find. Then I am going to follow some of this guy’s instructions on how to kill yellow jackets in a more natural way. He has lots of tips on how to make your home and yard less inviting to the dangerous insects and how to trap or kill the first scouts that might show up before they can colonize and build nests that force you to resort to poisonous elimination.



Spider with Roach

As a homeowner and parent who has an intense dislike for bugs I’m interested in natural pesticides. My youngest daughter has breathing issues and I’m not fond of exposing the rest of the family to unnecessary chemicals so common poisons are not an option. It’s my opinion that the bugs and rodents may be no more dangerous than toxic solutions commonly used to control them.

I have been doing my homework on how to set up deterrents for the inevitable invasion of bugs and rodents that happens each and every year. The first cool snap we have each fall has historically turned my home into the safe haven of choice for wolf spiders, roaches and the occasional mouse.

While searching for solutions I was surprised to find that many natural bug control remedies are not that natural at all. Mopping with borax and enzyme cleaners was not what I was searching for. My favorite roach control remedy that I plan to try involves some detective work but if it works, it might eliminate the need to sprinkle baking powder or whipping up recipes for roach bait. Sticky traps work well for spiders, but if the picture that I included on this page is any indicator, spiders might be the perfect natural pesticide where bugs and mosquitoes are concerned. Once the bugs are all eaten for dinner, the giant spiders should leave on their own, right?



I'm as confused as the next person over what to do in the next election. I know that we can't afford eight more years like the last eight. Is McCain just another Bush with a better service record? He's a war hero and we should honor and respect him for that, but is he up to the job of turning the tide? I heard that he voted in lock step with our current president 95% of the time. For that matter has President Bush been a victim of circumstances that may cause him to be remembered unfairly as the person in office preceding a major recession/depression? Does Barack Obama have a track record that indicates that he will do better?

As voters we have a lot of homework to do researching the Sarah Palin voting record as well as that of McCain, Obama, and Biden.

Here's an idea; let's shop for our next president using the same techniques that we use to shop for a new car.

  • Read reviews: What opinions do their constituents have about them?
  • History: Did they vote how you would have liked for them to have voted on
  • issues that are important to you in the past?
  • Performance: Did they leave the voters that elected them into office in debt up to their eyeballs?
  • Environment: Are they environmentally friendly?



Before you start bashing me (or patting me on the back for that matter) let me say that I'm not anti-Palin...or pro-Palin. I simply don't have enough information on her voting record or political history as an elected official in the State of Alaska to say at this point. But what I do want to say is that I hope that my fellow Americans are not going to allow their vote to be swayed on the merit of looks rather than the candidate's ability to run the country. Repeat after me: This election is not about looks.

I would like to think that the McCain camp didn't choose Governor Palin because she's attractive and they felt they needed some weaponry in their arsenal to fight the rock star appeal that Obama had going for him. I hope that the Sarah Palin voting record can be brought more into focus rather than what her teenage daughter is doing or the color of her lipstick. I'm more concerned that my choice is environmentally friendly and interested in alternative energy sources than cute.

I don't object if a politician is easy on the eyes, but they don't get my vote because Mother Nature blessed them with shiny hair or pretty teeth. Abraham Lincoln was hard what one could call handsome, but he is rather well thought of and remembered.

So what if John McCain's wife is drop dead gorgeous, or if Barrack Obama is handsome? It should not matter to us how they look. Do you want a president that is beautiful, handsome or stylish when walking by you while you are standing in a food line or sick from exposure to radiation? Or do you want to elect a president that will make a contribution to the planet and turn this country around for the benefit of our children and grandchildren?

Don't just study the Sarah Palin political voting record, study them all!


Can MRSA Spread be Spread with a Toothbrush?

Maybe I am being paranoid, but when your baby has MRSA you can't afford to play around. I am faced with a very odd situation. The call has already been made to the pediatrician’s office to discuss this situation with him or his nurse assistant and in the meantime I will record it in a blog entry. It may seem that I’m going around the world to get to the point, but stick with me and you will see what’s bugging me.

Three days ago, I noticed that my little girl (the one who was infected with MRSA as a baby) was gnawing on something. Knowing that I had not given her a cookie, cracker or anything else as a snack, I set out to see what it was that she had in her mouth.

As it turned out, the yummy treat was my middle daughter’s toothbrush. How the baby managed to get it is a mystery. The only feasible explanation is that in the morning rush the older girls must have knocked it out of the toothbrush holder and onto the bathroom floor where the little one found it.

Even though I do my best to keep the facilities clean (MRSA will make a better housekeeper out of you when nothing else will!), the thought that one of my kids was chewing on something that had been kicked around on the bathroom floor was not exactly a pleasant thought. After failed attempts at cajoling her to relinquish her treasure willingly; I eventually had to forcibly remove it from her grasp. The results of this wrestling match were a screaming baby and a mommy that was late for an appointment. I threw the toothbrush on the bathroom counter by the sink, picked up my unhappy baby and headed out the door to see if I could manage to make it to my appointment without being more than a few minutes late.

While I was busy, my husband was responsible for picking the older girls up from a play date and preschool and feeding them their lunch. By the time the baby and I got home the rest of the family had eaten and was busy folding a basket of laundry. I couldn’t help but feel how lucky I was to drift in to find things so very under control. Mentally searching for what I needed to take care of while the rest of the crew was otherwise engaged; my mind drifted to the toothbrush incident and I remembered I had not cleaned it nor thrown it away.

I headed off to the bathroom to dig out a new toothbrush and throw the dirty one away. Imagine my surprise when I found that dad had not only fed the girls, but made sure that they brushed their teeth afterwards albeit with a nasty toothbrush. I’ve learned that it’s useless to cry over spilt milk so I just substituted the new brush and moved on.

Under normal circumstances that may have been the end of it except our middle girl woke up in the middle of the night screaming in pain saying that her mouth hurt. I took a look and sure enough there were blisters inside her cheeks (MRSA or something else?), the roof of her mouth and her gums looked red and inflamed.

Could this have resulted from using her sister’s toothbrush? We are cautioned not to use the razor belonging to a person with MRSA, but what about their toothbrush?
The baby has not got any active blisters at this time, but I want to hear it from the pediatrician that we don't need antibiotics as a preventative measure. Wish me luck.


The buzz on the street is that in fifty or less years that the United States will no longer have the superpower status that it has enjoyed since the beginning of the last century. There are quite a few reasons given as the cause of our country’s diminishing importance in the world community.

Some say that it’s because we have dropped the ball where originality and innovation is concerned. Others maintain that it’s not so much that we are sinking, but that other countries are rising to meet and greet us and possibly wave in delight (and scorn?) as they pass us by.

Do nations have to make it a competition? Aren’t we in this boat together? The one encouraging development on the horizon is that I see more thought along these lines. I find hope in the realization among the broader thinking of great minds that third world countries deserve to have clean water, pollutant free air and basic infrastructure. Nothing is to be gained by keeping the more deprived regions of the world from gaining in status.

Does America have to continue to decline to achieve these goals? The answer to that question is an unequivocal no. Will we? The answer to that question is yet to be determined.

It’s my opinion that we have an excellent chance to lead the world in new technologies regarding alternative energy resources if we will make that our focus and not drop the ball where funding and dedication are concerned. For the sake of the planet not just for ourselves, I hope that we are up to the task.



I was trying to remember when America became so germ phobic. It came to me that the early 90s was when antibacterial became a buzz word. Everything from antibacterial body wash to baby clothes was manufactured along with increasingly powerful antibiotics all with the purpose of keeping super bugs away from our families.

For those just cruising through, my baby has MRSA. And antibacterial products may have been a contributing factor. Yep, antibiotics and antibacterial products may be partially to blame for the misery and worry MRSA has put us through. Putting the questionable safety of the chemicals contained in household antibacterial products aside; we have killed the good guys and handed a free pass to the criminals and reprobates of the bacterial world.

The big joke is on us because it has been proven that triclosan doesn't wipe out the germs, but may cause them to mutate and become powerful beings intent on destroying all in their wake (read: become resistant). Indeed, early studies have found that e-coli that we were all sweating bullets about morphed into resistance when exposed to as little as 0.1 triclosan in soap.

That doesn’t exactly make me feel very secure when I see shelf after shelf in our family discount stores filled with products with these chemicals. It makes me wonder who is at the wheel and how many new germs are coming our way. I can't help but wonder why, when studies clearly show that plain soap is just as effective at bacteria removal as antibacterial soap, is this stuff still going strong? Would consumers go into a tailspin at the prospect of not getting their daily dose of toxic, superbug breeding chemicals?

Here’s something else that should be of interest to triclosan fans. The results of one study stated that when triclosan was exposed to sunlight after having been mixed with water the results were (drum roll) chloroform! Do we really want more of that in our planet’s water supply?
Here’s the rundown as I see it. Antibacterial soaps may have the ability to increase the number of super bugs. They may contain dangerous chemicals. Triclocarban, another handy dandy chemical with antibacterial properties, is believed to disrupt endocrine function in rodents and humans which could lead to an increase in cancer and reproductive issues. They are more expensive than more environmentally friendly household products. The average person should be able to find at least one reason to bypass antibacterial body wash in that list even they aren’t concerned with the world’s ecosystems.



Sometimes I ponder how home renovations got such a bad reputation. Very few people seem to realize that building an energy efficient house may not be as environmentally friendly as renovating an older home. It's true; the greenest house that you can buy may be an existing home. There’s no doubt that most existing homes, ancient as well as modern, can be made more environmentally friendly. But, it's rare for even the most extensive renovation to eat up even a fraction of the natural resources that building from the ground up requires. Why not devote your time and money towards bringing an older home up to snuff rather than engage in new construction that will leave an additional and unnecessary footprint?

Prospective buyers often say that it would cost more to renovate an older home and make it livable than to build a brand, new home. We have all seen the movies showing how those beautiful historical homes are bottomless money pits making home renovation seem a luxury afforded to only those who can afford to throw endless amounts of money at a property. However, as a person that has remodeled several homes with success I can tell you that the stories portrayed in the films were greatly exaggerated.

The key to home renovation where you buy an older home that can be made into a livable space is to make sure that the basic bones are sound and that the location is good. The rule of buying the worst house in the best neighborhood is sound advice. This is where the “money pit” myth may play out in your favor. Price the improvements that you want to make to the home and get reliable estimates on what the home will be worth once they are complete.

Leave yourself some wiggle room for fluctuations in the market and then rock back and enjoy the beautiful woodwork, the high ceilings and all that wonderful square footage that you would not have been able to afford if you have moved forward in building a brand new energy efficient house rather than to turn an old home into a green home. And give yourself a pat on the back for doing something positive for the environment.



There are days when I get so defeated and feel so frustrated with my fellow occupants of poor, suffocating planet Earth. I spend my days (and many semi-sleepless nights) searching for small ways to make a contribution towards fixing our environmental problems such as air quality and energy conservation only to see a lack of concern in others other financial issues. We are all feeling the pinch, but why don’t people see the big picture?

Oil prices are dropping and gas prices are slowly following suit. I can practically hear the engine’s of the neighbor’s Ford truck engine revving. It’s only Wednesday, but regardless of any oil crisis or inflationary environment you can bet he’s getting ready to make his end of the week cruise around town in an endless circle to view the same scenery over and over. To be fair, along with the repetitive views he does get to wave and yell obnoxiously at the other spoiled brats in their gas sucking machines.

Passing the hours on the road is so much easier than taking the time to learn how to entertain himself in a more productive manner. His parents both have government jobs and plenty of discretionary spending money so why not throw the kid the keys to the gas guzzler, kick him the credit card in case he runs out of gas and turn him loose on society rather than have him lying around the house? Their attitude seems to be, “There’s a little more pinch when the bill comes at the end of the month but nobody’s going hungry and if we all sit at home on our hands, that just contributes to the economic slowdown and we don’t want that”. How much more brilliant and environmentally responsible could they possibly be?

Somehow people just don't get that an inflationary environment and price increases at the pump are not the most pressing environmental issues at hand. I can remember a friend of my grandmother’s making the statement that if you want to see huge changes or make a lasting impression you should save your words and find a way to hit the offending person or any problematic situation on the hip pocket. I took this to mean that emotions and common sense rarely had the effect that a decrease in financial power might.

Are we so stupid that we rank bank balances, the ability to travel and spend without caution above the basic necessities like breathing and heating and lighting our homes?
What about eating? The citizens of the United States are very fond of that particular activity as is readily evidenced in our ever-increasing waist size. When farmers can no longer afford the fuel to feel their equipment tanks to cultivate the crops because hotshots with big pockets can afford wasteful SUVs and trucks with hauling and storage capabilities, what then?

Will the general population finally take notice when their dinner plates are as empty as their heads and their gas tanks? What WILL it take for people to realize that over consumption is going to have a devastating effect that could reach far past the poor into areas previously untouched by the environmental problems? The wealthy may be the last to go hungry, but when the planet hits crisis stage, wealth is not going to provide the privileged few with comfort and protection from this particular issue.

Or has production already started on special self-contained bubbles (with a price tag that’s out of this world, of course) that is capable of providing desalinated water and filtered air for an acre or two of property that the majority of us could never dream of affording? That would certainly explain a lot regarding this "don't care" attitude that I see.

Maybe the major offenders are betting on being able to move to Mars and leaving the people who can’t afford to make the trip behind to deal with their mess? Talk about the ultimate in NIMBY mentality.

Sorry for the bitterness with no positive contributions or energy conserving tips today, but sometimes that’s just the way it is.


Whether it's the high cost of oil and gas, the lack of money overall or the blistering hot heat; we are beginning to reap the benefits of fewer people on the highways. Each and every weekend, there are fewer automobile fatalities reported on our local news. I just hope that families are using this financially motivated time at home in a positive way.

Putting my money where my mouth is; we caught rain water in the wading pool and rather than drive to the beach the girls played in the back yard while daddy cooked on the grill. After they got tired of splashing around, I filled containers with what water was left in the pool and watered some plants with it.

The girls didn't miss the trip out of town a bit and learned a thing or two about water conservation in the bargain! Dad and I realized that spending the day in the back yard eliminated a long car trip with tired, fussy babies. When they got tired, their beds were just a short walk away. Everybody was a winner.

While I hope for the good of the economy that high oil and gas prices are a temporary irritation, I can see some benefits and bonuses



Amazingly, tbe price of oil has dropped considerably the post few days and yet I am hearing more and more about decreasing the time it takes to get a nuclear power plant up and running.

People! Wake up and remember 3 Mile Island and Chernobyl. Do we really want to be stampeded into making rash decisions and rushing into pushing forward with a power source that leaves us with the problems of dealing with nuclear waste that nobody wants in their back yard that can poison everything within a large area if things don't go perfectly?

On the upside, I hear that Texas is jumping on wind power. I find this very encouraging to hear that a traditional oil state is moving forward with alternative energy sources. Cheers to Texas! I wonder if turbines could be mounted on the roofs of buildings in the same way that they have installed microwave towers? Anybody know?



Fourth of July weekend is drawing to a close and the only good thing that I can say about it is that the children slept late this morning and that it rained. This is a good thing because when the children want to set off the few firecrackers they have left over from Friday night, they might not set the woods on fire. Don't think for a minute that those horrible images of wildfires in other parts of the country didn't make an impression on me when we had not had any rain for several weeks.

As far as the holiday weekend went there was the usual round of picnics, backyard softball games splashing in knee deep kiddie swimming pools in a vain effort to beat the heat. I suppose we did our part to represent a picture of the traditional American patriotic family at play.

Speaking of tradition, I couldn't stop the thought from running through my mind that while there are so many things that are truly right about our country, one of the things that I see wrong (my apologies to President Bill Clinton) without country is that young people seem to have no appreciation for tradition or what came before them.

When I was a child I loved for my parents and grandparents to tell me about their childhoods and the way things used to be. I adored my grandmother and grandfather and enjoyed spending time at their home where I knew there was lots of time for hugs, kisses and stories about little girls and boys that were long gone but would have loved me to pieces if they had only known me.

After dinner they would open the family photo album and not only tell us that those people in the pictures were the details about the background of the photograph and details of the day when the picture was taken. I am relatively certain that my oldest daughter even at a young age would find this to be somewhat less than exciting and probably downright boring. How could my children that I had raised not find the same things entertaining as their own mother?

I loved the one on one time that this older couple was willing to give to me and was so proud when they came to my school functions or ballgames. I recently went to see a neighbor girl play ball and was sitting with her parents. In the second or third inning her grandparents joined us. Her grandfather went to the dugout to wish the little girl luck and she seemed utterly embarrassed and seemed unwilling to speak to him, much less thank him for coming. Who has put the idea that older people are not “cool” and should be ignored into these young people’s heads?

My goal for the week is to try and teach my children respect for tradition and to appreciate the history of her family. I’m open to suggestions if anyone else has found a way to do this and work against the growing tide of the anti-tradition movement.

I would like to say that I doing this out of respect for my parents and grandparents, which is true, but I'm smart enough to know that I'm going to be older one day and I don't want my grandchildren to feel that they shouldn't speak to me in public.



In the decade of the 90s we really began to know what the definition of terrorism was. Terrorist groups were crawling out of the woodwork, becoming more sophisticated and shouting their hatred of the United States to the heavens. Perhaps the scary thing about it was that they in no way tried to be sneaky or keep their feelings for themselves.

Al Qaeda took over Afghanistan and turned it into their personal playground of terrorism apparently while our own government apparently rocked back and watch to see what was next on their agenda while there were attacks on American interests and our citizens. At this time Bill Clinton was president so the Republicans were blaming him for the problem. Never mind that from 1995 on the Congress was Republican-controlled and handled (or didn’t?) things in the same way. Another odd fact of that was that during the entire presidential campaign during the year 2000 neither of the candidates seem to find it advantageous to bring up the tide of terrorism that was rising ever higher.

Am I the only one that sees a similarity in our government's lack of response to the threat of terrorism as well as to the energy crisis? I'm not talking about a lack of energy resources. Indeed we are told that energy resources are rather plentiful and that the United States has enough coal for the next 100 years.

What I'm referring to is the fact that our planet possibly can not survive another 100 years using coal and oil as our primary energy resources. The reason I believe that high gas prices might be a good thing is that it will prevent further resistance to the avoidance of conservation. We need to develop new energy sources as well as to practice conservation of our current energy resources.

Perhaps with these high prices creative individuals will be given funding from major corporations in response to the need to develop new sources not because they are philanthropic but because they see the opportunity to make a large profit. It's my opinion that if oil prices were to stay at sky high levels might actually prevent a true crisis. These are thoughts that crossed my mind last night after a mind blowing trip to the gas pump. After I thought it over I reconciled myself to the fact that higher gas prices might prevent a few of those last-minute trips that are unnecessary and indeed might serve to make better planners of us all. Then this morning the reports are out that inventories are up and the prices of a barrel of oil began falling. It seems that I can't get used to one scenario before another unfolds.



In the area where we are spending the summer (we have to travel hither and yon for dear husband’s work) nobody seems to recycle anything unless you count the large deposits of fast food cartons and boxes that I see thrown onto the sides of the roads to biodegrade. There are no recycling receptacles in public areas and no separate bins for household trash whatsoever.

When I asked some of the locals where to put the recyclables they looked at me like I was from Mars and then looked at each other with an almost imperceptible nod and a wink to acknowledge to each other that “She’s not from around here.” I almost wanted to scream at them that while I might be a temporary transplant from another part of the country that they should wake up and realize that while each area might have its own unique culture (or lack of) that we are all part of the same planet.

In the face of this frustration, you can imagine how beautifully it kicked off my day to see that a news program will air this evening regarding how foreign countries are considerate enough to be taking garbage off the hands of the United States of America. I don’t have time to do in depth research on the subject but have read some excellent books by those that do track the “American Garbage Trail” that were very interesting. One was Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash by Elizabeth Royte who was surprisingly non-judgmental of non-recyclers as she states the pros and cons of the practice. I especially found the section on the New York waste-water treatment plants riveting. Gross facts on waste water for enquiring minds who just want to know and then might wish they didn’t.

What I would love to hear more about is why foreigners can find it profitable to buy our waste and pay the expensive cost for transportation in order to ship it overseas for recycling and yet we as a nation can’t find a way to skip the fee for transport and do it ourselves. What is the deal? Could someone please explain the economics or environmental reasons that our garbage is traveling so far from home?


When Birth Control Becomes an Environmental Problem

There is a path in the park by a lake where I like to take my children strolling every day that we are in the area. It's a lovely place to teach them about nature and we have managed to take some fabulous pictures of owls, redheaded woodpeckers and most magnificent of all of our birding efforts was the day that we saw a bald eagle perched in a treetop no more than 20 feet above our heads.

This is a wonderful, wild and wooded area where we can watch people catch fish, do some bird watching and get our exercise with the children. It's a rare day when the weather is so poor that it keeps us from enjoying our daily walks on one of our favorite paths. Last December as we were strolling along something caught my eye about a foot to the side of the nature trail. As we drew closer it became crystal clear that someone had been enjoying our favorite place to observe nature and all its wonder to experience a little something more adventurous.

To put it bluntly, what lay directly ahead and that my oldest daughter almost stepped on was a neon yellow condom that from all appearances had been used. While I’m no prude I also don’t like to dodge people’s used personal products when out for a walk with my kids. Whether it’s chewed bubble gum, women’s sanitary products or a q-tip; I would rather not have contact.

Getting back to the issue, after the stroller and my toddler moved ahead a bit I nudged the condom off the trail and under some leaves. That prophylactic sighting took place in late December and yesterday afternoon after a strong rain came through the area guess what? The bright yellow condom resurfaced. It was dirtier, partially ripped away from the top, but in the same place. Here it is almost July and I know that it’s been lying there covered in leaves, has gone through one of the wettest seasons that we’ve had in quite a while and yet shows no signs of deterioration. Pardon me for the pointing out in a rather graphic manner that this condom is just one of the millions that have been thrown out the car window, flushed down the toilet or put into the trash in seven months. Along with all of the other environmental problems we have to deal with; I wonder if are going to wait until the ozone is gone and the garbage is on our doorsteps before we do something about it? Is there such a thing as a recyclable condom?



Our household is sad today. You might not think that the fact that Bo Diddley died would cast a pall of mourning over a four year old girl's day, but it most certainly has. But she's no average child, she practically did her teething on the neck of a guitar and she didn't have your run of the mill baby girl nursery theme her nursery was decorated with guitars on the walls and whole and half notes on every possible surface.

The reason for the musical obsession is that my husband is a musician (and a darn good one if I do say so). His dad loved really good guitar and exposed him to the great players. I have nothing against some of the modern players and enjoy listening to some. But anyone who knows squat about guitar knows that if you want to be any kind of a player you have go back to the roots to get to the good stuff. Jimi Hendrix knew it; Eric Clapton knows it and look where it got them. They were smart enough to know that the music that came out of the heart of Mississippi had the best beat. Each guitar god that followed has added a new layer; most are smart enough not to say they improved the original sound and to pay homage to the true stars like Bo Diddley who came before them and gave them the tools of the trade.

I'm very proud that our little girl who knew the words to "Who Do You Love" and "Hey Bo Diddley" before she was three years. But it hurts to see her be so down because she was so connected to the old blues musician and feels the loss so keenly that music lovers all over the world have suffered on this day. She knows in her soul that there aren't any more Bo Diddley's to replace this one that's gone.

I need to find some way to turn this into a learning experience for my grieving daughter. Maybe the right words to tell her that while another of the original blues guys have joined the band in Heaven will come to me in time. This girl might not ever play the first note or become a musician, but she certainly has the sensitivity and the soul of one.



First the tennis moms, now the soccer moms are getting cliquish attitudes. I make no bones about the fact that I'm too darn tired to worry every minute about fashion trends and making a personal statement thereof. I have three baby girls whose appearance says more about me than my own. I know that makes me sound codependent as all get out, but it's just a matter of pride that my girls all leave the house and look clean and well dressed for a few minutes, anyway.

Yesterday the trio and I went to a friend's birthday party at the lake. I knew as soon as I pulled into the parking lot that I was a fish out of water. I have a small SUV, (a Honda CRV to be exact) and have at times felt guilty that I didn't get a hybrid car that would get better gas mileage. In exchange for some inconvenience in stowing gear and loading and unloading children you feel better about your contribution to environmental causes. The parking lot at this party should have done away with my feelings of guilt in spades; it was filled with the biggest trucks that are sold like the Hummer, Yukon and Tahoe.

It became obvious pretty soon after our arrival that the guest list was heavy on soccer moms and their kids. Some of the kids even had on their team uniforms and were bumping a soccer ball around with their knees. I couldn't help but wonder about this, because isn't kiddy league baseball in full swing? Maybe baseball or Tee
Ball isn't as attractive to elitists as soccer?

The botox injected faces and the lips full of collagen of the soccer moms didn't bug me; I do my very best to not judge people by their appearances. But the attitudes of these unfriendly women just about made me want to lose my lunch. Amazingly, the kids all did fine but the women around the picnic table were just about to send themselves and me to an early grave with all their self-centered chitchat.

Each one ran over the other's conversation with soccer mom stories about what they had bought lately, where they were going on vacation or how their child was just so much more advanced than the other kids. One thing that struck me was how none of them had a question addressed to the other moms about anything. Everything that rolled out of their mouths sounded like sales pitch that was geared toward raising the asking price for her and her stuff.

When did people become so wrapped up in themselves that they could not care less about anybody else? When my mom used to take me visiting, the objective was to hear what other people were up to in their family. After all, don't we already know all about our own?

If you are a mature soccer mom that doesn't have a haughty attitude, fake breasts and collagen injected lips I would love to hear your side of the story. Usually I don't paint an entire segment of the population with the same brush and tomorrow I will probably have regrets. But today, the activity is rather therapeutic and feels pretty good.

The bad thing is that we have another invitation to a party next week and I'm pretty sure that the same group will be in attendance. So, this may not be the last of my soccer mom stories.



None of my girls are old enough to play with real, hard baseballs or softballs let alone tooth cracking aluminum bats. However, there are enough children in my neighborhood that are enjoying softball season at the moment that my kids are noticing. The little girl next door got a new pair of cleats and my oldest girl completely feminine love with the shoes with the "bumps" on the bottom.

After an inpromptu playtime in the side yard, she came in asking what the "bumps" on the bottom of the cleats were for. I explained (as best I could) that the plastic bumps made the little girl be able to run faster and not to fall down as much when playing ball. This explanation was all it took to make the case for buying a set of cleats for everyone in our family. After all, what's not to love about being able to run at record speeds and not to trip and fall while you are in the process?

I could see that even more explanation was going to be necessary and I followed up my previous remarks with the fact that cleats were for girls who actually were involved in softball. After the information that cleats are for girls who are playing sports and as little girls didn't play ball, they didn't come in little girl sizes.

The disappointment in her eyes was sad enough but the pitiful sight of her watching through the glass in the door while the neighborhood kids piled in the cars to go to their ballgames was especially painful to watch. It just so happened that I was having a conversation over the back fence with our ball playing neighbor girl's mom about this sad scenario when a brainstorm struck.

Practically in mid sentence a lightbulb lit up over her head and into the house she ran. I went back to pinning my rugs on the line and in a moment she returned carrying not only a pair of tiny, worn looking cleats, but a pair of those baggy knee length nylon shorts that girls wear to play ball.

I cleaned the red clay off the baseball shoes up as best I could and had them and her shorts waiting when she came back from the pool with her dad. You would have thought that I had given her a new car! The shoes are too big as are the shorts which are pulled up under her armpits at this very minute, but this is one happy little girl!


Race and Gender in the 2008 Presidential Election - Are We Idiots or What?

It should come as no surprise that I have been among the millions of American citizens watching the presidential race with interest. Those of you who visit this blog regularly should be amazed that I have bitten my tongue and kept quiet this long. I'm actually pretty shocked at myself. I almost broke training yesterday after catching a few minutes of the View's opening dialogue.

I have never considered myself and Whoopi Goldberg to be like minded; not that I DISagreed with her, I just didn't pay much attention other than I liked her in the movie, Sister Act. But I could have hugged her neck yesterday because gave my frustration a voice on national television. She and I both seem to wonder why in this day of enlightenment and such public need are race and gender in the 2008 Presidential Election an issue?

Why should anybody with half a brain give a rip how dark or light a candidate's skin might be? Even less important to me is whether they sit or stand to pee. Haven't we sunk as low as we can go by letting these idiotic worries dictate how we vote? We have bigger fish to fry here than sex or lineage. Why can't people understand that it's much more productive to study voting records than pantsuits?

I haven't decided yet who will get my vote, but when I do it won't be determined by gender or race. I'm going to look at how the states these candidates served did under their direction. Forget promises, these people have track records that can be used as indicators of their performance as public servants.

I consider the Presidential race a job interview. We, the citizens of the USA, are the employers. It's up to us to choose who will do the best job and we can't do this to the best of our ability if we allow ourselves to be side tracked by
irrelevant facts such as skin color, race or gender. You don't even have to like the person you vote for. Some of the most successful companies that I know of are run by efficient CEOs that would come in last place in a popularity contest. It's not about how personable a person might be or that they look like us, the person we put in the oval office needs to be capable, experienced and willing to get the job done of putting our country back into a position of greatness.


Travel With Kids

I love looking at homes especially in the springtime when the flowers are in bloom and everything's fresh and pretty without the inevitable layer of dust that dirt roads and dry weather tends to distribute all over everything in its path.

We had had several days of gloomy, stormy weather and just missed being hit by a tornado that touched down way too close for comfort. Being cooped up for several days with three hellions made me want to get out of the house. In my desperation to change my surroundings, I made the grave error of thinking that a road trip to enjoy the local architecture might be in order.

Right out of the box, the oldest one cried, pouted and when that didn't work; screamed that she didn't want to ride anywhere. She wanted to play some stuff! Her words, not mine. Then the car seat pinched the littlest one's leg and gave her an excellent reason to cry for a bit. Amazingly, the middle one out of fear or lack of reason didn't squeak, but early in the ride said that her stomach hurt. Knowing that meant she was car sick and about to vomit up her lunch, I gave up and turned the car around and headed for home. Not the first example of early Greek Revival did I see, but I do have a plan for next time. A baby sitter.



Why I am against cheap gas prices? Well, pretty much the same reason that I’m against getting drunk or drugged up just because you had a bad day. What does drinking and drugging have to do with lowering high gas prices? They both are quick fixes that put a temporary band aid on a problem that has long term, negative consequences.

What can we do about gas prices? Slow our energy consumption for one thing. History of gas prices notwithstanding, anytime an item is not being bought the price drops like a rock. Every time you get in your car and make a trip that's not necessary you have contributed to our problem.

When we have cheap gas prices nobody thinks twice about running to the store a couple of miles down the road two or three times a day to pick up a popsicle or lollipop. All the time you are taking advantage of those cheap gas prices, you are working to raise them in the future. The facts are that when the price of a tank of gas hits us pretty hard on the hip pocket we tend to be a little bit more organized and to think twice when we are at the store to remember to pick up extra supplies.

Face it people, we have gotten lazy and unorganized. Abundance of resources, food and inexpensive fuel has not been a good thing for this country. We have become fat, lazy and very overindulgent. Rather than making the most out of what we have, being thankful and reinvesting our resources we have rocked back and said screw it. The live for today (or the minute) attitude is waving like a bright red flag in our faces with the overload in credit card debt, lines of credit and the purchases of houses that consumers can’t afford.

I know that if my fellow inhabitants of planet Earth haven't gotten it from the jillions of news programs shattering it in their faces they probably are not going to get it from this little piddly blog entry, but I’m going to say it anyway; we are running out of time. Even if we have another hundred years of coal, oil or whatever will burn there are consequences with the environment that should not be ignored.

So what if politicians stand up and declare that the federal tax on gas could be done away with which would result in cheap gas prices once again, is that a good thing? Wouldn’t it be better for us to wean ourselves off oil together rather than to find ways to make it cheaper so we can continue to be wasteful and blissfully stick our heads into the sands even deeper?

I heard one eco-minded person making a speech about going green and he made the statement that Mother Earth can’t survive if we continue to increase the poison we pump out. People, Mother Earth will survive....but guess who might not make it? The planet may react slowly to our toxic contributions, but human beings are pretty quick on the uptake. It doesn't take long for humans to sicken and die with bad air and water.

I don’t want a depression or even an economic slowdown to hit this country or any other, but quick fixes are not what we need. Promises from politicians that propose to slap a band aid on the problem with no long term plan should be seen for what they are: popular statements so that the sheep will see that they are elected to public office. Cheap gas prices are no reason to get excited and think that that’s all it takes for happy days to be here again.



I have to confess that I have laughed out loud at some of the amateur home videos that I’ve seen on America’s Funniest Home Videos and other shows with similar content. I didn’t bother to watch any of the Jackass stuff (no matter how hot Johnny Knoxville would be if he wasn’t involved in that crap) because watching people do stupid stuff that could cause extreme bodily harm isn’t my idea of entertainment.

I’m ashamed to say that I gave America’s Funniest Home Videos a free pass because the personal home videos often were of children in a family environment rather than a bunch of ragtag misfits. To put it bluntly the reality show is not my taste, but I really didn’t see harm in watching it, but I have changed my mind.

This show is one of my sister’s family’s favorite shows. The day that it comes on tv is a special day at her house and meals and activities are scheduled around its air time. When I was at her house the other day and it was on, I had to look away from the television screen because it seemed to me that in the making of the video, somebody may have gotten pretty banged up and yet her kids still thought it was hilariously funny.

There were kids getting splashed with water and the occasional face getting smashed with a cupcake; harmless stuff for the most part. But there were some segments where people may have been really injured. Still, I was not ready to put the program on my “banned viewing list” where it is today. The reason the showed has been banned from house is my personal observation of what it teaches children.

My sister and I took our families to the mall for lunch. We were walking across the parking lot towards the entrance and I saw an elderly lady in front of us stumble on one of those concrete barriers that are about four or five inches tall that are located in the front of each parking space. The lady clearly didn’t look down and she tripped on the thing. It’s a miracle that she didn’t fall flat and hurt herself. After a struggle for balance and grabbing a nearby car for support she managed to catch herself and prevent a nasty fall.

I was frozen in mid-step holding my breath knowing that I couldn’t reach her in time to do any real good. Plus, I had one baby on my hip and another by the hand which would have kept me from helping much even if I could have gotten to her. When I saw that she was Ok and I was in the process of releasing a sigh of relief I realized that my nieces and nephews were rolling in laughter.

I turned and looked at them to chastise them and even then; they had no clue that it wasn’t right to laugh at another’s misfortune. My sister was mortified at her children’s behavior. The thought struck me; how can she tell them that that’s the way to act if she’s watching the same thing with them on television and laughing her butt off right beside them?

So, call me a fuddy duddy or dull but no more amateur home video reality shows at my house.



I have never heard of pre-chewing food for babies. Why on earth would a person do that? Number one, I discourage all my children not to drink or eat after each other. I don't kid myself into thinking that this practice will stop them from infecting each other with every virus that makes its way through the preschool or Sunday school, but I don't want them to develop the habit of sharing food or drink with casual acquaintances. The MRSA thing in my house has made me pretty cautious.

What parent would want to unnecessarily exposed their child to a cold virus or a case of stomach flu much less an HIV positive parent exposing their child to the AIDS virus!

The reason for this rant is that I read an article that states that pre-chewed food has been found to transmit HIV to babies. I'm glad that they found this out, but my question would be what kind of dumb ass would take the chance of spitting possibly virally active saliva into an uninfected person's food? Ok, in third world countries where there might be limited access to blenders and commercially prepared baby foods there might be a need for a parent to grind up whatever was on the menu to make the food soft enough for a baby to eat. However, there were cases where they seem to be pretty darn certain that pre-chewing of food was what gave some babies HIV in Memphis and Miami.

I've never been to either town, but I would hazard to guess that there's no shortage of baby food in jars or blenders in either location. How senseless!



I've said for awhile that I'm afraid to bring anything into our house without testing it for chemicals and lead. With all the stuff that we know that has been overlooked for years, wouldn't we be stupid not to feel the need for testing our babies stuff?

We can't wait for the powers that be to tell us what we already know, my friends. We have to make informed decisions on our own and not expect the government or any agency with a neck deep stack of papers on their desk to get around to telling us that BPA was bad, but......there's more where that came from.

With the lead paint in toys that was found a month or so ago, I'm sure the noose is tightening on imported baby products and toys but just in case there are some loose cannons still on the shelves, here's a link to a free test.

I have heard rumors that some of these so called FREE chemical, radon and lead test kit for toys were indeed offered at no cost to the consumer, but then when you wanted to actually mail the stuff in for results they want to pop you with a twenty dollar charge. So, for the record I have not tried this lead paint test kit out to see if it's the same.

If any of my readers use the test link and find out that there's a hidden charge, will you please let us know?