Carnival of Family Life #50

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:27 pm

  Welcome to the 50th Carnival of Family Life!

CFL50 iconSome days I want to change the world and other days I love to sit back & enjoy it the way it is. Kailani’s carnival is definately for enjoying.

Speaking of enjoying, I’d like to say how much I enjoyed Lil Duck Duck’s hosting of the Carnival of Family Life last week.  This too.


Kailani presents A New Competitive Sport posted at An Island Life. (I really did think that adding Kailani’s link for this crowd was silly, but in case someone doesn’t have it handy.)

Some of the very best blogs this week were reflections on sadness. Was it the gray weather? Tax time? Just don’t miss them.

Jeremy at Daddy Dialectic remembers the impact Kurt Vonnegut had on his life, with some interesting thoughts on the value of sadness.

Sadness as a spice as you move through life’s stages, from Hueina Su My Little Thomas the Tank Engine posted at Echoes of Cold Moon.

TherapyDoc at Everyone Needs Therapy hit all the holiday hotspots in her story that puts everything in perspective.

Much as I loved reading everyone’s blogs, Karen’s entry was a very welcome break – The Piano Concerto posted at Karen Shanley: Author Mom with Dogs.

This next story has one of my favorite characteristics in the Carnival of Family Life submissions – it revolves around action that could have been based on my day or any of my friend’s, yet it was heart-warming. Then I got to DeputyHeadmistress’s comment on the awful thing she had done that had guilted her into posting such a nice piece – I had to laugh. Please enjoy On His Day Off posted at The Common Room.

Ready for Spring? – Lill is – Local Color posted at News from Hawkhill Acres.

Mom & Dad present Easter Dinner With a Two Year Old posted at Raising 4 Boys.

Another theme this week – old fashioned toys: muse presents Old Fashioned Fun! posted at me-ander.

A very happy day from a very serious site. Congratulations to Megan and Paul. Wedding in the Rainforest posted at Child Protection: Serious Business..

A touching account of FridaysChild’s parent’s love inspired by their 50th wedding aniversary at her very colorful website . She has the added distinction of being the first submission this week – of course, if I ever am first, you can be pretty sure I was hoping to be in the last one.

A little venting from Julee at HomeSchoolDaze on strangers brings out an hysterical comment.

T Minus Five Months captures all the sadness, guilt and fear involved as your child moves to the next stage. Really great if you’re on the far side of the transition – you get to say, “I remember feeling that but the new stage was so much better.” From Lena at Cheeky Lotus. (Actually a quote in Jordan’s submission under advice makes my point so much better.)

A typical stress day with kids and what makes it all worthwhile from Csara at Baby Talkers.

Okay. I thought I was too busy for stories this week (after all I was editing this) but the drama last night demanded one. Enjoy 10-yr-old Techie Ghost Stories.


Is it payback time? from ManicMama . It reminds me of the glee in my mother’s voice as she spoke of the coming payback on the birth of my first daughter. She was thinking of the time I decorated the wall above the crib with the contents of my diaper. My mother’s reaction at the time is probably responsible for my utter lack of any subsequent artistic talent.

Pregnancy-stupidity, pre-menopausal-stupidity, post-menopausal-stupidity, senior-moment-stupidity, what-ever … Sherry at Chaos Theory nails it and we all hope it will go away. (I was giggling so much while reading some of her antics that my husband needed to know why – as I read them out he wanted to know why she was writing about me.)

The Expatriate’s Kitchen: Taute Cuisine 6: Battle Orange Continues was a toss-up between food (the sweet potato gratin looks really good) and humor. You know if Expat Chef ‘s tag-line is “wit as sharp as his 10-inch culinary knife” he has to be able to pull it off – though in my house I give small children knives so they don’t hurt themselves on dangerous things in the kitchen . . . Never did work out that honing stone stuff. It’s posted at The Expatriate’s Kitchen.

Madeleine Begun Kane presents A Doggone Limerick posted at Mad Kane’s Humor Blog. And just because I like her limericks and in honor of the day, don’t miss Yet Another Tax Filing Limerick .

Somehow I think Karen missed her opportunity to be a star of Youtube –Doctor, Heal Thyself posted at PediaScribe Blog.

Your Health

Dr. Alex at RDoctor.com had a very interesting and challenging site with a submission on Cesarean Section with an accompanying quiz.

Finally, the secret to diet sucess at Karen’s blog Live the Power . (Not to be a spoiler, but does this mean if I really believe in the chocolate diet I’ll lose weight?) It’s also a very nice reflection on the little things we do to make our extended family happy.


For the definitive word on grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches and the best 387 comments on the subject from skeet at skeet’s stuff. I can only imagine what the recipe for meatloaf might bring.

Absolutely scrumptious-looking breakfast recipes at Fish Creek Inn’s website – though I think someone using margarine with sausage and cheese is probably in serious denial. (It may have just been a fleeting holdover from the previous day’s yogurt & strawberry pancake mindset.)


Remember the quiet joy when your infant was absolutely content? The insight Anmol Mehta offers at his blog on Mastery of Meditation, Enlightenment & Kundalini Yoga may help you find a way to extend that feeling.

A pithy blog on how redefining the problem can help you work with your teenager at Modern Sage Online.

Lending advice a little less stringent than Shakespeare’s from Grad Money [Matters] covering good points you may never thought of (are you nosy?- forget lending). It includes a very valuable link if you should decide you really could be your son-in-law’s banker.

Stephen  somehow missed firehosing all preschoolers daily to stop germs, but otherwise a nice comprehesive list for Coping with Preschool Sickness posted at Project Paradox.

Kevin presents Tips For Teaching Toddlers To Share posted at More4kids Parenting. But what I really want to know is why they forget all the carefully instilled sharing lessons as soon as they are adolescent sisters? (& why would they want to share a hairbrush??)

Tonya presents Temper Tantrums (TT) posted at Tears-n-Tantrums.

Good to know for your next trivia contest or maybe advice if you’re picking out names – Lisa presents Baby Names from Around the World posted at Let’s Talk Babies.

Lisa, last week’s hostess, presents 3rd birthday party activity ideas posted at Lil Duck Duck.

Some ways to bring medieval culture to your family (sort-of – will Monty Python really lead to a life of appreciating history?) from Mother Road at Disney’s Family.com.

Karen presents 25 Ways to Save Money with a Baby posted at Thrifty Mommy.

Jordan includes a great quote for those times when things seem overwhelming in Growing Pains posted at MamaBlogga.

Dr. Hal presents North Star Mental Fitness Blog: Four Miraculous Phrases posted at North Star Mental Fitness Blog. You might think about when these phrases are taught to small children – two are among the first phrases learned but I’m wondering if I’m an incompetent parent that I haven’t ‘taught’ my children to say the fourth.

Lori presents Tips for Fun at the Park or Playground with Kids posted at Fun Play Dates. I am really ambivalent about the invitations to playdates (How is a real special day made special?) but her other suggestions are classic.

Another on the classic toy theme this week – Kerri presents Educating at Playtime posted at Play Library.

Leisa presents Musicality posted at downwiththekids.net. Is this the pay-it-forward side of payback?

The urge to track citizens seems to increase with technology’s ability to do it – Erica focuses on an issue in Britain Term-Time Holidaying & The Education System posted at LittleMummy.com.

New Bloggers Completely Off-topic But I’ll Help Anyway

Rich McIver presents How to Power Nap at Work posted at Spine-Health.com Blog.

Rodger Constandse presents 8 Practical Tips for Improving Your Listening Skills posted at Goals to Action.


Don’t forget to submit your entry for next week’s carnival at Digital Rich Daily. 


Ghoststories & the 10-yr-old Techies

Posted in Family Legends at 8:50 pm

When I was young (9? 12?) we would occasionally have sleepovers with several kids. Turning the lights down, getting under the covers, we’d tell ghost stories and shriek when the tree branch rubbed against the window (or maybe it was my brothers, or a burglar – who knew?)

In a momentary fit of insanity I decided the day my two daughters were out on sleepovers I’d let my son have 2 friends over on the same night. Neither parent of the other two boys pointed out the glaring lapse of judgment so all the boys got ready for the night.

PJ’s, check. Wash feet, check (I don’t know why boy’s first move upon entering a bedroom is to stomp on the pillows their faces will go on in 2 hours, but they do.) Brush teeth. Try again. Check.

Now they start announcing they are scared. They discuss the need for bravery. They build a fort to guard themselves from the evil menace. They gather all their courage, enter the room, a menacing shriek is heard and they all run screeching from the room. Have shadows fallen across the window?

No. They have set up a ‘prank.’ When a computer key is hit a ghost pops up on the screen and gives a ghostly moan. I guess spooky branches have gone high-tech.

(In case you’re wondering – boys doing this for 2 hours definitely counts as an everyday disaster.)

Send Eco-elegant flowers


Stop Your Gardens – We’re Saved

Posted in Abrupt Climate Change at 4:08 pm

Well, maybe don’t stop teaching your kids to garden but there is a lot of interest in saving the planet’s food production by moving it indoors.

The world food supply is vulnerable to climate shifts, the globalization of pestilence and blight, and improvements in crop resistances that can lead to pollinator failures (bees getting mites) or increased allergies. Worse, land for cultivation is shrinking and the population is growing. As a final kick we’re moving food around the globe at an environmental cost that may aggravate all the other downsides.

Green houses and hydroponics farms have been around for hundreds of years but the next generation envisions farming in skyscrapers. The New York Magazine’s recent article on the development of these vertical farms presents the hope to put 30 acres in a place like New York City on one acre of land.

Could this solve a potential food crisis or will it just bring designer food to Manhattan?

Unseasonable freezes and droughts would no longer be a concern. Violent natural events might take down a building or even a region but if most of the world’s supply is stable we should be able to cope with some outages.

Flavor may return to mass-produced food if there is a reduced need to make food transportable for long distances. Blight or pest resistant strains are less necessary if you can stop the problem at the door to the farm.

My daughter hates tomatoes – unless they are the fabulously expensive heirloom varieties. Trying to explain the tradeoff between taste and the need to get more calories to market in a crowded world isn’t always easy. It gets even worse when you try to talk about the need for resistant crops to save more of the world’s starving people but risk that you might kill off needed ecosystems along the way.

But modern farms are thousands of acres. We’re not talking about backyard or roof top gardens that are fairly cheap to start. What kind of dent can a 30-acre farm that might cost millions, make in the food supply?

Serious garden yields aren’t so easy to come by on the net. Some of the most interesting articles carry dates in the 1940s. Assuming the skyscraper uses hydroponics, a thirty story building about the size of a football field or 1 ½ large city blocks ( 1 acre) could keep 1,500 people fed for a year on soybeans or 1,100 people fed for a year on tomatoes. (These numbers are very approximate, based on lab hydroponics yields and one level of plants per story.)

 There is some indication that Eurofresh Farms, the largest hydroponics grower in the world, has much, much better yields (they could feed over 400,000 people a year on their tomatos if the recipients didn’t smash the green houses because they were sick of tomatoes) but their greenhouses are high-tech conventional flat greenhouses that use the sun. The extra hardware needed to light the building may cut yields and 100 years of exerience may pay mega-dividends over a blab-technician’s experience.

  Vertical Farms thinks they might be able to set up a full farm complex capable of feeding 50,000 people a variety of foods, including eggs, in 18-49 stories. I’m not sure that chickens need to be running around  an urban, indoor farm (even if caged) or that they really would want to process the city’s wastewater in the food building. Eliminating both design constraints should make it even more efficient.

Poisonous Plant Picture Gallery

Posted in Abrupt Climate Change, Just A Thought at 9:40 am

Spring is in the air (sort-of – it’s still very cold here) and I’m looking for new disasters to discuss. In my travels I found this lovely Rutgers site  showing the poisonous/harmful plants in New Jersey. Thank goodness it is Mother’s Day and and not Sister’s Day coming up or I could see every cub scout in the state giving his sister a lovely bouquet.


Carnival of Family Life

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:49 am

I’m very happy to host the 50th Carnival of Family Life this week. I’ll be giving special prominence to anyone who submits stories of family community service or involvement. 

Thanks for participating.


The Sweets of Spring

Posted in Just A Thought at 9:33 am

Spring is a time for growth and reflection on our hopes for the future. There are many signs of this. More4Kids gives a list of things to teach our kids in preparation for Earth Day. Scribbit is sponsoring a growth carnival.

I attended a Seder, the Jewish meal that commemorates God’s role in freeing the Israelites from bondage. We spoke of the symbolism involved – the search for leavened bread symbolizes the need to search and reflect on your relationships to escape, with God’s help, the bondage of repeating mistakes in your relationships with others.

What would I hope I and my friends would reflect on improve our vision for the future?


Fear is a double-pronged menace. If you think a disaster is likely to strike you can be paralyzed in inaction. Worse, you can hope to avert it by denying the possibility of the disaster.
Most people aren’t paralyzed with fear or are in emotional debates at the thought aliens are going to invade the earth. It’s not a real fear so very few get hot & bothered over it. Whether it is global warming or child predator safeguards that are getting you to a state where you ‘can’t think straight you’re so angry’ perhaps reflection on the root of the fear will help.


Every group on Earth has part of their culture that they are the chosen of God. As a parent I can easily relate to the truth of this – I would have chosen each of my three children. This doesn’t mean that I have chosen any of them to receive all my wealth. (We do have clauses in all my family’s wills to leave the bulk of any money to a family member that is completely incapacitated, but fortunately that has never occurred.)

Quite often I hear people say that they are not giving up their x until everyone else does. Usually this is in relationship to China although sometimes it is about the size of their car compared to their neighbor’s. Reflecting on why things are important to you may help.

I personally need to keep asking myself why I think sweets are necessary to a happy childhood and if more sweets equate to more happiness. I am very partial to lack of sleep and more efficient stomach bacteria as a real cause of obesity but what if I’m wrong? What if I’m right? Just because I make my kids go to sleep 2 hours earlier every night than their friends and I hope an antibiotic-type-thing before holidays will allow copious sweets, should I? What about the effect on other parents trying to cut their kids back? Isn’t this important in raising my kids? But I really like sweets and I need to get to the bottom of this.

Maybe this season will help.



Posted in Family Legends at 6:57 pm

Windy's 9th BirthdayWe choose a Neuf because we always have numerous small guests underfoot (2-footed) and we lived next to a lake – although I never would have let my children go down to the lake alone, extra insurance never hurt.

Windy arrived as a small ball of fur (she never looked that beautifully brushed again) with paws half the size of my foot. Small is a relative term – even at 10 weeks she was bigger than the dogs of many of my friends. She was named after Windows 95 which had just been released. (My husband did not want to give the dog a name that could be confused with a person and my kids thought it was Peter Pan’s girlfriend). Everyone happy.

The question of using a city vet or a country vet was quickly settled – within hours of her arrival a bee stung her on the nose. Horror ensued, so we raced to the country vet (I don’t recommend the methodology but the choice was excellent.)

Windy fulfilled every expectation of protection one could hope for from a dog. We never had a single fear of being attacked by a new mailman. A 150-pound bear rug lying in wait for her daily cookie (freely dispensed by the regular guys) was an absolute deterrent to getting our mail whenever a newcomer had to deliver.

No one was going to drown in the lake on her watch. One foolish guest had thought about swimming across the lake in lieu of the laps he might have done in a pool. As long as he swam with his head out of water there was no problem. As soon his head went in the water Windy was off the dock and swimming over to him barking hysterically. When she stuck her head under his arm so that he could cling to her, he was a little slow about cooperating with the rescue. No problem – she decided that he might have been scared of her teeth so she swam with her tail in his face. Guest swimmer stood up (it wasn’t that deep near our house) explained he was OK and then started swimming again. She didn’t believe him and swan along him the whole way barking.

In some immaculate homes there is very little scope for job appreciation for the maid. They work all day dusting and cleaning and there really isn’t much of a visible difference. We did not have this worry in our home. Windy spent her days going outside to watch for the mailman or other friends, making sure to pick up as many leaves and sticks as possible in her fur. She would then come inside for a drink, a brief visit to check on the home’s occupants and to unload her fur. Some days I wondered if it would be simpler if I could just convince everyone that wood chips were the latest in organic home floor coverings. The maids would uncomplainingly clean every floor, thinking my children were exceptionally messy.

Things came to a head when we had a Hispanic dog sitter and the maids coming while we were on vacation. The maids finally asked the dog sitter if she were staying at the house or had had a large number of people there since the floors were so messy. The dog sitter laughed and assured them it was all just Windy.

In later years Windy had arthritis that the vet would prescribe medicine for when it was particularly bad. Despite the dangers of side effects, it really was a miracle drug. Windy would go from slow wanderings in and out of the house to little bounces of joy whenever a family member would approach. It also would give her the urge to wander.

I would get calls from the police saying that my dog had been reported wandering down the street. I would indignantly assure them that someone had not realized where Windy lived or had to have enticed Windy away since she could barely walk. After the third course of treatment (3 months apart) and the third call from the police I decided maybe the neighborhood kids weren’t trying to get Windy to play with them and she might really have been wandering. I did apologize to our policemen.

After what looked like a stroke Friday it looked like she might pull through and regain the use of her limbs. While she briefly improved Saturday it was clear that she was sinking again Sunday. After 12 and half years of living with Windy, we took her to the vet Sunday and said good-bye.

She was a wonderful dog.


AP gets Silence of the Frogs Wrong?

Posted in Abrupt Climate Change at 7:40 pm

The AP just broke a story that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the authoritative U.N. network of 2,000 scientists and more than 100 governments say that climate change is already impacting species around the globe.

 I would be the last person to argue with this, but they go on to give examples, including a claim that the worldwide drop in the frog population is a result of global warming. The drop in frog populations was noticed as early as 1981 and was widely recognized 9 years later.

A massive amount of research ensued, with acid rain, global warming and other causes listed as potential causes to be investigated. It was determined that global travel had spread the virus and the fungus to areas they had never been before and caused the massive deformity and death of the amphibians.

In 2006 it was reported that extinctions occurred after periods of weather conducive to the spread of the fungus. The bouts of warm, humid weather were tied to global warming.

This does not logically imply that global warming was the primary cause of the extinction. It merely implies that global warming accelerated the timing of the extinctions. Especially prior to 1980, climate swings were still within the range of normal. Once pathogens had been spread it was only a matter of time before the trigger was pulled by normal variations in the weather.

If one is trying to deal with a disaster it’s really important to recognize that more than one may be occurring at the same time. Attributing all emotionally-charged consequences to your favorite disaster just makes it more difficult for the average layman who will have to push the solution to figure out what is going on.


Don’t Save the World With Bamboo

Posted in Abrupt Climate Change at 3:49 pm

Time magazine helpfully laid out things people can do to cut done on carbon emmisions.

As part of their recommendations to cut emmisions they suggested planting bamboo.  Don’t do it! Bamboo will crowd out native species (that might not survive a significant warming trend, but why push them out?) and make attempts to later farm the land very difficult.

Plant a nut tree instead. (It’s a much better adaptation strategy and results in a tasty harvest even if disaster doesn’t strike.)


Fox on Steriods

Posted in Just A Thought at 11:29 am

Fox Viewers Agree – Just Like Anyone Brainwashed

Recently I’ve read a number of articles on the consistent alignment of Fox viewers in polls.

Basically the polls say that Fox viewers are more likely to support a conservative agenda than any other demographic group. This is backed up by at least one study shows that Fox is very effective at getting 3-8% of voters to switch to Republican candidates and at getting out the vote for previously non-voting conservatives. (Entry of a liberal news organization into a community has depressed voter turn-out at least once. I always thought the liberal agenda was confusing – & who can vote if you’re confused?.)

Several reasons are given :

    Fox’s goal to balance liberal coverage with a conservative slant and
    the lack of self-flagellation or acknowledgement when Fox pushes a story proven to be false

CNN had no trouble visiting Obama Barack’s elementary school and determining that it wasn’t a Muslim madrassah as claimed by Fox. Fox did not indulge in an orgy of self-investigation.

Fox Viewers Oblivious? I Don’t Think So.

I have a hard time buying that Fox viewers are so oblivious to their car radios, discussions at water coolers, school playgrounds and family gatherings, books and news magazines that they wouldn’t have a rational clue that that not everything that came out of a broadcaster’s mouth is 100% true.

I remember my first encounter with the difficulties of journalists getting things right. The write-up of my Jr. High School dance in the local paper bore no relation to the reality that I attended & there weren’t so many people that there that I wouildn’t have known if something was going on.

A teacher, the source for the story, felt her spin put the school in a better light. At the time I thought her spin had careened totally out of control and the journalist must have been smoking to accept her version.

If the story was so screwed up on an insignificant local item, how could people report completely accurately when high passions were involved?

My daughter is researching subliminal ads – ads that embed sexual images to increase the power of the ads. (While I haven’t read this particular book on the subject, it gives some online examples of what I am talking about.)

Fox Uses Subliminals?

Could Fox be embedding subliminals around their newscasters to give their message more oomph? Would another network be willing to try this to see if their stories become more convincing? (& then reveal the results?)

The original research in 1957 did not involve sex as the seller and was fairly rapidly discredited as either a real experiment or an effective result. There are lots of claims that it doesn’t work, but I can’t find a published study where someone tried to design the most effective use of subliminal advertising and then measures the effectiveness of them. (Of course, if these studies were done as part of a commercial effort to develop trade secrets they wouldn’t be published.)

Advertising is not supposed to contain subliminals in America or it could generate the loss of a broadcast license. Does this prohibition extend to news broadcasts?

Just A Thought.