Sunday, April 27, 2014

Is It Something in the Air?

Things have been crazy all morning at our house...and it's only 11!

Mike and I went to bed just after 2 AM, as usual. At 7, I woke up choking and coughing like I had just inhaled a piece of grass, or a gob of spit, or something. It took me a few minutes to finally stop coughing reflexively. I have no idea what happened there.

No sooner had I climbed back in bed and gotten comfortable than Cali jumps up on me to take her usual spot on my hip--except she decides to walk on every single pressure point from my knee to my shoulder, and to hit every rib in the bargain, so I push her off and tell her it's just not going to work this morning. I begin to fall asleep again when she once again jumps up on me. Of course, her added weight makes the position no longer comfortable, so I shift my weight--which means she decides to jump down. Apparently, that position would just not suit her at all. I begin to fall back asleep, and Cali once again leaps onto my hip. (We're nothing if not persistent in this household.)  I once again tell her it's not going to work this morning and tip her off, vaguely contemplating shutting her out of the bedroom, then realizing I don't have the energy to get up and close the door. She seems to agree this time, however, and decides to curl up behind me on the very edge of the bed.

Finally, I had found a comfortable position, Cali behind me, and had just fallen asleep. And then Megan woke up and began crying--a full 2-3 hours early. I leapt out of bed, walked into her room, gave her a toy flashlight and another pacifier after changing her diaper, and I told her it was quiet time because Mommy and Daddy weren't ready to get up yet.

I decided to just curl up on the couch instead of trying to get comfortable in bed again. All was quiet. Until I fell back asleep, at which time I was awakened by her voice over the baby monitor: "Up. Up. Up! Up! Up!" 

I ignored her the best I could, and she trailed off and began talking to--I assume--her stuffed animals, or the walls, or whoever toddlers talk to when they are apparently alone in a room. Over the next hour and a half, I was awakened periodically by her imperious commands: "Up. Uuup. Up!" Once again, I would ignore them, she'd realize she was getting nowhere, and she'd entertain herself.

Finally, at 9, I heard, "Up. Up, up, up! Uuuuup! Daaaa-dyyyyy! Up!" and some crying. The jig was up, so I got up and pulled her out of her crib, with three stuffed animals, one sippy cup, and one blanket in her arms. She discarded the blanket, showed me that the sippy cup was empty as she thrust it in my arms, and ran as fast as she could to the kitchen to await a refill.

As soon as her cup was refilled, she dropped everything, yanked the cup from me, sucked down a quarter of the water in one breath, then gathered up the three stuffed animals (all together as big as she is) and took off at full speed to our bedroom to find Daddy. I asked her where she'd gotten her speed and if she'd tell me the name of the dealer so I could get some too. (Inappropriate question to ask a toddler? Perhaps, but perhaps not. I seriously wondered if she had somehow learned how to climb out of her crib, open her bedroom door, climb up to my coffee shelf hanging on a wall, and snorted some of the grounds, then concealed all evidence of it and climbed back in her crib before waking me, but I can't figure out how she did that.)

So, back to the hallway and bedroom. I'm still somehow feeling like yesterday beat me over the head with a club and then ran over me a few times with a steam roller, even though all I did was mow half the yard (Mike did the other half) and spread straw around 4 trees yesterday. That's it, other than working at my computer. I lifted Megan up onto our bed, where she promptly threw herself onto her daddy's head to cuddle--for a whole half second. She began pointing to his ear and loudly and proudly announcing, "Ear!" And then she pointed at his eyes, then her eyes, then my eyes like a child possessed, repeating, "Eyes, eyes, eyeseyeseyeseyes!" Then she spotted Maury curled up at Mike's butt. She raced to him (as quickly as our very saggy and bumpy mattress plus piles of blankets and her three stuffed animals would permit) and, remembering our constant admonitions to be gentle with the kitty (I presume), pet him softly and gently, then tried to boop his nose. She looked at me, announced around her pacifier (she has this amazing ability to move the pacifier to one side of her mouth and either sticking her tongue out or talking around the edge of it, sort of like a man holding onto a stogie with his teeth), "That's a kitty!" When I said yes it was and asked her which kitty, she said, "Fat!" Well, she's not wrong.

At this point, she collapsed between me and Mike (I had climbed into the bed and covered up when she began pointing out family eyeballs). Mike was snoring. (Seriously, he sleeps through anything, even though he'll insist he's been awake all night.) I had one of the stuffed bunnies--Klaus, a Christmas gift--start nibbling on her toes, and she collapsed in a fit of giggles. Suddenly, she was up and diving for Mike's head, so I distracted her by tickling her. She was distracted momentarily but not dissuaded. I left her there to torment--I mean, wake up--her father so I could put breakfast in the oven.

As I was hobbling back down the hall from the kitchen (somehow yesterday or last night, I managed to do something to make my knees very sore and stiff this morning), I heard Mike ask her if she wanted down from the bed. Oh, Lord in heaven, he had released her! I collected two of the stuffed animals. (The one that had been "nibbling" on her toes seems to have been "disappeared.") She took them and her sippy cup from me as I asked if she wanted to watch a DVD. She took off--again at full speed--down the hall and grabbed her DVD--Ice Age: The Meltdown (at least the third watching of it since Tuesday). She kept dancing and repeating, "Watch. Watch. WATCH!" as I opened the case, turned on the player, turned on the TV.

Confident that the DVD was loaded and would be playing soon, she pulled a throw pillow over to the floor in front of the sofa, and used it as a step stool onto the sofa, one stuffed animal in hand, the largest (Hoss, short for Hossenpfeffer, a bunny she received for Easter) having been abandoned unceremoniously when she grabbed the movie from her movie shelf. As she had nearly conquered the sofa, she realized that the small animal--Helga, another teddy bear she got at Christmas--had somehow fallen from her grasp and onto the pillow. She leaned over very quickly, flattening herself against the sofa and stretching her arm out as far as she could to reach Helga--and promptly rolled off the sofa and onto the pillow...with Helga firmly in her grasp. Barely blinking, and apparently not noticing that she had just rolled off the sofa, over the pillow, and onto the floor, she scrambled back up the pillow and onto the sofa, Helga in hand, then looked at me and patted the cushion next to her and said, "Sit."

I sat, and she curled up next to me, and all was quiet and serene for a few minutes as the previews played and then Scrat chased after his beloved acorn.

It was 9:15.

At 9:20, she spotted her shoes on the floor and squealed, "Shoes!" She clambered off of the sofa and grabbed her shoes. Thinking I could use this opportunity to finally use the restroom, I also got up. She rain after me, calling, "No, no, no, no, noooo!"

I stepped into the bathroom, and as soon as I reached the toilet, I heard the bathroom door closing behind me. Megan and her shoes had come in, and she had closed the door, which she has decided must be done anytime she enters a room except a bedroom. While I was using the restroom, she set her shoes neatly on the floor, together, as if they were just waiting for her to step into them, and then she squatted against the door and simply watched me.

As soon as I had finished and washed my hands, she got up, grabbed her shoes--once more proclaiming, "Shoes!"--and ran out into the hall when I opened the door. She took off like a rocket toward the kitchen, then flung her shoes away from her, spun on a dime, and took off for our bedroom again.

Mike was still asleep, but moving a bit and talking in response to her presence in the room. She began trying to climb up into the bed using the side rail for a footrest, so Mike picked her up. Somehow, as he was half asleep, he seemed to think she was going to rest quietly on his chest or beside him--a notion she disabused him of quickly.

Soon, Megan was back on the floor and running to the living room to watch her movie again. I decided to take the opportunity to start brewing some coffee.I was reaching up for a coffee filter when I realized things had gone very, very quiet, so I called out, "Megan, present yourself, please!" (she has agreed, by some miracle, to come running into my sight 98% of the time when I make this request, since she first started crawling). I heard her start running toward me, and then suddenly I heard a strange noise, Mike making a strangled sound, and what sounds like two objects colliding and water splashing.

I stopped what I was doing and, thinking that perhaps Megan and Mike had collided as he was walking down the hall and she was coming to me, asked, "What just happened?"

I heard Mike reply, "That's a good question. What the hell just happened?"

So, I abandoned the coffee-making pursuit and walked to the hallway. Megan was frozen in the doorway between hall and dining room, pacifier in her mouth, eyes wide, some bunny (Hoss?) her arms. Maury was running away. Mike was holding his water cup with one hand and rubbing his chest with the other hand, looking like he had just been shot. Apparently, when he got up, Mike had picked up Maury, who had still been asleep in the bed, and had begun walking down the hall. Something (perhaps my call to Megan, or her stomping footsteps?) had awakened Maury, and he had immediately made some unnatural sound, hissed, and used Mike's chest as a springboard to propel himself down the hall. The shock of his sweet-tempered cat suddenly awakening and growling at him like a demon from hell--along with the claws in his pectorals, and the weight of a twenty-pound cat--had caused his arm to jerk and his water to splash out of his cup and all over the wall and carpet.

I turned on the hall light and was going to grab a towel, and Megan decided to run toward Mike. Mike hurriedly handed me his cup and said abruptly and loudly, "Here, take this, and keep her away while I clean this up." Megan must have thought she was in trouble, because she immediately began to wail, her little eyes brimming with tears.

I hugged her and kissed her and reassured her that she was not in trouble, that Maury had simply freaked out and daddy was trying to clean up the mess without her help.

Finally, she was calm, though still breathing raggedly, her little chest heaving, and the water was cleaned up in the hall. I suggested that she and I go back to watching the movie. We got to the living room, and Mike entered as Megan was preparing to climb onto the couch. They settled in together, Megan on Mike's lap, calm as could be, and I walked to the coffeepot to finally start my coffee.

It was 9:38.

We sat together to watch the movie, then the timer went off on the oven around 10. I got breakfast out and set up the dining room table. Mike opted not to eat breakfast, and Megan chose to forgo my berry-apple crisp for a sleeve of crackers...which she took 45 minutes to eat. The first thing she'd done slowly all day.

What the heck is going on here today?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Special Requests?

Dear readers, I have decided to try to consistently post to this blog. I'm striking out in a new vein as I mentioned yesterday. I've got a couple of posts already planned, including one about sweeteners added to some strange things (no spoilers here!), and (eventually) reviewing some of my successful freezer-meal creations. But I would really like to know if you have any special requests.

I'm thinking specifically of food- or homesteading-related topics, even gardening topics. Basically, I'm happy to do some of the research or to share with you what Mike and I already know about any topic that you've been wondering about but just haven't had the time or the inclination to research yourself. I may not be able to accommodate all requests, and some might take a while, but I'm up for a challenge!

So, if you have requests, please comment below, email me, or let me know on Facebook.

Happy plotting!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Food: Is Organic Better? How Local Is Local? Should We Skip Conventionally Grown Food Altogether?

One of my friends shared an article on Facebook about a lawsuit against Kroger for its Simple Truth product labeling being misleading. The truth is, Kroger is no better or worse than any other company out there. FDA labels allow a ton of leeway sometimes. Don't just see something labeled as "organic" or "free-range" and think that makes it better or worse than another option. Here are some resources.

One of my favorite blogs,, shared some information a few weeks back about egg labeling. It's eye-opening, really. It just goes to show that foods labeled organic aren't necessarily better than foods not labeled organic.

Here's another example, a great image from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CPSI):

I read a fantastic article a few weeks back about how some people forgo regular produce if they can't find organic produce, and the effects of organic pesticides on the environment compared to pesticides used by most commercial farmers. The effects are surprising to me after hearing so much about the dangers of commercial pesticides. Admittedly, my husband is well informed about chemicals, and so I knew that organic doesn't mean pesticide-free. Still, I was enlightened further by this explanation, which was a little less science-y than my husband's, and so a little clearer for me. 

The key, though, is to be informed. Don't just jump on any bandwagon without a lot of research and thought. "Green washing" gets a lot of people--any label claim should be suspect (think "low fat" or "sodium free"). Marketing isn't done for your benefit--it's done for profit. And remember all sellers out there are trying to make a profit--some try to do it while also trying to be good to the environment, and some don't give a crap about the environment. Some farmers grow food responsibly but can't afford to get an organic certification. There are a lot of hoops and requirements, some of which are out of the farmer's control. The key is responsibility

We prefer to buy locally whenever possible, though what grocers call local and what we consider local can vary by hundreds of miles. [A sign at our local grocery store claimed it bought produce from local growers--which in this case meant up to 400 miles away. That's a little far afield for our taste.] Of course, we also like foods that just cannot be grown locally, so we have to decide whether we want to benefit from them being non-organic and non-local or if we prefer to have whatever benefits they provide. (Hm, balance, perhaps?) Also consider, if you're going organic to benefit the earth, how far that organic produce/meat has to travel to get to you. If a lot of fossil fuel has to be burned for your earth-friendly food to get to you (say it's out of season locally), is it still earth-friendly? (Here's a tip: It depends.)

So, when it comes right down to it, balance and responsibility--educating yourself is the key. Whether you're trying to do better for the environment, better for your direct health, or a little of both, things are rarely black-and-white. Maybe organic is better for one food but conventional is better for another, and food from a friend down the road is better. This year, we'll be growing a lot of vegetables right next to a field that is commercially farmed, Our food could never be considered organic because of that, but we're still going to eat it over organic produce purchased at the local grocery store. We all have to make tradeoffs, and it's up to us as individuals to decide which ones we can live with.


Oh, it's been so long. Once again, I've fallen to using Facebook for updates, but not all of you are there. (Is anyone still here? I can only hope.)

I posted last nearly two years ago. Crazy. Today, however, I started thinking about trying to post regularly again, once again chronicling our gardening results, the growth of our family, and, mostly, tips about healthy eating that we've been picking up along the way..and the things we find that benefit our family in all ways. Okay, so that's a lot to cover, and there are plenty of blogs out there that do the same, but I can read them and bring them together here for you, our loved ones.

So, does everyone know where we stand? Megan Lenore was born in August of 2012. Mike left his job at Ball in September of 2013. He now works at home as full-time caregiver for Megan, and then part-time as a freelancer. I work full-time in my editing. This year, we're hopeful to have a good garden. We're not planting a lot of things, knowing how difficult most things are to grow in our soil. This  year, we're focusing on catching up on care of things that fell by the wayside while Mike worked ridiculous hours (plus commute) at Ball.

So, there's your update. Right now, I'm gathering together some information that I just posted on Facebook today and posting it here (see the next post).

* Stringham high: Family togetherness
* Stringham low: Taxes, know, the usual
* Stringham super-high: Did I mention family togetherness with a wonderful daddy and amazing daughter?