Monday, April 28, 2008

another weekend snow storm

I have some reason to dislike April weekend snowstorms.

They bring Tornadoes.

Before and After pics.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

world grain production has fallen short of consumption in
seven of the last eight years....

Just when it seemed that things could not get much worse,
the United States, the world’s breadbasket, is planning to double
the share of its grain harvest going to fuel ethanol—from 16
percent of the 2006 crop to 30 percent or so of the 2008 crop.
With this enormous growth in the U.S. capacity to convert grain
into fuel, the world price of grain is moving up toward its oil equivalent
value. This ill-conceived U.S. effort to reduce its oil
insecurity has helped drive world grain prices to all-time highs,

Although attention commonly focuses on energy use on the
farm, agriculture accounts for only one fifth of the energy used
in the U.S. food system. Transport, processing, packaging, marketing,
and kitchen preparation of food are responsible for the
rest. The U.S. food economy uses as much energy as the entire
economy of the United Kingdom.30

The 14 percent of energy used in the food system to move
goods from farmer to consumer is equal to two thirds of the
energy used to produce the food. And an estimated 16 percent
of food system energy use is devoted to canning, freezing, and
drying food—everything from frozen orange juice concentrate
to canned peas.3

The most energy-intensive segment of the food chain is the
kitchen. Much more energy is used to refrigerate and prepare
food in the home than is used to produce it in the first place. The
big energy user in the food system is the kitchen refrigerator, not
the farm tractor. While oil dominates the production end of the
food system, electricity dominates the consumption end. With
higher energy prices, the modern food system that evolved when
oil was cheap will not survive as it is now structured.36

From an agricultural vantage point, the world’s appetite for
crop-based fuels is insatiable. The grain required to fill an SUV’s
25-gallon tank with ethanol just once will feed one person for a
whole year. If the entire U.S. grain harvest were to be converted
to ethanol, it would satisfy at most 18 percent of U.S. automotive
fuel needs.57

The price of grain is now keyed to the price of oil.

Although there are no alternatives to food for people, there
are alternatives to using food-based fuels. For example, the 4
percent of U.S. automotive fuel currently supplied from ethanol
could be achieved several times over—and at a fraction of the
cost—simply by raising auto fuel-efficiency standards by 20

predictions or history?

as the world oil crisis deepens
and the property values of suburban homes plummet.”71
The food sector will be affected in two ways. Food will
become more costly as higher oil prices drive up production and
transport costs.

As oil costs rise, diets will be altered as people
move down the food chain and as they consume more local, seasonally
produced food. Diets will thus become more closely
attuned to local products and more seasonal in nature.

Air transport, both passenger travel and freight, will suffer
as jet fuel prices climb, simply because fuel is the biggest airline
operating expense. Although industry projections show air passenger
travel growing by some 5 percent a year for the next
decade, this seems highly unlikely. Cheap airfares may soon
become history.7
The overriding challenge for our generation is to build a new
economy—one that is powered largely by renewable sources of
energy, that has a much more diversified transport system, and
that reuses and recycles everything. We have the technology to
build this new economy, an economy that will allow us to sustain
economic progress. Can we build it fast enough to avoid a
breakdown of social systems?

The failure of the "Free market"

The market is in many ways an incredible institution. It allocates resources with an efficiency that no central planning body can match and it easily balances supply and demand. The market
has some fundamental weaknesses, however. It does not incorporate into prices the indirect costs of producing goods. It does not value nature’s services properly. And it does not respect
the sustainable yield thresholds of natural systems. It also favors the near term over the long term, showing little concern for future generations.

One of the best examples of this massive market failure can be seen in the United States, where the gasoline pump price in mid-2007 was $3 per gallon. But this price reflects only the cost
of discovering the oil, pumping it to the surface, refining it into gasoline, and delivering the gas to service stations. It overlooks the costs of climate change as well as the costs of tax subsidies
to the oil industry (such as the oil depletion allowance), the burgeoning military costs of protecting access to oil in the politically unstable Middle East, and the health care costs for treating respiratory illnesses from breathing polluted air.16 Based on a study by the International Center for Technology Assessment, these costs now total nearly $12 per gallon ($3.17 per liter) of gasoline burned in the United States. If these were added to the $3 cost of the gasoline itself, motorists would pay $15 a gallon for gas at the pump. In reality, burning gasoline is very costly, but the market tells us it is cheap, thus grossly distorting the structure of the economy. The challenge facing governments is to restructure tax systems by systematically
incorporating indirect costs as a tax to make sure the price of products reflects their full costs to society and by offsetting this with a reduction in income taxes.

-Lester Brown- Plan B 3.0

sunny, but snowed in

Can you believe it? Another snow storm in April! This weather throws us back to what March should have been. And we are not plowed out yet. We get terrible drifting over our driveway and the small amount of clearance had by our minivan and pruis just doesn't cut it for drifted drives.

May is only 4 days away. My dad suggested May may not be coming this year. I told him that that would explain the weather, but it would also mean that I would pregnant forever- And I think I am against that notion.

I can't really guess at how much snow we got, as the wind made it quite thin in some places and quite heavy in others. All I know is our Sam Dog wanted out yesterday afternoon, and as soon as he got out there he looked around and changed his mind. I made him stay out for a while anyways.

So today I guess I get to make pancakes, and hang out with my sewing machine-.. working on all the indoor items on my "To do before the baby comes" list.

Which is really kinda sad, I was hoping to get out of the house today... I wanted to go to church and participate in Sis. Philaja's class on the talk given by King Ben to his people. But I guess that is life.

In the old days they had horses that pulled plows. Kinda makes me think about the usefulness of the horse. We have lots of deer. I wonder how it would work to have 6 white tailed deer pulling a plow? Sam would love to herd them.

well, enough with topic jumping and what not. Baby needs some pancakes!

She is a bony twerp at this point. Always at the surface with nice hard bones- grown mostly without milk, but heavy on the broccoli, beans and almonds.

She is definitely getting bigger, her bones have mostly filled up my belly and went beyond the first several ribs. She is nearly up to my sternum. She is going to have learn to grow out, and not just up. 7 more weeks. And then we get to see this cute little thing.... see if our guess are right and she is nothing but bones. I was teasing Mike that she could be like Grandpa Paul at birth. 6.5 pounds and 22.5" long. Grandma said he looked like a plucked squirrel. Galen was 22.5" long but 10 pounds, and he looked skinny too.

We shall see.... and I promise pics when the baby comes.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pregnant Satifaction in a pan

A total of 357 grams of direct fat.
plus 3 1/2 cups of chocolate- dark (not counted in the fat)
Some nuts, vanilla and a fair amount of sugar....

what else could a pregnant women want?

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies
Brownie Base:
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups Dutch process or Hershey’s “Dark” cocoa
1 teaspoon salt - if using regular salted butter, decrease to 1/2 tsp.
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs
1 tablespoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 scant teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
8 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, lightly spooned and swept
1 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 teaspoons butter or vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13×9 inch square pan with Release foil or parchment.
In a 2 or 3 quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in sugar and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute or until sugar melts and mixture takes on a nice sheen. Add cocoa and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and pour mixture into a mixing bowl. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then stir in the salt and baking powder. Stir in the eggs (one by one), then add the vanilla, flour and chocolate chips. Spread batter in pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until brownies are set. Let brownies cool on a rack for at least a half hour.
Prepare filling. Beat together butter, salt (if using), both sugars, milk and vanilla. Add flour and stir until flour is incorporated. Spread this mixture over cooled brownies and place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes to help firm up dough.
. If using a microwave, combine chocolate and butter and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat until melted. Spread melted chocolate mixture over cookie dough. Sprinkle walnuts over top. Allow chocolate to set, then lift from pan and cut into bars.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

7.5 weeks to go

That means 5.5 weeks left of school, 3.5 weeks left of preschool. Of course mine is not scheduled. It might decide that 7.5 weeks is not it's number and do something like Clay and wait 8 weeks, or something like Ian and choose 6.5 weeks. But that doesn't concern me.

What concerns me is the never ending list of stuff that I would like to get done first. So far the 2 I was supposed have accomplished by now have not been completed. we still have to moved beds, get new bunk beds and put clay upstairs. I still have my little crib bumper to finish.... and I don't even want you to think about how bad my house looks right now. It is easy to tell that I was working rather then cleaning yesterday.

The good news is, all that sand comes from a sandbox that has received hours and hours of use since the weather warmed. The more they are outside, the better they sleep!!! Especially that Galen kid.- who doesn't want to go to school, but instead be playing outside. And physically, I can not get him dressed or drag him on to the bus any more. He has to have some measure of cooperation. Which will make it more challenging for school. School will now have to convince Galen that it is worth going......
Sounds like a challenge. Do you think the school can compete with sand and sun?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

full of **it

One could say my life is full of s***. What they can't say right now is that Ian is still full of s***.

Nope. Over the last two days the stuff that filled his little belly, from his butt to his lungs has been successfully eliminated into my toilet, onto my floor, over a lot of clothes, and (of course) all over the bath tub.

The fact that he was filled so full of it was determined from every doc that looked at his x-rays while we were at the Mayo on Monday and Tuesday. As a result, we have some new medicines and some new procedures to learn. He now has a prescription bowel softener- the over the counter stuff was too hard for him to drink it all. We also have an at-home-enema kit to use every night on the poor child. It was hard enough to get him to accept being cathed. Now we get to intrude on both openings on his lower side.

Of course, what caused him to be cleaned out before the enemas is the whole bottle (10 oz) of sodium citrate he drank on his ride home Tuesday night. And then the 3 docolaxes each day following.

So, I have been up to my elbows in **it (and the enema kit hasn't even arrived yet).

When Mike saw the bathroom after Ian tonight his response was "I think I'll start using the other bathroom."

My response was "I got to get this cleaned up so I don't have waddle through the house, in the cold darkness, just to go pee tonight." After all, I have only gone pee almost every hour for the last few weeks. Last night, I think, it must have been around 6 times.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Itchy Belly

What does it mean when a pregnant women gets an itchy belly?

It means, an other layer of stretch marks is under construction. Yup. That cheesecake I gobbled all by myself went directly to the growth of the baby, and secondly to the growth of the lump stretching what is left of the skin on my belly.

Now every baby had to leave it's own marks. They weren't content in just reusing the stretch marks of their brothers before them. Each one had to leave his own distinct pattern, and when you already had 4 patterns of stretch marks criss crossing your abdomen.... one didn't think much about number 5.

Number 5's (maybe we should call her Johnny) she has no choice left but to stretch all the gaps left between all the other stretch marks. I am not sure I have any normal skin left on my belly. It all has been stretched, puckered, pinked, paled and then restretched again, in new ways.

Earlier, a few months ago, I noticed I didn't need to count down the weeks, I could just check to see how much extra skin was still hanging off the bottom of my belly. It was inches. Now I am down to about 1/4" hanging off the bottom...and new stretch marks on top.

The problem is my breasts are also itchy... with new little bright pink stretch marks.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

How not to wake up...

It is bad enough to wake up from a nap, being told a kid is barfing (and that you have to clean it up).

It is even worse to wake from a nap because a kid is barfing on you.

And then while cleaning up you find out that you don't have a clean sheet set because 1- the sheet set you just bought happens to be too small. 2- the other sheet set the housekeeper took off the bed several weeks ago were not piled in the normal laundry pile. 3- the third back up set you owned became your primary set several weeks ago when a nice fat rip developed across your other one.

one of the little joys of being a mother.... barf everywhere.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Bunny

Ewan's bunny is a cute little lop who has learned to hop. She hops out of her cage, hops onto lap, unto my key board and about my desk.

This other picture is one Ewan took of his Wolf family. He likes his wolves.

Bunny pics

New Bunny Named Rita. Here we see her being held by Clay, drinking and just being cute.
Galen's special ed teacher (and now IEP coordinator) sent home a note yesterday that read
"I am concerned that Galen will be falling behind if he decides not to work in school or at home. If you have a suggestion to help him please let me know. Mrs. R."

Now, those of you who have been reading my blog lately know that I have some nontraditional views on education- as in I believe children are designed to learn, but not to do worksheets and definitely not designed to sit down 8 hours in a classroom on a beautiful spring day.

I responded by email and wrote the following:

Hello Mrs. R,
I got your note this morning regarding Galen's lack of cooperation/homework in your class.

The last few weeks haven been very autistic for Galen. We have had many hard days with him. However, he seems to be pulling out of the worst of it and actually was talking in sentences this morning and was willing to walk unto the bus by himself (rather then be carried,kicking and screaming, as often happens).

Spring has traditionally been a rough time for Galen in school. He has often had a strong lack of desire to be in school the last few months and just wants to play.

Galen has a "no homework" policy in his IEP. This allows us time at home to be a family rather then spend hours every night on a few worksheets. When Galen is willing to work, we are more then happy to help him, and often reward him for the effort.

My feelings on why he is not working in class lately is that his physical needs are unmet. This winter the poor kid probably backlogged hundreds of hours of outdoor time and needs to release/ fulfill that need.

May I suggest teaching him physically? Take him outdoor and have him solve math problems relating to things/actions outside. This can be things like dividing rock piles or playground toys or even trees.

For reading I would suggest the same approach- have him read signs, road maps, plan a trip, have make a map and write directions..... there are so many things you can learn from when you are outside.

If you have to be inside, give him extra outside time as an incentive, and also keep him working "hands on." It is a favorite math game here to divide toys or chocolate chips, or cheddar bunnies. And make him read the box of the cheddar bunnys. When we do the homework at home, it is through the real application that we do each problem.

I hope these suggestions help- 8 weeks to go :)


However, I kind of wanted to go on and shame the educational system for thinking of homework as learning and therefore not doing homework as not learning.... but I felt it would not help Galen to create a rift between his teacher and mother.

I also wanted to say that kids are natural sponges for learning about the world and rules of the universe and that schools are rooms that separate the children from the world and the universe that they are trying so hard to learn about. So now we will see if they seriously care about his learning or just about his worksheets.