Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The consensus

Allergy induced asthma. Which may be worse because he may be coming down with a cold (Elly and I have been dealing with some cough and runny noses). He's coming home with an inhaler and some medication (or a prescription for those things, Dave wasn't sure). The doctor also wants him on some antibiotics, just in case. I'm thinking we'll skip those, unless he shows other signs of bacterial infection (namely, a fever, or something of the sort). I'm not sure why you would give antibiotics for an asthma attack, really. It's not like he has pneumonia or something. Anyway, he got a breathing treatment there, and is all better. His main concern is whether he has to go to school tomorrow. I'm thinking so. He can always take a nap when he comes home. We've already missed two weeks, the kids just barely started up again yesterday. Don't think we'll be taking any sick days unless we absolutely have to. :p

Asthma?

Dave just took Tyler to the ER. He was having a hard time breathing, getting panicky about it, wheezing, and showing some retracting while breathing. I'm suspecting an asthma attack. I think he's been dealing with some mild asthma for about a year, and I was going to mention it at his 8 year physical. Only, we haven't picked a doctor yet, so he hasn't had the physical yet. Hence, we haven't had it checked out... I'm not one to take my kids to the doctor for every little thing, but breathing is kind of, well, vital. Hopefully they won't be too long. I'll update when I know more.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Watermelon

So, I've been dying to try our watermelons. I've been waiting patiently for them to ripen. Then it occurred to me, how do you know when it's time to harvest? Once again, I turned to my friend google. I read through about a hundred different sites, all full of advice on how to know when your watermelons are ripe. Thumping, thudding, feeling, checking color... You name it. The one thing I read consistently was to pay attention to the tendril coming directly from the site on the vine where the watermelon is attached. Once that tendril dries up, so everyone seemed to agree, the watermelon is ripe. I've been checking my watermelons daily, and on Thursday I noticed that the tendril on one of them was drying up! Imagine my excitement! I decided to wait a couple more days, and today curiosity got the best of me. I decided it was time to pick the melon. We ceremoniously cut it off the vine, then put it in the fridge to chill. Once it was thouroughly cooled, I decided to go ahead and cut it. And it was thisclose to being ripe... Maybe another week or so, and I'm sure it would have been perfect. Kaylee enjoyed it, anyway. You could already taste a hint of juicy sweetness, and oh, it would have been so good! Lesson learned. I think with the next one, we'll watch for the tendril to dry up, and then wait another week or so before harvesting. Seeing as I have a total of three watermelons to practice with (well, two now), I should be able to get at least one of them right, no? And, of course, I'm going to have to plant them again next summer, even though I wasn't going to. They're just turning out to be the perfecgt thing to have in the garden during hot TX summers, while nothing else will grow. :p

notice the dried up curly tendril in the bottom right corner




Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tomatoes!

As you may recall, our tomatoes did survive the storm. Only one of them stayed on the vine, but the ones that fell off didn't get damaged. They were just still green. So I turned to google in a quest to figure out the best way to ripen them. Turns out tomatoes ripen pretty well off the vine. Did you know, for example, that once they start to blush, there's a little membrane in the stem that closes up and the tomato doesn't receive any more water or nutrients from the plant? All it does is hang there and ripen. The key, of course, is the blushing. My tomatoes were still very much green. As I read on, I also learned that putting a blushed tomato in a paper bag with the green tomatoes will help them ripen. Apparently, as the blushed tomato ripens and turns red, it emits ethylene gas. Which, in turn, helps ripen the green tomatoes. Cool, huh? I decided to test out this theory, and harvested the one remaining tomato (as it was beginning to turn red). I put it in the bag with the green tomatoes, and wouldn't you know it, they're all nice and ripe now! So, for all you gardeners out there plagued by bugs and birds attacking your ripe tomatoes on the vine, just take them off as soon as they begin to blush. Then finish ripening them inside, in a paper bag, or wrapped in some newspaper or something. Voila! My plant is recovering, too, and putting out new flowers. We may just get another harvest before the frost (whenever that comes here...).

Carbon Conscious Consumer

I stumbled across this website today. It lists some small and simple steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint. It's worth the read! Here's a short list of things you can do.
  1. Eat locally - pay attention to where your groceries are coming from, go to the farmer's market, eat at locally owned restaurants - you get the idea :o)
  2. Downshift your driving - use public transportation if possible, carpool, consolidate trips
  3. Junk your junk mail - click here for some things you can do to reduce the amount of junk mail you receive, and recycle what you do get
  4. Break the bottled water habit - use a filter instead, and get a reusable bottle
  5. Beat the heat, wash in cold - most laundry gets clean just fine in cold water, and this can also save you quite a bit of money
  6. Bring your own bag - use some type of canvas bag when you go shopping (I have these cool little baskets I got in Germany, I can fit a lot more into them and actually don't have to take as many trips back and forth from the car when I bring the groceries in)
Some other things we do is use a clothesline for drying laundry outside, keep our a/c on 80 during the day and 78 at night (believe it or not, that's comfortable, just what we're used to!), use CFLs, recycle, and use environmentally friendly cleaners. What do yo do to reduce your carbon footprint? Do you care? :p

Friday, September 26, 2008

Random Poll Friday

The economy. Are you worried? Sometimes, I can't decide whether to be seriously worried, or whether the media is just having a heyday with it. Do you think all the media coverage and hype over the last few months is making things worse (you know, putting ideas in people's heads, making them worried, in turn keeping them from spending money, etc. etc. etc.)? Do you think Bush is doing the right thing with this bailout idea, or is he just trying to leave his presidency on a "good note" if it works? I've only ever taken one economy class, and don't remember much from it. Maybe I'm not understanding the severity of the situation, but as far as I remember, recessions are a normal part of a free market, capitalist system. And after a recession, there generally follows a boom. Then, of course, I read about people's retirement savings in peril, and that does make me worried. Just trying to sort out my feelings on the subject, I guess. Comment away!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Passports!

Elly's passport came in the mail last Saturday, and I went and picked mine up from the German consulate yesterday. We're all ready for our trip to Germany! I'm so excited, I can hardly wait. One more week, and the girls and I will be off for a little break from all the craziness around here. :o)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pregnant In America

Another movie I can't wait to watch. I've been waiting for the release for over a year now, and it looks like it's finally being screened! This movie takes a look at the business side of birth, I imagine somewhat like The Business of Being Born (which is a great movie you all should see). At the same time, it illustrates why hospitals are sometimes necessary, and how unpredictable birth can be.

The Other Side of the Glass

This looks like an interesting movie. It's geared towards dads, and their role in childbirth. It's really eye-opening, I think, to watch and think about the way babies are treated after they are born. In most hospitals, parents have to put up a fight to delay routine newborn procedures. When I had Bryan, they did all the newborn assessment while I was holding him. With Tyler and Kaylee, the nurses snatched them pretty much as soon as the cord was cut. I think one of the most drastic differences between Elly's birth and the others' was the way the newborn was handled. Everything was very calm and peaceful after Elly came, she wasn't scrubbed down, nobody stuck a finger in her mouth, or poked her with a needle, or put goopy stuff in her eyes. I think when it comes to childbirth, we're often so focused on the birth itself, we forget about what happens after. What are the consequences of separation after birth? Of the rough way babies are often handled? Is it really necessary to suction every baby? Is it necessary to place them on little warming tables, and poke and prod? Would you want to be treated the way little newborn babies are treated, just minutes after birth?

The story of the neighbor and the fence

So there's still part of our fence in the backyard that's broken (different neighbor than the one who fixed the fence in the front). Dave and our neighbor started fixing the fence last Saturday. A couple of the fence posts had to be taken out and re-cemented. There wasn't enough concrete, so the neighbor poured in whatever there was, and Dave said he'd pick up another bag of concrete on Monday after work. Meanwhile, the neighbor put up some chicken wire to keep his dog from running into our yard. Which was fine by me. Yesterday, Dave picked up the concrete. Today, he walked over to the neighbor's house to discuss when they should put in the concrete, and when to finish fixing the fence. Only to find out the neighbor had moved out! Or so the wife said. What??? She didn't seem in any hurry to fix the fence, and I guess it's up to us now to decide when to finish the job. I'm fine with the temporary arrangement, really. Maybe we'll get around to it this weekend. I'm just in shock, I guess. Don't know what happened over the weekend, but I wasn't expecting this. Crazy!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tidbits

A jetted bathtub is great fun. And, apparently, works great for making bubbles.


My new stroller. I'm planning on starting up an exercise routine, and this should come in really handy. I want to start walking, and eventually jogging, after the boys go to school in the mornings. The stroller will convert to a single once Kaylee is old enough to go to school herself, so I should be able to get a few good years out of it.


Last but not least, the cutest baby around.

Busy busy busy

Well, these last few days were filled with lots of things to do. As would be expected after a hurricane blowing through. We spent all of Wednesday cleaning up outside our house. There were shingles from the neighbor's roof all over the place, lots of little twigs and small tree branches, and the grass needed to be mowed really bad, as well. I went to work on my garden, too. I trimmed the watermelons, pretty much only leaving the vines that have the watermelons on them. I also tore out one of the tomato plants, and gave the other one a haircut. Since it still had one tomato left on it, I figured I should give it a chance. Now the garden bed is ready for my Fall garden, which I'm hoping to get in before I leave for Germany early October. I'm going to have sugar snap peas, which I've heard do really well here. Then there's carrots, chives, and parsley. After I get back mid-October, I'm going to put in the lettuce. Hopefully I'll be a bit more successful with the Fall garden than with the Summer one. I guess the tomato plant may still come around, we'll see. Thursday was back to gymnastics for the boys. They love going, and I can see why. It's an awesome gym, their instructor seems really nice, and the class is fairly small. They also had an open gym Saturday, to make up for the class we missed because of Ike. Fun times! Dave had to go back to work Thursday, leaving me wondering when we'd get around to fixing the broken pieces of the fence. Our neighbor came through big time, and fixed the fence in front all by himself. He's so awesome. He did a great job, too. The other neighbor we share part of the fence with and Dave started fixing that part yesterday, and will finish sometime this week. I guess that's one good thing Ike left behind. You get to know your neighbors well. Dave also got to help with a clean-up crew from church on Saturday. They went around neighborhoods helping people pick up, clear trees that had fallen, etc. etc. etc. It was a long day, but good. Today, we went to church, and now we're resting and catching our breath. It's going to be a busy week. The fence has to be finished, I have to go to the German consulate to pick up my new passport, I want to get the garden planted, the car needs to be taken in (check engine light came on, and the windshield has a crack...), and the kids will be home all week, due to school not starting up again until the 29th. Still moving right along... Didn't I ask someone to put on the breaks??? :p

Friday, September 19, 2008

Random Poll Friday

Natural disasters. What's worse? Living in an earthquake zone and not knowing when one is going to happen (just knowing it will one day)? Or tornado alley, where you get a few minutes warning to find a safe room in your house? The Gulf Coast, where you could get hit by a hurricane, but get ample warning to evacuate if needed? None of those sound too appealing to me. Which do you think is the worst?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

So blessed

Well, we made it home. Didn't even run into traffic, either. I started to get really worried when we started seeing uprooted trees and such almost three hours before we were even supposed to get home. Amazingly, our house didn't sustain any damage at all. Not a shingle missing from the roof, no broken windows, nothing. I am so thankful. Not only is the house okay, but the power is back on, and even the internet is up and running again. There is quite a bit of cleaning up that's going to need to happen outside over the next couple of days, and a few fences that need to be fixed, but nothing too terribly big. We feel very blessed. I want to walk through the neighborhood and take some more pictures tomorrow. For now, here's what our house and yard look like.

The front of the house, with some shingles from the neighbor's roof in the front yard. The trees lost a lot of leaves. One of the broken fences.


The place where our shed used to be. If all the pieces are still there, we may be able to put it back together.


My garden, of course. I know you were all wondering. Well, I know Kaleb was. :p One tomato weathered the storm, amazingly. Considering just down the street, there were huge trees uprooted, I'm just in awe that these plants are still up. We found the other three tomatoes. I'm going to put them out in the sun every day, maybe they'll still turn red. Three watermelons survived, too. Can you believe it?




Can you find all three watermelons?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Going home

Well, tomorrow is the day. We're finally heading back home. We had a couple of people go check out the house, and they both said it looks good from the outside. No damage that they could see. Which is amazing. We also got word that the power has been restored to our neighborhood (though it's not all stable yet, it may still go out again). We went and stocked up on non-perishable food today, so we should be okay for a while (hoping that the food in the pantry is still good, since there didn't appear to be any flooding or anything). The city advises that water should be boiled before consumption, but we have a pretty good water storage, so we should be good on that end. I'm hoping we'll get back online soon, too, so I can post some pictures. Stay tuned! :o)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Waiting

Our city's website is requesting people not return until Monday, and to be prepared to spend a few days without power. So as of right now, it looks like that'll probably be when we head back (along with the million other people who evacuated, should be fun...). I'm anxious to know what the house looks like. At the same time, I don't want to know. It still feels so surreal, especially since we're so far away from it right now, and just are following the story on TV. Weird.

To answer Mimi's questions:
What did you pack in your car? Our kids, a couple of suitcases with clothes, a couple cases of water, a cooler with food, our car DVD player, some movies, diapers and wipes for the baby, pillows and small blankets, and a first aid kit
The hard drives? the external hard drive that has everything backed up on it, and the laptop
valuables? camcorder and camera, our fireproof portable safe with all of our important documents (birth certificates, ss cards, passports, etc.), house papers and insurance papers
How did your car look like? pretty much like we're going on a vacation

We did try to secure some stuff inside the house. I took some pictures off the walls and wrapped them up in plastic bags and put them up in the closet. We also moved a box with photo albums and the computer upstairs in a closet. We moved the furniture away from the windows. We'll see if any of that did any good. We certainly had to learn our lesson in hurricane preparedness quickly...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ready or not

Here it comes. Ike is about to make landfall. We're dead center in the path. Well, our house is. We're safe and sound in Arkansas. I'm kind of scared of what we'll find once we get back home. And honestly, I can't believe the crazy people who decided to stay in Galveston. They must have some kind of death wish. The question I came up with for Random Poll Friday today was "do you think our house will still be around when we get back", but I don't think I'll open that one up. Hoping for the best.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A vacation!

We're going for a little weekend trip to Arkansas. We've been wanting to visit Dave's brother and his family, anyway, so since school was cancelled for the kids for today and tomorrow, we decided we may as well make it this weekend. Please pray our house will still be standing when we get back Sunday or Monday (depending on what Ike decides to do...).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hurricanes

So this whole hurricane business is leaving me feeling really conflicted. As I'm spending my days tracking Ike to see where it's headed, I can't help but hope it doesn't make landfall here. At the same time, I realize it's going to make landfall somewhere. And wherever that is, people are going to be affected. It almost makes me feel like by wishing it away from here, I'm wishing it on someone else. Of course, one could always hope that it would collide with some air mass that would make it disintegrate, but that's not realistic. So what do I hope for? I'm really not sure...

Monday, September 08, 2008

Garden in September

So I just had to show it off again. :p The natural bug control seems to be working well so far, as we haven't seen much as far as pests go. All the water a couple of weeks ago did leave the tomato plants looking a bit sad. In fact, one of them keeps putting out flowers and then just dropping them. I don't know if it's a problem with the plant, the heat, or the flowers just aren't getting pollinated, but I'm thisclose to just tearing that plant out. The other plant has 4 tomatoes on it, which are growing nicely. I'm still hesitant to get too excited, as everyone keeps assuring me that the bugs or birds will eat them. Probably when they start turning red. But hey, at least I'll have lots of pictures of my gardening success. :D The watermelon plants seem to be slowly recovering from whatever made their leaves wilt. They are, in fact, putting out new leaves where the old ones used to be. The vines continue to grow like crazy, and we now have to mow around the plants. There are 3 melons that are growing really nicely, still. At one point, we had 10, but the others are just kind of shriveling. Not sure why. I did notice a couple of new little ones growing. We'll see what happens to those. I've decided the watermelons get till mid-October, and then I need to tear them out. I want to put in snap peas, and I can't wait too much longer. And since the watermelons have taken over the entire garden bed, I'm going to need to make room. I also got some seeds for carrots and a lettuce mix. And some parsley and chives. So mid-October is going to be exciting! :o)






Sunday, September 07, 2008

Someone put on the breaks, please!

Life's been moving at the speed of light lately, I swear. It all started over a week ago, when it looked like Gustav was going to come our way. Dave was in charge of calling people from our church to see what their plans were should Gustav make landfall around here. That took pretty much all of Saturday. I was trying to come up with some sort of plan for what we should do as a family. It was an almost surreal experience. I felt like I was in one of those dreams where you run and run and you're not moving. Know what I'm talking about? We realized that we are pretty well prepared, as far as food and such goes. We also had everything ready so we could pick up and evacuate should that be needed. The only thing we don't have is boards for the windows, but for now, we've decided not to worry about boarding up. We do, after all, have a hundred different types of insurance, so we should be covered... Anyway, Gustav ended up blowing past to the East of us, and actually made for some really nice weather here. Thank goodness. Lest you think life should settle down, though, now we're keeping an eye on Ike. Which is headed straight for us. We'll see what happens as it moves across Cuba. Yeah, things don't get boring around here. On with the rest of the week. I'm not exactly sure what happened with Monday through Wednesday, other than they went by in the blink of an eye. On Thursday, I signed the boys up for gymnastics here. They had a blast. The gym seems to be really nice, as are the instructors, so hopefully the money will be well spent. On Friday, we said good bye to my brother and his wife, who had been here visiting. There was also a pinewood derby at church that evening. Dave was in charge, and we didn't even have our own car to enter! People seemed to have a good time. I think my good time started when the party was over. :p Saturday was crazy busy with activities, as well. So we've made it to Sunday, and I keep feeling like I'm going to just lose it anytime now. I don't seem to be able to catch my breath. Something is always happening. I need a vacation... To end this post, some things that made me go "huh" this week.
  • To the person who is in charge of scouts, 6:50 p.m. Wednesday night is a bit late to call and let us know that Tyler's scout meeting is at 7 p.m. That night. We'll forgive you this once. :p
  • To the person going 45 mph in a 55 mph speed zone, please be courteous and use the right lane, so people can more easily pass you.
  • To the lawn care crew who came to mow our neighbor's yard this morning, 6:45 a.m. on a Sunday is just a bit early, don't you think?
That's all.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Random Poll Friday!

It's Saturday, I know. That just goes to show you what a crazy week we had. More on that later. This week's poll is about solid foods. Surprise. :p Since, you know, Elly is just starting to experiment with real people food. Whether you're aware of it or not, there's a lot of debate out in cyberland about when babies should start eating solid foods. The official recommendation is 6 months now. Some people are very strict about this, and won't start their babies on solid foods before the magic 6 month mark (as well as telling others they shouldn't). Other people don't think there's anything wrong with feeding their babies solid foods in a bottle by the time they're 2 months old. Most people probably fall somewhere in between. As is the case with me. I do have some concerns about starting too early, since there is some evidence that early introduction of solid foods may be linked to allergies. And, of course, there's the issue of the digestive tract just not being mature enough to handle anything other than breastmilk or formula. Personally, I think solids are okay once the baby seems ready to eat them from a spoon. That is, they can make chewing motions, know how to move the food around their mouth, and can swallow it. As opposed to just spitting everything right back out, and pushing the spoon out with their tongue. With my own kids, I just kind of watched for signs that they were ready. They showed interest in food when they saw us eating, seemed to drool a lot more while sitting at the table with us, were able to sit unassisted (or close to it), those kinds of things. For Tyler and Elly, that meant they got to start trying real food around 5.5 months. Bryan was more than ready at 4 months, and Kaylee was 6 months old. Interestingly, Bryan is the pickiest eater of the bunch so far. Anyway, what's your experience with introducing solid foods? Do you listen to the doctor? The crowds of people with advice on the internet? Your baby? For those of you who have more than one child, the poll is multiple choice this week. And since Elly is just too darn cute when she eats, here's a picture after she finished sweet potatoes. Which were a total hit. She kept opening her mouth and wanting more, and most of it actually made it into her stomach! :D

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Picture posting fool

That's me lately. Is it my fault that I not only have an exciting garden, but a cute baby, too? I'd post another picture of the watermelon (it's doubled in size), but I'll refrain. Maybe next week. :p There are actually 10 watermelons total (that I've counted), and about half of them are growing amazingly fast. There are also 4 tomatoes now. I'll spare you pictures of those, too, hehe. I do have to show off the cute baby, though.

playing at the pool


Bananas, yum! Hey, at least they don't make me gag anymore. :p